Informing Contexts: Week 9. Independent Reflection W/C 06/04/2018

This week has been presentation week where we receive peer feedback, this is always an interesting week and this one has been really beneficial.

With regards to my work I received really useful feedback and what I found even more pleasing is that viewers could see what I was trying to do and could even apply some of my images to their own past experience.

It does concern me a little that my use of iPhone does not give everyone a wholly positive feeling. Perhaps now in someways I want to keep it to prove a point that beautiful work can be created using the iPhone – i think using this method will always get a touch of “not proper photography” from some areas. I’m pretty sure that I am OK with this though! I saw this week that Light and Land are now doing landscape photography course in iPhoneography so I think I will also stick with it!

I did have good feedback with regards to the template that I use during my presentations which is also something that I can take forward for the future.

I did forget to mention that my intended audience/display platform at final goal is an exhibition – though I did mention my Instagram sharing, and it is a must to remember both of these things for my Critical Review.

The feedback also put the idea of triptychs into play. It is something I want to consider for future development but not something that I would be able to achieve for this module and I do like the idea at the moment of just diptychs featuring life and death.

Even with criticism I know that it is essential to take everything on board with a positive outlook and take a second look at my work and see if it is applicable and see where I can improve so that I don’t receive the same feedback again.

Watching the videos of my peers also allowed me to learn where I could improve my own work not only in presentation style but also how to critically review my own work better.

It is also allowing me to develop a clearer view of my own work through continually having to justify my practice.

  • Critical Contextualisation of Practice:
    • I have covered quite a range of photographers in this module. It is now the time to pull all of the knowledge I have gained from this. I have learnt a great deal from historical photographers such as William Henry Fox-Talbot and later Edward Weston  to current photographers such as Peter Fraser and Roger Ballen. I have also crossed disciplines looking at Sam Taylor-Johnson’s work.
  • Professional Location of Practice:
    • I share a lot of work on Instagram but I want to see my photographs exhibited and I am already checking on possible locations to make this happen. I do like the social media side of my work though, perhaps because most of the time some form of feedback is received quite quickly.
  • Critical Analysis:
    • My work has grown into a project his module and it is starting to make sense. I also feel as though I have become better at analysing my project and making the necessary changes. I also feel I have been able to articulate this to my peers in webinars.
  • Written and Oral Communication Skills:
    • Whilst I feel I have made good progress in this area over the module. This is an area that I am still very much working on.

Informing Contexts: Easter Break Week 2. Independent Reflection W/C 30/03/2018

This week was mostly taken up with the planning and recording of my oral presentation. This process seemed a lot more straight forward having a clear direction of where I wanted to get to rather than stretching and grasping at straws.

Revisiting the basics of my newly changed project was great in that I could re-engage with my aims and also pick out pieces of the theory that I had selected that were not working for me.

For example I was trying to include so much into the theory, that I was missing how I was actually going to apply this. I therefore removed the Buddhist beliefs about the four stages of life/road to enlightenment, as the other 4 concepts that I wanted to look at are far more relevant and I am actually able to apply them, but more importantly explain to others what I am doing and why with my images.

To explore more I have this week been reading – The Edge of Vision – The Rise of Abstraction in Photography by Lyle Rexler (2013). As my work is taking the direction of abstraction I felt this was going to offer some further insight. It brought me back to looking at photographers I haven’t considered since the early part of the course, Karl Blossfeldt and William Henry Fox-Talbot.

Blossfeldt’s image Adiantum Pedatum

Adiantum Pedatum Karl Blossfeldt
Adiantum Pedatum – Karl Blossfeldt 1924-32

https://www.moma.org/interactives/objectphoto/objects/83716.html

William Henry Fox-Talbot’s image Slice of Horse Chestnut seen through the Solar Microscope

687Talbot_101293-47_HorseChestnut_ 1840
Slice of Horse Chestnut Seen through the solar microscope – William Henry Fox-Talbot – 1840

http://www.sunpictures.com/uploads/687Talbot_101293-47_HorseChestnut_.jpg

These two images show how I am able to use natural materials and still have beautifully abstract images. Especially with Blossfeldt’s work using the lessons I learnt about lighting from Edward Weston I am able to learn a great deal about the composition of abstract macro photography.

Carrying out further research I was absorbed by the Curburita (Pumpkin Tendrils)

Blossfeldt Cucurbita, 1928
Cucurbita – Karl Blossfeldt – 1928

http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/35451/karl-blossfeldt-cucurbita-german-1928/

This image has been carefully thought about in how to capture the curls. when I capture my pencil shaving I use I expect quite a similar process, I perhaps can do more of this to enhance my images further.

There is another image such as #95 Beckmannia Cruciformis (Slough Grass, Fruiting Spikelets)

Karl Blossfeldt Beckmannia Cruciformis - 1942
Beckmannia Cruciformis – Karl Blossfeldt – 1942

https://goo.gl/images/nsMysD

I think the composition of this triptych how it is showing various areas of light and shade and still manages to contain the detail in the natural forms, this can also be seen in #96 Phacelia Panicle (Phacelia Congesta) where I was drawn in by the complex repeating nature of the plants.

bloss6-1
Phacelia Panicle – Karl Blossfeldt

https://www.broadway-letchworth.com/sites/default/files/styles/max_1300x1100/public/images/exhibition-or-studio-events/gallery/bloss6-1.jpg?itok=MHtuhvb7

It shows depth and is laid out interestingly to draw in the viewer with some elements of my work I can certainly learn a great deal from Blossfeldt.

Looking at these images led me to take another of my own to use in my presentation:

Paper Clip April 2018
Paperclip – Kirsty Logan – April 2018

I wanted to use elements that I had learnt from Blossfeldt and try to put them into action. I was also quite happy to see strength coming from the first image verging into fragility in the second. I want this to be felt by my viewer also.

 

References:

Informing Contexts: Easter Break Week 1. Independent Reflection W/C 23/03/2018

After feeling a little lost this week I had a breakthrough after a 1:1 tutorial with Steph. I had gotten myself into a roller coaster of highs and lows of my MA project work.

The feedback from the webinar at the end of last week had me in a creativity dead-end. I understood my project is not always the easiest to comprehend, but something isn’t clicking with viewers.

My tutorial with Steph helped to show me the way out of my dead-end. I watched La Jetée by Chris Marker and this showed me how a series of still images could fit together within a short to tell a story. I think the voice and sound effects really added to ramping up the emotion from the images. This is not something I have considered myself before but was very effective.

I also explored Sam Taylor-Johnson’s moving image sequences of Still Life (2001) and A Little Death (2002), and they captured what I would like to be able to in stills. Having items in place showing the degeneration – the transformation from one to another – passing – it is the cycle.

The difference in the feeling from the two sequences was quite unbelievable to me at first and then it clicked! With the fruit in Still Life, the mould slowly creeps over, becoming an new organism, this appears quite gentle and almost a beautiful process. To then go straight into A Little Death is quite a different experience. The dead rabbit doesn’t have the dignity curtain of the mould encapsulating it. It is instead eaten from the inside out with the creeping blackness of death moving around it. It is possible to see the maggots coming and going and transforming into flies, in the next stage of their lives. whilst you are watching you are witnessing a whole new life-cycle which is the whole point to my project, but this sequence comes over a brutal, almost a violent horror story. It is this emotion, these feelings that I want to be able to put into my images. It was another turning point for me to see these moving image sequences. It gave me some motivation back.

Steph and I talked about the possibilities of a diptych series. This couldn’t have been a better suggestion. Whilst I am continuing to shoot my life-cycle, it gives me the freedom to curate the strongest images of the cycle and work them together. Skills of mine that I would have perceived as week earlier in the course are really starting to work as a strength.

I started with some images that I had already taken:

candle-march-2018.jpg
Pencil – Kirsty Logan – March 2018

I then carried on to experiment with other materials:

Sellotape March 2018
Sellotape – Kirsty Logan – March 2018

Whilst I like this image I am not getting any emotion from synthetic materials. I was thinking about talking about Identity with the fingerprint but then it didn’t really fit to being crushed and useless in the next.

From this I moved to an object I have worked with in previous modules:

Candle March 2018
Candle – Kirsty Logan – March 2018

I took another candle images as the dancing smoke gives me joy as if it has its own energy, but I also wanted to feel the bleeding candles pain as the wax slips away.

I feel as if I am on a path now and I am looking forward to continuing with the experimentation.

I want to see these images in an Exhibition, I feel like I now have a goal for the images.

 

References

Informing Contexts: Week 8. Independent Reflection W/C 16/03/2018

Following on from last weeks work where I described myself as being the storyteller/photographer I came across the following in one of our presentations.

“Photographs in themselves do not narrate, photographs preserve instant appearance” (Berger, 2013, P52)

The presentation goes on to say

“but again what happens when we do not know what the subject matter of that appearance actually is so how do we encourage narration” (Cosgrove, 2017, Speaking Photographically Presentation)

This quote from Berger and the following quote from Steph is actually really appropriate to my project work. With my style of photography this was an issue that was becoming apparent, viewers couldn’t see my viewpoint and couldn’t understand. It may still be possible that now without my narrative being explained and the viewers being talked through my work the understanding may still not be there, because the concept is not a common one maybe.

In Jeff Wall’s interview he was of the opinion that a picture cannot tell a story because it is a still. I feel a little confused by this. The saying I have always believed is a picture is worth a thousand words, so it is my belief that an image can speak to a person without telling the story that the image is meant to be putting over.

Below are the images I prepared for this weeks work, again touching upon new beginnings, death, but also vanity.

Feedback being received this week particularly through the Webinar is that my photographs are struggling to tell their story this could perhaps be that the stages of life that I am choosing or the way that I am shooting them. It’s something that I’m going to really have to think about because if viewers are still missing what I’m trying to do perhaps its time to reconsider the project as a whole.

I was pointed in the direction of two photographers this week. The still life work of Roger Ballen and also Peter Fraser, who I knew from the Two Blue Buckets image.

First of all I looked at Roger Ballen’s (www.rogerballen.com) work. I looked at the still life images in the projects Shadow Chamber (2005), Boarding House (2009), Animal Abstraction (2011) along with some of the other collections. On  a purely viewer level it was not an enjoyable experience for me. However I can see elements that I can take from the images. For instance we both work in square format in black and white. Ballen’s work is far grittier than mine, to me it shows everything with a sense of darkness. For example Cat in box (2002) from the Shadow Chamber collection. I get a sense of entrapment, fear, confusion. The emotions I gain from this and others like it is what I need to have the viewers feel from my own work. So not only will I need to consider the lighting of my image but also my composition perhaps, through creating the scene for my inanimate objects and shooting them in this way. Creating a location and a scenario just for the object. This is very much something that I can take with me from Ballen’s work.

Cat-in-box-2002
Cat In Box – Roger Ballen – 2002

https://www.rogerballen.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Cat-in-box-2002.jpg

In quite a contrast to the work of Ballen’s I also looked at the work of Peter Fraser (http://www.peterfraser.net/projects/) and in particular the collections Lost For Words (2010), Nazraeli Monograph (2006) but the collections Material (2002) and Everyday Icons (1986) were the ones that resonated with me.

Whilst I work in black and white and Fraser in colour the picture of what it think is wire is the type of image compositionally that I would want to be able to produce. The interest is in the item, you can see all different types of textures from harsh metals, to moist grease like substances. This is the part that draws me in so much and something I want to appear so interesting in my own work.

Big-Red-Cable.Material
Big Red Cable – Peter Fraser – 2002

http://www.peterfraser.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Big-Red-Cable.Material.jpg

The sole focus is on the insides of the product and whilst there are items in the background I don’t find them distracting, which is a problem that I have been experiencing in my own images. the composition is certainly an area that I can learn a great deal from but again also the lighting techniques used.

The research that I have completed into Ballen and Fraser this week has been really helpful in showing me techniques that I can try to put into practice to improve my images and therefore increase not only the impact of my own images but also try to get a deeper reaction to the meaning of my images.

References:

 

Informing Contexts: Week 7. Independent Reflection W/C 09/03/2018

This week I have felt particularly torn between my admiration of Salgado’s images and completely agreeing with Sischy’s criticism in The New Yorker.

In my opinion they are too beautiful to be making a clear statement. As an individual viewer I was drawn in by the beauty and compositions that mimicked fashion shoots in a high end magazine that I failed to read what the true message was. Whereas with Nick Brandt’s images whilst still beautiful had far more impact upon me with regards to the message that they were trying to convey.

This brings me to think in reference to my own practice. I worry that I may be more on the Salgado side of the spectrum choosing aesthetics over message, I would therefore also fall victim to the criticisms Sischy had “Beauty is a call to admiration, not to action” (Sischy 1991, P.22)

I think one thing that I can take from this is that I am not trying to make a call to action, though I would like an emotional reaction from the viewers of my images.

I found a quote this week by Morley Baer:

“Quit trying to find beautiful objects to photograph. Find the ordinary objects so you can transform it by photographing it.” – Morley Baer (1916-1995)

I felt that this was really appropriate to my work in that I am using inanimate objects, the everyday, the banal. It gave me some inspiration.

It also led me to look further into his work, I’m not really sure how I haven’t come across him before since two of his close associates were Edward Weston and Ansel Adams! Who have shown me so much about photography.

Looking at Baer’s work the way he captures light over his landscapes is breathtaking (http://www.photographywest.com/pages/baer_photos.html) and makes me determined to master the lighting issues that I am having with my work.

I don’t want people to be desensitised from my images or for that matter me to be desensitised from my objects when creating my images.

Through my project work this week I found inspiration from music. A song called I’m in here by Sia

Sia’s Lyric video: https://youtu.be/29xYQ-mOyZI

The lyrics in this song really spoke to me in how I would like my images to speak. The lyrics “I’m in here. Can anybody see me?” hit the nail on the head for me – can everyone see the life-cycle of the soul that I am asking them to discover. This really helped me put together some images this week.

I focused on just one life event this week, the occurrence of feeling broken and hurting from the soul. Feed back was mixed but it is going to be a developmental process. Entwining these images with Sia’s song, I’m asking can you see the soul that is hurting here?

With some of the work that we have covered this week it brings me to the conclusion that there is a huge difference between telling a story and having a message. With my work I am taking the role of storyteller my motives at this time do not stretch beyond this.

In someways perhaps through the use of Wabi Sabi in which part of the theory is impermanence, this could perhaps be taken further with the impermanence being extinction or life limiting conditions. Perhaps this is something to think about in the future.

References:

Informing Contexts: Week 6. Independent Reflection W/C 2/03/2018

During the course of this weeks work we have been asked to consider the following:

  • How your practice may (or may not) be seen as adhering to a specific ideology:
    • I don’t think I adhere to ideology – in some ways the new direction I have taken uses ideologies to show my narrative. It takes a somewhat suspended view of what is seen as normal to understand my work.
  • The  potential impact of this given the subsequent meaning and reception that your practice might attract. From whom?
    • The people most drawn the the theories that I have used will most likely be those with alternative beliefs, outside of the mainstream.
    • The reception I could receive could be complete disagreement that inanimate objects are just that, inanimate. Also that it is not possible to think of them having another from such as a soul or a spirit. It is possible that people could see the theories that I have incorporated as nonsense. As with the previous incarnation of my work there is always the possibility that some people will just not understand or get it.
  • Any power negotiations within your own practice:
    • I don’t believe that I have power negotiations – I photograph inanimate objects they would not normally be something that could be stereotyped in the same way that humans could be. Although maybe I am creating stereotypes in the life events that I am creating. Overall though as with all art my work will be subject to judgement.
  • Your practice in the context of other visual practices and theoretical points:
    • I am using a lot of theory to help back up the narrative I have created. Other visual practices I could identify with would be portrait photographers/artists, who are capturing the passage of time by completing a series of portraits of developing individuals. An example of this would be Steve Pyke’s Jack, Duncan and Lola-Rae series – showing the children develop and grow up or even his acts of memory series which shows the passing of time https://www.pyke-eye.com/

 

With regards to my project work this week I have carried on with the theme of life cycles and inanimate objects I have begun to look at the Japanese Philosophy of Wabi Sabi

“It offers an aesthetic ideal that uses the uncompromising touch of mortality to focus the mind on the exquisite transient beauty to be found in all things impermanent” (Juniper, 2003, Pg2)

I particularly liked this extract from Andrew Juniper’s text it made me really consider the impermanence of everything and how I aim to focus my audience attention onto the “transient beauty” of the inanimate objects.

I have also been looking at the essays in Animism Volume 1 – Edited by Anselm Franke, in particular Franke’s essay “Much trouble in transportation of Souls or: The sudden disorganisation of boundaries” Franke is a curator and writer.

Whilst much of this I don’t think is particularly relevant to the channels I want to explore it was interesting to consider the  distinction between life/non-life. Perhaps this is something I can think about whilst taking my images.

I decided to return to my iPhone this week and retake/develop upon the images that I took last week

With these images I wanted to look at a sense of heartbreak/confusion with my first images and moving through working life, to instances when a person might feel broken, with the pencil shavings being recovery, a person moving on along the lines of a rebirth.

The new narrative is really working for my and this has reignited how I feel towards my work as it seems like there is a real direction that I can go in now.

References:

  • https://www.pyke-eye.com/
  • Juniper, Andrew (2003), Wabi Sabi: The Japanese art of impermanence, Tuttle Publishing, Boston, Pg2