PHO703: Week 1 Strategies of Looking

In advance I’d taken the request to make a set of three project images. I did this at first as a way of moving on my work as I was keen to challenge myself and wanted discover as soon as possible what new directions might be calling. Here is the panel (discussed but not shown).

Figure showing alternative thinking around my existing project.

Left: an example portfolio image for human genes – I could have picked a stronger one to show at this scale.

Centre: post processing applied to a more structural visually similar subject of red light source on trouser material or Jeans (Jeans or Genes) as a play on words.

Right: plant genes, as seeds of the catkins of willow trees had created blanket cover

 I then relented and took a selection of three of my portfolio images as an illustration of what it is I do. As that kind of work had been critiqued at the Falmouth Face to Face, The Living Image we quickly moved beyond this and the other student had my portfolio images links to hand and posted them to the discussion! 

Attendance of this week’s webinar gave the chance to meet with my new tutor, re-introduce my work and see the work of another student.

At the Falmouth Face to Face I’d described  my work succinctly. In the webinar I was given an extended period to discuss in detail and things can go too deep too quickly. I’m always on guard for this happening. My first practice after a month away from it.

I noted that in the last module, the black and white presentation of my project went against my natural inclination. We discussed how this resulted – basically from tutor feedback, the likeness of my work to paintings and the potential of the Art as Experience approach of Mark Rothko. My work is motivated by commemorative work but really attempts to celebrate freedom based on others sacrifice.  

The deep emotional element of the project and the existence of a text led to a suggestion about finding out about a family therapy method to potentially enhance the work. Here is the link for the resource now investigated:

https://www.family-constellation.net

With a feminist perspective in mind, I’d already identified the power of the matriarchy through the mitochondrial DNA that fuels our bodies compared to the nature of male association that drives paternalism.  

Week 1 Webinar Where are You At

Week 1 Independent Reflection

See reflection blog post:

https://michaelturnercrj.blog/2019/06/09/week-1-to-12-surface-and-strategies-reflection/

Week 1 Activity Place Over Time

Week 1 Activity Place Over Time

This activity as it relates to my project is a challenge as the place element of my work is not an absolute geographic location. It is about imaginings of home, the soldiers fading memory and muddy images of battlefield.

Chance is a major element in these images. I have been taking photographs based on minor injury and bodily impressions as a kind of photogram. I could attempt to process to a similar landscape over the weeks using a new starting image each time.

I’ve eliminated some other metaphors for place as in: bodily location of a minor injury or impression, or; injury corresponding to place such as rugby field or football field.

This activity may not be feasible for my project. Think, think, think, think, think.

I can make a start and see where this leads me.

Week 1 Presentation 2 Rephotography

I’ve photographed in the past in the style of the famous for the purpose of social photography in competition and for fun or entertainment. This has made me aware of others and their work and given me an insight into re-interpreting and re-photographing based on what they have done. This has been outside of my practice.

In my project, it is already re-photography, as the glow I capture from minor bodily injury or impressions, is a direct representation of the biology of others from over 100 years ago. When I make a contemporary abstract the design of the one image can go in many creative directions amongst which I select the most likely candidate and best effect, at the time of making.

I did re-visit and remake an image, something to do with the date being in the weeks before the module start. I now understand the original would have been valid. However, the circumstances led me to remake and it was then as I suspected that it would be quite a challenge to make as successful comparison with the original, and the remake was a pale version even with the same subject and same lighting. 

As already mentioned elsewhere, I had to improve my methodology of lighting, and post processing steps. What this does is compromise artistic improvisation for greater scientific repeatability. Maybe this conveys something of the photographer. At best I now take sets of images and process them together. I can take a contemporary subject and re-photograph – take several shots but really for improved framing, perspective or control of shadow or depth of field. It is hard to get away from uniqueness though as apart from the technical difficulty I enjoy having greater freedom when making a personal project.

Further viewing

I viewed several of the further viewing items listed and signed up to re-photos without time to fully explore at the moment. It is a shame about the withdrawal of the app Street Museum. Of course, the work of Ricard Martinez is listed and he featured as a recent guest lecturer.

Week 1 Presentation 1 Repeat Photography

We are asked several questions on this topic, in relation to our own practice. 

In terms of repeat photography helping me think in a different way, my response is several fold.

As injury, even if of a minor nature is my photographic subject, then clinical observation could be a thing. Clinical photographic practice, something I adopt, maintains consistency of lighting of the subject. My original was a portfolio of regular appearance, images that stand together as a set. If the same injury is revisited, during healing then change should be observed. Observation of change is part of Clinical photography regards progression of disease or healing. Over increased time, skin is susceptible to damage such as wrinkling, scaring, or other ageing effects.

One thing I cannot, or will not do from the ethical standpoint is harm or self-harm. 

In some cases tattooing might show change. This is not within my current subject and is not immediately related to bodily glow.

In an earlier module I switched to pressure marks, the act of memory on the skin as a kind of photogram that fades. Harmless pressure can induce the same redness of glow I photograph. I adopted this when there was a “drought” of injury.

As my work extends to post processing in the digital darkroom, repeat photography calls for less avant garde attitude to creativity. In my work, each image can evolve different visual qualities. Repeat photography failed in the past as I was unable to obtain the same visual outcome again. I tried to replace a photograph I thought at the time violated the course time constraints.

Standardised recording of my dark room procedures has to be enforced. I once saw this limiting experimentation and creativity depending upon fixed parameters rather than following the eye. A solution I did introduce was to batch process like with film working, on many images (5 or 6), as one image later splitting them back down to individual images. 

As for what I can learn from my subject by recording it over time. 

I can work out post processing limitations.

I could mimic effects such as Andy Warhol did with his lithographic work. 

I could by chance make medical observations.

I could determine gender or age effects around smoothness or softness or the effects of hairs in an image.

The patience of the persons being photographed probably wouldn’t extend to repeatedly photographing so the work would become wholly self-referencing.

I’m wondering though if collaboration might somehow become possible. A group of suffers of a condition might participate as if in a trial or promotion of a disease for example. My project hasn’t yet extended to the public.

Reversal of the effects of time or ageing become visually possible if skin care treatments were tested.

As for an agenda influencing how images are viewed.

Beauty might turn to disgust as a result of creating my version of punctum.

It would be necessary to prevent the visuals becoming over dramatized or shocking.

An attempt at being overly intellectual or scientific could switch off the casual viewer and limit appeal.

Repetition might call into question artist judgement and motivation.

Further Viewing

I got the chance to go over some of the multitude of references for further viewing. The Balog TED talk helped bring some gravity to the subject through the Extreme Ice Survey indications of Climate Change

Week 1 Forum Looking Back

I took up the Ed Ruscha challenge to work with the mundane and learn some of the skills of making a handmade book. Here I’ve taken the subject of security and in this context owners make attempts to protect property or access. Having decided on what to prepare for the challenge the first thing encountered was quantity and ability to maintain focus on the specific objective and finally learning to handcraft a book.

Ed Ruscha challenge – Security

When I set out to photograph padlocks, there were a limited number to be discovered on each shoot. As a matter of efficiency related subjects were photographed. Chains make a strong visual impact given the way they drape so I photographed these too. As the photographic method can readily translate the mundane into the beautiful there is a thing here wanting to stick with the mundane i.e. avoid eye catching compositions of chains. Diversification continued and material for several books was encountered.  On a London shoot I found numerous padlocks in and around Trafalgar Square, but in the urban environment, access became a stronger theme and so I found more entry point methods and entry phone systems. In a rural environment the subject matter further diversified to hausers of steel ropes and steel fittings related to adventurous outdoor activities related to climbing, swinging and aerial transit – there is a wealth of compositional elements that work well in close-up and with interesting background blur. Artistic representation becomes a strong element of this work but again runs against the mundane objective. 

The above is more or less a random layout for the purpose of this post. I have learned to image match photographs when creating a book. At the time of learning, this was meant to lead to standard book creation using InDesign and one of the standard publishing platforms. For the current challenge, my intent is the handmade book for which I’ve amassed some tools and methods. This is an area of discovery for me and one I am enjoying. I did some research for this and resolved to use an adhoc method of allocating layouts to signatures. I’d then be able to use Adobe Acrobat booklet printing method without having to use specialist software – keep it simple and start with something you know I said to myself. I know there are a mass of considerations to manage in book production and for now I want to create a raw looking product. 

When I return to base, I intend to give this a go and in trying to think how best to communicate the result, perhaps I should make a page turning video. 

The biggest challenges are both in closing the skills and knowledge gap whilst making sure I’m not my worst enemy in enthusiastically venturing off into related diversions of chains, hausers and entry phone systems.

Reading

I got the chance to go over some of the multitude of references for further viewing. The Balog TED talk helped bring some gravity to the subject through the Extreme Ice Survey indications of Climate Change. 

Alternative challenge

As this was offered, I decided to do both challenges.

I have something for the re-photograph, challenge in addition to the Ed Rusha challenge. This photograph of a photograph was taken instinctively.

Alternative challenge photograph

Although a Vivian Maier self-portrait, the meaning for me was in once having created such an image in the window of the Oxo Tower on London South Bank. It was for a Photography social competition and having been taken at night time was rather dark and mysterious.  For some reason I recall the date as about the 5 Dec 2015, so should be able find my original in an old catalogue when I return to base. So back to the Vivian Maier self-portrait reproduction. This was displayed at PhotoLondon 2019, and when it aroused interest it became a “Rephotography Trap” automatically capturing the photographer’s reflection on Maiers. Many decades have passed since the original was taken. Would Maier ever have envisaged a large-scale reproduction behind glass ensnaring future photographers? – if she did what brilliance. You are allowed access by having your reflection automatically superimposed, but you are not given access to the silver disc, at least without deliberately plotting some way in. The least I was able to do was to included my silver hair. Another meaning concerns a piece of geometric transformation. Instead of the silver disk, there is a reflected rectangle. The decider would have been If I’d worn my hat indoors, which naturally I don’t. So, there is a sign of the outdoor then, and indoors now. Wearing my hat would have topped it all off, but then that would have forced the new image. The result might lose authenticity. Let’s stay with the natural and instinct and move history on a step.

Notes about tutors and CRJs

I currently have over 500 photographs on the subjects discussed, and if I decide to progress a collection of books it would make sense to divide the labour. It would let me concentrate on the photography and use specialist software or an editor (person!) to help produce the overall set of books.

I was pleased to learn I’d been assigned to a Tutor who’d critiqued my work at the Falmouth Face to Face “The Living Image” event earlier in the year.

I posted the link for my Critical Research Journal CRJ blog

michaelturnercrj.blog

For reference the review images were also posted to my portfolio website temporarily.

Welcome to Surfaces and Strategies

There is quite a challenge ahead in the module. Alongside the learning there is the prospect of making book dummies, creating an exhibition or doing a workshop or indeed engage in all.

There is also a trip to Arles, trip to Amsterdam and Landings2019 curation that is looking for volunteers. 

I’ve been away from my base all of the first week, with very poor internet connectivity. Good connectivity is essential for the online delivery aspect of the course and particularly as I use cloud storage for portability and photography deals with larger sized files. The nightmare is over as I’ve since returned and I’m rapidly catching-up.

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