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.
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.
Fig. 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 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
Fig. 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.
Fig. 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
Brief:- Research point – Self reflection – RequirementMostvisual artists learn from one another. Both historic and contemporary photographers and visual artists can teach you new things and by learning from them you can bring something new to the subject. So how do you learn from other photographers? There’s a tradition of ‘after’ painting, where an artist copies a master’s work – but in his own style rather than theirs. Pablo Picasso often did this for inspiration. Édouard Manet’s Olympia is slightly different in that it’s a critical response to Alexandre Cabanel’s The Birth of Venus and other such romantic and idealised nudes. Cubism’s visual experimentation was influenced by the work of Paul Cézanne, who had a ‘blocky’ style of painting in daubs of paint. Hannah Starkey’s photographs are clearly influenced by Jeff Wall’s tableau pictures without ever being copies. So really you take from the artist anything that interests you: the arrangement of characters in a scene, the pose of a figure, the way light and dark interact, the type of subject matter, the mixing of media, the visual strategy, etc… Research point – Self reflection – Throughout this course you’ve been introduced to the work of different photographers to help give you an understanding of the creative potential of photography. Now it’s time to question your own work and identify anything you think is lacking. You don’t have to be over-critical, just honest. Write down any areas in photography you need to develop. (Your tutor reports should give you some clues here.) Write what sort of photographs you want to take. Just note down keywords. Now look through a book like Hacking, J. (2012) Photography: The Whole Story, or Cotton, C. (2014) The Photograph as Contemporary Art (3rd edition) (both London: Thames & Hudson) and try to identify some photographers who have exactly the key elements that you want to attain or just things that interest you. It doesn’t matter if the photographer is contemporary or historic. Make a note of these key elements. Now research these photographers online and choose one key photograph to use in the next exercise.
There’s one area which glaringly stands out for me to work on. Lighting. Making use of lights to create an atmosphere, using spots, using ambient lighting or controlling background light, I need to develop these techniques. My tutor has recommended observing light in indoor settings and then trying to recreate it at home.
Now that I have a speedlight I am making slow inroads into understanding flash photography, and that’s going to be an ongoing process.
Mixed media art is also a growing interest. It’s something that’s been developing over the period that I’ve been studying. Exercise 3.5 Photography from text (here) was a good introduction. I’m part of an OCA collaboration group and have enjoyed collaborating with other artists. Toxic Shame (here) provided me with the opportunity to write and narrate prose as part of a collaborative project. People with Autism co-authored Autism: Out Of The Box (here) with me, a project in which I wrote the essay and encouraged the co-authors to produce accompanying photography or art for the essay.
A woman with autism is currently writing her story, and my role will be to support her to make photography which will accompany her writing. This is a role I wish to develop. The OCA collaboration group is on-going, and I have had initial contact with an artist in Australia who may wish to collaborate with me.
I’m very pleased to be studying Experimentation:- Still Life, which is part 4 of Foundations in Photography. This part of the course has opened up my creative potential. I made a sensory collage, just for fun, out of materials left over from the emulation exercise. Photomontage, collage and sensory collage all give me the opportunity to practice with lighting.
Lighting is the way forward. When I return from my travels I will look through my many books to find find photographers who inspire me, and who make creative use of lighting. I will then create some emulation based upon their work.
The piece I produced to emulate Laura Letinsky will be added next week when I return home.
Toxic Shame is a mixed media video created in collaboration by several Open College of the Arts Students. We study in different genres of the creative arts. It has been a very enjoyable process which has required thinking out of the box to respond to the work of other members submissions, based upon the theme for the month.
Brief:- In this first exercise, you’ll use fragments of still life images to create a combined design. Arrange a still life set-up that includes a background (preferably an ironed white or black sheet) and three distinct objects. It would be helpful if at least one object was sized at least 0.5m or you’ll be photographing everything in macro. Use either sunlight from a window or one single source of electric light to cast shadows and bring out the 3D form of the objects. Photograph around the objects, both close and wide shots, not all from the front. Capture the edges and the lines of the objects as well as defined shapes within them – for example the sound holes of a violin. Capture edges where light and shadow create a sense of depth or recess. Take pictures of the textures and colours of the objects. Think of this project as collecting impressions and perceptions of these objects and let this guide your camera. You’ll need approximately 20 well-exposed images.
The idea behind this exercise is to imaginatively combine the different photographs into a single conclusive design. Have a look at some Cubist paintings and sculpture as inspiration. Notice how one object blends into another and how different viewpoints of the same object co-exist in surprising ways. The classic example of this is Picasso’s combination of the front and profile of a face, as in Weeping Woman, which you can see on the Tate’s website. Then look at Brendan Fowler’s Spring 2011 – Fall 2012 on the New York Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) website, which attempts similar arrangements with photography.
Weeping Woman by Picasso (1881 – 1973)
The red, green and purple outlines are marks which I have made for the purpose of annotation. The original can be seen here.
Red: – Profile view.
Green:- Front view.
The combination of the frontal and profile view are quite apparent in Weeping Woman, and this painting is evidence that art does not need to be literal for it to make sense. I have used the purple to highlight some of the triangles that Picasso has used throughout the image. They become a visual anchor and can also be found in the womans hat and coat. As part of the head they provide definition to the collar and neck, chin, and movement of the tears. Also of note are the two hands, to the left and right of the mouth. They are both of the left hand and also shown from differing perspectives.
Swinging by Wassily Kandinsky (1866 – 1944)
This wonderful painting by Kandinsky is relevent to the brief because of how the lines and edges of the shapes fit together to produce the overall effect. I am aware how easy it is to anthropomorphise, but I can only say what I see. To me, the shapes and colours, as separate elements, combine to become a man who is smoking, sitting down with a blanket over his legs. There is a lamp both in front of and behind him, and he is thinking deeply (highlighted by the yellow triangle above his head with the stream of consciousness flowing out from this). Is this a representation of Einstein? Did their paths cross when Kandinsky was living in Germany?
Brendan Fowler (1978)
Fig. 3. Joel’s Phone on Lauro Table 1, “Looking at Richter Photo With Carol and Roberto” on Computer 2, Pots in Patty’s Window 1, Looking at Richter Photo with Carol and Roberto 1 (2010)
Fowlers photography is certainly abstract and novel, and I can see the connection between his photography and the brief. There are some lines that connect with each other, and these provide a minor similarity with the work of Kandinsky, but only slightly. I think that rather than drawing any comparisons between the work of Kandinsky and Picasso, they should be viewed as stand alone abstract photography. The photo above is one of the better ones in relation to overlapping lines, and his way of creating layers is a new idea for me to consider. The layers, which are created in the physical form, rather than in digital editing software, have a solidity and strength to them, and without the reductionism that generally happens when I or others reduce opacity in Photoshop.. Neither way is better, but it’s nice to have an alternate way of creating layers.
Having recently begun part 4 Experimentation: Still life, on the OCA Foundation in Photography course, I am exploring what still life means to me. Texture has always mattered to me, especially in relation to how clothing and bedding feel against my skin.
I’m not really sure where I’m going with this exploration, so these photos are going into my digital sketchbook.
Richard and I met Jonathan yesterday, who is also a Foundations in Photography student (Open College of the Arts).
The Tate Modern currently has an exhibition called Shape of Light, something to do with mixing art and photography. If you ask me if say photography is art but art isn’t photography.
I left them to it and had a nosey around. I can’t understand this analysis of photos though. If you like a picture you like it, if you don’t like it then you don’t like it. End of! It doesn’t matter why. I’m thinking Richard is joining the rank of pretentious with this analysis. Anyway, here is a photo I like.
Am I a poser or what?
Richard enjoyed his tine with Jonathon, and has gained some knowledge about using a speed light. He says his opinion on black and white photography by attending exhibitions and listening to Jonathan and Sarah’s views, and being able to see the texture, depth and tone on a physical photo.
Aftet the gallery it was time for a quick coffee (no beer today), and then off to the shard. It’s beautiful to look at, amazing architecture and there is so much glass. London is a city of glass and reflections. Why do people name buildings though? Why? What’s that about? Maybe my intelligence isn’t as wonderful as I think it is.
Was the view worth the £25 entrance fee? My opinion is most definitely yes. It’s a one-off experience. You wouldn’t want to go there every day, but the 360 degree views of London are awesome.
Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast (and me)
Despite being tired and needing to rest, Richard decided to hunt down his favourite shop, Hobbycraft. So we got an over-ground to Charlton, just so that he could get some plastic cutter things for his aircraft kit, then over-ground from Charlton to Greenwich, Docklands Light Railway to Stratford and finally the tube to Wanstead. I was exhausted by this point.
As for all of the travel I have to say “big respect to Transport For London”.
During the Foundations in Photography coursework we were asked to review The Conversation by Michael Buhler Rose, which was from his theme Creating the Exotic (please excuse my lack of academic referencing, I’m tired, unmotivated, and feeling adding something to my learning log is better than nothing). Buhler Roses’ photo is below.
I’m aware that we all draw our inspiration from the world around us, and I’m begging to think that Buhler Rose may have drawn his from John William Waterhouse. Waterhouse made several paintings which included people, in groups, conversing, wearing bright colours. The Enchanted Garden is a good example, as is Tales From Dr Cameron (below).
I certainly have no recollection of Buhler Rose discussing his inspiration or the works of his or others that he had built upon, and I can now see why our tutors ask us to do this. Doing so helps me to become more definitive in my photographic profile and signature and becomes a cornerstone of continued professional development.
I saw the Waterhouse painting on a UK TV program called University Challenge and I instantly thought of The Conversation