The Society of Secretive Squirrels

Secretive and Squirrely.

Archive for the ‘studio’ Category

Bookages

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A book I made as a test;

The cover looks a wee bit greener in real life.

Some of my photographic subjects (vandyke pics) piled to the side
Some cyanotypes – which are a headache to mount

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 spine looks like;

This was also a test, just using some ply I pulled out of a skip bin (dumpster) and some heavy glossy card stock I hadn’t found a use for yet – bound with linen thread.

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.

Written by secretivesquirrel

October 29, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Camera making.

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A bit of fitting to go, and I need to make a focus screen (Lubitel for scale).

It’s a fairly large camera 😀

[EDIT] Turns out that the kodak lens doesn’t quite meet my expectations – I’d really only thought about coverage, not that it would give me a range of magnification starting at 1:1 macro (which included the front of the focussing rail) and going up to about 5:1 (five times life size) – which is sure interesting, but not exactly ideal for the level of focussing technology I’m using.

So I’m cobbling something together out of an old pair of spectacles which will go from infinity to about 1:1 as well.

So I now  have a system 😛

Written by secretivesquirrel

May 11, 2011 at 12:57 am

Finished work, and an unfinished camera.

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Well, the crit seemed to go ok, the feedback that I got was all along the lines of the stuff that I’d been thinking about when I was preparing and selecting.

Having given it a days thought, I shortened that in the critique to a verbal “I’m interested in how photography can make icons of ordinary things.”

My little wee 5×7″ print all on it’s lonesome, well, it does have a couple of vents to keep it company I guess – incidentally that’s the name of the gallery – “Vent” – not sure which one is ‘the’ vent – probably the one above my pic.

It’s quite a hard thing to view, cos it’s really as much a mirror as a print in an odd way – it’s black on black, but how you look at it determines the tones you see,

Also a wee bit of a trick to photo, I love that to represent it here I first had to decide what I wanted it to look like 😀

And, I’m reaching a point where I’m starting to see what a camera I’m building will look like – it’s a half plate camera for dryplate (the hole at the back is 7×7″ – it’s a big camera by my standards).

The front will be friction focus and will have front tilt, no other movements are planned in this iteration – I’ve been working on it for about a month on and off, I guess there’s another week or so of work to go.

And the obligatory studio shot;

Yup, mildly ordered chaos – yes, I have three power drills, handy things. – And what’s happening on the bench (typically three things at once).

The aluminium curve is my cyc, the animals on it are just there cos they are, the makings of two camera’s in the foreground, and all the little black dot things are wee screws out of a plate back.

That’s all.

Written by secretivesquirrel

April 25, 2011 at 6:56 am

Anticipated artsy thingees.

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I guess this is where I do the ghost of Christmas future, having done present and past. Though to be honest I watched the Dr Who version of that story recently and am currently thinking of the flying shark, so, be warned, I may not be channelling Dickens in an academically appropriate manner.

In my art practice, what are my ongoing concerns;

Firstly the very idea of representation, and re-presentation are important – the former is a means of denoting something that stands for a meme or an idea it is conceptual – much in the manner that a (ostensibly female) model could stand for femininity (or a range of feminine ideals), the god awful “The two ways of life” (which admittedly someone had to do so I shouldn’t be too derisive of poor Oscar, dear chap) stands as an allegory for the choices that upright Christians must necessarily make between the left and right paths and suchlike – it is allegory, and metaphor, and as somebody who loves writing (note I didn’t say ‘good writing’) this interests me deeply.

Re-presentation on the other hand – and this is a purely personal distinction in terms – is when something is taken from it’s natural state (indeed, it’s original presentation) and re~presented by an outside agency as an original artefact, realistic and whole – think of how different contentious (or merely targeted) demographics have been promoted by their detractors – this also intrigues me, though I feel that somehow it is necessary to differentiate these terms, they are problematic in that each shades to the other, but identifying the extremes is nevertheless a worthwhile use of intellectual energy, even if it does lead to tone arguments and arbitrary distinctions.

The Photographic – the writing with light, or even Skiagraphic – writing with shadow (I have no idea how to format that sentence formally), is a fascination of mine also – this entails a whole spectra of options, from human vision to human failure of vision – to set arbitrary boundaries which are pseudobinaristic, but more properly merely a spectrum – I am fascinated by Light, Vision, Articulation, and the boundaries of my own senses. The Claude glass, and the infra spectral.

Sensory phenomena – not merely visual – I have hearing loss in a major way, though compensated otherwise, and work daily with a range of perception issues – some give me a sensory deficit, and some give me extra ordinary senses (as in more than usual, but they’re ordinary to me – colours glow complimentary in darkness (dimness?) for instance and I can track chocolate like a champion). Much of the video/audio work that I have done is along these lines. I still have no idea how to present smell adequately as a painting medium, despite having attempted and failed at this since circa 2000 – (the chocolate secret is all mine (my prechusss).

Yes, I am fascinated with the semantic, and the semiotic. these distinctions, when used thoughtfully can lead to a crystalline elegance in description – I appreciate the difficulty of stepping into this wavelength, but the elegance of distinction is more than worth it when I get it right – I know that a few people can follow what I say, even if many cannot, or perhaps simply cannot be bothered.

And media (see what I did there,? no?), I am simply in thrall of media, I love… not the stuff – as someone recently stated, but, what can be done with the stuff (‘stuffness’ is not a real word btw). Camera’s are neat, but so are paint brushes, and they’re a damn sight easier to learn how to make. I have a lot of media which I will draw from. I like physicality, both in art media, but also in myself and the world at large – from the martial arts I have done, I would say that the most important thing I’ve learned is where my body ends and the world begins – the extent of my influence as it were. My body, my art, what i make, and what i leave behind – these are important in terms of the trace i leave. Media is broad.

Though I am not entirely sure that identity politics (arguing them at least) is important, I am interested in how identity sits within the world. Personal, national, sexual, whichever. As a means of distinction this ties straight back into representation – and there we have a loop, already, after a mere seven hundred fifty odd words.

And I hope you know that my answer would be different tomorrow, cos my interests aren’t narrow at all – even if I am capable of focussing them rather sharply as need be.

Written by secretivesquirrel

April 2, 2011 at 9:22 am

Past presentations.

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Some of the meta themes I’ve worked with in the past.
Perhaps I didn’t state it clearly enough in the first essay, but What I find compelling about photography as an artistic medium is it’s facility as a storytelling medium. To me sketching is analogous to this sensibility, as such much of what I have looked at through the lens, as it were, of photography is the snippets of information, the traces which imply the presence of a greater narrative.


These traces are the basis of a fair chunk of my work to date, I seek out the traces that people leave behind in their daily lives and frame them in a manner which allows extrapolation from any viewer. Obviously I use a photographic vernacular in framing these images, composition, printing techniques, and presentation strategies which are of, or have been co-opted by photographic sensibilities.


When I first began to play with photography as a medium I began with pinhole imagery, speed of vision is something we are very much stuck with, to slow down or to speed up vision is very much the domain of photography, perhaps more-so than just seeking particular lighting.

I’m more interested in exploring things that re-present to me a reality which our senses cannot percieve. The hyper fast, the super slow, the spectrally invisible, these are all of a realm, which is to us, extrasensory, this fascinates me in that I am learning whilst making such images, to perceive the world at large in a different manner to that which my naked senses suggest.


In making use of these photographic and non-human visualities I have, of necessity, experimented extensively with the medium of photography at large, these experiments ranging from learning new printing methods, or the capabilities of different technical modalities (camera’s, lenses, etc), through to physically rebuilding (cheap) digital camera’s in such ways that their descriptive abilities no longer match a nominally human view point.


As I have gathered images, negatives, prints and digital files I have started to see themes which emerge, and which bend under the weight of their neighbors. The intertextual and the semiotic have developed interesting complexities within my archives, and this has fed back into long standing (considerably pre-dating my engagement with the photographic idiom) fascinations with linguistics, language, translation, language, and the persistence of archetypical presentations.


One thing which I have not worked with to any great degree yet (and do not intend to start with now) is photographing people, this is due to the fact that I am intensely aware that to frame something in a photograph is to speak for it, to re-present the thing in a nuanced manner. When I am doing this with a trace that a person has left I am comfortable, because I am not challenging a pre-existing narrative, I am not speaking over something attempting to speak for itself.


However I am aware that when I frame a person photographically, then I speak for them in a manner which is authoritative. This, in and of itself, is not problematic, it is, after all the point of having a photographer at a wedding – however I do not personally seek to make stories of people, nor to have people act out stories for the camera. This aspect of re-presentation is something which I am intensely aware of and is something which I am looking to work more deliberately with at this point.

Written by secretivesquirrel

March 27, 2011 at 2:51 am

Wee animals.

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Digital inversions of paper negs;

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March 12, 2011 at 1:16 am

More stuff.

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Stuff? Well,now have a shiny new exposure unit (The Squirrel Mk.2?) – it’s made of custom wood, glue, sticky tape and paint;

Actually looks kinda fancy, it’s 10×12 format, for a bit of space with 8×10’s – it seems to cover it’s area pretty well – at least with cyanotype and gum bichromate, seems to work as well as expensive stuff, albeit somewhat more slowly.

I also now have cyanotype chemistry to play with, I’ll need to calibrate stuff, but i did a print of a branch just for kicks – this is what it looked like before washing out (after exposure);

And this is after washing (inverted);

It goes darker over a few days – this if straight out of the wash (hence the shiny water, yup 😛 )

I’ve also re-started another project, which is about images rather than techie printing stuff, photographing wee animal facsimiles (only been on that topic since 2009 😀 ). This is one from the very end of last year;

I’m using a 1/4 plate camera for this, I’ve modified it to take 3×4 graflex holders, I spent the afternoon at home attempting to get a result with camera flashes and a bedside lamp, the results were predictably enough rather shite;

That’s a (somewhat shoddy) digital inversion, so I should be able to scrape an image out of that neg with a bit of pencil work (You can draw on the backs of paper negs to get highlight detail, pencil is a good tool for this). I then sucked it up and went into school and set up some proper lights, and a proper tripod, which looked like so;

You can see the basic set up here – light tent, about 1000w of painfully frigging bright lighting, and my camera – yup, the view glass is hand made, seems to work ok *shrug*

Gratuitous shot of the focussing glass – the red is a sweater I was using to cut down reflections.;

Yes, upside down, which actually makes it easier to compose in some strange way – not sure what the reflection is of, might be my hair. The marker lines make it easier for me to line stuff up for different formats.

That’s what the camera looks like now, you can see that I’m using it at near full extension, the back was designed originally for septums, which after 100 odd years don’t really exist any more, so I removed the back and rebuilt it to take graflex 3×4 double dark slides – they’re just held in place by friction with velvet, so I’ll never have sub millimeter precision, but it does 1:1 macro happily enough below f22. The bit in the back is the removable focus screen, the inside is hardwood that I’ve sanded to the right thickness, a piece of sanded glass, and some cheap customwood for the actual back – I might get around to painting that one day. it’s not original, but it works rather well.

 

Finally, I found a cheap knockoff etch a sketch sort of toy with candy in it today (the sort with a magnetic stylus) for 39 cents, so I snaffled it up happily enough (they’re kinda fun, and candy is nice), but waiting for me inside was this dire warning;

Holy fucking hell! As a warning that’s even more frightening than the picture of some poor sap getting body slammed by a coke machine after they tried to rock n’ rob the sucker.

Unhappy face indeed.

Written by secretivesquirrel

March 10, 2011 at 9:10 am