Assignment five Personal project – Research and background tests

20th June 2020

The final assignment is your chance to do whatever you want with photography. You’ve experimented widely throughout this course, practiced key technical and visual skills, and learned about different genres of photography. now you can put all that into practice in your final work.

Foundations in photography course folder pg159

The contact sheets to all of the final images which include their earlier versions and other versions can be found here.

Genre

The terms art/ fine art photography sometimes encompasses conceptual art. However, personally I have always seen the two as different genres that may overlap depending on the theme of the photograph. Art/fine art photography to me is creative. It falls into a number of sub-genres, it is presenting the viewer with images that are ‘better’ than real life, images that have been manipulated or adjusted, even images that are ‘mixed media’ photographs, for example lino printing on top of a photograph. They are aesthetic, expressive and may have craft value for their own sake.

‘Better’ than real life, how can an image be seen as better? For me this is the shots that have the most amazing lines, forms, surfaces, textures, scenery, props etc… Where the lighting or the absence of lighting has been created by God himself or the person within the image is as beautiful as an angel crafted by Gods hand. It is flawless and breathtaking, it makes you gasp and feel like you are worthless and dirty. The photographer has spent a countless amount of time, planning, preparing and shooting their subject matter.

The digital image is to ordered and too rational – and not random enough. In our experience of it, it lacks… “being.”

John Belton, Psychology of the Photographic, Cinematic, Televisual, and Digital Image

Below is a fashion photograph that I would label personally as art photography, it could have a conceptual theme but for me the aesthetic lavishness and pleasure we gain from looking at this image over shadows the reason that it has been produced.

Surreal Fashion photography by Natalie Lennard AKA Miss Aniela image My Modern Met mymodernmet.com

Conceptual photography on the other hand is the power of the concept within the theme, the message, the idea that the photographer wants to present to the viewer, our brains seem to work more with conceptual photography as well, as there are times when we need to decode what we see and relate it to our own experiences or that of others. It is social and political truths and the communication is more important than the ‘art’ the ‘image.’

I chose the simple conceptual image below because there has been an idea which does not reply on props, it has been set up with consideration to the lighting and the concept. The concept I would say is how our children are socially awkward and isolated due to the pre-occupation with all things technological. The light from the tablet and phone paint halos around the portraits of the children, they are not communicating with each other, in fact there is no sign that they even know the other one is next to them because they are so engrossed within their technology which also obscures their faces from the world beyond themselves acting as a barrier to outside contact and influences.

An example of a simple conceptual image by Danny Alexander image taken from materialicious.com

As I have already stated there can be cross-overs with art photography. For me I like to practice photography where there is a combination of concept and art usually in the form of manipulation or image adjustment. Text is also an area I sometimes like to combine with my photographs but my head is full of so many ideas, lino printing on my images, tearing and hole punching my works, sewing on them, paper mâché my images into sculptures etc… These are not new ideas within the world of photography but they are areas that I want to push the boundaries in for my own practices.

With this in mind I have decided to produce a creative art series and ‘push the boundary slightly’ in how I present them for viewing. Whether it will work or not at this point I do not know. Pushing the boundary will also mean looking at different ways of presenting the work for exhibition which I will also discuss and experiment with for this assignment.

My idea – ‘Glitch’

Glitch‘suffer a sudden malfunction or fault.’ This is how I see my bouts of mental health.

The word ‘Glitch’ comes from the German ‘glitschen’ meaning to slip, the old High German word ‘gluten’ meaning to glide and the Yiddish word ‘glitshon’ meaning to slip or skid off course.

Failure touches everything in our personal and social lives, within nature and the environment and anything related to mankind. Most people that I know do not take ownership of their failures, they tend to pretend that it hasn’t happened or it was a test sent from God to make them stronger or to give them experience to help someone in the future. Some blame the failure on other people or even the tools or technology they use.

In today’s society it is interesting to note that directly something we possess glitches we see fit to upgrade it to the next level item rather than have it fixed, so that the cycle of having newer and better things continues. This is great for manufacturing companies it makes them rich, but we also push them to deliver upgraded designs in silly quick turn around times making our old objects of desire quickly obsolete.

My mental health suffers glitches. Does this mean that I am replaceable, that my defects make me less appealing than someone who does not have mental health issues? Am I easily replaceable?

What is glitch art?

images from Google search what is glitch art

Glitch art is a visual style characterized by using digital or analog errors for aesthetic purposes, whether that be intentional (that is, “faking glitch” and obtaining a similar aesthetic through design) or by accident (a true manifestation inside of the system without human intervention).

99 Designs 99designs.co.uk

My glitch art research connected with artists and photographers that practice this genre can be found here in the blog post, ‘Glitch artists and glitch photographers‘.

Glitch art celebrates imperfections, it builds on images that have been created and corrupts them into something new.

There are two types of glitch art that artists practice. There is the ‘natural occurrence’ glitches and the ‘hand manipulated’ glitches. For me they become two categories which are authentic glitches and manufactured glitches.

The natural occurrence glitches include low bandwidth, videos that jilt and jump, and by using low tech equipment which may have, for example, low quality graphic cards or out dated software etc… Due to the fact that the natural occurring glitches are beyond the artists control it is more difficult to catch them as images and the artist has little control over what they may look like. They can however be caught by re-running the video or software and waiting for a pre-acknowledged time in the run and then making a simple screen capture.

The manufactured glitches means the artist is able to create glitches specifically for their need through techniques such as hacking and corrupting code, Photoshop techniques, and using pre-designed apps which generate glitches.

Below is a glitch video I have made using manufactured and cross-app techniques. The video is called ‘The Me’ and is about how I feel all the day with the constant buzzing, movement, glitching and time stills that I experience due to CPTSD, depression and anxiety. Sometimes the noise and interference in my head is so bad I have to talk to someone about what I am seeing.

However believe it or not, practicing art and photography cause these glitches in my head as well. That is why I added the moving and colour changing strip that runs down the left side of the video. It represents how I easily become over stimulated when I am either thinking about art, looking at it or actually doing it. Crazy as it seems, the concept of relaxing with art and craft is a foreign one to me as it is for me it is filled with mayhem, images and ideas all coming and going in my head, it actually physically hurts.

Another interesting feeling that comes from watching ‘The Me’ below is how frustrating and annoying it is when the glitch becomes stuck in time, that small stop causes annoyance and you want to skip the video entirely, imagine what it is like living a life like this video!

The Me 1

I was beginning to think that capturing screenshots or taking photographs of parts of the videos that I had created could be a possibility and these would be able to function as my completed images for this assignment. Some examples of the images gained from screenshots can seen below.

Although these images could easily be used my conscience is chanting – ‘Not a proper photograph!’ A phrase which I have heard so much now that it inhibits my ability to judge daily the cross-app images that I produce. To overcome this and to make myself ‘feel better’, I took photographs of the video as it was running with my iPhone camera. The image results can be seen below.

If we look at the photographs taken of the videos we can see that ‘extra’ glitching has attached itself to the re-photographing of the original image glitches on the video.

The question is, does this make the overall visual aesthetic of the image for the concept more dynamic or more confusing? After all it is not the ‘glitch’ aesthetic we are trying to promote to the viewer as the theme but the concept of ‘glitch’ representing the breakdown of ones mental health.

Photoshop, Apps or Cross-app?

I have already researched into the different ways to create glitched photographs. I thought I would have a go at altering the visual effects by databending, using pre-designed apps and Photoshop. To extend these techniques I will be creating cross-app images where I use different apps an photoshop and keep passing from one to another to gain a specific visual image that I want. My experiments can be found on my blog post ‘Glitch Photography Techniques – Research and background tests’. I spent quite a lot of my time researching apps and software and learning how to create specific glitches in Photoshop.

I have contact sheets here of my self-portraits which begin the glitch photography, experiments and completed work on the blog post ‘Part five: Exhibition’ which can be found within the Contact Sheet section of my blog.


30th July 2020

It has been quite a difficult task to research and track down artists and/or photographers who produce conceptual work on mental health.

There are many who may produce a series of photographs or a one off image as a statement about suffering from depression or anxiety, both of these are the most popular mental health illnesses that people communicate about.

While researching I came across mental health photography projects and a handful of individual photographers who have used photography to comment on mental health illnesses, these links can be found on my blog posts, Portrait photography and mental health projects and Individual artists and photographers.

If anyone knows of other photographers that create work connected with the theme of mental health please let me know as I would like to research this theme further.


31st July 2020

Planning

With the research completed my next task was to write and sketch ideas connected with how I wanted the images related to my ‘glitches’ in life, my mental illnesses and how they effect me both emotionally, mentally and physically. The big question for me to work with was how can I get the idea of the glitch representing a certain feeling?

Also, landscape or portrait orientation?Mixed?

The eyes

I have began my planning with looking at composition within the image. The eyes are the most important part of this assignment as I am using the phrase ‘Eyes are the window to our soul.’

The original phrase is related to the bible verses Matthew 6:22-24:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

The Holy Bible Matthew 6:22-24:

However, the exact phrase which became the popular quote was written by Shakespeare who often obtained his inspiration from the Holy Bible.

‘The Me Crying’

It is a fact that our eyes do indeed provide us with information about our emotional state. It isn’t just our eyes but the brow that helps people to decipher how someone is feeling.

  • Sad, Worried, Confused, Annoyed – the eyebrow is furrowed and folds appear. This also makes the eyes look smaller.
  • Happy, Eager, Fresh, Enthusiastic (Bright-eyed) – the eyebrow is raised and the eyes look bigger and brighter. The corner of our eyes also form a crow’s feet pattern when we are truly happy.

The pupil which is the opening of our eye, dilates or contracts to regulate the amount of light that coming to our eye and will grow or shrink depending on the amount of light that it is picking up, this is called the ‘pupillary light response’.

Many researchers and psychologists claim that the size of our pupils tells us a lot about the emotions of their owners. The pupils dilate when we are aroused whether from danger or from the pleasure of meeting someone we are attracted to. This happens because our heart and breath rates increase, we sweat, muscles tense and then our pupils dilate. This happens to me when I am having a severe panic attack, I have had the ambulance called out twice because people who were present looked at the eyes and thought I was having a heart attack.

: source Psychology Today UK Your eyes really are the windows to your soul.

3 Clues to Recognise Bipolar Disorder Mania in the Eyes

I found this excellent article while researching the topic of eyes. It is written by Julie A. Fast and discusses how she began to take photographs during her different phases of her bipolar illness to track how her eyes changed during different episodes.

… Digital cameras naturally revolutionized this process and I eventually noticed that the major changes happened in my eyes. My smile could lie. I often smiled when depressed so that the world wouldn’t know how sick I was in the moment. But my eyes never lied. I started to take pictures with my eyes as the focus and my mania management plan soon had another strategy I and the people close to me could use to keep mania from ruining my life and my relationships. 

Julie A. Fast Psychology Today UK

It was very interesting reading the above article because when my ex fiancé use to attack me whether verbally or physically his eyes would change and I knew even before his onslaught that I was in for some type of attack from him. Once, when he had his hands around my throat and pushed me backwards and stood there holding my neck to go to strangle me (he didn’t follow through) his eyes actually went totally black. At first I thought he had been slipped some drugs at the pub that he had just came home from. However I found out later that many people who attempt to strangle someone or kill them are in such a high state of ‘fight’ that their eyes dilate due to the sympathetic nervous system releasing the hormone adrenaline. This release increases the metabolism which dilates the pupil for better vision to enable someone to fight at their most strongest. It was the most scariest moment of my life and still is because I thought I was going to be murdered on the spot.

Fast has written that the eyes change when in euphoric mania and dysphoric mania.

  • Euphoric Mania – shimmering quality to the liquid in the eyes, silver, shimmering flecks in the whites of eyes when euphoric. Eyes widen.
  • Dysphoric Mania – turns the eyes black, become narrow and often look mean, eyes can change colour.

After reading this article I tried to research other mental illnesses and changes in the persons eyes. Although I couldn’t find any further research, some online help groups have spoken about how they know if their partner/ mum etc… were ill and they described the changes identical to that which frost had researched and reported on.

With this in mind I will be looking at my eyes within chosen shots as they will be valuable to give the viewers visual information to my sense of wellness or thoughts at the time they were taken.

01st August 2020

Returning to my sketches of possible compositions (above) and cropping in tightly, I have decided that although this may work for a couple of shots in the series, the images actually lacked other information which would not only be useful for the viewers to decipher but may improve the amount of information within the composition and therefore make it much more interesting.

The negative spaces will balance the composition more, drawing the viewers eyes in and they could also hold more detail within them around the glitch part of this assignment.

Composition colours

  • Black&White
  • Colour
  • Monochrome
  • Duo tone
  • Complimentary
  • Triadic colour harmonies

Specific colours chosen to signify specific mental health feelings, for example black and grey tones for depression.

Colour schemes from colorcombos.com

Many of my apps on my iPad which I have bought let me research colours and colour combinations. I use these apps to help me figure out colour schemes for my artworks but I thought I would look into colour schemes for my images as they will help define the feelings connected with my mental health as a glitch.

I have also found a very good online source which I have not used before which I will research and use for examples in my planning. The website that I have found is called ‘Colour Combos‘.

When I think of my depressive episodes I think of the colour grey as the mid tone. This is because grey can be as near to black and white as I could perceive it. With this colour I also see grey spoilt colours, they become drab and heavy such as the colours that I have found combination with below.

When I begin to come out of my depression, colours begin to emerge and they agitate me. These colours are bright and nudge at the black darkness which can be uncomfortable because when you are in a depressive state, especially when you turn to your bed as a way of escape and for comfort you do not want the brightness to begin to wake you.

Depression: The Connection between Coloraturas Perception and Mood

Research from the University of Freiburg shows that depressed patients cannot view black and white contrasts accurately.

A new study in Biological Psychiatry showed a dramatically lower retinal contrast gain in patients with depression than in healthy subjects.

For the study, Seeing Gray When Feeling Blue? Depression Can Be Measured in the Eye of the Diseased, Dr. Emanual Bubl and his team evaluated 40 patients suffering from depression (20 who were taking antidepressant medication and 20 who were not.) 40 healthy patients were also studied as a control.

They found a significant decrease in the retinal sensitivity of depressed patients, even patients taking medication.

Further, the more severely depressed a patient, the lower the retinal response.

Depression can change the way a patient sees the world, eliminating the vibrancy of naturally occurring colors.

But also, viewing the world as a drab, colorless environment could worsen depression, perpetuating the emotions of loneliness and sadness.

National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioural Medicine nicabm.com

I have chosen the colour combinations below because they remind me of the dark feelings and solitude of depression that I feel.

ColorCombo40
ColorCombo75
ColorCombo107
ColorCombo250
ColorCombo6261
ColorCombo7095
ColorCombo7626

The colours that I have chosen also remind me of Picasso’s Blue period 1901-1904 when he painted monochromatic paintings in shades of blue and blue-green which occasionally had warmer colours within them to break the colour scheme up and produce some warmth within the composition. This can be seen in his painting ‘The Old Guitarist’ 1903 where the guitar brings a warm colour to the centre of the picture plane.

Picasso ‘The Old Guitarist’ 1903

Anxiety is very hard to describe in colour. This is because I have the tones of depression ever present but hidden waiting to re-appear and I know these depression colours are just sitting on my shoulder waiting for the chance to spread every where.

On top of my underlying feelings of depression are anxiety spikes, I can feel them grow and retract, grow and retract. It is continual. Continual pulsating and exploding spikes, energy. With that energy comes colour, lots of it, uncontrollable and unpredictable. It blinds me and panics me, it hurts me.

These are the colour schemes that I relate to my anxiety attacks.

ColorCombo25
ColorCombo239

With the anxiety combinations I have found that more colours are needed to feel that over whelming rush of energy and dread. I need some darker tones with which the colours clash and which makes them twice as bright, unbearable. A feeling of, ‘Oh no, those colours do not go together!”

So below I am putting colour schemes together because, for example, although the above ColorCombo239 has that unbearable brightness and energy the same feelings that I get with my anxiety, to make it painful it has to have a darker palette to bounce off.

Looking at the four colour combinations above this is how my anxiety feels although it needs a purple as for some unknown reason purple is a colour that I see in my head as the biggest energy giver.

I have added a purple combo to the colour combinations seen above and as I did so, it also reminds me of my retina (ocular) migraines that I often have. These really hurt, the explosion of colour is so painful. So I will research colour combinations for these as these are regular parts of my CPTSD as well.

Below all five combination colour schemes.

If I combine the five colour schemes randomly and jolt them about their picture plane similar to a glitch, we can see below how anxiety feels to me, however it still requires the rises and falls of spiked pain.

The combinations below although not a zig-zag shape like some of my ocular migraines, really do represent the moving lines of colour that I see.

Below is a simple glitch video created from one of the above colour schemes and a self-portrait image layered beneath it.

The spikes and colours of anxiety with the black and browns which it all bounces off.
‘When I Wake and Panic Welcomes Me’

I have created one anxiety attack self-portrait which can be seen above, ‘When I Wake and Panic Welcomes Me’. Many times my panic attacks begin in my sleep. Triggered perhaps by a nightmare or a restless dream, I can never remember. I wake up and I have the awful adrenaline which is freezing as ice moving around my body, it actually burns. Then the realisation that I am having an attack and the energy of panic begins to burst uncontrollably and as I try to control it, I begin to get a burning sensation in my head. The chaos that follows, the energy and colour and the dread in my head, throbbing and my breathing becomes uncontrollable as I gasp for air saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, Help Me, Oh My God, Help me!’ It’s the same routine and I say and do the same things. I get a pain in my arm and I think I am having a heart attack and then I begin to feel as though I am going to pass out. Sometimes I am sick, once I wet myself. This is the fight or flight part of the attack where my body wants to make itself lighter by expelling all unnecessary products through sick, wee and poo so it can run away as fast as it can.

My second anxiety image used colour and words over the spiking pattern to emphasise how anxiety and panic attacks feel.

I found a true life image that I took when I was beginning a panic attack on a bus. I was shielding my eyes from the light and the other passengers and with eyes closed I was trying to calm myself with breathing exercises.

I then layered two colour glitches on top of my image and also a black and white face shot to bring back some detail in the face which was lost within the layering. I achieved the black and white only shot by erasing everything around the face on a duplicated image.

Once I had completed the visual image I added the text Error, similar to what you would see on a computer or TV screen. This word reflects how I see an anxiety attack as a fault in my nature, I have gone wrong.

From the completed image on the left (below) I ran various glitch programmes too corrupt it further. Examples of these can also be seen below. The image on the top right shows how I managed after quite a number of adjustments to gain two Error texts which are visible amongst blurred ones. The bottom image had added block glitches to it and all text is blurred. However these two images although they have the fuzzy feeling that I get that leads up to the feeling of passing out, they do not have the sharp chaotic buzzing of colour that I get during the panic/ anxiety attack.

I thought I would try a happy image just to extend the research a little further. I am not sure I have captured the feeling quite correctly. The image on the left is nearer how I would visualise my happiness in that the glitches are still present and the darkness of depression and the chaotic colours of anxiety are not over taking my person like the image on the right.

This is a concept I feel needs working on further.

04th August 2020

Background glitches

05th August 2020

I decided to create background glitches that I could use to layer with images. The images however they have been shown here, either in landscape or portrait, can be rotated to give a different direction for their lines.

The glitches are in their original forms without adjustment so many of them seem as though they are solid black but they do however have some type of pattern or glitch running through them faintly. By adjusting each image not only can the patterns and glitches become far more noticeable but the colours of the images also can be changed.

They are shown below.

Trials

I have been taking self-portraits for a while now in many formats from Polaroid images, digital camera to web-cam images. This increased in amount and became more varied after I had researched the works of Jo Spence. I began to take photos of myself in different states of unkemptness due to waking up ill as well as myself sobbing at my mum’s funeral at the beginning of this year which I had to watch via the internet because of the Covid-19 Panademic.

The contact sheets of my selfies can be found here.

To begin creating my images I chose close up images that I liked the composition of. I then began to glitch the images with out much planning but focused on how different glitches looked in combination with one another. This proved a very big learning curve as I soon realised that less glitching and simple compositions were far more powerful than those that overwhelmed the image.

I also noticed how my images were veering away from the glitch idea and they were becoming quite creative. They were far too colourful and abstract in outcome which meant that they were far from a reality photograph with a glitch effect.

Below are my first trials which show how I adjusted them either too far or the adjustments just did not work.

However I have produced some images that I really like and I will use these in my exhibition as they are very aesthetic, these are four examples below.

Sullen

6th August 2020

The above image shows how I was trying to highlight the face area by boxing it off from the rest of the image. This is so that the viewers eye is drawn directly to the face. I added a video play icon and the text NO PLAY because when you are depressed you do not want to do anything. I then added a simple block line glitch to represent a video roll.

Once the image was completed I added a blue tint as when you are ‘feeling blue’ with depression you feel weighed down and darkness seems to be quite dominant in everything you see or think. I added a textured glitch to represent a mesh as I often fill that I am hidden behind a screen that I cannot push or pull off me and it suffocates. The final glitch was a slight ‘wobble’ to represent off balance and also to glitch the side of the box so that it was less harsh than the straight line and so it also glitched the text.

Although I actually like the image on the right, the feeling of depression does not come across to the viewer. I believe that this is because I was not depressed at the time I took this photograph which was for this assignment, therefore my eyes do not show the depression, they are quite bright and alert.

‘Interference’

Although I like the above image ‘Interference’ with its purposely blurred background and over all image, it does not quite fit in with the idea that I had formed within my mind. The blackness of the glitch which takes the place of my head and neck is more akin to a heavier force, for example death which is the ultimate take over of a person.

Therefore a heavy statement such as the one above will not help the viewer come to a mental health conclusion as they think about the image as much as one that has less glitching and shows the eyes and facial expressions, if indeed there are any.

Due to the fact that I do not sleep much I found myself working on images in the early hours of the morning. The work I feel falls into four categories:

  • Simple glitches
  • Addition of text
  • Creative images
  • Multiple images within a box

I made over three hundred different images but I will just show a few that are worth commenting on below.

The simple glitches such as the examples above I believe work the best out of all the different trials that I had completed. This is due to the fact that the normality of the portrait image was needed to get across to the viewer that this was a person, a real truth picture and not one that was adjusted for creative aesthetic outcomes. This helps the glitches to be seen and the overall idea of makes more sense – the glitches are interfering with me distorting me and causing an interference just as my mental health does.

I also feel that the face when it can be seen clearly with the glitching and the interference becomes far more interesting to see and the viewer looks at the image longer, tracing the lines with their gaze and appreciating the shapes and lines that are present.

Although the text images are interesting and provide an extra visual appeal I feel that they do not come across to the viewer with the concept that I was planning for. The truth element is taken over by design especially with the first image on the left. For the others to work I feel they would be better off presented within a series of works using the same design and text elements rather than stand alone images.

With the images being presented alone I feel like saying to myself, ‘More’ ‘Where are the rest?’ ‘What else can you give me?’ ‘I want to see more’ ‘ Help me understand.’ They feed my inquisitiveness and I naturally want to see other works.

With the creative images they are great one-off images and their function is purely aesthetic enjoyment. I have three of these printed onto acrylic blocks for exhibition in September 2020 (next month) and they look good standing together. The acrylic blocks and my work in the exhibition called ‘Life in Lockdown – Life’s a Glitch’, can be seen here in my exhibition review.

17th August 2020

The dissociation images above I feel work very well. They really do show that fuzzy feeling that I get when I am zoning in and out of awareness. I used the same image but glitched it differently with the same interference glitch app and boxed the image in different cropped sizes. This represents the different stages of awareness which can be likened to the auto focus on a camera where it moves in and out to gain a sharp image. The sharper the image the more aware I am of my surroundings.

I also found that by cropping the image a slightly abstract quality is gained visually and the eyes and nose lines are enhanced.

On the second Dissociation image (right) I added text akin to what we could find on a television, ‘All Channels’ and ‘Not Recording.’ I liked this idea and it works well with this images concept. All channels signifies all the stages of dissociation and not recording stands for the fact I am unaware of my surroundings and I am not making a record of that which is around me.

I also trialed the idea of putting boxes around the eyes. This is because I had researched the importance of eyes in images and how they communicate to the viewer. I wanted to draw the viewers eyes in by highlighting the eye area. I chose the box because I really liked how the box was used in the happiness photo there was an aesthetic and design quality that I was attracted to.

I do not however feel that having the boxed highlighted eyes and the text works together. There was far to much information as I had already had the cropping and the glitch interference patterns, adding the text and the boxing took away from the concept and the images became quite gimmick like.

Most people show the mask in their works with words on and some type of deformity to express their concept. I have done this myself on numerous works – the concept, the message is on the outside for people to view.

The concept in these mental health glitch images is that the mask hides the grotesque ‘mental health me’ beneath them. When taken off, the masks reveal the portraits above which show how I feel, deformed, darkness of depression and glitched.

I chose to put multiple images into a grid for emphasis and to crop into the portraits as though the viewer is taking a closer look. The decision to look closer at the deformities caused by the glitch is taken away from the viewer as the images themselves draw the viewers eyes into a given close-up.

The first four experiments with the title ‘Confusion’ went well. I chose to crop in tightly to enlarge the perspective that the viewer is invited to see. There is much interference to signify that hazy and out of focus feeling that I get inside my head where I cannot concentrate.

On looking at these four images there was still something missing. I felt I needed more information to show how confused you can get when suffering with CPTSD.

I therefore created further grid images and placed them within the composition. These can be seen on the lower right if the image. I also produced a strong and dynamic wave glitch image which was included twice, with a smaller one over lapping the larger one. This, because of it’s clarity becomes the first part of the composition that our eyes are drawn to. From here we, the viewer travel around the composition plane. Lastly I created a layered a third added image which can be seen in the middle on the left of the composition. The layers, predominantly the eyes showing, symbolise changing from one phase into another.

I particularly like this grid image and feel it would look dynamic as a very large print. It is in square format which also makes it interesting to view. I would have this printed at 40″ by 40″ so that the confusion engulfs the viewer when viewed closely as the images would merge together because of the interference glitches added to each image.

The two grids below are not interesting or dynamic enough for me to catch the eye of a viewer and hold it for a while. ‘Glitching’ definitely worked better as a video as the moving of the lines and colours could be felt rather than the straight forward static image.

Developing the idea further

26th August 2020

I am running behind on this assignment and the agreed date that I actually set. I am now in the middle of packing the house up for a move which came around very fast as well as the stress of everything causing fatigue. With the fatigue I suffering’s both my mind and body are exhausted to the point they actually hurt and I have to take pain killers and I cannot move from the bed for two to three days. It is such an awful thing to have to suffer especially when there is so much to be completed and I have to let my eldest daughter take charge of the house and my youngest.

Today I feel well enough to sit at my table and type some of my assignment up but I am still nodding off and my joints and muscles are throbbing. There are some days I hate my disability because it cannot be beaten and this week has seen each day as a mind field of pain and fogginess to work through.

By creating so many different types of images I began to feel which ones visually made a statement for the concept of my mental health as a glitch. It was definitely single images where the person becomes important and not lost in either a grid or lots of creativity.

Broken

From this decision I began to focus on specific ideas. The first I created was connected with my mothers unexpected death and her funeral. The funeral I couldn’t attend because of Covid-19 lockdown rules so I had to watch it via the internet. A bizarre thing, and quite unemotional except for when the curtain was drawn around my mum in her coffin and when I saw my nephew collapse from grief. Images that still bring tears to my eyes now.

I took iPad photographs throughout the ceremony. As we were watching from the back of the room where the camera had been set up, we were able to see a 180 degrees view. As I began to mourn I also took a few photographs, quite hard to do when you are crying that intensely, but one image now plays an important part in my artwork, I have called the completed image ‘Broken’, this can be seen below.

I have shown the progression in the work from the first adjustments to the final image.

‘Broken’

For this image I decided rather than just cooling down the tone of the image I would convert it to a black and white to symbolise death and the mourning colour. The tradition of black as a mourning colour began with the Romans in the 2nd Century BC where the Roman magistrates would wear a toga pulla to funeral ceremonies which is a dark toga. I also thought it would go with the black of my hair and the black of my mourning dress which would make the overall image very dark and powerful.

I only used two types of glitches within this image and made sure that two specific areas of the face, which were the eyes and mouth, were left quite clear from too much glitching. This way both the eyes and mouth would be able to represent great sadness.

The two glitch types were a vertical slide which pulls the images downwards as though it is melting and sliding off a hard surface and the second glitch technique I used was the horizontal blocks which pulled the image slightly out of line.

To complete the overall character of the image was enhanced further by the addition of two rectangular black boxes either side of the image. I added these blocks as they pushed the image further forwards towards the viewer because they highlighted the strong black areas and acted as a contrast to the white and grey areas.

Due to the fact that I watched the funeral over the internet the black boxes also reminded me of the frame that runs around the 35mm negative, although my version does not have the top and bottom frame.

Depressed in Bed

From the first true construction of a glitch image, ‘Broken’ I decided to see if I could recreate an image that looked as though it is an old video film still.

Luckily, I was actually able to use a photograph taken when I was in bed and suffering from exhaustion and depression, alter the colour tones to mimic those of a washed out old video and then just add very simple grain and lines to it.

The completed image which can be seen below does symbolise the glitch felt by depression. The washed out feeling of exhaustion and the waves of the atmosphere caused by depression that run across you like a veil.

‘Depressed in Bed’

Although I feel that both of the images above fulfil the concept that I had planned for, there was still something lacking for me. I feel that when I am looking at the images I want to know more. Whether this is because with the conceptual photography that I research or the books that I collect there is a text that runs alongside the images that documents what the work is about or what the photographer is trying to achieve etc…

4th October 2020

The Black Box of Looming Darkness

I have been really ill and with the house being boxed up ready for the move, family arguments since my mum’s death which even included police involvement and working towards September-October 2020 Lockdown Exhibition at Hall Place, Bexley, my life has been too chaotic for me to concentrate.

My mental illness has taken a plummet for the worse. I couldn’t even pick up my camera let alone read a book or write a paragraph for my college course. I really was in darkness. With the feeling of being boxed in I wanted to try to add this extra feeling to my work. The feeling of being lost in black, the void. The question is how would I do this? Also I had to acknowledge that some days are better than others. I might feel completed engulfed one minute but in another I feel as there is more of me and that the blackness is receding.

Having seen Andy Warhol’s exhibition at the Tate Modern (my review can be found here), I remembered one of his works that had intrigued me. The title of the work is ‘Black and White Disaster’ 1963 and is part of the Death and Disaster series which shows news images of a car crash. Warhol repeated the images so that they would stay in the minds of the viewer for as long as possible.

However the reason that this work is important to my series for two specific reasons. Firstly the repeated image is quite similar visually to my ‘Dissociation’ images in both the colour and texture which fades in areas and the image repetition. The second and the most important is the area on the right of the image that has been left black.

The black canvas on the right to me personally symbolises death well. Black being the colour one wears to a funeral and the colour that many cultures relates death with. Black also represents the feelings one has when confronted with death, the power, the darkness, the nothingness of the empty void.

Black and White Disaster, 1963

Trying to research the concept behind the black area, I came across other works which compositions were similar. I found that some of the negative colour spaces differed from painting to painting. This can be seen below in ‘Orange Car Crash’. Here the negative space also runs onto the left canvas which holds the images.

Orange Car Crash image sothebys.com

Having seen the Black and white Disaster up close I was moved by its power and the composition, both the left and right side intrigued me and kept my eyes within the works frame.

With this in mind I had decided to add black boxes around my images.

These black boxes act like frames yet at the same time represent how the darkness of depression hems you in and keeps you captive, separated from the rest of the world. The box holds me in and hopefully if present within my compositions, will hold the viewers gaze onto the image for longer.

Being able to work on images on my iPad from bed is such a positive thing in my life. While I have been ill I have been unable to get out of bed. Depression keeps me in the safety of my warm duvet away from the imagined threats and anxiety of the outside world.

Armed with my iPad I began to sort through the images created and find the final ones that I wanted to work with in adding the black box of doomed as I now call them. The completed images are below.

Completed images for assignment five

Conclusion

Presentation/ Exhibition

To complete the assignment I arranged the work according to how I would like it to be shown in an exhibition. I thought about the sizes of the images and their placements as well as what the images would be printed on. To read about the exhibition planning use this link.

I have also written about the September-October Lockdown exhibition that my work is currently showing in. My series for this exhibition is titled, ‘Life in Lockdown – Life’s a Glitch.’ The review for this exhibition can be found here and contains some of the work created for this assignment and accompanying sculptures I made to highlight three-dimensionally the idea of a self-portrait glitch.

  • Has my series turned out how I expected it to?
  • Have I accomplished the concept as mental health as a glitch?
  • Can the viewer ‘see’ the anguish in the self portraits?

I have tackled answering these questions and I discuss each individual image that have been chosen for this assignment in the blog post, ‘Personal Project – Final Edit’ which can be found here.


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