PHO705: Guest Lecture (Research) – David Fathi

Early mention was made of this guest lecture in a 121 session blogged here.

David is a scientist breaking free into a world in which he makes art.

As always an important element of these resources is to identify with practice in the Final photo project.

David summarised three projects using these bullets which served as a useful summary:

Project summary – David Fathi

David’s art allows him to take up his interest in the areas of knowledge, politics and science.

Three works are presented: Of these the first two projects, Anecdotal and Wolfgang are books. The next project, The Last Road …” moved on to become an installation.

  • Book: Anecdotal … nuclear bomb testing on own lands e.g US Nevada
  • Book: Wolfgang … Pauli Quantum physics, anecdotes of things going wrong, CERN archive
  • Installation: The Last Road .. Henrietta Lacks archive HeLa cells

In presenting Wolfgang in different contexts, David began to explore the installation as a way of publicly showing “The Last Road …”. 

David felt he could have continued on in the vein he started (in some respects poking fun) but he was driven to do more serious work. Whilst earlier did poke fun it was also factual. 

The work relating to Henretta Lacks, controlled the viewer experience as the installation layout meant the viewer walked between Dark landscapes with Hela cells opposite Intimidating text. A video played at the exit end in this liminal space. The video comprised film stills with an audio track that played louder closer up.

The migration to installations fell out from presenting Wolfgang creatively in numerous settings. Don’t let the form of archives seduce you. It is a danger. Maintain control. Control also by viewer walking between Dark landscape/Hela cells opposite Intimidating text. Video at the end shows film stills. The music gets louder with proximity.

Examples of stills given included the Film Godzilla as metaphor for the atomic bomb.

The talk highlighted ideas of balanced pairs:

  • mortality – immortality
  • personal – political
  • science – art

#Advice

Some take-away advice was “Don’t let the form of archives seduce you. It is a danger. Maintain control of your work”.

On the subject of abstraction, David quoted an observation by Stanley Kubrick:

Be self-aware of one’s art and the impact it may have. Stay true to one’s intent.

It is important to remain aware that work can transition from a book publication to an installation

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: 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: Guest Lecture (Research) – Sarah Pickering

I went back to watch this Guest Lecture video and make observations.

#Advice

Sarah’s many projects are formed though collaboration in the making. The work is very much out in the public domain. This was true of the Pickpocket performance work that used a professional pickpocket to set-up a reverse pickpocket as a means to training artists who are always being asked to contribute their work without a fee.

The many other works were also collaborations, mainly with the emergency services, regarding training for riots or fire, gunfire and explosions. These are dynamic interactions in the real world and end up in print.

An observation Sarah makes is around social coding and stereotyping in the scenes used for practice. Whether this is the type of furniture in a room or being briefed that a mother went to the shops and left her children in the flat where the fire is (an intention being to help stop fire fighters from identifying personally with the circumstances).

Advice included a point about get your work out there and show your work or it will never take off. It will remain under your bed.

The art business is very hierarchical in Britain when it comes to accepting photographic art. You don’t want to fall into the trap of making painterly work. Presumably, this relates to the photographer adapting to the gallery market instead of staying true to the foundations of their work.

The session ends with a call to making physical prints, Even small prints rather than exhibition size. Make them and move them around. This is especially important in an online environment such as our MA course.

Bibliography

Photographs – Sarah Pickering from Falmouth video lecture

PHO705: Publishing your FMP – Case Study 2 (Gideon Mendel)

Here is the link to the video for this case study.

#Advice

This case study contextualises Gideon’s work which like Lixenburg’s is published over several platforms Exhibition, Film, Publication and Web once public interest had been established. Their work evolved over the longer timeframe.

This gives us the idea that our own work might gain traction and so we have been forewarned. There is also the reality of what we can achieve in 6 months and how we should involve others early to go public with more than one route.

There is quite a lot of useful advice on FMP production given by relating to Gideon Mendels project Djangal (jungle camp in Calais).

His work presented a problem of camp interns being offended by photographers. Instead Gideon decided like in an earlier project on flooding to gather the artefacts left over and rephotograph as well as create an installation.

He made several visits over a few months to do the photography which is consistent with our available time on our FMP.

This sets a standard for Falmouth FMP students, I imagine is the idea. In a sense, the previous module led us to practice and Landings 2019 organising experience also helped. In spite of having not known about this case study at the outset, it was stumbled upon, I was naturally set to propose several publication routes. Had I known of the Case studies in time, I could have watched them before making my proposal as it would have reinforced my ideas.

Interestingly Mendel settled on a floating style with objects photographed in the studio on black or white backgrounds. This is very similar to my newly developed approach in photographing Fauna here.

Bibliography

Photographs – Gideon Mendel from the Falmouth FMP video lecture

PHO705: Publishing your FMP – Case Study 1 (Dana Lixenberg)

This video provides a case study of Dana’s work. She started off with a commissioned piece for a newspaper. The quality of the portraiture led to funding to revisit the US over 20 years. The work culminated in a collaboration that resulted in a compelling presentation through the web.

The use of a large format 5 by 4 field camera made Dana’s work special and led to the making of beautiful large scale prints. I don’t think MA students would be expected to accomplish 20 years of success in 6 months remaining. However, it is worthwhile remembering where beautiful portfolio images can lead and so to be both motivated and aware of what can transpire. Our very best work we realise will not happen in a rush at the end of our studies but has to be built up over the months ahead. We need to have already begun.

The use of film would not work for me. At present, the only portraits I have come from the family archive as my work reaches back over a century.

#Advice

Start early with our FMP project work and perhaps aim towards multiple ends: book, exhibition, web, audio, video as appropriate. We need to be focussed on online delivery of our assignments