Assignment 4: tutor’s feedback and some experiments.

Here it is the feedback from Assignment 4:

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Overall I am happy with the comments and the impression that the images have caused. I am in the process of re-editing some of them and will be shooting in an urban setting next week, trying to include some people on the frame and hopefully getting a variety of colours to add some visual impact.

My tutor has given me a few tasks to take the assignment further and this is the part I enjoy the most from the report. So far, I have been researching the artists mentioned and found them inspiring. Rolf Sachs’ landscapes taken from a train combine the movement captured by using long exposures with interesting distortions produced by the landscape itself: as the train approaches a curve the angle and the motion create an unexpected distortion that makes it difficult to guess how the images are taken. Naoya Hatakeyama’s series called “Slow Glass” depict night scenes seen through a wet glass, accentuating the lines and shapes created by artificial light. The simplicity of the scenes invites to guess what hides behind the “slow glass”, enhancing the interaction between the viewer and the images.

As suggested, I have taken some night photographs using the same technique as for Assignment 4 (with the lemon saver container attached to my 50mm lens). I am extremely surprised with the results so far. I have selected some of the shots and enhanced or altered the original colours to add even more vibrance and dynamism.

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There is an image I took in response of one of Naoya Hatakeyama’s photograph of a McDonalds store, as part of Exercise 5.2 (I will develop this further on the appropriate blog post). This is the image:

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Although I am not planning to include any of these night scenes in the re-worked submission for Assignment 4, I am certainly interested in continuing with the project and add some more images regularly. I somehow feel the style of the images is far from what I usually shoot, specially in the use of colour, but I have found something stimulating that I enjoy doing. The abstraction of the images leaves some room to interpretation although some of them may look like something different. Most of the images were taken by pointing directly to the light source, which brought interesting geometric distortions. However, at the end of the experiment I started shooting pointing away from the light, increasing the exposures to capture a more atmospheric scene (as in the case of the fourth image of a sign on the pavement). This is something I have to try again next time, as I think it is more in the line of my work. I am really excited about this discovery and I can not be more grateful for having a tutor that pushes me to try new things. This assignment has opened my eyes even more to what can be achieved with an open mind. After practising with longer exposures I would also introduce some camera movement to see where this takes me.

I am also looking forward to shoot with a pinhole camera. I believe the idea may resonate with what I am looking to achieve in my photography or it seems adequate at least from theory. I have never tried this technique and I will be hands on it as soon as I move house after the festive period. For now, I have read about the authors suggested by my tutor. Both Alex Yates and Tom Hunter use a pinhole camera to produce some of their images. The way this technique allows Yates to represent natural elements such as fog, lakes and clouds is what I feel attracted to when I see his images. In the same way, the blurred edges and softness achieved by Hunter on his “Prayer Places” series capture my attention and curiosity. The colour quality of these last ones feels precious and the general atmospheric scene wraps you inside it.

We have also discussed the pointers for the next assignment, which has a rather general brief (this makes it even more difficult to choose a subject). I have some ideas in mind and I have welcomed both sources of inspiration suggested by my tutor. First, the blog Plenty of Colour is a good one to keep looking at from time to time. The images and projects presented show striking colour combinations and held a strong visual impact. Again, I am not sure how much I like colour or how could this reflect on my practice, but I have certainly a strange relationship with it. I am synesthetic in a way that words, numbers, shapes, times and other elements have “colour” in my head so I can be easily annoyed by certain colour combinations or the combination of an object with certain shape and certain colour altogether. I do systematically avoid colour in many aspects of my live (clothing, objects I buy, gadgets, decorative elements etc) or stay within a particular colour range in order to don’t feel “disturbed” by this condition (which is a great condition, I would say, I don’t complain!). This is one of the reasons why I feel a bit surprised with the experiment above and the colourful night scenes. The association my brain makes between colours and anything else in the environment make me perceive certain combinations as right or wrong, so the way I read an image has an extra dimension that comes to me spontaneously. I guess I could potentially be using this for an assignment or project one day, but the task of making others understand the feelings synesthesia bring and the way the brain processes these feelings seems a difficult one. There are other aspects of my synesthetic perceptions that could perhaps be easier to explain or represent, such as the shape of certain smells or names.

Another task derived from my research for Assignment 4 is exploring the way Laura Plageman creates her modified landscapes and try to apply a similar technique onto my work. I have started experimenting with this, although it is still early stages but I will be writing about my findings and sharing the results in a separate blog post.


Resources:

(TO DO)

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Project 3: The beauty of artificial light

These are some notes and research on some of the artists mentioned on Project 3:

Rut Blees Luxemburg is a German photographer who uses urban landscapes as her main subject. Shooting at night, she uses a large format camera combined with long exposures to capture empty public spaces glowing with artificial light. She looks for what it is generally overlooked and photographs buildings and reflections on the pavement from unusual viewpoints.

Sato Shintaro is another artist who’s work takes place mostly at night. His work Tokyo Twilight Zone shows the magnificence of Tokyo’s urban landscape at dusk, with a rich colour palette that includes both artificial and ambient light. In the series Night Lights he focuses on landscape at street level, depicting empty scenes where neon light and commercial signs overwhelms with fluorescent colours. There is a big contrast between the level of visual stimuli and the lack of people, giving the impression that even though the intention of the signs is catching the attention of the public, the message seems undelivered.

Brassai‘s photographic work us also influenced by the night. With a background in painting, Brassai understands the importance of combining composition and the ability of capturing the essence of life subjects. His book Paris de Nuit (1933) shows a city full of reflections, lunes and glowing lights, often including people in his photographs. This series remind me to Atget’s shots of the old city of Paris in the way that there is no intention of capturing the beauty and glamour of a city, but the mysterious forms and scenes that emerge at night.


Resources:

AMERICAN SUBURB X. (2017). Tony Ray-Jones Interviews Brassai” Pt. I (1970) | #ASX. [online] Available at: http://www.americansuburbx.com/2011/08/interview-brassai-with-tony-ray-jones.html [Accessed 13 Oct. 2017].

Bright, S. (n.d.). Art photography now. London : Thames & Hudson, 2006, pp.203-204.

Rutbleesluxemburg.com. (2017). Rut Blees Luxemburg. [online] Available at: http://www.rutbleesluxemburg.com [Accessed 13 Oct. 2017].

Mint Magazine. (2017). An Interview With Photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg. [online] Available at: http://www.mintmagazine.co.uk/art/an-interview-with-photographer-rut-blees-luxemburg/ [Accessed 13 Oct. 2017].

Sato-shintaro.com. (2017). Sato Shintaro Photo Gallery. [online] Available at: http://www.sato-shintaro.com/index.html [Accessed 13 Oct. 2017].

Tate. (2017). Rut Blees Luxemburg born 1967 | Tate. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/rut-blees-luxemburg-3652 [Accessed 13 Oct. 2017].

The Guardian. (2017). Photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg explores the public spaces of cities. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/gallery/2009/mar/09/rut-blees-luxemburg-photography [Accessed 13 Oct. 2017].

Project 2 “Layered, complex and mysterious…”

In this part of the unit, we are asked to research on artists who use natural light in different ways. From the authors given, I feel mostly attracted to the work of Sally Mann and Eugène Atget, who I also find have a similar approach to light in their landscape series.

Sally Mann (1951)

Despite coming up on the course materials as an example of the use of light in her Southern Landscapes series, Sally Mann´s best known work relates to her children´s childhood and the daily life of her and her husband. Series like “Immediate Family” and “At Twelve” are also very controversial and rise concern about the image and privacy of children seen outside a family setting.

I personally like her approach to family photography. The complicity shown between her kids and her, the freshness how they pose and act in front of a camera that does not intimidate them and the engagement and commitment in creating beautiful images as a family. The debate and critisism on her scenes of nudity makes me reflect on how much society feels ashamed of showing naked bodies, which it is a natural thing. It seems nudes are only socially accepted when shows bodies of a certain type and age, not too young, not too aged. I see perfectly normal that children enjoy their childhood without these preconceptions of what it is right or wrong to show of themselves and without feeling ashamed of theirs and others nudity. The decision of taking these images outside the family setting is brave and many may think the rights or privacy of the kids is broken or compromised by doing it so. However, the key point in Mann´s work lays on the fact that these kids were aware of their mum´s work and participated consciously, regarding their age. Richard Billingham´s “Ray´s a laugh” series could be seen in the same way, as his subjects didn’t seem to be in their best lucid moments when the pictures where taken and still there is not so much debate as they are adults and of course, there is no nudity (well, a little and it isn’t beautiful).

On her “Southern Landscapes” series, I like how the light filters through the foliage and creates a calm and moody atmosphere. Forests and trees appear ethereal and atemporal and the quality of the light is “layered, complex and mysterious” (S. Mann, 2010). It is difficult to locate the place which gives even more importance to the effect light has on it, since the artist uses the specific characteristics of the Southern light as the key element that shapes the landscape, connecting it also with the tittle of the series.

Some of her landscapes have strong vignetting and distortion on the edges and this is an element that I really feel attracted to and I want to introduce in my photography and experiment with. This image looks as it would have been shot through a glass or similar object, creating a blurred and distorted edge around the wall, framing it and drawing all the attention on it.

Eugène Atget (1857-1927)

Another photographer that I have researched is Eugène Atget. He was a very prolific documentary photographer pioneer, who dedicated his work to mainly botanical and arquitectural images. His series on Paris depict the city before it became the majestic metropolis when know. Atget photographed the empty streets of the Old Paris, with the light wrapping the distant buildings and their reflection on the pavement. He also paid particular attention to all the sculptural and arquitectural features on buildings, doors and parks, documenting them in detail.

Another big theme in Atget´s work is parks and gardens. Here, he uses light to create a more melancholic atmosphere. Once again, the scenes are detached from human presence. Instead, he portraits statues and plants in a very neat and efficient way, often using reflection of outer buildings on ponds and creating a layered landscape by shooting into the light, so the background fades into the light darkening the elements on the front and giving a great depth to the image. Sculptural ornaments as vases and benches are also a subject of his interest on this series.

As on Sally Mann´s landscapes, there is also a characteristic vignetting on some of Atget´s images. There are many elements that I feel attracted to from his work: empty places, botanical elements and French gardens.

 


Resources

AMERICAN SUBURB X. (2017). INTERVIEW: Sally Mann – “The Touch of an Angel” (2010) – ASX | Photography & Culture. [online] Available at: http://www.americansuburbx.com/2013/01/interview-sally-mann-the-touch-of-an-angel-2010.html [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017].

Nga.gov. (2017). Atget: The Art of Documentary Photography. [online] Available at: https://www.nga.gov/feature/atget/work.shtm [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017].

Sallymann.com. (2017). Sally Mann. [online] Available at: http://sallymann.com/selected-works/southern-landscapes [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017].

The Museum of Modern Art. (2017). Eugène Atget | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/artists/229?=undefined&page=5&direction=fwd [Accessed 23 Sep. 2017].

 

 

Sophie Calle

Sophie Calle (Paris, 1953) is a conceptual artist who´s complex process in producing work has caught my attention not merely because of the quality of it but also because of the way she presents it. Combining photography and text (the written part being the most substancial part overall, I would say), Calle´s illustrates stories that go beyond what would be considered politically correct, exploring her subjects with a mixture of scientific data gathering and romantic delusions that are not as such; giving both the impression of self detachment and deep implication on the matter.

I first came across Sophie Calle´s work called L´Hôtel (The Hotel, 1981) where the artist (who started working as a chambermaid in a hotel only with the purpose of creating this piece) documented with notes and photographs the belongings of the guests. She would record what and where certain objects were found in the room, take pictures of the beds, read through personal diaries and creating a portrait of the owners through her findings. As I discovered later, this was not the only occasion when Calle created a portrait where the sitter is absent.

The story behind L´Hôtel started earlier in 1979, when she returned to Paris after seven years and began following strangers as her way to decide where to go. Like this, she followed a man who she later was introduced by an acquaintance, and heard about his imminent trip to Venice where she followed him over the course of 2 weeks and documented his movements. Once again, there is a strong relationship between the images she took of the man (who she refers at as Henri B.) and the diary like entries she recorded on her notes. In Suite Venitienne (1980) Calle spends long hours waiting for Henri B outside his hotel as well as interviewing the people he encounters (shop assistants, waiters…) and gets to fantasize with the idea of breaking into his room. Despite how wrong these thoughts might sound, she points out that little they have to do with romantic love, but with the obsession created by the rules she imposed herself in her assignment of following him. A year later, she got a job as a chambermaid in a Venetian hotel.

Soon after L´Hôtel, Sophie decided to reverse the roles and made her mum hire a private detective who would follow her to “provide photographic evidence of my existence” (Sophie Calle, 1981). The final piece, called La Filature (The Shadow, 1981) includes the detective´s report with images and annotations on Sophie´s activities beside her own recording of what she was doing. Even though Sophie did not exactly know when the detective would follow her, she claims she “was not trying to do weird things” but she “just did everything in an intense way” (Sophie Calle, 1993). The truth reflected in her diary notes is that she performed for the detective, visiting some meaningful places and getting the detective somehow involved in activities of  her choosing. As she did in Suite Venitienne, it could be said that Calle documents and directs social interaction by setting up the rules of a game where she is the only one who acknowledges them, but also giving herself permission to blindly follow whatever the experience brings.

As I mentioned earlier, Sophie plays with the way she portrays her subjects, who are often not aware of being part of her art processes. L´Homme au Carnet (The Address Book, 1983) is probably the more controversial of her works and the one that the artist regrets. While working as a columnist for the French newspaper Libération, she started writing about a man who’s address book she found on the street and copied. She then contacted the people in the book and interviewed them, gathering information such as the man´s habits, likes and dislikes, places he enjoyed visiting or eating out, his personality etc, and published them as a serial. Needless to say, the man was not particularly happy about this once he found out. It is morally questionable whether the need justifies the means here but what Sophie Calle did in L´Homme au Carnet is a very clever and creative exercise of portraiture without even knowing the subject.

These are only some of her series, which are many. Her later pieces are a lot more introspective, exploring herself in an intimate way through life experiences and in the same way she did before with others but maintaining that distance and detached style of previous works. Integrating image (photography or video) with text remains an important feature of her work and in some of her publications such as “True Stories”, the written word seems to conduct most of the narrative, making the reader questioning the authenticity of some of the images, even of some of her stories. Other works that I love are “The Birthday Ceremony” and “Anatoli” but I would reserve these ones for future entries and after doing some more planned reading on her oeuvre as there is so much to explore behind Sophie Calle. On the book “The Reader” various authors comment on her work, including also some interviews that provide a good insight of the apparent complexity of her work (and her personality).


Resources

– Baudrillard, J. (2009). Sophie Calle: The reader. 1st ed. London [England]: Whitechapel Gallery.

– Calle, S. (2016). True stories. Arles: Actes Sud.

– Cotton, C. (2014). The photograph as contemporary art. 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.

– PALMER, D., 2014. Photography as Social Encounter: Three Works by Micky Allan, Sophie Calle and Simryn Gill. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, 14(2), pp. 199-213,231.

– Tate. (2017). Sophie Calle born 1953 | Tate. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/sophie-calle-2692 [Accessed 17 Sep. 2017].

 

 

 

Francesca Woodman (1958-1981)

Francesca Woodman was a prolific American photographer who died at the early age of 22. Despite this her work is extensive, with over 800 photographs, postcards and notes. Her images, shot in black and white film, are most of the time self-portraits were Woodman explored her body in relation with the frame and the environment. Not interested in represent herself but only using her naked body as a way of expression and as an available subject, her portraits show certain sense of displacement.

It is very characteristic of her images the use of the interior of abandoned houses or the decadent look of her own studio. There is a strong interest in exploring light (available light, a small ray of light coming through a window, a reflexion on a wall, a mirror…) and movement (her body is moving in many if not most of her self-portraits, specially from her early years).

After her death by suicide in 1981, her photographs have been exhibited widely. There is still a debate about whether her death could somehow be anticipated by looking at her work, as the way her blurred body disguises with the environment may suggest some degree of disappearance. When looking at her latest work (the images she took during her studies in Italy in 1977-1978) there is certain refinement that makes her previous images look more experimental. I particularly like the way she poses her hands in some of the photographs she took during these years in Rome, as they seem so expressive. Woodman´s photographs certainly changed in this time but it is difficult to say how this could be read in terms of her autobiography. The references to angels and the darkness that can be perceived in some of the images could be easily connect with her death. This contrasts though with her strong concept of herself as an artist and the fact that she went back to New York in 1978 to pursue a career in the photography industry.

True or not, Woodman found through very innovative imagery and technique the way to impress beyond her time.

 


Resources

Tate. (2017). Francesca Woodman 1958-1981 | Tate. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/francesca-woodman-10512 [Accessed 10 Sep. 2017].

Townsend, C., Woodman, F. and Woodman, G. (n.d.). Francesca Woodman.

Victoria Miro. (2017). Francesca Woodman. [online] Available at: https://www.victoria-miro.com/artists/7-francesca-woodman/ [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

 

Assignment 3: The Decisive Moment. First impressions.

Brief:

1. Prints

Send a set of between six and eight high-quality photographic prints on the theme of the “decisive moment” to your tutor. Street photography is the traditional subject of the decisive moment, but it doesn’t have to be. Landscape may also have a decisive moment of weather, season or time of day. A building may have a decisive moment when human activity and light combine to present a “peak” visual moment.

You may choose to create imagery that supports the tradition of the “decisive moment”; or you may choose to question or invert the concept. Your aim isn´t to tell a story, but in order to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, whether it´s a location, an event or a particular period of time. 

2. Assignment notes

Submit assignment notes of between 500 and 1000 words with your series. Introduce your subject and describe your “process” – your way of working. Then briefly state how you think each image relates to the concept of the decisive moment. This will be a personal response as there are no right or wrong answers in a visual arts course. You´ll find it useful to explore the photographers and works referenced in Project 3, if you haven’t already done so. Don’t forget to use Harvard referencing.

Post your prints, no larger than A4 to your tutor with your assignment notes.

 

Reflection

Check your work against assessment criteria for this course before you send it to your tutor. Make some notes in your learning log about how well you believe your work meets each criterion.


 

First impressions

From the moment I had the feedback for Assignment 2 with my tutor I was already convinced that my plan for this third assignment would be playing with the idea of the “Indecisive moment“. However, I have been worrying about finding my own interpretation of the brief so much (which has been changing as my research and reading progressed along Part 3) that I came across multiple ideas that would provide a good response and rebate the “Decisive Moment“.

Initially, I thought of working with long exposures and composing images that would be geometrically attractive without being able to preview what the outcome would be till the shoot was taken. I thought of asking permission to use a tripod in the hall of the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, which would provide a modern architectural setting with great ambient light and lots of people passing by. I though of composing each shot according to the direction of the lines on walls, floors and ceilings, set a low shutter speed and let the visitors give me the rest. This way, I would not be able to predict the results, and also the “Decisive Moment” Henri Cartier-Bresson refers to would be compose not only from one moment but from dozens of moments (the ones from people passing and their trail recorder on camera). At the same time, I thought this would emulate somehow Cartier-Bresson´s “Sifnos, Greece, 1961” photograph, as he explains in this video about the “Decisive Moment” that he composed the image first and then “waited for someone to pass” (Henri Cartier-Bresson, n.d.). This is something that shocked me when researching his theory on the decisive moment, as it contradicts what he says later in the documentary of L´amour du court, 2001 about the relationship between the elements on a picture being “a matter of chance” (Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2001). He recognizes staging this shot, even though he could not foresee who would pass but it leaves a door open in terms of how decisive a moment is if it can be either pre-calculated or staged, as I think many street photography images are taken nowadays which try to emulate Cartier- Bresson´s aesthetics.

These thoughts took me to the next idea, which was mounting my camera on a tripod in a quiet location and wait for a single person to pass. I would record a sequence of shots and analyze which one if any could be considered as “decisive”. I did not find this idea very exciting though.

The third idea came from the statement “What matters is to look”, so I asked myself “what if I don’t look?” Is it possible to achieve an aesthetically pleasing image without even looking while shooting?”. I had to options here:

  • go out and shoot from the hip.
  • find a subject that would be so unpredictable that I could not know how or in which direction it would move.

During the exercises on Part 3 while exploring shutter speeds, I also asked myself “how long is a moment in time?” I though of empty, abandoned places, where nothing happens, where time stretches and one moment is the same as the next. I thought of nature, where I always find inspiration and where changes occurred over long periods of time. Natural rock erosion that it can not be perceived unless working with really long exposures that I wonder if even Michael Wesely could capture.

I also tried other routes that would not try to show indecisive moments but would represent that that moment is gone. There has been an incident at work when a car crashed with a wall in the carpark and the site is cordoned off. A fence is guarding the whole with the fallen bricks and I thought this could be a great interpretation of a decisive moment that was missed. A nearby block of flats caught fire before that happened and the damage is still visible, so that would have been my second image but I abandoned the idea as I did not want the assignment to be based in negative events.

While doing my research on the artists mentioned on Part 3, I found the work of Fréderic Fontenoy and his series “Metamorphosis” (1988) by pure accident. It is a series of self-portraits in which the artist, nude and out in the wild, plays with low shutter speeds and body distortion.

I found this series beautiful in many ways. It made me question how long the photographer tried to get the right image in this case. Did he tried to move faster first, then slower? Did he tried different combinations of body movement or sticked to one and change the settings? Was it all improvised or was there a particular connection between the movement and the environment? I could also see the resemblance to the indecisive moment I wanted to portray but, at the same time, it represents a moment itself: the moment when the photographer danced in front of his camera. And it is recorder from the beginning till the end, just as Hiroshi Sugimoto records the movies in his series “Theatres”.

I took the decision of exploring Fontenoy´s technique and to question the decisiveness of a moment, the length of it and the degree of control the photographer can have in capturing it. I would do this through staged representations of a number of “Decisive Moments” (Henri Cartier Bresson´s selected images) where the subject emulating the composition will need to be in constant but controlled/timed movement in order to achieve the results. The final images should recreate the originals in the way of giving a sense of movement and passing of time. It will also explore the chances a photographer has to find a decisive moment within a timed sequence and the relationship of the subject and the frame during that particular shot.

Problems I may encounter:

  • finding a model/subject to perform as required.
  • Achieving the adequate resemblance to the original images without being too obvious or too far from the concept and composition.
  • Controlling time of exposure and movement of the subject to achieve satisfactory results.
  • Deciding whether or not the selection of the original images should follow certain theme or characteristic (all horizontal or vertical; all portraits or a mix of different disciplines)
  • Achieving enough clarity on the movement that not only represents the desired scene but also will make a good printed image that works individually and in the context of the series.

 

Henri Cartier-Bresson´s images I am considering working with

 


Resources

Cartier-Bresson, H. and Brenson, M. (2006). Henri Cartier-Bresson. London: Thames & Hudson.

Fredericfontenoy.com. (2017). Metamorphose. [online] Available at: http://www.fredericfontenoy.com/metamorphosis.html [Accessed 8 Sep. 2017].

Magnum Photos. (2017). Henri Cartier-Bresson • Photographer Profile • Magnum Photos. [online] Available at: https://www.magnumphotos.com/photographer/henri-cartier-bresson/ [Accessed 8 Sep. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). HENRI CARTIER BRESSON – The Decisive Moment 1973_2007. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14ih3WgeOLs [Accessed 8 Sep. 2017].

 

Project 3: “What matters is to look”

Research point
Watch the Henri Cartier-Bresson documentary ‘L’amour de court’ (‘Just plain love’, 2001)
available in five parts on YouTube:
www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL707C8F898605E0BF
Write a personal response to the film in the contextual section of your learning log,
taking care to reference properly any quotations you use (300–500 words).

  • Whenever you read or watch something, get into the habit of putting anything you
    take directly from the source in quotation marks and note down full bibliographic
    details. If you do this, you won’t have to spend ages hunting for half-remembered
    references later – and you won’t inadvertently plagiarise someone else’s work.
    Always use Harvard referencing; print out the study guide on the student website
    and keep this to hand.
  • Be very careful about what you put on your blog. Take a moment now to read what
    the OCA learning blog study guide says about copyright law and fair use or fair
    dealing.

In this documentary, Cartier-Bresson introduces himself through significant moments of his life, such as anecdotes of his upbringing and how he was made prisoner during the war.

When talking about his process on taking photographs, Cartier-Bresson alludes to the “sense of geometry”, putting form first. It is the most distinctive characteristic of his images; a strong visual impact achieved through careful visualization and composition, where a constant search for the aesthetically pleasant combination of lines and shapes seems to obsess him. “I look, I look. It´s an obsession” (Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2001), he says, and suggests using classic painting as a reference to learn how to look.

This obsession for the perfect shot, is widely explained later on the documentary, when he talks about the time he spent in the far East. Cartier-Bresson documented his life over three years there through many photographs but he was not interested in the results. His obsession was catching that moment, taking that shot.

According to him, it is not only enough with being receptive and look for the decisive moment, but there is also an element of chance which creates the relationship between the elements of the picture. It is being at the right moment, on the right place with open eyes and looking for the right composition.

I personally love the moment of Cartier-Bresson handling roughly the pages of what I believe it´s an archival copy of his work, while looking for wrongly composed photographs. In the end he says:  “I am very honored that you have this one (the book) but get rid of the bad ones” (Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2001).

 


 

References

Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: http://www.henricartierbresson.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/BIOGRAPHY-HCB-EN.pdf [Accessed 8 Sep. 2017].

Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. (2017). Henri Cartier-Bresson – Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. [online] Available at: http://www.henricartierbresson.org/en/hcb/ [Accessed 8 Sep. 2017].

‘L’amour du court’ parts 1-5, 2001 YouTube video, added by Rangefindergeneral [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL707C8F898605E0BF(Accessed 18 August 2017).

 

Project 2. A durational space.

Do your own research into some of the artists discussed on Project 2.


 

I found this section of Part 3 very enjoyable and most of the photographers mentioned on the course materials have simply amazed me. I will write about the artists who’s work  I feel is more inspirational.

Hiroshi Sugimoto

This Japanese artist (1948) asked himself one day about the possibility of capturing a whole movie into one image. His curiosity took him to a cheap cinema in New York where he set up a large format camera on a tripod and, using an exposure duration as long as the film projected, he began his series “Theatres“. Sugimoto´s work shows a collection of black and white photographs of old movie palaces, drive-ins and abandoned theaters with a beautiful white glow emerging from the screens; work that he has been developing for decades.

 

Michael Wesely

Wesely (Munich, 1963) uses even longer exposures that Sugimoto on his “Theatres” series. Using a pinhole camera, his images capture time in a way that all environmental and human activity is recorded in one single frame, with exposures that last up to three years in time. His photographs on urban development (such as the construction of The Museum of Modern Art in New York or the renovation of the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin) , capture not only the process but also the shifts in light and the sun trajectory over time.

 

Francesca Woodman

Born in 1958 in Colorado, this early deceased conceptual artist used long exposures and movement as part of some of her photographs. Mainly shooting self-portraits, Woodman produced a large number of photographs during her short life (she committed suicide at the age of 22) and her work has been widely recognized and exhibited after her death.  With a focus on exploration of the relationship between the environment and the human body, she uses her own self as a readily available subject to create intriguing images, often with a sense of displacement (using movement, wearing old garments, decadent scenarios…). I have purchased the book Francesca Woodman, by Chris Townsend but it hasn’t arrived yet. I will most probably right a review or a dedicated research post about this artist, as some of her shoots remind me of early images I took when I was a teenager and doing a lot of self-portraiture, so felt the need of seeing printed work from her.

 


 

References

– Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: https://www.damianieditore.com/en-US/product/580 [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

– Artnet.com. (2017). Michael Wesely | artnet. [online] Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/michael-wesely/ [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

– Daimler Art Collection. (2017). Daimler Art Collection. [online] Available at: http://art.daimler.com/en/artwork/michael-wesely-potsdamer-platz-27-3-1997-13-12-1998-2000/ [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

– Hiroshi Sugimoto. (2017). Theaters. [online] Available at: https://www.sugimotohiroshi.com/new-page-7 [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

– Nationalgalleries.org. (2017). Space², Providence, Rhode Island, 1975 – 1978. [online] Available at: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/94702/space²-providence-rhode-island-1975-1978?search=francesca%20woodman&search_set_offset [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

– Tate. (2017). Francesca Woodman 1958-1981 | Tate. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/francesca-woodman-10512 [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

– The Guardian. (2017). The incredible shrinking man: the photographer who gets a whole film into one frame – in pictures. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2016/mar/01/silver-screen-movie-theatres-photographs-hiroshi-sugimoto-in-pictures [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

– The Museum of Modern Art. (2017). Michael Wesely | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/artists/8194 [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

– Victoria Miro. (2017). Francesca Woodman. [online] Available at: https://www.victoria-miro.com/artists/7-francesca-woodman/ [Accessed 9 Sep. 2017].

Project 2. Lens work.

Do some research into some of the photographers mentioned in this project. 

Look back at your personal archive of photography and try to find a photograph that could be used to illustrate one of the aesthetic codes described in Project 2. Whether or not you had a similar idea when you took this photograph isn´t important: find a photo with a depth of field that fits the code you´ve selected. The ability of photographers to adapt to a range of usages is something we´ll return to later in the course. 

Add the shot to your learning log and include a short caption describing how you have re-imagined your photograph. 

From the authors mentioned in this section, I have selected two photographers who´s work on landscape photography is radically different.

Firstly, I have researched the work of Kim Kirkpatrick, an American photographer from Washington D.C who produces his images in this same area ( I love how this resonates to the Square Mile assignment).

A very shallow depth of field was used on his early work and shows his intention of capturing the beauty of “unnoticed elements”. With an exquisite care put on composing each image, the soft areas on the background interact with the sharp subject, framing it and enhancing its presence.

Looking at his current work, the differences and progression seems to follow a purpose. It feels more personal. His images maintain the same crop and distinctive style and his love for bringing awareness of overlooked objects and scenes is constantly present.

The depth of field looses that extreme level shown on earlier photographs, introducing the viewer to a broader view of the area. Therefore, there is a greater integration of his subjects in their surroundings as opposed as using the background to isolate the focal point of the image.

It presents the viewer with a more realistic idea of what he sees and points at the importance of representing the colours and atmosphere as he perceives them.

There is a particular interest in capturing the landscape in great detail and uses a large format camera for his recent work, taking various minutes to produce an 8 x 10 negative. As Kirkpatrick recognizes himself, his work is not everyones preference and still he shows passion for what he does. I appreciate how warm and personal his work feels to me how carefully crafted despite seeking beauty where others would not see it. Also the not-so-obvious compositions on his most recent photographs and the dedication to a specific story told through images in a specific area makes his work one to admire.

 

The other photographer I would like to comment on is Ansel Adams. Born in San Francisco, California in 1902, he was actively involved in Environmental movements and as Kirkpatrick, his work explores the beauty found in nature through landscape photography.

Adams´s  approach and aesthetics are radically different from Kirkpatrick. His landscape style seems aimed to show the greatness of monumental forms of nature, capturing impressive images of waterfalls, mountains, deep valleys and natural parks. His images show either a high or low viewpoint combined with a very deep depth of field: canyons and waterfalls seem to elevate themselves from a ground view showing their magnificence and the horizon expands in front of the eyes when contemplating rivers, valleys and mountains.

His images are distinctive and skillful. It represents the kind of landscape photography that would appeal the public and would be sold on a postcard. However, it feels less personal than Kirkpatrick´s work. Creating the kind of images Adams does would certainly require discipline, knowledge and amazing technical skills, but how challenging is it to look for beauty among beautiful things? In my opinion, Kirkpatrick´s take on the mundane demands a greater consideration of the subject and a different kind of love.

 

My photography archive

I have selected a couple of images from my personal archive to illustrate the two techniques mentioned in the course materials for Project 2:

Image 1 shows a very shallow depth of field. It is not a technique that I would normally choose but it was intentionally chosen in this particular case. This photograph was taken as part of a newborn photoshoot and I wanted to capture the baby features that disappear soon after the first couple of weeks. By using a shallow depth of field these features are made more noticeable, isolating them from the rest of the scene.

Image 2 has a very soft overall feeling, with just a very narrow area of the bird on focus. There was no particular intention in use of depth of field here apart from feeling it was the obvious thing to do in this kind of shot. Now, I would have put more care on getting the whole subject in focus by slightly lowering my aperture or stepping back and recomposing the image.

 

Image 3 and Image 4 show a deeper depth of field. Image 3 was recently taken at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the intention was to capture the whole installation locating it in its surroundings. The depth of field came determined by the focal length used and the distance to my subject rather than by personal election. However, reflecting now on the course materials and my own research, I would have definitely given this mater a thought and use the aperture more carefully to make sure I can capture as much detail as possible from the background.

I had a similar intention on Image 4. As the sun was going down, I wanted to capture the light glowing from behind the houses and somehow integrate the woman on the balcony with the rest of the scene.

 

Resources:

-Kim Kirkpatrick´s Portfolio. Online resource.

-Gazzette.net Archive. Karen Schaffer, June 13, 2001. Photographer trespasses into our real world. Online resource.

-The Ansel Adams Gallery. Online resource.

– Gerry Badger, 2007. The Genius of Photography. How photography has changed our lives. Quadrille publishing Limited, p. 134-135.

On Thomas Ruff´s JPEGs series.

Thomas Ruff is a German photographer born in 1958. For his series called JPEGs he created compressed enlargements of images gathered on the internet, exploring the form in which photographs are stored and reproduced in the digital era.

We are asked to read two reviews of his work and write a short essay on the opinion of both authors (David Campany and Joerg Colberg).

 

In David Campany´s view, Ruff´s series offers both aesthetic and intellectual pleasures, seeing each of the images unique but only in comparison with the others on the series. He also appreciates a connection between the way pixels are shown on JPEGs and a grid-like compositions on other artist´s work such as Andy Warhol´s screenprints or the geometric sculptures of Donald Judd. Moreover, he comments on how Ruff may have collected his images (mainly from the internet and his own), comparing the way photographs are digitalized and stored nowadays with the new concept of photography archives.

Campany sees an intention on Ruff´s work to contain the unpredictable (smoke, water, fire…) within the coldness and patterned repetition of the pixel, and identifies certain irony in how the use of the pixel is enhanced in the series while the pixel itself holds a negative value as opposed as the grain had in film photography.

On the other hand, Colberg does not appreciate any intention on Ruff´s JPEGs rather than the obvious representation of the digital format and the changing role of photography. He sees the beauty in the images but considers the concept behind them is poor, and even points out that the large scale used by Ruff to exhibit his work at the Zwirner Gallery is more a matter of business than an attempt to communicate or engage with the viewer.

Overall, JPEGs is a controversial piece. At the time that I consider the work meaningful for the author and can see his intention to communicate the idea of new concepts and changes in photography, I also see a point on Colberg´s opinion. A first look at the series made me think of images from the very first webcams and digital cameras. Nowadays, technology has improved in a way it seemed imaginable then and the concept of the pixel has a weaker presence. In some way, Ruff´s work is a journey back to that time when pixelated images where not only found online but also produced by our own cameras and also printed that way, showing the grid Campany seems to appreciate so much.

 

Resources:

David Campany, 2008. Thomas Ruff: Aesthetic of the Pixel. Ian Magazine, no2, 2008.

Joerg Colberg, 2009. Review: jpegs by Thomas Ruff. Contientious, archives, 17th April, 2009.

Tate museum, Art and Artists Archive, online resource.