Assignment Five Update

This piece of embroidery has not been easy. Once I had pricked the photo I was overwhelmed with the amount of holes and the complexity. It’s necessary to make all of the holes before trying to work out where the hell to embroider and which threads to use. This photo has been demanding in terms of energy and focus.

The process is enjoyable though. I’m seeing the commitment as running parallel to the effort I have to put into recovery from my eating disorder.

My working title remains as “emotional States of my anorexia”, however the embroidery is about recovery, change and growth, and this needs to be reflected in the title.

Embroidering onto my self portraits has started to feel like an act of self love, whereas initially I felt neutral towards the process of pricking and sewing upon myself.

My tutor and I will be discussing my progress next week, and I look forward to her guidance, especially in relation to one of the remaining animals (I’m not happy with the snake) and with regards to mounting them. The electrical tape which I use to secure threads is bulky in the areas where I’ve taped several loose ends.

qrf

 

Review – Maurizio Anzeri

Maurizio Anzeri (1969)

Wow.

714x480x2Fig. 1. Bernard (left) and Georgio (right)

Some of the most complex embroidery on photography that I’ve seen, I can’t help but admire the attention to detail and complexity.

  • Colour can be used to highlight character, as can shape
  • Bernard has some smooth, peaceful joy to counter elements of mania, business and disjointed thought
  • Georgio is serious, effeminate, passionate and positive

434x576x2Fig. 2. Louise B

  • Louise is complex
  • Ritualistic
  • Likes order
  • Dark
  • Deep
  • Sees everything
  • An active intelligent mind
  • Outwardly feminine but internally rigid

415x576x2Fig. 3. Nadia

I find this to be a deeply emotional and sad photo. There is pain etched upon her face through the burgundy’s that permeate the gentleness and light of the pinks and whites. Those downward looking eyes with the black embroidery which follows her gaze, suggests a deep sense of sadness and loss.

412x576x2Fig. 4. Peter

Perhaps a person with no sense of identity who lives in a complex state of psychotic delusion. He has a brain which is set to combust and explode, with an overload of neural connections. But also an introvert and unable to express his ideas.

Reflections

Embroidering on top of a portrait can add a depth of characterisation. This can be done by using colour and shape, and with the right level of technical expertise, an artist can bring out different aspects of an individuals personality.

Anzeri’s art is phenomenal and he is a technical expert. I’m going to have to rewatch the following you tube tutorial to gain some tips.

Illustrations

Figure 1 Anzeri, M; Bernard and Georgio [thread on photograph]; AT: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/91702-maurizio-anzeris-embroidered-photography (accessed on 30/12/2018)

Figure 2 Anzeri, M; Louise B [thread on photograph]; AT: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/91702-maurizio-anzeris-embroidered-photography (accessed on 30/12/2018)

Figure 3 Anzeri, M; Nadia [thread on photograph]; AT: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/91702-maurizio-anzeris-embroidered-photography (accessed on 30/12/2018)

Figure 4 Anzeri, M; Peter [thread on photograph]; AT: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/91702-maurizio-anzeris-embroidered-photography (accessed on 30/12/2018)

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.

Flipped Into Binge Eating – The Shame Of Eating

Last week was frightening for me. Not being able to walk, following on from returning home from London because I was sick left me feeling vulnerable and scared.

As well as having anorexia I have binge eating disorder. I had a battle in my mind last week between starving, binging or sticking to the plan. I stuck with the plan initially and then flipped into binging.

I find it hard to discuss binging because I feel both guilt and shame for doing so. Guilt for eating and shame for being disgusting and greedy (guilt is about what I have done, shame is about who I am).

So I feel ashamed. I hurt. And there is further torment. Life is not black Abdul white, one thing or another, I so wish it was. I’m desperate to stop eating, to get back into the (false) control of anorexia, I’m scared I won’t be able to stop eating. I also don’t want to stop eating, I want to binge and have the numbness that comes with the chemical high.

The shame is so intense it’s taken me a few days to decide whether to make this post. It’s easy to talk about my anorexic behaviour, even when it hurts, binge eating is a different matter.

oznor

It’s All About Me When It Comes To My Emotions – Responding Not Reacting

It’s been a challenging week for me on many levels’. I felt hurt and frustrated by a friend’s behaviour and, have had a professional organisation failed to keep their commitment, and two professionals involved in my care are leaving their posts.

I find it very difficult to be authentic and express my emotions in response to somebody’s behaviour. However, I had to say something this week so that O could remain true to myself and protect my self esteem. My friend’s behaviour isn’t the issue, it’s my feelings that I need to focus on. It doesn’t matter how you behave, that’s your choice and your right, so if I feel upset or hurt in response to your behaviour that’s my responsibility. My telling you how I feel doesn’t mean that you have to change your behaviour. As your behaviour is your responsibility you can choose whether to act differently, or continue to behave as you are. This means that you can remain true to yourself.

Self-portrait in which I photographed myself as a reflection in a mirror.
(Please click on photo for a full size image) I am slowly becoming comfortable with displaying self portraits, but I still need to cover my face.

So this week I took responsibility for my emotions and spoke to my friend about how I was feeling with regards to our friendship. I did this in a manner that owned my feelings and didn’t blame her for my emotional reaction. In order to do this I needed to give myself a couple of days to allow my emotions to calm down and so that I could prepare what I wanted to say without it being an attack on her. It would have been so easy to react but that would have been damaging to both her and myself (There have been recent news stories about students trying to get their lecturers sacked because they have differences of opinion. This behaviour is completely inappropriate because it apportions blame rather than taking responsibility for your thoughts and feelings, it’s also very arrogant and self righteous).

With a professional organisation letting me down my approach is firmer, more descriptive and without emotional content. They have provided me with some software called Dragon Nuance, which is voice to text software, and am using this to write this blog today. They are currently training me how to use and make the most of this technique. I had an appointment with them which they failed to keep. I’m very pleased that in both instances I have been able to respond, to take responsibility for my thoughts and feelings without resorting to criticism or blaming them for how I feel.

(Please click on photo for a larger image) Macro photography is my mindfulness. It is something that I enjoy immensely and it also calms me down.

My eating disorder therapist has been off work for several months,. We had an appointment this week, during which she informed me that she is changing role in two weeks and I won’t have a therapist until the new person is in post. On top of this, the junior psychiatrist that I have been working with whilst my therapist has been off sick, is moving onto a new rotation in two weeks and I’ll have to get used to a new doctor. My care coordinator is also changing. I feel quite vulnerable with having these three changes at the same time.

Acceptance is the answer, and the only way of responding to these changes I don’t like and that I feel unsafe with. So my response is to allow my vulnerability to be as it is, and to discuss this with my friends as often as I need to.

By Thursday afternoon my thoughts were along the lines of “what else is going to go wrong today?”. So I wrote a gratitude list and made a note of all the things that had happened during the day which I felt grateful for, I spoke with a friend, and my mood and thoughts improved. Making some macro photography also helped to keep me focused straight after my psychiatric appointment.

(Please click on the photo for a full size image) Macro photography is my mindfulness. It is something that I enjoy enormously, and it also calms me down.

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 – 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)

Redcar Windfarm – Exercise 3.9 – A Significant Place

Brief:- Think of a place that holds meaning for you. Note down the reasons why it matters. (For reasons of practicality, choose somewhere accessible – see Exercise 3.10.) Think about how you could photograph that place in a way and in a light that reflects its meaning to you. Is there a particular viewpoint in your mind’s eye? A particular time of day? Make a photograph exactly as you have pre-visualised it and try to convey its special meaning to you in the photograph. Does the photo reflect your memory at all? Do the colours seem right? If not, change them – and anything else that would help the photo resonate more powerfully.

Redcar - A Significant Place

This is my favourite photo and the one that captures best the spirit of Redcar and its on-shore wind farm. It is quite small when viewed in the post but much better when viewed on full screen.

Redcar is a place that I feel safe, connected and alive. I find the wind farm to be so beautiful, pleasing and reassuring. I can’t explain why I find it so, I just do.

I didn’t take this photo as a planned photo as suggested in the brief, although I have been back several times and taken many photos for this exercise. It’s a long beach that covers over 8 miles from Marske by the Sea to Teesmouth, and I wanted to explore the visual impact along the stretch of coast. I also visited Seaton Carew, which is the other side of the Tees, and made some photos from that perspective.

The process has been very enjoyable for me. To re-visit a place that I feel so connected to is a pleasure. Evaluating all of the images and selecting a final three hasn’t been easy. I could have chosen over 20 that reflect how I would want to show this beautiful place.

The reasons that this photo resonates with me are the contrast between the foreground and the sky, slightly under exposed, creates a peaceful but warming feeling. Winter can also be a time of mixed emotions for me, a time in which I can feel both subdued and energised.

Seeing this photo full size means that there is a visual tension between the town and the wind farm, which isn’t apparent when viewed directly on the blog post. The leading line draws the eye up to the town and then my eye moves to the turbines and blades. I have thoroughly enjoyed the making of this exercise. See you soon Redcar.

Here are the final three.

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Waiting to Die

Death becomes him

Death is me

This waking death of misery.

Please come death

Please swallow me

End this life and swallow me.

 

The usual reminder:- I am OK. In fact I’m very good right now. Writing is recovery.