The Self Portrait and The Selfie – My Synopsis

As promised, here is the synopses that ran as a prelude to my complete dissertation.  This piece of writing needs to be kept brief and to the point and will act as a guide to you and your lecturer about the content of your dissertation.

This paper sets out to look at the similarities between self portraits and the modern day selfie.  In the paper there is a look back at painted portraits and the reasons behind them and why they were so popular, the rise of photography and the invention of such photographic types as the daguerreotype and how the Kodak Eastman Box Brownie meant that photography became more and more accessible to the general public.  From this point the paper takes us on a journey to more modern means of self portraiture, from the photo-booth image,looking at the similarities between this type of photo and the self portraits today with the work of Tracey Ferguson and Ori Gersht in their Day By Day project.  The work then moves into todays self portraits, known as selfies, and how technology and the digital and social media world of today has shaped how we take and distribute these selfie images.  We then take a look at what might happen in the future to further shape the world of the selfie, from advancements in the cameras used to take these images to bringing back the selfie from the realms of the internet back into objects in everyday life.  The paper touches upon celebrity culture and the pressures of modern life to keep creating the images.

 

Long live the #Selfie!

New Year…New Resolutions

Happy New Year to all my lovely followers and blog readers out there!!!  I can’t quite believe (still, 7 whole days in), that it’s 2015!

I didn’t really make any resolutions last year which, at the time quite suited me, I was, after all battling to complete my degree, college course and holding down both a full time job as well as a part time one.  I think my very words to resolutions last year were “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”.  And, you know what?  I kind of missed them.  In a way I had a ton of goals already pre-set for me and they were more important (dissertation writing, project sorting and getting all my assignments completed for college) but I missed setting my own goals and tasks for the year.

This year I have given a TON of thought to my resolutions.  I have been thinking about them since December!!!  So, here they are…

  • Save money – easy huh?  But under this broad spectrum resolution, which I have made time and again, and never stuck to are ways of saving that bit extra this year which become their own resolutions, helping me to keep this one…
  • Budget my spending – I have already created a spread sheet for this, logging my income and main outgoings – bills, food, fuel, savings etc.  I can add to it each month with other spending I do which will help me have a better idea of where my money goes.  I’m also hoping that by seeing all my spending in black and white will put me off any “extra” spending that I don’t need.
  • Plan purchases – For example – I am a huge beauty product geek and will buy something just because its on offer, regardless if I need it or not.  Planning my purchases means for me, planning when things will run out and only buy when I truly need them, not want them.
  • Stop unnecessary spending on things I don’t really need – pretty similar to the above really, except this goes for “pretty, shiny things” – shoes, bags, clothes, the list could go on and on… I have a ton of bags that I don’t use as they just aren’t quite right and keep impulse buying more in the hope that they will suffice, and they haven’t. I’m always returning to use the same bag again and again as its big enough (read too big) but not that practical or smart.  I need to research any future purchases in detail before handing over the cash.
  • Scale down the contents of my bag, and stop carrying around the same, unused stuff on a daily basis – maybe then one of the bags I have will become the perfect bag….???
  • Plan my meals better – at the moment I tend to snack eat which isn’t healthy.  I really need to plan meals in advance, and if possible pre-cook and perhaps freeze them so there is always something on hand to eat when hunger kicks in.  Hopefully this will lead to saving money too.
  • Do something creative at least once a week – since finishing university and college, apart from creating nails I have not done much creative until now!  I purchased a “Wreck This Journal” by Keri Smith last year and vow to complete it by the end of the year.  If you have never heard of “Wreck This Journal” then check it out here .  This book, and the others in the series are sure to get your creative juices flowing!  I will be posting images of my “Wreck this Journal” to my Instagram if you would like to see them!  (You can find me here )
  • Take more photos and actually do something with them…I already do take photos but not nearly enough and I don’t feel like I have worked on a project in so long.  I have now started a new project which I hope to share a bit with you all soon!
  • Use all my cameras at least for one whole load of film this year.  I have hardly picked up a camera in ages, not since I have owned an iPhone, and somewhere along the way I have started to neglect my other cameras, and I own a few!  I’d like to be able to create something at the end of the year which documents, truly, the year I have had – the good, the bad and the everyday.
  • Read more books and make a list of what I have read- I love books and since owning a Kindle I have read loads more than I have done since starting uni (well textbooks don’t really count do they?) but I have no idea the extent of books I have actually read.  it would be interesting to me to see the number of books I have read in a year and the variety I have read at what times of the year too.
  • Go on more trips – I have a vintage camper that we started to use more last year that the year previous, I think we had about 10 trips (or more) away in it during the summer and I’d like to be able to travel around a bit more and experience more of our beautiful island.  Getting passports is another must do this year, we are planning a trip abroad at some point!!!

I’m sure there will be many more things I could add to this list of “resolutions” and probably will at some point but I feel this is a manageable amount, and the smaller the list the more likely I am to stick to them!
What are some of your resolutions this year?

 

The Need to Write (or A Reflection on the Past) Part 2

After the first post that I wrote (which can be found here) I have decided to run a series of blog posts covering each year of my time in University.  This post will be covering my first year undertaking my Photographic Art BA Hons) degree and all that happened in that year.

September 2011 was the year that I began my Photographic Art degree, a course that wasn’t my first choice of degree (more to come on this later in the series…)but one that I was looking forward to none the less.  I received a recommended reading list and an equipment list prior to the course starting and sourced all the necessary books.  I spent a long time sourcing all the equipment stated and stocked up on camera batteries and plenty of film ready for the course to start.

I remember the first day bundling my equipment together and heading off for the bus ride in (at that point I still hadn’t learned to drive!) and being so nervous I was nearly sick.  When I got to uni I met up with a few people who had been in my class for Foundation Art which settled me somewhat.  We all made our way to the assigned class room where we would meet all our other course mates.  That day passed in a bit of a blur of meetings and talks about the university and what we could expect from the course.  The course started pretty much the next day with our first assignment being handed to us not long after.

In the first year we got taught how to use an analogue camera (one that you load with film), how to process black and white film and also how to turn the negatives into prints.  We learned two different ways to create prints bit using the same method of paper exposure to transfer the negative image onto light reactive paper, one of these was a manual, wet room way where you mix the chemicals and process the print fully yourself and another “mechanical” way in which you expose the paper and then feed it into a machine that is filled with the correct levels of chemical and processes the paper for you, the image then being fed through the machine and out the other side once the process was complete.

We leaned to use a Medium Format camera which uses a larger film and can create beautifully detailed images.  I now own several different kinds of Medium Format cameras including 2 Box Brownies (one a higher spec than the other) a Holga and a Voightlander and I really do enjoy using them.  The class took a trip to  Gregynog Hall, a beautiful old mansion-house, where we undertook a project to produce “Film Noir” style images.  A few weeks before the trip we were split into groups and were given a piece of text to use as the basis for our images, the images needed to illustrate the text and act as a visual story.  The text my group was given to work from was Roald Dahl’s Lamb to The Slaughter.  Part of the work for this project focused on planning.  Our group had several meetings where we discussed the text and chose parts of the story to illustrate.  We then went on to discuss how we wanted the images to look and how were to be shot.  We spent a lot of time sourcing props that could be used in the final images to make them look authentic, spending time in many charity and antique shops.  Once we got to Gregynog we spent a day exploring all the rooms and deciding which would provide the most suitable backdrop for the images then setting the scenes up and sorting out where the cameras would be and how to light the images.  I really enjoyed that project, it taught me a lot about the technical side of image creating and that there is a lot more to consider than just the final image.

Other projects we were given to work on included using colour film, from taking images to processing the film through a specialist machine and then onto printing the images.  I found colour photography really interesting, however I really struggled with the printing of the images as there is so much that needs to be considered.  We worked on several different projects under the umbrella heading of colour photography, one of the projects that really sticks in my head was a diary that I worked on, inspired by Corrine Day’s “Diary” and work by Ori Gersht and Tracey Ferguson titled “Day by Day”.  I was set a project about Photography and Physiognomy (definition of Physiognomy here).  I started off looking at how important the face is in recognising someone, and how the image of our face is used on so many different things, from ID cards to passports and as our profile image on social media, but after looking at “Day by Day”, a series of images taken by Ori Gersht and Tracey Ferguson when they were in a relationship together and documenting the break up of that relationship and seeing the differences in the artist’s faces as that relationship failed I became interested in creating my own diary.  I took photographs each day, 3 x a day and noted my thoughts and feelings.  I had hoped that the images produced would convey my emotions at the time.  I was surprised to see, through the images, the small changes that took place in my appearance, from my hair getting longer, my face starting to thin out and how tired I looked in some of the images, and although the emotions I was feeling didn’t seem to come out in the images I felt that I had achieved something.

My favorite project was the final project of the year that I worked on.   I can’t really remember the project brief but I called this project “A Model Family”.  With this project I examined the bonds between family and friends, trust and friendship circles and the relationships between friends and family.  I also looked at how communication within these groups happened and the movement between friendship circles.  For example, having a close friend in work can change to a friendship that only takes place on social media or email and phone conversations when the job position changes, how friendships change due to other factors such as moving and relocation.  This project became less about photography and images and manifested itself into a series of models based on atoms.  The models that I created used different sized polystyrene balls and wooden skewers painted in different colours, each different sized ball represented a different friendship group or part of my family and differentiated in size depending on the size of the allocated group.  As I put these models together it became apparent that they looked like models used in chemistry to illustrate chemical structures.  There are 4 models in total, each having a “Chemical” like formula name assigned to them, the largest is called

M=F(1IF,1EF)+Bf(1SF,1AF)+Fr(1BF,1CF)+O(1UF,1WF,1CF,1SF) which equates to Me = Family (1 Immediate Family, 1 External family) + Boyfriend (1 Step Family, Adopted Family (Boyfriends Family) + Friends (1 Best Friend, 1 Close Friend) + Others (1 group of Uni friends, 1 group of work friends, 1 group of college friends, 1 group of school friends).

The smaller models started off as just me, then my family and worked its way up in groups to become the largest model.  I really enjoyed this project the most and it changed so much from the beginning where I couldn’t really think of anything I could do into something that I am still super proud of today!

I learned quite a lot in my first year of my degree but there were some points where I questioned myself on what I was doing and whether the course would be worth it.  At the beginning of this part of my “Uni Life” I mentioned getting the equipment list and buying everything as I thought I would need it all.  I did feel a bit misled by the list as it turned out that some of the equipment I bought never got used, and wasn’t needed which had an impact on my finances because of the belief that if a list was sent out to us then we would need all the items on the list.  I think if I was to do it all again then I wouldn’t just go out and buy everything on the list but get the very basics and build up my kit as I needed things.  I also struggled as I’d never used Photoshop before starting this course, which nearly all the other students had experience of, that for me was a sharp learning curve especially as training sessions with my tutor fell through and I had to teach myself the basics.  I purchased the best book ever, one that I continue to use regularly called CS3 for Dummies, which helped me get to grips with all the things that I wanted to do.  I wouldn’t say I’m an expert by any means and am continually learning new tricks and ways to do things in Photoshop.

So, in a nutshell, that was my first year of my Photographic Art Degree.  I hope you enjoyed it!   Stay tuned, or even subscribe if you so wish(!!!) for further stories from my degree!!!!


The Need to Write (or A Reflection on the Past) Part 1

Its weird, this is a blog I started up near enough 4 years ago (on the 6th May 2011 to be precise, making my blog just over 3 and a half years old!).  I created the blog as a way to share my artwork, uni projects, notes and things of interest that I have discovered.  I wanted the blog to be more image heavy than contain lots of writing, however, as time goes on I seem to have spent more and more time writing about things than sharing images and this is something that I feel I need to address.

I find I have bred a need to write, and I’m unsure where it has come from, it’s not writing in a creative (NaNoWrMo for example) way, nor is it probably very interesting for others to read, but I’m finding the whole experience rather therapeutic for myself.  It’s my way of recording things that have happened, of documenting my thoughts and ideas, a way of preserving something of myself for the future that is less likely to be destroyed than if it were written on paper.  I feel like, since I have finished Uni, that I have been neglecting this blog, not sure what to post, and not really having many images or projects to share.  I have one in the pipeline which I will be starting in the New Year, and several other thoughts about other projects I would like to pursue but no projects currently underway, but I have been thinking about these projects and how I want them to go and what kind of outcome I am aiming for.

Anyway, this post isn’t really about talking about the future, I have been wanting to write a post documenting the past four years, the years that I have spent working towards a degree in Photographic Art, a nod to the past and what I have achieved in that time!

I worked for a charity in the payroll department for 3 years prior to starting university, I had been thinking about getting back into art as it was my favorite subject through school and when the news broke that my colleague and I were being made redundant it seemed the perfect opportunity for me to begin life (again) as a student.  I went to an open day with my partner and met the lecturers of the course I wanted to take (Foundation in Art,  Media and Design or F:AMD) at The University of Newport, Caerleon Campus.  I learned a lot about the course and what kind of things the students got to produce and decided it was the course for me.  I enrolled and was surprised to receive a letter inviting me to an interview, even more surprising was that upon attending and going through the interview, at the end I was offered a spot on the course unconditionally!  That was back in 2010!  It seems such a long time ago now!

So, I started the course, catching the bus each day as it was prior to me being able to drive, or I’d get my partner to drop me off on his way to work and picking me up again on his way home (doing 12 hour days in college!)  I learned so much on that course!  We covered lots of different things in our first term, the lecturers designing the course so we could have tasters in lots of different art practices before we decided what kind of “artist” we wanted to be, and where our specialties lay.  We covered photography, fine art, fashion, animation, 3-d Art and printmaking in the first term.  I remember not really getting on with animation, we were required to create a stop motion movie of our name morphing into a chosen characteristic or description word of ourselves.  I created a flick book first and that seemed to work ok but when it came to turning it into a stop motion film I just couldn’t do it.  We were set a lot of fun “activities” to work on, for the fashion element we had to create head-wear based on a love song, I chose U2’s Sweetest Thing and created a hat which had a tear through the middle of it that had been sewn back up with ribbon and had a giant needle sticking out of it.  For the fine art module we had to create a fantasy animal that combined elements of other animals…we got to go to Bristol Zoo as part of the research!  I can remember constructing this fantasy animal, spending hours with chicken wire and paper mache, spray paint and glue, working out how to meld a zebra, flamingo and rat into this creature that then needed to be suspended through a canvas and hung from the ceiling.  That module was probably the hardest to execute.

In the second term I chose to concentrate on Fine Art and, if memory serves right, 3d Art.  I remember working on a project called Higgeldy Piggeldy, where the brief spoke about how some things can appear as one but are actually the opposite and decided to create 2 perspex boxes, one totally transparent and filled totally full of water and sealed in, giving the appearance that it was just a totally empty clear box and totally lightweight, the other giving the appearance of being full of sand but in reality the inside surfaces of the perspex being coated with sand and filled with polystyrene, giving the illusion of heaviness but being really light.  This was going to be an interactive piece, requiring the audience to lift the pieces to experience the opposite of what they imagined.  I remember being really frustrated with this project, I had so many issues with the perspex, it wouldn’t seal properly, my application of sealant was less than perfect and kept leaking, but the idea was there and I managed to back it all up with almost a sketchbook full of ideas and research materials.  we also worked on a piece called Mechanisms where I looked at work involving kinetics (movement), I spent days lying under my desk with a wooden board suspended under it and finding different ways of having a pen make contact with the surface whilst it swung back and for.  I then moved off into Knex and constructed a windmill like structure which turned with a handle and propelled markers around it before settling on making a version of a harmonograph.  We also worked on a project called Location in which I focussed on the area I live in and spent many days gathering leaves and making them into different coloured crayon rubbings before cutting them all out and attaching them to canvas.

For the third and final module I decided I wanted to major in Fine Art.  We had to design our own brief, conduct appropriate research and come up with our own ideas about the subject we had chosen.  I knew that I wanted to focus on the past and on ornaments, the home and ideas of emotion and sentimentality.  I had lost my grandmother in the January of this course and that influenced the piece heavily.  I chose, in the end, to create an installation of part of a room with a cupboard in it that was semi open.  Inside the cupboard were lots of ornaments that had been wrapped in a kind of insulating fabric that was see through, giving the effect of dust sheeting over furniture…it was my way of making a statement about objects in life, many of them hold untold stories, from where they came from and the reason they came to be in the place to the sentiments attached.  No one knows those stories like the owner does and they are shielded away from many Peoples ears, only shared with the trusted few.  And then you die, and all that is left is this group of objects that seem so insignificant to others yet held so much to the person who owned them.

And, that summarises my first year in university… Stay tuned, or even subscribe if you so wish(!!!) for the stories from my degree!!!!

Forced Hiatus from Blogging

I’ve really missed blogging here and writing about my projects and haven’t blogged since November 2013, nearly 4 months ago 😦  I’ve missed writing for fun but had to take a forced hiatus of sorts as I had to write my dissertation for uni.  This is now complete and over with now and I can begin to ease myself back into blogging about things I love!  😀

I suppose, as my dissertation took up so much of my time and became my life for such a long time I should let you all know what it was about…  The title for my dissertation was “The Self Portrait and The Selfie”  which sums it up in a manner.  I chose the subject of the Selfie as I have been interested in social media and the selfie for as long as I can remember, not because it fascinated me but because I just didn’t understand why people want to take selfies and post them all the time,  I got myself an iPhone and an Instagram account (@siouxsietench if you want to follow me!  I follow back in most cases…) and so began my own journey into the world of selfies.  My dissertation split down into  3 main chapters, Chapter 1 looked at Self Portraits and the history behind them, from paintings to photography and the shift in technology that helped push photographic images of the self into the mainstream arena.  Chapter 2 was about the Selfie today and how social media (focusing mainly on Instagram) and mobiles have become acceptable ways of taking and sharing the selfie image, how the way we label images changes our perception and interaction with the image and others and how it has become popular culture, Chapter 3 looked at the future of the selfie with regard to developing technologies and movements within the context of the selfie and how we label them (ie; using the # not just as a way to label images but to become a platform for communities to chat about shared ideas (see #felfie )  I quoted Kesha along the way and also linked to the Chainsmokers #Selfie song too….

And eventually I finished.  8989 words later it has been printed and bound and submitted for marking and I’m so relieved.  I can’t say that the process has been enjoyable, for me it has been a struggle to meet the word count as I really don’t like using too many words when a few will suffice so a lot of time was spent expanding on my sentence structures.  My lecturer said that I’d chosen a difficult subject to write about as it wasn’t “static”, which, at the time I didn’t understand.  I know what she meant by “static” now though, in that the #selfie is fairly new and there is so much being written about them in newspapers and magazines, blogs and books at the moment, there has been a bombardment of opinions about the topic and that has been a hard thing to negotiate.  But its finished now and I can get back to doing stuff I love, like blogging and art!  😀

 

#selfie