FMP Week 28: Visitors to Out-Sight-In at The Clay Factory

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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Discussing images with visitors to Out-Sight-In
Sarah Newton 2019, Discussing images with visitors to Out-Sight-In

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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Visitors to Out-Sight-In at The Clay Factory

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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Image from the ‘Dark Matter’ series included in  Out-Sight-In at The Clay Factory

 

Sarah Newton 2019, Image from ‘Event Horizon’ series included in Out-Sight-In at The Clay Factory

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.

FMP Week 28: Sensory experiences at Out-Sight-In

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.

Sarah Newton 2019, A selection of visitors to Out-Sight-In at The Clay Factory 27 March to 3 April 2019

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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Examining plastic beach finds with visitors to Out-Sight-In at The Clay Factory

GALLO, Carmine. 18 April 2018. 5 science-Based Presentation Hacks to Captivate Any Audience. Your audience gets bored easily. Create multisensory experiences to keep their attention.
https://www.inc.com/carmine-gallo/5-clever-presentation-tricks-to-engage-all-five-senses.html
[accessed 09-04-2019].

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.

FMP Week 27: Setting up Exhibition 2

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!

Sarah Newton 2019, Visitors book and individual images comments sheets
Sarah Newton 2019, Slide show of images in Out-Sight-In exhibitions 1 & 2

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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Tray of beach debris finds used to create images in Out-Sight-In Exhibitions 1 & 2

Sarah Newton 2019, Projection of powerpoint slides onto door of Shipping container during Artist’s talk 30th March 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Preparations for the opening of Out-Sight-In Exhibition 2 at The Clay Factory on 28th March 2019

FMP Weeks 24-27: Planning and preparing Exhibition 2

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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Out-Sight-In exhibition was located towards the end of The Clay Factory beyond the chimney
Sarah Newton 2019, Looking at the shipping container and wooden slatted wall in a large room, but small part of The Clay Factory in preparation for the arrival of Out-Sight-In exhibition

Outside and inside surfaces of the shipping container

Planning
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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Mock up of the images inside the shipping container using an empty wine box
Sarah Newton 2019, Mock up of the tryptic images inside the shipping container using an empty wine box
Sarah Newton 2019, Mock up of image and blue light used to develop set up plan
Sarah Newton 2019, Image layout plan overlaid on original photograph with two prints the same size as those to be displayed on the sofas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Newton 2019, Back corner of shipping container with posters of recycling images used in initial publicity and here to guide visitors forward to the exhibition

Location

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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Images of beach debris hung inside shipping container with overhead tungsten lighting

Magnets
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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Developing hanging plans with magnetised images on a domestic radiator
Sarah Newton 2019, Developing hanging plans with magnetised images on a domestic radiator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah Newton 2019, Magnetised recycling images on the inside of the shipping container door
Sarah Newton 2019, Magnetised beach debris and recycling images on the inside of the shipping container door

Printing
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
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.

Printing
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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Packs of magnets for shipping container posters and metal and string options for hanging images on slatted wood wall
Sarah Newton 2019, Images hung for Out-Sight- In
Sarah Newton 2019, Recycling images hung ready for exhibition opening

Lighting

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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Making filters for Out-Sight-In exhibition lights

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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Trying out a red filter
Sarah Newton 2019, Trying a combination of red and blue filters

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.

Contextual considerations

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.

PAT testing

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.

Reference

MORRIS, Hugh. 2017. Lost cargo and rubber ducks: Inside the curious world of container shipping. The Telegraph, Travel: Travel Truths, 21st November 2017. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travel-truths/lost-container-ships-bizarre-world-of-global-shipping/ [accessed 08-04-2019].

FMP Weeks 19-21: From cardboard models to the first exhibition Part 2: Selecting images

Part 2: Selecting images

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’.

Sarah Newton 2019, Almost capturing a moment

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).

Sarah Newton 2019, Scanning beach finds; note essential coffee, torch and hoover to suck up escaping sand and other matter

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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Initial trawl of images for FMP activities
Sarah Newton 2019, Sifting and filtering the ‘best of’ similar images

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.

Sarah Newton 2019, ‘Anchoring’ image and 4 complimentary groups for Exhibition 1
Sarah Newton 2019, Out-Sight-In at MVV Environment Devonport Ltd. 18th February to 30th April

Out-Sight-In

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.

References

CHINNERY, Doug. 2019. Available at: http://www.dougchinnery.com/ [accessed 21/02/19].

FORREST, Victoria. 2019. Available at: https://designbyvictoria.com/ [accessed 21/02/19].

HUXLEY-PARLOUR ARTISTS. Available at: https://huxleyparlour.com/artists/paul-kenny/ [accessed 23-08-2018].

KENNY, Paul. Available at: http://www.paul-kenny.co.uk/ [accessed 23-08-2018].

SEYMOUR, Tom. 2016. Paul Kenny’s Land and Sea. British Journal of Photography. 21 June 2016. Available at: http://www.bjp-online.com/2016/06/paul-kennys-land-and-sea/ [accessed 23-08-2018].

TRIPLEKITE PUBLISHING. Available at: http://www.triplekite.co.uk [accessed 23-08-2018].

WATERSHED. Victoria Forrest. Pervasive Media Studio. Available at: https://www.watershed.co.uk/studio/residents/victoria-forrest [accessed 21/02/19].

FMP Weeks 19-21: From cardboard models to the first exhibition

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: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

    Sarah Newton 2019, Scaled cardboard model for Exhibition 1
  6. 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.
    Sarah Newton 2019, Model for Exhibition 1

    Sarah Newton 2019, Powerpoint mock-up for Exhibition 1
  7. 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.
  8. 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!).
  9. 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.
    Penelope Umbrico 2006, Suns from Sunsets from Flickr (partial)

    Sarah Newton 2019, Recycling Circles
  10. 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.

Sarah Newton 2019, Out-Sight-In at MVV Environment Devonport Ltd. 18th February to 30th April

References

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].

UMBRICO, Penelope. Suns from Sunsets from Flickr. Available at: http://penelopeumbrico.net/index.php/project/suns/ [accessed 30/01/19].

 

 

FMP Week 18: Printing dilemmas

My decisions about printing are being driven by a number of factors. These include cost which also links to whether I intend to sell images displayed at the exhibitions. Contexts in which I am exhibiting is also important. Both sites are of an industrial nature, the first is an active incinerator, the second was previously used to process china clay from Dartmoor. Expectations of hosts (one has yet to be clarified) may be for a different approach in contrast to the fine art papers and framed prints one could find in a London gallery. This would also be my preference. Fitting in with and complementing the immediate surrounds and normal functions and use of the exhibition space is another challenge. A contrast could work in some circumstances but may also clash in a way that results in a negative impact for my exhibition or the surrounding activities. A level of compatibility and thematic symbiosis could be good but may also backfire if the impact of my work or that of others is reduced.

Moral and ethical considerations also come into play. For example, my ideal, in line with my project intentions, would be to print on ‘sustainable’ surfaces that, in comparison with some others, would have less of a negative impact on the environment. Then there is the concept of ‘containment’. My debris collections have been free floating in the sea and on beaches but the recycling bins static and enveloping of waste. I chose to display on 5mm board without frames for my August exhibition as framing did not feel right for the subject matter which principally focussed on the debris I had collected. In addition to having a more contemporary feel, the boards offered a durability such that they can be displayed outside or indoors and I was at the time thinking of the possibility of exhibiting on a beach (and may still do).

Sarah Newton 2018, Event Horizons on glass
Sarah Newton 2018, Event Horizon 1 on foam board

So far, while developing this project, I have had images printed on glass, fabrics, paper, plant based paper, poster paper, canvas and 5mm board. Comparing samples from Contrado, PrintSpace, Falmouth University printing department at the Institute of Photography, Instantprint, Digital Colour Services, Sixprint, Photobox, Tesco and myself, I am even more aware of the cost x quality x sustainability x contextual setting x potential audience dilemma. My research is continuing despite a short time scale until the first printed images are required for displaying. For example, I have recently come across the Green Printer in the US and the St Austell Printing Company, both of whom claim to use the most sustainable production methods and recyclable materials currently available. I hope to be able to make decisions informed by this research and following information gathering visits to both exhibition locations in the near future.

Sarah Newton 2019, Event Horizons on plant based paper
Sarah Newton 2019, Event Horizons on bright white photographic paper
Sarah Newton 2019, Event Horizons on tracing paper

References

Green Printer. Available at: https://www.greenerprinter.com/reducing-waste [accessed 15/01/19].

St Austell Printing Company. Available at: https://www.sapc.co.uk/csr/sustainability/ [accessed 15/01/19].

FMP Week 17: Aspirational ideas versus realities

Thoughts of the two potential exhibitions have generated countless ideas about what could be displayed and how the images could be presented. The images I select could be the same for both locations and displayed in the same way. However, as mentioned in a previous post there are differences in size and type of display areas, types of fixings that would be permissible and importantly a significant difference in the audiences for both. For one the audience would be those attending a community creek clean and those interested in looking around a waste management (incinerator) site. The second would be members of the general public, resident artists and other creatives using the premises and personal invitees. In the former the audience would be there for another purpose whereas in the second location although some may be engaged in other activities while based or attending another event there, some would attend to intentionally to view the exhibition. Across both locations I think I will have reached some of the principal audiences I have envisaged my images being of interest to: those interested in conserving our environments and those who are interested in visual art (these groups may of course include people interested in both areas).

I have enquired by telephone today about wall fixings used in the visitors centre of the incinerator. They use self adhesive velcro pads for information posters. While this method could be used, depending on the surfaces I print on and the weight of the images, I have placed a limited order for an alternative system. I will be experimenting at home in the use of self adhesive magnets and how damaging these may be to plastered wall surfaces. I do not recall a helpful dado rail or other wall fixings that would be helpful to hanging the images in this location. Clearly they should be ideal for putting up images in the container of the second location.

Tomorrow I will visit the incinerator to discuss arrangements in detail, measure the space available and agree on the publicity I and MVV will produce. Mine will include an information sheet and a feedback sheet about the exhibition. At this point I am not sure whether the creek clean publicity to local community groups is to mention the exhibition being available for volunteers to view over lunch. I somehow do not think I will be advertising directly to the general public myself as the site is not open access.

Realising there are only 3.5 weeks to finalise details before putting up the exhibition in week 21 ready for a launch in week 22 (week beginning 18th February) time is of the essence. I do not have the facilities to print my images for the exhibitions and will be dependent on a printer to be able to respond in a relatively short space of time. Something I have not thought about but must remember to ask about is fire safety. In both locations I may be using printed fabrics. I am not cognisant with the regulations relating to these in comparison with images printed on other surfaces.

Week 16: Dreams can come true!

Well these will not be the same as everyone’s dreams over the holidays. Mine were to complete my search for an exhibition space and to begin to plan the production of selected images. Lo and behold a saviours in the form of J from MVV Environment (in response to my email to her before the holiday) and a new acquaintance D, met through my popping by to look at newly discovered premises and make tentative enquiries, resulted in two offers, both being made last Friday 4th January!

I have decided to pursue both and hope that both come to fruition. The first offers space (at no charge) in the visitors centre and the opportunity to join and record a creek clean at the side of the incinerator I have visited previously. This will be from mid February. The second is in a location a friend told me about when I expressed a wish to exhibit in a container in December. Not having had the chance to visit and investigate before last week I made time to complete the expedition to scope the location before making any formal enquiry. As luck would have it I was in the right place at the right time and able to speak to the right person who generously gave of their time with a tour and offered support with my venture. Oh and by the way, this second option offered both a gallery and a container with lighting and wifi!

Sarah Newton 2019, Exterior of container at The Clay Factory

When I enquired about hire price in the second location I was asked what budget I had. I had not prepared for such a question not having expected to get so far into this enquiry. On returning home I emailed back with a maximum of £500 based on one or both of the two spaces and to include the cost of assistant time in preparations for and setting up and taking down as well as the provision of refreshments for an opening and the costs of publicity production and distribution. Clearly I have underestimated as the reply correctly pointed out a need to review my estimate and suggested within that budget I should allow for the container and not the small white walled gallery. I agree.

Although this location will involve an exchange of finance I do not think it will be unreasonable given the support I already sense will come with their hosting me.

I now feel catapulted into making decisions about images to be included in both locations and to complete their taking and making which I had not to do just yet as I do not feel ready to say “Thats a wrap”. A couple of days before this news a course colleague helpfully suggested one way to know if your image series is complete is to imagine having to have it finished within the coming week. Then you can decide what else needs to be done to make this happen. Little did I know that something of this sort was about to come my way!

I have requested additional visits in the near future to both locations to discuss details and measure up the spaces in order to help with the selection of images, their sizing and the ways in which they might be placed in the spaces.

Already I am envisioning differences not only in the images I show but also their production methods and in situ presentation. For example, the visitors centre has flat walls in a large brightly lit room used for teaching sessions and meetings. While visitors will be interested in my beach finds I am guessing (until I have discussed it further with J) that images of the recycling containers will also hold interest. The size and surfaces used in printing will depend on the fixings I can use and the extent of the wall space being made available to me. As I recall from previous visits there is a physical display of the various recycling containers used by councils who feed their remaining waste (that previously went to landfill)  to the incinerator. Thus, there is already a compatibility link with my images.

On the other hand the container is a blank canvas inside with one central lightbulb and several circular metal hooks along the top of the walls. Outside is a different matter. The container is indoors in a very large room at the end of a row of containers which have been converted to offices/studios. Also in the room are a dozen or so garden sheds equally spaced and all fitted out as offices with desks, chairs, light and wifi. Multiple party style creations hang from the ceiling. At the end of the room is a kitchen and cafe. I think my images, with their sea debris theme, could be presented in a style that is compatible with the outside area (which almost suggests celebrations, beach huts and holidays). Mounting with magnets will not be a problem which leads me to think about relatively lightweight unframed images. I could also exhibit inside and outside the container.

Sarah Newton 2019, Interior of container at The Clay Factory
Sarah Newton 2019, Container offices and studios at The Clay Factory

 

 

Sarah Newton 2019, Offices at The Clay Factory

Both locations offer an opportunity for an ‘opening’, the first being with creek clean volunteers and the second an open invitation noted on the publicity I distribute. Both have some limitations on opening hours being weekdays and during office times unless, in the case of the second one, additional arrangements are made (presumably at a cost). Both venues are easily reached being on ground floors and there is ample parking for visitors. The first is city based and the second rural, close to a town and on the edge of Dartmoor.

Sarah Newton 2017, MVV Environment Incinerator Devonport
Sarah Newton 2019, The Clay Factory
Sarah Newton 2019, View from The Clay Factory

Having reflected for a few days and allowed the realities to encroach on my excitement I am well aware that there is a significant way to go to ensure these offers actualise as successful exhibitions. I wonder whether I should have a fall back option just in case…

The Clay Factory. Available at: http://theclayfactory.co.uk/  [accessed 17/12/18].

MVV Environment. https://www.mvv.de/en/mvv_energie_gruppe/mvv_umwelt/beteiligungen/mvv_environment_1/index.jsp [accessed 04/01/19].

FMP Week 14-16: Rut of Repetitive Sameness? Crop and focus point of an image

Thinking about the images that will make up the final project I am at this stage plumping for a square format to contain circles but I do have some of the beach debris in particular that suit rectangles much better, particularly if the subject matter has length greater than width.

Sarah Newton 2018, Dark Matter 3

I presented several images on the subject of circles to my local photography group on 17th December (week 13). Interestingly while I have been trying to avoid placing of the object or focus in a diagonal line in my images (as I thought I was getting too repetitive) one person suggested I moved the subject from a vertical thirds to a diagonal position and now like the image much better (as do I)!

Sarah Newton 2018, Event Horizons series
Sarah Newton 2018, Event Horizons series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With regard to the long debris objects I will have to treat each one individually I think. Reflecting back on Paul Kenny’s work a collaged panoramic option, combining a rectangle and squares may also be effective in some exhibition locations and publications. 

Paul Kenny 2017, Catch a Wave – Luskentyre Beach

I am realising that thinking about the shape of the resultant image before I have taken the photograph or scanned the debris is reaching my compositional subconscious and is becoming an automatic first attempt at processing in Apple Photos, Lightroom and Photoshop. Is this a good thing or not I ask myself? It is good to recognise this is happening in order to use that awareness to constantly challenge and continue to develop thereby avoiding getting stuck in a rut of repetitive sameness. On the other hand some might say that consistency is a good thing!

Researching this subject a little more I found some very helpful references (eg.   Gibson 2017; Suler 2013) These reminded me of how early photographic equipment used square plates, then with the advancement of photographic equipment and the various sizes of digital sensors rectangles became the favoured option. With ‘toy cameras’ such as Holga and Diana, and later social media developments such as Instagram and the promotion by Squarespace, the website building and hosting software, square has come back into vogue.

Interestingly, circles are well placed in squares and even if not the subject of the image, can be used to highlight parts of a non-circluar subject with vignetting and the way in which radial filters can be used to ‘spotlight’ features in Lightroom and Photoshop. The combination of square format and circular subject can have the effect of directing a viewer’s gaze in directions that differ from looking at a rectangular image.

“Reigning in the eye

Because the square minimizes feelings of up-and-down and back-and-forth by eliminating longer vertical or horizontal lines, the viewer’s eye tends to move around the image in a circle, often towards the center of the photo. Vignetting and circular compositions, especially those with the subject near the center of the square, can magnify these sensations of circling, spiraling, and zooming in. Diagonal lines serve as an effective means to break up these movements, encouraging the eye to experience some back-and-forth and up-and-down energy.” Suler 2013.

Advantages of a square format include drawing a viewer’s attention right into the focus of the image, the part that matters, without being distracted by surrounding space. Adding to compositional knowledge is an experiential feature too (although some might say ditching what you know and are familiar with is a disadvantage). For example, as my images above illustrate,  The Rule of Thirds does not necessarily apply. Placing the subject matter close to one edge or in prime central position can be fine in a square format. If contextual setting does not matter very much it seems square is potentially the better way to go.

With the processing options now available it is easy to play with different crops to achieve best effects. Perhaps because I am somewhat risk averse and would not want to miss opportunities for a better quality image, cropping during processing rather than shooting in a square frame gives me more choice for the final image. With more experience of composing through later cropping for rectangles and squares I hope to start to automatically complete the initial capture in the optimum format for the subject matter I am interested in.

“Showing off shapes

Due to its talent at focusing the eye and gathering up objects, the square format is a good way to show off geometric shapes of all kinds. Those shapes seem to grow even stronger inside the formal boundaries of the square. I especially like a circle, or portions of a circle, embedded inside a square frame. The pure natures of the curving circle and the linear square balance each other in an archetypic dance of the two most basic, ideal forms. Symmetrical subjects also fit comfortably inside the square frame.” Suler 2013.

Agreeing with this viewpoint I am clear that many of my circular subjects are well placed in a square format. I remain flexible about others, particularly debris, and having done some, albeit limited research, I am now more aware of the effectiveness combining square and rectangular  images in dyptics, tryptics and other multiple displays.

Sarah Newton 2018, Event Horizons coasters

References

GIBSON, Andrew. 2017. Square: The digital photographer’s guide to the square format. Available at: https://www.creative-photographer.com/square-format-composition/ [accessed 08/01/19].

HUXLEY-PARLOUR ARTISTS. Available at: https://huxleyparlour.com/artists/paul-kenny/ [accessed 23/08/2018].

KENNY, Paul. Available at: http://www.paul-kenny.co.uk/ [accessed 23/08/2018].

SEYMOUR, Tom. 2016. Paul Kenny’s Land and Sea. British Journal of Photography. 21 June 2016. Available at: http://www.bjp-online.com/2016/06/paul-kennys-land-and-sea/ [accessed 23/08/2018].

SULER, John. 2013. Square Format Photographs.  Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche. Available at: http://truecenterpublishing.com/photopsy/square_format.htm [accessed 08/01/2018].