Study visits and tutorials

Write up to be inserted at a later date.

Gregory Crewsdon ‘Cathedral of Pines’ exhibition.

South West multi disciplinary day in Bristol with Jesse Alexander as the lead tutor.

South West multi discplinary day with Stephen Moss lecturing about writing poetically about the landscape.

Level 2 Documentary online hangout with an OCA lead tutor.

Level 3 online hangout tutorial with an OCA lead tutor.

 

Part 3: Exercise 3.1

Exercise 3.1

Write a short reflective account on my own views of how the concept of picturesque has influenced my own ideas about landscape art, and in particular your idea about what constitutes an effective of successful landscape photograph.

In the past, the landscape has been somewhere for me to appreciate ‘being’ outdoors – escapism. The grander the vista, the more remote and the more dramatic the weather/ light, the better. Albeit I now realise the politics of the rural countryside, these spaces have historically been for my mind, body and soul to settle from the daily capitalist grind. It is somewhere where I can ground myself and also gain perspective of my own daily toil versus the sheer brilliance of the world at my feet. I would imagine that I had been influenced by commercialised ‘Gilpin view’ of the British Isles.

I am equally at home within run down towns though, where I question the impact of politics on the existence of mankind – this serves to trouble me when poverty and greed are juxtaposed.

From an early age, without any knowledge on how to decode landscape oil painting, I remember being in awe of master landscape paintings, particularly those that provided atmosphere with impending stormy skies. I would always find Turner’s abstract approach to the landscape had a draw on me. I wasn’t always entirely sure what I was looking at but the sense of drama engaged me. The paintings invited my imagination to invent the backdrop story to the painting. Being non-the-wiser for Gilpin’s influence, I have visited places based on brochures and postcards and this has inevitably led to my early photography approach to be a souvenir.

I suppose that the first landscape photographer that grabbed my attention was Sebastian Salgado. Again, drama, scale, man’s interaction with the landscape and the foreboding encapsulated within a frame held me for long enough to consider life outside of my frame of reference. I realise the discourse surrounding Salgado’s work now but back then and even now, his work stops me in my tracks.

My understanding of landscape photography is still evolving but clearly there is far more to landscape representation than a mere idealistic representation for tourism purposes.  I know that there is work that stands up to academic scrutiny better than Salgado’s work seems to. Also, I am aware that I need to be evolving beyond the Gilpin influence of yesteryear.

The success of any photograph is if it achieves in communicating whatever narrative the photographer has set out to stimulate in in the audience. This also combined with technical and compositional aptitude. I don’t dismiss anything personally as different approaches talk to me on different levels. Even technically sub standard work can strike a chord in the right context and the most commercially driven landscape photograph has its own narrative.

Part 3: Exercise 3.2

Exercise 3.2 (i)

 Gather a selection of postcards that you have either received or collected yourself. Write a brief evaluation of the merits of the photographs you find. Importantly, consider whether, as Fay Godwin remarked, these images bear any relation to your own experience of the place depicted in the photograph.

Kaikoura

 Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 13.53.52

How I laughed when this postcard came through the door. It is a view of Kaikoura, New Zealand that will be imprinted on my mind for life. At any other time before 14/11/2016 at 00:02 hrs. the image would have served as a mere souvenir of the stunning panorama that I was lucky enough to experience. The photograph shows a paradisiacal community set by the sea, with a snow-capped mountains serving as a spectacular backdrop. This is a prime example of tourist souvenir gathering as Sontag, Godwin and Mitchel speak about at length. Indeed, if NZ would have me, I would be moving there.

However, not withstanding the usual politics of any community and in particular the continued battle that the Maori people still face, geologically there is a major problem. It is major problem that was only partially known about until I rocked up in town a few hours before. My experience of Kaikoura will go down in folklore – the day that mother earth threw 2 simultaneous 7.8 earthquakes at the community. Three fatalities, 100,000 landslides, 2 billion dollar road repair, infrastructure completely broken etc. And it still going on and on. It is worthy of an assignment in its own right. I hadn’t anticipated appreciating standing in this spot in the pitch black to avoid a tsnumai with the ground rocking underneath meNor had I anticipated being looked after by the Māori community until I could be evacuated 3 days later.

This community has a very uncertain future. It is dependant on tourists. There is a very fine line between heaven and hell. What is not in any doubt is the strength of the community and the kindness shown when in crisis.

 

Cheriton Fitzpaine

I have selected two post cards by Francis Frith (1906) as these postcards were still being sold and used in the village. It is a remote Devon village that people move to from suburbia to ‘live the dream’.

The first postcard is of the wider village and it oozes the idealised Devon. The thatched roofs on ancient building are typical of how Devon is represented.

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 16.30.07

The second postcard is of the road through the village and the school children that continues to resemble Frith’s topography approach to the composition. Other pictures he took in the set show the village as a tired and remote ‘working’ village where aesthetically, the main through road hasn’t changed very much since.

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 16.30.31

 

The reality is that thatched homes in centuries gone by were filthy places to live in. If you were lucky, the rich families of the parish would fund charities for the old, infirm or widowed. The remoteness up until 1940’s meant that attending grammar school would require the need for boarding – 5 miles away.  Now thatch properties remain a fire hazard, as is isolation and loneliness

Today, Devon villages benefit from cars. However mobility has been at the cost of local businesses. Our village has just lost its post office. There was once a forge, bakery, butcher, general store, police custody, fire engine and several pubs to serve a much larger population pre Industrial Revolution. All that is left now are the pubs that struggle and a village hall that is trying to sustain a community run post office.

It takes a certain type to live here too. There isn’t any anonymity and your face has to fit.

On the plus side, tourism in my village doesn’t exist (unlike Cockington which is a living museum).  We still manage a carnival, wassailing, folk events, a monthly indoors market, Yoga and Bingo. A great effort is made to keep village groups thriving too.

Carving a living out of the area can be difficult. Minimum wage is the norm – many commute to London and Bristol to maintain lifestyle.

Brixham:

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 13.59.43

My daughter looked at this card and said, “Where is this?” She looked astonished when I said that we have been there quite a few times. The ‘penny’ finally dropped and then she stated, “As if Brixham actually looks like that.” “Well, it has rained most times that we have been there…” Said I.

The postcard is of the same view as a very similar post card in my possession but the one I have is ‘saturation hell’ with halos around the skyline buildings. This version is from an archive. Nothing really looks real but it still sells the harbour as an idealised destination that is steeped in history.

Brixham is a community that historically has depended on the fishing industry. It still does have some fishing vessels but, again, it is dependent on the tourists to sustain the community. The harbour side caters for the annual influx with cafes, pubs, souvenir shops etc. Behind the harbour side tourist veneer are signs of hardship with tired buildings. The  economic future of Brixham is unknown and this is because of Brexit and the impact on the fishing industry.

London:

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 11.34.48

This postcard is an example international tourist attracting material that aims to persuade the would be British Empire pilgrim to part with their money to visit the ‘greatest city on the planet’. It also feeds into UK tourist patriotism that hangs on to the back of British Empire grandeur and our devoted Queen who has witnessed the best and worst of the capital over her 90 years of life.

London is everything that the postcard suggests – rich in history, architecture, culture and pageantry. Only a very naïve traveller could expect a city to be without its problems though,

My experience of London has been both as a tourist and as somebody charged with trying to ensure the safety of all who find themselves their. This postcard is designed to show London ‘at its best’ but there is inevitably a very dark side to the capital that harbours corruption, gangs, terrorist cells, homeless, criminals etc. This experience is far more interesting but not such a draw for tourists.

 3.2ii

Write a brief response to…

“…The landscape photography implies the act of looking as a privileged observer to that, in one sense, the photographer of the landscape is always the tourist, and invariably the outsider. Francis Frith’s images of Egypt, for example, for all their concern with foreign lands, retain the perspective of an Englishman looking out over the land. Above all, landscape photography insists on the land as a spectacle and involves an element of pleasure.”

Graham Clarke (1997,P.73)

Do you think it is possible not to be a ‘tourist’ or ‘outsider’ as the maker of landscape images?

I am inclined to say that there isn’t a definitive answer to the question. Obviously, a photographer can’t claim not to be an outsider if they are taking photographs of an unfamiliar landscape. Even if they have researched the locations ‘place’, until you have spent a considerable amount of time somewhere to understand the rhythm of a ‘space’. As well as this, if one has spent many years living within a county, without spending considerable time learning about the dynamics of the landscape, the space and all who exist within in the desired composition can only be from an outsiders / tourist perspective.

To illustrate this, I spent my former years in the vicinity of Slough until I was 18 years old. I understood the cultural make up, land ownership, politics and social difficulties of the area. It is my hometown. If I had been a photographer then, I could claim to be an insider. But my insight was generalised and how much did I really ‘know’? If I went back there now, I wouldn’t have a clue about the narrative of the town and how it has evolved.

Various writers touch on this topic. Sontag speaks of the landscape a flaneur would traverse. They were voyeuristic outsiders to a subtext within a familiar location. I also recall that she also speaks of the paradox of being an outsider that is shut off from the real experience but also interacting with the landscape at the same. Interaction in itself still doesn’t mean that you have become an ‘insider’.

Part 3: Exercise 3.3

I covered ‘Late Photography’ extensively in Context and Narrative.  Albeit I realise that there are good reasons to revisit this, too many past experiences in emergency services and recent events in Kaikoura (see assignment) makes this topic too much to deal with right now.

Part 3: Exercise 3.4

Exercise 3.4 i

 Fine three examples (or a collective effort of a set of photographs) that are being used to assert a particular ideological point of view. Look at the images that have been used in advertising or other commercial applications, as well as within fine art and documentary photography. This might be a very explicit message, or something a lot subtler. If text is used, consider how this relates to the image. Write about 300 words describing how the photographer or designer used the photograph and how the image communicates its intended message.

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 15.24.30

http://adruby.com/brand/greenpeace 

This photograph is particularly easy to deconstruct, and it needs to be to enable the broadest viewer impact possible. This photomontage is a juxtaposition of romantic notions ‘picturesque’, with the binary opposite of human destruction of the planet. We can also see that the landscape is based around a chessboard with the trees competing against man and machine. Quietly appearing in the bottom right hand corner is , “They have already made a move.” This sentence causes my eye to go back to the image to find that a man is representing a paw and has made his move towards further attack of the idyllic landscape

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 15.25.09

http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/
Plan_your_visit/exhibitions/make_life_worth_living

This photograph is from Nick Hedges’ project ‘Make Life Worth Living’. The project was entirely political and it was used by Shelter UK to highlight the living conditions of the working classes based in the north of England. As a result of this, social housing conditions were improved across the North of England. This photograph reads as a story that I needn’t elaborate on here, apart from mentioning the irony of the advertising painting on the side of the house. Nothing more needs to be said in text to reinforce the message here.

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-01 at 15.25.38

 

https://www.nellyduff.com/gallery/peter-kennard/blair-photo-op

Peter Kennard is a senior lecturer at RCA and is reputed to be a big influence on ‘Banksy’.

Without any text, you have to be of an age to know who Tony Blair is, and his part in being in cahoots with USA to justify the invasion of Iraq. The decision to invade was based on false intelligence about Saddam Hussain holding weapons of mass destruction. Arguably, it unleashed the birth of Islamic terrorism against the western world.

Kennard has superimposed a photograph of Tony Blair on to an explosion. It denotes the ‘Blairite’ ego that contributed to the mess that Iraq has been left in. The portrait is set against the reality of his decision-making. The signification could be construed as Blair being represented as Satan who is stood at the gates of hell.

 

Exercise 3.4 ii

Consider an issue (social political, or environmental) that you feel strongly about. Design an image that you think will have a persuasive effect upon the viewer. This could be a deliberately rough photomontage or something more polished. You don’t necessarily need to make the photograph or tableau; this is an exercise in generating ideas, thinking about communicating as idea and taking an ideological standpoint. Annotate the sketches and / or any other work and enter it into your learning log.

 

_DSC9805 (1)

In my mind, at this point in time, global and national politics seem to be spinning in completely the wrong direction. Every time that I switch on the television, another subliminal political event is evolving.

When I reached this exercise, Donald Trump (POTUS) had just pulled America out of the Paris Climate Agreement. It seems that he is sceptical about global warming and the impact of Co2 emissions.

Pulling out of this agreement was a catastrophic turn of events. Denying the contribution that Co2 emissions make to the climate and extreme weather patterns leaves the planet and its inhabitants at greater risk than ever. The worst affected will always be the poorest of populations from ’emerging economies’.

Placing Donald Trump at the front of the frame with his back to the people wading through flood water, signifies the action of turning his back on the people who will suffer the most.  He is placed so that troubled eyes are staring at Donald Trumps back.  I have placed our planet in one hand and the the Doomsday clock in the other hand. The Bulletin of Atomic Science has this clock set at 2.5 minutes before midnight at this juncture in history (Donald Trumps bluster is also putting the planet at risk from nuclear war).

The Eiffel Tower is of course a recognisable Parisian place. It serves well as a microphone, with Donald Trump talking at it (and not listening to Paris).

In the backdrop are other European leaders (albeit that I have chosen them this time, other global leaders could be inserted) who are looking around at the flood and standing with the people and understanding the consequences of global warming fully.

Part 3: Exercise 3.5

Research into local history

_DSC8665

Because I have already looked at local history in depth during ‘People and Place’, and also because of my potential assignment submission, I have decided to look at the resources that can be found concerning Māori mythology, the history of the Moari migration and the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand.

The first part of my research was undertaken while I was passing through the North Island town of Rotorua. Having been to a tourist ‘Māori’ Experience’ evening, I was left feeling that there was so much more to find out about the culture. The next day, I went back to the reserve and asked to speak to a Māori who could explain more about the Maori’s relationship with the forest,  and also the recent generations difficulties in adapting to ‘New World’ ways.

_DSC8664

This information gave me ideas about how the ‘Mother Earth’ and ‘Father Sky’ belief system seemed to have been drawn from the landscape. Being in tune with the geology, flora and fauna is still something that seems so lost on the western way of being. The sacred sites in Rotorua are rich in geological activity. Reflecting on these sites after this conversation helped me to gain insight into the Māori belief system.   The grandson of the tribal chief spoke of the symbiotic relationship with the environment, the consequences of the arrival of Europeans and the fight to retain their culture and sacred sites. Also, he spoke about the ongoing issues of the ‘lost’ Māori youth – some who find themselves embroiled in gang culture and drugs.

_DSC8644

“According to Māori tradition, earthquakes are caused by the god Rūaumoko (or Rūamoko), the son of Ranginui (the Sky) and his wife Papatūānuku (the Earth). Rangi had been separated from Papa, and his tears had flooded the land. Their sons resolved to turn their mother face downwards, so that she and Rangi should not constantly see one another’s sorrow and grieve more. When Papatūānuku was turned over, Rūaumoko was still at her breast, and was carried to the world below. To keep him warm there he was given fire. He is the god of earthquakes and volcanoes, and the rumblings that disturb the land are made by him as he walks about”

http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/historic-earthquakes/page-1

As you will read further on, my exploration and project was spun on it’s head when I found myself in Ground Zero in Kaikoura. The wrath of Mother Nature presented itself within 3 hours of arriving there. My living experience of this and my contact with the Māori humanitarian response was beyond anything to be found in my local library. However, since coming back, I have looked online to find out more about this region.

The Kaikoura museum has been closed since the earthquake but there is a wealth of information to be found via the online libraries.

The history of the Māori migration and mythology is briefly introduced here

Below are historic photographs of Kaikoura which is a town suggested as being the place where the first Maori settlement was situated. The Maori and settlers worked together on whaling trips quite harmoniously.

This link explains the arrival of Robert and George Fyfe in 1842. He set up the whaling station there but it wasn’t long before the whale stocks collapsed. Maori men were employed along with Australian and European whalers who went on to marry local Ngai Tahu women.

Farming became the main industry in Kaikoura from there on in. However whaling did resume in 1987 for a time (tourism overtook after this brief revival).

http://www.whalewatch.co.nz/our-place/whaling-history/

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Conclusion:

In this day and age, the internet contains much of what you would possibly ever want to know. However, the best part of this exercise was actually talking to people with first hand experience of the topic. Maori tribes lived symbiotically with the environment and their conceptualisation of the natural environment is instinctive and seems to be beyond articulating. Pulling together an abstract and mythological element to my assingment appeals to me at the moment.

Part 3: Exercise 3.6

The Memory of Photography – David Bates

We are asked to read this essay and note the main points. Also, we are encouraged to read further into areas of the essay that interest us. 

Sourced:Bates, D. (n/k). The Memory of Photography. Available: http://www.tandfonline.com Last accessed 30th July 2017.

Main points:

This paper opens with a Freudian observation that photography is often linked to memory as one of many mnemic devices. That is, an aide memoire that serves to trigger wider memories of the photographed and the people who were witness at that point in time.
David Bates’s research considers that photographs can be misleading due to the missing information residing outside of the frame. This, or hidden narratives residing in the minds of people contained within the frame. He also aims to look at the wider issues of photography as a mnemic device since its invention. Also, how it has shaped the evolution of cultural collective memory, and how history is now archived. He refers to Jaques Le Goff observations of pre photography archival systems and how  the curation of archives were linked to political rhetoric in the French Fevolution.
David Bates talks about reframing our thoughts about what a photograph is and its place within in an archive. Bates refers to Jaques Derrida’s book ‘Archive Fever’. “Photography is in a state of flux when it comes to archives” According to Derrida, within conventional archives there are issues to consider in the “destructive drive” and “of loss” within an archive.  (Further explore what Derrida means by this).
The cascade of new archival technology is suggested as being a threat to the conventional archive that traditionally served as a way to remember. Bates poses several questions about this with regard to what part photography has played in human memory. What contribution has it made to memory? He also asks what’s, why’s and how’s about how collective memory and how individual memory has changed since the advent of photography.
Attempting to answer these questions, Bates starts by quoting a passage from Sigmund Freud’s book “Mystic Writing Pad”. Freud observes that referring to a written a note on a pad of paper will prompt a memory that will be preserved and unaltered. Without this note, his memory might begin to distort any given memory of an event over time.
Bates then brings to the ’table’ Jaques Derrida who poses another question that runs alongside Freud’s observations. Derrida looks at aspects of the way that a mind is influenced with evolving technology. He asks if the evolution of archival technology has affected the way we think, and if the new advances in technology have been resisted? Has the mind been better represented? Or, has the essence of memory and archive essentially changed beyond the Freudian “mystic writing pad”? Does an entirely different logic need to be applied in this new era?
Derrida has written about how these technological advances may have affected the human psyche in “Prosthetics of the inside”. Bates points to this debate not being a new one and mention is made of Walter Benjamin and Siefried Kracauer’s work in the 1930’s.

Collective memory:

Bates cites Jaques Le Goff in his article. He speaks about observations Le Goff made about the pre and post French Revolution museum and library archives. In post French Revolution, the politics of curation led to documentary accounts being destroyed; it could be deemed as having been deleted from the national collective memory. If the collective nation doesn’t remember, then it didn’t happen?
 This leads to Bates questioning how photography affect the archive of national memory? Especially in the digital age/ WWW. age?  Bates tells us that Le Goff suggests that collective memory is democratised. I suppose that the medium is now so easy to share that it is much harder for a handful of curators to control collective memory alone. We have become our own curators; therefore is seems that technology has allowed collective memory to be democratised according to Le Goff.
 Le Goff also considers the official role of a portrait that is presented in the way that shows the viewer what they want it to show – eliminating hidden truths. An heirloom is created and natural social order is reinforce via family archives. Group photographs present evidence of unity; or is it a show of enforced unity? Portraits serve in the same way as a monument that is a reassuring memorial to the past.
Many have since reinforced this notion that the family archive is not ‘neutral’. Issues of patriarchal and matriarchal representations etc. lend itself to other narratives that lie somewhere beneath the ink of a print . Richard Billingham and Nan Golding look at this within their own practices. What is the reality of the represented ‘truths’?
Bates mentions Pierre Bourdieu, who questions the similarities of family archives to that of wider photography produced by the media, the state, the arts and social groups. These too can be considered monuments of the past. The discourse of collective memory and what is included and not included is therefore extended further. Derrida is again referred to  his point that archives don’t just serve us to remember the past but they also influence the future via responses to the imagery and this can be seen throughout the history of art.
Bate’s concludes that photography is so important because it can record other mnemnic devices in one frame – a ‘meta-archive’. .
In this part of this paper considers William Henry Talbot Fox’s observations of the meta-archive. With the advent of photography, everything could be archived. The photograph archive could also be photographed.
Bates mentions Fox’s book, ”The Pencil of Nature”. Fox photographed objects and noted  photography’s use in supplying an inventory. He also considered when spaces became places as defined by the placement of monuments. A photograph served as a memory of these places.
Prosthetic memory:
Bates contradicts Michael Foucault’s complaint in ‘Film and Popular Memory’. Bates considers that the post digital age is not too different to that of the pre digital age. This is insofar as the camera as a mnemic device doesn’t encourage the ‘psyche of identity’ to be influenced by a historic photographs, anymore than any other pre dating mnemic device already had.
The debate of ‘truths’ within a photograph is a common debate – a photograph or an archive can only be considered a partial truth at best. A big question mark remains over the influence of ‘partial truths’ of a photograph and the reality of ‘actual experience’ and ‘facts’.
Bates goes back to Freud to explain the nature of memory. In childhood, apparently early memories aren’t to be trusted. Misremembering is a common theme through life and it will be interesting to further read Freud’s theories in this area.   Freud suggests that the loss of past memories is the minds way of screening out events that the mind doesn’t want to remember. Roland Barthes talks about the punctum of a photograph being the involuntary reaction we get when we see a photograph. It affects us, but the reason isn’t clear. Barthes suggests that this punctum is the device that pokes at our long forgotten life events/ experiences that lay deep within our psyche. He goes on to explain a chain of life experiences / memories that contributed to his involuntary reaction when he first Fox’s photograph of Nelson’s Column.
Talbot’s photograph of Trafalgar Square is spoken about at length as an illustration of Freud and Barthes’s theory. The only added consideration is what else has been included in the photograph. Fox’s photograph isn’t just an archive record of a monument placed for the collective memory of the nation. Also within the frame is a conflicting narrative of contemporary life of the time in the form of posters situated in the foreground. The inclusion of this element of social commentary illustrates the discourse of truths within a photograph. So, it seems that a photograph is many things that can influence collective history and personal history.
 Bates concludes:
 “ As composite formations, photographs, like childhood memories, have a sharpness and innocence that belie meanings that have far more potential significance that is often attributed to them, which means that in terms of history and memory, photographs demanded analysis rather that hypnotic reverie.”
Further ongoing reading:

Jaques Derrida.

Roland Bartes.

Susan Sontag.

Michael Foucalt.

Nan Golding.

Walter Benjamin.

Spaces to Places:

 

Submission PDF containing introduction and self assessment:

In memory of those who lost their lives in the Kaikoura Earthquake on 13th November 2016

For all part 3 coursework, please click here.

For assignment inspiration and research, please click here.

For assignment planning and peer feedback, please click here.

Audio contained within slideshows:

Version 1.

Version 2.

In memory of those who lost their lives in the Kaikoura Earthquake on 13th November 2016

 

Main submission photographs:

Image 1

_DSC8921-Edit-Edit

Image 2.

_DSC8975-Edit

Image 3.

_DSC8779-2-Edit

Image 4.

_DSC8858-Edit

Image 5.

_DSC8536-Edit

Image 6.

_DSC8824-2-Edit

Image 7.

_DSC8591-Edit

Image 8.

_DSC8878-Edit

Image 9.

_DSC8957-Edit

Image 10.

_DSC8891-Edit-Edit-2

Image 11.

_DSC9445-2-Edit.jpg

Image 12.

_DSC9435-Edit PSE (1)

Image 13.

_DSC9450-2-Edit-2

 

Image 14.

_DSC9444-3-Edit

 

Gregory Crewsdon – Cathedral of Pines.

 

_DSC9873I am a huge fan of Gregory Cewsdon and I just love trying to deconstruct his work. This is the first time that I have seen an exhibition of his though and it was certainly worth the trip up to London from the West Country.

As ever, Crewsdon crafts his images to an obsessive degree – his attention to detail  is phenomenal. The environment, the people, the light, the props  etc. are brought together to provide signifying elements for the viewer to decode in the true spirit of post modernism.

I like to approach his work without researching it beforehand. This is to enable my mind to play with my detective instincts in the knowing though, that the Who? What? Why? Where? and When? may never be completely resolved.  The size of the prints enabled a voyeuristic sensation. A witness.

The exhibition was split into three galleries – for no other reason than space. There seemed to be two distinct sets within one body of work. Outdoors and indoors. The outdoor photographs had the familiar Crewsdon dystopian feel to them. The photographs were based in pine forests and in each of them, there was a sense of claustrophobia. Where females were present, they look awkward and absent in a ‘dead behind the eyes’ way. They were surviving something. Maybe they were surviving their distant memories and / or fighting their demons of yesteryear that were resurfacing in the here and now. Other signification of dirty washing, rivers, nakedness, derelict call boxes etc sought to provide hints of history and lost hope. The only photograph which wasn’t overtly depressing was of one male and two female 17 year olds next to a pool of water. Perhaps this denoted that start of sexual encounters that would lead to feelings of disappointment loss, regret and grubbiness later on in life? A very pretty location for this it was, but there was an element of foreboding claustrophobia all the same; an inevitability that the ‘still waters’ of their life would change.

_DSC9874

The other distinct set, was based within a remote residential community in the 1970’s. The interiors were of that time. Drab interior cladding, muddy coloured carpets and furniture. No IT was present – not even a TV come to think of it. Some of the props were apparent in several of the photographs. I came to a conclusion that if a nearly empty glass of dark fluid was positioned next to somebody in the frame, then this signified a life near its end, with dark emotions attached. If a a half full or more glass of water was present, then this signified a purer life. The titles of books gave other clues along with medication, veteran ribbons etc.

Every image depicted a sense of tension in relationships, isolation and despondency as the reality of life and all it throws up; baying wolves who creep up onto their preyed upon victims . Crewsdon bring the landscape of the home and the remote forestry region together to maximum effect that would resonate profoundly with people with a certain amount of life experience under their belt.

Without a doubt there were influences of 19th century landscapes and some of the lighting of the photographs had a hint of Dutch oil portraiture.

Once home, I read the interview with Gregory Crewsdon where he explain his personal circumstances (after his divorce and moving to the area) had influenced his work in a way that it hadn’t done before. It made complete sense.  The book refers to literary inspiration that I hadn’t  been aware of as I haven’t been much of a reader for varying reason.

The exhibition book is beautifully crafted and provides conversation with Crewsdon and other reviews and I will go back to it time and again.

Crewsdon was the inspiration for my A5 Context and Narrative assignment

 

 

 

Assignment 3 preparation.

Peer review will be found at the bottom.

Curation/ Presentation:

The first thing to do was to go through the hundreds of photographs and edit any photographs that were technically correct, aesthetically pleasing and appropriate to communicate the Maori mythology stemming out of the landscape.  Keeping in mind the influences of Susan Derges et.al.

The next job was to try and make the nighttime photographs taken immediately after the Earthquake workable. They are at extremely high ISO and hand held in a very shaken hand!  They were authentic to the journey though and I knew that they had to be included.  Juxtaposing two aesthetics was a challenge and a challenge that would have to be uncompromising. I felt that the body of work needed to reflect the sudden change in events but still demonstrate how the landscape influenced the Maori way of life and belief system.  The photograph slides haven’t loaded in order but as the slides move through you can see the evolution and cohesion of the photograph choices.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Presentation options have caused me the greatest challenge. There were so many elements that I wanted to bring together. I had hoped that at some point a poem would come to mind or some sort of text. It just didn’t happen though and in the end I had to accept that my mind was still trying to process the enormity of what had happened.

Presentation options:

  1. Book
  2. Slideshow
  3. Installation
  4. Gallery wall hanging

And this is where I am struggling. Apart from the images, there is so much extra to include to support the wider story of surviving an Earthquake.

– I have experimented with a mobile hanging but I am not convinced now that I have seen it.

 
Insert image.

Any other larger scale installation has time and practical implications.

  •  A book is a tempting consideration but by the nature of books, the format won’t allow for audio to be  included!
  •  A slideshow might well be the way forward with sound blended in with it. I will need time to explore this option as I don’t have any knowledge of slideshow technology. Jesse Alexander has pointed me in the right direction today and I will go on to explore this as an option for assessment.
  •  I also then mulled over the nightmares that I’d had in the early days and the confusion. I thought about trying to make an installation with a wire mobile with the red wire signifying the difficulty in processing the disparity between experiences. I did give it a go but it looked like a the wire tinsel Blue Peter Advent candle holder! It just wasn’t good enough. Even if it was good enough, I still has the issue of how to merge other elements of the presentation.

_DSC9813

Peer review:

On Saturday 17th June, I attended a South West cross discipline day. Jesse Alexander was the tutor in attendance.  The newsletter (link below) shows me presenting my work for peer review. During my fifteen minute slot, my ‘final’ curation was discussed.  I explained that I had tried a mobile format but I wasn’t happy with it. I also said that I didn’t want to produce a book again.  I had almost decided on a wall display and journal but I wasn’t really convinced.  The other aspect discussed was the final curation of the photographs. I had taken other discounted photographs and my mind was changed again.

I don’t enjoy learning new IT skills but the suggestion of a slideshow triggered a domino effect in my mind. Just as long as I could find ‘Claire Proof’ software, then I could bring together the final photographs, text, ‘found’ media reports etc.

The trial version of the slideshow is included on this newsletter and is open for further peer review:

June 2017 newsletter

I have also placed the draft slideshow here for ease of access.

There is still some way to go in refining the timing and adding other aspects of the story but so far, one level 3 photography student has said that she felt very emotional while watching it.

 

second attempt at the slideshow:

Tidying up the front pages, timing of audio, transitions etc. Also, I have added a brief account at the end.

Submitted for peer review at OCA:

 

Peer review summary:

1. Graduate photography student. Two narratives were picked up on. The personal element is a worthwhile edit. He felt is was perhaps an idea to focus on one or the other though. Liked the audio element of the slideshow.

2. Student from another discipline. Very powerful and engaging. Only criticism was that the text was too fast.

3. Student. Discipline and level unknown. It provided the juxtaposition between the beautiful and sublime. Wanted to see more. Loved the sense of movement.

4. Student. Discipline unknown. Brilliant work Claire. They fit together wetland pull you in several different directions emotionally.

5. Photography Student. I really enjoyed this Claire, though did find there were too many different things going on in terms of presentation that made it feel a little disjointed after a while. For example, you own voice only coming in later in the slide show. In terms of the curation, I would simplify the text as a little overwhelming and perhaps play around with the sequencing to strengthen your work. Perhaps you could print out each slide to get an idea of what they look like physically.

6. Student. Unknown discipline. Yes I agree with a couple of the comments here in that there seems to be two sets going on and perhaps doesn’t do justice to the work that you have done and experience you have been through. I was confused as to what was going on initially but this may have been your intention?

7.  saw this on your blog and meant to comment last week. I can’t add to John’s comment really – but I just wanted to say I think the work provokes a powerful sense of what you were feeling (which must have been pretty terrifying). I wonder if the work might benefit by combining the sublime images with the voice over only (without the blurry images – I think they may detract from the work and operate as a kind of tautology with the sound). They are interesting nevertheless. I wonder if there is anyway you can take the text out of the mundane i.e. the way it’s presented … does that make any sense?)

8. Truly fascinating subject matter with such personal meaning. Your images of nature are conveying a poetic sense, beautiful and sublime. 
The occasion of your personal encounter of the earthquake makes it truly more meaningful, a story to tell, that made it a place. Great juxtapositiong, the end makes a point. However, I have some misgiving with it, Some was already said. Two stories? two narratives? Perhaps not feeling strong enough your personal encounter? Nevertheless, I like the blurring of on site images. Overall, a lot of stuff there, more to work from I guess, great personal project. Would be a pity to stop here, regardless of assignment and course work expectations.
Further thoughts: 
- thinking about installation – images of nature with voice over / juxtaposition of video of the ‘event’ with large prints of nature images. 
- I do relate your interrogation strongly with the work by Ilana Halperin. She explored volcanos across the world, made artefacts from nature, and makes performances with reading her stories. I met her once personally in Switzerland and the link between images and voice made a strong impression on me.

Conclusion:

I am actually thrilled that the students have picked up on the two narratives. Some love it and other aren’t so sure. It has been a challenge to know what to include or not.