Wip #12

 

The inspiration for my two cut and paste collages is the work of Sylwia Kowalchzyk.

Due to mum’s health she was admitted to hospital nearly 3 weeks ago hence I’ve been running around and working at the same time, I’m exhausted and have not had much time to make any progress with the coursework. However, inspired by Kowalchzyk’s cut and paste collages I made two of my own. They are very simple rough versions made from one photograph that I printed cut and tore. Shot with my iPhone I have used the Snapseed app on my phone to process them. I’m planning (hopefully) to expand on this idea and use more than one image for my next cut and paste montage.

Sylwia Kowalchzyk
Lethe

As important recollections slip from our memory, this loss brings its own kind of grief. The past becomes a vast, blank territory where even the most important memories of childhood are erased-if we do not remember them, perhaps these might as well not of happened in the first place’
Sylwia Kowalchzyk

Thanks to fellow Level 3 student Jane who sent me the link to this fabulous work.

Lethe; from the Greek ‘to forget’ a mythological river in Hades for dead souls to drink from to forget their previous life. Originally trained as a graphic designer she describes her approach as ‘pernickety’. The work explores the space between reality and illusion, the link between what we see and how the brain interprets it to construct our own version of the truth.

Kowalchzyk does not use found photographs but choses images from her own personal archive that she prints, tears and re-assembles. She discusses how a printed photograph, as a physical and tangible object, is so much more harder to let go off and destroy than a digital file on a hard-drive. The ripping alters the context, it morphs into something unfamiliar yet there remains a trace of what was once there.

References / Bibliography

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Assignment One

This assignment is diagnostic and does not count towards the final grade.

Part 1:
Begin your project by going out on a shoot. Submit it to your tutor with a few images chosen as a potential starting point for how you can move the project forward.

Part 2:
Accompany the images with a reflection on how or why the images you’ve selected may help you take the work forward. Detail how you plan to relate your practice to a particular genre or which genre you took inspiration from.

Since June this year I have been adding to the ‘work in progress’ section of my blog SEE HERE. However, its taken me nearly six months to submit this assignment and rather than procrastinate any longer I have chosen some of the images from this section that I feel exemplify how I want my BoW to go forward. My current work incorporates fictionalised autobiography and archival imagery. My proposal is to continue working with a combination of both contemporary and archival material. I hope to continue creating a selection of montages that explore the somewhat nebulous connection between past and present, in addition to conceiving new images that augment this concept.

The thing with old photographs is their pathos, their context altered by time. I’ve created some montages using a few of my scanography images with personal archival photographs, whether this is something I can develop further I’m not too sure but have included these in my initial edit. Also included in this first selection is a montage combining one of my orphaned/bought photographs with a personal archival photograph, this again is something I would like to expand on. I have some more old black and white images I’ve recently bought from eBAY that I intend to incorporate into my next assignment. I would possibly like to include in my final BoW a small selection of the original images I work with, perhaps displayed in a vitrine, but that’s some way off yet.

Photographs can function as a memento mori and my collection of old family photographs have always elicited in me feelings of nostalgia, a longing to return to a time that no longer exists. Some make me laugh out loud yet also be the cause of melancholia as I contemplate the smiling faces looking optimistically out of the frame, gaze at youngsters grown old, long dead. I cannot possibly have a real memory of them at that age yet they all look so familiar, I imagine their stories. I look at photographs of myself as a young girl, someone who is a stranger to me now. How much of what we remember is accurate or true? My ‘orphaned’ images too have the power to suggest past events, memories and emotions; they can be used to invent an alternative (non-existent) reality. (Work in progress on this, post to follow).

Since commencing with this course there has been a marked decline in my now 93 year old mother’s health and mental capacity. She recently told my youngest daughter she has had enough, is tired and just wants to go to for ‘the long sleep’ peacefully. This led to my digital montage entitled Forget Me Not, a visual representation of the person she has become. I feel sad that I’ve ‘lost’ her even before death, I miss the person she was.

I’ve been thinking of a title for my BoW that encapsulates my thought and feelings, the Welsh, Cornish and Portuguese languages have such words with no equivalent in English.
1. Hiraeth / Welsh
2. Hireth / Cornish
3. Saudade / Portuguese

My personal preference is to title my work Hireth, a nod to my personal connection to Cornwall (this might change as the work evolves). I feel a familial connection to the place but I don’t want to restrict myself too much by only creating images based around that area. Hence, although some of my work could be felt to fit into the Psychogeography genre, my interest lies within subjective narrative.

Artists who influenced my work for this assignment :

1. Astrid Reischwitz Stories from the Kitchen Table. There is a fragility about her juxtaposed and layered imagery that is touching. The faded and frayed materials, treasured objects and present day images connote the passing of time as Reischwitz conceives new memories.

2. Chris Dorley-Brown uses a combination of personal and archival imagery. I particularly enjoyed his book The Longest Way Round. It unravels and reassembles the lives of his deceased parents using a mix of archival material originally excluded from the family album in addition to Dorley-Brown’s own contemporary imagery.

3. Josh Huxham Silence. Huxham’s exploration of his collection of archival family photographs highlights the nebulous nature of the past as he re-interprets his own family album.

4. Nicky Bird  FOUND : Question for Seller (2007). The poignancy when looking at discarded photographs is one of the reasons I collect them myself, I like to rescue them from obscurity.

5. Albarrán Cabrera (photographers Angel Albarrán & Anna Cabrera work together as Albarrán Cabrera). This is you (Here) is a mix of personal and found photographs that explores the intriguing relationship between the past and present; how a photograph connotes concepts and feelings that words alone cannot convey. Memory is inconstant, hence a tangible object (the photograph) can become the substitute for a notional recollection. Individual perception of a photograph is instinctive, dependant on personal memory, lifestyle and knowledge. Whilst the manipulation of images is incessant a photograph still retains the aura of truth, which in turn enables us to visualise the unseen.

6. Lorena Guillén Vaschetti  Historia, Memoria y Silencias, (Unopened) 2012. An exploration of remembrance and the fabrication of memory through photography.

Final selection of images      (see WiP for context )

Contemporary and personal archival images (digital montages)

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Personal archival images (digital montages) 

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Personal archival image and eBay purchase combination (double exposure)

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Personal archival photographs and my own scanography images (digital montages)

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Two archival images, one is a personal photograph whilst the other is an eBay purchase. Both combined with downloaded images from Pexels .

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Possible stand-alone images ?

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Self evaluation:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I’ve immensely enjoyed creating my digital montages that combine archival and contemporary imagery. I’ve also experimented with double exposures, plus some of my work selected for this assignment incorporates a few of the scanography images that I love doing using a flat bed scanner. Working with archival material has meant that I have not taken an exceptional number of new images for the assignment. However, I don’t feel a vast number are necessary at this stage, I am happy with those that I have taken and have recently taken some more new photographs that I will write about in a future blog post. My Photoshop skills are vastly improving but often its been hit and miss when creating my digital montages, I spend hours in front of a screen and I know there is a lot more I need/want to learn.

Quality of outcome

I spend quite a lot of time simply gazing and thinking about combinations of images, how they will work, and what it is I am trying to convey. I am been pleased with the outcome of my images, both the screen and printed versions. Printing is an important element of my work and I’ve been especially pleased with the paper I’ve been using to do my test prints on. In the past I’ve used Permajet Fibre Base 325g Baryta, which has a semi-gloss finish. However, I ordered some Fotospeed Platinum Etching 285g which has a matte finish and am really pleased with the results, the paper is nice to handle, heavy and has a velvet appearance, the prints and colours are lovely.

Demonstration of creativity

Incorporating a variety of imagery I think my personal interest in the photograph as a mnemonic device is  evident. My work is subjective yet I hope can be universally understood, that they convey the passage of time and the poignancy of old photographs. My work is intended to preserve, re-create and re-invent the past.

Context

My blog is gradually becoming a useful resource but my plan to post each week has fell by the wayside due to increasing difficult personal commitments. I’ve enjoyed the research done so far but need to read a lot more, a huge pile of books is growing on my bookcase, all unopened. I have lots of links to artists I want to  research too, I hope to catch up a bit on some reading and research over the next few weeks.

Future development 

I intend to do some work with my ‘orphaned’ images. I hope to create some cut and paste collages, which to my surprise I greatly enjoyed doing for my previous course. Continue to take more new images that supplement my WiP with archival photographs. Read those books !

References / Bibliography

Boothroyd,S. (2013) Photoparley online Available online @https://photoparley.wordpress.com/category/nicky-bird/ Accessed 20/8/18

Boothroyd, S. (2012) Interview with Lorena Guillén Vaschetti Available online @ https://photoparley.wordpress.com/category/lorena-guillen-vaschetti/ Accessed 5/7/18

Dorley-Brown , C. (2015) The Longest Way Round. UK : Overlapse

Smithson, A.(2012) Interview with Lorena Guillén Vaschetti:Historia, Memoria Y Silencios Available online @ http://lenscratch.com/2012/02/interview-with-lorena-guillen-vaschetti/ Accessed 5/7/18

Smithson, A. 2017. Astrid Reischwitz: Stories from the Kitchen Table. Available @ http://lenscratch.com/2017/05/astrid-reischwitz/ Accessed 15/7/18

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Wip # 11

The course notes refer to what is termed ‘genre hopping’.

I feel my own practice borders somewhere between Personal Journeys & Fictional Autobiography in addition to Responding to the Archive.

 

 

 

I went to a Girls Grammar school and our formidable headmistress believed  that “grammar school ladies don’t need to type“, we were all expected to aspire to greater things. I assume my dad took this photograph of me in my new uniform, I hated that hat. The hat blew off on my first day so mum sewed elastic onto it that went under my chin to keep it on, I still remember the indignity that caused. My son-law bought an old typewriter that I’ve used to type the words I’ve never forgotten. I’m smiling to myself at the moment as I’m sat word-processing this post, I wonder what my old headmistress would think?

 

This isn’t as successful as the previous montage. The blending fades the image too much.

My next montage is an iPhone selfie and an old B&W photograph of me. I have no recollection of where I was or who took the photo but I clearly remember the red blouse I am wearing.

 

My next montage incorporates one of my scanography images and an old photograph I keep despite my head being cut of ! Why do we keep these, if this had been a digital image I’m 99% certain it would be deleted.

To put the montage into context I need to explain that although my husband loves flowers I can count on one hand how many times he has bought them for me. He also took the headless photograph of me (along with other disastrous ones that I cannot throw away). My hubby prefers flowers to be left outside, a sentiment shared by my nature loving maternal grandfather who requested that no flowers be placed on his coffin. Sadly, his  wish was not granted because some of his relatives felt it ‘not right’ to have no flowers at a funeral. I love flowers inside the house and outside, I buy them and immortalise them through my scanography or photography.

 

 

My daughter found the photograph of my paternal grandmother Florence, seen below with her three sisters, on a genealogy site. Writing on the image indicates who each sister is. I certainly recognise my grandmother because I have a photograph of her as a young woman inside a locket with my grandad.

 

Photography has traditionally been linked with veracity, the camera supposedly doesn’t lie. Yet is photographic evidence of our ancestral roots truly reliable ? I wonder who wrote the captions on the photograph, they could just as easily mislead.

 

A really short post

One of my ‘work in progress’ images was shared by the OCA last week on its FaceBook page 🙂 .

Conceptual photograpy

Definition
1. The idea/concept is the most important element of conceptual photography.
2. The concept takes priority over the aesthetic quality.

Lucy Soutter (Critic)
1. By the late 1960’s artists were creating diverse work, trying out different ideas.
2. It was given the name ‘conceptual art’ by critics endeavouring to know what to call it.
3. The term ‘conceptual’ is essential to understanding the art work.
4. Conceptual is a label / not a movement.
5. Photographs were initially talked about as documents, not considered as being pre-visualised.
6. Suggests prior to this era photography lacked pre-visualisation.
7. Conceptual artists claimed not to be interested in Fine Art.
8. Whilst the content can be recognised the conceptualisation might not be so apparent, the term conceptual art is an indication of the further layers of meaning in the work.
9. Considers conceptual art to be objective and un-emotive.

I don’t agree that all what might be labelled conceptual art is unbiased. I consider the work of the artists I explored HERE to be both personal and conceptual. My recent work exploring memory is certainly subjective and uses might be termed ‘conceptual’ methods to create it. The definition of the term suggests the aesthetic aspect is less important but for me it’s also a very important consideration of my BoW in progress.

Landscape, still life and portraiture photography all require careful consideration of light and composition, all involve some form of planning and notion of what the final image will look like. To be a skilled documentarist takes quick thinking and decision making.

John Hilliard (Artist)
1. Artists generally don’t use the term ‘conceptual artist’.
2. It’s a term given to artists by curators / critics etc.
3. The work produced is not easily talked about and can be difficult to interpret.
4. Documentation is important to maintain understanding.

I agree that written information can inform and be an important element of conceptual art. However, text can also intentionally mislead. Tacita Dean’s series of annotated images The Russian Ending illustrates just how ambiguous and open to interpretation photographs are (see Contextual Studies notes here).

John Roberts (Critic)
1. Conceptual photography is a ‘dead category’ with no continuity of form from the 1960’s. (I’m slightly confused by what he actually means).
2. There was no critical industry hence artists were faced with (American) Modernism that in the whole was unconcerned with the relationship between art and theoretical thinking.
3. A new generation of artists had to think/write for themselves and this is is why postmodernism took the form it did.

Suzane Mooney (Photographer)
1. Describes conceptual photography as a controversial term.
2. Despite being labelled a contemporary photographer Mooney considers the label to be disparaging towards other photographic genres e.g documentary. The term suggests there is no pre-conception or planning involved except in conceptual art.

James Casebere (Artist)
Discusses how conceptual art developed an ‘impulse to bring emotion back’ without being personally subjective. I think Nicky Bird’s work is an excellent example of this. See my research HERE .

Working with orphaned & purchased photographs is something I am very interested in.

Sean O’Hagan (Critic)
1. Conceptual photography by the 1980’s became marketable and sought after by galleries, at the expense of other forms of photography.
2. Conceptual photography gained top position in gallery hierarchy.
3. He believes photography should be ‘humanist’ , what he describes as a possibly outmoded opinion.

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin
1. Discuss how all photography is conceptually motivated.
2. Photography is both ‘indexical and fictitious’.

I’ve looked at two different photographers, both of whose contemporary art explores aspects of memory and identity, but in completely diverse ways.

Ali Mobasser b1976

Ali Mobasser’s series The Pieces of my Grandfather’s Broken Heart / 2018 is a family eulogy and memoir.

His grandfather (a Lt General) fled Iran in 1979 to avoid the death penalty following the Iranian Revolution and was sadly forced to leave behind his dying wife. Following his grandfather’s death in1996 Mobasser inherited both his Rolleiflex camera and an image of his heart taken during open heart surgery. When Mobasser’s own father passed away in 2016 he came across a box of damaged negatives, the CONTACT PRINTS brought to light images spanning from 1959 to 1974. The images, all taken before his birth, touched Mobasser greatly as he looked back at the past happiness of his family and their unknown pain of the future. This is the bitter-sweet legacy of old photographs, they have the power to transport us to a place we’ve never been, we become time travellers who know the future but are helpless to intervene.

Polly Penrose

A Body of Work is Penrose’s series of self-portraits.

She uses self-portraiture to explore ‘her relationship with the environment and the emotional state she was in at the time’ (guardian online). She began exploring self-portrait as a teenager, her father received a photograph of Penrose wrapped in a rope following an episode when she was unhappy with him. Her images feature herself nude and frequently in rather precarious poses. Her work chronicles the changes of her body as she matures and became a mother. See links below to view her work:

A Body of Work 

 

References / Bibliography

Seymour, T. (2016).Polly Penrose’s 10 Seconds: Hammering my body into the landscape. Guardian online . Available @  http://www.bjp-online.com/2016/04/polly-penroses-10-seconds-hammering-my-body-into-the-landscape/ Accessed 2/10/18

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WiP #10

Working with archival photographs has meant I haven’t been out and about a great deal to take many new images for my BoW. In a way this can be advantageous as I do not have to rely on the weather/ traffic / time of day etc, but I had a couple of specific shots I wanted to get to create some montages I had in mind.

I went with my husband back to the church where a friend was married 38 years ago, my husband was his best man. This particular friend eventually got divorced twice, we kept in touch spasmodically but sadly he died 5 years ago. I planned to take some photographs of the church from the same angle as the photograph below, I can’t remember who took the photograph below of me and my husband in 1980, it’s one of only a couple we have of the wedding.

We were both surprised to find the path we had stood on all those years ago was gone, the original doorway at the side of the church is now enclosed by a brick, glass and wooden structure. We both began to doubt our memories and even began to question if our photograph had been taken by another door at the front of the church but knew it hadn’t.

Some iPhone pics below that show the new structure.

 

So much has changed since that August day in 1980 but a silent witness still remains, perpetually keeping a vigil over the celebrations and commemorations, a symbol of the optimism of youth and the inevitability of death.

 

My other trip was to find haystacks !

I planned a montage of the photograph below of my mum and her niece taken 80 years ago. They appear to be sitting on top of a haystack but it might have been just a grassy hill; Mum was brought up on farms in the Northumbrian countryside, she looks so happy here.

I went to Croome Park, a National Trust property in Worcestershire, near where my daughter lives who reliably told me there were lots of haystacks.

 

Another montage, this time of both and back of the postcard image that is addressed to my mum’s married sister (her niece’s mother). I’m not hundred percent certain what the blue upside down writing on the back signifies.

 

I no longer take many photographs of mum. I visit her daily and sometimes she will chat like she used to, but often we sit in silence which is incredibly difficult. Below are some iPhone pictures I’ve taken recently, she was oblivious to me taking them, I find it so sad to compare these with the laughing adolescent she once was to the person she is now.

 

As a child I used to spend hours sifting through the family albums and two photographs in particular triggered an emotional response I can still recall. My maternal great-grandma was married twice and Christie Tate was my grandfather’s half brother, there are two photographs of him both in WW1 uniform. It’s interesting to compare the two images, he has a haunted look in the second quite different to the first. I used to watch the televised remembrance services with my parents and can remember sobbing for this man, whom I never knew, as poppies fell to commemorate the dead.

I used an image from the Pexels Stock Photo site to create the montage below.

 

I have used used Pexels images before in addition to photographs purchased from eBay and I have an idea I am working on at the moment. I am considering how to incorporate a mix of personal and appropriated imagery into my BoW to explore the equivocal nature of memory.

Psychogeography

Psychogeography is a term coined by Marxist theorist Guy Debord to describe how we react to our surroundings.

Associated terms:
1. Flâneur / flâneuse (someone who wanders / walks the streets in a mindful way taking note of their surroundings and environment). ‘The keen eyed stroller who chronicles the minutiae of city life‘ (Elkin 2016).
2. Dérive (drift from one place to another).

Pedro Guimarães Bluetown

The areas Guimarães explored were chosen from geographical points on a map of London he superimposed with Queen Elizabeth’s face. One shot was taken in each pinpointed location in an attempt to discover what defines ‘Englishness’.

The images of the mundane surroundings are visually very striking, not only because of the composition but through the use of colour. I like the inclusion of portraiture amongst the London landscapes, it adds to the series as a whole, these are the people who live and work in the surroundings Guimarães is documenting. IMAGES HERE.

Jan Halle @urbanflaneur

Halle’s images can be seen on Instagram, they are kept deliberately ambiguous ‘this could be your city–it could be any city‘ (Hunt. 2018). Unlike Guimarães he does not generally include people in his images ‘he consciously avoids evidence of human activity in the frame’ (Hunt. 2018).

However, like Guimarães colour is an important element of the work; the image below (which includes a human figure) exemplifies this. The beige, dusty tones and the older male figure with a walking stick in an empty walkway connote quietness, and perhaps the solitude felt by many (especially the elderly) living in highly populated urban areas.

Jodie Taylor Memories of Childhood, 2013

Unfortunately the link to Jodie’s blog does not work but her images can be seen HERE on the weareoca blog. Jodie’s images are linked to memory, a personal project of photographs taken in the area she grew up in. What is especially interesting is how she chose to present her project which is shot on 35mm film.

Initially she attempted to remove imperfections in Photoshop but felt this made them less authentic, the effect was lessened. The printed images are 6×4 and presented in a cheap album, like the albums from her own (and others) childhood. The presentation was an important consideration, the small album containing the imperfect photographs summons an emotional response that perfect and large scale images would not.

Whilst this is a subjective exploration of place it is also a project that communicates to the viewer memories of their own childhood and construct new meanings.

I bought an old small photo album from eBAY a few weeks ago to use for an idea I have and will write a post in due course on how that is progressing.

Sophie Calle Suite Vénitienne

Calle’s work is different to the three photographers above ; it is predominately B&W and she covertly follows random strangers in the street ‘Sophie Calle, as flâneuse, claimed her right to walk in the city –not merely following her man but stalking her prey‘ (Elkin. 2016).

Her methodology is fascinating yet causes a sense of unease too, she stalks a man she describes as Henri B and follows him from Paris to Venice. ‘Rather than wandering aimlessly, like her male counterpart, the female flaneur has an element of transgression: she goes where she’s not supposed to‘ (Elkin. 2016). She used a variety of props and disguises during the 13 day project. She kept notes of her search for the man who became her quarry in addition to noting her own emotional response.

In 1983 Calle’s contentious, dispassionate and non-existent relationship with Henri B was presented in book form and in a confessional booth as an audio instillation. A gallery arrangement in 1996 ‘deliberately recalls a detective casebook, with texts written in a style that mimics and deconstructs the narrative tension of detective novels or film noir’ (Tate.org).

The course notes ask us to consider if it possible to be objective when depicting a place or will the outcome always be influenced by the artist?

Jodie Taylor’s work is definitely subjective, but what of the other photographers’ who’s exploration of place I have looked at? Each has made choices that influence how the location they are documenting will be seen by their audience, through framing, presentation and colour palette. These are choices another photographer might choose to approach differently. Calle made the choice to pursue a stranger, something I am sure not many would choose to do. Hence it is inevitable that the outcome is guided by personal artistic predilections.

References / Bibliography

Elkin, L. (2016) A tribute to female flâneurs:the women who reclaimed our streets. Guardian online
Available @ https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/jul/29/female-flaneur-women-reclaim-streets
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Hunt, E. (2018) Instagram’s urban flaneur: ‘This could be your city–it could be any city’. Guardian online
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