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].
Booked into a two film Atlantic Project free event at the National Marine Aquarium on 5th October 2018 I was mistakenly directed to a behind the scenes tour. This was itself very interesting and all the more so as most participants in the tour party happened to belong to a Mensa group visiting from elsewhere in the country. Their additional knowledge of marine life added depth and breadth to that given by the tour guides who were very knowledgeable marine biologists who worked at the venue.
Although there was only a small display about beach debris and, prompted by myself, discussion of the harm caused by and potential solutions for this man-made problem, there are monthly lectures, beach clean activities and an extensive in-house and outreach educational programme (http://www.national-aquarium.co.uk/education/) which unavoidably and inevitably refer to the issues.
One of my reasons for visiting was to check out the location as a possible venue for my exhibition. Having the opportunity to see how Bryony Gillard and Ursula Biemann presented in this context would have been useful. I have since looked at their work online. Bryony explores jelly fish thinking through video, human performance and sounds in ‘A cap like water, fluid yet with definite body’ which is also linked with ‘Tentacular Thinking’. Body prints on latex hang from the ceiling of the exhibition space and people improvise movements in response to the screening of a film of jelly fish. I can visualise some of my images in projection on screens and on fabrics (eg towelling or a lighter silk that could move more easily) hanging and trailing in the exhibition space whether inside or outside. Ursula’s work ‘Acoustic Ocean’ was commissioned by the “Atlantic Project After the Future – in the wake of utopian imaginaries in Plymouth (UK) curated by Tom Trevor.” (The Atlantic Project 2018). The Atlantic Project was a pilot for a new international festival of contemporary art in Plymouth. Ursula’s film explores the sonic ecology of marine life in the cold North Atlantic (Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway). Her writings and videos tackling and portraying human and environmental concerns have received accolades world-wide. Such a shame I missed them.
I did, however, use the opportunity to take some images of relevance to my project. These images of jellyfish gave me the opportunity to experiment with processing and the differential impacts of various colours.
Andy Hughes has been recommended to me many times as people have got to know about my Beauty and the Beach… project as he has and still does create works with beach debris. He is also a leading light in Surfers against Sewage and happens to live in Cornwall, my neighbouring county. Looking for his material on line I was impressed by his website layout and the images therein. I found a second hand Dominant Wave Theory, a rather large tome produced with David Carson and illustrated with Andy Hughes images of beach debris. I understand from Instagram that he sent a copy to David Attenborough and has today posted that he received a lovely letter in thanks.
I was disappointed to have found out about Andy Hughes recent London exhibition too late to attend. I have however emailed him to introduce myself as we may meet at an event for the MA Photography course early next year. He was kind enough to reply and say that he did not require and assistant at this time (I had enquired about gaining experience with him).
I appear to be going over old ground in the sense that I have taken images and then find that others have taken similar ones a long time before mine. Andy Hughes is another example. I wonder which I should do first, instinctively take my images then read up about other photographers or visa versa. The latter way would be to sub consciously veer toward plagiarism perhaps. On the other hand armed with knowledge about composition, light and other details of settings used by the more experienced photographer I have a greater chance of taking a better shot and the potential to take a similar object or scene with a new twist as to how it was taken and/or how it was processed.
Since viewing the images in Dominant Wave Theory and on the galleries on Andy Hughes website I have begun to get down low when taking some debris as he seems to have done. This has the effect of making a very small object large in a vast landscape and it is also interesting to see the landscape providing the context from afar rather than being a focus which happens to have a piece of debris in it. One example is of a red lighter on a beach which is lit up by natural light and possibly additional lighting to enhance its colour and form.
An image that immediately stood out for me was that of Radion 1991 taken by Andy Hughes. I took an image of a Jeyes cleaning fluid can on the beach and then in grass earlier this summer just after starting the course. His image is clear and carefully set as an orange plastic container against a dark brown background. Mine is photographed as found with not enough thought given to where my focus was when taking it. It was also tin not plastic apart from the top and to my mind very old as I have not seen a can like this since I was a child. I wonder what the back story is to its arrival on this specific beach?
I took my image again on grass having risked taking it home (it still has fluid in it). I think my second image works better, although not on the beach. It makes me challenge my self-rule to date to photograph debris in situ without disturbing it (i.e. to view it in its abandoned stage where I first spotted it) rather than setting it up to showcase the item itself.
I have noted that Andy Hughes is posting examples of new works. Some images appear to have been drawn or painted on and do have the effect of drawing me in wanting to know more about the processes he is using. Maybe I will be lucky enough to meet and ask him soon.