Peculiar Practice:  Because my work deals with abstracts  and concepts, as opposed to a facts and concretes, it is a little more difficult to communicate.  How does one communicate abstracts, like fear, happiness, freedom, in the form of images?

Not an easy task.  During research and the testing out of ideas of how to do this, one may say a lot of things that may not be politically, ethically or morally correct and a lot of mistakes in this area surface. A picture does not always say a thousand words. If, for example, I show someone a barb on a wire fence like the image below, and ask what that see?  Ninety-nine percent  will say a see wire barb. The moment I ask what else they see, I start getting weird looks. In this way, I consider my practice peculiar.

“Careful” © Pierre Chemaly


Affects of Context:  In the context of the gallery and the museum, I think the above image will work well. I have had a few comments on this image, as far as form and content goes. The graininess, the isolation, the tonal range, the composition etc. This image in a newspaper might denote something from the second world war. To this image into a farmers almanac for a company selling barbed wire, would be a real challenge. An image like this would never be accepted as a product shot.  If  I made one like this for a product company, I would be fired. I am aware of the position of an image like this in my practice, however,  I would love a company that can appreciate an “artsy” image, and use it to sell their product. There may be a company like that out there?  A few photographers have managed to do ‘art’ under the commercial umbrella. If I could achieve this, it would be the only commercial work I would do, and would be as flattered as obtaining a gallery or museum showing,  except it would be in Elle or Vogue.

Context of Other Visual Practices: I think the photographic image has a lot more dynamic range than painting or sculpture. Because paintings and sculpture are regarded as art, there is no challenge, however, photography can and does go either way, ranging from pure snap shots to record a moment in time, to the sophisticated images of artists like Andreas Gursky, Cindy Sherman, and Diane Arbus, where the works are regarded as ‘Art.’

Has my views changed? As a result of coming to terms with Icon and Index, my view has not changed, but been strengthened.   I understand the Icon as being the denotation of the photograph. For example, my project is on ‘Fences’ so this denotes, control. Physical fences keep humans and/or animals in or out of an area. The Index, which is the connotation, I link to the mind, in terms of a mental fence, that can do the same thing. Thoughts as fences or barriers are as powerful or even more powerful than physical ones. Now that I am thinking in terms of Icon,Index and Symbol, It will be easier for me to photograph my project and explain it in a way that can be understood a little easier. I will be testing my techniques of using these three signs.

What Challenged me?  The biggest challenge, is applying the concept of signs to my own practice. I understand the abstractions of the signs, now I want to concretize them in my work. I think this is my challenge for now. However, this gives me great strength to proceed forward. I like mantras, so today, when I went out to photograph my “fences”  I looked at the fence I was photographing in terms of Icon and Index before I made the images, it is so nice to be able to look at the actual world this way when constructing and image as composed to other primitive ways like the “decisive moment”  that to me is so old school, it’s not even funny.



Feb 8:  MLO this morning was very informative. It was interesting to see how many students are battling with signs in terms of Icon, Index and Symbol. I am a bit of a wordsmith, and over the years have become quite proficient in the study of words, their meaning and application. Each word has its own challenges. In addition, the same words take on different meanings for different domains. As well as when analyzed as the various parts of speech. I learned this the hard way. Words are elastic, ductile and malleable. If they are used as absolutes, it can cause a lot of trouble, especially if one has never considered another meaning of the word, and gets caught up in a single definition of one.

I created a few images today on 35mm with the ‘special cameras’ all the while thinking how I could create the images in terms of indexes. I am going to fall back on the old maestro Ansel Adams, and will be doing some experiments when I have some time in the Lightroom as well as the Darkroom playing around to see how I can connote the physical fence to the metal fence.

Feb 5: Thought about going out tonight to shoot some film, but could not find my flash, so will have to go tomorrow.

Thinking about visiting all the locations that I like so far and re-photographing at night with flash, to ad another diminution to the triptych’s. Thinking about experimenting with my two special cameras Lightleak and Non-advance at night with flash, hopefully I will get a few days of snow, would like to get some day and night images with flash for the assignment this module.

I am tinkering with the idea of forcing the abstract, have done a few tryptic like that and will see what my peers say at the webinars on Thursday. I might be able to cross over to completely abstract this module with Fences, that would be a dream.  Was very impressed with Jedd’s work the Alumni who popped in this week with Steph, he did abstracts in black and white so will contact and pick his brain a bit on that one.

Had a good MLO session today with Steph, starting to get the hang of this research and bow to apply it to my own practice. Re-looked at the work of Richard Prince

Looked at my processed films today, was very happy with the results, the faulty cameras worked as they should have, light leaks on every frame, the non advancing film camera advanced randomly every now, whenever it felt like it. Sometimes a quarter or half a frame, double exposing images and half/quarter/no frames littered the two rolls of film, perfectly. cannot wait to scan them and play with them on the computer.

Guest speaker today, a bit of a bore, nothing there for me with the type of work he does.

Still an issue with Canvas. MLO not showing up. Gem sent me a screenshot of her screen, it showed up there, I sent one of mine to her and she sent it off to IT. Will see what happens.

 Feb 4th: Very happy to attend the webinar to-day with the alumni students. Found this very helpful on a number of levels. Firstly: about the personal growth that both Jedd and Jo experienced during this particular module, and making the ‘character arc’ from Jo not liking Barthes to using him in her references. Secondly: Going from not liking her self-image to using it in her FMP. By working through all the stages from: not using her images, to: using masks, to: using her raw image. Quite a transformation and very difficult to do. For me, it was  display of courage of the highest order. Happy to hear about the help she received from the tutors.

Jedd’s information was very helpful as well. I am busy figuring a way to best communicate my work and his suggestions with an image title and an appropriate project title was very helpful. These alone will be enough to steer the viewing audience in the right direction.  This goes in line with a theme approach I have to the work, thus holding some information back and letting the audience figure out something for themselves.

Note well taken on the reading assignments, just have to use the strategies suggested to work my way through it so I can reference, learn and apply other practitioners work to my own.

I found this webinar most useful. Glad to know that other individuals have made their way thought difficult challenges as a result of this module. From needy to independent, which is the way I feel right now. I also feel that this is the most important module for me and want to make a success of it creatively as well as academically.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *