Little did I know that in choosing beach debris as a photographic project for my MA at Falmouth University I would complete the course (and hand in assignments) as movements on both plastics and climate change gathered momentum with local, national and global announcements for tackling the issues. Informing people through television series, films and social media has been effective in mobilising public opinion with active campaigns of school pupils and with Extinction Rebellion. While plastics are a contributor to, but not the sole author of, environmental problems and climate change, governmental action in relation to both is welcome.
When studying a topic intensely it is easy to spot related material/evidence (often it just happens to be ‘there’ anyway). It does feel however, that the following examples (of the many reported each day) have coincidentally developed at the same time as my project came to fruition.
With visitors to the exhibitions (and myself) seeing my images as objects in space and planets I am keeping the names from astrophysics, Dark Matter for the beach debris and Event Horizons for the recycling facilities. Dark Matter is applied to something that is known to exist but cannot be seen. In Out-Sight-In this is a reference to behaviours associated with ‘out of sight and out of mind’. Event Horizon refers to the point from which nothing can return before being deposited into a black hole. In Out-Sight-In this title references the holes through which we place our waste into metal recycling containers. hoping never to see it again.
Brian May released New Horizons from NASA control centre on New Years Day 2019.
On 10th April we saw the first ever image of a supermassive black hole taken with the Event Horizon Telescope!
The day after my exhibition at The Clay Factory closed Mandy Barker’s Altered Oceans opened on 4th April the Royal Photographic Society’s premises in Bristol.
Plymouth’s Plan for Plastics was launched in April.
Earth Day was on 22nd April. The theme in 2019 is Protect our Species. Last year it was End Plastic Pollution.
Less than 24 hours ago on 1st May the UK government announced an Environment and Climate Change Emergency, the first national parliament in the world to do so.
There is a long way to go to make a difference in our use and disposal of plastics as there is in taking steps to reduce emissions affecting climate change, but with attention focussed at all levels in society and across the globe there will be significant commitment to making a difference. As we enter a new chapter in tackling these issues my project Out-Sight-In feels as if I have only got as far as the introduction and have now to start work on the main body of the text.
BARKER, Mandy. 2019. Altered Oceans. [exhibition]. Royal Photographic Society, Bristol. 4 April – June 2019.
My host and I seem to have developed a routine whereby I greet visitors to MVV (aka the incinerator) as they arrive and show them around the exhibition while they have coffee before their official tour of the premises. I will be repeating this on 3rd May and this will also mark the end of the exhibition at this location as I will be taking it down after the visit.
An enthusiastic informed group they provided feedback on the thumbnail sheets for each image and in the visitors book. While I was once again asked how I got inside a bottle bank I was also given advice about selling the plastics images by one of the group who happened to be a professional photographer. Framed and in a smart London gallery he could see there might be a market. An interesting discussion followed about my aims and whether I had succeed in making the images too beautiful for viewers to realise what my intentions are. This is a key issue I have been challenged with since using the scanning methodology with the debris.
Not labelling the images to encourage viewers to question them coupled with having some of the items present as well as myself to explain the aims of the project has emerged as the way to ensure the narrative is heard and understood. This is clearly an area for me to work on.
I have recently inspired by Hanks and McCurdy’s ‘Dirty Beach’ installations and Katie Paterson’s project work with a grain of sand and representations of time and space to raise awareness of what we are doing to our planet (Paterson 2010; Larsen 2016). Learning more each day about the problems with plastics, the research on what factors drive behaviour change is an area to investigate in relation to the development of my project in the future ((e.g. Hawkins 2005; Pahl, Wyles & Thompson 2017; Pahl & Wyles 2016).
HAWKINS, Gay. 2005. The Ethics of Waste: How we Relate to Rubbish. Lanham, MD: Roman and Littlefield.
LARSEN, Lars Bang. 2016. ‘Astronomy Domine. The Anthroplogical-Cosmological Squeeze in Katie Paterson’s Work’. [essay]. Available at: http://2017.katiepaterson.org/ wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Katie_Paterson_Lars_Bang_Larsen_essay_2016.pdf [accessed 27/04/19].
MVV (aka the incinerator) in Plymouth is surrounded by Blackie Woods and a tidal Creek. My role in photographing the litter picking event on 12th April had originally been planned for February when I set up the Out-Sight-In exhibition in the visitors centre. Thankfully the weather was good, probably better than the earlier date would have been.
The poster encouraging people to take part in this voluntary event included reference to the exhibition. Those taking part were also promised afternoon tea at the visitors centre for their efforts. Over 50 people of all ages attended from the local community and beyond and in three hours 0.25 tonne of litter left behind by others and the tide was collected.
I was taking photographs for MVV and not only was I pleased to have been asked but considered this was my thank you to the organisation and host Jane Ford for inviting me to exhibit from February to May. Taking two cameras, one with a 24-120 lens and one with a 55-300 lens as well as my phone I hoped I was covered for all eventualities. All participants signed consent forms to be photographed, with parents signing for young children, on forms organised by MVV. Needless to say I got involved in spotting and picking up litter myself while capturing others doing the same.
The afternoon was a voyage of discovery with people who were not necessarily known to each other beforehand working in several small groups unified by their common purpose. A variety of additional activities were provided with storytelling and craft making around a camp fire in the woods and back at the visitors centre.Over tea at the end I was able to talk to a few about my images and to show them the actual beach finds, prompting discussion about the issue and size of the problem.
A set of around 90 images were given to MVV who will use them crediting myself. It was a learning opportunity for me with on the spot decision making about capturing the litter and/or the litter picker in action. Hopefully I succeeded in having some of each in the set. I realise that some photographers would have charged for their time or issued a licence to allow use of the images I had produced. However, although I have photographed beach cleans before I saw this as a learning opportunity for myself and with future experience of such events would consider a formal arrangement about using the images.
I was not sure how many visitors would come specifically for the exhibition. Despite various methods of distributing the publicity and inviting people to contact me directly or to register for the open evening and the Artist’s talk on Eventbrite, I did not have a clear number of confirmed attendees. The location of The Clay Factory is slightly outside the nearest small town of Ivybridge, well set back from the main road and transport would be required to get there. I understand that some events have been very well supported but there have been occasions with fewer numbers attending than expected.
Starting slowly with only half a dozen on the first day the numbers built through the week. The last three days saw returns of people who had been previously bringing with them partners, children or friends. What was special to witness were these returners explaining my project and what the images were to their companions and inviting me into the conversations to explain further and answer questions. It did feel as if a momentum had been created and that it could have run for longer especially as more people arrived as I was starting to take the exhibition down.
I had suggested to a colleague (A) some time before that I could do a virtual tour with my phone or laptop as he was not able to attend in person. This would also present an opportunity for a recording, something that could be added to our course assignments. We trialled Zoom with a third colleague (L) before the exhibition. Belatedly we found out that you can only record if using a computer but not a phone when using the free version. On the day of A’s tour we ran it with my phone, his computer and he kindly recorded it using Camtasia. A then rendered the film and forwarded it to me for my use. Following this experience I gave a guided tour of the exhibition to six others (three were relatives) using my phone with WhatsApp and my laptop for appear.in. Unfortunately I missed a further request as it came too late when the exhibition had been taken down.
This experience was something I had not foreseen but was a welcome discovery. With each tour I was able to develop and improve my verbal accompaniment as well as feeling more confident in answering questions. Although none of these were recorded, there is the potential to do so at future events. I felt this was good use of technology to open up events to people who could not attend them. I plan to visit A’s exhibition this way.
Another welcome development were visits by groups of school children some of whom were studying GCSE Photography and Undergraduate Photography and Film students. I found that I could talk spontaneously about the problem of plastics, the five gyres in the oceans and the challenges faced in finding solutions as well as explain the project and exhibition tailoring my language and content to the needs of the different age groups attending. It was good to hear that some had been involved in running a fashion show where garments were made from recycled materials. I was thanked by a teacher on a repeated visit with another group of pupils as those who had been before were apparently inspired by my images and my methods. They had returned to school and tried out scanning. Had the exhibition run for longer I would have taken up their invitation to see what they had made and advise on methodology.
Among the adult visitors there were several photographers and resident artists as well as people who used The Clay Factory for classes, events and a lunch venue. Learning about their responses to what they saw in my images was instructive. For example several people noticed a theme or motif appearing in the form of open fish mouths across several beach debris images. Perhaps the shape was something I engineered subconsciously when scanning. Having the small wooden crate of finds was praised as being helpful in understanding the message behind the images. I also had suggestions for the future of the project. I had some time ago thought about exhibiting on a beach, perhaps during a beach clean and this was suggested. In addition, continuing with the theme of a container, one person suggested a travelling exhibition in a long wheel based vehicle that could visit beach car parks in the holiday season and open up to visitors.
I have since been invited to take images on a Plymouth beach clean by the organiser. Depending on the location I will have to go prepared for all sorts of surfaces to display the images on as well as fixings to secure and protect them with inclement weather. As a backstop the nearest car park and my car boot may have to suffice as I do not possess a lorry.
Across the two collections, beach debris and recycling facilities repeated comments were made about the images seeming to be depictions of strange objects floating in space and of other worlds. Interestingly this was my original feeling about them and despite a little persuasion to move away from an connection with looking beyond planet earth, I feel that my project is justified in continuing in this vein. In this way the two strands of the work have a strengthened shared narrative when exhibited together.
Information processing and retention can be enhanced by using more than one sense with which to experience a stimuli. Psychologists and advertisers of products know this (e.g. Gallo 2018) and often employ workers to promote products through speaking with potential customers, giving them written information and inviting them to touch and try the items. My intention with the images included in the former Beauty and the Beach and current Out-Sight-In exhibitions has been to make opportunities available for visitors to experience the images through different senses. The consequence or result would hopefully be that they not only have a memory of the images but also an understanding of the narrative behind them and with reflection can make decisions about their personal contributions to addressing the issues raised by the project. My aim was not necessarily to ‘sell’ my products but rather to raise awareness of the story behind them.
Speaking about deconstructing the ‘ad’ Katherine Toland Frith pointed out that:
“Analyzing the cultural context of an advertisement involves both verbal and visual aspects of the advertising text to determine not only the primary sales message but also the secondary social or cultural messages.” (Toland Frith 2015: 4)
Applying this to my images viewers see the subject matter and form a ‘surface’ meaning. With accompanying written information my ‘intended message or meaning’ is transmitted and using the actual subject matter for discussion delves deeper into the viewers ability to make sense of what they are seeing and understand the ‘cultural or ideological message’. Using multiple ways to reach the senses and convey my intended aims does facilitate going beyond the surface meaning some have ascribed to the images as being beautiful and at the same time being at risk of not necessarily conveying the significant and overwhelming global problem of waste matter we now face.
Although taste and smell were not included in the presentations, vision, hearing and touch were. In doing this I was also making the exhibitions more inclusive and accessible for those people with sensory impairments or of a young age where responses to accompanying auditory and tactile information are stronger than passive viewing of visual stimuli alone.
Visual stimuli included the images themselves and the different surfaces they were printed on including paper, board, magnets, glass and fabric, the former three in Out-Sight-In and latter two being used in Beauty and the Beach. Additional visual stimuli included a slide show and powerpoint presentation, thumbnail images on feedback sheets and seeing some of the actual beach debris finds.
Auditory stimuli included Artist’s talks at exhibition 1 on 26th February and will do on 12th April and at exhibition 2 on 30th March. In both locations informal explanation and discussion about the project, the issues and the images also took place. This was particularly the case with The Clay Factory where I was present all the hours the exhibition was open to host the exhibition. I was able to meet and greet and talk with all the visitors as much or as little as they wished. With visits from local schools and City College I also gave brief unplanned talks about the issues and the work on display (to primary and secondary age children, young people and undergraduates).
Touch featured with the introduction of a small wooden case lined with shredded paper containing beach finds, some of which had been used to create images that were on display. This proved to be a positive move and relating the small items to the large poster images stimulated discussion about the deterioration of materials, particularly plastics into ever decreasing sizes until the objects they had been were not recognisable. It also enabled me to speak about the scanning equipment and methodology I used to create the images in more detail. First used at The Clay Factory this will now be introduced on 12th April at MVV Environment Devonport Ltd where I will be talking to visitors (volunteers taking part in The Great British Spring Clean) about my project and the exhibition.
Running solo exhibitions means thinking of everything but the kitchen sink. Luckily one was already there and accessible with a kettle and fridge. Refreshments, furniture (a small table), carpets, step ladder, magnets, nails and picture hooks, hammer, spirit level, ruler, tape measures, small screen for slide show, three theatrical floor up lights and filters, adapters and extension leads, phone and charger, laptop, posters and flyers to add to and inform the display, flyers to give away, feedback sheets with thumbnails of individual images as well as a visitors book for comments on the whole exhibition and of course the images on posters and board. My assistant came in a separate vehicle in case there was a need to dash out for anything else!
Hanging the images took the most part of a day, the next day a couple of hours was spent with ensuring additional pieces were in place and working. These included a repeating slide show of the images and a small tray lined with shredded paper of some of the beach finds starring in the images. I had considered running a looped film of me talking about the project and the work involved in making the images. Despite being in a large factory space I realised on preparatory visits that noises echoed and people were trying to work in the studios and offices in the same room and would not be happy with a repeating voice over. However, I was able to talk to visitors and also delivered several impromtu talks for school children and an Artist’s talk with a powerpoint slide show on the Saturday, borrowing a projector from The Clay Factory and using the inner door of the container as a screen.
Thanks to my generous host at The Clay Factory I was given free reign on using the space around the shipping container. I arranged the sofas and carpet (already present) to provide a seating area from which to view the images and use to spend time if visiting the building for another purpose. With my refreshments to hand I could also offer tea, coffee and biscuits. On the open evening I provided a range of wines and soft drinks and nibbles. At the Artists talk guests were served with coffee and cakes.
In contrast to Exhibition 1 at the Incinerator visitors centre exhibiting in a metal box and on a wooden wall presented challenges in terms of printing and hanging images. Inside the shipping container it was clear that magnets would be best and with no sticky surfaces applied to the surfaces. Nails were favoured for the slatted wooden wall. Both surfaces were uneven; the metal walls corrugated so sizing images to be hung on prominent corrugations was important, the wooden wall comprised overlapping slats in a downward flow and meant that the surface undulated repeatedly from top to bottom thus making ‘flat’ hanging a challenge.
Outside and inside surfaces of the shipping container
I experimented with some of the images I had used in the first exhibition, discarding some and introducing different ones from the pool I had created to draw from for the FMP. Initially done by moving images around on a large noticeboard I then moved to a folded cardboard made from a box before discovering a wooden wine box had almost the same dimensions as the container, thus a 3D model was formed. I also took photographs of the empty container and the blank wooden wall and superimposed scaled images onto both to get a feel for looked right on the actual walls. I decided to have images of recycling on parts of the outside mimicking looking into recycling banks and because these images had been used in the initial publicity and would therefore be identifiable and recognisable by visitors drawing them in a flow from back to front of the container (this being the approach they would take on entering a large factory space with two levels of containers with windows all being used as offices and studios). The container I was using had no windows but it did have power points, two tungsten lightbulbs and wifi.
The beach debris images were destined for the inside walls of the container. Some time before I had decided this was the right place as debris should be deposited in appropriate places but this plan also symbolically alludes to the containers spilled by ships at sea and with damage and deterioration their significant contribution to the materials floating in the gyres, onto our beaches and resting on the sea bed (Morris 2017). In retrospect, I could perhaps have laid all these images on the floor or the ceiling of the container to make this point stronger.
I ordered and experimented with silver and black magnets of different strengths and sizes (10mm, 15mm and 20mm). I settled for some of each size, each to relate to the different sizes the images were printed at. I also chose black. Although they came with an adhesive backing I chose not to use that because it would have made keeping the printed images difficult to roll and store for future use and I could not leave sticky marks possibly with magnets still attached on the surface of the metal walls. In addition since my images were on a black background I thought the black magnets would blend and not be noticed on the beach debris images, and when visible on the recycling images would not detract from the impact they conveyed. Three sets of 9 7.5 x 7.5cms magnetised images of both the beach debris and recycling images proved helpful in preparing hanging plans and having available on the container doors at the exhibition for visitors to rearrange to their liking. Having experimented with the magnets and test images on the side of my fridge freezer and central heating radiators I visited the container and tried this method of hanging out with test prints of different sizes. This also allowed me to assess whether the strength of magnets I proposed were correct for the weight of the images and they were.
My choice of surface for printing the beach debris and recycling images that were to be used with the container was 250gsm Fujifilm. Having looked at several options as reported previously (https://sarahnewtonphotoblog.com/2019/03/20/fmp-weeks-18-23-test-strips-on-paper-and-fabric/) good quality unframed posters were appropriate for lightness and the context. Mounted and framed images would have looked out of place, albeit an interesting contrast with the industrial setting, and would have been difficult to hang given that drilling and attaching sticky items to the walls were not options. The only concern I had when ordering was the limited sizes available through this online service. I would have liked the option to request specific sizes that suited both the image and the space available for hanging. This was particularly important given that I wanted the images flat against the metal walls and not being bent around the corrugations. So careful measuring of the corrugations and matching to the available sizes for posters was essential. Even then I managed to miss some variation in the spacing of the corrugations by assuming all the walls were the same! This lead to an adjustment to my hanging plan at the last moment. In addition, I had assumed the container was level on the factory floor which itself undulated in parts! I had to accept that in setting up my images with a spirit level the lines of the corrugations would not exactly match the straight edges of the images. Thankfully it all worked out!
Slatted wooden wall
Hanging on the wooden wall went smoothly. I ordered nails with a prominent head for hanging pictures as well as standard picture hooks to have a backup system in case the first one failed. The latter made the images stick out at an angle from the slatted board. However the nails could be embedded at different depths to accommodate any adverse effects of the overlapping slats in order for the images to hang flat and not at an angle. There were no adjustments to the hanging plan needed thanks to my learning from preparations for Exhibition 1 and more recent experimentation with magnetised images on the fridge and radiators at home.
Having printed on posters and magnetised squares the third surface for the recycling images was UV printed directly on 5mm PVC panels for hanging on the wooden slatted wall. I had used this method before for the Beauty and the Beach exhibition in August 2018. My thinking was to be able to reuse the printed images in other locations, such as the beach and in school settings. Thus their claim to be water-resistant and scratch-resistant was appealing. They also come ready to hang with fixings attached to the back.
Outside the container and on the wooden wall lighting was provided with industrial strip lights and limited natural sunlight through windows and a large factory door when it was open. Inside the container two overhead light bulbs produced a bright light which would have done if I had wanted a clinical stark and empty feeling when viewing images inside it. My instinct was to create something of an atmosphere. I took advice from a theatrical producer who loaned equipment for me to experiment with at home and when ‘rehearsing’ in the container. He offered up to 5 floor up lighters used in stage shows and a range of coloured rolls of plastic from which I could make filters. Downlighter spots as one might see in some galleries were not an option with limitations on being able to attach fixings to the ceiling and the positioning of electrical sockets such that wires would be trailing and hanging above visitors heads.
The additional equipment offered was a dimming board which would give me control of individual lights. I also looked into mood lamps available online and at large DIY stores as these can be set to particular colours or to scroll through a set of colours, some with projected patterns. I worked out that I would need more than one and the costs would have mounted. So following experimentation I selected three lights and remained until setting up day undecided between blue and red filters or a combination of both.
The blue created a cold mystical feel and the light seemed more prominent than the content of the images. The red created a glow with some warmth inviting visitors in and most importantly seemed to illuminate the images to best advantage. I decided not to use the dimmer board as the extra trailing wires presented an additional hazard and I would have had to stay close to the equipment to safeguard it. I could also adjust the lighting by switching one or two lights off to create an effect and also to allow them to cool. I placed warnings about the lamps possibly being warm and not to get close to them at the entrance to the container. An additional health and safety element was to lay carpet (which happened to be sand coloured) on the central aisle in the middle of the floor and away from the lights. This was particularly important as potential visitors included children. The carpet also served the purpose of dampening sound when walking in the container.
The Clay Factory (http://theclayfactory.co.uk/) rents out space for businesses and artists studios. Run by a social enterprise, Redpod Enterprises, in conjunction with the Eddystone Trust. Subsidiaries include RedPod Arts and RedPod Food. Out-Sight-In exhibition was located near the pop up lunches cafe RedPod Food and close to the studios of two artists, Anita Reynolds and Sarah Gilbert. My images and their work as shown on the outside of their studios at the time of the exhibition worked well in so far as their focus on land and seascapes and mine on debris blighting both meant that we were complementary and not conflicting. In addition, the large room we were all accommodated in had a series of huts decorated as beach huts (each was a fully equipped office inside) and was being developed and decorated with an overarching beach theme. Again it felt as if the images I was presenting fitted in well.
The Clay Factory requested that all the stage lighting I would be using should be PAT tested. Having checked all the lights, adapters and extensions I arranged for an electrician to ensure this was done (some items were due to run out shortly after the time of the exhibition so they were included too).
Public & Products Liability and Professional Indemnity (PPL and PI) insurance
The Clay Factory requested that I have public liability insurance. There are a number of organisations available to cover artists and photographers. I researched options and costs and took out a policy which will cover me for events over the coming year.
With the advent of the new year I realised I had become rather enthusiastic (some may say verging on obsessed) with containers for recycling, different times of day and lighting conditions and various pieces of equipment to photograph them with. A ‘hunter-gatherer’ approach hoping that significant edible results would jump out at me once uploaded. Despite experimentation with a 14mm lens which did curve the outcomes, a speed light and assistant to dispose of rubbish while I photographed, I preferred the results with the 24-120 lens for its versatility and the use of strong natural light. Capturing the disposal proved somewhat ad hoc requiring manual focussing as auto missed many of the ‘moments’.
In contrast I felt I had not done enough scanning of beach finds, neglecting those from late 2018 and early 2019 when several beach walks were achieved with relatively mild weather. With the arrival of the Epson flatbed came the opportunity to adjust the size of the area scanned and importantly to specify the desired resolution in dpi dots per inch (as distinct from the ppi pixels per inch) as well as other settings. Playtime beckoned. I feel I have only just begun to explore what can be achieved and am still keen to gain experienced advice (see earlier post on Paul Kenny who runs workshops with Doug Chinnery).
Accompanied by the advice from the marking of a previous course submission ringing in my ears I set out to ‘ditch my darlings’! Initially taken aback and feeling as if my favourite sweets were being taken away I now see and accept that I have favourites and these are not necessarily those appreciated by others or ones that can sit alongside others with ease and add value to a whole project in a collection to be exhibited or published.
Determined not to miss any images out of the initial selection I reviewed all those taken since the start of the course. It could have been a lengthy process but the initial trawl was made easy because I was looking for images that had potential to be part of my overall theme of other worldliness (with working titles of Event Horizons for DSLR images and Dark Matter for scanned images). All chosen to shortlist from were taken/made in the previous 6 months. Then came a quality filter which narrowed the field significantly and yes, a few darlings were thrown out. Floors and a large noticeboard were platforms for thumbnails and printed copies to be reduced still further. Living with and rearranging complimentary groupings multiple times can be tortuous but as I found out can also stimulate thoughts and ideas about other aspects of the project.
Seeing the arrangements raised many questions not least of which was what was I selecting for; the course submission, exhibitions, a publication…as all could require different choices? As soon as I had confirmation of two exhibitions I was envisioning how the image groupings might look in situ. Visiting and revisiting and measuring the locations and thinking about the potential audiences began to solidify what could work and narrowed the selection further. A tutorial and discussions with peers about numbers of images and whether the same ones had to be exhibited as in the final FMP portfolio submission helped. Additionally the selection process also inspired further thinking about the overall title for the project, a journey that has had its favourites with my ideas and great suggestions from peers Libby and Andrew over the past few months.
Now I have a pool of 25-30 from which I am happy to draw for different purposes. With advice from my tutor and Victoria Forrest last week to stop taking and making (she reviewed the layout for the first exhibition of 16 images and discussed potential publication) now is the time to bring the project to its closing stages for the FMP of the MA. However I feel as if I am only just starting and have much more to discover about what I can achieve with rubbish.
The past three weeks since completing the Falmouth University run week long course on using InDesign on 23rd January has been an emotional roller coaster with highs and lows and thankfully highs again. A review of all that has happened is needed to become grounded again.
Part 1: Tutorials 30th January and 12th February:
I presented the title I have chosen for the project Out-Sight-In with a vertically flipped back-to-front version underneath it tuO-thgiS-nI (the typing corrector flips it back to the right way up!). Approval was gained with a comment about playfulness which to some extent reflects my feelings when working on making and processing my images for the project.
We discussed my continuing to scan and photograph and my limited progress with the selection of images to be included in the FMP and the exhibitions. There is always a solvable problem with too few (shoot more) but my issue was having too many potential candidates.
Obtaining test strips on different papers was encouraged as was including some with a satin finish as I naturally prefer matt for the rubbish and recycling. I was not wanting to give the matter a higher status than it should have and was not sure how the images would be viewed if glossy with the available lighting conditions. Test strips and fabric samples will be discussed in a separate blog.
I was also encouraged to make a 2 minute film talking about the work to be filmed at the exhibition then made available on a monitor at the location. Filming and creating something that could be played back on a loop was a big technical and time challenge and apart from not knowing what sort of monitor to use and the expense I was doubtful that this would be acceptable, at least in the location of the first exhibition. Should I complete other aspects of the exhibitions and FMP then this could be a late addition, although a better idea might be to use a tried and tested formula. I have recorded a Pecha Kucha at the start of this module and could make one available to be shown using the permanent projector used for powerpoint talks at the first exhibition.
I shared my scaled cardboard model of the first exhibition layout with the lit areas or arcs created on the walls by inset ceiling lights. I felt this lighting was important to take into account when displaying the images to best effect and greatest visibility for viewers. I had presented this to my host for the exhibition, discussing my rationale for the layout and sharing some of the images I would be considering using.
We were both critical of my first rough layout for the images set out as paper thumbnails on the model. Helpfully my tutor suggested I access the powerpoint gallery display page and mount images to scale for a better impression. This was easy to do and I could quickly see what images worked together achieving approval for a final layout proposal at the second session.
We had an interesting discussion about the two related but different parts of my exhibition. The single images of recycling containers that could stand alone in contrast with the random beach rubbish and its representation of excessive consumerism. The first lending itself to be displayed as more orderly, the second in a chaotic and unpredictable way.Having played with random sizes and overlapping chaos surprisingly I settled on an ordered display for both parts of the project as visually the shapes and colours slipped into an appealing vision. This initial impact contrasts strongly with the rubbish that is found on closer inspection of the subject matter.
Handouts and zine were also discussed. The former have been made while the latter is reliant on my awakening of knowledge and skills acquired in the course on InDesign (I hope my notes are still understandable!).
Following up discussed references to Penelope Umbrico’s Suns from Sunsets on Flickr and Alan Sekula’s Fish Story in a playful moment I made a composite image in the style of the former.
Reassurance was offered and accepted when I informed the tutor that my second exhibition had been cancelled due to a more lucrative long term customer for the container. I understood the business decision but was disappointed as I felt this was to be an exhibition where I could be more creative in the surfaces my images were printed on and how they were to be displayed. I had already sourced theatrical uplighting to use and tried this out in the location. I emailed the host to express disappointment and understanding and offered to shift my dates if this would be helpful. Two days later was told I had been prioritised but the dates were now from 27th March to 3rd April, a week later than originally planned. I immediately accepted and agreed to the fee for the week’s hire.
Reflection: Having two tutorials close together was needed and timely at this stage for me. It has been an intense period knowing that all work needs to be ready for submission by the end of April this year. Clearing thoughts and activities that did not directly relate to finishing the taking, making and selection of images has been a priority that has paid off in terms of narrowing and clarifying what I will show at exhibitions, what looks promising for a zine and what should be in the final FMP portfolio. It feels as though I have been in a tunnel and can now see glimmers of light as I emerge.
ROBERTS, Bill. Autumn 2012. Tate Papers no.18 Production in View: Allan Sekula’s Fish Story and the Thawing of Postmodernism. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/18/production-in-view-allan-sekulas-fish-story-and-the-thawing-of-postmodernism [accessed 01/02/19].