Exercise 5.2 – Print quotes

I have always done my own printing and have the Epson P600 which produces good results. It has been a long learning curve though and I still have a lot to learn. As part of the research for this assignment, I printed out one of my images on several different papers ( Hahnemüle Photo Rag Metallic, Ilford Prestige Gold Fibre Gloss and Fotospeed Platinum Etching, as I have them from sample packs and all three initially came out too dark. Bumped up the exposure by 0.6 made the difference though. I have previously learned about print profiles and colour calibration and so am reasonably happy with the results. To my surprise, my preferred surface of the three was the Ilford Gold Fibre Gloss and so I have ordered a pack of that for future use. It has a lightness and depth that was not so visible in the Platinum Etching and I find I prefer the light gloss to the matt finish. The Hahnemüle Photo Rag Metallic had quite a strong tint to it, but I will also explore their Photo Silk Baryta, which they market as being a good alternative to the Ilford Gold Fibre Gloss.

The state of printing has moved on a bit since the course notes were written. After learning the difference between giclée and C-type (giclée being a posh name for inkjet) it became clear that the industry believes that inkjet is now superior to C-type, and it isn’t that easy to find quotes for C-type. However, inkjet quotes for a 16×12″ image with a 1″ border all round ranged between £9 (SimLab) and £23 (Printspace). Only the Printspace could do C-type and that was £17, so cheaper than their alternative inkjet offering. I doubt I will be using an external printer though until I need to print larger than A3, (This is entirely possible at Level 3 though).

The last part of the exercise asks us to reflect on whether we feel that an inkjet can be treated as a photograph. I am presuming this means a print and not the inkjet printer itself. To my mind, there is no doubt whatsoever that an inkjet print is a photograph and has as much validity as the C-type and other more traditional processes. Looking back to the beginning of photography, non-standard processes have always stood under the umbrella of photography, such as cyanotypes, tin types, and any number of cameraless options. To me, the photograph is the outcome, not the process, and I think a more interesting question these days would be at what point does the idea of ‘the photograph’ end, given the trend towards mixing media and disciplines? The photograph implies a physical object, but that object might not be created on paper, or might be three dimensional, or it might have been created using natural pigments or embroidery or a mix of collaged pieces. For example, is Alix Marie’s sculptural work photography? Or Peter Kennard’s political collages? I suspect that the merging of photography with various other art disciplines will continue so the question now becomes, what outcome does the artist want? It could be a photograph or something else completely. A photograph is a two dimensional object with an image printed onto it.

Artist’s talk – Kensuke Koike

This was a Photographers’ Gallery event, and they seem to be inviting many of my favourite photographers to talk, which is great. Koike was obviously speaking in a second language, and so understanding was sometimes a little difficult but the meaning of what he is doing came across despite the issues. It has been a while since I looked at his work and I am possibly seeing it with new eyes since my move towards exploring the materiality of the photo graph. I ‘m not sure that previously I had been really aware of the object itself (the photograph) as being the centre of his work, and had instead focused on the cleverness and humour of what he is doing.

Koike is fascinated by how the photograph (specifically vintage found photos and old postcards) can be manipulated physically to give it a new meaning. He talked about the orphan nature of found photos and how he sees his work as giving them new life in a respectful way, bringing them back out of obscurity. Before cutting up the photo itself, he makes lots of copies and plays with them to see what will work, based on his idea at that time. He showed us a scrapbook full of dozens of manipulated versions of the same photo which he uses as an ideas book. He said he is obsessed by detail and won’t start cutting the original until he is absolutely satisfied with what it will look like and will only start cutting on days when he hasn’t had a coffee beforehand to keep his hand steady.

It is the practical process that appeals to him and he is interested in the whole piece, front and back (In No More, No Less, each of the images is double sided so that one can see the back as well as the front.) He also gives himself lots of boundaries within which to work as he likes a challenge. He also showed us how he goes about designing a piece using scraps of photocopied images, matching tones and colours in the monochrome work.

We moved on to discuss how his work has changed over the last few years. Most of his original work was tiny, being made from vintage photos, but he has also explored different sizes, with his series at the Format Festival in 2019 (which I saw) and says that size doesn’t really matter to him, with the implication that those images were large because of the venue. However, it must also be said that their three dimensional qualities were brought to the fore by being large enough for viewers to walk around. This move towards 3D stuff is also present in the Instagram videos he has started publishing, which he makes from postcards and scraps of old images.

Fig. 1 Koike’s 3D images at the Format festival 2019

He says he has been partially influenced by David Hockney’s collaged images and his interest in altered perspectives, but that it is not a significant influence as he prefers to work without preconceptions.

This ties in with a Domestika course I have been doing on Geometric Collaged images. The process is similar but the artists for that course, Susana Blasco, is more interested in making meaning out of the collages than the physical object and uses more than one image at a time alongside other paper media.

Both of these artists mainly work with portrait photographs but I can see how the concepts can be applied to landscapes and have made various experimental pieces over the last couple of years that follow the same path of exploring how orphan images can be revitalised using cutting, and am thinking specifically of my DI&C assignment 1, a series of experimental images of which are shown below.

Fig. 2 Spread from DI&C scrapbook 2018

Figures

Fig. 1 Woodward, H. (2019) Koike’s 3D images at the Format festival. In the possession of: the author.

Fig. 2 Woodward, H. (2018) Spread from DI&C scrapbook. In the possession of: the author.

References

Blasco, S. (s.d.) Geometric Collage Without Anaesthesia. At: https://www.domestika.org/en/courses/21-geometric-collage-without-anaesthesia/course. (Accessed on 14/05/2021)

Koike, K. &. S. (2018) No More, No Less. (s.l.): Jiazazhi.

Woodward, H. (2019) Format Festival 2019. At: https://hollyocadic.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/format-festival-2019/.

Transitions project – May 2021

I keep coming back to the transitions area, even though I don’t need to any more. There was a very specific reason for today’s visit, which I will come to later, but first of all, what has changed since last month? An obvious one is the removal of all the shipping containers and hoarding from the east side of the canal, signalling that this section of building is almost complete. It has opened up a new vista and I am wondering if it will be filled by another building or used for parking.

A number of pieces of sculpture have appeared – a series of bronze ducks near the junior school and a silhouette of a soldier by the canal.

The ground seems to be being prepared next to the school for something, but I currently have no idea what.

It looks as if the junior school will finally be taking pupils from September. The fully equipped building has been completely empty for the last year, at God knows how much expense to the owners.

There are many more people about now, partly because it was a sunny afternoon, but also because lockdown is finally being eased. I met a young man who was fishing in the canal, and we both agreed that it was unlikely he would find anything to catch. And the canal barge, which has been idle for over a year, was on the water and puttering about.

The main reason for the visit though was to make some macro images of the sheet of plastic that will form the basis of Assignment 6. I have been waiting for days to get a sunny period for shooting but it was worth that wait. Having been certain that the submission would be a straightforward set of images throughout the year wrapped in a sheet of the plastic, I am now considering whether to broaden it out to include some macro images too. My mind is full of this project, leaving little room for assignment 5, so I intend to finish A6 and get it out of the way before going back to A5. I’ve had a note from OCA telling me that I need to have completed this module by 7th August, so the pressure is now on.

All of the above images were made by the author on 11 May 2021.

Exerices 5.1 – O’Doherty and the White Cube

We are asked to read McEvilley’s introduction to Brian O’Doherty’s set of essays Inside the White Cube and to comment on it.

O’Doherty’s series of three essays on the concept of the White Cube delve into the history and meaning of the art gallery, how it came about and its relationship with the viewer (Spectator).

  • An investigation of what the gallery does to the art object, the viewing subject and how the context (of the gallery) devours the object.
  • gallery spaces constructed on similar lines to religious spaces, with same type of reverence and exclusivity
  • Outside must not come in; spectator is cocooned from outside distractions in the illusion of timelessness.
  • Wall generally white and visual distractions very limited (Ideally there are none).
  • This allows the art to dominate the space and float free from the complexity of life outside
  • Transcendental spaces, which came from religion originally – even Paleolithic cave painters used the same idea.
  • If art exists in this void then it is free for posterity and takes on a life of its own.
  • Ritual symbolic spaces, but with a specific political undercurrent of maintaining the power of the chosen – those who can enter the space.
  • Idea that the Self is given up when entering the Cube, and one becomes simply an Eye and a bleached out version of the Self (The Spectator) – we become subsumed to the formal space and move within it in ritual patterns set out by the curators.
  • Anti-formalist like Deschamp railed against this tyranny and began using the space as the object, e.g The Void, (1958) – an entirely empty gallery.
  • The White Cube was a transitional idea which tried to bleach out the past and fill the space instead with a transcendental view of art. However, this must inevitably be separate and different from the real world.
  • The White Cube represents a disconnection from reality in favour of pure form (Pythagorean influence).
  • O’Doherty goes on to argue against this concept and in favour of the real world, using the defences of time and change against the myth of the eternity of transcendence and fure form.

Throughout this module, I have been interested in the concept of how the gallery space influences the viewer, in terms of its exclusivity and separation from reality. Having visited the White Cube in St James, London, I can see its attraction as a gallery space which allows the exhibited work to be viewed without visual distraction, but externally it is a forbidding place hidden away down an alley – the viewer must very specifically intend to enter it, as there is nothing on the outside to draw them in. As mentioned in A4, the gallery space can be intimidating at the best of times, but this takes it to the extreme. This is the case for almost all galleries but the White Cube takes it to its logical conclusion.

Fig. 1 Jeff Wall image at the White Cube, London (2019)

I agree wholeheartedly with O’Doherty’s premise that the gallery is similar to and comes from the tradition of religious spaces, and there is the same inherent concept in play that the gallery contains something that one needs to understand in order to appreciate. That understanding cannot come from within the gallery space, or at least only fragmentarily. The understanding needs to come from elsewhere, in reality and thus it can be argued that there is no reason at all that its expression cannot be contained within the real world too.

There is an inherent pleasure in taking time out from our busy, chaotic, technicolour lives to contemplate art in a gallery, and to be fair, it does give the work ‘the space to breathe’, i.e. to be seen without distraction. A visit to any large art fair will show that when the sensory system is overloaded it is very difficult to pick out individual concepts and pieces, but at the same time, the whole art market is massively elitist and it really is time that we considered how to break down that barrier.

Figures

Fig. 1 Woodward, H. (2019) Jeff Wall image at the White Cube, London. In possession of: the author.

References

McEvilley, T. (1976) ‘Introduction’ In: O’Doherty, B. Inside the white cube: the ideology of the gallery space. San Francisco: Lapis Press. pp.7–12.

Exercise 1.9 Visual research and analysis

Find photographs depicting at least two different social perspectives of the same
place. ‘Place’ could refer to a province, a village, an event, an entire city or a small area
of a city. For example, find a photograph depicting the affluent side of a city, and
one that shows the poorer side. You may wish to use this as an opportunity to take
a closer look at some of the photographers we’ve already discussed, or to look at
completely new ones. You might find two or more contrasting images by the same
photographer, or contrasting images of the same place by two or more different
photographers. Then see if you can find two photographs where social contrasts are present within a single image.

Hmm. This exercise is fraught with complex ethical questions about exploitation, colonialism and The Other. It is hard to find images current photographers who don’t work in less developed countries, and I hummed and hawed about whether it is acceptable to include images of that sort if they are made by people from that nationality. It seems crass to look at the work of Western photographers who make studies of poverty stricken people in other parts of the world, but even using images from nationals of the countries concerned smacks a bit of Westerners photographing the homeless and other street people. There is something voyeuristic about it, and a lack of respect for the individuality of the people being photographed.

Perhaps it is ok if the people were paid for their time? Photographers like Roger Ballen, Bruce Gilden and Boris Mikhailov spring to mind, but they are all photographing individuals, not landscapes and the images are uncomfortable viewing, even when you know that the participants willingly agreed to being photographed. But this is a red herring and not related to what we are asked to do.

So ultimately, I decided to continue on with my theme of Google Earth images, because they take out the individuals and one only sees the overall effect, and picked on images from Rio de Janeiro, a place where I lived for two years, and a city where the differences between the lives of the middle class and the poor are very starkly revealed as the city has grown up with rich and poor areas cheek by jowl. For those with money, the standard of life is on a par with any European country; for those without, eeking a living on the streets is a daily battle. This co-location of rich and poor can clearly be seen at the satellite level, as shown below.

 

 

 

Exercise 3.5 – Local history

Readers of my previous blogs will recall that I have referred to aspects of my local history at various times, notably in TAOP (as a potential subject for A5) and in I&P (Assignment 2). I did not take my idea for the TAOP series any further than an initial concept post, and for this exercise I will discuss it further. For background, here is what I originally posted:

“I keep coming back to an idea that I had near the beginning of the course and had earmarked for this assignment, and which I think still has potential. It concerns a racehorse from the 1920s and 1930s called Brown Jack. This horse is widely considered to have been one of the most outstanding flat racing horses of all time, having won the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Ascot six years in a row. During his racing years, Brown Jack lived and was trained in my village, Wroughton, and his trainer, the Hon. Aubrey Craven Theophilus Robin Hood Hastings (yes, that really was his name) owned and lived in my current home. There are several references to Brown Jack in the village, including a pub named after him, but his fame extended further afield. The poet, Philip Larkin, wrote a poem called At Grass, which was inspired by watching a short news clip at the cinema on Brown Jack’s last race.(British Pathé, 1935) A locomotive was named after him (and there is a Hornby model of the same), and a bar at Ascot race course was named for him. I also own a book published in 1934 about his life, with much local information. (Lyle, 1934)

I have two options about how to use the idea. The first is to do a photo essay called ”Where is Brown Jack now?” (the name of the short film that inspired Larkin), (Ripetomato.org, 2013) and to photograph both specific uses of his name, such as the pub, the racecourse, etc. and places where he trained, his stables etc., some of which still exist and some not. The alternative is to do a very much more symbolic piece, using Larkin’s poem as a basis for a series of more abstract images of how I imagine Brown Jack to have enjoyed his declining years.”

Below is a Youtube video of Tome O’Bedlam (fabulous name too) reading Larkin’s poem for reference purposes.

At Grass by Philip Larkin (read by Tom O’Bedlam) [2012]

This is obviously a project that has been brewing for a long time, and one that is of personal interest. I have been gathering information about the horse from local archives and the internet and have purchased various memorabilia too.

Looking at it all from the perspective of five years after I originally came up with the idea, I still like the idea of making a response to the poem using the local area and the remaining stables although it might not be exactly what I use for Assignment 3.

References

Lyle, R.C. (1934) Brown Jack. London: Putnam.

At Grass by Philip Larkin (read by Tom O’Bedlam)[2012] [Online Video] At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhpPJisnCWs (Accessed 21/10/2020)

Larkin’s animal poems – 2 (2013) At: https://ripe-tomato.org/2013/03/23/larkins-animal-poems-2/ (Accessed 22/10/2020).

British Pathé (1935) Race Horse Brown Jack Makes His Final Public Appearance 1935. At: https://www.britishpathe.com/video/VLVAC9TUL3SWYW6K7VVRRWZDRUBY8-RACE-HORSE-BROWN-JACK-MAKES-HIS-FINAL-PUBLIC-APPEARANCE/query/brown+jack (Accessed 22/10/2020).

Delargy, R. (s.d.) Ascot Legends: Brown Jack. At: https://ascot.attheraces.com/ascot-legends/ascot-legends-brown-jack (Accessed 22/10/2020).

Some artists’s talks in February/March

Edgar Martins p219

I listened in to Edgar Martins talking about his approach to work on 17th February this year. It was a dense, intellectual approach and he is fascinated by how much information to give or withhold from his viewer and his concern that understanding art may be related simply to the amount of time one spends looking at it. Both fact and fiction are heuristic, i.e. and what we consider to be unashakeable truth may be completely fictitious.

Notes –

  • His most recent project is What Photography & Incarceration have in Common with an Empty vase, 2019, about HMP Birmingham
  • The work is about incarceration, but he decided not to photograph within the jail
  • More interested in the idea of absence, where the main subject is not visible
  • Multimedia work, including film, installations and sculpture
  • Influenced by Nam June Paik’s explorations of revelation and concealment
  • He thinks his work is a type of resistance against the general view of photography and documentary photography in particular
  • Likes to work within set constraints, as with lipograms – a writing device where an artificial constraint is placed on the author, e.g. no letter E
  • Fiction is part of his work – he uses archive imagery from one organisation to portray a different idea in another organisation
  • Example – In The Life and Death of Schrödinger’s Cat, 2019 part of the above body of work, Martins initially uses a black screen with sound to explain the idea of superposition – while we hear the sounds and conjecture their meaning, without any images they are open to a wide range of interpretations. Only the appearance of a visual would anchor the sounds to a particular story (we don’t get any visual). The second half is a part fact/part fiction of medical experiments on prisoners using what may or may not be archived images. The viewer does not know what is real and what is not.
  • The book object for the series consists of two separate volumes – one of his photos and another , which diarises the life of the prisoners.
  • Interesting concepts here about how we can use imagery and sound to move away from confirmed reality towards something less certain and more open to different meanings.

Photography on the Wall p 221

This was a talk between Metro Imaging and the Anise Gallery about exhibitions in the digital age. It was held online on 25th February and is of interest to me bearing in mind my own explorations of the differing affect of the physical and digital exhibition especially in view of the recent wholehearted move towards the latter as a result of COVID19.

Notes

  • They all agreed that there is still a place for the physical exhibition – they like the process and experience of visiting galleries and standing in front of images and works produced at the correct size and in a curated relationship to each other.
  • However, now looking at lots of new ways of experiencing exhibitions, such as AR Technology.
  • Prof Steve McLeod talked about Edward Burtynsky’s recent work which has used augmented reality to extend his work beyond the frame with information etc. being available as via VR as part of the viewing experience. He saw VR and headsets as being complementary to the physical gallery, rather than supplanting it, although there is a place for an entirely virtual gallery of course. (We have seen many during lockdown, of varying qualities.) He also argued that technology should be a considered part of the artwork that complements rather than replaces the meaning.
  • Having said that, the panel all agreed that VR involves losing the materiality of work and the three-dimensional qualities of the gallery.
  • They mentioned artists working in this area as Felicity Hammond (of which more in other posts) and Zoe Sim (aka MZPinkArtist), who uses infrared images on lightboxes.
  • Reproducability of work for sale can be a problem and often a sculptural work is now accompanied by a limited edition of prints for sale.
  • Provenance and authenticity is ever more important in the digital art world, hence the appearance of the NFT (non fungible token) as a means of individualising and confirming provenance of work
  • Also mentioned the opportunity of purchasing artwork cheaper by looking out for artists’ proof copies.
  • Some tips for photographers trying to sell work – always sign a work in the same place – it begins to set the idea of establishing provenance. Many photographers are now selling work directly from their websites. Pricing is difficult – think about your audience; stick to one or two sizes in short editions of e.g.5. Think about your audience and once you have found it, nurture it.
  • Look at Jo Coates zines and the zine world too – there are opportunities there.

Corinne Vionnet p277

This was part of TPG’s Screenwalks series. There were some famous faces in the audience including Joachim Scmid and Aliki Braine.

  • She began by collecting postcards of famous glaciers in Switzerland and became interested in how the glaciers changed over time and started to overlay images on each other.
  • Smart phones have totally changed how we take images – much more ubiquitous.
  • We seem to have a collective memory about what tourist spots look like and where the tourist photo should be taken, so much so that many tourist locations have marked spots in order to get the perfect view. Selfie stations, Google map icons.
  • These ideas influence how we see places, partic. in the USA, and for many there is an unbroken series of identical images over 150 years.
  • She puts them on transparencies and merges them in Photoshop, using the height of the central monument as the base points, Making the composites is an art, requiring personal interpretation – there is no right answer. (This mirrors my own experience of making composite images in A2 – there are an infinite number of ways they can be put together and the art is in selecting ones that work)
  • She described the work as ‘the blurring effect of memory, making it more about the representation of a place than a recollection’. (Again, this was what I found in A2. I hadn’t examined her work in detail at that point in my course).
  • Recently she has become interested in the more material aspects of images, e.g. how the colours differ on images of the same place, why we post images of the sky on Instagram, and she has been following webcams of famous places.
  • She has discovered that digital images get worn by repetition and is questioning whether the meaning of places change as they become ubiquitous.
  • She is currently scanning postcards and sending them to herself and then printing them out again to see how they differ – re-enacting and remaking an image has iconographic references, e.g. the tourist photo being a formal record of the visit.
  • In reality an image is not that great a representation of the memory concerned.
  • She likes watching how other people make their photos of famous places.
  • Throughout the talk, she was making a composite of the computer screen of the participants in their locations and she talked about the performative aspects of her work while doing this.

A most excellent talk and with many ideas I need to return to again. I recall looking at her work way back in C&N, but the contextualisation is much more apparent to me now, and I see that I am using some similar concepts which I have worked out heuristically. I therefore need to spend more time following her progress.

Photo Ethics in Practice – Andrew Jackson p230

This talk, arranged through Redeye.com was a totally different subject to the previous two mentioned. I signed up to it after after getting involved in a somewhat heated discussion on the OCA Forums about the ethics of working with organisations that are in trouble for their ethics, eg.g the Martin Parr Foundation.

Jackson’s plan was to talk about how to integrate photo ethics into our practice. It requires us to be truthful and honest about of historical background, and to consider the relationship between the observed and the observer in the photographic relationship. Generally the power ratio is very uneven. ‘We’ take pictures of ‘their’ stories and see them through our own filters, many of which are unconscious. This is particularly true when it comes to documentary and travel photography. We, as photographers, have the authority to decide how the subjects are represented and narrated and we need to be very careful about this as viewers tend to believe the photographer’s narrative of events.

Are our stories merely replaying old narratives or can we offer someting new? What is our intention? We need to know this when we set out on a sensitive project. David Harvey came up very quickly and we discussed his apparent viewpoint of difference and superiority. Who gave WASPS the right to tell everyone else’s stories? Who are colonialist photos taken for?

Think about whether you are the best person to tell a particular story. There are lots of examples of Western photographers being parachuted in to tell stories of groups that have photographers who could do the job just as well from the inside. (Tyranny of fame and the advertising industry) Marginalised people telling their own stories = counter narrative. He felt that editors are still subconsioucly working within the assumptions of colonialism.

He then moved on to discuss the ethical considerations of photographing family, and particularly family during COVID and how we generally do consider people’s feelings if we know them. e.g. Paddy Summerfield’s Mother & Father‘.

Someone asked if he saw the people he photographs as collaborators and he responded that he doesn’t think it is possible to be truly collaborative as the photographer has o much more power than the subject. (Considerations about Harry & Meghan’s pregnancy reveal photo, which was taken remotely but under their direction – who had the power there?)

Text anchors the image and so what you write is very important. Be aware of the possibility of giving away too much information, but at the same time giving no information objectifies the subject.

Current interest in reclaiming old photographs with non-colonial/other stories, but this can also be applied to family images too. The story of the subject may differ enormously from that of the photographer. e.g. what would the subject of Ken. To be Destroyed by Sara Davidmann think about the way family photos had been altered, or my own work on military personnel in the Andaman Island in the 1950s? One has to be careful about retelling someone else’s life, conversely there are opportunities for subjects to retell their own stories.

I asked whether he thought that the photographic archive needed to be reassessed in the light of modern views, but he was reluctant to commit to this, saying that old images have value as examples of the historical viewpoint that was prevalent in a particular period.

References

Davidmann, S. (2016) Ken. To be Destroyed. At: https://www.saradavidmann.com/kentobedestroyed (Accessed 22/04/2021).

Martins, E. (2018) What Photography & Incarceration have in Common with an Empty vase, 2019. At: http://www.edgarmartins.com/work/photography-common-empty-vase-2018-2019/ (Accessed 22/04/2021).

Martins, E. (2019) The Life and Death of Schrödinger’s Cat, 2019. At: http://www.edgarmartins.com/video/life-death-schrodingers-cat-2019/ (Accessed 22/04/2021).

Summerfield, P. (2014) Mother & Father. At: https://www.paddysummerfield.com/mother-father/ (Accessed on 22/04/21)

Four photographers on the subject of rubbish

Dowling’s concept was simple – to take the ubiquitous blue plastic shopping bag and to give it to a wide range of individuals all across the word, asking them to do something with the object and to let her take a photograph. The result is an eclectic series of portraits of people doing an astonishing range of things with the same object. The results individualise the people and say something about their lives and interests as well. I would not describe the project as a Landscape one, as it is more to do with Gesture, Meaning and Portraiture, i.e. how the person interacts with their landscape. the landscape itself is a background aspect. However, it is interesting to see what can be done with a simple plastic bag of the sort one receives in shops all over the world.

Fig. 1 – N;ue Nag, Ekanas Finland 2016 #4 Axel (2016)
  • Kevin Newark – Protoplasm

I have been unable to find a personal website for Newark, which is surprising given his role as a lecturer in Photography at the University of Southampton. Protoplasm is a series of images of plastic bags floating in the canals of East London. There are similarities to Mandy Barker’s images, but Newark chooses to concentrate on individual objects while Barker is interested in the sheer volume of discarded plastic. The images are delicate and ethereal. they float (literally) in near black spaces which make them seem to be decomposing, which of course they are not. This work is probably best suited of the four to contextualising my series for Assignment 6, in which I will be focusing on a single piece of plastic sheeting over the course of a year.

Fig. 2 Protoplasm image (2009)

This is probably my favourite of the series that my tutor asked me to look at. Her macro images of the insides of plastic bags are beautiful and ethereal whilst reminding us of their detrimental effect on the landscape. They have an architectural and landscape quality which makes the objects seem much larger that they are and the colours and depth of the images produce an array of pastel colours which is very pleasing. What particularly stands out though is the simplicity of the concept with the interest being produced by the mix of colour and line in each image. Rolfson says that she did not want to produce a series that was too ‘in your face’ and was aiming for a sequence that makes the viewer look and then consider the effect of all the plastic we discard from a non-judgemental standpoint.

Fig. 3 Plastic bag landscapes. (2014)

Keith Arnatt – Pictures from a Rubbish Tip.

Arnatt’s 18988/89 work concentrates more on the unattractive side of rubbish. He visited his local tip to collect a series of images which focus on single discarded food items amongst the sea of plastic. The aesthetic is very different from the photographs above, and reflects the 1980s one, with much brighter colours. The Arts Council [1] describes it as using ‘the medium of photography with the sensibility of a painter’ and makes reference to beauty, decay and the sublime. Whilst it is probably more related to my own exploration of discarded rubbish that the other photographers, it doesn’t appeal to me as much, being assertive in the way he draws attention to his subject.

Fig. 4 – Pictures from a Rubbish Tip, (1988-89)

Figures

Arnatt, K. (1988-89) Pictures from a rubbish tip. At: http://www.keitharnattestate.com/works/w55.html (Accessed on 19/04/2021)

Dowling, M. (2016) N;ue Nag, Ekanas Finland 2016 #4 Axel At: https://www.lensculture.com/projects/372989-blue-bag-2007-2016 (Accessed on 19/04/2021)

Newark, K. (2009). Image form the Protoplasm series. At: https://www.culture24.org.uk/art/art65276 (Accessed on 19/04/2021)

Rolfson, V. (2014) Image from Plastic Bag Landscapes. At: https://thearchivecollective.com/2017/02/vilde-rolfsen-plastic-bag-landscapes/ (Accessed on 19/04/2021)

Reference

[1] Cass, B.(2017) Keith Arnatt. At: https://www.artscouncilcollection.org.uk/explore/artist-month/keith-arnatt (Accessed 19/04/2021).

Barker, M. (2921) Work. At: https://www.mandy-barker.com/work (Accessed on 19/04/2021)

Exercise 4.5 – Project proposal for A5

For this exercise we are asked to write a project proposal for the self-directed project (Assignment 5) of no more that 500 words.

Project Brief

For this project I intend to make use of the 2000+ images I have collected in support of the Transitions assignment (A6). While I already have my concept and images for A6 organised, there are many other stories that can be told about the area and my plan is to contrast 2-3 different aspects in terms of the wider geographical and political constraints within which it sits.For example I am interested in how COVID has affected it and how the area is/has been used for activities unrelated to the building work, and also how the land is used during the construction period.

Research and influences

I will be explore some aspects of psychogeography, the meaning of edgelands and the picturesque and the effect of human intervention on the natural environment. In particular I want to examine the strange feeling of Otherness that I get when I look at my collection of images for the location and which I similarly felt about my Assignment 3 work on local World War 2 sites that have now disappeared.

Likely treatment/Potential outcome

My intention is to produce a handmade dos-a-dos (back to back) book with the two stories being physically connected by the book binding but separate from each other. There is no specific budget as I have all the materials to hand, although am of course aware that for a completely new project, the individual costs of materials and time would have to be included in the overall costing.

Estimated schedule

With my time allowance running out at the end of July, it is my intention to complete this assignment by the end of June 2021.