FMP Pecha Kucha

The first task for Final Major Project (FMP) was to create a Pecha Kucha presentation (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide) to explain briefly the project I intend to undertake as an introduction for the Module Leader and other students.  I spent much of the interim period since the end of the last module wrestling with how I was going to approach FMP.  The original intent of the Coul Links project was to show how the natural state of the site was affected by development.  Since the development decision is now not expected until late summer at the earliest the FMP project needed to take a different direction.

For more information, please have a look at the following link.

Week 12 – Final Thoughts on Informing Contexts

I found this module intellectually challenging, stimulating and frankly fun.  I struggled in the first module with the whole idea of critical theory, but having come to IC as the fourth module, the 15 months of added experience put me in a much better place to both enjoy and learn.  The more I read, the more practitioner’s work I reviewed, the more things began to make sense and I felt my confidence increasing with each passing week.  I believe I have come away from IC much more informed about photography in general and with a much better understanding of my practice and what I intended to accomplish.  It also gives me a clearer understanding of the paths ahead and where I might go in the next phase of my journey.

Technically and creatively I also gained confidence and my work reaped the benefits of both. I began to approach my work with ever increasing mindfulness and purpose.  It resulted in fewer, but much better photographs that required far less post processing.  I slowed down considerably, and even though shooting with a DSLR, I approached my work much more like I was shooting with film.  I became not only more adept at managing the exposure triangle, but more importantly managing the creative triangle; the relationship between me, the photographer, my subjects and potential viewers.  For this modules WIPP, I had my viewers in mind when I went out to take photographs.  I was shooting in a way that would result in photographs that challenged my viewers imaginations, stimulated their memories, and sparked their emotions. I was looking to create ambiguity, moderate abstraction and to take a time and place that was know to me and make it into a space my viewer could inhabit and populate with their own narratives.

I know the considerable effort I have put into these first 15 months of this course, but I must acknowledge the support of my peers within the Cromarty cohort.  The extraordinary give and take have been an invaluable contributor to the quality of learning for all of us.  I also particularly valued the interchange with the tutors and module leader in Informing Contexts.  I found the discussion and support constructive and stimulating.

Finally, I believe I am in a very good place to move into FMP and am looking forward to the challenges the next six months have to offer.

Week 12 – Reflections on the Author/ Viewer Conversation

In writing my Critical Review I used the phrase that my photographs were ‘the opening gambit in a dialogue with the viewer’.  I have already submitted my CR, but was looking to write a bit more on the never ending debate of art or not, and in researching references ran across a chapter in Fred Ritchin’s After Photography.  It begins:

“The real story becomes a conversation, in which the author/photographer is simply the most prominent participant.” (DiNucci, 1996 in Ritchin, 2009: 97)

Ritchin then goes on to make the point:

“Photographs in their ambiguity can provoke, motivating the reader to interrogate their meanings.  The photograph may create enough confusion and curiosity to stimulate the reader to solicit alternate voices, to peruse the accompanying text, or to click on the image and go to another screen.  Digital media, in turn, promises that the viewer can pursue certain ideas that come up in the looking and follow up on interests almost as if in a conversation.  The advantage of this form of exploration is how open-ended it is: the photograph stimulates multiple questions as much or more than it provides answers.  If not overly constricted by a caption or accompanying title, the photograph’s odd appropriation of a fractional second and a rectangular space may serve to engage the reader’s curiosity.” (Ritchin, 2009: 97)

While Ritchin is primarily addressing in this book the shift from print to digital media, the basic point stands and is equally relevant whether one is viewing my work on a wall or page, or as is increasing likely, in an on-line gallery of some sort.  There is an inevitable interplay between author and reader, and if I choose (as I have in my current work) not to constrain the reader with captions or accompanying text, the photograph is an open-ended question(s) that invites the reader to participate in the dialogue, each bringing their own interpretation.

There are indeed times when I as the photographer want to guide the reader; to give them some clue to the purpose or meaning of the photograph, but there are other times, particularly when the work is not intended to carry some specific information that I want there to be no guidance and to allow each reader the freedom to exercise their curiosity, indulge in the ambiguity and revel in the conclusions to which they arrive.

 

References

RITCHIN, Fred. 2009. After Photography. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.

Week 12 – Reflections on Finalising my Critical Review and Work in Progress Portfolio

I began work on my Portfolio and Critical Review several weeks ahead of the deadlines for submissions and as a consequence completed the work well ahead of schedule. These are some of my thoughts now that I have completed and submitted that work.

Portfolio

While I made a lot of work during this module, I had decided early on what type of work I wanted to make and was therefore able to create photographs with a mindfulness and clarity of intention that I had not before achieved.  I took many more photos than ultimately ended up in the final edit and I frankly left some very good work out of the final submission.  However, one of the things I have learned through the first four modules of this MA is the need to create a visually consistent, coherent body of work for the WIPP submission.  I think I did not fully appreciate that fact in prior modules and as a consequence, the work submitted had a bit of a ‘this and that’ character that detracted slightly from the way the work was viewed.  I can attribute this failing in part to a lack of clarity in my intentions in the prior modules and the fact the project I was attempting to take on was massive and diverse.  It was too big to distil and attempting to ‘cover the waterfront’ I diluted the visual impact of my imagery; good as they were technically.

So for this module, I intentionally reduced the scope of what I was trying to include in the portfolio and was very disciplined in the editing process as I worked to get to a set of photos and videos that were consistent with my intentions and had a sufficiently consistent and harmonious thematic and visual character.  It was difficult initially to eliminate good photos and I went through several iterations before arriving at a final decision.  I did also choose to incorporate three video clips taken from the same vantage points as stills either before or after the videos in the sequence.  I had not done that before, but felt it important to realising my intentions and conveying some key contextual concepts about the dynamic and transient aspects of nature.

Another important decision in the editing process came when I realised the normal landscape format was not conveying the feeling I was trying to achieve with this body of work.  I have been resisting cropping in post-production for some time now and on the rare occasions that I did, I always retained the aspect ratio that I shot originally.  However, the landscape format was not constraining the image enough to evoke the response from a viewer I wanting to elicit.  As I experimented with cropping to square, the photos suddenly had much more impact.  Making them smaller, more constrained actually made them spatially bigger; more universal and more timeless.  It amplified the integrity of what was visible in the frame and in some cases created more ambiguity, but also added more mystery and intrigue as to what was just beyond the frame.  It was these things that I believe will result in the viewer becoming more engaged with the photographs.

Critical Review

I wrote the initial two drafts before I had really narrowed my portfolio selections sufficiently.  While not a waste of time by any means, the first drafts were not as focused as they needed to be.  It was only after bringing my WIPP to the near final edit state, that it became a much more straightforward process to write my Critical Review.  With the clarity of what I had chosen I was able to zero in on the clearest way to convey my intentions and determine which of my contextual references were indeed most relevant to the work I had completed.  I wanted the CR to be clear, concise, cogent, and coherent and most importantly to convey without any question that I had made this work with, and from, a critically informed position.  As I was finalising the CR I was able in parallel to make the final cuts for the WIPP so the two submissions were completely in sync and mutually supportive.

Final Thoughts

I read a great deal during this module and I had to be as discerning about contextual references as I was about photo selection.  I took much better notes as I was reading this term and, that proved helpful when recalling references, particularly on things I read early on in the module.  I intentionally did not read CRJs or CR submissions from students further on in the programme.  I felt quite confident that I could properly interpret the requirements of the assignments and the LOCs to create a document that met or exceeded the standards.  I wanted to do it on my own and not be tempted to follow someone else’s path, particularly not knowing whether their work was really good or just okay.

I also completed work early enough to seek input from trusted peers and tutors and I am appreciative of both groups.  While I didn’t get any huge redirects out of any of the reviews, the combination of little things and my own desire to write a very tight and focused CR that supported the choices I made in the WIPP drove me to a series of revisions that I am very satisfied result in a solid submission.

Critical Review of Practice

Introduction

I have for the past 15 months been exploring Coul Links through my photography.  In the many hours spent traversing this land I have also discovered places interesting on a smaller scale, some hidden and some not, but which I could photograph in a more intimate way.  This new work is intended less to inform, but to rather evoke.  It is a way of saying something about a place without revealing where that place really is, of transforming place into space so the photographs acquire a universality, or a sense of familiarity tied to each viewer’s own experience.  By creating visual and aesthetic interest in the image and in some cases using reflections or the absence of horizon to create a bit of disorientation or ambiguity that requires the viewer to linger longer over the image to decipher it.  There is not generally intended to be a principal focal point in the images, and they are rather meant to be taken as a whole, with elements of interest across the entire frame (Figure 1).

Glade 1_02-0571Figure 1 – Rose 2019, Glade 1_02

My prior work was focused on providing the big view of the unique land forms that comprise the 850-hectare site.  It has been important to capture and catalogue the nature of the site as it exists before any potential development and the aerial views and broad landscapes were what was required (Figure 2). That having largely been shown in my previous WIPP, it was time to explore a different way of representing a place with which I have become so familiar.untitled-0282Figure 2 – Rose 2019, Culkin Burn South Coul Links

My landscape work, not uncommonly, is absent people and yet I as the photographer am always there, not in the final frame, but only just out of it.   It is in this creative space just behind the lens that the interactions of camera and photographer combine through the choices made to capture a moment in time and space.  It is in this creative space that I begin the dialogue with a viewer of my work.

Liz Wells proposes, “… our relation to the environment in which find ourselves, and of which we form a part, is multiply constituted: the real, the imaginary, the symbolic, memory and experience, form a complex tapestry at the heart of our response to our environment, and, by extension, to landscape imagery.” (2011: 2) I believe we are intractably connected to the world around us, and while it seems as more and more people move to more urban settings that they become disconnected from the wilder places, they remain part of Nature.  And yet for many, the only feeling of connection to the natural world beyond the cities comes from images and the responses those images stimulate in the viewer’s imaginations. I created images that are real, but that will also evoke memories and stimulate imagination.

My relationship with nature and place, as a person and as a photographer, is fundamental to who I am and when I choose to take a photograph, I do it because there is meaning for me.  But each of our journeys are unique and I want this work to trigger memories, inspire reflection and stimulate the imaginations of those who view it. As Allan Sekula states “The photograph, as it stands alone, presents merely the possibility of meaning”. (1982: 91)  My photograph is the opening gambit in a dialogue with the viewer, where it is now to each one to bring their own meaning to what they see as they ask questions such as “Where is it?”, “What is it”, “Have I been there or does it remind me of somewhere I have been?”, “What do I imagine lies beyond the edge of the photograph?”, and as they examine the emotions and ideas the photograph stimulates (Figure 3).

Glade 1A_01-0835Figure 3 – Rose 2019, Glade 1A_01

Context and Reflection

 “The Japanese have a unique understanding of landscape.  The term for ‘landscape’ in Japanese is fükei, which combines the notion of ‘flow’ or ‘wind’ (fü) and ‘view’ or ‘scape’ (kei) – hence ‘flowing view.’  Landscape is not considered static, but transient, ephemeral, never stopping. The flow of time is a vital part of this understanding in the Japanese arts, time’s passage in nature, and the changing seasons, are central motifs.” (Vartanian, 2006: 42) When I release the shutter, I am of course completely aware of time and place, of the before, the after, and the during that results in my photograph. This is yet another aspect of ‘flow’ inherent to photography. The photograph is but a momentary peek into constantly changing scene. By choosing to frame more closely, I take what is a known and concrete time and place and abstract for my viewer a space that is relatively timeless. The photograph in Figure 4 conveys a palpable sense of movement and flow caused by wind and a more subtle hint at the flow of the change of season without ever revealing precisely where or when it was taken.

Slack 1_04-0784Figure 4 – Rose 2019, Dune Slack 1_04

“A photograph shows only a single moment in time. Yet when viewing a photograph, one is strongly aware of the flow of time to which this moment belongs.  Even when viewing a still image time does not stand still. When we give ourselves to the act of seeing, incoherent memories and thoughts of all kind come to mind, accompanied by a swelling of emotion.  Herein lies the richness of seeing.” (Suzuki, 2015: 009) There is an unspoken distinction being made between the act of looking and the act of seeing. “In Zen philosophy the mind should be a window, rather than a mirror, so that the world is seen directly and not through the filters of the intellect.” The Zen monks “absorbed themselves in the activity rather than in their ego’s understanding of the activity.” (Juniper, 2003: 26) To me, this is the essence of true seeing and to which as a photographer I aspire. To be able to be fully absorbed in my surroundings and with the full scope of my senses, feel that it is time to release the shutter is when I have achieved harmony between myself, my camera and the world before me.

Axel Hütte, Daniel Gustav Cramer and Risaku Suzuki all inform my work.  Each has done a variety of prior work and each has done work quite similar to that which I am currently doing.  Hütte, a Dusseldorf School contemporary of Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth, brought me an awareness of a different way to represent a place, a way that made that place become “space”, somehow bigger than life, and that by reducing the frame the relevance expanded in both time and space.  Hütte’s early works were his night cityscapes which were striking, geometric and starkly absent the people that inhabited those spaces, but it was his later landscape work that caught my eye.  There isn’t any kind of story behind the pieces. The viewer is lost in time and space, sucked into the beautiful world of photography. He will sometimes use a reflection on the water just to irritate the viewers, so the flames of their imagination could shine brightly. There is no need for any detail in the photographs to be rendered or treated specially, as the image is viewed as a whole, without emphasis on any of its parts.” (Widewalls, 2018) This notion of no story is important and one which Suzuki, Cramer and I have also adopted. To caption or provide words removes the possibility for the viewer to create their own story for each photograph and the dialogue becomes instead a didactic.

Axel-Hütte-Aranjuez-02-2006-detailFigure 5 –  Hutte 2006, Aranjuez-02

This Hütte photo in Figure 5 could easily be mistaken for an Impressionist painting of Monet or others such is its painterly quality. It is clear to see in the Monet painting in Figure 6 how the Hütte work in Figure 5 could be compared to it, and while my work is less painterly it nonetheless builds from this heritage. Hütte for me embodies most of the qualities, framing, masking of place, visual interest across the frame and use

Monet (1897) - Morning on the Seine near Giverny

Figure 6 – Monet 1897, Morning on the Seine near Giverny

of beauty to create an image that stimulates imagination, that I am working toward.

Daniel Gustav Cramer’s Trilogy series is an even more contemporary and superbly representative example of my intentions; “images shot through with story and place, but which demand we ignore both place and story. This is what we are, they say, but what are we?” (Darwent, 2007) It happens by coincidence that I have been working with my own trilogy of the dunes, glades and dune slacks.

I realised how significant Risaku Suzuki’s work was while doing further research after I had begun my current work.  His 2017 book Water Mirror is a lovely expression similar in many ways to that of Hütte and Cramer.  Like them, there is no desire to reveal a specific place or advance a particular narrative, but rather to evoke a mood, revive a memory or stimulate an imagination.  Yuri Mitsuda at the end of Water Mirror describes Suzuki’s approach: “Just as with a mirror, the trees are captured in the water that reflects them.  The result is a simulacral mime that exists only within the photographs. These scenes would not exist without the intervention of the camera and the lens.” (Suzuki, 2017) (Figure 7)

Suzuki WM_653 2016

Figure 7 – Suzuki 2016, WM-653

Mitsuda continued: “When the photographer tosses a rock into the water, the rock creates rifts and turns the water inside out, rustling the surrounding trees.  A fluid image resembling an abstract painting appears in the photograph…When the water surface is cut up by a fallen tree, moving water is juxtaposed against still water, bringing disparate temporalities of the material in contact with each other and producing details that fascinate endlessly.” (Suzuki, 2017) My photograph in Figure 8 illustrates the abstraction effect of the rippling water to which Mitsuda refers. There is indeed an interesting departure from the still water reflection that in the series provides a visual counterpoint and adds an additional layer of abstraction and interest across the frame, and it is an example of a photograph I thinks successfully captures my intentions.

Glade 1_04-0719Figure 8 – Rose 2019, Glade 1_04

Nature’s nearly endless array of subjects exist in transitory states dictated by light, dark, weather, seasons, time, elements, life, patterns of growth, and death. These phenomena are universal and every person on Earth is aware of them.  Photographs that capture fragments of these elemental truths resonate with viewers because it reminds them of similarities to their own experiences.  Hütte, Cramer, Suzuki and my current work all abstract from reality just enough to create in the mind of the viewer questions. Are Hütte’s or Cramer’s mountaintops in Europe, Asia, America?  Are my glades along the eastern US coast, a tropical island, or Scotland?

 

Portfolio – Approach to Work and Editing Choices

I always try to do my compositions in camera to minimise cropping in post, but something seemed wrong, like there was too much in the frame (Figure 9). By moving to a square format, it constrained the space more effectively and removed the traditional landscape format from a landscape photo making it feel like something else entirely (Figure 10).  I think it gave the photos a stronger sense of something beyond the frame at the same time enhancing the integrity of what was in frame. Cramer’s work in Trilogy successfully employed the square format, constraining the image and adding to the intrigue causing the viewer to need to linger longer with the image to decipher it. I believe this has been equally effective for my work. Additionally, I included several short video clips either before or

no post-0800Figure 9 – Rose 2019, Slack 2_01wide

Slack 2-0800Figure 10 – Rose 2019, Slack 2_01square

after stills to emphasise the transience of the moment I choose to release the shutter and make a point just how dynamic the environment can be. 

Position of Practice and Audience

The fundamental nature of this portfolio is in some ways more impressionistic and occasionally moderately abstract than any of my previous work, which of course changes the potential audience from that of my earlier more documentary and science-based work that aligned more with the Modernist aesthetic.  This work, while still very much about a place, has successfully masked its actual location and could easily be abstracted to a place in a viewer’s memory or imagination.  This work is well suited to larger scale prints that on a wall would allow a viewer to almost feel if they were in the place.  I have also incorporated a few short video clips to give an even more complete sense of place which could be looped on video screens or projected nearby the large-scale prints. As demonstrated by practitioners like Hütte, Struth, Suzuki, Cramer, Murray and others like Southam, there is clearly an interest in and a market for this type of work, when and if it can garner the attention of a gallery or publication, and subsequently a buyer. It is also work that could be adapted to a book.  It would be done with full page or double page prints and no accompanying titles or captions.  Possibly a short essay at the end could be included to talk about the making of the work along with a table of the plates and their catalogue numbers for reference.  But remembering that my intent involves allowing the viewer to create their own narrative is the reason behind minimizing any influence on their interpretations.

Conclusion

Peter Henry Emerson wrote “The value of a picture is not proportionate to the trouble and expense it costs to obtain it, but to the poetry that it contains.”  (in Trachtenberg, 1980: 102) In my introduction I noted the photographer is always present if only just out of the frame and it is in that creative space just behind the lens that the interaction between the camera and photographer combine through the choices made to capture a moment in time and space.  Risaku Suzuki wrote: “When we give ourselves to the act of seeing, incoherent memories and thoughts of all kind float to mind, accompanied by a swelling of emotion”. (Suzuki, 2015) My interactions and choices have resulted in photographs that reflect my unique journey through the world and my way of seeing and representing a place. It is my hope that I have indeed created some visual poetry and thereby stirred the memories and imaginations of others with this work.

 

List of Figures

Figure 1 – Rose 2019, Glade 1_02. 1

Figure 2 – Rose 2019, Culkin Burn South Coul Links. 2

Figure 3 – Rose 2019, Glade 1A_01. 3

Figure 4 – Rose 2019, Dune Slack 1_04. 4

Figure 5 –  Hutte 2006, Aranjuez-02. 6

Figure 6 – Monet 1897, Morning on the Seine near Giverny. 6

Figure 7 – Suzuki 2016, WM-653. 7

Figure 8 – Rose 2019, Glade 1_04. 8

Figure 9 – Rose 2019, Slack 2_01wide. 9

Figure 10 – Rose 2019, Slack 2_01square. 10

 

List of References

‘Biography of Axel Hutte | Widewalls’. 2018. [online]. Available at: https://www.widewalls.ch/artist/axel-hutte/ [accessed 24 Nov 2018].

DARWENT, Charles. 2007. ‘Weblet Importer’. [online]. Available at: http://danielgustavcramer.com/infotxt.html [accessed 1 Apr 2019].

JUNIPER, Andrew. 2003. Wabi Sabi – the Japanese Art of Impermanance. First. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing.

SEKULA, Allan. 1982. ‘On the Invention of Photographic Meaning’. In Victor BURGIN (ed.). Thinking Photography. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

SUZUKI, Risaku. 2015. Stream of Consciousness. Tokyo: Edition Nord.

SUZUKI, Risaku. 2017. Water Mirror. Tokyo: Case Publishing.

TRACHTENBERG, Alan (ed.). 1980. Classic Essays on Photography. Sedgewick, ME: Leete’s Island Books, Inc.

VARTANIAN, Ivan, Akihiro HATANAKA and Yutaka KAMBAYASHI. 2006. Setting Sun: Writings by Japanese Photographers. New York: Aperture.

WELLS, Liz. 2011. Land Matters: Landscape Photography, Culture and Identity. London; New York: I.B. Tauris.

(Figure 5: Available at https://d2jv9003bew7ag.cloudfront.net/uploads/Axel-H%C3%BCtte-Aranjuez-02-2006-detail.jpg [accessed 25 Mar 2019]

(Figure 6: Available at https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/437125) [accessed 17 April 2019]

(Figure 7: Available at https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjpifb2w7bhAhXmAGMBHe36CNYQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.galleriesnow.net%2Fproduct%2Frisaku-suzuki-water-mirror%2F&psig=AOvVaw2Q0glROmLtqJuF5ArzTyPw&ust=1554470477743726 [accessed 25 Mar 2019])

 

 

 

APPENDIX 1

Informing Contexts Bibliography

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TRACHTENBERG, Alan (ed.). 1980. Classic Essays on Photography. Sedgewick, ME: Leete’s Island Books, Inc.

DARWENT, Charles. 2007. ‘Weblet Importer’. [online]. Available at: http://danielgustavcramer.com/infotxt.html [accessed 1 Apr 2019].

PARISI, Chiara. 2010. ‘Essays and Interview with Daniel Gustav Cramer’. Klat Magazine #04 [online]. Available at: http://danielgustavcramer.com/infotxt.html [accessed 1 Apr 2019].

SUZUKI, Risaku. 2015. Stream of Consciousness. Tokyo: Edition Nord.

BARKER, Emma. 1999. ‘Introduction [IN] Contemporary Cultures of Display’. In Emma BARKER and Open UNIVERSITY (eds.). Contemporary Cultures of Display. New Haven: Yale University Press in association with the Open University, 8–21.

MURRAY, Matthew. 2017. ‘Saddleworth’. [online]. Available at: https://www.matthewmurray.co.uk/saddleworth [accessed 25 Mar 2019].

KEMPTON, Beth. 2018. Wabi Sabi – Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life. London: Piatkus.

SUZUKI, Risaku. 2017. Water Mirror. Tokyo: Case Publishing.

JUNIPER, Andrew. 2003. Wabi Sabi – the Japanese Art of Impermanance. First. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing.

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SONTAG, Susan. 2004. ‘Regarding the Torture of Others’. The New York Times Magazine (23 May 2004), [online]. Available at: ttps://goo.gl/PwSVZ.

SOLNIT, Rebecca. 2001. Wanderlust: A History of Walking. London: Penguin Books.

ROSLER, Martha. 1982. In, Around and Afterthoughts on Documentary Photography in The Contest of Meaning (1992). Edited by Richard Bolton. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

EWING, William A. 2014. Landmark: The Fields of Landscape Photography. New York: Thames and Hudson.

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VARTANIAN, Ivan, Akihiro HATANAKA and Yutaka KAMBAYASHI. 2006. Setting Sun: Writings by Japanese Photographers. New York: Aperture.

RITCHIN, Fred. 2013. Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen. New York: Aperture.

DUPRE, Ben. 2007. 50 Ideas You Really Need to Know- Philosophy. First. London: Quercus Editions, Ltd.

TRACHTENBERG, Alan (ed.). 1980. Classic Essays on Photography. Sedgwick, ME: Leet’s Island Books, Inc.

HEIFERMAN, Marvin. 2012. Photography Changes Everything. First. New York: Aperture.

RITCHIN, Fred. 2009. After Photography. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.

BRIGHT, Deborah. n.d. The Machine in The Garden Revisited American Environmentalism and Photographic Aesthetics. Available at: http://www.deborahbright.net/PDF/Bright-Machine.pdf [accessed 14 Mar 2019].

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DAY, Andy. 2019. ‘Every Photograph You’ve Ever Taken Is a Lie: Steve McCurry, Tom Hunter, and the Problem With Visual Storytellers | Fstoppers’. Fstoppers [online]. Available at: https://fstoppers.com/documentary/every-photograph-youve-ever-taken-lie-steve-mccurry-tom-hunter-and-problem-334178 [accessed 13 Feb 2019].

BARTHES, Roland. 1977. Image Music Text. New York: Hill and Wang.

SNYDER, Joel and Neil Walsh ALLEN. n.d. ‘Photography, Vision and Representation’. Critical Inquiry 141–69.

HAND, Martin. 2012. Ubiquitous Photography. Cambridge: Polity Press.

SHORE, Stephen. 2007. The Nature of Photographs. 2018th edn. London and New York: Phaidon Press.

BENJAMIN, Walter. 1931. Selected Writings 2, Part 2 1931-1934. Edited by G. Eiland, H., Jennings, M.W., and Smith. Cambridge, MA and London: Belknap Press.

BARTHES, Roland. 1981. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill and Wang.

‘Matthew Murray — Elliott Halls Gallery’. 2019. [online]. Available at: https://www.elliotthalls.com/matthew-murray [accessed 4 Feb 2019].

MILLER, Johnny. 2019. ‘Unequal Scenes – Locations’. [online]. Available at: https://unequalscenes.com/projects [accessed 4 Feb 2019].

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STERNFELD, Joel., Adam. GOPNIK, John R. STILGOE and FRIENDS OF THE HIGH LINE. 2009. Walking the High Line. Steidl.

STERNFELD, Joel. 1996. On This Site: Landscape in Memoriam. Chronicle Books.

SZARKOWSKI, John. 1966. The Photographer’s Eye. 7th printi. New York: The Museum of Modern Art.

‘Axel Hütte’. 2019. [online]. Available at: https://www.zingmagazine.com/zing3/reviews/034_hutte.html [accessed 11 Jan 2019].

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‘Aerial Photographs Convey Humanity’s Devastating Effects on Nature’. 2019. [online]. Available at: https://hyperallergic.com/474175/burtynsky-anthropocene-project/ [accessed 9 Jan 2019].

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BURTYNSKY, Edward, Jennifer BAICHWAL and Nicholas DE PENCIER. 2018. Anthropocene. Gottingen: Steidl.

PAULI, Lori. 2003. Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky. 7th (2014. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada.

DURDEN, Mark (ed.). 2013. 50 Key Writers on Photography. First. Milton Park: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

DELEUZE, Gilles. 1997. Essays Critical and Clinical. University of Minnesota Press.

DELEUZE, Gilles. 1997. Negotiations. NYC: Columbia University Press.

DELEUZE, Gilles. 2002. Desert Islands: And Other Texts, 1953-1974. Los Angeles: Semiotexte.

ADAMS, Robert. 1994. Why People Photograph. 1st edn. New York: Aperture.

STANFORD UNIVERSITY. and CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE AND INFORMATION (U.S.). 1997. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University. Available at: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/deleuze/ [accessed 21 Dec 2018].

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MA Bibliography as of 10 April 2019

ADAMS, Robert. 1994. Why People Photograph. 1st edn. New York: Aperture.

ARNOLD, Darrell. 2011. ‘Hegel and Ecologically Oriented System Theory’. Journal of Philosophy 7(16), [online], 0_3. Available at: http://ezproxy.falmouth.ac.uk/docview/1170929513?accountid=15894.

ARNOLD, Darrell. 2011. ‘Hegel and Ecologically Oriented System Theory’. Journal of Philosophy 7(16), [online], 0_3. Available at: http://ezproxy.falmouth.ac.uk/docview/1170929513?accountid=15894.

AZOULAY, Ariella. 2016. ‘Photography Consists of Collaboration: Susan Meiselas, Wendy Ewald, and Ariella Azoulay’. Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies 31(1 91), [online], 187–201. Available at: https://read.dukeupress.edu/camera-obscura/article/31/1 (91)/187-201/97593.

BARKER, Emma. 1999. ‘Introduction [IN] Contemporary Cultures of Display’. In Emma BARKER and Open UNIVERSITY (eds.). Contemporary Cultures of Display. New Haven: Yale University Press in association with the Open University, 8–21.

BARNES, Richard. 2018. ‘Civil War — Richard Barnes’. [online]. Available at: http://www.richardbarnes.net/civil-war-1/ [accessed 9 Aug 2018].

BARRETT, Terry. 2000. Criticizing Photographs: An Introduction to Understanding Images. New York: McGraw Hill.

BARTHES, Roland. 1977. Image Music Text. New York: Hill and Wang.

BARTHES, Roland. 1981. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill and Wang.

BARTHES, Roland. 1981. ‘Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography’. New York Hill and Wang [online], 134. Available at: http://scholar.google.co.il/scholar?q=camera+lucida&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5#0.

BATE, David. 2016. Photography; The Key Concepts. 2nd edn. The Key Concepts. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

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BEAR, Jordan and Kate Palmer ALBERS. 2017. Before-and-After Photography; Histories and Contexts. 1st edn. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

BEAR, Jordan and Kate PALMER ALBERS. 2017. Before-and-after Photography: Histories and Contexts. Bloomsbury. Available at: https://www.vlebooks.com/vleweb/Product/Index/959280 [accessed 20 Jun 2018].

BENJAMIN, Walter. 1931. Selected Writings 2, Part 2 1931-1934. Edited by G. Eiland, H., Jennings, M.W., and Smith. Cambridge, MA and London: Belknap Press.

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BOERMA, Pauline. 2006. ‘Assessing Forest Cover Change in Eritrea—A Historical Perspective’. Mountain Research and Development.

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BULLOCK, Stephen H., Nora E. MARTIJENA, Robert H. WEBB and Raymond M. TURNER. 2004. ‘Twentieth Century Demographic Changes in Cirio and Cardón in Baja California, México’. Journal of Biogeography 32(1), [online], 127–43. Available at: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/j.1365-2699.2004.01152.x [accessed 17 Jun 2018].

BURTON, Christopher, Jerry T. MITCHELL and Susan L. CUTTER. 2011. ‘Evaluating Post-Katrina Recovery in Mississippi Using Repeat Photography’. Disasters 35(3), [online], 488–509. Available at: http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/j.1467-7717.2010.01227.x [accessed 17 Jun 2018].

BURTYNSKY, Edward, Jennifer BAICHWAL and Nicholas DE PENCIER. 2018. Anthropocene. Gottingen: Steidl.

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DAY, Andy. 2019. ‘Every Photograph You’ve Ever Taken Is a Lie: Steve McCurry, Tom Hunter, and the Problem With Visual Storytellers | Fstoppers’. Fstoppers [online]. Available at: https://fstoppers.com/documentary/every-photograph-youve-ever-taken-lie-steve-mccurry-tom-hunter-and-problem-334178 [accessed 13 Feb 2019].

DELEUZE, Gilles. 1997. Essays Critical and Clinical. University of Minnesota Press.

DELEUZE, Gilles. 2002. Desert Islands: And Other Texts, 1953-1974. Los Angeles: Semiotexte.

DELEUZE, Gilles. 1997. Negotiations. NYC: Columbia University Press.

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EWING, William A. 2014. Landmark: The Fields of Landscape Photography. New York: Thames and Hudson.

FLUSSER, Vilém. 1983. Towards a Philosophy of Photography. English. London: Reaktion Books Ltd.

GARNETT, Joy and Susan MEISELAS. n.d. ‘ON THE RIGHTS OF MOLOTOVMAN Appropriation and the Art of Context’ [online]. Available at: http://www.firstpulseprojects.com/On-the-Rights-of-Molotov-Man.pdf [accessed 15 Jun 2018].

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HAND, Martin. 2012. Ubiquitous Photography. Cambridge: Polity Press.

HEIFERMAN, Marvin. 2012. Photography Changes Everything. First. New York: Aperture.

HENDRICK, Laura E. and Carolyn A. COPENHEAVER. 2009. ‘Using Repeat Landscape Photography to Assess Vegetation Changes in Rural Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains in Virginia, USA’. Mountain Research and Development 29(1), [online], 21–9. Available at: http://www.bioone.org/doi/10.1659/mrd.1028 [accessed 17 Jun 2018].

HURN, David and Bill JAY. 2009. On Being a Photographer. Third. Anacortes, WA: LensWork Publishing.

JAY, Bill. n.d. Occam’s Razor: An Outside-In View of Contemporary Photography. Third. Tucson, AZ: Nazraeli Press.

JOHNSON P and G ROGERS. 2003. ‘Ephemeral Wetlands and Their Turfs.’ Science for Conservation 230.

JUNIPER, Andrew. 2003. Wabi Sabi – the Japanese Art of Impermanance. First. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing.

KEMPTON, Beth. 2018. Wabi Sabi – Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life. London: Piatkus.

KLEON, Austin. 2012. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative. Steal Like an Artist, vol. 53. New York: Workman Publishing Company. Available at: https://books.google.com/books?id=NVZuUSJtpcQC.

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SCHIEL, Skip. 2018. ‘What Is Social Landscape Photography? | Teeksa Photography—Skip Schiel’. [online]. Available at: https://skipschiel.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/what-is-social-landscape-photography/ [accessed 13 Aug 2018].

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SMITH, Trudi. 2007. ‘Repeat Photography as a Method in Visual Anthropology’. Visual Anthropology 20(2–3), [online], 179–200. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08949460601152815 [accessed 17 Jun 2018].

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‘Safety in Numbness: Some Remarks on the Problems of “Late Photography’’ – David Campany”’. 2019. [online]. Available at: https://davidcampany.com/safety-in-numbness/ [accessed 30 Jan 2019].

‘Unequal Scenes – Locations’. 2019. [online]. Available at: https://unequalscenes.com/projects [accessed 31 Jan 2019].

‘Layla Curtis’. 2019. [online]. Available at: http://www.laylacurtis.com/work/project/45 [accessed 4 Feb 2019].

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Week 10 – Daniel Gustav Cramer Trilogy (2003/2013)

I first encountered Cramer’s work some months back and was taken with it then.  I found it was quite similar in overall character and aesthetic to work I hade begun pursuing in the winter.  It reminded me of the work of Axel Hutte, about whom I had written extensively in past modules.  I also think Cramer’s Trilogy work bears resemblance to that of Risaku Suzuki.    Thomas Struth’s Haptic Green also bears some resemblance the Woodlands portion of Cramer’s Trilogy, but it seems to be much more intensely about colour while Cramer’s work is more about form.

We were asked to comment on the edits Cramer choose and whether we would have done it differently.  I happen to like the photos he included and while some may be stronger than others it is important to have some distinctions.  Also, I am certain those that I might think strong are not necessarily the ones someone else might choose.  And that is I think one o f the key points of Cramer’s work, as well of that of Hutte and Suzuki, that there is no intent to dictate the narrative to the viewer.  The mystery, masking of location and even to an extent subject, force the viewer to engage with the photograph to figure out what it is, where it might be, what is in the frame and what might be just out of the frame.  So, to that end, and because there is no real overall intention to Cramer’s work beyond the three broad categories, the photographs are not intended to hang together in a linear fashion to create a narrative and therefore can be viewed in any order as standalone images, each waiting for the viewer to create their own story.

Darwent noted of Cramer’s work they are “images shot through with story and place, but which demand we ignore both place and story. This is what we are, they say, but what are we?” (Darwent, 2007) Cramer’s images are tantalising, looking familiar and foreign at the same time, clearly of something almost recognisable, but what. He presents the viewer with a puzzle to which the solution will be based in the knowledge and cultural experiences of each viewer.  For example, the underwater photos were to me as a scuba diver immediately recognisable as such, but to someone who had never dived, may have been quite confusing and disorienting.  The woodland photos were likely more familiar territory for many, and I liked how Cramer choose to include a mix of photos, some of which seem to invite the viewer in and others that seemed to want to hold the viewer out.

It is very moody and atmospheric work.  It defies time and place merging both into the space of heady dreams and fantasy.  I wish it had been published as a book as it is one I would enjoy owning.

 

References

DARWENT, Charles. 2007. ‘Weblet Importer’. [online]. Available at: http://danielgustavcramer.com/infotxt.html [accessed 1 Apr 2019].

 

Week 9 – Reflections

The guest lectures were especially good this week.  I found it really interesting and informative to here Liz and Addie from Elliot Halls talk about how they decide what to display, who to represent and how to strategically approach building a relationship with a gallery.  I was not surprised to hear how competitive the marketplace is, but I was a bit surprised at how patient one might need to be to attract the attention of the gallery world and how many years Elliot Halls had taken before deciding to bring someone in.  Not sure I have enough years left to hope to find my way in to a gallery.

I was also very intrigued by the work of Lewis Bush.  I was familiar with some of his work, but it was really good to hear him talk about it and the incredible depth of research he went to on each project.  It was also fascinating to see how far afield from photography he went to do research and stimulate inspiration.  While the subject matter he deals with is quite different than mine, what I found of interest was the similarity in the idea of revealing things “hidden in plain sight”.  This was true to a degree in Metropole, but even more so in Shadows of the State.  Many people go through life not seeing, really seeing, things that surround them every day.  My work on this course has focused on showing places to people in ways they had not been shown or in ways people had not seen for themselves.

Current Work

I managed to despite still running a fever to get out for a couple hours of shooting on Friday.  It completely exhausted me, but I came back with a range of good and not so good work.  My approach to work has definitely changed since the beginning of the course.  I now work virtually exclusively in Manual settings and there is a much more deliberate attempt to get the framing and exposure completely right in the camera.  I also go out with specific intentions of what I want to shoot.  I had been wanting to get better images of some of the dune slacks as well as some additional video in the glades and slacks to show the movement.  I was successful yesterday with the video as it was very windy, and the results were very dynamic in contrast to the stills.  I was not satisfied with the still images in the slacks between the wind disrupting the stillness of the water and the time of day, I felt the photos were soulless and uninteresting visually and they did not evoke any emotion.   A few of the detail shots did work out as did the glade work.

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Dune Slack (unsuccessful as it fails to spark emotion or interest)

 

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Dune Slack (successful intriguing above above, on and below the surface)

Coursework Reflections

On this week’s coursework and whether photography is art.  As I have written in a prior post, I think it is a something of a ridiculous question when it is phrased that way.  Is all photography art? Of course it is not. As Merry Foresta noted in the foreword to Photography Changes Everything, “most of the billions of pictures that are taken with cameras every year are made for purposes that have nothing to do with art.  They are made for quite specific reasons, some exalted and some mundane, and their value is dependent on how well they serve a purpose that, more often than not, has nothing to do with photography itself.” (Heiferman, 2012: 7)

Can photography be art? Again of course it can, though that judgement lies in the hands of the consumers and promoters, rather than with the photographer.  I cite as a relevant current example the documentary work of Don McCullin who never considered himself an artist, nor was his work made with the thought of it being viewed as art, and yet it sits today on the walls of the Tate Modern.  The art world and art buyers are fickle.  Sometimes its trendy, sometimes its rare, and sometimes there is just no accounting for taste.

References

HEIFERMAN, Marvin. 2012. Photography Changes Everything. First. New York: Aperture.

 

Week 8 – Additional Reading and Research

I have recently acquired a copy of Risaku Suzuki’s book Water Mirrors.  It is not only a beautifully constructed book physically, but the imagery is very much related to recent work I have been undertaking. There are no introductions to the book and no captions, just photo after photo.  At the end is an essay by art critic Yuri Mitsuda which I found equally interesting with regard to informing my work.

Mitsuda writes “What’s mirrored in the water are the trees surrounding lakes and marshes.  The relaxed density of the branches extending toward the lakes form something like a nest that surrounds and protects the quiet water.  Just as with a mirror, the trees are captured in the water that reflects them.  In water, the leaves are shown in utter verisimilitude, making it impossible to distinguish the reflections from the actual trees standing in the soil and air. The result is a simulacral mime that exists only within the photographs. These scenes would not exist without the intervention of the camera and the lens.”

“When the photographer tosses a rock into the water, the rock creates rifts and turns the water inside out, rustling the surrounding trees.  A fluid image resembling an abstract painting appears in the photograph…When the water surface is cut up by a fallen tree, moving water is juxtaposed against still water, bringing disparate temporalities of the material in contact with each other and producing details that fascinate endlessly.” (Suzuki, 2017)

Suzuki WM_653 2016
Suzuki WM-653 2016

While there is more that could be quoted, I think for now it is enough to show how my work has taken a similar turn.

072A0727
Rose Coul Glade 2019

Paul suggested I also look at the work of fellow Falmouth student Isabella Campbell and I discovered she too is pursuing similar subjects and aesthetics.  An example of her work shows the link between Suzuki and my recent work.

Campbell LANDINGS-11 2018
Campbell Landings -11 2018

I have also begun reading Setting Sun: Writings by Japanese Photographers and two different books on Wabi Sabi, one by Andrew Juniper (2003) and the other by Beth Kempton (2018).  I have long held an affinity for Japanese culture, philosophy and aesthetics and I am finding as I research more how much my work and the subjects I photograph resemble what I am reading in the writings and observing in the photographs.  I have mentioned before that the house I designed and built in 2006 contains a great deal of Japanese influence and features normally only found in Japanese houses. That influence runs strongly in everything I do.

Shigeo Gocho in his essay Photography as Another Reality, in Setting Sun writes: “Things that some people can see, other people cannot. Things that some people can hear, other people cannot.  I once wondered if such a thing was possible, but now I understand it as a matter of distance between reality and fantasy.  It is also a matter of how each specific person places himself in this temporal world, as the image of the world is dependent upon this relationship…No matter how much one might say that it presents pure fantasy or delusion, photography is about capturing an image of the outside world, which means that a photograph is only possible if it uses reality as a go-between.” (Vartanian, 2006: 52-53)

Setting Sun is filled with so many gems that absolutely find a home in my head and heart.  I have found myself needing through the course of this module to be far more introspective about my photography and the reasons for than ever before.  I truly never thought much about and just did what I did. Reading and researching has certainly provided a framework for examining what I do and why and while it is still evolving certain elements have begun to gel in my mind. I asked myself the question “Why do I photograph nature?”

Out amidst nature was always the place that I could go to be myself and exist without judgement.  I look at Nature and Nature looks back at me and says “welcome, we are.”  People on the other hand judge and seek to separate and categorise.  They look at me and say “you are X.”  All the people who have ever existed are a single mere speck of dust in geological time.  It is very likely humans will not endure as a species and Nature will reclaim them as geological time moves on.

I suppose that this is one of those areas of difference in Western and Eastern philosophies.  The West has long held a man versus nature philosophy where nature must be conquered and tamed. It for that matter extended to the idea that “civilised white” people were at the evolutionary pinnacle and anyone who did not fit in that box was just another animal to be conquered and tamed.  In contrast, the Eastern philosophies address the art of being in the world beginning with Tao and flowing with the watercourse way and evolving in to Zen which teaches we are part of everything we perceive.  There is something at my core that recognises the latter and that is part of what continually draws me away from most people and to the untamed places where I can best be my untamed self.

References:

VARTANIAN, Ivan, Akihiro HATANAKA and Yutaka KAMBAYASHI. 2006. Setting Sun: Writing by Japanese Photographers. New York: Aperture.

JUNIPER, Andrew. 2003. Wabi Sabi – the Japanese Art of Impermanance. First. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing.

KEMPTON, Beth. 2018. Wabi Sabi – Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life. London: Piatkus.

SUZUKI, Risaku. 2017. Water Mirror. Tokyo: Case Publishing.