A3: Screens and filters – digital

I have been swirling around for a while with various ideas about how to make 6 images that show different selves, thinking about voice, death, age, family/friends/various people in one’s life – relationships which make us who we are, the interconnectedness of a self, the illusion of self, ergo the illusion of other, reality, networks etc. All very big topics and I need to find a simple and direct way to move forward, and which can act as a containing idea.

‘What makes me Me, what makes you You?’ is the ongoing inquiry I’ve been exploring since I started reading about cross-cultural child rearing practice when my eldest son was about 8 months old. He’s now nearly 14. Since doing so I have learned a lot about culture and how it acts as a reality filter.

Looking at what I’ve been playing with recently:

  • I felt the proprietary filter in iMovie was probably a bit crass
  • It may be, but it also may be exactly what I am exploring in this exercise. I’m going to learn Premier Pro later this week and that may afford more options but I quite like the simplicity of iMovie.
  • I’ve been looking at filters and screens for a while and perhaps began most notably with the image below

Exploring filters and screens (c)SJField 2017

A post shared by SJ Field (@_sjf_1) on

  • I then, influenced by Bryan Eccleshall’s Digital Rain series, started playing with slicing up filters as follows;
  • In an interview/video of Pipilotti Rist about her work, she discusses a generalised fear of colour in art and describes why she opts for quite a vivid colour palette which is in some way manipulated and enhanced. By doing this she rejects the perceived sophistication one finds in art. It used to be that mono or black and white signalled art and colour advertising – although certain photographers started breaking with that tradition as far back as the 50s and 60s, namely Saul Leiter and William Eggleston. (I got a lot from this interview in fact)
  • My friend, Jenny Baylis, in her Film Studies MA thesis (2001) which is titled Cinematic Chromophobia: The Case Against Colour, looks at David Batchelor’s Chromophobia, arguing this fear was at the time “manifest in both slow and troubled history of colour film processes, their adoption by the industry, as well as traditional film theory”. (Baylis; intro) Both Jenny and Rist link this fear in some way to racism and feminism, and ultimately to a fear of “the fall of culture”. (Baylis; 8)
  • However, as far as I can tell, digital photography has changed this to some degree although the majority of art photography has a certain ‘tasteful’ relationship with colour. Now colour is acceptable, even preferred by many photographers, and black and white might be ‘acceptable’ but only if shot ‘authentically’ on film. Maybe this is because black and white might be seen by some non-academic photographers as ‘artistic’ as well as by commercially minded clients and makers of photography; hence some photographers can revel in a sense of superiority when working in colour now. The culturally loaded, fetishised value judgments people (even clever ones) like to espouse have shifted somewhat. Nowadays black and white is a little bit gauche (unless shot on film – just about – by some). In photography, it would seem, colour film, and therefore not overly altered or manipulated digitally (or seemingly not) is cherished. Indeed, I once read someone refer to digital conversion to mono as ‘perverse’.
  • Film itself is, by some, considered the superior medium despite the fact – as discussed by former OCA student John Umney in a piece he was writing “…the vast majority of major project work at degree show is digital. Most work at exhibition by contemporary artists is digital. Artists, like Collins and Townsend (and there are many more besides), have found that the aesthetics around analogue serve their narrative demands not because it provides some loftier agency.” (Umney 2017; personal email)
  • Filters – oh, the culturally loaded value judgments here! (I criticise but I am part of the culture in which I exist and hold them too.) To use an Instagram filter is considered by some, or many, a faux pas or at any rate somewhat naive. To emulate film stock, a trick only for advertising and commercial work. And yet, all of culture is indeed a filter. We humans exist only through culture and the filters which shape our reality, and which often tell us what is ‘normal’ and ‘natural’. That isn’t to say there aren’t a lot of unpleasant images about with heavy filters on them (not least of which are some of mine). To rely on a proprietary PS filter is considered by some ‘unpleasant’  – and indeed they can be quite ugly, it’s true.
  • I played with some filters that create patterns and animated them together. I didn’t much like the end result after all, they seemed pretty ugly to me – and have ditched the idea of using them. But I may return if I think they can offer something in the direction I am heading.
  • I have been looking at the Snapchat filters for a while wondering what one might do with them – and how/if I might use them in this course, even as I was finishing off UVC. When I was taking these images earlier this year, I thought wow, this app is like the pool in the Narcissus story. It is designed to appeal to our most vulnerable inner vanity, fear, frailties, and it captivates us, traps us into to looking for the lost self, which moves further and further out of reach as we do – because a self is a process and perhaps the process benefits from direct contact with the other and not from contact via a cold, digital information system, one that only shows us our socially/commercially imposed ideals. (Mirror, mirror on the wall….)

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  • Last night I chatted with my nearly 14-year-old son about the sort of images he and friends post online and about some of the academic assumptions in the course folder. Does his generation feel these images are an authentic reality, an enshrined moment? Not according to him (perhaps this social habit serves to undermine anyone’s ability to trust and believe what they see rather than convincing us of truth….) This morning in an article in the Guardian, we are told that social media “is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other,’” and “ripping society apart” according to former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya (Wong 2017) This subject is BIG and extremely complex.
  • So – I think I’m going to focus on Filters and Screens as my main containing topic. The work will ultimately contain a great deal more besides but I am going to try and just stick with this container as much as possible.
  • I’m going to use whatever garish, tasteless, gauche and naive filter I think necessitates being used.
  • I’m not going to write much more now. I will work through the exercises, probably not in the right order as it’s easier/quicker to work alone than it is to find and spend time with others so I may simply get on with the self ones first.
  • Finally, before I go – there was an article shared in the FB OCA Photography group recently which pertained to be “A deep analysis of Melania Trump’s social media photos,” it really isn’t, and which “reveals a woman in hiding from the world” (Imbach, 2017). And I don’t like to give energy to the revolting shitshow by reposting or even discussing that family, but I was quite amazed by the assumption which underpinned Imbach’s argument, which is that it is healthy and normal to be on show. No, it isn’t! The images in the article were quite horrible as images go, and at first, I assumed that they were childlike in their rendering. However, looking through my son’s feed I see that while there are plenty of images with way too much structure, sharpening, vignetting, and saturation for my own tastes, in fact, a good deal of images made by 13/14-year-olds are far more sophisticated than the ones made by said wife locked up in those towers. Who knows I may emulate some of what they are doing for a few Section 3 exercises? What I did notice is that the girls, many ‘seemingly’ feigning horror at the idea of being on show whilst also inviting it and fishing for compliments as young girls do – is that they are hiding. Literally. They are feining their desire to hide as well as being compelled to do so. It’s such a lot of conflicting turmoil to live with. They make images with their faces covered by hands, fast food bags and digital drawing. The Snapchat filters hide them too. And no wonder! It is awful to be on show. And this generation is under pressure to be on show at all times. Of course, they want to hide. We use screens to protect ourselves. It’s about self-preservation in a world that pressurises you to be on show always.,
  • One last thing – Grotowski knew theatre could not compete with film and TV, so he eschewed all technicalities and any tricks of production. He sought to utilise the actor’s main tool – the body alone.  Being a digital photographer, I will embrace what digital can do in this assignment and not try to compete with film at all.


Baylis, J. 2001 Cinematic Chromophobia: The Case Against Colour, University of Westminster 2001 Thesis for Film & Television Studies

Umney, J. 2017 Personal email addressed to me

Rist, P. 2016 Colour is Dangerous YouTube [Accessed 11 December 2017] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdLuwX2uRTM

A deep analysis of Melania Trump’s social media photos reveals a woman in hiding from the world



Ideas A3: continued from previous experiment

I have addded a line of text to the clip I posted yesterday as well as cut up some of the sound, copied it and repeated it later. It would be good to know what fellow students think in comparison to the one without. I added after a paragraph posting initially yesterday, saying that I had thought about the way I experimented with the Ferentillo images, adding lines of text that appeared in the sequence at random.

At the moment the sound fades out towards the end of the clip and I think I will introduce the sound that is attached to the next clip so there is a cross fade – When I have put a few of these together I might gather a few people to get feedback about the way the sound crosses over; and there is so much else to consider too. I need to talk about something called Cromophobia… a seperate post.


Ideas: A3 “a continuous coming to light and disappearance of ephemeral entities”

Brief: Create a series of 6 images that show your different selves

Main aim: In the words of Carlo Rovelli when he describes reality, perhaps I am also a “restless swarming of things; a continuous coming to light and disappearance of ephemeral entities”. (2014)

Sometimes I imagine myself dead. I picture my dead feet, my dead body, my dead face. If I live to be an old woman, the atoms which formed the baby I was at birth will have been almost entirely replaced by the time I die.

(Interesting for me to re-read this plan for UVC – the things I say about language and categories is useful, and good to see the ideas I have been having in S&O are a continuation and extension of those ideas)


Voice > speech > meaning …?

A short experiment  – short video clip of 5 ducks, two adults and 3 children (a little like the social ‘ideal’ of what/how my family might be but isn’t)

Referring to the Rovelli quote I wanted to remove the reality filter (see my reflection on filters) we are used to seeing

I have slowed down speech and used technology to change the sound of speech, and the nature in which that speech takes place….

(c)SJField 2017



Added later – After posting this I started playing around with adding fragments of text like I did in the earlier experiement on this page. Looking back at that slideshow now, I think it lacks definition, perhaps because of the randomness and I also want to talk about the various renderings I tried out, and our pre-conceptions in photography vs. video but I will so in a a different post.


A3: Ideas, finding your voice

I have been thinking about voice, and the way we use the word along with its connotations – literal voice; the whole finding your voice thing anyone studying the arts will be aware of – i.e. what is it you want to say, or else how some people; or groups of people in the world don’t have a voice – ‘who get’s to speak and about what?’ as Chris Kraus asks?

When I was at drama school they kept saying, but we haven’t seen you yet. We think the ‘you’ we’re waiting for will wipe the floor but we keep waiting. Then one day I did a piece by Athol Fugard, a South African playwright – a very good one, for a radio audition. After I finished, they all looked at me in astonishment. “There it is!” they said. When I left SA at the age of 16 perhaps I left my voice there. Even though the whole time I was there I thought ‘I’ should have been here…

I am going to, therefore, begin this process by exploring voice, my voice, the different voices I have, the voices I hear. Literally, how a voice is made in its many ways in order to answer the brief – create 6 images of you that show different selves

This is a very short sampled clip of the vocal chords working which I found online….https://vimeo.com/246483192

I also want to visually record other people in my life, objects, things, photographs, stuff I’ve seen and heard all as contributors to my voice and will see where this goes.

Voice and speech are two different things – voice is formed with breath, without it there can be no vocal sound. Speech exploits voice by shaping the breath as it comes out of your body using teeth, tongue, nasal passages. We can affect our vocalisations by engaging or disengaging our body….

I wonder if writing something is the next step…. and then recording it.


Notes: A3 & A4 Blurring of Self and Other

  • A key concern in today’s social climate is difference as people focus on religion, skin colour, language, place of birth – as resources seem under threat due to climate change, resulting wars, economic struggles etc.
  • Similar concerns for economic reasons were seen in the run up to the second world war and with particular reference to the Holocaust (see end of Family Frames)
  • Therefore, any work that potentially deals with similarity, commonality between individuals and groups is political, even if it doesn’t immediately seem so
  • Research – perhaps post-war work (Giacometti, think of others that specifically deal with humanity) and work today that is attempting to explore difference, identity
  • What are potential objections to such a project (and they do indeed come from both left and right ideologies)?
  • Perhaps look at colonialism (heavily explored in course document in parts 1 and 2)
  • First person action research – living life as an inquiry? How to incorporate this? How to make this clear? How this affects what I’m looking at and how? Why this approach?
  • Ever since Darwin told the world about evolution (and even before that when we learned the earth was not the centre of the universe) white western man has been faced with coming to terms that the triangle of being is/was an unreliable and constructed dichotomy. Modern scientific theories go much further and reality is looked afresh, resulting in fundamental questions about what a self is, and therefore how other relate. Semiotics – essentially the study of linguistic categorisation might show us this flux
  • What artists are looking at this? And how?

Assignment 2: Feedback

Wendy and I spoke this morning about A2 and here is a summary of her notes followed by my response. The full report is here: Sarah-Jane Field_assn_2_S and O__photography tutor report.

For assignment 2 of Self and Other you have produced an impressive body of research. Your approach is critical, informed and enquiring.

For this assignment, you have presented a new body of work and installation produced for a collaborative exhibition in Bethnal Green, London.

The work itself is supported by: contact sheets. High res files, a sketchbook blog and a page containing background on the project. The LL is well laid out and the research extensive.

Much work has clearly been spent on the setting up – and thinking through – of the project, and this is written up in full on the Learning Log.

You mention feedback from your audience on the night of the PV and that you were happy that someone thought you had ‘bridged the gap between documentary and fine art’.

You have also provided a very good critical and reflective analysis of the project (both its perceived successes and failures).

You have clearly thought carefully about both your approach to your subject and the various ways via which you might represent them.

I was very intrigued by the talk of performance in your text. Unfortunately, the link to some documentation of your experimental performance trials (not used) was broken, so I couldn’t have a look at this). It’s clear from your writing however, that you were very keen to experiment with performance – taking the dancer out to work her way down the street, moving as she went, presumably). However, it sounds like you didn’t really have the time to do this and therefore chose to revert to what I think is your normal way of working (shooting with a model within the confines of the studio).

I would really encourage you to experiment with moving image and performance. Sometimes by picking up a tool or medium that you are not familiar with (such as the video camera) can produce unexpected and very interesting results. It also forces us as artists to question the efficiency of the medium we habitually use.

The theme of the walk (for obvious reasons) is central to performance. In all of the pieces below, the artist follows someone who is walking through a city or a through a space.

Have a look at these pieces of work and think how different your picture of the young girl had been if you’d presented it, for example as a filmed piece of her walking or dancing around the school building.

  1. Piplotti Rist: Ever is Over All (1997)


  1. Francis Alÿs: Sometimes making Something leads to Nothing



  1. You also talk in an interesting way about the role of the school. You might be interested in looking two projects by photographers who have focussed on so-called ‘alternative’ communities (in Clare Richardson’s case (Harlemville), a Steiner community in America)http://www.thisismenotbeingyou.com/clare-richardson-harmenville/
  2. And in Lucas Foglia’s A Natural Order, a community of ‘isolated communities in the Southern Eastern states of America.



 I recently did a video course with Photofusion so I was really pleased to hear you suggest using moving-image in my work going forward and can see it will be a good way to shift some of the working habits I’ve got into. I have been aware for some time that I may need to unlearn some things, which as you suggest, could be holding me back. I have wanted to combine my performance background with moving image since noticing how much I wrote about it while doing UVC – an indication to me that I was deeply interested. But I have felt a little lost about how to take this forward. I am on the lookout for performance artists who use video, so am eager to take a look at the links you have suggested.

We discussed how much I write, and I mentioned that I love writing perhaps even more than photography at times. I agree I could do with being more succinct, and the reason I set up the Sketchbook blog was to try and keep the course blog as contained as possible. This way I can use my digital Sketchbook without overloading the coursework – or at least that was the aim. (I wanted a pop-up window to tell visitors they were leaving the OCA S&O site but I think you have to pay extra to WordPress for that facility.) However, your suggestion to start using my writing in a more substantial way alongside the images is welcome and it’s great to have that ‘permission’. I wrote about it being important to me in my Sketchbook a few months ago in fact.

I’m not sure I will continue with education as a theme – but you picked up on something I think is important to me. Which is exploring ‘having the freedom to be who you are’.

I am also not sure if I will ever be someone who knows what my aim is at the beginning of a project. But I take your point that beginning with something small and achievable is a good idea.

I do plan to write up the Photofusion moving image course notes and discuss my feelings about it. I will also experiment with moving image for A3 and perhaps in the exercises. I had been thinking about doing that with the first exercise anyway so great to have you encourage it. I will also fix the broken link.

Research: Buddism and Neuroscience

Some ideas here that might chime with the quantum gravity theory I have been reading about, linking to concepts of self.

“In Buddhism, the matter/consciousness duality, the so-called mind-body problem, is a false problem given that neither of them has an intrinsic, independent existence. According to some Buddhist teachings that analyze phenomena at a more contemplative level, the primordial nature of phenomena transcends notions of subject and object or time and space. But when the world of phenomena emerges from primordial nature, we lose sight of this unity and make a false distinction between consciousness and the world. This separation between the self and the non-self then becomes fixed, and the world of ignorance, samsara, is born. The birth of samsara did not happen at a particular moment in time. It simply reflects at each instant, and for each of our thoughts, how ignorance reifies the world.” (Ricard, 2015)