The week’s presentations centered around strategies that are outside the conventional approaches to photography; at least the ones that I use in my practise. I am not comfortable in general using work I have not created so I found many of the strategies discussed this week quite strange. Although I have to admit projects such as Jenny Odell’s Travel by Approximation were extremely innovative and clever.
The week’s work has certainly challenged some of my well ingrained notions of what photography is and can be. The idea of not using a camera was particularly difficult to embrace, especially when trying to find a way to relate it to my project. But that was the crux of this week’s activity.
This task asks you to reconsider your relationship with your preferred apparatus by NOT using it. You have 24 hours to produce a mini-series of five images relating to your research project, without using apparatus that is familiar to you. All images must be produced on Wednesday 27th June between 00:00am and 23:59 (local time). Understandably, many of you will have other commitments during this period. If so, you are encouraged to see these as a challenge and incorporate them into the task somehow. After all, it is possible to be a lot less conspicuous without a camera.
I thought about using my mobile phone camera because for the type of photography I do it is not a preferred apparatus, but it is one with which I am familiar. I don’t have access to 35mm film or medium format cameras here. Google Earth has satellite views of my project area which I have already used, and there are other photos on the web of Coul Links taken by developers and eco-tourists, but not much that seemed interesting to co-opt. So in the end I decided to try using cyanotype paper using a Sunprint kit I obtained through Amazon. I collected bits of plants feathers and shells and made a series of prints. I also made one using golf tees as a symbol of what is likely to happen on the site. Here are the results.
While I didn’t find this exercise particularly useful in terms of applicability to my project, I did rather enjoy to process of creating these images. First, trying to figure out what I might be able to accomplish with what I could get my hands on on short notice, and that had some relevance to my project was interesting and challenging, and forced me to look at possibilities I would have never otherwise considered. Second, once deciding to do the cyanotypes, what materials could I find that would lend themselves to this particular media and could I compose them in an aesthetically pleasing way? And lastly, the process of exposing the image itself yielded pleasantly surprising results. The sun was quite strong and the exposures were about 1 1/2 minutes. I was particularly surprised at the dimensionality of the golf tees and the delicacy of the feather images. The texture in the wildflower print caused by the relative difference in transparency between the wild poppy and the other flower was another surprise. So while I cannot see a practical use for this particular strategy and surface in my project, that is not to say there is not a place for something like this in another project someday. And if it is not this surface, I have been awakened to the fact there are other ways than a DSLR to create images.