I’ll add what I’ve prepared as the voiceover text later, whether it ends up being what I actually say remains to be seen.
Slide 1 - Rob, some time ago...
Slide 2 - Concert photograph, 2010
Slide 3 - Heinz Hajek Halke, The Home of Sailors, 1930
Slide 4 - Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brussels, 1932 (MoMA)
Slide 5 - Daido at Polka, 2011
Slide 6 - Shomei Tomatsu, Kadena-cho, Okinawa, 1969
Slide 7 - William Klein, Torn Cine Poster, 1961
Slide 8 - Tony Ray-Jones, Glyndebourne, 1967
Slide 9 - Christopher Petit, Radio On, 1979
Slide 10 - Untitled, from Speak My Language, 2013
Slide 11 - Petra Wunderlich, NYC Kingdom Hall, 2009
Slide 12 - John Darwell, Legacy: Inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, 1998
Slide 13 - William Eggleston, Untitled (Peaches), 1973
Slide 14 - Stephen Shore, US 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, 21 July 1973.
Slide 15 - Ridley Scott, Blade Runner, 1982
Slide 16 - Books 1, 2015
Slide 17 - Menu, 2012
Slide 18 - Books 2, 2014
Slide 19 - Barbara Kruger, Belief + Doubt, 2012
Slide 20 - Pop Art Rob
Here’s what I intended to say, but it didn’t quite work out that way:
1. Hi, my name is Rob and I’m addicted to photography
I’m going to talk about some of the things that I’ve liked and have influenced me over the years. The first thing I have to mention is music; it’s affected the way I looked, the way I feel and the work I produce. As you know, I’ve used lyrics in my images, but I’ve also used music as the image itself.
2. Here’s a photo I took at a gig, the photograph shows the audience and the effect music can have. Elsewhere it might be less overt but it’s there if you know where to look for the signs. All of my recent projects are also named after songs too. Might be a bit cheesy, but there we go.
3. Surrealism was the first “ism” I became aware of at school, and it’s stayed with me to some degree ever since. Not just in terms of photographers either, but Dali, Magritte and so on too. It probably comes from reading too much science fiction when I was younger.
4. Another surrealist was Henri Cartier-Bresson, but he will be better known for his photographs of the “decisive moment”, like his famous St Lazare photograph. I really got into black and white photography from these old images from Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau and Atget, etc.
5. From France, my interests moved over to Japan and the Vivo and Provoke groups from the 60s and 70s – photographers such as Tomatsu, Hosoe, Moriyama and Takanashi were producing images in the “are bure boke” style - grainy, blurry and out of focus.
6. The images were politically charged, and even though they were influenced by the West, and new wave filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard, they pushed against the American occupation of Japan and reacted to the experience of the atomic bomb.
7. William Klein was an influence on Moriyama, and I thought their exhibition at the Tate a couple of years ago was brilliant. What draws me is the way he layers different elements – photo with photo as with this one, or with text or graphic design.
8. Coming closer to home, I have to say I’m English, and I do like the more contemporary style of English photography – after the Picture Post era like this one from Tony Ray-Jones, it became a little edgier and… eccentric. I find this really interesting.
9. Cinema is another big influence, as you may have noticed from the work I’ve been doing. This still is from Christopher Petit’s Radio On, which was a direct influence on the work I exhibited in Bank Street last year with Speak My Language – a mosaic of images viewed in a large grid to form a non-linear narrative.
10. This is one of the images from that work, it’s of Wong Kar-Wai’s “Fallen Angels”, which also gave me the title of the project – Laurie Anderson’s “Speak my Language” was on the soundtrack to the film, and this frame and the lyrics were included in the mosaic.
11. I’ve also got to mention Objectivity and the Dusseldorf School – people like the Bechers, Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky. I find this relatively recently but it appeals to the engineer in me, with everything neat and ordered and logical.
12. Quite a few years ago, I attended a talk by John Darwell. During that talk, he spoke about his transition to colour photography, saying “This is now”. It really struck a chord with me and I’ve generally worked in colour since, but not always…
13. William Eggleston was one of the early colour pioneers, who helped make colour photography acceptable on the art scene. I really do like his eye for mundane details, the way he picks up on all the little things we might overlook and makes you look at them as if they now meant something. They become important somehow.
14. Stephen Shore was another of the early colour art photographers. This particular image illustrates postmodernist ideas for me, the simulacra of the mountain in front of the real thing, not quite a map so big it covers the country, but still…
15. This brings me back to film and Blade Runner – an all time favourite of mine, and a perfect postmodern film, with its themes of simulation, what is real and all that. Looking at something like this starts to make sense of some of the pomo theory.
16. I’ve done a reasonable amount of reading on visual culture, and I do subscribe to some of it, but not all – it gets a bit… aloof in places, and it assumes a lot. Some times I just like to appreciate things for what they are to me (itself part of the theory), rather than what they might mean or not.
17. My favourite kind of book is the photobook though. This is one I produced with Daido Moriyama at an event at the Tate. My methodology was much different to his, I was much more considered, and he was very random, more spontaneous. His juxtapositions can be down to luck rather than planning.
18. I like the physicality of the photobook, the image becomes an object that you can “own” rather than something just seen on a computer screen. Whilst books might be thought of as a limited media, you can do so much with it if you want to. And we all know about bookness now.
19. I’ve mentioned text before, but then I don’t like direct captions. I like to think about what I’m seeing, rather than being told what it is. Ok, sometimes I’ll admit to needing a clue, but if the caption is reductive, I’d rather not read it.
20. And that’s it, back to music, me and popular culture… I probably should have been born 20 years earlier.
I’m waiting for feedback from some of the cohort, but I think things went well enough. And it was quite interesting that the Barbara Kruger text came up in the lecture beforehand (as did Warhol’s Marilyn).
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…
Bookness (From Les' slides)
This sounds fairly straightforward, there's hardbacks, paperbacks and even e-books... made of paper pages or similar, bound together in some way so that they are read sequentially. Actually, bookness doesn't really have much to do with that, well, it does as an absolute starting point, but it keeps on going beyond the logical and into the... realms of fantasy? The roof of a house has "bookness" in that the shape looks like the cover of a half open book
Roof (from Les' slides)
If the roof is the book cover, then the walls, the bricks, the rooms are the pages, and yes, all will tell a story of some sort. Calling this "fantasy" is a bit harsh, there is some form of fantastical logic about his train of thought though, with ploughed fields displaying bookness (the furrows being like the pages of the book), or anything displaying text being akin to a book, or... or... or...... There were times when this was reigned in though, when comparing a sculpture to a book, he was told by it's creator it was a sculpture, not a book. You can't win them all...
Personally, this sort of thing isn't for me, although I do understand the nature of interconnectedness and relationships, etc. Of how one thing can lead to another. Having said that (and I do believe I'm too logical for it), I do like surrealism - am I actually to logical for that too? Whatever. I'm afraid I haven't taken a great deal from this one as for as bookness goes, although maybe the research section might prove to be of use once I get around to working through some of his questions to ask ourselves.
Day of the Rangers, 1993
Image: Black Hawk Down
Lyric: Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen
The Battle of Warsaw, 1920
Image: The Battle of Warsaw
Lyric: Saturday Night's Alright, by Elton John
Haditha Massacre, 2005
Image: Battle for Haditha
Lyric: Books from Boxes, by Maximo Park
The Battle of Warsaw, 1920
(images used for educational purposes)
The last image was just intended as something a little different, perhaps a bit closer to being "traditional" reportage type photography. Something for another day though.
Máire also spoke briefly of the start of her own work, which incorporated a sugan chair as the basis for the work. Things were still in the early days of the process she would be carrying out, so we talked more about the idea and the background. There will be more to discuss next week when hopefully Ines will join us too...
(images used for educational purposes)
I’ll add some thoughts on the crit later.
My initial thoughts is that this really isn’t for me. I’ve become too used to the freewheeling independence experienced in the photography degree, whereas this “suffers” from too much structure and not moving at a pace that I want to. There’s also a fear that in doing the exercises planned I won’t be doing the work I want to do. I know this is a failing with my mindset though, and that it’s just a case of adjusting to a different way of learning, of operating. That in time, when the IT is behaving and the course has started in anger and people are engaging with each other, things will be much better. Maybe I’m just missing Clive’s peculiar way of providing feedback, together with a degree of uncertainty about the mixed media cohort and the way things are phrased (“studio” for example). It’s certainly a worry though, but with luck I’ll make it past the end of the month.
Something from Speak My Language although this wasn’t mentioned. It’s relevant to me as it shows my Union Flag cup (now sadly faded by the dishwasher) which represents my nationality within a multi-national relationship (I have a French wife) and a love of coffee, my computer keyboard (I’m a semi-geek) and a photobook which is perhaps my preferred method of absorbing photography... It also made a background appearance in the photograph Caroline uploaded, although I’m not going to suggest anything can be read into that!
© Caroline Wright
Pleasantries over, there was a brief breakaway into smaller groups to discuss three different links - two videos and a flash website:
© Nina Paley
The first of these, the video embedded above from Alexa // Sheila, was something I really enjoyed. The visuals were really striking, and reminded me of the rotoscoping technique employed in the making of A Scanner Darkly by Richard Linklater. The transient nature of the images was also interesting, the interplay with milk going off, the milk affecting the paint, the chalky nature of the photographs. There’s only a few finished images in there, but they do make me want to go and look at more. Ok, it’s photography so up my “street”, but it’s not my type of photography, but regardless, I liked it. I don’t know what it “meant”, but I liked it (and actually, does it need to “mean” anything?)
Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley) was intriguing... the contrast between cultures and the layers it created, between Indian religion/customs and the roaring twenties (of Annette Hanshaw’s vocals), this historical element with the computer game “platform-ness” and with the superhero kitsch of the “Chop!” that resonates with both the modern resurgence of the genre in the movies and the Batman series of the 60s. I’m not sure what I thought of it as “art”, but it was an enjoyable animation, a catchy tune... perhaps more entertaining than I was expecting.
And then there is the Flash (I assume) website of Man in the Dark by Miltos Manetas and Aaron Russ Clinger... I saw this an inwardly groaned. I’m not a fan of this sort of thing, I feel it’s very dated and not at all innovative nowadays. If I’d seen it a number of years ago (maybe in 2004 when it was created), yes it would have been quite something, but I can’t help but feel blasé about it, that it’s dated and outlived its appeal. I get more of a kick from simple animations on the iPhone now. Maybe that’s significant, and maybe it ties in with what I envisage my MA will be about; the representations of conflict in art/photography, and the saturation we may well have reached in what we see and then how we have to break from that tradition... Art has to innovate, adapt and re-innovate in order to keep fresh and interesting.
After that brief sojourn, Caroline gave an introduction into the MA-ness of the course. An interesting briefing that sparked something within me that we beginning to feel flat, feel nervous and doubtful. She touched on the research (process, looking, context), skill attainment, criticality, awareness, communication and independence. All buzz words I guess, but that’s not meant to be cynical, merely an observation. Whilst I still have some doubts, they’re more to do with the structure of where the course will take me and how that will impose itself on where I want it to take me (I have my ideas already). It’s something to discuss in my first one-on-one, unless it is relevant to the group discussion beforehand.