Posted in 20 Personal identities and multiculturalism, Coursework

Tears and Ashes – A video in response to Dark days

The sheep looks ‘benign, at peace.” – John Ardwell Dark Days

Whilst I am supposed to look at John Adwell’s Dark Days the horrific events of the foot and mouth disease are just too disturbing to look at. Despite being an animal lover after living through the epidemic in Scotland I have no intention to even look at it nor would many I imagine.  I suppose that’s why the course included such an emotional image for those who wouldn’t go and look. Whenever I see that beautiful sheep, sleeping in a carnage of its dead family, looking peaceful and asleep, fat tears splash down on the picture. The photo is lost in a haze of tears. And that is the only way I will ever view such pictures, through eyes swollen with tears.

Therefore I did not click on the link.

Instead, I created a project of my own. I filmed myself writing this blog entry and wondered what to do with the video of me crying. To cry is a very soul-baring thing to do when you just can’t hold back the pain inside any longer. It was such an emotional video to create and I cry every time I watch it. Then I recorded my own account and played it over the video which I used free stock video from https://videos.pexels.com and some of my own to create a double exposure of fire and farm animals across my own face.

I’d appreciate any feedback. This is the first time I’ve used double exposure in a video. I edited it to create a high key effect, I feel it gives it an ethereal beauty, pure and innocent against the fire and death.

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I’ve seen that photo of the sheep multiple times while flicking through the course book. The first time I didn’t know what it was about and looked closer trying to see what was in the picture before recoiling as I saw both the dead sheep and the caption. Time and time again while flicking through the course I would see it and recoil. After not having seen it for several months and I approached that dreaded page I looked at the sheep and I’d seen it so many times it felt like a friend. I can’t describe the emotion it gives me when I see such an image. I wanted to create a project to show the trauma of such images so I recorded myself writing this post.

The foot and mouth disease is especially prevalent in my own memory as only a few months after we moved to Scotland the endemic began. I am so grateful that I was a child at the time so I have no strong recollection of it. All I remember is seeing occasional hazes of smoke staining the sky. Disinfecting our shoes on a countryside walk in the buckets left by every cattle grid and close fence. I was only eight, I knew vaguely of what was going on but the true horror was not known until I was much older. My strongest memory is of driving in the car playing in the back with my sister and noticing an old country track to a farm a heap of objects with smoke rising. It was only enough to trigger some curiosity but Mum’s strangled cries of, “Don’t look!” was enough to instil a sense of fear of what the objects were. “Why? Why what is it?” A typical child, I turned around wondering what it was but we were out of sight with Mum’s voice of “Girls don’t look, please don’t look,” echoing in my ears. Whilst some memories fade, this was one that will be in my mind forever.

I only need to ask my parents about that time and I see a white sheet of horror pass across their faces. My family lived through that horrific time but it is they who remember it and I can see how it’s haunted them.

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Posted in 20 Personal identities and multiculturalism, Coursework

Project – Personal Identities and Multiculturalism

I am not going to talk about racism here because I feel nervous even writing the word ‘black person’ is that politically correct still? As far as I am concerned everyone is a possible friend until they show otherwise. But the course said to keep writing in the learning log to improve the essay for Assignment Four so I will share my own experience on racism.

When we lived in Scotland I was a child therefore, my memories are of the stunning landscape, the places to build shelters, having picnics by the otter pool and chatting amicably to everyone. Yet as I grew up I learnt about the racism between the Scottish and the English. An older boy at school asked my little sister who was seven, “Are you English?” When she said yes he punched her. In the stomach. That was when I realised the Scottish bore a grudge and hated the English. Luckily we didn’t meet such people. Though when I was twenty I saw a tablecloth for sale mocking the English and in another shop another mocking book about the English. I felt frustrated about this, why blame us for something that our generation didn’t even do. I don’t look at Germans and think of the evil of the war. No, because they didn’t do that. Their forebearers did One of my best friends is German. I have another wonderful friend, an honorary Auntie in America. She loves visiting places and sometimes the war of USA and England comes up but we only look at it from a historical point of view because we both know it wasn’t either of us. It was our forebearers.

Indeed I was so annoyed in the bookshop when no-one was looking and whenever I saw that book hating the English I turned the book around to face the wall. After that, I felt very slightly uncomfortable in Scotland with our clear English accents ringing out in the Scottish town. The worst moment was going for lunch in a very Scottish pub and being stared at intently. On one occasion I  feigned a Scottish accent to eradicate the discomfort. This soon passed though as I realised the majority bore no such judgement and I could go back to loving my time in Scotland with the so many wonderful friends and neighbours I’d made there.

We lived in a small Scottish town at one point (which was where Amber was punched) Our house overlooked the loch where I once saw an otter. When I visited our neighbours almost every day we would arrive beaming faces. At Leah’s we would listen to her wonderful stories of the countryside, admire her embroidery and her huge thimble collection. Then we’d play across the road on Helen’s piano, sit chatting with a cup of tea and biscuits. My point is there were a mix of people in that village, some were racist but the kind people who have such a special place in my heart outnumbered them if not by number then by their friendship, kindness and love.

Going back to the views of ethnic minorities in the countryside, though racism seems prevalent, I wonder if it really is just a small minority that is racist and the rest garnered by events of the news and I can’t remember the word, but when one member of the crowd (or on Facebook) writes an angry statement and everyone is fuelled by the same anger or hatred).

Racism is quite simply put, ridiculous and childish and those who participate in it are still like children fighting in the playground who need to grow up. The world would be much happier if they did that.

 

Posted in Coursework

Exercise 4.2: The British landscape during World War II

Exercise 4.2: The British landscape during World War II Read the short extract from ‘Landscape for Everyone’, published in John Taylor (1994) A Dream of England: Landscape, Photography and the Tourist’s Imagination (see ‘Online learning materials and student-led research’ at the start of this course guide). Summarise the key points in your learning log, along with any other observations or reflections.

I found this article a little confusing, not due to the subject matter, it was the first article I could read through in one sitting, but the way it was structured in regards to the dates. In my mind, I was creating a timeline of the all the events and changes mentioned then realised it was hopping back and forth to the start of the war and the end of the war. With this in mind I am going to write the points of the article but in a chronological order which I feel would have been more effective.

 

I did thoroughly enjoy the article, I never realised that the countryside was such a beacon of hope in the darkest of times. If only we could still see the countryside as such a beacon in the face of the housing crisis and the fight to build on green belt. To turn the UK into a concrete island choked by fumes and people.

 


The article explores the identity of the UK and how it shifted and changed with the rise of the Second World War. The UK was a place of freedom and equity, of peace and solitude and the countryside, embodied and symbolised everything they were fighting for. The country was idealised as a place to protect, something that was the very essence of Great Britain. We were fighting the war, and with it we were fighting to save the countryside and symbolised by it, our freedom and identity.

Before the war, the countryside was a place of leisure, of walking, it was rendered ‘ordinary’ but with the rise of outdoor acitivites and the health benefits people flocked across the country and all too soon a different war was taking place, ironically, the fight to save the countryside. The more people who accumulated there, the more the countryside was eroding away, like a miniature garden trampled under the feet of a mob. The threat of the countryside was all too real, the mass of people, the proposed buildings for leisure would all lead to losing the peaceful and untouched land. The countryside was something to be possessed and shaped to the images in the people’s minds.

World War two arose like an ugly black ink blot on a piece of pristine paper to obscure, destroy and dominate. The war of the countryside seemed redundant and miniscule in the fight.  Editors and photographers issued images of the war, the aftermath of bombs and the carnage happening over seas and on the doorsteps.

A new fight began, the fight to save the countryside which was reinforced in the C. Henry Warren’s book “England is a village’ where he stated, “England’s might is still her fields and villages, and though the whole weight of mechanized armies roll over them to crush them, in the end they will triumph.” The countryside was personified and this moved the nation; before it had been something that was a place of leisure but was failed to be significant or prevalent in the minds of the nation. Under the overwhelming shadow of Nazi Germany however- and the war which would puncture and devastate UK (and in turn attempt to crush their identity) the countryside , their countryside was in danger and they were going to save it and with it save the image of Britain.

The countryside became a personfication of the people. They were fighting to save the country, they were fighting to save themselves. Somehow by fighting to preserve the country and the identity they were drawing the every present threat and fear of their own safety and projecting it onto something they could strive to protect. Just as following trauma introducing a pet into a person’s lives give them something to protect, thus hiding away from the trauma. The nation could face the issue through a dream like vision, evade the truth yet come to terms with it at the same time and do something about it.

It is true that we only appreciate something (or realise what something means) until it’s gone or there’s the possibilty we will lose it. Like a child that doesn’t want a toy until another child has it or it will be taken away. The war threatened the English way of life.

Much as in the way William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ the boys stranded on the island fought to protect the conch shell which represented the fragile construction of life and civilisation, the UK concealed the countryside under a mask of concrete blocks and blackouts to conceal it from the enemy and outsiders. Yet with it it was also concealed from the minds of the nation and with it the image of the idyllic life they were fighting to save, dwindled, coupled with the images of battles of the front line. Just as the way a face or the sound of a voice may fade with absence no matter how hard you fight to preserve the memory. In such a situation we need only pull out an old photo album or listen to a recording to bring the memory rushing back. And so it was in the form of the artists that rose up with images depicting the idylic countryside, freedom of choice and solitute contrasted with the iron hand of Nazi Germany, children betraying their parents to the police and the orderly military processions. Alongside the positive images came photos of the war on the coast, holiday resorts deoid of life, mangled through barbed wire. It was like their child being hurt! The idea of the countryside was fresher and brighter than ever in the mind of the nation and with it all differences of the UK civillians were pushed away, the country united fired on by their vision of the nation and the identity they would save! Which they did save and is treasured today.

Following the victory and as life resumed, whilst the idea of the countryside was still strong, for picture editors they needed something more than beautiful images of the countryside, it wasn’t a strong enough seller. In an ingenius choice, images of the Lake District were given a war angle, stunning landscapes were coupled with evacuee children and their reaction at the beauty. The befuddled and overwhelmed expressions of the children highlighted the change the war had brought and with it the positive connotations. “If viewers had any sense of England gone wrong, the appeal and the picture showed England put to right.” “a reminder of what the war was supposed to save”  – A Dream of England John Taylor.

Afterword –

Interestingly this ideal lives in the hearts and the minds of the people such as the volley of protests today against zip wires being strewn across Thilmere in the Lake Disctrict which would shatter the peace and ideal of a country which we fought to save. The UK is still at war yet the war is to protect the countryside we fought so hard to fight for.

Posted in Assignment 4 ~ Critical Review, Coursework

Critical Review Proposal

I’m still waiting to hear back from my tutor so can’t start this exercise until I’ve discussed my idea. Initially, I had been going to discuss Susan Sontag’s theory on Plato’s Cave in regards to photography yet reading the brief again I saw that this has to contextualise with what I have already studied or am planning to.

Throughout Landscape one element has shown up in my Assignment which is typography. In Assignment Two I included a poem with my assignment ‘Come Walk with Us’  On Skype reviewing the assignment my tutor discussed in depth the effect of using writing in photographic work. I hadn’t given it too much thought before this, I’d experimented with a few fonts and the colour of the background yet that had been the extent. Following this Assignment Three became focused on typography, I researched many typography artists and discovered my own love of using my own handwriting in my work something that will continue. Typography seems to have crept upon me and embedded itself in my heart and my work which will be reflected throughout the next assignments and I hope future modules. Therefore it seems the suitable topic to discover and explore with my critical review.

However, typography is too broad a topic. I need to whittle it down to something more specific yet at the moment I’m unsure. I’ll do some reading this week and by the time I discuss it with my tutor I’m sure I will have found an answer. I feel it should be analysing the effect typography has with photos, whether two elements can harmoniously blend. Or sometimes I look at a photo and trying to find a meaning feels like trying to solve a Rubix cube. Eventually, you just move on and look at something else. Yet with a caption your interpretation of the image instantly changes…perhaps I can bring Plato’s’ Cave into play here, does a caption show the photographers meaning and foregoes the viewers all-important interpretation.

I briefly explored this through Willie Doherty’s works writing the following here and below. I’d appreciate any thoughts.

“That is where I feel photography essays are made up of two important elements, possibly three if typography is a feature. One, the photo, two, the caption and three, the typography. Like two cogs, each is redundant without the other. The caption can still tell a story but the photo is needed to provide the emotion, or the double meanings, the story between the lines. Yet as I write this I feel constricted, two paths appear, do you need the caption or do we like to create our own stories? On one hand, with the caption, we are offered some more insight, a clue in a crime scene and we can make of it what we will. I read a review of Willie Doherty’s work and realised it was about the conflict of Ireland. Exploring the images is like being at a crime scene and finding several clues which will, in turn, lead you to deeper revelations.

Without the historical knowledge of the bombings of the bridge (of Doherty’s work), the viewer may interpret the image with their own imagery. They may relate the running to a situation in their own lives, running away from pain or fear…or running to a new future. The figure runs endlessly trapped in an infinite loop, someone who felt trapped in their lives would transpose their body into that of the figure so they were watching their own story playing out. Their feelings towards it may have nothing to do with the bombing of the bridge and the story Doherty is telling.

“Historically the only means of traversing the city’s two sides, the bridge was frequently bombed as a result of its strategic significance. A deceptively simple set-up, the camera catches the figure from the front as well as from the back in this double projection; even a cursory understanding of the site complicates the narrative”

Yet which is the strongest? Without the caption, a photo can seem like staring through the window into someone else’s lives. The window becomes evocative of a dolls house, you see the people, you see their characters and their surroundings and you create your own truths and stories out of that. Yet we can never know for sure whether the stories we are telling are the truth and that is where the beauty is, in the ambiguous. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, sometimes the power of the photo comes from our own understanding. A piece of paper with the starting sentence which we then take as our own. The viewer is as much responsible for the final destination in the mind as the photographer.

This reminds me of Bergin’s work which I wrote about earlier here, he was asked to create the series for UK76 yet added his own words thus changing the whole meaning of the piece, thus becoming a completely new creation. Without those captions how would they have been interpreted? There would have been no double meaning as we are only shown one image. Does that mean to have a double meaning there must be two layers to the image, a caption (pushing the meaning gleaned from the image in a new direction) and the photo itself?

This is something to be included in Assignment Four, writing a critical essay on a subject of which I’ve chosen Photography and Plato’s Cave, how the viewer’s interpretation will always be different to that of the photographer.

Posted in Coursework, Part four ~ Landscape and identities, Personal Projects, Research and Reflection

Starting Part Four

I was so wrapped up in Snippets that I realised I worked for twenty hours over the weekend. Needless to say, all I could think about was the assignment my studies, and to sit down and read something normal made me feel empty. (I always seem to go to the extreme of what I do) Luckily I realised this wasn’t good for my health as I was so frazzled and exhausted by the end of the day I could barely walk. At least I finally completed my assignment, but then I couldn’t study for several days after. Little and often should be my mantra.

But the reason I mention that is because my frazzled brain generated an interesting dream that I felt I should try and create somehow. I was on a storm-wracked beach and in my typical dream fashion my breathing was very tight (meaning I couldn’t breathe very well in life, thanks for sleeping on my bed again Skye) and I found it hard to move. My feet become stuck in the sand and to make the nightmare complete the raging sea rushed past me. In seconds I was stuck on all fours and the water was up to my neck, I was trying to cry out. Mum came to my rescue and I was freed of the water and as I was I saw that the water was receding and all these jewels and necklaces had been left behind of people who had been taken by the water. There were so many and in my head I thought I could hear the words of the people who were left behind. Their last thoughts. In my mind (despite my near death experience) I decided to do an assignment about it. I took photos of them resting in the pools of water on the beach and then wrote (the way I did in Snippets) the thoughts or imagined lives of people.

When I woke up I wondered how I could incorporate this into an assignment or a personal project. Whilst I’d be lucky to find so many jewels on a beach I was certain I was certain I’d find litter and other things brought in by the water and left by the people. Perhaps I can write their stories or imagined stories in the pools of water by the objects.

Suddenly I find that there are only three assignments left, one for the critical essay, two the self-directed and three the transitions. That means this idea has no place in the assignment but I would still like to work on it as a personal project. For the self-directed Assignment, I want to do a murder mystery of the landscape. I may lay it out like a game of Cluedo or my own game with photos of the evidence. When I say murder mystery of the landscape I don’t mean a human’s death but literally an element of the landscape that has been killed in some way. I had this idea from the moment I was to embark on the Landscape course and I’m excited to see what I can produce.

I was reading about Assignment Four this morning and thinking of my subject for the critical essay. At first I was going to focus on Plato’s Cave but it said,

  • Your critical review must relate to your current practice or proposed future bodies of work. This will help you to contextualise your practical work.

So now I’m wondering about exploring the use of text and captions in landscape work especially as the past two assignments have focused on words.

Posted in Assignment 3 ~ Spaces to places, Coursework

Assignment Three – Written Work and Photos

I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else – Pablo Picasso

Assignment Three has shown to me that though we may start with a plan and an idea of the result and meaning we want to convey the more you work at a project the more it has the ability to surprise you as different paths are opened up and a whole new meaning arises. I thought I was capturing people’s conversations to show an insight of the area yet what happened was showing a picture of the modern day, how much we miss, how little we talk to those we don’t know and the frantic rush of busy life which causes us to stamp over the beauty and not know because we haven’t seen it to begin with.

I wanted to create a video and wrote a song to go alongside it. I feel the pace of the keys echoes the people walking by. Please let me know what you think.

A PDF of the writen work –

Assignment Three-7

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Slideshow of the final photos.

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Posted in Assignment 3 ~ Spaces to places, Coursework, Research and Reflection

Assignment Three – handwriting

Thoughts –  The font for Assignment Three seemed sterile, it wasn’t connecting with me. There is no emotional connection, the assignment is all about people but it is too detached, drawn away from the action like mechanical figure walking on with not much emotion. Some fonts had a pleasing effect but didn’t offer the emotion I needed. I recalled my research of the project ‘Falling Sickness’ which used handwritten notes from sufferers. Also, my future plans to amend Assignment Two will be to write the poem by hand.

Snippets on a Sunny Day

With that in mind I used my apple pencil on the Ipad with the app Procreate I wrote down the Snippets by hand. Instantly I knew I didn’t need to try any more fonts. These words transformed,  they captured the emotional connection on a personal level that I was seeking. It also reflected how I captured the Snippets in the first place, scribbling them on a scrap piece of paper.

Snippets - Handwritten - ChloeHalstead

With the written work completed now I just need to write all the Snippets by hand on the photos. To continue with the journalism mode I captured the images on my iPhone as it was always on hand when I unexpectedly visited the beach.