Month: November 2018

Breaking through the barrier

Blogging has been and probably still is a major problem for me. When it comes down to sitting at the computer and writing a blog entry its a real struggle (its even a struggle when using pen & paper!). Throughout Unit PHO703 it became almost impossible to write anything – I enjoyed the unit and the lectures immensely, I feel that I learnt a great deal from them yet, my mind still went completely blank when faced with the computer screen or the blank sheet.

I think I became an expert in the field of procrastination – anything rather than sit down and write (yes, even doing the washing up!) and it showed.

So, whats happened? I can’t really explain it but it does seem as if a block has been lifted and (yes, I do appreciate the irony of it), on the resubmission date for this unit I can finally write, get my thoughts down on paper or screen and get some blog entries made on my CRJ. I won’t say that they are brilliant entries (probably not even that good) and I do not think that they represent what should be written in part submission for an MA but, they are entries and I’m grateful for that. I just wish the block had lifted sooner.

So now, I have to try and move further forward, to build on this event, to become clearer in my thoughts and be prepared to reveal more of them to the world. I need to takes this gift / ability forward into the current unit and produce something that is more worthy of an MA student.

Oh – what cleared the block?

Something really simple, a realisation , on being woken by my cat at 2:40 a.m, this morning that I’m basically afraid of blogging and failing at it, that I should face these fears, stop procrastinating and start writing. That I should face the fear of failure but write anyway. Lesson learnt I hope.

Now to move forward.



Strategies of Freedom

How free are we to make the kind of images that we want?

Are my images determined more by the type of camera that I use and the software that it uses to capture and process the light that comes through its lens?

If my images are determined by the Camera that I use how can i make them a better reflection of my thought and concepts than is allowed by the camera manufactures…..

Does such a freedom come only from the rejection of the camera, seeking to reduce the effects of the lens, the sensor, and the inbuilt software can it not also come from working with the apparatus?

I have experimented with Cameraless photography and found, at some level, these processes still require an input from someone other than myself. Pinhole photography is still largely dependent upon the photographic paper or film type used.

For myself, photographic freedom comes from the realisation that there is always going to be some restriction placed on you, if not by your apparatus then by the society in which you practice your art and, that you are better off trying to work within these restrictions or around them rather than trying to outwit them. It comes from knowing you’re equipment and what it can do at a deeper level than is perhaps necessary. I frequently switch between DSLR and Mobile phone cameras always seeking to overide the way in which the manufacturer would prefer you to operate. I also use film cameras to try and achieve the same type and quality of image that I have envisioned in my minds eye or that can be obtained vis the DSLR.

The freedom that I treasure the most comes not from trying to outwit the camera and its components but in what I choose to photograph and in how I choose to create my images. In my current work I am experimenting with the Black and White image in its form as a negative – this is not something that is greatly appreciated by my peers in my local camera club but I am free to do so. I’m also free from the worry concerning how these things work…….

Strategies Of Sharing

Photography is a collaboration in which at least two persons are involved – the photographer and the viewer. It can be argued that there is a third participant in the shape of the camera (and therefore the camera manufacturer?) in that the photographer must interact with the camera in a meaningful manner in order to record an image.

For the most part, I work in a solitary manner on my projects. Its not important to me wether or not anyone else likes or appreciates my work – its made by, and for, myself. Occasionally I take part in a photographic activity that may be considered as a collective or participatory activity, usually as part of my local camera club. Such activities may include submitting images for competitions both within and between clubs or giving a short lecture or presentation about some aspect of photography that interests me.

However, having stated that I prefer to work alone, I have led several projects at the school where I work, in conjunction with several of our partner junior schools. These were photography projects that contained elements of collaboration, cooperation and participation. Working with a single year group from selected primary schools and their teachers the pupils were each given a 27 shot single use camera, a brief lesson in how to use it and basic mistakes to avoid when doing so. They were then issued with the aim of the project – they had to provide an introduction to their life, no text (initially) and no music (initially) were to be involved. The end result would be to produce an exhibition, using photographs made by the pupils that would “tell us” something about themselves.

While this was a very enjoyable experience it was incredibly tiring and stressful. As the end of the project approached the pupils were given a further brief – they would be allowed to provide a favourite piece of music and a single A4 sheet of paper on which they could write about themselves. The staff involved would now also participate in the project.

With all the images developed a short “movie” was made consisting of each participants images set to the music that they had chosen. The projected culminated in the showing of the movie to the pupils parents and teachers from both schools with all the participants images being displayed in an exhibition type setting.

While the projects produced some excellent and occasionally thought provoking results I wonder if they contributed towards my tendency to work alone.


What is Re-Mediation?

According to Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin re-mediation is “The fashioning of one medium into another.” Bolter and Grusin identified two typical traits :-

  1. Immediacy – Culture wants to make the medium itself invisible, removing all traces of the medium itself to create an immediate experience – probably most commonly encountered in Advertising.
  2. Hypermediacy – More attention is given to the form of the medium and its resemblance to other forms.

In my work I don’t believe that I consciously utilise either form although I would have to say that I trend towards hypermediacy, seeking to utilise monochrome images in a documentary format. These images are not likely to be made immediately available for perusal as I like to dwell on / leave the images to mature in my mind and, sometimes to experiment with any processing before committing them to paper or posting them in an online environment.

For me, as a camera club member, one of the most common forms of re-mediation that I encounter is the conversion of straightforward photographic images into a more artistic impression using Photoshop. A “painterly” approach if you will. Some of these will be ‘composite’ or re-mixed images made up of sections taken from other images and used to create a new image or ‘photograph’. Such re-mixed images are often used in competitions at club or inter-club level and can usually be found amongst the top placed images. By comparison, a straight forward in-camera image with minimal post processing will fair fairly badly and, if of a “documentary” / “Street” type will usually be relegated to the lower end of any rating system.

Probably one of the best known remediated images is that of the ‘Molotov Man’ (originally made by Susan Meiselas). The original image was made in the context of  the 1979 Nicaraguan Revolution. The central character was then repainted in a slightly different context, appearing in Joy Garnetts 2004 exhibition ‘Riot’. Garnet had sourced the original from a .jpeg of Meiselas image found on the internet. Garnet was subsequently issued with a ‘Cease and Desist’ notice by Meisela’s lawyer siting copyright infringement. Garnett then removed her ‘image’ from her website. However, this image had been posted on several other servers by admirers of Garners work.

There problem here, I believe, what that the original context and meaning of Meiselas work had been effectively removed in the painting giving it an entirely new context – no longer was ‘Molotov Man’ a freedom fighter but had now became a rioter and lawbreaker. This was probably the motivation behind the ‘Cease and Desist’ action.

For myself and my work the message here is very clear – be very careful how you (1) make an image of a pre-exisiting subject and (2) try to preserve as much of the original context as you can in your final product.