Closing credits

This is my last post for Expressing your Vision.

I am moving on to Context and Narrative:
https://ivanradmanblog2.wordpress.com/

Advertisements

Assignment 5: Photography is Simple

Brief

Take a series of 10 photographs of any subject of your own choosing. Each photograph must be a unique view of the same subject; in other words, it must contain some ‘new information’ rather than repeat the information of the previous image. Pay attention to the order of the series; if you’re submitting prints, number them on the back. There should be a clear sense of development through the sequence.

Checking my work against the assessment criteria

 Demonstration of technical and visual skills 

My previous work as a graphic designer helps me to maintain my work as clear and comprehensive as I can without forcing unnecessary visual elements to ‘enrich’ every new assignment. Also I feel that I have become more confident in operating my camera thanks to the exercises throughout this course.

 Quality of outcome 

I am satisfied with the quality of outcome even though I struggled to focus because I had only one hand to operate with. 50 mm lens has proven to be very good for this kind of work.

 Demonstration of creativity 

I am very pleased to say that I am satisfied with the final result. Again I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I am ready for a new challenge.

 Context 

I wanted to twist the brief by connecting those ten given different stories into one. I think I did it successfully. Again I proved to myself that I do not need to go far away to find a story, there is plenty of them around me.

Link to my Assignment 5

Assignment_5_EYV_Ivan_Radman

Contact sheets

For this assignment it is important that you send a link (or scanned pages) to the contextual exercise (Exercise 5.2) for your tutor to comment on within their report.

Tutor’s response

Overall Comments

A thoughtful and playful submission that built upon exercise 5.2. You have moved very quickly through this course experimenting and researching as you go. Its been a pleasure working with you through this course. Good luck with your next one!

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Notes from, and in addition to, our Skype tutorial –

Good to hear that you have enjoyed the Skype tutorial part of the feedback process. I will feed this back to OCA HQ.

Again you set yourself the target of producing something in style that is new for you, using flash and a stylistic device. Whilst you didn’t write about the clenched fist and the red background in the first image we spent some time discussing social realist imagery and your own background. Without Skype we couldn’t have discussed the relevance of the image to your upbringing and its symbolism in much of the Twentieth Century. The fact that your initial reference was from Europe in this time period is important.

The images form a coherent series and because of the stylistically references work well without text. There is humour in the series with its references to contemporary life. The idea of a ‘day in the life’ is a common theme since the halcyon days of documentary reportage and to move through the day of a 21st century homeworker with all the attendant domestic duties could be read as a critique of the heroic worker ideal often depicted in Life or Picture Post (or even the interwar Soviet publications).

You should continue to experiment with every brief.

We discussed printing work for assessment and the possibility of producing more work as books. I referred back to your assignment 3 submission as being in book form but overtly ‘assignment’-like in that it didn’t pretend to be an art book for publication but instead presented the work in the best light for feedback and assessment.

Coursework

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Your exercise responses have often incorporated research and sometimes experimentation. You have annotated exercises with reflective writing.

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

You have steadily worked your way through the reading list. There is some useful reflection here, and you are beginning to note how the theory and criticism of photography intersects with your practice.

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Your blog is well laid out and easy to read, with research on films, books and exhibitions. For assessment, and your own purposes, it is not necessary to rewrite the earlier posts, but of course, it is good reflective practice to go back and add what you feel or understand currently. Learning is a constant process, and it is good to hear your engagement with it, as you describe it, ‘riding a wave’!

Suggested reading/viewing

Context

Great to see you working through the reading list, reflecting on each, and even in the case of Wells, going back! It is heartening for us to hear that you are enjoying the books but also see the relevance to your burgeoning practice.

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

You have set yourself a great precedent in experimenting with every submission. It is good practice to try something new each time. Practitioners like Peter Fraser use different camera set-ups for each new project.

My response to tutor’s feedback

I am very pleased with the tutor’s feedback, it gave me a push forward to proceed with the next course. But first, I need to prepare all the materials for the formal assessment. Overall, I believe I have learned a lot through this course and the result is that now I look at photographs in a different way than I used to.

Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography by Roland Barthes

497164.jpg

I was looking forward to reading this book since there are so many quotations of Barthes in the books about photography I have read so far. I found the book inspiring until its second half, when Barthes starts to express his feelings on his mother’s death. From that point on, the text is filled with a sense of mortality and death, which I can understand and which is certainly justifiable, but at the same time I found it exhausting to read. Even so, I like how Roland Barthes thinks (feels): ‘As Spectator I was interested in Photography only for “sentimental” reasons; I wanted to explore it not as a question (a theme) but as a Wound: I see, I feel, hence I notice, I observe, and I think.’ (Barthes, 1982:21) I can see why he was and still is one of the most influential thinkers on photography.

Here are some of the thoughts that strike me in this book.

‘The portrait-photograph is a closed field of forces. Four image-repertoires intersect here, oppose and distort each other. In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others to think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art.’ (Barthes, 1982:13)

‘I am neither subject nor object but a subject who feels he is becoming an object: I then experience a micro-version of death (of parentheses): I am truly becoming a specter.’ (Barthes, 1982:14)

‘It is by studium that I am interested in so many photographs, whether I receive them as political testimony or enjoy them as good historical scenes: for it is culturally (the connotation is present in studium) that I participate in the figures, the faces, the gestures, the settings, the actions.’ (Barthes, 1982:26)

‘To recognize the studium is inevitably to encounter the photographer’s intentions… for culture is a contract arrived at between creators and consumers.’ (Barthes, 1982:27-28)

‘A photograph’s punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).’ (Barthes, 1982:27)

‘Ultimately, Photography is subversive not when it frightens, repels, or even stigmatises, but when it is pensive, when it thinks.’ (Barthes, 1982:38)

‘The Photograph is violent: not because it shows violent things, but because on each occasion it fills the sight by force, and because in it nothing can be refused or transformed … .’ (Barthes, 1982:91)

The air … is a kind of intractable supplement of identity, what is given as an act of grace, stripped of any “importance”: the air expresses the subject, insofar as that subject assigns itself no importance.’ (Barthes, 1982:109)

‘One might say that the Photograph separates attention from perception, and yields up only the former, even if it is impossible without the latter: this is that aberrant thing, noesis without noeme, an action of thought without thought, an aim without a target. And yet it is this scandalous movement which produces the rarest quality of an air.’ (Barthes, 1982:111)

I find it interesting to read the authors who are not photographers, but do understand photography. Through their point of view I get the experience that is deprived of the technical aspect of making a photograph. That way I am faced with the essence of the photograph in front of me and that is what it is all about. Barthes explains very well how certain photographs have an affect on us. Their power is not just in recording a moment or a person from history (studium), but also in allowing each individual new possible ways of seeing it (punctum).

The part about portraits made me think about my assignment 2 and how it would have helped me to prepare for it a lot better if I had read it before I did the assignment.

Bibliography

Barthes, Roland (1981) Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography France: Hill and Wang

5.3

Look again at Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photograph Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare in Part Three. (If you can get to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London you can see an original print on permanent display in the Photography Gallery.) Is there a single element in the image that you could say is the pivotal ‘point’ to which the eye returns again and again? What information does this ‘point’ contain?

Include a short response to Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare in your learning log. You can be as imaginative as you like. In order to contextualise your discussion you might want to include one or two of your own shots, and you may wish to refer to Rinko Kawauchi’s photograph mentioned above or the Theatres series by Hiroshi Sugimoto discussed in Part Three. Write about 150–300 words.

cartier_bresson_134_1981_458565_displaysize.jpg

Fig 1. Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare (1932)

This photograph of Henri Cartier-Bresson had a great impact on me as I started to get involved in photography. Why is it so fascinating? Is it the moment of exposure or the composition or the repetition of elements? I read that it was taken from the hip, and that is thing that expand my views of photography in general. 

It is a scene of the ‘other’ side of Paris, the one that we usually do not see. It shows a person who is in a hurry to get somewhere, with no time to loose. Without hesitating to get dirty, he jumps from the last solid and dry thing beneath his feet into the water (the unknown). His movement is without any performance, it is a jump necessary  to go forward. There is also a poster in the back, on a wall, with an illustration of a person jumping, but this time it is an aesthetic one that has no purpose other than to look elegant for the audience. This way we have a vertical reflection of those two jumps, in opposition, but also a horizontal reflection in the water. The rhythm of the two is amplified by the typographic poster displayed two times to supplement the height of the illustration(s). These four black silhouettes of jumpers are for me the pivotal ‘points’ of the photograph.

Illustration:

Figure 1. Bresson, Henri Cartier (1932) Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare [Photograph] At: http://www.moma.org/collection/works/98333 (Accessed on 28.01.16)

5.2

Select an image by any photographer of your choice and take a photograph in response to it. You can respond in any way you like to the whole image or to just a part of it, but you must make explicit in your notes what it is that you’re responding to. Is it a stylistic device such as John Davies’ high viewpoint, or Chris Steele Perkins’ juxtapositions? Is it the location, or the subject? Is it an idea, such as the decisive moment?

Add the original photograph together with your response to your learning log.

Which of the three types of information discussed by Barrett provides the context in this case?

Take your time over writing your response because you’ll submit the relevant part of your learning log as part of Assignment Five.

Breath-on-Piano199_1794342i.jpg

Fig 1. Breath on Piano (1993)

Recently I heard an interesting podcast on BBC History entitled The Medieval CSI (Immediate Media Company Limited, 2016). It talks about an ongoing project by historians and forensic scientists who are analysing medieval seals from different historical archives. The part that caught my interest in particular was about fingerprints found on the seals. These prints are the actual impressions of people who lived more than 800 years ago, and they are still here for us to see today. Another interesting issue was the question of the uniqueness of fingerprints. The idea is to compare the medieval fingerprints with modern data bases to see if the patterns maybe repeat over years. We all presume that fingerprints are unique, something that sets us off from everybody else. We use them as our main identification tool. If once the seal was the proof of one’s identity, today the fingerprint is digitally taken for the protection of our personal data on our smartphones and other devices. But are we really unique or would we just like to be?

For this exercise I decided to look into the idea of our uniqueness and the trace that we leave in relation to Gabriel Orozco’s photograph Breath on Piano (1993) (see fig 1.). The photograph shows the artist’s breath that evaporates on a cold lifeless piano surface, a brief moment in which human presence in caught in that particular space, not physically but as heat which quickly disappears and leaves no trace behind.  I found interesting that his photograph is reminiscent of a work by Piero Manzoni entitled Artist’s breath (1960), (see fig 2.) which shows a blown out balloon that once held the breath of the artist.

T07589_9.jpg

Fig 2. Artist’s Breath (1960)

I wanted to catch the idea of something ephemeral and to have something so elusive as the most recognisable element on the photograph. In order to get that on the photograph, I pressed my finger on the mobile phone and I got the trace of the fingerprint on a cold surface, visible just for a brief moment. That exact moment is a firm proof of my existence, but also of my mortality (see fig 3.).

DSCF7438.jpg

Fig 3. The Fleeting Trace (2016)

Which of the three types of information discussed by Barrett provides the context in this case?

In the case of Orozco’s Breath on Piano the first thing I see is the internal context: a part of the piano with the trace of human breath and the title which confirms what we see. However, the original context is also readable in this photograph. According to Barrett it refers to the elements that were physically and psychologically present when the photograph was made. (Barrett, 1985:115) In my opinion the most important element is the impression of the artist, his psychological process which led to the final result. The photograph is lyrical and presents his internal world.

Bibliography:

Immediate Media Company Limited. (2016) Postwar Germany and medieval CSI [online] 14.01.16. At: http://www.historyextra.com/podcast/Postwar-Germany-medieval-CSI (Accessed on 26.01.16)

Holmboe , Rye Dag (2011) ‘Gabriel Orozco: Cosmic matter and other leftovers’ In: The White Review 03.11. [online] At: http://www.thewhitereview.org/art/gabriel-orozco-cosmic-matter-and-other-leftovers/ (Accessed on 26.01.16)

Barrett, Terry  (1997) ‘Photographs and Contexts’ In: David Goldblatt & Lee Brown (ed.) Aestetics: A Reader of Philosophy of the Arts. Prentice-Hall. pp. 110-116 [online] At: http://www.terrybarrettosu.com/pdfs/B_PhotAndCont_97.pdf (Accessed on 26.01.16)

Illustration:

Figure 1. Orozco, Gabriel (1993) Breath on Piano [Photograph] At: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-news/8231429/Gabriel-Orozcos-art-in-pictures.html?image=3 (Accessed on 26.01.16)

Figure 2. Manzoni, Piero (1960) Artist’s Breath [Balloon, rope, lead seals and bronze plaque on wooden base] At: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/manzoni-artists-breath-t07589 (Accessed on 26.01.16)

Figure 3. Radman, Ivan (2016) [Photograph] The Fleeting Trace


Homage

You may already have taken some homage photography where you’ve not tried to hide the original inspiration but rather celebrated it. Refer back to your personal archive and add one or two to your learning log together with a short caption to provide a context for the shot.

IMG_5255.jpg

Fig 1. Going Home (2011)

PAR78404.jpg

Fig 2. The walk to paradise garden. (1946)

DSC_1008.jpg

Fig 3. Reflection in the Lake (2013)

LW378-MC-Escher-Puddle-1952.jpg

Fig 4. Puddle (1952)

Illustration:

Figure 1. Radman, Ivan (2011) Going Home [Photograph]

Figure 2. Smith, W. Eugene (1946) The walk to paradise garden. [Photograph] At: http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&VBID=2K1HZOLRU2I6LX&SMLS=1&RW=1939&RH=1318 (Accessed on 28.01.16)

Figure 3. Radman, Ivan (2013) Reflection in the Lake [Photograph]

Figure 4. Escher, Maurits Cornelis (1952) Puddle [Woodcut in black, green and brown, printed from 3 blocks] At: http://www.mcescher.com/gallery/back-in-holland/puddle/ (Accessed on 28.01.16)

Photography: The Key Concepts by David Bate

8110843.jpg

The book covers eight chapters:

  • History
  • Photography Theory
  • Documentary and Story-telling
  • Looking at Portraits
  • In the Landscape
  • The Rhetoric of Still Life
  • Art Photography
  • Global Photography

A great book about photography and its genres through history until today. Easy to comprehend and has chapter summaries, which always helps.

I found the part where David Bate writes about Ronald Barthes’ essay ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ very interesting. In it Barthes defines that ‘the ‘given meaning’ of a photograph hides the ‘constructed meaning’ … as the paradox of photography, which ‘seems to constitute a message without a code’.’ (Bate, 2009:17) In line with that, looking at a photograph my thoughts shift from what it means to me, to what it meant to the photographer, to what it could mean to other people. It is precisely that dance of different possible meanings and the fact that new ones emerge with time that draws me to photography.

In chapter 2 ‘Photography Theory’ Bate poses the following question: ‘what kind of theory does photography need? In other words, what problems does photography raise? … the main arguments have centred on what photography is (identity), how it contributes to culture (value) and why it has been such a successful invention (social purpose).’ (Bate, 2009:25) This was for me the answer to the question what a photograph needs to have to become a good photograph.

Another thing that I was interested in was the explanation of the distinction between the beauty (picturesque) and the sublime in landscape. Picturesque destination (beauty spot) is described as a place where things are arranged in a way that we feel the beauty: ‘this is where to stand and see it’. In contrast, the sublime (black spot) represents ‘warning’, as a space associated with danger, a place that is threatening, fearful and given an aura of menace. (Bate, 2009:94)

This paragraph for me defines two types of approach an artist can take, on the one hand, there are artists who are in favour of monolog, i.e. closure (providing the answer) and on the other hand, artists who prefer a dialogue (posing a question). I find the latter more interesting.

Bibliography:

Bate, David (2009) Photography: The Key Concepts. London: Bloomsbury Academic

Barthes, Ronald’ (1991) ‘Rhetoric of the Image’ The Responsibility of Forms. Berkeley: University of California Press

5.1

Use your camera as a measuring device. This doesn’t refer to the distance scale on the focus ring(!). Rather, find a subject that you have an empathy with and take a sequence of shots to ‘explore the distance between you’. Add the sequence to your learning log, indicating which is your ‘select’ – your best shot.

When you review the set to decide upon a ‘select’, don’t evaluate the shots just according to the idea you had when you took the photographs; instead evaluate it by what you discover within the frame (you’ve already done this in Exercise 1.4).

contact sheet.jpg

DSCF7375.jpg

Seeing my children playing, I grabbed my camera and tried to infiltrate the room as invisibly as I could. I made a series of shots and chose to select this one to evaluate along the lines of what I discover within the frame as if I am seeing it for the first time.

The first thing that I see in this photograph are two kids playing, it also seems that they are in an Ikea store. The slippers on the floor and the window view show it is a home. Winter night does not stop children for doing what they want, even in a small room they found enough space to play with a ball, simply enjoying the moment.

I see three main lines, like x-y-z axes (tables, bed, wardrobe), that define the perspective. There are also vertical lines that separate the elements in the photograph. The line in the centre that separates the room in two (boy on the left, girl on the right). The line that separates the two desks underlines the different age of the users and quality and quantity of usage.

Another issue that come to my mind is whether the roles as we see them in the picture are something that is natural to kids, just kids’ playing a game, doing it because they feel like it or whether they are already under the influence of a consumer society and the roles it dictates through cartoons and tv advertising (sweatshirt Minions, pillow Cars, boy plays football, girl cheerleader).