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

 

The sex was over (Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay 2014)

[posted as this on FB, 3/7/2017, 17:24pm to Friends – Acquaintances]

Social work training 9/6/2017
Sanctions
.
[no further entry]
.
.
2/7/2017
The things we learn in the shadows
blindfold as fetish
Benny’s lover’s legs. His longing for these legs.
‘Do you remember who I am?’
‘You were editing a video of mine.’
‘Yes, I told you that I have been watching you for weeks before we first met in that bathroom, alone, blindfolded.’
.
.
‘We have been cruising each other for many years’.

[this marks the last contextual piece for the line. in fact, it marks an opening and designates the line as a transitional piece, not just between the Cross and the Grasses but to an elsewhere]
.
[a key element of this piece below is not part of this post, so let me tell you about it: the audio/visual below plays in a darkened room, there are about 15 people sitting in various places in the room; they have watched, listened to 90 mins of a dialogue, performance, movement between Liz Rosenfeld and Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay talking about their private and professional cruising of gay male spaces; the conversation ends with The sex is over, and features a single male dancer, who in this case is self-conscious ‘I am not a dancer’, but nonetheless moves between us and the beat for the duration of the a/v]

 

no | shadow | secrets : installation for OCA study day 6 May 2017

For the May study day I set up the installation of the prints as envisaged in Assignment 4. This meant one wall which started with Site 1 (Partick Cross) on the left, moving into the middle part, the main images of sites, movement, individual images of the project, and on the far right Site 2 (Whitworth Grasses).

This was the first time that I had set up the whole project as intended. However, the setup time was effectively too short (just under 30 mins), whereas before I would spent far longer on setting up the middle part alone and then over a series of days rearranging the relationship between the images.

The installation was accompanied by a series of single page short texts, where each participant received a different text to act as an introduction to the project, and then was invited to explore the installation.

IMG_20170506_134116I also recorded the installation with a video. Unfortunately, my video app has some issues with what it shows on screen as recorded frame compared to what it actually records (which means the recording has a less than desirable framing; which I only realised too late to re-record).

 

After the viewing, everyone received the remaining sets of text, plus a context note.

 

The main feedback from tutor and participants as follows:

  • too many images: I obfuscate the content and purpose
  • not enough of mine in this: use my own voice to narrate the text that I handed out (over a still image) [see earlier presentations which used my voice in various ways]
  • vary the print size: print the key images as 8×10
  • construct this as a wall drawing: if these are connected, explore ways in which drawing marks can act as connection (see Richard Wright‘s installations)
  • go back to Della Porta’s Domestic Slavery for how some of the starkness of the context can be activated within this
  • various very strong images; liking the ability to select entry and exist and to explore the multiplicity of images, routes through these, also: appreciation of the subtlety of context and content (one feedback: ‘I knew this would be challenging material and it is and I really enjoy what you have done with this, how you approach the darkness in it’)

My own thoughts relating to the installation and discussion:

  • I was nervous about the rush of setting this up, and that the images would not strongly enough relate to each other
  • It was good to hand out the very different texts and gauge some of the difference in responses >> that is a really insightful means to open up a piece of work
  • through this entire setup, with both geographical locations in place, I am excited to see how the two locations suspend the middle part, the movements from one to another, somewhere between and back and forth rather effectively.
    >> the two locations are very different, more static configurations, my visual analogy was that of two magnetic poles, and iron dust being suspended between them

From this, I pursued the project pretty much exclusively in the video plus narration form as to what became the submission for assignment 5.

The plan is to explore the wall drawing installation separately and independently of the module/ assessment.

 

 

 

 

Assignment 4: no | shadow | secrets

[this is the draft of the extended project which will be resolved as Assignment 5. As some of its content is still in process, I have sent a personal note directly to my tutor, which I will leave out here for the time being].

I am including the draft statement, a short summary on contextual influences, an outline of what I still see as work to be done, the reflection on the assessment criteria (see further down) as well as the following image files:

  • contact sheets for the currently considered full set of images
  • a series of full-size jpgs of both digital phone camera and MF analogue images
  • a couple of installation setups for how I see the work as being presented.

Contact sheets

(of the main section with image title; the two static sites – Whitworth Grasses and Partick Cross as layout suggestion):

A sample of printed images

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 Installation views (from eventual left to right: Partick Cross, Main section, Whitworth Grasses)

IMG_20170330_153616IMG_20170330_124432IMG_20170217_144539

Draft statement

no | shadow | secrets (working title) presents as a sprawling, extending and expanding body of work of small-scale prints. It also is excessive: there is no space for all of the prints, so some remain, as a cache, to the side of it. It is indeterminate in a sense as it is installed on a wall space: the shapes and patterns of the prints can be recombined, leading to varied associations that the means of juxtaposition, proximity and distance between the various images make with each other. Nonetheless, the themes remain: it is about movement, about iteration and variation (maybe even about a Deleuzian repetition and difference), it is about an investigation of shadow shapes in various locations. Many images are of night-time movements: often on foot, along known urban routes, sometimes through car or train windows. The people that inform these images are referenced, none of them is visible (even though they may be present just outside the frame). Talking about the frame, the excessive abundance of no | shadow | secrets at the same time marks boundaries and edges: as subject matter, e.g. the roadworks along a long stretch of Oxford Road, but even more so of the photographic frame: with all its visibility, each image alludes simultaneously to what is left off, left out. The framing device and orientation of the environmental images, taken on both a digital phone as well as a medium format film camera, defy expectations of landscape vistas once these are rotated or cropped to a portrait orientation or indeed enframed by an egalitarian square (cf Fay Godwin). And still, and still: the (my) shadow remains, even if only moving through fleetingly; sometimes too, my feet.

This series is also attempting to translate experiences of online digital interactions (notably through a facebook feed and timeline, bounded to different privacy settings) into urban space. It traces and replicates its boundaries, its excess and abundance, its fleetingness, a number of transgressions, some disregard, some posing and posturing. Similarly, the production value of the images is on one level that of digital phone camera images, as jpgs often rather aggressively post-processed in camera which mingle with more considered, slower and carefully shot, selected and edited medium format analogue images.

Contextual influences:

Fay Godwin: square format for landscape photography
Vivian Sassen: UMBRA (shadows and book format with hiddne pockets); also interdisciplinary panel
Andy Warhol: Shadow series (notably those with diamond dust)
Ed Krasinski: Intervention in the Tate Liverpool show: a blue band linking disparate elements within a room; also: the shadows casts by mobiles
Tracy Emin’s My Bed
Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights
Calle, Goldin, Akerman as per Critical Essay

What is missing/ remains to be done:

  • decide on final set and post-process (notably MF images)
  • how to write about this? I would like to write a statement which takes the form of a short theory fiction piece (possibly moving along some of the images)
  • a screen print in 6×4 (possibly a simpler one than the shadows + movement blur in the one currently employed)
  • are there other forms of display/ installation? E.g., a book format, or a box?
  • elaborate the resonance of this vis-a-vis digital identities further, notably in relation to use of FB boundaries, publicness and privacy (but also: overwhelm, movement, non-linearity)

Reflection on Assessment criteria reflection

Demonstration of technical and visual skills (35%)

This is the most extensive and expansive body of work presented for this module so far. It developed over a series of months and started initially with fairly simple camera sketches and movement studies (phone camera). It developed from there as a continually expanding set of images and themes, revisited and refined with both the phone camera as well as then translated into MF analogue format. There are primarily two types of images: movement studies and stand-alone individually composed stills. The latter are in part part of small independent series (e.g. #aroseisaroseisaroseisarose; gallery shadows/ reflections, or from a series of winter lights decoration in the North German countryside); others are taken along familiar routes and refined over a series of walks and honing in on composition, the role of a variety of lights, and the presence of shadow shapes. The day-time images were devised after a study visit in an unknown location (Manchester, around the University) and then revisited with different camera and a more refined research agenda.

Quality of outcome (20%)

As with a set of analogue images that I developed alongside the Critical Essay (These Summer Images, a selection of which was presented to the OCA study group in August 2016), this project developed out of a practice of taking photos, reflecting and refining these over an extended period of time until a coherent theme and purpose for the project had become clear. In doing so, I am building both on my experience on pursuing visual interests around lens-based formats: notably the availability of a high quality camera phone and the ability to operate within the specific requirements of a MF analogue camera. Pursuing these two route at the same time allowed me to bridge digital and analogue in a form that I initially explored in the Critical Essay but also which is resonant of my exploration of online digital identities (moving online and offline with material posted and explored within various boundaries of a Facebook timeline). Choosing the presentation format as a wall full of small scale prints that meander, conjoin and develop off of each other is a format that chimes well for these concerns: expansiveness, excess, cheap print (as in posting small size images on FB, often to be viewed on handheld devices). The forms in which I want to discuss the content of the project are still in draft form (and, due to the nature of the project) also subject to some form of veiling or boundary drawing. I hope to resolve these for the final form of the project.

Demonstration of creativity (25%)

The working process of creating and reflecting and refining a large series of work required a systematic going back and forth between materials as well as also trusting in my ability to do so, not to lose a sense of overview or purpose as well as being able to select the most successful images. That these work in a variety of groupings within the large set speaks to me to the success of that approach; the format of the images supports this and while I am proposing the main form of presentation to be a wall installation, I have given some initial thought to other formats and would like to explore these further still for the second part of the project

Context (20%)

Different to Assignment 1, this assignment is largely built out of the material that I was collecting and its subsequent reflection, refinement and repositioning. The sources that inspired me to pursue and explore (as well as dismiss, notably the angle on secrets) the emerging themes and their refinement are varied across the visual arts and constitute in my mind a strong and successful frame of reference for this project while noone dominates the work in such a way that this is a work in the spirit of artist x, or similar. I am aware that my blog has not reflected a large part of the exercises for this assignment and while I have explored the themes (notably Foucault’s work on the Panopticon but also his work on sexuality; and its relationship to more psychoanalytical work on desire; and the shaping of these by algorithms), these haven’t been written up yet.

Studio SMACK (2016) Paradise and Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights (c1495-1505)

 

Seeing this animation first time a couple of weeks ago, the FB feed has reintroduced me, just as I had come back from my fielwork for taking analog images for the current assignment.

This time round, I looked more closely at Bosch’s original painting and some of its interpretations: earthly sin, the fall of (wo)man; notions of earthly pleasure or innocence, or in fact an ironic commentary on the Habsburg Empire’s pursuits of earthly delights.

What interests me in this?

  • the contemporary interpretation in format/medium as digital animation of one the key pieces in the Western art historical canon
  • the overflowing mess and abundance of the imagery, its animation and the inability to take it all in.
  • the theme of pleasure/desire

All these, in different forms are relevant to my current assignment work.

I ordered a recent publication on Bosch’s original work, mainly for the high quality reproductions of the details in the painting and a sense of current state of interpretation of this work which has been interpreted so vastly differently over time.

I will update this post with some more research details as they emerge.

Below a high resolution image of Bosch’s original work (source: https://uploads6.wikiart.org/images/hieronymus-bosch/the-garden-of-earthly-delights-1515-7.jpg)

 

the-garden-of-earthly-delights-1515-7.jpeg

Alexandra Leykauf : Spanische Wand (2013) and more

I am preparing for the next study day’s Pecha Kucha and am following up some interest in what kind of object the photographic work results in – largely in relation to not having settled on any form for A1, Office at Night yet.

Leykauf (b 1976) is one of the artists featured in Charlotte Cotton’s (2015) Photography is Magic. (Wendy had bought a review copy of the book to the previous meeting and I got myself a copy because I was really intrigued in the ways in which the artists present their image-based practice… many of them work with installations on various scales, so while much of the images as such is a digital practice, there is a keen sense of materiality in the presentation of these).

Leykauf looks at images both structurally and emotionally, she states in the statement included at the end of Cotton’s book (p. 362). ‘It is an experience of simultaneous distance and immersion’, to allow for different viewpoints and to present something that is beyond the scope of the image, i.e. working centrally within what Cotton – possibly nostalgically and/or romantically – calls magic, the illusion of photography and an ability to emotionally engage, possibly even enchant?

Leykauf’s earlier photography, based on an analog process, involved, as Katoprische Experimente (2013) photographic reproductions of books, often open, these would be installed with a fold, either large-scale (to walk among them) or on a small scale.

These two images have occupied me for the afternoon: http://www.morepublishers.be/edition/102, they are small (21x23cm) and folded.

References:

Cotton, C (2015) Photography is magic. New York: Aperture.

Lange, C (2012) ) The fold in the room.  Frieze, Issue 5, Summer 2012, http://frieze-magazin.de/archiv/features/die-falte-im-raum/?lang=en; accessed 1 February 2016

http://www.alexandraleykauf.com/

kennardphillipps here comes everybody (visit)

kennardphillipps

here comes everybody

Stills (31 july – 25 october 2015)

I went to see this show towards the end; kennardphillipps’s show for this years festival also included the War on War room as a live workshop in an empty shop front of a city-centre shopping mall for the duration of the festival. The material created during that time then moved to the gallery space at Stills.

Before the visit I had just begun to read around the lineage of photomontage – section 1_3 (the found image in photomontage) of the course materials and look at a number of the links to both Peter Kennard’s own practice and kennardphillipps (him and Cat Phillipps’ collaborative practice that begun at the start of the 3nd Gulf War in 2003).

With their collaborative practice they intent to ‘dig into the surface of words and images to visualise the connections between the oppressed majority and the political and financial elites of the everyday’ (Stills 2015). – While I wrote this quote down on the way to the exhibition, I wondered about how much sense it made: its notion of (a) artistic practice as revelatory in digging down into word and images; and (b) its terminology of ‘oppression’ and ‘elites’ seemed too conspiratorial a practice; so, here is how the two artists write about their own practice on their website:

The work is made as a critical tool that connects to international movements for social and political change. We don’t see the work as separate to social and political movements that are confronting established political and economic systems. We see it as part of those movements, the visual arm of protest. We want it to be used by people as a part of their own activism, not just as pictures on the wall to contemplate.

There are a whole range of installation shots from the Stills set up on the kennardphillipps’ main site here.

Before seeing the show, I was interested in finding out how they use

  • juxtaposition
  • displacement, and
  • rescaling

– These are the strategies that I had been experimenting with recently and where I felt that photomontage would have much to offer.

The installation of wooden pallets up to the ceiling is the first impression of the room: it is full with stuff.

Many of the images are printed onto newprint; the montages seem straightforward in composition and intent. I am surprised by this; later on, when discussing it a bit further, I realise that it is their adoption of advertising strategies that lies at the heart of this ‘in your face’ simplicity: they seem very different to my first sightings of e.g. Hannah Hoech’s and John Heartfield’s images that are complex, entwined and often also playful – these are all characteristics I don’t find in this show. The message of most images that I can see is that ‘people are suffering while there is immeasurable wealth’.

Several images show evidence of action: e.g., a young man is pushing Cameron out of view; here, the installation and 3-d quality of the piece creates an additional layer of complexity: it casts a large shadow with its crumpled paper, this is the piece that was on show at Banksy’s Dismaland, and installation shot from Stills is here.

It is the pieces ‘being in space’ that seems to intrigue me most: there is a great use of negative space evident throughout the gallery; in the piece already mentioned; but also with hanging a small piece of paper collage from a stick high up in the room, like a weather vane, adjacent to it is a cut out; in a cube created out of pallets, small images of a destroyed buildings are placed far back, almost impossible to make out; there are also prints crumpled up and placed in jam jars.

> consider for your own images the use of negative space in these various examples.

Later on, when reading the resource notes on the artists, I realise how the advertising context comes up again as a place where they tried to situate their work but experienced several instances of censorship: Link 16 (kennardphillipps 2013) – a response by the two artists on the decision of advertising companies not displaying their image of Tony Blair’s selfie is useful in providing insights into their deliberate placing of their own work within advertising and taking on the form of production of advertisements with their own approach towards their images.

 

References

kennardphillipps. (2013, October 22). A response from Peter Kennard and Cat Phillips: Censorship is flourishing in our “public spaces.” The New Statesman, 1–5. Retrieved on 30 November 2015 from http://www.newstatesman.com/art-and-design/2013/10/response-peter-kennard-and-cat-phillips-censorship-flourishing-our-public-spa

Stills (2015) Exhibition text for kennardphillipps here comes everybody; Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, Retrieved on 30 November 2015 from http://www.stills.org/exhibition/past/kennardphillipps-%E2%80%98here-comes-everybody%E2%80%99