Reflections Upon My Latest Anorexia Photo – Exercise 3.4 – Documenting Change – Learning Log

Today has seen me complete a composite photo which I have worked on over the past few months (sen here). It was a project that I had begun a while ago, and then exercise 3.4 of Foundations in Photography required us to create a series of photo’s to document change, which I completed according to the brief. However, I also felt that I could use my anorexia project to document change in one photo.

I created a draft of the project and then sought feedback from my peers (seen here), which was very helpful. I have taken this into consideration since the draft photo, but the most helpful feedback that I received was from a peer who sent me a personal e-mail, and this has had the biggest impact upon my re-working of the photo. Thankyou Sarah.

The photo has many layers which include differing sizes of clothing, which progressively become smaller, all of which were photographed individually, parts of the body and the headstone background.

Sarah suggested that I change the emphasis of the head so that eye was prominent, because of its haunted and piercing gaze. So I erased the other elements of the face, and following comments about different parts of the body I have re-shot them this week.

There were times during which I over complicated things in Photoshop especially with using the background eraser. Overtime I have learned that as I had shot each part separately, I could return to the original photo, layer from background, and use the eraser rather than background eraser. This ensured there were no half erased areas, which looked untidy on my working PSD (the clothing photo has evidence of some partially erased areas). The eraser was better than selection tool – delete, because the selection tool was leaving tatty edges in areas where the tone was similar with the background. Again I have improved this with the photo’s that I made this week by shooting the subject upon a white background. This meant the selection tool became an effective method of getting rid of the unwanted parts of the photo’s.

On of the most tricky aspects has been lining up limbs so that they fit into the shape of the clothing, but I feel that I have got this right today by making use of the transform – warp/perspective tools.

(transform – warp – perspective have been applied)

Overall I am pleased with the result of this photo. I have achieved what I set out to achieve, showing the downward spiral of anorexia and change in body shape, but also I have managed to capture some emotion within the eye, as well as sadness I detect some fear as well. With the figure floating upon the tombstone in an ethereal manner, and the fading of the limbs, sinking into the clothing, then moving towards death becomes apparent.

When I create photography such as this I like to carry a message of hope, which comes in the form of the text which is found underneath the photo. Help is available, recovery is possible.

Anorexia

(click on photo for full size image) Anorexia is a serious psychiatric condition. 10 – 20% of people who have anorexia will die from this illness. If you, or somebody you care about, is concerned that you/they may have an eating disorder then please speak to your doctor, or seek guidance from a national eating disorder charity.

 

Picture Analysis Sophie Calle

Sophie-Calle-4Fig. 1. Untitled (1980)

This exercise appears in the 2014 version of the Foundations in Photography manual, and does not appear in the 2017 version (Enoch, R; 2014)

Brief:- Sophie Calle’s work exists on the borders of photography and conceptual art. Her work is rarely aesthetic in the pictorial sense, but stems from her curiosity at realising an idea or action. Calle had been following strangers in the streets of Paris and one day met one of these strangers in a gallery and overheard that he was going to Venice the next day. She disguised herself and followed him to Venice. The premise and narrative of Suite Vénitienne is her seeking, finding and persuing this man. In literary terms, you could say it’s an ‘odyssey’ where the main protagonist is the narrator (the photographer) and she doesn’t know how things will turn out. Calle documented her adventure with photographs, as if she was a ‘private eye’ hired to tail someone. She used a mirror attachment on her camera so she could shoot at 90 degree angles (around corners!). The work is related to a series of conceptual photographs by Vito Acconci, which show him following people in the streets of New York. One main consideration here is that the follower is being guided along by the subject. There is a sense of relinquishing the usual ‘control’ of the artist. At the core of Calle’s work is a child-like curiosity with life and people. It’s not so much about making art as allowing herself to be taken on an adventure by an idea.

  • Her work sometimes raises ethical issues related to privacy, and in return she is very open about her own life.
  • What are your moral feelings about following a stranger to make photographs of him?
  • Can you think of an adventure you could go on – however banal it may seem – that would put you in a different subjective position than you are accustomed to when making photographs?
  • Is there a job you could take that would give you access to a certain kind of subject that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to?

Ok, so, I have to disagree with Enoch on a few points. I find his notions are a romanticised version of the events. She was neither following as if she was a private eye, nor was she being guided along, and neither did she relinquish control and she was not taken on an adventure. This has no relation to casual street photography in which a photographer may take a few photos of an individual, and then a different person and so on. This is planned and pre-meditated stalking.

Fig. 2. Untitled (1980)

There was no guidance by Henri B, she chose to follow him, she called numerous hotels and pensione’s in Venice to track him down, she enlisted the help of friends, hotel workers, strangers that she spoke to on the street, and friends of friends in order to track down where he was staying, and then follow his movements. Once he had spoken to a person, she would then go and speak with them and gain more information about him. This was no adventure or child-like curiosity, and although I appreciate that Enoch has a different perspective than me, I find his statements to dress up how intrusive, intense and relentless Calle was.

“A young man and a dog notices me and speaks to me. His name is Pino… I tell him I’ve lost track of a friend…Pino agrees to call certain hotels for me to see if Henri B by chance is registered at one” (1).

2 p.m. “I Settle down in front of the telephone at Anna Lisa G.’s place. The Venice hotel list, not including the Lido, comprises 181 names… I will call them all in their respective order.”. (2).

11.50 a.m. “To disguise my intentions, I wait in front of 2788 Calle Del Traghetto, as if the door were going to open for me.”. (3).

4.00 p.m. “Back at Locanda Montin it appears to me that Martin G., the owner, is staring at me curiously; Would he have recognised me this morning? I decide to talk to him; I need allies. I address him like this ‘I’m looking for a man. I don’t want him to know I’m in the city. His name is Henri B. and he’s staying at the Casa de Stefani. Could you help me?'”. (4)

10.05 a.m. “At last its him,… I find him changed. His hair is longer. A woman is holding onto his arm, her head covered by a print shawl.”, and “I follow them from a short distance.” (5).

They take this route which is approximately 1KSophie-Calle-6

Fig. 3. Untitled (1980)

8.10 p.m “The man who had stared at me for a long time leaves La Columba. He stops and speaks to me… I tell him I’m in love with a man – only love seems admissible – and this man has been in Luigi’s antique shop since 6.15 in the company of a woman. I ask him to join them, alone, and to tell me what he has seen when he comes back.”. (6).

5.00 p.m. “I ring at Dr. Z’s house…He must be sixty years old. I like him. I tell him the whole story… Dr. Z agrees to lend me a window on the second floor.”. (7).

9.00 a.m. “With my Leica equipped with the Squintar, I approach the window. I am just a few meters from the entrance to Casa de  Stefani. I wait for him, bent over… If I see him going out, I will not follow him. I only want to watch him one more time in hiding, photograph him.”. (8).

Clearly these are not the words of a follower who has relinquished artistic control!

Fig. 4. Untitled (1980)

  • What are your moral feelings about following a stranger to make photographs of him?

Hmmm, did I not express that clearly enough? I have very strong feelings that this is harassment/stalking. Just because we, as photographers, can legally take photographs of people in the public, does not mean that we can invade the privacy of a person so as to cause them fear, alarm or distress. Henri B did approach Calle, and took her following of him in good spirit. However if this was to happen in the UK today, and it caused distress to a person then a photographer could find themselves in a difficult legal position, and would run the risk of prosecution.

A description of stalking taken from the website of the UK Crown Prosecution Service.

“Stalking – Whilst there is no strict legal definition of ‘stalking’, section 2A (3) of the PHA 1997 sets out examples of acts or omissions which, in particular circumstances, are ones associated with stalking. For example, following a person, watching or spying on them or forcing contact with the victim through any means, including social media.

The effect of such behaviour is to curtail a victim’s freedom, leaving them feeling that they constantly have to be careful. In many cases, the conduct might appear innocent ( if it were to be taken in isolation), but when carried out repeatedly so as to amount to a course of conduct, it may then cause significant alarm, harassment or distress to the victim.” (CPS a; 2017). It goes on to give further examples, “a) following a person,
(b) contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means, (c) publishing any statement or other material relating or purporting to relate to a person, or purporting to originate from a person, (d) monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, (e) loitering in any place (whether public or private), (f) interfering with any property in the possession of a person, (g) watching or spying on a person.” (CPS b ; 2017)

  • Can you think of an adventure you could go on – however banal it may seem – that would put you in a different subjective position than you are accustomed to when making photographs?

At some point, and hopefully soon, I intend to visit London, and, if possible, catch up with some peers from Foundations in Photography. I could plan a walk around part of London and mark some points on a map where I would stop and make some street photography. It would also be possible to pick a theme such as shoe shops or tourist attractions and ask a member of staff if I could make their portrait, this could be even more fun if I had one prop and asked them to hold it whilst I was taking the photo. Maybe I could visit a place that I am familiar with but aim to get photos that would help me explore the place from a different perspective. I do not go out at night, so going on a shoot at night would be a completely new experience for me.

  • Is there a job you could take that would give you access to a certain kind of subject that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to?

Taking a job would not be appropriate for me right now. But I could still explore this. I have quite strong left-wing leanings, and like to take photos of people who are marginalised. It would be good for my development as a photographer, and personally, if I were to explore a different side. Maybe photographing people as they come out of Harvey Nichols or Harrods and ask for a brief interview about their life as well as making their portrait.

Reflections

This has been an interesting review for me. It brings up my feelings of vulnerability, which is linked with the paranoia that can manifest as a part of my mental health. I have expressed my opinions strongly, but I also recognise that an artist/photographer, has the right to create their work in the manner that they are comfortable with. We are also responsible for our actions and the consequences that come with them. Although I have strong opinions I respect everyones right to make the kind of photography that matters to them.

Illustrations

Figure 1; Calle, S; 2015; Untitled; Los Angeles; Siglio Press

Figure 2; Calle, S; 2015; Untitled; Los Angeles; Siglio Press

Figure 3; Calle, S; 2015; Untitled; Los Angeles; Siglio Press

Figure 4; Calle, S; 2015; Untitled; Los Angeles; Siglio Press

References

1  Calle, S; 2015; Suite Venitienne; Los Angelese; Siglio Press; pp 6

2  Calle, S; 2015; Suite Venitienne; Los Angelese; Siglio Press; pp 13

3  Calle, S; 2015; Suite Venitienne; Los Angelese; Siglio Press; pp 19

4  Calle, S; 2015; Suite Venitienne; Los Angelese; Siglio Press; pp 23

5  Calle, S; 2015; Suite Venitienne; Los Angelese; Siglio Press; pp 27

6  Calle, S; 2015; Suite Venitienne; Los Angelese; Siglio Press; pp 43

7  Calle, S; 2015; Suite Venitienne; Los Angelese; Siglio Press; pp 73

8  Calle, S; 2015; Suite Venitienne; Los Angelese; Siglio Press; pp 77

CPS a; 2017; Stalking and Harassment – Legal Guidance, Domestic abuse , Cyber / online crime; AT: https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/stalking-and-harassment#a02a (accessed on 18/06/2018)

CPS b; 2017; Stalking and Harassment – Legal Guidance, Domestic abuse , Cyber / online crime; AT: https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/stalking-and-harassment#a03da (accessed on 18/06/2018)

Enoch, R; 2014; Foundations in Photography; Barnsley; OCA

Review – Zelt By Roman Signer

zelt_2002Fig 1 (Zelt; 2002)

Brief:- Swiss artist Roman Signer uses photography, film and video to document performances, events or ‘akts’ he creates. Zelt comprises a sequence of images showing a man running from a tent, which then explodes. A passage of time and movement is depicted in each successive frame. The sequence relates a kind of ‘sculpture’ of changing forms that include the location of grass and trees, the tent, the man, the burst of flame and smoke. Characteristic of signers oeuvre, the event is both comic and mysterious. There is a sense of finality and transformation. Often there is nothing left but the photographic record, so its vital the record itself is as expressive of the event as possible. You could say that ‘earth artists’ like Andy Goldsworthy use photography in the same way, to document ephemera.

  • Would this work have been as effective if the cameras viewpoint has changed with each shot?
  • What encapsulates this sequence, makes it seem like a finished piece?
  • What do you think are the influences that led to this work?
  • Do you think the influences affect the way we interpret it?

 

initial Thoughts

These were my initial thoughts when I read through the manual at the start of my OCA Foundations in Photography journey last year.

Don’t like, a waste of my time to even look at it, a kid playing a prank, childish, pointless, at best the work of a teacher demonstrating the use of shutter speed as a technique to capture movement, or a photography student practicing and developing those skills.

Making time for consideration I have tried to see things from another perspective, and this has been really hard to do from my own frame of reference rather than that of other students. What I interpret is a reaction to all of the needless man-made wars and riots. A recreation of a flash point. We have had several wars recently in which the West goes into a country, blows the shit out of it, and then runs away leaving the said country to try to rebuild itself and without the support or infrastructure to do so.

What I have realised is that it is sometimes a challenge to drop my frame of reference and try to see things differently, from someone elses perspective, and this sequence is definitely one that I struggle with. The brief is really telling me what to see and how to view the image. I can see the necessity for that in order to prompt learning, but I have tried to review this series from my own perspective before considering possible alternatives.

Hand on heart I still see a guy, having fun with a motion camera and nothing more, and I believe that he does so without the intent of creating anything substantial or with a purpose. Yes I do get that sequence has a very clear start, middle and end, and can see how that is a very useful technique to use in photography and moving image. There is still space for individual interpretation and emotion in response to a series which does have a clear end point. I also believe that Zelt asks questions rather than telling me what to see (the brief told me what to see not the sequence). Signer has clearly provoked an emotional response wiithin me rather than a rational one. I will review Signer’s motivation shortly.

Questions

Would this work have been as effective if the cameras viewpoint has changed with each shot?

Yes from my point of view, but that’s because of my sociological framework. Changing of view point would have provided an alternative viewing of differing witness to an accident, and asked questions about the validity of using witness statements, when we all see things differently.

What encapsulates this sequence, makes it seem like a finished piece?

Having a start point that has a relay to the final photo works very well. Although you cannot see the tent in the final image there is a piece of debris to the right of the smoke. I’m left with the understanding that the tent has been destroyed, and that its inhabitant is safe.

What do you think are the influences that led to this work?

An obsession with fire and destruction, excitement, trepidation, war, riot, social commentary on the acts of Western Nations. Other than the brief telling me to see the “passage of time and movement” and ” kind of ‘sculpture’ of changing forms” I cannot conceive of an influence, and neither do I consider this to be a living sculpture. I believe the art world can be very pretentious in what it considers to be en vogue, and this sequence, without having viewed how Signer builds upon his previous work, the context of his production or his motivation, then I am left with the opinion that this is not art. There may be some craftsmanship, as there is in building a house, but not art such as the new Oslo Opera House, Norway. I use these as abstracts because I am beginning to consider the question ‘is photography art?’ This is a secondary question, with the primary one being ‘what is art?’ It was while viewing a Sky box set ‘Occupied’ (Occupied; 2015) that I considered that art can mean many things to people, and that craftsmanship of great skill may not be art.

If a person forges a wonderful piece of art, such as Madame Cézanne with Loosened Hair, has he created a work of art? If the answer is no, then there is the question of whether we considered it to be art before we discovered it was forged? If we did then how can it not be art now?

I have gone off point here but I am glad of the questions that I am beginning to explore. My understanding and ideas are being challenged and developed and I want that as both an artist and photographer.

Do you think the influences affect the way we interpret it?

No not in this case, because the influences are the ones that I have placed upon this sequence, and not the potential influences of Signer. The deficit is my own in relation to my lack of insight into this sequence, sorry Signer.

Roman Signer (b1938, Appenzell, Switzerland)

Signer began his career as an architecture intern, and became a technical draftsman following the advice of a careers counsellor Mr Koch, who also said that Signer would become an artist. He stuck with this career for around 10 years before attending the Lucerne School of Design, and then an exchange programme in Poland. Although he valued the development from researching and looking at the work of other artists, he doesnt feel he has been influenced by a particular style or artist. Infact he is very clear that his work is unique and original and comes from play and experimentation.  During an interview with Armin Senser (Senser, A; 2008), Signer describes art as being play and a game, and that he likes to make use of every day objects that have not been considered to be art previously. He makes use of tents, Kayaks, Bikes, fire, explosions, video, installation and land. He has even been pulled by a car, whilst in a Kayak, along a road with cows running to the side of him. The way that he challenges the concept of art has ensured that he has developed his games into visual and performance art which crosses the boundaries of genre, (riding a tricycle pretending to be a cosmonaut then being tipped up by his friends and disappearing in a cloud of smoke to create take off).

Although some of Signers work involves fire and explosion not all of it does, the exploration of movement appears to be the key theme of Signers. He is an explorer, and adventurer and an experimentalist, “Signer considers his artworks to be semi-controlled experiments in which he often cannot predict the outcome. Rather than perform in front of audiences, he records his “experiments” on film and in photographs.” (Litt; 2014).

Final Reflections

I am so glad that I have taken the time to do some research on Signer. What an amazing character with a great sense of humour in his approach, and I like that he doesn’t take himself or his art (eating humble pie right now) too seriously.

I believe that it is only right to be a viewer and write my initial reflections of how I have seen something before I undertake research. In this case what I have read has been thoroughly enjoyable and has radically altered my perspective on Signer. I don’t like Zelt, and I don’t consider it to be art, but in a wider sense I can see Signer as an artist.

This brings me back to the question of what is art? Maybe the viewer has as much of a say as anyone else in deciding what art is or isn’t.

Illustration

Signer, R; 2002; Zelt; [Videostills: Aleksandra Signer]; AT: http://romansigner.ch/en/arbeiten/115 (accessed on 10/05/2018)

Reference

Litt, S; 2014; Swiss explosion artist Roman Signer will speak Saturday at the Cleveland Museum of Art – without detonations; Online AT; http://www.cleveland.com/arts/index.ssf/2014/07/swiss_explosion_artist_roman_s.html (accessed on 10/05/2018)

Occupied; 2015; Sky Atlantic; SkyBox Sets

Senser, A; 2008; Roman Signer by Armin Senser; Bomb Magazine; Online AT: https://bombmagazine.org/articles/roman-signer/ (accessed on 10/05/2018)

Other references viewed

Phaidon; 2018; Roman Signer’s unconventional approach to art; Online AT: http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/art/articles/2015/february/09/roman-signers-unconventional-approach-to-art/ (accessed on 10/05/2018)

Gigon, A; 2014; The subtle and moving art of Roman Signer; Online AT: https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/culture/retrospective-of-a-trailblazer_the-subtle-and-moving-art-of-roman-signer/40577228 (accessed on 10/05/2018)

 

 

Anorexia – Exercise 3.4 – Documenting Change

I would like to request critique for this piece of work. I like the concept, but I am really not happy with the result. If you could let me know what doesn’t work and why, how you think this could be improved, what you think of the concept, and ideas on how to approach this differently. I am going to re-shoot this image so that it can be a part of a larger body of work that I am producing about eating disorders. Many thanks for those that are able to provide critique.

Anorexia

I find that the image is too flat, laying down on the back is probably OK, but I believe that I should work with models of several sizes so that the clothes are not flat on the floor, but have some life to them. I’m not comfortable with the legs and the upper torso probably needs to be included.

To create a feature image for this post I have cropped centrally and I prefer this version. What do you think?

Anorexia-2

Not perfect but if I were to include the chest it would help I think.

This has taken me a long time to create and the reason for this has been my lack of insight in the shooting and developing process. The individual photos of clothing were taken laying flat on the floor. Although I used a tripod I didnt mark a grid of where the clothing should be which meant making use of the telephoto for some and not for others. Some of the clothes were larger and also out of position. This made developing difficult because I had to both resize and warp certain items.

Shooting on a carpet with a similar tonal range – what a nightmare that created for me with Photoshop. The quick selection tool and the magnetic lassoo tool were both ineffective because I had shot without an opposing or white background. They both ripped the edges to pieces. Next I tried the background eraser tool, and being a bit of a perfectionist I worked in fine detail around the edges, which was a little over the top and took a long time to complete for ten layers (each item of clothing, face, left arm, right arm etc were all individual layers). My lack of knowledge in relaation to the background eraser was non existent and I onle researched how to make the most of it on the last layer.

The positives have been-

  1. valuing my idea whilst knowing I need feedback on how I can improve upon what I have made.
  2. Creating a piece of work with the knowledge that it was going to need to be re-worked – a new way forward for me, allowing uncertainty but progressing anyway.
  3. Learning how to use the background eraser.
  4. Understanding about the need for contasting backgrounds and grids for laying out each photo in the same space.
  5. Continuing to take photos for upcoming learning exercises, and remaining focused on getting this piece ready for feedback.

Certainly not my best piece of work, but with your feedback who knows what the future holds.

Although the brief for this exercise asks us to produce a tryptich (which I’ve previously done for this exercise – here), I wanted to push the limits to explore documenting change by producing one image. Eating disorders are something that I’m exploring with photography and will continue to do so. It a theme thats dear to my heart, and I believe that the physical and emotional changes can be documented in one photo with consideration, time, practice and your critique.

Exercise 3.4 – Documenting Change

Brief:- Everything changes, weathers, grows or otherwise shows signs of transformation. Changes in the weather can create a drastic change in the appearance of a place. Cooking something changes it. People tend to look sprightly in the morning and worn out at night. Make a sequence of photographs that shows the same subject, from the same position, but in different states. You can choose any subject you like, but clearly identify it and note down the conditions of change you want to show. Produce at least three images in a sequence – a triptych – that shows the three states of the subject and communicates the change you’ve identified.

This is my first attempt at this exercise, but I have another conceptual piece that I aim to finish over the next two or three days.

Note down the conditions of change you want to show! ummm, no. My reason for this is that I didn’t want to show anything, I wanted to explore how different weather and shooting at different times during would impact the subject. It was an experiment. There are times that I can go out and shoot, and then re shoot at a later date, and times when this is not possible for me. There are times of day that I don’t go out. So for me to explore lighting and conditions was the goal. Having read this section before beggining any of the exercise meant that I took these photos over a longer period of time.

Grid-No-Layers

Now I must explain that I went back to sort of the same spot, many many times, but never quite knew where that spot was, and didnt record the focal length, so these are a bit higgledy piggledy (love that saying). The changes are lighting and the weather. The subject is meant to be the post and the weed/twig, and to explore how these have been affected. In the first photo I like the clarity of the weedy thing, and notice how the water has spread the strand apart and frozen them into place. The second photo has mid morning winter sunlight that defines the edge of the post, makes the ice clearer so that you can see the grass below, and adds colour to the twig. The thirs has diffused lighting, and with the exposure for the snow the post and weedy twig are almost silhouttes. I can only say yuch about the fourth photo. Its horrid. So why have I included it? Because it fits in with my aim of exploration. It was taken at 2.30 in the afternoon, one month ago. Without water, ice or snow, the grass hides the colour of the sticks and this suggests to me diffused lighting on an overcast day – but I didnt record what the weather was like.

The learning for me to take away from is to explore how light and weather affects a subject, but take a pad with me to record the position, time of day and lighting conditions.

Documenting Change

Documenting Change

Documenting Change

Documenting Change