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.

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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

Der Grund (2) : revisions to Assignment 2

I had taken a series of additional photographs for this assignment back in Spring, mainly following the tutor advice on including other people, different locations; so, much of the revision then focused on different grounds, perspectives but also doing a series of photographs with me and my father (my father being the son of the photographer of the initial set of photographs that inspired this project).

There are two main proposed changes:

  1. the photographs and their sequencing
  2. the material outcome

 

The photographs and their sequencing

The initial project was realised as an online flipbook, here.

Early on I marked the following as changes: if in book form as it:

  • remove: spread 12-13, 14-15, 26-27.
  • retake: 25 (colour cast can’t be post-processed); also on bed!
    >> don’t want to retake it; reducing saturation (-30) works quite well.

<< this responds to the tutor advice of it being too repetitive and laboured in its current form.

Looking through the sequence again, I am even tempted to remove than the initially marked spreads.

The photographs I chose to take in addition are the following:

… I will need to print these and then work on the sequencing with the earlier photographs (both archival and those that I took)

The material outcome

Initially I was keen on having a luminous, back-lit outcome for this, hence the online flipbook. But looking back at it, that preference was mainly my own rather than one grounded in this actual project. For the final resolution of the project I have settled on an actual album, either just a small 6×4 album, or, more likely a slightly larger album which allows for utilising the negative space on the page to reposition some of the historical images with current ones.

I am currently experimenting with a simple shop-bought album for this (which in its ordinariness seems fitting, rather than a handbound one).

 

 

exercise 4_3: a meme

 

exercise: Taking inspiration from an image or idea you’ve researched, create your own photographic response to an internet meme. This may be something original, or your own interpretation of an existing meme. It might be funny or profound, but it should make people want to look at it and share it.

 

Having used Facebook rather extensively as interface for my final assignments, I over time sought out various meme pages and explored some of the forms in which memes are generated, repeated, altered, and circulated.

— What follows is a fairly narrow selection of the memes that interest me and the sites that post them. In that, many of them are political, are at points offensive, and at other points targeting a rather particular audience (like Freud Quotes, Shit Academics Say or Zlazloj.zizek, which is Slavoj Zizek extensive experiments in social media form). The other type of memes I was interested in are those that are ironic takes on both memes and the wider context of YOLO (you only live ones), these are the inspirobot.me and Vapid Daily.

Politics, narcissism and social media practice

Zlazloj.zizek, Zizek’s page (and numerous other pages like I would prefer not to, Disturbing Books, Freud Quotes seem all fairly closely interconnected, often reposting each others posts, so for many of the memes, there is a iteration and redundancy in my feed, which reinforces, repeats, reminds).

Zizek in particular explores the edges of taste, the futility of love (which I take to be an attack on current strands of feminist politics around care, self-care and a renewed focus on social reproduction) and above all the scope for narcissism in social media form. These two are examples of this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both reference popular films (It and Fifty Shades of Grey), depict key stills from these and insert Zizek as protagonist: as monstrous clown Pennywise (who is very much to be feared) and as the subject of Christian Grey’s unconventional desire. In both these scenes, the meme works because it requires an audience’s familiarity with the plot development, the actuality of appropriate fear vis-a-vis Pennywise and that Grey’s desires are of sexual domination (and having a female submissive partner). The first, Pennywise, meme, subverts the plotline by altering the text (in written, not spoken form), the second one does so by inserting a new still, of Zizek in bed, sitting proud in front of a picture of Stalin.

The joke? The dangers of communism as spectre and Zizek as controversial character.

Bottom Leftist Memes does something rather different. It is one of the few pages on FB that I have encountered that explicitly discusses (gay and submissive) sex and desire within a left anarchist political context. Its content features often the page admin’s own graphic drawings, besides some reposting, some other memes and some political commentary. The posts for some time feature a text description of the images which is thoughtful, hilarious and a tech commentary on the inability of FB to provide appropriate text captioning for its image (i.e. there is a commentary about accessibility contained in these.

I use an example which isn’t sexually explicit, for others, go and visit the page.

The post reads:

CW discussion of violence; poorly drawn Nazi symbolism]
What are you getting so worked up about
.
.
.
[ Image description: Drawings of a person wearing a red swastika armband and heiling; a person with a 1488 forehead tattoo; a sharply-dressed guy with a suit and tie and a Pepe the Frog pin; a person wearing a KKK hood; somebody waving a Kekistan flag; some kid wearing a Pepe mask and holding an anime girl body pillow; and a guy wearing a red baseball cap that I was too lazy to write MAGA on but you know that’s what it’s supposed to be. Text reads: “Hahaha don’t you feel silly? 6 out of these 7 “quote-unquote” “”””NAZIS”””” are only joking, and only one of them would actually beat you to death with a baseball bat in real life. Have fun guessing which one! ]

 

 

 

 

Vapid inspirations and artificial intelligence

Vapid Daily is a page that composes and circulates vapid inspirational quotes (not) on a daily basis.

I only see these occasionally in my feed, their overblown visuals and the trashy font type generally make me smile, the text often is painfully accurate. They are clearly carefully constructed as such.

Late June I came across a bot that is designed to provide inspirational quotes, inspirobot.me . I came across it as there as a fair bit of media coverage as to the nonsensical, often offensive nature of its inspirational quotes, of getting it wrong how a meme, an inspiration works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I generated a few quotes here and there, and over the past fortnight started to do so more systematically, with a friend setting a shared facebook album to collect (via screenshot a few of these). The album is called bat rum (once), a word play on bot romance, as the aspect of romance, desire and social interaction was one that initially interested me most. With some of the memes being so offensive and rude, I soon set up a second, more private album called bot romance (the m files), m standing for misogyny, morals and mother (?). My friend and I would generally share our finds via messenger, I would often upload them to be shared with her and my friends. A comment a few days ago pointed to the narcissist, individualised, neoliberal logic of many of the quotes, but also that our posting was needing a trigger warning: you are about to be hit on the head with some neoliberal inspirational sledgehammer. This exchange led me to the following as GIF (though the format is strictly an MP4, a video, but it consists of two images, one a myriad of inspirobot images, too small to be read, yet relentless, the other one a simple phone drawing about the need to be inspired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ironically, while each of the inspirobot memes gets some likes, noone has liked my meme so far 😮 — or: perhaps not ironically but fairly fittingly.

 

Office at Night (2) : material and possibly outcomes [A1 / office at night revisions]

This post updates on the revisions of Assignment 1: Office at Night.

[UPDATED 8 September 2017 with decision on final form, see end of this post]

I now concluded the second round of image making for the Office at Night.

The first one consisted of meeting a colleague in her office, us jointly taking images while discussing a series of questions over office, work, night, desire. I then developed the images (made on iphone and Minox 35 mm film camera) to form both the manual and digital montages of assignment 1.

The final submission of the assignment is here; the tutor report for it here.

In my first submission I was deliberate as to the provisional status of the images: while impermanence was a deliberate aspect of the manual montages, which were just temporarily arranged in my notebook, while working in the coffee shop, it nonetheless wasn’t a formal resolution for this assignment yet.

During the first part of the course I also experimented with my own bedroom/office as a workspace that exceeds its boundaries. These images formed project Project 1_2: through a digital lens.

The main point of critique of the tutor report concerned the aesthetic qualities of the images: they did not engage, arrest, invite to concern oneself more with them:

You practice is very well informed, contextually, but to be honest, I don’t find that the formal outcome of either these approaches actually have aesthetic qualities that match their intellectual underpinning. Forgive me if this sounds trite or pedestrian, but my view is that artwork – in all forms – is presented to be engaged with, and it needs to be aesthetically enticing to do so effectively. I think this is particularly the case with your ‘manual montages’ – I think one needs to always ask the frank question, of whether anyone else is actually going to want to engage with a piece of one’s work.

— as they originated in a fleeting process and formed a documented record, I didn’t mind this criticism too much and found it fair. It also, over the following 18 months led to much investigation, reflection as to what I consider the underpinnings of my artistic practice, what role what kind of aesthetic plays in this and how to work towards resolutions that address both the the conceptual concerns and a visual realisations that matches these.

My immediate line of thought for this was three-fold:

a. to produce a series of considered still set up far more formally, possibly photographed on film again (and pursuing a few months later the acquisition of a medium-format camera) to allow for a -reembedding back into a slowed down, quietened context.

b. to investigate whether the stills and montages could themselves become part of my main working process, i.e. become the material that constitutes (or: re-constitutes) a notebook. I conducted a series of first printing experiments in disassembled journals to see if this was feasible, but stopped at this point.

c. to engage my interview partner in examining and rearranging the earlier images together to then document this second part in photography again.

In Summer 2016 I sent a single-use camera to another colleague and invited her to document, (inspired by the short set of pointers that I already used for the first conversation) to record anything around the theme, while I would do something similar for my own office at night, again also on a 35mm camera (though not single use but with fairly high-quality lens and a 3200 ISO film).

We then met again (10 months later), in her office/ bedroom and looked at the images, talked about the process, any themes arising while setting up over the course of a couple of hours and with a tripod and the medium-format camera (Kodak Ektar 100, i.e. saturated slow film) a series of stills, some of these featuring ourselves also. I choose to work with available light for this and fairly slow shutter speeds to make use of the narrow DoF of the camera.

On the basis of this second process, I can now envisage a series of revisions for the initial assignment:

  1. the submission of a single A3 print that consists of the diptych in my own bedroom/ office at night1_2 My office triptych.jpg
  2.  a series of images that are referencing the different offices, in which this project has been located:
    Office at Night Angela single1_2 My office triptychDIC_A1_montage1-2Office at Night Angela Diptych 1Office at Night Angela Diptych 2
    2017_08_062017_09_022017_09_032017_09_08— the main question for this approach: single images? combined images for Office at Night (A), and my own office, plus the single digital montage for the original Office at Night (H)?
  3. an artist book in the form of a reassembled notebook, with some printed pages, some text, empty pages and a set of the original source images to invite the viewer/reader to perform their own manual montages in this? [no marquette of this yet, but will reinsert this]
    — what role do the more formal montages play in this notebook? e.g., do they form a cover or back image, are they included as a print also?
    — is there a book per office? i.e. like a potential series?
    — is there scope to turn this into multiples? [e.g. by photocopying, inkjet printing, risograph or indeed screenprinting?This is the type of notebook I use, it is stitched and I in the past already disassembled them and rebound in different forms. It is slightly too large for the pages to go through my inkjet printer but the thinness of the paper is as such not a problem for the printer.
    It also contains a pouch in the back, which could easily take a series of 6×4 prints.IMG_20170731_123912.jpg

 

Final decision on format

Following further discussion and reflection, I arrived at the decision to print single images, fairly large (such as 10×10, or above; though 10×10 is possibly the print size limit for assessment submission – which I will need to check). These will be the following six images:

[I need to upload the current diptych as two single images]

Jeff Wall (1979) Picture for Women [A1/ office at night revisions]

— one of the references for exploring further what is contained in the material that formed the first assignment.

As my tutor points out: it is a retaking of Edouard Manet’s (1982) A Bar at the Folies-Bergère and its complex viewpoints. The multiplicity of the gaze is the one that my tutor picked up from the digital montages of the initial submission.

The Courtauld website points towards a series of themes: the bar as site for drinking and meeting prostitutes, described by a contemporary as ‘umixed joy’. The sternness of the central figures expression does not match that description (and also sits at odds with the bustle visible in the mirror behind her. Also: we, as viewer, stand in the place of a man depicted solely in reflection. That the reflection of his face and her back is skewed, shifted too far to the right, is one of the points for discussion.

Jeff Wall’s remaking of the bar scene moves the setting into either a classroom, a dance studio or another, not quite defined, space. Again, we can assume there is a mirror, through which we see the whole scene. In the dead centre of it, a large format camera. A woman to our left, a man, identified as Wall himself to the right, looking at the woman (or, perhaps more precisely, her back). We see it is nighttime: the window front in the back shows a dark outside, overhead are several bare light bulbs. The woman stands still, seems to look at herself in reflection (or indeed at us?), Walls seems to be suspended in a walking movement, is he holding something in his hand?

It is a place of activity, foremost: that of the making of a photograph; i.e. it is the workplace of a photographer (Wall), and still, what else is going here? Is she model? As women at that time in such a space would be. Knowing the origin in Manet’s painting, I realise that I am asking myself too as to what the sexual relationship between the two are. Is there one? Is my wondering intended?

Campany, in the short video clip about the book he published on this single work also relates Wall’s work to Hitchcock’s voyeurism, and outlines the circumstance that this was a large-scale back-lit gallery installation, not a photograph as print. Also: a single work, not a series or a body of work.

[I have ordered the book and will take a closer read of this, as I realise that the Office at Night will remain an ongoing project beyond the remits of this module and assignment