PHO705: Assignment Final Major Project (PDF)

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Depending on the nature of your practice, your resolved project may take one of a variety of forms, however, and it will be an original, authored piece of creative practice, of a publishable standard. It will have been developed over the FMP module and will extend from or otherwise draw upon work created throughout the course.

The FMP submission will evidence and document your critically informed project that is resolved to a professional and publishable standard.

The form that your project takes will depend on the nature of your practice and should reflect your creative intent. It should be resolved as appropriate to the work itself and with considered purpose. As the consideration of audiences and markets are key concerns throughout the course, you are strongly encouraged to present it to an appropriate public audience.

This may include, but not be limited to:

  • An installation
  • Solo or group exhibition;
  • Editorial feature;
  • Book;
  • Online project;
  • Workshop;
  • Performance, screening or talk;
  • Symposium or conference presentation.

These artefacts and/or activities should be clearly evidenced in your FMP submission.

The document should include:

  • A concise description of the work,
  • The final images of the project or an edit thereof,
  • Documentation of the publication (e.g. installation shots, tear sheets),
  • Critical feedback or analysis from other professionals (if applicable),
  • URLs to relevant video or other supporting material.

You may wish to remind yourself on guidance for documenting your FMP submission.

Format

It should be:

  • A colour, page-numbered, PDF document
  • Text should be 1.5 line spaced and use a 12 point, sans serif font
  • Fully Harvard referenced throughout, where applicable
  • All images should be fully titled and referenced
  • No more than 15MB

Assessment

The Final Major Project accounts for 60% of the final grade for the FMP module. It will be assessed on the following Learning Outcomes:

LO1: Technical and Visual Skills

Demonstrate an awareness of a range of photographic and image-making processes, and display accomplishment of photographic skills relevant to your practice specialism.

LO2: Visual Communication and Decision-Making

Exercise discernment in the making, resolution and presentation of practical work, and an ability to communicate ideas through creative visual strategies.

LO3     Critical Contextualization of Practice

Apply a critical awareness of the diversity of contemporary photographic practice to the development of your own work, and inform your practice through historical, philosophical, ethical and economic contextualization.

PHO705: DNA Art Portraits

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 demonstrates the contemporary and growing economic aspect of this (my) genre of photography.

Bibliography

AffiinityDNA (2020) Affinity DNA. Available at: https://www.affinitydna.co.uk.

PHO705: Generative Design

The exercise using word clouds worked/is working well according to the intended outcome and as such is being developed into another technological sphere of artsci known as Generative Design (Bohnacker, 2012) and the update (Gross, 2018). We are now at an intersection with computing.

Generative Design: Ghost with Lyrics – Michael Turner

Generative Art practice has a returned and is being made part of my MA Photography. The above image is one of the ghost pictures that arose from healing photography. It uses a graphics or more specifically a font from pixel values technique and is created with the lyrics of Robert Burns song, A Man’s a Man for A’ That. (Burns, 1795).

Bibliography

Bohnacker, H., Gross, B. and Laub, J. (2012) Generative Design Visualise, Program, and Create with Processing. English tr. Edited by C. Lazzeroni. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Available at: www.papress.com.

Burns, R. (1785) A Man’s A Man For A’ ThatBurns Country. Available at: http://robertburns.org/works/496.shtml.

Fross, B. et al. (2018) Generative Design Visualise, Program and Create with Javascript in P5.js. Edited by C. Lazzerolli. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Available at: www.papress.com.

PHO705: Portable Exhibition

This blog post refers to the idea of taking the work outside of the white cube exhibition space, using facsimile mounted prints in a display box.

It was recommended at the Arles critique last year that a new box is made and while open to the idea, it was decided to investigate. This was done by researching the methods for making a clamshell and flip lid boxes.

Having handmade a box in the past it has been clear how much of a challenge such a simple intention can become. Research has been conducted and shows a range of techniques from simple paper folding through to the use of guillotine and cast iron press.

There are many minor considerations that affect the construction and finish – tiny triangular nicks and unexpected cuts and folds to cover corner spaces and raised section to keep out light and dust. This is quite an enterprise. The tooling is an expensive consideration as is attending a centre such as London Book Arts.

Design: woohoo

Box-making cut details

So what about drawing on the resources of a firm that offers custom made boxes. The factors come into play are cost etc. At a 5,000 piece run the box I’d need would be approximately £1 per box. That’s too many boxes and too high an outlay. At a single box the cost is £50 – it is almost better re-ordering the original DNA test kit.

To show how subtle the flip-top box is to make a PDF design has been attached:

WOO-PHL49-A5-template

Here is the dummy box using the above plan to work out print constraints, folding, scale, weight, strength and glueing:

PHO705: Group Critique with Module Leader

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.

Recombinant Rhymes

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.

Word Cloud

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

Author’s Autosomal DNA and error rate

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.

Author’s mtDNA

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.

Vision 2020

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.

Campaign

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.

Practitioner Comment

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.

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: Thinking allowed/aloud

As current research continues into Phenomenology and mtDNA, a break is taken to cast ahead to publication. The work has to be taken to the public and is still experimental as shown in PHO705: WEEK 9 REFLECTION. Some of the making stages in the plan will arrive soon enough.

It makes sense to gather some direction even though the desire is there to complete work in progress reading as mentioned in PHO705: WEEK 10 REFLECTION.

Thinking through one idea here has a purpose of creating a Strawman. This will have enough form or structure or clarify the artistic design. This idea is about a book and starts with Ghost images. These creations appear fleetingly and have to be captured before they disappear. There is a need to conquer this and to avoid there being no work of this type to show. Apparitions are always welcome to this work but the nature of creating them is open to the random. A perhaps predictable but nevertheless still surprising element of this randomness occurred during a period of distraction in which Ghost images began to appear in other made work, outside of the main project. Perhaps these intrusions are just another type of Ghost, linked to the main project by occurring during the project timescale.

In the previous module, an attempt was made to help progress by restricting image scope to abstract Landscape. At first, this was a mistaken choice. As with Ghosts, Landscapes are also subject to random process but nevertheless, they regularly feature in the work.

The experience was somewhat worrying as having restricted scope to landscape the theme was worked towards for a solid two weeks and the worst – no Landscape could be made. Letting intuition take over the method of obtaining the desired result was finally fathomed. A way of making at will was settled on which largely depended on recognising the kind of processed starting image that might work. There is an earlier Landscape representation with horizontals and verticals that would have been readily obtained from the start, which may still feature as published work, but what it had led to was a more imaginative scene that required more sophisticated processing more akin to perspective images as compared to earlier flatter images.

All this is taken as a lesson learned around the intuitive making versus something closely allied to a ‘commissioned’ approach.

The Week 9 reflection above turned up a Ghost of the kind sought. But what if that was it? in this case, it might be necessary to showcase the image as a full-page and in a process of categorisation accompany it with earlier ghost images as a plate of smaller inserts.

There is a process of categorisation that would work equally as well with the works other representations (seascapes/mountainscapes and spaces inner/outer). Each theme is linked phenomenologically with narratives of the work but each would stand as page layouts again of main plate and plate of earlier images at a smaller scale.

This is not the final piece, but thus far it has an appeal. It leads to making and it does so in a structured way and way familiar to the author and in some respects reflective of Victorian categorisation schemes e.g. in Botany.

To take this a stage further is to keep a keen eye on an Exhibition element of publication. Having learned from visits of a knowledgeable public to a Summer exhibition of recent work, the idea would be to take from this experience the things that worked well with the audiences especially around sequenced narrative and incorporate it into the same book design mentioned above. A book section that parallels an Exhibition.

There then becomes a substantive element of making to propose and gather feedback on from the University regards the standards of the MA Photography course. It would also be necessary to maintain balance, i.e. not try and squeeze a long term project into the remaining time on the MA.

What this is about is the practicalities of making images of publishable standard, about a book and about an exhibition.

There are extras planned either to assist the design such as using ISSUU as a template for hand, bookbinding. Or, to help create impactfully contextualisation by making moving stills and or a video. This created the atmosphere at the earlier summer exhibition.

The exhibition has some elements that are rooted such as the available space and the possibility for lunchtime pop-ups during appropriate photographic training sessions. Some elements would be more aspirational at present, such as making society presentations at one or both societies with which there is an affiliation. This is a likely outcome but does not have to happen within the timeframe of the MA, it can follow on. Another group or in fact two groups have made approaches although generally so and not so much around a specific project.

The aspirational elements represent To-do action if something is to be achieved. For the purpose of the MA and continuity, it might make sense to negotiate with the various societies and groups, the further taking of the work to public view but time this to allow freedom to complete substantive work for the MA without too much self-imposed overload.

PHO705: Module Leader Group Critique

The Forth cohort attended a group critique, our first. 

So to take forward something of the way of telling a story by a compositional layout of three parts or by layering an archive portrait with a glow picture. What feedback would the Module Leader and the audience give? 

The PDF attached can be downloaded. It contains two frames, one for each method of interest.

Group-Leader-Critique

This file displays correctly as two pages: View – Page Display – Two Page View for side by side comparison and to show a two-page spread. 

Making a PDF was practice for the 1 May hand-in but at a small scale. 

The intention is to obtain a PDF with the best resolution images saved as an Interactive PDF format. InDesign frames also ensured even sizing of the pages which of different dimensions from Word and Photoshop were made consistent.

(TBD Here is the work of the previous module:)

#Advice

Here is the update promised following today’s critique. The idea is to obtain greater clarity and something actionable. 

We learned from each other’s presentations as much as our own. Five presentations were made:

  • Skye rushes
  • Balloon metaphor
  • Mitochondria 
  • Book diptychs
  • Urban regeneration

Reaction to presentation – mitochondria

Preparation for the presentation was done well in advance and meantime it may have answered its questions on the layout options.

There were no audience comments. Module Leader comment went beyond layout, drawing attention to the importance of mitochondria as a theme. Agreed this is the foundation and deserves elevating.

The work could be helped along by adding a family tree. Privacy issues prevent this. However, a generic chart is something I would entertain.

David Fathi did some work concerning the impact on moral actions of using a genetic sample for modelling disease.

The family mitochondria theme does have a historical element as that is what stirs a feeling of identification with family. It is more of a driver or motivator than the actual purpose of the work which is forward-looking in terms of light reemerging as a means of detecting disease. It may be infeasible in the time to go too far with this science as the interest is really in creating art. The art is from the digital sensor capturing glow in a way the eye tends to ignore which given a style of processing can emphasise the hidden.

General learning points

The advice given related to the current point we are at on the course. Our work needs to be research-driven. So back to the books.

Also, no work is ever complete until we present it to the public as the audience. It is then we start to gain feedback.

Practical learning point

The student from the group, three months ahead of us was very informative in terms of their planning. They have already had their exhibition with six weeks to the end of their studies. They had 30 images and proposed editing them down to 20 for their portfolio but add in more for a book. They received interest in their work, and a videographer had even filmed their work.