Category Archives: Progress Reports

Assignment 5 – Response to Tutor

05/02/18

Comments on assignment:

I had a long and wide-ranging discussion with my tutor David for assignment 5. I will try to summarise what I took from it here.

  • My title ‘Forestry in Scotland‘ was too broad.
    • Agreed! Am trying to think of something more descriptive that isn’t too wordy – that is the difficult bit.
  • Lighting is inconsistent
    • This is about having most of the shots in a fairly flat light, if not downright stormy while 2 images were taken in bright sunlight with vivid blue skies. I hadn’t even thought about this as a problem – but on looking at the series as a whole they do rather stand out and produce a jarring note. I do have some replacements already available – I hadn’t even considered using them as my brain went ‘sunlight- that’s better’ without thinking it though.
  • Looking at the final edit in detail
    • This was very helpful, and I have done as suggested – my wall is now covered with prints. I am definitely going to go and re-shoot a couple of the ones that I had originally discarded but fit better into the theme. There should not be a problem getting cloudy days in Scotland in winter.
  • How do you show changes in time and season?
    • This I’d something to think about further for an extended project – maybe mark a spot and re-shoot at monthly dates – showing the changes in the trees, which might be fairly subtle.

Overall the discussion was very helpful – and hopefully I will get an improved final edit. At the very least it gave me a lot to consider and made me think more clearly about what I was aiming for.

Suggested Reading:

Paul Nash – an artist I had not come across before – related to the work produced by Arnatt. Destruction, here in the context of a response to WWI. Dead trees and land. Interestingly, the present push for re-forestation in Scotland was a direct response to the lack of wood available for military uses in WWI. So his horror in some way translates into the trees of today, and to their use as a resource for the community.

Nash, Paul, 1889-1946; We Are Making a New World

©Estate of Paul Nash/ Imperial War Museum

Images from Keith Arnatt – 2 of which are incredibly similar to some of the images I took for this assignment. If I had not taken them prior to seeing these I would have thought ~I would have been deliberately copying them. In reality it points up how the direct impact of forestry on the landscape leaves the same type of temporary destruction today as it did 30 years ago.

He also suggested a link to a fascinating and very long (2 and a half hours) audio interview with Keith Arnatt – this doesn’t finish – but cuts off mid sentence – so no concluding words of wisdom.

http://sounds.bl.uk/Arts-literature-and-performance/photography/021M-C0459X0036XX-0100V0

I took reams of notes  and was left with a lot of questions:

https://scottishzoe.blog/2018/02/12/notes-from-keith-arnatt/

Questions:

What narrative do other people impute to your work?

Could the subject matter of art be about the difficulties of being an artist?

Is the editing process actually the creative act?

Who are you taking the pictures for (and where are you displaying them)?

What is the role of preconception?

The photograph as an instant versus the painting/sculpture over time?

Does it matter what you photograph as long as you pay attention to it?

In reality all these questions are the ones that this degree is exporing, at one point or another. There are clearly no absolute right or wrong answers to any of them.  It is something to consider .

Michael Lange – another photographer I had not seen before. Some stunning images of deep in a forest, dark, minimal changes of tonality and colour. Lange started work as a photojournalist and has moved to fine art work. The images are redolent of the pine forest, not partially cut down, but what appears to be old wood. Again, these are the images I wished I could have taken to show the forest as it might be – although we have less major forests in Scotland than there are in Germany. His title – Landscapes of Memory – is relevant to the type of work I would like to move on to if I can extend this project.

Michael-Lange-photo-eye-wald-2016-954x714

© Michael Lange

Jem Southam – is a photographer who is exploring how memory and knowledge changes how we respond to the places we see. He looks at the same place over different times, different seasons and over several years – showing how a place will echo the season.  There are more changes where he is taking images in the South West of England’s than there are in the pine woods in Scotland – but links into the idea of extending the project – possibly for the landscape module.

FS_9094

© Jem Southam

Bloomberg and Chanarin – only managed a very quick glance at their work – but will be perusing this in more detail at a later date.

 

Summary – weeks ending 26/01/18

26/01/18

Photography:

  • some interesting images of a van that caught fire and burnt out at the end of our road
  • using the Instax to get summary pictures of the week – this is hard! – partly to find an image that summarises what we have done, and partly because it goes against my  need to fiddle!

Reading:

  • Mark Cousins – The Story of Looking – a fascinating spin though the types of images and what you would have looked at over the history of mankind, also about the different ways people look at things
  • Professional Photography – talking about this years Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize – I found the 2nd place portrait of the Iraqi girl on the bus particularly haunting – I would never have considered focusing on the dirty window in this way. (Abbie Traylor-Smith)

Exhibitions seen:

  • The Way We Were: Photographs of Childhood from the National Galleries of Scotland – interesting exhibition of images of children from the very early days of photography up to today, both monochrome and colour. Some very interesting pictures taken in an early special needs school – not exploitative at all – just tender contrasting with modern images.
  • BP Portrait Exhibition: I see this every year and oddly enough am not usually very enthusiastic. I can see the technical skill of the painters but the rarely move me – this year the winning image – Breech – of a mother and child by the child’s father was very tender.
  • Land Values – Paul Mortimer – Final exhibition by an OCA 3rd year student

Thinking:

  • mainly concentrating on finalising the work for submission and getting things printed off.

 

 

 

Summary – weeks ending 29/12/17

02/01/18

Again a combination summary. Life rather got in the way!

Photography:

  • some images in the garden taken under heavy frost
  • images for assignment 5 of the local woodlands, unfortunately the particular image I wanted was not available – someone had removed the large pile of logs
  • Edinburgh at Christmas – not very successful pictures of the fun fair – too much distraction
  • Edinburgh Botanics light show

Reading:

  • still Barrett on criticism
  • Robert Adams – Beauty in Photography – interesting alternative take to Barrett on criticism especially in essay ‘Civilising Criticism’
  • Photoworks 23 – I particularly like the Folio on Katja Stuke and Oliver Sieber with the contrasting works ‘ on the street’, with the contrast of the shaven headed ‘Cry Minami’ images posted in cities across the world versus the Sieber images of people shown from the back.

Exhibitions seen:

  • Futureproof 2017 – at Street Level Glasgow, a compilation of works from last years degree shows in Scotland
  • Robin Gillanders retrospective – Still in Edinburgh – I liked the images from ‘A Lover’s Complaint’ which shows images based on haiku by Henry Gough-Cooper which are based on the ‘Fragments’ written about love and philosophy by Barthes.

Thinking:

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idts/david_hurn_photographer_swaps_magnum –   came across this article online about the Hurn exhibition in Cardiff  – he says ‘The point of the selfie is immediate and only of interest for seconds so most of the interest seems to me as someone who doesn’t do it, to be the fun act of doing it, usually with friends.’
  • spent a lot of time considering which images to put in assignment 5 – and, more crucially, which to leave out!

Planning:

  • I have realised that over the last year while taking a vast collection of images – very few of these actually talk about what I am doing in my life. So, I splashed out on an Instax camera with my Christmas money and am planning to take an image every week that says something about what I (and the family) have been doing. I will then make this into an album.

Summary – weeks ending 24/11/17

This is a combined summary of the last few weeks!

Photography:

  • Magnum gig at Workington
    • happy with these as I got a good position and the light was reasonable
  • Bad Touch gig in Newcastle
    • less happy here as the room was very dark and even on ISO 64000 there ended up with a lot of noise – needed a lot of post-processing to give OK images
  • Images on the beach at Torryburn for the coal coast homage
  • Some images in Newcastle and Workington of general area
  • Started photoing objects for long-term project on autism
    • small things that change your life

Reading:

  • continuing with Barrett’s book on criticism – finding this very useful as it is making me think about what I am looking at in alternative ways.
  • BJP – December issue – concentrated on Eastern Bloc then and now
    • Boris Mikhailov – (Russian  photographer – now living in Berlin) – work shown in some detail – very challenging to the eye, certainly not conventionally pretty in any way. Worth exploring further.
  • Selfie by Will Storr – about the formation of the self in the modern world

Exhibitions seen:

  • Don McCullin – Artists Rooms at Dumfries
  • New Contemporaries  at the Baltic
  • Starless Night at the Baltic
  • Gordon Parks at the Side
  • Syd Shelton at the Side

Thinking:

  • how to present A5 – without it being pretty
  • how do you represent a feeling /sensation in an image?

 

Summary week ending 27/10/17

29/10/17

Photography:

  • Gigs images at Moody and Maas – moderately successful given that the light was very dim and all had to be handheld

Reading:

  • Stephen Shore – The Nature of photography – found his way of splitting up looking at images into the physical level, the depictive level and the mental level a helpful way of conceptualizing what I am thinking about with an image
  • Photoworks 22 – Women – some of this I find too theoretical, too far away from my practice –
    • but really enjoyed Francesca Catastini – The Modern Spirit is Vivisective,
    • also the work by Diana Matar – Evidence – talking about the importance of absence.

Thinking:

  • Still about how to show sensory differences in visual terms.

Weeks (3) ending 20/10/17

20/10/17

Not a very productive 3 weeks!

Photography;

  • more images of the cottage by artificial light
  • lots of attempts at studio work for exercise 4.4 – with variable success

Reading:

  • Stephen Shore – The Nature of Photographs, interesting and easy to follow
  • Leibesleid – Rut Blees Luxemberg – fascinating images especially when read alongside the prose poem accompaniment.
  • The photographic Image in Digital Culture – Martin Lister – complex arguments about what is an image when it is made up of pixels and electrons in the ether.  Does how the image is made matter? Is it the vision or the actual print that is important – how does it effect indexicality.

Thinking:

  • How do I portray autism in images –
    • can I use items from the ADOS (diagnostic) kit – looking at imaginative versus concrete thinking
    • how do you show  altered sensation?- overlay sensory organ with something else – or is that too obvious
  • About light and its role in photography – Todd v Luxemberg v Shintaro
  • From Notes – quote by Robert Frank ‘Tell them to make work that is close to their heart. It seems to me that no-one can expect more than this’ (Notes, Autumn-Winter 2016, p 18).

Attended the Study Day in Glasgow – needs a write up.

Summary week ending 29/09/17

Photography

  • sheep being loaded into a truck
  • indoor and outside images, night and day of cottage – thinking about light
  • boys and their toys ( guns and tanks)

Thinking

  • mainly about effects of light and night versus day. 
  • planning for assignment 4 – inside/outside views of cottage though the windows
  • ways of looking – someone commented on OCA website that it was just as much plagiarism o copy other peoples views as to use their words without proper citations 

Reading

  • SSHoP – interesting article about self portraiture, also about Carla van de Putelaar
  • Roger Fenton -related to Crimea war images
  • Hill and Adamson  – Edinburgh exhibition 

Visited the St Andrews Photography Festival – several interesting things there, especially the external images – most people completely ignoring them, leaning on them  – needs a detailed write up.