1: Positions & Practice

Excerpts from Research Project Proposal

Module 1 Assignment: Research Proposal

Work in Progress title:  [My Grandmothers] imaginary museum

Research Objectives

“A Presence inert to time and space, it’s not so much an image as the trace of the act of seeing” 

(Graham Clarke, The Photograph, 221)

Is the act of seeing the same as the act of remembering? Am I meticulously recording my grandmothers possessions along with their stories so as I can remember? Or are these images I am making for the viewer to make their own judgements about? These are all questions I intend to spend the next three modules researching, investigating, making and taking to come closer to resolving.

Taken from work in progress portfolio, Anthony Prothero, 2017

Taken from work in progress portfolio, Anthony Prothero, 2017

One takes a photograph in the present in order to be able to look back on that moment and remember, reflect and treasure in the future. Modern day memory making is now more accessible and frequently used at the touch of a button on our phones…which makes me wonder whether the meaning of photographing for memory has changed over time. We now use technology and social media as a way to archive our memories, sharing them with people, but do they hold the same weight of meaning, emotion and importance when they are so frequently showcased and so easily accessible? These photographs and artefacts that my grandmother has collected over time have such a significant meaning and sentiment to not only her as a record of her entire life but also to that of my growing up as her grandson and the accumulation of my own memories.   

However, I believe that this collection encourages personal reflection of ‘memories’ and family history for that of an objective viewer. The museum like way in which she has displayed these moments in her past is as if they are exposed to whomever wants to look closer, observe and ultimately reflect themselves. 

Through my practise I am not adding to, but taking on the role of preserving my family album. I have spent a great deal of time looking closely and inspecting the traits and the characteristicsof the already cemented images in our familyalbum. Charlotte Cottons description of the snapshot aesthetic (which is where my fascination for the archived image and the family album derived from) runs true with many of the images I have looked at both on the walls and in the cabinet, when she talks about the …. “out of kilter framing, blur, uneven flashlight, the colouration of the machine rented snap…” (Cotton, C) All aspects of the modern day family album which will be lost with perfect digital copies stored on the cloud or on hard disks in computers. The tangible object is slowly dying out to be replaced by pixels of memories. It is for this reason Its incredibly important to me that the end product of this works is to be a tangible object in the form of a hand made book and exhibition. If I get to exhibit the work I want the viewer to be faced with questions about aspect and size which I have reflected in my work in progress portfolio submission through displaying the dimensions I intend the printed images to be. I would like to look at ways of displaying the work online which could mirror the viewers response to the images as if on the wall of the gallery. 

Further research with regards to output of the work will involve looking at dedicated website hosts that have a zoom function to be able to look inside the cabinet in close detail as well as the possibility of VR tour software to see the work. Although there is a strong possibility this will end up looking too much of a gimmick; but this is something I would like to explore.

Fox Talbot talked about “Photography’s museological dimension”. My grandmothers house has a definitive parallel to this relationship between photography and the museum. All items are displayed for the viewer to see in a shrine like appearance. Maybe this is somehow linked to the fact that my grandmother has always lived in vicarages and rectories because of my grandfathers role as priest? Again this will form another thread of my research.

I would like to continue the idea of collaboration whether it with the viewer or with my grandmother or both. I was recently introduced to the collaborative project Vox Populi by Fiona Tan where collaboration is at the heart of the work which has asked further questions about the idea of collaboration and how it could work later on…

From this, and as I develop the work and increase my understanding of my research, I plan to look further into post photography. …”Given the abundance of pre-existing visual material in our hyper-documented world…” ( Allison Meier ) 

 

Questions/ thoughts raised so far

 - What it is I am looking for?

- Who is the work for / My Audience / Output

- What is Post Photography?

- Ideas surrounding the Archivist and the Photographer

- Photography and the museum?

- Viewer participation

- Is the work more about its output and the role of the viewer?

 

Resources

General -

Gallery and museum visits - Houses turned into Museums - ie Anne Frank’s house/museum http://www.annefrank.org/en/Museum/From-hiding-place-to-museum/Saved-from-demolition/

Falmouth University Student support - To Improve reading skills as there will be a great deal more reading of theories and philosophy to underpin my ideas and image making. 

National Science and media museum 

https://www.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk

Foam Museum workshop programme.

https://www.foam.org/museum/programme

 

Research -     

Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC)

http://www.photographyresearchcentre.co.uk

Photographic History Research centre 

http://www.dmu.ac.uk/research/research-faculties-and-institutes/art-design-humanities/phrc/photographic-history-research-centre-phrc.aspx    

 

Bookmaking -

London Centre for Book Arts 

http://www.londonbookarts.org

Bookworks 

https://www.bookworks.org.uk/bookbinding-binders/

 

Schedule

I shall be spending approximately 25 hours per week working on this investigation depending on freelance commitments. As I don't live near my family I will be travelling home as often as both time and financial restraints allow. A major part for me so far has been the opening up of a dialogue about the work, my grandmothers possessions, and stories about my ancestors with both my grandmother herself and my mother. This will continue throughout the investigation and wont be included in the schedule as it will be such a fluid continuous process.

Sustainable Prospects will look at why I am making this work and what is my responsibility to the audience and also to my grandmotherand other family members as collaborators. I will start to look at the contemporary photographic market and how I can advertise this work to potential galleries and how it will aid my commercial photographic career. As I hope in the future to work in higher education teaching photography I hope to get some experience talking about my work both in its theoretical and physical placingsto gain experience in talking publicly and also in aiding other students with their work. 

Informing Contexts will give me the space, enthusiasm and guidance to really underpin my practice within philosophical, theoretical and critical theory. I will look at the relationship between Memory and Photography, Historiography and why we make photographs in the structure of the family album. The familial hierarchy or authorship where in particular Freud talks about the patri, matri, and sibling archive. Where do I fit into this hierarchy as grandson? Is this a different kind of authorship as I am really rephotographing images that have already been made. 

The Surfaces and strategies module will be spent looking at the output of the work. This will be mainly the investigation of the book binding and large format printing processes. I will be exploring how my audience will view my work and what level of audience participation there will be as I would like it to be more of a multi-sensory experience in some shape or form. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herbert James Prothero - The Gazette 1957

After making a photograph of the cigarette case belonging to my great great grandfather in the cabinet I wanted to see what else I could find out. Tracing my Great Great Grandfather has been quite a challenge but I just came across this Gazette supplement from 1957 where his name came up. Yet to find out what it is referring too but exciting to find a document referring to him by name and number. 

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/41089/supplement/3396/data.pdf

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/41089/supplement/3396/data.pdf

Fiona Tan: Vox Populi, London

The Photographers' Gallery has commissioned Fiona Tan to make London the focus of the fifth and final installment of her Vox Populi series.

Following her work in Norway, Sydney, Tokyo and Switzerland, Tan is now using the photograph albums of Londoners. The artist is selecting up to 300 images from these albums to be scanned. These will become a wall-based installation to be exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery, as well as an artist's publication.

This work will present a collective image of London, calling into question how we choose to represent ourselves, and how we consume the representation of each other.

photonet.org.uk/index.php?pid=599

Interview filmed January 2012

© The Photographers' Gallery

University of Bath Portrait Paintings

Why so formal?

I really love these portrait paintings. After working at the University for nearly 3 years as a photographer I have seen first hand the formal style of images they require and have even written into a document for freelance photographers describing portrait poses and depth of field etc. These paintings have almost exactly the same formality to them as many of the photographs taken of the Vice Chancellors at the university... Just caught my eye and found it quite interesting. 

What creates a formal style of image making?

What is Critical Theory and why does it matter?

Critical theories underpin our ideas when making work. They connect our work to the work of other practitioners, and In my own practise theory pushes me to investigate further and helps me to define my goals. As far as why does it matter? Personally, without thinking critically and theoretically whilst making and developing work, I don't think there would be purpose nor direction to what I/the maker is doing.

Tutorial Reflection 13/07/2017

After missing a few sessions with Gary it was a great chance to refocus my practise and to think about a path forward with my research. 

The Cabinet of Curiosities, Anthony Prothero, 2017

The Cabinet of Curiosities, Anthony Prothero, 2017

Initial Thoughts/Dicussion from the tutorial

The image above was taken whilst photographing my grandparents house just after my grandmother was taken into hospital. Acting as more of the observer thant he photographer I recorded the position and state of indevudlal items in their living room so as to archive their possessions. 

This act of recording was very different to the constructed images I made after the death of my Aunt as I was fast moved from New York on September 11th so the work was made form a distance with time and thought over each image.

This new work was very much at the scene, and is a portrait of my grandmother without having to have her in the images. Its an investigatory works of preservation. The weaving together of feelings and emotions in the family surrounding her illness.  This close up of the cabinet which Gary called "The Cabinet of Curiosities" is honing in on the sub stories of my grandmother.

These stories are far less penetrable than the memories and the imaginations I created in my previous work post tragedy. The images int he cabinet have far more layers and this image is charged by the story about he moment the image was made rather than just what the image is made about. 

Gary gave me an example of the Tsunami where photographers went and took photographs of the suspended time after it had hit. The camera in this instance was there after the time had been suspended by the environment rather than the usual considerations hat the camera with its shutter is what suspends time. 

Photography has a responsibility of suspending time to record a moment for us.

Post tragedy the camera role isn't to suspend but to record .

The cabinet of curiosities is a suspension off time in my grandparents home, of their life and something that the camera can't do. So because of this has my role in making this work changed form the photographer to more of the role of curator. This moment of time was already suspended beneath the glass of the cabinet and the arrival of my camera has only recorded this suspended state.

These images are no less powerful than a post tragedy image of my previous work which was far removed from the actual event, but the power i think comes from the moment it was taken. Out of control of the situation and with the moment already suspended by my grandmother through her archiving my camera could only record.

Further Ideas for my research project.

look at photo mapping. To create a pictorial map of the cabinet of Curiosities. Perhaps in some way to document the stories that go along with each image.

Does the project take on the role of the investigator? Meticulously recording the size shape and location of every image int he cabinet as some kind of archived record? Perhaps the story of each item can be partnered with its image in the cabinet to form a large mapping of the memories. 

Research into Photobooks: The restoration Will

 

Further reading:

Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis Paperback – 1 Dec 2011

by Geoffrey Batchen (Editor), Mick Gidley (Editor), Nancy K. Miller  (Editor), Jay Prosser (Editor)

A Letter to my past

My Grandmother told me that she was born near to where I now live in North London. I decided to send a letter to her old address to see if the new occupiers would let me visit to photograph them and the house. This could be the start of a new direction for my research into people I am linked to in some way? 

Reminds me of Sophie Calle's work where she follows strangers, hires private investigators and ultimately is looking into connections. 

A letter to my Past, Anthony Prothero 2017

A letter to my Past, Anthony Prothero 2017

A previous post where I found her house on Google Street View:

https://anthony-prothero-crj.squarespace.com/blog/2017/6/19/104-malford-grove