Posted in 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 Coursework, Personal Projects

Kindness

Diverting away from my studies for a moment I want to share a rather remarkable event that happened to me yesterday. As I’ve been discussing and writing on my blog at first with this unit I found I was losing the joy of photography something that deeply upset me, it turned out it was something many students find at degree level and finding ways to retain the fun is all part of the journey.

I’m pleased to say my joy of photography was only distant for a few weeks and is back stronger than ever. Some of this is due to just getting out there with my camera, taking photos for the sheer joy of it. The lavender bush in our garden is absolutely thriving with bees, I just love to sit and watch them zipping all over the garden, the sun catching their bulging pollen bags. Every evening in the golden hour I go and sit there photographing the bees. I’ve been experimenting with a variety of lenses, the 80mm was great but the manual focus was a little stiff. The 50mm lens ensured I was immersed in their world and perhaps a little too close.

 

In the last unit, Digital Film Production, I created a short documentary entitled Tiny Cities. I would love to continue with this somehow.

I came across a bee that had run out of energy and was resting on the pavement. It was while I was tempting it with some fresh lavender and being warned away by its skinny legs that an elderly man cycled by. I didn’t know him and it turned out he lived just a few roads away. He told me about his camera lenses, “I’ve got a telephoto.”
“Aw wow! Lucky you,” I said. ”

“You can borrow it!” he said matter of factly.

I was completely taken off guard! “But you don’t even know me!” I blurted out. Twenty minutes later he’d handed over his 70-300mm lens. It’s a lens I don’t own and I am so excited to use it. I still can’t believe it but I am so grateful.  It definitely felt like a sign.

Posted in Coursework, Personal Projects

Off the Map – personal project.

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The journey for Exercise 2.2 Explore a Road, led me down a path I hadn’t visited before, it was exciting and fresh and the majority of the photos were colourful and bright showing my enthuasism, yet the image I keep coming back to  was taken of a warped fence leading futher into the wood, it wasn’t the best technically yet felt one of the strongest as it created questions in my mind. Where does it lead to? What would happen if you followed the path. The answer may be boring, it may lead to a compost heap, or a rubbish disposal unit and even though you know that, it’s only a small voice, the rest is like a magnetic pull. What does lie beyond.

Yesterday I experienced the same thing as I passed a path that was usually open to the public but was now fronted with a bolted fence. Why did it unsurface deep emotions and curiosity. I am not a rule breaker (well not really) yet knowing you weren’t supposed to go there unearthed such curiosity. I’ve decided throughout this course to photography bolted gates, padlocked places and areas of limit, just from a distance. Perhaps the viewer will also feel an intrigue of what lies beyond.

I will start by researching photographers who may have done similar projects.

 

Posted in Assignment 1 ~ Beauty and the sublime, Coursework, Personal Projects, Research and Reflection

Arboreal Study – Contextualization

With regards to arboreal photographers, I keep returning to Sally Mann’s works who I contextualised here.  Whenever I see her work I am ensnared by the dark imagination portrayed in these images. Especially this image which I likened to a sinister game of hide and seek, the feeling of hiding under a dark blanket and it suddenly being whisked away. I can see the tree portrayed as a sinister creature, a direct representation of human anatomy. To see it purely as a tree I have to focus so hard almost like I’m looking at an optical illusion and suddenly I can see the tree. Sally Man turns imagination into reality and reality into an illusion. Contextualisation

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Photograph by Sally Mann

The way I’m viewing these images personify the trees and the more I think about this I do see them as living beings,  not just in a scientific and biological sense, but as spiritual beings, living forces that speak in their only language. I wonder do they feel pain, it is perhaps ignorant to hope that they do not when you think of the massacre of trees going on around this planet. How different would things be if the trees could talk? This feels like it’s leading me in the direction of a new project or assignment, ‘If the Trees could Talk.’

 

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Photographs © David Nash

 

In regards to the personification of the woodland and the trees, what rules state that the personification has to end there? I was given the heads up by a fellow student who introduced me to David Nash’s arboreal art. I admired his carvings and wondered how I could incorporate them into my studies. I was pondering whether to continue investigating, then I noticed a specific art exhibit, the Wooden Boulder. Decades ago a 200-year-old oak tree met its end in the grips of a violent Winter storm, ending its legacy. Yet this wasn’t quite true, the vessel of the tree may have ended but its spirit had another story to tell. David Nash managed to gain permission to create from it a giant oak sphere which he planned to take to his studio. The only problem was the boulder was too large to move so he allowed nature to transport it, down the River Dwyry (in the Welsh town of Blaenau Ffestiniog) the boulder immediately became wedged between rocks and Nash was forced to wait six months until a sudden flood of rainwater shunted it into a pool. A year went by and the wooden boulder stayed in the pool, “There was a wild plum tree next to the boulder, so in the spring it was covered in little white petals. It was lovely.” It was round about then when Nash realised what was being created, a new story, a live exhibit, this wooden boulder was not pinned down in any stark gallery as a piece of modern art, it didn’t need to challenge (or confuse) the perception of fine art lovers; the boulder was the story! It wasn’t tied down by conventions of art, the wooden boulder was a living art piece in wild and living surroundings writing its own extraordinary story. It is never about the road, but the journey.

Over the next 35 years, David Nash has followed the Wooden Boulders painting, photographing and documenting its story, even giving it a voice.

‘The Boulder told me: if you take me back to the studio I’ll dry out and I’ll crack. The story will be over’ David Nash.

Its beauty comes in that the boulder has no boundaries, it could be anywhere right now, it may have needed a guiding hand at times to rescue it when it was trapped on private land or caught underneath a bridge. It may have been inanimate but its story brought it to life. I find it fascinating how whilst David Nash created the wooden boulder as a piece of art and set it free on the river to unleash its story, the true artist is the boulder itself. You don’t even need to be a person like myself with a wild imagination and able to believe that everything in inanimate has a voice, the Boulder created its own personal voice, it told a story and journeyed on an incredible venture.

To my surprise, the wooden boulder was last seen close to where I was on holiday in Wales recently. I will be returning there this year and would love to follow the journey of the boulder, and perhaps even see it myself, though it hasn’t been for such time. It’s only a shame that it won’t be in time for the second Assignment as that would have been a fascinating representation of a journey, a journey in a physical sense, a journey of discovery and a journey of art.

Posted in Coursework, Personal Projects

Side Project – movie posters

Throughout my degree, I have never developed any personal projects too focused on the assignment and exercises at hand, yet it is something I am seeing increasingly more and something assessors seem to value. I want to create a different type of project perhaps mixing both my loves, art and photography. It states in the course to attend as many galleries and exhibitions as possible, I do keep an eye out but there aren’t as many places as say, London, or at least they are too far afield for me to visit in a day, with my health. However, I can watch documentaries and there are quite a few on SkyArts and Netflix and attend virtual exhibitions online. I was watching a fascinating documentary called 24×36 all about the history of movie posters. Before watching this documentary, my knowledge of movie posters was embarassingly thin,  I know they are used to promote movies, you see them in the cinema entrance, on billboards, stretched across buses and building, we let their artistic influence guide you to the next film you want to watch; however, I’d never stopped to investigate them further. Watching this programme I was opened up to such a new world of art, it was a fascinating and a rather saddening story to see the styles of art used to create these stunning posters. Below you can read about the history of the movie poster. I wonder how landscape could tie in with this as a personal project, in my mind I can pre-visualise a poster made of cut out pieces of photos and art, merged together. Could I create iconic movie posters using landscape? It’s an interesting thought and whilst it may blow up in my face like Jaws perhaps it would be worth investigating. Perhaps I could choose a movie and depict it in that way.

24×36 – my review. 

When the dawn of Lithography brought a whole new level to the artistic world, movie posters were designed by artists using traditional art and the art created was stunning, it was synonymous with the movie. The dedication the artists put into it and the passion is deeply moving. When you thought of the movie you didn’t think of the actor or specific scenes, you thought of the movie poster, Jaws being one of the most iconic. The sense of tragic inevitability as the Great White shark swims open mouthed underneath the woman swimming innocently on the water is imprinted in the minds of all who have watched it and even of those who haven’t. It’s part of our culture.

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The posters are as iconic as the movies themselves, perhaps if not more. To see how this art is revered and symbolised makes the story even more sardonic as the artists rarely received the acclaim the poster generated as they were not allowed to even sign their names! In fact, Roger Kastel who created the Jaws poster has never been reunited with his original art, there is a global search for it using the hashtag FINDJAWS.

As time went by the movie posters became increasingly popular, people started collecting them and eventually, the artists were given the respect they deserved allowed to sign their names and developing their own unique styles that could be seen in all of their works.

However round about the nineties suddenly the art was being replaced, it was no longer the concept of the movie or the stunning art that held the draw but the actors themselves who became idolised. Art was scrapped and shoved roughly out of the way replaced by the movie posters and DVD covers we are familiar with today, cruise through Netflix and you will see the masses of such similar images, photographs of the characters faces, floating heads and dark cinematic shadows. It is interesting how a programme can really change an opinion, whilst I admire the technical excellence of such posters, it really changed my opinion, before I loved movie posters but now seeing what they once were and how art has been pushed aside I feel nostalgic for a past I didn’t even live in. Something in me yearns to see movies taking that brave step and adopting artistic posters and not relying on the stars to sell it? Of course, there is the issue that an illustrated poster denotes an animation movie which could cause some problem, but perhaps over time, a trickle of such posters can become a stream which can become a river and that river can reach an ocean merging the world of art and photography together.

I especially enjoyed seeing how the styles have transitioned over the decades. This seems to be turning into a traditional art course! The movie posters have changed throughout the years, starting in the 1920’s they featured very traditional illustrations, moving on the characters started to be the main feature especially against scenes from the movie yet evolving into almost minimalism, or using abstract images to describe the movie or create a lure. There was a constant experimentation with fonts, one moment it is screaming out of the poster, then subtle then spinning out again. As time went on it seems to show a strong amount of scantily dressed women screaming being captured by some terrifying monster! Eventually, art is replaced by photography which is still unique, beautiful and original but I feel the images that included art really captured a little bit more of the imagination.

My favourite has to be Indiana Jones, I just love the illustration, it’s similar to the style in which I draw, line and wash and really captures that timeless comic book feel of action adventure.

Please note the images below are not yet in order of date. 

My favourite has to be Indiana Jones, I just love the illustration, it’s similar to the style in which I draw, line and wash and really captures that timeless comic book feel which is the perfect base for the wild imagination.

 

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