Through going through my process this week it has highlighted that I’m not really sure who my audience would be. In this way I’m not even sure how a curator would even begin looking at my work, for this reason perhaps it would be helpful to have the input of a curator.
This weeks work has been really quite stressful thinking in particular about an exhibition where I literally have no idea what I am going to put into it, creatively I’m lost.
The only thing I know for sure is
I will present in Diptychs and Triptychs.
I want to show a process from one form to another.
I’m struggling to get to grips with my new equipment so I need to invest some time into perfecting this technique or perhaps explore microscopic photography, to provide the up close images of transformation that I’m looking for.
This weeks 1:2:1 tutorial was quite a jumble on my behalf due to my confusion over my project.
Questions were raised like:
Do I want to keep going with my inanimates?
Do I want to put more focus onto memory?
With the recent loss in my family in some ways death is not something I’m ready for so do I want to look at where my items come from, an allotment for example.
One thought I have considered is am I really looking at death in particular? I feel more comfortable at present looking at the rebirth – I have particular emotions entangled in my project at the moment and perhaps this is the reason for things appearing more difficult at the moment.
I can see themes of my work, I’m just not sure I am putting this across in the right way.
I think my work looking back could do with the input of a curator I tend to get lost in my project, perhaps there are times where I need an outside input. I hope that they would agree that my images are made to be large abstract prints.
Looking at the work of some abstract expressionists has really opened my eyes to something new and its been an enjoyable experience looking at the work of Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Francis, Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock.
It occurred to me through the art that you don’t have to be able to identify something from an image just to make it have more impact and in fact beautiful.
As some of my images have developed through their journey from an identifiable piece of fruit into their new lifeforms they are gaining more and more abstract qualities and as the mould is developing like a Jackson Pollock painting they have an explosion of new life forms. For example Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist), 1950, the explosion of paint can have similarities in the way the mould grows and forms new shapes and levels. I felt the same about Sam Francis, Saint Honore, 1952 and Lee Krasner – Untitled, 1949. The movement of the paint strokes are like the movement and growing/transitioning from one form into another. This is something that I really enjoyed from this genre of art.
In a completely different sense the work April, 1963, by Helen Frankenthaler inspires through the use of colour which I have also tried to experiment with in this module.
One element that I find exciting about abstract expressionism is the freedom it offers to the audience to see what they can interpret from the art. This is a freedom I would also like to offer to my audience. I’ve heard it described as freeing the mind of visual restrictions. Not only would I like this to be possible for my audience but also to open up to discussion the limitations one might place upon the life-death-rebirth cycle.
The way these paintings are exhibited on huge canvases, it makes me think for my work to be exhibited they should also be large enough to make them even more abstract and have more impact – an affect that I think might be lost in a photo-book.
This weeks work has made me consider quite a lot. It is my belief that humans are always involved in someway in the production of images, otherwise we would never know that they had ever actually been created. Even with the Human? activity without human intervention we would never know that any form of image capturing had ever taken place.
Within my practice I wait for natural processes to take their place and then capture them on their journey. So I feel I am a combination of hands on and hands off.
I’m not sure whether people really know how to respond to my work and this is becoming somewhat troubling to me and I am certainly going to have to do a great deal of work on this specifically in the coming weeks.
This weeks webinar was particularly useful to me this week. It did bring up some questions to ask myself:
What are the actual goals of my images?
Science and truth?
Science vs religion?
Science vs art aesthetics?
A butterfly connotation – Transformation
Is time my target or is it the transformation?
It has led me to the collection curated by David Campany – A handful of dust.
A lesson to be learned from this weeks activity Hands Off was how to deal with failure. As we were not able to use our regular equipment and for me this ruled out the DSLR and iPhone, the flatbed scanner was the equipment that I chose. It was not successful so I decided to disregard my work to the groups disappointment, it has given me the motivation to try again and accept my failures.
These are the retried images of my flat bed scanner attempt
Over the next week I want to try to focus on the questions brought up this week and see what I can come up with.
Due to the abstract nature of my images one of the suggestions to take a look at was the collection a Handful of Dust curated by David Campany. This collection features images by photographers such as Man Ray, Ed Ruscha and Jeff Wall along with the work of others and also some anonymous work.
Using the normal and banal to create something completely different, the dust looking like it was making itself into a geographical map with how it has been manipulated and this is something that I can relate to taking the everyday and making look like something more beautiful that it should really look.
Perhaps something else that could be considered from this piece is that the dust is creating a road map type effect, could this be seen as dust being the passing of time showing the direction we should be travelling in having learned lessons from the past. Perhaps this is just my interpretation.
Another image that appeals from the work, and also that I can draw inspiration from because of a direction my work has gone is an image by Frederick Sommer – Arizona Landscape 1943 In webinars it has been mentioned how my images are starting to look like the beginning of a new landscape or a planets surface.
The abstract nature of my own image and that of Frederick Sommer have similarities it shows me how my images could make their way to large prints and still have an impact even though the items I am capturing are small rather than grand landscapes.
What I did find interesting was the images from where the exhibition was help, seeing the artefacts and the arrangement of the displays. I always think that the exhibition would be one large image arranged side by side in a black frame with white walls as this how I have experienced galleries before. As my images are abstract perhaps I should also be thinking this way for my own display.
This week I’ve felt quite torn with some of the concepts that we have covered. In my opinion, no one should be able o reuse another individuals work without explicit consent. The ideas of reusing and reediting to make gain when you haven’t produced the original just does not seem morally right to me.
I think in the event that my work was re appropriated by someone else I would have taken the same action as Meiselas did in the case of the Molotov Man.
Whilst I have been influenced by others I have not taken someone else’s work so I am comfortable in my practice that I am working in the right way in line with my moral compass.
This weeks webinar was really beneficial. We discussed ways that I could make my images more interesting, working with the images I had taken since the last webinar.
I am looking at maybe not taking the whole piece of fruit in the frame, just picking out particular details. this will particularly come into play when it comes to exploring the mould at the end of the cycle.
I have been looking at the work of Daro Montag to see how they make beautiful images from organisms.
I have also looked at the work of Estonian photographer Heikki Leis and his series of images in the collection Afterlife.
Some of the the images I think it would have been nice to know what the items looked like beforehand. this is what I want to achieve with my images, a story of the stage before coming to the rebirth.
During this weeks webinar we discussed what could be potential outlets for my work, thinking that scientific venues may be appropriate for the nature of my images or perhaps even the use of x-ray paper to give my topic a more scientific feel.
I plan to do some research on scientific and aerial photography to broaden my view on the types of images I could possible achieve.
This week also came with researching safety procedures for what my new work might entail.
The concepts behind my work have made me consider the concepts of life and death a little more.to consider if i am actually saying that the development of the mould is a reincarnation or the development of something brand new.
It has also made me consider my own views and beliefs.
Do I believe in reincarnation?
Do I believe that the mould is alive?
Is the transformation from one thing to another just a simple scientific process or is it something else?
In the development of my abstract imagery I have been looking at the work of Daro Montag – Who I met at the face to face event at Falmouth in February.
I have been looking at this work to gain a better understanding of how natural living organisms could be made into beautiful art.
The series Bioglyhs which I discovered on the website:
This work really assisted me in looking at the potential this type of work could have and the direction that it could take. Though it isn’t a direction I’m ready for just yet.
I also gained inspiration from the work in Dialogues with Nature. Not only was the imagery helpful but the examples of how to create a photographers sketchbook was a helpful insight into what I can produce to start and document my progress, especially when coming up to the Final Major Project to document thoughts and sketches as well as imagery. It could also be helpful to my audience to view these sketchbooks – as my work is documenting a period of time (again time will play a pivotal role in my work), it would be like a diary entry that could accompany an exhibition or be a zine that could be picked up at an exhibition.
The work in the This Earth series was inspiring show in the range of colours that could be found in the microscopic world. Whilst it is not in my current plans to go as far down this route it is interesting to see what the possibilities are.
Montag’s work and my own are similar in that we are looking at life-cycles of natural objects. I want to look at what happens after – the next stage of life. New Life.
This week has been a particularly exciting one. I completed my first professional assignment by being a Third Shooter at a wedding – I know I’m just a volunteer but this is a major step for me in my progression as a photographer.
With my practice, working so close up, and with using inanimate objects, being put into a position where my subjects were moving about was a real challenge. However being able to challenge myself and watch two other photographers was a really beneficial experience and I feel this can only improve my practice.
In this weeks work I was particularly drawn to the images of Shimon Attie in particular. The images of the practice of rephotography where a past and present were blended into one another, I felt were really impactful, especially Attie’s “The Writing on the Wall”
I would like to try in my own practice the merging of two images into one. This is also something that could be incorporated into my own work, merging the different stages or elements of a lifecycle into a single image I imagine would be quite interesting. I guess There are elements of different styles that would be difficult decisions to make perhaps this could be why I appreciate the blended images more as they show ans appreciation of the past and merge it into the today as if it is a memory occurring.
Some might argue that this blending of images is too much tampering of an image and making it an untruth of what is actually there – making the photography a liar but I don’t see if that way. I almost feel like the images that are completely blanking out the present day are telling the untruth like they are trying to block out the horrors of today’s society with a nostalgic take on the past.
During the break I decided to take a step away from my project and explore other types of photography, exploring the work or Sirkka-Lissa Konttinen in The Idea of North Exhibition at The Baltic in Gateshead. This exhibition was really interesting showing the development of culture in the North East. It has always been a huge interest of mine to research the region I am born and bred from, and it’s actually making me wonder whether I would like to explore a mini-project about my region and the presentations from this week has made me explore the ideas of rephotography.
When I was looking at images for the Place over Time activity I found images from the early 1900’s and even earlier than this which my family could tell me stories about and this stirred up emotions in me that I would love others to get from my own work.
Memory is such an important topic to me and perhaps it is time to explore this a little further to see where it goes. This was also an element that I discussed on my work experience this week. A wedding album for example is a reminder of a beautiful day and the memories will hopefully last a lifetime.
This weeks webinar left me feeling a little deflated about my work. Some of the pieces I took over the break were triptychs of fruit over a period of time, showing the fruit being taken over by mould in the end image.
I stuck to my iPhone, square format and black and white for these images as I have throughout the course. I have once again had my approach challenged which I have taken on board but when carrying out the request of using the DSLR and colour I really don’t like the results.
I will take these images to next weeks webinar for feedback and see what there is that I can do.
One idea that came from Week 1’s webinar was to blow the images up so large that they become pixelated. i’m also open to giving this a try but with the nature of my images I’m unsure of what the results would be.
With the DSLR I am not achieving the images yet that I would want to achieve I think this may well mean that this module is going to be one of trial and error. Or I may revert to the iPhone.
In the meantime I have found some artists who have worked with mould before so I want to learn about them.
I hope in a week or so to have a contact sheet of images from which I can short list.
I thinking that the theme of this module will be rebirth. It will certainly be an interesting exploration.
Edward Weston has been very an influential part of my development throughout the whole of my Masters degree.
My work has developed a great deal throughout the modules to where my work is at now, this has made me look not so much at the still life of Weston but his landscape work and some of his images taken at Point Lobos which are much darker in feeling to his previous works.
What draws me more to these images more than some of the others is they are of more an abstract nature than his portrait or still life images. This brings me to compare them to some of the newer work that I have been creating. At first it was not my intention to achieve the level of abstraction that my mould could be likened to the landscape of another world and it was something of a light-bulb moment for me.
Whilst Weston, I feel has the basis of his work in making aesthetically pleasing images, which is exemplified in the diary entries in the book The Flame of Recognition. I get the impression that he was getting a joy from creating imagery that is different from other work he produced. This is something I can understand from my own work
Yet in the same way as my work he gained enjoyment from the abstract nature of the Cypress Trees at Point Lobos describing it as “twisted into the most amazing forms” (Weston in Newhall, Pg.28, 1965)
It is this kind of detail that I enjoy and look for in my own work, looking for shapes and textures from the subjects that I work with, but I want to show that in my images that death is not the end and that my subjects are evolving and transforming.
Weston revisited the locations many times shooting the landscape in various different ways. This is quite similar to the way that I am continually re-shooting my objects looking at them in different ways over a period of time documenting their changes.
In Weston’s later years particularly after his Guggenheim Fellowship in 1937, the subject of Weston’s work is noted to have become darker. In some ways this is a refreshing change from his search of beauty. In the Essay A Photographer’s Love of Life by Alex Nyerges noted the subject of his photography did in fact become death. The dead pelican below is an example of this. The work of erosion I feel is also an example of the change in his work.
It has to be said that the diagnosis of his Parkinson’s Disease also had an affect on the work he was producing, being limited to the work he could create and having to accept his mortality which results in the darker imagery.
A major difference in my work this module is that I will be using a DSLR and working in colour. I find that this is a refreshing move away from the still lives and black and white. Whilst I still very much admire Weston’s work I am no longer as heavily influenced to attempt to emulate what he achieve in his still life work.
Weston, Edward (1965), Edited by Nancy Newhall, The Flame of Recognition, Aperture Foundation, New York, Pg 28, 29, 49, 77
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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.
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:
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.
Rexler, Lyle, (2013) The Edge of Vision – The Rise of Abstraction In Photography, Aperture, New York.
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:
I then carried on to experiment with other materials:
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:
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.