Category Archives: Part 2

Project 3 Photographing the unseen

All three of these projects are examples of personally driven work but they become universal when we can relate to the feelings they present by visiting our own
personal histories.

Which of these projects resonates most with you, and why?

I viewed the three case studies by Peter Mansell, Dewald Botha and Jodie Taylor. I found all three really interesting to view and great to see examples of other students work.

I liked how Peter Mansell gave the viewer a looking glass into his life by using photography as a means of expression and an aid in understanding the life of a person with a disability. I can relate to the idea that once you get past the technical aspects, gear and creating ‘beautiful images’ there is a whole other world of exploration in photography. That deeper human connection. I also really related to the idea of photography as a cathartic experience, I find more and more its (photography) a means of venting this stuff that I have to get to out of me or its been bottled inside of me, unsure how to explain or express it in words but the visual language of photography gives you the voice to get that stuff off your chest, say how you really feel, no BS. Photography can cut straight through all the crap to let you say what’s really important to you.

I related to the Dewald Botha’s Ring Road, exploring how he felt in a world that can’t slow down, everything is 100 miles an hour and the search for beauty in a chaotic urban environment.  I like how his exploration of place and landscape turned into an inwards journey of personal discovery and deeper reflection.

How do you feel about the loss of authorial control that comes when the viewer
projects their own experiences and emotions onto the images you’ve created?

I have mixed feelings about it. I have spoken with other friends who are artists and they have said it can at times be really frustrating when you have created this piece of art with a deep personal connection then some people say they love it, some hate it, others say they don’t get it or they interpret it in an entirely different way to how you intended. I guess much of this is reflected on an individuals own background, believes and circumstances to how they may interpret a photograph or series of photographs. I know for sure that art is subjective, I have seen some photography which has left me entirely baffled and other photography that has brought me to tears.

Sometimes it can be enlightening to have a different perspective, they may see something that you never realised, it may bring a whole different light to your work. I would like to think I would defend the original intention of a photographic project but I am not so arrogant to think my ideas won’t evolve over time looking back at a piece of work or even change entirely. I think if the work has had a clearly developed thought process behind it, then it should say what it needs to say and people can take from it what they will or move on.

 

 

Image and Text Exercise 2

Choose a poem that resonates with you then interpret it through photographs.

Don’t attempt to describe the poem but instead give a sense of the feeling of the
poem and the essence it exudes.

‘There is a pleasure in the pathless Woods’

‘There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.’

– George Gordon Byron

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There is a pleasure in the Pathless Woods

The images have an intentional repetition. I used the compass from my i-Phone standing in one spot within the woods taking 5 photographs; to my North, to my East, to my South, to my West and finally to the Universe. I am deep in the woods and I am surrounded by trees everywhere, as far as my eye can see, in every direction. For me this reflects how I feel about the poem. To remove a photo would not give the sense of being surrounded deep in the woods at one with nature. I had considered a sixth final image of my feet with the leaves and fauna of the woods but I decided not to go with that in the end. The viewer and the poem is essentially the sixth image, if that makes sense?!

If I had to pick just one image out of the selection it would be the final one but I prefer them as a set. It gives a real sense of place but looking out towards the universe. You get the feeling you as the viewer are in the woods. Although enclosed in this cocoon of nature in the woods seemingly so confined, you look up to the sky to the universe and realise how insignificant we are or society is.   At least that’s how I feel. I’m alone but I’m not lonely, I’m surrounded by friends.

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To the Universe

Research point – Sophie Calle’s ‘Take Care of Yourself’ and Sophy Rickett’s ‘Objects in the Field’

Look these pieces up online (Sophie Calle’s ‘Take Care of Yourself’ and Sophy Rickett’s Objects in the Field).

Investigate the rationale behind the pieces and see if you can find any critical responses to them.

Write down your own responses in your learning log.

I read through the interview with Sophy Rickett’s in the appendix to the course. It would seem there was a really distinct conflict in the perceived idea of the project between Sophy and Dr Roderick Willstrop; ultimately the difference between/use of photography for art and photography for science. This comes through all the way to the creation of the large scale pieces from found or archival negatives for the final exhibition and the use of mixed media, the collaboration with Sophy creating titles and Dr Willstrop producing captions, there is a tension in the narrative. Sophy also created an accompanying text which I found on line on the Photographers Gallery blog which gives a better understanding to the project here

I have mixed feelings about the final images as they are essentially found photographs which have been re-created in large format. The project highlights the significance of the Three Mirror Telescope used by Dr Roderick Willstrop and captures a historical record of the night sky as it appeared at the time they were created. I don’t really get anything from the recreated images other than them being a historical record. I love the photograph by Sophy of the telescope. So I have to conclude that the text is in many ways, in this instance, as important if not more important to the narrative of the project, without it, for me, the images would be hard to decipher or place anywhere in time or place.

Sophie Calle’s ‘Take Care of Yourself’ is about a letter/email Sophie had received from a previous boyfriend, basically a break up letter ending in the words ‘Take Care of yourself’, she presented this letter to different women, from different professions (writers, philosophers, singers, actresses, etc) and asked them to think about how they would response, they then interpreted the response in their own unique way. The work is exhibited through mixed media formats; photography, written text, video.

• How do these two pieces of work reflect postmodern approaches to narrative?

The accompanying text for ‘Objects in the field’ shifts around in time, the story doesn’t unfold in a strict chronological format, I mean this both in the written text and through the production of the final images; the images are old, of a night sky which is completely different to the one I see when I look out of the window this evening, but by re-producing them now it has given them a new lease of life, yet the first image in the series is taken years later. So the work essentially shows a postmodern approach by challenging our view of time in storytelling from a non linear perspective. It also challenges the use of photography originally intended as a scientific method of recording the sky and turns it into photographic art.

For some weird reason it makes me think of Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap the scientist from the future bouncing about in time. As the observer I have no real distinct idea of time of place, so I am just a time traveller following the story to see where it leads me. Then my tiny mind implodes, boom! Ha! I like the idea of challenging the traditional ways of storytelling, sometimes I feel it is only done to be rebellious but done right it can lead to different, new or unique ways of communicating.

Sophie Calle’s ‘Take Care of Yourself’ completely challenges traditional storytelling and narrative by flipping the creative response through the eyes of a select but numerous observers and then converting this into the final product or project. So it is a mass of different life experiences thrown into the creative melting pot as opposed to just the experiences of the one artist, in this instance the artist Sophie Calle almost project manages the work but is not in control of the output. Its a really interesting idea. We see all of these responses but the instigator of the letter is not seen and a response to the work is not sought out (as far as I am aware).  We also have to take the ‘author’ at her word that this is a genuine letter and not one she has created herself in order to make some art – I’m not saying she would do that, I’m just saying.

So I would say it challenges the postmodern approach to narrative by using multiple streams of creative input to pull together a creative response which congeals into this one over arching project but with no definitive answer in response to the letter. So it is essentially open ended, there is a beginning, a middle but no end.

Reference:

Sophy Rickett – Objects in the Field – The Photographers Gallery Blog

Stories from the Museum of the History of Science, University of Oxford Sophy Rickett: Objects in the Field

https://www.littletoller.co.uk/the-clearing/sophy-rickett-objects-in-the-field/

TateShots: Sophie Calle – Take Care of Yourself

Museo MARCO Interview with the artist Sophie Calle about her piece Take care of yourself

Take Care of Yourself at the Paula Cooper Gallery

Quantum Leap

 

 

Project 2 Image and Text Exercise 1

Cut out some pictures from a newspaper and write your own captions.

Try the same exercise for both anchoring and relaying. Blog about it.

I read through both ‘The Death of the Author’ and ‘Rhetoric of the Image‘ essays by Roland Barthes. I must admit I found them both a little heavy going but I persevered through both pieces, thought provoking stuff. I found ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ a little easier to digest although still, I admit, tough! It was interesting to read about the link we place between text and image through, Barthes does this by breaking down what we see in an advert for Italian food, the symbols, stereotypes and associations we place on object, colours and shapes to make us interested in a product or to try and sell us the product. Barthes breaks this down further into 3 sections focusing on linguistic message, denoted images and connoted image. I found the quote below from Rhetoric of the Image helpful in trying to understand the difference between ‘anchorage‘ and ‘relay‘:

Anchorage is the “most frequent function of the linguistic message and is commonly found in press photographs and advertisements. The function of relay is less common and can be seen particularly in cartoons and comic strips. Here text and image stand in complementary relationship.” 

Quote from ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ by Roland Barthes

My understanding of ‘The Death of the Author’  is that it challenges the idea of authorship between creator and the thing they create be they writer, artist, photographer. The creation is not solely down to the author but of the influences from society and culture, beliefs that seep into the creation. So everything you have seen, read or done in life has influenced your creation. I remember John Berger also speaks of this in some of his books I have read. Your creation is then interpreted subjectively, differently by each individual who consumes it, everyone gets something different out of it.

 

For this exercise I cut out pictures from The i Paper and from The Times paper dated Monday 6th February 2017 and took a snapshot on my phone for my Learning Blog.

How do the words you put next to the image contextualise/re-contextualise it?

This was a bit of fun exercise to do. I think I slipped a little into satire with my alternative headlines, its all in good humour though. I found it really interesting how different text can easily change the perceived meaning of a photograph. I can see how easy it would be to create propaganda and I think that’s where the ethical side needs to come into photography and journalism with some form of checking fact from fiction. Also trying to attach some idea of time and place are really hard from just looking at a photograph without the date of the newspaper or the caption below it to give it context.

How many meanings can you give to the same picture?

I managed to come up with a variety of different meanings for the photographs, some were easier to come up with alternative meanings/headlines. All total nonsense though really and no relation to their original meaning. I was a little cautious how far to take it though, this is just an exercise.

I think I probably flipped between Anchor and Relay in my captions below. Some of the pictures were so open to different interpretations really. In particular the first photograph of the President for the United States. I thought the original heading had very little relation to the photograph, there are the the 2 flags (US and UK) behind the president but apart from that the facial expression of the president left it far too open to interpretation without a definitive heading. The image of Le Pen was a little unfortunate. The clowns were a great image, without the original heading you would have totally no idea what this was about, it was fun creating alternative heading for this one. The final image of the Royals also a fun action shot, which I guess was the easiest to link into some form of athletics event and for such high key figures to be involved you would think it was something to do with the Olympics.

 

capture“President invokes the presence of Elvis in latest Speech”

“President starts war with Terminator on Social Media”

“I am your president and there is nothing you can do about it”

“President sees own reflection in mirror”

“President bemused by latest Fake News”

“Take me to your leader, oh wait that’s me”

“I just farted”

“You’re fired”

“President has a face off with four year old, President wins”

“President gets through to 2nd round of Britain’s got talent”

Original Headline was “MPs threaten to boycott Trump at Westminster”

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“Don’t worry, we are not a fascist political movement”

“The Fire Exits are here, here and here”

“High Five anyone”

“Le Pen left hanging”

Original Headline was “We’ll follow Britain to Freedom, says Le Pen”

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“World Leaders meet for Climate Change talks”

“Trump announces 3 new executive officers”

“Teresa May announces 3 new Cabinet Member appointments”

“Boy band reunites for comeback tour”

“David, George and Boris at Eaton reunion”

“Auditions take place in London for new Stephen King movie”

Original Headline was “A celebration of Clowns”

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“Princes compete for cheekiest grin”

“Royals run on thin air”

“Harry challenges William to a race to the throne”

“Training for the next Olympics begins at the Olympic Park”

“Harrod’s announces 50% off sale”

Original Headline was “Royal Line: A competitive Prince Harry beat his brother and sister-in-law at the Olympic park yesterday in an event for their mental health charity Heads Together”

Reference:

Images re-used for educational purposes as part of OCA course. General Satire.

Images taken from The i Paper and the Times Paper on Monday 6th February 2017.

‘The Death of the Author’ and ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ by Roland Barthes

‘The Death of the Author’ Simplified (Roland Barthes)

Project 1 Telling a story

Exercise:

How does Briony Campbell’s ‘The Dad Project’ compare with ‘Country Doctor’ by W. Eugene Smith?

One of the main differences for me with the two projects is W. Eugene Smith’s ‘Country Doctor’ was in a way detached from the subject matter. He could take a more objective stance on the project.There was a clearly defined separation between himself and the subject he was photographing, in this case the daily working life of Dr. Ernest Ceriani during the late 1940’s.  Where as ‘The Dad Project’ is a very personal project for the photographer Briony Campbell, telling the story of her fathers deterioration from cancer and his eventual passing. She is a part of the Project itself.

I have to say both projects are very powerful. I admire both of these. It must have been a really hard decision for Briony to take on the project, a brave one and her commitment to the work shows in the end project and the images she produced. I think her father would be really proud of what she produced.

I looked through 38 of the images of W. Eugene Smith’s ‘Country Doctor’ on line. I absolutely  love these photographs and the story they tell of this committed Doctor working tirelessly for his local community.  The use of black and white and the way they have been edited are just beautiful. For me the photographs almost have a classic film feel to them as if they are stills taken from an old movie or a documentary. I can see how his work has influenced other photographers in the visual photo essay genre and style.  The captions add to the photographs but the photographs also say so much about what is going on in the scene.

What do you think she (Briony Campbell) means by ‘an ending without an ending’?

Briony states in the 10min video clip for the Guardian  ‘The Dad Project’ is ‘an ending without an ending, it’s a relationship I am still exploring. This is my attempt to say goodbye to my Dad, with the help of my camera.’

Sadly my father has cancer along with progressing dementia and a list of other illnesses. I have thought about how his mind, memory and health is gradually deteriorating over time, will he remember me in the future? Have I said everything I want to say to him? Has he said everything he wants to say to me? I have thought about ‘the end.’ Its something all families have to confront at some point but nobody wants to.

For me this means Briony Campbell is recording/documenting the ending of her fathers life, through the use of her photography, it captures the moment for ever in time so there is no ending, she and the viewer/observer can always look back at the photographs. The physical body dies but the memories and story live on within the visual images. The influence of our parents lives on within us. Although her father has passed, her memories of her father remain and its about finding a way to deal with the loss of a loved one, the story doesn’t end. By creating the body of work and sharing it with others it may help them too.

I guess one of the biggest challenges would have been to remain objective when you are so close to the subject you are trying to cover. Briony touches on the ‘duality’ of her role during the creation of the project, being a daughter and a photographer, finding the right balance.

The final photograph she uses is an old photograph of herself as a child dressed up as her father, which speaks powerfully, visually, of the importance of the role of her father in her life.

Reference:

Briony Campbell ‘The Dad Project’

The Dad Project

Life: Country Doctor 100 Photographs

LIFE Photo Essay W. Eugene Smith’s Landmark Portrait: ‘Country Doctor

W. Eugene Smith’s Landmark Portrait: ‘Country Doctor’