PHO705: Week 16 Reflection

Guest Lectures – GLs

Two recent GLs were attended. The first related to online dating and second-hand wedding dresses the second GL looked at life in an eastern European country under what was effectively martial law.

One to One – Critical Review of Practice

There was also a Supervisor session that turned activity on its head in changing direction from project development to one of the main deliverables, the Critical Review of Practice. It mattered not that anticipatory work had begun as nothing of a deliverable standard was yet available. A previous mention was made about having to make a late start this task due to circumstances beyond normal control.

The CRoP task has a dependency on the planned exhibition as that is where the behind the scenes shots are to be obtained and practitioner critical comment received.

The work that was progressed was made to the drumbeat of “No work – no exhibition – no book” etc.

Project Development

A session was conducted to split the overall InDesign file into themes:

  • ghost landscapes
  • ghost images of people
  • narratives of biology around cell division

This is not to mention subdivision into individual Surreal images, and Animals. There are also Ancestral Family Archive images to restore and reprocess as own DNA (base pairs) and glow image.

A lot of this is still in the melting pot as it is a natural development stage as an image set forms, plus there are influences from the book designer session.

There has been some reaching out to practitioners in advance of the Exhibition.

Print is becoming a more imminent activity. A preliminary decision is required over further tests of print making using the matte paper stock.

To create atmosphere, work on a video storyboard was started but somewhat frustratingly dropped, for now, to give precedence to the Critical Review of Practice.

PHO705: Book Designer Meeting

We had privileged access to Book Designer Victoria Forrest in a group session. It was useful for me although I’m erring towards a handbound artist book dummy and an exhibition in a box, a repeat of a successful approach from tyhe summer exhibition.

So what was learned:

  • focus on my DNA – I’d downloaded it pivoted it and searched it for transcription errors. It is an interesting error rate. There is some research out there about various diseases and these kinds of errors. My genome is good though as it is 99% shared with other human beings.
  • there’s the work I mentioned before on making visuals from base-pair sequences. As mentioned, there is a legal requirement to look after the genome data for my own protection and that of my offspring. Dry data is a bit too graphic for my liking but can be made to work by skilful handling. I prefer it as a blank verso decoration. Too much of it will be samey or overwhelmingly and potentially take away from the visuals I reckon. 
  • develop an offshoot of an artistic work recombinant rhymes. My take is I’ve gathered all the words containing a letter A, C G and T (base pair letters in DNA) and pick salient words in pairs or threes to describe a context around the project (photography, Great War, etc. but the layout of a crossword puzzle element. 
  • don’t associate with the Berger quote I made for being too inflammatory. Very strange on a Visual Arts course that the subject of reversing Berger’s observation should seem difficult. Surely art should challenge its own foundations. There is nothing illegal that couldn’t be published and after all, why waste a founding pillar and key inspiration to my work?

What else?

  • something on paper gsm was answered 300 gsm is too much and 175gsm is preferred
  • mtDNA is something Victoria is comfortable understanding but leave it out in preference to using own genome work
  • Victoria wanted to know details of my method of making. Seemed a bit cheeky a question in a public forum but unless the person you are working with really knows your work how can it be successful?

That was it in a nutshell, and very good considering five students were on in under two hours. Victoria must have been exhausted by us but thank you.

PHO705: Similar Works 1

Here is a first new blog post asking, “So where can others’ work be found that has some connection with my practice?”.

Apart from already established and earlier blog references in the PH704 module to Garry Fabian Millar and elsewhere in PH702 and PHO703 to Rachel Howard a revisit is made in advance of the Assignment: Critical Review of Practice.

Here is a single image only comparison from National Geographic (Greshko, 2018):

Photograph Richard Hammond

And my earlier effort in more sombre mood:

DNA Sequence Overlaid with mtDNA Trace
Photograph Michael Turner

I’ll be recreating this. The next version of this work will use my own genome. It was sequenced last year and is currently under my analysis for base-pair errors. This not something to go into too much as it gives insight into the potential for disease a look into the future. As a STEM graduate with expertise in Big Data, it is possible to interpret the science and in particular the data and start to follow scientific papers including on the topic of DNA mismatch (Stavenger, 2010).

It is clear now that the double helix is an idealised form. Due to coding errors the span of the ladder rungs changes while there is asymmetry in the strand thickness and weird folding occurs where molecules other than ACGT bases enter the sequence. There is a knotted effect.

My own connection with the National Geographic story is through working for the corporation that supported the computing for the Out of Africa project. This was an early project that traced the human genome back through eastern and western migration routes to Africa.

As blogged in an earlier post it is the same corporation that provided the infrastructure for the World Community Grid project and the reason for donating computing cycles to this from 2004 on Human Proteome Folding through to current day projects supporting computational biology research into cancer, Aids Zika virus and many more including ground water and other geographic analyses.

Bibliography

Greshko, M. (2018) How We’ve Tackled the Evolving Science of DNANational Geographic.

Stavenger, J. (2010) Mapping of Switch Recombination Junctions, a Tool for Studying DNA Repair Pathways during Immunoglobulin Class SwitchingScienceDirect.

PHO705: Week 15 Reflection

Now that was what is called busy. The connection with the University has re-established big time. There was a gap over November, December and January. To be fair there was the end of year “holiday” and the so-named 3 week assessment period – needed for the other Modules.

Thinking about this in reflection then, several group lectures were attended and there was the follow up from the previous week’s module leader one2one meeting that led to running a consistent aesthetic right across image set.

We also briefly held a peer to peer meeting, the first known of in several months. We’re a small cohort with 10 of 13 starters still around. Only 8 signed up for these meetings. A connection has also been made with a student from another cohort who was passed in my direction by a tutor.

There were also the preparations for a meeting with a book designer Victoria Forrest. All good as the work is interrelated and the key to the public showing. No images, no public showing. The research was toned down and research-led practice had been in full flow again this week.

So how did the book design session go? (rhetorical question). That’s in a separate post.

It was good and has focussed on incorporating one’s own genome. My DNA has been sequenced and has now been downloaded and is being analysed for transcription errors and an academic publication read on the topic. Although specific to kidney disease and with some reference to mice it was nevertheless useful to learn of the error rates, non-base insertion and the weird folding that results. In the mind’s eye the DNA spiral has an idealised representation. This reading gave the truth.

Anyway, the knowledge gives the photographer some deeper information to back up any talk that might follow?

Scanning became a big thing and a whole weekend was spent learning software SilverFast and i1 colour calibration. The reason for this is/was to up the level of professionalism in reusing family archive photographs. The current set I accessed needs to be rescanned. A hidden agenda exists too. The acquisition of a film scanner and darkroom gear means work can go back to film photography. This will now be after the FMP but it is an exciting development in photography. The Studio where I’m based (less so with these studies) is starting to run combined workshops on Landscape and Street film photography. I’m really pleased with this revival.

With so much digital practice and digital darkroom processing, it will be a relief to turn back to film.

Thinking ahead of the week there is the catch-up to be made on Video making and drafting of the Critical Review of Practice CRoP.

Such is the life that this blog post will need to be cut back as some of the activity reported falls into the Week 16 reflection, due in the next day or two.

So, all in all, a very rewarding and active time on the project with work changing rapidly at this point. Lots of connection with the University has been helpful while consuming more of that rare resource called time. Can’t win.

PHO705: Book Design

Having completed most of the research behind the project work is moving forward rapidly as more focus is gained and a single line of visual narrative / aesthetic is settled upon.

The previous work product for a Module Leader one to one session simply gathered together themes that had been evolved. With direction the rate at which outputs are created has increased.

In what follows there is a settling on the aesthetic of “charcoal on antique paper”. Here the aesthetic has extended across a set of evolved themes going into the book review.

After the review, the aesthetic has remained and the direction has been advised on:

  • drop abstracts with added newsreel stills
  • focus on DNA results for self
  • avoid any feminist reference as too hot a topic(?)*

It was decided that a book would be hand bound and advice was obtained on paper weight.

The focus would be as before (at the Summer exhibition), a set of 18 prints on 40×50 mounts, with a miniature exhibition in a box to take beyond the gallery setting. Notes were compared on box production.

From a recent talk by Victoria Forrest it was clear that time would be tight for a full book design and production phase. Whilst it is possible time would be a tight squeeze and the intention was anyhow to hand make the prints, book and boxed prints as artist materials. Past experience of making provided the proving ground. It should be possible to make all of these outputs.

Where time becomes a squeeze is in making supporting materials: contextualising video/moving stills, exhibition guide, online portfolio, marketing leaflets … busy, busy, busy.

Single Pages (scroll to view, hover and click to download)

PDF-for-VF-ver-0.1

Spreads (scroll to view, hover and click to download double page spreads).

PDF-for-VF-spreads-ver-0.1

note:

*“Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed is female. Thus she turns herself into an object of vision: a sight.” (Berger, 1972) page 47.

In my work, men receive their energy-making biology from their mothers. Men are viewed as agents of women. More specifically Men as sons are agent to their mothers.

The stability of the genetic code of energy-giving (mtDNA) is key as is the male being blocked from passing this gene to their offspring. The theme is of a Mother-line.

Bibliography

Berger, J. et al. (1972) Ways of Seeing. re-issued. London, [England]. Available at: http://www.greenpenguin.co.uk.

PHO705: Week 14 Reflection

Trial Assignment PDF

Having published a PDF with an extended payload of hi-res photographs last week, in preparation for the one to one meeting with the Module Leader, it was time to keep to plan and size the file. There is a 10MB file limit for the assessment. Success! Over 50 images, which should be over that needed to submit the Assessment PDF and filesize which was whopping has dropped to 5.5MB with no appreciable loss of quality on-screen.

In contemplating the book publication, a second PDF is required and this would need to be produced at high resolution.

There are some known niggles in the content of the following but here is the ‘same’ or equivalent PDF from last time but in its new reduced size. The PDF has been created using industry-leading page layout software Adobe InDesign:

PDF-trial-v0.1

This was an important trial and it has worked. The picture content can be refined as one image went missing during the day and will be tracked down. Three images processed with marginally incorrect height – width was fine.

The experience improved with some practice. Images untreated, or taken as they were at multiple size, needed to be standardised and this took place using Adobe Bridge – Photoshop to run some automation to fix dots per inch and pixel WxH to fit the page and the adjusted 3mm page margins created.

The more work done in preparation the easier it was to manage InDesign. Not just easier, the experience went from impractical to smooth operation.

Some bells and whistles will be added at the next iteration using available image files – many new items are being lined up to go into work, although the exhibition is expected to repeat the 18 number of prints created at a summer run of the exhibition. A greater number of images would be required of a book. The book number will be limited by shadowing standard commercial offerings in view of the potential cost impact in later in taking the hand bound book dummy to a designer.

Returning to the immediate needs, sections have to be added for

  • captions,
  • text (make an appropriate selection fo text),
  • a bibliography,
  • attribution list for images,
  • content page,
  • interactive elements, next/prev buttons, section buttons and so on.

Exhibition Printing

Paper and printing considerations and mounting without frames become necessary to investigate for the charcoal style sepia images with the given light vignette border style. A lesser paper choice last time, was Epson double-sided matte for the handbound book and laser paper for the exhibition guide.

Hahnemuhle art paper has been suggested, whereas until now gloss was chosen for its handling of deep blacks.

Board mounting needs consideration as well as the method of hanging. A professional exhibition stand lined up for the exhibition – not used during the summer, is not recommended at this stage.

It is recommended to print as early as possible to anticipate the time need for adjustments. A first print was made! The available paper stock was Epson double-sided matte, used in making the book for an earlier Ed Ruscha challenge.

There are numerous actions required in the making process to be visited. ISSUU has been revisited as it is used as a means of simulating the book to aid the design, printing and binding. It also makes an electronic version publicly available.

The https://turnerphoto.art website was trialled in the previous module as a commercial selling site and unexpectedly went offline and has since been restored. At present, the marked assessment items take priority over website building and the selling of photographs is something for beyond the course.

These technical matters are always tempting to get involved in but for now, a reasonably good PortfolioBox portfolio site has been maintained and although there are layout limitations each use, there are get around and the company is meant to be quite responsive, although it has not been witnessed personally.

The website had a different purpose earlier in the course, where now, like during the Summer exhibition practice run, it is intended as a support to the exhibition in terms of proving multimedia in promoting it and in generating atmosphere.

In the same vein, social media is being lined up for promoting going public. Instagram has been quiescent for a while ready to roll once the exhibition date is decided (third week of March or first week of April) depending on making more work of publishable standard and whether or not to attend the Falmouth 2020 Face to Face ‘week’.

The outbreak of coronavirus and its spread through international travel could be a risk with this year’s event. A watching brief is being made at present. This is particularly sensitive personally having contracted a bug several times last year in spite of being vaccinated.

Not considered yet is a video recording of an artist talk and the remaking of the moving slides video with better images. An artist talk was run several times during the Summer exhibition.

The making of the portable exhibition in a box continues to be important in moving beyond the studio confines to take the discussion wider to allow it to continue. An unexpected benefit last time was it generated an invitation to attend an art sale. The commercial element whilst welcomed was a little ahead of practice development at that stage.

PHO705: Week 13 Reflection

One to One Preparation (and now for Group Critique)

In preparation for a “one to one” session, a range of portfolio work has been prepared in advance. Beware, if you download the PDF file it is a large size even if already reduced*.

For presentation, it has been decided to screen share in Acrobat page edit mode to give both a visual overview and page by page viewing depending on the zoom setting.

Status is a decision needs to be made to proceed with one theme. of which several are shown.

Probable preference for priority is indicated as

  • sepia landscape & family archive
  • cellular theme
  • abstract with still from newsreel
  • surrealism and other
PDF-trial-v0.3

There is a display of:

  • a scene-setting image of current theme is on page 1
  • sepia ‘Landscape’ prints at the start on pages 2-13
  • a transition from cellular to landscape is at pages 14 and 15
  • the earlier ‘landscape’ style variations are at pages 16-19
  • a venture into the surreal is at various points starting at pages 20-22
  • a family archive crossed with ancestral biology on page 23
  • a theme of ghosts is explored at pages 24-28
  • a non-human variation is on page 29
  • a montage series with newsreel extracted stills begins pages 30-32
  • a lesson learned is on page 33
  • the pan cellular ex cellular series runs over pages 34-40
  • running on to rather surreal examples of work on pages 41-42
  • the cellular continues on pages 43-47
  • the re-use of earlier work is broached at page 47
  • an emergent theme example ‘animal life’ in b&W and colour pages 47-49
  • random elements end the series pages 50-52 with page 52 a caricature

*Learnings at this point prior to the meeting concern the first collection as a PDF and files size being 8x over the allowance. It is the first collection and the solution is to use Adobe InDesign and the save to animated PDF format. This was taught at the university and the subject of an FMP video.

in the transition to professional quality (a lot of the earlier work has been experimental) standardised sizing has been arrived at and needs to be worked retrospectively across the whole image set for display consistency.

PHO705: Guest Lecture (Publication) – Christiane Monarchi Part 2

Watch this Guest Lecture video and comment.

This is a lecture designed to help artists/photographers take their work forward and is based on experience in the art market and photography competitions.

The idea is to think of the product and object product quality. Lower quality can be of greater value. Long-lasting ink helps as does a small edition size where 3 might be better than 20 is unique. Start with low prices and grow with later editions after sell out.

Consider mounting so collectors can store as archival photographs and longevity affects price.

Another consideration is to prepare a statement for later to be condensed. Have own words ready to go.

It’s better to have updates on the website rather than separate CV. It is valid to have an interchange say with other students and record their interpretation of work. It is very different to only the artist’s own words and less emotional and personal.

Social media should be about you and promote others exhibitions. Link back to the website.

Advice from an RA talk was given. Then different types of gallery were classified.

In another part of the guest lecture consideration and advice was given over Competitions (and residencies) and of Collectives where people foster creativity and show together.