Monday, 30 April 2012

Assignment 2

Assignment 2 has been very enjoyable. I think I am gaining in confidence all the time now with all aspects of the photographic and creative process. For this assignment I chose to photograph the activity taking place around Borough Market in London.

For the first time I decided as part of my selection process to print out 40 images from two earlier rounds of culls onto A4 (12 to a page.) I cut them up and laid them out on the dining table so that I could pick my final 10. It is much easier to shuffle images on a table than to juggle them using a monitor screen. Images that don't quite belong tended to leap out at me and the sequencing was easier too.

Once I had my final 10 I printed them out large onto A4 and hung them up on a newly constructed hanging wire in my workroom. This allowed me to live with them for a few days without them getting in the way or being tidied up and it was easier to re-jig the sequence if I needed to.

I'm also sending physical prints to my tutor for the first time with this course so it will be interesting to see what response I get with regard to that. My assignment is now posted off to my tutor and it's just a case of waiting.

Here are my final 10 images shown in sequence: 

Tutor Feedback:

My feedback for this assignment was positive and for the first time ever on any of my level 1 course I have not had to make any amendments to my submitted images. His advice moving forward is that I need to start using the Harvard referencing system when I write my essay. This is something that I have been vaguely aware was lacking from previous ones and I need to tackle this and get it right before I move to my level 2 courses. As there are no amendments to the images in this set I might re-tackle the essay using academic references and submit it as an amendment at assessment time.

Another piece of advice was to tackle a project with a viewpoint or angle in mind to give life to a project. Previously I have tried to remain neutral in my work and seen myself as an observer. To put across a point of view is interesting and has given me some ideas for tackling the next assignment.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Richard Billingham - Ray's a Laugh

This is another book suggested by a previous tutor that I loaned from the library:

Ray's a Laugh - Richard Billingham

The images in this book show a family at home and living with the chaos of alcoholism and how that affects all members of a family not just the alcoholic. There are fights, booze in assorted containers, loads of animals, horrific amounts of grime and moments of tenderness. The house is filled with brightly coloured ornaments and shot in a haphazard and most of the time out of focus style that appears to bring a dynamism and spontaneity to the photographs. There is also truth laid bare by the photographer who took the images of his own family (for reference, for portraits that he was planning to paint while at art college.)

From a compositional viewpoint one image stands out for me. Liz (the mother) is wearing a dress ablaze with colour and pattern as she completes a jigsaw puzzle; its pieces match the riot of colour and shape of her dress. This is such a well spotted image. There is another one that looks to be set up by the photographer to me. It is of a cat frozen in mid-air as it flies across the living room. Ray, the father, cowers at the bottom of the photograph. It is a good picture. The chaos of the family life is portrayed well in this one image and I don't doubt many similar events happen at Ray's house all the time.

The sequence of images show a revolving cycle of violence and happiness that must play out several times a day. This provides a strong narrative and contextual thread that runs throughout the book. The indoor scenes were interspersed with the occasional wildlife shot of wild birds. They were done in the same style. A bit fuzzy and out of focus and colours almost bleeding into themselves. I found them a bit strange in the sequence and puzzled over their inclusion. My initial thought is that the chaotic and unpredictability of Ray's home is juxtaposed against the wild animals to show how they (we) often operate by our own natural instincts and self interest to survive.

I can relate to this idea as I have also lived with an alcoholic parent and the deadness of the son's eyes is a sign of withdrawal and self protection that I am familiar with. The whole family has found its own way of dealing with the hand that has been dealt them (whether this be arguing, booze, fags, puzzles, or pets.)

One final point from someone that has survived a similar situation is that chaos is not always on display in such a lurid fashion as in "Ray's a Laugh." That chaos may reign behind closed doors and having lived in a house where the kitchen floor was mopped clean at least twice a day that chaos can to the outside world remain invisible.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Picasso and Modern British Art - Tate Britain

This exhibition took a look at Picasso's work in all it's different phases and showed how it helped to influence the art of contemporary British artists at the time. This is what I found most interesting about the exhibition. My OCA studies have shown that artists do not work in isolation. They are influenced by their culture, global events and the rest of the art world. Nobody works in isolation and a lot of referencing of other artists work takes place. The other artist's work showed alongside this to be true to a more or lesser extent. In some cases to me the works looked almost like subtly altered copies. Where is the dividing line between reference and homage or pastiche?

Some of earlier work of Picasso where he was trying to find his voice was on show. His paintings that almost emulated the Impressionist style go to show that we are all affected by what has gone before and the prevalent ideas and thoughts of our time seep into our consciousness and we can't ignore this.