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  Many family photo albums have ceased to exist once film cameras have been replaced by digital capture devices, instead these images remain stored as digital data on computers and discs, a selection being uploaded to be shared with friends on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

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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’ (http://www.answers.com/topic/futurism-and-photography )

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

TECHNIQUE

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.

 

 

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.

Damien Hirst – Tate Modern

I went away at the weekend to go and see my favourite artists work on exhibition at the Tate Modern in London!  For uni, part of our summer work was to visit an exhibition and write a review of it! So, here is the review I wrote (and have just finished!!!)…

 

Damien Hirst

Tate Modern

4th April – 9th Sept 2012

The first thing that hits you when you enter the exhibition of Damien Hirst’s work at the Tate Modern is the smell.  Something lingers in the air, something that is vaguely familiar, the smell of household paint, then a musty odour of cigarettes, a chemical smell that I can’t place and something else.  Musty, old, decaying…Death, it’s that smell that follows you around, through the 14 rooms that house works of Damien’s, from his earliest spot painting to the room that contains cabinets of manufactured diamonds.  It seems that themes of death, religion and science are everywhere; you become aware of your own mortality, especially in room 3 when you are faced with that shark in formaldehyde, otherwise known as “The Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”.  Pictures viewed in books and images of this installation do not do it justice, the glass acts to create an illusion of movement, causing the tiger shark inside to move about, curve and follow you around, your mind screams out that it is still alive through the movements it has tracked but common sense kicks in and you can see that it is dead.

There is noise too, not just in the visitors passing through the exhibits but the motors that turn the Spin Paintings in room 8, which also houses 2 pieces of work that rely on air, “Loving In a World Of Desire” – a beach ball suspended mid-air above a brightly painted box that houses an air blower, and the hum of the hairdryer in “What Goes Up Must Come Down”.  The only room that seems church quiet is room 14 which houses the work “The Incomplete Truth” – a dove suspended in a tank of formaldehyde and a pale spot painting “Remembrance”.

Logic wants to work overtime when viewing the spot paintings that are exhibited in room 1 and 2.  In room 1 the earliest spot painting can be seen, it is not clinically done as the later spot paintings are, clean rows and columns, the first is a messy, dribbly, affair with spots of paint marked as splodges that run down the canvas and appear still wet, having that glossy, wet look of household gloss paint.  But from this you can see the ideas already forming for later works which can be viewed in room 2.  These later works cause my eyes to dart about the canvas, trying to seek out patterns and a logic, which is a fairly impossible task as no two colours are exactly the same and no two colours appear side by side, or above and below, twice in any of the spot paintings.  Given that some of these paintings are huge, and the dots tiny, that is no mean feat.  It is clear to see how Damien developed his ideas and his love of colour in these works.

The first whiff of death that confronts us comes from “A Thousand Years”, housed in room 2.  It consists of 2 tanks side by side and joined, one houses a white box with holes in it that contains maggots, they hatch and fly away, making their way to the attached tank which holds a skinned head of a cow, hanging from the ceiling is a fly zapper with a tray below it.  The flies are drawn here, crawling over the head, feeding, reproducing and dying, the unlucky ones getting zapped to death before their bodies are caught on the tray below.  This work questions our life cycle and mortality; it brings everything into simplicity, and creates a cycle of its own.

Flies feature in Damien’s work further along the exhibition, in room12, where “Black Sun” hangs on the wall, the same smell of death and decay hovering around it.  This work is made of dead flies and resin, which until closer inspection it is hard to tell, at first I thought it may have been tarmac as it had the same texture but the smell gave it away.  It is hard to look at this work in a joyous way, it is a grim illustration of death, there is nothing happy about it, not like with other works of Damien’s which explore death.  It leaves you wondering about what happens once you have left this earth.

In contrast are the murals made to look like stained glass windows taken from churches.  These bright, pretty pieces are in fact, made up from butterfly wings that have been pressed into wet paint.  There is a different feeling to these works, even though they contain dead parts of insects, like “Black Sun” they have a joyous feel to them, one that seems to give hope after death.

Other images of death can be seen in “Mother and Child Divided” (room 9) where a cow and her calf have been cut from head to tail, dividing them into left and right parts which have been placed in four separate tanks.  The title of this work plays on the relationship between mother and baby and also the brutal reality that they have been divided, left from right, right from left.  It is possible to walk through the cow and calf and view all their insides and outsides.  This way of exhibiting felt much like the way things are displayed in biology, so that you can learn about the parts of the animal and get a good look at everything.

Further work of Damien’s which touch upon science are “Hymn”, a giant sculpture of an anatomical structure of the human body, the first work to be viewed by visitors at Tate Modern.  This work is placed outside the main entrance and is viewable from quite a distance.  This links in to Damien’s fascination with pharmaceuticals and surgical implements which can be seen throughout the exhibition, namely in room 10 where installations of cabinets full of surgical implements are on show and also in rooms 2(medicine cabinet – “Sinner”, pill cabinet “Lullaby”), and room 10 (Trinity – Pharmacology, Physiology, Pathology), not to mention the room set up as an actual pharmacy (room 7).  On viewing these works I couldn’t help but find contradiction to the view that Damien’s work is all about death, surely medicines, teaching aids and surgical appliances are about curing, prolonging and helping survival?

The circle of life has already been addressed in Damien’s work “A Thousand Years” displayed in room2.  This is re-addressed in rooms 5 and 6 where the idea remains the same but is illustrated with butterflies.  “In And Out of Love (White Paintings and Live Butterflies)” and “In And Out Of Love (Butterfly Paintings and Ash Trays)” is a two part work, room 5 houses canvases painted with bright colours and decorated with dead butterflies wings, and room 6.  In room 6 canvases hang on the walls from which huge butterflies hatch, their amniotic fluids that seep out when they hatch, drip down the canvas leaving coloured stains.  The butterflies move round the room gracefully swooping through the air, feeding on fruit that is left out, resting on the plants, before dying.  This work, although on the same thought lines as “A Thousand Years” seems more beautiful and poignant an illustration of the life cycle, the flies in “A Thousand Years” seeming more violent a description of life and death.

Death and religion are visited one final time in the quietest room of the exhibition, room 14.  This is where “Remembrance” and “The Incomplete Truth” are housed.  As you walk through from room 13 into the doorway of room 14 you see a dove, wings outstretched, hovering in a tank of formaldehyde.  The dove is symbolic in religion as hope, peace and the Holy Spirit, behind it is the palest spot painting edged in gold.  It is a beautiful sight, serene and peaceful; it offers a hope that there is more to life than just living and dying and is a brilliant way to finish the exhibition.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep Diary – 18th – 19th July

Bed Time – 12.30am

Food/drink consumed – Smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich, tuna crunch baguette, 2 cups of coffee, 1 cup of red bush tea, 1 pt fizzy water, 2ltrs cider, 1 aero white choc mousse.

Activities – Driving, shopping, visiting/caring for friend, housework, shower, Skype, reading and research.

Sleep Quality – 4 and 3.  i found it hard to fall asleep and despite the time I went to bed I was still awake at 2.45am.  And although I woke feeling like I’d had a good night’s sleep I woke up several times during the night but not for any reason (except 4.23 when next doors baby woke me up…)

In Review – JUNE

12 Posts

537 Views

No idea of the amount of rainy days this past month has seen…

Another month gone by so quickly again!  It seems that time drags by when I’m in Uni, the holidays can’t come quick enough but now I’m on holiday it seems that the months are passing too quickly!

My favourite posts of the month are (in order of most recent to oldest…)

1) Circles Project – Week 3 (https://artreviewed.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/circles-project-week-3/)  I liked the photos that I had taken for this post and that I have not centered totally on the circles within the frame.  There is something a lot more subtle about the photos and I may start to play around more with showing the “circles” in situ rather than zooming in on them and making the image totally about the item.

2) Nature (https://artreviewed.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/nature/)  This is my favourite image I have taken so far, and it happened quite by chance.  I love the detail on the bee and the colours of the image.  I’d love to take more photos like this! 😀

3) Interrupted – Uni Summer Project Wk 1 and Wk 2(https://artreviewed.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/interrupted-uni-summer-project-wk-1/,https://artreviewed.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/interrupted-week-2/ ) I’m glad I have finally started to get this project off the ground and am now playing round with ideas that I have had and seeing how they come out.  There will be more of these to come!

4) Weekend Project – The Garden! (https://artreviewed.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/weekend-project-the-garden/)  I was pleased to start doing weekend projects and starting to play around with my cameras and film again, and I’m really pleased with the results of my first weekend project!  I originally spoke of these “Weekend Projects” being day projects as it only takes a day to shoot images but decided to make them into weekend projects as I needed to get the images printed and scanned in to the computer to upload and that can take a few days!

5) Cards… (https://artreviewed.wordpress.com/2012/06/30/cards/)  As I said in the post, I haven’t done any card or scrap booking for so long and it was nice to start-up making things again!  And for such a good cause too!  I had forgotten how relaxing I find card making and am aiming to make more to sell!

Things to work on in July…

1) The amount of posts I make!  I was aiming for a post a day but after having some image upload issues that have continued I was slightly put off as I got so frustrated!  I am going to try to post more this month and catch up with everything!

2) Uni Projects.  It is all well and good having ideas but it would be a good idea for me to put them into practice and make more images instead of thinking about them!  I have a tendency to over think something and then not do anything about it so in future I shall start doing as I think and maybe I shall get further along than I am! I have a few ideas that would be good to write down and start working on, especially one for the Interrupted project that I am working on!

3) Circles Project.  As above really!  I have a few ideas that I want to work on, including one that moves away from photography and into printing but that is going to be kept for another post!

4) Weekend Projects.  I have loved doing the first weekend project and am going to be working on another one this weekend so hopefully there will be more images to share soon!  My only problem is deciding which camera to use next!  I’d love to use my medium format cameras (my Holga TLR and Kodak Box Brownie TLR) but have not got around to purchasing colour film yet.  Or finding out if I can get it processed in Asda.

5) Working on my Bucket List (https://artreviewed.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/summer-bucket-list/).  I am not sure how many things I have done on my Bucket List so far but I’m sure an update is a good idea!