Reflections Upon Leisure – By William Henry Davies – Exercise 3.5 – Photography From Text

Inspiration

The brief asked us to produce a series of photo’s that reflect a piece of written material, and I completed this with my own photography earlier in the coursework (seen here). Having previously read ‘Behind The Image: Research In Photography’ By Anna Fox and Natashe Caruana (2012) I had started to make a photo archive which includes my own photography, photo’s purchased from EBAY and second-hand shops, and photography and articles from newspapers and journals. Creating the archive reminded me of the montage produced by Gerhard Richter’s series Atlas (seen here), in which he makes use of newspaper photo’s and sometimes overlays text  from those same papers.

Initially I was attracted to Richter’s overpainting, and my first response to Atlas was quite negative, it wasn’t something that I liked. However, over a period of time this has grown upon me, and exercise 3.5 gave me the perfect opportunity to try something different.

Technique

The process of selecting which photos and text to include required me to experiment with which worked together on each individual plate, and then create a layout that symbolises the line(s) from the poem (signifier). For example the presentation ‘what is this life if full of care’ (below) is about connections and networks that we create throughout our life and create value for each of us.

What is this life if, full of care,

‘No time to stand beneath the boughs (below) is a reflection upon how precious life is, and that it will end in death – let us enjoy the life we have by slowing down to appreciate it.

No time to stand beneath the boughs,

 

Some of the photo’s and text were cut carefully, and others I tore from the newspaper, I wanted to see the effect of each – my structured mind has resistance to having torn edges, and layouts that are not aligned. The non-aligned layouts work, it creates a scrap-book style, and the torn edges are effective as a physical collage, but this comes out poorly in the photographs of the art.

My aim was to create light box style digital images from the pastiches, and although the process for doing so takes just a few steps – Lightroom, set white balance the same in each image, adjust clarity, contrast, vibrance and exposure to create brightness in the text and pictures, adjustment brush up to the edge of each text/photo – increase exposure to maximum (bright white background). This sounds simple, however auto-mask was tricky for images with a white border and without auto mask the process was time-consuming. The process wasn’t 100% accurately even when I followed up with the auto-masked erase brush. Consequently I was left with some digital artifacts around the edges. They have been removed or altered in some places by exporting to Photoshop and painted out.

Relationship to current photographic trends

There is a lot of talk in relation to how the digitization of photography and the excellent cameras in smart phones, along with social media, have created a situation in which photographs are taken with ease, shared almost instantly and then deleted or never seen again, and only printed on very rare occasions.. The reaction by many professional and academic photographers has been to focus upon the materiality of photography by printing, creating photobooks and making use of scrapbooks and albums to store and present photography. I am in agreement with the argument and have begun to print my own photos, make photo-books and use appropriated images.

However, I don’t think the argument is as simple as it appears. The digitization of photography has meant that old and damaged photos have been saved by uploading them and digitally removing scratches and marks, adding colour, and creating archives or new print’s. There is a saying ‘What goes on the net, stays on the net’. What this means is that if I or you publish a photo on the world wide web, there is always the possibility that it remains as a record that could be permanent even if I delete it. As soon as a photo is published on-line it can be copied, downloaded for individual or collective use, re-posted in a positive manner, or used to troll and embarrass. Deleting my original post in no way guarantees that it has been removed from the web. My creative process has been a representation of this, and a rejection of the view that physical photos are the only ones with intrinsic value.

Although I created the collages as a physical piece of art, once I had created and photographed them I removed them from the white card and returned them  to my archive. Yes I can recreate the physical object as a permanent record because I have kept the photo’s and text, but right now, none of these plates exist in the material form. The only places that these exist are on my hard drive and online. The digitization has provided me with a permanent record of the art I have created.

Difficulties encountered

As mentioned previously, the use of the adjustment brush, which was necessary in order to achieve my objective, has left digital artifacts. You can’t see them unless you zoom in very close, but I can, I know where they exist. The use of  WordPress slide show is the correct presentation for this sequence, however it isn’t possible to adjust the caption text colour on a free site. This meant that white text on a white background left the text unreadable. I have had to return to Photoshop and include a layer the length and position of the caption on the slide show, dark in colour, with reduced transparency, so that the text can be read. It works, but it is not how I want the presentation to be.

Overall

What an enjoyable and interesting project this has been for me. I love photography, so much I cannot express it enough in words. Becoming more involved with photography has increased my creative drive, and this has freed me up to let go of some of my rigid thinking so that I can explore and express myself with other media. Despite the challenges of the adjustment brush, technically this has been straight forward, creatively it has felt powerful and dynamic, but again very simple.

This has been my first attempt at working with these materials and this genre, and there is room for improvement. The photo’s in each plate work well with each other, but tI haven’t created a consistent sequence photographically, and wouldn’t be effective without the captions. Leisure is my favourite poem, and the words create a strong narrative, in future I can strengthen this by using photographs which connect from one plate to the next.

You know what – despite the imperfection (my perfectionism may be easing? Or that inner critical voice may be becoming a touch kinder?), I am pleased and excited about what I have produced.

I’m so pleased that I am now going out into the sun, walking to the cliff’s and I am going to stand and stare.

 

References

Fox, A and Caruana, N; 2012; Behind the image: Research in photography; Switzerland; AVA Publishing SA

Richter, G; 1960-2013; Atlas: Online AT: https://www.gerhard-richter.com/en/art/atlas (accessed on 02/07/2018)

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)

 

 

Sick Of Bulimia – Conceptual – Exercise 3.3 – Sequence

Reflections upon Sick of Bulimia.

I have published Sick of Bulimia as a separate blog post, because I believe that it warrants being presented as a stand alone project. It can be seen here.

Bulimia-Grid-Presentation

Exercise 3.3 is about photography as sequence, and I have now explored many of the options, based upon the ideas and learning about the photographers that we have been asked to review. Keith Arnatt’s Self Burial is a conceptual sequence, which I reviewed as part of the coursework (seen here).

It helped that I have had an idea that I wanted to explore about bulimia, and created some test photos around 6-9 months ago. Two of the photos in my final sequence have come from those, and the rest I have taken over the past couple of weeks. The opportunity to build upon my previous photography and to do so for exercise 3.3 was influenced by reviewing Self Burial.

Background

I have an eating disorder, and was first diagnosed with Anorexia – binge-purge subtype in my late teens. I was actually a restrict-pirge but that’s not a separate diagnosis. My eating disorder has changed its shape over the years and I haven’t purged for many years. Having a personal investment has meant that I could explore bulimia from my own perspective, the experience of others, and from additional research.

There is a sequence, a ritual that is often associated with eating disorders, and I have tried to express the mental urgency around going out, buying food, bingeing and vomiting by using blurred photos, movement,  the use of bright colours. Some of the photos are taken from the perspective of the person engaged in the depicted activities rather than going with the golden rules of photography. Bulimia is personal, deeply emotional, and both thrilling and devastating. The excitement and the rush of buying and bingeing is short lived, and is quickly replaced by overwhelming shame and distress.

The central portrait is the signifier of shame, and I think the sequence would have worked better if I made this image larger and more dominant.

Research

Reviewing eating disorder charities and websites from around the globe has evidenced that death is a very possible outcome for people with an eating disorder. Up to twenty percent of individuals with an eating disorder will die from either heart failure, organ failure or suicide. This made second photo important for me to include. The symbolic references by including the memorial and the shop where the food was purchased has a deep significance.

Bulimia is secretive, as are other eating disorders initially. Overtime it becomes obvious to family, friends and healthcare workers that a person is severely underweight and may have anorexia. People with bulimia may be underweight, of a healthy weight or overweight, and this poses many problems because it is less obvious to loved ones.

Purging depletes the body of the vitamins and minerals that it needs for electrical conduction (we are electro-chemical beings) and death can come from disturbances to the hearts electrical conduction as well as organ failure. Of those who die from bulimia, heart failure is the biggest cause of death.

However recovery is possible if help is asked for, so I included a link to eating disorder charities from a few countries.

Technical

Self Burial (Arnatt) helped me to formulate how I could build upon my original photos and create a sequence. The urgency of HAVING to go out and buy food, knowing that you were going to binge and then purge was a starting point, and lead onto re-creating the journey to do so, and things flowed from there. I made use of two cameras, Olympus OMD EM10 MKii and Mzuiko 25mm (50mm equivalent) prime,, and Huawei P10 smart phone with dual Leica lens, 27mm, 20mp raw. The Huawei gave me the opportunity to create good bokeh, if slightly unusual, which can be evidenced in photo 5 where the shopping is on the floor.

Fully aware that it is important to take lots of photos of each scene and from different angles, using different lighting (building upon 100 photos, soft light landscape, smash – part one of FiP coursework (seen here)), I set to work and took many photos.

Creating the vomit was a simple process of blending dog food, baked beans, carrots and eggs together. It’s visually effective. I have made the toothbrush the focus of that photo because the photos of just the vomit were too graphic. A tooth-brush may often be used by people with bulimia to make themselves sick.

The selection process also built upon previous coursework in relation to evaluating and selction, as well as the skills that I have learned from reading The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers, 2015 by Scott Kelby.

Through following the blog of an OCA degree student (can’t remember who) I picked up the idea of writing upon contact sheets as a method of aiding the evaluation process, and this was indeed very helpful.

Lightroom (Bulimia 1.png and 33 others)

The weakest two photos are the first – the trainers, however they are symbolic of the urgency to get food, and the third photos of the shopping basket and trolley. Nine Photos make for an aesthetically pleasing grid, so I have included these. I had not planned to use a combination of portrait and landscape orientation, but the final photos were important to me because they carried the message that I wanted to express.

Reworking from Feedback

Sick of Bulimia has received a lot of welcome feedback, which has included using photo two, the memorial with its symbolism od death as the central photo, keeping the same background, and changing the background to white. Having tried these options and also a white background and a grey border, I feel very strongly that my original presentation is the strongest, along with the grey background, which I was originally unsure of. The restructured grid to have death as the central photo doesn’t work because it significantly changes the grid layout. The shame of having an eating disorder is also the strongest emotion that I have in relation to my own experience of bulimia (I have no shame about anorexia), so the portrait of me crying has to be the central photo. The white background with the grey border is presentable, however the focus is taken towards the colours rather than the content. Having the grey background draws me deeply into the photos, and that’s what I would like for the viewers.

Here is the original presentation, and the other forms of presentation that I have tried.

Original

Bulimia-Grid-Presentation

Re-worked

Grid-Symbolic-without-layers

Grid-crying-without-layers

Grid-crying-without-layers-White-background

Grid-crying-with-LAYERS-White-background-grey-border

The Individual Photos

Bulimia

Bulimia

 

Bulimia

 

Bulimia

 

Bulimia

 

Bulimia

Bulimia

Bulimia

 

Bulimia

I am deeply grateful for the feedback that I have recieved.

References

Kelby, S; 2015; The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC Book for Digital Photographers; New Riders; Pages 47-54

Keys, R; 2018; Review – Keith Arnatt – Self-Burial; Online AT: https://photosociology.wordpress.com/2018/02/21/review-keith-arnatt-self-burial/ (accessed on 09/03/2018)

 

Dogs – Animals In Motion – Exercise 3.3 – Sequence

My first attempts at capturing animals in motion were photographed using my bridge camera, and I wasn’t particularly happy with the results. I have re-photographed, this time using some dogs that were playing in the snow. I made use of my Olympus OMD EM10 MKiii for this series, the lens was the MZuiko 4-150 zoom. As well as making use of the photo video format, I have made a grid presentation style using Adobe Photoshop.

Dogs-in-Motion-Grid-Internet-size

The results are better here than they were for the birds, not perfect, more improvement needed but a better than my previous attempt.

Narrative – Exercise 3.3 – Sequence

A Hermits Journey

A Hermits Journey

I do not live alone, I live with myself. This is a position of strength, although it may appear to be an isolated existence.

A Hermits Journey

My mental health difficulties can lead to very morbid thoughts, but somehow I manage to walk that path in between life and death. I find there is as much joy to be found in darkness as there is in light. That’s not the way it used to be, so I think a positive attitude comes with experience and age.

A Hermits Journey

People are important to me. Through my studies I have developed an online community, and I have some very close and wonderful friends that I have known for years. However I chose not to meet with people very often, I prefer to have a physical distance, and enjoy the freedom of not having to be with people.

A Hermits Journey

If I spend too much time around people I feel overwhelmed and oppressed. It’s not that people are oppressive, its hard to explain. I find that being with people is quite heavy and tiring. It’s hard for me to just let go and move with current of life when I am in the company of others.

A Hermits Journey

Its much easier to blend into the background and be invisible.

A Hermits Journey

Spirituality, in my mind, is not about a church or belief system. Nature and space provide me with a connection and nourishment, as of course do birds. For me, feeling connected, that I have a place and purpose is important, and photography has given me that in bucket loads. I am grateful for my camera, and grateful to be studying photography.

A Hermits Journey

Gratitude is something that is so important to me. It is possible to feel grateful for so many small things, and in this photo its the colour and texture of the wood, and how they are strengthened and exaggerated by the snowy background. One of the many things that I found to be grateful for on my walk. Gratitude is a spiritual practice. At the end of each day I write five things down in my daily gratitude journal. Positivity has to be cultured.

A Hermits Journey

One of the down sides to living the life of a hermit is that there is a wee bit too much time for thinking. I find it is easy to slip into either negative thinking or dwelling on the past.

A Hermits Journey

Too much self-reflection can leave me feeling trapped, brittle and easy to break.

A Hermits Journey

During those times I have to dig deep and find my inner strengths and push myself forward. Colour and beauty is to be found within those inner resources that I use to move onwards and upward.

A Hermits Journey

Once I have pushed myself back up to the top of the hill, and re-discovered the joy of being, I can take a rest at my post. I lean upon this post with my camera in one hand and binoculars in the other. There are so many different bird species to be found in this small patch of bracken, bramble and trees. Peace and beauty flutter around me.

A Hermits Journey

In the journey through life people come and go. Maybe in passing, for however long that maybe, we will sit on these benches together and connect. But whether I sit with you, or someone else, I will never be alone because I will always be with myself.

 

Reflections

I am so grateful that I have used the opportunity provided in exercise 3.3 to explore different themes in relation to photography as a sequence. The photos for A Hermits Journey were taken during a walk from Whitby Abbey, down into the town, along the river Esk into Ruswarp, and then back into Whitby, ending with a walk along the West Cliffs.

The walk took me five hours, and I took many photos along the way. Although I will publish others in my gallery, I narrowed my selection for this narrative down to twelve photos which I could use to express a little of who I am. These photos are sequential in relation to the walk that I took, and I have tried to use my words in a manner that flows throughout.

If viewed by anyone who hasn’t walked the route I enjoy, then the photos without text would be seen as a series rather than as a sequence. The writing brings the photos together as a sequence, and provide a way for me to communicate and express myself. This is directive in its manner and probably doesn’t leave the viewer asking questions, although some may be able to relate to different aspects. I don’t believe that this has any abstract or conceptual slant to it, and fits very neatly into a genre of narrative photography.

Critique and feedback are always welcome on my blog.

Perspective – Exercise 3.3 – Sequence

Brief:- Make a sequence using either your own photographs or images from the internet or from charity shops, i.e. found images. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re the person who took the photograph because here you’re appropriating and re-contextualising it within a sequence of other photographs. A good place to start would be your archive of photographs. Look for connectivity between images. Experiment by placing images together either in Photoshop or as prints. Notice how one image resonates with another image and how the two combine to produce a new meaning.If your sequence would work better as a slideshow, use PowerPoint or download Open Office to create one.

For this sequence I have been influenced by Duane Michals series Andy x 4. He made use of perspective in his sequence, which I reviewed here.

My “Perspective” is different in nature as it is a reflection upon a place that I rest on one of my walks, and I have included hand written text to create a narrative around the place that I rest. My sequence is not chronological, so it is comparative with Michals Andy x 4, but because of the text I have included it is narrative rather than conceptual.My hand writing is poor, which doesn’t help, however I am fairly satisfied with this initial attempt. The difficulties that I encountered were relating to the amount of cars in the background. It doesnt matter what time of day that I go there, there are always cars that will be seen when capturing these different perspectives.

Resting in its Beauty

Rusward-2

Animals in Motion – Exercise 3.3 – Sequence

Brief:- Make a sequence using either your own photographs or images from the internet or from charity shops, i.e. found images. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re the person who took the photograph because here you’re appropriating and re-contextualising it within a sequence of other photographs. A good place to start would be your archive of photographs. Look for connectivity between images. Experiment by placing images together either in Photoshop or as prints. Notice how one image resonates with another image and how the two combine to produce a new meaning.If your sequence would work better as a slideshow, use PowerPoint or download Open Office to create one.

I have made a series of photo-videos for this part of the exercise, and have tried to emulate the style of Eadweard Muybridge by capturing animals in motion. I made use of my bridge camera, and I am aware of the lack of quality within these. I will need to take my Nikon and the Tamron 18-270 lens to ensure better quality and some proximity to the birds. The high-speed continuous motion was effective though, but again it had its drawbacks, well at least I did. I could have set the camera to record 20 shots rather than 10, and using a tripod would help.

Redshank Feeding

 

Black Headed Gull Landing

 

Female Mallard Preening

 

Male Mallard Preening (1)

 

Male Mallard Preening (2)

 

Review – Ed Ruscha – Every Building On The Sunset Strip

Ed Ruscha (1937)

cofFig. 1. Every Building On The Sunset Strip (1966)

Every Building On The Sunset StripFig. 2. Every Building On The Sunset Strip (1966)

These images are important to show together. The first is a close up of part of the whole sequence, which appears to be made by taking photos incrementally that slightly overlap. They start at one end of sunset strip and are taken down the whole length of the road, and then back on the other side. Ruscha then had these printed into a strip book, with one side of the street the correct way up, and then the other side is upside down at the bottom of the page. I consider this sequence to be documentary photography, that becomes a historical artifact. The presentation is the most appealing aspect, and how I would love to own this, and slowly explore each page, look at the shops, buildings, people and transport. I have had a look online and certainly cannot afford the originals (£1,000 – £7,000). If any body is aware of later additions which are more affordable, then I would love to know where I can buy it.

At first glance the photos look to have been taken at different times of day and have a change of light conditions (I could not imagine a project of this nature being undertaken in one day). The montage that is the correct way up, the space in between and then the images that are inverse, add together to create a scene that is as if the viewer were looking down from above, but with a slightly altered perspective. I love it, and it has inspired me somewhat, although what is coming to mind for me is a different take upon the theme. When I start exercise 3.1 Searching, I will use my camera at eye level and take a shot every few seconds as I walk around either Durham or Leeds, so that I have a record of my journey. Once I have developed them I will turn them into a photo-video. This will be a sequence that records a journey, but also becomes a documentary style,  historical sequence.

Anyhow, back to Ruscha.

Although the photos were taken along the Strip and then stitched together, the interval that Ruscha took the photos means that there were physical gaps between where each photo was taken. This means that although the complete photo is a historical document, it is partial. There is a lot of symbology to the image that I had missed completely, the rise of the car and the increase of urbanisation and sprawl. Both of which were concerns at the time (Hacking, 2014; 408, 409)

MoMA records that Ruscha had built upon the work of Walker Evans ” but their deadpan, cool aesthetic is radically different. While each book chronicles an aspect of Los Angeles or the artist’s round-trip drives between LA and Oklahoma, their use of photography as a form of map-making or topographical study signals a conceptual, rather than documentary, thrust.” (MoMA Gallery Label; 2012-2013)

The above quote has been a little difficult to get my head around, map making and topography are conceptual rather than documentary? Rushca’s map making is dissimilar to maps created by Ordnance Survey which provide accurate and detailed coverage of the complete area of the map. Ruscha’s photo books are partial and incomplete representations of journeys that he chooses to take, and he chooses when to make the shot. They become a representation of something that he wants to explore and tell, rather than what is there. Exploring the themes that arise from Sunset Strip, cars, urbanisation, which are in my opinion both conceptual and documentary. I don’t believe that they have to be considered as an either or. The polarisation by analysis is a concept of the reviewer (including me)/academic, and their beliefs take the viewer further away from the photo, and even more distant from the subject. I have gotten myself a little carried away.

If anyone is able to shed further light or ideas on the documentary/conceptual themes I would be grateful to hear them.

What ever ideas have been explored I like Ruscha’s style of photography, and would love to get my hands on some of his work.

Illustrations

Figure 1; Ruscha, E; 1966; Every Building On The Sunset Strip [Offset lithograph on paper]; In: Hacking, J; 2014; Photography The Whole Story, Page 408; London; Thames and Hudson

Figure 2; Ruscha, E; 1966; Every Building On The Sunset Strip (1966) [Offset lithograph on paper]; AT: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/429.2008.a-bbb/

References

Hacking, J; 2014; Photography the Whole Story; London; Thames and Hudson

MoMA Gallery Label; 2012-2013; The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film, Photobook, April 16, 2012–April 29, 2013; Online AT: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/146931 (accessed on 23/02/2018)

Ordnance Survey; Online AT: https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/

Wikimedia Foundation, Inc; 2018; Edward Ruscha; Online AT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Ruscha (accessed on 23/02/2018)

Review – John Hilliard

Brief:- Images in Sequence. What defines a sequence, as opposed to a series, is the connectivity of the images in time or concept. Make sure that you are clear about the difference between a series and sequence. Photographers have used sequences of images in many different ways.

John Hilliard (1945)

Sixty Seconds of Light 1970 by John Hilliard born 1945Fig. 1. Sixty Seconds of Light (1970)

Initial thoughts – This is a hard sequence for me to get to grips with. There are 12 photos, displayed in a line on a gallery wall. Each image shows a clock, and after looking very closely I can see that there is a time progression that flows through the series, in five-minute intervals from 12.05 through to 12.00. The images start off dark and then becoming increasingly lighter with the passing of time. This suggests that the exposure also gets progressively longer with each passing five minute passage of time. There is an obvious time and light sequence, is there a perceptual one. What springs to mind is moving from night to day, from death to life, or from life to death with the ethereal ghosting effect that increases with the exposure. I am more inclined to go along with the second, because the symbology feels more accurate. The lack of colour or warmth, do not suggest to me that it’s about the day or even progression of seasons. There has to be a metaphorical meaning though. The sequence is too dull and non distinct to purely be about the passing of time.

Sixty Seconds of Light was the foundation for Hilliard’s future works “Camera Recording its Own Condition” (1971) and “The Twelve Representations of White” (1973). The Tate catalogue Entry (1975) Reports that Hilliard had used a dark room clock as the subject of the photos, and whilst developing the negatives he increased the time of exposure to the developer in five second increments (the clock hand that moves in the sequence is the second hand, not the minute hand), as well as increasing the exposure time by five seconds (shutter speed) whilst taking the photos. Hilliard believed that the camera does lie, and that any photo that is taken is not a representation of “Truth”One factor that led to Hilliard’s concern with this theme was his consciousness, beginning when he was still a sculptor, of the extreme inadequacy of the often single photograph by which a sculpture was better known than it was in three dimensions, to convey the reality of the work’s appearance, despite the strong impression of reality given by each photograph.” (The Tate Catalogue Entry, 1975)

Jennifer Quick writes “The work of John Hilliard (b1945), like that of many conceptual artists, problematizes photography’s relationship to fact. Hilliard’s photographs, such as Cause of Death? (1974), point towards a future that has become a reality in which digitally altered imagery is the dominant mode”  (Hacking, J; 2014; 413)

The ideas that relate to photography as a representation of truth, photography as a distortion of truth, photography as art, conceptual photography, and the modern-day compulsion to film or photograph every event and therefore miss the experience, are relatively new to me. Reading, studying, following the blogs of OCA degree students (many of their blog posts explore these themes) are opening my eyes and mind to what photography is or is not, depending upon your perspective. However I have to say that this intrigue is an intellectual one at the moment, and I don’t find the sequences of Hilliard as being something that I wish to photographically explore or emulate.

 

Illustrations

Figure 1; Hilliard, J; 1970; Sixty Second of Light [Gelatin silver prints on paper]; AT: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hilliard-sixty-seconds-of-light-p07233 (accessed on 23/02/2018)

Feature Image; Hilliard, J; March 2016 – May 2016; John Hilliard “Town and Country”; AT: Brescia: Massimo Mini; AT: http://moussemagazine.it/john-hilliard-galleria-massimo-minini-2016/

References

Hacking, J; 2014; Photography the Whole Story; London; Thames and Hudson

Tate Catalogue Entry; 1975; John Hilliard, Sixty Seconds of Light 1970; Online AT: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hilliard-sixty-seconds-of-light-p07233 (accessed on 23/02/2018)

Review – Duane Michals

Brief:- Images in Sequence. What defines a sequence, as opposed to a series, is the connectivity of the images in time or concept. Make sure that you are clear about the difference between a series and sequence. Photographers have used sequences of images in many different ways.

Duane Michals 1932

AndyFig. 1.

Initial Thoughts – Perspective. Series rather than sequence? Both? I’m going to say this is a sequence. A sequence that is comprised of differing perspectives, rather than chronological or motion. The perspective then becomes conceptual, and is an exploration of other. It breaks down what it means to be a person, a question of identity. Are we made up of parts? Is the whole more than the flesh and bone of being human? Am I just physical features and attributes. The first three images would also stand as a tryptich – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil? or the converse, see evil, hear evil, speak evil.

As you can tell this sequence speaks to me. Out of all of the many series that I saw of Michals’, this was the one that I was drawn towards. Interestingly this sequence is by no means the favoured or famed portraits that Michals made of his friend Andy Warhol. In fact I have struggled to find any information about this series online.

It’s a different concept of photographs as sequence than I have seen so far. Its a concept that I like, the change of perspective tears down, and deconstructs in its own right. It’s this deconstruction that then prompts me to examine the concept of identity, self and other. I find it hard to see the “other”, because of the questions that arise for me in relation to my own personal question/raison d’être “Who am I?”

Michals presents his sequences in differing formats, and although Andy x 4 is presented in a left to right timeline, he uses vertical timelines, and grids of various sizes.

There is so much to explore, discuss and write about Michals, but as I am trying to stick to the brief, I will leave that for when I study photography at degree level. The other concept that I like about Michals photography is his use of hand written text on his photographs, that enhance the story telling that is created by his use of frame by frame sequence.

 

Illustrations

Figure 1; Michals, D; 1980; Andy x 4 [Gelatin Silver Print]; AT: http://www.dcmooregallery.com/artists/duane-michals/series/sequences (accessed on 22/02/2018)

Feature Image; Michals D; 973; Things are Queer [9 Gelatin Silver Prints with hand applied text]; AT: http://www.dcmooregallery.com/artists/duane-michals/series/sequences?view=slider#5 (accessed on 22/02/2018)

References

Anderson, JF; 2018; Documentary and Portraiture Photography, Case Studies, Duane Michals; Online AT: http://www.dshed.net/digitised/reveal/resources/case_study_duane.html (accessed on 22/02/2018)

DC Moore Gallery; 2018; Duane Michals Biography; Online AT: http://www.dcmooregallery.com/artists/duane-michals/series/sequences?view=slider#7 (accessed on 22/02/2018)

Woods, K; 2014; Book Review: ABCDuane by Duane Michals; Online AT: http://museemagazine.com/culture/culture/reviews/book-review-abcduane-by-duane-michals (accessed on 22/02/2018)