Week three – make a zine.
Our task this week was to collaborate on a zine. I’ll attempt to describe our processes by following the steps we were instructed to take.
Step One: Using the comments box below, organise yourselves into six teams. Then make your groups official via the people page. On Friday, I had the idea of collecting photos of breakfasts from around the world, and asked who’d like to join me. We quickly formed a group, and established communication channels via Canvas. Unfortunately this platform became confusing with messages being posted in different places as well as emails. One group member apparently did not receive any of the emails. After a few days most of us started communicating via WhattsApp or text messaging.
Step Two: Establish a team leader. This is not everyone’s ideal role but it may be a useful experience for some. As I had had the original breakfast idea, it was suggested that I become team leader. I had no preference either way, however retrospectively I now realise that it’s difficult to be team leader as well as working on the task as much as everyone else.
Step Three: Using the dedicated group discussion pages, establish a theme for the zine and create a call for participants: a one-sentence objective you would like people to carry out. Keep in mind your respondents may not have much time to participate, so instructions should be clear and achievable. Once we had decided on the theme I was eager for the project to be started as quickly as possible as the weekend approached. I emailed our group a suggestion of how to word our sentence, but only managed to get it down to two sentences. I asked for thoughts / ideas; although as it happened, everyone devised their own variation.
Step Four: Share the call for participation and collect contributions. It seemed to make sense to ask participants to photograph the breakfasts over the weekend. We contacted our family and friends and used apps such as Facebook to reach a wider participatory audience. Over those two days we collected many very elegant and well staged breakfasts; on Monday and Tuesday a few more came in – usually more hastily ‘flung together’ food. Initially I had suggested we ask for square format, thinking this would make it easier to format the zine, but it soon became clear that not everyone could shoot in square, so this idea was abandoned. Wing and I started uploading our photos to Canvas on Sunday, but we soon ran out of space, so began sharing images via WhatsApp.
Step Five: Collate images and arrange into a zine. There are no restrictions as to size, style or format for the zine. You may wish to use free versions of online tools (eg Issuu (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. or Madmagz (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.) or go low-fi and make it by hand. You might also wish to produce variations of your zine, if that is appropriate to the concept. Team deadline for finishing zines is Wednesday 23:59 (BST). We arranged a conference call for anyone that could make it on Monday evening. Yasmin set the call up and also arranged for there to be a backup using ‘Zoom’. Yasmin, Sarah, Wing and myself were in attendance and we started to plan how we could collate and arrange the images. We looked at alternatives for zine production including ‘Madmagz’ and ‘Blurb’; ideally something that we could work on collaboratively. Madmagz seemed to fit the bill but unfortunately once work had been saved it was impossible to edit. We agreed to try Blurb, as Sarah and I had both used it previously. We also agreed that all photos should be placed on a black background, and should me made available by 5pm on Tuesday, submitted via pdf. After the call, I emailed the group with all the details so that everyone knew what had been decided.
Asking everyone to submit their photos via a pdf was a mistake – we had not considered dimensions, and I soon realised that we needed to have matching and precise dimensions before we could upload to Blurb. In the mean time, Sarah had emailed saying that Apple’s Pages had a magazine format we could use.
On Tuesday evening, Sarah and I worked together (collaboratively on Pages in real time, whilst speaking on the phone); and we produced a finished zine that we were both fairly satisfied with. However we were aware that some mistakes had been made, for example there were a few images that were in landscape rather than portrait. At this late stage there was little we could do – so we decided to go with what we had – already there was a lot we could write about our successes and difficulties in our CRJ.
The next morning, after the group had received a copy of the finished zine (I made and emailed a pdf of the work Sarah and I had completed) most people set to work to transform it into a different medium, which they shared. Yasmin turned it into a slide show powerpoint, Sarah continued to work on Blurb, Wing on Madmagz. Libby emailed to say she’d recently accessed our messages, and told us of her wider experience of zine making. She pointed out what we needed to know earlier on – the things we’d discovered through making mistakes, such as format, bleed etc. She did take the pdf I had sent to get it printed and stapled into a physical copy. All of this was completed by Wednesday evening.
However, I still wanted to make a physical copy myself, and as I don’t work on Thursdays, I used the morning to make a zine, which as a prototype could also be used as a table place mat in, for example, a breakfast cafe.
Overall I was happy with our finished zines. We collaborated well, however we were all fairly independent too. We learnt from our mistakes – certainly I know a lot more now than I did a week ago – things I perhaps wouldn’t have discovered had we had an expert working with us!
There was one other student who had hoped to join us but unfortunately did not find any of the messages on Canvas until it was too late. One of our group sent in some photos but didn’t get involved in putting it together. That’s what collaboration is about – we don’t all work in the same time zones, and we have different work schedules and life events. If I am a group leader again, I will have a discussion with everyone about what they are able to contribute; rather than to assume everyone can do the same. This is an unexpected learning curve for me – as a teacher I’m well generally well organised and efficient at leading groups. However, as a student, the shoe didn’t sit quite so comfortably on the other foot!
Here is some of the work produced by our collaboration this week – we produced variants of the same zine in five days from start to finish.
Our Global Breakfasts
I had the idea of making a zine that could be turned into a placemat…something that could perhaps be used in breakfast cafes…my zine…
Here are some images of my zine:
And here is a magazine of our work that Libby had printed:
Whilst Yasmin converted it into a ppt show:
And Sarah was successful with her Blurb book – heres the pdf of it:
Finally, Wing persevered with his madmagz zine:
Week two – make a teaser trailer
I found this weeks’ teaser trailer activity a challenge – and decided to create my own sound track to it too. This added self-inflicted and unnecessary pressure; but it’s also given me food for thought – maybe I’ll add music to future projects. I have some ideas about that. Teaser trailers by peers were diverse and it was great to have sneak previews of their work, and to see some of their methodology. It was also quite surprising to see how close a few of my ideas are to some of theirs. Overall I am pleased with my trailer for a first attempt, especially as it’s given me a couple of ideas that I might be able to develop later.
My teaser trailer
The Joywar forum (Molotov Man) was interesting, with some opposing (and heated) views!
We were asked to consider the following:
Search for the article online and read it. Think about how you would feel if someone created an artwork that appropriated, referenced or remixed your image. Other than legal action, how could you use your practice to resolve the issue?
(Screenshot from Canvas)
Whilst art work is so readily available it’s all too easy to use someone else’s work; and we should distinguish between borrowing, appropriation, and theft.
I would expect someone who borrowed something of mine to ask first – and if it was my work, I would probably feel very flattered and agree to it. However, if I found that someone had used my work without permission I would regard this as theft and ask for acknowledgment.
So what’s the difference between this and appropriation? I regularly use found vintage photographs in my images, and I consider this acceptable because I have purchased them for a low price (ie the original owner is not making a profit from the sale). Additionally, most of them have a degree of anonymity rendering gaining permission virtually impossible. That’s not to say I use them insensitively.
Regarding ‘Joywar’, it seems unethical of Garnett to use Meiselas’ image without permission or acknowledgement. Meiselas is right to highlight the rights of the man in the photograph – what becomes of the context or his narrative once he has been re-placed?
It’s illegal to use someone else’s music in your own without permission, unless the composer has been dead for at least fifty years. However having similar copyright laws in photography would be pretty impossible due to the multitudes of images readily available.
This screenshot of a pdf shows my current ideas, in preparation for the discussion during the webinar this week:
Examples of my current work, with a brief overview and aims:
My practice involves bringing old photographs into the present by juxtaposing them with photos I have taken recently. It also tends to have a surreal element too, but this is something that I will possibly develop further. My aim is to attempt to correct / satisfy the loss that occurs as old photographs are displaced from their own context.
Photo 1 is one that I included in my last portfolio, within it I have used the inside of the bellows of a large format camera as a ‘prop’.
Photo 2 is one that I took recently – I bought an old accordion so that I could take photos of the inside of bellows (I hope to be able to incorporate them into my photomontages).
Photo 3 is the one I made for this week’s forum. I have included it here as using mannequins in my images is something that I am considering.
Forum – Place over Time
Step One: Choose a previously made image that relates to your project / subject of interest. You might wish to select a few images as alternatives.
Step Two: Revisit your chosen image. Feel free to approach this in your own way or make use of / adapt one of the strategies introduced.
Step Three: Display the original image and the new one together in a space / place of your choosing. Photograph the result and post it in the discussion box below.
Step Four: Describe your approach and experience in no more than 180 words. Perhaps talk about how the image was chosen, why a specific strategy was adopted and what compromises you had to make in achieving it. Perhaps also mention the impact that the space had / has upon the two images and their relationship.
Step Five: Comment on three posts by peers.
Using parts of acquired old photographs is central to my current practice. Thinking of something different to my usual way of working was a challenge.
I tried to remake a vintage photograph using a set of photographs I took recently of mannequins in shop windows. However I discovered afterwards that most of the interest lay not in the subjects, but in the reflections which I hadn’t noticed when I pressed the shutter.
I left small fragments of the original image visible, to maintain some of the original context, time and place.
After printing, I placed the old and the new photos in a double photo frame which had a glass front and back. Placing the partially filled frame on the ground (referencing the original picture) I photographed it, hoping to catch reflections in the glass. The edge of a window frame is also reflected which I’m happy with.
The result was rushed, I would have preferred to take photographs which better matched the original, particularly in terms of character posture. Also I’d like to have waited for more overcast light.
Forum: Looking Back
In preparation for the new module, I made an ebook. It’s free via the link below:
Or, you can watch a screen recording of it here:
About the Ebook
Inspired by Ed Ruscha’s small printed books, this ebook is an exploration of just how many things you can see in an exam venue without getting up. It’s also an acknowledgment of ‘exam season’ where thousands of students across the UK will be sitting GCSEs and A levels. Each of these photographs was taken at the end of a school day, where the empty room had been filled earlier with students sitting an exam. All of the pictures were taken from the same chair, looking at as many different angles as possible whilst sitting down. The initial concept of these photographs was purely visual, however as I performed its realisation I wondered how many students had sat in this room, what their experiences were and what emotions they had felt. Anxiety, fear, relief, joy, hope, boredom, frustration, anticipation? The empty room seemed emotionally charged. I hope that the viewer will themselves experience some of these resonances as they interpret the pictures within the book. Finally, for all those students who finish with time to spare and aren’t permitted to leave the room – here’s something to do to keep them occupied -so long as they remember to keep facing the front and not to disturb anyone else in the room!