This is a copy of the 1st July post in the C&N blog.
While awaiting a tutorial on C&N Asg.5, it's time to prepare for I&P. The checklist is:
Work is well under way on the transfer from C&N to I&P and I have started work on the Preamble. I will probably apply for the course in a few weeks.
Given my wish to produce clear representations of what things look like, I wouldn't normally expect to be drawn to such images, but an article in this month's B&W Photography † featured Olga Karlovac's new(ish) book, the disarray. Her technique is described as using slow shutter speeds to generate motion blur and photographing in bad weather with rain on her lens. The camera used for the book is a Ricoh GR II (fixed focal length lens approx. 28mm equivalent, no viewfinder).
The effect is impressionistic. It reminds me, in a way, of a photographer I came across while researching self portraits for C&N, Daniel Castonguay.
I cannot see me attempting to make images anything like these, but I would like to try some time. I think I would try the effect in colour at first, perhaps desaturated. I remember being astonished decades ago by a photograph by John Hedgecoe — I had several of his books and will have a hunt. There was one completely out of focus and, I think, taken in Paris without a lens. I always wanted to play with this effect. The closest I have come is a picture in the British Museum for EyV.
† Pill, S. (2020) Tales of Disarray. Black+White Photography. Issue no. 243, pp.28-35.
I discourage my students from talking about photographing as "shooting" or "capturing" or "taking," because it's really about trying to figure out a way to describe with the camera, to make something. Dawoud Bey, on Photographing People and Communities, p.29
My reluctance to embrace Harvard Referencing for anything other than assignment submissions has been stated not infrequently (see Nov 2018 and Dec 2019) but the time has come to accept it. I think the final conversion occurred when assembling the C&N zine and the Wordpress sites for C&N and EyV — it would be easier and neater to assemble a single, central set of references and therefore standardisation is essential. I have started retrofitting Harvard to all I&P material and will stick to Harvard thereafter with one exception, references to the course material as, for example I&P p.18 will continue except in assignments. And I'll use ibid. too.
I spent some time today considering alternative courses to I&P — firstly because I have only just realised (or been reminded) that there are alternatives; secondly because I am really interested in trying photgravure and I enjoyed making the C&N zine so much.
I&P is the pure photography course for #3 but there are others - Moving Image 1: Setting the Scene / Moving Image 1: An Introduction to Film Culture / Visual Studies 1: Understanding Visual Culture / Book Design 1: Creative Book Design / Visual Studies 1: Creative Arts Today / Writing 1: Writing Skills / Graphic Design 1: Core Concepts / Visual Skills 1: Visual Dynamics / Printmaking 1: Introduction to Printmaking.
There have been a couple of gravure articles lately that have sparked my interest. Neither are to hand at the moment (one was in B&W Phot, the other I think in the L'Oeil de la Photographie daily briefing). Part 1 of the Printmaking course is here. Unfortunately you can't get by on photography alone, you need some practical graphical skills so that excludes me. Most importantly, it does no go anywhere near gravure. Here's an interesting post, Photopolymer printing on a budget
The Book Design course (Part 1 here) is superficially attractive but I'm not sure I would get much out of it having already done the zine. I'm happy with what I have learned and ready to tackle the next book.
I might look at some of the others.
I blogged during C&N about my front room windows probably being the last thing I would photograph. Here they are on another fine day, 36th August.
[8Sep] Surface, aspirations to photograph beneath, and the possibilities thereof are covered in the I&P Preamble. Dawoud Bey paraphrases Richard Avedon on the matter and here's a direct quote.
My photographs don't go below the surface. They don't go below anything. They're readings of what's on the surface. Avedon in Henry Carroll's Photographers on Photography (2018, p.80)
In August I toyed with definitions of various aspects of photography, see here. Last night I wrote,
a photograph is a copy of what a moment in time somewhere looked like
to the extent that, through processing, it is not, to that extent it is no longer a photograph † me
† I was aiming to channel Lincoln here, 'Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy' (1858). There is scope for getting closer.
[21Sep] This echoes a quote I encountered a few days later in an essay by Michael Mitchell, Verum Factum, in Thirteen essays on photography (1990),
… I want to show the unborn what it once looked like. I want them to see what we once saw and what we thought was significant. Michael Mitchell, Verum Factum, in Thirteen essays on photography (1990),
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (1990) Thirteen essays on photography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
The full paragraph is worth noting and there are several other goodies from Mitchell I'll put on a page if time allows.
Searching for any other pieces, I note that he died in May this year at 76. Obit
This continued with the thought that the act of ph. consists of subject and treatment. Or perhaps a subject and a series of treatments (taking ‡, processing, display etc.).
And that historically, film has always had two arms reality (documentary and news) and fantasy (the movies).
‡ or making in Bey's terms
From Here's Me! or The Subject in The Picture in Thirteen essays on photography (1990) p.4.
The transformation by photography is the metamorphosis of a subject into an object Robert Graham in Here's Me! or The Subject in The Picture, 1990
He goes on to examine how the subject might reclaim or roll back the process of objectification through various types of discourse between the photographer and the photographee.
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This morning, see 29th August.
I'm just about to apply for the course. Here's an update on a previous post elsewhere.
Summer 20 - 78, 72, 72, 68, 68, 66, 66, 65, 65, 63, 63, 62, 62, 62, 58, 55, 54, 53
Mar 20 - 50, 51, 52, 52, 53, 54, 58, 58, 61, 62, 64
Nov 19 - 42, 48, 53, 54, 54, 55, 67
Jul 19 - 50, 52, 52, 54, 54, 59, 60, 63, 65, 66, 67, 72
Mar 19 - 59, 62, 65, 65, 65
Summer 20 - 74, 70, 66, 60, 56, 55, 50, 0
Mar 20 - 53, 57, 58, 62, 62, 63, 65, 65
Nov 19 - 62, 63, 72, 73
Jul 19 - 0 (!), 46, 48, 51, 58, 62, 63, 63, 64, 65, 66, 70
Mar 19 - 54, 54, 55, 56, 56, 58, 61, 65, 65, 66, 68, 69, 72, 73, 85
Summer 20 - 72, 68, 64, 63, 58, 58, 5850, 47, 0
Mar 20 - 68, 62, 58, 50, 46, 43
Nov 19 - 72, 70, 68, 67, 65, 64, 63, 62, 61, 60, 60, 60, 52
Jul 19 - 64
Mar 19 - 73, 60, 58, 54, 53, 51
While I'm waiting for my application to join the course, let's run through the assignments. Bearing in mind I only have part 1 of the course material at the moment, several of the assignments ask for the application of "what you've just learned", so there's guesswork in here.
1. The non-familiar
Five portraits of unknown local people
I have had no better ideas than charity shops triptych - exterior person on the till, pano of till and surrounds. The backup is similar groups of emporia - pubs, cafes etc. or the same ideas a little further afield. Save tattoo parlours for Asg.3.
2. Vice Versa
Five portraits interior and exterior. Same person or several
Either 5 of Mrs. B or August Sander derived, maybe workers - street cleaner, traffic warden etc.
3. Mirrors and Windows
Either photos of a group you are part of
or a local group you do not yet know.
I'm not in any local groups, so it's the window. I have often thought of offering my services to one or more tatoo parlours - that resembles a commuity.
7-10 pictures using course ideas, combining images and text.
That will have to wait - Part 4 is headed Image and text with sections Captions and titles / Memories and speech / Fictional texts
Part 5 is headed Removing the figure with sections Absence and signs of life and Places and spaces
This will have to wait but it promises the possibility of fewer people in the snaps.
I remain wedded to the idea of sticking with 6x7 and optional 6x14 panoramas. I still like borders.
Many of the visual art forms manifest a dimension that spans a continuum from realism to abstract. There is a cusp on that continuum that is a sweet spot such as that occupied by Henry Moore in sculpture where some of his figures are evidently derived from the human, but only just so: of his contemporaries, Hepworth is usually at the far end of abstract and Epstein working a rich seam more towards the realist.
These came to mind this morning with the daily post from L'oeil de la photographie showing the work of Nasos Karabelas and Hélène Brugnes.
Karabelas, at the beginning of a long paragraph, says,
This series is the attempt to understand the functioning of sensations. To explore the space of emotions and the interaction between the forms of the image and the viewer. Nasos Karabelas
Brugnes says of her series,
The hyperrealistic image of a summer day on a Moroccan beach vanishes into a dreamlike abstraction in which only the idea of movement remains.Hélène Brugnes
The EXIF data for Brugnes' images have not been cleared. Although some of the lens data does not make sense, they were made on a Nikon D7000 and the shutter speeds were 1/10th, 1/15th, 1/15th, 1/8th.
I started writing about surrealism today too.
On 16th May last, during C&N, I wrote,
To produce a visual representation of something that merits this attention in such a way as to do the subject justice. All these judgements are necessarily subjective and and the terms deliberately ambiguous. me 15th May 2020
Last night I shortened this to,
To make a visual expression of an interest. me 27th September 2020
I think I still might prefer the May version, although this has the advantage of brevity.
See also my w-i-p page on roles.
I paid for the course today.
I am reprocessing Part 1 using the online version and inserting amy new components. It will soon be time to venture out and take some photographs. My new tutor has emailed to arrange an online intro chat on 13th.
I came upon a fellow student yesterday who has a handsome site, a sound approach and even more books than I. I arrived there through his review of the Bill Jay, Lenswork Memorial edition — here's the link to Steve Middlehurst. Steve has reached a good compromise on referencing.
I have send a copy of the C&N zine to my old tutor.
Having worked through the new version of I&P Part 1 and inserted the new bits into my notes that had been based on the freely available extract, I now need to complete the exercises and the assignment for Part 1. These comprise:
Exc 1.3 - Portraiture typology - I propose to photograph armed police
Exc 1.4 - Archival intervention - raid the family albums
Asg 1 - The non-familiar - photograph High Street charity shops, or alternative vendors in the case on non-cooperation.
To town yesterday for the first course-driven photo-outing since 14th May and the Lidl's checkout security camera for C&N Asg.3 (and even that was really shopping-driven).
The targets were armed police at Downing Street and outside Parliament for some Sander typology. I will try to repeat the exercise at Kings Crustation at some point, but now to Asg.1.
I had my inaugural chat with my new tutor today and we agreed a target date for Asg.1 of 6th December.
The assignment is going remarkably well. As I note on the development page, "I am surprised how willing, or even enthusiastic the participants are".
And I joined my first I&P online chat today, organised by Mark and with Peter and Zoe in attendance.
We encountered Spence in Part 1 with her method of analysing and evaluating portraits.
I hadn't realised what a fascinationg and entertaining revolutionary character she was. I attended (digitally) a conference on Saturday, Let us now praise famous women and particularly enjoyed Patrizia Di Bello (Birkbeck) on Jo Spence as a writer, organiser & photographer. I believe a podcast will be made available and I will add a link.
I grabbed a few screens during the lecture and will start a Jo Spence page with those.
I am still processing the photographs for Asg.1 and thinking what to write.
I have read Part 2 but not made notes yet.
And spending quite a lot of time creating my 2001 photo calendar.
Here's the link, followed from the course introduction, to the current state of the Assessment Criteria — https://www.oca-student.com/resource-type/assessment-criteria/assessment-criteria-visual-arts-he5
Asg.1 is complete, leaving 3 weeks to fiddle with the wording and work out how to submit it, see draft introductory email:
Unusually, the first and second assignment briefs do not give a word limit for writing about the submissions. I’ll work with 500 as that is the limit for the remaining three.
I have not seen any guidance on sizes for digital submissions since EyV p.15 that specified,
1500 pixels along the longest edge
Adobe (1998) colour profile, RGB jpegs
This will be superseded by the 30 October email to students, OCA Learn Update: Assignment Submissions that stated, "Students who are part way through a unit [as at 2nd November] will be able to submit assignments through OCA Learn from the end of January 2021". Asg.1
Exc.2-1 photographs have been taken, needs the text.
There's an I&P hangout on Friday evening. I have uploaded 3 pics, here's a link to the shared drive - https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/0AG7AVOTi1KRYUk9PVA.
I&P Part 3 is titled Mirrors and Windows but I have not read it yet. I am working my way through Kozloff's Lone visions, crowded frames, at the moment and one of his comments, '[s]itters for portraits appear as people auditioning for parts in their own lives' triggered the thought that portraits provide a good example of Szarkowski's M&W — window portraits show what the sitter wants to enact; mirror portraits show what the snapper wants to describe; both are trumped by the baggage the viewer brings to their interpretation.
As Szarkowski noted, this is a spectrum: these labels should be assigned at the level of the individual photograph, not to the any photographer's work in general.
A new initiative has been started to capture the contents of the many books I keep buying so that I can populate my text with snappy and pithy quotes. This began today in the Contents section. I started with one from Sz and three from Ewing. One of the Ewings from 2012 touts snappers in the Saatchi stable and Ewing wrote a witty introduction describing the land of photography, a 'world with continents, countries, extremely varied terrain, unsettled lands, over-populated areas, and boundaries that are vigorously contested'.
the 'continent of Commercia', which includes the 'wealthiest Kingdom of Advertising' ruled by the Professionals. The inhabitants have little patience with
'the dour people of Documentaria' whose noblest tribe is the Photojournalists who have a 'deep faith in Truth'.
Both realms are 'united in their distain of the Amateurs, who inhabit a continent so vast it has never been properly mapped, let alone explored. Anarchy reigns in Amateuria' inhabited by 'a savage folk' who believe that 'no rite or ceremony should go unrecorded, though the records are immediately lost or forgotten'.
In Artistica, a 'small continent on top of the world, a republic envied for its liberties', both Amateurs and Professionals are 'distinctly unwelcome'. The occupants squabble constantly over the name of the land and whether it should include the syllable 'Art'. Apart from internal rivalries, there is a constant threat from
Artcontemporanea, buying up choice tracts in Artistica and trying to run things.
And several correspondents are waiting for the results of C&N.
I have completed two subjects for Asg.2 and today chased up two who didn't reply and written to six new candidates.
In an email from Anna Walker Skillman, Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta, regarding a splendid exhibition of Elliott Erwitt’s work.
A successful day out yesterday to photograph Rev. Steve Cook at St Barnabus. Score 3 of 5.
An interesting piece in The Times today that may prove to be of use in a future course. The story concerns Scottish exam papers and contoversy whether 'repeating the myths' (Horne, 2020) should be rewarded with marks. That is interesting in itself, but even more fruitful is a pair of readers' comments,
What an apology for an article.
An opportunity to educate wasted. No wonder it's anonymous.
There were tanks in Glasgow on the day of the myth. In the area of the cattle market.
A coincidence or a response to the birth of the new Red Clydesiders ? The Riot Act was read in George Square on 31/01/1919.
At least 2 union men ended up in gaol. Manny Shinwell was one of them.
There's more. Kenny MacAskill has a book on the the incident in 1919. "CBR", The Times. 7 Dec
But Shinwell's account was close to fiction and the oft paraded picture of the tanks in the streets around George Square were of a fund raising event a year previous which raised £14 million. Peter Wright, The Times. 7 Dec
So 100 years after the event it is lost in the mists (and myths) of time.
Marc Horne (2020) Myths of workers’ uprising feature in teachers’ guide [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/1571061e-3812-11eb-a4fe-454ae9b80c8b [Accessed 7 December 2020].
From the camera i, a collection of photographers' self portraits
… however dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable "I". Joan Didion
I don't agree, but it might prove useful.
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A workmanlike 62% for C&N, up from 53% for EyV. Report here.
[19Dec] I'll develop this on a separate page.
I made a book of the course (C&N) last "year" and enjoyed it so much that I decided to do this every year. Bill Brandt pervaded my C&N and so it was straightforward to use him as a peg to hang the whole book on but I have been wondering what will be the backbone of the I&P booklet †. I might have found it this morning.
I came upon, by chance (while looking for the report on the November Assessment results), an OCA chat thread (Scottie, 2016) where a fine art student seeking feedback on his work from others wondered why photography students often began their responses by apologizing for their lack of expertise and agency in the matter.
My consequential thoughts delivered this —
The OCA course is about two things:
1. Taking photographs pertaining in some way to assignment briefs that manifest creativity and risk and writing 500, sometimes 1000 words explaining lucidly, articulately and informedly that they do those three things.
2. Learning to write perceptively about other peoples' (usually more-or-less famous ‡ other people) photographs.
The (possible) plan is to run the opening editorial along these lines and then try to weave it through or demonstrate it with the two or three essays and two or three photo-series that follow.
For the front page image, I might go with a snap from the 2018 British Museum Rodin Exhibition.
† My first thought involved the title A fair likeness and I bought a few peripheral books (a novel, a beginners' book on sculpture) to hunt for a way in.
‡ Bill Jay cautioned his students (2001) that fame, in the world of photography, is a relative matter — almost all 'famous' photographers are only famous to those with a keen interest in photography: those on the Clapham omnibus are unlikely to have heard of them.
and 'fame has absolutely nothing to do with merit, achievement, talent, contributions to society or culture, brilliance in a chosen field, lifetime dedication or haircut'.
Jay, B., (2001) 'How to be famous, sort of', in Sun in the blood of the cat. Tucson, Az.: Nazraeli Press, pp.27-32.
Scottie (2016) Do you need to be qualified to comment? [online]. oca-student.com. Available from https://www.oca-student.com/content/do-you-need-be-qualified-comment [Accessed 18 January 2020].
This was received yesterday. It was reasonably positive and I am pleased with the outcome. I must learn and take care to express myself more carefully. What I intend as straightforward, unambiguous phrases turn out to be neither.
My tutor is setting assignment deadlines around two months apart which will mean Asg2-28Feb; Asg3-30Apr; Asg4-30Jun; Asg5-31Aug. That's ok, I'll just get on with the coursework and assignments, stick to that timetable, start the next course when the coursework is complete and all the outstanding assignments under way and submit I&P for assessment in, I guess, November. I will expect a lower mark than the 62% for C&N and hope for a higher mark than the 53% for EyV.
I wish there were course extracts for Level 2. The choice is 2 from • Landscape place and environment • Documentary - Fact & Fiction •Self and the Other • Digital Image and Culture.
This phrase was used in an article about Anna Meredith in the January 2021 edition of Sound on Sound, used by Jack Ross to describe the mixing engineer Marta Salogni — but that's not important right now. The point is it resonated with me regarding photographers and would probably apply to the Windows end of the MW Spectrum When my tutor described my Asg.1 submission as 'somewhat clichéd in that they give the viewer what is expected', I took that as more a compliment than a criticism. Whenever possible, I print the output (in Boots) and give a copy to the subject and I want the portrait to be acceptable to them. Giving people what thay want is a life skill, see also my developing Theory of portraiture.
Stokes, Will (2021) Anna Meredith, composing and producing FIBS. Sound on Sound. Vol.36 Iss.3 (January 2021), pp.59-63.
And about the next course. Assembling information here.
White Sands, New Mexico, 1974, Jack Welpott
Before diving into the many P4 exercises, I need to finish off some from previous sections . I'll list them here then aim for one every day.
[15Feb] That all took rather longer than intended, but I covered a lot of ground in Exc 3.3.
It could be a passing fad triggered by my reading Baddiel’s Jews don’t count at the moment, but I have listed my relevant prejudices before getting into Exc. 4.4.
Michael A. Kohler's Constructed Realities has been on my wants list for some time and I have been intrigued by the front cover. L’Œil de la Photographie provided the answer today with a piece on Sandy Skoglund that states,
In the late 1970s Sandy Skoglund finally abandoned painting in favour of photography. This was fuelled by the artist’s interest in pop culture, kitsch aesthetics and her obsession with commercial photography. Skoglund was fascinated by the ‘sterile’ images that produced the image of the American Dream. She was particularly drawn to pictures of food in glossy magazines and catalogues. As Skoglund says, ‘I was amazed at how cleverly the advertisement manipulated the consumer’s mind.’ In the ‘Still Life’ series of photographs from 1978 the artist takes an ironic view of the strategies for creating advertising images. In her photographs the traditional food of the American middle-class is transformed into a decorative object or an optical illusion. Starting with the ‘Still Life’ series, food is one of the most importance themes in Skoglund’s work. According to her, this is the most universal language, understood by everyone: ‘After all, everyone eats,’ says the artist.
In 1980 Skoglund took one of her most famous photographs, ‘Radioactive Cats’, in which she depicted a post-apocalyptic scene of life after nuclear disaster. This image marked the beginning of her work with installations that she subsequently photographed. This unique combination of several art forms has made ‘Radioactive Cats’ a symbol of the tableau photography concept. At first glance it may seem that the frame was made using Photoshop, but in reality the bright green animals in the picture are sculptures that the artist personally sculpted from plaster clay. She made 25 life-size figures of cats especially for the photograph and placed them next to actors who performed pre-directed actions. ‘I feel that it is a hopeful message because the cats seem lively and able to keep on living,’ Skoglund explained in one of her interviews. ‘The role of the people in the scene is not clear. Their future is ambiguous, and this is intentional.’ L’Œil de la Photographie
And here are some of the pictures they showed.
There's another photographer this work reminds me of, but I just can't think of who, for now. That's why I must keep expanding the Photographers pages.
Now complete, due for submission at the end of Feb. I'll fiddle with the submission text for a while and send it in a few days early because there is a new system.
(rn) author (year) title [online]. web site. Available from url [Accessed nn January 2020].
n. author, init (year) Title. Location: Publisher.
[28Dec19] I have been collecting apposite quotes since starting the web site, but rather apathetically because I did not have a convenient means of storing and referencing them. Here's the original page. This is a new plan - stash them in the blog (which I often have) and list the sources here. I'll add navigation arrows through the entries. As currently conceived, the quotes gathered during each course will remain discrete in that blog - I might organise a way around that.
Richard Avedon - surface
Dawoud Bey - shooting
Erwin Blumenfeld - photography is easy (or is it?).
A.D. Coleman - All photographs are fictions
John Coplans - meaninglessness
Joan Didion - the implacable "I"
Paul Dirac - poetry vs. science
Marcel Duchamp - photography vs. painting
William Fox Talbot - chance and charm
Peter Galassi - Photography is a bastard
Paul Graham - orthodoxy
Robert Graham subject → object
Bill Jay - photography's destination
Matisse - objects and surroundings
me - why photograph?
Steven Pippin - inverse sophistication
Sontag - intention, loosely bound
Sontag - mortality, vulnerability, mutability
Alec Soth - still photography is incompatible with the narrative sequence.
Tom Stoppard - recognising quality
Evelyn Waugh - first or a fourth
Edward Weston - the thing itself
Oscar Wilde - on masks
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