I have been taking photos as I walk around London. These are part of my research for when I begin the degree in Photography with the Open College of the Arts.m. Square Mile is the first assignment. I’m considering shooting in The City and capturing the contrast between wealth and poverty.
OK, so this is not the greatest idea of a sampler, but it’s been good practice to try out different stitch samples for my fifth assignment. The majority of the artists who stitch over photography tend to use a long stitch, rather than different styles of stitching. And hey, their work is fantastic, so maybe the idea is to keep it simple. However, I like chain stitch and diagonal tent stitch – and I can see how they can be used, and perhaps cross stitch would be good over eyes.
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.
The brief asks us to create a series of 3 – 5 still life images that respond to a theme. Exercise 4.12 Presence/Absence gave me the opportunity to explore self harm and suicide, and I have an idea which will give me the opportunity to build upon this.
Self hatred juxtaposed with self love
3 photos relating to self hatred
3 photos relating to self love
Crop photos with a 1:1 aspect ration
Create a solid cube from wood
Attach self hatred and self love photo at opposing ends of the cube
This has been a fun and creative approach to finding inspiration and allowing ideas to develop. I made use of three different styles of magazine – journal, gardening, lifestyle – and added to this with newspaper cuttings.
Following the reviews which I have just completed of Hannah Hoch and John Heartfield, I can see how I can create my montages in similar styles.
The first idea relating to climate change will be in the style of Heartfield, political, topical, a dominant character, more minimalist than the style of Hoch.
My photomontage which emulates Hoch will be far more busy and explore the underlying feelings and external symptoms of eating disorders.
Both of these ideas break away from the brief slightly, but this style of art has become increasingly important to me as I develop as a photographer. There is potential for me to develop as a mixed media artist, yes it’s the early stage of exploration, but I don’t have to limit my creativity.
Of course I will follow the brief as well, and Brexit is going to be my theme.
Brief:-For this assignment you have two choices – To make a staged photograph, or to make a narrative sequence. The key to narrative photography is observation. Watch people, the way they interact, the way things happen, events unfold, and you’ll see that there are telling moments like a ‘stand off’ between a wilful child and it’s parents, or an awkward defiance when a ticket conductor on a train finds someone without a ticket. These may not seem like Hollywood situations, but the point is to find situations that are near to you. It may just be frozen pause during a meal with friends or the cyclist sitting by the road after coming off his bike. What you’re trying to recreate is a telling expressiveness, the quality that shows you’ve noticed how people behave and how their character is revealed in their actions, postures, facial expressions.
A staged photograph – A staged photograph is like a snapshot from a movie. It’s a ‘scene’, an event which you have constructed 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 an allegory that challenges perceptions about old age. Start by researching the work of Gregory Crewdson and Hannah Starkey.
A narrative sequence – a narrative sequence can be like a story board or comic strip that tells a story in a series of images. The story may be mysterious or humorous like Duane Michals Things are Queer (1973). It can be a fleeting moment or a monumental event. But there’s always the sense of time passing and an event unfolding. Research the sequences of Duane Michals online. Use your own life and work experiences as a source for ideas. Or use your dreams. Here are some key elements to think about: Event – Your aim here is to express a situation or event. Perhaps it’s something you’ve noticed, like someone sneezing in the high street or two people arguing. You don’t need to encapsulate war and peace. People – It will almost certainly involve people who will need to be rehearsed and directed like actors. But they can be themselves, they don’t need to pretend to be other people and they don’t need to be actors. Try to just let them be themselves and see what kind of images you get. If that doesn’t work, ask them to think about a memory which reflects the one you’re trying to portray. Setting – Every event has a setting. it happens somewhere. So think about places that would be accessible and telling. If you can, use environments that you have access to, like your workplace, your home or back garden. Props – Objects you use are important for setting the scene and expressing meaningful and narrative points about the situation.
I have very mixed feelings about this assignment. We are only required to complete one of the tasks, and I know that I can create a staged photograph. The idea has been with me, fermenting for sometime, and I know that I can give it a very good shot. It will involve a bankruptcy notice, a newspaper horse betting form guide, a mobile gambling app and a pint. On an outdoor pub bench and shot from the point of view of the person with the gambling problem. With a title of When the Fun Stops, Stop? I am going to complete this.
However, I am going to have to think of a way to also complete the narrative sequence. If I don’t then I know that I will be taking the easier softer option. It involves working with people, which right now is incredibly challenging for me, and is worse than usual. The brief is really clear that the idea doesn’t have to be fancy, it’s clearly more about staging and directing. The idea will come, ideas aren’t a problem for me – but the people are. I have already created a narrative sequence using birds, and also of me going out deliberately to get sun burned, I will post the birds sequence later in the week. It’s a strong sequence about spring and new life, but it didn’t involve staging. Me getting sunburned is wishy washy, yeah I will add it to my digital sketchbook, but that’s not a sequnce which I’m going any further.
I feel a bit down on myself right now because of my difficulties interacting with people. Although I haven’t been able to get in touch with my tutor, I know what she would say. She is aware of my poor mental health and would encourage me not to put myself at risk and that the staged photo is enough. However it isn’t enough for me.
My aim with this section of coursework is to explore themes and ideas that are relevent to me, and where I feel that I can have a voice through photography. Although I have these ideas I am aware that they may alter or change as my exploration of the coursework develops.
Exercise 3.1 Searching – Visit Durham, stay for a couple of nights and explore
Exercise 3.2 Series – series as typology, street art and graffiti presented as a photomontage – although I have some of the photography but will need to make more, this is a large project and will need to be done throughout the rest of this coursework, to be completed before the assignment, if this is not possible I will present it as an ongoing project for further development
Exercise 3.3 Sequence – unsure – an exploration of the spaces used by the homeless community
Exercise 3.4 Documenting change – An Alternate view of the Northern Powerhouse – closed shops in the centre of North Eastern towns
Exercise 3.5 Photographs from text – Leisure – William Henry Davies
Exercise 3.6 Mixing genres – unsure
Exercise 3.7 A significant object – my gohonzon and buddhist alter
Exercise 3.8 Re-phtographing – Extending upon assignment 2 via self portrait, as an expression of and challenge to my idea of self
Exercise 3.9 A significant place – unsure – I have no significant place
Exercise 3.10 A significant portrait – Work alongside a person who is homeless and explore how they would like to represent themselves in a formal portrait. I will purchase any clothing or props that they feel is relevent to them – I have a photographic relationship with a few homeless people already, so I can build upon the trust already developed
Assignment three A Narrative Photograph
1 a staged photo – gambling and its human toll
2 a narrative sequence – binge drinking from preloading to vomiting on the way home