This week my project has headed in the aimed direction. I had the hardest time incorporating my ‘Fences’ into the abstractions. The fence in the work was still to prominent, too denotive and needed to get it out of there but did not now how.
When sending of an image of the ‘Lone Cypress’ to a photo competition in Carmel, I was notified by the Pebble Beach Company, attorney, that if I submitted an image of the Lone Cypress, or used any of the words ‘Lone Cypress, Pebble Beach, 17 Mile Drive, it would become an issue, because the ‘Lone Cypress’ is trademarked and may only be used under license. Something like $10,000.00 a year. No image of the cypress tree may be used commercially or creatively and sold without licensing.
I have been working on abstracting my images for a while now, on my series fences, wanted to move on and did not have an idea where to go. The Lone Cypress came to my aid. I made and abstract of the tree and submitted it to the photo competition in Carmel. Everything alluded to Lone Pine but no representation or words are used in that context. I will see if it’s selected in the competition and of course I am going to sell it, because the tree is abstracted and not the same as in real life.
As a result of the cypress experience, I decided to abstract the physical fences out of my images. Thus the fence is connoted and alluded to. The past is gone, a new day dawns in the direction of my work. I feel I have finally ‘Cut the fence’ and crossed over into my work as art, instead of working as a mechanic.
In the next module 705, all my work will be abstract. A dream I have had and pursued since the beginning of the MA. Everything I have learned on the course, my tutors, and from research, becoming more informed plus the experience in my own life has been become aligned. It’s only at the threshold, but I have crossed over, and hope never to return to the old way. It’s done!
Lensed 2 rolls of 6×6 and 4 rolls of 35mm Ilford FP5,this week. Some video and digital images on my Canon 7D.
I like the 6×6 square format for certain shots. Square format is balanced height to width and I don’t need to think if it will be framed better horizontal or vertical, sometimes thinking is not good “it hurts too much” 6X6 is a bigger negative, however, that technical aspect is not the reason I use it, it’s mainly for the square boxy format. In some images I find it more aesthetically pleasing, a square is nicely balanced.
I also use the 35mm for aesthetic reasons. I enjoy what I term ‘dirty photography’ where the image is grainy, out of focus, contains processing imperfections, scratches, hairs, watermarks for example. I have always loved that aesthetic, it gives the image life! It also gives me the feeling of ‘photography’ especially that of old Tri-X film, which is no longer made, and with it has gone the look and feeling I got when looking at old images from the 70’s when it was a film that was used in full swing. I use Ilford HP5+ their formula has not changed, and I develop it at 80ºF and get a very close look to the old Kodak Tri-X. I really became informed by the works of Japanese photographers: Fukase Masahisa and Moriyama Dido. (I also learned, in Japan, the surname is used first) so one would not refer Masahisa as Masahisa Fukase it is correct to write the last name first, so Fukase Masahisa is correct. I bought a set of Provoke 1,2, and 3. Japanese images from the 60’s For a street aesthetic some of the best work I have ever seen. As a result of these works, I now use grain, dirt and scratches on my film as easily as I use the ‘prefect’ image, for me they are one and the same now, I do not get upset if an image is out of focus, overexposed, or grainy. I am quite the opposite, I love it, it gives me great visual pleasure and stimulation to see images like that, now I use them in my practice.
Tri-x and Ilford both allow me to make mistakes and still find an image. Not the usual mistakes amateur photographer make like under or over exposure. I learned exposure from the best (Ansel Adams) and have never lost a shot due to exposure errors. However I work with cameras that have technical issues with jamming shutters, advance mechanisms, and light leaks, and the films work well under any of those conditions.
I also like digital very much, I used to fight it at the beginning, but now I do things with digital that are not possible with film, like changing between color and black and white. I always shoot a RAW image coupled with a B+W Jpeg, so if I change my mind aesthetically later I have the RAW image and I can process that as color. I can also shoot video if needs be and also change the ISO at the flick of a button. I have switched back and forth a lot, so I appreciate digital from that standpoint. I always work with about 5 cameras out in the field. Each one is used specifically for the image I wish to make, I used to have just my film camera or my digital, but found myself missing out on amazing images that would look better in the other format. So I just take them all in a back pack, and pick and choose as I need.
Strangely enough Ansel used to work this way, he had cases of cameras and lenses when he went out. I always thought he had a screw loose, but now know the ol’ coot was right. Have what you need, when you need it.
While up in Carmel-By-The-Sea, I made images of fences and others were made up at Point Lobos, where also I found some fences. On one fence, someone had left a wristwatch dangling on it. Now I have the ‘message of time’ added to the list. I also found a board with the word ‘repent’ on it up on the way to Carmel, so that was the end of last week. The wristwatch I found this week Monday at Point Lobos.
Have been printing quite a few images of the fences, and have been exposing them out to the elements: rain, wind, sunshine, dew, and fog. and have been getting some very satisfying results. Spent the week scanning,cataloging and experimenting with them in Adobe Literoom.
Research: Read on an artist by the name of Brigette Bloom. She soaks her film in her own urine. This came about after she left some film in her jeans, to discover it later after they went through the wash. It was interesting because she discovered that the film was damaged, but in an interesting way. I found a parallel I’m my work with what she was doing. Bloom is doing it to the negative, I am doing it to the print. (my Ansel training is kicking in here, to really work the print side.) As I get braver, I will move to the negative and leave it out to the elements to see what will happens. (Heat: this coming summer may be the way to go, I know that heat damage can change the color of the images, and this may be a way to expand on the process. ) I am very surprised by the way the print is marked by the elements.
Bloom’s idea is: ‘To mark her work work as her own. Dog on a water hydrant style.’ I feel the same way, however it is to make my mark as an artist among so many others.
When I look at her subject matter, I see a girl prancing around on the rocks. A mixture of blur and static image. One foot on the ground, the other floating on air, the color is shifted on the rocks to a greenish hue. The image is covered with round magenta forms and line. I like the contrast in the size of the round forms: from small to big, she plays well with size contrast here. The line form works well with the rocks and may well be ‘woman made’ rocks in the shape of magenta forms.
Gallery and Exhibition Project development and research:
I had the opportunity to meet Richard Tuschman up in Carmel last week. Richard Gadd (curator for the Weston Gallery) invited me to a talk he was having at the Centre for Photographic Arts (CfPA) Then Richard Gadd took me over to the opening to see Richard Tuschman’s work and to meet him. I mentioned that I had a few questions about the exhibition, he asked for my card and offered to call me.
I went up to see and learn from the whole process, and how this information could inform my FMP exhibition. I found the talk very informative:
He prepared a powerpoint presentation. (I will use this at my FMP)
Spoke about his personal life a little and how it tied into his work. (nice context about the artist and his work) made him human.
Then he went on to explain the creative process. How he arrived at his work and how he made the sets and did the photography (Gave his audience a hint of how he does it.)
I went to the opening, bought a catalogue, had it signed by the artist, took note of the Curator, what was written about Richard Tuschman, as well as who made the exhibition possible.
I have just got off the phone with Richard, he called me as he said he would and I had my list of questions about his show, I figured I would ask him how he got it to happen and how it was financed, because I need this information for my FMP, here is what I learned.
The catalogue was written by the curator. He did contact Richard to ask him questions about his work. Richard did edit the writeup.
Some of the costs were picked up by the gallery: print transportation, accommodation, travel and other minor expenses.
Richard already had the prints and frames form other exhibitions, which he paid for.
Part of the exhibition was covered by two named patrons.
I did ask Richard for advice on getting a show. He suggested that I contact the Los Angeles Center for Photography, they would be able to point me in the right direction about getting an exhibition. He also mentioned that I would have to pay all costs, as I do not have a track record and basically, would have to rent a space.
I asked him how he got the exhibition up in Carmel? He mentioned he had a group show up there a few years back, and the curator invited him to have a solo show because he liked the work, and also figured that it would sell. He told me that’s a big part of the equation.
Went up to the Weston Gallery in Carmel this past Saturday, and met with Richard Gadd the curator. I wanted to have him take a look at my portfolio and get some feedback. To get informed about the work from an outside professional. He gave me almost two hours of this time. I showed him my series on Fences, and explained what I was attempting to convey with the series.
He liked the work and suggested that I complete the series in the abstract. I was quite surprised! The Weston Gallery is a very conservative, with a lot of the works by Ansel Adams, Ed Weston, as well as other photographers of that era, Harry Callahan, Minor White and many others.
I went up ‘informed’ I know the history of the Gallery. The works of almost all the photographers they represent. I learned about the curators creative history. I discovered that the owner of the Gallery lived in South Africa. Overall, a very enjoyable, informative, creative experience. Richard gave me a real boost about my work. Let’s see where it leads . . .
This week I went up to Carmel. I made an appointment to meet with the Curator of the Weston Gallery in Carmel. My intention was two fold: 1. For him to take a look at my portfolio for this module and get his opinion on the work. 2. To ask if I could have my FMP exhibition up at the Gallery.
I met Ansel Adams at the Weston Gallery when I was a young film student at Cal Arts back in 1982. He was having a retrospective of his work and a friend of mine told me about it and asked if I would like to go, because he knew that I was a fan of Ansel and the Zone system.
Many years before when I was in the Navy in South Africa, I had seen a documentary on Ansel in Yosemite and it was then and there that I decided on a career in film/photography and applied to Cal Arts. Here it was some 4 years later and I would finally have the opportunity to meet him.
We drove up, went to the Weston, I met Ansel, had a book signed, and made a series of images of him both B+W and color, which I have had in my possession since. While up there was introduced to Point Lobos and the work of Edward Weston, so both these photographers have had an influence on my practice as both a cinematographer and more recently as a photographer.
My history with the Weston Gallery goes back a long way. I would like to come full circle and have my FMP exhibit there, or at least manage to get some of my work on show.
I drove up, went to the gallery, and met up with Richard Gadd the curator in his office. From the get go it was very casual and comfortable. I discovered he was originally from Ohio, I had done a movie up in that area so was familiar with Dayton (where he was from) Columbus and Sundusky Ohio. We spoke at length about Ansel and Ed, he was interested to see the images I had made back then, which lead into my current work and my Module 702 images.
The Weston is a very conservative gallery and I was a little concerned about my abstracts. So I included a few ‘strait’ images in my series on fences, to make my context clear. Fences is about the barriers, challenges and difficulties that I and other artists experience in life, which can spill over into others areas of life as well, and how to deal or overcome them.
When I showed Richard the series, which included both real and abstract images, I was very concerned that he would gravitate to the real images. However it was the opposite. He said he did not have to see the realistic image of a fence to get the concept I was trying to convey, that all he needed to see was the abstracts.
This fueled me to keep moving in that direction. We spent about two hours at the gallery. He showed me some rare abstract images that Ansel made, one was ‘Broken Glass’ that he was getting ready to send a collector. He also shows me an image that Ansel made at Manzanar that he shot over the ‘Fence’ at the back of the camp around 1942 of Mount Williamson. It was ironic that he shot it over a fence, and it also happens to be my favorite or all Ansel’s images.
He later invited me to a talk that was being held at the CFCP (Center for Creative Photography) by Richard Tuschman. It was also an opening at the gallery there on his work. The talk was very informative, I went to the opening to see Tuschman’s work, met him, he asked me for my business card, I don’t know why, but will see where that leads. I will also be in contact with him to find out how he went about getting the exhibit at the CFCP.
I feel that this experience was a great help. It gave me courage to pursue my practice in the abstract direction. I made contact with the gallery curator. The Weston, is gallery I respect and had the opportunity to meet with Richard Tuschman, who I will approach to find out how that all fell in place for him, and how it did that.
I also went to see Kim Weston (Ed Weston’s grandson) at Wildcat hill. I brought up the fact about burning my work. He recounted a story about Ed Weston doing that, which he later regretted. We had a discussion about printing and printing techniques, and I will return sometime later this year and he will give me a printing refresher, so happy about that.
Made some fence images both on the way up and down from Carmel. Went to Point Lobos, for old times sake and found a wrist watch just hanging on a fence up there, very strange, so made a few images of “time” to add to my list of findings. On the way up found a hand written message on a piece of wood strapped to a fence that said “repent” made a few image of that.
This week was a major step forward for me on many levels and look forward to making some images of the work I did up in that area this week past. And look forward to how things will pan out with the gallery and with Richard Tuschman.
Feb 28. This week is almost over, and have been very busy constructing images. I have moved from the position of just taking/making a photography to be a physical part of the making and constructing the image.
This week about the ‘Gaze’ is interesting. Why we look, how we look, at life images and people are interlinked. Fundamentally, we are attracted by beauty in whatever form it takes. For me it is the beauty of the new, and the unexplored. I’m a Christopher Columbus of images, always looking for the new and the different. Now maybe shifting gears to ‘create’ the new and the different.
The theme of the: ‘Rise of the Phoenix’ has always been of interest to me, and how I could apply that in my own practice to create something new has been a challenge for a very long time. This past week, I was going to have a ‘burning’ of my images, in order to start again with new ideas, I have accumulated over my live plus those new ones acquired in the MA.
As I got to the back door to do the burning, the wind started up, it was cold, cloudy, foggy, rainy and snowing. (yes is does happen in California, at the higher elevations) So, that ended the burning. I had printed about 40 inset prints, an the ink was not completely dry, and I threw the images out the back door into the wind, placed a few around the yard, and went back into the house. Some I collected an hour later some six, some were left out all night and other for days.
The images were totally at the mercy of the elements. And they were transformed into totally new images. The ink ran, smudged, concentrated and thinned out, to make some images barely recognizable, and other still recognizable. I then took them inside and rephotographed them. I will also scan them next week, and I played in Lightroom. I have happy with the imaged and finally been able to abstract them in a way I have wanted to do but unable to achieve. I presented a few images to Michelle, and she was pleased with the advancement, and like the abstractions. I have a webinar later with my tutor Paul, so will see what the outcome is on that.
I have managed to secure an interview at the Weston Gallery in Carmel, with the curator Richard Gadd. It would be a dream of mine to be able to have my Final Major Project there. I am going up to have him look at my work in progress and set see if there is any possibilities of getting my work shown. I will be up against Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, who both have been a major influence in my life. I met Ansel at that Gallery back in 1982, when he had his last retrospective there. It was then, that I was introduced to the work of Edward Weston, and Point Lobos. From Ansel I learned, that ‘The Negative’ is only half the story, they rest is in the print. From Ed I learned that one can do work in a very limited area (he is supposed to have said that he could photograph at Point Lobos his whole life) I always considered that statement very limiting, but as I get older, it makes a lot of sense to me. So, I made my series in my back yard.
Went down to Freestyle Photo, and Blicks in Hollywood, bought paper, ink, and nice portfolio case, and have been busy all week photographing, lite-rooming and printing work in progress print to present on Saturday at the Weston.
All my digital printing in done on a Canon Pixma-Pro10, and so far I am very happy with the color as well as the black and white prints. I am using after market inks, the original Canon Inks are so expensive, and so far they have been about 95% accurate. If I make prints for presentation, I use the Canon OEM inks and the color is about 99% accurate.
I work a lot in 35mm and 6×6, so behind a little on the processing, but will get to it when I come back from Carmel.
Richard Tuschman, is having a seminar up there, so I will be attending it. I did contact him by email, and he responded. so hope to have a little chat with him after the seminar, and hopefully get some nuggets of information on how to proceed with my own practice.
Feb 21 I printed 20 images today of fences or fence related images. Tomorrow, I will lay them out, pick 10, that signify fences as barriers, or with other signifiers. I my write text on them, or narrate, as I burn them one by one out back. It’s been snowing, so the red flame with the white snow and the black carbon remains should look interesting.
I plan to do a video of the burning, and make still images of each of the ten as the burn starts, the middle and the end, doing this with each image. I have often wondered why some artists burn their work? Now I think I know. John Baldessari burned all his work and started again. I’m not that radical about it. Mine is the death of old ideas in the form of an image on cheap paper. Mine represents death of the old ways of thinking and approaching the new. I am no longer waiting for Todog.
I also made a few images out my window for some later projects, and filmed another short video.
Feb-20. It was still snowing up where I live in the mountains, and there was no sunshine, the roads were closed and my car snowed in, so difficult to go out and photograph, so worked on my painting, made a video of an icicle in my back yard, I also made a few images of fences and snow around the house. Worked on some Lite-Room images, and organizing my work on the hard drive. My objective is to keep working creatively in one way or another.
Feb-18. It’s already Monday. I want to go out and photograph, but there is no sun today. It’s been snowing and about a foot of snow, so it’s difficult for me to get out and about. I may develop a few rolls of film to-day. Will read some more of Roland Barthe’s And may do a few digital farming images. Thinking of working with an old mannequin I have in my images. I have introduced my shadow, next will come hands, and may extend this to my self of a mannequin in the images.
I have been farming a few abstracts, around the house. In preparation of crossing the “Fence” for the next module.
Would really like to do some printing, have been painting as well over the past month so that been a nice addition, it’s been a while since I did that, some how it’s all stimulating the image making juices.
Feb-15: As this week draws to a close, I feel better about the concept of my project is getting stronger. I have ideas about crossing the threshold this time. I will be ready to cross over into the abstract in the next module.
Plan on going down to Freestyle Photo in Hollywood to-morrow, However I would like to go and see Hockney’s new exhibition at LA Louver in Venice. I like the way Hockney works between painting and photography. This is quite a bit of drive time. Too much distance in one day, so may land up going to Venice on Sunday and pick up some paper at Samy’s Camera in Culver City close by. May also drop into BowHaus Photo on Venice Blvd. to discuss making some negatives from digital files.
As I write this I think Sunday looks like a more productive day. Three birds with one stone, plus a visit to the beach, have a slice of pizza at Abbot Kinney’s Pizza. The best, I’m starving already! Nothing like photography, art, good pizza plus California beach sunshine. All in one shot.
Feb-14: Scanned some images of my fences that I made earlier in the week. This time, I included my shadow in the image. Response was positive on this weeks webinar with Paul. He Liked the fact that I was leaving a footprint in the image.
I feel a little stronger about the series. It is approaching abstract, and feel that by the end of this module, I will be well on the way to doing an abstract FMP, which was my goal at the beginning of the MA.
This weeks lecture and reading on the constructed image has been very beneficial to me, because I am thinking how to construct the image in order to achieve my “theme” and as well as the use of a physical fence as a motif. This module I will be crossing the fence line metaphorically. The signifier is my shadow. It passes through the barrier with no problem.
I can cross the fence line physically with no problem. I have to do it mentally this module, The ‘fence’ being my thoughts: “the work sucks, it’s worn out, it’s no good.” that’s the difficult barrier to cross. However, there seems to be light at the end of the fence, I have some ideas which I will incorporate into the image, like my shadow, I will also be constructing images and leaving something out. or covered up. Initially this is being done digitally, but will be printing soon and will be able to do it on the prints directly. The idea being that something is’ left out’ of the picture.
Feb-12: I went out yesterday, very early, it was snowing the night before, so I thought I might as well make some images of Fences in the snow. Thought-out this module, I will be making images during the day, night, rain, snow and shine. Hopefully to see how the image mood changes with the time of day as well as with the seasons.
My practice is leaning heavily towards the abstract this module. I think it will serve my project well. This is what I set out to do at the beginning of the MA, so far its been a mix and match of representation and abstraction. However, I am not in the mood of making ‘pretty’ images of fences, and by the same token, I don’t want to abstract the fence out of existence. If I can make a comparison of where I would like the series to fall would be looking at the work of the painter Paul Klee. His work is neither representative of completely abstract, it have that perfect balance of using the object / with the abstract.
Whats good so far, is that I am thinking about methods to achieve the position of my practice now, and how to fine tune the work, before I photograph. I am planning to do work in post, both analogue as well as digital, to manipulate the images I am making. As yet have not much time in that department, I am just collecting and organizing my raw and 35mm images at is stage and thinking about a way to do this.
WORK DONE THIS WEEK ON PROJECT. Friday Feb 8: Loaded up a few rolls of film, and went driving (125miles) looking at fences. I found some nice images along the Interstate 5 to-day, there was a board on the barbed wire fence that said “Repent.”
Jan 30th: Loaded up some Tri-X original 5063; I bought on Ebay. Expiration date 1978. I bought a 50ft roll, and I loaded up two canisters of 36 exposures. Using my old Nikon F. I use a Lloyds bulk loader and Kalt 35mm re-loadable cassettes.