Coursework weekly activities (S&S)

The second dummy book

After not being totally satisfied with the first prints I had back, I followed the recommendation of a fellow student and tried a printing company in Sheffield.  I ordered 20 prints in square format (8×8) having being advised by my tutor to make the second book larger. This time I was bowled over with the quality of the prints. The colour was just right, something I had not been able to achieve via third parties previously. Printing at home had good results but was becoming increasingly expensive.

Having the prints and postcards all in square format means that the images work well alongside each other.  I have more photos to print after last week too.

Update: here it is…

This is a very rough copy, out together temporarily in one of the original Terry albums. It was a way for me to see how the photos looked alongside one another, what size paper I would need, and it confirmed that to me that it needs to be white. Also I’m wondering whether to include any (more) ‘memorabilia’.  There is a spread which I most likely won’t include in the final dummy book – the one with the burnt out car on the left. These may have worked well at a smaller size but as they stand they really don’t fit with the other images included.

 

 

The postcard project…

The postcards arrived and I was happy with their quality, especially the square format. So having arrived back from Jersey on Sunday, I had to make sure they were ready to go on Monday – otherwise I risked not having them back from participants in time to use them.

I typed up instructions to send with each postcard –  you can read them here:

Postcard instructions

Each participant will have a different image on their postcard, but all the instructions are the same. Conscious of this, and wanting to make opening the envelope a memorable experience, I decided to personalise each package. I printed one of the photos in my roses series onto tracing paper, and cut it into small pieces. Still using tracing paper, I used rubber stamps to write each participant’s first name. On opening the envelope, recipients will see their name showing through behind the rose picture. These were attached with a coloured paper clip to the instructions (folded into a square), and the two identical postcards (one with a stamp attached).

Although I had announced that there would be a maximum of 20 cards sent, I had a couple of extra friends ask to take part, making 22 in all.

I am looking forward to having the postcards arrive back to me, complete with ‘stories’ on the back. These will go some way in helping me to order my exhibition as well providing narrative links between  images.

Week 8 – getting ready for a workshop…

One of the concerns I have with my current project is that its becoming too ‘scattered’ and that I need to rein it back in. I’m perhaps spending too much time experimenting when I should be focussing more on final images for my portfolio.

However, I have had printed some postcards (yet to arrive); and I plan to send them out to people, ask them to write a comment on the back, and then return them to me (I will send out two identical ones, so they can keep one too). All of the images on the postcards relate to my current practice, although I have deliberately cropped some of them so that it’s not obvious what they are. (There are 25 different images, and 4 copies of each).

With each postcard I will be enclosing instructions with what I wish each recipient to do. As yet I haven’t decided what the instructions will be, but perhaps just to write a couple of typical postcard type comments.  I may include a list of nouns (such as shirt, rose, train, parents, dog), and ask them to include a couple of them. Each word will relate to a different image that has been sent to someone else.

The cards are being printed in square format.  As they arrive back to me I can arrange them according to time and date on the postmark. In this way I hope to have a narrative that has been created by the participants.

‘These pictures have the chances of looking real without any specific chances of being real.’

PRINCE, Richard. 2009 ‘Interview with Peter Halley’.  In David Evans. Appropriation. Documents of Contemporary Art. Cambridge, M.A. MIT Press, p84.

My strengths and weaknesses (forum post)

It’s difficult to think about strengths as I am constantly looking at my work and wishing I had done it differently or better! And what might be a strength in one context could be a weakness in another – such as my independence which can sometimes get in the way of working with others.

I’d like to think that compositionally I can arrange photos well, and I’m not bad at macro photography. I’m not afraid to experiment and be creative – I like to ‘make’ rather than ‘take’ photographs. I’m getting better at looking  at work critically.

Some of my definite weaknesses are:

Colour – when I print at home I get the colours and contrast that I want. When I send the same jpgs off for printing the prints usually come back too dark. I’m not sure whether this is a calibration issue (I don’t think so) or something else. (Example below)

Size – as with colour – sometimes the prints come back at very slightly smaller than I thought I had saved them as.

Falling asleep when I should be reading…

There are lots more weaknesses, too many to mention!!

Week 7 – book dummy

Initially, I printed a selection of some of the images I’ve been collecting during this module – some of them taken by me, and others from a collection of purchased albums, and loosely arranged them into themes of characters, transport, roses, and roses, with a few that don’t fit into any category. Also included were tassels from the albums I bought, and a small flower press containing parts of roses which had been used in the wedding bouquet photographs.

I had a clear idea of how I wanted by book to look – pages from the original bought albums, complete with photo corners; hidden photos in pockets; and written material that I’m working on. The old/new photos would be presented together.  The end result should provide a part fictional, part factual narrative.  If that failed, a  plan ‘B’ could work specifically on one of the themes, such as roses or characterisation based narrative.

As it happened, the old photo corners couldn’t be used, as none of the new photographs were the same size as the old ones. Rather than take them out though, I kept them in for authenticity. Some of the pages from the albums were worn, and discoloured around the edges – but again, this was part of the plan.  I cut the paper to A4 size so that once folded in half the pages were A5. The thinking behind this was that I would then be able to scan each completed sheet and re-print. However after talking to my tutor in the webinar I realised that this was both unnecessary and not a great plan – as she thought (and I agreed) that the book should be bigger.

The pressed flowers were scanned without being removed from their paper. As each sheet was small I arranged five together on the scanner and then printed them off onto a type of greaseproof paper. The print didn’t turn out too well around the edges, but I was able to use parts from the middle in my book.

Pressed flowers multiple

I tied the pages loosely together with the tassels. At some point I would like to do my own stitch binding. This is something I will try later, as for now it is more important for me to get on with the assignments and exhibition.

This is a video of my dummy book. Some of the photographs are stuck in, others just clipped as I had not made a final decision on their position.  There are a few things other than photographs in it, which I will outline here:

a) At the beginning there is an author’s note. This needs improvement, but is a poetic licence for what is included within, as I want to make sure my work is as ethical as possible.

b) A screenshot of the albums in the auction showroom, and a receipt for their purchase.

c) An (incomplete) inventory which I aim to detail every item in the book. It also has some background information (some true, some not).  I had this idea after reading about a large donation of family photographs to a museum in Canada which had been categorised in a similar way (Langford, 2001).

d) A sheet with photographs I found on google of a train crash in Nuneaton in 1975. After looking more closely at the albums, I had discovered photos of a rail crash and decided to investigate. I researched the number I could see on the front of one of the trains, and read about the crash which had occurred due to a misreading of signals by one of the drivers. Many people were injured, and there were six fatalities. Two of the photos in the album are very similar to the ones I found on google – these are pinned on top of the photos from the internet in my book. 

Overall I am pleased with my dummy book. Following the webinar I have some more ideas about how to proceed with it. One of my biggest worries is that there are too many simultaneous themes, but I can whittle them down later. One suggestion from my tutor was to consider a set of three books, each with a different, but connected theme. I drew an analogy to a symphony in three movements – new material but with links between them.

 

Week six 

Thinking about alternative spaces to host an exhibition was a bit of a challenge; I couldn’t immediately think of anywhere that hadn’t already been mentioned. So I resorted to a quick Google search, and found that an oldPolice Station in Deptford was used to house gallery spaces, as well as old Police equipment. Students exhibit their work in the cells. My tutor responded with a link to a similar space, run by an Art Angle project in Reading Prison. In turn, I was reminded of a local prison, which was closed a few years ago. I looked to see what I could find out about this – and discovered that during this month it is due to be demolished and then rebuilt. It looks like I missed an opportunity there – but at the same time I’m becoming more open to the idea of having work shown in very different settings.

Annette Kuhn talks about ‘memory texts’ (Memory texts and memory work: Performances of memory in and with visual media)  “It is impossible to overstate the significance of narrative in cultural memory…the activity of recounting or telling memory-stories, in both private and public contexts – in other words, of performances of memory” (p1). I wonder how much the cultural memory and identity of disused spaces, such as prisons, becomes embodied in art work which is exhibited there? I find myself considering just this as I prepare to use sheets from old photo albums in my upcoming publication. As I touch these sheets I am reminded of the man who once used this album, and as I reconstruct the book, allowing his images to mingle with mine, I hope that some of the motifs become inextricably linked.

Week five – thinking about our exhibitions

The 2018 ‘Landings’ exhibition is getting underway.  We were asked to choose three students as exhibition designers. There were five volunteers including myself. Putting my name forward was a big decision,  I felt that it was important to have a female voice. However, I knew that I would be happy either way – it would have been good to have the opportunity to gain curating experience; but we have a strong team working for us and it means that I can concentrate on getting my exhibition, book (not to mention the assessments) ready.

Students were asked to put forward a first proposal for their exhibition, as follows:

Five key terms that describe my current project are: memory, narrative, history, found, self-portrait.

Through this project I hope to explore relationships between fact, fiction, imagination and memory within found family albums.

All being well my work will be displayed alongside found photographs in an online 3D gallery. 

Over the last few weeks I had spent time investigating 3D online galleries; and found one that ticked all the right boxes – it was attractive to gallery visitors, had a choice of room designs and wall colour, the ability to add image information, not too difficult to set up; and was better value for money than some of the other sites I had looked at. Now I have started to set up my gallery space. Visitors will be able to see my images in any order they choose, so they will need to be able to stand alone as well as holistically.

 

Week four – use unfamiliar apparatus to make five photographs within 24 hours

 

The task had to be completed during 24 hours on Wednesday, so the evening beforehand I prepped everything.  During the previous weekend  I had made a bouquet for my role play as a bride, for my current project.  Afterwards, I pressed some of the flowers and began to dry the rest – however this task provided a different means to ‘preserve’ the flowers.

The flowers and beads from the bouquet and some rose petal confetti were placed on the inside of two transparent laminating pouches. They were held in place with glue from a hot gun. Twelve sheets of Ilford Photographic Paper (5×7 pearl; six for each pouch) were slid on top of the flowers, and held in place with white tack. I then covered it all with heavy books and kept them dark until morning.

At 6.30am on Wednesday morning I uncovered the sheets and left them on a table (out of direct sunlight) while I went to work. After ten hours the paper was pink in places (see photo bottom right) and although attractive, I decided to take them out into direct sunlight for a stronger effect.  Within a minute the paper had darkened considerably, so I carefully removed each sheet of photographic paper and scanned them.

Setting it up

 

Once scanned, I used Photoshop to collage them together.  The first two pictures below are single sheets, the rest collaged.

 

My final five finished photographs

IMG_1003
Roses
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Rose, foliage and confetti
IMG_0998
Roses, foliage and confetti collage
IMG_0996
Roses, foliage, confetti and beads collage
IMG_1001
All the pieces together in collage

This was my first attempt at using the sun to develop photographs on photographic paper. It was also my first attempt at Photoshop collage. If I were to repeat the processes there would be things I’d do differently. For instance, the two pouches had slightly different exposure times, which gave them different hues. Secondly, there were gaps in between each sheet of paper, which meant that the collage pieces did not fit together precisely. Overall I am pleased with the results though and something I will consider repeating.

Looking at the photographs completed by my peers was very enjoyable – particularly the few that had used similar methodology to myself (taking advantage of the sun this week!). It was interesting to read their processes and see the different results. Also I particularly liked one piece of work by another student which had been created using a scanner, with the final image then incorporated into one of her own photographs. I found this to be creative, taking the exercise one step further.

 

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:

YC

And Sarah was successful with her Blurb book – heres the pdf of it:

SN

Finally, Wing persevered with his  madmagz zine:

https://madmagz.com/magazine/1386674#/

 

 …and breathe!

 

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? 

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 21.37.56(Screenshot from Canvas)

My response:

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.

  Webinar preparation:

This screenshot of a pdf shows my current ideas, in preparation for the discussion during the webinar this week:

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Week one

  Webinar preparation:

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. 

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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:

http://www.blurb.co.uk/ebooks/666270-40-points-of-view-without-leaving-your-seat

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!

40 points of view

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