Weeks 9-10 FMP: Challenged by small dark recycling spaces

With some apprehension about my project achievements since a tutorial at the end of October I attended another on 20th November. Having been away for 8 days in the intervening period I was not confident that I had done enough experimenting, tried enough cameras and improved the quality of the recycling images. But what is enough? How do you know when a project is reaching an envisaged conclusion at each stage from creation to production and presentation?

Minolta 7000 1
Minolta 7000 2

Concentrating on the recycling images (Event Horizons) for a moment, I had, before going away, managed to use the camera on my iPhone (which had been the preferred method for this series to date, mainly because of size and accessibility in the areas I wanted to reach), an analogue Minolta 7000 and a Nikon D750. In terms of the number of failed shots as well as the number of best quality (clarity and texture) for those that were successful, the D750 won. Whereas the phone camera automatically adjusts for lighting conditions, at times I was having to set a very slow shutter speed on the D750, particularly if the natural light dimmed due to passing clouds. Usually a tripod would be advised in such circumstances. However I was working in a very public space and had to keep the specific shooting location accessible and available. I have since reflected that a small collapsable step ladder or sturdy box would be helpful to increase my access when the subject matter is above my eye level. Back to settings on the D750. As lighting conditions continually change due to the weather and also the use of the facilities whereby members of the public let in light at any given moment, I cannot envisage having a settings formula that could be repeated throughout a series.

iPhone 7 Plus 1
iPhone 7 Plus 2

Using flash light in addition to natural light external sources and using the smallest (ie widest lens) were discussed as possibilities to improve results with the D750. Experimentation with the in built flash had begun and to this I added torches, both handheld and one being an ‘inspection’ torch. I also tried a newly acquired Neewer Speedlight. However this was useless when attached to the camera as the size made the apparatus far too wide for the aperture of the container I was shooting into. The torches combined with the inbuilt camera flash offered some acceptable results.

Event Horizons 9 DSLR
Event Horizons 19 DSLR

More research is required as holding and directing a torch in one hand and camera set with a slow shutter speed in the other while sometimes straining to reach the height of the aforementioned aperture is a tricky exercise with unexpected results. There is also a high risk of dropping the equipment through losing ones balance, and if dropped in a certain direction, it may never be seen in one piece again. So the next step is to acquire a transceiver and receiver so that the flash can be triggered remotely to coincide with the shutter. I suspect I will also need to acquire a patient assistant to direct the flash according to my instructions thereby taking much of the random results element out of my holding and directing two things at once.
With regard to lenses I will be seeking another one having tried a 24mm-120mm and a 105mm 1:2.8 macro just to see if I can improve the results. Ideally a reasonably priced second hand one would be preferable as it may only be tried as a possibility for this project and then not used again.

Event Horizons 38 DSLR
Event Horizons 16 DSLR

An encouraging discussion and proposal to continue experimentation in the tutorial on 20th November was followed by supportive comments and suggestions in a group tutorial a week later. So now I do not feel I am needing to go back to the drawing board but rather am determined to forge ahead, getting deeper and deeper into problem solving the methodology for making a focussed series, currently named Event Horizons, as part of my final major project.

FMP Week 8: Discovering Hilma af Klint

All I can say is “Wow” on two counts: the stunning architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and finding Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Sarah Newton 2018, Solomon R Guggenheim Museum New York

Multilevelled but easily accessed with a gentle descending surface in circular motion I was blown away by the construction. Not only that but the display areas were well proportioned and lit to show both the smallest and largest art works to great effect. It felt like a freeing and opening up of space in contrast to the boxed-in sensation of a rectangular room.

Sarah Newton 2018, Interior of Guggenheim Museum New York
Sarah Newton 2018, Glazed roof of Guggenheim Museum New York

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a chance visit, a toss up between the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Paved outside with circles, I went in blind to see what it had to offer and was immediately stunned to see circles on the walls. From that moment I wanted to know more and set out on a voyage of discovery that has been resonating with me ever since (e.g. Ernoult 2015).

Sarah Newton 2018, Hilma af Klint Exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum New York

Why should it have such an impact? A few months ago I started out photographing circles, white and black and sometimes with colour with the intention of encouraging the recycling of our waste. I have had many doubts as to the appeal of these images but have been surprised that some have had a positive response from viewers including tutors and peers. They clearly appeal to some (e.g. Helen Sears who I wrote about in a previous post) but have a limited life span for others (as in a portfolio review where coming to the end and closing down this diversification from my project was suggested). To see Hilma af Klint’s circles coming into their own in such a significant time and place showed me that there is still some way to go before I reach the point of exhausting this diversion.

Sarah Newton 2018, Hilma af Klint Exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum New York

It was not just about the circles. As I descended the levels of the museum I learned about Hilma af Klint’s life and work. She had specified that none of her work was to be shown until 20 years after her death saying the world was not ready to see it. In addition she wanted her work displayed in a circular building. The Guggenheim is a perfect match. She is now credited with being the earliest contemporary artist in Europe, predating Kandinsky.

Hilma af Klint by Tracy Bashkoff, Director of Collections and Senior Curator with David Horowitz, Curatorial Assistant  for the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation Exhibition 2018

Hilma af Klint’s work from early beginnings in botanical illustration evolved with her interest and some might venture to remark, increasing obsession, with the afterlife. Her notebooks recording and interpreting the meanings of seances she was involved with were on display. Circles continued to appear in later works even as small embellishments to larger non circular shapes.

Sarah Newton 2018, Hilma af Klint Exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum New York

Her use of colour whether soft pastel tones or sharply distinguished shades invites you in. I learned that she adopted the idea that yellow represented males and blue females with shades of green representing their relationships. Despite this repeating colour work in her pieces she often brought in an array of other colours, some of which dominate and challenge while others are subtly complementary and compatible. Some of her paintings initially appeared to me as a little naive and simplistic in their execution. However, there is no doubt in my mind as to the complexity in their creation and of their intended meaning. Without researching her notebooks understanding some of the paintings and the symbolic meanings of the figures and text is impossible. The accompanying descriptive boards were very helpful. The following three Altarpieces were made for her planned circular temple which would house her life’s work and be a place of spiritual significance.

Hilma af Klint 1915, No. 1 Altarpiece Photograph by Sarah Newton 2018
Hilma af Klint 1915, No. 2 Altarpiece Photograph by Sarah Newton 2018
Hilma af Klint 1915, No. 3 Altarpiece Photograph by Sarah Newton 2018

Finding Hilma af Klint has encouraged me to think beyond the circle simply being a shape and to look at the symbolic and spiritual meanings and representations it has had across time and cultures.

GUGGENHEIM Museum. ‘Hilma af Klint’. Available at: https://www.guggenheim.org/exhibition/hilma-af-klint [accessed 16/11/18].

ERNOULT, Natalie. 2015. Hilma af Klint: La Mere de l’Abstraction. Review, Aware, 30.11.2015. Available at: https://awarewomenartists.com/en/magazine/hilma-af-klint-mere-de-labstraction/ [accessed 03/12/18].

Week 7 FMP: MoMA part 3: Meeting 4 Americans

Continuing to move through enormous gallery rooms I discovered more and more pieces with resonance for my project work. A huge 1950 Jackson Pollock painting called One: Number 31 dominated a wall in one space, this being one of three wall sized paintings he completed. Not having been close to such a piece before I did not know how to respond and feel. Being worshipped by some and questioned by others I was caught somewhere in between. Despite it looking like random flicks and tangles of paint an aesthetic balance was achieved in the image and the work involved to achieve it, evident. However, it is not a style I would choose to live with and pay large sums for. It made me think of the tangles of beach debris I have been working with, particularly the fishing nets, ropes and lines. Achieving an image with a ‘containing and balanced’ feel to it with (often) non-maleable materials too large for the scanning surfaces I am using is frustrating and requires more patience and time than is available some days.

Jackson Pollock 1950, One: Number 31

I loved meeting Frank Stella’s 1984 work in person for the first time. Bringing together geometric forms and bright colours and protruding from its wall hanging into the room space, Giufa la luna, y ladri et le guardie was an exciting discovery. As with Pollock, the apparent simplicity in the use of colours and lines, almost verging on ‘scribble’ in parts belies the compositional expertise and effort. The piece is stark, ‘in-your-face’ and yet fun and alive without overwhelming and oppressing. My response was instinctive and surface level as the accompanying text explains inspiration came from Italo Calvino’s Italian Folktales 1956 and was made at a significant time when Stella (then 33years old) moved from painting to sculptural work.

Frank Stella 1984, Giufa la luna, y ladri et le guardie

I am now studying Stella’s work in more detail with an increasing number of reflections in relation to my own, albeit on a very small scale in comparison. For example, His metalwork such as Fishkill 1995 looks like an enormous tangled mess (although deliberately welded that way) and reminds me of my metal vase created from metals washed up on the shore. His giant wall image The layers in the Michael Kolhaus Curtain 2008 reminds me of the mixed debris image I made and had printed on a beach towel.

Frank Stella 1995, Fishkill
Sarah Newton 2018, Metal Vase
Frank Stella 2008, Michael Kolhaus Curtain

Continuing with sculptural forms I also encountered David Hammons Untitled (Night Train) 1989 and Untitled 2010. His interest in the utilitarian and disposable connects directly with my intentions to contribute to awareness raising about our throw away culture that spews our own debris back at us on the sea shore while retaining that which has been digested by and has trapped sea creatures. The circular shape and use of bottles in Untitled (Night Train) reinforced my path with Events Horizons. The black plastic taking prominence over underlying art in Untitled 2010 stood out and in my mind was questioning our global responsibilities and priorities (i.e. we must prioritise the plastic and other environmental concerns ‘over’ lesser priorities so that they (e.g. art) can have a world in which to continue to thrive).

David Hammons 1989,  Untitled (Night Train)
David Hammons 2010, Untitled

Lee Bontecou Untitled 1980-98 was the fourth American artist I discovered on this brief visit. With a beautiful mobile structure moving gracefully above my head I was transfixed. As the accompanying caption read the beholder could easily imagine it to be organic and/or manmade and attribute qualities only they perceived in imagination. I spent time thinking about my planetary concept for the current project and in my mind constructing a mobile of my images. If only I had more time to construct a mobile and if only I had the vision and expertise to turn beach debris into a rotating mysterious thing of beauty.

Lee Bontacue, Untitled 1980-98
Lee Bontacue, Untitled 1980-98

If I had to choose which of these pieces I would like to ‘live with’ in my home Lee Bontacue’s mobile would be the one. I could also imagine making blinds and curtains out of fabrics printed with Frank Stella’s colourful designs, given the right room to hang them. For a moment there I was clearly thinking too much inside my domestic  ‘box’, this being one perspective that needs to be put aside (but not ignored) in my project work which is intended to be made public in due course. I am rather belatedly realising that the mindset in making art to have ‘at home’ in contrast to displaying in public spaces can have a significant and possibly restrictive influence on creative drivers and endeavours.

My task now is to distill the thoughts arising form the impact of each of these artists and use the acquired knowledge in my project. One thing that is emerging is my leaning beyond the gallery wall and onto floors and ceilings as well. In an ideal world, expenses for a student project no problem, I would love to have each type of surface used with displays of debris and recycling in many forms.

CAMPBELL, Andrianna, NESIN, Kate, BLALOCK, Lucas & RICHARDSON, Terry.   2018. Frank Stella. Phaidon Contemporary Artists Series. London: Phaidon.

MoMA. 2018. ‘Museum of Modern Art’. Available at: https://www.moma.org/ [accessed 21/11/18].

Week 7 FMP: MoMA part 2: Representations of Reality

Descending the floors of MoMA but not devaluing the quality of the artworks, I found myself in the esteemed company of Boccioni, Braque, Cezanne, Duchamp, Vincent Van Gogh, Picasso, Rousseau and other great artists.

Ever mindful of my project and seeking inspiration I found myself spending more time with pieces that had more of a geometric presence in contrast to soft curved outlines fruit and materials. These included Picasso’s Night Fishing at Antibes 1939 and The Reservoir, Horta del Ebro 1909, Braque’s The Table (Still Life with Fan) 1910, Duchamp’s The Passage from Virgin to Bride 1912, Picabia’s I See Again in Memory My Dear Udnie 1914 and Varvara Stepanova’s Figure 1921.

Marcel Duchamp 1912, The Passage from Virgin to Bride
Pablo Picasso 1909, The Reservoir, Horta de Ebro

Kurt Schwitter’s Revolving had a particular draw being made from metals, wood, cardboard, cord and other things. I have subsequently wondered why these had a particular appeal for me. Perhaps Schwitter’s Revolving is easiest to explain ad I have collected beach debris for 18 months and am now ‘making’ images with it. Comprising circles and straight lines Revolving is echoed in the shapes appearing in some of my images. Movement away from realty depiction to surreal representation in art coincided with and was possibly influenced by the significant engineering and industrial developments before, during and after the First World War.

Kurt Schwitters 1919, Revolving

Studying these works repeatedly since seeing them at MoMA I am realising that my interest has several levels. I have always had an interest in mechanical things, finding out how they work and marvelling at the engineering that has culminated in a functional construction. The depth that emanates from and goes deep into these particular images is an effect I am struggling with and one would like achieve with both collections I am working on, ‘Event Horizons’ and ‘Dark Matter’. Picabia’s I See Again in My Memory Dear Udnie 1914 is one great example achieving an almost 3D effect simply through the use of shape and colour. Without a background in art training beyond school, apart from a recent summer experience learning to use oils, I am trying to educate myself by looking at the work of others and teaching myself the methods I assume have been used such as dark colours give background and lighter colours foreground and being aware of where the sources of light are coming from. How to use shape and colour in my work where found debris is of varying sizes, shapes, transparencies, textures and colours is a major challenge I would like and hope to get to grips with.

Francis Picabia 1914, I See Again in Memory Dear Udnie

Interestingly a tutor this week made a brief comment on seeing my recent work about geometric quality. I wondered if this was evident in the way I crop and rotate and use the rule of thirds and fibonacci as guides but with time limitations, the discussion went no further. Now looking back on my visit to MoMA I can see that my approach is perhaps subconsciously following what interests me.

MoMA. 2018. The Museum of Modern Art. Available at: https://www.moma.org/ [accessed 21/11/18].

Week 7: MoMA part 1 Bruce Nauman ‘Disappearing Acts’

Fortuitous timing to be able to visit MoMA while in New York for another reason. Entering such a huge multi-story building with an enticing sculpture garden courtyard it was difficult to know where to start.

Sarah Newton 2018, Approaching MOMA

Glimpsing the sculptures on entry, the top to bottom approach won. Bruce Nauman’s ‘Disappearing Acts’ cried out for interaction despite the intentions of the artist (born 1941) to show withdrawal and loss over time. Not only did I find myself wanting to appear in a box but also found someone inside what looked to be an impossible narrow wooden curved wall.

Bruce Nauman 1981, Model for Underground Tunnel Made from Half Circle, Half Square and Half Triangle. Cardboard, string, wire, oil enamel, electrical tape, spray styrofoam, and wood. The Menil Collection, Houston
Bruce Nauman 2018, Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Another installation, albeit easy to walk past instantly connected in my mind with some of the internal shots I have made while pursuing recycling locations.

Bruce Nauman 1966, Untitled (Model for a Room in Perspective) Fiberglass and polyester resin Kuntsmuseum, Basel. Purchase
Sarah Newton 2018, White Hole Black Circle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In essence Nauman seems to have achieved an intention set out on a wall of the gallery:

Bruce Nauman, Description of artists’ intentions, Exhibition at MOMA, New York, November 2018

Some installations did not appeal to me (although they did to my companions). Perhaps my senses were over sensitive that day. They included columns of neon signs each pairing the word die or live with others, some emotionally charged, some seemingly random attachments, and a room full of plain rectangles suspended between floor and ceiling each of which transmitted a spoken word: a day of the week. Entering this room ears were faced with a cacophony of different voices simply naming a day. Even reading the accompanying titles and notes did not help me, I was just glad to get back to a place without a barrage of sound and flashing neon. 

Bruce Nauman 2018, Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Bruce Nauman 2009, Days. Stereo audio files, speakers, amplifiers, and additional equipment. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

However, Nauman’s other works apparently depicting Henry Moore as encased and outlined in flashlight circles, plans for four circular trenches as well as what I initially thought could be lines in circles perhaps representing a marked-out sporting game in a gym (my interpretation) caught my attention. The first was a time-lapse photograph, the second a huge suspended installation and the third tape stuck on the wooden gallery floor. Circles or holes are appearing more and more in my images as I work on my project Event Horizons and I am instantly drawn to inspect the ways others are using this shape.

Bruce Nauman 1967, Light Trap for Henry Moore, No. 1. Black -and-white photograph. Glenstone Museum, Potomac, Maryland
Bruce Nauman 1977, Model for Trench and Four Buried Passages. Plaster, fibreglass, and wire. Glenstone Museum. Potomac, Maryland
Bruce Nauman 1973-75, Cones Cojones. Taped-and-glued typewriting on two sheets of paper, with tape installation on floor. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchased

What did I learn from his work? Planning with detailed calculations, working with collaborators on construction and presentation and above all not being afraid to experiment with materials and ways of making that do not appear to be conventional methodologies. The latter clearly has resonance with my Final Major Project as I am still creating and making and encouraged in each tutorial to continue with experimentation; I guess until the answers or conclusions start to emerge….

NAUMAN, Bruce. 2018. ‘Disappearing Acts’.  Available at: https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/3852 [accessed 26/11/18].

Week 6: I Am My Own Primal Parent

Finding an exhibition space for my final major project is no easy task. White walls, other exhibitors whose work may distract from the impact of my own, restrictions on how items may be displayed and hung and of course potential costs of hiring a venue and/or the commission the owners may require if work is to be sold and not just exhibited.

A visit to the KARST Gallery and studios in Plymouth (http://karst.org.uk/) on 2nd November to see how others display their work proved to be inspirational. Under the collective title I Am My Own Primal Parent a number of artists (many associated with New York and Brooklyn) presented sculptures, textiles, paintings, sounds, films and photographs on walls, hanging from the ceiling and rising from the floor in the large white rectangle and adjoining lobby space.

I Am My Own Primal Parent Exhibition KARST Gallery Exhibition 28.09.2018-03.11.2018

“I Am My Own Primal Parent
NARCISSISTER / TOMMY LANIGAN SCHMIDT / GREEM JELLYFISH / MELANIE BONAJO / REBECCA GOYETTE / FAITH HOLLAND / ADEHLA LEE / CHRIS CARR / SOL SAX / GO! PUSH POPS / LAURA KIMMEL / UNDAKOVA / LOTTE KARLSEN / JASMINE MURRELL / JAGUAR MARY X CURATED BY KATIE CERCONE

28.09.18 – 03.11.18
Astral beasts, galactic stunts, nightlife culturati, audiophiles and technophiles, absurdist neo-shamans and sacramental synesthesiacs comprise our I AM MY OWN PRIMAL PARENT exhibition, their bizarre prophecies, culinary listening, phantom phalli, trans-dimensional art-tourism and polymorphous nature castles and cults populate an impressive new terrain.

I AM MY OWN PRIMAL PARENT is by no means a show about sex, or simply sacred kink. For many of these artists, conjuring your PRIMAL PARENT comes down to human beings as conscious actors in a matrix of creation which is by nature, sensual, binding, and multidimensional. Many work in sound, and likewise create artworks in whatever medium as a series of energetic ebbs and flows, of union and discord. Relationships, environments and situations frame the basis of their creative objectives, leaving current Art discourse ill equipped to digest their paranormal dimensions. These works offer tethers connecting an invisible order to the visible order, visions from the front running prophets of a fast forward generation determined to let the false idols crumble to dust.
Please note this exhibition includes images and themes of an adult content. Parental discretion is advised.”(KARST 2018)

I liked the variety in using the walls ceilings and floors. Were finances no problem I could envisage fabrics hanging down from or draped across ceilings, floor to ceiling unframed images particularly of my Events Horizons growing series, some sculptures made from my collected beach debris on floors and walls and moving mobiles of Events Horizons images resembling the rotations of planets. Alternatively thinking outside the white box….all possibilities are being considered including investigating billboards and the sides of buses.
I did not fully connect with some pieces in the exhibition but found others drew me in to see how they were made and displayed ( Rebecca Goyette, 2014, ‘Dentate Umbrella’ and Adehla Lee 2018, ‘Serial Mom’ ) or because the presentation was intriguing and enticing (Jasmine Murell 2010, ‘ Calling all Moon Children Everywhere’) and in one case, mesmerising (Narcissister 2016, ‘Forever Young’). In relation to my beach debris project I related to the rusty cans and rugby balls recycled by Sol’Sax 2011, ‘My Afro-Deity Gets Down and Dirty in Contact Sports’. Described as a wooden sculpture I am left puzzled as the items used seemed to be exactly that and made of tin and rubber.

Rebecca Goyette 2014, Dentate Umbrella Soft Sculpture Dimensions Variable

 

Adehla Lee 2018, Serial Mom Site Specific Installation Dimensions Variable

 

Jasmine Murell 2010, Calling all Moon Children Everywhere Presented in various formats to publicise the exhibition
Jasmine Murell 2010, Calling all Moon Children Everywhere Photo Print 80x180x150cm

 

Narcissister 2016, Forever Young Digital video 5.36mins

 

Sol’Sax 2011, My Afro-Deity Gets Down and Dirty in Contact Sports Wooden Sculpture (Collection of Danny Simmons)

 

One regret I have is not knowing about this gallery sooner. I learned from a studio occupant that I had just missed a call for photographic images to be displayed in a future exhibition!

Week 6: Catherine Yass

Born in 1963 Catherine Yass, shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2002, is well known for her films and brightly coloured still images. Working principally with a field camera she combines two images, one positive and one negative to make many of her photographs. Listening to a recording of Catherine describing her development and way of working I was struck by some similarity with my own intentions (Tate 2018). Adding depth with the two negatives, using colour to enhance impact, viewing images upside down (I am playing with degrees of rotation) and above all to experiment without the constraints of established ‘rules’ of taking, producing and presenting images in order to find a personal language or voice. Through this approach her images arouse curiosity in others. Focussing in more recent times on architectural spaces she creates “supremely, radiantly beautiful work” (Dorment 2002).

I have been encouraged to look at Catherine’s work in two portfolio reviews of my images particularly those relating to recycling. Use of a light box to display my images has also been suggested and I note that Catherine has done this (Oddy 1999).

“The photographs are then displayed in lightboxes to make the colours much more intense. There is a feeling of being drawn right into the inner world of the image.” (Phillips 2011)

Not having done this before but seen how effective it can be in an exhibition of Susan Brown’s photographs for the Devon Guild (2017/18), I will investigate options.

Catherine Yass 2011, Decommissioned

 

Sarah Newton 2018, Event Horizons 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

BROWN, Susan. 2017. Solo exhibition at the Devon Guild, Bovey Tracey, Members Showcase Gallery. December 2017 to January 2018. Available at: https://www.susanbrownphotography.co.uk/exhibitions [accessed 15/11/18].

DORMENT, Richard. 2002. ‘Why the Tate can’t win’. Telegraph. 30 October 2002. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/3584956/Why-the-Tate-cant-win.html [accessed 15/11/18].

ODDY, Jason. 1999. ‘Focus on a double life’. Independent, 30 July 1999. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/focus-on-a-double-life-1109488.html [accessed 02/11/18].

PHILLIPS, Sarah. 2011. Photographer Catherine Yass’s best shot. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/jul/03/photography-catherine-yass-best-shot [accessed 04/11/18].

TATE. 2018. ’Catherine Yass: ‘I try to make work that provokes thought’. The filmmaker and photographer shows us her studio and the camera she has been using for twenty-five years’. 27 January 2018. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/catherine-yass-2386/catherine-yass-work-provokes-thought [accessed 02/11/18].

YASS, Catherine. Alan Cristea Gallery. Available at: https://www.alancristea.com/artists/69-catherine-yass/ [accessed 17/11/18].

Weeks 5-6: Visit to the Martin Parr Foundation

Finding Martin Parr Foundation was a little like finding Nemo. Once I had spotted a small sign attached to a lamppost saying Paintworks I knew it must be close. Turning into the vast complex of buildings adorned by huge coloured Paintworks signs I felt this was a special location to have set up an exhibition space, library and archive.

This was a day out for Falmouth Flexible MA Photography students arranged and lead by the head of the course and a tutor. About 10 of us attended from all cohorts including those who had just begun to one recent graduate. Louis our host was generous with his time and was extremely knowledgeable about the photographers whose work is now in the archive and library as well as the development of the Foundation and the work of Martin Parr himself.

Paul Trevor 2018, In Your Face

The current exhibition ‘In Your Face’ by Paul Trevor 26-09-18 to 22-12-18 stems from work he completed 1977 to 1992 in the City of London and Brick Lane. Notable for the close proximity of the camera and photographer to the subjects, the work was considered radical at the time it was made and is now highly regarded within the genre of British documentary photography. I understood how the proximity brought the viewer up close and made a very a personal connection with the subject. I appreciated the quality of the images and how they had been printed. However this style is not one I would wish to engage in as it felt a little intrusive (and there will no doubt have been people who refused this ‘up close’ approach) and was largely devoid of context which would facilitate an understanding of time and place. Mind you the clothes and hairstyles that could be seen were pretty indicative of their periods. We heard how the images were intended to be attempted with a fixed distance from subject to camera of 12 inches (if I recall the measurement correctly).

Being permitted into the storage archive felt like an honour and privilege. Entering a cool room (literally a cold storage facility) full of wooden crates, metal chests, archival boxes and framed and packaged items which looked as though they were off on tour or had recently returned, was an eye opener. Not only that but a small room at the end which was even cooler housed box upon box of original film negatives. We quickly learned that Martin Parr is a prolific photographer of all sorts of subject matter taking up opportunities to use his cameras as experiences unfold before him (as evidenced by the variety in the publications he has for sale in the shop). Louis showed us work donated to the archive and stored in these chilly conditions to preserve them. Chris Killip and Graham Smith being two examples.

Robin Maddock, Dummy and published God Forgotten Face and III
Robin Maddock, Dummy and published God Forgotten Face and III

While a large section of Martin Parr’s archival material is in the Tate in London, there was still much to see in the library. This houses a wall on photography in Britain and two others. All contain work of photographers that has either been bought by the foundation or donated by the authors, with glass doors on one section denoting irreplaceable or very expensive items. It was within this sacred place I found a little dummy book no bigger than my hand about Plymouth, made by Robin Maddock. Louis immediately produced the final book ‘God Forgotten Face’ (published in 2011) for me to compare the dummy with and ‘III’ his 3rd book shot in three US cities and published in 2014.. This showed me that no matter how small and ‘roughly’ the DIY dummies may be done they can be very important in visualising the layout for the published product. In addition, thinking about my project I found some appeal in his images of individual items such as a pair of shoes and a sheet of paper.

Masafumi Sanai 1998, Wakaranai
Hiroshi Yoda 1994, Obsession
Hiroshi Yoda 1986, Tea For Two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also made two further discoveries, names I had not come across before. Masafumi Sanai and his publication in 1998 ‘Wakaranai’ (I don’t know) and Hiroshi Yoda’s 1994 book ‘Obsession’ and 1986 book ‘Tea for Two’. Both attracted me with their use of colour either of the subject or as a complimentary background. Hiroshi Yoda also presented images of deterioration which resonates with my beach debris project and showed me that colour can enhance as effectively, if not more so in some instances, as a background setting for the focus of the image thereby broadening my thoughts for experimentation beyond black or white.

Oh and how did I forget to mention being permitted to visit the studio and of course browsing the wares in the the shop!

Now I know how to find the Martin Parr Foundation I will certainly visit again and be much more focussed in accessing the archive and using the library for my project work. Thank you for setting up this marvellous facility Martin.

MADDOCK, Robin. Available at: https://www.robinmaddock.com/gff [accessed 01/11/18].

MADDOCK, Robin. 2011. God Forgotten Face [online]. Available on: https://vimeo.com/91401789 [accessed 01/11/18].

MARTIN PARR FOUNDATION. Available at: https://www.martinparrfoundation.org/ [accessed 01/11/18].

SANAI, Masafumi. 1998. Wakaranai. Available at: https://www.photobookstore.co.uk/photobook-wakaranai.html [accessed 01/11/18].

YODA, Hiroshi. Available at: https://www.hiroshiyoda.com/ [accessed 01/11/18].

Week 2: National Marine Aquarium & Atlantic Project Plymouth

Booked into a two film Atlantic Project free event at the National Marine Aquarium on 5th October 2018 I was mistakenly directed to a behind the scenes tour. This was itself very interesting and all the more so as most participants in the tour party happened to belong to a Mensa group visiting from elsewhere in the country. Their additional knowledge of marine life added depth and breadth to that given by the tour guides who were very knowledgeable marine biologists who worked at the venue.

Although there was only a small display about beach debris and, prompted by myself, discussion of the harm caused by and potential solutions for this man-made problem, there are monthly lectures, beach clean activities and an extensive in-house and outreach educational programme (http://www.national-aquarium.co.uk/education/) which unavoidably and inevitably refer to the issues.

Sarah Newton 2018, Plastic Fantastic at the National Marine Aquarium

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Newton 2018, Plastic Fantastic at the National Marine Aquarium

One of my reasons for visiting was to check out the location as a possible venue for my exhibition. Having the opportunity to see how Bryony Gillard and Ursula Biemann presented in this context would have been useful. I have since looked at their work online. Bryony explores jelly fish thinking through video, human performance and sounds in ‘A cap like water, fluid yet with definite body’ which is also linked with ‘Tentacular Thinking’. Body prints on latex hang from the ceiling of the exhibition space and people improvise movements in response to the screening of a film of jelly fish. I can visualise some of my images in projection on screens and on fabrics (eg towelling or a lighter silk that could move more easily) hanging and trailing in the exhibition space whether inside or outside. Ursula’s work ‘Acoustic Ocean’ was commissioned by the “Atlantic Project After the Future – in the wake of utopian imaginaries in Plymouth (UK) curated by Tom Trevor.” (The Atlantic Project 2018). The Atlantic Project was a pilot for a new international festival of contemporary art in Plymouth. Ursula’s film explores the sonic ecology of marine life in the cold North Atlantic (Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway). Her writings and videos tackling and portraying human and environmental concerns have received accolades world-wide. Such a shame I missed them.

I did, however, use the opportunity to take some images of relevance to my project. These images of jellyfish gave me the opportunity to experiment with processing and the differential impacts of various colours.

References

BIEMANN, Ursula. 2018. ‘Geobodies-Acoustic Ocean’. Available at: https://www.geobodies.org/art-and-videos/acoustic-ocean [accessed 01/11/18].

GILLARD, Bryony. 2018. ’A cap like water, fluid yet with definite body’. Available at: http://bryonygillard.co.uk/ [accessed 01/11/18].

NATIONAL Marine Aquarium Plymouth. http://www.national-aquarium.co.uk/ [accessed 01/11/2018].

THE ATLANTIC PROJECT. 2018. ‘After the Future’, 28th September-21st October 2018. Available at: https://www.theatlantic.org/pages/about [accessed 01/11/18].

FMP Weeks 3-4: Naming and Storytelling

It is not enough to have an image which captures more than a nanosecond of your attention. It needs to have the potential for interrogation and accompanying explanation which deepens and broadens the initial impact. This is what I am learning.

I began to think more seriously about this when preparing my Final Major Project Proposal. Previously I have created collective names for mini-projects up to this point (i.e. re-present, dis-integration, re-integration, re-view, re-present etc.) and explained and justified my choices in relation to Beauty and the Beach… in past posts. What is needed now is a more substantial way of not only providing the front door but an opening into the room or rooms within.

A breakthrough came as I was about to submit the proposal (but too late for inclusion). I happened to be visiting the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. With a longstanding interest in astrophysics and reflecting on feedback on my scanned and recycling mages to date, the naming and explanatory discourse emerged.

The images I am making include a plan A as in the project proposal and a plan B which is not necessarily appropriate and acceptable as a replacement for A should that not work out. But it is one I am pursuing in parallel and dare I say, having fun with. So already two rooms to view behind my conceptual door. But how to describe each in a way that links them?

The Guardian 2018, What happens in black holes? Hawking’s final paper released Stephen Hawking 2016, Black Holes: The Reith Lectures

 

 

I have been reading Stephen Hawking ‘Black Holes’ and Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen’s ‘Human Universe: Forces of Nature’. Two days before my visit to Greenwich The Guardian headlined with an exclusive account by Ian Sample (2018) of “What happens in black holes? Hawking’s final paper released”. It seems all coincidental signs were pointing me in a direction I could not resist.

 

Sarah Newton 2018, Dark Matter 1
Sarah Newton 2018, example from the series Event Horizons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I have provisionally named plan A images as a numbered run under the title ‘Black Matter’ and plan B ‘Event Horizons’. Black Matter images are scanned beach debris and Event Horizons images relate to recycling and holes. At the moment they reside in separate but linked rooms (as one depicts where debris should have been placed) and I am working on an overall title. Something that resonates with me are thoughts about Gaia and everything that is on and around earth is currently set to stay that way including all the junk we now have in space. Some of my images are starting to look as if the objects are floating surrounded by stars (aka sand).

Others look like alien landscapes and beings and here’s another coincidental timing, Dr Who has just started a new series starring a female lead with toxic waste dumping screened in episode 4 (of 10) on 28-10-2018 and yet to come The Remnants a high density polyfibre monster alluding to our waste management problem!

BBC One 2018, Dr Who Series 11

References

BBC ONE. 2018. Dr Who Series 11. [TV Broadcast]. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006q2x0 [accessed 29/10/18].

COX, Brian and Cohen, Andrew. 2014. Human Universe: Forces of Nature. London: William Collins.

HAWKING, Stephen. 2016. Black Holes: The BBC Reith Lectures. Introduction and notes by BBC News Science Editor David Shukman. London: Bantam Books.

ROYAL MUSEUMS GREENWICH. Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition 2018. Available at: https://www.rmg.co.uk/whats-on/astronomy-photographer-year/exhibition [accessed 29/10/18].

ROYAL OBSERVATORY GREENWICH. Available at: https://www.rmg.co.uk/royal-observatory [accessed 29/10/18].

SAMPLE, Ian. 2018. ‘What happens in black holes? Hawking’s final paper released’. The Guardian, 11 October.