PHO705: Week 23 Reflection

Week 23 has been about letting the work fall into place given that all the research and the practicalities of exhibition and book had been readied. Now for the resolved body of work.

Critical Review of Practice CRoP Update

The Critical Review of Practice had input from a group of reviewers during the week. Review has been especially valuable given the abstract surreal nature of the pictures. The work does communicate! This accords with feedback from the August 2019 practice exhibition although the work did move on.

The CRoP was submitted before the Easter break and one more review was received later in the week which will be incorporated and the CRoP will be resubmitted with a tighter ending.

Picture Edit and Book Draft

The picture edit took place during this week. Having tightened this down considerably from the original set of 50 – 80 images I then got productive and created a whole other set of family archive / DNA edits.

So far I’ve resisted adding these as sometimes the temptation is to over embellish at which point it can get out of control, especially if a distraction to the work.

This page-turning video was made. I recycled prints made for an external review which here are made into a brochure.

This is a practice for the FMP PDF book submission part.

Past-Present-a-mythology-of-time-V0.4-spreads

Narrative Lines

There was at least 6 months of research into themes and creating a visual narrative. I had believed I’d need to place an abstract surreal on recto pages to keep them from clashing, but have a text to picture or cloud DNA composite on the verso to pick out the narrative with clouds of text or alternatively, text to picture generative art.

What happened during the edit was that picture matching fell into place and some well matched pairs resulted (my view and a reviewer view).

This eliminates the need for the verso narrative with a cloud of text or text to picture plate. The cloud method developed now unused is quite focussed on theme through word selection. Thinking about DNA bases annotated as ACGT, then by selecting 100 words I can make narratives out of the English language set of around 1100 words where those four letters appear e.g. ’photographic’ (phoToGrAphiC). Still singing the praise of the method inspired by Recombinant rhymes and DNA Art (RRDA), it provides the photographer with exceptional flexibility in overlay as narrative creation which is important to my choice of conceptual approach in the abstract surreal, if it helps the viewer along. There is a visual challenge of overlaying the text with an appropriate photograph that blends sympathetically with the work. There is a variation where a poem or song lyric can be overlaid on an image as text to picture (rather than as emphasised words in a cloud). The outcome of RRDA subtlety leads the narrative line as the other of the 300 words are still shown. As the viewers eye scans the composite they may trigger not just on the emphasised words but others they see. By leaving this open to the viewer they do in effect choose their own interpretation as they do normally but each time they return to the verso and recto they can gain more as the method keeps on giving.

So why so much thought on something that didn’t get used in Past-Present in the Artist’s book or the extended Exhibition with multiple themes in separate spaces?

It’s just that the method is contemporary and works in its own right. It is combinatorial in word selection (100C3 for the current approach for the mathematicians amongst us). Out of Past-Present has been created a whole area of endeavour and here the idea is shared with anyone interested in such ways of visual language creation. I have time to consider a side exhibition of RRDA pictures as a standalone group of theme common that contrasts with the figurative forms from my main exhibition of abstract surreal pictures.

I now think these verso images deserve a separate portfolio. An early example of the method was to use poem or song lyrics (in text to picture generative art) overlaid on the source picture. There is no creative limit. The fact I like it so much as photographer was the trap if I shovelled in too much research spoiling the simpler visual narrative that was used in the end. Post-FMP submission I’m going to return to RRDA.

The rules that developed for this included a) not crowding out the central pictures, only allowing then to punctuate transitions in picture style.

The text method is flexible and effective but for ‘Past-Present a mythology of time’, these verso images graphic content I decided would push against the grain of abstract surreal pictures.

What I’m focussed on is creating a resolved body of work.

The textual method formed a valuable part of my research and acted as insurance if there was viewer disconnect. The abstract surreal images paired up well visually and this reduced the need for additional support. That turned out well.

The resolved body of work approach led me to rationalise the use of ghost pictures. Place is represented as ghost landscapes and are core to the work. The people ghosts and the cellular division theme together are dropped as themes in the book. Ghost have a place in the exhibition as a side exhibition.

A-V production that included ghosts was researched as part of the FMP PDF. Again it is interesting and possibly quite dramatic but is not needed for now.

Poems and Interview

A version of the book has been created as a PDF and ISSUU publication in order to gather in review comments.

I had to resolve different views about supporting pictures with text. For now I’m happy to have:

  • a short section of prose relevant to the theme
  • a poem about place and archive picture
  • an interview
  • the core pictures
  • repeated as miniatures with caption and print details as an index

There are improvements and review inputs to deal with before imposing and collating the pages into the book.

The book will be case bound, with a block comprising kettle stitched signatures. This type of hand-bound book was created in an earlier module. The current book will be the fourth to be hand made.

It is expected that an even tighter edit will arise from this for the Final Major Project PDF submission.

Final Major Project FMP PDF document

This is the last major assignment to be handed in and is worth 60 points. It is due before 1May. I have this in synopsis form ready to pull together.

Inputs to this will include the picture edit developed out of both the exhibition and the book.

Media will be created to demonstrate the materiality of the book.

In lieu of the exhibition, the 3D model created, for now, will be set-up with the selected pictures and screen captures will be taken from a 3D model I’ve made to synthesize the studio/gallery space.

Audio

I’ve been keen to address a requirement to present in different forms. Recently I gained insight. I’d seen the exhibition and book as equivalent when in practice they have very different sets of demands even though the pictures overlap.

I want to avoid forcing the narrative with audio in the FMP PDF. When the pictorial element starts to resolve why then distract the viewer?

When it dawned how different the exhibition and book are then the problems resolved. I enjoyed the learning and it was simply a journey I had to make.

Although the audio has been dropped it may well find its place in the exhibition later on where the physical space benefits from creating a conducive atmosphere with linked but contrasting works. The thing is our aim is a professional body of work of high quality. Adding media, audio in this case, that produces a Ronald Dhal-esq scary story feel which he did aimed at the child audience then it clearly goes wrong. The work would start to emphasise the child in me and while the creative child never went away the style goes against the level of publication required for this FMP.

I did additional external studies on sound recording and on podcasting and set about practising technique within my practice. It proved to be quite sustaining and a) took my mind away from being too focussed on my practice. This led to a breakthrough with selecting the edit and b) settled my thoughts during the lockdown.

My work was not halted because I’d chosen at the start of the degree second module to work on a subject that was sustainable. However, there are many distractions to photography while comprehending the impact of the lockdown.

External courses, applicable to my practice proved a welcome distraction. There has been knowledge and skill development that I’m glad to have had even if audio is dropped.

External Practitioner Reviews

The reviewers have adapted to circumstance with the COVID-19 move across from physical exhibition to making of a book. I shouldn’t complain that the project changed emphasis as in a last year critique I not only began to be recognised as a maker of books but was strongly advised to make a book. Why didn’t I listen? It would have been too easy to follow the guidance but once more I had a journey of learning to embark upon. I came into the course with a specialism in books and it would have been my loss to only had done books and not have explored what this course has to offer to practice development.

I met a chosen art photographer reviewer at the exhibition space before lockdown and they kindly went over an extended set of test prints and later the draft portfolio website. I decided to engage early and bring my external reviewers back in towards the end. It is a delicate art interacting like this as it chews up the time, and actually had to disengage for a fortnight to get on. Usually it saves failure and avoids starting all over again.

The practitioner reviewers onboard I’m delighted to say are:

  • a fellowship art photographer
  • a fellowship fine art photographer
  • a fellowship book collector and editor
  • a journal editor and
  • a multi-genre, multi-award winning and twice professional photographer of the year finalist.

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