Insta-Rips and Anti-Social Media (Part 2)

I started to look at the “social media” aspect of #selfie images and how a lot of the images are taken in bedrooms or other places in the house, often away from any “friends” and then uploaded onto the internet for “friends” to look at, like and comment on which seemed to me a bit anti-social.  I then started looking at how we use social media and found a lot of people update their statuses and interact with people on-line when they are alone, either at home or travelling, either way, not really interacting with any human beings in the real world.  This struck me as such an odd thing to do, speak to people on-line via texting or typing messages back and fore, rather than communicating in a more natural way, like speaking face to face.  Conversing over the internet leaves out a whole lot of other communication skills that we have developed over-time and have began to use without even thinking about it, for example, reading body language.  We can tell when someone is approachable, happy, angry, sad, friendly within seconds, just by our ability to analyse how that person stands, how their arms are positioned, how they lean against something which we loose when using social media.  We also can not establish that persons voice tone, typing makes it harder to convey a sense of feeling and with that, meaning, its harder to decipher a text written in a certain way than someones tone of voice.  We also loose other expressions like those minuscule movements of a persons face which give away boredom or hope.  And then the hands, we use our hands to communicate so much, whether its waving to say “hi” or hold someones hand in a show of sympathy or care, or even when waving them around, gesticulating when we speak, that is lost too.  But then we are still using our hands to communicate to a degree, we are using them to hold our phones, grasp them tightly, hold them high to take #selfies, and to type messages out to our “friends” which then becomes a gesture, we use them more as tools to convey the idea that we are being “social” by using these sites.

I started to look at how we hold our phones and the similarities in hand gestures and realized that they were not so far apart.  I have begun to move away from the Insta-Rips and am now concentrating on taking photos of peoples hands, in the poses we see people holding them in when taking #selfies specially, but without the phone present to see what they would look like.

Below is the first edit I have done.  I have used my friend Alex as a model for me, and have been playing around with crops and whether to include a background or not, so far the white background is my favorite, the black being my second.  I like the uncluttered-ness of the background and the way the focus is all about the hand and nothing else, and I like that the hand is also seeming to “reach-out” from no-where to make contact, much like how social media enables us to reach out and grasp other’s friendship when we are alone.

Insta-Rips and Anti-Social Media (Part 1)

How many times have you skimmed through your social media newsfeed only to be confronted by yet another selfie of someone standing in their room, pouting into the mirror?  Or been out with friends and gone to speak only to be met with tops of heads, while they are engrossed in their phone?  It seems to happen to me, A LOT, so I’m guessing its happening to most people at some point or other.

This project originated from the #selfie culture that seems to be taking over the internet and newsfeeds on most, if not all, social media.  I began by taking my own selfies and originally wanted to use them to create something but I couldn’t fathom what.  I think part of idea formation for me, especially with this project, was that looking at images of myself was a bit too close to try and decipher what I wanted to do with them, for me they were just me and that was that.  I moved on to looking at items which define a selfie, from mirrors to mobiles and the apps with which we share these images on.  I started to look at other peoples images of #selfies and did a Google search using #selfie as the search term.  I came across a website that groups all images shared on Instagram by the words they are # categorized with and started to filter through them, looking for images where the phone was in the shot, and the image taken in a mirror and started to download them to my computer.  I then went back through them and started an editing process where I started to get rid of background in the images that didn’t really seem that interesting or relevant to what I was trying to focus on.  In the end that just left a lot of arms and hands and phones floating around inside frames….

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.

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 visit_________.com 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.

Insomnia – The Final Edit

 

This is the final edit of my images for the summer project “Insomnia”.  I had these printed out at 8″x10″ at Asda (http://www.asda-photo.co.uk/).  They were displayed in the above order side by side in uni.  I was really surprised and also disappointed to realize that the work we had done over the summer wasn’t going to be graded or marked as such.  The images were intended to open discourse, if we wanted.  I did get to speak about my work but not in great depth, and I got asked questions too, some of which came from people who hadn’t read the accompanying Artist Statement which describes our work, what we did, how we went about it and what we were trying to capture, it is there to provide further understanding to the work and background information along with any further information that  may be relevant.  I set out to capture feelings about insomnia and how it affects me, I have found that my insomnia is caused mostly by subconscious anxiety and there isn’t much I can do to cure it, I have also learned how to shoot in lit, night-time conditions to capture movement and I am happy with the images I produced.  My understanding of aperture, ISO and shutter speed has been made clearer and I have other things that I would now like to try in the future.

 

All images shot with Pentax K2000, edited with Photoshop CS3 and printed by Asda.

Insomnia – Further Photos

 

 

Test Shot 1…  I took to see what effect the settings were going to have on the overall image, that the camera was positioned correctly and to check that everything I wanted was in the frame.

 

 

This is the image showing movement.  I am not entirely happy with this image as it seems to show the movement as a bright glow in the center of the bed rather than actual blurred movement.  I have thought about maybe re-shooting this but moving around more slowly or even editing it in Photoshop to see what it is like in black and white.

 

 

I have moved the camera in this shot and went straight into shooting without first doing a test shot…sometimes I get a bit carried away!  This is why the test shot comes further down… I am still unsure about this image and am having the same problems with it as the above shot.  None of these images have been edited in any way yet, they are straight from camera so perhaps playing around with them in Photoshop may help, if not I can try a re-shoot.

 

 

 

This image seems to capture movement a bit better with some hazy “ghost” parts to the image.  I am happier with this image than the previous images.  When I took this image I checked the last image and decided on the spot to re-shoot and moved around a bit slower to see if that made any difference.

 

 

 

Test Shot 2… If I had done the test shot first I think I would have chosen to move the duvet out of the frame completely and maybe remove some of the clutter in the background before shooting…  Worth noting for next time!

 

 

 

Test Shot 3 … I moved the camera again and took a test shot to see if the framing was ok, as with the above test shot, I think I should have removed the duvet completely from the shot as I am now finding it to be distracting along with the background clutter.

 

 

 

I am much more happy with how this image has turned out!  It is more along the lines of what I was expecting.  The image has some nice movement trails in it which I think have been helped by a different camera position, however I think that the camera and tripod were set up too close to the bed as the background is blurry which could have been caused by camera shake, I’m not sure if this matters too much with the overall image but I am tempted to re-shoot..  I really would like to convert this to black and white to see what it would look like!!!!

 

 

 

Test Shot 4… Again, I should have moved the duvet and the clutter from under the bed and in the background.  Really like the framing of this shot though!

 

 

 

This image, as the one above, works for what I set out to capture and is along the lines of what I expected.  In hindsight I would have moved the duvet as it is a large distraction for me personally.

 

 

 

This image is even better in terms of what I wanted to create.  I think that this camera angle helps to capture the movement as trails and ghosting really well!

 

 

 

Test Shot 5… Clutter beside the bed….

 

 

 

Test Shot 6… Still clutter but better in terms of distraction.  I think I should re-shoot this angle again and remove all items from the frame as they are still distracting.

 

 

 

This image is a bit too ghost like for me.  There is no real suggestion that the light parts of the bed are a person, to me it looks like a camera fault.  However, I am keen to see (again) how this would look like in black and white.

 

 

Again, I’m not entirely happy with this shot as there is not enough movement recorded.  I think it may be down to camera angle and shutter speed so I may have to re-shoot.

 

 

 

Another shot I did using the same camera angle as the shots above…  This one is marginally better than the ones above but only slightly.  I’m still not sure on the camera angle for this shot or how movement has been recorded.

 

 

Test Shot 7 … Another different camera angle, checking the framing of the shot.  I think that the clutter on the bedside cabinet should have been removed as it is distracting.

 

 

 

 

 

Rockpools

All of these images were taken 2 summers ago.  I happened to be looking through the photos I have stored on my computer and found these (pre editing they looked a bit different!)

Rockpools have always fascinated me, as a child on beach holidays with my parents my Dad and I would always be found poking about in rockpools and emptying nets into buckets, showing my Mum the contents to be put back later!  I’ve often thought about setting up my own salt water tank to try to recreate my own rock pool!  They seem to me such magical other worlds that offer so much to see if you look close enough.

I still have loads of images of rock pools that I want to edit but here are some of the first ones for you to enjoy!

* All images taken with Pentax K2000 and edited using Photoshop CS3