The aim of this exercise (and Assignment Two) is to encourage you to develop
metaphorical and visceral interpretations rather than obvious and literal ones, to
give a sense of something rather than a record of it..
Choose a poem that resonates with you then interpret it through photographs.
Don’t attempt to describe the poem but instead give a sense of the feeling of the
poem and the essence it exudes.
Start by reading the poem a few times (perhaps aloud) and making a note of the
feelings and ideas it promotes, how you respond to it, what it means to you and the
mental images it raises in your mind. Next, think about how you’re going to interpret
this visually and note down your ideas in your learning log.
You may choose to develop this idea into creating a short series of images reflecting
your personal response to the poem (or another poem). Write some reflective notes
about how you would move the above exercise on.
The number of pictures you choose to produce for the exercises and assignments in
this course, including this one, is up to you. Try to keep in mind the following tips for
knowing when you have done enough/not done enough:
• Are the images repeating themselves? Are there three versions of the same
picture for example? Can you take two out?
• Does each image give a different point of view or emphasise a point you want
• Do the images sit well together visually?
• Have you given the viewer enough information? Would another picture help? Blog about it.C&N
[2, p. 60]
One of my earliest web sites, written towards the end of the last century, was Poetry Corner. In 2009, this was subsumed into Snap-Dragon, a portal of sorts. This was all written in Microsoft's Front Page HTML editor, a piece of bloatware that produced absurdly inefficient code - the site has not been updated for a long time. But back to the poetry.
I have two favourite poems, Henry Reed's poignant Lessons of War: Naming of Parts and E.J. Thribb's frivolous In Memoriam Kenneth Wood, inventor of the "Kenwood" Mixer and the Reversible Toaster.
[18Feb20] Anti-Hiraeth cannot be done without returning to Wales and that is unlikely to happen soon. (When it does, I intend to shoot another EyV Square Mile.)
In Memoriam is amusing whimsy.
Naming of Parts was always going to be the target for this exercise. The glory of the poem is the way that it intertwines two incongruous narratives - one is always about firearm components (overlaid with the barked You 'orrible little man instruction of a sergeant major) and the second about flowers. The key linking element is spring as a homonym.
Box A Young girl holding a flower, demonstration
against the war in Vietnam, Washington, 1967
Marc Riboud Box A2 Young girl holding a flower, demonstration
against the war in Vietnam, Washington, 1967
img: Blind magazineMarc Riboud
b: 1923 France, d: 2016 Paris Artist's site - Wikipedia
(There are, of course, numerous other themes and contrasts: poorly-equipped and ill-prepared troops; insects promoting fecundity while mankind industrialises slaughter and so on.) But it's guns and flowers in essence so my initial thought was a triptych — gun on the left, flower on the right, something in the middle. This morning, Marc Riboud's iconic (a much overused term, but accurate in this case) iconic image of an anti-Vietnam protester (fig. A1) came to mind. So it's off to the Imperial War Museum (IWR) this morning with a daffodil in a yoghurt pot - it's the only flower currently available in the garden.
[12Jul21] I have just learned that this was available in colour, fig. A21, from an article in Blind magazine regarding an exhibition at the Guimet Museum, Paris. Two cameras ? Newspapers in B&W only?.
[18Feb20 22:01] The IWR was hopeless: not an accessible barrel in sight. The contact sheet below also includes some church tops as possibles for Asg.2.
Having defined what is needed, completion will have to wait until I find a rifle (preferably with a bayonet) to photograph. The lone daffodil is now on the dining table.
Box C Gun, Flower
Nik Filter Analog Efex, I'm feeling lucky…
[25Feb20] Aware that some readers might feel short-changed by my efforts so far on this exercise, I have returned to it and learned two important things about my attitude to aspects of photography.
In the first instance, having thought of a 'solution' to the exercise, making the actual shot become unimportant. Part of this must be because it was an externally designed and set task to which I was not particularly devoted — had it been a personal project I would have pursued it more vigorously. It was only later that guilt kicked in.
So, having decided that something must be done, I considered appropriation. This notion is firmly in my mind at the moment, having recently experienced Eleanor Macnair’s work, and read, at her bidding, Robert Shore's fascinating Beg, Steal and Borrow: Artists Against Originality (2017). I thought I was set to find a solution by Googling images of rifles, apple blossom and bees, but having found them, to my surprise, I simply could not bring myself to fiddle with someone else's photographs. I enjoy Richard Prince's Untitled (Cowboy) (and his audacity) and I enjoy and understand (I think) Jonathan Lewis' Mona Lisa pieces but, it would seem, only at a distance. Fiddling with my own sketch with Nik Filter's Analog Efex set to I'm feeling lucky… (fig. C1) was trauma-free. I am comfortable with showing artists' work on this site, although I do regard it as an educational resource and limit the pixel count to a dimensional maximum of 960, to bolster my fair use defence. But interfering with another's work is another matter.
Chanson, Shakespeare, NPG
Having decided to represent a complex poem with a single image and then failed to deliver that image, I will placate the reader by enpicting (we might be present at the birth of a new word) a second poem, but again, with only one image. Zaffar Kunial’s Lyric Eye concerns a poet coming to terms with his art. He uses the metaphor of looking at a portrait of Shakespeare at the National Portrait Gallery and seeing a reflection of his own face merging with the portrait as his words join Shakespeare's in becoming part of the lexicon of English literature. This is captured quite nicely in fig. D1, an image of the Chandos portrait at the NPG to which Kunial refers. The depicted viewer's mobile screen is visible, echoing the portrait (although there is insufficient detail to discern any reflection). It is arguable that a photograph of someone taking a standard selfie looking away from the painting might have better captured the absurdity of that idiom, but D1 is more faithful to the subject.
Any progress on Exc. 2.3 will be shown below.
Fig. E1 — I was reminded that there is an air pistol in the loft that I have had since childhood. It was retrieved and the well-travelled daffodil inserted.
Exercise 2.3 - Local References
Shore, R. (2017) Beg, Steal and Borrow: Artists Against Originality. London: Laurence King.
Page created 16-Feb-20120 | Page updated 12-Jul-2021