Posted in Assignment 2 ~ A journey, Coursework, Research and Reflection

Tutor Feedback – Assignment Two

I had a great Skype session with my tutor, Les. My assignment was recieved very well and the majority was positive with the emotions and meanings evoked and also the ambiguity of the meanings relying on the viewer to interpret, He described some images such as the man in the smoke as ‘really quite disturbing’ bringing dark connotations into the mix of terrible people, evil lurking in the darkness and the vulnerability of a young woman in the dark woods coming across this man. Les also described the accompanying poem, that I wrote, as having the same value as the photos which I was very pleased about. We discussed how one walk could bring to light such stories. He also liked the fact that the images were all taken on the same day as the light was consistent throughout which reinforced the idea of a journey.

There were several main points we discussed.

Typography

We discussed the effect of typography in a photographic essay, or more the effect of unsuitable fonts. When I added the poem I used a generic font focusing more on the words and the effect of the reverse out writing rather than concentrating on the shapes and the effect the typography offered. Les described it as a viewer, how one would look at the photos, be moved or drawn in, then the poem, reading the words; if the typography is unsuitable then another element takes the viewers attention, the shape of the words, which may be beautiful to study yet takes away the value from the images. I have written a piece of literature and Les said he wanted it like a book, like literature. There shouldn’t be any half way point such as italics to replicate handwriting. If it’s to be handwriting it should be actual handwriting and vice versa.

He showed me examples from his bookcase where the photos had been captioned in his wife’s handwriting compared to one which had a standard comic sans font which drew away from the images.

I will experiment with how the text influences the photos by using a font such as Baskerville and also with my own handwriting. Though I’m not sure how I can use the reverse out with such a method.

Human inclusion

Assignemnt Two Eight
There was a soft stillness And I felt it all around I felt it in my heart, my mind And thrumming through the ground

Les discovered a small figure in the distance in a pale blue shirt who immediately detracted from the images. He said, “Once I’ve noticed him, he’s all I see and I really want to live in this thing, read your words and live in that space.” Though not usually advocated by Les we decided to clone the blue man out as he acted as the punctum, yet not in the manner intended or desired.

The man in the smoke

assignment-two-thirteen.jpg
I passed through a lonely place Where so many would feel fear Yet all I felt was comfort And I felt them all grow near. And as the ashen smoke rose And stained the bright blue sky They mourned their fallen families Those who they had watched die. So many of us may be scared Of walking through the door They may fear the forests But the forests fear us more

Les described the image as ‘disturbing’ and spoke of the dark connoations the image evoked in him. “We know they (people) exist as you are there but it makes it more of a shock that he is looking directly back at you.” In his own work there was such an image of a man looking directly at the camera and it was argued he should remove the image as it detracted’ We had a long discussion about the pros and cons of removing him but the image evoked such feelings that he recommended keeping it. I also felt it was the powerful image in the set as it’s so unexpected this man in the forest and the threat or help he may offer the protagonist and in that respect, the viewer. The answers are dispersed in ambiguity which is where the power of the series lies. Heliked that the photos would generate one response which was swiftly changed by the words so he wasn’t sure if it was a positive journey or something dark.

He also wrote of the final part of the poem before you see the man, the words ‘danger, family, bright, die, scared, fear’ and how they contribute to the shock as you turn the page and see the man staring at you. Almost like a jump scene in a horror movie. Interesting as I likened the winding path to the scene in the Shining where the viewer is taken around the long corners and never ending corridors. ‘implied threat…say you’re not there but it says your name under it, well suddenly there’s a man in the forest and the author is a women, there is an implied threat. But suddenly your words

The exit sign

Exit

Les wondered if the exit sign was too ‘heavy handed’ a little too symbolic to those who haven’t done the research

The Danger sign

Assignment Two - Three
For every corner that I passed Another would surely wind There seemed to be no end of it The labyrinth of the mind

Drawing on our dicussions of typography, was the Danger sign too obvious, did it cut the ambiguity with it’s direct reference to something dangerous instead of it being clouded in mystery?

I will think about the inclusion of these signs though I would need another element that acted as punctum.

Conclusion

Overall it was a great discussion, I feel I have completed the assignment to the best of my ability and now will continue with the next part and research Typography. For the next assignment we are trying a different approach and instead of sending Les the completed assignment I will treat it as though in a physical University where you would go in ever week and work on the imaes. I will send him some photos, outline some ideas and then discuss that in depth.

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Posted in Assignment 2 ~ A journey, Coursework

Assignment Two Written Work

Links for Assignment Two

Assignment Two Photos 

Research    Suicide Forest

 

Initially, I photographed the onomatopoeia of the river and an abandoned road, yet the images were lacking something. I took a break to contemplate and found myself in the woods. In Assignment One I focused on the derivatives of fear with the trees yet now I sought the comfort of the trees. I realised what was missing from the first drafts of Assignment Two. A story. Emotion. I didn’t want to focus on a purely physical journey, I wanted to evade the glib in photography. It needed psychology and emotion…and trees.

I frequently recall my tutors comments from our first phone call, when discussing fear he said “We come from forests – that is the place where we store our fears,”  Following on from Assignment One he suggested I studied Aokigahara, the Suicide Forest in Japan, where hundreds kill themselves each year. Described as a dark place overwhelmed with demons and death, the forest was a place of fear but I saw it as a place of comfort where you could lose yourself and hide from the outside world. How a place could be seen as fearful to some but a comfort to others inspired this assignment. 

At first evocative of the Suicide Forest I was going to attach signs to the trees with messages ‘leave your pain behind,’ ‘you are safe now’ however I felt the story was stronger, told through a poem. I may return to this in a later assignment. 

During the shoot every corner offered another corner. I was intrigued. I was Theseus in the labyrinth, Hansel and Gretel in the dark woods. The only think known was mystery. In my photos, each corner twists out of sight requiring the viewer to turn the page in order to see what is around it. The turning of the page is the action of walking, or flaneurism. I chose to present the images in photobook to involve the viewer and intensify the mystery. A paper version of Google street view almost. The left side depicts the protagonist’s story in the form of my poem. On the right, the photos evoke the story of the trees and their plight. Yet both stories can be told in both ways. 

It captures a feeling of psychogeography, I was unsure where I was headed, so too is the viewer. It is a collaboration, the images are the environment which inspires the flaneur to undertake the journey.   I wanted the images to look dark and capture the feeling of shafts of light catching important elements so worked in Photoshop using the paint tool, in that sense my art did come into it. 

In a first draft I featured only paths, no matter how many pages you turned you reached another corner and another until the conclusion of the fire. However, this was slightly too repetitive and lacked visual interest. I broke up the path with elements revealing what is around each corner, reminiscent of a mystery game they are the clues, elements I came across on the trail. Severed trees. Weapons. How that clue relates to the images is created in the imagination of the viewer. They are a full stop allowing the viewer freedom to interpret. 

The story is clear in my mind but can be interpreted differently by each individual. Is the protagonist going into the wood to end her life, is she seeking answers? Are the images of weapons representative of her pain, her actions or of the trees suffering? In my mind, two stories are portrayed. 

The forest as a means of connection to another world is something that has his roots in many cultures. The Fang people of Cameroon believe trees and forest to be a force which they can communicate with God whilst the Maori of New Zealand believe that the trees are real just like human beings and have their own spirit. 

The story of the trees plight was not planned. It was while I was on the path shooting for the assignment that I started capturing images of the ‘clues’ as well as the wood. As I turned the corner I was faced with a cloud of acrid blue smoke and saw the trees burning. I stood in awe and realisation. I had gone on a journey but the trees had taken me on their own journey and told me their story of the wood. 

The assignments so far have been an exploration into my relationship with trees, how they were a childhood fear with their witches fingers, then a place of safety which I feel now, a place of magic, the trees themselves, mystical beings. The forest calls to me in a way I can’t quite put into words.

Contextualisation

Richard Longs text works while minimalistic were surprisingly illustrative, the Cloudless day on a blue background conjured such images. For that reason I used a black background with reverse out writing to create the feeling of being inside a dark wood. I discussed earlier about blending photography and art but decided to use poetry and photography. Nadav Kander referenced his photos with the stanza from TS Elliot’s poem ‘The Wasteland’ ‘I will show you fear in a handful of Dust’ TS Elliot, to document the wasteland of places left behind after a war. Those ten words encapsulated his work and I was inspired to create a narration in poem form. The feeing of being guided by the trees was partly inspired by Ellie Davis’s work. Her images vary between those of a natural setting to others were she has added mystical elements such as wool draped through the trees forming magical pathways or the row of ferns snaking through the woods into the distance and round the corner. There is that primal urge to follow the ferns even though the destination is as a concealed in the unknown as much as the forest around us. I wanted to create such a feeling yet I used the mystery of what is around the corner of the path to generate this emotion.

Posted in Assignment 2 ~ A journey, Coursework

Assignment Two – Final Photos

Links for Assignment Two

Assignment Two Written

Research    Suicide Forest

I keep re writing the process for Assignment Two, how I choose the images, what happened on the shoot but I realised that it was important to feature the assignment here without the words. I want the viewer to take their own meaning from the images without being swayed by any of my writing. Of course, I shall post the written work after this.

I’d appreciate any feedback. Thank you.

Here you can see the images in the form of a PhotoBook (medium resolution)

http://www.photobox.co.uk/creation/5010980974

 

Walk with us
Book Cover – Come Walk with Us
Assignment Two - One_edited-1
INSIDE COVER Come walk with us they whispered. Leave that dark place in your mind. Come walk with us they beckoned and leave the world behind

 

ASSIGNMENT IMAGES

Assignment Two - Two
They took me on a journey Winding round and round Each corner whispered mystery But answers were not found
Assignment Two - Three
For every corner that I passed Another would surely wind There seemed to be no end of it The labyrinth of the mind
Assignment Two - Four_edited-1
My breathing came in sudden gasps I wondered could they hear me They held out hands and embraced me When my body grew too weary
Assignment Two - Five
I welcomed their open arms Their brambles and the creepers For every step they guided me As I walked deeper and deeper
Assignment Two - Six
In my mind there was no middle, Just a beginning and an end I’d started one and now just needed To get round the next bend
Assignment Two - Seven
Dark objects lay across the path To heal or to harm? So many feared this wild place Though I felt no alarm
Assignemnt Two Eight
There was a soft stillness And I felt it all around I felt it in my heart, my mind And thrumming through the ground
Assignment Two - Nine
They lined the path like soilders Awaiting their unkown plight They held their arms out to me And blocked me on all sides
Assignment Two - Ten
For their purpose all along Was to keep me on the trail
Assignment Two - Eleven
Where any one of us
Assignment Two - Twelve
Could pass through the leafy veil
Assignment Two - Thirteen
I passed through a lonely place Where so many would feel fear Yet all I felt was comfort And I felt them all grow near. And as the ashen smoke rose And stained the bright blue sky They mourned their fallen families Those who they had watched die. So many of us may be scared Of walking through the door They may fear the forests But the forests fear us more

Back Cover

Exit

 

 

Posted in Assignment 2 - Preparation, Assignment 2 ~ A journey, Coursework, Research and Reflection

Assignment Two – Plan B – The Trees

I know what’s been missing from my Assignment.  All this time I have jumped from one idea to another, the reflections in the water, the path of Moss Road but that little cog of inspiration hasn’t slotted into place. And until it does I never stop searching. As I stood in the wild I felt the comfort of the trees, I needed the trees. My exploration of trees was not to stop at Assignment One, it was to become the roots of all of the assignments, guiding me.  It was then I realised what had been missing. My assignment needed a story, something dark, something different that I always include. It needed psychology and emotion. That was what it was missing.

Sometimes to find the path you’ve been searching for, you have to wander down many, right to the end if necessary before realising that the destination is not the one you had planned. And as with this assignment and the last one I have explored many ideas, wound down many roads before arriving on the forest path that I find myself on now.

Researching the Edgelands I felt excited, inspired and motivated. However, when I arrived there, they were beautiful and wild but I realised I was missing something. Trees. It was in that moment that I realised what trees mean to me. They are a safe harbour, they are friendly giants, I feel at home among them. I reflected on my thoughts during this unit, of trees and how they may be seen as a place of danger but are actually a place of safety, I thought of what the trees meant to those who took a different path in the suicide forest and the passage I wrote below 

 I often return to my tutors comments on our first skype call, “We come from forests – that is the place where we store our fears”  It is the place where we store our fears yet it I also feel that the forest calls to them, the fear is overidden, they return to nature, from where they’ve come, perhaps there is a feeling of safety, the trees like comforting arms there to take away their pain, to shield them from their suffering and that of the outside world. Whilst the forest may bring others fear, the way the branches close in on each other blocking out the outside world, that is in a way it’s appeal, it is a place where you can hide, a place of escape, it is like the journey undertaken by the souls of the departed in Greek Mythology. Instead of the winding river Styx, they tread the path of the forest.  The forest is not a scary place, it is named Mother Earth for a reason and it provides the comfort they need, whether it’s to send them back to their lives or for them to start a new journey in a new layer of the world.”

I felt that the trees were saying something different. I want to create images of a journey (not of the suicide forest, purely, seeking the trees as comfort)  What if the trees were trying to help, saying  ‘Why do you fear, leave your fear behind, come escape the light, the light is isolation but there is comfort in the dark, you’re alone in the light, we can hold you, come deeper, we are friends. Now you are safe. I can see with every image the trees getting darker, closer together as you go deeper, it’s a journey both physical and psychological. Each tree would have a sign on it saying the words.’

With these ideas flashing in my mind I recorded a quick audio note to clarify my ideas with a rapidly drawn mind map. When my mind is wandering, sketching down ideas and pictures leads me to clarity.  Everything came together as I drew. I could see the assignment images so clearly in my mind.

2017_09_05 10-11-53

 

 

Questions to ask myself.

I wonder what the signs on the tree should look like. Is pure white too stark, not natural? Do the words need to be physically in the photo or manipulated in later. I can see it as a video with music. The trees are not witches fingers. They are comforting arms of mother earth and they hear you. They are there for you. Why is the light always positive and the dark negative? I think there is comfort in the darkness. I wrote about my thoughts earlier in my learning log when I was looking at Jesse Alexander, the course writers sublime cave images. I will scan them and include them in the next blog posts. I feel excited for this. This is what I’ve been searching for.

Posted in Assignment 2 ~ A journey, Coursework, Research and Reflection

Wild Lane – Contextualisation

Over the past week I have explored two paths for Assignment Two, I still haven’t come to a conclusion so the following information may be just that, information and not amount to an Assignment but I have included it, and all my research to show the journey my own mind has taken. 

When given the option, main road or country road, I always choose country. There’s something exciting and invigorating about driving down those twisting lanes, like finding your way along a ball of tangled string. Summer; the hedgerows are alive with colour and chirping, sparrows keep pace with the car and lapwings tumble like haphazard paper aeroplanes above fields of brilliant yellow oil seed rape. Winter; and those roads of such freedom become a danger, coating the surface with a deadly glittering layer of ice, the trees are all but bare, sparrows now fluff themselves up to preserve any heat and the fields are a haze of frost speckled green.

These are the images in my mind and connotations of the countryside. And I feel the countryside touches shoulders with the Edgelands, competing and at the same time living in harmony with the man made elements, just as I discussed in an earlier post

Through Babi Kougemitros photos, he challenges the perception of landscapes and places and asks the time old question of what makes somewhere beautiful, what defines that it is ugly? People class the Edgelands as ‘aesthetically unworthy’ yet these places, where man may be prominent, in the shape of water towers or radar station, nature is omnipresent, nature truly reins free and that to me is beautiful. How the world should be, with human nature respecting nature and seeing that we may be intelligent but truly nature is the master of all.

Michael Simmons and Paul Farley named the Edgelands as England’s True Wilderness and this is especially striking and true of the Moss Lane where nature is now free to rule.

Exploring Psychogeography I came across a blog https://fifepsychogeography.com written by Murdo Easonand and was taken by the article Heron House, documenting Murdo Eason’s wanderings of Fife, captured brilliantly through photography and prose. Murdo doesn’t capture images of the landscape, as in mirror images of his surroundings, but instead he captures the textures, the feelings, the ‘dripping lava’ of the redwood trees, the stillness of the area; I love how he wrote of the unseeing eyes watching every step, this is a place of nature, an almost mystical realm, “We are the strangers and eavesdroppers here and can sense that our presence has disturbed some fragile equilibrium.” It inspires me more to focus on the ‘onomatopoeia’ of images as in my first draft of the assignment. Or more the spiritual, personification of the landscape seeped with myth and inspiring legends.

My studies into abstract photography will provide a strong foundation. I also want to create images motivated by my current situation. Walking down the abandoned Wild Road I’m excited, I feel a sense of expectancy and nerves, the eyes that Murdo writes about being followed by ring very true, especially in such empty quiet places. I wonder what I will see. I want the images to be instinctive and true of my journey and not merely documentation or planned. I also want keep with the studies of psychoanalysis, the fear landscape. The first Assignment focused on a landscape that inspired fire and das Unheimliche, this second assignment is leading me to explore how a place of fear can be a place of peace or isolation…a place of security.

Yet the more I focus on the isolation of the landscape the more I am pulled back to the trees, just as I was with Assignment One, it feels to me the whole course will be an exploration into my love of trees, at first how they were a childhood fear with their witches fingers, then a place of safety which I feel now, a place of magic, the trees themselves, mystical beings. The forest calls to me in a way I can’t quite put into words.

 

 

Posted in Assignment 2 ~ A journey, Coursework

PLAN A – Wild Lane – Assignment Two research

Over the past week I have explored two paths for Assignment Two, I still haven’t come to a conclusion so the following information may be just that, information and not amount to an Assignment but I have included it, and all my research to show the journey my own mind has taken. 

I’ve never felt quite settled on the photos of the river I took for Assignment Two, I felt I was somehow playing it safe, though it was different and interesting, I didn’t feel it was right for Assignment Two. It was while I was reading Edgelands and doing some research that I felt a spark inside of me, inspiring me to investigate the Edgelands where I live.

When we first moved here I was vaguely aware of a road called the Moss, I knew it was dangerous, had claimed many lives and was so eroded that it sloped like a hazardous bob sleigh. When we first drove over it I was captured by fear as we jolted along it, dread of what could happen coupled with excitment that we were going down such a notorious road.

Due to the terrible state of the road it came to the point where something had to be done. The council refused to pay any money and so it has been left to nature and quite aptly reinforcing it’s other name of Wild lane.

It is an Edgeland, it captures the mind with fear and ghost stories and I decided was the perfect place to set my Assignment. Since it’s been closed I naturally haven’t visited and haven’t given much thought to it, the giant orange barrier is enough of a full stop for me. But it is accessible to pedestrians. The orange warning barrier would be the perfect place to start, tying in with my thoughts earlier on barriers, and the urge to cross them or at least see what is beyond. I studied the area on a A-Z atlas which started to fill in gaps of my cartographical knowledge; new words, places permeated into my mind sparking the little fire in my stomach into a burning flame. Whilst the surroundings on the map were yellow and pink, Lytham Moss remained white, it was the true Edgelands, the white signified an empty place and that inspired me more than ever, it was a calling, a burning desire to explore this area an urge to give it colour in my own mind. Here was a place nearly on my backdoor and I didn’t even know the names. Midgeland road, Spen Dyke, Clay Pits and Brick works. The moss Sluice, the Radar Station. I may have been in that area but looking at the map, it may have well been a far off land.

As I read the places aloud my Dad chipped in with memories of his childhood illustrating the place further and turning unknown places to ones dappled with humour, “There’s a clay pit on Annas Road,” I said. “Oh yes,” Dad said with a smile, “I went down there and it was all filled up with water, I tickled a few carp to put in my fish tank.”

Mum was absolutely horrified, “You got your carp from there! The ones we looked after, they were from a clay pit!”

“No, when I was a boy.” Which was met by a further, “You went down there on your own!”

The place where Dad went hurtling down the road in his go kart or the ditches so deep you could catch eels, they all inspired me even further to visit this place from my Dad’s childhood. Inspired by the book Edgelands, I want to create my own chapter to accompany the assignment (how outlandish if I didn’t even include photos though I daren’t do that’  and write in a flowing way describing the area and the memories of my Dad mixed with my own new observations.

Posted in Assignment 2 ~ A journey, Coursework, Research and Reflection

Assignment Two – Shoot

Assignment Two Brief, Capture 12 images that convey the idea of a journey.

I returned to Martin Mere nature reserve and rejoined my bird friends on the sedantry boat trip through the reeds. Despite the amount of people there it was so peaceful, a world away from the other side of the reeds and I found myself wishing we could just park up the boat to relax, to listen to the silence around me with just the company of the rustling reeds and the quacking ducks cutting through the water beside my trailing fingers.

Here are the thumbnails of the images I took that day. At the time I had these three ideas for the Assignment in mind

1 – Show the Onomatopoeia of the river. The senses through the use of an 85mm lens.

2 – Include close up images of the birds or their feathers which were blowing around the place as a Typology study.

3 – Macro images of the water to show the journey

 

My assignment had started with the journey of the boat trip through the reeds, then I’d honed it down to the onamatopoeia of the river, the mindfulness and as I reached the water I had a choice, focus on all the sounds and senses of the river, or hone the assignment done to the smallest point, showing the journey of the river, through the water itself.

Starting with the surprisingly sandy bank and the shallow water the images take you on a journey into dark waters which capture the reflection of the trees above, the beatiful pattern like melted chocolate digestives, the mysterious patterns in the swirling water caught by the engine and finally reaching the edge again where the flowers catch sight of themselves in the marbled waters.

I feel tempted to add in close up images of the birds feathers, especially the Hawaiian goose which came and sat right by me, but last time I included too many pathways in my images so this time I’m keeping it tight.

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 12.21.04

I thought of what my tutor said, if you were in a University you’d pin a set of images on the wall and change or shift the ideas over the weeks so below are

1 – All of the shortlisted images

 

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2- Close ups of the river

 

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3- Other sets

 

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It’s a good way to remove what doesn’t quite work.

Now I see that if I focus on the close ups of the water then I can’t include the birds wings or the leaves of the trees. But if I disregard the water then are the images left strong enough, or unique enough to convey the idea of a journey.

 

 

Whilst I like the above images I feel the water is different. It isn’t just a mirror image. Does it make the viewer think?