3. Surfaces & Strategies

Peer perception

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A few days ago I sent a copy of my newspaper design to friend and peer Philip Singleton to see what his initial thoughts were on my work as a product and where he thought if fitted theoretically. I find it so interesting different perceptions of the same images - some of Philips thoughts to follow with some further ideas as reply from myself in italics.

PS: Why a newspaper?  The medium suggests temporal rather than a zine or book or other?  Just asking rationale….

AP: The idea or desire to place this work in the form of a newspaper came initially from artist Gerhard Richter, who for one day was invited tot take over the Die Zeit newspaper replacing the daily chaos with his moments of calm. This images were soon after placed alongside stories in  book form. It was these storied which I felt to be a very personal thing to attach to images that were not apart of the initial story. This gave me the idea that perhaps memories did not need to be attached tot heir original image. In the past I have constructed new images relating to past memory through mainly landscape endeavour, where the landscape was the trigger for memoriam. Through this work, I felt it to be something quite different. The images I made were an image of today or yesterday with the stamp of fact through date and time imprint. 

Sunday Roast and The Stained Glass Window.jpg

As I have only ever made zines and nothing towards a news print before, I wanted to give it a try with my work to see how perceptions of the image change in something as temporal as a newspaper. Thinking about it now, this almost contradicts the projects central idea of memory being something that last for a period of time. 

 

 

PS: The premise has promise.  The intro words trigger a ‘reading’ of the images - you use the word family, so I am assuming I am seeing beyond the singular and personal, so the gathered up cloth is perhaps the end of a party; the one close-up of an actual person is perhaps a relative of yours, or not.

AP: Thats an interesting idea which I don't think I had singled out. The mages are certainly supposed to 'read' by the viewer, but without a predetermined 'answer' to what they mean. They are based around memories from childhood triggered by the everyday diary aesthetic of the present. 

PS: The cuts and pastes of images are intriguing.

AP: The cut and paste elements in some of the images are to elude to memories that are not quite recalled as they happened. Memories fade, become distorted and sometimes transform into hat of imagination rather than real memory.  Freud's memory analogy of the mystic writing pad where traces of memory last on the wax layer underneath where the child draws on top. With my work I wanted to change this slightly to show how this distortion of memory occurs to create or 're-create' 'imaginations'.

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PS: The meter on the wall fades as a triptych - that is perhaps a literal fading for a purpose?

AP: This was an element I had been thinking about using for sometime within my work. The idea came from a photographer I looked t last module and one I have continued to follow his work - Daniel Shea. He is informed by cinema where you see the frame swell as the frame before and the frame beyond. I wanted to show how memory becomes faded in a more literal sense. I was very sceptical about whether to include this image as I felt it was becoming a little 'cheesy' but in the end I decided to include it as this is a fundamental area of my investigation. Perhaps it should sit nearer the start within my edit?

PS: I suppose if it is a newspaper, then captions, however enigmatic would be welcome and more provocative or evocative.  Such as ‘aftermath’ or last cigarette or whatever!

AP: There are actually captions for each image by way of a 'memory' or an 'imagination' which was triggered through the daily snapshots I have made. The date and time has actually been constructed through changing it on the back of the camera abhor making the image. This was a time consuming endevour, and not something the viewer will be made aware of - as some mercies are kept private vs the ones made public. 

PS: The scale shift (eg page 9) are intriguing and leaves the viewer wondering why the intimate landscape and the distance from the street - one memory more powerful than the other…?

AP:  suppose these are all ideas that I want the viewer to make for themselves. Everyone will have a different view of where or why the image was made. Once you see the captions that go with them I think as a viewer you will actually have more questions than answers which is part of the plan for this work. I'm also interested to see the reaction of the viewer to the sequence. Its very interesting that you commented on the scale of the image, as this is something I have had trouble deciding through the edit. The broadsheet newspaper is a large surface area with a great deal of space to 'use' whether with or without images. I think I also want to show space between and around the images - Its just as important in an edit about what to leave out that just what stays integral to the work. 

Memory: A Dummy Book (Continued)

After experimenting with the saddle stitches and also the relationship between my images and text, I want to make something a little more accomplished. Using the same saddle stitch and physically sticking images into the book I made another version of my dummy book.

To bring all my ideas together I wanted to make something that still had the feel of a handmade book, similarly tot he family archive albums/books made at home to keep photographs of family holidays and special events in. 

“So You Speak Russian” Documents a Photographer’s Uneasy Homecoming

Taking place between New York City, New Jersey, and Ukraine, So You Speak Russian is an exploration of photographer Jules Slütsky’s conflicted feelings about returning to her family’s home country. Through images of relatives, sites of memory, and artefacts of family history, Slütsky seeks to explore not only her own personal heritage but also that of Ukraine. Here, she discusses the process and inspiration behind the series. - Jules Slütsky
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Although aesthetically very beautiful photographs in this series, there is however something that detracts from the personality in this work for me personally. I felt that the ideas of returning home and of the sites of memory and relatives very nice but they were exactly as I had expected if that makes sense?

I had the same issue when making the work for My Grandmothers Cabinet of Curiosities as part of the first module I did on this MA programme. I felt the images said exactly what they were supposed to say and nothing more. When looking and thinking about work relating to memory, I feel there needs to be something else, something to link to that particular person on more than an aesthetic level or one of family value. In this series by Slutsky I don't see that. I see as she rightly explains still life images that have been selected and moved and placed xactly how she wanted them. I would have preferred to see more of what was found or something that showed why this selection in the frame had been made.

On the other hand a beautiful edit and a series I think this project would very much suite a hand made book project to add a little more personality and a connection to the memories retreived through the process of this project.

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White Cube Gallery - Memory Palace

Exhibition Views - Memory Palace, Anthony Prothero 2018

A really interesting exhibition particularly to see the diversity of practitioners who are motivated in some way by the act of remembering. As the introduction at White Cube states "Memory defines us, whether the personal memories that shape our sense of self or the collective, cultural and historical memories on which societies build their identities."

 

 

Work in Progress Dummy book idea

looking at the relationship between my images and the text/thoughts/recollections they trigger in the context of a dummy book. It's really interesting for me to spend time with the images because the things they make me recall change each time I look through the images. During Informing Contexts where I solely focused on the landscape to trigger acts memory, Now it has progressed to all aspects of daily life. j m                                                                        

 

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WIP Portfolio Layout

As you can see in my dummy book, I chose to write my recollections by hand. Thinking about the context of my WIP Portfolio and also in the context of my home gallery space for the exhibition I feel that hand written doesn't work so well. 

I chose a typewriter font to give the sense of personality. The other factor is that I sometimes can't read my own writing so I'm not sure how I expect others to be able to read it!

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Freud: The Mystic Writing Pad

 Untitled, Anthony Prothero 2018

Untitled, Anthony Prothero 2018

The idea of the Mystic writing pad came from children's toys consisting of a sheet of plastic covering a wax board. This can be written on with any pointy implement, even your finger. The tip of the stylus presses through the plastic and leaves an indentation on the wax underneath.

"For Freud, all means of mechanically supplementing the memory suffered from one of two drawbacks. Permanent means of recording, like paper, can only be written on once--they quickly become filled and need to be further supplemented. The alternative (eg: a chalk board) is infinitely receptive, but only if one erases the previous inscriptions. The Mystic Writing Pad, however, represented an admittedly imperfect but illuminating example of how the psyche itself records material. Like the chalk board, it can record an infinite amount of material while always remaining "new." But, like the piece of paper, this material leaves a faint, but perceptible trace on the waxen surface below, a trace which can be seen if one were to lift up the sheet of plastic and examine the wax surface. This, for Freud, is analogous to the way the psychic system which received sense impression from the outside world remains unmarked by those impressions which pass through it to a deeper layer where they are recorded as unconscious memory. Thus, "the appearance and disappearance of the writing" is similar to "the flickering-up and passing-away of consciousness in the process of perception" (SEXIX:230)." -  Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin, Robin Parmar.

Derrida claims that none of us "apprehend the world directly, but only retrospectively". Our sense of that which is beyond ourselves is the product of previous memories, previous writings.

These previous memories are where this investigation has started form. Like the "Indentations" on the writing pad, which fade away after time leaving only an impression, memories equally fade away leaving only an impression of that memory. My work is based around the memories left as traces from my childhood. These will be presented in the form of text based notes, although I have not made the aesthetic decisions surrounding this as yet. I have been looking at other practitioners for some inspiration which will be in another post in due course. 

 

Bibliography

Www2.iath.virginia.edu. (2018). The Mystic Writing Pad. [online] Available at: http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/elab/hfl0257.html [Accessed 19 Jul. 2018].

Francesca Woodman

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Love the idea of using an old exercise book form school as the binding for a book project. It is an item of nostalgia and one that has memories embedded in it on a more permanent basis than that of say the "Mystic Writing Pad". 

I've been looking at this relationship between image and text and also the relationship between images and the page they are on. This along with some other practitioners I shall talk about later have been very influential in my thinking towards making a printed publication. 

I had thought about making a piece of mass art through a newspaper print. I was going to then leave these in place of the metro so the morning commuters picked up y newspaper instead of the metro. Through developing my project ideas, I don't think a newspaper is the right context of dissemination for this work. This is a very personal project, that I don't really want to produce on a large scale. A small intimate book perhaps, or I did have an idea of using an old suit case for the installation/exhibition so people one at a time had to peer into the suitcase to pick up each print and see the story unfold. 

Takashi Homma's window on todays crafts and thoughts on exhibitions and the viewer

 Looking in: Takashi Homma's 'Camera Obscura Study' Hermes window display. | © SATOSHI ASAKAWA / COURTESY OF HERMES JAPON - https://bit.ly/2uPyyKO

Looking in: Takashi Homma's 'Camera Obscura Study' Hermes window display. | © SATOSHI ASAKAWA / COURTESY OF HERMES JAPON - https://bit.ly/2uPyyKO

An interesting article when thinking about the display or "exhibition" of work, and an "interesting reflection on the state of photography and its current place in visual culture" - JOHN L. TRAN

I had never really thought of the viewer before now, as anything other than the viewer - the person looking. Homma's window display of camera obscure images made in the adjacent building create something closer to performance art by getting the viewer to slow down their daily lives and the watch and look at the display. Also commenting on the decline of analog film and particularly for something seen as an advertisement.

In terms of my own practise, it has given me a starting point to think about how I would like the viewer to participate in my own exhibition. As my work is a personally family album but without the family, I want the viewer to be invited into my home, and into my memories of childhood. 

The idea of the viewer taking something away with them is something I have been skirting around too, as I like the idea that there should be free art. Combining this with a website I found out about that involved buying a disposable camera taking a few images and then passing it onto the next person to do the same gave me another idea of perhaps starting a shared art project commenting on authorship of the image but giving the viewer the decision of where the work gets  displayed next...

More thoughts on that to follow....

 

 

Hearts, Minds and Emojis: "Observations" from the FT Magazine

 The FT Magazine - Anthony Prothero

The FT Magazine - Anthony Prothero

 The FT Magazine - Anthony Prothero

The FT Magazine - Anthony Prothero

After thinking last week about Moblogging, and how I would fit this into my own practise, I saw this article in the FT weekend magazine. An article about text messaging and in this case text dating. The part that really interested me was the idea that people spend more time having conversations over text than they do in human interactions face to face. 

This gave me a few varying thoughts about where to take this idea in my project. Firstly, in terms of a workshop idea, I think I could develop my idea of a zine workshop into something that is far more text based, perhaps set up a mob log for the workshop and then take screenshots of that for the zine? Id really like to include some comment on the digital era we now live in whilst also using some of the original low budget zine making techniques - this giving some contrast between two very different practises. 

Secondly, I also thought about trying to use the mobile phone photograph to create a series of images from my exhibition in my home. I have mentioned previously about Taryn Simons book where you had to put the images into the right places within the book from a little wallet of images in the back of the book. I really liked this idea of "alternative narrative", where the viewer re orders or re arranges the narrative in some ways giving authorship then to the viewer? 

I shall have a further think about exactly how this can all fit together in due course....

Moblog - Community conversation on photography, literacy and group narratives.

"Moblogs are sites where people can upload mobile phone photographs and engage in social interactions. Web based media allow for users to become producers as well as media consumers. What role do the photographs play in the process of communication that occurs in moblogs? How do the everyday media practices that arise in such sites reveal what consumers make of the media they consume? When people communicate in moblogs, they draw on conventions used in mass media such as advertising, television, films, and newspapers, as well as snapshot photography and in photograph albums. The article argues that mobloggers remix and transform these conventions into a new vernacular, by remediating oral and visual modes of communication."

Gary introduced me to the world of Moblogging when I suggested a group or peer photo conversation idea I wanted to pitch to the university. He suggested that I think about how this could work in my own practise.

Certainly the idea of a continuous conversation where new images are produced and new thoughts are expressed is something very exciting to me. It confirms the ideas I spoke about previously when talking about how "reflective nostalgia does not follow a single plot but explores ways of inhabiting many places at once, and imagining different time zones".

This then led onto thoughts about to experience different time zones at the same time. We had a guest conversation with Nhung Walsh a few weeks ago where at the end we did a group selfie. This could have been seen as a photograph from different time zones at once. 

 A "group" photo -  Gary McLeod

A "group" photo - Gary McLeod

The Moblog shares upon ideas of visual literacy and the authorship of the image. On reflection of visual literacy and exactly what is meant by that, I have realised that since the start of this masters programme, my visual literacy has increased more than I had thought. The way I talk about images and project ideas has become far more eloquent and concise than I ever used to be able to communicate. 

Nostalgic Polaroid Series I made 14 years ago

Whilst thinking about memory and nostalgia in my current practise I thought I would revisit a box of polaroids I made 14 years ago when I started to explore the idea of memory within photography and how the two are connected. Its interesting to see what I saw then and how I see things differently now. 

Looking at the relationship between the photographs I made then and now, I've noticed that there has been a trace of nostalgia, memory and personal archive throughout all my work which is something I hadn't thought had been an interest for some long. Some of the images particularly resonate with my Positions and Practise WIP portfolio where I revisited my grandparents home. What is it that always draws me back to their home?

Dummy Book

There is a different feeling you get when you open a book that you have made by hand. Its almost a different connection to it. Like the smell you get form a newly printed book, the feel from something hand made is personal and connects you to it in a special way. I felt this was the right method for this project dummy book. Quite personal stories whether completely true or fragments of imagination connected together with images from my daily life that trigger these memories or before thoughts. It is important the I had a connection with the memories, the photographs I have made reflecting those memories as well as the paper they were on and the fold they were in. 

I think if I were to continue with this project over a longer period, I would collect more material from the past and construct a stronger narrative. I would like there to be more for the viewer to do than to just look and read. I would like their opinion and their creative decision making to inform my work which is where the idea for the newspaper came from with some sort of comments corner to rip off and send back to me. This adding another level of participation. 

The Meaning of Family Photographs in my practise

 Relatives, Anthony Prothero 2018

Relatives, Anthony Prothero 2018

Charles Williams describes how the "Interpretation of family structures, relationships and self is possible through viewing family photographs". So far in my investigation through this module, I have looked at the family album, the photographs that are in those albums, as well as why I'm interested in the family album yet why I have not made my own photographs of my family. This for any photographer would seem to be a logical step for someone who carries such interest. It hasn't been until recently that a few things have fallen into place whilst investigating what you might want to call my own identity. As Williams continued to say "Interpretation of family structures, relationships and self is possible through viewing family photographs." 

The structure of my family is somewhat complicated. I grew up living with my grandparents, both my Mum and Dad are remarried, and with children themselves. Being the adult child now means I sit in between these two family circles overlapping each one like some kind of venn diagram, with my grandparents. 

Whilst discussing with Cemre, my tutor why I hadn't really got many photographs of my family, It came to light that this was because of where I felt I sat in the family tree. I'm not really in either of the families, although very much loved by both. 

Therefor, this family album I have created is without the photographs that relate tot hat album. There are pieces of text relating to stories or experiences I had as a child, and there are photographs I have taken in the present that for me relate to those moments through memories. These memories as Freud describes through the analogy of the mystic writing pad, have faded, and some may not be true at all, yet they are my identity, and what has shaped into the person I am today. 

Taking influence from Taryn Simons 'do it yourself' book where the images are separate form the narrative, and the viewer must assign images to text, I would like this to be part of how my work is viewed. In the context of the gallery, this can easily be achieved by having the text free to move  between photographs creating a different narrative and assigning a certain level of authorship tot he viewer.

In the context of a publication this however I feel becomes a little harder. Whilst trying to stay original (which is becoming evermore diffecult) the publication or dummy book will be flipped the other way around from the exhibition space, so that the text is fixed and the images shall move - An interesting shift in relationship between the image and text. 

Nostalgia: Restorative or Reflective?

 Svetlana Boym -  https://bit.ly/2uJKkq0

Svetlana Boym - https://bit.ly/2uJKkq0

Nostalgia [ Nostos Algos ]

 I have started to think about other things that have informed by making up until now other than just simply 'memory'.

Maybe my image making is not informed by that of just memory at all? maybe its also informed by elements of Nostalgia as well. As Svetlana Boym suggests, Nostalgia can take one of two course - the Restorative and the Reflective. 

"A cinematic image of nostalgia is a double exposure, or a superimposition of two images- of home and abroad, of past and present, of dream and everyday life. The moment we try to force it into a single image, it breaks the frame or burns the surface" - Svetna Boym

 Reading view - Anthony Prothero 

Reading view - Anthony Prothero 

I'm not entirely sure I completely agree with Boym's description of trying to fit nostalgia into a single image - nor do I see why anyone should want to do this anyway. I think of nostalgia as a feeling, something in the air when reminiscing of the past, of a place, or of home as Boym suggests, and the Greek roots Nostos Algos (Return home, longing) suggest. My work has taken on more, I feel of a concept rather than an aesthetic presence. The emotive response I have to the images I'm working with are not that of memory because the images don't aesthetically match to the memory I am assigning to them. As with the landscapes in my last series of Memoryscapes, these images I am making and selecting are the gateways to nostalgic times, to stories or memories that make me want to return to this moments if only for a split second. To feel the same feeling or converse in the same moment I remember. 

Boym goes on to mention many other points which I shall highlight if only in note form along with the ideas I momentarily thought when reading this text.

"..Nostalgia appears to be a longing for a place but is actually a yearning for a different time - the time of our childhood, the slower rhythms of our dreams."

I am always looking back at childhood through the eyes of memory, or what I think is memory. I'm never entirely sure whether it is memory or imagination that is taking place whilst I make, edit, reorder and work with my images. But the idea that Boym asserts about the "nostalgic desire to obliterate history and turn it into a private or collective mythology" is something I am very interested in exploring, investigating and reading about. 

 

"Nostalgia is about the relationship between individual biography and the biography or groups or nations"

The relationship between my own images along with their collective memories, and the biography of the viewer who will see my photographs but think of their own moment in time to respond to my photographs with.

 

Now to the main purpose of this nostalgic rambling. Restorative and Reflective Nostalgia. At present I am not entirely sure how to explain where I sit amongst these nostalgic words succinctly but will try to explain my positions. 

Boym explains through tentative typology the differences between restorative and reflective nostalgia. Restorative nostalgia stresses on the home. and attempts a transhistorical reconstruction of the lost home. Reflective nostalgia thrives on the act of longing rather than the home itself. It is this reflective nostalgia I am going to investigate in my work and is a new area of interest away from what now to me seems like a mundane topic of memory. It is not to say  that I won't revisit the relationship between photography and memory in the next project I work on but for now I want to diversify my research to be able to see from a wider perspective about what my work is actually about, and the narrative I'm building around my own Identity. 

Reflective nostalgia calls into doubt the absolute truth that restorative nostalgia dwells upon. This absolute truth is something I am also going to think about more as my work progresses. Swirling around is also the ideas of how this fits into a public narrative and how the viewer can choose their own path to take whilst looking at my photographs. 

These ideas..... to be continued.

 

Bibliography

Boym, S. (2018). Nostalgia | Svetlana Boym. [online] Monumenttotransformation.org. Available at: http://monumenttotransformation.org/atlas-of-transformation/html/n/nostalgia/nostalgia-svetlana-boym.html [Accessed 18 Jul. 2018].

 

 

 

 

Workshop Ideas: Making a Zine

 Emanuel Almborg, The Majority Never Has Right On Its Side (2013). -  https://bit.ly/2nej4vz

Emanuel Almborg, The Majority Never Has Right On Its Side (2013). - https://bit.ly/2nej4vz

Commission
Emanuel Almborg: Learning Matter
27 April – 20 August 2017
Swedish artist Emanuel Almborg (b. 1981) presents a new work looking at the role technology plays in our everyday lives. Learning Matter was developed in collaboration with his mother, educator Agneta Almborg, and a group of 7 to 10-year-olds from a local school in east London. The workshops were documented by Agneta, using black and white photography. Learning Matter considers how material conditions and technologies shape social relations.
The commission is shown alongside two of Almborg’s recent films: The Majority Never Has The Right On Its Side (2013), based on a school founded by socialist educator A.S. Neill in the 1920s, and Talking Hands (2016), which uses archival images of a school for deaf-blind children in Moscow.

Looking ahead that we will be asked to think about and carry out a workshop as part of this module I remembered some work I looked at in the Whitechapel Gallery earlier in the MA programme by Emmauel Almborg. It was for the purpose of this post the aspect of presentation that I found most powerful. Simple black and white images were shown in the context of the gallery space that turned what was I initially thought a school class into a piece of work in the gallery exhibition. This placing the viewer almost into the classroom with the workshop group yet, also as an onlooker of the project in the gallery. Simple black and white photography yet incredibly well executed.

Thinking about meh own workshop, although I don't yet know how I am going to execute the workshop, I am pondering upon ideas fo some kind of zine workshop. It would be a good experience but I also realise that there needs to be something I can take away form the workshop setting and not sure just a simple zine workshop would be very beneficial to my practise. Perhaps something around the idea of personal narratives or family albums, continuing on form my surfaces and strategies family album work where I photographed my collaborators whilst discussing their personal archives. 

Familiars: Photography as Memory - Quentin Shih

"I believe that photography is not about creation—it’s a process to evoke memory; to refresh something that already exists in our minds; something that is growing weak and abstract and needs to find expression" 

This is where I find 'myself' on this photography led journey. Like Shih, I find that the memories I hold are fading and becoming more abstract with elements forgotten and others added to take their places. These added 'imaginations' in my own work have been recorded through metaphor- less glimpses into things that remind me (or not) of childhood times spent. 

The main reason for this journey was to identify the under lying feeling of being split between two families. Having such an ever evolving interest in memory and the family album as a way of recording memory, yet not having the desire to photograph my own family album has been a difficult terrain to navigate both photographically and personally/mentally.

Its very interesting and almost refreshing to see this work by Quentin Shih where elements of memory have been recreated with simple props, lighting and elements such as colour that resonate with the past. My work has so far been very diaristic in my approach. Less prepared and organised, and more spontaneous in my recollections of past. 

 Beach Jimu © Quentin Shih

Beach Jimu © Quentin Shih

Bibliography

Shih, Q. (2018). Quentin Shih – Photography & Films. [online] Quentinshih.com. Available at: http://www.quentinshih.com/photography/personal/memories_80s/memories_80s.html [Accessed 4 Jul. 2018].

LensCulture, Q. (2018). Familiars: Photography as Memory - Interview with Quentin Shih | By Winifred Chiocchia | LensCulture. [online] LensCulture. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/quentin-shih-familiars-photography-as-memory#slideshow [Accessed 3 Jul. 2018].