In the style of Ed Ruscha?

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.

Sarah Newton 13 Darling ‘Bugs’ of May, 2018

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.

Poles Apart… Telegraphy at Keaton Sarah Newton May 2018

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: accessed [04-06-2018]

Sierzputowski, Kate. 2016. Macro Photographs Composed of Nearly Ten Thousand Images Show the Incredible Detail of Insect Specimens. Colossal. April 26th 2016. Available at: accessed [04-06-2018]

Tate. 23 May 2013. Ed Ruscha – The Tension of Words and Images | TateShots.
Available at: accessed [05-06-2018]

Twentysix Gasoline Stations. 1963. Ed Ruscha. Available at: 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.

Re-View 2

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).

Eileen Agar Precious Stones 1936

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.


Agar, Eileen. Eileen Agar 1899-1991. Tate. Available at: [accessed 23-04-2018].

AnOther. January 14, 2014. Top 10 Collage Artists: Hannah Höch to Man Ray. Available at: [accessed 23-04-2018].


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 Collection Sarah Newton 2018

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).

Re-View 5 Sarah Newton 2018

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.

Factory with Elephant, 2014 Nick Brandt
Fishing Lure with Incinerator Tower Sarah Newton 2018

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.

Forgotten Shoe at Sunset Sarah Newton 2018
Beach Debris Incinerated Sarah Newton 2018

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.

Them Danny Treacy 2008

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.

Brandt, Nick. Inherit the Dust. Available at: [accessed 17-03-2018].

Brandt, Nick. 2016. Dust to dust: Animals lost in an African apocalypse – in pictures. The Guardian (5th April 2016). Available at: [accessed 17-03-2018].

Collins Dictionary, 2018. Available at: [accessed 22-04-2018].

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.

Kimmelman, Michael. July 13 2001. Photography Review; Can Suffering Be Too Beautiful? Available at: [accessed 17-03-2018].

Sischy, Ingrid. 1991. Good Intentions. The New Yorker (9th September 1991).

Treacy, Danny. Available at: [accessed 19-04-2018].

Williams, Matt. April 24 2009. Close-up: Does shock advertising still work? Campaign. Available at: [accessed 17-03-2018].


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).

Gerhard Richter Abstract Painting (809-3) 1994








Sarah Newton Container 1 B&W 2018
Sarah Newton Container 1 Colour 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). 

Pictures from a Rubbish Tip 1988–9
Sarah Newton Dis-Integration 5 2018

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.


Alegria, Federico. 8 Famous Abstract Photographers and Their Photos. Travel Photography Blog. Available at: [accessed 19-04-2018].

Goldschmidt, Michal. December 2014. Keith Arnatt: Pictures from a Rubbish Tip 1988-9. Available at: [accessed 30-08-2018].

Richter, Gerhard. Available at: [accessed 19-04-2018].

Tate. 2018. Conceptual Art. Available at: [accessed 19-04-2018].

Tate. 2018. Gerhard Richter. Available at: [accessed 19-04-2018].

Tate.2018. Marcel Duchamp, Fountain 1917, replica 1964. Available at: [accessed 19-04-2018].


Eadweard Muybridge

Showcased in The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, I was inspired to read more about this man. In summary, Eadweard Muybridge is known for changing names several times, suffering a significant head injury in 1860, murdering his wife’s alleged lover in 1874 (and being found ‘not guilty’ due to justifiable homicide), moving from England to San Fransisco repeatedly with a brief time in Central America and developing a mechanical system to capture motion that has influenced the development of moving film images on the back of a whimsical and expensive bet by Leland Stanford.

Eadweard Muybridge display at The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum

Following the successful capturing of images of a running horse with 12 cameras Muybridge proved that a horse does leave the ground with all 4 legs at once. Completing this task in 1878 had taken 5 years and the result was significant not only because of the evidence in relation to running horses but particularly because Muybridge had, through his developments of camera mechanisms for the bet, taken photography to another level. Whereas motion was always a blur as an image could take a long time to complete during which all subjects and items needed to be still, with Muybridge’s adaptations the image could be taken in a fraction of a second.

Following his development of camera technology, Muybridge developed a mechanism to display moving images called a Zoopraxiscope (e.g. Chocolate Films, 2014). According to Bergen (2012), this influenced the invention of the Kinetoscope by Thomas A. Edison and William Dickson for showing motion pictures (e.g. racetocinema, 2013).

Zoopraxiscope disc used to show movement displayed at The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum

In addition to the details already mentioned he obtained two patents one for print processes and one for a machine for washing clothes and other fabrics. As well as taking thousands of photographs of animals and humans moving he also photographed landscapes in Yosemite and the growing city of San Fransisco. His work has influenced paintings, films and an opera, The Photographer, by Philip Glass.


Bergen, Jennifer. April 9 2012. 7 Incredible Things You Did Not Know About Eadweard Muybridge. Available at: [accessed 17-04-2018].

Chocolate Films. 30 September 2014. Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope. A Chocolate Films Production for Kingston Museum. You Tube. Available at: [accessed 17-04-2018].

racetocinema. 19 March 2013. Edison Kinetograph Horizontal Camera Replica. Available at: [accessed 17-04-2018].

Tate Britain Exhibition. 8 September 2010-16 January 2011. Edweard Muybridge. Available at: [accessed 17-04-2018].

The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum.

Wikipedia. Eadweard Muybridge. Available at: [accessed 17-04-2018].

The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum

The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum

A free museum at the University of Exeter, The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, is delightful, educational and inspirational. It brought back memories for me of cinemas of the like I attended as a child on Saturday mornings as well as developments in film from the later half of last century. Named after the film-maker Bill Douglas (1934-1991) who put together the collection with Peter Jewell, the collection goes right back to the beginnings from the 17th century. Additional items have been collected and donated in recent times. There is even an online catalogue where you can indicate what you want to see, the items being ready for you to look at, via a booked appointment, in the reading room.

An excellent and thoroughly detailed guided tour provided a tsunami of historical information which was fascinating and illuminating. I wish I could have recorded what was said as there was so much of interest to suit all ages and tastes. For me, seeing beautiful shadow puppets, intricately made magic lanterns, stereoscopes, and a camera (Moy-Bastie cinematograph camera, patent no. 4534 of 1909; serial no. 376) thought to have been used by J.B McDowell to record battlefield images in the first world war ( and the use of light with conical polyorama panoptiques to radically change what the eye was seeing (e.g. from day to night, calm to disaster, neutral to political) as well as the photographs of the old cinema brands and buildings (Astoria, Gaumont and Odeon), was exciting. The architecture of these cinema houses, the grand and sumptuous interiors the fabulously smart uniforms of the staff were all designed to make film goers feel special and aspire to greater things in life.

Learning how the first panoramas and dioramas were made, the transition from silent movies to sound and colour, the production of record discs to be played alongside the running of the films were all worthy of extended periods of study in their own right. Seeing an original Mickey Mouse puppet and learning why his image was altered to look less rat-like and fearsome, becoming aware that films initially were targeted at female audiences who had time on their hands (accompanied by a plethora or female oriented film magazines adorned by the glamorous female stars of the time) with the advent of modern appliances in the home and why this focus has had to switch to a male and female younger generation were fascinating facts. The switch was made initially to compete with television and more recently current personally owned digital technology to combat the effects of a dwindling cinema audiences. Cinematic films are now marketed as having special sound and visual effects that cannot be experienced in the same way on television or hand held devices.

I apologise in advance for the poor quality of my snaps mainly taken through glass and encourage you to visit the site, view the beautifully photographed objects and listen to the podcasts about the collection. Do not miss out on applying for the available stipends to study specific aspects of cinematic history (deadline 04-05-2018).

Informing Contexts Week 9: Critical Review film

This week we were invited to upload a video of 10 minutes duration focussing on our work in the context of that of past and current photographers with links to the wider art world and other approaches and considerations such as philosophy and ethics. I had been building up to this exercise with some trepidation. It was an opportunity to give some time to the preparation of the Critical Review assignment due in on 30th April and to gain feedback from colleagues on the course as to the value of the piece as a draft for the written critical review. I knew it was not going to be an assessed piece and that apparently only those who submitted themselves could comment on the films of others. In the end I decided to complete the task although apprehensive about my slow internet upload speed (it took 3 days before the previous film was successfully uploaded!).

I used the draft of the critical review I had been working on which was still very rough but at least it was a start. Using Camtasia again I soon found out that my written voice is not the spoken voice needed for film! Several re scripts later I had the narrative and had started to have images and text slides in mind to accompany it. First attempt was over 14 minutes …oops! The final version was still just over 11.5 minutes but I was running out of time knowing that uploading could take days so decided that was it. I chose to only use my images despite referring to the work of others. Assuming that the Critical Review would be text only which I have now found out is not true (I am glad I realised from comments received on the film and then checked with staff). I usually put a reference list at the end of my films but as this was not an assessed piece and the film was already long decided not to. Thankfully uploading went smoothly although it took about 10 hours.

Despite the pressure of completing a task when assessed pieces needed attending to I am glad I managed to submit. It has been a great opportunity to learn about the work of others and how they have approached a reflective critical review. The exchanges we have had about each others project work as well as film content and presentation have been constructive, insightful, informative, supportive and helpful in thinking about the final critical review. I summarised the points made in relation to my film for discussion in the webinar where I received additional comments from the tutor and colleagues.
Re my photographs
Helicopter view of found items interesting
Add people as signifiers to the signs (i.e. rubbish)
Aesthetic or content focus or both?
Beautifully composed images
Conflict of my practice and my views on reality versus staged imagery
Show examples of the work of others
Do not use the title Re-Cycle for my second collection
Market locally near beaches
Market to commercial enterprises associated with waste management
Re my film as a precursor to my written critical review
Compliments received: research and linking topics of module to my work, systematic presentation of motivation, influences and progress
Suggestions made: needs more critical depth and lateral references, explain the work of those referenced (e.g. Squires and Burtynsky), contextualise, investigate still life and surrealism, consider how digital has facilitated manipulation more than analogue.

Overall I was pleased with the reception of my film despite my omissions and running over time. The comments are all being digested (I agree with the majority of points made) and hopefully the final written and illustrated piece will address these. Now to cut it down from 4,500 words to 2,500 to comply with the assignment criteria.