Tag Archives: Assignment 2

Assignment 2 – Self-reflection

Image selection

The process of making this assignment involved playing with numerous different versions of the image, before I selected the current edit. Some of the ones that did not make the cut are shown below with the reasoning for their exclusion.

Too repetitive

Not possible to depict adequately without backlighting or 3D glasses.
(With back lighting, the semi-cut image has a wonderful transluscent glow, which I have not been able to reproduce as yet on video.)

Straying too far from my brief

These begin to use techniques which substantially alter the meaning of the image. I would describe them as artistic interventions, rather than those based on process.

This is an ongoing process of exploration of the digital image and since making these, I have already produced a number of further experiments.

Self reflection

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

I believe that this work is technically and visually interesting. A considerable range of Photoshop and image editing skills were needed for the series, but not in the original image which was made at the Festival of Light in Longleat at the beginning of January. I selected this image because of light’s importance to all photographic work, and because the colours were bright and distinctive. In reality though, the image itself was not important. The same processes can be applied to any other image in a similar way.

Quality of Outcome

I still do not really know how I feel about this work. Clearly, it is not finished, as I have left it open to adding other different manipulations of the image and perhaps this is the reason for my confusion. I have done a great deal of background research and experimentation, and I feel confident that it is well rooted in theory, but am not clear about whether it works in reality. I have shown it to several of my peer group and they have been positive about it, although there have been two questions I want to address. Two people questioned the notebook format and asked how it relates to the subject. For me, the format is deliberately an interim one, and it will be changed for assessment, after a period of time has elapsed and I can view it more impartially. Secondly, someone said that they did not see much in the way of meaning in it, and wanted to know whether it referred to my ongoing work on fading memories or something else. My response to this is that the meaning of the work relates to its position within the digital/analogue debate and the potential that digital imagery has for alteration and manipulation. I would very much have liked to attend the Creative Coding for Beginners course at the Photographers’ Gallery this spring, but sadly the travel costs make it too expensive.

Demonstration of Creativity

This work is definitely on the same trajectory as some of my previous assignments. In particular, it continues the themes of altering images and using craftwork techniques as well as Photoshop manipulations. I see my developing style as a fusion between photography, paper arts and fabric crafts. It is also becoming clear that I favour a conceptual approach, with ‘the idea or concept being more important than the object itself. (Modern Art Oxford, 2017) and that experimentation of all kinds is a fundamental part of my creativity.

Context

I have thoroughly enjoyed the reading and contextual research for this assignment. Several of the photographers whose work inspired me are mentioned in the Contextual Background post, but I particularly want to pick out the work of Thomas Ruff and Mark Dorf. The way that Ruff alters one element of an image, applies it to a series and then re-photographs it is inspirational for me. I was mesmerised by his 2018 series Tripe, using old Empire images at the Victoria & Albert Museum last month. Mark Dorf’s exploration of how the new digital world and the natural one are coming to co-exist is also fascinating, and the ways he expresses his feelings about it through image manipulation has opened up all sorts of ideas for future work for me. A final core source was this article in Photoworks on New Materiality.

References

Modern Art Oxford (2017) Contemporary Art of Today: Materiality & Media. [online video] At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxffm4tXJRA (Accessed on 26 February 2019)

Plummer, S., Riches, H. & Wooldridge, D. (2011) ‘Photography’s New Materiality?’ Photoworks issue 18. [online] At: https://photoworks.org.uk/photographys-new-materiality/ (Accessed on 9 March 2019)

Exhibitions and lectures visited since the last assignment was submitted:

Exhibitions I have contributed to in a similar time period:

Workshops attended:

Assignment 2 – Deconstructing the Digital Image: a Materialist approach

An object is frequently not seen, from not knowing how to see it, rather than any defect in the organ of vision. (Babbage, 1830)[1]

This assignment follows on from my previous one, in that it also considers the material nature of the photograph, but in this case the digital image. The concept of materiality with regard to photography is now well-embedded in academic culture, but on the whole it tends to focus on analogue photographs, with their physical characteristics of paper and ink. Rachel Smith’s fascinating OCA Symposium lecture [2] discusses the ‘object’ nature of the analogue image in detail, including its surface, location, the processes involved and its history. She considers Geoffrey Batchen’s idea that the photograph consists of both a subject and an object, and that generally people look past the object to the subject without really seeing it. ‘In order to see what a photograph is of, we need to supress our consciousness of what it is.’ (Batchen, 1997:2)[3] The notion of materiality refutes that concept and argues that the object itself carries contextualisation and meaning which adds to the viewing experience. I have written a separate post about this and some photographers who consider this in their work here [4].

It has also been argued that the rise in interest in materiality has come as a result of the the so-called ‘death of the analogue’, with the appearance of the digital image and its apparent lack of material characteristics. Smith argues that time has the same degrading effect on the digital image as occurs with an analogue photograph, through glitches, altering metadata and missing pixels instead of scratches, dustmarks, etc. and that one can think of the digital image as material despite its lack of physicality. Joanna Sassoon posits that the photograph can be considered as a multilayered laminated object in which meaning is derived from a symbiotic relationship between materiality, content and context. (Sassoon, 2004:189) [5] either separately or together, but that the digital image lacks the material aspect. Smith, on the other hand argues that the vehicle for the image (the phone, laptop, screen) should necessarily be viewed as part of its materiality. The phone screen is the same as a sheet of photopaper in its function, i.e. that of carrying the image.

While Barthes talks about a photograph’s inseperable relationship to its subject in Camera Lucida (Barthes, 1980;13)[6],  Fontcuberta (2014:62)[7] posits that either the image itself might be the subject of interest, or the object. For example, the Victoria & Albert Museum’s current exhibition in its new Photography galleries offers a very different experience from a regular gallery, with the objects being as important as the images they hold. Fontcuberta encourages us to choose which variables of a digital image we want to alter in order to break the conventionality of the analogue photograph.

Taking this concept of looking at the materiality and layers that make up a digital image, A Derridian deconstructive approach seemed appropriate. Derrida theorised that in order to fully understand anything, one needs to take it apart (deconstruct it) and to examine its constituents. This is the best known part of his theory, but he also adds that the final part of the exploration is to reconstruct the object again. (Derrida, 1983)[8]

In order to present this series as a blog post, I have had to re-photograph the images. Like my two previous assignment, this work is something that is inherently physical in nature and it does not have the same effect when viewed on a screen, either in still or video format. In order to fully understand it, one has to be able to move it around, and raise and lower some of the images. The digital transparencies can be viewed from either side, and their relationship to the images above and below is part of the work. I have therefore included another post on the effects of re-photographing on a piece of original work [9]  and how it can change the meaning of it in ways which may add to, detract from or completely alter that meaning. This is further accompanied by a post on the photographers whose work as influenced my series  [10]and another on how digital images are encoded and decoded. [11]

This physicality has also influenced my choice of presentation. I see this piece as a work in progress, to which I may add other interpretations as I think of them, and that the final assessment presentation will most probably be quite different. At present, it takes the form of a ringbound A5 notebook, to allow the viewer to flip over the pages vertically and reveal the next image. Some images are double sided, some are transparent and others need to be viewed collectively as well as individually. I felt that this format was the simplest way of enabling the viewer to play with the work and to consider the reality of the variations on a theme it includes. As yet, I am unsure how the final version for assessment might look, but it could potentially be similar to a book of wallpaper samples, with a solid spine and looser pages.

Artist’s statement

For this series, I have used a conceptual approach around Derridian deconstruction and the notion of a photograph being both an image and an object to dissect the nature of a digital image into its various elements, each of which has its own reality and potential meaning, both separately and together. I have attempted to ignore the subject and concentrate on the object, but a virtual object – the digital image – rather than a real-life one, and the subject is irrelevant: merely a vehicle to visualise the processes.

Digital images are by their nature virtual. In this work, that virtual reality has to be reconstituted into something solid, that one can hold. By making this a physical book of images, I have tried to blur the lines between the digital/virtual and reality, to consider how they differ and are the same. This book has then been re-photographed, which takes it back into the digital realm.

Assignment images (some of which have been photographed more than once, alone and in combination with another.)

Video version

https://vimeo.com/user44649777

References

  1. Babbage, C. (1830). “Reflections on the Decline of Science in England: And on Some of Its Causes, by Charles Babbage (1830). To which is Added On the Alleged Decline of Science in England, by a Foreigner (Gerard Moll) with a Foreword by Michael Faraday (1831).”, p.210 [online] At: https://archive.org/details/reflectionsonde00mollgoog/page/n234. (Accessed on 9 March 2019)
  2. Open College of the Arts (2016) The Materiality of Images: Rachel Smith lecture. [online video] At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQzobcFrY9Y (Accessed on 9 March 2019)
  3. Batchen, Geoffrey (1997) Burning with Desire: the Conception of Photography. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  4. Woodward, H. (2019) Photography and New Materiality. [online] At: https://hollyocadic.wordpress.com/2019/03/06/photography-and-new-materiality/
  5. Sassoon, J., (2004). Photographic materiality in the age of digital reproduction. In: Photographs objects histories: On the materiality of images, pp.186-202.
  6. Barthes, R. (1980) Camera Lucida. New York: Hill & Wang
  7. Fontcuberta, Joan (2014) Pandora’s Camera. Mackbooks.
  8. Derrida, J. (1983) ‘Letter to a Japanese Friend’ In: Wood, D. & Bernasconi, R. (eds.) Derrida and Différance. Warwick: Parousia Press 1985, p. 1-5. [online] At: https://grattoncourses.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/letter_to_a_japanese.pdf (Accessed on 9 March 2019)
  9. Woodward, H. (2019) What Happens when One Rephotographs an object? [online] At: https://hollyocadic.wordpress.com/2019/03/06/what-happens-when-one-rephotographs-an-object/
  10. Woodward, H. (2019) Assignment 2 – Contextual Background. [online] At: https://hollyocadic.wordpress.com/2019/02/07/assignment-2-contextual-background/
  11. Woodward, H. (2019) Unencoding the digital image. [online] At: https://hollyocadic.wordpress.com/2019/02/25/unencoding-the-digital-image/

 

Photography and New Materiality

This post is another background one for Assignment 2. I first came across the concept of materiality in photography a couple of years ago, while watching Rachel Smith’s (2016) OCA symposium lecture  on ‘The Materiality of Images: exploring creative practice‘. In essence the materiality of photographs relates to the examination of objects themselves rather than the images for which they provide a framework. These objects hold information and contextualise the image quite apart from the information held within the frame. For example, the images below are of items I own – a family wedding album and a collection of found photographs taken in 1949-50 by someone working in the Andaman Islands at the time of their appropriation by India.  The physical objects tell stories of their own, even without looking at the images held within.

IMG_7293v2

Fig. 1 Unusual wedding album (2019)

IMG_7292v2

Fig. 2 Found photo albums (2019)

This is part of a much larger debate about materiality throughout the humanities which is presented in this article, Sanzo, (2018) and which argues that in any subject one needs to consider the subject’s relationship with its environment as much as the subject itself. Smith argues that the physical nature of the photograph includes its surface, the processes involved, it’s history and its current location. While Geoffrey Batchen argues that in order to see what a photo is of, we need to suppress our consciousness of what it is, (Batchen, 2000:82-107) and Flusser defines the object as ‘something that stands in our way’ (Flusser, 1983:84), i.e. both felt that the physical object was an irrelevance and merely a vehicle for the subject, a materialist approach embraces the physical part of the photograph and brings the meaning of that into the equation.

There are a host of photographer/artists who are known for their work in this field, including Gerhard Richter’s over-painted images, Wolfgang Tillmans’ exploration of what makes an image in his Paper Drop and Lighter series, various of Thomas Ruff’s series’ Aliki Braine’s Folded, Barbara Kasten’s Photo Mixed Media and Thomas Demand’s reconstructed images, to name but a few. These photographers work within the physical sphere, using images and objects that exist in reality.

The arrival of digital photography brought a whole new area for exploration of materiality and the image’s relationship with its location, processes, surface and history and some photographers who are interested in this area of study include Joan Fontcuberta, Anastasia Samoyova, Richard Prince, Sabato Visconti and Daisuke Yokuta. Each of these considers a different aspect of the nature of the digital image, using it as a basis for exploring ideas such as replicability, mass media, mapping, and appropriation.

However, one photographer’s work particularly interests me, because it considers how we, as humans living in our versions of reality relate to the digital world (see The Matrix (2019) and Baudrillard (1994)), and how that relationship can be expressed. I came across the work of Mark Dorf (Lensculture, n.d.) on the recommendation of a fellow student, Emma, and was immediately wholeheartedly engaged with it. I would like to specifically consider two of his series of work, which I find particularly interesting and which I would like to use as a starting point for my next assignment.

Mark Dorf axiomstimulation01

Fig. 3 Axiom & Stimulation, Plate #19 (2011)

Dorf is interested in our relationship with our digital as well as our physical environment, and how those two environments function together. In Axiom and Simulation (2011), he considers how the subject of a digital image becomes divorced from its real life counterpart through its computer coding, and the subsequent nature of the digital image as something without its original referent, a copy with no definitive source. He makes landscape images and then overlays them with digital interventions, or even removes the original altogether, to encourage the viewer to consider whether what we are seeing is wholly real or entirely constructed. (At the same time, he is also interested in the colour palette of the images, which is something I have explored before in previous modules using similar techniques).

In Parallels (2014), he reflects upon how the internet has come to overlay our interactions with the physical world in a way that functions in real time and make work that expresses his own navigation of a route between the two and his manipulation of them.

So many interesting ideas to take forward in this aspect of photography.

Figures

Fig. 1 Woodward, H. (2019) Unusual wedding album. [Photograph] In the possession of: the author.

Fig. 2 Woodward, H. (2019) Found photo albums.  [Photograph] In the possession of: the author.

Fig. 3 Dorf, M. (2011) Axiom & Stimulation, Plate #19. [Photograph] At: http://mdorf.com/axiom-simulation/ (Accessed 18/06/2020).

References

Batchen , G. (2000) ‘Post-Photography.’ In Each Wild Idea: Writing Photography History. London: MIT Press. pp.82-107.

Baudrillard, J. (1994) Simulacra and Simulation. (The Body in Theory: Histories of Cultural Materialism). University of Michigan Press.

Dorf, M. (2011) Axiom and simulation. At: http://mdorf.com/axiom-simulation/ (Accessed 6 March 2019).

Dorf , M. (2014) Parallels. At: http://mdorf.com/parallels/ (Accessed 6 March 2019).

Flusser, V. (1983) Towards a Philosophy of Photography. At: http://cmuems.com/excap/readings/flusser-towards-a-philosophy-of-photography.pdf. (Accessed 6 March 2019).

Leigh, D. (2019) ‘From red pills to red, white and blue Brexit: how The Matrix shaped our reality’. In: theguardian.com 21.01.19 [online] At: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/jan/21/from-red-pills-to-red-white-and-blue-brexit-how-the-matrix-shaped-our-reality [Accessed 6 March 2019].

Lensculture (nd) About Mark Dorf. At: https://www.lensculture.com/mark-dorf [Accessed 6 March 2019].

The Materiality of Images: Rachel Smith lecture (2016) YouTube video, added by Open College of the Arts. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rRzMeAkULc [Accessed 6 March 2019].

Sanzo, K. (2018) ‘New Materialism(s)’ . In: Criticalposthumanism.net/ 25.04.18 At:
http://criticalposthumanism.net/new-materialisms/ (Accessed 6 March 2019).

 

Unencoding the digital image

We are all subliminally aware that the digital image is constructed from computer code, without having to understand the details of exactly what is included in the information making up the umpteen megabyte files that we save on our computers. As part of this assignment, I became interested in understanding a little more than this, in particular to pick out which elements of the file contain the actual image data, and which are associated metadata data of various forms.  This article (1) was helpful  and although I have absolutely no understanding of computer coding, using it I was able to decode the data for the 6 x 6 pixel image that is the first image of the assignment, with the help of my partner, a computer scientist. The simplest way to understand the data is to change the file format to BMP (bitmap) in the cleanest version possible, without any compression. (A reasonably understandable explanation of the BMP file elements can be found here (2) in Wikipedia). I then displayed the contents of the BMP file using a hexadecimal editor.

Here is the full BMP file for the image in hexadecimal format, converted using https://onlineimagetools.com/convert-jpg-to-bmp  (3)

bmp file for image

Fig. 1 – Hexadecimal code screenshot. (2019)

Using the information, and without going into too much detail, the three sets of columns correspond to

  1. offsets – these are dividers to enable the data to be read more easily.  In reality the code is a single long line of information without any breaks.
  2.  This is the column which shows the actual data as a series of hexadecimal values. (Hexadecimal is a way of compressing information so that it is shorter, using the numbers 0-9 and the letters A-F). In the central section, there are also a variety of 00s and FFs, which are dividers between the pixels. Each pixel information unit consists of six characters, in three groups of two, which correspond to red, green and blue, although bizarrely, back to front. Thus, the last pixel above, corresponding to the bottom right one in the image consists of 7D (red), 65 (green) and 80 (blue) in hexadecimal code.
  3. The third column is an attempt by the hexadecimal editor to turn the information in the second column into text using the ASCII coding scheme. In this example, there is no text so it makes no sense, but sometimes one can see location information, titles, etc. in this column, which have been gleaned from the hexadecimal data.

Another way of picking the image apart is to select only the pixel colour data in RGB format, which is a decimal code and therefore less compressed than BMP. I was able to do this using MATLAB, a program which is not readily available, and the results look like this.

6x6 rgb file

Fig. 2 Pixel colour code example (2019)

The first section is red, the second green and the last blue, i.e. three 6 x 6 columns. These can be thought of as layers of information about the image which correspond to the red, green and blue channels in Photoshop.  On pages 11-13 of the assignment I have printed the three colour channels for the image, and when they are laid on top of one another, they produce the full colour version. To show how it relates to the data in the Bitmap image above, the bottom right pixel in the image can be viewed as either #7D6580 in hexadecimal or 135, 131, 144 in RGB.

A third way of deconstructing the pixel values is using Base 64 code, which is what I did for the image shown in page 4 of the assignment and again on the back cover. Again, I used onlineimagetools.com to convert the BMP to Base 64, and the result looked like this.

6x6 in Base64 text

Fig. 3 Base64 code example. (2019)

In this version, the As are not relevant, while the data between each slash corresponds to the information for one pixel. The information is shown in ASCII code, and more information on Base 64 can be found here.(4) It is generally used to make files more easily printable and only uses letters and numbers, rather than the myriad of symbols which feature in ASCII.  Just to see what happened, I then converted this back into a BMP and then a JPEG, and the result was exactly the same as the original, so it works. This leads to consideration of how the data in an image can be altered with or without changing the image itself, and the arts of steganography, something I may delve into in Assignment 4.

Figure

Fig. 1 Woodward, H. (2019) Hexadecimal code screenshot. [Online Image Tools, Screenshot of generated code] At: https://onlineimagetools.com/convert-jpg-to-bmp (Accessed 01/03/2020)

Fig. 2 Woodward, H. (2019) Pixel colour code example. [MATLAB, Screenshot of generated code] Generated by request from the MATL:AB program. (Accessed 29/03/2019)

Fig. 3 Woodward, H. (2019) Base64 code example. [Online Image Tools, Screenshot of generated code] At: https://onlineimagetools.com/convert-bmp-to-base64 (Accessed 01/03/2020)

Bibliography

  1. Quinn, A.J. (2017) Advanced C Programming. At: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ece264/17au/hw/HW15 (Accessed 01/03/2020)
  2. Wikipedia (2020) BMP file format. At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMP_file_format (Accessed 01/03/2020)
  3. Online Image Tools (2020) jpeg to bmp convertor. At: https://onlineimagetools.com/convert-jpg-to-bmp (Accessed 01/03/2020)
  4. Wikipedia (2020) Base64. At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Base64 (Accessed 01/03/2020)

Assignment 2 – Contextual Background

N.B. This post should be read in conjunction with the companion one, Photography and New Materiality (Woodward, 2019). This assignment has morphed through several different ideas since I began the research for it. Originally, I had planned to do it on some old correspondence that my great-grandfather had with the operetta composers Gilbert & Sullivan. After reading the course and reference materials though, my mind was teeming with new ideas, particularly on the subject of internet privacy and specifically, how much Instagram knows about us – or can surmise about us – given our interests and the pages and images we like.  This led to further research on algorithms and how the internet stores our data, and the ‘Aha moment’ came when I printed out the digital code for a 7×7 pixel square and was astounded at the size of both. The image and the associated data now forms the first image of my assignment book.

This led to some experiments using photographs and digital image code, two of which are shown below.

Fig. 1 Two altered found photographs (2018)

At this point, it became clear that I wanted to explore the relationship between the digital image and the code that forms it. Using the program onlineimagetools.com I printed the entire code for a single 6×4″ photograph to PDF, and it came to over 1100 pages of Word, using a 3 point font. Such a huge amount of information for one image! And with so much potential for alterations, visible and invisible. This underlying matrix of coded information, particularly at the micro level, became the basis of the assignment.

Following on from assignment 1, which was influenced by the work of Kensuke Koike, Joe Rudko and Pippa Drylaga, I have continued to watch out for photographers who use the materiality of the photograph to make their points. In the previous assignment, I used found photographs, but this one called for digital images, and I have used my own photograph this time. Just the one, as my exploration is about the constituents of the digital image rather than the end result.

There are several modern photographers whose work in the this field particularly underlies the project and I would like to consider three in particular in this post.

Thomas Ruff

I have written about Ruff’s work before,  in my posts Thomas Ruff – Tripe (Woodward, 2019) and Thomas Ruff- Size is everything (Woodward, 2017). The aspect that particularly intrigues me is his way of looking at the nature and constituents of an image and then plays with them by altering just one aspect. He has moved a very long way from his original, very typographical work, although he still revisits it from time to time. In jpegs (2009), for example, he examines the geometric nature of the pixel and reduces the numbers to re-see the images as if to form a more limited point of view (similar to how the first digital images appeared). At the same time, he hugely increases the size of the photographs, so that from a distance, they look to include all the original information, while close-up each individual pixel square is clearly visible. On another tack, in substratum (since 2001) he overlays multiple copies of an image onto each other and then plays with them in Photoshop to the point where the original meaning of the image is completely lost, just leaving an impression of the work, not its reality. (I have been doing my own versions of these, but at a lesser, more realistic level, with my mandala images, some of which I discussed in my blog posts ore More on photo-manipulation (Woodward, 2017) and Some more mandalas (Woodward, 2017). In these, I retain some of the detail of the original but reworked and simplified to make a pattern which echoes the main points of the original, while producing something totally new, and hopefully interesting in its own right).

Wolfgang Tillmans

Tillmans is another photographer whose work I looked at in my post Wolfgang Tillmans at the Tate Modern (Woodward, 2017). Although the range of his interests is vast, he also has a fondness for exploring the nature of the photography and specifically the relationship between subject and object. An excellent article in Dazed Magazine (Epps, 2017) refers to his ongoing interest in mistakes, darkroom accidents and interventions, which he has then explored more fully in series such as Blushes (2000) and Freischwimmer (2003), as well as the ones I mention in another post. I am fascinated by his ability to take an idea and then stretch it out to form something completely new, but which still clearly references the original.

(Speaking of darkroom accidents, and still very much on the subject of this assignment, I was in the darkroom yesterday, with the intention of printing the first image below. I had originally planned it as a digital negative, but had printed it on the wrong side of the transfer film and rather liked the results. Unfortunately, when drying the print, I put the negative alongside it for comparison, and it stuck to the print. Perhaps I should call the second image Double Digit Accident (After Tillmans).)

Fig. 2 Darkroom mistakes: before and after (2018)

Ellen Jantzen

On a different tack, I cam across the work of Ellen Jantzen via Instagram. I love her ongoing Unexpected Geology series, in which she imports small rocks into much larger landscapes to play with their relative sizes, Coming Into Focus (2016-17), where she lifts parts of the image away from the rest to give the impression of a landscape slowly coming into focus as a whole, when initially one only saw specific elements, and Losing Reality; Reality of Loss (2011), in which shadowy figures inhabit the landscape almost invisibly. I could go on, as most of her work appeals to me. Earlier last year, I made some images using similar techniques and a couple are shown below.

Figs, 3 & 4 The mystery in the woods, Spring & Winter (2018)

In a related vein, I have an ongoing experimental series which I have called Barcodes of Nature, which uses some of the same techniques to try to capture the colour palette of a place from a single line of pixels in the image. There is more about this in my blog post First thoughts for assignment 1 (Woodward, 2018). Other photographers whose work examines similar themes are:

  • David Szauder – his Failed Memory (2013) series uses ‘glitch art’ to consider how our memories of events fragment over time
  • Joan Fontcuberta – in Datascapes: Orogenisis/Googlegrams (2007) he takes the ideas in the opposite direction and constructs images from multiple other internet images, which have a similar other-worldly vibe, but are based on some of the multitude of online data.
  • Catherine Yass – uses digital manipulations alongside both digital and analogue layering to look at how we perceive time and space. She is also a fan of the light-box and digital negative, which are both becoming a feature of my own work.
  • Samuel J Fordham – uses physical and digital manipulations to think about memories. I love I Thought I Would Sit Here and Look Out At The Fjord For The Last Time, 2018  from his series C-R92-BY (Fordham, 2018). It looks simple enough, but the digitally altered pieces don’t correspond with the missing pieces in the main image, producing a nagging feeling of discord.

I could go on at length, but it is worth considering the works of Anastasia Samoyova,  Barbara Kasten, Adrienne Hughes, and Anna Yeroshenko,  to name but a few.

Finally, and in a different direction, the different ways in which pixels have been interpreted has been a subject I have explored before, specifically in my posts More thoughts on subverting the male gaze, NSFW (Woodward, 2017) and Quick note on another iteration of the mandala work (Woodward, 2017), and which was influenced by my work for Research on embroidered photography (Woodward, 2016). It seems that I keep coming back to the same themes – of materialism and manipulation of ideas and both digital and physical images from a conceptual viewpoint. Maybe I am finding a Voice, at last.

Figures

Fig. 1 Woodward, H. (2018) Two altered found photographs. [mixed media] In the possession of: the author.

Fig. 2 Woodward, H. (2018) Darkroom mistakes: before and after. [mixed media] In the possession of: the author.

Figs. 3 & 4 Woodward, H. (2018) The mystery in the woods, Spring & Winter. [Altered digital images] In the possession of: the author.

References

‘Your ultimate guide to Wolfgang Tillmans’ In: Dazed 23/01/2017 At: http://www.dazeddigital.com/photography/article/34353/1/your-ultimate-guide-to-wolfgang-tillmans (Accessed 18/06/2020).

Fordham, S. (2018) C-R92-BY. At: https://samuelwjfordham.com/C-R92-BY (Accessed 18/06/2020).

Woodward, H. (2017) More thoughts on subverting the male gaze, NSFW. At:  https://hollyocaidentityplace.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/more-thoughts-on-subverting-the-male-gaze-nsfw/ (Accessed 18/06/2020).

Woodward, H. (2017) Quick note on another iteration of the mandala work. At: https://hollyocaidentityplace.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/quick-note-on-another-iteration-of-the-mandala-work/ (Accessed 18/06/2020).

Woodward, H. (2017) Research on embroidered photographs. At: https://hollyocacontextnarrative.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/research-on-embroidered-photography/ (Accessed 18/06/2020).

Woodward, H. (2017) Some more mandalas. At: https://hollyocaidentityplace.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/some-more-mandalas/ (Accessed 18/06/2020).

Woodward, H. (2017) Thomas Ruff: size is everything. At: https://hollyocaidentityplace.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/thomas-ruff-size-is-everything/ Accessed 18/06/2020).

Woodward, H. (2017) Wolfgang Tillmans at the Tate Modern. At: https:// ollyocaidentityplace.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/wolfgang-tillmans-at-the-tate-modern/ (Accessed 18/06/2020).

Woodward, H. (2018) First thoughts for assignment 1. At: https://hollyocadic.wordpress.com/2018/04/24/first-thought-for-assignment-1/ (Accessed 18/06/2020).

Woodward, H. (2019) Photography and New Materiality. At: https://hollyocadic.wordpress.com/2019/03/06/photography-and-new-materiality/ (Accessed 18/06/2020).

Woodward, H. (2019) Thomas Ruff – Tripe. At:        https://hollyocadic.wordpress.com/2019/01/30/thomas-ruff-tripe/ (Accessed 18/06/2020).

 

Second thoughts for assignment 2

Another week has passed and to all appearances, I have not progressed any further with my idea of considering the stories that particular family photos don’t show, so I have decided to put it on the backburner for now. I may revisit it in one of the later assignments.

On the other hand, after numerous pop-up experiments which did not have the right connotations for me and some of which are shown below,

I have settled on a firm idea for this assignment, which will be looking at those tropes which are the backbone of the family album. You know the sort of thing – births, Christenings, marriages, trips to the beach etc.; all the high days and holidays that we record and preserve for future viewing. Erik Kessels (2013) in The Vanishing Art of the Photo Album argues that most family albums consist of  about eight volumes, with the following subjects:

  1. when a couple first meet
  2. the marriage
  3. the first year of the first child
  4. general family life
  5. general family life
  6. general family life
  7. general family life
  8. when the kids have left home (lots of holidays in this one)

I will go into the cultural theory of the family photography album in another post, but for now I am looking at the practical side of the assignment. A recent purchase from the wonderful £3 Book Store in Bristol was Helen Heibert’s (2014) Playing with Pop-ups: The Art of Dimensional, Moving Paper Designs, and in it I found a template for a volvelle, as well as several artists who work with 3D paper designs and photographs. The volvelle (a word I had not previously come across) is something we are all familiar with from our childhoods, and I have seen one more recently as a colour wheel. It is a rotating paper mechanism which was originally used to make astronomical calculations. From the point of view of my assignment, it has several specific advantages, notably,

  • it continues with my theme of circles (circle of life)
  • it bears a strong resemblance to a camera shutter when in use
  • it hides and reveals, allowing more than one image to be shown as part of the same piece.

I have made a couple of test pieces, which are shown below, and the plan is to put images from my family’s legacy of albums on specific subjects behind the leaves. A series of about six will be produced, and bound into a small album style book. It will all be accompanied by a video, as part of the work is changing the image on each volvelle. And while all this is going on, I need to do the post that my tutor suggested after A1 on the symbolism of the circle, as it is relevant to this as well.

References

Clark, Tim (2013) ‘The Vanishing Art of the Photo Album’ [online] in time.com At:  http://time.com/3801986/the-vanishing-art-of-the-family-photo-album/ (Accessed on 15 November 2018)

Heibert, Helen (2014) Playing with Pop-ups: The Art of Dimensional, Moving Paper Designs. Beverley, MA:Quarry Books.

 

 

First thoughts for assignment 2

1991.8 Disney Florida-04v2

Disneyworld Florida, 1991

I am fortunate enough to have quite a large collection of family albums, going back to the early 1900s, so there is quite a bit of scope for this assignment. While doing the reading for the part of the course, I have been trying to learn the basics of paper sculpture, through this excellent Youtube series by Duncan Birmingham. Spatial awareness is not one of my fortés (I always do appallingly in those sections of psychometric tests), and so there is a lot of trial and error (lots of error) involved.

So my plan is to produce a series of pop-ups, possibly in a carousel format, to consider the family events which are the staple of family albums – births, holidays, Christmas, weddings etc. and using a mixture of album images from across the last 120 years.
I have another idea floating around too, but it hasn’t yet crystallised into something I can work with – all those events which are not recorded in the family album, but which certain images remind us of. Just to give an example, one of my albums has a series of happy holiday images from a visit to DisneyWorld in Florida (see image above). What is apparent nowhere in this series is the miscarriage I had while there, my subsequent visit to parts of the adventure park that nobody usually sees and my stay in the emergency room at Orlando Hospital. Every time I look at those images, I remember the miscarriage, but it is entirely absent from the visual record. I would like to delve into this at some point during the module, and look at why we don’t record the bad and sad family events that are often the real defining moments of our lives.