Category Archives: Assignment One

‘Thinking With’ – My Photography – Progress Report 2

I said that Christmas intervened in my thinking with.  Inevitably, it involved some family fun and some family photos.  There can often be something quite surreal about these Christmas get-togethers.  So some of the photos of the photos have a touch of surreal ambiguity about them.

About Why 15 - Ambiguity

Photographs can certainly tell stories but they can also ask questions!  And trying to answer the questions can raise new ones and make the whole thing even more complicated …  Or is this the ‘decisive moment’?

About Why 16 - Resolving Ambiguity

Which brings me and my ‘Thinking With’ indoors.  Into this ‘stream of consciousness’ approach to image making comes an impromptu self portrait.

About Why 11 - Me

I’m not sure this approach is clarifying anything!  And something photographed ‘to see what it looked like photographed’ (thank you Gary).

About Why 09 - Just to see

Which brings me to the matter of ‘Still Life’.  That artistic genre led me through the latter stages of Level Two and I am well aware that I am not likely to drop it anytime soon.  Time to do some thinking with it.  I like a flat, even, subtle light (see most of the landscapes above); so some experimentation with my ‘studio lights’, designed to achieve the subtlety one might associate with a still life painting.

About Why 12 - Subtlety 1

About Why 13 - Subtlety 2

About Why 14 - Subtlety 3

The differences are subtle – but the top one works best for me – a single 500 watt bulb, turned upwards and away, then diffused with a hand-held diffusing ring.  It could, perhaps, be brightened a little, but I approve of the soft, even feel – some important, subtle judgements in trying to get this sort of thing just right.

The contemporary ‘still-lifers’ that I studied for my Level Two essay – Lucas Blalock, for example – like to experiment with ordinary objects, rather than the traditional still life ‘matter’.  This is some colourful electrical tape, with a cleaning cloth.

About Why 17 - Colour, Texture and Light

And, like all good, thrifty still-lifers, I can combine, re-use, and experiment with familiar, easy-to-hand objects.

Still Life with Electrical Tapes and Cabling 1

But my real interest in digital still life lies in the scope to experiment further and test the boundaries.  I’ve said that one of my objectives in my ‘Body of Work‘ module is to explore and exploit the potential of digital image-making.  I’m interested asking ‘What can we actually do with this process? and ‘What does that look like?’.  The words that occur to me are “disruption and subversion”.  What happens when we blatantly use the power that digital processes give us and disrupt the normal flow, subverting the genre.

Still Life with Electrical Tapes and Cabling 2 (Removed)

Still Life with Disruption 1

Still Life with Disruption 2

What happens when we subvert the very idea of ‘still’ still life.  (cf. – Ori Gersht & Sam Taylor-Wood, who have produced moving still lifes).  This following type of image really interests me.

Still Life with movement

I find it visually attractive, slightly intimidating … it challenges me to try and decide what it is.  I could print it big & beautiful, and hang it on a gallery wall – in which case it would definitely be ‘real’.  But what is it an image of, and why do I find it attractive.  I do feel the need to explore more of this within my Body of Work.  I am, though, as mentioned right at the start of this blog, very wary of getting too far up my own backside with intellectualising.  That still troubles me and I wonder whether I should be looking at a more personal project.

‘Thinking With’ – My Photography – Progress Report 1

Six weeks since my conversation with Clive; about five since my early reflections on ‘Genres’ & ‘Thinking With’ rather than ‘About’; some posts about research on Genres (Thinking About!); Christmas has intervened; but no photographs!  What’s been going on?  Actually, I’ve had those words in my mind, a mantra to which I’ve kept returning; and I have been taking photographs/making images, some of which I’ve shared with fellow students on Flickr. Mostly, from mid-December, I’ve tried to free up my mind & take photographs, just to see whether themes/ideas/concepts/purposes/meanings emerged.  In the last 24 hours, I’ve poured out a stream on consciousness into my notebook, exploring what might be going on.  I’m not going to repeat all thoughts in this blog, but communicating my thinking is going to take three or four posts, of which this is the first.

To start with a photograph – I took this one about a month ago …

About Why 01 - Out of Nowhere “Out of Nowhere”

Out for a walk on my own; had picked up the camera, hoping to do some ‘thinking with’ … letting my mind relax; opening my eyes to see what I see; just photograph what I want … regardless.  I called it “Out of Nowhere” (later, when reflecting) – the wish to photograph it came out of nowhere; the tree is growing out of nowhere; and out of nowhere I was away, taking some pictures.  Why photograph it?  It made me think of an explosion, actually, but I needed to be careful not to start thinking ‘about’.  THINK WITH … take photographs & think afterwards!

About Why 02 - Its complicated “It’s complicated”

It isn’t easy!  Six years of studying and learning to think ‘about’ gets in the way; it almost gets easier to think and not photograph.  What made me take photographs when it didn’t matter?  Seeing abstract shapes, forms colours, patterns, textures in the landscape …  Not being a painter or drawer. photography gave me the means to record and communicate these things.

Sometimes, the strangest connections just happen …

About Why 06 - Why not

Plastic on Wire

There is no connection at all, of course, other than a sort of accidental, formal one, in my own mind; a convenient one that I choose to make.  Like …

Homage to Usain “Homage to Usain”

It’s more than three years now since I completed the OCA Landscape module. My last assignment involved many visits to a particular site, where I had found resonance with Joel Meyerowitz’s photos of the 9/11 site.  It hasn’t changed much in three and a half years …

Revisiting Lanscape II

I took a version of this next image on a Level One module – Introduction to Digital Photography.  It was a more colourful, blue sky and autumnal version, but I think I prefer this one … still surreal, though, in a quite weird way.

Real Surreal

John Stezaker began his collages and film stills series (which I wrote about here) when he had a print of a film still upside down for years.  It had a reflection of a woman’s face in the shiny top of a grand piano.  I wonder what would happen if I turned this one upside down?