Kate Aston – Review

OCA student Kate Aston, very kindly sent me two of her photos, from a previous assignment, in which she embroidered over photography. Both of which are of a climbing wall.

img_5727

  • Long stitches
  • Creates a shape which I can anthropomorpise
  • Creates an anchor and relay
  • Alters perspective
  • Reduces appearance of size

img_5725

  • Small stitches
  • Single colour
  • Provide definition and detail

Although I’m limiting my focus to the stitching, as this is research for my assignment, I do wish to pass comment upon this second photo.

The depth of field is incredible, and this draws me right into the photo. The DoF is so narrow that I imagine that an extension tube was used on a 200mm- 300mm lens to create a macro lens. I’m also going to assume that the shot is made on the ground, shooting high up into a join between wall and ceiling, and that the plans have been shifted by rotating and cropping during the development process. I’m probably wrong. But this photo is so intriguing. It’s also very easing aesthetically.

Having seen this work I have decided to use the embroidery from Kate’s first photo to provide the relay between my face and the subject in Laura Letinsky’s photo. I hadn’t considered creating an installation prior to viewing Kate’s assignment. This is the advantage of connecting with fellow artists and photographers.

To see Kate Aston’s Context and Narrative studies click here, to view her on Instagram it’s kate513940

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)

Review – John Heartfield And Hannah Hoch

John Heartfield (1891 – 1968)

Heartfield, J; 1932; The meaning of the Hitler Salute Little Man Asks for Big Gifts Copper-plate photogravureFig. 1. The Meaning of the Hitler Salute Little Man Asks for Big Gifts (1932)

Initial Thoughts – Possibly a magazine cover or a poster. Hitler is depicted as a smaller man, with the benefactor behind him being so large that he fills the full length of the frame, with only part of his head in view. He is handing over large quantities of bank notes to Hitler. Allegorical – Hitler is a small/small minded man who is heavily dependant upon the generosity of others to have his position of power (note – inital thoughts based upon the assumption that hitler was already in power in 1932 – when in fact he lost the presidential election of that year (The History Place; 1996)). The brief is asking us to consider juxtaposition within the genre of still life photography, but more importantly, the aim is for us as students to learn how to take control of the images that we produce. Photomontage is a means which we can employ to become the director of all aspects of our creative output. We can arrange elements in any manner to enable us full expression of our ideas, whatever they may be.

The Dada movement was founded as a political protest against the “rabid German nationalism and Anglophobia that developed following Germany’s defeat in World War I. The Dada artists were closely tied to the revolutionary political struggle; ‘Use photography as a weapon’ was their slogan” (Mulligan, T and Wooters, D; 2016; pp524). Heartfield was a founder member of the dadaist movement, and the term ‘photomontage’ developed from the Dadaists. Heartsfield has turned Hitlers salute into a e plea for power and the resources to obtain it. A very simple image which carries a weighty message.

Hannah Hoch (1889 – 1978)

Hoch-Cut_With_the_Kitchen_KnifeFig. 2. Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany (1919 – 1920)

Initial thoughts – Complex collage that has made use of photo’s and clippings from many magazines and newspapers. I find myself feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of visual information, especially as it relates to an era of which I know and understand little. It makes use of people, words, scenes, charicatures and objects. Although I cannot read the image directly from screen (too much to know where to start) I can see the creative freedom one can achieve with this style of art. I do have a copy in a photography book, so I will take some time to have a look over the scene in more detail, and to read what the experts say.

Notes from Fabian Knierim in Photography the Whole Story (2012); pp194

  • Hanna Hoch the only woman artist in first Dada Fair in 1920
  • Image portrays politic and social upheaval
  • Fragments taken from the press
  • People are from politics and the arts
  • Includes representatives of the old empire and left wing revolutionists
  • The revolutionists are shown as unifying Germany
  • The women are in dynamic poses representative of movement
  • The men are static

 

Illustrations

Figure 1 Heartfield, J; 1932; The meaning of the Hitler Salute:: Little Man Asks for Big Gifts [Copper-plate photogravure]; AT: http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/heartfield/salute_zm.html (accessed on 19/10/2018)

Figure 2 Hoch, H; 1919 – 1920; Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany [Collage]; AT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_H%C3%B6ch (accessed on 19/10/2018)

References

Knierim, F; 2012; Cut With the Kitchen Knife: Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany; IN: Hacking, J and Company, D; 2012; Photography the Whole Story; London; Thames and Hudson; pp194.

Mulligan, T and wooters, D; 2016) A History of Photography From 1839 to the Present; Cologne; Taschen GmbH

The History Place; 1996; Hitler Runs For President; Online AT: http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/riseofhitler/runs.htm (accessed on 19/10/2018)

 

Picture Analysis – Laura Letinsky – David Bate – Pieter Claesz

David Bate bungled-01 2009

Brief:- Have a close analytical look at the photograph above by Canadian photographer Laura Letinsky. You can see a larger version at http:// thephotographersgallery.org.uk/ill-form-and-void-full There is something immediately uncanny in this photograph and in much of Letinsky’s work. Firstly, notice the planes that make up the background and the area on the lower left of the picture. These ‘surfaces’, on which there are objects, shadows and cut-out pictures of objects, create an odd sense of space. It’s difficult to tell exactly which way gravity is working here. There appears to be a table top seen from the side in the middle of the area on the left, but then there’s another ‘surface’ seen from above too. This plays with our sense of dimensionality, the way we as viewers orient our viewpoint on the scene depicted. The objects themselves are simple, everyday items: two spoons, some fruit and cherry pips. Some of these appear to be ‘real’ in the sense that Letinsky has photographed them herself, whereas others have been cut out of magazines. Notice that these cut-out objects had been photographed from different viewpoints (and in a different time and space), which Letinsky has tried to incorporate into the perspective of her own ‘still life’ scene. The spoon on the left appears to rest on the surface and take part in the scene and the other spoon appears above the surface. How many things in your own life are real in the sense that they are in front of you physically? And how much of what you experience and know comes through representations? How do you think this affects people? In her previous work, Letinsky used left-over meals, plates and cutlery to indicate a scene, event or relationship going on beyond the view of the photograph, turning viewers into detectives looking for clues and connotations. Meticulously placed dishes express something about the thinking of the ‘character’ who placed them. In this work, she extends this by looking at the ways people incorporate representations and collective fantasies into their ‘reality’ and their desire. Have a look at Laura Letinsky’s website lauraletinsky.com. Also look at the still life work Bungled Memories by David Bate at www.davidbate.net. For a seventeenth-century comparison with Letinsky’s work, you can look at the paintings of Pieter Claesz here: rijksmuseum Pieter Claesz Write about the following issues in response to Letinsky’s photograph.

  1. Visual description (objects & background/space)
  2. Composition/design/arrangement
  3. Sense of space or ‘dimensionality’
  4. Connotations

Laura Letinsky

Ill Form and Void 12 Laura Letinsky 2011Fig. 1. Ill Form and Void 12 (2011)

Initial Thoughts – Lots of pleasing space. The whites and greys provide a feel of peace, stillness and serenity. The background surface is smooth and has the feel of a photographer’s gallery backdrop. There are three other planes, a vertical line which is slightly diagonal, intersecting with a horizontal line that slopes down towards it, creating a neutral space to the lower left of the picture. Then there appears to be a formica-like surface, which is reflective, and the subjects appear to be resting upon this, and then within that plane there is also the surface of a table which has a table-cloth over it. A spoon with crimson petals rests upon the table-cloth upon the left hand side, and on the right there is a half cut out shape of a plate, and then a whole plate with what appears to be some food remains. A second spoon, perhaps with sugar in it, floats above the table, and two pieces of fruit appear to be both on the table-cloth and yet not on it at the same time. The cherry pips and stalks begin on the formica-like surface and flow down onto the neutral space at the bottom left of the photo. At first glance, the way the planes intersect make the image appear to have horizontal and vertical surfaces, suggesting an upright structure. However, the more of see of this photo, the more that I think that it has been photographed from above, and that all of the objects have been cut from a magazine and placed upon the background. If this were the case then the shadows which appear in the area of light would have had to have been created in post processing.

There is an optical illusion within this photo, which makes it appear to be something which it is not. It has the suggestion of being a scene which was photographed, but is probably a collage, which has then been shot with a camera and developed digitally. I find this to be a clever piece of art, and one that I find enjoyable to look at.

As someone who has grown up with an idea of what still life is, from more traditional compositions, this drastically broadens my horizons, thank god. Letinsky’s composition is completely constructed and the only objects which I can see are pictures which have been cut from magazines, and placed by her onto a paper surface. I’m really impressed.

I have taken a look at other photos from this series (on her website – see references), and I only wish to add that I find this series to be beautiful.

David Bate

David Bate bungled-01 2009Fig. 2. Bungled Memories 01 (2009)

The above photo by David Bate is taken from his series Bungled Memories, in which he breaks every day objects. In their broken form these would be discarded, however, he photographs them and then uses them to create new works of art. On his website he discusses this series in relation to the psychology of “Freudian slips” (DavidBate.net)

I don’t get what he is trying to say with that description. The only thing that I can put in psychological terms is that by creating photos in which the breaks of the subject are completely smooth, almost perfect, and using backgrounds which creates boxes, is that we refine, define, clarify and compartmentalise our memories of events in a style which suits our internal frame of reference, rather than as literal representations of facts.

Pieter Claesz

Still Life with a Turkey PieFig. 3. stilliven met kalkoenpastei (Still Life with a Turkey Pie) (1627)

This is a more traditional still life in which the objects are painted in a manner that is a visual representation of “what was there”. There is no attempt to make the viewer think, no attempt to deceive or play tricks with the mind, and no attempt to ask the viewer to consider that there may be a representation of something un-seen. There is a clear sign of wealth and opulence, but this is also a clear visual representation.

I find it quite interesting that the art world at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th had a debate about how photography was just a mechanical description of what was there. I have always held the belief that the majority of traditional art did just that by using an alternate recording device – the paint brush. Here the photography of Letinsky and Bate take the viewer on a journey through the abstract and challenge the viewer to keep looking and questioning. Bathes was wrong. Art captures what was there, photography invites, questions and challenges (OK, so art and photography can both be factual documentations or original works that invite thought).

Illustrations

Figure 1 Letinsky, L; 2011; Ill Form and Void [Archival Ink Print on Paper]; AT: http://time.com/52027/pictures-of-pictures-the-ambiguities-of-laura-letinsky/ (accessed on 26/09/2018)

Figure 2 Bate, D; 2009; Bungled Memories 01 ; AT: http://www.davidbate.net/ARTWORKS/BUNGLED-MEMORIES.html?pic=96 (accessed on 26/09/2018)

Figure 3 Claesz, P; 1627; stilliven met kalkoenpastei [Oil on panel]; AT: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/zoeken/objecten?q=Pieter+Claesz&p=1&ps=12&st=Objects&ii=1#/SK-A-4646,1 (accessed on 26/09/2018)

References

http://lauraletinsky.com/photographs/ill-form-and-void/

http://www.davidbate.net/ARTWORKS/BUNGLED-MEMORIES.html?pic=120 (accessed on 26/09/2018)

 

Hannah Starkey – Review

Brief:- Assignment three – A narrative photograph – A staged photograph. A staged photograph is like a snapshot from a movie. It’s a ‘scene’, an event which you have constructed and captured at the perfect moment as a still photograph. It can be a simple ‘moment’ like a glance between two strangers on the street (Jeff Wall’s Mimic, 1982) or an elaborate recreation of a dramatic event (Jeff Wall’s A Sudden Gust of Wind, (after Hokusai), 1993). It can start with a simple event, like the postman peeping through the letter box, an old lady jumping over a fence or someone tripping over a paving stone. But you should explore it conceptually and make it weightier in meaning by embellishing it; monumentalizing the event even though it is small. In this way you could turn the postman picture into an allegory about privacy or the old lady picture into an allegory that changes perceptions about old age. Start by researching the work of Hannah Starkey.

Hannah Starkey (b 1971)

Starkey, H; 2007; Untitled [c-type print]; ATFig. 1. Untitled (2007)

Initial thoughts  – stylised art deco, classical, subdued but very rich tones, backstage at theatre? theatre bar? plush, expensive, alone, painted, modern art nouveau, space, lots of space (behind her, too her sides, in front of her), tatoo of female upon her arm looks very sad – a representation of the subjects state of mind), clarity of photo.

A woman is seated at a wooden bench in a theatre bar, she is smoking a cigarette, which is slightly obscuring her head, which is facing down and away from the camera. Symbolic, burned, stood up, hiding, maybe experiencing sadness or embarrassment. Her emotions are out of place for the environment that she is in, which although is a place where many tragedies are performed, they are pretense, whereas this characters emotions are for real. This is no performance, except it is. It’s a staged photograph, a performance representing a non-performance. I like the layered meaning within that.

What do I consider setting and props? I think that everything other than the model is a prop that creates the setting. The props are – chandelier, wooden bench, cigarette, glass with drink (half empty), tatoo, table lamp, mirror, wood panelled wall, stage curtain, stage door. Along with the space surrounding the woman they all combine to create a scene, in which she is very much alone within herself and isolated. There are very few colours, and therefore very few distractions. The figure is so prominent that I do not find the lighting to the top left a distraction, I am aware of it, but I am absorbed by the female sitting within her emotions.

Bloody hell, the mirror is wrong. The lamp is reflected in the mirror but the subject isn’t. If the lamp is a reflection then it has to be further away than the woman, and with the angle between the mirror and her, she should be reflected. A symbol that she is unworthy, does not exist, is unseen, overlooked, un-important. Un-important and yet completely prominent and dominant within the frame.

Starkey, H; 1999; Untitled [c-type print]; ATFig. 2. Untitled (1999)

Initial thoughts – Holy trinity, judgement day, three young adults, grouped together, staring demeaningly at a separate female, distance, space between the group and individual. Three embossed figures which are representative of Christ above the group of women. The lone figure has her arms folded defensively in front of her body, she looks uncomfortable, unsettled. Muted colours, the people stand out clearly because of the colours, There is graffiti upon the wall. The group have a plain background behind them, which presents them in a neutral fashion, whereas the individual has the graffiti framing her head, which adds to the sense of alienation, insulted, dirty.

A young female has done something wrong, shameful even, and she is being judged by a group of girls because of her behaviour. She is an outcast facing her judgement day by the pure. Religious symbolism, which because of the demeaning looks from the group shows that the judgement is neither neutral nor corrective, its scornful and self-righteous. A reflection upon the ugliness of Christianity’s darker side, in which being right is more important than following the example of Christ. Condemnation over understanding, anger over forgiveness, hatred over love. The setting is a country where religious bigotry and sectarianism are rife, Ireland? Clothing has a dated look, so representative of the past rather than the present, and the staging reminds me, of 1980’s film Kes (Kes, film. 1970).

Illustrations

Figure 1 Starkey, H; 2007; Untitled [c-type print]; AT: https://www.maureenpaley.com/artists/hannah-starkey?image=9 (accessed on 18/06/2018)

Figure 2 Starkey, H; 1999; Untitled [c-type print]; AT: https://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/hannah_starkey_august.htm (accessed on 18/06/2018)

Feature Image Starkey, H; 2002; Untitled [c-type print]; AT: https://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/hannah_starkey_2002.htm (accessed on 18/06/2018)

Reference

Kes; [Film]; Prod Garnett, T; Kestral Film and Woodfall Film Productions; 111 minutes

Review – Gregory Crewdson

Brief:- Assignment three – A narrative photograph – A staged photograph. A staged photograph is like a snapshot from a movie. It’s a ‘scene’, an event which you have constructed and captured at the perfect moment as a still photograph. It can be a simple ‘moment’ like a glance between two strangers on the street (Jeff Wall’s Mimic, 1982) or an elaborate recreation of a dramatic event (Jeff Wall’s A Sudden Gust of Wind, (after Hokusai), 1993). It can start with a simple event, like the postman peeping through the letter box, an old lady jumping over a fence or someone tripping over a paving stone. But you should explore it conceptually and make it weightier in meaning by embellishing it; monumentalizing the event even though it is small. In this way you could turn the postman picture into an allegory about privacy or the old lady picture into an allegory that changes perceptions about old age. Start by researching the work of Gregory Crewdson.

Gregory Crewdson (1962)

Crewdson, G; ; Brief EncountersFig. 1. Untitled (Birth) (2007)

Initial thoughts – Because the assignment brief is in relation to a staged photograph then I know this is staged.

Taken at night, in winter, dark, dreary, steam on the inside of the window – however both subjects are not dressed for winter and this creates some dissonance. Even with heating on I would be better dressed in the winter. The edge of the car, the angle of the roof, attempt to make this look like a candid street photo. The snow is cleared from the path – trying to work out who actually clears snow so diligently from paths, I have no idea. Muted tones in bedroom, wallpaper from 70’s? Muted tones allow the green from the bed sheets to standout and this emphasises the subjects. The front door has a glass window pane and we can see through to the bathroom, and the toilet is visible. Has this been a home birth? Is this meant to be a photo taken immediately post-partum? Is that why the clothing looks in appropriate? There is a separation between mother and child, a physical distance that strongly suggests an emotional distance.

Primary props – green bedspread, neutral background, clothing, glass paned front door, bathroom and both lamps.

Secondary props – Car, snow, telephone, bedside drawers, painting – these give the setting, or stage.

crewdson-untitled-bus-fire-twilight-2002Fig. 2. Untitled (Bus Fire) (2002)

Initial thoughts – Suburbs, bus has tipped over and smoke is coming out of the back, side street – this photo is a lie, the low centre of gravity in a bus, and more so because this is a single-decker, would mean the amount of force required to tip this bus over would be impossible to happen on such a small street. A roll-over from cornering is not possible in this setting as the corner that we can see would tip the bus the other direction, and even then there could not be sufficient speed for this to happen as the driver would have had to slow down to turn into the road before reaching the corner. There are no other vehicles and no angry mob, and although there are many youths around the bus, and one standing upon it, these would not have enough strength to over come the forces of gravity required to turn this bus over (a double-decker bus would take 77 people to push over, a single decker bus would take far more. Although the single decker would weigh less, the height of a double-decker means that it has a longer pivot and therefore requires less force to go beyond the 32 degree angle to break the centre of gravity. The angle point of no return for a single-decker is larger because of the shortened pivot (Morris, 2015). This is so obviously staged. Why would Crewdson go to the lengths of creating such an elaborate scene that has no bearing in real life in the environment that it is made? This appears to be a complete oversight on his behalf, which is a really useful tip for me. If I am going to create staged photos, then ensure the setting is appropriate for the context of the subject. I have a reluctance to further review this photo because of this.There is a disconnection between the nice, manicured, suburban neighbourhood, which backs onto a semi-desert mountainous region, during an evening that is moving towards dusk, which has a slightly romantic feel. Things are not as they seem, things are out of place, but this does not leave me with any feelings of a realistic dystopia

 

Reflections

The first photo looks incredibly simple. I feel dismay, sorrow, sadness and loneliness when I look at it because it’s a scene that I can relate to. The emotion and disconnection that I felt in my childhood, I didn’t belong, I didn’t fit in, I was a stranger placed in a home and world that made no sense to me. A very cleverly envisioned, planned, staged and produced photo, and one that I believe many people can relate to on some level, from some period of their own life. The second photo makes no sense to me at all. I’m not saying it’s a bad photo, but I read it in a more literal sense because I cannot find the allegory. This is perhaps my shortfall rather than Crewdsons.

Illustrations

Figure 1 Crewdson, G; 2007; Untitled (Birth) [digital chromogenic print]; AT: http://www.americansuburbx.com/galleries/gregory-crewdson-beneath-the-roses (accessed on 16/06/2018)

Figure 2 Crewdson, G; 2002; Untitled (Bus Fire) [digital chromogenic print]; AT: https://imageobjecttext.com/2012/06/29/suburban-stories-tales-of-the-unexplained/ (accessed on 16/06/2018)

Feature Image Zeitgeist films; 2013; Gregory Crewdson at work (standing on ladder) on the set of “Untitled (Ophelia)”; AT: http://www.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/904087/qa-ben-shapiro-on-gregory-crewdson-brief-encounters (accessed on 16/06/20118)

Reference

Morris, R; 2015; How many people would it take to push over a double-decker bus if it was full of badgers?; Online AT: https://www.quora.com/How-many-people-would-it-take-to-push-over-a-double-decker-bus-if-it-was-full-of-badgers (accessed on 16/06/2018)

 

Review – Cindy Sherman

Brief:- In preparation for Assignment Three, we need to say a few words about staged photography. In advertising and cinema you find a highly artificial, constructed form of photography. Often multiple elements are layered in a final composite. Great care is taken with the arrangement of elements to guide the interpretation of the photograph. The term mise-en-scène, simply means ‘putting in the scene’ and refers to the placement of objects in space. Imagine a totally blank, empty studio. You want to create a scene in the studio depicting a small ancient dwelling inhabited by a hermit in the Sinai desert. You’ll need a lot of light to represent the sun. You’ll need a sky backdrop and plenty of sand and sandstone to create the dwellings. You’ll also need to research and find ancient artefacts that would have been used by an ascetic person. You’ll also need a hermit (actor). This is the way a movie is made, but it’s common to advertising and art photography too and is called ‘staged’ or ‘constructed’ photography. Key practitioners are Jeff Wall and Cindy Sherman. Jeff Wall goes to great lengths to create what sometimes appear to be ‘documentary’ street scenes that reflect a telling human situation. Cindy Sherman consciously played with the identity representations of women in movies by photographing herself in different female roles. Her later work makes use of prosthetic make-up, costume, props and sets to emphasise the ways women were represented in historic paintings. Take a look around the place you live. In what ways does the place and the objects in it say something about you? You may not have built it, but you probably chose most of its contents, painted walls, carpeted floors, etc. You placed every item in that space. This is personal miseen-scène. In staged photography you’re telling a story, a fiction that may have a connection to something real or true, however staged it is. All movies, plays and fictions, however far they depart from everyday reality, have a kernel of truth in them.

Cindy Sherman (b 1954)

Untitled #98 1982 by Cindy Sherman born 1954Fig. 1. Untitled #98 (1982)

Description of visual elements

Female with short blonde wispy hair. Neck, right shoulder and upper half of right arm bare. Red corduroy shawl draped around the rest of her, her left calf is visible under the shawl. She is sitting in a manner that suggests that she is on the floor. Staring at the camera, looks sullen, unhappy with being viewed, piercing gre/blue eyes. The lighting comes through a window that is immediately in front of her. The shadow of the window frame is a prop, it covers her mouth. The background is dark but there are some visual elements over her right shoulder. I am unable to make out what they are and they include some reflective metal and a flat piece of wood.

My interpretation:- The props are the shawl, the background, which could represent a stage or movie set, and the shadow that appears across her mouth. This is symbolic and represents that women do not have a voice, they are to be shown off for the appeal of the male gaze. It doesn’t matter how talented the female actor is, she is not allowed to be there for herself, but for the male viewer. Red shawl, and the way it is drapped reflects both vulnerability and sexuality. The sex appeal is more important than the represented woman as the shawl is in front of her, and she is vulnerable to how men view her. Her eyes say that she is tired of being watched. She will continue to be there and continue to feel vulnerable. A submissive pose in which the woman has no power. The lighting is very interesting. She i sitting on the floor and yet the shadow of the window frame is apparent nearly at the foot of the photo. This suggests that the lighting is coming through a prop window frame in a studio and the angle suggests that this is in between the camera and subject.

 

Sherman, C; 2016; Untitled #571 [chromogenic colour print]; ATFig. 2. Untitled #571 (2016)

Description of visual elements

Background of a lake with trees in front and quite close to the woman on the chair. The chair is covered with a white throw with a soft, downy fabric. She is sitting in a laid back manner which also appears elegant. Wearing a full length dress which has red and cream stripes that are vertical in nature. The red striped are satin or crushed silk, the cream are jacquard. She wears a silver silk hair band with a diamante bow. there is a wisp of hair peeking out from under the head band on the left, close to where her ear would be, and also her right forehead.

She has a pearl bracelet on her right arm, which is drapped over the chair, and has four bracelets of various designs upon her left arm. In her left hand she holds the necklace that she is wearing. Her own eyes brows have been shaved off and covered with concealer and she has drawn on eye brows, drawn with a brown kohl. Her eye shadow is pink/lilac and her eye lashes are long, she wears black mascara or false lashes. She wears concealer on her forehead but the wrinkles still come through, and liquid foundation upon her face that’s covered with a light powder. This makes her skin have a smooth appearance. There is a discrepancy in colour and texture between the concealer on her forehead and the foundation upon her face. Her lipstick is a deep plum gloss, and she has a beauty spot on her right cheek, it appears to be natural.

She is very well lit and no part of her is in shadow. The lighting is soft and a diffuser has been used on both sets of lights, unseen in the image, but diagonally in front left and right. The background is slightly out of focus and has soft lighting.

My interpretation:- The African Queen, 1920’s, elegant, style, wealth, opulence, formal portrait?, film set? No – it is a formal portrait. If it were to represent a film set then she would either not be seated on the chair in that environment, or be seated on the chair in a more appropriate environment. Her clothing, confident relaxed posture and jewelry all signify her class and wealth. I can imagine Humphrey Bogart lifting her into a dirty boat and sailing down the river. A constant tension and play of power dynamics that shift between the male and female characters. Both having power in different settings, both being confident and vulnerable at times. A good relay for me between the photo and the film and a reminder that women did have a voice in the movie industry at times, the power isn’t always patriarchal and misogynistic. I particular like this photo because of the style and class, along with the nostalgic relay back to The African Queen.

Illustrations

Figure 1 Sherman, C; 1982; Untitled #98 [chromogenic colour print]; AT: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/sherman-untitled-98-p77729 (accessed on 04/06/2018)

Figure 2 Sherman, C; 2016; Untitled #571 [chromogenic colour print]; AT: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/03/cindy-sherman-interview-retrospective-motivation (accessed on 04/06/2018)

Review – Jeff Wall

Brief:- In preparation for Assignment Three, we need to say a few words about staged photography. In advertising and cinema you find a highly artificial, constructed form of photography. Often multiple elements are layered in a final composite. Great care is taken with the arrangement of elements to guide the interpretation of the photograph. The term mise-en-scène, simply means ‘putting in the scene’ and refers to the placement of objects in space. Imagine a totally blank, empty studio. You want to create a scene in the studio depicting a small ancient dwelling inhabited by a hermit in the Sinai desert. You’ll need a lot of light to represent the sun. You’ll need a sky backdrop and plenty of sand and sandstone to create the dwellings. You’ll also need to research and find ancient artefacts that would have been used by an ascetic person. You’ll also need a hermit (actor). This is the way a movie is made, but it’s common to advertising and art photography too and is called ‘staged’ or ‘constructed’ photography. Key practitioners are Jeff Wall and Cindy Sherman. Jeff Wall goes to great lengths to create what sometimes appear to be ‘documentary’ street scenes that reflect a telling human situation. Cindy Sherman consciously played with the identity representations of women in movies by photographing herself in different female roles. Her later work makes use of prosthetic make-up, costume, props and sets to emphasise the ways women were represented in historic paintings. Take a look around the place you live. In what ways does the place and the objects in it say something about you? You may not have built it, but you probably chose most of its contents, painted walls, carpeted floors, etc. You placed every item in that space. This is personal miseen-scène. In staged photography you’re telling a story, a fiction that may have a connection to something real or true, however staged it is. All movies, plays and fictions, however far they depart from everyday reality, have a kernel of truth in them.

Jeff Wall (b 1946)

Wall,-J;-1984;-Milk;-ATFig. 1. Milk (1984)

Description of visual elements

Window with stairwell inside, bricks which make a wall, green bush. pavement sloping to the left, light from upper left of the screen, shadow cast where brickwork juts out from the main wall, the photo frame is slightly smaller than the man if he were to be standing, man sitting on floor, no socks, shoe has no laces, looks dejected, sitting slightly hunched with one knee bent under, body leaning into second knee which is upright, forearm rest on knee milk is moving out from a carton to the mans left, spilt milk flying through the air, leather jacket, hair looks greasy but tidy, shadow cast over most of his face so that his expression is not easily seen, clothes look in good condition as do the shoes, one sleeve is rolled up and hand on that arm is in a fist.

My interpretation:- There are two visual discrepancies that highlight that this is a staged photo – the tidiness of the crop and the condition of the clothes and the shoes. These are just too crisp.

The staging suggests that the man is homeless and is sitting in a good, relatively affluent area. The partial view of the building on the left of the image, with the bush outside hints at the area being an office based area rather than commercial or retail. The building becomes a prop, as does the very clean wall behind the man on the floor. The lighting has been used to hide his face so that his expression is hard to read, and the mans greasy hair is also a prop, it’s used to create a narrative. It’s meant to do so in conjunction with the mans clothing (which doesn’t work for me), and the uncovered arm, with the hand clenched into the fist is building upon the narrative to show that he is angry. The flying milk may suggest that the guy is angry at having his photo taken and has shaken his arm in protest. Maybe he will get up and attack the photographer, or it could be that the fist and the sudden jerk of the hand, which has led to the milk being spilled, are a warning of aggression which is relaying “stay the fuck away from me”.

 

Wall, J; 2015; Listener; ATFig. 2. Listener (2015)

Description of visual elements

Six men surround a man who is kneeling on the floor, one is in full frame and is leaning over the man, dominating him with his height, very close crop with little background, other than the top left of the corner, where there is a quarter circle shaped blue wall. There are six men around the edge of the frame, only partially visible. Despite being on the edge of the frame they are in very close proximity with the guy on the floor. They are wearing  jeans, t-shirt, trackies and one is wearing chinos, the guy on the floor is wearing brown trousers and no top. The ground is barren, dry, dusty, and the guy on the floor has bits of straw on his trousers. He is wearing sandals and the others are wearing plimsoles, trainers and workman’s boots. The man on the lower left of the photo is looking towards the camera, his arms are folded over his chest. The other guys have their arms and hands in quite open and relaxed manner. The sun is almost directly overhead and the shadows are short.

My interpretation:- There is an air of menace and aggression in this scene. The guy on the floor is being towered over, dominated by the man next to him, oppressed by the overhead heat, and surrounded by the other men in a very close space. The straw on his trousers says that he has been on the floor in other positions and he may have tried to crawl away from his assailants at some point. He is being shouted at or spoken to very aggressively, although the man to his right doesn’t have closed fists. The open relaxed posture of the other men is a relay which says that they are relaxed and comfortable with violence. This relay keeps the oppressive aggression within the frame. The context of a dry barren wasteland is the stage that says the guy has been taken to this place so that the confrontation cannot be stopped by others, there is a purpose and intent to the confrontation. Is the guy going to be assaulted? is he going to be left there? Is he going to be killed? I don’t think he is going to be killed. The close proximity of the camera, which is being allowed to photograph, tells me that this assault is a warning to others not to cross this gang. That they know the guy on the floor will not be reporting the assualt. The man on the floor looks uncomfortable but I also think that he looks very relaxed, he doesn’t look afraid, and this is a visual discrepancy to me. The clothing of the men looks clean and relatively new. They are involved in some form of organised crime which gives them a good income, but they remain dressed in the manner of their peers, in their neighbourhood. They operate in the area that they live and probably grew up. Small time organised crime.

 

I find myself left with the impression that it is very difficult to show emotion in staged photography, and even with people as skilled as Wall there are visual discrepencies which can be noticed.

Illustrations

Figure 1 Wall, J; 1984; Milk [Silver dye bleach transparency; aluminum light box]; AT: http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/photography/picture-galleries/2010/march/30/the-world-of-jeff-wall/ (accessed on 03/06/2018)

Figure 2 Wall, J; 2015; Listener [inkjet print]; AT https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/nov/03/jeff-wall-photography-marian-goodman-gallery-show (accessed on 03/06/2018)