Book - Reflections

Design - The design of the book was outsourced to design company Honest Studio in Bath. They are a company I have worked with in the past on commercial commissions and wanted to work with someone I knew and had worked on projects with in the past. The brief for the design of the book was to create a small publication that captured the essence of my investigation. It had to have the feel of the archive with it which in the end is why I decided to use the archival envelopes. You can see a post about the various stages of the design process here, but considering the time and that I had not yet finished the investigation process, the book is an adequate output.

In terms of the project management, I struggled with this considerably. Balancing cost with content and design is a really difficult thing to do especially being so close to a project. The design agency did the project probono so I felt as if I had to take on this role, which I would have preferred to outsource. The first few versions that came back were out of my price range which put considerable pressure eon the project. This meant that I decided to run the indiegogo campaign o raise the extra funds needed for the book. On reflection, I still think the book came out over budget, as I would have liked o have been able to sell them for around the £20 price bracket which in the end was the price I set for the resale price on the crowdfunding page. Trying to work out how much to sell them for along with trying to work out the quality of the paper etc for such a short run of books (Edition of 100) meant that there were some things that needed to be disregarded from the original design. This was mainly to do with the quality of the paper and the colours of the card cover. A few different options were delivered to me with some samples from various paper sellers to look at and I fell in love with he Orange called Plike which ended up being a very expensive option.

To round up a project management garble above, This has been an incredible learning curve for me in terms of production experience. I will still continue to look at book options as I do love the printed page and I think especially with work dealing with albums and family history I think its important to keep the printed book alive.

Moving forward - Future Plans

Coming to the end of the MA programme leaves with a certain level of panic due tot he wide range of options of what to do next and in what order to do them. I have certainly engaged more with the idea of further education which really wasn’t the plan when I started out on this MA in Photography. I think a large part of it is being a part of an academic setting. The face to face events we have been to, working with other students in a real life situation rather than online has made me realise that I really do thrive in that setting so want to do something moving forward that feeds that.

A PGCHE is another option so that I am able to teach in higher education which I would love to do in the future. This would mean going straight into another online course for a year which has its down falls. A part of me wants a break first.

The other option is working towards a PHD. I have sen a very interesting paid PHD studentship through Brighton University and the Kodak archive which would be absolutely perfect for me. With further research into eh archive of the iconic photography business, I would gain valuable experience in handling archives and working in the setting of the museum.

In terms of where my practise is going, I have some ideas for further projects involving the archives. One being a project in search of someone in a photograph I have found in a sea cadet manual. I think I shall always now be informed by the archive, and the physicality of the photograph both old and new. I would like to show that in my work and possibly use this in new ways moving forward with project exhibitions.

I would also like to show Ipseity in a few more settings in some kind of tour. I have plans to show it later on in the year in bath in the chapel I had hoped to use for my FMP show. I also have the graduate show where I need to work out a way of showing the project within the constraints of an A2 page, which is going to be a challenging project.

I also now feel like I have the tie to read some of the books I was only able to skim through in the past few months. I have recently bought a couple of new books to look at and I will see what I take from them with my work moving forward.

Exhibition - Reflections

You can view a gallery of images showing the exhibition installation here.

A more succinct response to the project as a whole can be seen in my Critical Review of Practise where there is critical reflection and notes on specific inspirations. This is more of an overview of how I thought it went and what was achieved.

Planning, Installing and executing a photograph exhibition is a much harder task than I had first thought. Firstly having to create the work, print, frame and then hang a show alongside designing a book has been rather difficult. Not having the project finished to then work on designs for both the exhibition and the book delayed some aspects of the process. I initially met with design Studio Honest to talk about the book design. they asked immediately if I could send over the images for them to work on, and it was at this point I realised this was going to be a rather different workflow than we had all been used to. I was juggling the actual photographic investigation as well as the book design and then the website design all at once, and I think the actual project suffered for this reason in some ways.

I have always called this investigation one that is ongoing, but I think there are always going to be natural pauses to theses kind of works, and I’m still not sure I reached the place that I had wanted to in this particular area of the investigation. I would have like to have more sound recordings of conversations, perhaps delving into different areas of my grandmother’s past. An area I think I had wanted to touch on but didn’t was Sarah and her death in 9/11. This might be something that I come back to in another project moving forward.

I think my practise has moved on quite considerably from working on this project. My consideration into other elements of the archive apart from photographs has become an interest to me. I never realised before working on Ipseity that I would be excited about sound recordings and artefacts from archives. This leads me to think that the PHD route I have mentioned in another post might be the correct route for me to gain some museum experience. I also reached a critical point in my actual photograph making. The series of silverware objects (as talked about in my CRoP) were made at a point of wanting to record rather than to make photographs which I feel is two different practises. However, my natural photographic style has always leaned towards hard flash and snapshot style images since reading about the intimate life work in Charlotte Cottons Photography as Contemporary Art book. I think I have now reached comfortable point in my work where I know where I sit aesthetically and can just make work now without worrying about whether its being made in my style or not. I think this worry and constant comparison to other makers through Instagram and the internet in general is really unhealthy as it changes the natural way one developed in themselves, which I think is a problem with the constant stream of images we are subjected to.

Moving back to the exhibition, I think there are some key points that I have learnt from this exercise. Firstly the key to a strong installation is to have a team of people helping you. I had a good friend of mine Rachel help me with my installation and I really couldn’t have done it without her. As I had been working on my book design and the website I think I failed to spend the item necessary to plan the layout thoroughly enough. I had made a model of the exhibitions pace but the foamed I made it on started to warp and so I spent so much tie re gluing it together I gave up in the end. It was whilst it lasted a good tool for showing people my plans at the face to face event in Falmouth.

As this is an ongoing investigation I struggled at times to work out how I was to curate this show. The last minute addition of the cabinet image really helped with he flow of the room. I think without it the show would have been a little ‘flat’. It gavotte viewer an immediate aspect to peer into and then read the description of the show behind. This image I feel to now be one of the strongest in the series, but I don’t think however it fits aesthetically with he remainder father set, so for my hand in it may not be present.

Future Dementia workshop ideas

Only last week when I was rounding up the module in my head and thinking about what to do next, I realised that this FMP has been a sort of Phototherapy for my grandmother. I had previously been asked to write a workshop of this project and so I think moving forward I am going to seek some help form someone in the arts and health field an write a workshop based around family albums and the power of the photograph for dementia patients. I think this could be a really nice tool to sit and talk about old images or perhaps make new ones as well. Something to think about for the future…

I’m going to start by contacting dementia Partnerships for some guidance on what would be appropriate to include /exclude from such a workshop. https://dementiapartnerships.com

Ipseity Exhibition Review - Veronica Viacava

‘Ipseity’ (from Latin: ‘ipse’ self) is the title of Anthony Prothero’s exhibition that recently took place at the Four Corners Gallery as a culmination of his master’s studies.

It is an intimate exploration of the family photograph and its fascinating connection with memory, time and the personal archive. The human need of preserving - and understanding - the past is highlighted here with a curated selection of family snapshots, photographs, a moving image piece and a recorded conversation between the photographer and his grandmother whose memories are at the core of his investigation.

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Following the ancient technique of the ‘arts of memories’, he traces the roots of his identity by recollecting his grandmother’s memoirs, interlinking them to the geographical map of the ‘Holy Land’ where his family went on pilgrimage every year. Gathering different sources, he reconstructs a past he has never lived but that has undoubtedly shaped his present.

While walking around the room, it is almost impossible to not think that - independently from its referent - a photograph always reminds us of death; images depicting Anthony’s family are framed and curated through-out the room and I naturally relate to each single frame: my grandmother used to wear a similar dress while picking flowers in the garden, my grandfather used to take pictures on vacation. I am then reminded of Fiona Tan’s installation ‘Vox Populi’, a set of framed vernacular images taken from various families and curated according to their content. ‘Vox Populi’ enhances the similarities of the family photo album by grouping the images in common subsets.

I indulge on a portrait of three women on the beach, the horizon almost equally splits the image in two halves. I am intrigued by the girl turning her back to the photographer, she seems bored by the camera. As I wonder who she is, I am also aware the photograph itself will never fully disclose this information, it is a message without a code1.

'The cabinet of curiosities’ piece that is carefully positioned in the middle of the main room consists of an enlarged photograph of the peculiar collection of objects that sparked Prothero’s fascination. Objects of any nature can be found under the thin glass such as binoculars, hair brushes and odd silverware. Not casually, ‘the cabinet of curiosities’ image is placed inside a glass cabinet reminding us the material quality of the photograph and resembling the way the objects were originally curated and displayed by the collector.

A framed portrait lies in the left corner of the gallery echoing the materiality of the image once again while in the opposite corner we find an inviting pink armchair and a pair of headphones. The recorded audio piece is a conversation between the artist and his grandmother about a found photograph of Father John Hooper, an Anglo-Catholic priest who played a key role in Prothero’s grandparents lives.

The following still life photographs portray a set of silverware conserved by Sue - Anthony’s grandmother - with the intent of passing it on to him after her death. This photographs aesthetically differ from the rest of the exhibition as the use of the flash and the conscious choice of a consistent white background disclose the photographer’s identity. Prothero’s immediacy in photographing these objects is driven by a need of preserving the present that is instantly becoming past.

The video piece entitled ‘Sue & David’s Wedding Video, 1966/2019’ is projected in a separate darker room. The VHS cassette has been digitally edited by the artist according to his grandmother’s reactions while watching the original video: every frame she admitted she had forgotten has been taken out and replaced with a single white frame emphasising the use of the personal archive as a prothesis of memory.

The limited edition book comes in a archival envelope recalling the key themes of the exhibition and it includes personal reflections of the artist, a transcript of the audio piece and a postcard of the map of Israel as seen by Prothero in his grandfather’s diary.

Despite the intimate nature of the work, the viewer is guided by the nostalgic aura of the vernacular photographs presented; as the resemblances of the Western photo album come to the surface,Ipseity has the power to engage any spectator.

1 Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida

Damian Sutton - Photography, Cinema, Memory

Visited in previous modules, Damian Sutton has been an incredible influence to my ideas surrounding the duration of the image. Some more recent highlights below that have sparked new curiosity with duration.

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Reflection on this project as it comes to a pause.

Being a photographer, someone working with visual material, I have always communicated my emotions through my presentation of the image. I was recently asked by a critic to explain what this project was about, and I struggled to put it into words.

Something happened recently, which put this journey into perspective. I was given a large generous donation to support the creation of this project into book form. The donation was from the daughter of my childhood babysitter, who I was very fond of and have many happy memories as a child and a young adult. I visited her in hospital around 3 years ago. This had been the first time in 20 years I had seen Beatie, and was to be the last. Although visually aimed at my grandmothers archive, I suppose it is the connection I had with this elderly lady is what my project is about. It's the connections we make with people and place, and the memories that are created. It is these components of our history that creates the people we are today. The memories created and maintained through photographs give us context.

Marquettes

This image of Sarah is one that I have had difficulty knowing what to do with and where it fits into he narrative. This is just a little layout of where I see this image working on the wall of the gallery space.

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Techniques adopted by this investigation

Making

This final major project has involved a series of stages that have brought together various aspects of my identity. Firstly, the active processes of preservation and reworking of images was a significant  part of the process to demonstrate how memory and postmemory works. Through working with old physical photographs, I came to realise that an important part of my process was to preserve the image. I did this through creating visual copies which were then digitally archived. In addition to this archival process, I felt the inclination to leave my own stamp on the image through digital editing. Delaying the deterioration and changing the course of the narrative to a new direction.


Editing

What images go with each other and why?

During the conversations with Sue, an element of editing took place whilst talking and looking at various objects. Some were picked up and looked at briefly then moved to one side to make way for something that had triggered a story or a stronger memory. This was the first edition that took place. Next once I had gathered all the material I wished to use in this investigation there was another edit as to what I should print. This was quite a tight edit as the financial factor also took place then. I shall talk about the finances of the project in another post later on.

Display

Arts of Memory technique in the gallery (Map on the wall). I’m thinking about using the map from the back of my grandfathers bible as a vinyl wall graphic at the exhibition. I want to adopt more of a contemporary feel tot he show where there are layers and different levels of work to consume. One thing I have really learnt about so far is talking to various printers about possible outcomes is about print sizes and pixels etc which I never realised was different to that of photography sizes and dimensions.