FMP - Filip Berent

 From the series "Monomyth" © Filip Berendt

From the series "Monomyth" © Filip Berendt

Filip Berent's works are one of those which drew my attention during the Photo London this year. I walked through the exposition of the L'etragerie gallery couple of times and took some folders with information to not forget his name. Very striking and intriguing compositions which combine sculpture, painting and photography.

Cat Lachowskyj on the Lens Culture wrote:

Polish artist Filip Berendt addresses these obstacles in his photographic works by incorporating sculpture, painting and graphics into his multimedia projects. While his final pieces are ultimately photographic prints, the images act as portals into his strenuous, layered thought process, full of specific selections and constructions gradually built up using the differing mediums. In particular, his project Monomythacts as a record of his memories from hallucinatory experiences with ayahuasca. Interview by Cat Lachowskyj

Aesthetically Berent's works are precisely constructed planes of colour, texture and photographic tissue. The abstract forms recall the Bauhaus school and Russian constructivism. In my opinion the very analytically constructed configurations of precisely created geometric forms take over the more emotional and story-telling qualities of the photographic images. It is a quite unexpected translation of the "hallucinatory experiences". The works on they own dont tell me that.

I like those compositions a lot though. Perhaps because the concept of joining other media with photography is very close to me especially at the very moment. But it is not just that. The compositions are very strong and the colours are just brilliant. There is both a monumentalism and lightness there.

FMP - Still exploring

The experiments with photograms, especially the cutting of the prints into irregular geometric pieces and composing with some fund plant twigs, lead me to current compositions which comprise of the cuts of transparent or paper prints, tape, pieces of plants and the dynamic algorithmic shapes which I 'catch' in various configurations. For the images below I used some new piece of browser based generator of geometric forms found on the Codepen portal and slightly modified. I am back to my method of capturing the blend of digitally displayed forms and some shapes in front of the screen.

I am still around the same dichotomies - the real/virtual, digital/physical, human/nonhuman, abstract/representational, organic/geometric....I think this will be a core of my project as I really feel the resistance inside when thinking about some specific, more tangible dichotomous examples, perhaps there is not time for those yet.

What is emerging from the works so far is the reflection on the dichotomous nature of the photographic medium and the contemporary post-internet world. Dualities/binary opposition/divisions/polarities are present on every level of our existence. Some are fundamental and absolute - those which constitute the cosmic order observed in nature and physical phenomenons, the rest is a result of our human tendency to construct or define the opposites in almost everything around us. It's the way to understand things which is pretty handy and harmless if understood as a variety of options which not exclude but complement each other.

The harmony of various ontologically different forms is slowly emerging from my works but I am wondering if that is something only I can feel and see or there is something interesting and aesthetically pleasing for the potential viewer too.

FMP - Aerogel

Aerogel is one of those fascinating materials I've read about in the "Stuff matters" by Mark Miodownik. 

In the pure form it consist of 99,8% of air and despite being one of the lest dens materials (since 2013 aerographene is the least dens) it is the best thermal insulator. 

After a weeks of thinking I finally decided to purchase the tiny bit of Silica Aerogel from the online shop of the Aerogel Technologies, LLC. The tiny Classic Silica disc and aerogel particles together with mega expensive shipping to UK cost me more that a hundred pounds but it was definitely worth it. 

The material is very fragile and even though I am really careful with holding it, there are already some significant chips on the edges. It doesn't matter as much though and it is incredible to be able to see, touch and photograph it.

Apart from the dichotomous qualities I was aware of (the fragility on one side and the very strong insulation properties) I was amazed to observe the colour variation of the material which can be perceived as blue on dark and yellowish on light background. The shadow in natural light is also yellow. All those qualities together make it really exceptional matter.

The images though stand out from the rest of the works I created so far. Perhaps together with the gallium and wolfram shots and the compositions with graphite and graphene some of those photograps would work well but how to 

FMP - BJP article about Falmouth Flexible

About a month ago I was contacted by Gemma Padley - a writer and editor on photography, to answer some questions in regards to my experience with studying MA Photography at Falmouth University. The information were part of the research which fed into the article "Online study can help take your photography in new directions" published in the BJP online. I was very happy and surprise to find out that my comments were quoted in the article alongside with the image I created in the previous module. It is definitely a privilege to be part of this article.

PJP - article.jpg

FMP - advice from Simon Bainbridge

Simon Bainbridge is an Editorial Director of the British Journal of Photography. I just read the interview with him on Lens Culture: Finding Your Signature: Advice For Emerging Photographers

It's good to come across words like that when feeling tired and frustrated - it gives an energy to proceed:

"Learn from others instead of referencing them. Try and understand what makes something work instead of using it as a style guide. Think and analyze—and let that seep into your practice. Practice a lot. Follow your instincts and see ideas through to their conclusion.
Then do the opposite. Follow blind alleys. Go places you don’t want to be. Work hard, even when it’s not working, and eventually your ideas will lead to interesting photographs, and interesting photographs will lead you to ideas."

The second paragraph is particularly helpful - I need to try something new to find the missing bit which will connect current works, or perhaps come up with something completely different.

FMP - Private view of Chris Northey "Concupiscence" exhibition

My stay at Penryn Campus coincidenced with the Chris Northey private view of the exhibition which is the culmination of his FMP. The "Concupiscence" body of work is dedicated to the subject of the male bisexuality.  

"My project, Concupiscence - When I was married I used to watch men, aims to destigmatise the nude male in a visual objectification of bisexual masculinity. Text and image are employed to provoke disscussion in a body of work that questions censorship and modern attitiudes to naked flesh and the perception of sexuality." Chris Northey, The RPS Journal, Vol 158, July 2018

I must admit that I felt sort of uncomfortable for the first couple of minutes after entering the gallery. I was confronted with the huge amount of male nudity and also the discrete gaze of male couples and I thought I would rather like to be invisible. Was that the symptom of what Chris is fighting for - the social uneasiness with the subject of older male sexuality? Yes and no. 

I thought, while being there, of the female equivalent of what Chris has done - the older women nude in context of bisexuality. Would that be more comfortable to consume for myself? I don't think so. I am not saying that I have a problem with this project, I really like the images (perhaps not all but a lot of them) and admire Chris determination and courage to create this body of work. I really agree that human body, no matter how old and ordinary, is interesting and beautiful and there is nothing really extreme any more about showing this as a subject of the photograph but still, there was something on the wall which made me feel a bit distracted and uncomfortable. 

I thought about it quite a lot and I think it was due to the physicality being the dominat aspect of this project. The male body parts which in large amounts were represented by the phallus in various configurations including the pre and post-erection state took over the emotions, intimacy, fear, embarrassment, etc. of the males who were the subject of this project. That was apparently Chris's goal, to bombard the viewer with pieces of body which are in the end just pieces of flesh we all consist of so it should not be a big deal to look at it. But it is not just about the older males body and sex, is it? It is about being different than majority and not being accepted. About the beauty of being together despite the intolerant society, the emotional struggle. I haven't seen that on the photographs.

FMP - Photograms/luminograms

The third day in an IoP darkroom at Falmouth University.

I came here for five days to experiment with cameraless techniques with some ideas to verify. I spent Monday and Tuesday on getting used to the flow, trying different options and simply being overwhelmed with excitement and absorbed by the process itself. 

During the first day, I produced many prints mainly based on the acetate prints of the moire and other algorithmic forms I brought with me. I used various papers including the expired paper someone left in the shop which had a low contrast but lovely warm tones so, even though I wasn't able to achieve the deep dark tones, I used all the available sheets. I learned from the mistakes but also took some helpful advice from the other person present in the darkroom. It is a simple process but without realising, for example, how to control the light in an easy way - it would take much longer to get the desired results.

I also tried out the initial idea which actually took me to Falmouth Uni darkroom six hours drive away from where I live - the direct transfer from the virtual to physical and in a result a dichotomous fusion. I had a vision that projecting the image directly on paper will expose it. It turned out to be possible but not very easy to achieve. I also imagined that perhaps I will be able to use the animated algorithmic shapes and get the dynamic forms printed directly from projector onto paper but this stayed as a nice vision.

The time of exposure using projector is less than a second. I was manually uncovering the projector light beam and covering back as soon as I was able. It was all clumsy and there was a lot of unsuccessful attempts on the way but I managed to print some interesting images eventually.

Luminogram. Digital image projected onto the photosensitive paper. 

 Luminogram. Digital image projected onto the photosensitive paper. 

Luminogram. Digital image projected onto the photosensitive paper. 

FMP - Invisible, latent and hidden image

..."digital image cannot be understood without taking stock of the delicate workings of data because the image is an outcome of processes that are driven by algorithms rather than by aesthetic decision-making and therefore cannot be comprehended through the holy trinity of representation, the index and the punctum. This is not to say that the dependence on algorithms renders the digital image somehow immaterial or inhuman, but that in becoming computational it partakes in a different kind of logic to the one underpinned by representation and identity.
..."This undisputed belief in the visibility of the photograph has such a strong grasp on theory that it imperceptibly bonded together otherwise dissimilar and sometimes contradictory methodologies, preventing them from noticing that which is the most unexplained about photography: the precedence of looking itself. This self-evident truth of visibility casts a long shadow on photographic theory because it blocks the possibility of inquiring after everything that is invisible, latent and hidden. As an example of this amnesia of the invisible consider for instance the extent to which the latent image – a prerequisite for the formation of an ordinary photograph – is all but ignored by photographic theory." Rubinstein p.1-2
"...Therefore the digital image consists not in reflecting external reality but in showing the extent to which reality itself is inseparable from the computational processes that shape it." p.6
For Heidegger, for instance, modern technology is nothing technological, it is not a tool in the service of progress; rather, it is the way by which subjectivity is constituted through the process of creation:
"Technology is therefore no mere means. Technology is a way of revealing. If we give heed to this, then another whole realm for the essence of technology will open itself to us. It is the realm of revealing, i.e. of truth.”  Rubinstein p.11






Rubinstein Daniel, August 2013, The Digital Image,  

FMP - Guest Lecture, Sian Davey

The Sian lecture was a wonderful example that I should not limit my research to artists who deal with the similar approach to photography as me. Listening to other artist and hear the honest articulation of the process of thinking and working on the projects is a great value in itself, regardless of the project's subject. 

But it was about both in this case, the project and the processes as I find Davey's works wonderful, deep, beautiful and true. I very much admire the way she share with the audience the fragments of her life which are quite often difficult. Learning about the origins of the concepts and the way she handled the project all way through was very inspiring.

It was a very emotional talk. Davey admitted that she avoids public talks for various reasons but my reflection at the end was that it makes the project so much more deep and beautiful after hearing all what she kindly shared with us. She just talked without being stressed about the pauses, hesitations, and the very touching moments when her voice vibrated because it was so emotional what she talked about. 

The first project she presented was "Looking for Alice" which is about her daughter who was born with Down syndrome but also about, as she said, "all these children who were traumatised, brutalised and there is no record of them'. At some point she realised that "there was nothing wrong with Alice, it was me". It is an intolerant society which makes it hard for all those children who were born "different'.

The other project Davey talked about was about Martha, her other daughter and the difficult time of entering the adulthood. It was very interesting to hear how she slowly built up the relationship between herself her daughter and teenagers Martha grew up with.

Both projects are amazing and so beautifully executed. There is such a distinctive formal qualities in her works like light, colours which help to build that atmosphere of extraordinary situations in the ordinary scenery of everyday life.

Some fragmented thoughts I noted during the talk:

  • "Work intuitively"
  • "Learn to read the image not intellectually but with heart"
  • "You don’t have to know your project, You have to trust your feelings, you have to let it go.."
  • "Keep your heart open"


FMP - Project development - screen recordings

"...You don’t have to know your project, you have to trust your feelings, you have to let it go"....

With those words Siam Davey articulated beautifully during the talk today what I keep repeating to myself for the last month - trust your instinct, do what feels good and exciting and all those pieces will start to match, bound together and make sense. I am trying to do exactly that but the fact that there is a limited time for this project and defined assignments to submit at the end of it, all that doesn't make it as easy as it could be in the case of any other project.

I continue to work with the images of decaying bee. There is a sense of physicality and transciency of organic matter conveyed in those shots which is perfect to contrast with the algorithmic, abstract forms.

I am screen recording the animations of the algorithmically generated forms on the top of the image. The slow movement of the mathematically defined forms is hypnotic. I have a feeling that those forms are actually the growing plants, organic and alive.