Brief: Develop a project around the theme of identity within the current digital climate. This could be an autobiographical exploration examining how you relate to digital culture.
28,989,675 + 1
“Una realtá non ci fu data e non c’è, ma dobbiamo farcela noi se vogliamo essere: e non sará man una per tutti, una per sempre, ma di continuo e infinitamente mutabile. La realtá d’oggi è destinata a scoprirsi illusione domani. ” From the novella by Luigi Pirandello entitled “One, no one , one hundred thousand” 1926
“We weren’t given one reality and it isn’t there, but we have to make our own if we want to be: and it won’t ever be one reality for everyone, for ever, but one which is continuously and infinitely changeable. Today’s reality will be seen as an illusion tomorrow.” (My translation)
This statement, written almost a century ago, is still relevant because, in my opinion, human nature has not changed in that time. Like Pirandello, I search continually for the authentic me which I glimpse momentarily from time to time but it is always superseded by another me, another ephemeral reality. When I see other people, I never see the same person twice. You can live with a person a lifetime and you constantly see different versions of that person, and it is not only, in my opinion, because you both change, it’s also because your perceptions of one another change. The title of Pirandello’s work ‘One, no one and a hundred thousand’ reflects this impossibility to see.
This exercise is interactive: each image has been given a number which appears on the bottom left or bottom right of the image, from 1 to 55; each viewer chooses 6 images which s/he sees as a best fit me. They can be any six images and may all be from one of the categories or one from each or any other combination, so long as six images are chosen. If you are taking part in this game, please enter your combination in the Comments below. There is no wrong answer but the interest factor is great!
The 6 selected elements constitute a subjective representation of me on the part of the viewer and which , in this exercise, are represented numerically (digitally): e.g. 24,2,13,61,44,53. This idea mimics those quizzes and games on social media which, by way of having fun, purport to tell you about yourself – your personality, your strengths, your cognitive ability …. You invariably end up with the same outcome as that of several of your friends and, invariably, you can’t see how those other people share your personality traits or your strengths … you are, after all, unique in this world!
I wanted the possible combinations available to viewers to be 100,000 as in the title of Pirandello’s novella, but the closest I got was to have 6 categories with 23 images in total but that came to 100,947 combinations – an ugly number. Besides which, in line with the avalanche metaphor which Erik Kessels uses to present our digital image-making obsession today, I have more than 23 images.
The scroll-over pop-up presentation of my images in two of the categories (Anthropocene Torbay and My House) is a new idea for me for which I had to learn new technical skills but is based on an idea presented by Fred Ritchin. Ritchin wants to find ways of getting round the idea that you can’t trust digital photographs any more to tell the full story in any given situation. His idea was for a photographer to present his/her image and then invite others who were present at the event s/he is depicting and asking them to present their version of the image. These ‘other realities’ then appear as a viewer scrolls over the top image. This technology appears here too: my original image appears as the cover version then under it are hidden 5 or 6 underlays which are mostly images, with one text. The images are all taken from the internet.
Using Facebook was always my first aim, but how I used it changed as different opportunities presented themselves. I also wanted to use Google Earth because it is a big part of my photographic exploration on the ground as my photographic practice takes me everywhere with my projects. Emulating the practice of different photographers who have signalled an interesting perspective has also influenced how I see the world around me. An element which I seem to be drawn to more and more lately is how I see women today as depicted in stills by digital social media.
These are some of the realities which I present here as autobiographical:
A. On Facebook: I asked my FB friends to take a snapshot of what they did in the extra hour they had when the clocks went back on October 30th. I collected 25 images representing the 25 hours that the people had had on that Sunday. The connection is that, as friends, we must have parts of who we are in common, even if it is just a sliver of an nth part of ourselves. (For the names of the contributors and the titles of their images, see appendix 1.)
B. An abiding hobby of mine is looking at geological structures locally to see what they can tell us of activities through the ages particularly since Devon is noted for its complex geological structures and has a geologic period, the Devonian period which spanned 60 million years from about 400 million years ago, named after it. Following my reading of the work of David Thomas Smith, I decided to look at South Devon on Google Earth through an Anthropocene lens and produced work which I had started experimenting with four years ago and gave up. This subject also reflects on me and how I use/abuse my immediate environment.
Climatologist at UCL, Chris Rapley states: “The Anthropocene marks a new period in which our collective activities dominate the planetary machinery. Since the planet is our life support system – we are essentially the crew of a largish spaceship – interference with its functioning at this level and on this scale is highly significant.” (See the guardian url below)
By roving your mouse over the image, see the roll-over pop-ups here (see the Home page)
C. On Flick’r, I searched the term ‘woman’ and picked the first 5 images on the page. This represents my recently sparked interest in how women are represented on one social medium reputed to be used by photographers who take their work more seriously than those on Facebook, for example.
D. My house reflects part of me too. Here I have presented the second roll-over pop-up experiment which has my favourite architects, dead or alive, and a designer. The idea is that my house needs to be renovated so I have, in my imagination, selected these architects to work their magic and, as can be seen, they have started doodling their versions of what it should look like in terms of architecture and artefacts. This project is open ended so it may take many years, but we can, in the meantime, dream on! (The architects and designer can be found in appendix 2)
By roving your mouse over the image see the roll-over pop-ups here (See Page 2)
E. Although I do not subscribe to Pinterest, I have selected from the internet five images which represent my main interests and hobbies which I would have uploaded to it had I had it.(Artists and organisations can be found in appendix 3)
F. Finally, I contacted people on FB who had my name: Anna Goodchild and Anna Toscano (my maiden name). This idea is based on Penelope Umbrico’s 2009 book “Many Leonards not Natman” reflecting her search, in vain, for details of Leonard Natman whose portrait in oils hangs in a reception room off BAM’s grand lobby. He had worked at BAM as house manager, had developed a youth education programme during his years there, and had died of AIDS in 1986. Umbrico could find very little on Natman so decided to collect 100 Leonards and made a book with them. ” ‘Leonards For Leonard’ is a conversation between the digital Leonards and the oil painting Leonard – the many Leonards keeping Leonard company.”(Umbrico). I had forgotten about this work until I read the work of fellow OCA student Kate Aston on her student’s blog about a similar project she did for one of her assignments.
The above images reflect reality parameters within which I wish to portray myself today – they by no means exhaust the possibilities. The interactive element of this assignment asks viewers to make a selection of 6 numbers from the 55 images presented. Some will have realised that the title, 28,989,675 represents the possible sets of me identified mathematically in this exercise. The + 1, represents the possibility of someone deciding that none of the images is suitable and therefore a set of 6 zeros can be presented as an option.
Reflection on how the project went:
What went well:
- The response form my Facebook friends – I thought I would get a maximum of 10 images and I was sent 25.
- The Anthropocene experiment turned out to be easier than I had imagined.
- The roll-over pop ups went well after a terrifying start when I thought I could never get through the technical jargon.
- Finding a website which would calculate the combinations I needed.
What could have gone better:
- I had to get help from my husband who is a computer wiz to get the roll-over pop ups to work. I could not penetrate the on-line tutorials on it & the more I tried to sort them out, the more difficult I found the process.
- I would have liked to have received responses from more of the FB people who shared my surnames.
Pirandello, L. 1926: Uno, nessuno e centomila. BUR Rizzoli
Tutor’s formative feedback:
As usual your mind was fizzing!
Feedback on assignment
And the feeling is conveyed too!
There’s a lot of material there and a lot of ideas, it’s going to need to be pulled together into something more coherent for Assignment 5; representing the pinnacle of your development as it should.
I think beginning with numbers and combinations is a strong idea and this could be the binding theme but should remain an allusion, not overly explained just hinted at in the way the idea is used. So for example that if we were talking a book form then each chapter would be named by a number that was the result of interpreting the visual imagery of the chapter as an equation in some way.
28,989,675 + 1 reminds me of scientific notation which is graphically more interesting and adds an extra mystery.
As well as a book it could be a website, you’ve got in-house tech support that could help with that. ‘ }
A good segue from Assignment 2. I think making a grid of the images uses them up to quickly. I would get more value from them, maybe make them a chapter named after the date in some way, one image per page, two per spread and titled with the name of the contributor.
This rather appropriately reminds me of fractals with the added bonus of the Baroque allusions. You could do more of these and I think the dissonance it creates with the previous section would be very contemporary.
This is also something you could develop further into Assignment 5; with the permissions of the rights holders of course.
Obviously this doesn’t work in print although the chapter could be a sequence of URLs, one per page, or graphically more interesting QR Codes with the URLs embedded. You could do more of these towards an element ofAssignment 5. Well done on the idea and the determination to get it working!
Perhaps this is the least strong idea and could be dropped.
This is reminiscent of a TV programme some years ago when the comedian Dave Gorman Googled his name to see what was being said about him and was surprised how many other Dave Gorman’s there were around the world and set out to literally meet them all.
Perhaps over time you could gather more responses or think of some other way to include the other Annas.
As usual; commited and intelligent.
Easy to navigate and lots of good content; it’s convincing.
We’re rather past that.
Pointers for the next assignment / assessment
The task is to pull this all together in some coherent form; adding, subtracting and ordering as necessary to give a sense of identity while retaining the wide diversity. In doing so you’ll create a piece of work that’s worthy of the excellent progress you’ve made during the module.
|Tutor name||Clive White|
|Next assignment due||22/01/17|
Reflections on the tutor feedback:
- The layout has been changed & number references which I feel are relevant, added as chapter headings would.
- Book and website are done.
- Valid opinion re grid refs being too dismissive of the effort put in to taking the extra hour images.
- I’m glad the dissonance in the 1950 + 66 was picked up & encouraged. I have made many of these as I find the process rather moorish – I can’t stop!
- Woman in Flick’r: more permissions sought.
- QR code creator formula obtained & QR codes have been generated. Takes time & effort. Roll-over pop-ups are quite exacting – have gone for 15.
- Pinterest idea dropped as I too found it less than convincing. I have started combining my own landscape images with fictitious characters who embody some characteristics that I feel I have such as:
But I dropped this too as some of the characters’ other characteristics were quite embarrassing!
- I have decided to use the dialogue aspect of what the tutor reported and paired up the Annas reflecting a conversation idea between them.
- I am very pleased with the positive content of the tutor report.