Assignment 5 – Why Embroider Over Photographs?

Coming to the end of Foundations In Photography with the Open College of the Arts, I find myself in a position in which I want to prepare myself to study for a BA in Photography. Assignment 4 can definitely be the basis for a further body of work, probably by using masks or embroidering on top of photographs to represent aspects of self, especially those hidden repressed aspects. Sewing over the top of my own face was successful, if painful for me to view.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Staged photography and still life, and found a means of being authentic with these genres.

I’m very keen to explore these themes further, and I believe that sewing on a photograph provides an additional means to enhance or hide emotion and mood. It also means that I can distort my images and create harmonious fine art photography or to create visual and emotional discord and discomfort.

I’m going to use assignment 5 as a stepping stone to develop a secondary skill, and so that I can use photos as the basis of mixed media art.

Review – Laura Letinsky

Laura Letinsky (1962)

  • Still life
  • Staged photography
  • Controlled accidents
  • Food
  • Destructive nature of human behaviour
  • Domestic life
  • Food as feminine – social construct of domesticity
  • Pastels
  • Lighting – bright, natural
  • Space
  • Broad White backgrounds
  • Half eaten foods, non desirous {unlike traditional still life of food)
  • “half eaten apples, dirty dishes, and scattered cake crumbs are a common motif in her work” (Amy Lin (2016))
  • “I realized that still lifes were a vehicle to explore the tension between the small and minute and larger social structures.” (Sholis, B (2013)
  • Uses other photographs, including her own, highlighting consumption of photography and relates this to consumption and homogenization
  • “Using images already in the world, including my own earlier works, is akin to using objects in the world. It’s all raw material ripe for the picking, so to speak. Alongside its ability to provoke sensations, photography has a way of homogenizing experience. A piece of schmutz and a Tiffany diamond become the same thing once they’re photographed—they become photographs. I have a love/hate relationship with this power of the camera to flatten difference.” (Sholis, B (2013))

IllFormVoid31_620_webFig. 1. Untitled 31 from Ill Form and Void Full (2011)

Untitled-no-18Fig. 2. Untitled 18 from Ill Form and Void Full (2011)

08_IllFormVoid_49_2013-1024x787Fig. 3. Untitled 49 from Ill Form and Void Full (2011)

Having looked further into Letinsky’s Ill Form and Void Full series I have decided that I am going to make use of her style of still life photography for assignment 5. I’m already producing a body of work on eating disorders, and Letinsky’s style of cannibalising photographs adds an additional element that I can use to explore anorexia. Catabolism is a state in which the body turns its own proteins (muscle) into energy which can then be used so it can function. The body destroys itself in order to preserve itself. I am going to seek permission from Letinsky to use her photography in order to do so.

Illustrations

Figure 1, Letinsky, L; Untitled 31, Ill Form and Void Full [paper
Archival Ink Print]; AT: https://aperture.org/blog/interview-with-laura-letinsky/ (accessed on 26/12/2018

Figure 2, Letinsky, L; Untitled 18, Ill Form and Void Full [paper
Archival Ink Print]; AT: https://aperture.org/blog/interview-with-laura-letinsky (accessed on 26/12/2018)

Figure 3, Letinsky, L; Untitled 49 [paper
Archival Ink Print]; AT: http://lauraletinsky.com/photographs/ill-form-and-void/ (accessed on 26/12/2018)

References

Lin, A; 2016; Laura Letinsky; Online: AT: https://www.widewalls.ch/artist/laura-letinsky/ (accessed on 26/12/2018)

Sholis, B; 2013; Interview With Laura Letinsky; Online: AT: https://aperture.org/blog/interview-with-laura-letinsky/ (accessed on 26/12/2018)

Addition References

http://lauraletinsky.com/photographs/ill-form-and-void/ (accessed on 26/12/2018

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura-letinsky (accessed on 26/12/2018)

Review – Jamie Rawlings

Jamie embroiders over the top of appropriated images and cigarette cards. He is a visual artist and is inspired by nature and rainbows (Rawlings; 2018)

Rawlings uses bright colour and a variety of patterns. He doesn’t make use of the variety of stitches that Puentes does, but his patterns can be very intricate.

rs=w_600,h_600Fig. 1. Sable Antelope (2018)

Cigarette cards are small, which adds to the admiration that I have for his creative expression. I struggle sewing onto a large photo, and found that the stitches often tore the paper. I could be wrong, but I believe that Rawlings makes use of a hole punch. If I decide to emulate Laura Letinsky, it would make sense to combine this emulation with that of Rawlings. The simple lines would be effective.

I recommend viewing Rawlings’ Wold Animal cigarette cards. I feel that the embroidery is complimentary, despite the bright coloured threads. You can view his art on Instagram here. 

Illustration

Rawlings, J; 2018; Sable Antelope [Cigarette Card and thread]; AT: https://jamierawlingsartist.com/shop-1?olsPage=products%2Fsable-antelope (accessed on 21/12/2018)

Reference

Rawlings, J; 2018; About Me; Online: AT: https://jamierawlingsartist.com/about-me (accessed on 21/12/2018)

Review – Maria Aparicio Puentes – Research For Assignment 5

I have now made the decision that I am going to embroider on photography for assignment 5. I’m not yet sure if I will work with emotional expression or something in the style of Laura Letinsky. Whatever I choose, I am looking forward to sewing over photo’s.

Maria Aparicio Puentes (1981)

  • Puentes “hand-stitches over images. She works closely with the existing structure of the photographs, overlaying geometric shapes with thread.” (Frankoski, 2015)
  • She uses a wide variety of stitches
  • She mostly embroiders over black and white photo’s, adding the dimensions of colour and texture
  • Some of her stitching is complimentary to the photography
  • Some are quite garish and out of place
  • She collaborates with other artists and photographers

Be-brilliant-05_2xFig. 1. Be Brilliant 05 (2014)

This photo conjures up two ideas to me. One is of a person who is both singing and plucking music out of the air. It has a beautiful, sensual nature, and represents a positive, joyful connection with the universe.

The other thought is around bulimia. Of a person expressing the high of vomiting. Bulimia may sound quite disgusting if you are not bulimic, but for many who are it can bring relief and sometimes joy, especially in the earlier period of the illness. There is potential for me to use this style.

M.-Aparicio-Puentes-Sasha-MademuaselleFig. 2. 01

The above collaboration works well. It’s crisp, simple and the three pastel colours make the art very natural. It’s so subtle that the stitching could quite easily have been on the jumper itself

Illustrations

Fig. 1. Puentes, M, A and Wierzbowski, L; 2014; Be Brilliant 05 [photographic paper (semi-matte finish) and threads]; AT: https://www.mariaapariciopuentes.com/Be-brilliant (accessed on 21/12/2018)

Fig. 2. Puentes, M, A and Mademuaselle, S; ; 01 [photographic paper (semi-matte finish) and threads]; AT: https://www.mariaapariciopuentes.com/01 (accessed on 21/12/2018)

Feature Image Puentes, M, A and Radičević, T; 2014; Be Brilliant 02 [photographic paper (semi-matte finish) and threads]; AT: https://www.mariaapariciopuentes.com/Be-brilliant (accessed on 21/12/2018)

 

References

Frankoski, E; 2015; Maria Aparicio Puentes; Online: At: https://www.pifmagazine.com/2015/07/maria-aparicio-puentes/ (accessed on 21/12/2018)

Also viewed

https://www.frankie.com.au/blogs/art/artist-interview-maria-aparicio-puentes-photo-embroidery (accessed on 21/12/18)

http://www.escapeintolife.com/artist-watch/maria-aparicio-puentes/ (accessed on 21/12/2018)

Initial Ideas For Assignment Five – Concept – Exhibition

  • Eyes
  • Faces
  • Expression of emotion in eyes
  • Over-sewing
  • Cross stitch pattern of facial expression
  • Gerhard Richter documentary
  • Basic stitch ideas (JW)
  • Advanced over-sewing ideas (TL)
  • Keep authenticity in my photography
  • Break away from authenticity
  • Explore more fully the work of Laura Letinsky
  • Explore emotional States in the style of letinsky
  • Review photography books for further ideas
  • Create test photos
  • Seek feedback upon ideas and test photos
  • Make test photos with the public
  • Review Maurizio Anzeri
  • Review Carolle Benitah
  • Review Julie Cockburn
  • Select and print 6 photos from Ill Form and Void Full (consent gained on 28/12/18 from Laura Letinsky)
  • Leave the photos on my lounge floor in order that I breath them into my soul
  • Meditate – this will come together in its own way if I meditate
  • Review Shaun Cardinal, Diane Meyer and Annegret Soltau
  • Review Kate Aston
  • Review https://hollyocacontextnarrative.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/assignment-5-constructed-image/

http://maurizioanzeri.com

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1982113/

https://myblueprint.com/article/top-10-must-know-hand-embroidery-stitches

https://jamierawlingsartist.com/

http://www.juliecockburn.com

Any feedback upon my initial ideas would be most welcome.

Tutor Feedback For Assignment Four – Responding To A Theme

Jayne invested a considerable amount of time and energy into my feedback, for which I am most grateful. There were many points for further development, praise for my strengths, and guidance as to how to improve this assignment and develop it’s presentation. We also discussed which photographers to focus upon and review, and ways in which to develop further as a photographer and artist. Here is the formal feedback provided by Jayne, my notes and reflections are below, and then I conclude with a plan of action based upon the given feedback.

Two aspects particularly please me:- Jayne called me an artist. External validation from Jayne leaves me feeling proud of my photography and art. I am passionate about photography and I have become deeply creative and expressive. The exploration of mixed media photography has changed my perspective of myself as a photographer and artist.

Jayne completely understood my theme, and the motives that I had in producing this work. Jayne:- “This is very potent work, Richard, which I have to say is at first shocking, horrifying and worrying. It’s not just the cuts that shock but the words you literally inflict on yourself here. The initial impression does give way, though, to an understanding that the act of self-harm and self-abuse has been a part of life for you; and the “message” of the work manifests as being about your growth towards self-love/self-respect/self-care.“.

Hell yeah I am proud of this comment. I invested myself heavily into this assignment. I had something to say, a message about my process of change, a presentation of my reality, my self-hatred and the effort that I put into self-love. I am a visual artist, and as an artist I want to provoke a reaction, provide an opportunity for others to pause and reflect, and to feel. This piece of photography has given me the opportunity to do the same. I use photography for my personal development, which is my primary goal, the desire to provoke is secondary, but it is an important aspect of the work which I produce.

Jayne:- “This is brave, authentic and powerful work that expresses so well those difficult (and often buried) struggles with identity through opposing internal and external forces.

Identity is a theme that I have explored throughout my coursework. Self identity and the identity of others. Being authentic leaves me feeling vulnerable at times, but the support I have received has been such a blessing. Thank you to all of my peers and online community, I feel very grateful for your compassion and sensitivity.

Jayne:- “You raised an important point during our conversation about the inner resistance you noticed and felt through executing the self-harm element in the work – in that sense, it seems as though the work might perhaps have helped you feel, experientially how far you have come in the last two years, in all sorts of ways.

My photography has changed and developed, and I have developed mentally and emotionally. The resistance that I experienced was in relation to cutting words into my leg was intense. I didn’t want to do it, but it was a critical statement that I needed to express. It was something that I used to do in rage at my own existence, fueled by a deep resentment of being alive. I chose to self-harm for this assignment, to show the hatred that I had towards myself. To fall naturally into self-care after cutting was a surprise. It was completely unforced, and thus enabled me to see the results of my kind and compassionate self-care over the past two years. I have put in an immense amount of effort into these daily practices of compassion and dignity. It hasn’t been easy.

Jayne:- “experimenting with materials, and writing, are going to play a key part

Experimentation and collaboration have become important aspects for me. Collaborating pushes my boundaries. Working with others and responding to their art forces me into new ways to explore and express. I have some ongoing and upcoming collaborative projects.

Jayne:- “Your written commentary is important here. You write well – perhaps think about ways to weave the text and image together through future work & experiments.”      and      “The diptych format feels a good way to go in the sense that the self-harm comes before the self-love, in as much as a diptych might be read as a ‘sequence’”      and      “The over-sewing works well & is really effective… try to capture your thoughts around the ‘mask’ effect and your choice of colours for the thread.”      and      “We talked about how you might present the work in a way that allows for the white space around the images – which you mentioned arose through accident & feedback – while also making sure the images are large enough to reveal detail, like the reflected image in the droplet on the berries. One way would be to create a gallery mock up, to scale, and play with appearance and effect.”      and      “We talked about the possibility of somehow moving away from the straight edges and rigid corners of the images and into some form that might translate the sense of arising/emerging and disappearing.”

The initial idea in response to Jayne’s feedback:- Print photos full size, buy three length of fabric that allows space  for each diptych, sew the background fabric with the appropriate colours for the self-hatred and self-love, over-sew into the edge of each photo. Each diptych to be displayed onto separate walls. Create a sound recording of prose or verse to accompany each photo, this will give the viewer insight into the emotions, thoughts and language which reflect my internal dialogue. I like Polly Apfelbaum’s use of space and colour as an installation (reviewed here), how can I make use of the floor space to add depth and emotion?

Jayne:- “The self-portrait in particular represents a massive step forward  for you.”

I have made tentative plans with an OCA degree student (AK) to be photographed for his assignment and also for my personal development and healing.

Jayne:- “We talked about the staged photographs and your effective use of lighting. Brilliant to hear that you’re learning from another student on this score. I think you’ll enjoy experimenting more with using lighting to create atmospheric effects. Again the work you produced here is brave and affecting.

I’m incredibly pleased with these comments. Lighting is an alien field to me and one which I have had to overcome resistance in order to begin to use it. I am grateful for the support and generosity of JK. I need not be afraid to ask him more questions and seek his expert guidance.

Jayne:- “The final image on your contact sheet is strangely beautiful, relates to the Letinsky coursework perhaps?

It’s fair to say that I find Letinskys art very enjoyable and beautiful to look at. I thoroughly enjoyed trying to emulate her work, and there are some similarities with its simplicity, space and planes. Although I did not consciously try to emulate her with this photo, I did want to create something pleasing and simple. The only reason this did not make it into the final six is because it lacks the religious symbolism of the cross in the selected image. The cross represents the shame that I have felt through out my life, the shame of never being good or worthy enough. Why the fuck am I even alive?

During our telephone conversation Jayne reflected upon the positive impact that my work has upon others, that I have a positive effect upon those who view my work. It is important to make use of meditation to find my inner voice. I am aware that meditation is an important aspect of my creative process.

 

Actions to carry forward

  • Update assignment to include the image quality, colours and mask concept re over-sewn photo.
  • Meditate
  • Gallery layout
  • Collaborating with others – OCA collaboration group and TL
  • Continue to use thoughts and feelings as drive for my photography
  • Consider using prose and verse more frequently to enrich photography
  • Build up mixed media skills
  • Be photographed by AK – journal my reactions to the shoot and the photos, use the journal to create prose and verse of the experience
  • Mexican Votive painting
  • Continue emulating Laura Letinsky to develop this technique further
  • Read about lighting and ask JK when neccessary
  • OCA London regional group
  • OCA TV

Reading and viewing

  • Diane Arbus: A Chronology – I relate to Arbus’ character and motives of fascination with self and other.
  • Stick close to Arbus over the next year, dip into her photography and also those critiques of her, especially Sontag.
  • Gregory Crewdson: Beneath the Roses – Look for the message of yearning to be, or for, something other than the mundane/seeking escape. Also view Twilight to explore effective use of lighting and colour temperature.
  • Ochi Reyes: Mother and Revelations
  • Daniel Regan and his Arts & health Hub and Fragmentary (London calling!!)
  • Claude Cahun – use of masks
  • Gillian Wearing – use of masks

Also

  • William Eggleston
  • David Lynch

 

 

 

Responding To A Theme

Self Hatred – Self Love

Disclaimer: This article covers sensitive subjects, including a photograph of the act of self harm, which may not be suitable for certain audiences.

Self-Hatred-and-Self-Love

The theme of self-hatred and self-love felt like a natural progression from exercise 4.12 Presence/Absence (here). Self-hatred was a prominent aspect of my life for many years. With lots of practice and the development of new skills, self-love and self-care have become important actions in my life. 

My initial plan was to create three photos which represent self-hatred and a further three for self-love, and to display them on opposing sides of a cube, as if they were a dice. Often it has felt like pot luck as to how I feel about myself.

My initial idea developed after speaking with a friend, and I opted to use a Rubik’s Cube. The self is not dualistic, different traits are apparent sometimes, and we can have many elements present at the same time. Using a Rubik’s Cube, and moving the images so that they mix with each other, would highlight the spectrum of love and hate. Moving the cube would provide a dynamic interaction between the photos and the representation of self-harm and self-care. Sticking the photos to the cube was almost impossible with super glue and PVA, which made the Rubik’s Cube unworkable. Because of this I stuck with the original cube idea. Presenting the photos in grid format (above), with space around each photo, was an idea developed because of the feedback of OCA photography student Andrew (Andy’s Blog). I have been able to move towards self-care and love by allowing my self-hatred to be surrounded by the love of the universe. Allowing it to exist in the vastness of space has meant it can be loved and nurtured. 

cof

cof

Although my assignments are presented on-line, I wanted to feel and interact with my photos. Too often they are left on my hard drive, and I want more than that with my photography. Art is nebulous, sometimes flowing and at others grating. I want my art to be more than a visual and mental act.

I also wanted to over-sew two photo’s in the style of Gerhard Richter’s over-painting. Mixed media art has become important to me, and I am eager to experiment.

I’m quite disgusted with the photo of myself. I struggle to look at any image of myself, so I chose the worst photo and with poor image quality, and I then stitched over the top. It’s a tricky process and overall I’m not impressed with the results, but I do like the lips, and the white dots from where each stitch manipulated the photo paper. The needlework looks like medical stitches, and I’ve previously had many self-inflicted injuries sewn up in A and E, the correlation worked well. However, over-sewing a photo was awkward. If stitches were too close the paper would tear, which meant I couldn’t produce the fine work that I wanted to produce. I chose not to apply this technique to a second photo because it’s too cumbersome. However, I am going to practice this in future. There is a saying that shame is about who I am, guilt is about who I am. The colours of the over stitching are about shame and guilt. The guilt is represented by red thread, I’m a guilty sinner who requires a blood sacrifice for salvation. The purple and black represent shame. They are dark colours, heavy, dreary and dirty.

I chose to create the photo of the cross with blood because it has religious symbolism, which reflects the shame I have experienced just for existing. The shame that springs from my childhood experiences was exacerbated by the religious upbringing I had. I could never live up to the expectations of those in religious power, nor of the scriptures. Apparently I am a sinner, and not only are my actions sinful, but so are my thoughts. I’ve paid for my sin’s in blood.

Self-harming has not been an easy or enjoyable behaviour for this assignment. But as it was a daily behaviour for many years I felt it was a justifiable action to take even though I hadn’t self harmed in over two years. I used to cut derogatory words into my legs, and I chose the words “fat cunt” because there are times that I internally call myself this. It’s hard having an eating disorder, and it’s correlation with body-dismorphia it’s obvious within me. However painful these thoughts are, I am proud of the changes that I am currently making. I often find I am in a place of nurturing myself in response to a cruel inner monologue.  On the whole the self harming for this assignment has been a positive experience. It has affirmed that I’m no longer in a place of self-hatred, and I was able to naturally practice self-care for a couple of days afterwards.

Producing photography that involved the act, and results of self harm is pushing the boundaries of what is graphically acceptable. Because of this I have posted trigger warnings on my blog a few hours prior to posting any images. The truth is self-harm is a part of my history, and I am a visual artist who uses photography to explore and express myself. Personally I believe that my photography has been authentic, as tasteful as possible for the content,  and I have presented it within an appropriate context.

My self-love photo’s included macro photography, the side of my bath, and a card that I wrote to myself.  Macro photography is pure enjoyment and a spiritual connection for me. My bath has many fossils, rocks and minerals, and I always have a multitude of shower gels. Having difficulties with body image has made it necessary to have a safe bathing space. I regularly write myself texts telling me that I love myself.

Love is not a feeling, it’s an action, and I need to practice loving kindness towards myself on a daily basis. I cannot afford to wait until I feel better about myself in order to take affirmative action. I have to act my way into feeling better about myself.

The lighting was a combination of daylight and incandescent. I opted for the ambience provided by natural daylight, and I didn’t feel that it was necessary to use flash or additional light sources for this assignment. However, I changed the white balance on the photos of the bath and the card to add some warmth.

My execution of this assignment has, at times, been emotionally challenging and also rewarding. I feel excited about the use of the cube and the over-sewing. It’s wonderful to push myself, to learn new techniques and experiment, and to play with physical photos.

The biggest joy has been the realisation that I love myself, I may not like how I look, but hey, progress is progress.

Photography is so much fun, and it has helped me to take care of myself, to connect with Goddess, and it has improved how I feel about myself. It’s hard to convey the extent of how photography has changed my life.

The Individual Photos

Self Hate

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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oznor

Self Love

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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The contact sheets can be seen here

Rubik’s Cube Update

mde

mde

Following feedback from OCA Foundations in Photography student Jonathan Kiernan (here), I made a second attempt with the Rubik’s Cube. This time I cut the photos into cubes prior to sticking them onto the cube, and tried to stick them into place by using double-sided tape. This technique was better, however, cutting the tape was a nightmare as the tape kept sticking to the scissors. Making use of a five by five cube meant the photos were divided two small to be neat, and didn’t provide a large enough surface area for the tape to stick the photo’s. The solution would be to use a larger Rubik’s Cube which is also only three by three. I think the best technique to glue the photo’s to the cube would be to use PVA on the cube and photo as a surface primer, and then to make use of super glue as the adhesive.

 

I always welcome constructive feedback and critique. Please feel free to comment and explain either what you like or don’t like, and why. 

 

 

 

 

Assignment Four – Responding To A Theme – Initial Ideas

The brief asks us to create a series of 3 – 5 still life images that respond to a theme. Exercise 4.12 Presence/Absence gave me the opportunity to explore self harm and suicide, and I have an idea which will give me the opportunity to build upon this.

  • Self hatred juxtaposed with self love
  • 3 photos relating to self hatred
  • 3 photos relating to self love
  • Crop photos with a 1:1 aspect ration
  • Create a solid cube from wood
  • Attach self hatred and self love photo at opposing ends of the cube
  • The cube becomes a still life object

Formal Tutor Feedback For Assignment Three – A Staged photograph

I would like to just say thank you to my tutor Jayne Taylor for her support, guidance and encouragement. I very much appreciate your input.

I have previously reflected upon the feedback which I received during a telephone conversation with Jayne (seen here).

The written feedback that Jayne has provided is a PDF which can be seen here. I am going to reflect upon the written feedback, but with preparing for my holiday, and having two more posts that I wish to make before I set of on my adventures, then I will further reflections until I have returned home.