This week have been working on printing images for my book. I will be hand printing 12 images into 5×7 prints. Used my time on the refresher printing course at the Labs at Santa Monica College to do this.
This was week 6 and the last day of the printing refresher. I completed the series yesterday for the book. (3 weeks work) at SMC on Sundays. I use the facilities there to get equipment I do not have in my own dark room, plus it’s nice to get feedback from other printers, regarding my prints. I take them home let them dry overnight, then rewash and dry on my dryer at home.
I did the work in Ilford paper, and really like the look. So of course, I’m going to print my FMP on Ilford all the way It seems that the contrast and the very deep blacks of the images lend themselves well to the look of the images, so I will be printing the series for my exhibition on the Ilford Fiber Base paper. This printing refresher every week as well as my own darkroom work has been very beneficial to my printing. I have finally achieved the level of making a print, that I feel is on the level of any professional or professional printer.
I had the opportunity to use the Macbeth Densitometer TD-504 to do density readings on my negs to see that they are in range from clear base to max density. I like to keep my highlights and shadows well within range, so I overexpose the negative and under develop it to give a slightly lower density of the highlights with good shadow detail as this helps printing in the darkroom, that way I can keep my printing lights somewhat consistent.
So far it has been working well, and my exposures and development of my negs are just where I like them to be. The D-Max is 2.10 (TEST STRIP) Actual on meter reads 2.12, so it’s accurate to 1/200th, close enough for me, plus the test strip may not be new. My max destiny on my negs were around 1.30-1.40, Just where I like it, and compensate for density with the VC filters to increase the required contrast.
Home Darkroom Printing:
At the home darkroom I have printed some of my final images, 11×14. I have finally decided to go back to Ilford Fibre Base, so a lot of them will be reprinted. I have also changed the stop bath to a citric base from the ascetic base, less smell and less irritation for me. I have added a fresh air vent to my darkroom so this has made a huge difference. This week I will be printing all the images for my Pop_UP exhibition on November the 14th at the Hollywood Sculpture Garden.
Finishing 5×7’s at home.
The prints were brought back from SMC, I allowed to dry, of course the fibre paper curl set in. So I resoaked in filtered water, sometimes I use distilled, give it a good soak and rinse, squeegee, and dry on my dryer.
I made 18 prints over the past three weeks. These are for the book. I will use them also to do the final edit for my pop-up exhibit, it will be nice to see the prints on ilford paper in a smaller size and then get my series together, better than looking at cheap paper prints which I have done before.
Above the prints soaking in filtered water, it also serves as a final wash. The water where I live is very hard, even though it aids in removing the hypo, it can leave mineral on the surface of the print (even though, I have never experienced any residue) once the print has dried. However, as I am going for longevity of the print, I archival was, use hypo clear, do the residual hypo check, and not I will do the residual silver check to make sure the prints are properly fixed. I do a 2 bath fix for a minute each. The test is done with Sodium Sulphite, 2 dropped on the print and if there is a change in the image, there is resiual silver and it’s not fixed enough. I found some Sodium Sulphite at Sammy’s camera last week. I bought some paper there as Freestyle Photo was out of stock. As a result of that, I saved $10 on the paper, it was cheaper, so I guess I will buy there from now on, and I found a small bottle of sodium sulphite.
I was going to order it from the Photographers Formulary, but found out it has to ship via UPS or Fedex instead of USPS (some safety reasons) but this added $22 dollars to the shipping, plus a weeks wait. I would have bought it, but luckily a bottle was available at Sammy’s so overall I saved over $30, so as I was close by to Canters my favorite Deli, went for lunch and did some reading/research of my new book: “The Photograph as Contemporary Art.”
B+W Analysing Process: https://www.paulwainwrightphotography.com/biblio_files/silver_conf_a.pdf
Just had my 1-2-1 with Dr.Wendy.
Very helpful and guiding as always.
Suggestions included to do this week:
- To prepare a pdf and submit an installation plan of my images for my upcoming exhibition.
- To submit a selection of my images that are unedited, and in grid form, so that the images can be looked at together. This allows for a quick overview.
- To think about pairings. as well as (3,4 and 6) groupings, that I think may work well on specific walls.
- Be prepared to discuss possible groupings, and to put these together in a pdf form.
- To consider the role of autobiography in my project and how or if this might be stitched in to the text and any press release etc.
All this information provided by Dr.Wendy will be used this week as a lodestone to point me in the direction I need to go with the exhibition.
This week is entailing a lot of darkroom work. This Sunday past I spent 5 hours in the darkroom at Santa Monica College. I have got the printing to the point where I am happy with the final images and have definitely settled on using the Foma Fiber base paper. I will wash and hypo clear for extended times as recommended and not worry about residual hypo at this point. It seems that if I leave the print overnight in a tray or water all the hypo is leached out and with research done on this technique, it seems that all is okay with this long soak time.
Many photographers have done it with no problems, even though its not recommended (and or course the is the opposite camp, who has all types of problems) However, my own tests, over very long time soak (3 hours) yielded no problems. I am going to go with recomended Hypo Wash (five minutes) wash time for FOMA (35minutes) Then leave in clean water tray for 30 mins, change water, leave for an hour, change water, then leave for an hour. So far this works for me.
I am putting in a chemical fume exhaust system in my bathroom/darkroom today, I have just been working and opening door for air as often as possible, but now feel I have to add the ventilation, I will have to crawl under the house and do the work. I will be spending a lot of time in the darkroom this week and the next 4 weeks printing my exhibition images, so it is imperitive that the ventilation be MUCH better than it has been, which has been none other than natural air seeping through.
I have my exhibition at the Hollywood Scupture Garden and Gallery on November the 14th, as this has been okayed by Dr. Wendy on out last 1-2-1, I will give full power to all engines and get it ready. This entails the prints, framing (myself) still have to discuss if 12 will suffice, will talk to Dr. Wendy to-morrow at 11 for my 1-2-1.
I am going to do it in the Garage of the Hollywood Sculpture Garden and Gallery, I will be purchasing a Dog Kennel from Home Depot or Lowes which consists of 6ft high x 10ft long panels of chain link fencing, with a gate, which I can configure as a cube, an L, X, S. It is tall enough to hang my 11×14 pieces at the 57″ height. It is portable so I can transort it down to the HSG.
I have got my ‘Mythogolcal’ story of my work down to about 17 images, I will try to cut down to 12 images for the exhibit, but may submit more for the FMP assignment, again something that need clearing up with Wendy.
I will be calling Dr. Robby, curator and artist of the Hollywood Scrupture garden and make an appointment to go and discuss the setup of the exhibition. I hope to do this sometimes towards the end of the week.
Will be heading to my garage and the hardware store to buy what needed to install my LONG OVERDUE effeicient darkroom ventilation system. I will print the images for my book at SMC darkroom 5×7’s about 18 of them.
I will print my FMP exhibit images in my own darkroom. The visit and meeting Ansel Adams, id finally paying off. Making my own prints, in my own darkroom at home, just like he did. Edward Weston, and making all his images around Point Lobos and that whole study, has also paid off. As my work now entails image construction, I do a lot of work around my house and also in a very confined area, just like he did at Point Lobos. Seems like with the FMP all my passion, experience, and study is coming at climax of being able to do the kind of work I have always aspired to do. That ‘Old Mechanic” Ansel,as Well as Edward Weston, is a very imporatnt part of my practice at this point in my work. The joy of having the technical skills to be able to manifest my ideas into a print that is understandable and communicable, has taken a very long time. However I am able to do it now in a way I was unable to do it before.
Exhibit at Hollywood Sculpture Garden and Gallery:
Just made a call to Dr. Gordon the Artist/Curator of the HSG, and set an appointment with him this coming Friday to get his suggestions and input. Again he offered me the garage of the gallery for my exhibition and I absolutely LOVE IT.
This takes me back to my childhood, when visiting my Aunt Josephine on Sundays in Alberton an adjoining town in Johannesburg. On the way there was a 7 story building, green in color with the name in big red letter on top: C J FUCHS (this is how I recall the image in my mind) My mother told me as a six year old boy: ‘See that building son, that man started all that out of a garage.’ My whole life I have rememberd that story, and it has been my guiding post. From simple and humble beginnings, great things are possible,Thanks to my mother and C J Fuchs. [only caveat, it’s taking me a long time.] This is the reason I am happy to have the garage at the HSG.
Yesterday, I looked online to see if I can find an image of that building I saw over five decades ago as a very young boy, to see how good my memory is. However not a single color image exists. I did find part of the building though, in B+W, it turns out it was 6 floors not 7; not bad having seen it once when I was six; 54 years ago. Strange thing is, it is very Bauhaus in design, and I am a big Bauhaus fan. Would love to find a frontal image of the building as I saw it when six.
Fresh air intake vent for my darkroom.
Got the fresh air intake vent installed in my bathroom/darkroom today. That was a chore. Had to cut a hole through the wall and via a 4 inch flexible hose run it to the outside through a wood panel that I can access the crawl space under the house that leads under the house. Now I have a fresh air intake at the top near the ceiling, and I will exhaust it through the door towards the bottom across the other side, so the fumes will drawn downwards from the trays to the bottom of the door, and the fresh air intake will enter from above.
As mentioned before a regular bathroom exhaust fan in the roof is above the trays and draws the chemical fumes upward past the nose of the printer from the chemicals, so it’s not a good idea to use the existing exhaust fan in a roof in the bathroom. This is a small second bathroom, and I did not have any exhaust fan in it, so something would have been better than nothing, but now it is done correctly: fresh air coming in from up high and exhaust drawing out from down low. Now I can print comfortably and healthily.
This is the beginning of the second module for the FMP. I had my 1-2-1 with Dr. Wendy, which went very well.
Over the break, it seemed as if everything finally gelled and formed into place. I completed my series of images to present to Wendy and for the FMP exhibit/Assignment PDF. consisting of 16 images. The experimentation period is now done, and the next stage is to begin making the fibre prints for the FMP and my book. The FMP images will be 11x14inches and the book images will be 5x7inches. These are all going to be done by my on hand, so a lot of work lies ahead. I will also be framing them myself in 11×14 floating frames.
I do have a place to exhibit: At the Hollywood Sculpture Garden and Gallery in the Hollywood Hills, by the kind offer of Dr. Robby Gordon whose sculpture and artwork is exhibited there. I am in the process of getting a book made, so need to get those elements to the binder.
Dr. Wendy made some very good suggestions to improve the presentation. Which I will work on this week. But one I really like very much, is to put the artist statement at the end of the book, and the PDF submission, to let the images and the associated prose work freely as opposed to being set up by the artist statement. I may use this idea in the same way for the FMP exhibit, by giving the viewers the brochure/statement when they leave, not when they arrive. (just a thought) but do not know if possible or even a good idea. will discuss with Dr. Wendy as well as Dr. Robby.
Just got of the Phone with Dr.Robby of the Hollywood Sculpture Garden abd Galley. I have set an appointment for next week, to go and discuss the installation. He offered me November the 14th, so it’s not too far away and I will begin working on my presentation prints and fine t uning my presentation at this point. I feel I have come far enough with the testing of everything as well as the series of 16 images. I may cut them down for the exhibition, I do not know as yet. I forgot to ask Wendy what the minimum is. Less is best, less is lazy, I have not made up which it is yet. But I do want to have a bit of a safety valve.
Wendy suggested I attend the Victoria Forrest talk on October 1st; as Victoria is very good with book presentaion and may be very helpful in getting my book and the series into a presentable edited form, so I will attend that.
I am still doing my printing re-fresher at Santa Monica College with Ed Mengus, and I will most probably start printing my book images there, and my final images at home in my own dark room. I have three more sessions there on Sundays, and if he offers the class again, I will sign up, that way I have two darkrooms to work out of, plus feedback on the prints if I need any, it is available from fellow printers and of course Ed, who is a wonderful photographer and printer himself.
My FMP Series/Editing.
I have done a series of images and finally roughed them down to 16. I was hoping to come in at 10, but think the minumum requirement is 12. It is quite a challenge getting them into an order, but as my series follows a mythical journey and I applied my script writing skills to the order, in terms of story, plot, characterizarion, key events, intiating incident, turningpoints, climax and denouemont.
I finished up the series in Adobe Lightroom and fine tuned the B+W images. They will be my reference refernce of what I would like them to look like when I print them in the dark room.
During the MA it was stressed to make cheap prints of the images, hang them on a wall or board, study them, then arrange in order and work order till happy with the series order.
As I built and constructed each image, I thought my order was selected. My beginning, middle and ending is firmly in place. I made a new collection for 705 (16 images) and arranged them in order on Lightroom’s Filmstrip (E) below. E for Filmstrip, go Eigure. I was content with the order and was tempted, albeit briefly, to skip the printing/sticking on wall method.
However, I decided I would follow the suggestion of the professors and print out the images and stick them on the wall/board and arrange accordingly. I made some B+W prints on plain paper and hung them in the order I had them in my Light Room film strip (E) in the collection I had made. I really thought the paper on wall a waste of time while P R I N T I N G. I am capapble of thinking abstractly, why did I have to go through all this???.
However, I made myself a promise at the very beginning of the MA; If I found myself resisting anything during the course, I would muster up and embrace it with all my ability. This has paid off handsomely in the past, so I applied that experience and promise to my present resistance not print out the images physically, and to just go with the film strip edited in Light Room.
I printed the 16 images, and began to write down the titles of the images, thinking about the captions as I write. I am past (at least for now) of not giving the images titles and or captions, I want my viewers to be informed, however, they will be informed by myth and poetry, and hopefully bring this together with their own knowledge and experience, they will not be force fed. Hopefully will have some background in Greek Mythology and Biblical knowledge.
I stuck them to the wall and mediated on the series briefly and within a few minutes, I thought one image would be better upside down, so I inverted it. Then I thought the encounter of the poet with the challenges should be re-written so I changed that, then I changed the beginning of the series, then made some changes in the middle.
I made three re-arragements, caption modifications and one image flip. These ideas would not have manifested themselves had I not printed them out and stuck them on the wall. I am very glad I went against my intellect and went with my promise and past experience.
Provoke Magazine and Fukase Masahisa:
Fukase Mashisa (The Solitude of Ravens) had his work edited by: It was after seeing this series at FOAM in Amsterdam, that the realization of editing came to full power.
I decided to re-read my Provoke Series 1, 2, and 3. The collection of Japanese photographers form the 1960’s Fukase’s influence on my work has been monumental. I use grain, contrast, soft focus now with joy. I have always loved it, but seeing the work of Fukase and Moriyama over the MA just re-inforced my passion for it, and now I incorporate it in my practice.
I re-watched Solitude of Ravens on youtube. The book is thumbed through showing all the images of the book. I do not have it in my collection, but will purchase a copy of it at some point. The editing in this book is monumental, it was Solitude of Ravens that made me realize how powerful image editing can be.
In addition to the editing of my images, are the captions. The series is my mythical journey in search of the Divine Lodestone. It took me a long time to come to terms with what I am looking for in my life as a person and an artist.
The Divine Lodestone is the compass that points the way. Word choices are difficult. In PROVOKE issue 2, They chose the word EROS as the theme of the book, and the editor mentions that they had a difficult time and struggled with the vast expanse and semantics of the word. I can relate, a word can mean so many things, and at the same time it can mean nothing (if not fully understood) Words are difficult to concretize, and like images they remain abstracts, no matter how well understood or explained. I am going to capitalize off this in my own work, in other words I will give a title and a caption, and hopefully the reader (word and image) can understand it, at least to some degree. This is all I can hope for at this stage of the game.
Listening to the Audio bytes of Joshua Cooper, forwarded to me by Dr. Wendy, about the journey of photographer Josuha Cooper. I find the work interesting from the point of someone doing a physical journey around the globe and making images of it.
What intersted me most was how long it took to do this project. Thirty two years from idea to manifestation. I will go next week to LACMA to see the exhibition. He also most died numerous times. Sometimes I wonder to what degree of hyperbole is used here. I think everyone like to ‘dramatize’ the events to make them more interesting. I have learned from my studies with the MA question everything. With an artpiece, where is the provenance? With experience, where is the proof? (sinking into a sinkhole audio commentary 4) (Machine gun bullets at his feet; audio commentary 12)
It is nice being able to listen to the podcast and read the audio commentary below. This direct account is very informative and gives one the ability to scan material quickly without having to re-listen to the podcasts if I want to reference something.
Also discovered that LACMA has ‘LACMA In Your Neighborhood‘ community arts programs, that my be interesting to get involved with. So this was a nice byproduct of watching this podcast.
Joshua Cooper: https://www.lacma.org/cooperaudio
Solitude of Ravens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hx4FhAljFnE
Making my own photo-paper for possible use in FMP?
Looking at and touching all the papers really got me excited, this week, at the book binders, and at Freestyle Photo with Eric Joseph I love the feel and smell of good paper, canvas and cardboard. I my others works (paintings and drawings) I use all types of paper to work on.
I decided to make my own phtographic paper and bought some ‘liquid light’ I have wanted to try this stuff for decades and as I was down at Freestyle I bought some. I do not know if I will do any of it for my FMP, but who knows, I think I will just fool around with it and see what the postential is.
I decided I would coat some specailty paper and went down to Blicks Art store. The sales person there soon got too bogged down with my paper questions and said that I should go to a place that specializes in papers and she recommended a company down in Los Angeles called McManus & Morgan that imports and works with some very fine types of art paper.
I headed to do some physical research and learn more about paper. Of course now that I am going to have a book bound and the BINDERY and looking at all these paper products at Freestyle got me very stimulated creatively.
I arrive to find the front entrance closed off. One of my ‘Fences’ acting up. However I am escorted into the building through the back, because the building is very old, a landmark, and the owner is completely upgrading the building, including the sidewalk, so alsmost everything is covered with plastic inside.
As I enter, I feel like I am back in 1927. The owner is the son of the founder and the same cash register is still in use. When you press the keys the amount shows up on the register and it makes a CHA-CHING sound, and this is where that term we use in the US when someone wracks up charges on you for services comes from – ‘CHA-CHING’ from these old registers when ringing someone up. So I learned something new. There website is also something I like very much, it’s one page and simplicity at it’s best. I will take this into account on my own website I am building.
I mentioned to Gary the owner what I am attempting to do, and he recommended a few water color papers because they are already sized, and showed me the difference between cold pressed and hot pressed paper, machine made versus hand made, as well as an intro how to cut paper. He suggested hot Lanaquarelle, that comes from a mill in Germany that has been working since 1590
It is a smooth surface, sized, and deckled edges giving the paper a very beautiful finish. For spreading the liquid emulsion I preferred a smooth surface to start as I did not want to use up all the liquid light. It is very expensive and shakes easily into textures unsized surfaces. I bought two sheet of the paper 22×30 inches and at $10 a sheet it was well worth it.
He also showed me some hand made paper, it is expensive and very textured. Beautiful to smell and feel. But at $32.22 (2016 prices) for a sheet, it was a little expensive for my taste at the moment.
I left the store with two sheets of paper via the front door. I was the first person to leave the shop and step onto the nice new concrete sidewalk, as it was dry enough to walk on by the time I left. In the back out the front! Nice metaphor for life.
Now on my way home to sensitize some of my new paper.
Making the sensitizing the paper:
I cut one of the bought sheets into 8×10 size pieces of paper. I sized some of the paper with PVA sizing, had to warm up the Liquid Light so that it could become liquid to apply.
I applied the light sensitive gel to the paper I had bought with a smooth bristle paint brush, and even though It was easy to apply, I was working under a ver low red light to which the light sensitive gel does not respond, bur seeing as I was coating about 8 sheets of 8×10 in my darkroom, I did not want the emulsion to be exposed to the red light too long either, so I made sure it was behind me and I dimmed it down 50% with an inline dimmer just incase it would fog. This is the first time that I have used this material and did not want to waste all the effort only to find a slight fog.
The difficulty I experienced was that it is not easy to see the gel coating, and was not sure of I covered the entire surface, but I did go across a few time back and forth, diagonally and counter diagonally, so felt pretty comfortable that I had coated the paper completely.
I did this at night, so I could leave it to dry in my darkroom and leave while it dried by the door with the next room lights out. I do not have a dark door on my bathroom converted darkroom so I had to do it this way. I left it to dry for about an hour and a half with the red light off and the darkroom door shut, when I returned the surface was dry and I stacked them into a light tight paper box.
Making the Print:
I did make a few test prints of one of my images, it came out pretty well, however the coating was a little thin and uneven, but the contrast and highlights good. I can see that it will take some time to perfect the coating. I am glad I did it but will continue with commercial paper for the time being for my FMP. Do not want to get spread too think at this stage. I need to start printing my work for the exhibit.
Paper Washing of Prints for my FMP.
This paper staining of the fiber base paper, is really a concern to me. I have been doing research and tests on the paper, and find that in general, fiber base paper needs to be washed and hypo cleared for over an hour before the fixer in removed. As yet, I have not contacted Dave Butcher, but I have sent an email to Marc Verasella as well, and hoping to hear back from him this week.
Most of what I have read about washing fiber paper just seems to conflict with what I do. I did contact Photographers Formulary, and Bud said that only two drops needs to be dropped on the paper and it must not run. In addition, it has to be done in room light. I was holding it out in the sunlight to see the satin easier, however this is incorrect, and the sun will actually darken the stain of the Residual Hypo Checker, and leaving it longer than two minutes, or letting the drop run down to a tail is not the correct way either.
With these two changes, it seems that the stain is becoming lighter and lighter. Tomorrow I will be at Santa Monica College darkroom, and I will print and wash then do a check there. However, it seems that the washing time will have to be well over an hour.
Why is this such an issue? I will not feel good having one of my prints sell, knowing that I did not process it to the best standard, in addition I would like my work to last a long time. Should I ever have the opportunity to seil my work like Ansel did, I want it to be archival for the client. Each stage of the print making process has it’s issues. and I want to be as good as possible all the way down the line.
Freestyle Photo and Eric Joseph.
Freestylephoto is my go to store for paper and chemicals, they have a large inventory and their staff is particularly knowledgeable. I approached Eric Joseph on the matter. Eric is an expert in both darkroom and digital printing, boasting that he can get a good digital print in the frirst round [and he can, I have been witness to it]
He showed me an exhibtion of his work, printed on various papers (digital) and I brought up my concerns of archivability to him, and he threw back his head and laughed. He said it is very difficult, if not impossible to define ‘archival’ because it’s all theory based and based on numbers. He also said a very interesting thing to me. He said that some collectors actually like it when the prints go yellow or age, because it becomes a marker that the work is genuine.
For the most part he eased up my concerns about archival and told me to do the recommended wash time manufacturers specifications. He also said he would check the age of my paper, as that could have an effect, which he did, and assured me the paper was “fresh”
He took me back to his exhibit, all digital prints made on various types of paper and framed, and as always, his work and color was absolutely stunning. Eric prints on various papers that lends itself to the image, so his exhibition consisted of some images that where glossy, others matte, others textured. When I asked him about consistency of paper again he chuckled and mentioned something to the fact that he let that go a long time ago, and selects the best paper he feels is right for the print on an individual basis.
Printing Refresher at Santa Monica College:
Went down to SMC on Sunday and printed from about 1 PM to 6 PM, so put in 4 hours of actual printing. The professor said that my printing was ‘on a roll’ He found my work to be very interesting and mentioned they are having a job faire at the college and that I should apply. It would be part time, but the pay is very good and SMC is a great school, so I am thinking about going down and applying. I would teach film and photography. May be good for a while to build up teaching skills at SMC, but on the other hand may not be good because it’s sidetracking me again from being a full time artist selling my work. A very difficult fence to cross, and maybe wartime would be fine while I get that going, but I know, any change in the mix affects the final outcome, so I will meditate and pray on it and see what advice come from the other.
I am happy with the way the images are turning out, and as I have mentioned I will print mp fmp on 11×14 full frame on Fibre paper, and mount them myself.
I was invited to an opening at The Hollywood Sculpture Garden, Located in the beautiful Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles.
It is a 5 story house converted into a gallery and sculpture garden. I mentioned my FMP exhibit to the owner of the gallery and garden. He offered that I could have a showing at his gallery. He only has one date available: The 14th of November and after that and the gallery would not be available.
He mentioned that some important people would be arriving from France and it would be a good opportunity to show my work. I will have to find out from Dr. Wendy if this will be okay for my FMP exhibit, as it will only be for one day. He mentioned that his ‘Garage’ is available for the exhibit. Ironically I love garages, it is a mechanics equivalent of the artist’s studio, and in fact many artists convert the garage into a studio. Jean Cocteau, an artist who’s work I really admire said to create conditions in which it can work. ‘poetry functions better in the garage’
I feel that this is a good opportunity and I will discuss with Dr. Wendy and get opppionion on it. Finding a space to exhibit is very difficult. It is possible to rent a space, or buy a space, however, I do not like this approach and would rather like to have a showing at a gallery and if anything thing sells that get a percentage.
This week I had the opportunity to do out to Dumont Dunes: 30 miles west of the town of Baker California, in the Mojave Desert, to do dual practice. Firstly to finish work on a feature film a friend of mine has been making for the past three years (a day or two at a time over that period) and the opportunity for me to go out to the true desert in California, where there is no flora or fauna (or at least any that is immediately apparent). I had planned to go out photograph and to have some time to experience this mysterious landscape that mystics as well as Christ (40 days and 40 nights) experienced in their lives.
Ironically this is the last “Commercial” venture I will embark on before my FMP. A foreshadowing of the ‘Fence’ that I have attempted to cross all my life: Moving from commercial to fine art and from making some-one else’s art, to making my own. Strange, or maybe not so strange, that this endeavor should be taking place in the desert where nothing lives, much like the empty mind before the idea, from the darkness and nothingness from which I was made into being.
These sand dunes at Dumont, are like those of the Sahara Desert. Nothing but sand for miles. I had planned on going out to this area to make more images for my FMP but as this opportunity arose, I figured I would do the filming, then do some photography for my FMP project while I was out there. My mind was void of ideas, there is noting but sand. However, as it is the mission of the MA I set out when strting this journey, was not to let reason, intellect and emotion stop the thought. And, I moved forward.
The Dumont Dunes is inland about 30 miles west from the town of Baker. Baker has the tallest thermometer in the world (134ft) located in the center of town (See Fig 1.) Once driving out twenty miles, the sand dunes are another 10 miles or so inland off Highway- 127 N. (Also known as Death Valley road)
After driving for a while and not passing any cars on the inland dirt road, it becomes a little uncomfortable, because there is no cell service out there, the temperatures are a little cooler this time of year but it was still over 88°F (31°C) so it is still quite hot.
When we finally arrived at the dunes, and the producer drove too close, and I felt the back wheels begin to sink in the sand and soon the passenger van got stuck and could not go forward or backwards. I had a sick feeling to my stomach, we were all alone out here, (a small crew and two actors) no cell service and no one else in sight.
I immediately stopped the driver from getting us deeper into the sand. If the van bottomed out, there was no way we where going to get out of there. I got everyone out the van and we dug a ramp forward of the back tires, then I told the driver to straiten the front wheels, then we all pushed the van out of the hole the rear wheels had dug into the soft sand. Once it was out I directed the driver to keep moving and not to stop till he reached hard ground.
It was a nerve wracking 20 minutes. All kinds out thoughts passing through my mind. If we got stuck and what would happen? Fortunately all ended well. The van moved forward to safe ground and we finished the film shoot. I could easily understand how a simple accident could cost one one’s life. The California desert is a very dangerous place. Heat, rattle snakes, desert vagrants. After the film shoot I spent a little time photographing the dunes. All the while in the back of my mind, I was grateful that we got the van out. (I had been stuck in sand once before, and this time did not allow the vehicle to sink in too deeply before we dug it out.) I am very glad for that past experience in my life and how it came to out aid this time around. I made a few images of the dunes, which I will use for my FMP constructions, and will always look back, as one of those fortunate days.
Note: as we drove out some guy in an earth mover drove up to the left about 300 yards away, so if we had become stuck, there would have been help. Maybe…! Would he have arrived if we got stuck? Can’t be sure, as that, would have changed all events to follow. The images I made of the dunes where made gratefully. I said a silent prayer. It easily could have turned out very disastrous. This is most definitely one of the most ‘grateful’ images I have ever made. And will be nice to incorporate into my FMP.
This week I am looking into making a book as part of the FMP. I had considered taking a class and making my own, however, I have decided against it, as I am loaded with making my own darkroom prints and framing my own work. I do not want to be caught up in a bind (pun intended) and get overwhelmed, which I do all the time, freeze and land up doing nothing. I looked around Los Angeles for a binder, and found a very cute, creative and attractive bindery on Melrose Blvd in LA.
The bindery is owned and run by Charlene Matthews. As fate would have it, we both worked for Panavision around the mid 1980’s but she was at the office on Orange and I was at the other branch, so we never met.
Charlene showed me some of her work, I realised there and then that when an Artist makes a ‘book’ it is a work of art, not a book. I explained what I was attempting to do with my FMP project ‘Fences’. I mentioned taking the photography out of the photograph, she mentioned she takes the book out of book binding. I knew we are on the same page. Of course we finally came to discuss the price? Charlene laughed and said: “You could never affford me but I like your idea.” She will charge me $!!! It is a huge favor and I have to supply her with the poetry and images. She will then art me a book. So this week, I have obtained: a space and getting my book made.===
This week I did some more printing at Santa Monica College in the darkroom there, as well as in my own darkroom at home. I will definitely print on fibre base paper, and the size will be 11×14 inches. The paper I will use will be Ilford. After much stain testing, washing it appears that the paper will have to wash for an hour, with the prints left in a hypo clear bath was for 5 to 10 minutes to remove the residual hypo. My archival washer did arrive and I did test it, it works fine, however I am a little concerned how much water gets wasted with an archival wash. I do not like the look of RC paper even the best brands does not have the feel and texture of fibre base, so I will just have to deal with the water issue. I think if I trickle it for an hour the prints should be hypo free or at least with a very light stain which is acceptable as archival. Ilford recommends:
Fixation ILFORD RAPID FIXER (1+4) or HYPAM (1+4) 1 min
First wash Fresh, running water 5 min
Washing aid ILFORD WASHAID (1+4) intermittent agitation 10 min
Final wash Fresh, running water 5 min
Ilford no longer uses the term ‘archival’ they use optimum permanence. I can only presume they want to fall somewhere in between archival and less water waste in the washing process. I will contact Dave Butcher (also known as darkroom dave) he used to work for Ilford for many years, he is a darkroom specialist and very familiar with Ilford paper and chemistry. I will do what he says is recommended. Time is running short, and I do not have time to re-invent the wheel.
I have constructed two images this week, Incorporating the Dunes and some cracked glass images I made during the week. I am still working on them in lightroom and photoshop and should have them ready for printing by the weekend.
Jean Cocteau: Cocteau, J., Buss, R., Bernard, A. and Gauteur, C. (1992). The Art of cinema. London: Boyars.
Dumont Dunes: https://www.blm.gov/visit/dumont-dunes-ohv-area
Charlene Matthews Bindery: http://www.charlenematthews.com
Dave Butcher: http://www.darkroomdave.com
This week I watched a film on the Cubism of Picasso and Braque. I find Picasso to be an artist whose mind I like more than his art. I enjoy cubism, but never felt that his art was classified correctly, as there are little to no ‘cubes’ in his work.
I was doing bit of research on papier colle, which is a type of collage that both Braque and Picasso produced. What interested me is the use of stenciled words on the pantings. I have decided to have information out of my images for my FMP, unless of course I can find an artist who does it well enough for me to consider writing on or in my images.
The name of the documentary is: Willian S. Rubin on Picasso and Braque: Pioneering Cubism. It comes free with my Amazon Prime membership. I like painting myself, and always find the ideas of painters useful to me as a photographer, because they are dealing with one image at a time, as opposed to photographers who have to produce a series of works, and thus tend to give very accurate and appropriate descriptions or titles to their works.
William S Rubin is the narrator. He states that Cubism is a misnomer. He comes from a more informed position than I do, and says the reason is: “it gives the impression that the style is, first of all, more geometric than it really is, and there are in fact no cubes in cubism.” Cubism also suggests volume and dimentinality, which is what both Braque and Picasso were attempting to remove from painting.
I some respects, the images I am constructing for my FMP, are also having their perspective removed by my double exposing in camera images and or compositing them in photoshop. Using this technique, I find that the images are also being brought to the foreground, with very little, to no depth perspective in the images
I love flat space, and try as much as I can to avoid depth cues and perspective as much as possible for my FMP. With the little time that I have left to photograph, I may consider using parts of words, titles or numbers embedded in the image much like Braque and Picasso both did [they used parts of words and parts of names in their papier colle’s] I find this very attractive.
This week I attended the following galleries: The TAG gallery on Wilshire and the Steve Turner Gallery on Santa Monica Blvd.
Both Galleries were interesting in thier own respects. The TAG gallery is run by an artists co-op. There is a group or artists, who pool in and pay for the space that way. Here their work is exhibited and sold, and the prices are very affordable stating at around $400 and up. It was a big change compared to the rest of the galleries where art works start at the $10,000 mark, so the beginner collector/investor would not be able to afford a lot of work at those prices but at $500 to start, it is very affordable. One can become a memeber of the co-op from what I understand, but have to be voted in by the group. Never the less it is possible to get ones own work shown and exhibited in a very nice area along Wilshire Blvd.
The Gallery exhibits paintings as well as photography, They had an exhibit of Tom Wheeler who has a studio at the gallery. Attending all these galleries has given me good ideas how to possibly exhibit my own work.
I received an email from the Von Lintel gallery to attend an opening of Mark Sheinkman. It was nice to see how the work was presented. The artist, patrons of the arts, dealers, buyers and art lovers attended. As I have to have an opening for my own work, I will attend as many openings as I can, to get acclimated to the scene.
Located in the Bendix Building in the Fashion District of Los Angeles, I was glad to have visited the Bendix with my UCLA contemporary art class, and also went to Von Lintel’s so felt good that I knew a little bit about the gallery.
What I like about Marks work is that there is a co-hesiveness to his work, all the paintings can immediately be identified as being by the same artist. He works with very limited materials. This seems to be what happens to most artists in the end, they get to the bones of the work. No fat, no muscle, no frills. Say what can be said as frugally as possible. In my own practice, pairing down has become of my soul focus, hence the abstracting of my photography, which is in fact what abstraction is. It is a refinemnt of the communication, which happens after decades of tuning.
After leaving Von Lintels, I wondered about the darkened streets with my camera (my old trusty Canon 7D) it was nice to wander alone at night photographing. No people, no noise, just me an my thoughts. Some ideas came to mind for my next series, post MA.
Attended the PAC-LA tour of the Getty Research Institute yesterday. An exhibit of articles from the Bauhaus. Since I am printing my own images and working with materials to frame my images, I enjoy anything to do with Bauhaus. I took my camera with me, and made quite a few new images for my FMP portfolio. I will be taking these images and constructing more works in the coming weeks.
I found these types of exercises that were performed by students of the day very interesting. With these simple forms it can be seen that placement in infinite.
One of my fellow classmates in the UCLA Contemporary Art Class, gave me a card of a painter/phtographer who sells his images at Venice Beach. I had mentioned that I was consideraring having my exhibition on the broad walk and she gave me his information. I gave him a call. He sells watercolurs and photo art on the weekends. He mentioned just to go down there and set up, but be prepared for some annoyances from the vagrants that frequent the beach boardwalk. I will go down to Venice when I do my printing refresher this coming weekend at SMC.