Reflection: Exercise 1.1 & 1.3 (Some outtakes)

Here are a few images that I took while thinking about the exercises, before and during the day when I shot the ones the I chose. (From seeing other people’s blogs I wonder if I’m not meant to also submit a contact sheet? We were not required to do that in TAOP, and then I moved on to UCV which was a writing course – something to look into.) I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so tried several approaches. In the end I settled down and worked mostly upstairs with the strobes as I became more confident with playing with them. It was the most beneficial aspect of the day. I will set up more sessions where I simply do that as soon as the assignment is in. Apart from the one directly below these have not been in PS, only Lightroom and some may benefit from a little more processing. I have to say, I have been so busy with work – this week editing and selling a Holy Communion shoot, then Calais/Dunkirk for Just Shelter and then a book launch party for Penguin – which is great but it means this college work has to take a back seat and finding time to edit is proving tricky.

Again this a mixture of people I know well, not much and not at all.

(c)SJField 2017

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Reflection: Exercises 1.1 & 1.3 (shoot day)

Yesterday I spent several hours working in a space much larger (for myself rather than for work) than I have had the opportunity to before. I was upstairs at the Grosvenor Arms pub, a place which I documented, before, during and after it was refurbished. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach the exercises so tried several different approaches in my time there. I could conceivably complete the exercises now but I wanted to include some other people for whom the pub was not an ideal space and will be taking some more photographs next week in a different space. I will take a look at the collection I’ve gathered after that and find 10 to suit the two exercises.

I would like to say in response to a comment made elsewhere about getting out and taking photos rather than writing  – I take a lot of photos on a daily basis, personally and for work, and am working more and more lately. Every single time I do I learn something more. I am also noticing patterns and connecting to the themes and ideas for the assignments and projects. Not taking photos is not my problem. For me this course is of no use whatsoever unless I can use it to expand on and explore the ideas that inform my life, work and the way I can find a way to connect previous experience, the photograph as an object in the world, the activity – a form of expression, artistic practise, commercial practise etc.

Here are a few shots from yesterday – they’ve had a quick breeze through Lightroom only at this point and I will no doubt return to edit.

(c)SJField 2017

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Rosie – Natural light through the window

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Alfred – Single strobe

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Elisa – Single Strobe

Reflection notes: Representation, methods and reliability

The other night I attended an evening dedicated to exploring Motor Neurone Disease through short lectures, poetry and a  play, including art by Sarah Ezekiel, the woman who I discussed in an earlier post who has lived with the disease for 14 years. Sarah Ezekiel was there and I went with my friend, who was diagnosed at the end of last year,  and another woman we both know.

The lecture by three scientists working with MND research was fascinating. The three things they talked about which stuck with me and related to what I’m looking at here in this module, and generally were:

  • Seeing and looking are not passive activities –  I loved that phrase, it sums it up so succinctly.
  • Art is profoundly important for human beings, the expression and exploration of what and how we see integral to our neurology and evolutionary history
  • In the complex organ that is our brain there are 30 areas linked just to the activity of seeing.

The play reminded me of what I don’t like about acting – I won’t say much about it but it felt that the production had no genuine connection to the reality of MND despite all the words being accurate, well researched, and the company were no doubt well-intentioned.

Sarah Ezekiel gave a pre-prepared talk using the eye-response technology which has made her life so much richer and fuller than it otherwise might have been. My friend, whose name is Jenny, was deeply moved by it.

Two things that have become more embedded in my mind about presentation:

  • Is it ever possible to truly convey the reality of a situation through representation? Yes, but it’s fraught with complications and I think happens truly successfully more rarely than we might imagine.
  • Brechtian ‘reporting’  in an epic theatre: as an actor in training, I think it is very hard to comprehend quite what Brecht meant when he advised that actors should report rather than emote. As described here:

    “The demonstrator need not be an artist. The capacities he needs to achieve his aim are in effect universal. Suppose he cannot carry out some particular movement as quickly as the victim he is imitating; all he need do is to explain that he moves three times as fast, and the demonstration neither suffers in essentials nor loses its point. On the contrary it is important that he should not be too perfect. His demonstration would be spoilt if the bystanders’ attention were drawn to his powers of transformation. He has to avoid presenting himself in such a way that someone calls out ’What a lifelike portrayal of a chauffeur!’ He must not ’cast a spell’ over anyone. He should not transport people from normality to ’higher realms’. He need not dispose of any special powers of suggestion.” (Willet, 1964)

    I think this is difficult to get your head round. Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen gets close to it although she is imposing an intention on her delivery so it is not entirely reporting. I do think fellow student Stephanie D’Hubert gets it spot on when she reads the nightmares she has collected online in the voice-over that accompanies the images she has found. For an actor, a type often addicted to expressing big emotions (generalisation, I know), this is tricky to allow her/himself to do and perhaps other art forms are more suited to this type of philosophy. However, I understand the actors in Brecht’s company were riveting and powerful and I wish I would have seen them working to understand this more.

  • Acting seems to be in many cases a skill where a mask is constructed and worn by the artist in order to reveal a universal truth about existence, and photography in many cases, especially nowadays seems to be aimed at finding moments caught by the artists, where the social mask has slipped in order to reveal universal truths. There are of course lots and lots of variations relating to this. And here are two examples that demonstrate the breadth of photo practise one can see: Jemima Stehli in Strip reveals the slipped masks of the men that photograph themselves. Cindy Sherman in all her work is more of an actor, exploring the masks woman are handed by culture. The other day when I worked with 8 year olds the children performed and wore masks and acted and then I photogrpahed them, but I was also asked to capture one particular class just standing so the teacher could cut them out and place them in landscapes we’d asked them to create. These were so interesting. I always love the awkwardness of children standing in line, the lack of control of their bodies as they are still formulating their cultural selves and so limbs move for little apparent reasons constantly; and seeing those genuine moments for me were more interesting than the masked images. Sadly I can’t post them here.

 

Brecht, B. 1950. “The Street Scene: A Basic Model for an Epic Theatre.Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic. Ed. and trans. John Willett. London: Methuen, 1964. ISBN 0-413-38800-X. pp. 121–129. (Accessed 23/6/2017) Available at https://head.hesge.ch/arts-action/IMG/pdf/The_Street_Scene_A_Basic_Model_for_an_Epic_Theatre.pdf

D’Hubert, S, 2017 More Video’s with Self Reflection (Accessed 23/6/2017) Available At: https://stephaniedhlearninglog5.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/a4-more-videos-with-self-reflection/

Projects: 1.1 & 1.3 test shoot

Last Friday evening I went along to the pub where I will be doing some portraits to satisfy the requirements for the above. I wanted to just get a feel for working in that space on my own rather than at an event. It’s not a perfect space but it is much better than what I have access to elsewhere by a long shot – space wise. And Brendan, the landlord, is very keen for his space to become an artistic community hub – so I am lucky to have access to it.

I am still thinking about how I approach these exercises although I’m fairly certain I will present them together as one exercise and will give my reasons when I do. I may also use the space for one set of the assignment images. (I am shooting the first set  on Friday this week, not at the pub, which feels a bit weird.)

Here are some examples from the other evening. I have no idea which if any, will be included in the end – let’s see.

There are more here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/128989259@N07/albums/72157682755088311

(c) SJField 2017

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