Summer Project and Dissertation Thoughts

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  Many family photo albums have ceased to exist once film cameras have been replaced by digital capture devices, instead these images remain stored as digital data on computers and discs, a selection being uploaded to be shared with friends on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…

rene not a pipe


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.

Voyeurism and Surveillance

Our new project, Voyeurism and Surveillance, got given to us a short while ago.  I had been toying with the idea of a Big Brother themed idea, because to me Big Brother is the bridge between the both, it has a voyeuristic feel to it – a social experiment where total strangers enter a house and live together whilst every movement is captured on CCTV and broadcast for the general public to ‘enjoy’ as a tv show, whilst covering the surveillance aspect through the house-mates movements and conversations are picked up and monitored as an experiment.

This moved on to more modern ways of voyeurism and surveillance, the internet and social networking.  It is crazy to see what people upload to social networking sites and what you can find out about someone due to what the put on their ‘Profile Page’ –  a page that tells you about them, their date of birth, family members, where they work, the area they live, the music they like and even hobbies, interests, sexual orientation, whatever they want to share, you, as the viewer, can potentially see.

I originally started looking at people’s profiles that had lots of information viewable (not my actual friends, strangers profiles) and thought about using information that I could find out about that person to create a book about them and all this “found” info but am still unsure of this as I don’t really feel that there is much of a message for the viewer of my work to see.  I did think about internet security and how, even with things in place such as ‘Privacy Settings’ , people didn’t seem to are about what they were sharing and wanted to make people more aware of their internet security and to raise the question’s “Why share?” and “Is it necessary to share this much information?” .  I am still thinking along those lines, and still want to make a book but I’m thinking of pushing this whole concept and idea further in terms of audience participation.  Changing people’s thoughts about internet security and information sharing may not come from just seeing a book full of information I have collected from other people’s profiles, it may come from the processes we go through in sharing information over the internet, it’s so quick and easy to type in something and click a button that we rarely think about it any more, but what if we went back to pens and paper to share information and it became a more physical and thought about process?

Discover Pontypool…

pp map 1ps pg6 - road and borders pp map 2ps pg7 - Roads and borders pp map 3 ps pg 8 - roads and borders pp map 4 ps pg 9 - roads and boundary

What is my work about?

My work is based upon maps and is about concealing and revealing information.

What were your inspirations?

I went to a talk for the 100 Years symposium in City Campus, Newport, where Mishka Henner showed us his work Dutch Landscapes, and spoke about his work.  This work focused on Google Earth images and showed how the Dutch had tried to conceal things in their landscape using really obvious methods such as Crystalisation, an effect taken from Photoshop, and camouflage.  As the viewer, you could see that this had been so obviously done that it really wasn’t doing much to conceal anything, you knew there was something there but didn’t know what.  It made me want to find these places and visit them to see what was being hidden.  It was this train of thought which led me to thinking about my project.

I also thought about Google Maps and websites such as the sites that many regions now have.  Using such sites means that you can go to an area, sus it out and never have to actually travel there, and you can decide from what you have seen whether to go to the area or not.  I thought that Pontypool would not benefit from such a way of viewing it as there is more to Pontypool than what is on the surface, there is history, architecture, green areas, walks, a folly, a shell grotto and so much more that you wouldn’t really get to experience just by viewing it on a screen.  Pontypool is as much about the experience as it is the area.

What have you done to create your work?

I took a map of Pontypool and looked at several different methods of concealment such as hiding information with a biro, and thought about what information to leave in or take out.  I came to the conclusion that using Photoshop would be good both for effectiveness and for how I wanted the finished piece to look.  I decided to remove all the road names, and any writing that was on any green areas and any landmarks.  I left in the canal, river and any other water.  I also left in Pontypool Bypass.

What were your thoughts about your work?

By choosing to conceal street names and just leave in the Bypass, bringing the viewers’ attention to it, I hoped to highlight that Pontypool’s problems really started with the construction of it.

Maps are usually sources of information, a way to navigate a terrain, a way to decide what to visit and in what order, by taking this information away it becomes up to the person using the map to decide where to go, guess where they are and how to navigate, somewhat similar to a treasure map.

It is also about power someone said to me that having a map gives you power, which is something I thought about, and going back to Mishka’s Dutch Landscapes and then looking further into how things are concealed in maps, Japan and other places use the Clone tool and copy fields to drop over areas they want hidden in Google Earth.  Doesn’t the power then go to the creator of these maps as they have the power to conceal information from the user?  My work revolves around the idea of giving the power back to the map user, by taking away road information the user has to decide where they are, they have the power then to make choices based upon where they think they are, and they can discover, for themselves what Pontypool has to offer, perhaps even discovering things for themselves which they didn’t even know were there.

What do you hope to achieve with your work?

I hope that by creating maps that have little information on them and distributing them to the public, that they will use them to make their own choices regarding navigation of the town, relying upon them to find new places, discover things they haven’t seen before and view Pontypool in a new way.  I hope that my work will ignite curiosity about the area and bring in people from other areas, generating much needed tourism for the area.  Hopefully it will bring people back to Pontypool who will then start spending money, the people will attract new businesses , new businesses means less empty shops, less empty shops means less disrepair and that means that the whole town centre part of the area would be transformed once more into the thriving area it once was.

How is your work going to be presented and why?

I decided to use two formats for presenting my work; one is in the form of a map.  The map will be credit card sized and fold out to A4 size which will make the map easy to carry around and refer to.  The other form for my work will be postcards, a series of 4 different ones which focus on the four different sections of map, these can be collected as a series or can be mailed to friends so that Pontypool can be known in other places and shared with friends and family, hopefully creating further interest and attracting new visitors.  Both of these formats are designed for easy distribution to the public.

There are other ways of presenting my work that can be considered, flyers, posters, banners, vehicle stickers (such as on the side of busses), in reality the ways of showing this work are endless.

Rules of Photography

These rules were published in an article from the BBC website (link at the bottom).  The article was about lomography and how it may have saved the film industry, the “rules” are in relation to the lomo camera but can easily be transferred to any camera, and taken on by any person using or owning a camera regardless of whether you are an amateur or professional.  The rules are a good thing to follow, just go out there and take some photos and don’t worry about what you actually take, part of the fun of having a camera is using it, and being involved, not what the image looks like at the end, it is about taking images and enjoying doing so.

  • 1. Take your camera everywhere you go
  • 2. Use it any time – day and night
  • 3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it
  • 4. Try the shot from the hip
  • 5. Approach the objects of your Lomographic desire as close as possible
  • 6. Don’t think
  • 7. Be fast
  • 8. You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film…
  • 9. … or afterwards either
  • 10. Don’t worry about any rules

Taken from ( )

Project Make!

Yeah, I know, I’m doing a degree in Photo Art so surely I should be taking photos and creating works with them?  Not necessarily, as I discovered in my project Model Family (here..  I must admit though, that as we were given pretty much free rein to do anything we wanted I was a bit baffled, and also scared, as we only have a few weeks in order to bring our ideas together and create something that is an object rather than images.

I originally thought about using maps in some way but I didn’t have any concrete ideas.  I decided to explore my love of color further and am currently constructing and painting a model that is an interpretation of the light spectrum color wheel/photographers color wheel/additive color wheel.  There are 3 main color wheels, the painters color wheel which has Red, Yellow, Blue as the primary colors  Orange, Green, Purple as secondary, the Additive color wheel, where Red, Green, Blue are the main colors  Magenta, Cyan, Yellow become the secondary colors with White as the central color created when these colors are all mixed together, and the Subtractive/Printers color wheel where Yellow, Magenta, Cyan become the main colors and Green, Blue, Red become the secondary colors which when mixed become black (which is fairly similar to the painters color wheel, when you  mix all the colors together you get a dark, blackish brown color).

My work for this project, so far, is concentrating on the additive color wheel as it is how color is transmitted to us and how we interpret and see color ourselves.

The additive color wheel is based on the idea that pure light is made up of all the colors  a chair appears blue because it absorbs all other colors from the light source but bounces the blue color back at us.  Newtons theory comes into this where his idea is that darkness is an absence of light therefore an object becomes colorless in the absence of light.

Gothe’s ideas surrounding light and color are also relevant in that colors are formed through an interaction of light and dark (how tones and shades are created) For example, yellow is darkened white and blue is lightened black.

There are many other ideas and facts surrounding color  for example, the human eye can detect and distinguish between more shades of green than any other color as our eye is most sensitive to that color  yellow is the only color to change totally the darker it gets, from yellow to ochre, all other colors just become darkened versions of themselves.

There is so much more to color than we can see!!!!

Artist and Technical Research – Insomnia Project


Anton Guilio and Arturo Bragaglia – Photodynamic Typewriter

When I realised that I wanted to do something with long shutter speeds and capturing movement in a single photo I started looking at artists who had done similar work.  Photodynamic Typewriter by Anton Giulio and Arturo Bragaglia was one of the first pieces that I looked at and felt a connection with.  I liked the ideas behind the movement Photodynamism -‘ included the use of high key lighting and long exposures to capture sudden (movement) gestures in a way that depicts movement as an indivisible reality, rather than a sequence of static poses’ ( )











These two images were taken in a similar way, by Eugene Atget, Paris Fantome is to the left and an image from ‘Images of Paris’ is on the right.  Eugene Atget used the techniques of photodynamism to capture the feelings and movements and character of Paris and its streets.








Hiroshi Sugimoto used long shutter speeds to ‘record’ whole films in his work “Theater’s” through the 1970’s .  The movement in the film is rendered obsolete, as a rectangle of white, the light burning the image away.    The duration of the shots is set by the length of the film, and although the images were made when the theaters were full, because of the duration that the shutter is open, most audience members go unrecorded.



Long exposures need – low light conditions

– Low ISO

-High F stop

– long shutter speeds of 10 secs or more.

Long exposures mean that the shutter is open for longer, recording any movement that happens between the shutter opening and closing.




For the past 5 to 6 weeks I have been suffering with really bad insomnia ( info about it here…) I’ve suffered from it for years on and off but normally it seems to go away on its own.  This time it has stayed with me for a course of weeks on end.  I have no idea what has caused it and have looked into likely reasons for it and also ways to try to get rid of it but nothing seems to be working at the moment.  I don’t want to go down the medication route as I have done that before, while effective for short periods of time, medication doesn’t seem to work and I hate the idea of relying on medicine long-term.  It leaves me feeling groggy and unable to concentrate (not good when you need to drive places and do things), affects my motivation levels (which, ok, are affected by lack of sleep but not as much) and generally leaves me feeling a bit useless.

Last night was probably the worst I have been for a while (maybe 2 weeks) where it felt like I was lying there for hours but when I checked the time it had merely been a matter of minutes, I couldn’t get comfortable and seemed to be moving around every 5 seconds although I believe this was more out of frustration than anything else, I was too hot then too cold even thought the room temperature was at a fixed constant, then my mind started playing tricks –  was that movement in the shadows I saw? , did I just hear something?

Even worse are the thoughts I allowed my mind to have… Is it just me awake now?  I bet it is.  Is the darkness closing in around me?  How long has it been now?  Why am I the only person that can’t get to sleep?  Am I really tired?  I wonder what I could be doing instead?  And then there is the emotional thing of feeling so lonely when there is only you awake…

So, while all this crap was going on in my  head and I was tossing and turning and checking the clock for the bazillionth time I had a thought about making this into a project of sorts.  Next time I can’t sleep (and I dare say it will be soon) I am going to get my camera out and start documenting it and see what I can come up with.  Lets start using this ‘illness?’, ‘incapability?’, ‘sleep failure?’, whatever term you use for it into something that could be quite interesting.


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I was going to write about how my circles project is coming on and what I had been doing with the project but I thought these may be a bit more interesting (as I have hardly done anything with my project this week that seems blog worthy :/ )  These were taken on Monday 28/5/2012 when the weather was rally warm and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the air smelled faintly of weekend barbeques and sunscreen, cut grass and warm tarmac.  I felt that I should take some photos to try to convey what the day was like.  I took a load of photos but am really pleased with these 3, I’m not sure why, maybe it is the depth of the blue sky or the colours, I’m not sure.  But I do think they captured the day and the weather perfectly!  Hope you like them too!!!

Darkroom Day

Today was spent in the darkroom developing and printing my photographs. I was happy with the contact sheets that I had made yesterday (sheets of all my negs in colour so I could see what I had on each negative.) but today has been another story. I decided to print my images at a size of 4 inches by 5 inches (portrait format) The first couple of prints turned out ok but I battled with the last image, I couldn’t get the tones to look right. Anyway, after 6 hours or so of being in the rooms and doing print after print I thought I was happy with my images… Then I got home… And looked at them again. And now I’ve decided that they all still have work to be done to them as there is something not quite right with any of them. the major downfall I have is I’m not sure what isn’t right, I can’t put my finger on it. This is really frustrating for me as I feel like todays work has somehow been in vain. On a positive note it means I have got that load of work out of the way and can start again where I have left off and hopefully get it right in a few hours tomorrow 😀 so maybe all isn’t lost yet. I have been looking at the work of Ori Gersht and Tracey Ferguson “Day by Day” which documents the lives of both of them throughout a year, it is interesting to see their faces change and take on the strains of their private lives without you as a viewer knowing exactly what has been going on at that point in time. For this project I thought about a load of different ideas, from the invention of Facebook and profile pictures, to identities both in the form of ID cards and social identities and also how we view people within society – social identities, I suppose. But I kept coming back to this idea that Gersht and Ferguson documented. I wasn’t sure why or where this may go so I thought about it and played around with it in my mind. Eventually I came up with an idea in which I decided to take photographs of myself at different times of the day (morning, afternoon (or when I arrived home), evening and before bed) to see how my face changes through the day and see if I looked the same or if there were differences, tiny or huge, that could be seen judging by what had happened to me those days. I have kept a log of what I have been doing /thinking about at the time of the photographs and am planning on cross referencing my “diary” with the photographs. After all, a self-portrait can be a fairly intimate thing to share with people as can a diary. I’m not sure yet, whether I will share the “diary” extracts along with the photographs or just have a photo diary to present at the end. I guess this is the thing with creating art, it is organic and takes on a life of its own, meandering and entwining itself with other ideas and fragments of life before becoming something whole and accepted and complete on its own. This is the beauty of creativity and creating.


For this project I have been looking at Tracey Emin, Mike Kelley and an artist called Nari Ward.  The works I have looked at are all different but have inspired me in creating my own work.  Nari Ward created a piece called Bottle Whispers which uses loads of bottles suspended in a chandelier-esque way.  I liked the idea behind this work that all the bottles (all found) are associated with the breath, hands and mouths of those people who touched them, turning the objects into ones drenched in sentimental value.

Tracey Emin, whose work i have looked at on this blog, all have a kind of ‘bare-all’ honesty about them and I liked that idea of showing the audience a part of myself that I see as being personal and to me brings myself closer to the audience.  something that creates intimacy with the viewer.  Traceys work has the kind of feel that I want to create.

And Mike Kelley, who I have also looked at on this blog.  I really liked the Memory Ware Flat works that he created and have gone on to combine pieces that I hold personal to create something that brings about, I hope, a sense of “collective chaos” like he has created. 

Here’s the work…let me know what you think!