PHO705: Theme, People and Place

A direction change is to the revived interest in using the family archive of film prints. Again this is to do with developing my visual language. Initial indications are quite revealing:

Experience in scanning film negatives revived after my visit to the Falmouth University, Institute of Photography IoP. Prior to this, I’d done some archive film scanning of a reasonably low resolution using a portable scanner. This was enough to satisfy my interest at the time. At the IoP some current films were developed: three 35mm films and two 4 by 5 negatives. The film was processed both by hand and on a developing machine. A drum scanner was used to digitize the results.

Based on earlier experience using a portable scanner to create digital versions of a real archive, it seemed that a couple of years elapsed time might be involved in making a comprehensive capture. This had coloured my view on starting to scan another 5 or 6 generations of the family archive.

The estimate, making it infeasible for a full scan during an FMP, unless another approach was considered. What unfolded was a quick look through the archive, and a mass of images was captured on a smartphone in rapid time. This has different effects: it made selecting and using specific photos possible. These were printed photographs as opposed to film. What was clear was the content of pictures I was interested in making the process more focussed. I was looking at specific places: landscape, farms, buildings but also people in the maternal line or closely connected. 

The downside of the initial session is to do with a consistent and controlled capture set-up that could be improved. As a first pass, this was highly successful, though. There are options: I can invest time in cleaning up the photographs in digital. My usual preference is digital retouching. I could revisit the archive and make new scans, either in a more controlled fashion or using expensive scanning equipment. A constraint I placed on the activity was the need to engage and have a discussion. It wasn’t a grab but a sensitively handled meeting.

I decided not to separate any of the prints of special interest from the archive for controlled scanning. The thing is that so much can be read from the grouping of prints and their order as it aids discussion when identifying people and places.

In the event, there was an engaging discussion during the inspection of prints and some good scanned results were obtained. Images of specific interest had been picked out and rephotographed. This was a collaborative effort and was quite swift. Another session may be arranged to reconfirm a few identities.

Categories were decided, and these fall into headings related to people and place:

  • Menfolk,
  • Women especially mothers,
  • Children,
  • Farming, Landscape, and Activities.

My project so far has been portrayed as connecting with the 1900s as I collapse time through an unchanging aspect of Biology, mitochondria.

Further suggestions arising from the Tuesday P2P meetings is to record an oral history. This suggestion related to another revival. From recent experience, it would introduce an atmosphere around any Exhibition and supplement information in taking it to the public as a Project book.

Part of this is the centenary commemoration 2014-2018.

Recent experience has underlined viewer interest in photographs containing people, exactly what these archive images contain. What must not be lost is the role these photographs play in providing supporting context to my main abstract work.

The archive turned up other gems such as a wartime identity card and a really old photograph envelope with markings that urge making extra prints.

I have to date maintained a close focus on a specific branch of the family but am now ready to spread a little wider during my FMP project.

There are several maternal lines. In a sense this makes the work more interesting to make and hopefully to view.

I have a cooling off period as I think through how all this affects my project.

A constraint I address is having enough images to proceed with an edit for an exhibition and for a book. A consequence is this early activity in gathering and taking pictures. I hope to have learned from my previous study module.

Having said this, I have already met distraction especially in restructuring this blog. The cost of doing so should be repaid later as it becomes easier to research from my CRJ.

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