You Are Here! Mapping Project Update and Additions!

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….
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The Lunch Bag/Carrier

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“Memory Box” contents

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Close up of “Memory Box” contents

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Close up of “Memory Box” contents

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Close up of “Memory Box” contents

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Close up of “Memory Box” contents

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I included bubble blower as it has fun connotations and memories of being a kid,

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Crayons,

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Pencils

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Balloons

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Post-It-Notes to use with the crayons and pencils to write about your favourite place, draw on etc,

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A bottle to capture tiny treasures or anything that is interesting from your favourite place,

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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)

Memory Pack rules

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 projectpontypoolincubator@gmail.com, please also visit www.projectpontypool.wordpress.com

You Are Here! Form and data collecting!

I am currently working on a project looking at Pontypool, the map of the area and memories associated with places in and around the local area.  I am asking people about their favourite place/location and memories they have of the place in order to create a new kind of map.  In order to capture the data I am asking people to fill out a simple form (below) or pop in to the space we are currently residing in, (Stall 21 in Pontypool Market, (also known as Mellor Management/The Incubator) to give us your favourite places and share memories and put your mark onto the map!

If you can’t pop in for whatever reason, the form below can be filled in and will be sent directly to myself to add data for you!

Thank you for your time and information!

You can follow the project at http://www.artreviewed.wordpress.com or http://www.projectpontypool.wordpress.com,or  pop and visit us at Stall 21 (Mellor Management/The Incubator) in the market

The project so far…

You Are Here Mas Intervention

Putting Your Mark On The Town (Map)

Don’t forget to check back regularly for updates on how this project is shaping up! 😀

Voyeurism ad Surveillance – How my project became the Fb Project

I shared with you my ideas about this project in this post and after a lot of thought and experimenting with different ideas I now have a concrete project that I am working on.

I spoke in the last post about Voyeurism, Surveillance, Big Brother and social networking, with ideas to investigate what people share on-line and how people disregard the privacy settings, meaning that whatever they share is not only viewable to their friends but also anyone else who happens to stumble upon their page.  I was quite set on this idea but as time has gone on I have now been thinking about the manner in which we share data and how social networking breeds sharing (and over-sharing) of information we might not necessarily have meant to share to everyone.

I have started to look at the methods we go through when sharing information onto social network sites, in specific, Facebook.  I chose Facebook as it is a common denominator among myself and my friends, there are very few people I know who don’t hold an account.  When looking at this I found that a quarter (approx) of Facebook users fall into the 24 – 34 age bracket (in the UK) and the figure for that group stands at 8178000 (taken from SocialBakers website) which in itself is astonishing.  When you think about it, these figures seem to make sense, this is the age group that first had Facebook (launched 9 years ago, wikipedia ) and it is the age group that have embraced new technology and can understand the potential in social networking, whether it is to keep in contact with friends or use as a tool to market yourself or even play games.

My thoughts and research led me to creating a new Facebook to see what information I needed to give and what information you are likely to share when asked.  I took screen shots of each “Information Field”.  I wasn’t totally aware of why I was doing this but at the time it seemed like a good idea.  I have since gone back to them and kept looking at them and wondering what I could do with them, questioning how we share things, why we share things and the means we have to share things.  It struck me that sharing information on-line was quick and easy, something that we have to do when making purchases, visiting websites and has become part of normal life, it seemed people just clicked and shared because it was so easy.  This train of thought led me back to the book idea, what if I challenge how we share information?  Take it back a step and make it a physical action that requires more than just a click of a button.

I am now looking at those screenshots and formulating an idea which turns Facebook into an actual physical book experience where the viewer of the book is asked to fill in the information required (with a pen or by printing out and sticking photos in etc).  Would they be willing to share the information if they had to think about what they were doing and go through physical motions to do so ?  Will it make people more aware of what they share and who can see it?

Hopefully this project will raise questions of personal security on-line and make people think about what is shared and who with and even the way we share information.  I have always been careful about what is shared and who with, I don’t want my info to be shared with 100 of my friend’s friends and then shared with their friends etc.  I also don’t want this project to be a shocking account of what can be viewed on-line, or become a campaign about internet sharing and safety but I do want to question the means of sharing and how and why we share.

Photographs!

I have just taken 2 rolls of film!!!!  One black and white medium format (120mm) film in my Holga and one 35mm colour in my Diana.  This might not be much to most people but to me this is amazing as I don’t really take photos any more, I like to see what I do as ‘Creating Images’.  Hopefully I can develop them tomorrow and at least get contact sheets made so I can see what I have got and if they are any good and share them on here!  These images I have just taken are experiments for my new project about Voyeurism and Surveillance.  Ideally I would love to take the images with a Polaroid camera (like this or this  ) as I think that the photographs they produce, both in quality and feel would fit right in with my project but for the moment I have taken photos with 120mm and 35mm just to see what effects I can get from these before, perhaps, purchasing *another* camera!

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 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.

General Thoughts

I’m starting to struggle with this project now, even though it is on my home town.  I saw my lecturer last week for a 1-2-1 which wasn’t the best meeting about my work that I have had.  The project I was doing, my lecturer wasn’t keen on for a load of reasons and he didn’t seem keen on me continuing with it.  After a long talk and a look through images I had taken, an idea started to form that I could roll with.  My problem with this, and probably what has caused me to become dis-interested and start struggling is how far we are now into the project, we are about 7 weeks in and I’ve been steered away from the idea I had and ‘given’ a new idea.  I have now got 7 weeks (approx) of work to catch up with, photos, research etc… and this is causing me to struggle.  I don’t really know what to do or where to start, just that I have a great load of stuff to do and a lack of motivation for it.

How do you regain motivation?  And how do you start a project that you don’t feel engaged with?

Visiting Lectures – Paul Cabuts

The University course that I am on offers students lots of different learning experiences from workshops, tutorials, seminars and lectures.  We are lucky enough, also, to have access  to lectures that are given by practitioners in photography whether they be artists, documentary photographers, gallery owners etc.  These lecturers visit our university and speak to us about their practices, hence these being called “Visiting Lectures”.

The first of these lectures, an introduction to this years series, was Paul Cabuts (http://www.paulcabuts.com/) , one of the lecturers of Photography at the university.

The talk Paul gave was about photography, photographic courses and the history of the university among other things.  Some notes that I took from the lecture that I found of interest were;

In the 1960’s and 70’s there were 2 types of photographers, commercial (such as David Bailey), and amateur.  Commercial photography took 2 separate paths, magazine (documentary, fashion etc) and front covers (advertising etc)

Today photography is spoken about as being a creative practice which didn’t happen before, photography was snubbed by many galleries as not being a “proper” art practice like painting and sculpture were.

Many photographers, (Paul Hill, Keith Arnatt, Jo Spener, John Blakemore to name a few) bridged the gap between photography and art.

Advocating Agencies for photography as art were;

Arts Council, V&A, Photographers Gallery, Side Gallery, Open Eye, Impressionist Gallery, Ffotogallery, Half Moon Gallery, Camerawork and Creative Camera.

Places teaching photography at the time were RCA, Derby Trent Polytechnic, Polytechnic of Central London, Manchester Polytechnic and Newport School of Art and Design.

1973 Documentary Photography, and 1980’s (Late) Photo Art started being taught in Newport University.

“Art for art’s sake – unacceptable (1982)”, an interesting quote that got me thinking about how art is created and how “thoughtless” art doesn’t seem to have as much hold over people as art that is created out of a motive or reaction to something that is going on in the world.  I’m not sure that creating art for art’s sake can be seen as unacceptable though, and I don’t really think art is created without a purpose behind it, such as art created for therapy, as a calming medium or for enjoyment purposes.

“The pen and the photograph are alike.” Another quote that got me thinking, the pen creates work to be read and conveys a meaning in the same way that a photograph can but we need to be “Photoliterate” in order to obtain the meaning within the image just as we need to be literate in reading and writing to understand what written work conveys.  There is a greater need today to be photoliterate as we are surrounded day-to-day by thousands of images that are all asking something of us, whether it be to purchase something, believe in something, see something, we need to decipher the code so we can understand what these images convey to us.

Paul spoke about the digital era, and how digital cameras are now under threat from mobile phone cameras.  This has been on my mind recently, with most of my friends using Instagram and taking and editing images on the go, uploading them to social networking sites and sharing instantly with others.  Everyone today carries a camera in their pocket and can use them, it wasn’t the case in previous years when the cost of a camera was so high that only families with  money behind them could afford a camera or a photographer to take photos for them, photography was for the privileged, not like today when a decent camera can be bought for small sums of money or other technology comes with a camera attached.  It is interesting to note that with this shift in technology, photo albums and sharing have changed due to the rise of the internet and social media sites (eg Facebook), we share more of our personal ‘snapshots’ now than previously.  This got me thinking about the photograph as an object, this too seems to have become a rarity, with many of our images now occupying ‘digital’ space and being viewed over screens instead of being objects to hold, touch and pass around.

“Photography can be a very difficult and humbling medium, but the study and practice of it must always be enjoyed.”  I think that this quote is one of the best I have heard and makes so much sense to me, and I think that this is one of those that will stay with me for a long time.

Newport University is celebrating 100 years of Photography at the end of this month, with photography being taught since 1912!  heck the website out for further info and events!  http://100yearsofphotography.newport.ac.uk/

The Town I Live In

I’m about to embark on a project where the topic is the town I live in, the whole of my class has to do a project on it and will become part of a regeneration of the town.  We had a trip to the town on friday which was interesting and informative and it made me realise that I take so  much that is in the town for granted.

The town isn’t very good-looking on the surface, there seem to be more and more empty shops and pubs appearing day by day and in general it has an air of being forgotten and unloved, but beneath the surface there is so much heritage and things to discover.  There is an old market that retains much of its original features, many of the old buildings are still standing and beneath your feet are hidden tunnels that once connected one shop to another, secret pathways that helped traders to move around and basements full of history.

The old buildings have been changed to accommodate new businesses,  but above street level things have stayed the same, you can see where hotels used to be, pubs and old trading stores.

I was worried about what the other students would think, scared that they would just see what is on the surface, see it for what I have done for years, a neglected space that shoppers seem to forget exists.  I didn’t want that to happen and I hope it hasn’t because if the trip to my town has taught me anything it is that I do still love it and that maybe I have been neglectful of it too, not seeing the beauty beneath the grime and the stories the buildings and streets have to tell.

I already have an idea for my project and I cant wait to start putting it into place, I just hope I can do my town proud!

Colour, Light and Contrast – The final piece

Colour, Light and Contrast

This work is based upon and is an interpretation of the Additive Primary Colours, RGB.  These colours, along with their secondary colours (MCY) make up pure white light.  this theory is based upon Newton’s theory that light is made up of colour, it isn’t a colourless medium.  The way we see colour can be explained by this theory; the chair appears blue as it absorbs all other colours of light and bounces the blue tone back at us.  Newton’s theory also examined the opposite of light, darkness – or an absence of light, objects are colourless in the absence of any light.  The work also works with Goethe’s theory of colour being formed through interaction of light and dark; yellow is darkened white while blue is lightened black.  Goethe’s ideas examine contrast and how varying the levels of light can affect the tone and appearance of colour.

Both these theories, along with the Additive Primary Colours are important to us as they help us to see and make sense of the world around us.  They are also important to us as photographers as it helps with developing images, whether on-screen or in the darkroom.

The image above was taken on the day we had to exhibit our work in the studio and is how I presented my work to the class.  I created a mobile and 3 painted canvases to try to explain the colour theory.  The writing above (in bold) is my Artist Statement which is visible below my work in the image.

I was quite happy with how my work turned out and how it looks on the wall.  I wish that I had decided what I was going to do sooner, and worked towards it in a better way than I did.  I feel that I was lost for a few weeks when I was mulling over what to do and just looking at images, reading text and trying to form an idea.  I’m not sure why it took so long for an idea to come to me, but i do remember feeling pretty daunted by the task set for us.

I’m not sure that this work is yet complete as I would like to add several more canvases and make a few more sculptures/mobiles to go along with it, and |I would like to see them all hung next to each other to see what it would look like complete.  I would also like to play around with size and scale and see what happens when I put large and small and micro together.