Category Archives: Progress Reports

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.

 

A Way of Looking

30/0 9/17

Recently I have been thinking a great deal about the art of looking, and it is indeed an art. It is far to easy to glance at an image, whether it is a photograph, a painting or even a sculpture and think ‘oh, I get it, that’s a man, house, apple or a dog.’ What is not easy is to understand what went into the making of the image and even less easy to consider what it means to the artist or what it might mean to another person.
I have also been thinking about the need (or not) of understanding the ‘theory’ of art and its place in the world we inhabit in the 21st century, which is certainly very different from its place in earlier centuries when it was often mainly the purview of the rich or the important, or part of the religious/spiritual world.
Last week I had a ‘lightbulb moment’, call it an epiphany if you will. I would not treat someone for a disorder without carefully examining them, listening to their past and present symptoms, researching the possible range of treatments and thinking carefully about all the options. Why should I not treat art with the same care and consideration?

There are two parallel strands to this. One is about learning how to take the best images I can, which talk, at least to myself, but hopefully also to others, about what is important to me and my view of the world. This does mean being open and allowing others the opportunity of seeing myself, my thoughts. The other strand is doing other artists (I am considering photographers in the main) the courtesy of thinking carefully about their worlds. This means learning about the present themes in all art, being open to areas that I find difficult but also learning how to speak about art in a way that others can understand.

In a recent article about her work, Carla van de Puttelaar talks about the need to study the entire oeuvre of an artist you wish to emulate. Her images resonate with the velvety smoothness of the Dutch Old Masters, translated for modern eyes. In the same journal (SSHOP 30th Anniversary Edition II), images by Romina Ressia also echo that era, with present day emblems such as popcorn substituted for the objects that would have had meaning in an earlier century. It is clear that both photographers have studied the earlier artists intensively, the images immediately brought Rembrandt and the other Flemish artists to my mind, while the modern twists gave them an edge. They are not copies but re-interpretations. The types are as relevant now as they were in the 17th  century, only the look on the faces of the women has changed, less submissive, more in control of their lives and their choices.

To write a meaningful critique of an artist you need to understand them, their history and their influences together with knowing how the type of work they are making fits within the time / era of their work. Is it art, documentary, protest, or portrait? Who was it made for? Is it straight or subversive (and if so why)? Over and above that you need to look, and allow time for your own interpretations to become clear. It is too simple (and something I am aware I am guilty of) to just reflect on what the guru’s say. That may give you a lead in and inform your thinking, but will not substitute for personal opinions together with imaginative thought.

Summary:
Look – with your mind
Think – with your brain
Write – with your personal voice

Summary week ending 22/09/17

Not a very productive week.

Photos:

Very  limited outside of EYV

  • did take some occasional selfies – but not impressed with them
  • didn’t have my camera with me when I went out today – so experimented with some indoor lighting on my phone

Blog:

  • Managed to both do the images and the write up for exercise 4.2. Found this interesting as even though the day was cloudy got some interesting shots using diffused light.

Reading:

  • Finished BJP September copy – interesting piece of work by Sanne de Wilde on ‘The Island of the Colour Blind’ which fits into my thoughts on photos of people / parents of people with autism.
  • still reading Clarke the photograph however had a lightbulb moment about the need for understanding the theory behind the work – I would not treat anyone without understanding the disorder and how the medicine or therapy was likely to work – so a similar thought process is required here. Having come to that mental agreement I am actually finding the theory easier!

 

Summary week ending 15/09/17

Photos:

  • Went to Glasgow and took a series of photos while walking along the Clyde
  • Experimented more with taking selfies
  • Amusing pics of dog in motorbike sidecar.

I have continued to think about:

  • concept of selfies and how they are used. My son is very strongly of the idea that they must have context to mean anything. Overall I agree, but in practice difficult to do.
  • difficulty in managing areas of extreme differences between light and dark in one image
  • Kate Davis and feminism in photos. Feminism and the female gaze seems to be a common thread in my reading at present. Is it possible/probable that we have gone too far? I think that there may be less of an issue now than when i was young – however it is probably just more subtle and hidden.

Blog:

  • working on Part 4
  • wrote up about Kate Davis

Reading:

  • Graham Clarke – The Photograph. I am having great difficulty with the concepts here, (even on the 2nd time through) partly in understanding the whole issue about critical thinking and its importance, partly because of the language used – coming from a science rather than an arts background. Need to find a primer!
  • Stereoscope – the yearly magazine from the Arts and Photography students at St.Andrews University. Images, writings intercut with images from the universities Special Collection photographic Archives. It is interesting to see the sort of images that are taken by students – not just those that are picked as major upcomingt alents by BJP, Foam or Lenswork. Work often muted – very much about people rather than places. The one that stood out for me was Tom Oldridge. keep an eye out for his name
  • Lensculture – several interesting articles this week

Summary – week ending 08/09/17

Visited Cultybraggan Prisoner of War Camp near Crieff:
           Opportunities for monochrome/vintage conversions with graphic images
            Problems with very light sky versus dark buildings
Started thinking about selfies and how to explore them:
            Research into academic work
            Practical trials
            ?use of selfie stick
Exhibitions visited:
            Kate Davis at Stills – subversive work on female roles 
            Roger Felton images of Crimea war – compare with Perfect Chemistry exhibition 
Blog:
            Finished response to tutor report on assignment 3
            Looked at work of Parr and Reas
Reading:
            BJP October issue:
Trevor Appleton’s work on people using the portrait combined with images of what is important to them. This is the same idea I want to work on around the response of parents to being given the information that their child is autistic. Watch out for the book.

A New Start

Life has changed recently. I have retired. At least partially so. This gives me time so I have decided to use it in a productive manner by learning a new skill set (to use a buzz phrase from my previous life).

Studying an arts subject is a very different experience from my previous learning which is all science based, other than one OCA course which I struggled to completely in a timely manner due to significant illness. I have had a long stranding interest in the practical aspects of photography, and also in looking at photographic exhibitions, however have never had any formal learning in how to analyse any arts subject.
I was brought up being very aware of photography on a daily basis as my step-father was a professional photographer, concentrating on landscapes and architecture. He used medium format cameras and was meticulous about recording all the details, well before the days of digital photography and exif data. We would spend hours waiting for the perfect light, a glimpse of sun, and, most importantly, no intrusive people unless they gave a needed scale.
The move from film to digital was an interesting change, with the possibility of instant reviews, histograms and altering exposure post facto – but I have found that it makes me lazy, as other than the in review time, there is no cost to taking vast numbers of similar, often practically identical, shots. A much more considered approach is required, more thinking and less pressing of the button.
Recent partial retirement should give me more time, however I remain concerned about my ability to be analytical about the photography of both myself and others. I am very much at the stage of ‘I know what I like – but don’t know why’, and certainly not at the stage of understanding what might appeal to others in anything other than a short term fashion. I hope that reading , looking and thinking will, over time, address this.