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.


17th June 2020

Appropriation in art is the practice of using pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to the original subject without authority from the person who has the copyright. It is a mind field of rules and regulations because it is about stealing, ownership and originality.

This link to Tate website, tate.org.uk, explains how Appropriation began with Cubism from 1912 with Picasso using African culture, it became a strategy of the pop Artists in the 1960’s but is related more specifically to the art of American artists in the 1980s, notably Sherrie Levine and the artists of the Neo-Geogroup particularly Jeff Koons. 

Artists and Photographers and Appropriation

The American artist Jeff Koons was taken to court when he used French ad executive Franck Davidovici’s photograph called ‘Fait d’Hiver’ (1985) and created a sculpture of the same name in 1988. Davidovici sued Koons for copyright infringement and Koons was ordered to pay $168,000 in plagiarism fines.

The well known picture of Barack Obama which was created by street artist Shepard Fairey was constructed from a photograph by Mannie Garcia. The image was said to help Obama win the election by some. Shepard Fairey ended up being taken to court and the events surrounding this and can be read on the website Wired, wired.com

General Idea was a collective formed in Canada in the late 1960s by AA Bronson (born 1944), Felix Partz (1945–1994) and Jorge Zontal (1944–1994). The group was a pioneer of conceptual and collaborative art practice. They often used and subverted popular culture and mass media (running shops, holding beauty pageants, making postcards). In 1986 the group moved to New York and their work focused on promoting AIDS awareness. After amending Robert Indiana’s famous ‘Love’ design to replace the word LOVE with AIDS, the logo was reprinted on bags, billboards and fly posters as well as wallpaper.

Tate tate.org.uk

Is Appropriation borrowing, theft or paying respect?

The images

I decided that I would use portraits as my media sources so using both of my daughters interests on YouTube gaming as a reference point I asked them which gamers are their favourite. I then used YouTube to find them and took a screenshot of them while they were playing and talking to the viewers.

For the screenshots I watched the most up to date videos with them visually present and waited for an interesting facial expression. Once I had found the shot that I wanted I had to re-wind the video slightly so that I could obtain the exact image that I wanted.

The completed image which I have called ‘Game On!’ is below:

Game On!

Following on from this creation I decided that I wanted to create a grid relating to the current climate connected with the Covid-19 virus. Music is one of my loves in life, so I decided to keep to the theme of portraits but this time to use the portraits from Wonderwall.com and the post ‘Stars who died from the coronavirus.’

The completed grid which I have called ‘Gone Today’ is below:

Gone Today

Thinking along the lines of how Covid-19 now influences our lives I decided on a theme connected with how people in their isolation kept socialising safely. I came up with ideas such as Zoom and Skype meetings, Facebook and other social media networks as well as good old telephone calls and texting.

A quick and personal grid is the one that can be seen below which is a screen shot of a creative writing zoom workshop that I took part in on Friday 19th June 2020. With this grid I couldn’t alter the layout which included details like who was talking at the time of the screenshot which can be seen by the green box around Nadia. This concept is quite interesting personally especially as at the moment I am taking part in watercolour, creative writing, mixed media, doodle art, abstract art and tea and talk weekly workshops.

What I particularly liked with this image is the black box that comes as part of the screen shot. I could have cropped it out but I feel it actually adds to the overall feel and design of the image as well as the fact that it is a true representation of the screen.

Creative writing workshop on zoom

Moving on from my own personal grid I began to start to think more about my daughters and how they were socialising, I decided to make a grid about online gaming, wether by mobile phone, computer or a games console.

Researching popular games and asking my daughters which games they were using most frequently, I came across the article ’25 best video games to help you socialise while self-isolating, which can be found on The Guardian website the guardian.com. Reading this article and knowing the information that I had obtained from my daughters, I created the grid below called, ”Come Play With Me!’.

Come Play With Me!

I decided to explore the composition of the grid more. Due to the fact that the gaming industry is very design orientated I wanted a grid that was quite dynamic in its own right and which would match the strength of the images that I had obtained on games.

To add a little more interest to the grid I decided to crop in tightly on some of the images so that text was the main focus rather than the imagery.

I discovered that sometimes cropping the images meant that the excitement contained within the bright, energetic designs became lost slightly and the crops would take away important parts of the illustration. For example, in the above Fortnite, Battle Royale grid the over sized gun that the trooper is carrying on the right is cropped slightly which spoils the image.

Over all the grid works very well because it catches the eye, draws you into the information within the illustrations and the large text with its boldness.

This grid does have a few design flaws. Cropping into the images, as briefly discussed above, has come with its own drawbacks that some of the information is lost.


13th June 2020

I actually found the title and the brief confusing. Photography is always an illusion, so which way should I travel to complete this exercise? What are we actually being asked to produce?

Examples of illusion photography:

  • Post-processing
  • Forced perspective or perspective distortions
  • Form
  • Double exposure
  • Tiny planet
  • Use of lines
  • Camera placement EG tilting
  • Photo sequences

Common subjects and techniques

The website post, ’40 Incredible Examples of Optical Illusions in Photos’ which can be found on boredpanda.com is an amazing resource to the different subjects and techniques that people are using to create photography illusions.

The insert below shows a variety of images which can be found by searching Google.

Well Know Contemporary Illusion Photographers

Felice Varini: anamorphosis

The Swiss photographer Felice Varini is my favourite illusion photographer who uses design elements hand painted on flat surfaces and then photographed. However, these shapes can only be seen as three dimensional images when viewed at specific angles otherwise the viewer will just see broken sections.

Varini has to to take into account surfaces, angles, lines and the light when planning and creating his designs and then uses a screen projector to ensure they are painted in the correct positions.

Li Wei: anti gravity art photographer

The Chinese photographer Li Wei is widely known for his images that show people in a state of weightlessness, flight or falling from a huge height. To produce such illusions each image is technically planned for and he uses aids such as mirrors, iron cables, acrobats and scaffolding to obtain his illusions.

Although his work is very clever and takes quite a lot of planning to produce the images, I particularly do not get to over excited about his work. I believe this is because this illusion category is used for advertising and within films and music videos so often that it has lost its’ appeal. The techniques used are the same just different people and environment.

This series also has visual similarities to the work of Denis Darzacq, especially the series ‘Hyper’ 2007-2009, which is discussed in the blog post Denis Darzacq.

Hyper No 8

Chema Madoz: new perceptions

The Spanish photographer Jose Maria Rodriguez Madoz whose pseudonym is Chema Madoz, is my favourite ‘illusion’ photographer who uses objects and people within his work. He uses subtle shades of colour, exploits lines and textures, negative spaces and crops photographs so that the eye is drawn into the forms of his subjects.

There is something calming about his images which I feel is due to the neutral colours and simple detail which do not over power his subject matter.

Michael Hughes: placement photography

The American photographer Michael Hughes intrigues me because his work uses postcards and souvenirs from around the word which he then uses in his photography to create illusions. He places the postcards and objects so that the viewer perceives them to be part of their surroundings correct in size and positioning.

I cannot remember where or when, but a couple of years ago I remember reading how it took many attempts for Hughes to get the positioning of his objects and postcards correct within the landscape in front of him. He had two make sure, for example, that the building forms and the sizing was correct so there was a continuous flow of lines.

The images below particularly grab my attention as Hughes has thought very carefully about camera placements and the surroundings to his objects which set the scene.

Hughes postcards and CD covers within his photographs are what is termed, ‘photographs within photographs’ examples of which can be seen below.

Allan Teger: Bodyscapes

American photographer Allan Teger’s black and white bodyscapes are created by using the human form as the landscape or seascape with little miniature people posed on them.

Personally I do not like these images at all, for me they come across as cheesy and gimmicky. I can be positive about the use of the harsh black and white lighting though, I find it very dynamic and would prefer the images if the toy people were not present in the images. This way the human form can be a subtle illusion reflecting the lines of nature. Perhaps the body could even be shot in amongst nature so that the lines fall into place with the surrounding environment and made abstract by keeping the harsh black and white lighting.

14th June 2020

In Hiding: Hidden Sequences

I decided that I would complete a sequence that shows an illusion using Keith Arnatt’s Self Burial (1969) as inspiration. Here Arnatt disappears further into the ground image by image.

Self-Burial (Television Interference Project) 1969 Keith Arnatt 1930-2008 image from dawntomlin.blog

It is weird, and not at all helpful when I am studying on a course, that I tend to dream about what I will be producing for artwork, sculpture and photographs etc… It is tiring as I tend to wake up early morning around 2am and then plan the work.

I dreamt of Arnatt’s Self-Burial and then I dreamt that I would create the illusion that my reflection was disappearing from within a mirror.

I even dreamt of the actual photograph to use for the mirror background. The concept is that even when I am present with people, I am hiding from them. The other parts of me that I need to get through different situations and to interact act with different people are not visible. This is symbolised by appearing face in the mirror – which one of my brave self’s is needed for this situation?

The bathroom was in a restaurant and I was celebrating with people and thanking them for the support they had given me for three years of my life when I was under threat. They had tried to get me to leave the abuser on many, many occasions. However, if you are trauma bonded with all the mess that brings with it, you stick even further with your abuser. So this ‘self’ that is appearing in the mirror is one that is putting on a brave face, hence the smiling.

Once I found the image I uploaded it onto my iPad and then added a second layer which contained a self-portrait.

Once the face was positioned within the mirror correctly I began to erase the remaining of the image so that only my head was kept. From here it was just a case of saving the image each time I changed the opacity of the image so that my face became increasingly transparent.

Once I had repeated this action eight times I began to put five of the images into strip format.

The first strip that I created ran horizontally but I didn’t feel that visually I saw the progression from empty mirror to full face as well as I would have liked. I am wondering if it is because the whole sequence can be viewed with one glance.

In Hiding – horizontal strip

With this problem in mind, I wondered that if I changed the orientation of the strip the process of viewing the images would be broken up more and therefore the progression of the appearance of the face would be more noticeable.

For me the vertical orientation of the strip of images did indeed work far better than the horizontal layout to give the illusion of a face appearing. However I was still not happy at seeing the completed sequence all in one strip as our eyes could still see too much information which spoilt the overall feeling of the image emerging.

In Hiding – vertical strip

Taking into consideration the visual interference that we gain from seeing all the images presented to us at once, I remembered that Arnatt’s Self-Burial’ had been presented also as a slide show. By viewing images one at a time in a slide show our eyes focus on one image at a time and the materialising and the movement or the appearance of an object or person becomes easily detectable.

I therefore decided to put eight sequence images into a slide show and obtained the desired effect that I had hoped to achieve which was the emergence of the face within the mirror.

The completed work can be seen below.

I am really happy with the completed sequence and how it performs within a slide show. I feel my objective of giving the illusion of a fading portrait works well, especially as I increased the image count from five to eight.

If I was to re-present this idea there are a couple of things that I would change.

Firstly I would take a photograph of the mirror and keep some of its surrounding environment just like the image used for this exercise. I would then take a second shot with my reflection in it as well as my body. This means that the body would stay static within the sequence but the reflection would disappear. I would hope to achieve a moving image that could entice the viewer to question the content more.

After writing the above paragraph, I experimented a little more with the sequence. I took a close up self portrait of my face and cropped in very tightly so that in the mirror my scared eyes and nose were the only facial features present. Unfortunately I didn’t use the same set background to work on, I uploaded it for a second time to my iPad to work on and in doing so the alinement is slightly off composition when it fades to the close up shot. It is a shame because it causes the end of the sequence and the cycle back to the beginning to jump slightly which ruins the flow of the completed sequence.

Apart from this mistake I feel the added image gives a little more bite to the storyline and the viewers can question the eyes meaning to the storyline.

Just For Fun – Where’s Dawn

For the illusion sequence below I have adapted the ‘Where’s Wally?’ theme to a moving, ‘Where’s Dawn?’

There are five self-portrait heads hidden in the crowd. Four are the same portrait and there is a separate different bonus portrait.

I really enjoyed creating this illusion and it opens my imagination to so many things that I can create.


31st May 2020

For Assignment four we are asked to create a series of 3-5 still-life photographs based on a theme.

Still life is a traditional art form. The term ‘still-life,’ begins its origins in the seventeenth century Dutch language as ‘stilleven’ when paintings of still life became popular.

I studied still life in great depth when studying on the OCAs drawing and painting courses and found the development through history an interesting one. From Egyptian and Roman, from Renaissance to Post-Impressionism, bowls of fruit and flowers through to modern day conceptual still life works, there is so much to gain inspiration from.

For me though, the paintings symbolic meanings will always win me over. Simple visual story telling at its best. From the representation of life, death and time to lands far away, mythical Gods, beasts and objects of yesteryear, to serving our spiritual needs of religion and belief systems.

When it comes to the genre of still-life in photography today, technology in camera as well as the development of post-processing and image adjustments techniques means we have the capacity to really use our imaginations, thoughts and ideas and present still-life work traditionally, conceptually or artistically.

I have decided that to help me with my planning and to gain some inspiration, I will research still life in photography and look at those photographers and their work that I have interest in, especially the earlier photographers and their practices.

Still-life Photography

Inspiration: In the Beginning

The first still-life photograph was taken by the inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1827.

The Set Table 1827, Nicéphore Niépce

Earlier photographers kept to the traditional still life matter as they were trying to get the practice of photography accepted as an art form as it was viewed as simply a mechanical device. Photographers such as Hippolyte Bayard, Jacques-Louis-Mandé Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot, not only kept to the still life tradition to try to gain acceptance but because of early photography experiments having long exposure times, the still life was perfect for them as a genre because they had much more control over their subject and working methods.

I love the imperfections of the early photographs where there are over exposed and under exposed areas, and sometimes the lack of details, the harshness or the softness of the printed image also adds to the aesthetics of the image.

The Set Table 1827, Nicéphore Niépce

I particularly find Fox Talbots shelf still-life images very pleasing to my eye because unlike traditional still-life compositions where objects are closely grouped together, the shelf still life presents objects in rows. This enables each object to become important to the viewer in their own right and are not lost or fighting . We as the viewer get to see the form, textures, patterns and colour as a separate entity.

Fox Talbot, Left: A Scene in a Library and Right: Articles of Glass
images from The Metropolitan Museum of Art met museum.org

02nd June

These shelf still-lives also remind me of conceptual art where objects are placed on shelves as a presentation such as Damien Hirsts ‘Medicine Cabinets’ 2012. However boring the cabinets may look, for me it is the concept that is the driving force for the series.

This quote is from the web sight Damien Hirst:

“You can only cure people for so long and then they’re going to die anyway. You can’t arrest decay but these medicine cabinets suggest you can.”

He then created a group of twelve which, explaining, “I like it when there is more than one way of saying something, like songs on an album”, he titled after the twelve tracks on the Sex Pistol’s album ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’ (1977), with two named after ‘God Save the Queen’, (‘God’ (1989) and ‘god’ (1989).

Damien Hirst damienhirst.com
Medicine Cabinets 2012, Damien Hirst
image taken from Damien Hirst damienhirst.com

The following two images show how other contemporary artists have used shelves within their installations. However they have made their objects and shelves one colour.

Another one of my ideas is to paper mâché objects and place them on shelves and photograph them. I already paper mâché objects and reinvent their forms to produce secondary sculptures of my own designs. So photographing them on shelves could be a next step in their presentation for exhibition.

Shelves (i) 2008, Dean Hughes
image taken from Saatchi Gallery sattchigallery.com
Someone Else 2011-2012, Shilpa Gupta
image taken from Aesthetica aestheticamagazine.com

The examples that I have shown are conceptual art and have been staged. As I was researching still life and reading about it in some dedicated still-life photography books, I am finding the images are ‘perfect’ so perfect in fact they look like they have been produced in a parallel universe for perfectionists. They have perfect lighting, they create the perfect mood, perfect chosen colours that compliment each other and chosen themes which seem to be repeated in one form or another. For me personally, it is not only boring but untrue to life, in other words it all becomes fake and staged.

The still life genre feels to me to be over populated by objects that are important today. They are either advertising goods or a specific idea for the general public or in its pure creative form it becomes an aesthetic battleground to see who can out do the other with gimmickry.

Examples of advertising still life which are in popular culture include products such as make-up, sports shoes, food and drink to name but a few all which fall under the heading of consumable advertising and the subjects can be listed in their hundreds. The aim with these still life images is to sell products so they have to be bright and energetic, colourful and attractive to the eye. One example, make-up can be seen below.

Selection of make-up still life images image taken from Google Search make up still life

The Yawn Factor: Todays Technology

With todays technology and development within photography, which includes image concept and manipulation, ordinary households are able to take still life images. Photography is becoming a normal past time and more and more people are producing images for pure satisfaction. The bridge between knowing more techniques rather than not in photography is becoming a smaller gap as YouTube and online help is in its plentiful and is available for people of all abilities. However, to top the learning and practicing of such techniques are the inventions of apps. These apps are now accessible in camera within the creative mode and also in the apps on those mobile phones that come equipped with good cameras.

Not only do we have in camera apps but dedicated apps for Windows, Mac and iPad etc…. Here we can load our images and literally alter them to produce great end photographs of still life. If mistakes are made either in camera or post processing you can alter them in the apps, so with patience and work so much can be achieved to gain that ‘great’ image.

If we look at the images below from the website The Photo Argus thephotoargus.com and the post titled, ’35 Superb Examples of Still Life Photography,’ we can see that apart from the lighting and composition which is a skill that has to be learnt, other parts of the images such as throwing backgrounds out of focus, miniature effect, soft focus, one point colour, flare etc… can be shot in creative mode and also adjusted in post-processing. Other images which seem to have technical genius, for example the pencils in the water shots can be learnt on YouTube, the gap between creative genius and an awe struck beginner is closing.

Flickr is full of photographers who are learning everyday the skills needed to produce amazing end results. The content can easily be copied or tweaked so that it runs along the same theme but contains different imagery objects. I also have many apps I use for post processing for my creative art photography and they have examples of other photographers work for inspiration and text to help you develop your own theme and/or style.

I believe this is where concept and theme become important in todays photography. If you want to produce something less ordinary than that which is readily available to view on many online platforms, and indeed even in exhibitions, then concept and theme are the go to things to push your photography in a different direction to the rest.

So where does it leave photographers who want to step outside of the now standard practice of still-life imagery which is easily produced by so many?

This is not to say that I am a photography snob. I enjoy producing cliche images and content just as much as thought provoking images. However, I want to give the viewer something slightly different that will keep them looking at an image for more than a couple of seconds. I also want the images to be personal to me but of interest to others. How would I go about this in the still-life genre?

I have already discussed how I like the look of the photographs from the past with their less technical ability to produce a perfect visual end outcome. I also like the idea of un-grouping objects for still-life photography. In fact, one of the images in the OCA Foundations in Photography course folder pg 127 by the student, Nigel Haworth, is just this. His objects for his still life are created and presented to us in two distinct lines as well as having an excellent theme of infertility.

Nigel Haworth, OCA student OCA Foundations in Photography course folder pg127

The next step for me, therefore is to research a few modern conceptual photographs to see how the photographers have stepped beyond that which is accepted as ‘everyday’ still life. I want to be able to use them as a springboard out of the norm and what I perceive as cliche or boring and into a realm of images that once again engages the viewer.

03rd June 2020

Contemporary Still-life: Pushing the Boundaries

I was not surprised to find that, when looking through the book, ‘Still Life in Photography,’ Getty Publications, that, when I found still-life images that I liked, they were actually produced by some of my favourite photographers. I have included photographs of a few of the still-lives from the book that I liked and discussed the reasons why, below.

Paul Martineau, (2010). Still Life in Photography,California, Getty Publications

Top left: Tools with Blueprint, 1939, Paul Outerbridge. I chose this image because it has an image within an image to set the storyline. We have the tools as still life with the blueprint above. At first I thought there was a window setting the scene outside of the shed, however it is a photograph, so this illusion was a very clever device. Then there is the composition. Here Outerbridge frames the house with vertical and horizontal wood pieces. This draws our eyes inside the wooden frame to the house.

Top right: Untitled (Jelly and Butter on Plate) 1995, Martin Parr. This image was chosen because of how it looks at the end product of an action. It documents the finished meal and shows a plate with a knife, alongside open containers of jam and butter. This was a series of images showing the viewers images of everyday food that they eat and is typical of Parrs work that explores social issues and identity.

I also have chosen this as a still-life as it is something I regularly do, which is show the ‘left overs’ after we have eaten out. The reason I do this is because it is opposite to the ‘food porn’ craze that we easily find on social media platforms. I especially take finished still-life images in McDonalds because of the different colours, textures and forms that their food and drink comes packaged in as well as the fact that in some of the circles I move in McDonald’s is a cuss word when relating it to ‘food’.

Bottom left: Shoes from Abandoned Soda Works 1937. Edward Weston and Bottom right: Beato Salvador, 1950. Frederick Sommer, were chosen because they also show images that I regularly take and which I call, ‘ready made still-life’ because they are found laying around, already in situ for me to shoot. I also obtained my titled of these types of images from Marcel Duchamp’s ‘ready mades.’ Duchamp’s readymades became art by simple manipulation for example tilting them, however when I come across ‘readymade’ still-life I try not to alter where they lay but take photographs from different perspectives.

Above we have ready made still life subjects in shop windows. Again this is something I shoot often, as well as objects inside of the shops. I always ask permission and enjoy how different shops present their goods differently especially the second hand shops where their goods are not in lines or prettily stacked.

Below shows a kitchen cupboard full of objects of all textures and materials, forms and text included, perfect for me as I love text all lined up on shelves.

Untitled (Joy of Cooking), 1971. Bill Owens image from Still Life in Photography,California, Getty Publications

04th June 2020

Theme and Concept

I have enjoyed reading books on the subject of still-life, although quite a lot of the presentation techniques are quite the opposite to how I would want to produce my still-life.

After lots of thought about what I do like in both the art and the photography worlds I came up with the title ‘Involuntary Still-life’. Due to the fact that I like to work in series I will have this shoot as ‘The Secret Life of Shelves, and then another series could be ‘The Secret Life of Shop Windows.’ Shop window displays are another subject that I shoot as a still-life so this could be an ongoing theme of looking for ‘Involuntary Still-lives’ in many different environments. Other areas that I shoot are shop shelving still-life and related objects and lastly food shelving in the kitchen because they really do tell a story of peoples ability to cook and what they like to eat.

For this series though, I will shoot objects as they are, where they lay on peoples shelves. The idea is that the ‘Involuntary’ means two things. Firstly, it is regard to me the photographer, in that I am to take the photograph without conscious control over the still life objects positioning, they will stay as and where they are.

Secondly ‘Involuntary’ also relates to the concept and where I will find these objects. The objects will all be located on shelving that belongs to people, it becomes involuntary because they also must not change how their objects lay. They must not tidy the shelf up in any way, as it is ‘a compulsory’ rule for the series, all must be shot as found. In fact the objects are a ‘ready made’ still-life.

I am hoping that the concept will enable the viewer to think not only about the objects that will be present but how they relate to their owner. I will only give a first name as the title of the images, if there are more than one image for a person they will be numbered, name 1, name 2 etc…

The still-life images will enable the viewer to question the origins of the shelf’s contents with questions such as, Who do these objects belong to? Why have they got these type of objects on their shelf? I am hoping that human inquisitiveness will mean that the viewers attention will be held longer as they look at and reflect on individual objects on the shelf and make up their own story to who the person could be.

Other aspects that I am hoping people may think about will connect to the overall meaning of an object, whether it is a personal one, cultural, social or religious etc… Will they move the viewer emotionally, will they tell the viewer a story of a person or a family? I am hoping that the viewer gains far more than the simple response of ‘Oh, just objects on a shelf that belong to XXXX.’

The objects are mementos of a person, belongings that hold specific personal meanings that only that person can access as well as belongings that may be used for specific personal tasks, for example a hairbrush or make-up. Therefore the theme is ‘It’s my life’ and the concept is photographing peoples shelves with their belongings on them and engaging the viewer as if they are a detective looking at clues to who someone may be and to get them to question and arrive at some conclusion.

The only problem I have in completing this exercise is that because of the lock down I cannot shoot the shelves of my friends that have said I could, although if the subject arises I could follow up this concept in the photography degree. This therefore means that the range of still life objects for this assignment will not be as varied as I would have liked them to have been.

Background, objects and subjects

Due to the fact that the idea for this series is ‘Involuntary,’ ‘readymades’ I actually cannot set up a background or gather objects and arrange them. My relation with these areas of the shoot will be to look at the compositions on the shelves and taking into consideration the background and objects that I am presented with.

Lighting

It will be the lighting and camera positions that I will be specifically planning for within this shoot. I am presuming that each shelf will need different settings and camera positioning due to the available light within the area. There will also be other things that I will have to take into consideration such as will the time of day be uniformed for each shot, say for example all taken within the hours of 10am – 11am in the morning with available light or light added, or perhaps at night with the additional lighting which I have to set up. Would this be boring? Should I produce a variety of times of day to make the series more interesting?

Maybe I could shoot in the dark and use a torch to highlight the objects similar to Assignment two Painting with light. This would bring a secret element to the image to add to the already secret identity of the shelf owner. The viewer would also have to look more closely into the image to study the details and the clues. Hand drawn light can linger on specific areas to create atmosphere reminiscence of memories and obtain images that take on Talbots essence. This ‘old’ style of image represents memories which is how I see people’s shelves when they have personal belongings on them. Each object with a memory, a place or time they were bought, an event or a person they represent etc…

Another thought I had is whether I should make one specific object more brighter than the others. The idea behind this being that this specific object holds a specific meaning to the person whose shelf it is.

Another format I would like to use is my Polaroid cameras. Here the concept would be ‘a snap shot’ of someones life. However I know that using Polaroid cameras would probably be frowned upon for this course, so I will leave it to my own practices.

Composition

I will take photographs of various compositions of the objects on the shelves from whole shelf shot to small close ups. This will enable me to really present the overall theme which different visual stimuli which includes texture and isolated text.

This will enable me to present the persons shelf within either a triptych layout or a grid depending on how much visual interest can be gained from their shelf.

Triptych compositions 1,2 and 3

10th June 2020

The contact sheets for the shoot can be found using this link.

I have been busy looking through the images in the contact sheets and I have chosen few shots that are interesting. The chosen and adjusted images are on the contact sheets below.

Presentation

For the completed work I decided to present the images in square grids as if they were framed and in a gallery space. However I would place the images on shelves rather than hanging them and I would want them to be tightly grouped with little spacing between them as they are below as although they are separate still lives I want them to be read as one unit of information.

The grids enabled me to present more detailed sections which provides the viewer with more interesting lines, forms, text and colours etc… The grids for me give ‘glimpses’ of objects which forces the viewer to look and think more as they have to decipher more information than if a still had been presented to them in one image.

The completed images

Mum’s Shelf 1

Mum’s Shelf 2

Rose’s Shelf

Poppy’s Shelf 1

Poppy’s Shelf 2

11th June 2020

Conclusion

I feel as a stand alone series these images do not work as well as they could as they lack ongoing interest. The series needs a variety of peoples shelving to become engaging as the viewer would be presented with miscellaneous objects and other peoples essence and memories. Unfortunately our house is filled mostly with books, plushies and pop vinyls so the themes that run through the completed images are quite similar in certain ways. Bringing other peoples lives and memories into the equation would enable more inquisitiveness and provide more interest.

Another question I need to address is does the images work being presented in a grid or should they be shown as individual images? Are they more dynamic and informative when viewed in isolation one after another or as a group showing multiple glimpses of the one shelving?

If we compare the two images below, the first being the complete shelf and the second ‘glimpses’ or ‘snap shots,’ we can ask which visual source serves the concept the best?

The first which is a full shelving shot seems to give, for me personally, too much information in one go. It may be informative and interesting but it does not give the same punch as the grid collection of images does. With the grid we as a viewer are encouraged to move our eyes around the composition and linger more on each individual section which are made interesting by their cropping and their specific focus.

Overall I cannot fully judge if this concept has fully worked due to the fact I was unable to widen the series to include other peoples shelf stories outside of my immediate house. It will be interesting to see how my view may change if I extend this series later by photographing my friends shelves and indeed if more stimuli and stories means more interest.


7th May 2020

When we look around familiar environment we tend to ignore or ‘not see’ certain things in them. In this exercise, you’ll explore the absence and presence of an object that you’re accustomed to in order to bring to the surface an altered ambience.

OCA Foundations in Photography Course Folder pg143

This is the house that God built

The disappearing world

Can you see me, hear me thinking?

For this exercise I chose three different themes, a building, nature and a self-portrait. I used Photoshop and Sketchbook to complete these images.

As well as the white negative images I also used fill to replace the white with colour to see if the images change and I also produced some grid work with the completed fills. This extension work can be seen below.

alternative composition grid
More Than One Thought

28th April 2020

Well I am trying to get back into my work and complete the exercises that I missed. My mum passed away very unexpectedly and it has hit us so hard. I have my mental health to deal with without my psychologist, support worker or counsellor due to the lockdown. Then there is the Coronavirus which is preventing us to travel through London to be with the family and eventually to my mothers funeral. Life is, as they say, shitting unbearable!!

I had planned the exercises that I haven’t completed but because I cannot leave the house for my projects I am improvising.

The first improvisation is exercise 4.3 Patchwork. For this exercise I wanted to take textures and colours found in the seaside shop. However, alas it isn’t open for obvious reasons so I have found a few from last years shoots that I will use instead. The down side to using previous shot material is that I am tied to it. I had particular objects I wanted to photograph for this exercise now I am having to choose from a few already saved in the cloud.

Once I had located my images I downloaded them onto my iMac and created a simple contact sheet so the images full compositions were shown.

Once the images had been produced within a contact sheet I uploaded them into my pre-designed grid. I kept reorganising them by switching their positions within the grid, as well as altering their size as well as cropping sections until I was happy with a composition.

Once the grids were completed I reduced their pixel size as asked within the folder.

I produced two finished images for each piece of work, one has the dividing white lines and the second has not.

My completed works are below.

The Drink

To the Seaside and Beyond

Toilet Break

The Exhibition

Each image has its own particular quality that makes it stand out. The bright colours, patterns and textures within the seaside works really do give that sense of sun, warmth and energy. However in contrast the toilet images and the use of green give a cooler and cleaner feel to the work.

Colours play an important role within the patchwork images especially when the objects are cropped closely and become abstract to our eye. The warmer colours, red, orange and yellow appear to come towards us as these are what are known as advancing colours.

The cooler colours however are receding colours. These are colours such as blue and green which help to give a sense of depth to images and they specifically create an illusion of space.

The surface textures used within the images also affect the colour because light can bounce, absorb and reflect light and texture will provide shadows which give darker colour values to an object.

The difference between having the grid lines visible within the compositions and without also give very different visual qualities to the overall composition. With the grid lines present, our eyes see each section as part of an individual photograph and we automatically name the objects. However, when the grid is not present within the image we look around the whole composition and then focus in on the sections. The grid lines therefore act as a barrier within the work and force us to stop and start when viewing rather than sweeping across the whole composition first.

I have enjoyed this exercise although I only used eight rectangles for my grid when it was supposed to be nine or more. The reason is I didn’t read the brief properly, not a good thing if you want to be a professional.

I am pleased with my outcomes apart from the last patchwork called ‘The Exhibition.’ Although it contains different textures and colours I know the lighting within some of the images is poor and should have been adjusted before being used. Due to the underexposure the forms are not as well defined as I would have liked and the flatness this produces just gives a poor quality to the overall completed composition.


8th April 2020

For this exercise we were asked to look at and create our own boxed repetition image similar to that which Andy Warhol produced within his screen print work, without the colour differences.

Andy Warhol, Mao, 1973, acrylic paint and silk-screen printing on canvas
image taken from Red Glasses artredglasses.wordpress.com

Unlike Warhol however, we were asked to set up our own still life of any subject and then choosing a shot and processing it accordingly, we were to present it within a grid format and then to make notes on the overall effect.

Coupled with the image we were shown in the OCA Foundations in Photography course folder pg 140, which shows just a dogs face, our completed images will contain more than one focus point.

What can I say but ‘I am loving this exercise!’

Repetition and still life

Because I am working on using photography as a natural and factual source of information I have chosen still life themes that are part of my everyday life. This is similar to how I approached Project one, 100 Photos. I didn’t stage the photographs, I took images of what was in front of me, however once the images had been taken I cropped close into them therefore presenting only part of their composition within the repetition grid.

Some of the images created have negative spaces within the still life which enable the viewer to see the contents of the picture plane differently to those images that have solid information to decode. The negative spaces enable us to separate the objects and to look at them for longer. However, those compositions that lack negative space become more abstract and we acknowledge lines, shapes and colours more rather than identifying the objects as a whole.

Below are my still life repetition images, I have three series of work. The first three are grids with similar images, the second is still life with the same image repeated and the third set of images are miscellaneous in subject matter and show experimentation with the content as well as the layout.

First series showing very similar images:

Kitty-cat

This grid formation shows a still life that has been taken from slightly different angles. When processing the images I noticed that the lighting and colours of the work differed in some photographs. This meant the the cat, which was the focus of this grid had a different hue in many shots. I didn’t like this and chalked it up to an epic failure on my behalf to monitor the images as I took them and therefore I didn’t alter the cameras settings as I went.

The contact sheet on the left shows the still life images that I had taken and they also show the flaws as well.

Different colours and a couple of out of focus images.

When I had noticed my technical error I thought rather than wasting the shoot I would practice with the images. Altering the tones as much as I could to try to get similar hues across all of the images I then cropped into them creating a focus on the cat.

From here I added the cat images into a pre-designed grid which I had already altered specifically for this exercise. From here I noticed that the cats differing colours were distracting to the eye but their composition within their own grid was significantly good enough for me to experiment further.

Due to the error in lighting I decided to covert the image into black and white and then sepia to see if this would make a difference to the final images problem. Although the tones are different our eyes are drawn away from this technical error and the texture is viewed more. Due to this I decided to trial one more experiment. Liking the texture but not wanting to highlight the different tones I cropped a few more cats from their still life and then worked on two tones in Photoshop – Duo Tone. The colours I had chose are very pale because I wanted to create something different from the vivid colours that are usually used.

The outcome is much more pleasing to the eye and definitely takes away the obvious flaw in lighting. I also like the colours that I worked on to achieve within Photoshop. The completed work, ‘Kitty-cat’ can be seen below.

Although I have completed this piece of work, I am still not overall happy with the composition of the cats within the grids. I spent about fifteen minutes swapping the grids around to find an end result that was pleasing to my eye, but I never seemed to quite get there. Finally I ended with this composition but even now looking at it I keep thinking, ‘What if?’

Spring blossoms

This grid was definitely more straight forward to create due to the main subject . The natural un-uniformed growth of the the enables the composition to take on any layout that I wanted it to without having to worry as much about negative spaces.

For the tree shots however I did crop each image into half, so that each landscape image provided two portrait images. This enabled me to have more images to select from for the composition.

After cropping the images into portrait sections all I had to do next was create my grid and to re-arrange the images until they felt correct to my eye. The positive about working with this type of multiple image is that many different variations can be made due to the differing heights and positioning of the buds etc…

The two completed images are below.

Second series showing identical still life images repeated:

Books, books, books

The image is filled with books which have been purposefully displayed to fill the right side of the composition.

The model Frankenstein’s head is high in the left hand corner so that our eyes are drawn to his head first and then we follow his gaze downwards and to the right.

Around my desk 1

Here we have the familiar messy working area that I have on the right hand side of my working station.

I placed the camera in the top right corner and it is angled so our eyes are drawn to where the lens should be. This then directs our eyes right and downwards.

As our eyes travel down the picture plane, they take in the pink of the card and its text, the pill box and he badge until we pick up on the friendship bracelet and the citizen card that it is partially covering. It is here that our eyes end up focusing. I cropped it this way so that the focus becomes the information of the citizens card which is emphasising me as the photographer.

One part of this composition that I do not like is the top of a metal straw which was protruding from a Pepsi max can that I had cropped out. If I was to re-design this image I would have cloned out the straw by replacing it with the black of the camera.

Within this composition I have left two larger, important negative space areas which break the objects up and isolates them enabling the viewer to see them as individual things to look at and to study. The spaces enable our eyes to follow the direction that I wanted them to because they act as a pathway and a surround to the citizenship card.

Around my desk 2

This image has far too much information contained within it for our eyes to actually settle on anything. Everything seems to be lost within the picture plane and therefore the overall image becomes abstract.

Indeed the composition seems to be broken up into three distinct parts, background, mid-ground and foreground. If we look at the diagram below we can see the three sections that the compositions has.

It is interesting to look at, chaotic and definitely shows the mayhem of my working area.

This final grid image actually reminds me of a neutral coloured kaleidoscope and it holds my attention because I am eager to be nosy and see what ‘the chaotic’ photographer has around her desk.

Around my desk 3

I find this composition quite eye catching. It is not my usual still life as it is quite jolly with Eeyore and the sausage dog box within it.

A happy feeling dare I say?

The image within this composition works well as a repetition grid because it has distinct sections which has been strengthened by the use of shelving as a layout. The shelves introduce a further grid system into the composition so that each repetition section that I have designed becomes further sectioned off into squares.

The top section holds two bold shapes, a box and Eeyore and the bottom section contains books. These books lead out eyes upwards and we rest on the objects above them.

Therefore the splitting of the section with the addition of two large shapes, lines and colour within this composition makes the overall finished image stronger than one just filled with objects to look at.


10th April 2020

Third series showing

Repetition re-visited

I couldn’t just leave this exercise having completed the objectives of producing a repetition grid of a still life, especially as Andy Warhol had been mentioned and the image in the course book was also of a singular subject. I wanted to extend the exercise with other photographs and cross-app images of mine.

I also experimented with layouts to see how they could be extended. I am actually quite keen to research and trial more of these for my own work because I could work on specific conceptual images. For example, the bottom layer could have a photograph of my scissors and the top layer could have an image of my cut arms from self harming. So much could be developed this way it becomes exciting.

The second layout I experimented with was adding one related image to the grid to extend the viewers knowledge of the repeating images. Again this could be taken and extended where I have a grid of self portraits then one specific grid had an image of my medication or a partial crop in of text from a letter from my psychiatrist, Dr etc… the compositional value for conceptual art by taking one section of the grid out could add so much to the overall work. Exciting!!

My final images are below.

Self portrait, cross-app image

I had to stop myself from creating more as I was up into the early hours of the morning creating these extra grids and I was becoming so obsessed with how I could place different images of mine together to created different feelings from interest, joy and sadness etc…

Conclusion

What can I say? This is definitely an area that can be developed in so many, many ways. In fact it turned out to be quite addictive for me and I did become over stimulated at one point.

Overall using a grid format can act as visual stimuli so that we focus in on a specific subject. There is also something pleasing about repeated images. However I asked peoples views and although some people had similar things to say as me, my daughter who has autism and an older gentleman found that they couldn’t access the information well because the repeated images caused them not be able to focus and also the overall effect seemed ‘clunky’ and too much information made them shut down and not be interested in what they were looking at.

This is interesting to note. People respond to grids and the information held within them differently. The simplier the grid images, the more information is obtained and they are often seem as aesthetically pleasing. However, the more information that the completed image has means that it is viewed as a creative genre or a conceptual one. So people already begin to have assumptions about the overall use for individual grids before even looking at them and studying them depending on their deposition in life and their ability to process information when presented in a grid format.


10th January 2020

Look online at the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Note how the composition, framing and lighting is almost identical in each photograph and how this ‘gels’ the series together.

OCA Foundations in Photography Course Folder pg111

Bernhard “Bernd” Becher, and Hilla Becher, were German conceptual artists and photographers. They are best known for their extensive series of photographic images of industrial buildings and structures, which were often organised in grids format.

The pictures were made over a period nearly five decades – they started collaborating in 1959 and continued until Bernd Becher’s death in 2007 – using a large format camera in the neutral lighting of overcast weather. The structures are viewed straight on, so that verticals remain vertical; the large format camera helps here but the Bechers also worked from raised viewpoints so that we are looking at the structures as directly as possible.

The Tate website is an excellent information source on the Becher’s and their work. I have put different links below to different types of information which include Tate papers and essay, etc…

Who are Hilla and Bernd Becher? This link will take you to the Tate website which has an excellent introduction to the Becher’s and their work. Below are two of the images from this website:

Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher Pitheads 1974 
Tate© Estate of Bernd Becher & Hilla Becher
Bernd and Hilla Becher
Gas-holders Germany, Belgium, France, Britain, USA, 1966–93
All photographs courtesy Bernd and Hilla Becher

These are links to other pages on Tate’s website connected with the Becher’s.

Tate Papers: The Photographic Comportment of Bernd and Hilla Becher

Tate Website: BLAKE STIMSON

Cruel + Tender, artists, Bernd and Hilla BecherGerman, born 1931 and 1934

Tate Website

Essay: The long look

Tate Website: MICHAEL COLLINS

Germany

I am actually quite interested in how the Becher’s have taken their photographs and then presented them. Also, due to the nature of their images which is industrial buildings and structures, there is a very satisfying subject of geometry and line running through their work. The abstraction of the forms are enhanced by the black and white tones.

I am particularly fond of their water tower series of which there are many. They remind me of sci-fi films, tv series and comics from the 1950’s where there are dome like structures that either the human race in the future are living or other worldly homes of aliens.

The apartment building shot that opens most episodes of The Jetsons (1963)
(image from smithsonianmag.com)

If you Google Becher’s Water Towers you are taken to a page which in itself looks like a patchwork of geometric images which are presented this way as one piece of work. The type of images you will find presented within the search when Googling is below:

The square above which is constructed by images of their work put together in one space, is attractive in its own right. What makes them powerful and gel together as a series, as written in the OCA’s introduction, ‘Note how the composition, framing and lighting is almost identical in each photograph and how this ‘gels’ the series together’ is the reason that they can be presented as a whole together as well. I actually find the composition above very exciting and stimulating to my eye and it has given me ideas on how to present some of my work in the future. I find the text within the above composition adds to the overall feel of the work and this in itself gives me much scope to work with if I produce such a series of work in the future.

To accompany the above research I have managed to find a short documentary on YouTube called, ‘Bernd and Hilla Becher – Water Towers, 1972.’ This video can be found below with accompanying notes that I have made about the towers taken from the video and my own observations.

Notes:

End of 1950’s they travelled the world taking photographs of industrial structures and buildings, for example, mine heads, blast furnaces, gas tanks and water towers.

Image captured from the above video – Water Towers

The Bechers called them objects to be admired and called them ‘anonymous sculptures,’ They took their photographs in a precise way so that each image was concise with the next and they called these ‘families of objects.’

They would use raised vantage points and took each photograph at the same distance so that people could get a sense of scale and understand how big they actually were. The breacher’s would also use large format cameras and long exposures so that they gained sharp, detailed and crisp images.

They displayed their images in grids and rows and would end up with series of images that were like catalogues of structures. Presenting the images in this format allowed the viewer to compare similarities and differences in the structures . However, water towers are not built anymore and many of the ones that appear within their work have been pulled down and therefore the Bechers have documented their existence.

Below are a couple of examples of their work.

  • Image 1 left: View of blast furnace head A of Metallhüttenwerk industrial plant, Lübeck-Herrenwyk, Germany. 1983 (image from cca.qc.ca Canadian Centre for Architecture)
  • Image 2 right: Blast Furnaces 1980-1988 (image from c4gallery.com C4 contemporary art)
  • Image 1 left: Cooling Tower, Germany (image from Pinterest)
  • Image 2 right: Cooling Towers Wood-Steel, 1959-77 (image from imageobjecttext.com IMAGEOBJECTTEXT Ann Jones – Art and Writing)

The information below includes details from an interview with Hilla Becher which I accessed on YouTube, the interview is from: San Francisco Museum of modern Art. The video can also be found below.

Using large format cameras – which is how Hilla was taught and had began her photography career with – the end images were presented in ‘typology’ form which was Hilla’s idea as she was collecting book illustrations that had to do with biology and typologies. With the cooling towers they had noticed a construction pattern which was repeated time and time again with very little differences – statice engineering and architecture. The images were like making a movie/ flip book. The best photo typologies, the best structures were those that were symmetrical.

Preferred to shoot in soft light, if the light was too harsh they would wait for cloud or wait for winter or dawn. These conditions meant that the construction was separated from the sky. This technique is very similar to that of Karl Blossfeldt who we studied for this course, the link is here. He put white card behind his subjects so that they too would stand out from any background.

I absolutely love the grid format with their subject matter due to the fact these purposely built industrial constructions become sculpture of geometric shapes and lines.

Water Towers (image from broad.org The Broad)

The Bechers completed over two hundred comprehensive documentary collections, each ranging from fifty to one hundred images – amazing!

Edited by Mark Holborn (1993), Letters from the People: Lee Friedlander. Johnathon Cape Ltd

04th January 2020

This book is an oversized square hardback and consists of tritone images of the alphabet, numerals, words and sentences. The photographs are from the streets, walls and the windows of America, some have been commercially printed and others are hand inscribed graffiti.

I was quite interested to see how the images within this book are described as tritone which means they are printed from three inks. One simple definition that I found is: Photomechanical printing process using three inks to increase tonal range. * Used in high-quality print reproduction of photographs for books, posters etc. often with third colour being a metallic ink.

The images that Friedlander has taken, reflect the sights of everyday urban society, images that could have been taken anywhere in the world, however the odd dollar and cent symbols within some the photographs, for example, give the location away.

The book begins with a two paragraph introduction on the protective outer covering about the book itself, and then contains a dedication – FOR GIANCARLO with three quotes beneath and then the images begin. It hasn’t the usual introduction about the artist and his works or an essay by a critic, it simply is a record of the photographs taken over a period of ten years which show found language.

The three quotes from the book are below:

I can’t sleep, so I count the windows; it is not such a bad occupation at times. I take an exquisite pleasure in satiating my vision with squares and rectangles, with pure lines. Of course, you cannot understand such things.

Knut Hamsun, Shallow Soil

Oh the dreams with which the bottom of the sea is littered not always sodden like the old letters they will stand up in coral columns in whole cupolas and archways and long sculptural perspectives to confront entice you in where the daylight is solid and the expression in his eyes at that time perhaps the first clue I ever had to what is transcendent.

Patrick White, The Eye of the Storm

Auntie made me believe we live in a discoverable world, but that most of what we discover is an unfathomable mystery that we can name – even defend against – but never understood.

Harry Crews, A Childhood

Each page is not numbered but the individual photographs are. I have presented the images above in number format in order that they are within the book. At the back of the book there is an index in which we can find the allocated numbers and then find where the image had been taken.

The images may have one page dedicated to them, appear in twos or more and many are in irregular grid format.

I was relieved to find out that the images show a cross reference of places in which Friedlander had shot them. Within my street photography work I also have many different images from around the UK which makes the body of work universal, as it shows the similarities in society. If I was to photograph just in Lowestoft I would be mostly disappointed as the images would be basically commercial texts because graffiti is not that widely produced here, good for the town but not for me who loves the urban scrawl (sorry). However, Norwich which is a city has graffiti on metal posts and sticker art in plenty of places so I can search around that area more.

It was interesting to discover that at the time of the publishing of this book, Friedlander had an exhibition of his 200 photographs at MoMA – Museum of Modern Art, New York, Inited States of America. This exhibition was held in June 16–September 11, 1994, a year after the book was first published.

This link will take you to MoMA.org and a page about the works and exhibition, Letters from the People, Lee Friedlander.

Installation view of Lee Friedlander: Letters from the People at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo Mali Olatunji

I particularly like how the works are presented in a book format, all together as a collection. My own work which also takes on this theme, is just sitting on the hard drive of numerous dying laptops, CDs that I burned yesteryear or floating around in the atmosphere somewhere in hidden clouds.

This book has stimulated me in to gathering old works and making new and actually bringing the work together in an exhibition and having them displayed in book format. Whether I make the book by hand or have it printed off as I have with other works is to ponder in the future.

For me this work has recorded text in different formats which has been presented in different ways, it has documented a time and place which is now an historical record of mans creation and development of letters and words.

I also like the way that the collection of images do not always just show the text but they show its context and environment. In one of the images above we have Friedlander’s shadow which shows him with camera taking the shot. A brilliant series of images and I am off now to make notes for my next excursion out.

I am so happy that my daughter bought me this book, so a big shout out for Rose – Thank you, it is very much appreciated! I absolutely love it, yes I know I say that quite a lot when it comes to my books, but if a book is open more than once a month just for pure joy then I know it has influenced and inspired my thinking and creativeness.


Choose a text that has meaning for you. It can be anything from a poem to a newspaper report, a biblical passage or a scene in a novel. It can be a long text, but it would probably be best if it was reasonably short.

Try to generalise visual ideas that communicate something about the text. Discuss the text with other people and find out what images spring to mind for them. Write down any ideas you get from the text. They can be visual ideas or thoughts about the subject.

Turn your idea into a photograph or a series of photographs.

OCA Foundations in Photography Course folder pg107

This is going to be difficult, I have so many favourite quotes – from songs especially, because of this I am going to stay away from song quotes and think of some of my all time favourite quotes from other sources. I will begin by listing my favourite quotes and then see how I can choose and develop the idea from the list.

“It’s bows and arrows against the lightening, anyhow,” said the artilleryman

Chapter 12: The War of the Worlds H.G. Wells

But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

Albus Dumbledore. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

You can change your world by changing your words… Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue.

Joel Osteen

For words, like Nature, half reveal 
And half conceal the Soul within. 

BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON. (extract) Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 5

Chaos was my philosophy. Oh, yeah. Have no rules. If people start to build fences around you, break out and do something else. You should never, ever be understood completely. That’s like the kiss of death, isn’t it? It’s a full stop. I don’t ever think you should put full stops on thoughts. They change.

― John Lydon, Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Martin Luther King

I have decided to choose the Martin Luther King quote as my text. The reason I have chose this is because this text will mean different things to different people. I feel this text tells us to fight for our beliefs and our thoughts, our loves in life and for everything that means something to us personally. In not believing and fighting for things then we are not achieving all we should in life, we get one life so we should live for the important things and fight for them what ever they may be to us as individuals. Remember what one person finds important and is passionate about another may not.

The quote therefore speaks to me in many ways, but in each of them it tells me to stop hiding which I have done all my life. I have hidden from people and activities because inside me there is a tiny scared child that lives on, over cautious and not trusting of the world around it and of the people that reside within it. I live anxiously and closed away and I am still trying to grow up now.

The text especially resonates with me on the subject of the abuse I have suffered throughout my life from childhood and in every area of my life. I have never been able to say no and I have never stood up for myself whether in my home, at school or in the workplace. I let people bully me and the more I let them do this the worse it got and I actually became lost in a cycle of seeking the wrong people to befriend because I didn’t know any better. Finally on August 11th 2018 I said no more, I suffered big consequences at that specific time for saying it but once the police had been called and I had stepped out of hiding from within, I began to live and grow.

Domestic abuse, bullying at school and in the workplace should not be hidden. In my silence I had sentenced myself to shame and the feeling of worthlessness, all I could see in myself was something to hate and to be physically, emotionally and verbally manipulated and abused. By saying no and speaking out my life wasn’t ending but it began again, a new me and funny enough a new Dawn.

I asked other people what they thought about this piece of text. I didn’t tell them that it was a quote from Martin Luther King because I didn’t want to influence their thinking in any way. The responses that I received are below:

  • Anna-Marie: Dawn, to me it Means about all the struggles i’ve been through in the past 30 odd years, before i finally admitted i was trans. I kept this hidden for a long time because of the shame i felt. I could not live a lie any longer and in 2005 i “came out” fully. finally i could be who i wanted to be, little did i know about the hatred and abuse that i’d face ( and still do even now). Despite all that, i’ve not regretted the decision at all ❤️
  • Rose: Our personalities cease to exist when we start to conform. You stop living if you’re not yourself. Momento Mori – the realisation that death is always here and as such it is all the more reason to live now.
  • Kinsey: For me it’s about standing up for what’s right and fighting for equality
  • Paul: For me it says I should have stood up for myself at work, said how I felt until it was too late.
  • Poppy: To me it’s like science. It’s about the people who are taking science and using it to shape the world again, into a better place.
  • Christine: To me this means that I should have spoken to the person who mattered to me, instead of fleeing, if I had done this then, I probably would still be with this person. Never believe what a nasty narcissistic person says, they are jealous of what you have, and wish that they had what you have/had. My heart was broken by this c..t xx
Image from Selene as a response to the quote

Self-portrait: Why?

I want this shoot to be natural and to represent real life.

Resources used: Lumix GH5 and Lumix 14-42mm lens with timer, Godox flash on manual 1/1 setting.

Setting: I didn’t want to set the scene so that it was staged and tidy and looking cool. I wanted the scene to represent me and where I live. So what ever state my working environment was in, that is where I would take my self-portraits. Book – Lundy Bancroft, Why Does he Do That? Inside The Minds of Angry and Controlling Men (2002). New York, Penguin Books Inc.

Subject: Myself as I am, which at the moment means my grey hair growing through quite rapidly and in need of a cut and wearing my everyday slouchy clothes.

The following images are the first set that I have created for this exercise. Some of the photographs have the text within them and the final one shows a collage of photographs of me reading in different positions. Within these photographs I am showing different states that I often go through when reading about what had happened and why it happened. The book within this series is one that I have to read as part of my recovery and work within the counselling sessions. It is quite a daunting read and there are some sections where I have been triggered into remembering and reliving some of the abuse that I have been through. I go from reading the book and feeling myself, too feeling despair, frightened again and/ or depressed.

I have chosen to use black and white images for this particular set of photographs and to make them quite harsh by exploiting their contrast within photoshop. I wanted to do this to represent the harshness, hardness and the rawness of such a subject and also to be in line with the text which is also quite harsh and hard hitting.

Two of the images have the text written within the picture plane as I was experimenting to see what it would look like. The first image where I am shown twice, represents me when I am dissociating. I achieved this simply by applying the mirror effect to the photograph within photoshop express. The largest image seen below with the text running sideways does not work as well as I hoped it would. It reminds me of an engraving on a tomb which relates to the feeling of dying inside but the way it is positioned sideways is distracting to our eyes.

The above images still do not work for me. So I have decided to move the text so that the viewers eyes flow from the image on the left to the quote. The other problem, for me, is the white areas caused by the flash. They are quite evident on the hand and arm. I will fix this by adjusting the tone by using the burn tool and I will also slightly lighten the face up using the dodge tool in Photoshop CC. The results will be shown below.

As we can see from the illustrative image on the left, the eyes now look downwards to the books title and then across to the quote. This therefore give a natural flow for the viewers eyes to follow. I have also lightened and darkened areas of the flesh and this also looks far more natural than the contrast look that the image had before.

The composition below uses a collage of self-portraits all taken of me reading the same book. It shows different viewpoints and different facial expressions connected with the different feelings I get when having to revisit the abuse that happened to me from the X.

I do like the this composition as I feel it has a narrative to it and it works having the quote beside it as well because it becomes a storyline with a character.


Self-portrait: Risen

The following two images are again self-portraits but this time they take on a different meaning. Still connected with the subject of abuse they take a step out of the abuse box and into the next realm of recovery.

In the first image I have thought about the word recovery and related it to the Christian theme of resurrection. This symbolic event takes on many meanings and for me it represents the cross that we all have to bear – each one of us, our individual burdens. It is a reference to the Bible story of Jesus having to carry (bear) his cross through the streets of Jerusalem and beyond its gates to the place of execution at Calvary, and for me, my cross that I bear is the memories and scars of abuse.

I made myself quite dark and harsh compared to the washed out ghostly Jesus and cross. The concept is that of darkness of abuse and the lightness of being ‘saved’ and healing. I actually like the concept but not the completed image. I am going to alter the colour to a slight sepia one so it warms up slightly and looses some of the harshness.

The adjusted colour gives a slightly more delicate feel to the overall completed image, one which I prefer as the softness juxtaposes with the black of the text. This enables both, in this instance, to work together as well as being eye catching.

Self-portrait: Break the Silence

The image below is the second to step out of the theme of abuse into one of recovery. It is a time of self preservation, it is a time when you are ready to say ‘No!’

The self portrait is constructed from the phrase, ‘BREAK THE SILENCE’ which is the only way to get your life back.


Photograph Set: The Whole World Speaks

Within the following set of images I have looked at the text from different viewpoints.

The twenty first Century has seen the rights of many being recognised. It has also seen that those in the minority that have spoken out have moved forwards in the rights for equal opportunities. Their lives didn’t end as second class citizens, because they spoke out on the things that matter and kept speaking out.

I found a sign last year in ASDA on their toilet door. Here those that have hidden disabilities are able to use the disabled toilets as well. I know those with anxiety and mental health disabilities and a friend who has OCD like to use a secure and private toilet where they feel safe. This wouldn’t be possible if people hadn’t spoken out on this aspect of a human need – things that matter.

I didn’t like the colours in the original photograph so I converted it to black and white which I prefer but it doesn’t look positive enough for the concept behind the image.

‘Together we stand, behind wires of hope. Speak out now, there is strength in numbers.’ Dawn Tomlin (2020)

The photograph which is used below is one from a theme that I continue to add too. The theme is feet at a gig, the waiting and watching feet. I love the colours and shadows and also how feet just look with the different shoes and stances.

In this instance I have used the image to represent being trapped, caught and silent behind a wired fencing. Freedom and liberation is beyond within the colour but one needs to speak out to gain that freedom.

The image below, when coupled with the quote is very self evident. The mouth is shouting out, screaming to be heard and then the text informs the viewer of the message. It is a strong and simple image which captures the viewers eye and automatically gives a feeling of urgency.

The last image that I worked on is below. I wanted to produce something that was distorted and questioned the quote.

This is an image of printed text which I blurred by moving the camera as I took the photograph. The abstract nature is enhanced by cropping the image and adjusting the colour. I wanted this image to have a feel to it that did not have an answer, or meaning, when a viewer looks at this image and reads the text it is up to them to invent the narrative that goes with it. What does it make them feel? What does it make them think of?


The contact sheets for this exercise: