Overview of assessment submission for Digital Image and Culture

This is the document which outlines and ties together the various assignments from this module.

Overall rationale and themes

Across this module I have focused on digital culture and the production of diverse identities within these in a number of ways. Central to all  projects sits an investigation into the relational modes between author/artist – subject/object – audience/viewer. Also central is an interest in exploring shifts and changes across media forms (analogue/digital) as well as different sites and locations (online/offline) as well as the constructions of publics within these. More specifically, the five assignments approach the above as follows:

Office at Night (Assignment 1)

This series takes as its starting point Victor Burgin’s Office at Night (1986), in which he seeks to question and update Edward Hoppers (1940) painting of a boss and his secretary depicted in an office at night-time. Burgin’s initial interest for the series lay in an inversion of Hopper’s painting by which the secretary depicted would shift from being an object of sexual curiosity to become the subject of curiosity: ‘to transform showing into knowing, exhibitionism into epistemophilia’ (Burgin referenced in The Exposure Project 2008). His strategy is simple and powerful: an inversion of the subject/object relationship inside the picture plane and thus a shift in the identification of the viewer from the male to the female, a shift in the interaction between viewer and viewed upon.

My own project proceeded in different stages and iterations, the shift between subject/object being taken further still as I insert my colleagues and myself into the picture plane, exploring the relationship between author, subject and viewer further still. For the series presented here, my colleague and I took 35mm analogue images of our work environments and later meet in her office to discuss and re-insert our respective images into her office space. Shot on a Bronica 6×6 MF camera and highly saturated film, it references older forms and formats and employs montage (heightened by the narrow DOF of the lens) to investigate continuity and rupture within the picture plane, agency of subject/object and the concerns over contemporary office working practices.

Der Grund (Assignment 2)

This project starts with a family album cliche: in October 2015, my father hands me a box of photographs of his father, dating almost entirely from the time 1941-1945. This box of about 200 photographs constitutes my archive for this project; it is neither public nor easily accessible; instead it is almost the opposite: hidden and fairly private. I view his images through what he saw. His subjects were known to him: comrades, superiors, friends, possibly lovers; fellow Germans, mostly Luftwaffe personnel, some civilian men and women, all based at a munition camp outside Oslo in Nazi-occupied Norway. They were the occupying force. One wouldn’t guess from the photographs if it wasn’t for the men’s uniforms. It takes me several weeks to notice an absence: many of his subjects have no feet; they seem to have feet missing in incidental ways. Frequently, the ground that they stand on seems invisible, perhaps not even present at all? I notice this absence and wonder if he noticed it too? When taking the photo? When seeing the print? Maybe when seeing the prints after the war from which he returned unharmed, with only a short spell as a British PoW, quickly declared de-nazified, as so many of his contemporaries. I started to take my own photographs interested in this absence. Seeking my feet on camera to stand in, I quickly discover, requires something to stand on. And yet, a stable footing on the ground that I have sought out for myself is not easily found.

‘Ground’ in German also means ‘reason’ — as much as ungrounded is unreasonable in English. What ground did these men and women stand on? What grounds did they have?

The networked image and the negotiation of public and private in the work of feminist artists whose lens-based and performative practice negotiates both analogue and digital (Assignment 3, Critical Essay)

Setting out with Trish Morrissey’s work, this essay explores what boundaries are being transgressed and negotiated between the public and private to chart the impact of networked images on these boundaries. In order to do so, the essay in turn discusses firstly, feminist practices as the site where the boundaries (and their crossing) between public and private in still and moving image are examined; secondly, seeks an understanding of the construction of public and private in their contemporary social context, i.e. what is the cultural field in which these practitioners engage; and thirdly, turns to the question of how the condition of the networked image engages with these concerns, re-articulating older questions? Doing so, it employs a model of author – subject – audience to investigate this problematic in the work of Chantal Akerman, Nan Goldin and Sophie Calle to argue that the arrival of digital practices has led towards a ‘public domain of networked intimacy’ (Garde-Hansen 2013), which is accompanied by a shift in the perception of the image on behalf of the viewer (Fontcuberta 2014). In doing so, this conditions of the networked image are effectively folding forward the accessibility and reach of the performative feminist practices discussed.

the line (Assignments 4 & 5)

He told me to draw a line, to stick to the line. Make transparent what is here and what is beyond.
I could hear in his voice that this division works for him.
It is never one that I would have much confidence nor trust in.
Yes, if this is about boundaries, then let me pick the line carefully, and in abiding by it, let me move – similarly carefully – across my own boundary.

This set of stilled videos with audio explores the extent to which stories move into and out of urban spaces and across to the digital. It explores not only the hear-say narrations of truths and half-truth but also their mutability, situatedness and mobility. These stories told and depicted reference a series of events which are at once auto-biographical, fictitious and performative. They feature not only myself but friends, peers, comrades, lovers, confidantes, acquaintances across time and space (the past fifteen years and the urban spaces along and around  Dumbarton Rd in Glasgow and Oxford Rd in Manchester), alongside a series of texts by Chris Kraus, Bhanu Kapil and Sophie Calle to trace not only hopes, dreams and desires across these spaces but also enquire into an antagonistic Other, often in the form of violence.

 

 

 

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the line (assignment 5): revisions

Following the tutor feedback and final revision discussion, this is the final version of the line: presented as a three-page tumblr website, holding 35 video clips plus a menu which has a short instruction plus five menu items (two statements; a methodology collection of video clips, and a reference list, and the standard archive tab).

Assignment 5 is only marginally altered: one clip is shortened, four clips reprocessed and uploaded through tumblr and not Vimeo. Here, the tutor feedback seemed to want to remove one of the key concepts (besides the digital/analog moving of gossip, anecdote) of desires, movement, transgression and their darker undercurrents; and I chose to hold onto the abundance and overwhelm that marks this concept.

https://the———————–line.tumblr.com/

 

Der Grund (Assignment 2), final version

This project took a few rounds of revisions. Notably: an old photo album wasn’t working (too cliched), the plan to produce a purpose-made concertina 6×4 album did not feel right either (too large, too common).

In the process, I also kept resequencing the work until I had a version, with ‘chapter breaks’ that worked. The dummy of 5x6cm images (printed on a single A4 sheet) revealed an unexpected degree of perfection in the small-scale, hand-held format. I proceeded to test two giclee papers (photo mat and Hahnemuehle Rag), both about 300gsm weight, the latter an open-structured paper. Producing the folds on the latter is just possible, it creates breaks and an open structure that fit with the theme, the size remained perfect.

I tested a variety of covers, and settled on a reverse inkjet print on a thin vintage (1950s) tracing paper, pasted on, which means the writing sits ’embedded’ in the paper structure, the closing mechanism is a simple elastic:

IMG_2915

A video of the final sequence is here:

Revision of Critical Essay

I revised the critical essay and the final version for assessment is attached.

[the original is in this post]

My key revisions were

(a) adding a reference to Berger & Sontag (1983) To tell a story to elucidate one underpinning concept of the relational dynamic between author-subject/object-viewer

(b) to write through the previously bullet-pointed section that outlines the key changes of the above in the context of the networked image.

(c) to add a further closing sentence to draw back to the role of performativity and the shifting construction of boundaries between public and private in the context of the networked digital image.

I have highlighted the changed sections in a dark red in this new document, here.

 

 

Tutor report Assignment 6: revisions

Here is the final (brief) tutor report for the revisions assignment:

Helms_Gesa_492645_PH2DIC_6

I am also copying the main points into this post as I will refer back to them in preparation for the March 2018 assessment.

Blog restructuring

AP: to add category Learning Log as top level category and subsume current top level categories Coursework and Reflection under it)

Assignment 1:

10×10 as print size would be appropriate but if I feel a bigger size is called for, I could do that too.

Assignment 2:

We discussed at some length the final album form. I talked about buying a ready-made contemporary photo album (but wanting empty pages on which I can position prints freely); Jesse suggested a vintage album and I talked about the various ones that I had already collected (either unused or emptied of previous photographs).

> these are the two options to explore first; if neither works satisfactorily, I will custom- made a hand-sewn album.

 

Assignment 3:

AP to check submission process but also to ensure that I include a print copy in the physical submission to OCA.

Assignment 4/5:

— as per last tutor report for revisions, notably: dedicated site; exploring separate audio track and exploring editing number down.

Assessment submission:

  • –  clamshell box for 1, 2, 3
  • –  and a single sheet that on one page spells out concisely the contribution of each

    assignment (including 4/5 as online submission) >> a succinct paragraph for each.

Assignment Six: pre-assessment review

On 7 Sep 2017, at 12:56, Gesa Helms <g.helms@posteo.net> wrote:

Dear Jesse,

— this email outlines and points to the relevant blog posts concerning the revisions for the previous assignments and thus concludes the module.
I am cc’ing OCA Enquiries (as per your suggestions) into this as confirmation of having concluded the module within the timeframe.

The main changes to discuss in our tutorial concern A1 – Office at Night and A2 – Der Grund.

For A3, the essay I will present a version reworked on the basis of our discussion, notably writing through the final section which is currently only presented in bullet point form (due to the word limit).

For A4/5, please see the discussion on the previous tutorial as to technical and presentational revisions (mainly: moving to a dedicated site which allows fuller control over uploaded videos; but also considering to edit the selections of videos down.).

For A1 I have written (and now updated) a blog post which details a further iteration of the original participatory methodology of the project and now includes a repositioning of the initial prints in the participants workspace (i.e. a take on the manual collage). Please see post here: https://digitalimageandculturegh.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/office-at-night-2-material-and-possibly-outcomes-a1-office-at-night-revisions/

For A2 I took a series of additional photographs, following our tutorial and have re-edited the set of images and intend to realise it as an actual print album (as family album) rather than an online format. Please see post here: https://digitalimageandculturegh.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/der-grund-2-revisions-to-assignment-2/

For our final Skype tutorial, Wednesday 27 or Thursday 28 are good for me (I will be in Germany), please pick a date and time that is best for you? I look forward to the final tutorial and many thanks for all your support during this course!

All best,
Gesa

Conclusions

Dear Jesse,

— this email outlines and points to the relevant blog posts concerning the revisions for the previous assignments and thus concludes the module.
I am cc’ing OCA Enquiries (as per your suggestions) into this as confirmation of having concluded the module within the timeframe.

The main changes to discuss in our tutorial concern A1 – Office at Night and A2 – Der Grund.

For A3, the essay I will present a version reworked on the basis of our discussion, notably writing through the final section which is currently only presented in bullet point form (due to the word limit).

For A4/5, please see the discussion on the previous tutorial as to technical and presentational revisions (mainly: moving to a dedicated site which allows fuller control over uploaded videos; but also considering to edit the selections of videos down.).

For A1 I have written (and now updated) a blog post which details a further iteration of the original participatory methodology of the project and now includes a repositioning of the initial prints in the participants workspace (i.e. a take on the manual collage). Please see post here: https://digitalimageandculturegh.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/office-at-night-2-material-and-possibly-outcomes-a1-office-at-night-revisions/

For A2 I took a series of additional photographs, following our tutorial and have re-edited the set of images and intend to realise it as an actual print album (as family album) rather than an online format. Please see post here: https://digitalimageandculturegh.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/der-grund-2-revisions-to-assignment-2/

 

All best,
Gesa