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.




pecha kucha file and discussion (August 2016)

my pecha kucha presentation at last week’s study day includes a first edit of images from my summer project in Aberdeenshire where I visited the same location of a pinewood, an oakwood and surroundings for a number of times (a total of six days over three visits). I have known the site for several years, did in fact do a series of prints, drawings and bookworks from material that originated at the site five, six years ago.

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unlike my previous presentations, this did not have a performative audio track to it but instead a free-style discussion on a series of issues that have come up for me with the photos and the wider project.

these themes concern:

  • familiarity with a location
  • the desire to take all my interior/ familial work of the past two years back to the outside (an environmental context where almost all my prior work had been situated)
  • understanding and working with the possibilities and limitations of the 6×6 square format, notably:
    • edge of frame
    • stasis v movement
    • movement of what: object, frame, viewer, author?
  • relational constructions within the frame itself: objects in relation to others, to the frame, and
  • relational constructions between author, image and viewer

>> in this, there are questions over distance, movement, relationships

>> in this there are also issues relating to public/private, transgression, piercing of boundary constructions (and as such it relates to the still unfinished essay (Assig 3); I felt I wanted to be engage in making a body of work that speaks to public/private (rather than merely reviewing other people’s work)

>> uncertain as to how, I also sense that this series will fold forward into the remaining extended project on digital (!) identities


there is a wider question for me in these images and this summer project: it concerns my affective attachment to the photographs. this arises in response to the previous sets of work, notably House/appr0ach as well as the Jerusalem inside/outside images: both bodies of work produced – as far as the feedback goes – highly aesthetic, serene, contemplative images; while my affective state when doing these projects was in fact the opposite: inside House I was mostly in a state of panic and fear; for the Jerusalem images, I was taken by the extent to which violence seeps in and out day-to-day actions, our complicitness therein and much more which remains as yet inarticulate.

with this – or rather without naming my wider affective enquiry for these summer images, I was glad to receive the feedback that I did. It concerned:

  • a recognition that this series is full of visual pleasure: the joy of looking (and as such purely photographic). Hearing this, made me very happy: it was something that I had recognised on my first visit to Drum: that the site was full of joy for me, animated to the extreme with living things and that all the work that has come out of this site has been joyful, brimming with line and colour in various media. I also recognised that most of my photographic work to date did not work off of that emotion: it felt hard, complicated, violent, sad… it wasn’t that the images as such exhibited these states, but my relationship to them was such (and, as e.g., the PK from Spring with the Jerusalem images made clear, I would need a different medium to activate those concerns along the beauty of the images that I made).
    Knowing what subjects I had chosen to work with over the past two years, this doesn’t surprise me; also seeking a medium that speaks to the contemporary state of the world for me, and finding that with lens-based practices, was a deliberate endeavour, and still: the difficulty (and energy required) of that stance and approach was also becoming clearer to me
  • the first image that Wendy went back to was also the one I considered the strongest in the series (#11): the puddle reflection that reveals four layers of reflective surfaces and insights. And the acknowledgement that I was able to focus precisely on what I was after: the sharp lines of the fern are in focus, they delineate clearly and thus allow for the blurring of the rest;
  • from this, she suggested a typology of reflection and to write about it also. This typology in fact already exists to some extent but I have not brought it together as a specific focus. This is a great suggestion and I will follow it up — also, to pursue it further in writing.
  • to look up/ follow up:
    • Susan Derges’s work with exposing film under moonlight; to consider working at night/dawn/dusk (this is a short overview of her work ) > just moving into the right time of year for that
    • Helen Sear’s Venice 2015 video installation, .. the rest is smoke
    • Joan Jonas’s Venice 2015 installation, They come to us without a word
    • Stephen Gill’s Hackney Flowers (again): as chance encounters, messiness and chaos
  • we spent some time discussing technical aspects of image-making: ability to control dof and frame consistently; none of the images are properly post-processed other than dusted, some slight adjustment for highlights, shadows
  • however, I have now worked out a scan work flow that will allow for a consistent transferal between neg and digital file, this has been in place for only half the images included here — so a big Action Point concerns the degree of post-processing + analysis of what I have
  • only 2/3 of the images are available digitally so far (I had only just picked up the negs from the last visit a day before)
  • the one with the daisies needs stronger contrast, #05 (daisies); #17 (moving train) a bit of retouching to remove green highlights at bottom edge.

I enjoy the slowness of the analogue production > digital post-processing work flow; that the images are disappearing, become latent until processing and scanning; that they are handled in many steps until they return back into view; that the MF provides a narrow dof is something I hadn’t realised and am thrilled to see what this does to my images: that the focus is narrow, slicing through a particular distance, becomes unfocused so easily. There is something in it about being ‘wide-open and unfocused’ that also resonates with my own state of being at times (and often at times I find productive, useful and enjoyable).

This write-up possibly also produces a provisional title for this series: ‘These summer images’.

photography, performance and (no) aesthetic

One thing that is becoming clearer to me is that the Office at Night interests me in ways that go well beyond the photographic objects I am creating.

This brings up a familiar question: what form do I want to give to these conceptual concerns. And, related to this, how can an excess in conceptual – and I suspect performative – interest be finding its way into a photography course.

I do have a strong sense that I am pursuing a particular aesthetic form, it is not that the form is redundant or of no interest to me; and yet, I am hesitant to pursue highly aestheticised images (my comment on Helen Sear’s pointed to that; and so do various other offline notes).

So, then… what is my gripe, concern, rubbing up against the aesthetic?

Starting to explore this, I asked course mates on the flickr forum for links to their own projects and other artists who have worked between performance and photography.

My questions was this:

I am more and more interested in photography as performance and its role in performance… I would like to figure this out more for the course of DI&C and would appreciate pointers to (a) your own projects where the photography was performative or to document performance; and (b) also some artists who work with this… one of the things I’m trying to figure out is the role of aesthetics to this; e.g., if the main piece really is a performance/ social practice, what does it mean for producing photographs of it… any thoughts would be great, many thanks!

I got plenty and very useful responses, and this is a start to work through them in a more public form.

From the artists that are unfamiliar, two projects grabbed my interest very easily:

Erwin Wurm One-Minute Sculptures, begun in 1977

The performer is instructed, on hand-written notes to take a ridiculous, often difficult pose that has her interact with some everyday objects; the duration of the sculpture (not called performance) is so that it enables a photograph of it to be taken.

A series of the photographs of this are available at


Eikoh Hosoe Kamaitachi (1969)

A series of b&w photographs of a collaboration of the artist and an actor, Hijikata, where the latter becomes the Kamaitachi, a ‘sickle-toothed weasel’ that haunts the countryside and people of Hosoe’s childhood. The photographs are the result of Hijikata’s spontaneous interactions with people and place.

Eikoh Hosoe on Kamaitachi from Aperture Foundation on Vimeo.


My thoughts?

  • I am interested in a relational process, an interaction, – these two projects exemplify such interaction (between people and/or objects); I am also interested in the role of the photographer/ author in this; again something that is raised – albeit in different ways – by these projects;
  • I am less interested in the performance being stilled, i.e. the projects where the artist enacts a different identity, which then is stilled in the photograph. There is something in the solely performing for the camera (and the imagined audience that then sees the photograph afterwards), that is not the focus of my concern right now.

Assignment 1: In an office at night – Digital montage (WIP)



These are the two digital files that I have been working on.

– I will write up more of the conceptual thoughts in the final assignment submission: in the main, I was trying to get to some sense of

a) the overwhelming, spilling out and over of that space and the work (as in knowledge production) that happens within this space and within the conversation between my colleague and myself.

b) a sense of the conversation and the relational work between author – subject – viewer: to include both of the participants in the conversation in the image; to reposition us within the frame and possibly also the viewer (though maybe that is open to question).





In an office at night: digital 1

Entirely made up of Minox images (i.e. images that I took just by myself); processed and then scanned with a Hasselblad scanner; processing of digital file, the layering; the layering is fairly seamless and discrete, i.e. that the image is constructed isn’t immediately obvious.

I love the tonality of this image and am surprised how much it references Hopper’s Office at Night.


In an office at night: digital 2

Digital 1 does not contain any of the images that we took jointly on the iphone, so it actually does not contain the process that I had identified as key; this was mainly what led me to produce the second image; the interest is similar: to show relationality, the layering of author – subject – viewer within the picture plane; even more so than in digital 1 I altered scale; the iphone jpgs are much flatter in hue than the Minox scans, I altered the background to reference again Hopper’s palette (changing gamma in exposure); relatively late I chose to add another layer of outside to it by rephotographing the screen with my hand in the foreground.

Both images are non-standard ratios; the Minox one is expanded on the horizontal, digital 2 is shortened… I find that significant… just need to spell out the why for it.

I have shown these images (and the manual montages) in two settings and had very useful feedback for them; there are a few minor changes to make for both of them and then they are good to go.

— There is much in this series and project for me, and this first assignment has covered some useful ground as to the reasons for montaging and how to go about it; but also: rescaling, repositing/ rephotographing and thus starting to both fold context into the picture plane and let the picture plane bleed out into the context. In this sense, I can see this final images of this assignment changing a fair bit between now and assessment time.