PHO705: Week 4 Assignment Final Project Proposal

This was a week for handing in the FMP Project Proposal

Proposal PDF

The next step is to book a 121 meeting with my Supervisor.

Bibliography

Howard Rachel (2018) Repetition is truth via Dolorosa. Edited by A. C. Beard Jason. London: Other Criteria Books. Available at: newportstreetgallery.com.

Major Update to Blog

A major update has been completed including a retrospective change to posts from the earlier modules that impact on my FMP.

#Advice

A video resource made available showed how the staff of Falmouth University approach a Critical Review Journal and especially during assessment, so it became clearer how I might adapt some details of my own blog.

Step by step guidance is provided in the document MA Photography CRJ Guidelines (September 2019).pdf is designed to help new starters as well as more advanced users.

A second video resource provides an example of one students work.

A result of using the above resources, videos and guidance document is that the FMP blog has now been restructured and is more professional. It should be easier to research as work continues.

At Week 5 the restructuring is basically complete:

  • tag cloud search is introduced
  • category filtering is introduced
  • FMP posts structured and scheduled (use tags and categories)
  • backup is automatic (security)
  • language selection included (quick win)

PHO705: Guest Lecture Judy Harrison

This video was returned to on 16 October. This lecture tunes in to the representation of people through community collaborative practice.

I then relate Judy Harrison’s work to my practice to find out what I can take from it.

Studying at college with what were to become famous names such as Martin Parr and others, Judy was in good company. Judy’s work showed a great deal of social concern around the topic of identity, migration and racism. Her work also featured themes of strong women in farming and in the pottery industry.

Judy’s work showed genuine concern for people as she spent time talking with them. Examples here were the women working on farms. Judy noted the importance of engaging with the women who were her subjects. This was part of slowing down. She did not want to take advantage of her subjects.

An element of rephotography existed as Judy often returned to the original places and so was aware of changes that had occurred.

Judy instigated the setting up of workshops in migrant communities and by lending cameras, and by showing how to use them her subjects were able to document their own identities. This was a lengthy venture in which Judy was involved for 15 years.

The collaborative work toured and exhibited nationally.

Work began to locate in a third space, between shooting indoors and outdoors. Her collaborators were able to bring gestures of performance and create images of self-expression. People were given a voice. She would often go back over the years. The children had grown into adults and now had their own children.

Judy then became concerned to document place, people and school. Her concern was to mend a cultural divide, through a literacy project.

Her work changed to that of the decline in the potteries and she became deeply ingrained in the remaining industry and alludes to the sensory experience in that working environment with the smell of clay and dust.

Judy is an advocate of making work on photographic film as a means of slowing down. This compares with the Final photo project. As a photographer, 35mm film use has been readopted. However, its use is infrequent. The digital practice is unavoidable in the Final photo project where unseen data on the digital sensor is key. Slowing down still occurs but this occurs at the post-processing of image art in the digital darkroom.

#Advice

The work is not about Nostalgia. Is nostalgia a negative?

Obtain a balance between others’ interests and the photographer’s interests.

Collaboration is encouraged by the University. A challenge is knowing how to mark the work. Family archive prints are a newly introduced part of my project as I seek direction in mixing art with photographs others can identify with. If seen as collaboration it is in the context of using historical records.

Bibliography

Photographs – courtesy Judy Harrison from Falmouth University Guest Lecture

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.

PHO705: Theme Change Military to Place / Flora

The project direction is such that an alternative figurative image direction is being sought. At the end of PHO703 a resolved body of work was created.

An attempt is is now to be made to move on from Warfare to a theme of place. The purpose is to create new work for an existing practice whose intent is Identification with people and place past.

The place is that of coastal inland where the landscape and seascape will have altered little other than the ruin of abandoned buildings.

So to enhance abstract work using images of the fauna and flora of today as representation of that experienced by ancestors.

Photographs made now span or collapse into a single moment a timespan of over 100 years. This is the same for a Biology of female transmission of the highly stable mitochondrial DNA. The two themes form a parallel, strengthening the identification of specific family members today with specific others in the past.

PHO705: Guest Lecture – Jon Tonks

This was another video in the initial backlog of lectures that had gone unmentioned/undiscovered for reason(s) unknown.

Introduction

Jon Tonks is a British photographer based in the UK. His work focuses on telling stories about people’s lives shaped by history and geography. With an MA in Documentary Photography & Photojournalism from London College of Communication, his work has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, Sunday Times, Telegraph and FT Weekend Magazines, the British Journal of Photography and more. He has been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing National Portrait Prize three times, twice for the Terry O’Neill Award, and in 2014, Tonks was presented with the Vic Odden Award by the Royal Photographic Society for his first book Empire – a journey across the South Atlantic exploring life on four remote British Overseas Territories. The book was hailed by Martin Parr as one of his best books of the year. His work is now in a number of private collections, both in the UK and abroad, including The Hyman Collection of British photography, and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Texas. https://www.jontonks.com/

Projects discussed:

  • Empire – this was based around Ascension, Saint Helena then Tristan de Cuna, 2007-2014.
  • Falklands for which a book was published
  • South Pacific 2014-2020
  • Multi-story arts-based charity commissions Magnum photographers. Took part in a project about the Black Country around Sandwell and the Polish and Eastern European migrants.
  • Vanuatu – a South Pacific island where colonial and missionary influences were rejected. Its people instead identified with the economic strength of the US and awaited the arrival of a white man as US citizen who would bring change.

#Advice

Jon’s work followed on from his photojournalism. He worked for a local newspaper for a while but it was very limiting. At this point, he turned to his study of the lesser-known Empire. Following portfolio review was asked to do something more exciting so went back to revisit. He showed the book dummy at University.

The experience in Jon’s case was he didn’t know what the outcomes might be for his work. Work just snowballed.

It can help to go to Photo Fairs and Portfolio Reviews, but these can be harsh and will reduce some people to tears.

Jon started with simple portraits. One a group of boys and a bicycle was put forward as a Taylor Wessing entry.

Tonks’ Falklands book was published by Dewe Lewis. The layout was of simple two page spreads with a photo on one page with the text opposite. A specialist was used to do the map artwork. Almost by surprise, the Falklands book sold out. A second edition was created, of which there are some left.

Doing the projects again, they’d be done in a slightly different manner.

Projects can take 6 years, 7 years and evolve.

Release forms were used with the Ascension project but this evolved to asking permission and taking contact details if the work was to be used in a commercial sense. What the work does is represent things as what are. Everyone knew why the photographer was there and what he was doing.

Self-funded projects were possible through weddings and some documentary work for the Nokia brand. Tonks relocated from London to cheaper areas. He felt he missed some openings and events.

There is the idea of pitching to a newspaper and building up a relationship. It is difficult to do it with full-time commissions.

The new location in Bath it quite centrally placed. Being local you get to pick up work there.

It is important to realise the kind of photographer you aren’t. Realise what you’re good at and not so good at. Try to remain focussed like an arrow.

Working with an agency can be very very interesting in bringing support https://www.togetherassociates.com/artist/jon-tonks/stills/

Bibliography

Photographs – Jon Tonks from Falmouth Guest Lecture

PHO705: Guest Lecture Paula Gortazar

This guest lecture took place on 2 October 2019.

Paula is from Spain, studied Law while being mentored in street and documentary photography. She travelled to London to study for a certificate at Central Saint Martins, then she studied her MA at the University of Westminster. She now lectures and is researching for her PhD.

Until taking up academic studies, her work did not have a subject specialism, but it does now.

She described her projects and these have found success.

Free Hope

Homes of political activists in Cuba. The spaces were photographed and pictures published alongside an outtake from the associated interview.

Common Space

When Europe was going through a massive recession, day to day decisions were being made in the European Parliament buildings by faceless people. The work photographs the office spaces where these people operate.

As the furniture of a futuristic style was featured the aluminium prints were made at different sizes to keep the furniture to scale in the photographs. creating a kind of typology.

The work was also published in a newspaper format. This made sense as most people would only be aware of the European Parliament from the newspapers or television.

The newspaper added context around the location of the buildings photographed. Installation shots were made that show the newspaper being read.

Winter Holidays 2011-2013

In Andora in the Pyrenees, there is a transformation being made to a winter holiday resort. The project photographs the human intrusions built into the natural landscape. These are sometimes brutal and generally, look out of place and especially so in the summer.

Alto al Miedo (Ceasefear)

A project photographed in the aftermath of the ETA ceasefire in the Basque region. A thousand people died and there was extortion of small businesses.

The project photographed graphic still life scenes of seafood brutalised in different ways as a metaphor for what had gone on.

Helena 2013

Helena is a muse from Greek literature. She was written about by a man and desired by men who would go crazy over her. The project gave voice to Helena and alls here to respond in an evocative conceptual work.

The Rope 2014

This was the most personal project and most poetic. It is of fragile family memories and the photographs which hide identity, are left unexplained.

Followers Work in Progress 2017

The Followers project uses archive photographs from the Czech secret police archives detailing who a person met, where and what time. There was a style of photography where the camera was not put to the eye. There is a striking similarity to social media profiles where we now give away the information for free so it can be used by the authorities as and when they need to. The work uses 35mm film photography with pictures taken in the secret service style, in the same places but of people photographing themselves on smartphone or tablet.

#Advice

Think about aluminium prints as a publication method.

After the MA the photographer became very busy making numerous projects but has had to slow down during her PhD.

Make interview recordings and include excerpts alongside an exhibition.

When making is Work in Progress, the photographer had already gone public and had the completed work lined up for a group exhibition in May 2020. Being active so is a way of taking an idea to completion.

The following statements are recorded as thinking points rather than being prescriptive advice.

There is a consistent visual language, for work made across a range of different subjects.

For Caterina (our host), during her studies, there was a need to create a consistent visual language as if that was important.

The work evolved organically from Pure Documentary to Conceptual, to Pure Conceptual,

PHO705: Guest Lecture Victoria Forrest

Pre-amble

Watch back on the video and comment.

Nigel Ready CRJ here worked on a book on his FMP worked with Victoria.

Introduction

We’re now into the new year 2020 and a good time to have looked back at this video of the making of a book on the landscapes of Seamus Heaney, for now, MA graduate Nigel Ready.

There is more activity with Victoria who is returning to give another talk in her series followed shortly afterwards with a review session which has been ‘booked’.

Addressed during the break has been the limited numbers of pictures available to publish and so this has been worked on. Still not satisfied, there are now more images where each theme has a limited to draw upon. Making a book is going to be a big challenge notwithstanding having hand bound a book already for the course.

Challenges also are cover embossing / cover image as that craft has not been tried out.

Victoria’s Guest Lecture

What follows are some key points and a few images that serve to remind.

Apart from the introductory slide showing some of the scope of Victoria’s work, the others cover: the brief, reply, embossing of cover, the outake with shovel that determined something of the cover design.

Production steps

This outlines some of the points when working with a book designer.

The brief in the slide above was accompanied by a tight edit. The reply slide content widens what the book designer gets to see for the edit.

At the early stage the photographer has cropped in to images and they have a significance that can be lost on the viewer. The scope was quickly reduced to poet Seamus Heaney. Victoria twice used web resources to get a feel of the poet speaking/reading his poetry and of the styles of cover others had used before taking inspiration from Nigel’s photos.

Resolve what you are saying.

Determine emotional response and voice.

Allow wider selection to depict the subtleties of a complex subject. This used 150 photographs. It was only 64 at the start.

Get a feel (YouTube readings).

Work always starts with the photography and cases of two images saying the same thing reduced to one image.

Choose top images in editing down.

Made pairings and made a run (narrative).

Narrative shouldn’t be forced.

Go by the run of the images. Outcomes could be adjust, re-create or reshoot. Probably best is to stick to the run where possible?

Title VERSO inspired by listening to the poet. Digging the earth and turning the soil, turning words and in bookmaking verso is the left had turned page. So a name and a narrative.

Developments led to borders and lines and visual themes.

Some photographs remain personal to the photographer yet fall outside the narrative e.g. being not moody enough. These are separated out.

With a PDF and printed pages, many hours are spent re-arranging pages and tweaking.

Next were design features. The photography informs the design, Accompanied by the Google search of visual language others have used.

Decide on graphics and type to create a mood and tone. The cover design was embossed as ploughed fields with typography inspired by the poet’s gravestone.

Summary in relation to the Motherline project.

The starting position was alluded to at the top of this blog. Book experience has included being published in a group photographic project, and having learned how images are laid out and paired up, along with an awareness of typography being important as well as transitions etc. Finally, rudimentary making has been done by way of a practice book, a dummy and an exhibition pamphlet. A number of other books have been witnessed being reviewed.

In essence, the subject matter of design has many varied parts and practice is neat but fairly elementary, especially compared to what is on the shelves of the bookshop.

An attempt will be made at preparing a piece of work needed for the meeting with Victoria. The base question is whether there is enough image content to fill a book in a consistent manner.

Related activity around a module end and the lead in to a book and an exhibition was an experience gained. The challenge is over what can be done in the available time and being ready.

PHO705: Pecha Kucha

I’d given a public talk on Photography in the past, around 2016, where I talked mainly about my focus on Abstract Art. I mention this not just because of the consistency in the practice choice but because more to the point I’d used an automatic slide advance approach to time my talk to an allotted time period.

That was very much like a Pecha Kucha, which differs in having a defined 20-second slide duration, but given I’d practised my talk, it turned out on the evening that apart from fairly blinding lights there was no lighting for my notes and so I proceeded to talk off the cuff. It went surprisingly well and the overall presentation was second perfect.

For the Falmouth FMP, preparation was somewhat different as for a start I’d been overseas, well to Amsterdam at least and with the many distractions of the Unseen exhibition, other exhibitions and travel.

Well, of course, I’d planned ahead and had set about an initial structuring alongside several goes at scripting from various angles to see what might work.

It only needed to be assembled and polished but for a bout of influenza that laid me low for a week, so there against all my plans I found myself cobbling the presentation together at the last moment. What with several confusions over my booking, I ended up with an earlier slot than anticipated. No time to record over audio and file on YouTube but made it in the end for another off the cuff presentation.

The PK did it’s job.

Slide deck only