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Note that previous blogs have been arranged in descending date order so that the most recent entry is at the top and thus easily accessible for the reader and the writer. Bearing in mind that the ultimate purpose of this page is submission for assessment in support of my BAPhot they will now be arranged in reverse so that they print in the "right" order. Click Latest to go straight to the bottom.
I am in the process of wrapping up EyV and preparing the web site for C&N. I made some notes on the planned changes here. I have not yet applied for C&N, although there is a generous (46 page) extract here.
Submission of the EyV assessment package is due in January.
I noted in the course instructions, too late to implement it for EyV, that the blog should contain markers for where each part and each assignment begins. I started consideration of Asg. 1 today — see here.
When EyV has been assessed I will implement the reorganisation of the web site
I had intended to apply to start the C&N course today, but after half an hour on the web site, I couldn't find how and emailed the help address.
As noted in the Preamble,
I intend to work through C&N more quickly than EyV. As a starting point, I will allocate one month for each of the five Parts interspersed with another month for each of the five Assignments. Thus, Part 1 December, Asg. 1 January, Part 2 February etc. This will allow contingency for the Parts to overlap with the Assignment months, but I will aim to deliver the Asgs at the end of Jan 2020, March, May, July and September. The work arrangements will not change from EyV . Preamble
And I visited Hobbycraft today, having seen a clamshell archival box on their web site. None in stock and none of the staff had ever heard of such a thing, but I'll try their click and collect service. They did have a clear plastic A4 box, at £4, one third the price of the clamshell. I bought one and might go with that — if it's good enough for Diane Arbus, who used a "Plexiglas box designed by Marvin Israel" for her box of ten photographs …
This phrase came up in an audiobook,Nora Roberts' The Witness while driving to work this morning. It reminded me of Fox Talbot, quoted by Jerry Thompson in Why Photography Matters,
It frequently happens … - and this is one of the charms of photography - that the operator himself discovers on examination, perhaps long afterwards, that he has depicted many things he has no notion of at the time. Sometimes inscriptions and dates are found upon the buildings, or printed placards most irrelevant, are discovered upon their walls: sometimes a distant dial-plate is seen, and upon it - unconsciously recorded - the hour of the day at which the view was taken. Fox Talbot, W.H. (1844-46) The pencil of nature. London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans
I believe that chance and circumstance play a large part in all photography, even in the most controlled environment. I will work further on this notion in the future.
A nd I have applied for C&N today. The functionality of the application process is terrible.
It was reported in the morning news that the new Disney Channel is issuing apologetic disclaimers when showing its older back catalogue of films, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.” (reported by Fortune.com under the headline, "Disney+ Attempts to Address a Racist Past"). It occurred to me having yesterday noted my response to Judith Williamson 's article on an Apple ad., perhaps I should issue a similar warning. Dumbo was released in 1941: I was born in 1954. I should add that while some of my views might date me, they are not racist.
I paid for the course today. But I have already started working on it. Still on the Preamble, the material today posed the question, given that there are nowadays so many photographs being taken, why do you bother.
I was rather smugly pleased with the reply I came up with,
I take photographs to capture (in some way) moments that merit it (in some way) and in doing so, try to create images that are better (in some way) than others'. C&N Preamble
There's a great quote from Soth at the end of Sasha Wolf's Photo Work: forty photographers on process and practice (refs),
If photography were a true narrative art like filmmaking or fiction-writing, you'd have certain narrative conventions like the feature-length film, the television program, the novel, the short story, etc. But photography functions more like poetry and, like contemporary poetry, is usually free-verse in nature. There are no standards for beginning, middle and end. It's up to each photographer to create her own structure. Alec Soth, quoted in Sasha Wolf, Photo Work: forty photographers on process and practice, pp.240-1
The course material arrived today and so I can begin in earnest. I have it on paper and when I find the pdf version I shall complete the Assignments page - that's done.
An exploratory foray for Asg. 1 was a disappointment because Westminster Cathedral is a dull place.
What is my purpose in doing this degree? There are two:
i) take more diverse photographs (with a side order of gaining a better understanding of what I am doing and why)
ii) to complete a degree: at my age I don't need another degree, but sticking to a course of study will enable the first objective and establish a degree of rigour.
With that in mind, and given the final assessment requirements (C&N p.8, and see the Preamble) of:
For assessment you’ll need to submit a cross-section of the work you’ve done on the
• Assignments Two to Five, together with the original tutor-annotated versions
• your learning log or blog url
• your tutor report forms. C&N p.8
I should be building the web site with the FinAss in mind. And that raises the purpose of this post - if this blog is to be printed (or read online) for the FinAss, then it should be in ascending date order. Now (i.e. early) is a good time to fix this and reverse the current flow. If I add a large Latest link at the top, readers will not be greatly inconvenienced.
I accepted that formal Harvard referencing is appropriate for academic submissions, notably the course assignments but thought then, and still do, that it is not appropriate for routine online use such as this blog and the learning log. A point I made several times during EyV is that given the OCA require students to maintain an online presence (and, indeed, to conduct most of their course online) they (the students) are necessarily communicating to two audiences, the first academic (other students and, most importantly, their tutor) and the second, the public at large. It is therefore appropriate that the format of blogs and logs should be less formal than that for assignments.
I intend to approximate to Wikipedia referencing for blogs and logs, i.e. a numbered link to a book listing at the bottom of the page. There are around half a dozen books I look at routinely when reading the course material and these will appear regularly in this local referencing, in addition to the C&N (and possibly EyV) course material. Bearing in mind that I am just starting C&N and working this out as I go along, I will probably use those as a starting point on every page and add others as needed.
Incidentally, the friendliest and most helpful referencing system I have encountered is that used in Modrak & Anthes Reframing Photography, a marginal box with full details on the first usage and abbreviated details subsequently (see example, right).
Photography is so easy a medium to use, the box camera, a roll of film, a snap – a picture! Photography, the art, is so immensely difficult because it is so easy to get a picture of sorts. One must work hard to smuggle anything into a photograph other than record keeping. Erwin Blumenfeld, nd
I had my inaugural tutorial with Wendy yesterday. I managed to avoid those entirely on EyV — my brain works slowly these days and I find writing to be a better expression of self (not to mention that my voice, once a a booming Welsh baritone now sounds like an even further etiolated imitation of Enoch Powell). So it goes.
Anyway, it was an entirely pleasant experience, helped by the fact that it was a brief introductory chat. - nothing challenging, technical or academic. I guess I'm stuck with this format now.
Wendy thought my timetable of "one month for everything" (see 13th November) is over-ambitious.
To the NPG for Taylor Wessing Portraits 2019, reviewed here. As last year, not many smiles to be seen, but there were a few good shots (the best being shown on the front cover of the catalogue, see right) and some interesting questions raised.
I have just started to make notes on Reportage, Project 3 of Part 1.
A quote from Tom Stoppard, specifically about playwriting, but which resonates with me on taking, processing, understanding and interpreting photographs.
It’s interesting that you know the difference between having written something which is OK and something which isn’t. But actually explaining or analysing what the difference is is very difficult. But there’s no question that you know the difference. The luckiness comes from not being in complete control of what’s going to come off the end of your fountain pen. Tom Stoppard, interviewed in The Spectator by Douglas Murray, published 21 December 2019
Graham is cited in Part 1 Project 3. This led to a fascinating quote in a 2011 Guardian interview
Between 1981 and 1986, while living in London, Graham made three books of colour photography that are now much sought after by collectors and students alike: A1 – The Great North Road (1983), Beyond Caring (1986) and Troubled Land (1987). Back then, they were met with suspicion and even anger. "I gave a talk to photography students at Newport College of Art in 1985," he says, ruefully, "and one of the tutors described Beyond Caring as 'poisonous'. By that, I think he meant that it was poisonous to the established order of working, which was to use a Leica, shoot in black and white, and always have an establishing shot." Paul Graham in The Guardian, 11 April 2011
It is becoming clear that a page rationalisation is required as that for Part 1 is much too long. This is best done quickly before there are even more links to rearrange.
A Sontag quote which I think might prove useful (indeed, I have used it twice already) is,
photographs do not seem strongly bound by the intention of the photographer Sontag, On Photography, quoted in La Grange, Basic critical theory for photographers, p.37
And I need an online dictionary of repute that I can cite for definitions. OCA uses OED, but that needs a subscription. I have posted the question on the C&N email facility. RMIT is helpful.
A morning on my local High Street confirmed that I am not suited physically or temperamentally to street photography. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reaching this conclusion. Link
I might have a chance at Asg. 1 on Thursday.
T o town for several purposes. My first target for Asg. 1, St Lawrence Jewry does not open on Saturdays, but we encountered the remarkable St James's, Spanish Place for a few shots.
The main photographic purpose was a visit to the Atlas Gallery in W1 for the show of images from LIFE Magazine. These were spectacular, notably Eisenstaedt's Children at a Puppet Theatre; Bourke-White's At the Time of the Louiseville Flood, printed to a vast 30x40" (a picture with what must be the most understated title in photo history) and also her Fort Peck Dam; and Carl Mydans On the 6.25 from Grand Central to Stamford (another subtle title). I'll attach a pdf of the catalogue if I remember. Here's the scan.
The gallery also had a pile of books there, all copies of Eleanor Macnair's Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh. I thought of asking the price, but not thinking it worth more than £10, didn't bother in the end, intending to I'd check on Amazon — it turns out they sell for £hundreds. Here's her site.
I have finished the reading and writing up of Part 1. Thee remains some picture taking to do for Exc. 4 and, of course Asg.1.
The timing has worked pretty well: I said at the outset (see 13th Nov) that I would allow one month each, alternating between coursework and assignments with the asg month giving contingency for coursework. So far so good.
I'll set up the pages for Part 2 today.
a Special Label has arrived for EyV physical submission and the window opens next week so that will take some of my time.
But, most of all, I just need to get Asg.1 done.
I managed to get into St Lawrence, Jury at last today but it was disappointing. Earlier I had returned to the Atlas Gallery to pick up a copy of Macnair's …Play-Doh and also discovered Alison Jackson's Private (possessor of the most noticeable front cover I have seen in a long while) which we will return to later.
A much better day's photographing. This project may yet survive, if I can find a second suitable subject.
There's a poem-based exercise coming up,
In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite. Paul Dirac
There should be a read-across to two branches of photography. Perhaps Szarkowski's Mirrors and Windows concept will work but that might be too easy — I think the starting point should be a double-axis graph with understanding one way and known before the other, then plot various genres. There could be a paper in it.
The final assessment submission for EyV went in today.
Then to town for the LIP AGM. I met a chap (younger than me, but well into middle age) with an interesting approach. Although he started photography in the digital era, he only takes photographs in B&W and on film which he processes and enlarges himself. The self-imposed restrictions do not end there: every photograph must contain a human, if only partially. As his main genre is street, this is not usually an onerous constraint, but he stated that even when shooting landscapes, he has to wait for someone to wander into frame.
The article notes that, 'Susan Sontag defines photography as “to participate in another person’s (or other thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability.” ' I am getting to like Sontag more and more, despite the notion that if she dislikes photographs and photographers so much, she should have spent more time writing about something else that gave her more contentment.
G'Sell, E. (2020) The Quiet Dignity of Peter Hujar [online]. hyperallergic.com. Available from https://hyperallergic.com/537691/the-quiet-dignity-of-peter-hujar/ [Accessed 19 January 2020].
Following a series of links into PetaPixel today, I alighted on a 2016 piece by Neal Rantoul
(a retired educator) where he takes issue with some recent (well, the last 20 years) trends in photography.
There has been a fair amount of that recently (well, there probably always has been, but I am just paying more attention) and so I might start a page in my Misc section.
The thrust of the piece is that
1. digital has deskilled photography and so whereas phot degree courses used to spend a couple of years grounding students in its technical aspects, that is no longer necessary.
2. this means that the three (or however many) years contain much more theorising.
3. and that in turn has resulted in grad shows with technically 'poor' photographs (in the classical sense) that require lengthy explanations (which sometimes amounts to sermonising) for the viewer rather than a straightforward wall of framed photographs with brief titles and a short bio.
(i) Rantoul, N (2016) Opinion: A Disturbing Trend in Photography [online]. petapixel.com. Available from https://petapixel.com/2016/05/31/opinion-disturbing-trend-photography/ [Accessed 25 January 2020].
DSC Labs have sent back the Asg.1 prints so that can go in next week.
A striking photograph from Photo-Eye, Ezra, 2019 by Julie Blackmon. There is so much detail to enjoy here: apart from the pose and dressing of the subject, a lot of work has gone into the arrangement of the colour-matched door; the diverse colour range of the room; the light; the bird on the door; the camera on the edge of the frame; the photographs arranged in front of the subject.
With some photographers, this would be a cluttered, confusing mess, but here it seems structured and it works.
Regular readers will know that I enjoy the curation of the vernacular, first encountered in organised form at the V&A's inaugural display in 2018. In Waterstones, Gower Street today I found a remaindered The Three Graces by Michal Raz-Russo (£6.99 plays £19.99). I'll open a new page on the subject.
In The Times today there were two widely differing photographs. One of a Holocaust victim (colourised) and one (or rather four) of Dolly Parton. They both deserve a mention, the first as chillingly poignant on the 75th anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
On a lighter note, the liberation of Dolly Parton, who has released a multi-photograph of par-traits of herself in various social media personas and challenged others to do the same (Times). Hyperallergic reports that museums have responded en-masse, as noted in a new dedicated page.
The full text from the Times,
A colourised photo of Czeslawa Kwoka who was murdered in Auschwitz. Her picture is among those that make up the Faces of Auschwitz, a collaboration between the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, Marina Amaral, and a dedicated team of academics and journalists. The goal of the project is to honor the memory and lives of Auschwitz-Birkenau prisoners by colorizing registration photographs culled from the museum’s archive and sharing individual stories of those whose faces were photographed. Today marks the 75th anniversary of the death camp’s liberation Times, 27 Jan 2020
To the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Modern to photograph their toilets for Asg. 2.
The camera should be used for a recording of life, for rendering the very substance and quintessence of the thing itself, whether it be polished steel or palpitating flesh. Edward Weston
I discovered during Part 1 that I disapprove of street photography because it is often demeaning and patronising. I was therefore delighted to learn that Fuji has pulled one of the videos promoting its new X100V because of the wave of disapproval of the intrusive methods of Tatsuo Suzuki .
I had my Asg.1 chat with my tutor this morning and was pleased to hear that my drift from the assignment brief was thought to be ok. The rework on a Dolly Parton Challenge will not be required, though I am minded to do it anyway.
As was the case with my previous tutor, Wendy does not like my black borders.
I received this email on 7th Feb,
Dear You are receiving this email as it is not clear from your record that you have been actively engaged with your studies over the last 60 days in line with the Active Study Policy.
Please take this opportunity to let us know that you are still working away behind the scenes, or seek support if something is delaying your progress that we’re not aware of.
In identifying students who may need support, we may look at:
● Assignment submissions logged
● Tutorials / feedback sessions attended
● Engagement with the Learner Support Team
● Engagement with the Academic Development Team
● Attending an OCA/OCASA organised study event
● Attending an OCA organised webinar/groupwork session
● Update to learning log
● Applying for and/or submitting work for formal assessment
If you’ve re-scheduled your submission for a later date, or have already submitted and are awaiting your feedback and haven’t let us know about your submission, you can do so on the student portal or by emailing email@example.com
If there are circumstances affecting your studies and you need to speak to someone please contact us in firstname.lastname@example.org
Where there is continued inactivity in line with the Active Study policy you are at risk of being withdrawn from the degree. If you do not expect to complete one of the above activities by 29 February 2020 please contact one of our Student Engagement Advisers at email@example.com to discuss.
Study Engagement Team Study Engagement Team
I submitted EyV for final assessment on 18th January.
I submitted C&N Asg. 1 on 27th Jan and had my feedback tutorial this morning (7th Feb).
My progress blog can he viewed here -
It looks as though I am not updating you as I should - I didn't for EyV, where [do] I notify you of progress on C&N? Regards, NickB me
I am working my way through Part 2 Project 2; and still toying with my voluntary Asg.1 rework; and winding up towards Asg.2; and avoiding the two essays arising from Asg.1, while waiting for the books on male nude photography to arrive.
And here's a quote, from Matisse, found in the March edition of B+W Phot Mag in a piece on photographing chairs, by Richard Dunkley.
The object is not so interesting in itself, it is the surroundings that bring the object to life. Matisse
Dunkley, R. (2020) Are you sitting comfortably?. Black+White Photography. No. 239 Mar 2020. p. 26.
From Hurn & Jay's On being a photographer, 3rd edn. p.29
The destination of photography is to reveal what something or somebody looked like under a particular set of conditions, at a particular moment in time, and to transmit the result to others. Bill Jay
Jay, B. & Hurn, D. (2001) On being a photographer: a practical guide (3rd edn.). Anacortes WA.: Lens Work Publishing.
The voluntary rework for Asg.1 has been completed.
Exc. 2.3 is more complete than it was, but I'll shoot another image if the opportunity presents itself. Part 2 done - on with Part 3.
I was forced to cite Wikipedia today in C&N Part 3.
Well, not forced, obvs, but wished to quote their quote of an Observer piece about Francesca Woodman that is not available online.
I hesitated to use Wikipedia, this having been criticised by my tutor in EyV (see Asg.2 feedback). That said, however, I stand by the defence I stated at the time, that 'the Tate web site uses Wikipedia in this way (here is their entry on Bill Brandt as an example)' and again, at greater length, in the feedback to Asg.3,
I accept that Wikipedia should not be used as a primary source in academic work and will not do so. However, the OCA directs that students' work is presented online: this is understandable as 1. it is a distance-learning service; and 2. the internet is the common medium nowadays for the dissemination of art. But given that students are expected to conduct themselves online, it follows that there are (at least) two audiences for their work, namely the academic (tutors and fellow students) and the public at large. While it is to be expected that academic citations should be more rigorous than Wikipedia, entries on that site are used routinely by the general public and by public bodies: for example Tate Britain and MoMA both quote and link to Wikipedia for biographical information on their web sites …
on the matter of referencing, while the Harvard system instils pleasing intellectual rigour in formal, written assignment documents, it is unnecessarily cumbersome in online documents where url links are the norm and a less formal framework will be used.
My response to EyV Asg.3 feedback
I have been taking a few shots for the backup project, Tops of Churches, but Forbidden Zones hasn't started yet. This will not do.
The EyV Assessment result is due this month, no idea of when.
Further progress on Asg.2 with the Spy pen which is tricky, awkward, but reasonably effective.
The last two shoots for Asg.2 were completed today. I would have gone to the Tower of London for one more attempted shot of the Crown Jewels, were not for the entry charge of >£20, even for concessions, and the current virus threat.
Work will start on post processing tomorrow so submission by the due date of the end of March should be ok.
Also, I've been meaning to mention a rather strange idea I had a while ago. Although it might be controversial, I would like to complete an assignment using images gathered from the video game World of Warcraft. This will not work for C&N (see here), but I'll look forward to subsequent courses where it might run.
There's an OCA page here that has course samples. I was going to use this WoW notion as an excuse to list them all out, but it turns out that only level 1 courses are covered. Here's the third L1 pure photo course, Identity and Place. I don't think I&P will do for WoW. The other (pure photo) courses are:
L2 - Landscape, Place and Environment; Documentary – Fact and Fiction; Self and the Other; Digital Image and Culture. Perm 2 from 4.
L3 - Body of work; Contextual studies; Sustaining your practice. All three.
L2 Landscape, Place and Environment might be best suited to WoW.
This was posted today, after a long walk to the Post Office which remains open for now. It seems quite likely that online submissions will be in place soon - I returned to an email from Dan Robinson, Acting Programme Leader Photography and Moving Image which suggests that final course assessments are moving online.
The walk allowed a little snapping which led to a diptych named The life and death of trees. Suitable material for EyV Asg.5.
Self-portrait after Brandt today.
I had my feedback tutorial on Asg.2 today. Another uplifting and encouraging experience. I have noted on the Asg.3 development page,
I wonder how long we students will be able to deploy the excuse, 'well that's what I would have photographed, were it not for virus restrictions'. I am currently in debt to the tune of one shot of the Crown Jewels for Asg.2 and now one shot on the security cameras in Lidl's Bromley for Asg.3.
The camera I am currently taking on my one daily legal exercise outing is a combination of my first decent digital camera (if we don't count the magical Olympus Styles Verve) the Lumix GF1 (shamefully bought with part of the proceeds from selling my Pentax 67 and lenses to ffordes), and my first decent analogue lens, a Jupiter 50mm from a Zorki 4 (proudly bought with my income from a paper round in the 1960s). I wanted to test the lens because I am toying with the idea of an Olympus Pen-F - the lens seems to be fine, but I need an EVF to focus it and the Pen-F looks like it could be fun to use. They are now down to half price second-hand and that's the time I usually start looking.
The EyV result is in, a meagre 53%. But at least I can switch the web site to C&N now.
When assembling the EyV assessment package, I found the results of previous assessment rounds. Fig. 1 below shows the recent results and last year's three assessments. Fig. 2 shows how to search .
And a tree.
Asg.3 is just about complete, I'm just tinkering with the 300 word submission text. I will submit it online at the end of the month and order physical prints then
Having made occasional jottings in the past, I'm thinking seriously about Asg.4. I will probably aim for submission at the end of May.
And I'm starting notes on Part 5 today.
Moving on, I have disabled the email feed on EyV.
Asg.4 is still percolating and yesterday an OCA ad for a mini-course popped up, headlined 'To quote the adage "a picture is worth a thousand words", but which words?' - here's a link https://www.oca.ac.uk/courses/photography-as-language/
Part of the is it art diversion is Salkeld's Reading Photographs and this gave rise to today's image, After Salkeld ... After Levine ... After Rodchenko. The explanation is here.
You know exactly how I feel about photography. I would like to see it make people despise painting until something else will make photography unbearable. letter from Duchamp to Stieglitz, 1922
The virus lockdown results in the exploration (and shredding) of paperwork undisturbed for decades.
The popularity of Lomo cameras and the extended fad of Lomography is difficult to explain or justify. One of the reasons I am not attracted by it is the dreadful quality of the cameras that spawned it. In yet another clearout this week I found an instruction sheet for one of the original Lomo cameras - they were a bit like the Olympus XA and I don't recall when it was, but I bought one when they first came out, sent a succession of three back because they did not work and eventually had my money back.
In the meantime, I have spent a week dithering over the art question (and not got very far)) and resurrecting and now rewriting my lapsed Marlow Moss web site. Both of those will need a lot more time devoted to them, but now I must return to getting Asg.3 in, starting Asg.4 and reading Part 5.
Exc. 2.3 required us to depict a poem. The Times' Poem of the Week was by NZ's Hera Lindsay Bird, of whom I have now heard end who writes up a storm.
Her canon includes the seminal Keats is Dead so F*** Me from Behind (as reported by the Times). If this subject comes up again in a subsequent course I might look at Bird's oeuvre.
There is no excuse for not progressing Asg.4
There is an entertaining piece in this month's RPS Journal about a British classic, the Ensign Ful-Vue II. This would make a pleasing accessory for Asg.5, where I envisage a homage to Brandt's Northumbrian Miner (the ostensible subject of Asg.4).
The image is from an eBay sale I am following, which seems to be for a functioning unit, or there are any number of rusted and battered versions which can be used as a prop with no thought of possible use at some point.
There is a good history of the product here.
Work continues, slowly, on Asg.4. My Asg.3 tutorial has been put back a few weeks.
The images below, Tree, Face I and II were taken on a recent virus promenade.
Photography is a bastard left by science on the doorstep of art Peter Galassi
He goes on to point out that, "'Bastard' in German is less pejorative than in English - it simply means 'hybrid'".
[17Apr21] As noted in Part 1 of I&P, Ware misquoted Galassi who actually wrote,
photography was not a bastard child left by science on the doorstep of art, but a legitimate child of the Western pictorial tradition Galassi, 1981, p.12
Coplans, while writing about Weegee, in an essay, Weegee the Famous first published in Art in America, Sep-Oct 1977 and reprinted in Provocations, a collection of Coplans’ essays in 1996, pp.205-212.
No other art form rivals photography’s capability to be meaningless, to topple into a void. As a hedge against vacuity, ambitious photographers cloak themselves in a knowledge of art. Coplans essay, Weegee the Famous, in Provocations (1966) pp.205-212
The Lidl's security cameras I expected to have to travel to Bromley for have pleasingly been installed in their Eltham branch during my 2 month absence. See Asg.3 rework.
I still owe Asg.2 a clandestine shot of the crown jewels.
A day for celebration as I at last have the latest (and probably the last) edition of Terry Barrett's Criticizing Photographs. I paid £30 on ebay, which is £20 more than I normally pay for any book, but half the usual used price on Amazon.
While looking for a decent image of the cover, I found the mind map below by Hugh McCabe. Hugh has an interesting phot project: he takes long exposure images of live bands, opening the shutter at the beginning of a song and closing it at the end. Rather like Sugimoto's cinemas, but far more interesting. This links to his photo page: some of Floyd's auditorium shows would have been fun, both for the durations and the pyro- (and other) -techics. Here's Hugh's entry in Snappers.
Back to Barrett, the cover image is, as always, a Wegman, this time, Intruder, 2006.
The course Preamble, poses the question, given that there are nowadays so many photographs being taken, why do you bother.
I came up with an answer that I was content with on 18th November and arrived at a better one (though along similar lines) in the early hours of this morning.
To produce a visual representation of something that merits this attention in such a way as to do the subject justice.
All these judgements are necessarily subjective and and the terms deliberately ambiguous. me
Two books to mention.
Theatre of the mind, Arthur Tress,1976. I am not entirely sure why I ordered this. I'm pretty certain that I found an engaging quote from A.D. Coleman who wrote the introduction, but I cannot find a citation in my notes: it opens,
All photographs are fictions, to a far greater extent than we are able or willing to acknowledge. Yet most of them still pretend to a high degree of verisimilitude and transparency, to the impersonal neutrality of windows on the world. A.D. Coleman, introduction to Theater of the Mind, 1967, pages unnumbered
so that seems quite likely, in conjunction with Part.5 (which, incidentally, is untouched since 26th April).
But that's not important right now, the point is that the book is about the photographs of Arthur Tree, of whom I have never heard, and which are a delight. These are one kind of photography I would like to engage with but never will because I do not mix with strange people who want to be photographed doing bizarre things in unusual places.
Unfortunately. So it goes.
More of Tress in due course.
And Geoffrey Batchen's Each wild idea, a book of essays and specifically Australian Made, pp.26-55 which deals with Australian photography and writings thereon, noting that there was no published 'scholarly history' study on the subject until 1988 when two came along and, pleasingly, one looked at the artistic side of things, the other more sociological.
The timing of Australia's development as a (Western-style) society has more-or-less coincided with that of photography. I'll probably have more to add when I have finished reading it.
If only the same could be said for British photography, or, even better, for American.
The books are, Gael Newton, Shades of Light: Photography and Australia, 1839-1988 and Anne-Marie Willis, Picturing History: A History of Photography. I might look out for them
I had my tutorial yesterday. It was moderately successful. I have drafted my response to the feedback and will submit it tomorrow after final tinkering. Here's its current state,
It is a good idea to show the original images with my copies and will do so on my rework page. On the larger question of website design, I will not over-dignify it by calling it a personal aesthetic, but I choose to present a reluctant web site that takes time to navigate and with images that do not swipe. While it is no doubt true that if a site does not engage a visitor in a few seconds they will scoot off elsewhere, that's fine with me. I would rather gradually infiltrate the web with content that lurks in the search engines and attracts occasional visitors serendipitously at various entry points.
Given that the virus has forced OCA to go digital for assignments and final assessments, I might have to create another, more easily navigable, smaller and simpler site purely for assessment purposes: I might even have to do it on Wordpress. If that is the case, so be it, but I intend to continue building a single labyrinthine site covering the whole of my degree.
Regarding the brevity of the submission text ( "missing … a deeper expiration of exactly WHY", "You need to expand on what you mean here") this is simply because there is a limit of 300 words. I like the idea of creating a magazine on self-portraiture and Brandt but cannot promise not to keep the production in-house. (The workers should, in my view, control the means of production.) However, I will engage with the Newspaper Club to take advantage of their software.Asg.3 feedback response
So the main outcome is that I will learn how to create a zine (or, in my terms, a pamphlet). That is quite an exciting prospect. I might extend it to contain the last three assignments and use it as the basis for my final assessment. (Irrespective of the virus-based digital requirements. If it's all digital then I could film the pamphlet and add a voice-over extolling printed material. The only degrees worth getting are a first or a third - I wish I could find where I heard that. †) [2Jun: I became more positive later]
I like my tutor and wish I could keep her.
† Found it at last, Waugh's Brideshead Revisited (that was at the back of my mind, I Googled 'waugh brideshead worth getting degree first third'). From The Evelyn Waugh Society,
I wonder if Brideshead Revisited offers a clue to the origins of this mystery. When Charles Ryder arrives at the university, he is firmly advised by his cousin Jasper: ‘You want either a first or a fourth. There is no value in anything between. Time spent on a good second is time thrown away.’ If Waugh did get a third, as Dr Thomas suggests, perhaps he didn’t want anyone to know.The Evelyn Waugh Society
The zine (pamphlet) idea has become something of a distraction.
I do not want to finish the course so soon as to be forced into the first digital-only assessment. I want to submit my zine (if it works) in some form or other for the assessment.
This states that it is all digital and is very specifically devoted to the Summer 2020 assessment which I want to avoid in case later assessments become a little less digital. That has been achieved because the application deadline for July has passed. If the November deadlines are unchanged, they will be as right.
I recall some rules saying that you had to submit for assessment to the next date after 'finishing' the course (defined how?) or the one after that. I need to find those rules.
As things stand, I think the deadline for applications is 31st Aug.
And here is the first draft of the first edition, printed and bound today, cost <£1.
It might seem an irrelevance to consider postage stamps featuring photographers, but the issuing of national stamps is a non-trivial exercise and, for named individuals, will only be used to commemorate figures considered by the state to be of significant merit. It might be interesting, therefore, to examine which countries honour which of their national treasures. I only hit upon this notion today while looking for images of Dupain's Sunbaker.
I will note any others I encounter - Nadar
I am formulating an approach for the final assessment.
But now it really is time to get back to work on Part 5 (ignored since 29th April), wrap it up and put it to bed. That's used up my clichéd metaphor quotient for the whole day.
For future readers, Black Lives Matter demonstrations are currently happening following the death in (and at) police hands of George Floyd.
Hyperallergic are reporting a new app that pixelates faces and removes metadata so that images of protesters cannot be used by authorities to identify participants. This is an interesting development for citizen journalism discussed in Part 1. I would guess that the data continues to be held somewhere but is not immediately accessible.
Face Depixelizer is an amazing new AI-powered app that can take an ultra-low-res pixelated photo of a face and turn it into a realistic portrait photo.
Created by Russian developer Denis Malimonov, the app utilizes the power of StyleGAN, which famously can generate realistic portraits of people who don’t exist.
After taking in a pixel face, Face Depixelizer continuously creates faces with StyleGAN and narrows in on the resulting “photo” by finding one that downscales to produce the exact same pixel face.Petapixel
(To misquote the closing line of Bernstein's Requiem.)
I am impelled to embark on two new learning curves: Wordpress to throw together a site for C&N final assessment and also video for (a) the same reason and (b) I videoed my mother's funeral last week: needed because of Welsh virus restrictions on attendance, and must learn video editing †.
I have Adobe Premier included in my bundle, but it is to complicated and slick for my taste. I have upgraded to Premier Elements 2020 which is my kind of cheesy.
† This visit to Wales, possibly my last, allowed a couple hours for me to shoot a boyhood Square Mile, Y Filltir Sgwar Cymru, which I will attend to in due course.
A useful quote from Wilde,
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. Oscar Wilde,
That could be thrown into a discussion on self portraits and used to praise or undermine both sides, performative and straight.
More good mask quotes here - Wikiquote.
I applied for November assessment today, much to my surprise.
If I could only ever photograph one subject then (setting aside the fact that it would probably be because I had suffered another stroke, this time life-changing, which limited my activities to home, nevertheless) it would probably be the morning light through my Mondrian stained glass windows. This was the subject of an exercise in EyV and here's a recent example. On bright mornings, my partner and I often call one another into the room to see the day's offering and there are more upstairs that we wake up to.
This leads on to the subject of subjects I will never photograph. Top of the list is the Shard, an unpleasant building on many levels (just realised that's a pun too) and the ultimate London photo-cliché, then (2) that bloody single tree in a pond in Wales.
From Steven Pippin,
The technology and sophistication of the present-day camera seem to grow proportionately to the increasingly boring subject matter it records. Pippin, quoted in Why it doe not have to be in focus (Higgins, 2013, p. 126)
And the zine is updated to that point, just the Asg.5 rework to be added before publication.
On to assessment and I&P.
While awaiting a tutorial on C&N Asg.5, it's time to prepare for I&P. The checklist is:
I had my final tutorial this morning. Reaction to my Asg.5 image was less negative than I expected and we concentrated mostly on the accompanying text which should be more rigorous, academic and linky. So be it.
I uploaded all the files today. There's a record of the submissions on the C&N Wordpress site.
The next and in all likelihood final post for this blog will be the result.
I have send a copy of the zine to my tutor.
A creditable 62%, report here.
(rn) author (year) title [online]. web site. Available from url [Accessed nn January 2020].
n. author, init (year) Title. Location: Publisher.
[28Dec19] I have been collecting apposite quotes since starting the web site, but rather apathetically because I did not have a convenient means of storing and referencing them. Here's the original page. This is a new plan - stash them in the blog (which I often have) and list the sources here. I'll add navigation arrows through the entries. As currently conceived, the quotes gathered during each course will remain discrete in that blog - I might organise a way around that.
Erwin Blumenfeld - photography is easy (or is it?).
A.D. Coleman - All photographs are fictions
John Coplans - meaninglessness
Paul Dirac - poetry vs. science
Marcel Duchamp - photography vs. painting
William Fox Talbot - chance and charm
Peter Galassi - Photography is a bastard
Paul Graham - orthodoxy.
Bill Jay - photography's destination
Matisse - objects and surroundings
me - why photograph?
Steven Pippin - inverse sophistication
Sontag - intention, loosely bound
Sontag - mortality, vulnerability, mutability
Alec Soth - still photography is incompatible with the narrative sequence.
Tom Stoppard - recognising quality
Evelyn Waugh - first or a fourth
Edward Weston - the thing itself
Oscar Wilde - on masks