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

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  • 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?

Book: 7 Lessons of Physics

This may be important for A3 and possibly A5 if I go the direction I wish to. After finishing Rovelli’s book, I have been reading another of his, 7 Lessons of Physics, having chatted about it with an artist on Instagram (who also feels the world of physics will have an impact on her work).

To reiterate after my previous post: “Quantum mechanics and experiments with particles have taught us the world is a continuous, restless swarming of things; a continuous coming to light and disappearance of ephemeral entities.” (31)

And regarding quanta

“Where are these quanta of space? Nowhere. They are not in a space because they are themselves space. Space is created by the linking of these individual quanta of gravity. Once again the world seems to be less about objects than about interactive relationships”. (41)

There was one thing I didn’t mention in my previous summary because I could not get my head around it at all, and am still trying, to be honest, but it is looked at in this other book and is starting to seem like a concept that might one day be something I might grasp. And that is the matter of time. In quantum gravity, there is no time as a discrete thing in and of itself.

“The passage of time is internal to the world, is borne in the world itself in the relationship between quantum events that comprise the world and are themselves the source of time”. (42)

“There is no longer ‘space’ which contains the world, and there is no longer ‘time’ in which events occur” (42)

All of this goes back for me to the idea of ‘self’ being an illusion, which therefore suggests other is too. When we look at (and photograph) others we are merely capturing a moment in this illusion, and in effect when capturing whatever the ‘I’ sees, we are capturing the ‘I’ itself. I recall there was something along these lines in the Lacanian theory we looked at in UVC which was very hard to get one’s head around and I will need to find it and bring it back here.

Rovelli, C. 2016 7 Lessons of Physics Penguin, London (previously published in Italian in 2014 by Adelphi Edizioni)

Research: Some images on Instagram that stood out for me

Monster my new show @murraywhiteroom Aust Thank You @loveavaberlin ❤️

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New to the Life Framer Collection and perfect inspiration for our current theme ‘THE HUMAN BODY’: Marinka Masséus (@marinkamasseus) with her stunning series ‘My Stealthy Freedom – Iran’. • “This series reflects on forced hijab in Iran, a literal and metaphorical boundary imposed upon Iranian women. Many Iranian women hate compulsory hijab, they see it as a symbol of oppression, forced upon them not by choice or personal beliefs but by an oppressive regime. For them it has become to represent the inequality and discrimination Iranian women face because of their gender. • Every day, Iranians, especially the women, defy the regime courageously by small acts of defiance. By wearing the headscarf too low, the colors too bright, the pants too tight or the manteaux too short. Together these constant acts of bravery are affecting change, slowly but visibly evolving. The regime responds to this with regular crack-downs – when women are arrested and harassed – and by creating new laws, like the recent ban for women to ride a bicycle. • With the windows of my Tehran apartment covered with tinfoil, to ensure that the flash would not be visible from outside, we were safe to create and let creativity flow. The women threw their brightly colored headscarf in the air and while it inescapably floated back to them, I captured their brave challenge to repressive Iranian laws”. • Image by Marinka Masséus. Follow her on Instagram (linked above) and see more at www.life-framer.com/collection • #lifeframer #marinkamasseus #inspiration #iran #hijab #humanbody #portraitphotography #freedom #womensrights #feminism #body #selfexpression #conceptualphotography #fineart #visualsoflife #documentaryphotography #socialdocumentary

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