2: Informing Contexts

Reflection from this module on Practise.

Reflecting on my photographic journey from last module tot his, I feel very much that my work is being pushed and pulled between conceptual photography looking at memory and imagination, and more commercial work aimed at getting commissions. This constant flux between the two I think has almost stifled the development in both areas. Moving forward I want to try and amalgamate these two outcomes into one style that works for both editorial and in the context of the gallery.

Mainly it is the description of Southam's work by Gerry Badger which you can read about here that has informed my work to date. "Connection, Memory and History are key points for my evolving work from now on.

 Memoryscapes, 2018 Anthony Prothero

Memoryscapes, 2018 Anthony Prothero

This images above is one I do really like but was left out of the final edit as the aesthetics of it didn't fit with he other images I had already selected. It maybe that I return here again in the future and this scene would be better matched with less abstract and perhaps some portraits.

However,I feel the work in progress portfolio I have edited and submitted is some of my strongest work to date.I don't feel I have investigated this area of interest as intensely as possible, as I think to submerge myself in the area I want to photograph in the future for longer periods of time would produce stronger work and a wider edit. 

Interms of where I take inspiration from I feel after reading some interviews with Letinsky, who is very articulate about her influences, I think I need to try and read more and to take influence form other photographers less. Reading will inform ideas rather than aesthetics. This currently is stifling my own style progression.

On the topic of memory, Dr Emily Orley talks about how, “James Joyce scribbled the words 'places remember events' in the margin of his notes for Ulysses.”(Orley, 2012:1) I hope to explore in the future the intriguing notion that the places I have photographed could have multiple memories. In some way this would be flipping the investigation around to almost a view of people from the landscapes point of view.

Imagine Finding Me - Chino Otsuka

Interested in the relationship between the past and the present I revisited Otsuka's Imagine Finding Me book project. 

Otsuka’s constructed realities of both past and present self-portraits comment on her cultural identity, as well as offering the viewer to consider their own past and present self. 

These images clearly reference the machine printed snap and the aesthetic of the snapshot.

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Georgoi Morandi - The Essence of the Landscape

I would now like to follow on from reading Shores text on the nature of the photograph, and in particular the frame of the image. I wanted to look at how the similar processes worked in relation to that of the painter. Georgio Morandi also used the ideas of the frame to decide what is to be included or left out of his painting. 

 Morandi's Viewfinder  https://bit.ly/2HE4Hdm

Morandi's Viewfinder https://bit.ly/2HE4Hdm

His paintings I find in the similar style to contemporary painter and friend of mine Sam Heath

I found his use of colour and form were not dissimilar with the close up view of my landscapes. These views showing observation of shapes and forms and less of the whole landscape scene.

Pictures Trigger Memory

 Untitled, 2018 Anthony Prothero

Untitled, 2018 Anthony Prothero

Here Chen makes interesting observations aboutthe process of photographing to remember when she references her research into "whether or not taking photographs enhances our experiences or distracts us from them". This is something I am really interested in currently. The idea that we are actually losing out on remembering things because we are too bust recording them on devices. In other words we are actually reliant on the lens to record for us as we are beginning to not remember. 

 

Hinkel did similar studies around the act of photographing to remember. This involved two separate groups recording what they do and don't remember. Half given cameras to use and half did not have a camera. The ones with the cameras remembered less than the group who photographed the objects. Hinkel's research "highlights key differences between people’s memory and the camera’s “memory”.

I'm getting increasingly interested in the scientific motivation behind this act of photographing to remember. 

Further reading below. 

Bibliography

Chen, J. (2018). How Taking Photos Affects Your Memory of the Moment Later On. [online] The Cut. Available at: https://www.thecut.com/2017/08/how-taking-photos-affects-your-memory.html [Accessed 22 Apr. 2018].

Glaser, D. (2018). Why Pictures Trigger buried memories much faster than words. [online] Theguardian.com. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/dec/18/pictures-trigger-memories-faster-than-words-neuroscientist [Accessed 11 Apr. 2018].

 

A Naturalistic representation (Allen, 1975:144)

From readsingWanted to try a shallower depth of field than most landscape photographers would use to focus the viewers attention on a single area of the image. When the human eye focuses on an object or scene, only that plane of focus is sharp. Things in the foreground and things in infinity are out of focus. I wanted to therefor show things in a "naturalistic representation" (Allen, 1975:144).

 Wolfgang Tillmans, astro crusto,a, 2012. ©WOLFGANG TILLMANS

Wolfgang Tillmans, astro crusto,a, 2012. ©WOLFGANG TILLMANS

Whilst visiting the subject of what the eye can see, Wolfgang Tillmans talks about how he has avoided as much as possible the use of digital cameras with extreme clarity, preferring to use a 35mm film camera. “I try to reduce the visibility of the medium,” he says of his photographs. “I want them to look easy, to make the viewer not think about me first.” (Tillmans, 17.02.2017)

From the point of view of my practise, I feel this humanistic representation of the scene would work particularly well with scene fo memory. Rather than a busy picture where there is almost too much to look at I would prefer there to be some soft, empty space for the viewer to have the space and breadth to recall their own memories.

Bibliography

ARTnews, T. (2018). From the Archives: Wolfgang Tillmans's Deceptively Casual Photography -. [online] ARTnews. Available at: http://www.artnews.com/2017/02/17/from-the-archives-wolfgang-tillmanss-deceptively-casual-photography/ [Accessed 28 Apr. 2018].

Allen, J. S. a. N. W., 1975. Photography, Vision and Representation. Critical Inquiry, Autumn, 2(1), p. 143–169.

 

Landscape and Memory - Ken Taylor

‘Any landscape is a condition of the spirit’ Henri Frédéric Amiel

 Untitled from Memoryscape series 2018 Anthony Prothero

Untitled from Memoryscape series 2018 Anthony Prothero

 

Taylor has some very interesting points that I feel are almost the backbone of my interrogation into the relationship between the camera and our memory. Early on in this investigation I didn't have the critical thinking nor a real reason for what I was doing. Taylors text has given me a stronger idea of the whats and whys of my work. 

This sense place Taylor talks about is the reason for the location of my work. I think its very important to have a personal sense of the space you exist within, and to also know where one has come from and what and where has formed the identity of the person we/I am today. I think this area of the county I am working in at the moment is a very special place to me both aesthetically and to with this identity I have talked about. The landscape series that is developing form this place is a very small part of the investigation I want to develop later in my practise. 

 

Bibliography

Taylor, K., n.d. Landscape and Memory. [Online] 
Available at: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/mow/mow_3rd_international_conference_ken_taylor_en.pdf

 

Tom Hunter - Traveller

Aesthetically, Hunters work isn't very closely connected to my own, nor much of an inspiration in that way. However, I am interested in his almost reflective journey of images he uses in this project. I imagine these images as a sort of scrap book of a memory, almost int he same way I described how Chino Otsuka used the photograph as memory.

 This is my old double-decker bus © Tom Hunter                           http://bit.ly/2FO0VhK

This is my old double-decker bus © Tom Hunter                          http://bit.ly/2FO0VhK

Site specific photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Hunter, T. (2018). Travellers | Tom Hunter. [online] Tomhunter.org. Available at: http://www.tomhunter.org/travellers/ [Accessed 2 Mar. 2018].

Our experience of the world is always through the limited viewfinder of our attention.

“The processes of memory are inherently linked to those of attention. Without the focus of attention, information will not be encoded into our working memory, much less integrated into our autobiographical memory. Our experience of the world is always through the limited viewfinder of our attention.” - Patricia Marcella Anwandter
Gooderington_1.jpg

Although there isn't really a way for me to completely describe why this text caught my eye, certainly the last line talking about how our exepreinces of the world are limited to what we can focus on. This focus isn't talking about the focus we talk about in terms of the lens on the camera but the focus of our brain.

I have a very short attention span, which some say is to do with my Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia. My short term memory is very bad. However my long term memory is very good and I remember the smallest details from what Jeff Wall calls 'occurrences'  that took place years ago.

Perhaps in the development of what my work currently is about there is something by way of a comment on my own attention to detail and the occurrences that I remember as a child. I am now questioning my methods to date with this work and thinking how I am to illustrate this fact.

 

Image Review so far

Here are some initial scans from my negatives. My choice to photograph Cole below is down to that fact he is the same age as I was when I left Devon. I thought including some images of him both engaged with my memory strand as well as continuing form the last module with my portraiture in an almost editorial style. I think they work really well now they have been scanned and colour balanced.

I feel some of the landscape images haven't really worked very well with this project. The close up images of details of plants etc seem to work better together with he portraits. This weekend I shall be revisiting the same area and will be photographing people I meet on the street. It maybe an idea for me to include some sound recordings which is something that came up from a tutorial yesterday, however I really wanted this to be a solid photographic project and the idea of anything taking away any of the emphasis of the images puts me off a little. Perhaps a thought for the future.

In terms of my actual idea of the work, I am somewhat deflated by my ideas with his work. at the start I had a very clear vision of the project and how I was going to implement it but it doesn't seem to be going the way I want it to. 

I am however really pleased with he portraits as I mentioned above and I also really like some of the details below, as possibly a diptych or triptych perhaps.

Decoy_4.jpg

Looking at the series of mages I have there doesn't seem to be any kind of aesthetic grouping of them. Perhaps these three work as a triptych and maybe the portrait at the top can join in here somewhere. I feel like the lack of any kind of urban location or any evidence of a man made structure is what is letting these images down at present.

Recalling In The New Village, Spinks very nicely made the balance between portraits, details and landscapes or urbanscapes.

Decoy_7.jpg
Decoy_3.jpg

Contact Sheets

Firstly If you haven't already read it then there is a post here about Process.

I feel I have been far more critically aware since the start of this module and I feel the choices I have made to do with he process of making this work have been informed mainly by reading about the work of mainly two photographers, John Spinks and Jem Southam. 

I have written a post about John Spinks work which you can read here. However to sum up he talks about using the large format camera for his project The New Village. There is a very different process using large format because of the length of time it takes to make the image.

"It’s a different kind of – I’m trying hard not to say consciousness – but that sort of thing." (Spinks, 2017)

Although due to firstly not owning one and secondly the cost of film and developing for large format I made the decision to stick with medium format but with the largest medium format negative possible. The 6x9 negative from a Fuji Rangefinder. I chose this camera also because it doesn't have a built in light meter so again I would need to emerge myself in the landscape to take the correct light meter readings to set the camera. ( Not getting it right every time yet).

This work is all about recalling memories and travelling over the ground Ive walked in the past. I wanted the actual process of making the images to be slower so I had the time to reflect on the place whilst making the work. Also because of the size of the negative you only get 8 frames on a roll of 120 film. I have both likes and dislikes for this. I like it because It means that a real human choice needs to be made before making the image. Is it exactly as I want it? Have I included and excluded the information I want? These are now very important questions when you don't have a memory card you can fill up with images. I dislike it due to the expense per image.   

 Contact Sheet #1, Anthony Prothero, 2018

Contact Sheet #1, Anthony Prothero, 2018

There are certainly some images which are far more successful than others but overall I am happy with this first batch of negatives. It seems my light metering skills are a little out still as there are certainly some that are overexposed. There were also some of the places I visited which were far more aesthetically pleasing than others although they may not have had the same emory status to me. 

On a brief reflection of the images in these contact sheets overall, I feel the portraits of Cole in contact sheet 4 are the strongest of the series. A little more detail of why I chose Cole will come later on.

Other images which I found more aesthetically pleasing were the close up details in the landscape. I didn't find the wider shots to be so pleasing to the eye and actually it is the closer up images that resonate with me on a far more personal level in terms of the memories they hold. 

I have written another post about the Landscape and Memory here.

 Contact Sheet #2, Anthony Prothero, 2018

Contact Sheet #2, Anthony Prothero, 2018

Thinking back to the actual making of the images, the process of finding these little pockets of memory amongst the landscape have really made me look at the smaller details in the landscape. These which in some ways, could be a metaphor for daily life. I feel like especially living in a busy city, that life goes past so quickly and actually to spend some quiet time in the natural landscape slows things down and gives you time to think. In my case time to re think about memories of childhood in Devon and walking the same paths I did for this series. 

Below are some of my favourite images in terms of there aesthetic value but actually also for the stories they hold. I'm now thinking about whether the stories should be part of the work or actually whether the images hold just be triggers for the viewer to think about their own memories, which may make the project stronger. 

 Contact Sheet #3, Anthony Prothero, 2018

Contact Sheet #3, Anthony Prothero, 2018

 Contact Sheet #4, Anthony Prothero, 2018

Contact Sheet #4, Anthony Prothero, 2018

As well as Cole being my kind of nephew, the other reason I chose to make some portraits of him are because of his age. I was exactly the same age when I left Devon and moved to Bath with my family. More of the story can be found in this post here.

To jog my memory I wanted to spend some time with him in his natural landscape around his home and did this just before going off on my own to make some of the landscape images above.  

 Contact Sheet #5, Anthony Prothero, 2018

Contact Sheet #5, Anthony Prothero, 2018

Some of the images I feel are too literal and  don't really fit with what I want to say. I spent some time in the grave yard in the village nearby where my Aunt Sarah is buried. Sarah was the focus of a previous body of work focusing on notions of family, imagination and ultimately Loss after she died in 9/11. I feel this ha been covered now and I don't want to continue down that path. However, there is one image of 'her' view from her gravestone one the top of the church which I really love. When I made that image I sat there for an hour or so just watching and recalling various times during my childhood. Again, and something which I touched on in the last module was that a great deal of my personal work is more about the process of making than the end result. 

Bibliography

Paper-journal.com. (2018). John Spinks – Studio Visit « Paper Journal. [online] Available at: http://paper-journal.com/john-spinks-studio-visit/#.Wse-dmaZPUI [Accessed 6 Apr. 2018].

Jem Southam

I have ben really interested in Southam's work for the past few years. Firstly because of the predominant location fo his work. I am from the same area in Devon where much of Southam's work is made. His practise is made in a far more rigid, classical construction than my snap shot photographs. However I have been looking at his work for process based inspiration. His interview with Andrew Nadolski talking about his "big bulky camera" was intriguing. 

Due to financial restraints I have been unable to look at using a large format camera for this work , but I like the idea of being informed by the slow pace in which a large format photograph is made. This slower approach gives more time to look and take in the scene. This time I think will influence the image made. 

Looking at the focus of the images, I still don't particularly like the way the more traditional landscape photographers use such a small aperture so as to include all the information possible with sharp detail from front to back. This for me is unrealistic and I personally struggle to look at the whole scene as on one plane of focus. 

Workington-Harbour.jpg

South talks about the time he makes his images. A similar time of day is used for a certain few months of the year where the light is exactly correct. This will be the factor that creates the same aesthetic in all his images. 

jem-column.jpg
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37-copy.jpg

Through reading about Southam's process of making I really would like tot ry using a large format camera. At the moment I have only been able to use a fuji 6x9 rangefinder which still had the largest size of negative for all medium format cameras. The camera has no internal light meter so the process is automatically slowed down by either using a hand held meter of by using the light meter in a digital SLR. I found this approach almost too slow as I wasn't producing images that had the same snapshot aesthetic as my work had previously. 

"LOOKING THROUGH THAT SCREEN AT THE INVERTED IMAGE, CLOTH OVER THE HEAD, OFTEN BALANCING ON A LADDER, IS AN ENTHRALLING THING TO DO" - Jem Southam

Bibliography

Southam, J. a. N., 2013. Stories from the land. [Online]
Available at: https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2013/03/jem-southam-interview/
[Accessed 22nd March 2018].

Portraits, Landscapes and Still Life Images of Alec Soth

Other than the aesthetic beauty of Soth's images especially in his Niagara project, I look to this body of work for some kind of influence in editing and ordering my work. I had started out thinking this work would be a series like Soths and Spinks of Portraits, Landscapes and Still lives. However, As I returned to the area by the lake in Newton Abbott time after time, I was more closely intrigued by the landscape. The forms of the bushes in front of the trees and the lonely petals in the foreground against a back drop of foliage. 

 Aleisha and Joe 2004, Alec Soth -  https://bit.ly/1BRIgGk

Aleisha and Joe 2004, Alec Soth - https://bit.ly/1BRIgGk

 Falls 26, Alec Soth -  https://bit.ly/1BRIgGk

Falls 26, Alec Soth - https://bit.ly/1BRIgGk

 Two Towels, Alec Soth -  https://bit.ly/1BRIgGk

Two Towels, Alec Soth - https://bit.ly/1BRIgGk