Visit Falmouth, take part in workshops and have work critiqued – at least that was the original intent. A COVID-19 pandemic put an end to F2F for myself.
Some engagement is/was possible through online delivery.
Zed Nelson Q&A (Thursday evening)
It was somewhat strange attending a Q&A for a film premier not seen. Nevertheless, being familiar with the area of London, the subject of the film meant it was possible to get the gist and follow along.
Guest Lecture Jo Coombes
A presentation on carbon footprint and zero carbon shooting or filming.
A selection of slides Jo Coombes from Canvas Lecture
Guest Lectures Saturday Toby Smith
Although aimed at climate change, the subject matter centred on effective campaign communications based on social science or indeed marketing.
The parallel with my project work is taken and guidelines are extracted that may improved the messaging.
Keywords were taken as narrative, authenticity trusted communicators, identity and values and apply to my FMP project.
Another important element to my FMP is with the negative messaging of loss to have a positive for people to switch their emotions to.
Strong stories are about us: our pride and strength. The FMP project is driven thus.
The Principles 1-7 above have an impact on the FMP Project. Initially, Principle 1-5 seemed the most applicable to my messaging but so too does Audience Platform in the FMP project case around Exhibition versus, book or basically the range of ways of going public.
Mention was made of Fairness and this takes me back to a course I attended on Fairness in the Environment presented by Leeds University. This went into a lot more of the principles of fairness and ran as a two-week course.
Guest Lecture Professor Gary McLeod – Iwate
On the subject of aftermath photography, we were shown current research work around connecting with the tsunami torn areas of Japan. Out of respect, we were asked not to record images.
What resonated here in this fast-moving presentation was mention of spatial and temporal subject matter which resonate with my interest in and around photography.
It is always interesting to see Gary’s visuals from Japan as culturally the signs (semiotics) are vastly different from what is seen in Western cultures.
A practitioner was approached for feedback and this turned into an immediate request to see the portfolio online. This seemed too soon as the different activities have still to come together into a whole.
Initial indications are about the work being striking and original and as test prints, at 4×5 inches they would be better viewed at greater than A4 size. A3+ posterboard on order has now arrived and is ready for printing.
Looking at the care instructions I was surprised to read the small print. Matte posterboard being a heavy-duty option compared to gloss photopaper requires more care. It has to be covered in an absorbent paper when taken out of the printer. It then needs 24 hours to fully dry and for the colour to fix. Then it needs mounting behind glass.
I’m glad there was time in the plan to allow for this unexpected activity.
All of this because the size of the images matters. I’d normally go to A4 so the prints are going up in scale.
As mentioned elsewhere , I’m willing to give it a go. It could be an expensive failure and I might have to revert to my standard A4 on 40x50cm mountboard.
The cancellation of the exhibition means it could all be counterproductive anyway. The revised intention is to film the setup on iPhone and add a spoken narrative. I’m going to have to deal with iPhone stabilisation issue, but I’m sure that can be managed.
I can see me doing a practice run with a planned and edited spoken word displayed on a teleprompter. These things require a team effort because so many hands are needed and the delivery requires practice. If I’m pressed the video might be released. My concern is about introducing new technology at this stage on top of 3D modelling tools Sketchup, and Vectorworks, Generative art software Processing and P5.js and Wordclouds. I really need to concentrate on the marked elements of the course.
The poster-boards will bring a whole new challenge to taking the work public regards unfilled white space. The finish is matte (when glossy was my intent). Size is large (when my original intent is memento based). Then there is the need to re-layout the images and there is the increase in size and weight for 30 prints.
If this goes badly wrong at least I should have some nice individual prints over and with enough mount-board ordered I can repeat the whole exercise on A4 gloss. This variation from plan doubles my workload and in circumstances where an exhibition may be postponed with the current virus threat to society.
Another constraint is the supporting material of which video and exhibition guide are examples that require time and effort and may not get to be appreciated or shown even in public.
Re-emphasis, as now expected by the University, is towards the book. This was never meant to be the main public deliverable only an artist’s book dummy as a keepsake from the exhibition. Taking the book to the main deliverable makes this a serious concern that normally requires collaborative input and the design assistance of a graphic designer. It is widely known that photographers on the subject of their own work are poor at bookmaking in terms of selection of edit, layout, graphics design and writing.
Would it be wise to follow this direction as the work is not going to be shown at its best as working with a graphic designer and printer requires three months elapsed and there is only 6 weeks or less remaining?
This global virus pandemic is really destabilising the end product quality. It is a killer in the normal sense of health but is also a killer with the additional contingency planning and actions and new methods of making required. It is a great shame to have a two-year build-up to the end of the course and then have this destabilised in the planning and acting at the final stage.
All this effort and the prospect, not so much of a good outcome that reflects engagement, but the question and doubt, will the outcome even be a pass?
The exhibition is in an advanced state of planning and now for contingency planning as the global alert has increased over potential COVID-19 pandemic. Update: The WHO has now declared a pandemic. The Falmouth Vision 2020 event is still going ahead thus far/ did go ahead – I decided to avoid the risk.
Yesterday it was announced that the NEC Photography Show is to be postponed until September. Over the next month, the situation has the scope to change even further.
The current state of 3D modelling has been advanced again this week to include the first photograph on display. Here is a more simplified model and detailed model.
Titled deja vu as the 3D render is eerily like being at work. There are still some simplifications such as walls that are hidden so as to aid both construction and the ability to walkabout within the 3D space. The final edit has yet to be decided but when ready (soon) my photographic images will appear within the mounts. One is shown at the moment.
Narrative Quotations of Past Present
I’ve researched some narrative quotes for my Critical Review of Practice and front stuff in the Artist’s book. I’m going to choose two from the three I think, probably eliminating the harder to follow. Let’s see.
The Moment of Hearing
“The moment of hearing appears to be the moment of writing, for it is only in the recapitulation that he hears the bird. Experience is an a posteriori reconstruction that does not make the past present to consciousness but projects it into the future: “O you demon, singing by yourself projecting me, O solitary me, listening never more shall I cease imitating, perpetuating you”
“Memory, as philosopher James Booth states in his recent book Communities of Memory, “memory is centered on an absence, tries to make it present, and in this effort answers the call of the trace. “Traces are markers pointing to “a past that dwells in the hollows of the forgotten” I call these traces “memory texts” in any form, be it a map, a story, a landscape or a building or a monument, or a ritual, a performance or a commemoration, … You and I participate and share these memory texts, feeling that “the call of the trace” makes the absent past present. A memory text is nearly always a space of contestation: different people attach different meanings to the same semiophore, they remember the same event differently. The … collective memory of the … War is shared by people who have not experienced the war or the anti-war”
3. Back in Time
“… practices performed by the family members produce movements in three directions; it transports the members of the … family back in time as well as it makes the past present and, last but not least, the image itself makes sure that the family is remembered in the future. Finally (hopefully), in the end, the portrayed members of the family will be granted a place in heaven.”
Quotations chosen from English Web Corpus enTenTen15 under SketchEngine with CQL query [word=”Past”][word=”Present” & tag!=”V.*” ]
The query eliminates the Verb Intransitive form of Present.
Exhibition Ticketing and Announcement
The announcement was created for the exhibition including a description thus:
“Past-Present explores the experience of identification with an ancestral past linked through the modern science of genetics. The author’s genome is decoded and shown within the work mixed with a trace of healing glow.
The family previously unknown from “Galloway’s Great War” who fought in the Royal Black Watch, are reconnected with, in a commemorative work that bridges to history over 100 years ago. As a photographic work, there are visualisations throughout of imaginings and fading memory of childhood of places common, including agricultural and coastal lands. The science connects trace of human healing glow with wounding suffered by those injured who returned to battle and were lost in the Great War.
A style of word cloud visual, inspired by a genre of poetry known as Recombinant Rhymes and helps guide the narrative.
Opening times 14:00- 17:00 on public days Saturday 11th, Sunday 12th and Monday 13th April.
With the kind support of Simon Ellingworth multi-genre multi-award-winning professional photographer and studio owner at Amersham Studios. Part of Trade Secrets Live, trainers for Royal Photographic Society workshops and premium training by international photographers and digital artists.”
In case the Easter exhibition has to be postponed, some options are being considered without yet knowing what would be best at satisfying the course requirements:
Continue with handbound artist bookmaking but make a public offering via one of the commercial book sites.
Extend the 3D environment I’ve part built this week for the Studio/Gallery space and send a link for viewers to browse the installation. I’m not sure if this will require viewing 3D drawings in SketchUp Pro 3D via the downloadable SketchUp Viewer or move everything over to VectorWorks software which allows browser viewing. Taking this to the next level of Augmented Reality AR would be a push given the time left in this module.
Set-up the studio space as planned (football is currently being played behind closed doors) and provide panoramic viewing or live Whereby access. Potentially I could record an artist talk (an unrecorded one was given at the summer trial exhibition, and feedback was recorded.
A model is created for the Exhibition space to experiment with layouts. Here is the first building block to start to work with.
This is a straightforward adaption of the Summer exhibition which had three of these layouts in a C-shaped floor plan. The adaption is from triptychs to a straight run of 6 mounts of 40cmx50cm mount boards.
Each mount stands on parade or is a metaphor for such.
Ultimately, two other rows will be present making a total of three rows and should run parallel so when the viewer is looking at the front row they would see all of the other rows behind as soldiers on parade. The viewer could process as if conducting a parade inspection.
Okay, so the above 3D model as the start and is an enabler. It has already allowed some ideas to try out as to how to best place the work as befits the intent.
More to follow.
On reflection, the exercise to date has demanded practice be gained in using the 3D IMB layout tool SketchUp Pro. This time is an investment for now and for the future.
Ancillary items to add to the space include the facsimile of the exhibition in a box i.e. the portable exhibition, which stands alongside the main exhibition while it is running. Another item to include is the handbound book.
Within the space there will also be two video screens, an audience seating area and a secondary exhibition of outtakes.
Studio equipment on stands has to be added for the somewhat vital daylight balanced lighting.
The philosophy the author is running with is of not being precious about the prints and in fact encouraging audience interaction. I’ve been normalised to the presence of print handling and during the summer exhibition, I encouraged viewers to interact with a couple of exercises being set out. It created a degree of immersion and sat alongside the other media and sound, creating a suitable atmosphere. Overall this makes a kind of performance.
How does this day have a bearing on this blog? Simply put it is the link to the motherline theme. Motherline is based on the mother’s DNA. Her mitochondrial DNA in particular provides us with the means of creating life giving energy. The associated stability or unchanging structure within family members allows identification with ancestors. This DNA bridges across time for thousands of years. My project bridges just over a century.
When the current project is complete, attention can be turned to other families, to other past events, to be carried forward for future generations.
This blog post reflects on test printing as all of the images made since mid January are made available for an edit. I also reflect on the presentation of work as a facsimile exhibition in box packaging. Finally, there is another look at the Critical Review of Practice for which drafting has fallen behind plan somewhat.
Printing went remarkably well – all 50+ images printed, and are all keepers with no adjustments having been required.
Reflecting further. The prints are quite dark but are subtle in toning and not burnt out in the shadows. It is just that the content has to be discovered under daylight-balanced lighting. This was the same for ghost images at the Summer exhibition and worked as the effect was to draw in the viewer. This is taken as the ideal and fits with intent. The printed work was as envisaged and on-screen and in print. The subject matter by design is somewhat dark thematically as place or landscape as faded memory visualised in the present.
A visit was made to the printers and they allowed their guillotine to be used to cut down 4×6 prints to 4×5 size. This was quick and consistent.
The visit to a commercial print shop was also made to enquire about exhibition support items.
Leaflets to promote the exhibition (100-200) as handouts.
Bookbinding three copies of artist books with 64 pages. With embossed/gilded text, front stuff printed and blank pages for the 4×5 glossy prints to be attached. The paper choice wasn’t found to be suitable for my project. A case bound book dummy I’d made earlier has off white paper and makes an excellent surround to the gloss prints. The printer I use offers Black, Light Black, Light light Black and Photo Black. A lot of variation is found in the shadows. This all adds up in the right direction and matches the intent and has been tried and tested.
Packaging for the portable exhibition is in support of the memento style. It is consistent with the commemorative theme.
The previous exhibition was a success as a learning activity even though it was not heavily promoted. Leaflet handouts will address this. Business cards were not available at the time, This was a shame as there opportunities to exchange details. Business cards are available this time branded as turner photo.art. Marketing extends to a new website with consistent email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
All is becoming consistent and should serve the cause beyond the MA Photography course.
I’m finding this rather tricky in terms of judgment and I’m currently exploring making. In some areas, it is similar to hand bookbinding and case binding. Why has the time been spent on this? In some respects, the making of an exhibition and the creation of a book somehow overshadow what is potentially the main element of public delivery. It may not be as showy but the author believes the exhibition in a box method best as it extends the conversation about the project and in scale and approach creates better opportunities for others to engage.
In critique, I was advised that it might be advisable to make my own packaging rather than use a commercial test kit box. As noted earlier I have been experimenting with making and ran up against the problem of scale. I’ve been working with a simpler design and large card stock with the hope of being able to run the card through the printer before curing, folding and glueing. So what seems an aside in going public is actually the main preferred approach. If this became the absolute first choice delivery method, it would be necessary to swap from mounted ZINK prints to the preferred glossy prints.
This is very time consuming and extends the demands on skill set to 3D layout software and the practice of making packaging while being at a fairly late stage of FMP. It is is not yet too late but making a box is burning up my time. A question of maintaining balance and acting on the priorities.
As a fallback I have two commercial packaging solutions that meet the original intent, pre-FMP:
Staying with the commercial packaging for a moment and meanwhile creating my own design, I have new packaging shown above for 4×5 prints for edit/critique and a new box for the 2×3 facsimile prints.
This removes the dependency on designing, printing, cutting, folding and glueing which are not central to the delivery of the project in a public setting.
With an eye on commercialising art, the following is from AffinityDNA (AffinityDNA, 2020). This blog post demonstrates the contemporary and growing economic aspect of this genre allied to my photography. Perhaps by marketing photography, it could pay for the cost of the studies. Currently, there is communication taking place with another major DNA testing supplier on an introductory and more mundane level perhaps.
DNA Art Portraits
Display your DNA fingerprint as a unique personalised piece of genetic artwork! DNA art portraits from only £179
In terms of context this offering is available amongst other tests:
This week saw another Guest Lecture take place this time with Paul Clements Photojournalist.
GCC – Module Leader
There was also a Group Guest Critique GCC with the Module Leader and for some reason, probably to do with timing and project evolution the meeting was very much appreciated. A welcome relief.
I was able to announce the intended exhibition visit of a Contemporary Photographic Editor who I am pleased to have volunteered to take a new job with that is waiting until June. This is as a proofreader for a Contemporary Photography Journal. My earlier offer of managing a related ISSUU electronic magazine was something the photographic group couldn’t wait 8 months for and one of my colleagues from a group photographic project took it on. What this says is that the chosen attendee is someone I’d hope to work with.
The course remains the top priority above all else other than the mortal deeds and close relationships. The reason for reflecting on this is to demonstrate to anyone thinking of doing a course such as the Falmouth MA Photography that even at 10-hour study plus 10 hours photographic practice per week, it requires a high level of commitment. My admiration goes to those able to deliver at this level such as is likely of the really talented artist of whom there are many examples on our course. For me, I hail from STEM education and associated career and often worked from a blank sheet of paper through to architected solutions and adapt my experience to the MA.
During the week attention turned to the facsimile / portable exhibition and a small sense of pride resulted from taking printable cardboard and making a dummy box. Printing the guides at A4 resulted in a miniature of only 2’x3′
An estimated card stock size of between A3 and A2 would be required. The 2″x3″ dimensions are only external for the pictured dummy box. The final box needs to be double the size to accommodate side-by-side mounted miniatures.
Size didn’t matter for the dummy as the intent was to work out the printed surfaces, the orientation of the print surfaces, the glue points and the folding sequence. An overall feel for how sturdy the box would be for the given card stock was also confirmed.
There is the other matter of now the box construction is would be feasible, how is it to be decorated? The theme of own DNA or historic archive? Design decisions need to be made.
Recombinant Rhymes was an ArtSci feature on the radio that I’ve adapted to my project to aid context building.
A revisit was made to the literary element of adding contextualising text, specifically a list of dictionary entries for words that contain the base pair letters A, C, G and T.
Perhaps there is scope for extending individual words by concordance perhaps using SketchEngine (SketchEngine, 2020) to expand the text.
On the one hand, this can be categorised as being overly smart which detracts from communication but then again it does allow context to be built and we (I certainly do) know how important context building can be to a visual project especially in the surreal abstract.
Video (and Music)
Music was composed for a Ghost theme feature after a visit to a store that demonstrated the GarageBand music composition software.
A further video has been storyboarded as a follow on to a successful showing at the Summer Exhibition.
While the focus of late has been on writing the Critical Review of Practice and on ‘plussing’ the visuals, this post relates to a switch back to the public presentation of the work.
Switching tasks like this may be less efficient than running each task to completion. Professional development of photographic work might call on multiple resources, but here for the MA Photography, the author becomes or has become the sole resource for all of the work.
Collaboration practised as a professional specialism has yet to flow into the making process, so it has become quite a busy time. Considering research turned to image-making only a month ago then a lot of ground has been covered.
The making in the digital darkroom had been akin to the process of creating a painting. Now with the change of methodology and processing, the mental task of visualising and the way time is consumed is closer to photographic sculpture.
A National Portrait Gallery Friday evening drawing session attended last year, was conducted with white pencil on black paper, the process of observation and drawing likened to making sculpture.
Guest Group Critique
In presenting the work it was noted how exciting the development of the project has become and how this easily extends the work beyond the time available to us on this MA Photography course. With practice development, the project is likely to undergo further extension and presentation beyond May 2020. It is very exciting at this stage
A minor comment was the all-important selection of the sans serif Granville light font for use in the book and in the PDFs – the Critical Review of Practice assignment PDF and the book PDF hand-in.
As for the work shown in the critique an original InDesign file was shown having evolved through a one to one session, to the recent book designer session, to the subsequent splitting out of themes into individual files and finally and importantly the addition of more new work.
The project had all along used but now re-presented as having a trace of author’s DNA both as glow and as a graphic sequence.
There was a call to make a model in order to experiment with the layout of images. This would be more of a demonstration or proof exercise. In practice, the author has ongoing access to the studio/exhibition space and so does not require the intermediate step of modelling layouts. In an earlier module, a summer exhibition was held in the same space over a period of 8 days, it will be four days this time.
What is different this time is that access has been gained to the material for constructing exhibition walls from a stand kit. In a one, to one review the author was advised to set this aside, for an unexplained reason. It would be easy advice to take as it makes life easier. It is felt that there was a misunderstanding in communication via the online medium used.
Style, Paper and Framing
The critique was missing much in the way of content as the reviewer needed to see actual prints in front of them. The previous comment was of the look of charcoal on antique paper and was an accurate description of the aesthetic. This is produced both as an adjusted filter and is reproduced as a homemade PS action.
The vignetted borders were said to act against normal framing methods and would require consideration.
A test print was made a little while ago, was on matte paper and set out on the surface of the stock off white mount board used in the Summer exhibition. It all went together well.
There was a call to make a pile of prints as the quality can be more readily viewed and prints allow the order and sequencing to be done. This is an imminent action.
The project is the same one from the start of the course and has recently taken on more of the surreal. As image making began little more than one month ago the thrust has been towards image-making to gain images in sufficient numbers, higher than in the past with quality and with enough spares to support an 18 image exhibition and a book.
From recombinant DNA and an artsci process of creating poetry. A decision was made to discover all or as many dictionary words as possible containing base pair letters A, C, G and T together. In order to form two or three-word crossword sections, words were gathered into themes.
There are sufficient range and sophistication of meanings linked to the work as photographic, biological and socio-political. The book would be expanded with facing blank pages set to contain word pairs or triples. No rhymes are intended.
A simpler approach is the word cloud.
A variation might be to take advantage of scale in order to emphasise selected words. Chosen words correspond with a facing image. The method can be used with my DNA results in two cases; autosomal and mtDNA
The Autosomal DNA chromosomes 1-22 are over 99% identical to all other human beings. Above are the mismatch errors in a 600,000 sample from 1.3 trillion base pairs in each DNA strand.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) samples for the author scaled by position in the DNA chain. mtDNA exists within the female line, is passed on to offspring female and male offspring and is very very stable. By remaining constant for thousands of years it easily spans the century of ancestors to whom the author identifies with. The Past Present.
The forthcoming Vision 2020 Symposium and gathering at Falmouth University would have been a great opportunity to unveil the prints. However, the finite risk from the current virus spread and attending an international conference, combined with having caught a virus three times last year, making attendance undesirable.
A social media campaign is planned and the first post made on social media using Instagram account foto_graphical. An Easter exhibition has been announced with the title: Past-Present.
Strands are coming together in consistent form.
The advice given to another student was not to go overboard in obtaining practitioner input. A note I’d sent in earlier indicated that one remote critique was booked in, while a contemporary journal editor had responded as a potential attendee. A multi-genre, multi-award-winning professional had also volunteered to comment. Three others are on the back burner, so perhaps this is what was meant as going overboard – two of the three are recognised, art photographers.