PHO703: Week 5 Three Surfaces Curation

Week 5 Resources

Week 5 Individual Tutorials

In the space of around two working days, I had a fantastic run of three meetings that challenged my thinking and direction and yet in a supportive way.

As these meetings acted together, I draw them together here along with two activities in the same period.

I began with the 24-hour challenge where I’d pre-visualised and had then adapted. In short, an intent to expose photo paper or burn paper under a magnifying glass. The forecast led to a change of plan.

I linked my activity to my project through scientific imagery of biology by appropriating images and mixing them in a way to create a stereogram and some anaglyphs. I had so much enjoyment, I must say. For one day, I loosened the shackles and departed from the structure and intensity of abstract work.

The plan to make a sundial, sketch the gnomon shadow and read out the grid of light and shadow automatically, went ahead.

We had our first meeting, and I listened to the challenge of finding a way to link the scientific how to connect the 24-hour challenge activity to my project. I could include photographs of the apparatus and contraptions I’d used.

Next up, the office hours meeting. The discussion was necessary, and I tried to get a grasp of one area the Workshop task. The task is versed in the practicalities of photographic technique, yet the debate became focussed on pedagogy. I had a few doubts about the delivery intent and became resolved that the weeks to follow would lend clarification. We accepted the advice that allowing ideas to settle can be productive compared to pushing ahead. Finally, I took from the office hours meeting thoughts of a potentially hot topic of faulty intent.

We were advised to carefully unwrap why we might shoot in colour to only to go on and remove the colour from the photograph in post-processing. Be warned. I had earlier considered running with both black and white and colour. At the present stage, I do not yet have to resolve this completely.

And so back to the current topic, and the one to one meeting. The 121 meeting was short though contextualised by all that I’ve written in the above paragraphs. We discussed the black and white or monochrome approach versus colour. The pioneers of photographers used black and white as a means of abstracting the world around them as we see in colour. My return to colour took place based on the theme of the vibrant celebration. I felt I had justified by my actions.

However, I did take the next set of images back to black and white. Perhaps the data in the photos led me in this direction or possibly at heart, I remain soulful and so cannot break free. The conflict continues.

I can rationalise the topic down to lighting or light if rationalising is indeed the correct approach. I’ll adopt the term unpacking and proceed with the analysis. The light in my work is surface, penetrated and emitted, the latter being unique within my digital work. So far as I have learned from my practice, I shoot in colour and reduce it by digital post-processing, although not eliminate tones. I take the tonal element down to allow the emitted light to gain presence. I often refer to the glow of life. I reach back thematically to feel the presence of ancestors never met. Again, I sometimes refer to the handshake with the living being a manifestation of specific others in the past.

So colour is an essential step. Then to the aesthetic and decisions about historical commemoration which suits black and white, the celebration of our lives that suites colour. I conflict this thought with my long term assertion that ancestors worlds get depicted in black and white, yet they lived their lives in colour.

My photographic heritage is an influence. My extended-term career as a digital technologist evolved while I was away from photography. When I returned to photography, I was different from others in being open to breaking the limits in post. Post often leads to discussions of moral issues, but I have no regret because digital-first, is my world. A photograph is a data set. I know modern photography through this lens as being at the intersection of science and art.

Looking ahead to the next six weeks, I stated my intention to self-publish. I’d done some research or reading into the domains of books and exhibitions. I arrived at an intermediate point that intersects the two:  an exhibition of say ten identical books. Only the cover colour designates the preferred order and the page number to be displayed.

The intent is several-fold. People rarely experience ten copies displayed. The viewer can then disrupted the exhibition. If a viewer wishes to move from stand to stand to change the pages viewed, they can. I also disrupt the convention of the gallery space of spacing the viewer away from the walls to prevent touch. I invite touch. I am not so precious about my exhibition to want to protect it from contact.

Thinking it through maybe I place prints on the wall with a book in front of each to establish a starting visual structure.

I might need spares. If there is no interaction, so be it. If there is destruction or theft, then the spares can be called upon as replacements. I’d love to timelapse film unfolding events.

I have to realise the risks of the extremes, no viewers or interaction through to over-involvement. There will need to be a definite means of enticement if it is to become a game. On writing that last word, game, I now realise the impact the game would have in undermining the intent that goes into my work. I must avoid gaming books versus exhibition. I’ll save the idea for a more appropriate subject.

Finally, I should consider collaboration, for example of family.

I next set about mixing images of my own with some those of a family member, for my film trailer. This activity was triggered back in week 2.

From the finished film trailer, my collaborator contributed photographs of Highland cattle and one of the birds. We had walked the lands of my ancestors. Apart from learning something new about my work, the trailer generated a lot of enthusiasm and engagement of a level I’d not previously experienced in my practice.

Altogether I have made a lot longer a write up than I ever anticipated. I can justify the length as evidence of the critical unfolding and changing of my work within this MA Photography course. I do switch activity a lot by engaging with the Course. It is so easy for me to be distracted and forget a critical insight. These things are too valuable to lose.

Week 5 Independent Reflection

Well, let’s hope I can manage this optimistic plan. Failing in parts of one or more tasks is not an absolute failure. If I learn from the experiences, and they help towards the ultimate aim of producing successful outcomes in the FMP modules.

What I now need to do has become clear:

  •  Engage with the newly released materials.
  • Read into the provided references.
  • Make work on Abstract Landscapes of War, of faded memories.

I’ve done most of my reflecting below and need to make a start.

Week 5 Activity Roadmaps

I’m going to attempt a work called Abstract Landscapes of War. I say attempt as I have to read the data in my photographs and find the means of continuing to abstract landscapes. These have arisen in most unexpected ways and should be feasible, although time estimation will be tricky.

I wrote in my CRJ about scoping work over the next weeks and about how I need to limit to reasonable expectations around the MA. I intend to use the Pareto 80 to 20 principle and by achieving 80% of the defined outputs with 20% of the effort. The total amounts to 60% just for the Exhibition, Publication and Workshop, then there is a further 20% making 80% effort for photography and digital post-processing.

I have other activities such as attending Arles photo festival at a fairly crucial time in the delivery schedule.

My priorities are Book over the Exhibition, over Workshop for my MA Project. I wish to gain from the learning experiences of each to help me progress later in the Final Major Project modules.

I have to shoot continuously throughout the module for a successful abstract landscape edit. Existing photography during the module has been developed to a level that requires further refinement. My abstract landscapes developed through several stages and now at Week 5, I have decided on a theme so I need to revisit already processed abstracts.

The trailer activity highlighted how the landscape and seascape are ingrained in my work, so I would like to explore further. There is a risk as I’d need 20 images to make a successful edit of a final 15.

Activity Roadmap

Week 5 Workshop BriefWeek 5 Publication Brief

Examples of making from RPS Handmade Bookbinding Course

(A) What do you want the publication to say/do?
(B) How do you want it to achieve that?
(C) Do your pictures (critically) support / contradict that intention?

The requirement is to handmake publication material. At the moment, the breadth of what could be published is in its entirety greater than what needs to be in scope. A brainstorming would allow me to consider the full extent.

An illustrated text of commemorated histories
Book for Ed Rusha task
Boxed presentation of three books: locks, chains and entry phones
Pamphlet for exhibition
Catalogue of exhibition prints with an introductory essay and a quote
Leaflets promoting the show alongside social media
Business Cards (consider logo design)
An art book containing abstract images
An electronic version of some of the above items using ISSUU
A boxed portable presentation
An InDesign publication ordered through Blurb

So, not all these are within the scope of the Surface and Strategy tasks, but it is helpful to know the potential extent of work when provisioning tools and materials and when deciding formats.

There are various decisions over softback versus hardback
Cover illustration (can do softback)
Perfect binding versus kettle stitched binding versus stapled saddle stitch.
Quality of materials
Composition tools
Professional printing – already decided I will handmake
Paper type and quality
Cover thickness 2-3mm versus 3-4mm for more substantial work
Size A2/A2+ folded, A3/A3+ folded, A4 folded and possibly smaller for a boxed portable show of work.
Colour versus monochrome – I’d been highly conflicted working in monochrome when it was against my instinct.

At this point, the task has yet to run. The questions A, B and C posed above will then be addressed. I still have some reference reading to do.

For now, suffice it to say that I’d endeavour to exercise taste and demonstrate visual awareness. There will be an opportunity to apply a growing experience. Constraints on cover illustration and branding would direct choices unless I elect to use professional services, especially for cover design.

Week 5 Exhibition Brief

Turning first to the Landings Exhibition 2019, I said I’d keep in mind the Pareto 80 to 20 principle.

A brand new set of work would be fantastic, and there lies the hope.
Maybe I need to think what my project is in the whole and in relating to it see if there is a part I can do and that uses some pre-existing work.

After the Trailer making exercise, I have gained an insight into the content and how I might emphasise place.

I always introduce my practice in two parts: a historical element commemorates bravery in a war; a celebratory feature as an expression of our freedom gained.

Within my work lies the consideration of travel and place. The full scope covers Scotland, Canada, United States, India, France and Belgium.

I had yet to expand photography to overseas locations and currently have placed a brake on travel.

So of place, I have the homeland as representational photography (type A) and the trenches as an abstract battlefield (type B) and home as abstract (type C) captioned as fading memories of home.

I believe these representational and abstract forms would work in an exhibition. My absolute best work is yet to come in the FMP part once the coursework element eases. So for now, Landscape it is.

There is quite a lot of work I need to do. I also need to clarify my use of project work from before the course. My current quest is to resolve visual narrative, something that a representational and abstract combined might ease.

Ultimately, I have two candidate places for an exhibition, but I might want to save these for the FMP. I need to start looking. Perhaps I begin with an online show as I have prepared already for my portfolio. An eZine could work well for the exhibition catalogue.

If I did make an online exhibition, I would still want to make physical objects.

Physical objects have the advantage that I can carry them to reviews. Objects I can keep as a tangible reminder of this critical phase of the development of my project.

At this point, I feel that a physical exhibition has to be preferred. I need to reconsider this for my plan.

Week 5 The Weeks to Come

And so now to consider three surfaces and what to commit to for this module. The idea is to gain experiences ahead of the impending Final Major Project.

If I think about how I might respond to these tasks, there is a natural approach I could take and a more intense planned approach.

The natural approach ultimately is the style that I would be most creative at. I would have time to explore, to read the data contained within the photographs I process and to make something of an edit. I’m thinking here in the first instance of creating a book. A book was on my agenda before I began this MA Photography course and is something I wish to make as part of my collaborative historical work. I have committed to skills development and am ready to practice bookmaking. Already I find there is a minefield of detailed considerations in the editing, layout and making. I gained experience ahead of this point by engaging in the Ed Rusha activity before the module start and which is still ongoing. A primary behavioural consideration for me is being satisfied with knowing without the compulsion to make. I have to plan my activity to prevent my interest from merely moving on to the next big thing. It shouldn’t dictate my actions, though.

A planned approach, however, is a necessary part of photographic practice, and so it is clear that I need to adopt a plan. My enthusiasm in the first instance would lead to the incorporation of three surfaces from the Surfaces and Strategies module. Experience within and beyond the course tells me intuitively that doing all three tasks to a level of perfection is not going to be feasible. The repercussion no doubt will be an immediate rationalisation process kicking in, late in the plan as reality dawns when time runs out on this project.

A solution I like is to adopt the Pareto principle, also known as an 80, 20 rule. You create 80% with 20% effort, and this seems most appropriate to what I have to do at the current stage of my development. Three surfaces are the way forward. By the Pareto method, I’d use a 60% slice of effort. There is more. Add another 20% for continuing my photography, in which I need to invest time, especially when making allowance for digital post-processing activity.

I need to decide how much of each surface activity to do. I ought to state my intended cut-off to make sure I gain a lot of experience both of the making and my response to workload. I could timebox and pull up short on surface tasks. I understand this approach would not be satisfactory for the Final Major Project FMP. The Surfaces and Strategies Module, though, is an introductory module to the FMP and so timeboxing could work. The weakness in timeboxing would be the lack of definition of what the 80% achievement represents. More clarity is required.