Posted in 10 Land art, Assignment 6 ~ Transitions, Coursework

Exercise 2.5: Text in art

In a similar manner to Richard Long’s ‘textworks’ (see http://www.richardlong.org), write down 12 – 24 brief observations during a short walk or journey by some means of transport. This may be the journey you intend to make for Assignment Two, or it may be a different one. You don’t need to take any photographs.

Consider how you might present your observations.

Richard Long’s textworks were surprisingly miminalistic. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, perhaps some poetic stanzas, some sketches of the walk. However the writing were quite basic. At first I didn’t quite see the art in them. I could feel a sense of the place, the feeling of a gap in the rain and the triumph at that. It seemed more a note to self, a passing observation.

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Textwork by Richard Long

But I found myself smiling when I clicked on the heading of ‘A cloudless walk’

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Textwork by Richard Long

Something so simple as being on a blue background is visually beautiful, gives a pleasant feeling as you connect the images to the background and sum up the words.

To go even more abstract I created the following images as an abstract way of viewing elements in a day. These simple colours and shapes create the feeling of the day described. Photography could be used to create the same thing and it was rather fun to create something quickly.

A Cloudless Walk

Untitled design

 A Rainy Day

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A Rainy day –

The more I looked at his written works there were some that appealed more than others, some seemed more general statements whereas others brushed into poetry. I, in particular, enjoyed this one. It’s still much like a statement, but it serves as illustrations in a book. It even gives the viewer/reader a feeling of his incentive to place the cairns. I can feel myself itching to draw the images.

 

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Walk of Seven Cairns by Richard Long

 

For this exercise, I thought of my ongoing personal project/Assignment Six Plan B ‘Snippets‘ using the snippets of the discourse of the area taken over a period of twenty minutes to show the psychogeograpy and a sense of place.

Ohh that one...do you remember, there was such a hoo ha it went

With that in mind, I went to sit on the seafront and capture the Snippets. It was a darker day than last time and this is reflected in the conversation of twenty minutes, there isn’t much discourse, very few people. I myself know the age group of the people who were there but I wonder whether viewers can tell that. It would be interesting to hear any thoughts. I  feel very touched by the two friends discussing the betrayal of another friend, ‘you’ve been a friend seventy years and been a friend more than anyone else.” It’s so fascinating getting a glimpse into these people’s lives, learning a bit of their story, of what their thinking, what they choose to share with others, the amusing, the moving, the sad. It’s humanity playing out through these images.

Ohh that one...do you remember, there was such a hoo ha it went

I’m loving this project the way you can capture the feeling of the place. Without the image could you guess the weather, the season. Whether people are talking about ice creams or muttering about the cold. I also feel the way in which I placed the writing gives a sense of a time-lapse of people rushing by, leaving behind just snippets and echoes of their lives.

 

 

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Posted in Assignment 6 ~ Transitions, Coursework

Assignment Six – Progress – Five Month mark

It has been four months since I placed the Playmobil house in the garden for Assignment Six, Transitions, showing how nature will reclaim everything back when humanity is gone. At the start of this project I wrote of my expectations on my Assignment preparation post here

  • That the house will slowly be choked with vegetation reminiscent of Chernobyl.
  • The furniture in the house will either be swept away, trapped inside or will become homes.
  • Insects and perhaps even mammals will use the place as a safe harbour. Maggots may thrive, spiders will decorate the walls and windows with their deadly art.

It felt a good time to reflect on the progress of the house and assess my own progress on what was working and what I could do better at.

Below is a slideshow of the transitions of the house over the four months.

MARCH

 

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APRIL

 

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MAY  I was away on holiday for a while and didn’t get any images of May 😦

JUNE

 

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JULY

 

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Nature is truly claiming back the house. It’s getting increasingly difficult to take photos especially in the same composition. Before I was able to stand on the little rock for a viewpoint, now I am blocked by all the foilage and plants that have grown up pushing me back as though to say it is natures house now.

It is astounding to see the diverse collection of plants and flowers that have been born and withered back to the ground in a matter of months. Every time I look a new plant has taken the place of the last. It is the definition of a transition, yet the transition is happening at an incredible pace.

I’m glad I focused on four specific elements. The house is the major point but I also photograph the table and radio, the interior and the childs bike everytime. The child’s bike is completely covered, I can only just see a glimpse of the wheel.

The table was knocked over after a month or so and the interior is clogged with thick leaves and black sludge and something that looks very unappealing.

I feel I should have captured an image every week as opposed to every month (I’m still trying to find out what happened to May) I need to organise better. So much has happened in such a short time and I feel I haven’t captured that. In future I will photograph every week so I can capture all the changes.

I will focus on capturing more artistic images and at different times, early morning, evening etc.

Posted in Assignment 6 ~ Transitions, Personal Projects, Research and Reflection

Snippets

I spent the afternoon pouring over the course reading material but find it very hard to keep focused as every artist I come across I want to investigate further. I decided purely to explore the ideas of those who related to the course or perhaps a faint link showing a contemporary or alternative view. I came across the photographer Sophie Calle who met a stranger twice in one day. The second time she bumped into the man she was so intrigued perhaps feeling this was fate. She found he was going to Venice. Any other person would presumably wished him well and hoped to see him around one day…Calle followed him there and proceeded to stalk him without his knowing.

My initial thinking was “How could she do that! How awful, how intrusive.” Yet then my second instinct (and I’m not proud to admit it) was a deep seated curisosity as to what the photos looked like, what happened, did he find out?  She searched for days where he was staying, contacting countless of hotels and even visiting the police. She found his hotel and somehow convinced someone to let her stay in the room opposite to photograph him at his window. Is she an artist in search of a story, a person in search of a purpose, or an unstable person showing disturbing behavior. I am prone to agree on the latter as she kept an intense diary noting every movement of both herself and her subject (victim) recreating his photos and even having her friends arrange to ‘bump’ into him. It is almost as though she isn’t feeling boundaries of human conduct. She is so immersed in this fantasty she has concocted that she has lost touch with reality.

It is such an intrusion of a persons privacy, it goes beyond street photography, beyond curiosity, it is deeply centered in the psychotic stalker area. And I would think illegal. I do not condone it but the curiosity of human nature is so intense so overwhelming that the natural instinct is to look. Perhaps that curiosity is very deeply seated in artists or those who thrive on their imagination. I discussed it with my father who said he wasn’t even interested to look at the photos, wouldn’t give the credit or time to even glance.

Her obsession started to resemble a drug addiction, she followed him everywhere, searching, building up a story around it…the more she follows (stalks) him the more she feels a deep connnection, she loves him, yet of course she can’t love him as she doesn’t even know him. And admitting you stalked someone is not the best way to start a relationship. Though the focus is on the man (mostly his back figure as he walks from the camera) and the character you should feel is his, it is really the artist herself who becomes the character to the viewers. In her miltiary like writings you feel her madness, the more she follows the more intense and over the edge she is pushed until a day when she doesn’t see him is a day twisted in torment. She dedicated herself to him, it’s a feeling of desperation but more than that it’s disturbing.

Many would argue she is a true artist, she is following her heart and her dream and perhaps my views would be seen unfavourably. The book which she published with these photos exposes human nature but it is frankly deeply unsettling and such an intrusion. Indeed she was eventually caught as he said, “You shouldn’t have got too close, I recognised your eyes.” How must he have felt to have been stalked across a continent, through streets. How did it impact his life? There is no doubt in my mind that omething like that would have changed a person and left more than a hint of paranoia.

As I’d spent time studying her monograph I felt I should bear reference to it within the course. I headed to the seafront with the idea of photographing people, not in an intrusive stalker way, merely as you would in street photography, I had the idea of taking photos then threading a narrative between the photos of unconnected people.

Yet when it came to it, I couldn’t take a single photo. Here were people laughing, chatting, flying kites and eating ice creams. I couldn’t and wouldn’t intrude on their lives without their permission. The unsettling feeling of  Calle’s photography had hung over me like a sticky black net, I had the feeling I was being stalked, that I was stalking even though neither was true (well the latter definitely, see I’m still paranoid) I put my camera down and instead picked up my pen. I was absentmindedly drawing and reading ‘PsychoGeography’ while snippets of conversation of passers bay wafted into the car.

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“Psychogeography is the point at which Psychology and Geography collide, a means of exploring the behavioral impact of an urban place.”  Psychogeography – Merlin Coverley. 

“Oh I couldn’t believe it when…”

I looked up from my book as the people passed by out of ear shot. What couldn’t they believe? Just those two words had me hooked. An idea (a non-stalkerish idea) began forming in my mind. For the next hour I noted down the snippets of conversation I heard, I didn’t hear the beginning of many and the ending always remained defiantly absent as they went out of ear shot. I was like trying to listen underwater, focusing on specific words my imagination struggling to fill in the gaps.

I gathered these words together, took a photo of the view from the car and overlayed the incomplete sentences over the image, thus creating the character or psychogeography of the area through the very words of those who inhabit them. Some are humorous, some nonchalant, some are mere comments, arguments, but all give an insight into the person and the area in which they inhabit.

Ohh that one...do you remember, there was such a hoo ha it went

I sought to find a name for my project, Ellipsis.. (as every sentence trailed away) Snatches (I was still feeling slightly paranoid and this seemed to promote negative connotations) Whispers was also an idea.

In the end, I decided to call my project ‘Snippets‘ as that was the word I used to describe it as I wrote this post. I’m aware I am racking up too many personal projects but this is something I feel quite passionate about and would like to explore further. You can see the words where they were spoken filling in the gaps for the absence of people. You don’t need to see the people in the photo because you get a glimpse of their character just by the words streaming past and I feel it shows the psychogeography of the area. I’d like to go to several areas and document it. Perhaps it could even be a back up for Assignment Six, Transitions. To show how a place changes throughout the months, how does the conversation alter with the landscape. Are people happier in the Summer and more down in Winter, what age group will be there more and can you tell that from the writing. The physical transition will also be possible to see. Though I intend to stick with my transitions of the Playmobil house in the garden and how nature is rapidly taking it over I will endeavour to include Snippets in my assignments somewhere.

Any thoughts on this would be very much appreciated.

Posted in Assignment 6 ~ Transitions, Coursework

Assignment Six – After we are gone – placing the house

What will happen when we are gone?
It is perhaps a macabre, daunting or fantastical thought to contemplate yet is the basis for my Assignment Six Transitions. There is no saying when the human race will die out or indeed if, but only a quick look at the figures show that the world is growing at an expeditious rate, babies are born every second, an average of 350,000 a day according to a UNICEF report. There is no comprehensible way that the planet can sustain such life for long. In an interview with the Big Think, Stephen Hawking discussed his fears for the future of the human race.
“It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.
A hundred years is not within my lifetime but it certainly may be possible for children I know, my own future children or grandchildren. Will people continue to have many children or will they stop and think of the future they are creating. The world they are preparing for their children?
Steven Hawking argues that we need to look beyond planet earth to sustain this planet, to inhabit other planets in the solar system.
With this in mind, this is why my Assignment will take on a dark note. What will happen when we are gone?
As well as the transitions of the landscape and how nature reclaims the house, I am putting a literary narration on it. I’ve created a separate blog here written in the first person, it’s set in the future where everyone is gone but just the protagonist (an artist) and her sister (a scientist) are the only ones left and they come across the abandoned house. I will update the blog fortnightly and create a story through that with photos and drawings to make it as real as possible. It’s hard not to be excited about this. My expectations are
  • That the house will slowly be choked with vegetation reminiscent of Chernobyl.
  • The furniture in the house will either be swept away, trapped inside or will become homes
  • Insects and perhaps even mammals will use the place as a safe harbour. Maggots may thrive, spiders will decorate the walls and windows with their deadly art.

I think it will still stay true to its purpose and become a home for all sorts of wildlife and vegetation.

I photoshopped two of my photos with a double exposure of trees to create a mysterious cover image
About us
I have placed my Playmobil chalet house in the garden. I ran through possibilities of a plot of land to place the house. It was important that once placed there was to be no intrusion, no controlling the plants that grow, moving anything to make it more aesthetically pleasing. It is to be dealt in a scientific way and indeed, Amber, my science loving sister is working alongside me and we are treating it as a true scientific experiment.
I chose the corner of the garden where there was little vegetation, that way I could start with a blank canvas to be sure. I relocated a crocus or two to place the house, set up the scene and took my first photo.
This house, surroundings and plants will not be moved, edited or in any way interfered with.
The house is a Playmobil chalet and I’ve placed a table and chair in it. There is a plate on the table as though the owners were going to sit down and eat before something happened. I wanted it to have a Mary Celeste air. The only thing that says something is amiss is the mug knocked over and the doors wide open. I’ve also placed a patio table outside of the house with a radio and bowl.
Obviously, it is a miniature house so there is a certain amount of imagination required when the scale of plants will reveal the true size of the house (I did go down the route of miniature people living in the house but decided to leave it ambiguous instead)
However I was interested in the photo novella, ““Once Upon A Time In Kazimierz” depicting the life of a Jewish family, staged inside a dolls house using photography. I will review this in the next blog post. IMG_7601
Posted in Assignment 6 ~ Transitions, Coursework, Part One ~ Beauty and the sublime

Exercise – 1.5 Visualising Assignment Six: Transitions

For this exercise, you’ll begin working on Assignment SixL Transitions.

To get started you’ll need to choose a location or specific view that you’ll revisit through the duration of this course

If you decide to revisit a very particular view, then this activity will test your skills of pre visualisation. You’ll need to try to imagine how the view might look throughout the year under different weather and lighting conditions, and whether there are any other factors that will affect your camera’s view. You may, of course, try a few different angles or vantage points but in any case, pay very close attention to how you compose the frame as you’ll need to commit to this for the duration of the course.

You’re strongly recommended to consider shooting a backup location so that you have a plan B in case anything hinders the development of your project.

Document your work within your learning log. You may wish to ask your tutor for feedback; do this when you submit your other assignments for feedback.

Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better” Albert Einstein 

I feel it important to label a project with a title so for the moment I shall be calling it ‘After‘  In the book ‘Behind the Image’ by Anna Fox and Natasha Caruana they stressed the importance of a title and how it defines the viewer’s response to an image.  The example given has always stood out in my mind, a photographic series of abandoned and boarded-up terrace houses was entitled, Nummianus. Without background knowledge, the name seems obscure however we learn it is taken from a Latin inscription discovered in a house destroyed by Pompeii. With this it takes on new meaning, we compare the people who lost their homes in the past to the present housing market decline.

 

nummianus-detail-lst069750
Numianus – by Steffi Klenz 

 

There have been several factors that have caused the inspiration and brainchild for this assignment, the majority of those factors stemmed from Steve Backshall’s wild world show, which I will be reviewing, though the main inspiration came from a Christmas Present. Shark Seas,  by Steve Backshall which I will include a review ofIn the story, the main character Saker needed to hide from the enemy and hid out in the abandoned city of Chenobyl. As Saker explored the city the imagery and descriptive writing was so vivid I was transfixed. Transported to this haunting world, perhaps an echo of what we may expect the future to reflect, what really held me was that now in the heart of such a tragic disaster nature was thriving.

 

A sapling had sprung up through the floorboards and was sprouting spring leaves out through the windows, growing from inside the building to outside. The wooden windowsill had rotted away and shoots and flowers had sprung through the mulch making bizzare natural window boxes.”

He entered a space where the ceiling had fallen through a room above that had clearly been a library. The floor was littered with tumble books, their paper pages yellowing and curling. A child doll stared blankly at Saker from its blue plastic eyes.”

How much better the world is without us…Chernobyl was perhaps our greatest mistake, our most destructive moment but nature bounced back…even here in this scorched, violated place, without man and his ceaseless desire to take take take…nature had found a way to return.”

 

Chernobyl@20
Photography by Gerd Ludwig

We take over nature but nature will take over us. It doesn’t need us to survive though we can not live without it. This is my thinking for the assignment.

 

The Plan

  • Purchase model house or dolls house (I ran the idea past a fellow course mate and he said a dolls house may work better to show more change. I looked at some of my old toys and found a Playmobil house)
  • Monitor the house over the year to see the changes it undergoes. I don’t want to focus on the changing of the seasons but the change physically happening to the house
  • Will it disappear into the undergrowth? Will flowers sprout inside or insects inhabit the empty rooms?
  • Perhaps I could go one step further and include furniture instead of composing from the outside of the house.
  • I could incorporate a deeper meaning.

Research

  • Photographers focusing on change, decay, the environment, abandonment.
  • Read poetry, books, explore the history of hidden places, photography employing model houses

Sources

Websites

http://www.gerdludwig.com/store/the-long-shadow-of-chernobyl-photo-book/

http://www.steffiklenz.co.uk/work/nummianus/?lang=en

Books

Behind the Image – Anna Fox and Natasha Caruana