- Response to contact sheet and some of the background posts:
Catherine: Without knowing the brief, the ones on the contact sheet that worked best for me were 1463 ,1491 and 1507 – the pose, form and colour, plus with 1507 the half-open door added narrative possibilities. 1723 of course and 2622, 2635 and 2668 – the mask has an almost human quality which is very evident in these. Also made me think of music and the savage beast (Interesting to note, Catherine has not chosen any from the first shoot at all – Lottie’s)
Doug: With regard to your contact sheet I have the following general comments. I think the ‘Lottie’ images are overall the better ones. I do not like the ones with the scarf around the neck and over the team – too suicidal. The poses in the dancer often feel too posed. There are one or two of her that I think are good. The guitarist and the mask have some that I would select. Of course make-up is also a mask and I suspect that is what you were getting to. Of course there are many ways of suggesting masks, which are something we must all wear. Arbus’ focus on masks and Meatyard’s explores this – we are all freaks but some hide it better than others. Are the grotesque masks more or less frightening than the ones that look nice but hide what exists in all of us?
As we discussed you are now into the second order effect of ‘other’ and that makes them quite different although it may be difficult to arrive at this from all the images.
2. Following a draft/approximation of A1:RepresentationofOther being sent out to request feedback:
My email – Hi, this is a PDF of A1. Please be aware it is a draft, there is no content on the Contents Page for instance, and there may be typos, I’d be grateful if you can point them out to me (there is not a typo alert on Blurb online books and I struggle without one in other programmes as it is!)* The PDF should be simpler to look at, rather than wading through my many notes online – which I appreciate can get quite overwhelming.
1. Looking through as it is, I will likely present 8 images in sequence rather than lay it out as it is now so that the collaborative end result is the main bulk of the book. I will only have one image per two pages so viewers are not distracted by anything.
2. I played with a video format but felt that since written word was such an essential part of the process a book would suit it better.
3. These may not be the final images, I’ve not edited yet. A couple seem rather noisy after I’ve played around with them so much – I’m seeing what works and/or doesn’t at the moment.
4. I am photographing one more person on Saturday morning and will use that time to ensure I capture two of the ‘people’ that are not captured out of the 6 final ones I honed in on. ( – incidentally, I cancelled the shoot last Tuesday for several reasons and found a different person to work with). Stefan, your sketches will be included in the images I shoot on Saturday
5. I do not see this as a complete end piece of work but rather a work in progress which aims to explore different approaches. If this were not A1 I might hone in on 2 images per performer/artist and go and shoot them again but I don’t think at this point that will be a valuable use of my time.
Thanks to any of you who have already written to me with comments about previous stages. I will reply individually shortly. John, I have cc’d you but I know you are exceptionally busy, and have indeed left! If you have time, great, if not, your comments (if you have any) will be gratefully received in person next time we meet up in OH/BG. The fact you are seeing this with entirely fresh eyes makes you a handy person.
Any further comments gratefully received,
I also made a very short video sequence which I abandoned when I felt a book would be better. (Password same as ever for this section of the module).
Lottie: I do love your images of your dancer – powerful postures and lighting. Having read your blog I believe there is so much thought packed into this that your tutor will gain an excellent perspective on your thinking as well as your technical skills.
Michael (first response): Was just having a quick look, will look closer when I have more time later….but anything that quotes Mark E. Smith right at the beginning can’t be bad!!!
Kate: One rookie question, you’ve indexed each of the sketches to each of the characters, but not the photographs of the performers – we work these out ourselves? I really am in two minds about this. My second draft has the description beside each image for now, however, I wonder if this detracts from the images. There is a great deal to consider within the concept so perhaps leaving people in the dark about which image pertains to which description is a bridge too far in terms of disorienting viewers at this juncture.
The descriptions of the characters somehow put me in mind of character cards, like the ones in Monopoly or role playing games. I almost want to have the cards in my hands whilst looking at the images so I can consider correlations. I rather liked this idea for about 15 minutes. Then I felt it would risk being ‘gimmicky’ and detracting from the ideas – too ‘cute’ but good to have these types of ideas that challenge how we receive formats.
Madalina: I find interesting the way you challenge the influence of language in the formation of the self. There is a certain affective dimension in your photos and a cinematic feeling related to the use of light, pose and composition which I like very much.
I find intriguing the connection you make between the performativity of your sitters and how they see the other. The performative nature of the work is of course salient to it – we are all actors, performing most of the time, even to ourselves (perhaps nothing original in that concept, I admit!) It is interesting how by starting from a story they hear they’ve created different pictures in their minds and they represented those through their artistic language.
You certainly put the question if art is a way of freeing us from the preconceptions that are related to our use of language. I wonder how much we can challenge our history in the visual images we create. I think this depends on how the work is done. I have written about a play where actors represented people with Motor Neurone Disease and I found the play lacked any true connection to the issues. But anything can be ‘tasteless’ whether you’re using substitutes to tell the story or not. The French/Algerian war is a good example of where films and books challenge official French historical text books taught in schools – and they were banned for many years. I think we should be in the habit of challenging such history. I was taught in South Africa school that the Zulus and the Dutch arrived in SA at the same time, one group by land and the other by sea. This was the official justification for years of wrong doing on behalf of the Europeans who obliterated and appropriated the land.
You were arguing about the failure of language in representing the self and I want to ask you how important is language in your work at the moment. How do you negotiate your relation to language and other modes of representation in your work? I am truly fascinated by language and how it shapes our reality and reflects our ever-changing state. I suppose this has emerged mostly from the experience of my marriage breakdown. There was so much dissonance between what was said and what was actually happening, what was going on inside of me, how each of us involved in that process had different views of reality, expressed in language. I also struggled to speak throughout the horrible last few months, I could never get my words out. I hated not being able to say what I wanted to say. I was left feeling without any power over anything. Also, I began to see very clearly how much power access to language gave a person or group. The legal system is a mass of impenetrable words that beffudles anyone not versed in it – it’s beyond monolithic, that system, but also crumbling with lack of funding, although the ones in power make an absolute fortune out of people who get caught up in its vortex. I have written about language and its developing importance in my work here.
I agree with you that the book format suits better because it allows to go back and forward and create comparisons and connections.
Strong conceptual approach – from the initial idea and questionnaires through to the final images.
Collaboration with the artists/subjects in the images is a major strength and demonstrates your confidence in working this way. I have had plenty of doubts along the way!
Love the Mark E. Smith quote! I always appreciate something like this being included which is insightful and also not from an academic perspective. I like to mix it up – as you know.
The images themselves are strong and work well as a set. The inclusion of the artwork adds something extra, I kept thinking about Rorsach tests.
The opening statement underpins some serious ideas and thinking.
The design works well, is stylish without seeming over egged – colours, image sizes, alignment.
Ideas and comments:
Is the balance between theory and practice right in the opening statement? The genesis of the project is something I find interesting and could perhaps be featured more strongly in the text. I agree with the concerns here – and as soon as I’d printed the PDF of draft 1 felt that the intro needed a bit more to it. I have rewritten it. But I did not want to overdo it by explaining the work too much. I am not sure I have the balance right yet….
Would the captions/questionnaire responses work better alongside the images? That is how I have edited it in draft 2….
I love the artwork accompanying the photographs, these work best for me in accompaniment with the photographs rather than the ‘thumbnails’ included at the end. Perhaps that would work well in an exhibition setting. I felt it would be too much clutter on the page and as Madalina says you can turn back and forth if you want to with a book. I think this gives people an opportunity to if they wish.
I was struck that you reference semiotics rather than psychoanalysis, especially since this is something I know interests you. Of course the reference is totally relevant and well made, self perception and the perception of others are such a strong aspect of the work that psychoanalysis seems to fit closer? Perhaps psychoanalysis is so deeply embedded in my thinking after roughly 10 years of having been in therapy (with a few breaks) that I don’t see it has having to be mentioned. A therapist will pick up on words and phrases you use and interpret them in ways that reveal all sorts of things you didn’t know you were hiding, not only from her/him but from yourself. Their job is to help you bring something of your pre-concious world into a verbal narrative, one that is helpful to you rather than unhelpful. Semiotics and analysis seem deeply intertwined. So I’m not sure one is closer than the other to the work….
How I see it:
1. appropriation of visual and verbal information received – like the first step for all
2. a multilayered perspective on self (i.e. several images together) – like what you are doing at the moment – the multilayered way we exist is what interest me, you can always peel away another layer it seems
3. a next step? My idea is to incorporate somehow your photos in a next round of my drawings/,paintings. Similar perhaps to how I approached my theme of absence, presence – I have seen some early examples of this and think these have the potential to be very interesting. I love that this work is being used this way by you.
a) collaged images => that’s my ‘self’ (my intimate sketches, your photos with Lottie, and the one you send me with the head scarf)
b) ’tearing apart’ – or as you relate to – deconstructing the collage => that’s the others
Stefan has written a comprehensive blog post about his part in this work and I will link it here when he has published it.
The PDF downloaded without any problem for me and what a good idea to separate it all out from the background contextual information. I think this is important (especially as there is so much contextual info – no person should have to wade through all of that). I do not like work that feels it must be explained. I think lots left to the viewer and they should have questions, and work I like is when the brain has to figure things out. In fact I wonder if I’ve given too much in the brief intro but the initial concept should be stated as I hope I have done.
What I mean by that is that the images stand-out on their own without the need for additional information. I’m noticing more and more that, if I look at images on their own, they can often appear as ‘just’ portraits ‘or landscapes’ etc and really need all the written material to provide a frame for the images. Hope I’m making sense. You are – but I wonder is sometimes there is too much information given. We don’t want to see the back office at work always – although sometimes that is the interesting part too.
The images on pp 11, 12 and 17 seem on the dark side to me and the first two have a slight pink tinge. I’ve re-profiled my screen (Color-Munki) but it looks the same. I have noticed that I have to increase brightness when I’m uploading for web because of the backlighting effect. Have you been able to run off a small print to compare? All the different formats require different edits! Small screens seem to benefit from greater contrast in some cases or less in others, big screens benefit from different crops, images, colours… it’s a flipping nightmare.
Overall it’s a very vibrant piece of work and I like your image choices so far – want to keep looking at them. I’m slightly confused as to what you mean re the sequencing – numbers 1 through to 86 of the responders: the software numbers them. Since they were anonymous this became their identifier, rather than the name. Do you mean your photographs will be separate from the drawings/painting? Guess there’s a difference between the requirements of the Assignment itself in terms of image requirements and the holistic approach of the collaboration – photographer, subjects, responses and the collaborative ideal dancing together. Correct me if I’m wrong though. I was worried that the work would not have my voice – but after completing edit 2 of the book I feel it does and that I am the creator of the work and that feels right for this particular stage/study/point in time. I have discussed the various shades on collaboration here
I think you’re right re note 5 as this first Assignment is meant to be the beginning of a dialogue between you and your tutor (who is your tutor by the way? Wendy). Even so, you’re laying the groundwork for how you want to be as an artist .
- *I should not have asked people to correct these typos at this stage – what a waste of their time! It was a first draft and in future please just accept there will be errors and often lots of them. There were soooooo many here as I type too fast and there is a very high chance I am dyslexic (the real test is too expensive but the short one indicates about 80% likelihood). Because of that I am nervous about typos but I am capable of doing a proper check myself at that stage and have lived with this issue all my life so have lots of ways to highlight things. But I do miss spelling mistakes and typos as you must have noticed normally, so I am grateful for everyone’s help. But a first draft is never a good time to ask people to check as I will invariably rewrite several times anyway. Sorry for wasting people’s valuable time.
- I do note that people are all mostly terribly kind – there are things to say about this but I shall do elsewhere. (perhaps reflection)
Following these comments and thoughts of my own I have made the following book which is likely to be the version (with some minor changes perhaps) that I’ll submit shortly.
S&O1 from Sarah-Jane Field on Vimeo.