Further to my tutor report I reworked for As. 5.
I attach below three paragraphs of the report, as my commentary will be based on them.
Your project would benefit from further development. Before moving forward please research Ruscha, then revisit your research material for this assignment particularly the photographers that I gave you in your last feedback. What is it that they do, that makes them interesting, and relevant to you? How are they challenging landscape practice? How can you align your project to theirs? I do not mean literally emulate, I mean what are they doing (they make artists intervention within the landscape) that your work is just falling short of? This analysis should be evidence on your blog. This will help you demonstrate post feedback context, reflective thinking, critical thinking and analysis. Then you should do more shooting. This time do more than simply place a painting in front of your camera, in front of a scene. That is, intervene. This way you will situate yourself within the context in which you are working; you will demonstrate an understanding of your research material. You will begin to challenge landscape practice. What will you do?
Theoretically, I would like to encourage you to play with the notion of the abstract. This will also help you develop your visuals (thus you will begin to engage in an interactive process of practice and theory). There are questions here about representation. Can photographs ever be abstract?
You site the Dear Photograph and photographers making similar work with old photographs on your blog, however you don’t make use of memory within your own work. Perhaps there is more work to here. I am not suggesting that you copy this approach – far from it – this is a well-trodden path. I simply mean there could be a possible way of thinking about memory here thus making sense of abstract painting, Barthes referent/unbilical cord and memory. Are the spaces in which you place your paintings of significance? Could they be? Perhaps spaces are associated with fuzzy (abstract memories)
I start looking again to the other photographers my tutor suggested. I tried to look at them and answer the questions. I was wondering what I can do to avoid again, just placing the paintings and photograph them. I initially decide to change the type of paintings and use again toilet paper rolls and paint them with acrylic paint as in the examples in Ex. 4.6 (I felt that the acrylic was more effective, with the additional texture). In addition, as I was back to the place where I spent most of the summers when I was child/ teenager; I decided to place the paintings in locations that were important or special in my child holidays. As a testing, I took the image below.
In this one the special location in the summer house of my family (exploring also memory as suggested by my tutor). I decided to use the bokeh effect to look at the memories. My tutor, asked if photographs can be abstract.
As mentioned in Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abstract_photography), “Abstract photography, sometimes called non-objective, experimental, conceptual or concrete photography, is a means of depicting a visual image that does not have an immediate association with the object world and that has been created through the use of photographic equipment, processes or materials. An abstract photograph may isolate a fragment of a natural scene in order to remove its inherent context from the viewer, it may be purposely staged to create a seemingly unreal appearance from real objects, or it may involve the use of color, light, shadow, texture, shape and/or form to convey a feeling, sensation or impression. The image may be produced using traditional photographic equipment like a camera, darkroom or computer, or it may be created without using a camera by directly manipulating film, paper or other photographic media, including digital presentations.”
I think the bokeh can have elements of abstract.
Following to the initial photo, I start keeping notes of possible locations where I can place my painted toilet papers cardboards and also start painting the toilet rolls. As in this photo, I start planning to match part of the colour tones of the landscape/ locations with the colours of the paintings in the roles (again to avoid simple placement). While continue working, I was not that happy with the final images mainly with how the paintings look in the photos. In addition, I felt that these series of photos did not felt something natural to me. It was feeling more like try to create something that will fit the assignments/ assessment requirements and not as project I enjoyed. Looking to my initial submission, I knew that I enjoyed the creative progress, but I appreciated my tutor comments, it was feeling more like I place the painting in front of the camera, and not intervention. I understand that the rework has some intervention, but I did not feel any personal connection with the work.
When looking to my work I notice the following:
– there were some interesting locations, which have some connection with my childhood
– I could use the bokeh to explore the memories
– the only thing did not perfectly fit was the paintings. I felt that the paintings were making the photos less interesting. For this reason, I decided to visit the locations without the paintings. I took the following photo.
Looking to it, I noticed that If I make the photos black and white they will make the memory effect stronger. See below.
I thought again about previous projects (use of text). As the “memory” in each photo would not be clear given the bokeh effect, I thought to add also 1-2 words to “guide” the viewer.
Before, attaching the photos, I want to summarise some of the research I did about memory, photography, black and white photography etc between the tutor’s report and the final photo selection.
My tutor suggested reading Liz Wells’s book “Land Matters”, as this could help me to make more sense of the relationship between my paintings and the space in which they are positioned. I think the most relevant part of the book is the final chapter which has as title “Sense of Location: Topography, Journey, Memory”.
There are few interesting points in this chapter. I will quote
“Photographs are about memory- or perhaps about the absence of memory, providing pictures to fill voids, illustrating and sometimes falsifying our collective memory, Lippard” p. 261 kindle edition
“Indeed, photographs indicate how particular places or phenomena appeared at specific moments” p. 263- kindle edition
“He concludes that photographs reference to that which is no longer present thereby, paradoxically, emphasising the unreality of that which, through depiction, seems to be made present. Images operate through association to conjure up a broad spectrum of references and memories reaching beyond the moment or event pictured.
Images do not have memory! Memory is a human faculty…Photographs appear as images removed from the flow of time” p. 289- kindle edition
“They also act as aide- memoires: photographs remind us of moments, experiences or details that might otherwise fade” p. 290- kindle edition
The above points made me think more about the selection of the locations and the memories attached to them. A photograph can help us to remember a specific memory as discussed. While reading that I thought, What if there is no specific memory but similar memories over years? How can I depict that?
My answer of that is kind of opposite to the last quote. The memory itself will fade in the photo (being out of focus), the memory will not be clear, but the same time I will put a title/ text in the photo to guide the viewer to the memory. But, again it will be more a sense of a memory.
The tool for me to “fade” the memory is bokeh. I used it in the previous projects in this and previous courses. However, in previous assignments/ projects the subject of the photo was focused and everything else was out of focus. In this, project, a not important element is in focus and the “memory” is out of focus. I use this technique as it was part of the “personal voice” I developed in this course and also for aesthetic reasons as I did not want to have the full image out of focus. I also have used this method to give a dreamy feeling in the photo, as the memories sometimes feel like an old dream.
In addition, I turned the photos to black and white as “Black and white photos are often associated with retro style. They remind of the old times when people used black-and-white film cameras” . I wanted my photos to have the feeling of something old, as memories are old.
Also, “Removing the color makes it more difficult to put an exact date on a photo… Many fine art photographers prefer black and white images for their tendency to distance the subject matter from reality…Removing color from a picture helps the viewer to focus on a subject’s emotional state”
I think all these thoughts are relevant to my work here. I do not want to put my memories in an exact date, as they are not from a specific day. I also want somehow my subject to be a little far from reality, as possibly our memories are. Finally, there are possibly some emotions hidden in the depicted subjects.
While re-working, for As. 5, I understand that my final work is different from the initial proposal. I sent an email and inform about that my tutor between submission of As. 5 and As. 6. As this is the self directed project and it is required an artist statement, I also rewrite the Artist statement. Below are the new Artist Statement and the 8 new photos with text. I believe that resubmission is stronger than the initial submission and if my tutor agrees I will submit it for assessment.
Over the past ten years, I was only returning to my parent’s summer house for very short summer breaks, as I was working and living abroad. However, this summer and due to unemployment I stayed for few months.
I spent most summers from childhood to university times, in that village. While walking in the village, memories from different places and time periods were coming to my mind. I felt the need to try to capture how I was feeling about these memories.
As the memories were from the past but not from a specific time, I converted the photos to black and white. In addition, as the memory was not clear, I choose the subject to be out-of-focus. However, I added the text below the image, to specify the place, which was not clear on the image. Sometimes, the memory did not have to do with the specific location, but about what the place represented. For example, the church is not connected with memories of the specific location, but how I was feeling and thinking about religion at the time. Finally, all these places or what they represent were of significant importance for me.
Finally, I looked at the work of Ed Rucsha, as suggested by my tutor to look mainly at his photo book design. They were all available as scans online. I liked more the subject of “Royal Road Test” and “Various small fires and milk”. I think indeed the design of “Every building on Sunset Strip” is interesting. One of the things I did not like, an in general I do not like in books/ magazines is when images are split between the two sides of the publication. An example is below
I was wondering, If I am interested in a more playful approach in my photobook etc. First of all the addition of the text in the revised As. 5 will affect the design of the pages of the book. In addition, I was thinking that the purpose of the books of Ruscha was for book publication. I think that is different from my book. In previous assessment, when I print photos they just stayed in a folder and I never looked to them. In addition, I do not like that they were loose. I feel that if I will print in a book format the photos from different assignment, I will be happier looking at them in the future and that they will also look better in the assessment. They will not aim for a publication, but just as a reference. Moreover, I think I like in general sometimes things to be simple and that is the reason, I decided to keep my book format simple, and I did not use the blurb application to have control to achieve exactly what I have in mind. Of course, if I was aiming to create a book for publication, I would consider a different approach and even if possible ask for help from a book designer.