Task 2 : F3 feedback notes

Too much time has passed between the group crit and me writing this, too much has happened outside of the course and things are beginning to get a bit hazy. Others have said it before, but it’s really difficult to talk about the work, answer verbal questions, answer written questions, think, respond, talk some more and write down any sort of note to serve as an aide memoire for writing something meaningful at the end. Luckily, I got a grab of the comments, and I’ve also had some feedback via e-mail.

I’ve already posted the chatbox notes, but here I will respond to those that I think need to be responded to in some way.

It’s interesting how you extend the narrative of the photo sequences with text. Have you considered making the prints unique and more intimate with handwriting – just like Duane Michals does with his photo sequences?

Have I thought about handwriting? Not at all!!

At the time the comment was made, the name didn’t really register with me, but on checking on Google I have seen the work before somewhere. There’s a number of others that come to mind when I think of this sort of thing, not least is Robert Heineken who hand annotated some of his Polaroid sequences (I saw his work in Liverpool recently). Does it make a big difference if the lyrics are handwritten? My first thought is that it would be very difficult for me to come up with something that I was truly happy with. I’d struggle to make it centred, would the characters be the same height, would the line droop near the end…? I would probably try to make the handwriting so “precise” that it would lose the purpose of being handwritten.

I also see these. as being quite large images when printed (which is the reason for one of my questions), so how does this then relate to handwriting? Would it be brush painted? Sprayed? I feel like I would lose control a bit – I guess I’m a photographer working digitally for a reason… Which, with reflection, is a strange thing to say as these images are entirely down to chance!

Rob, I’d like to see more experimentation -maybe hadn 
[HAND] colour the photos in some way – over print them? Add sound?

I  suppose this is then also related to the last point too. To working digitally and degrees of control. The images are all manipulated in some way digitally, and years of not using my hands artistically is maybe crippling my confidence somewhat. There’s also an issue of space; I live in a small two bedroomed cottage, and until that lottery win comes in, there’s no space for a studio to have these things printed and then made available to layer in some way by hand. Perhaps interesting, once I’d gotten over the trepidation, but impractical and not really me either. I mentioned in the talker to the slides that this was a big deviation for me, and that my work is normally much “straighter” (as below), this is perhaps an interesting diversion for me, but I suspect I will return to my normal photography at some point.

Sword Beach

As for sound? Maybe it would be an option, but then what? If I think about video, then there’s maybe a need for sound. It might also be included in a gallery context too. Would it be songs? Would it be war? Would including the sound push something too far one way or the other? Something to think about, but…

be really interesting to exhibit these on 48 sheets
or printed and posted on walls/boards in cities

I didn’t know what this meant (48 sheets), but a quick Google and I believe it refers to billboards… Yes, I was thinking large scale prints anyway (over a metre) so maybe… Yes, I think it would actually work like that. I’d like to see it…However… It’s not cheap to get it done in – a billboard is about £700/m and about £200 for the printing. A single board wouldn’t really work either. My pockets aren’t that deep!! Something a bit smaller then – back to my 1m gallery prints perhaps?

slide 3 has horizontal lines that seem to refer to the TV screen…seems important???

This image includes a screen within the feel – the superimposed face of a drone controller and the targeting screen he was looking at (with reticule). Yes, it’s hard to miss the relationship between the controller (actor) looking and the viewer looking. There’s a degree of appellation going on I suppose, or is it just that by watching we become complicit in the actions, or at least accepting of it? Of course, each viewer will have their own take on this.

Transfer letters….old school, rubbed onto the photographs?

I’d thought about Letraset on the glass of the framed print, so that the lettering floats above the image, even if only slightly.

or those stencil lettering
look great in the street

Related to the Letraset – I suppose it depends on scale… (so see above!)

as a comic book type of presentation

The previous work for Task 1 was loosely comic based, but not necessarily formatted that way. I wanted to move away from it with this main thrust of the project…

Looking at the e-mail comments I’ve received:

had a brief thought about some of your lyrics- knowing most of the songs(!) they began to run through my head and some felt more ‘right’ with the images that others- meaning that i thought the music went with them or not.Bauhaus – yes- Blondie – no! I don’t know whether this could be another layer, maybe a hidden one- except for those who know the music- maybe even using weirdly inappropriate music that has a great lyric- (if there is such a thing) to set up a confusing dynamic between words, music and image.

I agree with the Blondie one, but it was something I thought I needed to try to get the idea of what I thought was appropriate. Weirdly inappropriate music – would that include Kylie? The strangeness perhaps comes here only once you realise the source.

Image: Black Hawk Down
Lyric: Can’t get you out of my head, by Kylie Minogue

What about lines from army songs- marching songs or battle hymns?

I think this would then deviate from my thoughts of “entertainment”, so whilst “this is for fighting, this is for fun” (from Full Metal Jacket) might fit in thematically, it’s too far removed from my idea.

back to lyrics- the longer words like this one  All and Everyone, by PJ Harvey give  a different feel – more like an explanation I don’t really have a preference either way- tossing it back to you Rob!

I’m favouring the single lines at the moment…

What do you like- a little ambiguity? something more related to the scene? Is the actual music important or just the words? Do you want to expand beyond song lyrics to poetry or news reports or other words or is it important that it’s lyrics – and especially ones that you like  a lot (and show your age!!!!) What about that – lots of 40 somethings will know these lyrics is it better to stick to that generation or do you want to mix it up- what about different music genres- you got any  rap/hip hop in there?

At the moment it’s about the “entertainment” element. I had thought about leaving the films and into news footage or even promo video for military hardware, this would then blur the real/fake element which is part of what my initial thoughts were, but takes a step away from the entertainment element, but then it’s all part of “spectacle” so maybe I should? I might try it and see how things slot in together…

As for music style… no rap/hip hop at the moment (I don’t think), but there’s differing styles of music, from dance (The Prodigy), to industrial (NIN and KMFDM) and goth (Sisters of Mercy) to pop (Kylie). Lots of British indie stuff too, with The Smiths, PJ and The Wedding Present. Sixties music from The Beatles, The Doors and Jefferson Airplane. Elton John, The Sex Pistols, Queen and Bowie… Should it be a more select list? I don’t know.

My view on rap/hip hop is that it’s all about “Get out, cock the hammer, then kick down the door” (Cypress Hill, A to the K). OK, ok, I know I’m not familiar with the scene, but that makes it harder to work with… and I’m already confused.

For me the outstanding image was the haunting green soldier with the powerful Cohen lyrics.  I preferred the independent, rather than blocked writing, which I found distracting, and feel that  the presentation of the words is key to how you move forward.

There is a connection with the words of Cohen (from The Partisan, a song about war) and the image, so the two reinforce each other. I’m still slightly torn, but coming to think that this is the right way to go… Not overtly about conflict, but not obviously trivially not about it either (like the use of Blondie Tanya mentioned).

The presentation of the words is fairly key,and I need to sort this out before the work can be resolved in any way. The intention with the blocking was to remove distraction (from the background), so it interesting to hear that it causes distraction in itself. I’m coming back around to not having the blocking (white or black) in there and just sticking with the text, although there are still a large number of variables to think about.

Having sat thru the various videos and slide presentations for the Turner Prize, I felt FFF could easily have been another contender.

It’s really good to hear that the work is being positively received as I do have my doubts about it…

I was comforted by your confusion, it helped put mine in perspective.

Similarly it helps to hear others are also confused. None of us are alone in our confusion…

“If you could let me know which of the lyric styles you prefer (and why?) on mine I’d much appreciate”Its hard to say Rob!  I was asking a few questions of you as for me that is the way I’d start to decide on how I wanted things…do I want the viewer to know its from films, does it matter its filmic representations, or is it more important its conflict representations.  What does having the lyrics add to the images, is it important people may recognise the lyrics, or is it more important that they don’t.  Do the lyrics mean to veil or conceal the conflict or are they there to elucidate on some aspect of it etc, if only the senselessness.   So if it was me I’d decide conceptually based on what I thought I was doing with them

Is it important that they’re films…? At the moment I think it’s not really important the viewer realises that they’re films, but it is important that they are. The way I think the work is seen by the wider audience (accepting that it’s not being widely seen by anyone – it’s on a few sites but with limited audience), the images will be thought of as a form of entertainment in themselves – almost comic book art which in itself almost promotes the entertainment value of conflict. We are looking at them and not with a documentary eye. The lyrics are adding to that “pop culture” element of the work. I guess I want people to “enjoy” the work, and then almost to feel guilty for doing so as a realisation dawns…

They will then question what it is they have enjoyed. To think about what the war film represents – a celebration of killing each other for what are often strange ideals on behalf of what is usually the aggressor (politics, religion, whatever…) I think the purpose of the lyrics is to add to what is being thought about. Add to the confusion that might ensue, and it’s probably this in itself that is causing me so much confusion as I create the work.

Stuart Whipps – I suddenly thought of him, he’s a local photographer working quite internationally it seems these days, I went to one of his exhibitions on Wales and the picturesque versus reality, in which his images were accompanied by a recording of people making enunciations (of not particularly relevant things) in Welsh.  Which was deliberately that no-one could understand as we were in Birmingham!  It was partly about the way that non-local people have no understanding of a local context I think.  There was a translation available and it talked of historic events, welshness vs English overlordness….etc etc

But it reminded me of your work in the way there is not necessarily a feeling of ‘sense’ for a viewer but there is an underlying conceptual reason for the presence of the words.

I’ll look into this – not had a chance yet.

So for me if I was you (and this is just me and I think its possible I am just very very weird about this stuff) I would be asking myself why I was doing the lyrics, over and above the juxtaposition and fracture.  And I would decide in the end on how I felt in my gut about it regardless of anyone elses view!For me overall there is something about film, something about how conflict is portrayed on film, and that we watch it as entertainment.  So the lyrics might draw our attention to what we are doing in some way.  Another way I guess is to have a musical soundtrack that makes no ‘sense’ with the images.  Maybe there’s something about how film is immersive that might need to be there, and a soundtrack would also have an immersive quality that is not there so much with stills which are more contemplative.

Things to think about… (too many things to think about, although maybe now I have the realisation the confusion is self induced….)

I like the words: there´s a club if you´d like to go” most – there is a connection between these words and the soldier – for me. What do think about writting yourself a Haiku. Links to your loved Asian photographers…

A haiku would indeed relate to my other interests, and would be appropriate to the intention of the juxtaposition, but it then moves away from my original ideas. Is it too great a leap sideways? Can haiku be written in English? How does the flow of on relate? Is it to syllables? To words? Would it be in some way similar to using a verse from a song? Perhaps it should form something of a future project.

You could present the photos as well in addition with spoken words….. wirtten, without the white blog behind…..or present them as a projection onto the walls going around and sounds – words coming from anywhere – this would be a deep impact to the viewer.

Hmmm…. The images started off without words (which have always been added afterwards – never as an intended pairing from the start). Maybe the images could be just that and somehow work out a way for projecting words around the gallery… Something more to think about. Actually, there is so much to think about….

Have seen such an installation  in Stuttgart: artist Peter Kogler

As well Rebecca Horn did this in Berlin, Martin Gropius Bau, with words…  

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