IC - Week 11 - Project development

There are just a five days left to submit the work in progress selection and the CRJ so couple of reflections this time alongside with latest works.

The course material discussing in depth the important issues regarding the ontology of photographic nature, the means of dissemination and the role photography plays in the contemporary society, highlighted the areas I have not considered so far both as an author and the spectator. I realise though that I only touch the surface of all the subjects I have listen, read and talked about.

I found the topics from the first half of the course particularly interesting. The reflections on the context, authentication, representation, constructed realities and the meaning of the 'really real" influenced already my practice and I can clearly see how my interest in constructing the image using the method of rephotography is shifting into the areas where "photographic seeing" plays the most important role. I think the last shots in this module like this one below for example (Fig 1 and 2), are one of the most succesful. There is a combination of site specific forms and naturally occurring phenomenons (light reflections in this case) which together create an involounarily arranged composition. 

But I am also happy with those where the artefacts determined by the use of specific apparatusses (screen and camera) are playing an significant role in the construction of the image. The works below are particularly interesting to me because I used also another method here - the stripes are the reflection of the window blinds in the piece of acrylic glass I hold in front of the image displayed on the screen. I am amazed with the way the reflection is blending with the image. It would be really hard to achieve such an naturally looking fusion with the software. 

That kind of natural blend of various surfaces and shapes generated by objects as well as the transformations occuring in the tonal range, the redefinition of colours, viniette, noise - all that is too fascinating to stop experimenting with the method of adding layers photographically, but as I mentioned above, the straight captures of the phenomenons occurring involuntarily or with a little intervention, are something very special and I will continue to hone my observing and pre-visualising skills.

During the last week I worked also with some totally different method which is a result of the chain of coincidences mixed with intentional choices. I spoke with one of my colleagues at work about about the moire pattern in context of my practice and as a quite surprising result of that conversation, my colleague sent me a "moire generator' which he put together during the lunch time using some of the available open source pieces of code, which is simply the rotating geometric shape built with lines which can be modified displayed in a browser

There is a colour, transparency, line thickens and density which can be set up in a various configurations as well as four geometric shapes to choose from. It was a good fun to play with the shapes and observe some moire-like patterns occurring but that was it. I imagined though that if the shape could be overlaid on the image, the situation would become much more interesting. I asked my colleague if there is a chance to place the animated shape on top of the image not a plain background as it was originally and not long later received an email with the the modified generator which allow me to use any of my image in a background. It reminded me of the "Indeterminate Objects (Classrooms)" project by Wendy McMurdo which I saw at the Photographers Gallery in December as it combines the animated object and a still image. I use the rotating geometric shape though in a totally different context and only as a generator of still captures at the moment.

I spend two evenings with working with this method and included two images in my WIP portfolio (Fig 3 and 4). Both of them has been rephotographed again after the shape was captured and the additional layer of moire pattern appeared which is well visible in the first image above the cube (Fig 3).

Here is a small selection of other compositions:

I wish there was another month to go. There is so much to explore...

IC - Week 10 - William Larson

I remember researching the William Larson's works in the Sustainable Prospects module but back then his works did not resonate with me as much as now. I don't understand fully his method but what I am able to comprehend about his "electronic drawings' is quite incredible. His digital collages were created long before the computer software offered that opportunity to artists ((1969–1978)) and are "some of the earliest digitally generated works of art".

Here is a short explanation of the process of generating an image I found on the page of Gitterman gallery which represents Larson:



"Larson used a Graphic Sciences DEX 1 Teleprinter, a sophisticated early fax machine, which converted pictures, text and sound into digitally-generated audio signals. These signals were transmitted over a telephone line and a stylus burned the image onto a special carbon-based paper, creating a unique “electronic drawing.”  He was able to manipulate these images by altering the voltage of the output during the printing process, by moving the stylus during printing and by sending multiple transmissions to the same page, electronically layering images, text and visual representations of sound." (Gitterman gallery)

I find these series of works, which he called Fireflies, very inspiring. The seemingly chaotic, nonchalant configurations of forms are in fact perfectly balanced compositions. 

He combined the fragments of photographs, typography and abstract shapes into one dynamically generated image enriched with the artefacts specific to the used apparatus. The compositions, although generated by the machine and non representational, evoke the dynamics of the organic structures. The use of photographs (their fragments in fact), as a malleable tissue stripped out of the narrative aspects really speaks to me.

Althought those works are aesthetically and technically far away from my own realisations, I can see some tangential aspects like for example multiple layers, fusion between the analogue and digital, artifacts generated as a result of qualities of the tools.

About ten years later (1988) David Hockney experimented with fax machines as well, although his approach was totally different. 

Studying the Larson's works made me think again about the idea of embeding/projecting the fragments of images on top of the original one which I was playing with after the IoP Symposium at Falmouth. During one of the talks, I think it was Gary's McLeod one about rephotography, I had an idea of adding a layer of what is in front or behind the place I photographed by projecting the fragments of the image. I shared the idea with Steve Tyrell and couldn't wait to give it a go. It turned out to be not as easy as I expected and I gave up because of some technical issues - the conflicting frequencies of the recorded video, projector. I asked my colleague at work today about potential solutions and have one tip to check. There is not much time now due to upcoming assigments so it may be something to play with after the submission.

IC - Week 10 - Project development

I am still shooting because there is something not working well in the selection for the WIP portfolio. I decided to come back to another idea from the beginning of the module I dropped on the way - the fusion of analogue and digital. I scanned some most succesful shots I took with Canon A1 just before the IoP Symposium, and rephotographed displayed on the screen to capture the geometry of the screen display, moire artefacts and some new forms to make the form, colour and composition more prominent than the fact that it is a bathroom wall. 

Those works stands out a bit and I am not sure if i will include them in the final selection but I like them a lot. 

I've made also some new digital compositions which are straigh shots with some minimal post production touch. I am really happy with the image below in particular which for me a perfect example of camera's ability to construct reality. The rhomboid form in the center of the image is an reflection in the laptop screen. The right settings of the camera, accurate lens, precise vantage point, light and ability to pre-visualise the image (which I am getting better and better at) - all those factors were necessary to record this image. I like the way the screen with reflection blends with the background of the white doors. It isn't what I saw when looking at the scene without the lens. It is only thanks to the camera and lens parameters I was able to record it this way. 

I am happy also with this shot which is the second, or third attaempt to capture that fragment of the room with black wall, window seal, TV screen and lamp. The is an effect of negative space which define the bright window side wall as a geometric shape.




IC - Week 9 - Research

Antony Cairns create his interesting and distinctive works with the unique chemical-based techniques. 

A fragment of the description of one of his publications, (the 'LA-LV') explains roughly his methods: 

"All images in this volume were shot using Agfa APX 35mm film which was then reversal processed to make black and white transparencies. These chemically-altered photographs have hence been Duotone printed; deep black on silver ink, resulting in a metallic effect, remaining loyal to Cairns' characteristic style of printing on aluminium." Kominek Books

He explores similar methods for many years what makes his whole practice visually consistent and thanks to that, to stand out more from the crowd. Definitely  something I can only dream about at the moment. I am too impatient, or perhaps I could say too curious to spend a lot of time honing one method or subject"I like his simple but strong graphically photobooks. Some of them are very unconventional. I am looking forward to seeing his work at Tate Modern in May.





IC - Week 9 - Thoughts and ideas

While listening again to Jeff Wall interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art again, I came up with the concept of 'life' of the form, the process of 'growing' the image, directing the stages of its development by applying various techniques... It is related to the method I use to generate the image where through multiple iterations of rephotographing the image and making prominent or obscuring some forms, I produce the phases of images 'existence'. I don't remember what triggered that chain of thoughts but listening to Jeff Wall is usually enlightening in one way or another...

I am reading about Gustav Metzger's "Auto-destructive art" as well which surely gives me a basis for a different perspective on the dynamic nature of forms. Some key points of his manifesto for 1959:

"Auto-destructive art can be created with natural forces, traditional art techniques and technological techniques." (Metzger in Danchev p.344)
"Auto-destructive paintings, sculptures and constructions have a lifetime varying from a few moments to twenty years. wnen the disintegrative process is complete the work is to be removed from the site and scraped" (Metzger in Danchev p.344-345)
"There are forms of auto-destructive art where the artist has a tight control over the nature and timing of disintegrative process, and there are other forms where the artist's control is slight" (Metzger in Danchev p.345)
Documenting the beginning, development and the end of form/composition sounds very exciting to me at the very moment. I could apply multiple methods of changing, 'growing' the image (painting, drawing on the image, screen rephotography, applying some physical treatment like burning or scratching), record all the significant stages of its development and perhaps create a slow-motion animation based on that...I could also show alternative scenarios of its life....and death.


IC - Week8 - "Pictures can't tell stories...

....because they are still". These are the words of Jeff Wall recorded during the interview by Marc-Christoph Wagner at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. It is one of the most interesting and inspiring interviews I have listened. I agree with almost everything Wall is talking about in regards to the process of creation, interestingly though I am not an admirer of his works. I can appreciate the determination to visualise the idea and indisputable technical qualities but there is nothing in most of his images which I find interestig apart from one: "The sudden gust of wind" which is just a masterpiece.  

It is very impressive how he can articulate his intentions and a way of thinking and making in such an unpretentious and concise way. Some of the thoughts/statements I found very interesting:

He describe one of the qualities characteristic to his processes as observance.

A picture not accompanied by any verbal description has to be interpret as a poem.

"Picture making, of any kind, (...) expresses the acceptance of the way things are."

"...sense of liking the appearance of things" is another characteristic aspect of his creative process.

Inability to planning ahead. Not looking for the subjects but observing and reacting to the opportunities carried by the life. Accidents arouse from the everyday situations - any situation can set up a starting point for the new idea.

Pictures are make in occurrence of things or in an absence of occurrence.

His photographs are constructed snapshots where the snapshot opportunity is contemplated through meticulous phase of recreating, constructing/composing the image ('near documentary photographs'): ”One of the most interesting aspects of art, any of the Arts, is composition" and the act of making.

The nature of the picture changes through the time of making it.He enjoys the artistic aspect of making/creating which changes his relation to photography. He is not artistically satisfied by taking picture spontaneously.



IC - Week 9 - Actions at Kettle's Yard

Actions. The image of the world can be different - the exhibition in the renovated Kettle's Yard gallery I visited yesterday following my tutor's - Paul Clemens recommendation. It doesn't happen very often that I visit an exhibition as it is logistically difficult and I often find quite disappointing the whole exhibition experience. Traveling far to see a couple of images displayed on the wall which I can as well see online or in a book is not always justified, but sometimes, or maybe in most cases, rather necessary to engage with work and understand its power.

There was a lot of recognised names among the artist invited to take part in that show. I wanted to see in particular the works of Gustav Metzger, Idris Khan, Naum Gabo and less known but brilliant conceptual artist Katie Paterson although I kind of knew that the large number of artists and not very big gallery space means a quite minimal representation of each of them. And I was right but it didn't matter. It was a good experience to refresh my knowledge about some artists I sort of neglected in the last years like Naum Gabo or Ben Nicholson. Funnily though the Gabo's sculptures trapped in the acrylic cubes gained a different dimension - I was drawn to the lines-edges of the geometric cube more than the sculpture inside. It is surely the sign of my current mode of obsessive observation of the light and 'involuntary forms' but perhaps also a strong sculptural quality of the transparent box itself. Maybe it is a matter of scale, it would work differently if the box was much larger than the sculpture inside and the relation of those two objects was weaker.

Kettle's Yard House is an exceptional place. The idea that works of art, in a lage numbers, can be accumulated in the domestic settings opened for everyone, is a great one. No photograph can gives this remarkable place a justice. It was such a great experience to be there, be able to seat on the chairs and sofas and contemplate the spectacular objects, walk throught the rooms and observe the functional configuration of objects, the relationship beetwen them, the interplay of dynamically changing light, shadows and reflections...


Exhibition: "Actions. The image of the world can be different", Kettles Yard gallery

IC - Week 9 - Project development

Involuntary form - not sure if that phrase describes accurately what I think about but can't find any better... I want to describe the types of forms/compositions I focus on which exist without the intention, as a result of some utilitarian function or purposeful action - not as a deliberately configured objects.

There is a some peculiar beauty in the nonchalantly layered rubbish, staines, arrangements of chairs or the office utensils on the table in the room which everyone just left. That kind of compositions are almost impossible to fake. 

The arrangements I see are often an effect of the ability to "see photographically" which seem to getting stronger now; the ability to visualise the image before taking it - something what Ansel Adams describes as "the single most important factor in photography”(How to pre-visualise like Ansel Adams). It depends on the genre of photography and I wouldn't be so sure that it is the most important factor but definitely the one which is characteristic to all types of image-making.

My works are definitely a mixture of the pre-visualising the initial composition and then working intuitively and taking advantage of the artefacts occuring by the use of particular tools and methods, accidents and coincidences.



IC - Week 9 - Photogenic painting

I 'googled' today the phrase 'photogenic painting' as I often think of it in context of my works and I found Barbara Kasten. I am seriously amazed with her early works from 70’s (Photogenic painting and Amalgam series in particular), and I strongly identify with her way of seeing and thinking about abstract forms, light and painterly potential of photography. 

 Barbara Kasten, Refraction III, 1979, Crayon on photo linen

Barbara Kasten, Refraction III, 1979, Crayon on photo linen

Casten trained as a painter and, as she stated in the interview for Aperture, she was pushing the boundaries of painting, drawing and sculpture by the use of photography, not the other way round. She wasn't interested in the representations of the spacial relationship between the photographed objects she constructed but about the end result - the two dimensional 'object' which is a representation of the complex visual arrangements of light passing through the translucent forms. 

She wanted to remove any sense of representation and that's why she chosen the plexiglas to work with predominantly. Her works refer to aesthetics of Constructivism and Bauhaus school.

Some fragments of her comments from the interview:

"...we have no identification with meaning of the subjects matter, and I am not after the meaning of it, I am after the experience of it"
"....I am not so much interested in photography that looks like a painting as I am in photography that has a structure to it"...

When going through literally every single page on her website, I found out the information about the planned exhibition at TATE Modern which will be for me a real treat: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/shape-light

From the 2nd May to 14th October "The shape of light" will be demonstrated in the works of such artists like Barbara Carsten, Man Ray, Alfred Stieglitz, Lashlo Moholy-Nagy and others.