Assignment 6: Transitions

I worked on this assignment over the course of around five months, from conception to completion. I was tasked with showing how photographs of a landscape at certain intervals would show a transition.

Location
I decided upon Mill Hill in nearby Shoreham-by-Sea for my scene, based on a previous shot I had taken from the same vantage point. From one of the highest points in the area, the view encompasses a number of geological and man-made features.

Planning to Execution
A detailed plan of what I planned to do is here.

I wanted to avoid the standard monthly or seasonal transition and so decided on a shorter time-frame of a handful of months. However, I assumed that this would not show enough of a change and so I opted to show the change in time of day at the same time.

My original timeline ended up being pushed back a couple of weeks to begin with. During April I was ill and this meant missing the ‘sunset’ shoot that month. This meant that the remaining shots were postponed by a fortnight, further altering the planned timings.

Morning – 9:36am – March 16th
Midday – 11:15am – March 30th
Afternoon – 15:50pm – April 12th
[illness]
Sunset – 8:20pm – May 4th
Dusk – 9:25pm – May 18th
Night – 10:30pm – June 1st
Dawn – 4:10am – June 15th
Sunrise – 4:50am – June 29th

I think that it’s important to discuss the role of planning in my work generally. As a sufferer of anxiety, it’s impossible to act like a ‘normal’ photographer and take situations as they come; to be spontaneous. Instead, I plan photographic excursions to the smallest detail. Whether it’s using Google Street View, satellite imagery or looking at the work of other photographers’, I know exactly what I am likely to find before I step out of the door. That tends to mean that I have a very clear image in my head of what a shot should look like. Often this is reflected in almost an exact final photograph.

Equipment
I used a wide-angle 21mm f/2.8 lens to capture a larger space. This also came in handy when photographing in the dark due to it’s wide maximum aperture. I used a tripod each time and set it up next to a specific fence post to try and shoot from the exact spot every time I returned.

Photographs

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To better show the changing light and time, I made a slideshow of the final images:

slideshow

Reflections
There were more seasonal changes than I had expected over the course of the set. Grass and other foliage grows, the water levels of the river change and agricultural production takes place. At night lights turn on and car lights are visible.

What I found most interesting was the affirmation I found when putting the final images together in a set. The daylight shots simply didn’t stand out to me in any meaningful way, instead seeming ‘typical’ and nondescript. In contrast, the night holds so much interest for me from the settings and thought that goes into getting the light just right to the dark shadows and brighter colours that appear without the sun.

Unfortunately, whilst the transition between day and night is quite stark in the final shots, the loss of clarity and detail at night is quite extreme. There isn’t much ambient lighting at night in this area which meant doing a lot of post-processing to make the sixth (night-time) remotely passable. Perhaps a shorter day/night cycle would have worked better; starting at dawn and ending at dusk..

If I could start again, I would do a lot differently. When I look back on my planning I stated, “Whilst not finding a particular interest in landscapes, I do enjoy using wide-angle lenses to capture as much breadth as possible in a scene.” Having not learned much about what a landscape could be until after this exercise, I had no option other than to cover a ‘classic landscape’, something I later acknowledged that I disliked. Since the beginning of this assignment I’ve found a keen interest in Becher-style man-made subjects. I would have chosen something like an electricity pylon and used the closeness of the subject to reflect changes in light over time.

The problem lies in the positioning of this assignment. As the final assignment, it should reflect the learning over the course of the entire unit. Instead, it only shows off where I started. It is an assignment that feels ‘cut off’ from the rest.

Posted in Part Six: Transitions | Leave a comment

Assignment 5: Self-directed Project

Initial project proposal
I sent the following project brief to my tutor before starting the project:

I’d like to use this assignment as an exploration of unnoticed, un-photographed but essential elements of our man-altered landscape. I’d like to try and continue the adage of the New Topographic movement in the modern day in which every detail is documented. I plan on documenting the undersides of bridges, street-side bins and bus shelters. I’d like to show how man-made structures with the same purpose can differ.

In particular, I had this idea when listening to the words of Lewis Baltz. His photography captured, “material that people filtered out” and “things that were marginalised … things that were off of the scene, that were never observed, were never spoken about because they were so ordinary and quotidian, because they were so commonplace.”.

I will be using my local county of Sussex, which includes a variety of different environments within a relatively accessible distance. I can choose from Chichester to Brighton and up to Horsham.

I will be exploring urban spaces on foot and more rural locations in my car. I will use the internet -in particular, Google Maps- to scout out locations and how to access them. Aside from some bridges, everywhere I shoot will be publicly accessible.

I’d like to explore the commonalities and differences in man-made structures that share the same purpose.

My tutor responded, Your proposal is fine, I’m intrigued to see how you get on.

The Bechers
The idea for this assignment grew from my appreciation of Bernd and Hilla Becher’s work in the New Topographic movement. I spoke about them in detail during Assignment 4.

A comment in the Guardian stood out to me during my earlier research into the couple. “The Bechers approached photography the way a botanist might approach the cataloguing of flora and fauna.” (O’Hagan, 2014) When I began the ‘Landscape’ unit, I was under the impression that the format of the work would be exclusively rural and classic. Discovering the Bechers widened my eyes to the extent of what landscape photography could encompass. Their work is so unusual within the genre and that distancing and uniqueness really appealed to my own creativity.

As part of the New Topographic movement in the 1970s, the Bechers explored the effect of man on nature through photographs of urban development. In particular, they shot the industrial architecture that was popping up across the previously empty natural landscape.

The Bechers approached this work using typology, the collation of multiple singular subjects within a single set of photographs. Their impact lies within “[prompting] us to pause to reflect on similarities and subtle differences” (Photographic Typologies: The Study of Types, 2012) in similar buildings, items, places etc. “Typologies not only recorded a moment in time, they prompted the viewer to consider the subject’s place in the world.” (Photographic Typologies: The Study of Types, 2012) For the Bechers in 20th Century America, this meant subjects like the water towers and gas tanks that were increasingly common across the country.

Gas Tanks 1965?2009 Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher 1931-2007, 1934-2015 Purchased with funds provided by Tate International Council, the Photography Acquisitions Committee, Tate Members and Tate Patrons 2015 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P81237
(Becher, 1965)

Water Towers 1972?2009 Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher 1931-2007, 1934-2015 Purchased with funds provided by Tate International Council, the Photography Acquisitions Committee, Tate Members and Tate Patrons 2015 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P81238
(Becher, 1972)

Interestingly, whilst the Bechers had a number of photographers as students of their school, ‘Kunstakademie Dusseldorf’ none of them continued with that typology approach.“Andreas Gursky, Candida Hofer, Axel Hutte, Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth modified the approach of their teachers by applying new technical possibilities and a personal and contemporary vision, while retaining the documentary method their tutors propounded.” (Dusseldorf School of Photography, n.d.) In fact, whilst the Bechers “defined a style [that] made them one of the most dominant influences in contemporary European photography and art” (O’Hagan, 2014) in the 20th Century, the use of ‘typology’ has been largely forgotten. There are however, still a handful of photographers who use the format today.

One of those is American photographer Jeff Brouws who has in his own words, “compiled a visual survey of America’s evolving rural, urban and suburban cultural landscapes … compiling typologies to index the nation’s character.” (Brouws, n.d.) In his typological work, ‘Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations’ Brouws copies the idea of (another New Topographic member) Ed Ruscha in capturing these structures across America. The two works “share an aesthetic sensibility in the way both artists employ a deadpan, neutral gaze”. (Jeff Brouws Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations, 2016)

tags-8
(Brouws, 1992)

Another example is Oxford-based Steve Tyler who has used typology outside landscapes. He instead photographs typologies of ‘Mass Consumption’; discarded cigarettes, can openers and crumpled receipts to name a few.

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(Tyler, 2012)

What is unseen anymore?
The world in the 21st Century is vastly different from the 20th- with the proliferation of mobile phones with cameras and social media. Every aspect of life is recorded and documented. Kait Williamson of Georgetown University states, “Today, many use photography as an obsession and norm of documentation” (Silverman, 2015) which can be seen en masse on applications such as Instagram and Facebook. In the Guardian, Jacob Silverman writes, “The cultural premium now placed on recording and broadcasting one’s life … means that Facebook timelines are suffused with postings about meals, workouts, the weather, recent purchases [etc].” (Williamson, 2014)

To say that that every single item and experience in the world has been documented by photography is no-longer an overstatement. Silverman sums up the thinking behind this all-encompassing documentation as, “what matters is not so much the content of your updates but their existing at all.” (Williamson, 2014) As such, when I began to consider what the modern equivalent of the Becher’s new frontier of photography would be, I struggled. I asked myself “What is not photographed?”

After a lot of thought, I settled on the topic of infrastructure, specifically public bins, bus shelters and the undersides of bridges; their supports. I noticed that generally these weren’t recorded, perhaps because our interaction with them is so different than the more positive elements of life that generally people want to express.

Form Follows Function
‘Form follows function’ is a principle that was developed in the 20th Century to express how architectural design should work. This meant that the design of a building or structure should first and foremost reflect its intended use. ‘Form’ was far less important.

As society has modernised so has architecture with it. We now see more and more buildings designed with looks in mind. As we have perfected our standard blocks of structures we have moved into changing their form. These days it’s as important to focus on aesthetics as it is to cover the function of a building.

bull-ring-road
(Tsiatinis, n.d.)
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(van Zundert, 2016)
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(van Zundert, 2015)

What becomes apparent when exploring the urban environment is that certain aspects of our infrastructure are given greater aesthetic importance than others. Buildings and skyscrapers offer a visual premium compared to the smaller, less-interacted-with elements of daily life. A question I found myself asking was, “does infrastructure attempt to be visually pleasing?”

When researching my topics of choice it became apparent that the things we interact with less look worse than those we see or interact with more. The bus shelters are by far the most engineered, the simple ‘box’ design built in many different ways. Our time spent around and inside these shelters give more importance to the design, which has lead to them being designed more sympathetically. On the other hand, public bins are entirely built around their limited function. As a society, we don’t interact with bins for any meaningful amount of time, which is reflected by their lack of alternate designs. Taking this further, the undersides and supports for road bridges are purely mechanical and seperate from our use above.

It is our interaction and the amount of it that dictates design in the modern day. Whilst road bridges are generally concrete blocks on supports, pedestrian bridges are increasingly more design-lead.

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(A1 Appleyhead, 2012) (Dixon, 2012)


Response to Brief
At its simplest, I wish to put my own stamp on typology and in some ways ‘modernise’ the approach that the Bechers had originally. Their work was compositionally simple, monochrome and brightly lit. My work is typically long-exposure based and with the strong colouring that that brings with it. As such, I plan on using the Becher ‘framework’ of infrastructure topography whilst shooting with my typical style.

Whilst the Bechers photographed large industrial buildings, I’ve chosen to focus on the smaller, more integrated parts of infrastructure.

I’m hoping that the outcome will be a sense that topography can work in the 21st century and that it won’t seem so unusual in print.

My work would exist in a gallery space and likely be seen by the average visitor to that type of establishment. I’m not sure that the work is original or interesting enough to draw more of a specialist crowd than that. I think that, in terms of mindset, I’d be looking to advertise my work to millennials, particularly those who generally document their lives through Instagram etc, as I mentioned earlier.

Planning Photographs
In terms of the treatment, I will be using different equipment depending on the subject as I’m aware some will be closer or further from me and some will be lit quite differently. For the bridges at night, a mix of a 55mm and a 21mm will be used depending on how close I can get to them. For the bins, I am confident of where I can stand to photograph them, so I will exclusively rely on the 55mm. For the bus stops in the daytime, a 24-70mm zoom should allow me to shoot regardless of situation. In addition, for the night photography I will use a tripod to steady the shots.

My budget needs only to cover any petrol I’ll need- likely one single refill which would cost approximately £35. I won’t incur any costs in presenting the work as it will be entirely digital.

I have done extensive research into finding each subject and mapping them into the best routes possible for me to complete each set.

I’m unsure about the lack of creativity that may show though if I rigidly stick to the classic Becher format of documentation; of all subjects from the same angle. I won’t be sure of how much of a problem this would be until putting the sets together after having taken the photographs.

Reading about the ‘White Cube’ earlier in the unit reinforced it as my favourite way to present photographs. The absolute core of this work is my variation on the Becher’s original work. With so much of this assignment being based on their work, how better to present the topography than to emulate their presentation. This means approaching it from ‘the white cube’ and laying out the sets separately in grids.

01_bernd-and-hilla-becher
(White, 2014)

Contact sheets
Still not totally sure of how I wanted the bus shelter set to look when finished, I made sure to take each subject from multiple angles. This gave me more options in post than I’ve had during previous assignments.

Taking my tutor’s previous advice about restricting myself less, I decided to take multiple angles of each subject. The Bechers did in fact occasionally photograph from different angles but these shots aren’t nearly as distinctive or well known. I found that the alternate angles I went for didn’t work well visually- perhaps because they seem less ‘typical’.

contactbins contactbridges contactbus

Artist’s statement
Anxiety, stress, depression. I never had an escape from myself until I bought my first camera. What began as an occasional hobby has become an integral part of my life- I explore the world through my camera, with which I have the most unusual experiences and adventures. My night-time long-exposure photography lets me capture the night as clear as day and often gives a unique perspective on scenes seen many times before.

In this set, titled “Becher’s Belief” I’ve begun to think about how my personal voice can develop when considering the work of other practitioners. Using the New Topographic photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher as a template, I have put my stamp on the banality of some of our modern-day infrastructure.

Becher’s Belief
Here are the completed sets:

Bins
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Bridge Undersides

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Bus Shelters

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Each singular shot can be found in greater detail here.

Analysis
It’s impossible to assess the sets I’ve taken without direct comparison to the original work of the Bechers. Whilst I’ve piggy-backed on their ideas and made a general ‘modern’ take on their ideas, I can’t help but realise that my sets are a poor facsimile. To compare something so important and defining as their work to my own vague variant seems almost distasteful. I have succeeded in what I set out to, but the sets feel empty without the important artistic heft of the originals.

I’d hazard  a guess that the shots can be looked at more favourably within a gallery context; the overall theme taking some of the weight that the singular shots can’t carry.

The bridge set works best because visually they are the closest to the originals. The subjects in their locations contain less background noise and are more akin to the stand-alone structures that the Bechers photographed.

Initially I felt that my interest and comfort in night photography would make a difference to some of the work; the lighting and colour differences giving my versions their ‘stamp’. Instead the time of day feels unnecessary and doesn’t give any real extra meaning or personal context. I wonder if they would look less out of place if I had made the Bus Shelter set in colour rather than monochrome. These Bins now look out of place in a overarching piece of work that should show differences in similarities. I’ve missed the mark there.

Evaluation
I was disappointed when I found that many of the bins were so similar. Originally I had imagined that whilst they all look the same, their immediate environment would differ. If I were completing the assignment again, I’d spread myself out more; learn the dates of bin collection to capture some overflowing and cast a wider net in terms of the area I shot in.

I took my shots of the bridges on two separate occasions and whilst the natural ambient lighting was the same, my ability to interact with the scenes changed from one outing to another. On the first, I was able to light the bridges with a torch. What I found with my second set was that the roads were too busy to light without causing trouble for drivers. This has lead to some of the shots not quite matching in terms of lighting. I would attempt to capture the second set at a much later time and avoid any traffic.

References
A1 Appleyhead. (2012). [image] Available at: http://www.steelconstruction.info/File:A1_Appleyhead.jpg [Accessed 25 Jan. 2017].

Becher, B. (1965). Gas Tanks 1965–2009. [image] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/bernd-becher-and-hilla-becher-gas-tanks-p81237 [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017].

Becher, B. (1972). Water Towers, 1972-2009. [image] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/bernd-becher-and-hilla-becher-water-towers-p81238 [Accessed 8 Feb. 2017].

Brouws, J. (n.d.). About [online] Jeff Brouws. Available at: http://www.jeffbrouws.com/about/main.html [Accessed 10 Jan. 2017].

Brouws, J. (1992). Twentysix Abandoned Gas Stations. [image] Available at: http://www.jeffbrouws.com/series/images/tags1/TAGS-8.jpg [Accessed 18 Feb. 2017].

Dixon, D. (2012). The Merchant’s Bridge at Castlefield. [image] Available at: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2791028 [Accessed 11 Feb. 2017].

Dusseldorf School of Photography. (n.d.). [online] Tate. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/d/dusseldorf-school-of-photography [Accessed 1 Feb. 2017].

Jeff Brouws Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations. (2016). [online] Landscape Stories. Available at: http://www.landscapestories.net/issue-24/ls_24-040-jeff-brouws?lang=en [Accessed 1 Feb. 2017].

O’Hagan, S. (2014). Lost world: Bernd and Hilla Becher’s legendary industrial photographs. [online] theguardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/sep/03/bernd-and-hilla-becher-cataloguing-the-ominous-sculptural-forms-of-industrial-architecture [Accessed 6 Feb. 2017].

Photographic Typologies: The Study of Types. (2012). [online] Redbubble. Available at: http://blog.redbubble.com/2012/04/photographic-typologies-the-study-of-types/ [Accessed 4 Feb. 2017].

Silverman, J. (2015). ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’ – the mantra of the Instagram era. [online] theguardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/feb/26/pics-or-it-didnt-happen-mantra-instagram-era-facebook-twitter [Accessed 28 Jan. 2017].

Tsiatinis, N. (n.d.). Light trails outside Selfridges at the Birmingham Bullring. [image] Available at: http://www.nickt.co.uk/naturalworld/index.php/2011/09/17/night-time-cityscapes-at-the-birmingham-bullring-and-city-hall/ [Accessed 15 Feb. 2017].

Tyler, S. (2012). Typologies of Mass Consumption. [image] Available at: http://payload36.cargocollective.com/1/6/217485/3028307/Cap%20Final%20Copy_o.jpg [Accessed 14 Feb. 2017].

van Zundert, T. (2015). Hold Your Colour. [image] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/timvz/19660003656/ [Accessed 16 Feb. 2017].

van Zundert, T. (2016). The Canopy Under The Canopy. [image] Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/timvz/25372935714/ [Accessed 13 Feb. 2017].

White, S. (2014). Gallery shot of Becher exhibition. [image] Available at: http://www.wallpaper.com/art/photographers-bernd-and-hilla-bechers-iconic-industrial-scenes-go-on-show-at-sprth-magers-london [Accessed 21 Feb. 2017].

Williamson, K. (2014). Photography and Social Index: Documentation Obsession and Progressive Themes. [online] gnovis. Available at: http://www.gnovisjournal.org/2014/04/17/photography-and-social-index-documentation-obsession-and-progressive-themes/ [Accessed 28 Jan. 2017]

Posted in Part Five: Resolution | Leave a comment

Assignment 5: Singular Shots

Bins

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Bridge Undersides

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Bus Shelters

dsc07801 dsc07807 dsc07812 dsc07816 dsc07820 dsc07823 dsc07825 dsc07827 dsc07831

Posted in Part Five: Resolution | Leave a comment

Assignment 4: Tutor Feedback and Response

Overall Comments
A well written submission. You have engaged with a discussion and shown some arguments. Occasionally well referenced, further development needed in using only academically suitable research, expanding on some points and using examples of contemporary practitioners to show the influence of New Topographics.

Feedback on assignment
Well written from the off. A couple of typos (Adam’s – unclear which one at first) but easy to follow in general. These notes are chronological –

New Topographics becomes influential as a trope, a turning point, in the teaching of histories of photography – at this point its important to note these histories, you should be citing from peer reviewed, academically referenced sources. If the online sources you are engaging with cite these, go direct to them. We need to see Newhall, Scharf, Jeffrey, Clarke, Wells, Bate and Bull being cited as well as (Susan) Bright, Cotton, Campany. Online exhibition linked sources such as sfmoma.org are fine. Blogs are fine too, if they bring something new, if they are researchers and they are being peer scrutinised.

I would like to see the drivers of pictorialism being examined and an examination of the divergence of ‘popular’ landscapes and contemporary art photography landscapes. John Taylor discusses Emerson, he curated a show at NMM a while ago.

Fair synopsis of Steiglitz’s viewpoint, cite his argument.

Whilst ‘a member’ supports your views, a member of an audience in a recorded debate is not enough attribution. You should be able to find this critique in written form as its a commonly held view on Adams.

Use O’Hagan’s 2010 retrospective view as a starting point, seek a contemporary 1975 review, possibly Sontag?

You need a better source than Jan Tumlir of X-Tra for the point you want to make, it needs to be evidenced, for example, you would need a number of contemporary photographers saying, ‘this is the work that made me do ‘x’, ‘y’, ‘z’…’

You jump straight to a quote about the Becher’s work without introducing them. A link needs to be drawn between NT and the Düsseldorf School, parallel this with theory, what’s going on in the world that means the same old imagery no longer suffices?

Good introduction of typology.

Good comparison of two images.

It would be useful to expand on Gohlke’s point about predecessors in other fields – it would help answer question above

It would also be useful to expand upon Deborah Bright’s assertion. NT could be defended if need be.

‘On the other hand, a New Topographic photographer believes that the exhibition has “accrued meaning” as time has gone by and has been recontextualised within art history.’ – which one? Yes, everything does but where is it at now? (Your question)

Discuss, ‘Whilst photography and painting had vied for supremacy of the art world for years they no longer do in the modern day, instead attempting to gain a fair share of the gallery space. (Tumlir, 2010)’

Are their New Topographic principles? Is there a manifesto? What new work fits, what doesn’t? If they were socially aware, why has their ‘influence’ been so subtle? Has it permeated culture? Are the landscapes seen in say a Coen Bros film exhibited second or third hand influence?

Useful to bring your practice into the discussion. It highlights that you need more descriptive passages earlier on about the make-up of NT images, perhaps using an example from each photographer, so that your image demonstrates your point.

What role does the history and culture of the USA play in this debate?

There are a number of good points in this submission that you can build on once referenced correctly.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
Again, good reflective writing indicative of wider reading – this will stand you in good stead.

Suggested reading/viewing

Use blogs as pointers. ASX and others are fine to cite from, always look at the calibre of the contributors, other blogs less so.

Pointers for the next assignment

Keep working academically, your arguments are now becoming increasingly backed up – researching this should have helped.

 

My Response

I’ve got to admit, I was quite disappointed in the feedback. I felt that I hadn’t done particularly badly considering I hadn’t written anything like this before. My learning mentor thought I had done well and that elevated my expectations of what to expect to hear back.

I’ll revisit the assignment and make some changes, but I’m not sure I’m mentally able to do much. It feels as though almost every point I’ve made hasn’t been in enough detail, or to a high enough standard- I don’t think I have it in me to redo the whole thing.

Posted in Part Four: Landscape and identities | Leave a comment

Assignment 3: Tutor Feedback and Response

Overall Comments

A submission that partially fulfilled your brief. Further research on contemporary practitioners and having a consistent line of enquiry would have benefited you greatly.

Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

The compositions here are very good. Your control of light is, as last time, exquisite. I would like to see a greater selection, I want more of this journey. Did you photograph all the spaces in your Google Street View search?

Whilst you have referenced the New Topographics movement I would like to see your reflections on their motivations; why the work looked like it did, how it moved photography along. There is more to be gained than an interest in the same subject matter. Have another look and try to glean more insight into their aims as well as methods. As your work is at night I can’t stress enough that you should be engaging with work by Dan Holdsworth, Edgar Martins and Rut Blees Luxembourg. As its a roadtrip, Paul Graham’s A1 Great North Road and Robert Frank’s The Americans should be looked at. There are many other photographers particularly in the USA worth pursuing after these. I mentioned Lee Friedlander last week, also look at Garry Winogrand, Bill Owens and Chauncey Hare.

We really need to see contact sheets so that we can gain an understanding of your edit.

Well done for reflecting on our discussion about starbursts, however, as a student you need to be finding references, seeking out research that backs up what amounts to decisions based on taste. Its not the case that something is “good” or “bad” or that volume is an indicator of something being less than desirable, what happens is as students of photography we look at the images and read them. Look at the books Photography by David Bate or Stephen Bull for connotation and denotation. These images denote a starburst, they connote an affiliation with other images that employ this effect, the images that employ this effect most are those that we see in amateur photography magazines, competitions, camera clubs etc., we cannot help but associate the effect with where we have previously seen it (and in volume). Similarly this is also where we see light trails. A couple of the images have trails that have enough disruptive information to slow the immediate connotation of the amateur, such as perhaps, 1 and 6. In images 5 and 7 the trails are relatively subtle but it would be interesting to see the locations without any distraction. Image 8 is subtlest and is the most interesting.

Your idea of using the trails to connect the images, and thus the journey, works aesthetically using the thin red line of 3, 5 and 7, an edit of the whole journey like this would be interesting to see. This could perhaps work, there’s a Paul Seawright image taken in Wales that does possibly employs a tail light to good effect. http://www.paulseawright.com/between/

Seawright was on a journey to Merthyr Tydfl.

In your images one of your aims was to reveal detail, can you reflect on whether/how you achieved this?

If the series is chronological, the sky is vital to show the timespan. The sequence looks like a fair progression, though 6 and 7 look like they are in reverse order just from the shading.

You mention anxiety in your writing. I think perhaps that if it is a factor in the planning and making of the work you could start to use photography to try to express your feelings. This is a very hard thing to do but it seems to make sense that if the condition is intrinsic to the work, the work should speak of it. I think that your last assignment hinted towards this. This series seems almost an avoiding tactic with its reliance on technology. There could be something in this “distancing”, but it needs to move past the obvious. A journey also implies something more metaphorical, or psychologically some sort of investigation; something is posited, looked at in a different light (night, inhuman long exposure) and something new is revealed. Again, I fend the vestiges of amateur photography rein me back from trying to see this in your work. I want to get lost in the leaves of the trees and the dark of the forecourts but I am continually distracted by the mundanity of the light trails. Look at the work of Liza Dracup and Susan Derges. Further back look at Samuel Palmer’s paintings of cornfields under moonlight.

Have a look at all of the work you shot and produce an edit without trails, an edit with the single red tail light, and one that is guided by “new discoveries” – something unexpected in each shot.

Take confidence from this journey but remember you need to set yourself challenges that potentially you might fail at, mistakes mean you learn something new. There are again, a number of good points that you can build on here.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

Some good reflective writing.

Suggested reading/viewing
Context

See those above, continued engagement with contemporary and historical photographers will start to erode your default position and push you to experimentation.

Pointers for the next assignment

Keep reading and have a think about how you might use your photography to communicate, and remember you are working academically so arguments are good but they need to be backed up.

 

I was pleasantly surprised by this very positive feedback- I thought I hadn’t done particularly well with this assignment. In addition to the original version of the assignment, I will be doing some additional research into some of the photographers that my tutor has mentioned.

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Ex. 4.1: Critical review proposal

I had to e-mail my tutor with my proposal for the fourth assignment- a critical review of a specific aspect of landscape photography.

Hey Les,

It’s a bit wordy, but the title I’ve come up with is: “A debate about the role of the New Topographic movement in moving away from established landscape traditions.” In particular, I’d like to take a look at how man-altered landscapes made an impact on the genre.

Tim

Hi Tim

Your essay title is fine, I know you’re interested in this area. Aim to draw some relevances from the movement to contemporary practice – including your own.

Les

Posted in Part Four: Landscape and identities | Leave a comment

Ex. 5.6: Context and meaning

I had to make a sketch of how I’d ideally like to see the photographs from my fifth assignment in a gallery space. For me, the ‘white cube’ has always been my ideal palette for art showings. This work would be no different:

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Ideally, I would like my sets (of 6 or 9 prints) to be unframed- perhaps mounted on board? That helps join the sets together; there’s nothing in between them then. I’m still unsure on print size- that’s something I will be thinking about during the work.

Reading

I read John A. Walker’s “Context as a Determinant of Photographic Meaning”. I’ve summarised his key points as follows:

  • Location affects context.
  • Images are re-contextualised when the location is changed.
  • The way that an image is framed affects the way it comes across.
  • The viewer can also be influenced by what an image is juxtaposed against.
  • The emotional resonance of the viewer to the image can be altered depending on how it is circulated or what the intended use is.
  • Depending on their status in society and their relationship with the subject, different viewers can have different responses.
Posted in Part Five: Resolution | Leave a comment