I have been continuing work on the multimedia bits of my upcoming exhibition and completed two videos that I plan to review in Amsterdam in the portfolio review.
I have also been working on an invitation list and the advertising posters, and have been writing the artist’s statement that will accompany the exhibition.
I feel a bit behind in writing as I have been so busy doing and yet the weather has been highly uncooperative for getting the remaining drone footage I would like to have.
Printing of the large format photos will the week after returning from Amsterdam. I have settled on the edit and am comfortable with my choices. The chosen work includes a cross section of the work I have accomplished while on the MA with a heavy weighting toward more recent work, but I felt the context provided by some of the earlier work was important to the overall narrative.
As I await the feedback on my proposal, I am continuing to explore narrative approaches to the project. Recent political events have, in my mind, cast further doubt on the likelihood that development will be approved and that alters the calculus on a major element of the originally envisioned project. On the other hand, underlying the subtle and not so subtle aspects of the controversy, most of which are not visible, lies the place, Coul Links, which goes on oblivious to the attempts to alter or preserve it.
So, I find myself asking; is the controversy about the potential development even important at this point or is it just noise hovering around the periphery of a more enduring story? Or conversely; is the place only significant and on my radar because of the controversy of the potential development? Would anyone notice or care truly about Coul Links had someone not proposed building a golf course there? After all it has been a designated site for a quarter century, and no one really seemed to care that that the site was not being maintained as it was meant to be. It is perhaps only because of the proposed development that anyone aside from local residents are even aware of the environmental designations assigned to the site.
And here is the crux of the issue with regard to FMP; which perspective to adopt and which chapter of the story to tell. I have begun the process of looking through all of my contact sheets and archives of the work done on the course and I have also started researching the print and on-line sources that addressed the Coul Links development. I can see potential narratives from several perspectives and yet I haven’t enough clarity or conviction to settle on one just yet.
I think perhaps the process of choosing photographs may help a narrative emerge. Additionally, the archival research from the news coverage over the past 3 years will also support the narrative. Time to get on with it.
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.
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.
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.
HEIFERMAN, Marvin. 2012. Photography Changes Everything. First. New York: Aperture.
Following the portfolio critiques of last week and recognising there was interest and possibility in the work I had shown from the glades at Coul Links, I now need to go back and continue that work to capture them in different light and as they change with the coming of Spring. There are one or two other glades that I will also explore to see if they have sufficient visual interest. Among the approaches I want to pursue is low light/ night work augmented by flash and/or hand-held lights to see what kind of effects are possible. I hope to be able to shoot in the rain if it can be done safely.
I also need to reconnoitre the local area for additional Abandonment and Reclamation prospects. I know of a few already, so I will need to get out and photograph them as soon as possible. One of the things Cemre picked up on was the way that the lower edge of the buildings in two of my existing photos lined up perfectly across two separate locations. This is something I need to be mindful of in capture so I leave myself some latitude in post processing to adjust the frame to get similar placement.