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Part 5, Exercise 5.2

Exercise 5.2 Traces of Life without People

For this exercise, I did what I usually do which is go out with my phone in my pocket and see what comes my way that suggests the signs of life without people being in them.  This works for me because I am better at finding things that interest me to capture rather than over thinking it and trying too hard.  I suppose that in the back of my mind I had the notion that there is a lot of evidence of people through the things that they leave behind whether intentionally or not.  While doing photoshoots for the last assignment, I noticed that more and more people are leaving flowers taped to benches or trees to signify that they are remembering a person, whoever they might be, and particularly where there is a view of the sea.  So I have included a couple of those as well as recent ones of the same things as they make up a set of similar images.  There are others that are more random as I snapped them as I walked along, one dog walk through the woods and back along the street, the other while out doing the next exercise on looking, in Torquay.

My approach to this sort of photography would be a casual one, looking out intentionally for things that are similar;  in this case, flowers taped to a bench or tree.  Remembrance.  Then sometimes I like to photograph all the graffiti I see on walls and in doorways, and this is something that I have done all over the world from my hometown to wall art in Hong Kong.  I also like to use my phone as I like the square format, it’s a personal preference and probably harks back to me remembering the photos we took when I was a kid on the instamatic camera.  That’s probably where I got the photography bug as I was always interested in taking snaps on holiday.  So I use the camera on phone, I don’t actively seek these things out but I keep an eye open and I like to use an app called Retrica that uses filters, my current favourite is a natural looking one but the contrast is harder rather than softer.  I like this app because it has more control over the light in it which can be useful when taking photos in very bright light.

Here’s the one I did on graffiti, which is all about not knowing who did it or sometimes what it means to the viewer:

This is the selection that I did on my usual dog walk from my home to the woods and back along the roads:

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Finally, the flowers on benches:

I could go on with this project as this is something that I am interested in, the idea of absence and I touched on it in Assignment 4 with the theme of love, loss and homesickness.  I think that this last set of images of flowers attached to benches is tied up with our sense of who we are and where we come from, and how important it is to retain the connections to people and places once they may have gone.  Some do it through flowers on graves or at favourite places, some do it through celebrating birthdays or anniversaries of those people who have gone.  Personally I think I do it through taking photographs of the places that I go, the things that I see and the memories that they bring up on seeing them again, particularly if it was a good time.  They are my aide memoire and it can be bittersweet when a photo of one of my parents comes up as they are both now gone.  But then a load of photos I took on a holiday to see my sister in Australia last year come up and it is brilliant to go through and see what inspired me about the places we visited.  They are my connection to the place that she lives and so informs something about myself too.

Interesting exercise, and maybe could be a pointer for where I go for the final assignment.  At the moment, there is no inspiration at all so this will be a good jumping off point.

 

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Part 5 Reflection Point 1

Photographer – storyteller or history writer?

I think it is a little of both, a photographer is both a story teller and someone who sets history in the images that they make.  There is a little fact and fiction in every photograph through the choices made by the photographer in what to include and what to leave out of the frame.  These choices are important too, and can decide whether what we are seeing is a truth or a fantasy.  Eggleston appears to pick up on colour in objects, (although I am looking at them online where the screen brightens all the images in a way that may not be right in their place.) and has the implied presence of people.  Wentworth appears to have no people but still the implied recent activity of people.

 

Personally, Fact or fiction?

I suppose that my approach is more that of fact, of wanting to represent something that I see in the way I see it.  I am, to all intents and purposes, a snapper of things that catch my eye rather than a serious photographer.  But I can see that on certain occasions, the angle of a particular shot could be tending toward the fiction as I consciously crop out something that may spoil the frame, ie a person, a rubbish bin, a car passing through, someone crossing the path and so on.  So a phot of a wide open space may in fact be just one small part of a place that is teeming with people.  An example springs to mind from when I went to Washington DC in the USA and I visited the Lincoln Memorial.  One photo I have is of the monument with no-one around it – I zoomed a little to isolate the monument and waited for that moment when no-one else was nearby.  The next one is the wider angle with lots of people as it was a really busy day.

 

How could you blend your approach?

Maybe doing what I did at the Lincoln Memorial, wait more for a better moment and move to change perspective.  I am very good at standing still rather than move around.  I enjoy snapping things that I see, such as a lock where someone put two round stickers to look like eyes.  Or graffiti that is colourful or in an unusual place.  Visiting cities and new places means a different look at life so It is important to look beyond the usual things that visitors will capture.  Look further and wider, look behind me, and find another view of a place that I don’t know.  For other subjects, the same approach can work – step back, think, watch, see and then capture.

 

Where is the departure from wanting/needing to depict reality?

I think that when you stop and start to look around you rather than reacting instinctively then that can be the departure point.  Travelling and visiting other places away from home is an opportunity to try a new way of photographing what I see.  It is my natural instinct to capture what I see.  I find it difficult not to do that.

Assignment 4 – Tutor Feedback and Reflection

4.KarenAllen

The feedback for Assignment 4 was very encouraging and has given me plenty to think about as I approach the final part of Identity and Place.  The theme of the assignment was more interesting than previous ones as, to a certain extent, it was back on familiar territory from previous modules.  I have always responded positively to words and pictures, and am often inspired by music with songs and lyrics.  What was particularly encouraging was the he reacted positively to the way that I attempted to break out of the usual pattern of my assignments, and try something a little different.  He said that I “produced an assignment that feels like you have taken more ownership” and “pushed your conceptual input, which is a big step”.  For me, breaking away from straight up photographs is something that I have wanted to do but not been brave enough to have a go for an assignment. Here was my chance, and it was a good chance. I felt that I had actually pushed past something in me that had been holding back.  I did enjoy the assignment in the end, and it was a strong idea that stuck early on but the enhancement into something different is what I found satisfying and the fact that my tutor was positive about it too meant a lot to me.

His recommendations are very valid. He has suggested that I make more images to present, and incorporate the threads more into teach one. “This would also allow you to push the idea of the thread further, entwining it deeper into your photographs as you have with, The Sea 4. I really like the way that you have used the thread to work with the image, wrapping around the handrail, twisted wood on the beach and the woman. I feel that I would like to see more of this process, working with your other photographs, weaving in and out of the objects/seascapes, providing a link between each location and story. “  I think that this is something that I will pursue once I have finished as I would like to have a break from the intensity of this assignment to give me a bit of distance, and get on with the final one before returning to it later.  There is more work to be done on all of them, but distance in time works well for me and I can achieve some clarity.

Interestingly, not long after I had submitted my work, the Magnum newsletter came up and on it was an article on a photographer who used the Shopping Forecast to inspire his work. Mark Power :

https://www.magnumphotos.com/arts-culture/society-arts-culture/mark-power-the-shipping-forecast/

It tells how he was inspired over the course of four years to travel to each of the areas on the forecast to make images that reflect the sense of being a ‘landlubber’ rather than the sea going people.  The images are all black and white and have wide ranging themes, each is captioned by the shipping forecast for that area on that day. It is an interesting idea and project, and while he captures mainly people my feeling is that I would have approached the whole thing from the point of view of places. That is what makes us all different I suppose.

Overall, it feels as though I have taken a step forward to a different place of thinking about photography and while I was apprehensive in submitting the work that I had done, it is good to know that I am on the right track away from the norm for me.  I am planning to incorporate the changes that Chris Coekin has suggested and I look forward to doing that in due course.

Tutor Suggested Research:

1 Hiroshi Sugimoto

“Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.”  Seascapes. 

This website has several of his work series, and what I found fascinating is the way that they are all very alike, in the way that they are presented.  He present three images from each series, black and white image, side by side and they are all broadly the same ie Seascapes  is a series of three black and white image where the sea takes up half of the frame and the sky the other half.  Being in black and white there are varying shades of grey in there and how bright they are: one is very bright, one is very dark and one is almost blurred.  Yet they all connect as a group.

https://www.sugimotohiroshi.com/seascapes-1 – I thought that it looked like the U2 cover No Line On The Horizon, and wondered if it had been done by him, or perhaps Inspired by him? Yes! It is a Sugimoto photograph that they used on the cover.  Although it cause controversy when another artist claimed that they ad taken their idea, and while Sugimoto had given them usage of the photograph for free and endorsed the band, U2 had just paid for it which devalues the original.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2009/jan/20/u2-album-cover-hiroshi-sugimoto

The other one that struck me was on architecture, even more relevant now that I am doing Part 5 and there is a section on buildings and architecture.  He deliberately blurs the buildings to see is they stand the test that it is possible to identify them even if they are just blurred outlines.

https://www.sugimotohiroshi.com/new-page-5  the Eiffel tower blurred, ‘erosion-testing’ the limit to which it can be blurred and still be recognisable.  He questions how many of our building today will be as identifiable in the future?

I thought his work was really interesting in its simplicity and straightforwardness.  There was no angle to it and while it is simple, there is a strong theme that ties them all together.  It is this that the exercises in Part 5 of I&P are aiming to address, to have uniformity in the work that is about the work rather than the person doing the work.

2. Julie Cockburn

She machine sews over the top of found photographs.  Again, this links back to another artist he suggested John Stezaker who used montage using old photographs and vintage postcards to subvert the meaning.  She can change the meaning by sewing intricate patterns over the faces of the sitters, sometimes obscuring them completely. I found it interesting, but preferred the ones that looked more like scribbles and less measured.  This image: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/nov/28/embroidered-vintage-portrait-photography-julie-cockburn#img-7 reminded me of another album cover, this time Disclosure who’s album Settle and subsequent photos and covers feature a drawn image over the top of photographs of the band members and other animals.  Likened this to Disclosure: https://store.disclosureofficial.com/*/*/Settle-br-CD-Album/2J6J0000000.  I was interested to see that this idea had been fully explained by the design company https://www.studiomoross.com/casestudy/disclosure-art-direction/ but again there were claims of plagiarism by another artist at them using his idea.  Maybe nothing is unique anymore.

3. Thomas Joshua-Cooper

I looked at his work but was not as engaged with this as the other two artists suggested.  I found the images too pale and there was nothing that caught my attention when looking at them, apart from one.  http://www.inglebygallery.com/artists/thomas-joshua-cooper/

Twilight – Rapids on the River Ness, The Weir, Dochgarroch, Inverness, Inverness-shire, Scotland, 2002-2014.

This was more abstract as it was a reflection of light on water but took more looking at it to fully appreciate the patterns and the tones in the image.  As part of a series, it worked alright but I was not engaged with the whole series and moved on quite quickly.

Interesting as all this stemmed from me sewing three photographs together and my tutor suggested looking at these as alternative viewpoints on the sea and the practice of sewing photographs.

 

Assignment 4 – Words and Pictures

Create a series of work (aim for 7–10 images) which in some way reflects upon the ideas surrounding identity and place that you’ve looked at so far in this course. Use the written word to play a part in its creation.

You may be inspired by a poem, song or a novel or decide to write your own fictive piece. You may draw upon other people’s words via eavesdropping or another source or use extracts from journals. You might find interesting textual accounts in archives in libraries that could inform this assignment. Allow your creativity to be spurred on by spending time with these words and reflecting on them.

The theme that I chose for this assignment is based on a feeling of homesickness, loneliness, love and loss.  It came about from a conversation with a close friend who was feeling homesick for the seaside now that she had moved inland, only about 20 minutes away by car but she felt cut off.  We were neighbours in Torquay and up until three years ago, I had a sea view and could walk to the coast in less than five minutes.  I now live a 15 minute walk away and have no sea view.  There is a need to see the sea each day and I often take the long route so that I can get a glimpse. When I come home from travelling, I always take the road home that gives the best view over Torbay.  She felt the same and we were walking partners, talking over life while briskly walking along the seafront and back.  It got me thinking about the way that the sea is part of who I am, where I live and what it means to me.  There is a sense of loneliness sometimes as it is so vast – where does it end when you look out to the horizon – but then it is so familiar – the changing tides, the power it has to destroy but then soothe and how it reflects light that changes throughout the day and the seasons.

In addition to the ongoing conversations about this with my friend, I also had in mind the song Staring at the Sea  by The Blow Monkeys (from the album Staring at the Sea, Nova Sales & Distribution (UK) Ltd, 2011). In particular, a couple of lines:

You’re the future I won’t know, I just learned to live without you                                       You’re the past I can’t let go, somewhere deep inside my soul

The words refer to so many emotions and situations as well as suggesting several different situations in which to use them, and truly “I could spend each and every day/ staring at the sea”.

I narrowed down the images to ten that fitted my idea, including a sunrise, a sunset and full daylight so that it captures the passage of time that we have during a day, a week, a year and so on.  There are few people in them and if there are then they are a minimal presence except for one of Julie sitting on the beach where she grew up.  She features because she began the exploration of the idea of love and loss, and homesickness for something intangible.  The other people are secondary to the landscape and actually it is their absence that accentuates the feeling of space and longing.  Many benches around the bay have flowers attached to them – it is common for people to buy the benches in memory of a loved one passed on to the next life, and the flowers are there to commemorate the days and dates that matter to them.  I used a wide aperture in order to blur the background and reduce the focus to the flowers on the bench but it is still possible to get an idea of location.  This is another sense of nostalgia, of yearning for a person now gone but still living in our minds. Monika Takvam talks about nostalgia in her introduction to a longer paper on the subject: “Over time, the use of the word has progressively evolved to describe a desire to return to another time.  Significantly, it is now characterized by yearning and distance (both in time and space); it is the desire to return, when returning is no longer possible”.(Takvam, M. and Vale, S., Introduction to Nostalgias: Visualising Longing special issue, Pages 99-102 | Published online: 21 Oct 2016).  When people pass away, the people left behind feel their loss in an almost physical way.  This is what is bound up with memories of Torquay for Julie, whose husband died about fifteen years ago leaving her with two small children. Part of her mourning for the sea is mourning for the life that she lost when he died.

I chose to keep the colours rich and deep.  In a way, that is how I see my surroundings.  Once I had chosen the ten images, I then started thinking about locating them and brought in the maps with the basic idea of pinning photos to it and tying cotton between pins.  It reminded me of how I would decorate walls of my student room with pictures and photos, and it seemed fitting to build up the total image as though it was done over time.  It felt wrong destroying the perfection of a printed photograph but once I started, it was ok.  I bent them, tore them and scrunched them up as a way of making them look as though they had been picked up several times then moved.  Sticky tape, masking tape and drawing pins helped to make it look like a project.  I had cut up smaller versions of the photographs in order to try this out on a smaller scale, and had inadvertently cut out some blanks at the same time.  I used these to write some of the lyrics and pin them to the board too; it personalises it through having handwritten words.  I then photographed close-ups of parts of it to make up the set of images.  The map is of where I live, the places around me and underlines how important the sea is to those who live here.  I took a photograph of Julie and sewed some fine ropes around her that attach her to the beach and then over to Torquay. They are not holding her tight, they are caressing her and holding her safe.  This came from looking at the work of Annegret Soltau, suggested by my tutor as a reference point after my last assignment.  This was written about her practice in an article promoting an exhibition: “The thread that she uses in her performances and self-portraits encompasses faces and bodies like a safe cocoon; hidden and distorted but also flexible. The thread used for sewing over the photographs can also be understood as an element of drawing. However, it also frees the photographs from their purely visual experience and transports them into a haptic reality.”  Sewing white thread onto a photograph subtly alters the meaning and makes the viewer think about what they are and why they are there.

I have included the original images as well as part of the work as a reference point.  They flow well as a set but I was interested in where they took me when I related them to the map and the bigger picture.  This assignment picks up the theme of the sea and how it affects people. It can induce a sense of belonging that is hard to ignore when not near the coast, and the may different versions that it can create every day through light and weather.  I hope I have captured this in these images.

 

This final quote fits well with my thinking when walking round photographing the seashore, by Hanya Yanagihara.

“But if there is a cure for the invisibility of loneliness, it is this. It is why, depending on who you are, that click of the camera’s shutter is a sound that evokes either anxiety or relief. Click: I see you. Click: I see you. Click: I see you. You are not alone.”

 

 Song: Staring at the Sea, Blow Monkeys, 2011

 

Staring at the Sea

By Robert Howard and The Blow Monkeys

Sunlight sparkles on the bay, sailboats drift upon the breeze
I could spend each and every day, staring at the sea
I remember all the times and all those things you used to say
“Only wise men play the fool”, and “every dog will  have its day”
And I never felt so free, and I never felt so wanted
They were days just you and me, staring at the sea
You’re the future I won’t know, I just learned to live without you
You’re the past I can’t let go, somewhere deep inside my soul
Just as far as you can see, it’s three miles to the horizon
Feels just like eternity, staring at the sea
Staring at the sea, staring at the sea…..

 

References:

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/loneliness-belongs-to-the-photographer

Yanagihara, H., Loneliness Belongs to the Photographer, The New Yorker online edition, July 10, 2016  (accessed 5 April 2018)

https://wsimag.com/art/23956-annegret-soltau

Article in Wall Street International Magazine, Promoting an exhibition by Annegret Soltau, 9 Feb — 18 Mar 2017 at the Galerie Anita Beckers in Frankfurt am Main, Germany28 February 2017 accessed 12.12.2017)

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17514517.2016.1209928

Takvam, M. and Vale, S., Introduction to Nostalgias: Visualising Longing special issue, Pages 99-102 | Published online: 21 Oct 2016, (accessed 12.4.18)

 

 

 

Assignment 4 – Adding Text to Images

As an alternative to images standing on their own, I went through adding text to the photographs that I had chosen for the assignment, just to see if I could make it work.  I tried various styles from typed text using different fonts, to handwriting with a stylus using PhotoShop and also handwriting onto clear acetate sheets that I laid over the top of the photo.  Some worked adequately but none of them stood out as being ‘right’ and sometimes I think that I was in danger of being too literal.

SATS v2
Three Miles

The words from the song had echoed in my mind all the time that I was shooting what I thought were images that could fit my idea.  When it came to writing the words onto the images, it was hard to decide whether handwriting had any significance or whether typed words made it more impersonal, or did it change the feeling and meaning of the words? Writing with a stylus was a knack that did not flow easily and I was often frustrated by the fact that it was like my writing but not my writing.

During this assignment I also became fascinated by the weather forecast, having visited Cromarty in Scotland which is one of the areas.  I wondered whether I should go for snippets from the shipping forecast as my words, and investigated some of them but in the end while I loved them, they just didn’t quite fit.  However, I found a song “Pharaohs” by Tears for Fears and put it over the top of a slideshow of the original images as they were, without any words.  It is an instrumental track based on another of their songs (Everybody Wants to Rule the World) that has been slowed down and played over the sound of the shipping forecast being read out.  If I could have got permission to use it, that would have made my assignment.

 

 

In the end I decided to leave the images alone and I went off down another track completely, still using the words to Staring at the Sea and the original images but in a different form.

Assignment 4 – Contact Sheets

Here are some of the images that I sifted through (a fraction of the ones that I shot) to narrow down for the assignment.  There were several shooting days on different beaches and in different weather conditions.  Sunrise, sunset, dreary weather and clear weather, sunshine and cloud. There were more images but these are the main ones that I looked at while considering the final selection.

 

Assignment 4 – Research

 

1: Maureen Drennan – A photographer that charted her husband’s battle with mental illness through photography, he was a willing participant.

http://www.maureendrennan.net/the-sea-that-surrounds-us.html  16.4.18

https://www.americanphotomag.com/photos-that-helped-photographer-see-her-husband-through-his-depression#page-11

Interesting take on using photography to deal with something that affects her life and marriage.  Titled “The Sea that Surrounds Us”. 

‘“Where words failed us,” she says, “the pictures filled in the blanks.”’

 

2: Hanya Yanagihara doing a book review

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/loneliness-belongs-to-the-photographer

Loneliness Belongs to the Photographer By Hanya Yanagihara  July 10, 2016

Article that starts with a review of a book: “The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone,” Olivia Laing. She then talks about loneliness as relating to the photographer and gives examples of work that evokes a sense of loneliness from Robert Frank to Alec Soth.

“In reality, though, the person with the camera is not hiding but receding. She is willfully removing herself from the slipstream of life; she is making herself into a constant witness, someone who lives to see the lives of others, not to be seen herself.”

“But if there is a cure for the invisibility of loneliness, it is this. It is why, depending on who you are, that click of the camera’s shutter is a sound that evokes either anxiety or relief. Click: I see you. Click: I see you. Click: I see you. You are not alone.”

 

3: Alec Soth

 

https://www.magnumphotos.com/theory-and-practice/broken-manual-alec-soth-aaron-schuman/?utm_source=fb-social&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=Editorial

http://alecsoth.com/photography/?page_id=208Niagara

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/oct/06/alec-soth-gathered-leaves-photographer-uk-retrospective

I’ve never really looked at Alec Soth’s images before and I am transfixed by their beauty and stillness.  I read the article on Broken Manual and it was intriguing, pulling me in closer.  There is something in all of us that wants to run away sometimes, become someone else, be outside of ourselves and I was really interested by the fact the he invented a persona Lester B Morrison as a character to become someone else, writing and criticising himself.  The landscape of America is so vast and diverse that there is somewhere to hide or get away.  It’s a very interesting concept and at times I think I would like to be someone who isn’t me, someone who has different characteristics and while his people are commenting on the political nuances of the American way, and the very male way of upping and leaving in times of stress, there is still a wunderlust in most of us, me included.

Even though I am looking at these images online, the colours stand out. They are warm and rich, and there is almost a sense of unreality about how clear they are.  The image of the falls at Niagara (I also looked at that work online) were so clear and you could almost hear the thunder of the huge amount of water rushing over the edge.  I had forgotten that Niagara is a kind of Vegas of the north where people go to get married or, more sinisterly, commit suicide by jumping into the falls.  It’s a tacky place that has the commercialism of a holiday town set against one of the most beautiful natural forces of nature.  If you can stand and look at the falls with the town behind you, you can almost kid yourself that you are out in the wild.  I have seen the falls from the Canadian side and it is a truly humbling sight.  The shots of the people and the motels are similarly richly coloured and there is pathos about the people he is photographing. What an interesting man and artist!

I will be looking out for more of his work from now on.

 

 4:  Article on Nostalgia from an exhibition and talk.

Journal: Photography and Culture , Volume 9, 2016 – Issue 2: Visualising Longing

Takvam, M. and Vale, S.,Introduction to Nostalgias: Visualising Longing special issue, Pages 99-102 | Published online: 21 Oct 2016, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17514517.2016.1209928

https://doi.org/10.1080/17514517.2016.1209928 (accessed 12.4.18)

“Over time, the use of the word has progressively evolved to describe a desire to return to another time.  Significantly, it is now characterized by yearning and distance (both in time and space); it is the desire to return, when returning is no longer possible.”

“In effect, the photograph can never represent the present; the moment encapsulated has passed, never to be experienced again.”

 

5:  Solastalgia – a different version of nostalgia

https://bureauoflinguisticalreality.com/portfolio/solastalgia/

A term about the feeling of change that cannot be stopped or overcome. Interesting to see an alternative to nostalgia.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5820433_Solastalgia_The_Distress_Caused_by_Environmental_Change

Solastalgia: The Distress Caused by Environmental Change, Article (PDF Available) inAustralasian Psychiatry 15 Suppl 1(1):S95-8 · February 2007 DOI: 10.1080/10398560701701288 · Source: PubMed

Albrecht, Glenn & Sartore, Gina & Connor, Linda & Higginbotham, Nick & Freeman, Sonia & Kelly, Brian & Stain, Helen & Tonna, Anne & Pollard, Georgia. (2007). Solastalgia: The Distress Caused by Environmental Change. Australasian psychiatry : bulletin of Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. 15 Suppl 1. S95-8. 10.1080/10398560701701288.

This rang bells as it is a sense of longing for something missing when you are still in the place that you call home.  You are not distant from it in the sense that the distance is great.  It fitted with the feeling of homesickness that my friend and I have for Torbay even though we still live relatively close to it.

 

6: Annegret Soltau and how her practice informed my approach

https://wsimag.com/art/23956-annegret-soltau  12.12.2017

Article in Wall Street International Magazine, Promoting an exhibition by Annegret Soltau, 9 Feb — 18 Mar 2017 at the Galerie Anita Beckers in Frankfurt am Main, Germany28 February 2017

My tutor recommended this as a point of reference after a previous Assignment  which was done on a female body builder and this was another look at the way that women present their bodies.  I was struck by the sewing on the self portraits in prints, the black threads indicating ties and Soltau suggested that they are links between the conscious and subconscious.  I chose to see them as the ties of life that bind us to people and places, and it is this aspect that made me sew ties on a photograph of my friend.  Benign ties rather than sinister ones.

 

7: Jim Goldberg

Jim Goldberg photographs.  I really liked the polaroid look that he gave to people to write on and personalise in the way that they  wanted to, it didn’t matter that it was a unique photo.  Writing and drawing on it makes it unique anyway and personal to the person involved.  I really like his work, it’s interesting without being over the top.

https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZHEN#/CMS3&VF=MAGO31_10_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZHEN&POPUPIID=2K7O3RTT74JL&POPUPPN=13

This is one I found today (17.5.18)  while looking up references and it is pertinent to the ripped photographs that I used.

http://www.pacemacgill.com/selected_works/detailspage.php?artist=Jim%20Goldberg&img_num=6

Demba’s Map, Mauritania/Senegal, 2008

A montage of pieces of paper with writing and a portrait of a man.  I think this fed into the idea of using a map, although in my case it was a literal map not a mind map.

 

8: Jonathan Mannion

He works with Rap and Hip Hop artists and has done album covers for them. He incorporates handwriting into images and I was interested in how he managed to get the pathos into the images.  Rappers tend to project the image of aggression but this hinted at the more playful aspect of their personalities.

https://www.jonathanmannion.com/work-avenue/#/new-page/

This is a page of collaborations with the artists involved.  I really like how they have changed the pictures by writing on them and doodling.  Interesting work.

 

9: The Shipping Forecast

I was interested in the shipping forecast and the areas that surround the coast with all their intriguing names.  I visited Cromarty last year and that sparked the interest.

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/marine/shipping-forecast

https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/coast_and_sea/shipping_forecast

Viking, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight.  All those regions and how do they see the boundaries? What do all those things mean?  It was one option that I looked at when considering ‘Staring at the Sea’ but discounted it as the  main theme.  I did use it when writing things on the images but decided that I was going off at a tangent and needed to stick to the original plan.  There is a song “Pharaohs” by Tears for Fears that uses the shipping forecast being spoken over their music which is an instrumental piece.  When I put together the slide show of the images used on the map, I put this track as the music to play through.  It worked really well and if I could have got permission to use it then I would as it fitted the theme really well, with its feeling of melancholy and the rhythym of the music reminding me of the sea.  The title refers to the shipping area Pharoahs rather than the Egyptian kind, which is quite enigmatic.  I may well return to look at this theme again at a later date.

 

 

 

Assignment 4 Analysis of Outcome

  1. Demonstration of Technical & Visual Skills

The map is made up of ten images that I chose to fit the words that had been instrumental in bringing the idea to  life. There is a variety of light situations from early morning to late evening and in between which is better than I usually manage to achieve.  It helped that starting this assignment in Spring meant longer days and different light conditions.  There is a warmth to the contributing images that lends well to the feeling of wistfulness and loneliness.  The colours are deep and strong that gives the overall map a depth, adding to the blue colour on the map itself and backed by the dark of the paper. The placing of the images on the map was part random and part thought out.  The three images that are tied together had to go over by the part of Torbay and near to the beaches that I had used as background.  Julie is connected to Torquay and Elbury personally and emotionally and it was important to attach her threads to these parts.  My connection with her is Torquay so another reason for her to be sewn in at that point.

The images are of two sizes, although this was more from having two sets – the large set printed to see how they came out and the small set to move and place in sequence.  The smaller ones were used in the first setup of the map then I moved them onto the larger map once I decided that I was going to go with that idea rather than a straight run through of images.  From a distance, the colours are the things that stand out with the deep blues, oranges and reds of sun, sea and sky.  This connects the images together to make the set.  The map grew out of montage of large and small images on a bigger background map with another torn out map on top.  It was like something that we do as teenagers to make our world outside come inside, and help us remember places and times.

  1. Quality of Outcome

I have a tendency to mull over ideas for some time and discard things along the way.  Once I had decided on Staring at the Sea as the theme, it was easy to keep it in mind.  The images are not simply seascapes, they are linked to each other and suggest a passing of time.  There is a feeling of solitude and a little sadness, that is the idea of nostalgia for people and places that are out of our reach.  The map creation came out of wanting to develop the idea a little further having experimented with the song lyrics on the photographs and to link them in a more physical way than just a slideshow.  My aim was to produce something that was more of a story than I have before, and although it was prompted by my friend’s homesickness, it is also quite personal to me as I could emote with that feeling.  We both acknowledged that it felt ridiculous being homesick for something that is always there and more so for me because I only moved a couple of miles further away, but at times it feels like it could be a hundred  miles.  This map was a way of tying all those elements together.

  1. Demonstration of Creativity

The overall map is a montage of ten photographs along with small rectangles with words written on them in blue marker pen.  They are all connected to the map that lies underneath them.  I chose to focus on smaller parts of the map in the submitted images as a way of bringing pertinent parts to attention.  My thinking was driven by how I approach items on display in galleries – I go up close to look at a smaller part to see what is written, painted or photographed and then stand back to admire the whole in order to see how all the elements connect up. The images take the viewer round the whole map and the words, then shows them the whole thing.

  1. Context

The course is dealing with the idea of who we are and how we fit into the world around us, how we react to our surroundings.  This map is of my home area and the big thing that affects whoever lives here – the sea.  It borders the land and while we can look out to the horizon (exactly how far is that?), it means that we are constrained by it and on the edge with no way round. For example, if the seafront road is damaged in a storm as it was a few years ago, it is difficult to reroute traffic including buses through a residential area with narrow roads and, more importantly, steep hills.  The sea allows space and moving away from it can carry a homesickness or nostalgia for being beside it.

The images are from the area and different times of day.  The underlying theme is of love, loss and a homesickness so there are few people in the images that make up the map.

  1. Overall

I feel that this assignment flows better than previous ones and the images that make up the map are linked better in how they look.  The song Staring at the Sea suggested the feeling of love and loss and this is where I started with building up a set of images.  A conversation with a friend about leaving Torbay and how we felt bereft at not having a sea view or the proximity to it carried on the feeling of wistfulness that permeates the images.  The map brings them all together and ties them physically as well as emotionally to the area, through thread and drawing pins to sewing on images.  I wanted to progress from creating a slideshow which is my natural inclination and to develop the idea beyond the safe confines that I operate within.  To take printed photographs and effectively destroy them always is difficult but it gave me freedom to change them and personalise them in some ways.  I felt that changing the textures of them tapped into the way that we no longer hold prints in high regard despite taking more photographs than ever.  How often do I print them out? Rarely nowadays and it was actually really good to see them printed out and to be able to examine them, be tactile with the print and then change it.  I remember treasured photos that became dog eared with wear and tear, and I think that this was behind making some of them look used, tired, worn to give them a character.  I have fulfilled the brief of using words to inspire me, and I have connected the images that I have made with ideas of identity and place that we have studied.