I know I’ve not written here since July which seems so long ago when in reality it is just a few months. I am now in my 3rd year of my BA(Hons) PhotoArt degree and I’m starting to struggle with what I am doing, what direction I am going in, what I’m thinking, writing, doing, where my head is at and what I’m producing. The main subject for my final major project is the “Selfie”. There’s so much being written about on this subject that it *should* be easy to pick a path to follow for the project. But I CAN’T. I seem to have ideas and they don’t seem good enough or when discussed they just don’t seem to have much substance or sticking power, they are half baked and not that creative or imaginative. I am struggling to know what to do and how to do it. But perseverance is key and I have ideas to try out, I have no idea whether they will work or if they will be any good but I will try and somewhere along the line I am hoping that everything will make sense and that it will all click into place sooner rather than later.
The summer project we were given in uni to work on over the summer was to start researching, looking at and producing work that would see us through our final year and form our final piece, preferably in line with our dissertation which should lead on from our Literature Review that we wrote in the final term of our second year (you can read mine here ). I wrote about snapshots and how the introduction of technologies, such as the camera phone and DSLR’s, software like Photoshop and photo-sharing (Facebook and Instagram for example) have changed how we take, manipulate and share images. Many family photo albums have ceased to exist once film cameras have been replaced by digital capture devices, instead these images remain stored as digital data on computers and discs, a selection being uploaded to be shared with friends on social networking sites.
With this train of thought going on, I have started to turn my attention to the actual images we share. With software such as Photoshop becoming more affordable and easy to use we can manipulate images we take , never having to share a bad photo again. I have noticed that many of my friends now go through their images with a fine tooth comb, editing sometimes to the same degree that an advertising image may be edited, before sharing. Gone are the photos of us with less than perfect skin/teeth/hair etc, as to are the badly framed images where peoples heads are not in the shot, blurry images and those “happy accidents” where the camera has miss-fired and captured something we didn’t mean to capture. Much of this is down to the image taking capabilities and the method of shooting. With film cameras we did not have the means to review an image straight away, and the cost meant we couldn’t take images one after the other after the other like we can now. With film, people were limited to 24 or 36 shots per roll (35mm film) and depending on how much film you could afford to purchase and then pay to get developed, now with digital image taking you are only limited by how many images you can fit onto a memory card or the battery life of your camera.
Anyway, back to images we share, which I’m thinking is where I am going to be focusing my energy for this project and dissertation work…
I keep seeing this image (above,The Treachery of Images (This is not a pipe) by Rene Magritte) and I am beginning to form links with images we see today. (Rene Magritte was a surrealist painter from Belgium who lived between 1898 and 1967, the image is currently on display in LA County Museum of Art) . The image makes us question our relationship to images, this is a pipe, but it’s not a pipe, it is not the actual object but a representation of that object. In the same way, with photo editing software, we an question photographs and other images we see today, flaws an be removed, skin and eyes made brighter, teeth whitened, people slimmed, backgrounds changed, people an be edited out – a pretty endless list of changes can be made to an image before being shared to the public domain. Any image we view now needs to be viewed in the same way as Rene’s work as many of the images we see are just representations, not a actual truth which could be captured and less easily manipulated when using film to make images.
With film though, and its the same with digital image capture, as a viewer we are never really sure if an image has been staged to look a certain way or if it is spontaneous, for example, I could decorate my house out with all the Christmas paraphernalia and take images supposedly showing the festive season but have taken them in June… the viewer could come to the conclusion that the images were actually made in December but the truth is way out.
This all then brings me to advertising campaigns, with all this photo-editing going on in our own homes, and fairly easily at that given that there are you tube tutorials for just about anything and everything you could ever want to do, we, as viewers are more likely to question adverts. But this is not my point… With all images being edited to some extent or other, our “snapshots” that we share have become an advert, something carefully constructed, and thought about in terms of how we are seen in these images by the viewers of them. As image takers and sharers we are fully aware of what the images we are seen in say about us. We want to be like the models in adverts with the perfect skin, glossy hair, having fun, being fashionable, being popular etc… that we only ever share the best images of us.
Anyway, this is just a few of the thoughts going around in my head at the moment with regard to my dissertation…
For the project that runs alongside my dissertation I have been looking at film snapshots and Corrine Day in particular as she has shot many projects in the style of snapshot photography, Diary (some images from this project can be viewed on her site here) being one of them. I am unsure which direction to go in with snapshot photography as I have a few directions and interests on this subject – one of those being to take my own snapshots and focus, possibly, on re-creating or making snapshots of everything I would normally use digital imaging for, or look at the extinction of film photography and photographs, family albums as actual objects, and old film created photographs as the precious objects they once were.
I’ve not blogged about what I have been up to for a bit as I have been writing a literature review for uni (3500 words) which has now been submitted for grading. Alongside that I have been working on my final project of the year which has been about social media, sharing information and is part of our end of year module “Voyeurism, Surveillance and Control.” My work was shown in our university course’s end of year exhibition “Power and Control” so a week of my life was taken up with sorting that out. There will be a few posts covering all of this in the near future.
The most exciting thing that has happened to me is the Pontypool project that I was working on last term, my friend and I met up with artist-in-residence for Pontypool, Alexia Mellor and became her “Consultants-In-Training”, we passed this with flying colours and are now part of her legacy for the town. our first ever newsletter is available to read, from the beginnings, to a brief outline of our projects to what we are planning! More info an be found here, so please take a look and let me know what you think!!! :D There will be further updates on this project and all of the other projects I have been working on soon!
Scanning (For) Memories is the next stage of my Pontypool project. I will be setting up and trialling my “Scanning Station” on thursday (25th April 2013) in the Mellor Management Training Incubator between 10 am and 2pm. I will be asking for the public in the town to bring photographs, letters, tickets, nick knacks, anything that holds local memories, to stop by and share those memories, and have the item scanned or photographed as a way of capturing information.
I am hoping that I can capture local stories, personal memories and locations that can be used in my “You Are Here” , (other blog posts here and here) but also to gather together personal effects which can be used in a memory book of the town that I intend to create.
So, if you have any interesting memorabilia of the town, regardless of how old or new, bring it by the Mellor Management Training Incubator on Thursday (25th April) between 10 am and 2pm and share your stories!
I have been thinking about space and place throughout this ‘You Are Here’ mapping project (here), how we experience space and place and how we form memories of those places. I decided to put together my own “Memory Pack” to see if I can create and capture those experiences and memories and get people viewing the place they choose in different ways. I decided upon a picnic/lunch bag as the carrier for the “Memory Pack” as it is associated with days out, fun, holidays, school trips and fun memories. Inside that I placed a plastic lunch box filed with all kinds of things….
The Lunch Bag/Carrier
“Memory Box” contents
Close up of “Memory Box” contents
Close up of “Memory Box” contents
Close up of “Memory Box” contents
Close up of “Memory Box” contents
I included bubble blower as it has fun connotations and memories of being a kid,
Post-It-Notes to use with the crayons and pencils to write about your favourite place, draw on etc,
And a disposable camera to capture the memories on. (this will be processed and a copy of the prints given to the participants for free)
And I included some rules!
***A £1 deposit is required before you are able to book out the “Memory Pack” which is refundable upon return of the pack.***
***”Memory Pack” is available to book out for periods of half an hour unless otherwise agreed***
***Prints may take up to 1 month to process and distribute***
To take part in this part of my project please pop into the Mellor Management Training Incubator at Stall 21 in Pontypool Market or email us at email@example.com, please also visit www.projectpontypool.wordpress.com
The next stage in the Mellor Management in Pontypool project is now open!
The Mellor Management Training Incubator is a work experience programme for our consultants-in-training and University of Wales, Newport students, Meg Vaughan and Suzi Tench, to conduct their own participatory projects, upholding the Mellor Management mission of actively engaging the public through creativity.
On Monday, 15 April 10am-2pm, join Meg Vaughan as she works with participants to create a community "Welcome to Pontypool" sign.
Having fully recovered from the chocolate coma, we are happy to share images from the Mellor Management Easter Celebrations! With the help of photographer, Sam Waters, who took over SHOPtalk for the day, Mellor Management served as the HQ for the Market Easter Egg Hunt and cake decorating! A lot of fun was had by all!