This weeks activities prepared the way for what are, to my mind, major tasks to exhibit, publish and run a workshop before the end of the module while completing CRJ, Portfolio and a 10 minute film about my development as a photographer and the progress made with my project ‘Beauty and the Beach…’. There was also an option to step forward as one of three exhibition designers for an online gallery of work from all participants on the module. The initial overwhelming panicky feeling has subsided but not disappeared as it seems that there are several peaks to climb in parallel, not just one each week.
So I have volunteered to be one of the designers but with the caveat that I would withdraw if others with more experience and a greater likelihood of getting the work done in the most efficient, expedient and efficacious way stepped forward.
I have also prepared my response to the suggested information that will help the three chosen designers put the themes and actions needed in place: Five Key Words
Beach, debris, human, marine, ecology
One sentence describing aims of the work I might display
Images of debris on or collected from beaches and presented in forms that invite assessment, reflection and personal response.
One sentence describing where and what your display could look like
To be confirmed but could be in one or all of these: 1. in a coastal gallery, shop, pub and on local beaches during beach cleans (perhaps using a washing line and pegs structure and with permission) and 2. Images can be made available on recycled materials, as mounted and framed for wall use, in zine or book format and on products such as jute bags, coasters, mugs etc.
Surfaces and Strategies Week 4 Activity: Make 5 photographic images without using your camera and with relevance to your project
I took this literally given this weeks information was about alternative ways to create and present images. I sent away for a home cyanotype kit and also checked my printer and scanner were working with plenty of paper and ink. I have a DIY pinhole camera that uses film but it is still in kit form and at a late stage when about to construct it I realised that the film would not be processed in time for webinar discussions this week as I do not have the processing and fixing chemicals or a dark room and would have to use a local developer. I did try to create one using a margarine tub and some of the cyanotype paper but that was a misplaced idea as there was not enough light through the pinhole to get the chemical reaction started on the paper. In addition the day before the one specified for the activity I tried to make and image by placing shells on leaves which then turned brown except where the shells had been but I did not repeat this on the assigned day. So I am presenting the cyanotypes, scanned, copied and printed images I made.
Using both natural and unnatural finds. Not being used to the kit paper and the sunlight strength I over exposed to start with. Images were washed and dried and scanned then emailed to my computer for processing and presentation.
Using beach debris and white and black card to assist with the exposure as the scanner lid could not lie flat with the items I had placed on the glass. Images were uploaded and processed on my computer.
While scanning I inadvertently put pressure on the copy button and ended up with a copy as well as a scan of one or two images. I then used one of these to place as background for a fishing lure scan, attempting to make it look as though the lure was an alien organic creature swimming in the sea.
The images were uploaded to a Mac and I used the in house pictures programme to crop and adjust resolution and colour.
The experience has been fun but I have learned that more preparation would have been good, for example, in having the right equipment to process pinhole film. I also realised that using a scanner precludes large items as does making cyanotypes on small sheets of paper. Thus my larger items of beach debris could not be used. Perhaps I had better get on with making the pinhole camera and experimenting with the larger items and some seascapes!
Objects generated by certain work processes that diverge from the programmer’s and designer’s project idea and assume unexpected and often ingenious shapes. They are not intentionally ideated by man. They are not made by man. What role can they play? Can man’s work represent itself even if something unforeseen alters the result? Can not-man-made work represent the present?”
Roberto Pedrotti started a movement for art not made by man. The focus is on the creations made through technology that diverge from the inbuilt programming. As others have commented humans are involved with the making of the equipment and the programming to make it work but where does that leave creations that were not planned by the programmer. Are they ‘mistakes’ or evidence of the programme going ‘one step beyond’?
Eidetic memory which typically occurs in some young children is considered to be the ability to retain and recall images in great detail. It is distinct but erroneously spoken of in the same terms as Photographic memory which describes instances where people have a well developed memory for text, numbers etc. as well as images. In extreme cases can be at the expense of development in other areas such as language and social abilities. The existence of eidetic and photographic memories in some children and adults is a continuing to be challenged as we learn more about brain development and functioning and as evidential assessments have become more rigorous.
Many of us take photographs to help us to remember events and locations. Manoush Zomorodi wrote about research on just remembering rather than relying on photographic images to aid recall. It turns out that we remember more details about more things that we see when not photographing them.
Arts: Painting, sculpture, theatre etc.
If the intention of this exercise was to identify images we see and hold in our memories rather than create and capture in camera then one could include all the arts.
Back to activity intentions
At the end of the day we and what we make are all atoms. So it does not really matter if we trigger the shot, something else does (movement or animals touching the camera), or the process does not involve a camera but we set up what is to be recorded (as with photograms and cyanotypes). The point is it is good to know of the variety of forms of images making that can be used singly or in various combinations as a record of what we see and experience.
This week was about working with others and the suggested activity was making a zine. Magazines (mags, zines) have been around for many years and range from glossy publications taking up whole aisles of space in supermarkets to hand made missives with text and/or images for individual use or limited sharing.
Friday and Saturday: Joining a group of course colleagues was the first challenge. Not knowing all the course members and their potential to contribute to this task meant that selection was important. Although I did think about some topics for a zine and could have posted them to entice people to join me I resorted to an easier option having seen an excellent suggestion from T who I knew from the Falmouth workshops. T made several suggestions including breakfasts. I think several people were lured by the early posting of this topic maybe with a sense of wanting to get started (as I was) given time constraints to be completed by Wednesday evening. I was also daunted by the task and I think in retrospect hoped people with more knowledge and experience would be in the group for me to learn from.
Saturday and Sunday: Initial messaging on Canvas and emails through Falmouth resulted in a few missed and mixed messages with the overriding drive to get on with taking photographs of breakfasts. Y set up facilities for us to add images and exchange messages in one place. However the university system only received a few images before filling to capacity.
Monday: The agreed evening conference call was attended by 4 of the group where we looked at and tried to share activity on Madmagz (recommended by the tutor). We agreed one pair would pursue this further and the other try out BLURB the following evening. There was an assumption that T would lead as the topic was her suggestion and T summarised the meeting and the actions we needed to do the next day emailing to all in the group, although we had not heard from several others beyond initial subscribing to join us apart from one who had submitted studio quality images, one of which we agreed should be on our cover. We had agreed images could be presented singly or in a collage and on a black background and that they should be sent to T by 5pm Tuesday in pdf format. We agreed to call it Global Breakfasts and add Issue 1 and June 2018 to the front page and our names and relationship to the course potentially on the back page..
Tuesday: I collated my images collected from friends and family in the UK, Spain, Australia and the USA making each an individual page on Keynote then adding this to Pages. I also prepared suggested text for the cover and introductory page and forwarded to the group with the suggestion that if BLURB and Madmagz were not going to work for us then Pages might be a way forward. I sent my images in pdf format to T.
Tuesday evening:T and I met through email and telephone to consider BLURB (which was immediately dismissed as not achievable in our timescale) and focussed on pages. For the first time I used the share option so that we could work on it together, adding images from others and formatting a front cover and back page copyright and thanks statements. Having shared the result by email we learned that Madmagz was not going to be used, that the version T and I had worked on would be the chosen platform and that tweaks were needed, namely making all backgrounds to the images black. I had a late submission from Australia and added it to the images. I had not realised the Zine should have been in portrait format which meant that the images of two of us (mine included) were in landscape as was the publication format in Pages. Y offered to see how the presentation could be improved and L offered to work on the production using facilities she has access to the following day.
Wednesday: I received and added another late addition from Australia and sent the revised version as well as a version in word to the group by 7am in the hope of making the tasks Y and L were to complete easier if they preferred to use windows. I spent the day determined not to be put off by the initial challenge of working using Blurb and Book Wright to see how far I could get. One of the day’s challenges was reconverting pdfs to jpeg as they had been in the former form ready for Madmagz. In the meantime W succeeded in producing a version in Madmagz while L, Y and T spent time independently converting the edition I had circulated in the morning to powerpoint and adding page turning effects as well as refining the presentation with tweaks to the text. They all successfully made versions using powerpoint, quicktime and vimeo including manually printing then filming a flick through. Finally I managed to upload the Blurb book and have purchased one copy with a pdf version. Having planned to order one for each member of the group I quickly changed my mind when the shipping costs far exceeded the cost of the magazine. I will of course order more if requested.
Learning points and Conclusions
Next time be bold and make a suggestion with some indication as to how it may be achieved in the time scale.
I need to recognise that I do not have possess all the necessary skills and experience in setting myself up front in this way. However, leaders are good delegators and coordinate to pull the tasks together to fruition but are not necessarily the experts in a group!
Identify people with relevant experience to collaborate with when achieving tasks both on the course and following the course completion.
Use individuals knowledge and expertise efficiently and effectively. Of the 6 in the group all submitted images and four focussed on putting potential versions together. In other tasks one might have each member completing different aspects of the activity where this might be considered a more efficient use of time. However in this case we were all learning and unfamiliar with the programmes and production of zines so it seemed appropriate to have ‘all hands to the deck’ in the hope that at least one positive outcome would emerge from all of our efforts..
Identify and set up systems that are accessible to all and have the capacity to cope with the influx of material.
Avoid rushing into taking photographs and spend more time clarifying the specifications for the images, the collation and formatting of the zine, the allocation of tasks according to skill, time available and willingness to learn new things, the publication, marketing and distribution.
Double check specifications before spending time on collation (i.e. in landscape when portrait was preferred by others and as I learned for completing zines).
Make sure the material produced can be shared in webinars where the task is to be discussed. As the hard copy will not arrive for a few days, the pdf of the book will be shareable as will the formats produced by three other group members.
Plan and prepare to spend a lot longer on the task than originally envisaged and then some more!
This felt a little like an “Apprentice” task! I can see that the ‘Apprentice’ contestants have an advantage in living together 24hours a day with lots of resources to hand. Given that we were operating on a tight schedule, online, using quirky and unpredictable systems and programmes that were new to most of us, I am pleased that we have achieved several versions of the same topic using different IT programmes within the timescale required. I did feel at times as if I might be stepping on leadership toes trying to drive an alternative to Blurb and Madmagz forward as a backup and hope that my colleagues did not share this view. Because I do not fully understand the aforementioned systems for book production I went for the way of doing things that was more familiar. Once a pathway to achieving the task was cleared using ‘pages’ and circulating on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning I felt I could relax a little and just get my head round magazine production in Blurb. Overall a useful exercise which in my case highlighted my shortcomings in relation to production skills although I liked the selection, collating, and presentation of materials. I was pleased with the responses to my requests of friends and family for images of their breakfasts and have enjoyed the collaborative experience with such positive and mutually supportive group members.
A quote from my email to the group sums up my reflections:
“This is the pdf of the magazine made with BLURB and Book Wright. I will let you know when it arrives. Thank you all so much for the opportunity not only in learning about technology I have not used before but also from each of you: the knowledgeand positive vibesand personal styles you have brought to the breakfast table. It has certainly been an intense but enriching experience!”
Ed Ruscha is famous for depicting things he saw while travelling, notably gas stations (e.g. Walker 1962). We we asked to look at his work and then pursue an activity of our own in a similar vein during the recess between modules.
Initially I decided to concentrate on becoming more competent with a macro lens (105mm), one I had only occasionally used before. I also wanted easy access to locations and therefore chose home. I have long been fascinated by the beauty of the natural construction of small insects. They are so complex with details we do not normally see and I recall being amazed at those depicted by Levon Biss although at this stage in my development I can only dream of the technical competence required to achieve such results.
So with the title of the TV series in mind I set about capturing and creating ‘The darling ‘bugs’ of May’ It crossed my mind to take buds instead as a late spring meant they were just emerging and they do not crawl or fly away! Despite the high rejection rate, I stuck to the ‘bugs’ and have had fun ‘abstracting’ them, one attempt being in the centre of the poster of 13 creatures I made using Photobox.
Once started I decided to do a second project, one that could be done with relative ease when bugs were not to be found or blew or flew away. This time keeping to a 55-300 lens on the same camera body. This project reminded me of the intense focus and knowledge people with Aspergers syndrome can have on subjects others might only briefly notice or comment on. Again around my home I became curious as to how many telegraph poles I could see just walking down my drive and around my garden. I had previously thought they were all very similar if not the same. I quickly realised this was not the case and also took photographs of their parts. It amused me to see the Danger of Death notice on a pole discarded by authorities some time ago which was now being chopped up to make a summer house frame!
I lost count and still cannot accurately say how many I can see from home as some are just over on the horizon and are only visible according to weather conditions. As an estimate it is probably about 30’ish on a clear day! So my project depicts ‘umpteen’ telegraph poles and their parts as seen from home.
I have used Photobox before to make books as well as other items and been pleased with the results. I had heard about BLURB books but not used them so decided that would be a challenge to do so. It was a challenge! For example, having decided I wanted the pages in a different order I could not switch them round but had to delete and re-upload to achieve the turnabout. In the end although I had wanted to go from big to little pole and whole to parts in the page order I randomised the sequence. The only continuity was duplicating each colour image in black and white, this decision being driven by my continuing dithering as to the merits of both. I hope I and the readers of my book will be able to compare and contrast the merits of the two forms of each image. I also had difficulty aligning text so that it was not going to disappear over the edge of the cover pages. Thankfully before uploading to print BLURB prompts re-alignment. It took several attempts to upload for printing due to size and poor bandwidth where I live but it has now been ordered and will arrive soon.
Reflecting on my performance in this task I still have much to learn and already can see how I could perhaps achieve better results. For both projects I thought about identifying and labelling each image and about mapping where I took them but decided not to partly due to time constraints but also because I did not wish to detract from the images themselves which may be at risk of becoming backdrops for the words (Tate 2013). With the telegraph poles I could prepare a map of locations that would be on a postcard slipped into the book if I ever market it! I note that BLURB also facilitate selling and wonder whether my book would be of interest to anyone but myself.
All told this has been an interesting exercise and resulted in two very different studies. I have gained further experience with two different lenses and ways of presenting my images. I have also increased my knowledge of bugs and telegraph poles as an added bonus!
Microsculpture. Microsculpture: The Insect Portraits of Levon Biss. From the collections of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Available at: http://microsculpture.net/. accessed [04-06-2018]
Walker, I. 1962. ’A Kind of Huh? The siting of twentysix gasoline stations (1962)’ in Di Bello, P., Wilson, C. and Zamir, S. (2012) The Photobook: from Talbot and Ruscha and Beyond, London, New York: I.B. Tauris pp. 111–128.
I have found another new way of ‘reviewing’ my work. Digital photography and processing open up new possibilities for the presentation of images and their intended meanings or messages as I have begum to explore with the abstract images I have presented in a post already. I had prepared a work in progress portfolio that told a story from beginning to end both horizontally, left to right and vertically, top to bottom. It ran from beach finds through rubbish collection and recycling, to incineration for waste that cannot be recycled. A logical and neat contained story which used images I had collected in the past four months.
One tutorial and inspired self-reflection later allowed me to let go and mix things up . Apprehensive that my neatly tied up package would disintegrate if realigned (there’s another potential title I may use) and my meaning and attempt at awareness raising would melt away, I gingerly took up the challenge.There were several results.
Firstly, I could see that clusters of unprocessed and processed waste and waste management images had a symbiosis through colour or shape or textural definition.
Secondly, experimenting with processing disguised some beach finds but did not entirely lose them in their new ‘psychedelic’ abstracted forms. Pleasing to me they may not be to everyone’s taste. The downside is that my intention to raise awareness and encourage appropriate waste management may be lost unless displayed with Dis-Integration and Re-Integration to clear all possible doubt about interpretation.
Thirdly, having learned about Nick Brandt’s work I tried juxtaposing two images, one of a beach find and a second of an incineration tower, I attempted to match shape and colour to give the images a complimentary ambience while maintaining a contrast which would invite viewers to ask why they were placed together.
Fourthly, although I have not combined finds I have collected into a montage yet, I have instead combined images to see if finds placed on recycling and incineration images work. This is the new discovery. I think it has potential and merits research into the use of collage in photography as well as continued experimentation with combining images.
I am not sure that my collage images would be described as other artists and photographers working in this way can be. For example, some works are likened to Dada and Surrealist movements, others to Pop Art (AnOther, 2014). From what I have read so far the work of Eileen Agar, Precious Stones (1936) appears similar to my attempts. Placing objects (precious jewels in contrast to my beach rubbish) onto a background image (in her case a profile torn from a magazine, in my case a recycling or incineration image) work in her case ”to show humour and irony” (AnOther, 2014).
Clearly I have much more to explore in this new direction of ‘mixing up’ images. While it remains to be seen how viewers respond to these new images, I should mention there is another outcome, perhaps the most significant:
Fifthly, the story from beach debris to incineration has not been lost! I can see that I may be telling it in a different and possibly more enticing, exciting and effective way.
Following on from Dis-Integration and Re-Integration I have revisited Re-View, one of the original working titles for the Re-Integration collection. Discussion of one of my original layouts for the work in progress portfolio submission with my tutor, coupled with my recent foray into processing some images into what might be considered an ‘abstract’ presentation, has given birth to a third collection in which the two Integration collections can be ‘mixed up’ in the order in which they are presented providing that they they meet my criteria of not being clearly and immediately identifiable. Here is an example of two found and one incinerated items, presented as a tryptic in my work in progress portfolio as they appear to relate in form and colour.
Re-View, as the title suggests, encourages having another look at something. In reference to this collection it means not only that I have had another look at my images but also people who view them will take a second prolonged or closer look to uncover and ‘see’ what I have displayed. Thus from the original subject (my taking the image) to the prepared image (my re-view) to the presented image (viewers first glance) to the understood image (what it is and what it is saying in its presented format) (viewers second glance). A circular process; back to the beginning.
Desconstruction of my images, in a theoretical and not a physical sense, has been helpful in my moving onto further development in their processing and presentation. My signs and signifiers (Barthes, 1973) in the Re-View collection are not immediately identifiable. Indeed signifiers, which stimulate the contextual identification process which accords with our knowledge of how things go together in the world around us, are limited in my images. So rather than an overt connection to raise awareness, which may ‘anaesthetise’ the viewer from rising to the challenge (Williams, 2009), it appears that both my ‘ abstract’ images as well as the straightforward ones of debris and recycling and incineration plants are somewhat covert in their modus operandi. An alternative opinion may simultaneously hold true in that the message could be too ‘distant’ from the messenger (i.e. the subject in the image) requiring several cognitive analytic processes before ‘the penny drops’. Whether this approach is effective in achieving my project aims remains to be ‘seen’. Beautiful images can be received and accepted by the viewer with the emotional response initiated by the initial impact thus there is less recognition or appreciation of the need to act on the message conveyed (Sischy, 1991; Kimmelman, 2001).
I need to be looking at my images at several levels as one might an advertisement. After all I am wanting to promote a message just as one might market a product. These levels include the surface meaning (i.e. items of beach debris or recycling and incineration facilities), my intended meaning (i.e. the take home message to improve our waste disposal and management as individuals and corporate groups) and the cultural and ideological meaning (i.e. believing in doing all that is individually and collectively possible to safeguard and improve the way we live for the benefit of all living creatures and the long term future of the planet) (Frith, 1997, p5; Frith and Cheng, 2006). Images that link well to their title achieve greater impact than the image or title alone. Having already chosen three collections with the titles Dis-Integration, Re-Integration and Re-View, I can see that there are possibilities for exhibiting all in one location together or each in separate locations (beach, industry, gallery).
Brandt (2016) in displaying his images of animals (and parts of and petrified animals in their former landscapes), may have had similar circular intentions to mine in order to raise awareness of what the human race is doing to other living creatures on the planet. His images are clear and interpreting them just needs the viewer to note the sign (animal photographs) and make the connection with the signifiers (the context/surroundings in which the photographs are displayed). I am keen to explore how his approach would work with my project intentions. For example, displaying beach debris images on beach images actually on beaches and displaying beach debris and recycling images together on images of recycling and incineration at the sites.
Other examples could be to display beach debris on beach images actually on beaches and to display beach debris and recycling together on images of recycling and incineration at the sites.
Reviewing the work of Danny Treacy (2018) who gathers disused fabrics and clothing from skips and creates new outfits I can see what he is conveying about reuse. His images in ‘Them’ (exhibited in the Photographer’s Gallery London in 2008) do need a explanation (which is given in detail on his website) as I would not otherwise know where the clothing had come from as some of the outfits resemble clothing I have seen at festivals, on the streets of some cities and when visiting some other countries. I particularly like the way the subjects of the images are set against plain backgrounds. Following the titling of my own work his strap line for a collection could be Re-Semble (to seem) or re-Semblance (outward for or appearance) (Collins Dictionary, 2018). If this has not already been used then perhaps I will purloin it for the next stage of my photographic development.
I have collected items I have found on beaches and waterside locations and intend develop a mini project to combine aspects of the photographic approaches of both Brandt and Treacy,
Barthes, Roland. 1973. Mythologies. St Albans, Uk: Paladin.
Frith, Katherine T. & Cheng, Hong. 2006. Symbolic Meanings of Advertisements in China. In Hong Chen and Kara Chan (Eds.), Advertising and Chinese Society: Impacts and Issues. Copenhagen Business School Press: Copenhagen.
Frith, Katherine, T. 1997. Undressing the Ad: Reading Culture in Advertising. In Katherine T Frith (Ed.), Undressing the Ad: Reading Culture in Advertising. New York: Peter Lang.
I have discovered something new about myself. While photographing for Beauty and the Beach… . I have allowed myself to be distracted by things I see that are not directly related to my mission. In addition, I have been discovering the capabilities of the digital darkroom, which perversely is not dark, in Lightroom, Photoshop and with Apple Photos editing. First things first, my distractions on site. It had not crossed my mind before going out that I would be as interested in containers as the subject matter, rubbish, for my project. Secondly, perhaps when a little frustrated trying to avoid clipping, distorting, over saturating colours etc. I have impulsively, or possibly in some cases mistakenly slipped with my mouse control of an adjustment bar. This has brought a sudden stop to what I was doing while I froze in disbelief that something had appeared unexpectedly and taken my breath away.
I am now researching a little more about the subject and finding artists and photographers whose styles have been described as abstract, surreal or conceptual, each of which have unique characteristics that separate it from the other two. For example, my understanding to date is that abstract expressionism is the art of showing part of something and creating an emotional response in the viewer, surrealism emulates reality and projects an intended meaning, conceptual pieces give a clear purposeful message to the beholder.
Personally influenced by Freud, Andre Breton is credited with starting the Surrealist Movement in 1924 on the publication of a manifesto. Unlike Abstract expressionists who create spontaneously, surrealist works of art are created with conscious and subconscious forethought and careful planning.The first piece considered as conceptual art, Fountain, by Marcel Duchamp (1917), preceded the pan-continents movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Conceptual art stems from the artist’s ideas and can take on many forms depending on the way the artist decides to realise their thought. As with surrealism, planning, execution and presentation is a feature (Tate, 2018).
In pursuing this research (e.g. Alegria, accessed 2018) I have discovered the work of Gerhard Richter. My photographs of containers bear a striking similarity to his paintings. Taken spontaneously and processed randomly I wonder whether my images would be considered ‘abstract’. Perhaps Gerhard Richter would use my abstract photographs (which are of physically real items) to create his abstract paintings (my whimsical and wishful thinking based on learning Gerhard Richter paints from photographs as a matter of course) (Richter, 2018).
My image resembles a city skyline in black and white and in blue the same image could depict a boat sailing across the sea. Interestingly colour has an important place in Gerhard Richter’s work. He has completed many pieces in the form of colour charts and has had ‘grey periods’ devoid of other colours as well (Richter, 2018; Tate, 2018).
I do not think any of my images would be considered surreal although I have received a comment from a tutor with a recommendation to research the surrealist movement.The same goes for conceptual art although some of my results are considered similar to Keith Arnatt’s later work (Goldschmidt,2014).
It is not that I want my work to be like or the same as other photographers. Knowing there are similarities is a double edged thing emotionally . On the one hand I could be disappointed that someone ‘got there before me’. On the other it provides a measure, against which I see that my work is developing in ways that others recognise something about my images from echoes of their knowledge and memories of the work of others. This is both flattering and encouraging and the view that I take as my learning continues.