This being the final week before submitting, I have been looking at the work of some more contemporary photographic artists. I looked at the work of German Painter Gerhardt Richter. He makes the most aesthetically pleasing paintings by applying layers of paint, then scraping the layers off to reveal the colors beneath. I am familiar with his work as well as his photography which in the mid-1980s began painting on his photographs.
In one of his images: Fig.1 Overpainted photograph, Richter drags enamel paint across an image. When I look at the work, although interesting, feel that it’s some of the old “attempts at being different for different sake.” I wonder now where the concept is anchored? This is why I appreciate the work of Jeff Wall. His work is anchored in poetry.
Another contemporary photographer whose work I am not familiar with surfaced through research: Alison Rossiter. She works with very old expired paper, some as early as the 1920s and makes abstract prints. I have recently been experimenting with very old film, as early as 1920, but have not exposed and developed it yet. I am still doing research on older chemicals before I do it. This film from that far back is very expensive ranging between $50 to $150 dollars a roll. So I have to be more experienced with older emulsions because it is very brittle, very curled, major loss of sensitivity and other ‘technical issues’ that need be solved.
I have worked with some film from the 1950s and managed to get an image. I do like the look of these old emulsions and will be doing some more work with old film and may also extend this to old photographic paper in the next module for my final major project, as I pursue the messages of the abstract.
Fig.1 Books at Manic. (2019). Richter Overpainted Photos Comprehensive. [online] Available at: https://www.manic.com.au/richter-overpainted-photos-comprehensive.html [Accessed 25 Apr. 2019]
Reflecting back over the course, this module has finally given me the means to work in my own practice that allows me to make work other than representational images. I have managed to move from representational photography to the abstract with an aim and a reason for doing abstract work.
In the past, I did abstract work because I enjoyed it. I have since come to learn that enjoyment of it is not enough, that one has to be critical about one’s practice and informed. It may be on some level if I am making artwork for myself that I will never show to anyone, however, as I am aiming for the museum and the gallery domains and this means of consumption requires primarily that I understand my own work, that I can communicate to consumers and readers of the work so that they can understand it, and that I am making images for more reasons than just the pure aesthetic of it.
This module was very difficult for me, the ideas and concepts were in my mind but I felt linguistically paralyzed. It is the strangest feeling of not being able to communicate a feeling, however, communication an abstract is not easy. The most important things I learned in this module are: image construction, image farming, and hunting and how symbols are communicated. Just as a symbol has to be culturally learned, so does an abstract image. Red means stop, had to be learned and taught in order for it to become culturally accepted as a color of danger and the color that connotes stop at a traffic light. This is why individual take driving education, in order to learn what symbols mean. Icons are a little different. The image shows enough information for a person to know that the image of a deer crossing a road means that there is wild-life present and caution must be exercised, however, and amber light on a traffic light, has to be taught that it mean caution.
Being able to communicate abstract images by means of connotation and poetry so far has been a good way to do it. This was a direct result of Jeff Wall.
This week, I have been very busy working on my images and getting them ready for the CRoP submission. I am attempting to present it as a journey from where I have come, to where I am at present.
An image like the one above Fig.1 is representational and denotes two pieces of barbed wire being joined. Mentally for me it the unification of knowledge and experience that I wanted to show. Now that I am moving on to abstraction, I choose to show it in another way Fig.3 I feel that this image is closer to what I have in mind. I also intertextualised it from Michael Angelo (1510) The Creation of Adam Fig.2
art.com. (2019). The Creation of Adam, c.1510 (detail) Stretched Canvas Print by Michelangelo Buonarroti | Art.com. [online] Available at: https://www.art.com/products/p31141518883-sa-i808736/michelangelo-buonarroti-the-creation-of-adam-c-1510-detail.htm [Accessed 27 Apr. 2019].
My interest lies in the area of galleries and museums primarily. My background is in cinema, and basically photography might be an extension of my current profession in one way or another, where the work is made then exhibited in the theatre or on TV/Cable/Online.
The main difference between the two mediums is that film is a very crew and cast dependent medium. A film cannot be made on your own, unless an art film. This is the reason I am becoming more attracted to the photographic medium because it there is a direct relationship between myself and the camera. Working in this way is far more enjoyable for me than having to rely on a crew when anything needs to be done.
Also, the public arena for exhibiting films seems to be on the decline, cinemas are closing at a rapid rate, as the consumer watches more and more content on the computer and home video systems. With the gallery and the museum circuit the exhibition spaces are on the rise, with new buildings being constructed older museums like LACMA, is soon going to be completely rebuilt. The new SFMOMA id a very popular museum visited my many individuals throughout the year.
I like public showing of my work, and think that the museum and gallery circuit will have a much longer survival rate than the cinema. I have to take this into consideration. Plus, photography is more of a personal art-form like writing and painting. I do not need anyone besides myself to make art.
Man Ray says it best: “Inwardly, I resented the idea of doing any work, even with only one other person. In the pursuit of pleasure, I was willing to collaborate with one other person.”
Very happy to have completed this task on time. I feel that it will help with my critical review of practice.
Paul commented on it critically. He enjoyed it and felt that it set forth confidence and clarity. That the flow of the video would be better if my intent was followed by a critical review of my own practice then followed by other practitioners who informed my work.
I did appreciate the comments from some peers, however, felt that they were not critical (and neither was I) What was learned from this is that niceties and accolades (unlike criticism) do not help to improve my presentation. Whereas Pauls’ criticism made me directly aware of what needed to be done to improve the presentation this in turn will help me with the writing and shaping of my Critical Review of Practice.
This week have to consider the works of Daniel Gustav Kramer how it evolved over time and how his work is contextualized. How my own practice can be evaluated and critically reflected on.
Trilogy, (Woodland,Underwater and Mountain) was inspired by another practitioner Giordi Morandi, who was a landscape painter, whose work was similarly void of human occupation and not geographically positioned.
Gustav’s Trilogy, was also built around some common themes: namely nature uncontaminated. The series ranges from the depths of ocean floor, through forest to mountain peaks. All of which are uninhabited and unpolluted by the human species and was produced and developed over many years from 2003 to 2013. His worked developed as time went on. He started in the deserted forest, then moved to the ocean depths, then to the mountains. All three locations have the same theme: isolation, timelessness and non specific locations.
From a historical standpoint, both Morandi and Cramers work is unknown to us. By looking at both these artists work, there is nothing to reference time. I do find the ‘black hole’ interesting [Fig.1.] It could index death or the unknown. Cramer stops here, afraid to go forward. Malevich stopped at black square. Blake and Gödel looked into that realm, they went past the threshold mathematically and poetically. In my own practice, I am also at this ‘gate.’ For me there is no blackness or darkness beyond. I have ‘seen’ into that realm with my intuition, therefore I use the fence as the barrier as opposed to a wall a black hole or a black plane as is the case with Malevich and Cramer. For me there is a whole other world beyond that blackness. Like with the fence, one can see through it, one can have an idea of what’s beyond. One has no idea what’s beyond the black hole of Cramers image Fig.1. below other than faint tree trunks and foliage, but beyond that, darkness and the unknown still prevails.
In the work of William Eggelston for example, there are many human made artifacts with which to reference time and place. For example the image below (Fig.2) has a 1969 Ford Torino on the right, this can reference historically when the photo was made, in addition the license plate can let us know what state the car is from, as well as what year those plates were made. There are many other visual clues in the image as well, that can easily point time and place. Especially by someone who owns the store, or lives in that town.
In Cramers Trilogy there is no human contamination. The sense of time is erased and geographical location is also difficult if not impossible to pinpoint.
In terms of my own practice, I can see some parallels, between Cramers work and my own. Firstly that my abstractions have developed over time as well, however it moved from the objective to the abstract, whereas Cramers moved from Underwater to Mountain. In my practice abstraction is the image itself, with Cramer his abstractum is achieved by what is left out of the image, or beyond the frame. In my work, human intervention is there, but is minimal and indexed by a single strand of barbed wire fencing joined by someone?
This gives some clue to human activity and denotes that boundary between human and nature, body and mind, objective representation and non-objective abstraction. It is amazing just how powerful a single strand of wire can be be. It keeps out human and animal.
Interview with Harry Callahan. An artist whose work I like because he can “dance” between representational and abstract images. One of the few practitioners to be successful at it. Harry was a protege of Ansel Adams and Stieglitz. He was informed by Ansel’s work, but came to his own realization that he could photograph a footprint in the sand and achieve sand dunes; he did not have to go to Yellowstone to get an image. This ability to work anywhere has always been of interest to me.
This is something I have always aspired to, which has recently come to fruition. Much like the painter at the studio, the writer at the typewriter. Works that can be done on a very small foot print and close to home.
Callahan felt that rich experiences with meaning nourished his practice and photography. Callahan’s intent was simple: “I just wanted to make a picture.” When he got tired of photographing landscapes, he moved to the city, when he got tired of the city he moved onto abstracts. This is something I really admire about him and use it in my own practice.
My work is finally positioning itself in the abstract, something I have been working toward since the beginning of the MA. On this module, image contsruction is what finally allowed me to move in a direction that I am really enjoying and feel is my own. It allows me to “construct” or better still create an image that is more than just snapping the shutter at a decisive moment. I feel part of the image making process, much like painting, but without actually painting.
Looking at the work of Man Ray, Maholy Nagy, Barbera Kasten. led me to believe that more can be done in the image making process, but it was still not quite enough for me, I was looking for more than just placing glass or objects in front of the camera and playing with the light as it passes through the different mediums or casting shadows in from of images in a studio environment.
Artists like Man Ray, a polymath of sorts, who made Ray-O-graphs, like the one below. “Untitled.” Also peeked my interest. He said: “I deliberately dodged all the rules, I mixed the most insane products together, I used film way past its use date, I committed heinous crimes against chemistry and photography, and you can’t see any of it”.
I my own practice, I am also experimenting with mixing together all types of mediums. Film, digital, paint, pencil, paper and experimenting with Lightroom and Photoshop, so forcing the extremities in front of and behind the camera and bringing it altogether in a cohesive whole in the post process. I have also noticed that my work now contains no temporal or positional reference. They could be any place, anytime. I learned this from Daniel Gustav Cramer in his series Trilogy, where all historical and geographical references are removed. It is interesting to me to see by simply removing time and place from the cognitive process, it gives the reader something else to contemplate and to latch onto, in my work I would like my readers to lock in to their emotions ‘what does this image say to you?’ for them to develop trust in their own senses. When Sukula says: ‘The photograph, as it stands alone, presents merely the possibility of meaning.’ I wonder of he is taking into the account the audience.
As far as the economical consumption of my work, it would be best consumed in a gallery or museum, where consumers and readers go precisely to become informed or transformed through works of art. It has been my experience, when attending these spaces, where some part of it was allocated to photography, amongst the great painters of today and yesterday, I found the readers, reading the images quickly and moving onto the next. In galleries where works or Gerhardt Richter and Mark Rothko’s hung, I saw readers sitting down and looking at the images for very long periods of time, there is a punctum that painting has that photography lacks. It could well be the size of the Richters’ I do not know. It would be interesting to see a Richter alongside a Gursky to see how long the consumer would spend reading both images, both being massive works of art. Could it be possible that size does matter? Maybe Kraus is correct when she says: ‘The photograph is a type of icon, or visual likeness, which bears and indexical relationship to it’s object.’
Man Ray painted, made art films and photographed. His Ray-O-Graphs interest me, however this process took the camera out of the equation, much like painting does. Even though I love both painting and photograms I am not interested in losing the machine. To me it’s part of the image making process, and if used correctly, can contribute to the image making process.
In the work of Kasten and Nagy, the camera remains part of the image making process. In others words: no camera, no image. At present I am using 35mm, digital cropped and full sensor (Canon7D+5D) as well as 6×6/7 However, I am very interested in making large images eventually, like the works of Jeff Wall [a] and Andreas Gursky. They both use large format cameras. Gursky a 5X7 and Wall a 4×5. [Fig.3] even though I am not using it in my image constructions at present, this is something I am considering and have two packed away for when the time comes.
Wall describes his approach as: “cinematography” or “near-documentary,” [b]I like that and will appropriate it to some degree, describing my approach as: “photography that ‘approaches’ painting.” In this way, I create with two mediums distilled into one. A mini collective, albeit 2.
What does approach mean and what is it’s value for me as a practitioner? The mathematician Gödel proved that 2+2=4 with tendency. This is known as Gödels theorem of incompleteness.[c] In other words, it’s not a law, nor an absolute. 2+2 approaches 4 and that’s the closest it will ever get. Within this gap, between approach and the absolute – lies infinity. William Blake the poet said it another way. “To see the world within a grain of sand.” In other words, within a grain of sand lies the universe. Interestingly enough, the word universe has no plural, because it contains everything! [d]
I consider image making a spiritual act, always have, however, it was only about two years ago, that I was included into that ceremony. I ‘accidentally’ dropped my camera, caught it before hitting the ground and tripped the shutter. It produced an amazing ‘accidental’ image. From that day on, I looked at the machine in a whole new way, I let it do it’s thing and no longer fight it. What ever images it makes, I use and incorporate into the work.
“The spiritual life, to which art belongs and of which she is one of the mightiest elements, is a complicated but definite and easily definable movement forwards and upwards.” [e]
As I proceed with the MA, instead of working from an individual point of view, I have seen into the collective and tap into that. Within that grain, the gap between the approach and the absolute, the amount of work that can be produced is infinite.
My work this week, is researching the constructed/farmed image. Or should I say the re-constructed image. I am using images made this module and constructing novel ones using the elements of experimentation and chance. I deconstruct the prints, by leaving them out side to the elements, then bringing them back inside and into the printing process by scanning and manipulating them in Lightroom and Photoshop then adding elements of the fence, paint, pencil and water color on the print to make my images.
Researching other practitioners who also work in image construction through a de-constructing and re-construction method is the work of Dafna Talmage 1 Dafna constructs landscapes. The method she uses is cutting up film negatives and making collages of landscapes by printing a ‘stitched together’ negative consisting of many negatives. She makes type c prints of her work, and is exhibited and collected.
I find it interesting that she destroys the negative and reconstructs it from the destructed images. I am doing this with my prints but will look into manipulating/deconstructing/constructing the negative my self and incorporating this ideas into my printing process.
It is amazing how these elements are coming together as a cohesive whole, and a lot of the time, the images come out in ways never imagined. This is what I mean by the ‘chance’ part of the image making process I am using, comes into play. Using all the technical, creative, and accidental skills I have acquired over the decades is filled in my memory and I am incorporating this into my work as well.
It seems that the materiality of my images is starting to emerge. Painters use paint, sculptors stone, carpenters wood and from this material, they create their works of art. I have always found photography a little deficient in this arena, it’s materiality is limited to a piece of paper, on which an image in printed. Hence the argument of photography as a form of art. Henri Gaudier-Brzeska a sculptor working in France about the same time as Constantin Brancusi said that the beauty of sculpture is inseparable from its material.2He recognized the value of materials, as part of the art making process. It is for this reason that I have become very attracted to the construction method of making photographs, because there is materiality added to the work by the artist, instead of just recording reality as the materiality in front of the lens.
Ansel Adams did the majority of his work in the darkroom with a lot of image manipulation and construction. His images were built up from the negative and done through various means. This included chemical manipulation (The Zone System) 3superimposition, dodging, burning and cropping. A quote from him alludes indirectly to this as a double entendre: “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams. 4Cropping here has two meanings, as in harvesting, but he could also be mean ‘cropping’ (cutting out, excluding) which takes place in the dark room.
Working in the dark room, or in my case Light-room, the digital age equivalent, has finally started to pay off. I am not working in the darkroom as yet, but looking at more of the post process in constructing the image. In photoshop do my layering and in Lightroom, most of the color correction, cropping, density correction adding or removing sharpness etc.
Even though Ansel did not do much abstract work, he worked a lot in the darkroom. I have finally learned how important post production in the image making process is. Ansel is one of the few photographers who does his own printing, most photographers even contemporary ones send in the images for printing.
At my stage of the image construction process, I put the entire image together, then scan or rephotograph it, all the elements of the image construction are made by me. With the color work, I will have to send it out, but will have my work done at labs like Weldon Color Lab 5in Santa Monica. They are able to make chromogenic type C-prints in color. Using photographic paper which is processed in chemicals. The have a digital enlarger that can project a digital image onto photographic paper called the Lite-Jet. I have had prints made my this print head before and the results are absolutely stunning, the fact the the image is printed onto analogue color paper makes the system of great interest to me. I still feel the analogue print, whether Type-C chromogenic or fibre based black and white paper is still more valued by the collector and the galleries, even though ink-jet printing is extremely good and archival, I will still have my images made on the Light-Jet and on analogue paper as long as it is available.
I did some research on the prices and the services offered at Weldon, as it may be the lab I will use to make images for my FMP, if some of images are in black and white, which they may be, I will print them myself at my home dark room on fibre-based analogue paper.
Experimentation is an important part of abstract photography. Fox Talbot was a great experimenter in his day and tested all types of chemical combinations to find a more light sensitive surface on which to record the image. When he was first doing experiments using sodium nitrate, he discovered by accident, that the less sodium he used in the sensitizing process, the more sensitive the surface became. This was discovered by accident, when he noticed that the paper not evenly coated with the saline solution was more sensitive to light.
When he was searching how to sensitive paper to light, he experienced to see how he could make it more sensitive. By accident, he discovered that if he added less salt to the dipping solution, it affected the sensitivity of the paper.
This week I have been very busy working on my images in Literoom and Photoshop. I have made many images of fences this module, in both 35mm; 6X6, and Digital. Still have quite a few rolls of film to develop and scan, but also have many images that I did at the beginning of the module in film as well as digital to keep me busy on my WIP portfolio.
I attended an opening in Los Angeles this past week at the LACP (Los Angeles Center for Photography) and attended the exhibition of Natalie Seavers “Deconstructing Beauty” I went to take a look at the exhibition for content, make contacts and to see how her work is framed and exhibited.
Overall the work was okay, not my kind of subject matter. However, I did like the way the images were framed and presented. Simple clean thin wood frames with a single matte all along a single line at eye height with the series paused with a lager image every now and then. I liked this presentation and something to consider for my FMP.
I did make an inquiry about exhibiting there, and a space can be rented. I will pursue it a little further down the pike. This is very important to see how work is exhibited, as this is the main way I would like my work consumed.
This week has been talking more about the AIM of my practice. I had to present a 2 minute engage in discourse about it. I felt that it was a little more co-hesive than it was in the past and gets to the subject matter in relation to the metaphor it represents and how I go about it.
I want to make it simple and connected. Fences = Metaphor for challenges, and using abstraction to overcome challenges by abstracting the fence out of the image. Playing on the adage: ‘out of site, out of mind.’ Remnants of the fence are still visible in the final images, this is partly due to the fact that any problem that exists, is never completely eradicated. The memory of the experience will always remain. However the fence becomes a stepping stone, a building block to move forward, it is no longer a dominant, paralyzing obstacle it once was. This is what the fence symbolizes, it is that faint memory of the challenge that once existed.
I did get some good feedback, so feel good about being on track with the AIM. I have come to realize that the AIM or the INTENT of the work is what gives it the controlled direction it need to go. Two similar shots of Los Angeles look the same but the intent and the context of the images is what separates one from the other, ad if I want to pursue a practice in this direction, these aims have to be clearly defined. My work is heading in the direction of pure aesthetic, so I will see how the AIM changes when that occurs.