Archive for the ‘notes’ Category
A book I made as a test;
Another. – Yup, the blue ones are taxidermied.
Vandykes of wee plastic animals.
Tempera print of a fishing lure.
And a gum print of a model tiger.
I made that as a test to see how people reacted to a particular set of ideas – and discovered that I’m on the right track, but with a few caveats – for one, people devalue regular binding, even hand made – probably because they can pick up something that looks (superficially – but who can see past that these days?) similar for a few dollars from a discount store.
Also how much hand can be visible, and what the aesthetics should look like – As a result I’ll go more towards something like this;
The covers are ok, need a bit of sanding and some sort of treatment Shellac or wax/oil – the thread needs to be much thicker – perhaps embroidery thread, and I’ll probably move to using Hahnemuhle bamboo for the paper stock as it’s cheap, decent quality, and is conceptually in line with the recycled covers – final piece prolly won’t have ply covers, but we shall see..
I might be making some sketch books like this – prolly with laser etched covers. I feel a squirrel rampant coming on.
I’m currently being asked to define somewhat precisely just what it is that I’m wanting to study and why, and the short answer involves a lot of Ummm’s and ah’s…
So instead I’m going to break it down, starting with why I’m utilizing the medium of photography – and going for the long answer, even though this is messier and perhaps less elegant than the words I’d spin to hide my un-sureity about the conceptual terrain I am moving to occupy.
The mechanism and the meme.
(or why I do photography)
There seems to be an assumption, especially from photographers (though not exclusively) that people use photography as a medium because, one, they inherently are photographers, and two, because they wish to work with light – these a maybe partially true in my case (particularly the latter), but they are also somewhat misleading.
My earliest art practice, when I was a child was the written word, story telling, and poetry especially, to shape words in order to describe moments and events, this tendency to describe is still a very central pre-ocupation for me. Being reasonably articulate in forming the written word allows me to use the medium in a manner very much akin to how an artist uses charcoal to sketch in the details of a composition and to concretize a thought or situation in a manner which they can de/reconstruct, and which other people can access.
This can be a loose little snippet which implies a greater whole;
“As I crept along the musty hallway the cat food like smell gradually resolved into a far stronger cat food like smell…”
Or it can be a more insular and encapsulated (polished?) description;
“The man sits alone on the footpath,
disheveled, hunched, mumbling to himself.
People make him invisible as they pass swiftly by,
a child’s hand is firmly grasped…
I don’t look to see where the other cops are”
This tendency to draw, or to sketch thoughts using words has seen me expand the visual art media which I can use in a similar manner, pencils, charcoal, paint, and other similar media which have a similar fluidity when used in a looser, more reflective manner. By this I am not meaning an unfinished quality, but rather I am implying materials which can illustrate ephemeral concepts and momentary situations – at times the path to these places can be involved, time consuming, and deeply procedural, but they can inscribe the fleeting, the momentary, the insubstantial in all of it’s gossamer finery – obviously this can be done in nearly any media, but I am describing a personal sensibility which is served in my case by particular media far more than others.
I have also, over time, picked up a lot of process skills which can be brought to bear on a concept working with materials such as metal, fabric, print, and even supposedly non-art materials such as programatic coding. It wasn’t till I was 30 that I paid any particular attention to photographic media, though like everybody for a few generations I suppose, I had used camera’s for different purposes according to my needs or desires, albeit not in a manner that was deeply considered. I didn’t intend to pick up photography, or darkroom practice at all – instead I was kicked out of the print workshop at a former school when a new tutor decided to reconfigure the facilities and decided to occupy some time by having a nosey. Fate being what it is I quickly discovered that photography, as a medium, is one which is deeply capable of facilitating the sensibilities which I had developed already, though this necessitated a several year long investigation into process.
In photography, I have found a medium which to my mind produces a reflection – the camera itself is merely a lens which can focus and fix that reflection, I do not feel the popular analogy of a magic mirror to be relevant to me in the slightest, I don’t feel that there is anything magical about camera’s, or even process at all, though these can certainly shade to arcane in places – even when serendipity creeps into the equation (as it so frequently does), it is typically repeatable and a reflection of my working practice rather than an intervention by the ‘photo gods’.
The reflection that the medium can produce is really what draws me to the medium, this reflection as a sketching medium is about the closest thing to story telling that I have discovered in the visual arts, both in it’s speed of application, and indeed in how incredibly nuanced the reflected image can be. That which is reflected can be controlled, not just visually, but also in terms of what is implied, which is really the most important thing to me about photography as a medium. In the case of the urban landscape/vernacular photography that I have spent considerable time on, the control is a matter of peripatetic gathering, of movement, time, and selections which I largely make instinctively – in short, being there at the right time, and making choices both at the time, but also later in editing, printing and presentation (these are at least as important to me as the act of photographing).
Right now though, I’m more concerned with constructing and manipulating narratives, and in analyzing just how it is that a particular image/photograph/text can be taken to stand for a particular theme or meme, which doesn’t preclude working in the above manner in the slightest, but it does open up a lot of possibilities in terms of a more purely studio type method of constructing this reflection.
This in essence is why I choose to work with photographic possibilities as much as I do in my practice, it is because the medium allows me to sketch concepts and thoughts in a manner which is sympathetic to my intentions, and which I intuitively link to the manner and the methods in which I have previously worked. The narrative aspect and the questioning of assigned/valued meaning is the meme which I am working with – the medium is simply a mechanism.
I picked up a purple transparent Heitiki in a $2 store in K Road in 2008, since that time I’ve used it as the basis of a series of works, which have strangely turned into a fully blown project for this year (more another time).
I started making gum bichromate prints in 2008, I used a scan of the tiki as an image source, sadly I didn’t photograph the series that sold at that time (in private collections), but I’ve continued to work with the imagery.
The dark grey print is gum bichromate, circa 2008, the two orangey prints are lumen prints from the same negative (regular photo paper used as POP ), and the black print is a silver (fiber) print from a waxed paper neg – it’s actually far darker than that, but I can’t get my scanner or printer to see the detail without spreading the contrast substantially. The blue print is a cyanotype which had the tiki placed on it in the sun, and the purplish one is a lumen print by the same technique.
The final two (bright green & purple) I describe below – it won’t let me separate stuff out from the gallery – poor effort that!
The following is a digital separation for a spraypaint stencil, I’m also working on some 3 and 4 colour gum prints atm.
I often use one image for testing things, this is a particular favourite of mine for playing with alt processes with – I like it at a conceptual level too.
This camera was one of my many Internet auction purchases, It came up the first time for $10 plus post by memory and I just couldn’t justify it, the whole reason that I was interested was because it looks like the bastard child of an instamatic and a holga. I have since seen the holga 135bc, which looks strangely like it shares some sort of ancestry with this wee beasty, though the specs are quite different.
Anyhow, it came back at $5 and I snaffled it up. When it turned up it had had a bad repair attempt done on the flash and hadn’t been put back together right, that was easy enough to fix and get the flash working, though I stuffed up something in the frame counter in the process so it sits on zero permanently – no biggie, it’s not like I actually look at it on cameras like this, it also had a couple of rusty screws, they’re still rusty – who cares?.
The specs are essentially as follows;
Body; Black plastic, with black plastic bits, a sliding flash, and white screen printing here and there. It feels fairly solid and is kinda chunky with the battery compartment at the side. Dunno the weight, fairly light I guess – Normal point n’ shoot weight? (guess who doesn’t have scales?)
Lens; 38mm plastic fixed focus.
It actually looks about 38mm too compared to my ricoh. Being a plastic lens it’s a bit soft on the contrast and isn’t corrected for anything, it doesn’t have much distortion and very little viginetting generally.
Shutter speeds; One, no bulb mode, seems to be about 1/100 or so with three apertures which I’d guess are maybe 5.6, 8, and 11 – this is a total guess from the sunny symbols.
Flash; Manually switched (switched off above, on below), probably pathetically weak, no indications given whatsoever as to distance Vs aperture. Runs off 2xAA batteries – nimh are too fat to fit in comfortably, needs to be disposable (hence the fact I haven’t experimented much with flash on this camera).
Advance/Rewind; It’s a plastic camera – thumb wheel advance and normal rewind crank.
And are we impressed by this marvel of camera technology?
Well, it’s cheesy as hell, but in a terribly serious sort of a way, I have serious reservations about the claim that the lens is ‘Coated’ – Unless it’s a plastic lens which is coated in more plastic I’d go so far as to quietly suggest that this might be an ever so slight exaggeration in terms (or even a falsehood perhaps). It looks like it might be coated in the shot above, but in truth that’s just a reflection of me in the lens.
It came with a Chinon lens cap (shown above) which may very well imply that it shares some ancestry with the holga 135bc (or conversely that it’s cross dressing), though I’m completely unsure on this point as I haven’t found any net data on this camera. The lens does take filters, which is a bit odd and slightly pointless, I’ll try it with a yellow filter when I get an adapter for my Ricoh.
The viewfinder strangely enough ‘is’ coated to reduce flare and even has bright lines – Classy! – though it’s slightly awkwardly placed a frazz to the right of center, which feels odd to a left eyed person like myself. The Flash as above and below slides out from the body to switch on. It has a swiveling ring on the flash side for a wrist strap I guess.
You can see the flash switch and the aperture symbols for 100 and 400 speed films, No focus and it seems to be telling you to only use the widest aperture for flash, no idea on the distance. The flash ready light works, as does the shutter release. The frame counter does not. In use the thumb wheel is light, comfortable, and pretty quiet, as is the shutter, though the “ping-ChucK-ping” noise is a little off putting to begin with. The rewind knob is better than many of my more expensive cameras.
To open the back you lift the rewind knob and scrabble frantically at the back – fingernails are quite handy for this task. Other than that – no light leaks, and nothing special, it has a tripod socket and rewind button on the bottom, not exciting enough to warrant a photo.
All in all I actually kinda like this camera, it’s a slight step up from the regular plastic cameras, having a selectable flash is kinda fun, though I’d prefer a hotshoe. The three apertures is a nice touch for daytime photos, and it takes an okay photo so long as you can accept the limitations of plastic lenses, at that level it’s better than most plastic cameras, it’s also somewhat solid feeling (relatively speaking).
But the real reason that I like this camera is because it tries so hard to look like a serious camera and fails utterly – from the molded black plastic ‘leathergrain’ to the “COATED LENS MADE IN JAPAN” (made in Hong Kong) it’s just trying so hard to look like something a serious photographer might pick up to take ‘good photos’ that I can’t help but giggle just a little bit (and pick it up and attempt to take ‘good photos’ with it).
Photos to follow;
I have been using whiteboards (actually aluminium print plates) a great deal in my practice for the last year or so to work things out and to keep a tract of tasks, library books, notes, hand in dates, and suchlike – I haven’t been making a point of photographing these notes unless there’s something I wish to replicate, and thus I don’t have much in the way of records of them – I need to make a point of photographing them before I blank them.
I find that having this scratch board makes it a great deal easier to keep a track of things and to work out complex issues – this is one part that I did photograph as it was the point where I managed to tie the parts of my practice together into a structure that makes sense to me.
I’m also noticing retrospectively that this is also the point where my basic question changed from “finding a place for myself in the world” to “Placing myself in the world” I hadn’t noticed that before right now, and it seems kinda important.
I often find notes, shopping lists and suchlike during my wanders, of course I gather them up and make stories from them.
This is a good itemization of desperation, Not only have they run out of printer ink and milk, they are also out of undies and tissues.
Odd list really, I approve of the paper though.