Category Archives: ASSIGNMENTS

Assignment 6: Pre-assessment tutorial

The purpose of this assignment is to decide how I’m going to submit my work for assessment.

Reviewing my assignments:  My tutor and I have been reviewing my assignments as we have gone along.

Reviewing my learning log:  My tutor and I have been reviewing this as we have gone along.

I have responded to tutor and peer suggestions as I have gone along. For example, my first presentation of the assignment which evolved in to Assignment 5, had the following observations and replies:

      1. I looked at all the options and chose the numbers which I think represent you. Though this tells you more about me than you Anna. Here are my numbers:
        7,8,10,41 and zero.

        Like

  1. That’s brilliant, Edelgard, thank you very much. This element of the selection being more about you than about me is very much part of the concept of the assignment which I did not want to write in because I thought it would have put people off. In Pirandello’s novella, it is only when the protagonist’s wife tells him that his nose curves to the side that he starts to analyse how he sees himself and how his wife sees him! He had always thought his nose was straight & why hadn’t she told him before? He then realises that the image his wife has of him is totally unrecognisable to him – she even gives him a name which is not his own! This is super – thanks again.

    Like

  2. The more I think of your assignment, the more I think the images we pick say nothing about you but all about us and our relationship with you. You made it especially hard by giving us images which everyone will interpret differently. It would have been easier had you given us words or categories. But maybe your whole idea was to conceal yourself rather than reveal yourself.

  3. That is a very perceptive comment, thank you.

    When we think of someone, I would think that a visual reference comes up rather than words or languages or sentences. After all, in the novella, it is the protagonist’s appearance, as it is seen by someone else, someone who should know him very well, which gives rise to the whole dilemma – expressed in words!

    It can’t say nothing about me because I either asked for the images or referenced myself in them somehow, so I am in them somewhere to a greater or lesser degree. Thank you so much for adding this! It has made me dig deep!

    Good. It made me think about it too and I came to the conclusion that it also says little about me, because nobody knows how I translate the images.

     

My learning log is accessible: my tutor has kept an eye on this & has made suggestions as we have gone along.

Apart from the website http://www.lightrider.biz which will be a URL submission for Assignment 5,  I propose to submit the following physical material for assessment:

  •  My sketchbook / workbook.
  •  Part 1:   Assignment 1:

Image 1: The Stage Set collage.

Tutor amendments

Image 5: Unseen Florence collage.

A Florence of imagined and irrational fun.
An imagined Florence developed through elements of Dadaism, irrational absurdity and fun but still linked to plastic arts, design and time.
  •  Part 2:  Assignment 2.

The book I created on Brexit.

Screen Shot 2016-12-18 at 18.40.54.png

  •  Part 3: Assignment 3: The critical essay: The digital self.

Part 4: Assignment: Digital identities 1: No submission.

  •  Part 5:  Assignment 5: Digital identities 2: an autobiographical exploration.

The book for 31 10 20 16 : 25

Prints of 3 images from 1950 + 66 

Probably:

anthropocene-torquay-red

lee-mill-quarry-4

  •  Assignment 6.

Tutor report

Overall Comments

OK this is a refining go around on the carousel again…

Feedback on assignment

I’m going to go through the points I pulled out last time.

But first I’m going to reiterate how I think the diversity of the work properly represents the multiple digital personalities that people inhabit; from my point of view that’s a real strength in the work when perhaps under normal circumstances one would be looking for more continuity in the choice and application of mediums.

Your continuity comes from the creativity of your solutions and your tenacity in applying them.

I’m probably rather pre-empting you here but just as a reminder it’s a good idea to put a final post on the blog introducing the work to the assessor and giving them instructions as to how best to access it.

http://www.lightrider.biz/

Going to the website the first thing one notices is that you’ve changed the font; good.

The artist statement is good. I would make the title slightly larger or bolder; just so it catches the eye first rather than going straight into ‘When people…’

The Home page is working well and clicking on the introductory images takes one to the section they’re part of; good.

The navigation arrows either side of the image on screen are rather bigger than they need to be.

‘When you mouseover a menu item on the left it disappears, probably the rollover is set to white text, this is rather disconcerting, having it go Bold or change to a lighter grey would be better.’

There’s now no indication of mouseover on the main menu; apart from 10 + 1 jiggling a bit.

31 10 20 16 : 25

 This section is fine.

‘extra hour to enjoyNelson’ < get someone to proof read the site that’s not working on it if you can.

1950 + 66

 This fine too and the coordinates are a good size.

10 + 1

 This layout works but I think the paragraph at the top would benefit from a smaller font. It feels like it’s pushing the images off the bottom of the screen.

150×150+cht=ar+chl=”+B2

 I think it was a good idea to reveal the grid making the whole thing feel more architectural and accurate; very good, possibilities here for BoW.

231,513,114

 I would put the credit line at the top centred under the images at the very bottom in a smaller font.

10:66

As I said before excellent and another possible approach for BoW.

Now the essay should start here.

The content is fine but the text feels a bit slabby. It needs to be broken up into more paragraphs to make it more digestible so it can be speed read, as it will be.

Overall I think it’s appropriate, effective, intelligent, progressive work. It’s just the formatting and presentation that needs polishing to match the quality of the ideas and the thinking.

Coursework

 Done

Research

And

Learning Log

Dusted

Suggested reading/viewing

Something good; smiley

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

‘physicality of my assessment submission’

I literally mean the heft of it. It’s presence on the assessment table as a pile.

I remember one assessment submission was a single CD with something scribbled on it in black marker, slid into a frosted plastic sleeve that had a curling yellow Post It note stuck to it; not a good opening gambit.

I’m preaching to the converted but just make sure the pile looks like it’s worth a good mark at Level 2.

Tutor name Clive White
Date 17/1/17
Next assignment due Finished

Reflections on the tutor’s report:

The positive element is very strong and enabling.  As always, a good mixture of humour and help in delivering the message.

On my website, the navigation arrows  are as small as the web page design will allow.

For the physicality of the assessment submission, I was enquiring about  how much I should include as there is a discrepancy between what is on the student website and what administrators in OCA suggest.  The assessment guidelines state that we must submit all assignments, tutor reports and any amendments following receipt of the tutor reports, whereas staff in OCA say that we need only submit our amended assignments because the assessors can access out originals on our blogs.  I have now clarified it and have printed out all my original as well as amended assignments.

Reworked assignment 6: Digital identities 2

                                  75,287,520  + 1

Because any person is an amalgam of many types of experiences, not all physical, this assignment is presented in different ways.  The modes of presentation cannot be all inclusive but they give the idea that life cannot be expressed purely in images and text.

My website  http://lightrider.biz  delivers the assignment using a variety of media: text, images, a video and an interactive roll-over pop-up element.  The artist’s statement on the home page explains why the project is divided in to sections.

The section titled ‘Project rationale’ lays out why the project exists as it does and explains its interactive element.

 

 

 

The Blurb book can be seen here.

This is the PDF of the book published by Blurb.blurb-book-pdf-752875201

The individual books also exist as PDFs printed by me: pdf-books-for-assessment-submission-4pdf-books-for-assessment-submission-5pdf-of-books-for-assessment-submission-1pdf-of-books-for-assessment-submission-2pdf-of-books-for-assessment-submission-3

31 10 20 16 : 25

This is included in the assessment submission as a book in its own right and as part of a five book box set as seen below in facsimile.  It presents the submissions in response to my request to my Facebook friends to let me see what they did in the extra hour they had at the end of October, 2016.

 

Box set facsimile 1400px .jpg
facsimile of the five-book box set

1950 + 66

This presents my vision of Anthropocene Devon which I traverse on a weekly basis with my family and photography friends.

10 + 1

This references Facebook interactions between people who share my name and surname.

150×150+cht=ar+chl=”+B2

An interactive grid reflecting my architectural interests as well as my curiosity to explore new technology and concepts.

231,513,114

This ‘sampling’ of images from Flick’r reflects my interest in how women are portrayed in social media.

10:66

This final element is an autobiographical video hosted on Youtube.

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Assignment 5: Digital Identities 2.

Brief:  Use your tutor’s feedback on Assignment Four to help you develop your digital identities project to the point of resolution. … Include a 500 word essay that contextualises your project and provides a self-evaluation.

The format of this assignment is explained fully in the conclusion.

                    75,287,520 + 1

Essay:

“Una realtá non ci fu data e non c’è, ma dobbiamo farcela noi se vogliamo essere: e non sará mai 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 “Uno, nessuno e centomila = 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.    The title of Pirandello’s work ‘One, no one and a hundred thousand’ reflects this impossibility to see.  This 1926 sentiment of Pirandello is reflected in the reaction of  film maker Wim Wenders when he saw a portrait of his photographer wife Donata taken by photographer Peter Lindbergh in 2012: ” Wim was surprised that the woman he loves and has known for such a long time could reveal to someone else, an unknown side of herself.”(Pirelli)

This exercise is interactive:  each viewer chooses  5 images  which s/he sees as a best fit me – the author of this assignment.  They can be any five images and may all be from one of the categories or one from each or any other combination.   If you are taking part in this game, please enter your combination in the Contact us section on the website or in the Comments section of this blog.    There is no wrong answer but the interest factor for me is immense!  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!  There are  100 images from which to choose ( and one video) echoing  the avalanche which Erik Kessels constructed in his “Photos in 24 hours” installation of the 2013 exhibition in Arles.

The scroll-over pop-up presentation of my images in one of the categories ( 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 15 underlays which are QR codes, as well as images of sketches / drawings by the designers and architects.    The QR codes all refer to URLs relating to websites of the relevant architects or designers.

The six elements  constitute a subjective selection of probable representations of me.

  1. 31 10 20 16 : 25

Kate A.pngUsing Facebook was always my first aim, following on from my Assignment 2, 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.

I have chosen to present the 25 hour day from the Facebook contributions as a book so that each image is given a more prominent space than it had in assignment 4.    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, 2016.  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.

2.    1950 + 66

Anthropocene Torquay red  .png
Anthropocene Torquay

The second aspect of my digital self is how I use or abuse my environment.  An abiding hobby of mine is looking at geological structures locally to see what they can tell us of activities through the ages.  This is particularly relevant in Devon as it 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  Devon on Google Earth through an Anthropocene lens and produced work which I had started experimenting with four years ago and gave up.   I was very grateful for having received permission from Google Earth to use their work with which to experiment.  Two of the images have a hole in the centre which reference a line of a poem by W B Yeats, now out of copyright:  “The Second Coming”: ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold’.  Because the Anthropocene , said to have started in about 1950 which coincides with my year of birth, references the changes man makes to his environment to allow him to live the way he wants, there are many who feel that these practices are causing catastrophic climate changes which will lead to the destruction of our planet.  The second coming Yeats writes about anticipates the apocalypse caused by man’s abuse of the 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).  Ironically, in his explanatory notes  on his poem, Yeats writes: “The end of an age, which always receives the revelation of the character of the next age, is represented by the coming of one gyre to its place of greatest expansion and of the other to its place of greatest contraction… The revelation [that] approaches will… take its character from the contrary movement of the interior gyre…” (Spark notes) The Anthropocene marks the end of one age and the start of another, and the tension felt in Yeats’ poem is that which I feel when I see how much we have altered our environment.

3.    231,513,114

Anthony Wood.png
Woman by Anthony Wood (with his kind permission)

On Flick’r, I searched the term ‘woman’ and picked some images, asked for permission to use them in this assignment and received that permission for these images.  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.  In the 2017 Pirelli calendar, Peter Lindbergh has introduced some changes in how women are represented in a type of publication seen on garage walls and intended mainly for the male gaze.  I am looking forward to exploring that avenue next.

4.    150×150+cht=ar+chl=”+B2

Zaha Hadid 21st C art museum 38.png
Zaha Hadid

My house reflects part of me too.  Here I have presented, on the website only, a roll-over pop-up experiment which has my favourite  architects, dead or alive, and designers.  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!

I also wrote a poem called “Change” which can be seen on the website and in the book.

5.     10 + 1

Cover .png

Following the 2009 work of Penelope Umbrico, ‘Many Leonards not Natman’, I  contacted people on FB who had my names: Anna Goodchild and Anna Toscano (my maiden name).    Umbrico searched 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.  My work contains only 10, 5 of each name, as that is as many as I could find at the time.

6.           10 : 66

7.  80.png
The staff at Newcastle High School.

My journey, not yet ended, is depicted here by a video with 10 images taken from my family archives.   John Berger observes  that men are portrayed “according to the promise of power they  embody “(p39) and women ” so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman.”(P 40)  I started this essay with a quote from a man who does not distinguish between men or women in their futile attempt to portray themselves to others or to  themselves.  This observation is put into question, in my opinion,  in John Berger’s statements because he implies that women are aware that they are seen as well as seeing how they are seen, and that people see men by the power they promise in their embodiment.   My contention is that neither men nor women know how their projected images are received by other men or other women.  My video with stills is a fragment of the image I think I portray both to myself and to others of how I see and how I’m seen.

Conclusion:

Because any person is a complex amalgam of many types of experiences, not all physical,  this assignment is presented in  different ways.  The modes of presentation cannot be all inclusive but they can give an idea that a life cannot be expressed purely in images or text. There are aspects which cannot be seen, most of which lie below the surface, and what you see depends how you try to tap into them: you can, for example, gloss over the surface or just tap into sources of information.

a.  On this blog is the written aspect to give some rationale and background information on the project.

b.  In hard copy form is a Blurb book  showing that some aspects can exist in a physical form.

c.  On my website is the whole project minus the written contextualisation, with the inter-active roll-over pop-up experience presenting one part which cannot be presented any other way.   There is also an AV component,  presented as a video with stills on Youtube,  which also cannot exist in any other form of presentation other than on a website / blog.

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 as did the speed of permission to use Google Earth.
  • The out of date copyright element of WB Yeats and Popeye made things much easier.
  • The timely publishing of the interview with Peter Lindbergh with Wim Wenders relevant quote and the rationale for the 2017 Pirelli calendar was timely and very exciting for me.
  • The quick permissions granted for the use of the Flick’r images.
  • 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.
  • I learned such a lot about complex technical aspects of video making, web site building, particularly page linking, and roll-over pop-ups which are such a lot of fun to build.  In this assignment, they are particularly complex because there are four layers to the pop-ups: the surface image, click & you see the architects’ and designers’ drawings and sketches; hover over the top image and you see the QR codes; use your smart phone to read the QR codes and they will take you to the respective architect or designers’ web sites.   I never realised you could get such complexities in a web site!

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.
  • I could not use some of my favourite Flick’r images because their authors did not respond after many weeks.
  • I should have given the Facebook respondents an idea of what size photograph to send of their extra hour activities because I had to resize all but 2 of the images.

References

de Saint-Exupéry,A.: 1958.  Le Petit Prince. Heinemann

Pirandello, L. 1926: Uno, nessuno e centomila. BUR Rizzoli

Berger, J. 1972.  Ways of seeing. Penguin.

http://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/yeats/section5/page/2/

http://www.pirelli.com/world

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/4017251/Popeyes-copyright-to-expire-in-January.html

https://www.mathsisfun.com/combinatorics/combinations-permutations-calculator.html

http://penelopeumbrico.net/index.php/books/many-leonards-not-natman/

http://david-thomas-smith.com/ANTHROPOCENE

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/devonian/devonian.php

http://2010dmsresearch.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/after-photography-by-fred-ritchin.html

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/29/declare-anthropocene-epoch-experts-urge-geological-congress-human-impact-earth

http://tech.fanpage.it/facebook-rilascia-la-feature-l-anno-in-breve-ecco-come-creare-un-riassunto-del-2015/

Appendices:

  1.  W.B.Yeats poetry out of copyright:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/wikipedia/6916596/WB-Yeats-and-Sigmund-Freud-works-posted-on-Wikipedia-as-copyright-expires.html

2.  Google permissions:

Screen Shot 2016-12-03 at 12.00.46.png

Tutor feedback on Assignment 5:

Overall Comments

A very appropriate culmination to the module which demonstrates the sophistication of your thinking and the diversity of your creativity. Well done!

Feedback on assignment

I think the diversity properly reflects the fragmented nature of people’s digital selves. Even on the simplistic level of having something of themselves on Facebook, some on Twitter, some not shared and kept on a single machine and some indeed remaining as paper archive; fragmentary like a cracked mirror.

Although the structure is a perfect metaphor those coming to it anew, assessors for example, need to be given a bit of a guiding hand to lead them into the work. I must say I found it confusing having the essay up front and only discovering a URL for the actual work much further into it.

This is very much putting the cart before the horse, it’s the actual work that’s the thing, the ‘essay’ isn’t intended to be a formal essay but an explanatory piece to come after the work.

The blog entry could practically be just the URL to your website that contains the work.

http://www.lightrider.biz/

Going to the website the first thing one notices is the Comic Sans typeface.

This is a definite no no http://designforhackers.com/blog/comic-sans-hate/

Comic Sans is perfect for one thing, the use it was designed for, speech bubbles in a cartoon strip.

Try some other sans styles instead.

Begin with a short artist statement, distilled from what you’ve written as part of the ‘essay’; just enough to give a flavour of your intent and the quality of your references rather than ‘The written part of this assignment can be seen at http://www.mylandscape2016.wordpress.com’

Everything needs to be on this site for the convenience and understanding of the assessors. Your written expansion can come after the work, once they understand exactly what you’re talking about in respect of the actual work, the visuals.

Also on the home page it would be good if the images in the opening slide show were a little bigger particularly “Woman” on Flickr.

I’ve investigated and it can be enlarged by 50% without the loss of sharpness becoming objectionable.

jbnauta
Woman by JB Nauta

It would also be good if clicking on a particular image in that slide show took one to its section. Not worth spending a lot of time on but a worthwhile refinement if it was straight forward to implement.

Also the viewer needs to know that they can control all the slide shows with the scroll wheel. I’d been through the whole site a couple of times before I discovered that.

When you mouseover a menu item on the left it disappears, probably the rollover is set to white text, this is rather disconcerting, having it go Bold or change to a lighter grey would be better.

31 10 20 16 : 25

 This works well on the website and especially as a book too. I wouldn’t put Part 1 and Part 2 on the title pages of each section. It doesn’t add anything and it’s rather unsettling because when you read the text ‘part 1’ you’re immediately thinking what part 2 might be about when you should be concentrating on the idea and the images of part 1 and then when you get to part 2 it’s obvious that something different is happening.

1950 + 66

 It works on the website and the book but the co-ordinates are mostly on the edge of legibility. Ideally they should be big enough to be consistently legible or dispensed with.

10 + 1

 I do not understand how this is presented unless I’m missing something; it’s laid out like a small book with images so tiny one can hardly make out what they are.

The idea is good; the material is good, even if there’s not a great amount. The images need to be bigger and the graphic suggestion of a double page spread removed. I don’t think it’s adding anything and you could make a lot more from what you have.

150×150+cht=ar+chl=”+B2

 This is working well and as a technique has the scope for you to do more with. I’m not sure if the slightly different displacements in the tiles adds to the overall impression or not.

231,513,114

 Similarly for this, make them single images and larger.

10:66

Excellent; simple, and all the better for it, yet very evocative and resonant.

Good typography on the opening titles, perhaps you could use that font on the site but don’t label the video Assignment 5 in the titles. You just want it viewed as a piece of work in its own right.

Now the essay should start here.

The content is fine but the text feels a bit slabby. It needs to be broken up into more paragraphs to make it more digestible so it can be speed read, as it will be.

Overall I think it’s appropriate, effective, intelligent, progressive work. It’s just the formatting and presentation that needs polishing to match the quality of the ideas and the thinking.

Coursework

 Fine

Research

Fine

Learning Log

Fine

Suggested reading/viewing

We’re done, other than anything you care to add as you’re polishing before your final submission.

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

You’ve delighted me with the progress you’ve made over the module and the quality of the work that you’ve done and it all seems to have absolutely flown past.

I think you’re well on the way to doing extremely well at Level 3. The creativity and the intelligence are certainly there, it’s only the presentational skills that need buffing up but that comes with time and practice, also it can be tutored much more easily than creativity and intelligent thinking.

I can’t remember if I’ve covered this or not but submission prints should be on unmounted and unsleeved heavyweight matt or semi matt, i.e. not gloss, A3 paper with generous, a minimum of 3.5cm, white borders for handling. The borders should be included in the digital file for accuracy of crop and positioning of the image on the paper and the prints should be presented in a clam shell portfolio box such as this…

http://shop.silverprint.co.uk/Silverprint-Archival-Portfolio-Box-A3/product/28984/AQ1203/

The larger half, like a box of expensive chocolates, is the lid. I point this out because surprisingly more than one student inexplicably considered it to be the bottom.

It’s a good idea to consider supplying a selection of prints. There was talk of making prints compulsory for all submission at all Levels in 2017 but I’ve not heard anything said about that for a while.

Tutor name Clive White
Date 15/12/16
Next assignment due Finished

Reflections on the tutor report:

A very encouraging report with lots of constructive criticism, which is what I like.

To improve on the assignment:

  1.  On the blog (this one) just put the URL of the website hosting my work.   Although it seems to be putting the cart before the horse by having the essay and then the URL,  the essay explains how I got to the work so I assumed that readers/viewers would like to know what the work is all about before they see it.  On other websites, the authors have the basis for the work under ‘About’ so you can see it whenever you want to.
  2. Change the font – anything except Comic Sans!  I watched the video Clive suggested & had a good laugh.  Message received – I am a mother after all!  I suppose the ‘Comic’ in Comic Sans should have told me as to what it was used for, but I liked the informality of it, yet I accept that for formal assessment, this should be a formal presentation.  Helvetica was available at a price but it is, to my uneducated eye, very close to Ariel so that’s what I chose. Done.
  3. The artist statement idea makes sense.  It’s when you have been with the material for so long that you don’t realise that newcomers to it will not necessarily have had all the background to it.  Done.
  4. Everything is now on the website.
  5. The images on the Home page are now bigger, and the arrows on both sides indicate that viewers can control the sliders.  The links are now there to go straight to the section indicated by the image.
  6. The mouseover on the side menu now brings up the menu item in bold rather than having it disappear.
  7. All the ‘Part’ elements in the book are no longer there & I agree with the thinking behind it, & it’s just the titles which indicate where the readers are.
  8. The co-ordinates on the 1950 + 66 are now separate from the images & easily legible.
  9. On 10 + 1 the images are opposite one another because the Anna Goodchild & Anna Toscano are communicating, hopefully.  They were very small, almost fly droppings on the page before.  They had been small because I was not sure that I wanted them big in the book so, in the interests of uniformity, I had made them small on the website too.
  10. The tiles on the roll-over pop-ups section are being resized = takes an eternity.
  11. The ‘Woman on Flick’r’ images have their own page and are much larger.  I had done them smaller because that was the size they were in the book.  But that’s the beauty of diversity – you can make the presentation different without breaking the cohesion in delivering the message.
  12. The AV title has now been changed and a new version up on Youtube.  I tried to get the same font but I could not justify the cost when Ariel is very close to it.
  13. The essay is now on 2 pages on the website.  It has been broken down, slimmed down (if only all slimming was this easy!) and only the essence of the contents is there on page 26 with my reflections on the assignment on page 27.  I apologise for all the indigestion this has caused to date!
  14. The next assignment will probably consist of this reflection in preparation for final assessment.

Reworked blog page:

Assignment 5: Digital identities 2.

The contents of this assignment are all on my website:

www.lightrider.biz

There are some elements in a Blurb book because they worked well in that format.

The work on the website also has an AV component , titled 10 : 66, made with iMovie and posted to Youtube.

Reflection:

What went well:

 •  The response form my Facebook friends – I thought I would get a maximum of 10 images and I was sent a serendipitous 25.

 • The Anthropocene experiment turned out to be easier than I had imagined as did the speed of permission from Google Earth.

 • The out of date copyright element of WB Yeats made things easier.

 • The timely publishing of the interview with Peter Lindbergh with Wim Wenders’ relevant quote and the rationale for the 2017 Pirelli calendar was timely and very exciting for me.

 • The quick permissions granted for the use of the Flick’r images.

 • 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.

 • I learned such a lot about complex technical aspects of video making, web site building, particularly page linking, and roll-over pop-ups which are such a lot of fun to build.  In this assignment, they are particularly complex because there are four layers to the pop-ups: the surface image, click & you see the architects’ and designers’ drawings and sketches; hover over the top image and you see the QR codes; use your smart phone to read the QR codes and they will take you to the respective architect or designers’ web sites.   I never realised you could get such complexities in a web site!

What could have gone better:

 •  I had to get a lot of 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.

*  I should have given the Facebook respondents an idea of what size photograph to send of their extra hour activities because I had to resize most of the images.

Assignment 4:Digital identities 1.

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.)

25 hours
Twenty-five images reflecting what FB friends did during the 25th hour on 30th October, 2016.

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)

Pinterest
Pinterest images.

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.

FB Avatars
Anna Goodchild and Anna Toscano on Facebook.

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.

References:

Pirandello, L. 1926: Uno, nessuno e centomila. BUR Rizzoli

https://www.mathsisfun.com/combinatorics/combinations-permutations-calculator.html

http://penelopeumbrico.net/index.php/books/many-leonards-not-natman/

http://david-thomas-smith.com/ANTHROPOCENE

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/devonian/devonian.php

http://2010dmsresearch.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/after-photography-by-fred-ritchin.html

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/29/declare-anthropocene-epoch-experts-urge-geological-congress-human-impact-earth

Appendices:

  1.  extra-hour-fb-project
  2. section-d-architects-and-designer
  3. section-e-pinterest

 

Tutor’s formative feedback:

 Overall Comments

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

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.

B 

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.

C

This is also something you could develop further into Assignment 5; with the permissions of the rights holders of course.

D

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!

E

 Perhaps this is the least strong idea and could be dropped.

F

 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.

Coursework

 As usual; commited and intelligent.

Research

As above

Learning Log

Easy to navigate and lots of good content; it’s convincing.

Suggested reading/viewing

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
Date 22/11/16
Next assignment due 22/01/17

Reflections on the tutor feedback:

  1.  The layout has been changed & number references which I feel are relevant, added as chapter headings would.
  2. Book and website are done.
  3. Valid opinion re grid refs being too dismissive of the effort put in to taking the extra hour images.
  4. 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!
  5. Woman in Flick’r: more permissions sought.
  6. QR code creator formula obtained & QR codes have been generated.  Takes time & effort.  Roll-over pop-ups are quite exacting – have gone for 15.
  7. 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:
  8. popeye-1400px
    Popeye: catch phrase: I am what I am.

    But I dropped this too as some of the characters’ other characteristics were quite embarrassing!

  9. I have decided to use the dialogue aspect of what the tutor reported and paired up the Annas reflecting a conversation idea between them.
  10. I am very pleased with the positive content of the tutor report.

DI&C: Assignment 3

OCA
Photography level 2

Digital Image and Culture

Part 3: We are all photographers now.

Assignment 3:

What is your understanding of the ‘digital self’ and what is the effect of our everyday use of photography upon it. Discuss using relevant case studies and published research.

                                                                    OR

                                      Would Janus take make a selfie?

Word count: 3329

Quotations     605

Total             2724

Illustrations:

Figure 1:

Penelope Umbrico: Suns from sunsets on Flick’r (2006)    Page 9

Figure 2:

My image of Erik Kessels’ ’24 hours of images.’                      Page 11

Figure 3:

A Kim Kardashian selfie.                                                                     Page 13

What is your understanding of the ‘digital self’ and what is the effect of our everyday use of photography upon it. Discuss using relevant case studies and published research.

                                                                        OR

                                            Would Janus take make a selfie?

The theory underpinning this essay is taken from Guy Debord’s ‘Society of the spectacle’ and in particular thesis 13: “The basically tautological character of the spectacle flows from the simple fact that its means are simultaneously its ends. It is the sun which never sets over the empire of modern passivity. It covers the entire surface of the world and bathes endlessly in its own glory.” (Debord 1970:13)

The guiding questions are: What constitutes the digital self and could a photography exhibition change the way we look? Why involve Janus, a Roman mythical god, in discussing photography in the 21st Century?

Janus was the double-faced god of beginnings, endings, gates, doorways, passages, time and transitions. In houses he was often put facing external doors to protect the household from disasters.   In the Pompidou Centre, that very visible, endlessly photographed example of post-modern architecture in Paris, the images on both sides of a board hanging in the central market hall are those of President Pompidou. Facing in opposite directions, they signify a transition or passage from the modern to something beyond it. When it was built in 1970, one of the principal architects, Renzo Piano, said that the design concept was based on a medieval market place where, on the interlinked and intersecting layers of spaces, people would meet and talk. So we have a paradox of an ultra-modern expression using a medieval concept as a vehicle to ring in the revolution-avoiding socio-political changes so necessary in France post May 1968.

In his 2013 publication, Martin Lister includes the essay “The digital image in photographic culture” by Rubinstein and Sluis in which they introduce the Janus principle :“Like a two-faced Janus, photography points in two directions at once: one side faces the objects, people and situations as they appear in the ‘real’ world, and is occupied with the representation of events by flattening their four dimensional space onto the two dimensional plane of the photograph … the other side points towards photography’s own conditions of manufacturing, which is to say towards the repetition and serial reproduction of the photographic image.” (Lister p. 25) This essay will show if or how this illustrates aspects of the digital self by identifying the transition moments and the ways in which the new medium has formed and adapted how we look, meaning both how we appear and how we see. The work used to substantiate the points made are the photography of Penelope Umbrico and Erik Kessells, the manifesto of the 2011 Rencontres d’Arles exhibition and the 2012 paper Selfiecity: exploring photography and self-fashioning in social media by Tifentale and Manovich (9).

To Martin Heidegger in 1977 is ascribed the observation that “representation is the key characteristic of the modern age” in which “ the world becomes a picture and the human being becomes a subject.”(Lister p.25) Heidegger goes back to the 17th Century, to Descartes who maintained that representation was the marker of modernity because it concerned itself with truth founded on rational and abstract principles rather than on subjective or aesthetic ones. Descartes was talking in scientific terms where experiments could be repeated and the outcomes could be represented in diagrammatic form, without any subjectivity or aesthetics involved. In making the assumption that humans are rational and capable of objectifying the world of knowledge in graphs and diagrams, he makes us consider the converse, that humans can express themselves in subjective, aesthetic, artistic and metaphysical terms too. The ontology of photography has been based on the visual representation of the science of optics, the mechanics of automatism and the objectivity of rational representation.   Logically, this all gave photographs, created by a rational human author, the credibility of having transferred reality from the object to its re-presentation.   With the advent of digital photography, based on the binary system of computer language, we would expect that that scientific quality would sustain the idea of objective representation operated by a rational human to produce objective, credible, reproducible representations. This is supported by that sage of all photographic sages, Roland Barthes who states: “The photograph is literally an emanation of the referent. From a real body, which was there, proceed relations which ultimately touch me, who am here.” (Barthes, 1981:80). Those who are au fait with dark room photographic practices as well as with digital algorithmic capabilities, know that people are involved in the production of an image, be it on paper or on the screen and that the process, therefore, will involve more than just scientific, mathematical or rational principles.

In his documentaries entitled “The Century of the self,” (2002) Adam Curtis illustrates how the consumer-led policies of the early 20th Century are still in place today in the USA and in the rest of the industrialized world. The series focuses on how the work of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud was used by business and politicians to read and fulfill created desires to control the masses, develop consumerism and how people saw themselves.   The prime protagonist in the series is Edward Bernays, Freud’s nephew, who picked up on Freud’s contention that people are irrational and that if you pander to their selfish desires, tap into their deepest fears, in every field, they become docile and malleable. Furthermore, if you could link a product to their emotional desires and feelings you could persuade people to behave irrationally believing that they felt better for buying a certain product. The late 1920’s saw the flourishing of consumerism in the USA, the start of political spin and the commodification of Hollywood and its celebrities, and the Wall Street crash. In an interview following the death of Marilyn Munroe in 1962, playwright Arthur Miller maintains that rather than freeing man, consumerism was controlling and defining him and that it was part of the power-mad ideology of the times.

Elaine Glaser, author of Get Real: How to see through hype, spin and lies of modern life states “ When every person in a train carriage is staring at a small illuminated device, it is an almost tacky vision of dystopia. … Technology – along with turbo-capitalism – seems to me to be hastening the cultural and environmental apocalypse. The way I see it, digital consumerism makes us too passive to revolt or to save the world.” This illustrates precisely what Bernays was trying to create in the 1920s, and what debord maintained regarding the character of the spectacle. To complete the picture, in the 1950’s, Theodor Adorno wote in The Dialectic of Enlightenment: ‘Not only do we have the freedom to choose what was always the same, but, arguably, human personality had been so corrupted by false consciousness that there is hardly anything worth the name any more. “Personality,” they wrote, “scarcely signifies anything more than shining white teeth and freedom from body odour and emotions .’(Jeffries)

Psychologist Dr Tamara Hicks claims in an article of 2010 that we all have a ‘digital mask’ to engage with the technological world. She goes on to identify the plethora of internet technologies which had been introduced and to which we can add so many others which surface daily under the conceit of digital culture. Hicks observes “… All of this technology has come at us so fast and furiously that we haven’t had the time to think about how our relationship with it shapes our very identity.”(PT) It seems, therefore that the ‘digital self’ is under constant change and that we, the ‘self’, are not aware of who we are any more.

Despite the fact that we know how we are being manipulated to keep capitalist fires burning, we continue to define ourselves, unwittingly perhaps, by the information we upload to all the sites of which we are subscribers. Do we know who picks up our information, where in the world or why? Not really. The groups we belong to on Facebook and other social media websites, the ‘private’ conversations on Whatsapp or Snapchat, the searches we make on the internet, the items we purchase online, the articles we post or repost or share on social media all become part of the complex algorithms which define our composite selves and ‘know’ us better than we know ourselves.   All the information is fed to commercial enterprises which then target us using the information we have voluntarily given up. The ends are the means.

The manifesto, written by Erik Kessels, one of the curators of the 2011 Rencontres d’Arles exhibition (appendix 1), illustrates how they felt about the opportunities afforded to consumers following the internet revolution which had been in its infancy barely twenty years previously. Its linguistic style is reminiscent of the Futurist manifesto which appeared in 1909, and observers might be forgiven for thinking that the 2011 one is a parody of its predecessor. It is very assertive by marking the changes starting with the adverb and punctuation mark “NOW,” and “ABSOLUTELY PRESENT.”   In the present , and the future by implication, things relating to photography are and will be different.   The translation of the prose part of the 1909 Futurist manifesto reads: “With it, today, we establish Futurism, because …” (Italianfuturism.org).

The pronoun ‘We’ occurs in both manifestos and is emphatic in both. Although the ‘We’ in the 1909 manifesto refers only to one (Italian) man, Marinetti, the ‘WE’ in the 2011 manifesto refers to five European men, 4 of whom are established in the canon of professional photographers and one a professional curator. Given the background of the co-signatories of the 2011 manifesto, is it legitimate to feel that their ‘WE’ resents the intrusion onto their professional territory of every amateur Tom, Dick and Harry photographer using any conceivable image making product and scissors?

There is in both manifestos an emphasis of a separation from the past “WORK THAT HAS A PAST BUT FEELS ABSOLUTELY PRESENT”(Appendix 1.) “Our fine deceitful intelligence tells us that we are the revival and extension of our ancestors—…”(Futurist manifesto)

The curators have gone beyond the question ‘Is everyone a photographer?’ the photography equivalent of the 1975 Joseph Beuys poster “Is everyone an artist?‘’ because it states “ WE ALL RECYCLE, CLIP AND CUT, REMIX AND UPLOAD” which also implies that we have all gone beyond taking images, we now make images in a myriad ways and all under the umbrella of digital photography. Furthermore, in the introduction to the Arles 2011 catalogue, Clément Chéroux, curator of the Pompidou Centre and co-writer of the manifesto, claims that the importance of images has gone from ‘newness’ to ‘intensity’. In clipping and cutting (frivolous, reductive terms explaining how images are ‘made’ today), we are no longer stealing someone else’s work because the images are seen as collective cultural property and the astronomical numbers of images uploaded daily make the practice of sorting through them appear as an OCD, a madness, a loss of rational behavior taking away from the serious expertise, intentions and authorship involved in the original images.

One of the artists on show at the Arles 2011 exhibition was Penelope Umbrico whose work is eye-catching and constantly evolving. She defines herself as “an artist whose subject is photography. …It has expanded beyond the field and there are very few boundaries –”(Martin 3.2) Her most famous work is Suns from sunsets on Flick’r which started in 2006 and is on-going as more sunsets are added to the website.

Figure 1:

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-17-36-52
Suns from sunsets on Flick’r (2006) (With kind permission of the author)

Her work deals with the flood of images, in this case of suns on Flick’r, which are uploaded without any reflective or critical judgement.   Through her work, Umbrico asks us to reflect on the role played by image making and image makers in an image-saturated world. Having claimed that, Umbrico goes on to make yet more images of the over-imaged which seems to contradict her initial premise.

Although in her MA thesis on Umbrico, Minjung “Minny” Lee writes about ‘visual ecology’ which, as she explains in a footnote, was a term coined by Juan Fontcuberta (also one of the Arles 2011 manifesto contributors) to mean “the activity of artists appropriating found photographs instead of making new photographs. This recycling of images actually helps the environment, as it does not take up any new server space.” (idem) . Is the space not doubled every time an image is appropriated because it now exists on yet another server space? Umbrico and Erik Kessels continue to make work that questions our online photography behaviour making us pause to think about what our actions show about us and about society in general, how our actions impact on our constantly changing perspectives on ourselves and society. As the manifesto implies, we can make limitless images which we can ‘share’ with the world and nobody can limit our production. There is no more need for the focus groups analysed in “the Century of the Self” because all the information needed by policy makers and corporate companies is there for anyone to use.

In using the grid format to present her work, Umbrico does not present a narrative we can read in sequence and interpret. Instead, the reading of the composition takes us beyond the limits of the grid frame to wonder where all these representations of suns are taking us and why we have this compulsion to make images of sunsets to then upload them. If there is an entry point into the sun grids it is not clear. What does it say about those who upload the images? Who are we collectively? How many ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ do we want for our images? Umbrico sees the abundance of visual information on the internet as “a visual index of data that represents our collective thoughts, ideas desires and so it is a constantly evolving and spontaneous auto-portrait.” (Martin p. 3) The more we interact with the media and the technology, “the more they function as indexical records.” (idem)

The exhibition at the 2013 Rencontres d’Arles by Erik Kessels’ “24 hours of photos”, presented the same problem as Umbrico’s practice does. Kessels printed the million images which had been uploaded on to social media in a day and dumped them in a room of the Palais de l’Archevêché. Does this represent visual ecology too?

Figure 2:

img_2365

My photograph of the Erik Kessels room at Rencontres d’Arles, 2013

The installation resembled an avalanche of images about to obliterate the viewers – do we go beyond admiring the idea and its execution?

The multi-disciplinary team which worked on the Selfiecity project in thirteen global cities, analysed the demographics, the poses and expressions of those taking them. A selfie, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” Jenna Wortham of the New York Times calls them “a “virtual “mini-me,” what in ancient biology might have been called a “homunculus” – a tiny pre-formed person that would grow into the big self.” (7). Also relevant to this essay is an attitude of Karen Nelson-Field, author of Viral Marketing: The Science of Sharing (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2013): “We now all behave as brands and the selfie is simply brand advertising.  Selfies provide an opportunity to position ourselves (often against our competitors) to gain recognition, support and ultimately interaction from the targeted social circle. This is no different to consumer brand promotion.” (7) Debord would simply say QED at this point.

Apart from falling prey to the self-promotion, self-revealing ploys of online quizzes and other ‘fun’ social media activities, selfies express in current technological form what pen or paint portraits did in the past and reflect the revolution in snapshot photography for the masses associated with the Kodak Brownie camera introduced in February 1900.

In a dossier on the selfie in the 2014 January-February edition of Fisheye, it states that ‘selfie’ was first used in 2002 on an Australian online forum, and the ‘♯selfie ‘ in 2005 on Flick’r, but its usage did not take off until 2012 and accepted in the online Oxford dictionary in 2013. The same article states that celebrities are a step ahead of other mortals and quotes Justin Bieber who ‘selfied’ his tattoo, his six-pack, himself with a groupie, with his blond girlfriend … until eventually, the article states, “The singer quickly understood how to make people talk about him and how to make business.” (Fisheye p. 27 – my translation) In 2013 he invested $1.1 million in the app ‘Shots of me’ which allows users to make, to share, to like and to geolocate images of themselves. Kim Kardashian (10) also posted advice, it states, on how to take the perfect selfie … with pout. Last year she published a 448 page book of her selfies which sold 125,000 copies in the first three months. ( 11).

Figure 3:

Kim Kardashian selfie with pout:

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-17-35-18

Tumblr joins the circus with sections on selfies taken in serious places like at funerals (Obama, Cameron et all at the funeral of Nelson Mandela) and in front of books in a library.

The passage from old to new in photography seems to have been marked by, inter alia, the 2011 Arles manifesto reflecting a decisive shift to the ‘cut, clip, remix and upload’ (appendix 1), where you no longer needed to be a professional photographer but ‘a species of editor’ (Appendix 1) (pejorative?) to show your photographic work to the world. This work ‘that feels like play’ like that of Penelope Umbrico which was exhibited at Arles in 2011, has a serious critique of those unfettered practices lacking self-checking controls. Does the supposition that it feels like play mean that it lacks the gravitas of previous photography? The acceptance of the word ‘selfie’ in the Oxford dictionary in 2013 gives legitimacy to a practice which confirms unbridled digital self-promotion apparent on social networks which, sustained and abetted by new technologies, replicates and sustains those advertising practices started in the 1920s by Edward Bernays to ‘turbo-boost’ consumerism. Commerce sees the ‘homunculus’ grow, in certain respects, daily, as do their profits.

It seems that the period between 2011 and 2014 was that pivotal time in photographic history when change set in; when social media, engendered by technology, allowed digital practices to mark a shift in people’s online behaviour and when selfies did not constitute our only indexical selves. It also signifies a time during which corporate companies adapted to these changes and continued using consumer profiles to boost sales. Unable to resist consumerism and conformity, whether seen as a rational Cartesian being or an irrational, fear-ridden Freudian consumer, the self occupies centre-stage in representations of the world, regardless of audience and becomes its principal subject. The digital self is branded by capitalism, time, technology and social media.

Janus, an all-seeing mythical, irrational god, still stalking our post-modern, would not take or make selfies, in my opinion.  As god, he does not need to promote himself, he does not need to fight for supremacy in his community of one, his status never changes. As such, he does not need our ‘like’ or ‘share’ or the subjective aesthetics of Kim Kardashian, she of the (absence of) white teeth and free of body odour, to boost his self-images. Can he of ancient Rome protect us from our cultural apocalypse?

References:

Bibliography:

Barthes,R. 1981. “Camera lucida: Reflections on photography. London, Vintage.

Debord, G. 1970. The society of the spectacle. AK Press.

Lister,M. (Ed) 2013. The photographic image in digital culture. Routledge.

Martin, L.A.(Ed).:2011. Penelope Umbrico, Photographs. Aperture Foundation.

Hebel,F. (Ed.): 2013: Arles in Black. Rencontres d’Arles

Articles:

 Gergel, J. 26/01/2012. From here on:Neo Appropriation Strategies in Contemporary Photography. Interventions Journal Arles 2011.

Jeffries,S.: 09/09/2016. Why a 1930s critique of capitalism is back in fashion.

Fisheye: janvier-février, 2014:Dossier: le selfie pour tous.

Websites:

  1. https://schmid.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/from-here-on-les-rencontres-darles/from-here-on-indd/
  2. https://interventionsjournal.net/2012/01/26/from-here-on-neo-appropriation-strategies-in-contemporary-photography/
  1. http://academicworks.cuny.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1513&context=cc_etds_theses
  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-digital-self/201008/understanding-and-creating-your-digital-self
  1. http://www.italianfuturism.org/manifestos/foundingmanifesto/
  1. http://academicworks.cuny.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1513&context=cc_etds_theses
  1. http://d25rsf93iwlmgu.cloudfront.net/downloads/Tifentale_Alise_Selfiecity.pdf
  1. https://www.rencontres-arles.com/CS.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=ARL_3_VForm&FRM=Frame%3AARL_7&LANGSWI=1&LANG=English
  1. http://manovich.net/index.php/projects/selfiecity-exploring
  1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3154758/Kim-Kardashian-selfie-taking-installation-Madame-Tussauds.html
  1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3736305/Kim-Kardashian-reveals-expanding-selfie-book-Selfish.html

Appendices:

1.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-18-13-08

2.  Penelope Umbrico
: email:

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-14-06-363.  Penelope Umbrico PDF: umbrico_notes-on-suns-from-sunsets-from-flickr-and-related-work-2006-ongoing_low-res

Self reflection:

What went well:

  1. Reconnecting with Janus & finding the serendipity of 1 of the writers of the Arles 2011 manifesto linked to the Pompidou Centre which linked to Janus!
  2. Linking very contemporary articles with 17th century thinking.
  3. Discovering the ‘selfie’ research & how it could link with the essay.
  4. Discovering the breadth & depth to Penelope Umbrico’s work.
  5. Discovering the 2011 Arles manifesto & linking it to the Futurist manifesto which changed my attitude to the 2011 manifesto: I initially took it at face value but, when I analysed the language used, I came to a very different conclusion.

What could have gone better:

  1. I found I was rushing the work because I had so much else on.
  2. I wish I could have spent more time investigating Kessels’ work.

Assessment:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills: Not needed in this assignment.

Quality of outcome: It’s not perfect but the aims tied up with the conclusions.

Demonstration of creativity: In using Janus to tie the whole essay together.

Context: Adequate contextualization of the salient points analysed.

Tutor’s report

As ever, Clive’s report came, swiftly and concise:

Overall Comments

A convincing piece of work.

Feedback on assignment

I’m not going to quibble about the arguments, not that I’ve got anything substantive to say on that scored. It’s intelligently argued using interestingly selected resources and research.

The Janus theme was a very good idea. You’re obviously accomplished at constructing evidenced written arguments.

The only point I would make is about structure. You need to make it easily consumable at assessment so break the text up in to smaller ‘bite sized’ ideas and some subheadings would be useful.

You might consider beginning with a bullet list which lays out the structure of the document and hence your argument.

As an assessor I’ve always found it useful to know where I’m being taken and why before we set out.

Also it might be an idea to get someone to proof read it.

This is something I spotted, it maybe intentional it may not,…

‘Janus, an all-seeing mythical, irrational god, still stalking our post-modern, would

not take or make selfies, in my opinion. As god…’

Should it be ‘post-modern world’ and ‘As a god’?

Coursework

All fine

Research

Ditto

Learning Log

All tickety boo now.

Suggested reading/viewing

You know what you’re doing and what you need, carry on.

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

You’ve already suggested an idea to me so let’s see where it goes. Any advice you need in the interim please email me.

I have every confidence in your abilities.

 

Reflection on the tutor comments:

I feel that the comments are very relevant and leave no doubt as to what I should do which I hope will be reflected in my reworked essay below.

 

Revised assignment:

The contents page, the references i.e. bibliography, websites, magazine articles & appendices etc have not changed so I will not replicate them here.

What is your understanding of the ‘digital self’ and what is the effect of our everyday use of photography upon it. Discuss using relevant case studies and published research.

                                                                        OR

                                            Would Janus take make a selfie?

Theoretical structure:

Guy Debord’s ‘Society of the spectacle’ and in particular thesis 13: “The basically tautological character of the spectacle flows from the simple fact that its means are simultaneously its ends. It is the sun which never sets over the empire of modern passivity. It covers the entire surface of the world and bathes endlessly in its own glory.” (Debord 1970:13)

The guiding thoughts and questions:

  •  The passivity and self-referential qualities are encouraged by social media (with a strong consumer bias).
  •  What constitutes the digital self?
  • Why involve Janus, a Roman mythical god, in discussing photography in the 21st Century?
  • Could a photography exhibition change the way we look?

Why Janus?

Janus was the double-faced god of beginnings, endings, gates, doorways, passages, time and transitions. In houses he was often put facing external doors to protect the household from disasters.   In the Pompidou Centre, that very visible, endlessly photographed example of post-modern architecture in Paris, the images on both sides of a board hanging in the central market hall are those of President Pompidou. Facing in opposite directions, they signify a transition or passage from the modern to something beyond it. When it was built in 1970, one of the principal architects, Renzo Piano, said that the design concept was based on a medieval market place where, on the interlinked and intersecting layers of spaces, people would meet and talk. So we have a paradox of an ultra-modern expression using a medieval concept as a vehicle to ring in the revolution-avoiding socio-political changes so necessary in France post May 1968.

The digital age and consumerism:

In his documentaries entitled “The Century of the self,” (2002) Adam Curtis illustrates how the consumer-led policies of the early 20th Century are still in place today in the USA and in the rest of the industrialized world. The series focuses on how the work of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud was used by business and politicians to read and fulfill created desires to control the masses, develop consumerism and how people saw themselves.   The prime protagonist in the series is Edward Bernays, Freud’s nephew, who picked up on Freud’s contention that people are irrational and that if you pander to their selfish desires, tap into their deepest fears, in every field, they become docile and malleable. Furthermore, if you could link a product to their emotional desires and feelings you could persuade people to behave irrationally believing that they felt better for buying a certain product. The late 1920’s saw the flourishing of consumerism in the USA, the start of political spin and the commodification of Hollywood and its celebrities, and the Wall Street crash. In an interview following the death of Marilyn Munroe in 1962, playwright Arthur Miller maintains that rather than freeing man, consumerism was controlling and defining him and that it was part of the power-mad ideology of the times.

Elaine Glaser, author of Get Real: How to see through hype, spin and lies of modern life states “ When every person in a train carriage is staring at a small illuminated device, it is an almost tacky vision of dystopia. … Technology – along with turbo-capitalism – seems to me to be hastening the cultural and environmental apocalypse. The way I see it, digital consumerism makes us too passive to revolt or to save the world.” This illustrates precisely what Bernays was trying to create in the 1920s, and what debord maintained regarding the character of the spectacle. To complete the picture, in the 1950’s, Theodor Adorno wote in The Dialectic of Enlightenment: ‘Not only do we have the freedom to choose what was always the same, but, arguably, human personality had been so corrupted by false consciousness that there is hardly anything worth the name any more. “Personality,” they wrote, “scarcely signifies anything more than shining white teeth and freedom from body odour and emotions .’(Jeffries)

Digital imaging relevance:

In his 2013 publication, Martin Lister includes the essay “The digital image in photographic culture” by Rubinstein and Sluis in which they introduce the Janus principle :“Like a two-faced Janus, photography points in two directions at once: one side faces the objects, people and situations as they appear in the ‘real’ world, and is occupied with the representation of events by flattening their four dimensional space onto the two dimensional plane of the photograph … the other side points towards photography’s own conditions of manufacturing, which is to say towards the repetition and serial reproduction of the photographic image.” (Lister p. 25) This essay will show if or how this illustrates aspects of the digital self by identifying the transition moments and the ways in which the new medium has formed and adapted how we look, meaning both how we appear and how we see. The work used to substantiate the points made are the photography of Penelope Umbrico and Erik Kessells, the manifesto of the 2011 Rencontres d’Arles exhibition (Appendix 1) and the 2012 paper Selfiecity: exploring photography and self-fashioning in social media by Tifentale and Manovich (9).

How true is our digital imaging?

To Martin Heidegger in 1977 is ascribed the observation that “representation is the key characteristic of the modern age” in which “ the world becomes a picture and the human being becomes a subject.”(Lister p.25) Heidegger goes back to the 17th Century, to Descartes who maintained that representation was the marker of modernity because it concerned itself with truth founded on rational and abstract principles rather than on subjective or aesthetic ones. Descartes was talking in scientific terms where experiments could be repeated and the outcomes could be represented in diagrammatic form, without any subjectivity or aesthetics involved. In making the assumption that humans are rational and capable of objectifying the world of knowledge in graphs and diagrams, he makes us consider the converse, that humans can express themselves in subjective, aesthetic, artistic and metaphysical terms too. The ontology of photography has been based on the visual representation of the science of optics, the mechanics of automatism and the objectivity of rational representation.   Logically, this all gave photographs, created by a rational human author, the credibility of having transferred reality from the object to its re-presentation.   With the advent of digital photography, based on the binary system of computer language, we would expect that that scientific quality would sustain the idea of objective representation operated by a rational human to produce objective, credible, reproducible representations. This is supported by that sage of all photographic sages, Roland Barthes who states: “The photograph is literally an emanation of the referent. From a real body, which was there, proceed relations which ultimately touch me, who am here.” (Barthes, 1981:80). Those who are au fait with dark room photographic practices as well as with digital algorithmic capabilities, know that people are involved in the production of an image, be it on paper or on the screen and that the process, therefore, will involve more than just scientific, mathematical or rational principles.

Psychological implications:

Psychologist Dr Tamara Hicks claims in an article of 2010 that we all have a ‘digital mask’ to engage with the technological world. She goes on to identify the plethora of internet technologies which had been introduced and to which we can add so many others which surface daily under the conceit of digital culture. Hicks observes “… All of this technology has come at us so fast and furiously that we haven’t had the time to think about how our relationship with it shapes our very identity.”(PT) It seems, therefore that the ‘digital self’ is under constant change and that we, the ‘self’, are not aware of who we are any more.

Despite the fact that we know how we are being manipulated to keep capitalist fires burning, we continue to define ourselves, unwittingly perhaps, by the information we upload to all the sites of which we are subscribers. Do we know who picks up our information, where in the world or why? Not really. The groups we belong to on Facebook and other social media websites, the ‘private’ conversations on Whatsapp or Snapchat, the searches we make on the internet, the items we purchase online, the articles we post or repost or share on social media all become part of the complex algorithms which define our composite selves and ‘know’ us better than we know ourselves.   All the information is fed to commercial enterprises which then target us using the information we have voluntarily given up. The ends are the means.

Rencontres d’Arles 2011 Manifesto:

Linguistic analysis:

The manifesto, written by Erik Kessels, one of the curators of the 2011 Rencontres d’Arles exhibition (appendix 1), reflects the style of the Futurist manifesto which appeared in 1909, and observers might be forgiven for thinking that the 2011 one is a parody of its predecessor. It is very assertive by marking the changes starting with the adverb and punctuation mark “NOW,” and “ABSOLUTELY PRESENT.”   In the present , and the future by implication, things relating to photography are and will be different.   The translation of the prose part of the 1909 Futurist manifesto reads: “With it, today, we establish Futurism, because …” (Italianfuturism.org).

The pronoun ‘We’ occurs in both manifestos and is emphatic in both. Although the ‘We’ in the 1909 manifesto refers only to one (Italian) man, Marinetti, the ‘WE’ in the 2011 manifesto refers to five European men, 4 of whom are established in the canon of professional photographers and one a professional curator. Given the background of the co-signatories of the 2011 manifesto, is it legitimate to feel that their ‘WE’ resents the intrusion onto their professional territory of every amateur Tom, Dick and Harry photographer using any conceivable image making product and scissors?

There is in both manifestos an emphasis of a separation from the past “WORK THAT HAS A PAST BUT FEELS ABSOLUTELY PRESENT”(Appendix 1.) “Our fine deceitful intelligence tells us that we are the revival and extension of our ancestors—…”(Futurist manifesto)

Is everyone a photographer now?

The curators have gone beyond the question ‘Is everyone a photographer?’ the photography equivalent of the 1975 Joseph Beuys poster “Is everyone an artist?‘’ because it states “ WE ALL RECYCLE, CLIP AND CUT, REMIX AND UPLOAD” which also implies that we have all gone beyond taking images, we now make images in a myriad ways and all under the umbrella of digital photography. Furthermore, in the introduction to the Arles 2011 catalogue, Clément Chéroux, curator of the Pompidou Centre and co-writer of the manifesto, claims that the importance of images has gone from ‘newness’ to ‘intensity’. In clipping and cutting (frivolous, reductive terms explaining how images are ‘made’ today), we are no longer stealing someone else’s work because the images are seen as collective cultural property and the astronomical numbers of images uploaded daily make the practice of sorting through them appear as an OCD, a madness, a loss of rational behavior taking away from the serious expertise, intentions and authorship involved in the original images.

Penelope Umbrico:

One of the artists on show at the Arles 2011 exhibition was Penelope Umbrico whose work is eye-catching and constantly evolving. She defines herself as “an artist whose subject is photography. …It has expanded beyond the field and there are very few boundaries –”(Martin 3.2) Her most famous work is Suns from sunsets on Flick’r which started in 2006 and is on-going as more sunsets are added to the website.

Figure 1:

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-17-36-52
Suns from sunsets on Flick’r (2006) (With kind permission of the author)

Her work deals with the flood of images, in this case of suns on Flick’r, which are uploaded without any reflective or critical judgement.   Through her work, Umbrico asks us to reflect on the role played by image making and image makers in an image-saturated world. Having claimed that, Umbrico goes on to make yet more images of the over-imaged which seems to contradict her initial premise.

Although in her MA thesis on Umbrico, Minjung “Minny” Lee writes about ‘visual ecology’ which, as she explains in a footnote, was a term coined by Juan Fontcuberta (also one of the Arles 2011 manifesto contributors) to mean “the activity of artists appropriating found photographs instead of making new photographs. This recycling of images actually helps the environment, as it does not take up any new server space.” (idem) . Is the space not doubled every time an image is appropriated because it now exists on yet another server space? Umbrico and Erik Kessels continue to make work that questions our online photography behaviour making us pause to think about what our actions show about us and about society in general, how our actions impact on our constantly changing perspectives on ourselves and society. As the manifesto implies, we can make limitless images which we can ‘share’ with the world and nobody can limit our production. There is no more need for the focus groups analysed in “the Century of the Self” because all the information needed by policy makers and corporate companies is there for anyone to use.

In using the grid format to present her work, Umbrico does not present a narrative we can read in sequence and interpret. Instead, the reading of the composition takes us beyond the limits of the grid frame to wonder where all these representations of suns are taking us and why we have this compulsion to make images of sunsets to then upload them. If there is an entry point into the sun grids it is not clear. What does it say about those who upload the images? Who are we collectively? How many ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ do we want for our images? Umbrico sees the abundance of visual information on the internet as “a visual index of data that represents our collective thoughts, ideas desires and so it is a constantly evolving and spontaneous auto-portrait.” (Martin p. 3) The more we interact with the media and the technology, “the more they function as indexical records.” (idem)

Erik Kessels:

The exhibition at the 2013 Rencontres d’Arles by Erik Kessels’ “24 hours of photos”, presented the same problem as Umbrico’s practice does. Kessels printed the million images which had been uploaded on to social media in a day and dumped them in a room of the Palais de l’Archevêché. Does this represent visual ecology too?

Figure 2:

img_2365

My photograph of the Erik Kessels room at Rencontres d’Arles, 2013

The installation resembled an avalanche of images about to obliterate the viewers – do we go beyond admiring the idea and its execution?

Selfies: endless self promotion or brand advertising or is it the same thing?

The multi-disciplinary team which worked on the Selfiecity project in thirteen global cities, analysed the demographics, the poses and expressions of those taking them. A selfie, according to Oxford Dictionaries, is “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” Jenna Wortham of the New York Times calls them “a “virtual “mini-me,” what in ancient biology might have been called a “homunculus” – a tiny pre-formed person that would grow into the big self.” (7). Also relevant to this essay is an attitude of Karen Nelson-Field, author of Viral Marketing: The Science of Sharing (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2013): “We now all behave as brands and the selfie is simply brand advertising.  Selfies provide an opportunity to position ourselves (often against our competitors) to gain recognition, support and ultimately interaction from the targeted social circle. This is no different to consumer brand promotion.” (7) Debord would simply say QED at this point.

Apart from falling prey to the self-promotion, self-revealing ploys of online quizzes and other ‘fun’ social media activities, selfies express in current technological form what pen or paint portraits did in the past and reflect the revolution in snapshot photography for the masses associated with the Kodak Brownie camera introduced in February 1900.

In a dossier on the selfie in the 2014 January-February edition of Fisheye, it states that ‘selfie’ was first used in 2002 on an Australian online forum, and the ‘♯selfie ‘ in 2005 on Flick’r, but its usage did not take off until 2012 and accepted in the online Oxford dictionary in 2013. The same article states that celebrities are a step ahead of other mortals and quotes Justin Bieber who ‘selfied’ his tattoo, his six-pack, himself with a groupie, with his blond girlfriend … until eventually, the article states, “The singer quickly understood how to make people talk about him and how to make business.” (Fisheye p. 27 – my translation) In 2013 he invested $1.1 million in the app ‘Shots of me’ which allows users to make, to share, to like and to geolocate images of themselves. Kim Kardashian (10) also posted advice, it states, on how to take the perfect selfie … with pout. Last year she published a 448 page book of her selfies which sold 125,000 copies in the first three months. ( 11).

Figure 3:

Kim Kardashian selfie with pout:

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-17-35-18

Tumblr joins the circus with sections on selfies taken in serious places like at funerals (Obama, Cameron et all at the funeral of Nelson Mandela) and in front of books in a library.

Conclusion:

The passage from old to new in photography seems to have been marked by, inter alia, the 2011 Arles manifesto reflecting a decisive shift to the ‘cut, clip, remix and upload’ (appendix 1), where you no longer needed to be a professional photographer but its pejorative ‘a species of editor’ (Appendix 1)  to show your photographic work to the world. This work ‘that feels like play’ like that of Penelope Umbrico, exhibited at Arles in 2011, has a serious critique of those unfettered practices lacking self-checking controls. Does the supposition that it feels like play mean that it lacks the gravitas of previous photography? The acceptance of the word ‘selfie’ in the Oxford dictionary in 2013 gives legitimacy to a practice which confirms unbridled digital self-promotion apparent on social networks which, sustained and abetted by new technologies, replicates and sustains those advertising practices started in the 1920s by Edward Bernays.  Commerce sees the ‘homunculus’ grow, in certain respects, daily, as do their profits.

It seems that the period between 2011 and 2014 was pivotal in photographic history when change set in; when social media, engendered by technology, allowed digital practices to mark a shift in people’s online behaviour and when selfies did not constitute our only indexical selves. It also signifies a time during which corporate companies adapted to these changes and continued using consumer profiles to boost sales. Unable to resist consumerism and conformity, whether seen as a rational Cartesian being or an irrational, fear-ridden Freudian consumer, the self occupies centre-stage in representations of the world, regardless of audience, and becomes its principal subjected end-product. The digital self is branded by capitalism, time, technology and social media.

Janus, an all-seeing mythical, irrational god, still stalking our post-modern world, would not take or make selfies, in my opinion.  As a god, he does not need to promote himself, he does not need to fight for supremacy in his community of one, his status never changes. As such, he does not need our ‘like’ or ‘share’ or the subjective aesthetics of Kim Kardashian, she of the (absence of) white teeth and free of body odour, to boost his self-image. Can he of ancient Rome protect us from our cultural apocalypse?

DI&C: Assignment 2: The archive

 

Brief:

Produce a series of related images that use readily available online archive (or archives) as their starting point or subject.

Make a small book for this project, using proprietary software, to be viewable online.  In your book, you may use a selection of images from primary sources (your own images) and / or secondary images (images found online and / or scanned from other sources).  Think about a theme for your book and use the references provided throughout Part Two as inspiration.  Your book should be a minimum of 12 double pages and can contain text if you wish, or simply a collection of images.  Provide a link to where your tutor can view your book and also provide a few double-page spreads as still images as part of your learning log.

Review of Assignment 2

Creative and analytical thinking:

Analysing information, formulating independent judgments; employing creativity in the process of investigating, visualizing and / or making, developing a personal voice.

I have already used proprietary software to self-publish several books over the last 5 years using Blurb and Cewe. As none of the online publishers had templates to publish my book the way I wanted to present it, I decided to make my own. One publisher who advertised that they did concertina/ leporello books, needed a minimum order of 1000 books – as I was planning to publish only 2, I could not pursue that option. I had never bound a book so I had to learn about the importance of using appropriate materials by making mistakes – many mistakes.

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Some of the books I have self-published using proprietary software with Blurb and Cewe.

The draft book I designed had many flaws:

I had problems with the binding & the image on the cover, although it was what launched my idea for the book, was not really what the book was about:

DSCF9956
The original design for my front cover using the image found on Flick’r (see below).

The original image from Flick’r which was the starting point of the project:

tim-dennell-eu-referendum-postal-vote
Tim Dennells’ “Referendum Postal Vote” became the substrate for the ‘key’ or ‘legend’ of the book / map.

The problems caused by the first book binding fiasco led to the front cover being replaced by this:

Book coverDSCF9971
Final cover option:

I had formulated how I wanted to present my material very early in the process but had been initially inspired by Johanna Ward whose work I had seen at the Brighton Biennial in 2014. The original idea was based around the map of the world with lines of Longitude:

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I worked in my personal sketchbook where I rejected some ideas and took on others and I bounced ideas off my tutor when I was not quite sure what I wanted to achieve. One of these occasions was early in June in which he introduced me to the formal term for a concertina book, the leporello.

Reading up on how the term came about was fascinating and, although it was not exactly the subtext of what I wanted to put across, I know that not many people are aware of its history.  My initial idea was to have just images of the newspapers and their headlines but my tutor, Clive White, suggested I use selfies to make the images more interesting. Dilemma: asking people to take photos of newspapers was one thing; asking them to take selfies for possible publication in a book was altogether different.   I was, however, very positively surprised when the participants still agreed to go ahead with the idea.

The image on top left was the effect I wanted to produce: a map opening out to the right.  As in OS maps, the page opens to the right, leaving the key / legend containing interpretations of the signs and symbols the last to be seen.  Similarly, my book has the key to the reason for the existence of the book in various forms: a poem, a description, a list of contributors and the acknowledgement of the image which started the whole process.  Viewers are free to look purely at the selfies or they can dig deeper and read the last page if they want to.

Since the map of the world and having a specific date were immovable points in my scheme, I realized that lines of longitude – demarcating distance and time to and from London – and the physicality of a map were essential to the project, I had the idea of making a map and putting the selfies on it.

The idea was good but the book binding materials were inappropriate:

IMG_2928

I overcame the bookbinding problems by speaking to others, changing the stiffness of the cover, changing the glue and the materials on which it was to be used and changing the weight of the photo paper of the cover.  I bound each A5 sheet to the next using bookbinding tape because my experiments with sticky tape made the joins warp and the distorted product was awkward to handle.  As the pages of the book kept opening awkwardly and getting in the way, I used magnets to keep the pages in place:

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Although the significance of the magnets came to me after I had assessed their practical value, that invisible pull which connects the magnets, is also important when you consider what keeps people together, that invisible glue / spirit.

Having come across Tim Ingold’s “The life of lines” at a residential course, ‘Transcribing landscape’ at Schumacher College at the end of June, I realized how relevant his theories and philosophies on lines , blobs and knots were to my assignment & so I assimilated them in the project.  The knots were not only relevant vis-a-vis the www aspect, but he also says that, once untied, the rope/string maintains its shape – it has a memory of the knot and can never be as it was before.   Research on various aspects of digital imaging by Okwui Enwezor, Hans Peter Feldmann and Christian Boltanski led me to realise the relevance and importance to this project of my experiments using tracing paper in my photography: it reflects the transience, the ‘traces’ of people, events and historical documents. The way I presented the images on the tracing paper represented the layers in the process, the history and the meanings we all give to the images we see – so how I presented the selfies was to influence greatly how they were seen.  Clive’s idea about seeing them from behind to give an insider view is maintained.  The insubstantial feel of the tracing paper adds to the idea of passing time and the ephemeral quality of photographs, emphasising also the death element of photographs in Barthes’ theory of photography, not to mention the ephemeral qualities of news, of political dogmas and decisions.  The idea of photo streaming is replicated in the long line of selfies in both hemispheres, as is Ingold’s idea of lines connecting us.  This line is implicit also in the curls representing the oceans which separate the selfies particularly in the southern hemisphere.  The red ribbon which ties the book together is not just for aesthetic purposes.  It could have been of a weaker, less obvious colour, buts has been stated above, it is an intrinsic part of the presentation and so has to be noticed.

I purposely presented the images to be seen from right to left: from East to West because that is how the day, 24th June, revealed itself. At what point & in which place was the interest in the referendum results going to be reflected in the newspapers?   As our books are presented to be seen from left to right, this also presents a challenge to the (Western) reader. The information is predominantly transmitted through images, text is only given because the newspapers are a vital part of the project and the information in them needs to be read to be relevant to the project. Viewers are left to choose whether to read the images in the Southern Hemisphere first or not.

From the outset the pages were not easily handled but the aesthetics are good:

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Both sets, northern and southern hemispheres can be pulled out together so can be seen simultaneously:

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The last page layout of my mock book was inconsistent with the rest of the book: it was A5 whereas the rest of the book was A6:

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so I changed it to this:(view before it was cut and scored):

Poem amended Aug 6 Tim Dennell EU Referendum Postal Vote
The back / front page of the leporello amended on 6th August.

 

Research and ideas development

Sourcing and assimilating research material; using visual language to investigate, test, interpret and develop ideas.

As stated above, Johanna Ward was my initial inspiration for the leporello format. The research material came via the course material mainly but a vital part of the significance of various elements in the physical book came through my reading of Tim Ingold’s work which was not in the recommended reading and which provided the theoretical methodology for the book.

Finding out how to physically make the book, I researched various craft techniques online.

I contacted my friends via email, Whatsapp or Facebook to get the initial pool of participants. I then created a page on Facebook dedicated to the members only, and asked the members to find me participants in countries in which I did not have representatives. I was really surprised to have so many respondents and looked forward to getting the selfies. The instructions were relatively simple: I wanted one selfie of the person holding their chosen national newspaper in which both the name of the newspaper and the headline were clearly legible. As more than half the countries were not English speaking, I also had to ask the participants to translate the headlines. I used the Facebook page to encourage and thank the participants to get the selfies. As I had to produce a model release form, I researched existing ones and compiled one which was relevant to this exercise.

 

Ideas for the book came from many sources in my research:

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The final version of the book is described in a Youtube film.  I could not use Vimeo as the film was longer than my allowed weekly submission.

One of the important aspects of this book as archive is the fact that, in the next ten years, we are probably not going to have physical newspapers as we know them.  Headlines are going to be created and illustrated by communities of people who will decide what is worth disseminating. “If such a picture (as that taken in Abu Ghraib) were indeed made recently, it might not have registered in the swirls of issues and images.  Or we might well have missed it altogether, given the rapid disappearance of something like a front page to tell us where to look.  And its disappearance, like that of printed newspapers, seems to be accelerating: according to a 2011 speech by Francis Gurry, the United nations agency head for the World Intellectual Property Organisation:’in a few years, there will no longer be printed newspapers as we know (them) today.’ … they will disappear by 2040. In the United States, it will end in 2017.” ( Ritchin p. 145)  A glimpse into that future is evident in my book in the selfie taken in Braunschweig, Germany, where we see a young man reading his headlines on a monitor.

Visual and technical skills

Using materials, techniques, technologies and visual language to communicate ideas and information.

Making and binding the physical book was very challenging: I had to research how to make the cover incorporating attaching a ribbon to tie the covers together; I had to ask various skilled people, like my husband, how I could attach magnets to the book to hold the pages together & which magnets to use; I had to use bookbinding tape to tape the sheets of tracing paper together; I had to make many mistakes in gluing the different parts of the book together; I chose to make a box for the book simply because, if the book were to co-exist with other books, it would get caught, tangled and torn by other books. In order to be relevant again, the box had to be coloured and covered – as only two examples were going to be made, I could not order multiples of a box & had to use what I already had which I thought was appropriate.

Part of the brief was to make the book available online. I had to make various mini-videos to explain what I did, how and why because I could not provide a direct link to the publisher’s URL.   I therefore had to make mini-videos explaining what I had done & why. As I had not uploaded a Vimeo for over two years and had forgotten, I had to research how to do it again.   Instead of splicing all the videos together, I decided to leave them as mini-clips so that viewers could simply see the aspect that they wanted to see .  Only when I went to upload them I discovered that, if I wanted to go ahead with the upload, I would have to pay for it as it was a bigger file than I was allowed.

Context

Awareness of critical, contextual, historical, professional and / or emerging contexts; and personal and professional development.

The context for this book is a socio-political archival one: the EU Referendum in the UK on 23rd June2016 and awareness of its outcome in the international press. In the 30 countries covered by the project, the over 50 people involved and the over 40 selfies submitted.   The countries were my choice mainly but not all the countries I wanted to cover have been represented.

Although I was not aware of it at the time I was putting my ideas together for the project, Hans Peter Feldmann has done a project on newspaper headlines from around the world on the 9/11/2001 coverage which is now being exhibited at the Rencontres D’Arles exhibition in Arles.   His is purely on the headlines and does not have any people involved, as far as I know. Those OCA tutors and students who have seen the exhibition value it greatly.

A few pages of the project:

Page 6:

Page 6

Page 7:

Page 4

 

Page 2:

Page 2

Bibliography:

Chandler, D.: 2013. Mishka Henner – Dutch Landscapes. Photobooks.

Ingold, T.: 2015. The Life of Lines. Routledge.

Lister,M.:2013. The Photographic Image in Digital Culture. Routledge.

Pollen, A.:2014.  When is a cliche not a cliche?

Ritchin, F.: 2013. Bending the frame. Aperture.

Ward, Johanna : http://www.johannaward.co.uk/i-shall-say-goodbye-images/

 

Live Youtube video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsdMqoqsq9c

 

Tutor report:

This must be the best and shortest tutor report I have ever had in a life time of education:

Overall Comments

“It’s fabulous; probably well in excess of what was imagined when the brief was written.”

Feedback on assignment

“While it would be an undoubted pleasure to handle the actual object it’s too precious to be shunted about in the mail. There’s obviously a lot of painstaking hand work gone into producing this unique object so it’s better to maintain its appearance for the actual assessment.

“We had a few exchanges during the production and there’s really nothing more for me to comment on.  There maybe a few points where I would have done something slightly differently but I’m not going to mention them because they would have been different, not necessarily better and they’re some of the things that make the work unique to you.

“A point I often make to students is that I’m not in the business of saying that’s an excellent piece of work you’ve done but why didn’t you do a different equally excellent piece of work.

“I’m feeling really confident that you’re making the work that you should be making, work that makes sense to you to make, so carry on in that vein. You’ve got the much vaunted ‘voice’, carry on using it.”

 

Reflection on the tutor report:

To work on:

  1.  My learning log lacks reflection on tutor report for assignment 1.  This is now done.  I am not a technical person so I was putting off having to face the technical shortcomings of my work.
  2.   “your wider researches and reflections into and about the medium of photography, its culture, that of fine art in general and your place in it as you progress. It’s good to have this read chronologically and including all the sources together, reading, exhibitions, TV, radio, cinema etc. rather than separating them out.”  I have been to many exhibitions and on courses which I have not written up yet.  I am concerned that we can’t upload our own PDFs on WordPress & that they have to be accessed through a link which, during the assessment process will slow everything down.
  3. “One click on Research & Reflection should do the job, as it does in the menu down the right but on the top drop down, which is where I’m likely to go first as an assessor I’m offered more choices and I ask myself do I want to look at Notes or Personal Projects?”   Something had gone wrong with my OCA template & I could not identify what it was.  I got in touch with OCA IT dept. and someone kindly looked into it and rectified it.

All three items have been sorted or are in hand.

 

Digital image and culture: Assignment 1: Combined image.

Produce a series of four to six landscape-based images based on your immediate surroundings.  Complete parts 1 & 2 of the assignment and upload the finished images to your learning log together with a short reflection (500 – 1000 words) on your motivations, references and methods for both parts of the assignment.

 

Part 1

Use traditional cut and paste techniques (scissors/scalpel and glue) to produce a series of simple montages using elements from two to five original or found photographs.  These can be found images and/or images that you have shot yourself.  Re-photograph your finished photomontages and present the work in your learning log as a digital file.

I have taken my ‘immediate surroundings’ to include my home where there are 2 photograph albums left to me by my father when he died.  They hold images of his beloved Florence all taken by unknown photographers, except one which has the Alinari Brothers’ stamp printed on the reverse.  All the photographs are old &, judging by the scarcity of people in them and the dress worn by the few that were photographed, were probably taken at the end of the 19th Century.  I have stayed in Florence many times and have visited the museum of the Alinari Brothers and know that it still prints their  photographs and that it still holds all rights to the property.  For this reason, I have not used the image which has the stamp on the back.   Also in the albums are several prints of etchings done of Florence from medieval times to 17th Century, all but one undated, but printed by L’Universo in 1940.

Guiding my thinking has been the work and thinking of two main photographers: Rachel Smith and Lilly Lulay as well as the m.o. of Daniel Gordon.  Lulay’s work “Mindscapes” focuses on trying to represent realities which a camera cannot access, namely her mind, while Smith makes us consider how we evaluate the materiality of images.  Part one of this assignment is concerned precisely with how we physically reconstruct an image and so the digital representation of it cuts that aspect out of how the viewer interacts with it.  Part 2 of the assignment deals only with digital representation and interaction so it is less of a hindrance to the viewer’s perception of it.

What struck me on looking at the images I had was the absolute mathematical and rational aspects of the layout and the architecture of the city.  In the etchings, there are examples of the landscape outside the city and that too is controlled with a mathematical precision to the nth degree.  I know that there is beauty in the aesthetics of mathematical formulae and geometry but I also believe that chaos theories exist and that not all people lead precise, ordered lives, and that there must be a Navajo rug design imperfection in how we structure our habitats and appreciate the world around us.

Image 1: Rational, mathematical Florence:

My first image reflects that hard, ordered and, to me, impersonal Florence revered by so many.  I have photographed five images, some on to coloured card which I have cut out and stuck on to the base image like a stage set.  This is to emphasise the man-made & orchestrated structure of the city which determines what its citizens do, where and when.

image 1 composite1
The base image.
image 1 composite 4
I printed the image on yellow card and have used the block on the left.
image 1 composite 5
I printed the image on lilac paper and have used the tower building on the right .
image 1 composite 3
I printed this image on orange card and used the Basilica dome and annexe as the centrepiece.
image 1 composite 2
I printed this on white card and used the horseman and the fisherman in the ceiling decoration.

 

Image 1: Rational, ordered Florence:

Collage of mathematical, rational Florence.
Rational, mathematical Florence treated with colour.Stage set

Image 2: Reflecting on Florence:

The bridges in Florence have been important in the development of Florence as it is today.  The base image is one of the photographs taken from the late 19th century, I imagine.  The images under the bridge arches are reflections of Florence taken from the photographed etchings.

image 2 ponte S Trinita
Base image.

At the suggestion of a fellow photographer, I had thought of adding some graffiti rather than the references to historical Florence & this is what I came up with using found images on the internet:

Fl bridge w graffiti Untitled-1

I decided, however, that the connection was tenuous at best so went for my original idea:

Image 2: Reflecting on Florence

Ponte Santa Trinita on the Arno.
Ponte Santa Trinita with inverted etchings details in the arches resembling reflections in the water.

 

Image 3: Florence as seen then and now:

The graffiti idea stuck with me because you do see it everywhere and it represents the city’s users’ wish to leave a mark, to soften the geometric impositions that are all around them, I suspect.  I was guided to this collage after I had seen, on the Photography Matters post uploaded recently by Gareth Dent, an article on Rachel Smith’s “The materiality of things.”  In my case, the materiality involved refers to the tracing paper – a seeing through an image onto another and the two fuse into one creating a third and thereby illustrating the concept of the piece which is ‘seeing a city through history.’.

I used a base image taken from the Giotto fresco in the cathedral of Santa Croce and then printed the graffiti, reflecting the Duomo in Florence and tubes and cans of paint, on tracing paper.  I have been using ink-jet tracing paper for my own projects lately and decided to try it on this image.  I stuck the 2 images on my window (in the absence of a light table) and photographed it.

Giotto fresco copy
Giotto fresco.
Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 13.05.24
Graffiti found online.

The first photograph of the collage with the 2 images stuck on a window:

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I did not select this one because I felt it was too muddled.

 

Image 3: Florence as seen then and now

Florence as seen then and now.
Florence as seen then and now.

Strongly suggested are the eyes, featured in both images,  which guide my thinking regarding Florence, and painting  which is one of the cultural mainstays of the city.

Image 4: The absurd insistence on geometric precision:

Again representing the obsession with precision in architecture and city lay-outs, the images I have chosen reflect the imposed geometry in Florence.  I have worked with a photo as a base and the photographed etchings as illustrations of the mathematical methodology in the construction of the city.  I have used the collage work and concepts of Lilly Lulay’s Mindscapes to guide my work.  Although in her collages she tries to visualise a space (in her mind) to which a camera does not have access, she states that her work offers ‘several different images and makes reference to multiple realities at the same time’ (1) as well as ‘visual fragments which are inserted, superimposed, partially hidden’ (1).  I have attempted to do the same thing: but, instead of gluing down the whole fragment of a reality, I have made a concertina of the image and glued only part of it down.  The concertina shows the repetition in the folds of the architectural structures (on the left) and that, even though I folded the paper randomly, the gardens too show that insistence on geometry which surrounds the people of florence.  I have woven the cloud image through the carved marble columns to show the possibility of peace in an unstructured skyscape brought indoors.  Instead of cutting the garden and sky images, I have torn them to indicate a rupture with the precision of scalpel or scissor cutting, reflecting my wish for freedom from precision.

The three images involved in this collage are:

image 4 compo 4
Base photo
image 4 compo 2
Photo of the etching providing the bottom, sky and garden representation of the collage.
image 4 combo 1
Photo of the etching providing the concertina of the building.

Image 4: The absurd insistence on geometric precision

Concertina concept.
Where buildings and gardens are subjected to precise measurement. An inserted sky is woven in to soften the effects of geometry.

Image 5:Florence of my imagination

This collage was inspired by the video of Daniel Gordon – particularly the mess he works in, and the small structures with which he works.

I wanted to put together old and new, rational and Dada, construction and nature, materiality and imagination.  The found images were taken from the internet and advertising catalogues.

The composition of the images leaning to the left goes contrary to the conventional dynamic lines leading from bottom left to top right of a landscape and should make the viewer want to rearrange it.  Conventional Florence is absent.

From the internet:

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 18.13.52
A sculpture based on ‘The frailty of Time’ series by Korean sculptor Park Eun Sun.
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Butterflies representing the transience of material things.
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A new design in eco travel representing a relationship with nature and design developments.
Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 18.48.19
Florence iconic sculpture.

The jeans and flowers were cut out from fashion and gardening adverts while putting them together was inspired by jeans used as planters I saw on a recent visit to Turkey:

Jeans with flowersDSCF4911
Jean planters in Antalya, Turkey.

Image 5:Florence of my imagination

A Florence of imagined and irrational fun.
An imagined Florence developed through elements of Dadaism, irrational absurdity and fun but still linked to plastic arts, design and time.Florence seen with new eyes

Part 2:

Using digital montage techniques produce a digital montage using elements from a minimum of two and a maximum of five digital files.  Use components that you have shot yourself rather than found images for this exercise.

Sacred Circle.
Sacred Circle under Great Mis Tor on the MOD firing range.

I have selected an image of the Sacred Circle of monolithic rocks found under Great Mis Tor on Dartmoor in Devon.  We discovered when we went to photograph it that many of the rocks had been destroyed.  I don’t know what caused the rocks to break but it seems that, over the years, they have been used in target practice.  In various places around the area there were spent gun shells which I have included in this montage to stand in for rocks which are no longer there.  Five images make up this montage: one of the Sacred Circle and the others of the shells we found.

I am including a second montage because it reflects an experiment that I am trying out.  When I was working with a particular image of Dartmoor trying to abstract the shapes I found in the image, I was aware suddenly that my dissatisfaction with landscapes stems from the idea that landscapes are not just visual concepts: there is sound which cannot be represented in a 2D photograph.  My image, therefore, includes my experiment outcomes so far: I have used an iPhone app called Sonic Wire to recreate the birdsong I heard in that place, I then took a screenshot of the image I created & pasted it on the landscape with images of falling feathers following the lines of the song image.  My ultimate goal is to record the birdsong and transfer it onto a 2d representation of it that is not conventional music notation.

Landscape with sound
Leather Tor with birdsong and feathers.Landscape with sound

What has worked and what hasn’t?

What worked?

Seeing the collage work of Lilly Lulay, Sophie Shapiro and hearing Rachel Smith talking about the ‘Materiality of things’, really inspired me to do something on landscape collage that I had never tried before.  The work of Peter Kennard pushed me to try something political  and seeing his work physically was compelling.  I enjoyed going on an experimental trip: I had no idea how I was going to use the images I had except that I knew I felt strongly about the imposed geometry of the landscape in Part 1.  I was glad I had had a conversation with my photography friend about using graffiti.  Is a concertina glued on a photo still considered a collaged photo?  Is this part of the argument Rachel Smith refers to when she asks if we have to re-evaluate how we see and evaluate images?  I feel that there is a progression in how the images developed and I have put them in the order in which they came to me.  There is a development in the mood of the images: from deadly, mathematically serious, to irreverent fun.

 

What did not work?

The physical cutting was quite tricky when I saw how much detail showed in re-photographing the images.  I had not sharpened the scalpel so the card was hacked rather than cut.  Although I am pleased with how image 4 turned out , I am not sure that it meets the requirements of the exercise.  I had forgotten the detail about being able to use my own images in this part, but I don’t think the outcome would have differed much.

Reflection:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills: Materials, techniques, design and compositional skills:

If the physical image is to be considered under ‘Materials’, then I think the assessment would be good.  The techniques too are good because they are varied; idem for my observational skills as I have considered a variety of sources for my collages.  The design and compositions are varied and show my sensitivity to the effects I want to produce.

Quality of outcome: Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.

I think my concepts of appearance vs realities have been communicated in the collages.

Demonstration of creativity: Imagination, experimentation , invention, development of a personal voice.

This entire exercise has been one of creativity and taking risks and I think I have shown that very well.  The consistency of approach shows evidence of a personal voice emerging, although I’m neither a Peter Kennard nor a Lilly Lulay yet.

Context: reflection, research and an ability to analyse and synthesise my ideas:

I have shown evidence of research and reading around the subject and my collages are evidence of my ability to analyse my ideas and to synthesise them in concrete expressions of my concepts.   I may, however, have to explain my workings in more detail.

References:

Websites:

  1.  http://www.loeildelaphotographie.com/en/2016/04/26/article/159901664/circulations-2016-interview-with-lilly-lulay
  2. https://artislimited.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/the-frailty-of-time-a-major-exhibition-of-park-eun-suns-polychromed-marble-sculptures-opens-this-friday-in-forte-dei-marmi/
  3. http://www.oca-student.com/comment/83011#comment-83011
  4. http://www.katieshapiro.com/index.php?/project/a-subtle-kind-of-beyond2015/
  5. Links 12 – 23 on the OCA Student website.

 

Tutor report:

Overall Comments

A very good approach; the motivations clearly described with good explanations of the processes and the results evaluated with awareness.

Assessment potential

 You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.

I have included the above as the OCA template requires it.

Feedback on assignment

The quality of your creative thinking is progressing very well and you’ve produced some interesting work as a result. To get the most from it the quality of your technical presentation needs to support it so I’m going to concentrate on production in this report. The principals will be applicable going forward to we won’t need to repeat them once dealt with.

I’m attaching a PDF that covers some of the general concepts which here I shall apply particularly.

Students at Level 1 in particular are often dismissive of the need to work to the highest criteria from a technical point of view, their camera’s quite clever on auto and that should be good enough is their thinking but at Level 2 and 3 their work is going to be judged against some extremely technically adept students.

If the work is conceptually unsophisticated but technically accomplished then the technical brilliance isn’t going to count for much but the combination of technical brilliance and conceptual sophistication is going to put work that’s conceptually sophisticated but technically clumsy in the shade.

Those that have achieved Firsts have also been excellent technicians; in capturing, post production and printing.

It’s important to aim for the highest standards because that provides the highest quality of communication, both in terms of communicating the work and communicating the commitment and ability of the maker of the work to the assessors.

Above all being a person that’s acutely visually aware is what the visual arts are all about and the craft is part of that.

On to the actual work…

You seem to have satisfied yourself on the copyright issues so I make no mention of that.

Part 1

I think it was an excellent progression of the brief to use this material and differentiate the layers with colouration. One is reminded of a shoebox peep show and it speaks of political machinations with the red Duomo looming over the intrigues of the citizens.

Technically the montage is as well put together as it needs to be to be effective; it doesn’t hinder the reading of the image.

However the ‘flat copy’, as such photographs of art work are called, could benefit from improvement.

The image is dark and lacking in contrast, meaning the eye doesn’t get the full physiological enjoyment from it. The eye prefers a fully tonally scaled image, i.e. one which runs from pure black to pure white, taking advantage of the full contrast range and thereby supplying the most information through the defining of individual tonal differences.

Image 1

Original

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 18.40.04.png

This is the Levels Histogram for this image…

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 18.39.19.png

There are 256 possible brightness values for pixels going from 0 black to 255 white.

In 95% of all cases we want the tones in our image to run from black to white so this is the first thing we do when we’ve chosen and image to use further. We examine the histogram and adjust the white point to the first significant pixel on the right and the black point to the first significant pixel on the left, then save.

In this case we already have pixels in the distribution at zero and our black point at zero, therefore our black point is black but our white point isn’t white it’s a light grey, we have to adjust our white point to 211 before the graph starts to rise significantly.

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 18.38.30.png

The image now looks like this…

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 18.37.47.png

The overall impression is brighter, the image is less dull and muddy but because it’s unevenly lit it’s still compromised, the darks are too bright on the right and the highlights too dark on the left.

The light is predominantly coming from the right. Imagine it was a sheet of blank white paper. The right hand edge would seem white and then the sheet would go smoothly progressively greyer towards the left.

We can compensate for that by making a graduated mask.

In Photoshop we switch to Quick Mask mode, select the horizontal gradient tool and apply.

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 18.36.41.png

Now using the Levels control one can adjust the white points and black points by inspection on the right hand side, then Inverse the selection and adjust them on the left side to balance out the image like so…

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 18.35.48.png

The image is still looking a little dark in the centre so one makes a rough mask with the lasso and then feathering it with the Refine Edge tool…

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 18.34.48.png

Then making adjustments to the white black and grey points in the Levels control to give the centre a subtle lift…

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 18.34.16.png

Finally remove all selections and go back to Level to check that the tonal distribution extends from 0 to 255 and if it does not then reset the black and white points to the points on the x axis where the frequency beings to rise on the left end and where it comes down to zero on the right hand end.

Compare the above to the first version to see the differences.

When doing flat copies if one doesn’t have the ideal set up, that’s a large soft light either side set at 45 degrees to the plane of the art work, then one needs a large soft light source to one side, say a north light window, set a good distance away from the art work and at 90 degrees to the plane of it.

The intensity of light falls off exponentially so if the light is too close in to the side of the art work there will be significant fall off in brightness from one side to the other whic h can’t be cured with a reflector on the opposite side. Also even though the paper maybe matt the image of the light will be reflecting in the surface causing flare and weakening the dark tones.

The light should be far enough off to the side that the brightness falls off by now more than half a stop across the width, this can then be evened out with a white reflector card that’s preferably about twice the size of the art work. The card should be tilted back away from the art work a little so it’s not reflecting in the paper in the same way the light source could be.

Image 2

 I think you made a good decision with this one. As a counterpoint the coloured material works better in Image 3.

There’s something of Adrian Hill’s Sketch club about this and the bridge cut outs are like a paper mask. I find it comforting.

Image 3

This is a strong juxtaposition. ‘Giotto’ is overseeing contemporary Italian graffiti art; some might say balefully given the weight that the Renaissance still places on the shoulders of contemporary Italian artists.

For myself I think the way the top of the dome intersects with the nostril is a little awkward as it’s the visual centre of the composition where the eye comes to rest. Perhaps moving the dome down and to the right slightly, usefully revealing a touch more of the mouth, would be more comfortable.

Image 4

This is the most exciting one so far with the interlacing and torn edges, the foldings on the left remind me so much of lira notes and the overall feel is reminiscent of old Italian magazines from the first half of the 20thC which my wife inherited.

She’s Italian; her uncle’s family home was a Renaissance villa on a hill outside Florence; in Castello.

She made montage work from her family archive, analogue, digital and painted, for her MA.

She was enthusiastic about your work.

Image 5

What is immediately striking is the strong contrasts provided by the heavy shadows and the blacks and the clean pure whites; providing that physiological pleasure for the eye. It’s a blend of the contemporary and the historic, there’s a touch of EUR about the clock and the Renaissance is always with you in Italy, even if on a futuristic bike.

Also for me it evokes advertising as it feels a lot more fun than Florence used to feel like to me on a hot day; very much a place of air conditioned business filled with Art.

Part 2

 I thought this was an excellent idea but because of the aspect ratio and scope of the scene the idea rather gets lost.

At full screen size it’s difficult to identify the standing objects as gun shell cases. It would need to be a very large print on a gallery wall that the viewer could approach to look at the detail and then retreat to take in the whole composition.

Some general points about digital montage…

There are two ways to go with this, to make it as realistic as possible or to make it obvious. If one is going to make it obvious then there are no holds barred but if one wants to make it convincing then there are some rules to follow.

The direction and contrast of the light falling on the elements that are being composited in must match the light in the background image; which in this case seems to be semi diffused back lit, the shadows pointing towards camera.

The resolution of the background and the elements to be comped in should eventually match.

The resolution of the background should be equal to the final output intended for it; refer to the attached PDF for details.

Almost always this amounts to working with the highest resolution background one can to give one the most flexibility when it comes to outputs.

Your background is 4896 pixels wide, that’s the full resolution of your camera. That’s fine. You have the ppi set to 300, for same size reproduction that’s as high as one is ever likely to need and can confuse some packages such as Word when they import and display files set to a high ppi; see attached PDF.

Its good practice when one intends an image file for screen viewing to set the ppi to 96 and convert the colour space to sRGB if it isn’t that already.

The ppi is a property that’s stored in the header of your file. It makes no difference to the actual pixel dimensions of the file. In this case that’s 4896 px x 1699 px. What the 300 ppi is telling whatever application you’re using to display it is the physical size you intend the image to be. Some applications will take note of this, others will ignore it.

So you’re saying here that you intended the image to be viewed as 4896/300 inches x 1699/300 inches, i.e. approx 16” x 5.5”

If in Photoshop you do View/Print Size then that’s the physical size it will show you the image at because that’s what you set the ppi at. If you’d set it to 180 for example then it would have shown you the image at the physical size of 4896/180” x 1699/180”, 27” x 9.5”. If you do View/Actual Pixels then it will map one image pixels to one screen pixel. The most common screen resolution is 96 ppi so the image will then display at the physical size of 51” x 18”

The background resolution, i.e. its pixel dimension and the intended output dictates the resolution of the elements that are to be included.

Taking a real world example of one of your shell cases… 2nd from the right… it’s 237 pixels high so it would need to be at least that size in the original capture of it before you comped it in.

If it was exactly 237 pixels high in the original and when you comped it in you decided that actually you needed it twice the size and enlarged it in the composition then you would have halved the resolution of that element and it wouldn’t look convincing as an existing element because it would be less detailed and not as sharp as the background.

You’ve used the shell cases so small in the overall composition that you should have met the resolution criteria easily and many times over in your original capture of the shell cases but the other thing to consider is the quality of the edges of comped elements.

This is a section of your image at Actual Pixel magnification, i.e. 100%, the most accurate rendering of the image…

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 16.18.35.png

There’s a lack of distinction along the edges which we wouldn’t expect with metal, even distorted metal and there’s a sort of pencil lining effect in places. When the image is fitted on screen these are hardly noticeable but as a larger print to make the image more effective they would be seen, also at this size it’s obvious that the lighting is quite different.

There are lots of different and very effective selection tools in Photoshop, their use depends on the particular job at hand, often it helps for a selection to be slightly indistinct when one wants to blend something in but this is often not desirable when there’s a definite edge against a bright even tone.

One way to get sharp clean edges is to use the Pen tool to make a path and then convert it to a selection.

Here I’ve done a little to give you the idea…

 

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 16.17.36.png

You plot points to make straight line segments, the tool can then be refined so that you can select points and make the joining lines into Bezier curves to accurately follow an outline. Then you convert the path to a selection. You can then cut out your object with sharp clean edges.

Here I’ve done that as an example. I’ve increased the size of the shell cases to cover the originals, this also had the useful side effect of bringing the shell tip above the horizon, the alignment of the two was rather awkward. I’ve also run the Levels on the background in a similar way to the example in Part 1 and used selective masking with the Levels control to make the lighting consistent across the shells, within the bounds of what’s possible.

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 16.17.09.png

In terms of impact at screen or small print size I think that you could crop to make the image more immediate while still keeping the sense, something like this…

Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 16.16.29.png

Coursework

 No problems with this, very good.

Research

Excellent research; wide ranging and intelligently interpreted.

Learning Log

Make sure to explicitly reflect on the tutor reports.

Suggested reading/viewing

You’re adept at self directed reading and there are plenty of references in the notes provided to follow up; go where your interest takes you.

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

You have a wide range of possibilities to choose from so I can’t say a lot in terms of pointers but one thing I will say is that students often make a pig’s ear out of book layouts.

I don’t know how much experience you’ve had with it but even when working with supplied templates they tend to go mad and have a different layout on every page and classically they make the type much too big and use too many different fonts. One for headings and one for body text and captions is quite enough.

Most layouts are based on columns, typically one, two or three. The easiest thing is to keep the number of columns the same throughout the whole article or book.

There are a few simple rules to follow in order for the layout to feel organised and easy to follow for the reader…

Body text, with suitable margins, starts at the top of the left most column and then flows down it to the bottom, then from the top of the next column to the right down to the bottom and so on.

Images can only be sized at whole column widths, ignoring any margins, this may mean sometimes having to crop an image to make it fit, or indeed sometimes not be able to use a particular image in combination with others because of it; that’s one of the puzzles picture editors on magazines and newspapers have to solve. Any captions to run underneath the images, with suitable margins, up to the width of the image.

Tutor name Clive White
Date 10/6/16
Next assignment due 10/8/16

 

My response to the feedback from the tutor and my revised Assignment 1:

Positives:

  1. Progress in the quality of creative thinking.
  2. Good use of material.

To improve:

Part 1:

  1. The technical quality of my presentation needs a lot of attention & I have been given excellent guidelines and examples taken directly from my work which I appreciate & will appreciate more as I get my head around it all.
  2. In my assignment, I was not working from my image of the collages but from the physical works themselves which meant that I was not seeing what my tutor would see.  The brief, however, required me to present an image of the collages and that was what I was assessed on, and that was found wanting.  Looking at my work now, with a distance of 2 months, I can see that the image is dull and that there is an inconsistency of light across it.

My original submission:

Collage of mathematical, rational Florence.
Rational, mathematical Florence treated with colour.

 

After suggesting and showing how using  Levels, Quick Mask mode, gradients and Refine Edge tool & Curves in PS to balance the lighting , my tutor came up with this image:

Tutor amendments
Tutor-amended image.

I followed the steps but had considerable difficulty using the gradient tool, which I don’t normally have, and could not remove all the selections.

My PS steps look like this:

My PS steps

Not happy with the bright orange middle, I reduced the vibrance & came up with this version:

My PS steps

I had considerably more steps than my tutor suggested which is a reflection of how limited is the depth of my PS ability at this stage.

I shall see in my next assignment whether or not my technical ability has improved – will I see that the image is dull?

Image 2 was not criticised directly, but I think there is an oblique criticism in a reference to Adrian Hill’s Sketch club which I had to look up & I can’t say that I am any the wiser. But Clive found it ‘comforting’. At least it wasn’t so bad that he had to gouge his eyes out, for which I am enormously relieved!

Image 3 was found to have strong juxtaposition, which is great.  There is a tutor’s preference in dropping the top of the graffiti image down and to the right as it interferes too much with the Giotto & I totally agree.

I had to redo both prints as the originals were glued together and I tried 2 versions:

Giotto composite 3 DSCF0015
Version 1 is as close to my original as possible.
Giotto composite 4 DSCF0016
Version 2 is much bolder in that both images are printed larger but there is less of the graffiti showing so there is less of its information.

My preference is for version 1 because there is more of the graffiti detail showing and because version 2 is too aggressive and the subtlety of the Giotto is lost.

 

Images 4 & 5 were fine.

Part 2:

Clive puts his findings rather well & there’s no need for me to precis:

a)  “I thought this was an excellent idea but because of the aspect ratio and scope of the scene the idea rather gets lost.”

b)  Regarding digital montage: “There are two ways to go with this, to make it as realistic as possible or to make it obvious. If one is going to make it obvious then there are no holds barred but if one wants to make it convincing then there are some rules to follow.”

I personally had no intention of making it realistic because the physical relationship between the sacred circle stones and the spent shells is unrealistic, but there is a lot for me to learn from making it so for this exercise.

  1. I need to consider the direction & quality of the light in the main image;
  2. work with the highest resolution background for max flexibility;
  3. for screen viewing: set ppi to 96 & convert colour space to sRGB
  4. use the pen tool  & Bezier curves to clean up the outline of the shells.
  5. run Levels on the image to make the lighting consistent across the shells
My version of 1 of the shells
My version of the shell

 

Clive's cleaned up version of 1 of the shells
Clive’s cleaned-up version.

This is my reworked version:

Sacred circle with shells 2 DSCF2481

I re-sized the shells, traced them more carefully so that they looked like shells, and then dodged and burned where necessary to reflect the direction of light.

 

What I learned from the revised assignment:

Looking at light when presenting an image & enhanced use of Photoshop:  mostly the technical aspects of image manipulation  deepening my  use & knowledge of PS, in particular concerning image / print size in terms of pixels and resolution (ppi) to width / height ratios.  I also became more aware of the effects of light over an image and how to adjust it.

I must leave time between producing the work & revising it prior to handing it in, in order to allow myself an opportunity of being less subjective about it.  This would allow my perception to be less tainted by my thoughts closely associated in time to the work I have produced.

 

Welcome to the your OCA Learning Log!

The OCA logo image

This blog is now structured with the essential categories required for you to post Assignments and Projects in for your learning log entries. It is intended to just help you get started with your OCA Learning log, and you may wish to customise it to suit your particular course.

Although we have provided the essential categories needed for your learning log, you will still need to set up your ‘Main’ menu through the Appearance section of the Dashboard, under the Menus section. Just select the menu you want to edit (Main) and then under the Categories ‘All’ menu, tick each category that you would like to be viewable through your blog’s menus and click the ‘Add to menu’ button. You can then drag and drop each item into hierarchies of menus and sub menus, as below in the ‘Menu Structure’ pane:

Menu_Create

 

When making new posts, you just need to add a tick next to each category that the post relates to. The categories options can be found in the right-hand column whenever you create or edit a post.

Categorising

You can select more than one category if appropriate; for example,  your first Assignment can be categorised under Assignments, Assignment 1, and Part 1.  Make sure you tag a post with at least one category, or it may not be visible through your blog’s navigation.

To learn how to keep a blog, the WordPress help pages are invaluable as a learning resource: http://en.support.wordpress.com/

 

We would like to thank OCA Photography tutor Robert Enoch for providing this template for OCA students to use to get started with their Learning (b)logs.