Topic 2: Joel Snyder & Neil Walsh Allen (1975): INDEPENDENT READING
I disagree with Andre Bazin theory that photography is an illusion by a mechanical reproduction in the making of which man plays no part. Man very much plays a part in the ‘mechanical’ process to control the outcome of the image. I also disagree with Arnheim’s theory that photographs have “an authenticity from which painting is barred by birth”, as since the invention of photography images have been subject to manipulation so authenticity can always be questionable. Arnheim also states that photographs lack the “formal position” and “expressive freedom” from which the “private visions” of the painter possess. Again, through the control of techniques, processes and materials the photographer has almost unlimited expressive freedom, and even control of the formal position through the use of the focal length of the camera optics.
Photography is a unique medium and as quoted by the director of the Department of photography at MoMa is a “different kind of art” unrelated to traditional types but closely related to perception.
Photography does share conventions with painting because artists made use of camera and lens as an aid to render perspective and detail for several hundred years before Fox Talbot was able to fix the camera image to make what we know today as a photograph. Arnhem questions “authenticity correctness and truth”, these conventions can also be questioned in painting, film, writing, poetry and theatre where there is room for manipulation in representation.
Mary Price (1994) argues:
"The camera may be thought of as comparable to the eye. The difference is that the camera is not more than an eye. It does not think. Any connection with judging, choosing, arranging, including, excluding, and snapping has to be with the photographer" (Price, 1994: 4)
Post to the forum below:
This was my first attempt at exploring the concept of time and light, leaving a pinhole camera overnight for a 21-hour exposure. Unable to visualise the result was challenging, due to not being able to accurately gauge exposure or composition, but I thought the resulting image was successful as it has captured detail in the foreground while still maintaining almost ghostlike image of the tree as it fades towards the brighter sky. The composition shows a pleasing balance of the formal elements.
This result was less successful as was exposed for a shorter time resulting in an underexposed image. The foreground is dark and lacks detail or interest to draw the viewer in to the image. There is too much foreground which upsets the balance of the image, leaving the trees looking too cropped.
Paul Nash, We Are Making a New World, 1918
The ragged stumps were all that remained of the Polygon Wood in Ypres Salient in 1917, which was recorded by Paul Nash in his painting ‘We are making a New World’. It is a haunting image that shows the destruction man has wreaked on this woodland and leaves you thinking that if this kind of mechanised warfare can do this to sturdy trees, what has it done to the men who were fighting here. Today I see this as a metaphor for deforestation and the resulting environmental impact.
Chrystel Lebas, Abyss, Untitled n.16, 2006
To record the forest at night is a nearly impossible task. The photographs of Chrystel Lebas were taken during twilight, when light is still present outside the confined space of the forest, and darkness has already spread under the trees. She uses long exposures so the camera can record the barely visible forms of the forest at night, making visible to the viewer's eye what would otherwise be shrouded in darkness.
I am going to continue exploring the use of light and time through both long exposure pinhole photography, infrared photography to explore the spectrum beyond what the eye can see and the use of movement to visualise the passing of time within the image.
In the tutor webinar you will take it in turns to present your work, articulate your ideas, and receive feedback and comments from both your tutor and your peers.
You will be asked to:
I am investigating our relationship with the countryside and the effect our surroundings have on how we feel and behave. There are physical and mental health benefits of walking, being in the countryside and taking photographs and taking photographs and I have been looking at the impact that immersing yourself in photography and the countryside can have on your mental health through finding your voice at different points in time.
I have found my work has progressed from taking photographs which simply ‘document’ what I am seeing, to images which display more of an ethereal look which is more representative of how I am feeling and reflects my own inner landscape.
I have titled my photographs using What3Words locations, where in the relationship between the photograph and words, the photograph begs for an interpretation, and the words usually supply it, adding a further dimension to the images themselves for the viewer to interpret to inform their own response to my work.
The webinar will encourage you to consider how you represent the world and identify / evaluate your 'human choices' (Berger, 1974).
Prepare for your Webinar
Spending time in nature has also been found to improve creativity!
The Japanese term Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing involves consciously connecting with the forest surroundings by engaging all five senses. Smelling the air and the musty scent of damp soil; listening to the bird song and the wind in the branches; looking around you at the form of trees, the patterns in the bark and the light streaming through the canopy; touching the bark of trees, the damp moss and feeling the warmth of the sun as it breaks through the leaves; and tasting the freshness in the air.
I have tried to represent the feelings that being in immersed in nature invokes by trying to make the images ethereal to reflect my own ‘inner landscape’. I have used techniques such as pinhole photography, ‘tree portraits’ where I have heavily edited the images to make the trees more ‘sculptural’ in appearance, infrared where the chlorophyll in plants reflects the infrared light rendering them lighter in colour, and movement to show the passing of time within an image.
All the techniques have been successful, although certain images within that have been more successful than others. Ansel Adams wrote of ‘visualisation’ as one of the four steps in the creation of a photograph, but with all the techniques I have been exploring I can visualise the feeling I want to bring into the final image but cannot visualise the outcome as the techniques are unpredictable.
While on my derives and immersing myself in the countryside I am constantly looking around me and certain subjects just seem to ‘reach out and grab me’. I then decide which technique will best fit that subject.
Walking in the woods - Yoshifumi Miyazaki, Capturing Mindfulness – Matthew Johnstone, The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle, Paul Gaffney – We make the path by walking, Jem Southam, Flora Mary Bartlett, Guy Debord, Beth Moon, Chrystel Lebas, Chris Friel, Stephen Gill, Paul Nash and Jesse Alexander.
I think I’m ok, I just need to see through the mist and find my ‘voice’.
In your critical research journal (CRJ):
I think that Barthes is implying that the importance of the authentication, or reality of the image is more important than how the image is represented. I think this is dependent on the context in which the photograph is intended to be viewed, for example photojournalism versus fine art.
My own work represents rather than authenticates, as I want to show my surroundings as I see or feel them, so I use camera and editing techniques to manipulate my images for this purpose, although it could be argued that this process authenticates the images as now the images are viewed as my visualisation.
Ori Gersht (liquidation), Charles Sanders Peirce characteristics of signs, Barthes, Patricia Townsend, Thomas Demand.
I have read Photography, Vision, and Representation by Joel Snyder and Neil Walsh Allen as this was the essential reading from this week. From the additional resources I have also read Barthes ‘That-has-been’, I watched the video of Thomas Demand ‘Presidency’ and read chapter 6, Ectoplasm from Each Wild Idea : Writing, Photography, History by Geoffrey Batchen, an RPS magazine article on Edward Burtansky. I’ve just received the book Walking in the woods by Yoshifumi Miyazaki and have ordered Informal Beauty: The Photographs of Paul Nash by Simon Grant.
I have continued exploring the concept of light and time through infrared photography, intentional camera movement and also experimenting with focus stacking to add more depth to the image.
Cemre suggested that I needed to connect the reader/ viewer to the process, making me realise I need to show my story/ feelings alongside my images. One of my fellow students suggested (re)- reading Patricia Townsend from the Tallis list (‘Between Inner and Outer Worlds’).
Photos from week 2