Reflection: Moving Image course with Photofusion

I was pleased to be accepted by Photofusion onto a free video making course designed for photographers who want to extend their skills. The course was financed by the European Union. There was a range of different sorts of photographers there, such as journalists, both freelance and contracted employees with well-known publications, fashion photographers, jobbing portrait photographers, and artists. I was pleased to be included in the group if not a little daunted too.

The course was split into 4 days;

Day 1 – preproduction, storyboarding

Day 2 & 3 – filming days

Day 4 – editing, (yet to take place)

Pre-production

We spent the day discussing the sort of planning which ideally needs to take place, prior to making a film or video – or rather, learned how this stage is an integral part of the making. Yesterday when I spoke with Wendy, one of the things she said to me about moving image, is that I will be forced to plan beforehand, which will be good for me. Planning, I must admit, feels daunting because it requires thinking through hundred of details before you’ve even shot a single frame. (Saying that one of my jobs used to be all about planning and I did it well  – but it didn’t entail exposing my creative ideas at the same time, so it was far less scary. And it was also before I had three children to think about it, which seems to have dismantled my brain entirely).  I can see, however, even after doing a small number of potential cutaway shots for a tiny five-minute film I’m attempting to make, how having some kind of vision and practical outline will save time in the long run. But I feel like I am faced with a dialectical problem here; on one hand, I need to ‘let go’, learn to play more (as I always did need to, and the cause of much distress at drama school) but I also need to start with a vision which requires actions to bring it into being. Combining those two aims feels rather difficult to me.  Starting with a vision is something I have tried to avoid in creative work, even when such visions come thick and fast at times. A director who worked with me a long time ago told me it was good to be an intelligent actor but I that I needed to let go of my intellect in rehearsal and allow instinct and ‘un-thinking’ to take over. My head was getting in the way. A director has the vision, he implied. An actor is a puppet in that vision in many cases (but not all). A photographer recently asked me if I’d started the Oxford House work with an overall vision and I said, no. Phew, she said, as she also didn’t begin with a vision of what she hoped to achieve, and instead felt her way through. I think with me it depends on what I am working on, and the more commercial, the more of a fixed vision I might allow myself.

As well as having an overall plan, we discussed all the many, many technical, legal, budgeting, and staffing issues, amongst many others we might need to consider. After day 1 I had a stab at a storyboard: Storyboard Photofusion (minus pictures though) for a two-minute narrative. I’m not intending to make this film but it was a start.

Day 2 & 3

We spent the first of these days listening to a presentation and being shown various clips to illustrate points. One of the most memorable and pertinent to what I’ve been thinking about was how film is ‘impressionistic’, even though we might not always recognise it as such. This is because we are used to seeing 25 fps (frames per second) since that is how film has been recorded since its early days when it became the standard due to limited technology. Modern technology can easily cope with more fps and the industry is trying to move us towards accepting it, but our eyes/perception miss the slight albeit imperceptible jumps in time as the image is relayed back to us. When we see 35 or 40 fps we perceive it to be ‘cheap’ because it looks like video rather than film. We have a choice how many fps we use on our SLR but must be aware of how our choices affect the final look. We also need to set the video system appropriately for UK or US use and I think this may have had an impact on YouTube but I need to recall or look into it further to fully comprehend what is required here. I will definitely need to play around with all of this to make sure I take it on board.

Must remember – shutter speed needs to be set at double the fps rate for a smooth recording. And 1/4 ss will give you the effect of CCTV.

Moves

We went through the various camera moves available as well as discussing all the equipment one might able to use, plus the realistic ideals we might aim for, to begin with.

Pan; POV, subjective POV = fast, unstable, a more objective POV – slow, steady; Tilt – on a vertical axis; Zoom – this does not replicate a human action; Trombone effect – zoom in and dolly out at the same time, not fashionable at the moment; Static shot; Pedestal (I think – can’t read my writing, and have no idea what I mean by it other than it says close-up nearby); Tracking/dollying; Handheld.

Shopping

A list of vaguely expensive items was recommended as part of a basic kit if planning to provide video services regularly, although everything can be hired.

In addition to a decent SLR which offers video capture, the following would be useful; a sound-recording device, a contraption to help steady the camera when moving – there are several available; a monitor such as a Black Magic Video Assistant, and lots of battery packs. Reflectors and boards are always useful and, of course, continuous lighting.

Editing

We have been asked to take some footage and recorded sound in for the editing day in December, where we will learn how to use Premiere Pro. I wanted to try and do something that ties in with the work I’m attempting to head for here on this course but felt overwhelmed. So I’m beginning with something a bit more manageable. I will interview a couple of people and edit a short informative film for someone I work with. Then I will have had a bit of a practice and will begin to put together some work I’m hoping to do for A3. I’ve planned to shoot very short clips for that in January and will hopefully be able to edit that together with relative ease, having had some practice first!

Finally

I did the course because I really want to take my previous experience in acting, also teaching drama, and my love of writing and combine it with my photography in some way.  I ended Day 3 wishing I were younger and could go to film school.

 

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Research: Further thoughts about photography and death or the dying

Following my post about Godé-Darel last week, fellow, student, Catherine Banks suggested I look at Leibowitz’s work about Sontag, as well as Briony Campbell’s The Dad Project

I found an essay titled Mortality in Photography: Examining the Death of Susan Sontag and was struck particularly by the comparison between Tilda Swinton’s performance, The Maybe – where she slept periodically inside a glass box, and the photographic object.

“For Leibovitz, the “glass box” here is represented through photography itself which articulates both the same distance and invitation to the audience. Curation in itself, as illustrated by Araki, with no semblance of emotional input, alienates the audience through the sense of distance already established – between object and audience. Thus, audience participation may be reduced to voyeurism, whereby what is perceived is framed and objectified. A comparison can be drawn between such voyeurism to animals held in glass enclosures. Visitors on the other side of the glass maintain a sense of superiority over the subjects in the glass enclosures, as there is an observer and object relationship that is created, with the observer being the one with the intellectual capability to link such observations to associated experiences, actions and thoughts. Similarly, in photography, the audience looks at an image as they would at a spectacle.” (Lim, 2105)

Campbells’ work contrasts enormously, with a great deal of emotional input in her own curation in The Dad Project. These images are extremely intimate in ways that Leibowitz’ of Sontag isn’t. I don’t mean to suggest there is less or more pain in either work. (See image at top of page here). Leibowitz’s image reminds me of some of Joel-Peter Witkins’ photographs, with the black, deeply impressionistic style. In Campbell’s, which unlike Leibowitz’, is in colour, soft and intimate due to wide aperture, and also close-up in many, there is a clear reciprocal relationship between subject and photographer which one can also see in the paintings by Hodler of Godé-Darel. In fact the subject is that relationship. This work can be relatively easily read as being about facing death, inspecting it, about the dying father allowing the grieving daughter to travel along as far as possible. I can’t help feeling those who would find this type of work offensive in any way are likely to be people who find the idea of death itself intolerable, or simply far too frightening to explore in this way. Whereas Campbell and her family, in particular, her father, have so generously allowed others in to witness their experience, Leibowitz and Witkins seem to be delving into, exploiting and showing us the very human sense of terror surrounding death and the lifeless body (or body parts*) – which in Leibowitz’ case is perhaps another way of dealing with grief.  *Witkins uses parts of bodies in his images, and Leibowitz’ image is in separate pieces stitched together perhaps echoing not only the decomposition of the flesh but the disintegrated illusion of a cohesive self, in Lacanian terms.

Returning to Lim’s comments above, I continue to think about correlation and information in Rovelli’s book and try to work out my thoughts about the way in which we humans deal with death, and also about ritual and fetish. When we take a photograph of someone else, we are taking a photograph of ourselves. These images of death, however they are read, are ultimately images of the photographer’s own inevitable death as well as anything else one might see in them.

https://tembusu.nus.edu.sg/treehouse/2015/04/mortality-in-photography-examining-the-death-of-susan-sontag/

http://www.brionycampbell.com/projects/the-dad-project/

Reflection: Ferdinand Hodler & Valentine Godé-Darel

I am reading a book from the S&O reading list called Over Her Dead Body by Elisabeth Bronfen.

Chapter 2 looks at work by Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918) who painted his lover Valentine Godé-Darel as she coped with and died from cancer. The work was exhibited in 1976 some years after the fact – the paintings are dated 1908-1915 and Hodler died three years after Godé-Darel. Bronfen analyses each aspect of the work, from the making to the showing of it, and explores an introduction written by Jura Brüschweiler in the exhibition catalogue. She refers to Brüschweiler’s ‘fictionalisation’ (48) of a real death, and critiques the elevation of the painter, rather than the dying woman, into the subject. She suggests there is ample material about Hodler in the historicalising but hardly any about Godé-Darel, and my searches online are a testament to that. They effectively made the work together yet it is he who is rendered the ‘hero’, even though it is her death that plays such an important part in the source material. I say ‘part’ because their relationship is also critical and I’m not sure Bronfen explores that quite as much as one might. (I might be wrong – her text is dense with references that are difficult to penetrate, but I do find myself wanting to look out for how her own discussion risks ‘decomposing’ Godé-Darel a further time by denying the value of the connection in the couple’s relationship which is evident in the paintings. She suggests the catalogue discussion decomposes Godé-Darel a second time by denying her signification. (49) I would have to read the chapter again very carefully before knowing for certain how I felt about this, but after coming to the end of the chapter I was aware of the following.

The images did not make me feel the way Bronfen suggested they might, horrified by the violence of death, the violence of the images, appalled by the voyeuristic imposition into the death of Godé-Darel. She describes a female photographer who found the images ‘horrible’ and ‘pitied the poor woman’. I felt none of that. Nor did I find them beautiful as a young male historian Bronfen spoke with did, who ‘denied that death in its threatening aspect was represented in these images’.  I started to worry if there was something wrong with me.

I looked the images up on the internet and saw them in a very different light.

The images are actually in colour whereas, in the analytical textbook, they are black and white and look like pencil sketches because of it. The colours and apparent texture (visible in the online coloured versions) are really important. The images reproduced in the textbook are transformed and a great deal is nullified by their production making it extremely hard to relate to them, or what is being said of them via highly academic prose. They are reduced to academic exemplars. I was reminded of how a gorilla in an experiment I saw (irritatingly on quite a lightweight film, about a facility whose research reportedly is lacking in empirical rigour, but nevertheless…) where symbolic representation allowed the great ape to distance herself from her emotions and gave her access to a modicum of patience and reason. However, it seems that once something crosses a boundary and is more of a symbol, or even indexical, rather than literal (iconic), then perhaps in some cases we become too distanced from the real. Twitter and much of social media seem to operate in this way since it is only unreliable and flimsy nonverbal language (photographs, GIFs, emoticons) or none at all within the communication, leaving just symbols. This makes it easier to be as rude as one dares to people they have never before met.

While reading the text I struggled to access any part of the real through the black and white images, the largest of which is 4″x3.5″, distanced further by the language. Yet, when I looked at them in colour on my screen I was suddenly able to recognise something distinctly human, and also crucially, I think, non-academic. In particular, I was immediately struck by something desperately sad and painful in the expression of Godé-Darel’s face in this image which is not included in the book.  For me at any rate (and subjectivity does seem to be my topic here), this painting captures the relationship and is the least ‘objectified’ of all the images I have seen in colour or mono. When I look at this painting, I see her and I see him. It’s a portrait of the two of them. I do not mean to romanticise it. She looks annoyed as hell with him, in her pain, but it’s very real and powerful, and therefore touching, perhaps because of her look. Is it unfair of me to wonder if a (perhaps unconscious) reason for its absence is that the painting doesn’t fit with the narrative of Godé-Darel being victimised in some way, either at the time of painting or afterward? Yes, she is a victim of cancer, but she seems to me, at any rate, a full and valid human being, powerfully represented by her lover who expresses their anguish and her pain without flinching from it.

 

die-kranke-valentine-gode-dar

Ferdinand Hodler, Portrait of Valentine Godé-Darel sick, 1914, 32×38.5cm

 

None of this is a criticism of Bronfer’s analysis at this time, more a recognition for me about how powerfully the context can affect one’s reading as well as a continued questioning of supposedly objective academic writing, which I find more and more troubling. I am always interested in how academic prose communicates ideas, removing emotion, taking real subjects and making them dry. And how that in itself, when discussing pain, risks absenting any relation to the real. Bronfen asks us later in the chapter, ” Do we ask ourselves are these paintings skillfully done? Or do we ask ourselves, does the woman suffer? Do we see the woman’s pain? Do we see the real, while denying the representation, or do we see the representation, thus putting the real under erasure?” (51) As an actor I would always be impressed by acting that was so skilled, you forgot about the skill at all. As such, when I look at the above painting, I ask myself about the unit, the couple, and their suffering? I don’t at first ask myself about the skill. And why I wonder does Bronfen not ask us about each of them – because it is their relationship which is so evident in the look Godé-Darel gives? Or how creating this work may have connected the couple and allowed the two of them to remain together during what one imagines and reads as a deeply traumatising event? The event that Hodler is recording is between the two of them – it’s theirs. It has little to do with us, until that is, we make it so, when we look at the work, changing the event for our own means. Later, some decades later, once both are long dead, feed off the event according to our needs.  Brüschweiler’s introduction represents a social view, where the male hero artist is exalted. He transforms the initial event, which was a relationship between two people, into a narrative that supports a patriarchal viewpoint because he cannot ‘see’ it any other way. Bronfer, in turn, employs the initial event, and the transformed event that was the exhibition and catologue,  to argue her case against patriarchy, so has also fed off the initial trauma of two people she never met. In doing so she can’t help but reduce both subject to academic examples, distancing them from the real. She seems to dismiss Hodler’s need to process his lover’s death using the language he knows best.

I would hazard a guess that many, many people have ‘fed off’ that initial event too, thanks to the fact that Hodler was a painter and his mistress allowed him to paint her as she was dying. I do not know what their relationship was like, I can’t say if he bullied her into being painted or not, but I am certain that people thereafter will have found these paintings enriching for a number of reasons. To confront the idea of death, sickness, loss consciously or not, which as Bronfen quotes, in our culture ‘is the worse violence that the human being is subjected to’ (44), allows us to ask questions of ourselves. These paintings enable others to touch base with that fear and the reality.  I am extremely wary of moralising about this work – although I do see how subsequent conversations about it diminish the actual people involved, including Bronfen’s. There is a great deal of censorious moralising over how images are made and used in our society, not necessarily by Bronfen but everywhere, all of the time. We may question and deconstruct the patriarchal habit of negating the female and elevating the male, and of course, oppose the way in which any group of people is represented unfairly or not at all. But I think it behoves us to look at what was going on when the images were made from a human and empathetic point of view. There is no denying that the way images are sometimes made and used is unhelpful, downright wrong, and horrific. In this case however, it is painful not to consider, at the forefront of any conversation, the couple involved dealing with their trauma – both people, and to avoid turning Hodler into a heroic artist as well as negating Godé-Darel’s humanity and making her merely a symbol of death. Bronfer is perhaps more interested in the way in which discussions about women represented in art are typically violent, disregarding the female person, as the feminine figure becomes objectified while the male painter is exalted in some way. It is hard to disagree with that trend, and my UVC A4 looks at that pattern in some way. But there is something about this work that makes me question why either party should not be considered equally here, when it’s such an obvious blurring of self and other, and it’s the relationship between the two which involves her dreadful death and her pain, his loss, her loss, their togetherness, that is the real subject.

I am trying to access a paper which is written from a medical/therapeutic point of view as I think that has to be crucial in this discussion and may return to it later.

References:

http://whatart33.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/my-lover-is-dying-my-lover-is-dead.html

Bronfern, E. (1992). Over Her Head Body, Death Femininity and the Aesthetic. 1st ed. Manchester: Manchester University Press, p.x.

 

 

Reflection: ‘unapologetic in their artistry’

The phrase unapologetic in their artistry keeps replaying in my head over and over again. (I understand the writer intended to reference Muholi’s gaze and I have discussed that in the blog I wrote, but the words imply the sense I discuss here). What does unapologetic in their artistry mean? They are words used in the AWB Autograph third person statement accompanying Zanele Muholi’s exhibition in London, which I wrote about here. The implicit suggestion is that to be artistic is something one might be ashamed of, and need to be sorry about – that artistry is only for certain people. Or perhaps it is considered gauche to be artistic nowadays? Over the previous four or five years I have been made aware that it might indeed be deemed unsophisticated to champion or be artistic in various conversations I’ve had, or through comments made on forums and social media, and by looking at the sort of work that is often prized and celebrated by the arbiters of taste – although in fairness, I don’t get this sense from everyone, but it’s a definite thing I’ve noticed. One gets the sense that ‘artistry’ is considered suspicious, frivolous, lacking in a necessary sense of nihilism that makes art acceptable to those in the know.

I very much appreciate Roger Ballen’s work which is highly artistic. And William Kentridge is another extremely ‘artistic’ artist working with lens-based media. Both those examples use photography in their work, but perhaps they are not photographers per se. I am fairly certain that is the route I would prefer to go in. If I were lucky enough to be able to do an MA following this course (which I very much want to) then it would likely be fine art rather than photography which I would pursue.

I enjoyed reading this article about Huck’s latest issue which lists photography’s rule-breakers, and of course, the unapologetically artistic Muholi is included. I’m incredibly interested in finding out more about Laia Abril – A History of Misogyny, and will write more when I’m able to. I’m encouraged by the article as there are a number of people on the list who I admire but also some I feel somewhat dubious about  –  and I guess that’s the point about rule breakers. Not everyone will appreciate what they do. Todd Hido’s sentiment about being an artist rather than a photographer chimes with me too, but I find his treatment of women suspicious.

Added a little later after some thought – I don’t think all work should be ‘artisitic’ and the photographs in The Guardian of the Rohynga crisis is deeply suspect. Why render them black and white? Why make them look ‘beautiful’? Why create filmic theatrics out of something that needs no dramatising as it is already so awful in reality? It reminds of Salgado’s work which it can be argued objectifies human suffering so carelessly. Muholi, however, is doing something quite different, and she is exploring her own history too, rather than standing in front of somebody else. She is reclaiming something that was taken from her.

Refs: (accessed 20 November 2017)

http://www.huckmagazine.com/art-and-culture/photography-2/huck-62-documentary-photo-special-v/

https://ocasjf.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/gallery-visit-zanele-muholi-autograph-apb-rivington-place-29082017-stedelijk-05092017/

http://autograph-abp.co.uk/exhibitions/somnyama-ngonyama-hail-the-dark-lioness

https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2017/oct/14/documenting-the-rohingya-refugee-crisis-in-pictures

Reflection: Video making course with Photofusion

Today I went on the first day of a video course to explore pre-production with Photofusion. I will be doing further days later in the month. A few weeks later in mid December I will attend an editing day. I will need to have shot some footage to edit together for the final day, aiming to make a short promotional video. I have decided to make some work that would serve as a kind of ‘proposal’, taking the Girlhood project as a starting point and developing it further. The Harvey Weinstein story has re-opened many of the triggers for that work for me, although perhaps it refers to a more personal and quite specific narrative, and I want to go back to it and look at how I can take it further. I think this might also fit in with A3, ‘Create a series of six images of you that show different selves.’ Girlhood already does that although using others as the ‘form’ for self.

One of the most profound discoveries for me while I was doing UVC was coming across Lindsay Seers’ work, especially Entangled² (Theatre II)|Matt’s Gallery London. When I saw it I had a major realisation; I might be able to bring all my own experiences together; acting, writing, photography and start making work that includes moving image as well as still. I was so pleased to be accepted onto the course as it meant I could start experimenting. (Thank you, Catherine Banks for alerting me to it!) I intend to use this opportunity to do so.

Reflection: TVG 16th September 2017

Yesterday I attended the OCA Thames Valley meeting for the first time in a while as I have generally been busy with work on previous dates. It was good to see old faces again and to meet new ones too. As always, there was a lot of incredibly creative work which was inspiring, and it also broadened my horizons. I’m going to talk about a few of the presentations although not all, and some only very briefly indeed, as well as the work I presented.

David Fletcher (I think that is his name! Apologies if it’s incorrect.) Technically, David’s image of his family in a pool room all absorbed in their own worlds with their screens, utterly separated from each other as we are all so accustomed to seeing people nowadays, is utterly incredible!  It’s really, really really good. I am envious of his skills. He clearly knows what he is doing with lighting and camera work. It is wide frame and captures a lot of detail, crisp as you can image and beautifully lit. The subject matter is interesting. It’s topical and relevant and worthy of study/art. It’s an amazing submission. However, and I hope I don’t offend David (which I may especially as I don’t even know if I’ve got his name right!!) this seems like Crewdson’s voice because it appears so closely mimicked. It is a flipping amazing homage to Crewdson and what’s more, David did it with a fraction of the budget Crewdson uses, making me question Crewdson’s methodology even more than I already have done. I think it is good to copy people. It’s a way to learn about what we want to do and say. It’s good to pick up skills and to stretch ourselves and realise we have access to this visual language too – and I think David will benefit enormously from this experiment. But if he is to find his own voice he will need to break free from merely copying work exceptionally well and, in much the same way I always need to, to take some risks that aren’t about emulating someone else really, really, impressively well. One thing that is different, Crewdson didn’t use people he knew until the latest exhibition which I discussed the other day. And Richard is focused on his family.  I think this is a useful place to remind myself of the difference between style and voice. The other work he showed was some documentary images about rounding up the ponies in the New Forest. The same old argument about colour vs. mono came up and he was visually irked by it but in my view these particular images were so beautiful in colour I asked why would anyone want to remove it? There seemed like lots of potential for a lovely tale about this very old tradition and showing it in colour further emphasises the fact there is so much history linked to the activity which continues today in our technologically advanced world, where colour photography is the norm.

Kate Aston – I will speak briefly about Kate’s work  – just to say it was a pleasure to see it in the flesh rather than just on-screen as it is so idiosyncratic and original. I know she has had some difficulties paring it down following feedback from her tutor but it is immensely interesting work that steps outside the box. I wish her the best with her submission.

Richard Down – I was just gobsmacked by how beautiful the books Richard had made for his landscape submission. One would need to consider the photography, as Richard himself said when we chatted via FB earlier, being it is that which will be marked in the main. And I did not look at it closely enough since we as a group felt it best not to hand the books around and risk damaging them or getting finger prints on the pages. However, from afar it is sublime in the greatest sense. Nevertheless, the presentation will have a big impact and Richard has done a truly beautiful and impressive job. He is submitting two books, both of which he has made himself from scratch. The first is a landscape black and white edition which details a walk that he made in honour of poet Edward Thomas (1878-1917) across the countryside, and who wrote about the same landscape. Richard has included words from poems by Thomas on the left hand side of the facing page for each image. The images are beautifully printed and the result is touching and seems deeply contemplative. Richard told us during his presentation that he used to do the walk with his late wife and Jayne mentioned that this added a whole new level to his work, and I think she was implying he might have made something of that fact in the book (I’m not sure if he did or not). I wonder about this. Perhaps just in a dedication page, but any more than that would not have been Richard’s personality and while I see that students are often encouraged to scrape their emotional insides out for the sake of their work, I think there are times when it is effective and times when it isn’t. In this case the immense care and attention to detail tells us all we need to know, I think. It signifies there is something much deeper than pretty pictures of the woods and some words by a soldier some of us have not heard of, although I am reliably informed was quite famous and is according to Catherine Banks the epitome of talent wasted in war waged by old men utilising young men (2017), who died before his time, going on. All of these things together seem to me an obvious indication that the books has deeper meaning. Baring our souls in a more obvious way is the trend in culture , high and low, but it is just that – a trend. Richard’s second book is a record of Deception Island. Again it is just so beautifully made, the same binding as before but with overlays of maps indicating where the image was taken. Here I wonder if he could have made more of the semiotics surrounding the word deception to give it more depth, or is that too obvious? I wonder what secrets are held inside the making of the book, as I suspect they will be there, but would need more time with it. It’s a wonderful object regardless, and I really think that someone other than a few OCA tutors should take a look at it.

Dawn Langley – I am always interested in Dawn’s work since she is often highly creative and has presented some interesting projects in the past. I am intrigued by her Graphic Design module. Not only has the step away from photography influenced her image-making, she has also learned to use other software which seems infinitely useful. (I dipped into InDesign this morning and although managed to do the very simple thing I was attempting, it was a challenge.) Learning how to use as much technology as possible does seem like an advantageous route to take nowadays. Dawn had to create covers for a series of books about aspects of graphic design such as typology and colour. The pages she showed us were so interesting, I actually wanted to buy the book she was proposing. I am envious of her new-found design skills and wish I could do such a course too. Dawn, like me, wished she might change pathways but the options were not available for what she wanted to do.

Some thoughts about studying – Dawn’s predicament seems to be a common theme for adult learners I have chatted to with the OCA. I wonder if undergraduate degree pathways for people who have already done degrees and/or have quite a lot of experience in work might be a bit limiting? I’m not sure. On one hand perhaps I am being greedy wanting to learn everything I see and need to focus in one direction in order to have any hope of achieving the levels I wish to, on the other, I really feel under pressure to earn a proper living and panicked that I am currently incapable of doing so. I can’t help thinking having as many strings to my bow as possible would make that more likely. Although a scatter gun approach of course isn’t always that helpful. Dawn, unlike me who chose to concentrate on child-rearing until I divorced and was forced into making some decisions about being self-employed, already has a job though and has not been out of the workplace for 15 years. For me a ‘job’ feels like a foreign land, but I do from time to time think about trying to get one since the money I earn from photography is not enough, and is unreliable and unpredictable. Ideally I would be able to work as a photographer and have some more reliable, regular work to supplement it but then studies might have to take a back seat. I have some teaching experience and so it makes sense to aim for that in the medium to long term but I will only realise that goal if I stick at the studies and also try to move a bit faster. I digress but it is something that is on my mind a lot and yesterday when we were discussing the course fees I started to think about what it is I’m paying for. I need to balance out affordability with possible end results, sadly, as I wish I were in a position to focus on learning for the sake of learning. But as my youngest boy gets older, this all begins to seem like more and more of a luxury that I can’t afford unless I can be more certain it will lead to paid work. In which case, perhaps this method, protracted long distance learning, is not the best way forward.

Which leads me to my own presentation: 

I showed some images for the Nexus exhibition I am working on with John Umney and Keith Greenough. I took these images earlier this week and then did another shoot on Friday (which I’ll discuss in a moment.) I wanted to suss out two things – would this work be suitable for Self & Other? And did the images convey what I hoped they would.

Second question first – I foolishly read out the temporary/draft statement  I posted on my website at the end of presentation. Jayne said it was very helpful, implying I think it was hard her to make sense of the images without. You can read it here. In this case, context is therefore incredibly important (and I am not sure how I feel about that).

Some points that came from others including Keith who was there, which was helpful, and who showed his images too.

  • (Keith) How will I bring the images together as the colours are different in various rooms? I am thinking about grouping them and presenting them as acts – this is a performance after all.
  • (Keith again) The images where you can’t see Honor’s face make her figure more representative of her generation, rather than an individual. This is a good point. I am not sure if out of the many images I’ve taken we have enough but it is something I will consider as I edit. She is young and trained, through dance, to look out so I often said, don’t look at me and try not not smile all the time.
  • Kate said she could imagine Honor leaping from my images into Keith’s empty spaces, which I rather liked.
  • Jayne advised me to be very, very strict when editing and choose carefully, not allowing anything in that shouldn’t be there.  I hope I can grab another hour with Honor, before the end of the month when really I cannot take any more images, as there is one set up I want to repeat. Although I have as always taken too many images I don’t know at this point if I will have all I’m looking for. I was frustrated by my efforts on Friday. In my words, I’ve cocked up too many and need to think about what I do to correct that. I have some that will work from Monday for sure. I need to think about things and have very little time left. It’s scary.
  • Micheal thought Keith’s work and mine worked well together. John was not there but I have echoed his work too in mine so hopefully it will all fit.
  • People were generally positive. We will see …

Secondly Sue said yes, she thinks I could submit this work for A2 and I agree. It might be suitable due to the questions I ask with it. I am also planning (if there is time) to interview Honor and her mother and put the audio against the images in a sideshow with links to relevant thinkers on the subject of education. I’ve been keeping notes on my linked blog in case I wished to do this. But I am a bit wary. Wendy will obliged to tell me what to do to stretch it, by which time it will be too late to make changes for Oxford House which might make me feel truly hideous (not that that is a real reason to avoid doing so). I have had a response from the prison too which I was thinking about for this assignment but it may work for future one if that went ahead. For the record, A2 asks: Produce a story with a social theme. Your project should combine portraits, objects and spaces, to describe your subject matter. You should produce a between 8-12 images to demonstrate an ethical practice. The last sentence would have been the only sticking point since I had intended to include strangers in street images  – some of whom agreed to join and some who had no idea although they are mostly a blur. In fact there is only one such image I like or am comfortable with. I could always do a different edit though. In the meatime I must get on with the exercises which I have started to look at.

There was so much good stuff to see yesterday; Catherine’s experiments which she termed a “Catalogue of Disasters” may have led no-where for her but were inspiring for their risk taking and original approach. Holly’s urbex images were interesting and she has some super found images to begin exploring. Steven’s plans for his next course are influenced by Emily AllChurch and look fascinating. And seeing Micheal’s ongoing Body of Work looking at torture of the gay people in Nazi Germany was as impressive as ever.

Finally, my new mantra must be – use a smaller aperture, use a smaller aperture, use a smaller aperture. I must say this to myself as often as possible until it gets in to my thick skull!!! Aaaargh!

 

Ref:

Banks, C, 2017. Private conversation on FB Messenger