Getting one’s head outside the Black Box

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 3, Surfaces and Strategies, Week 4

In reviewing the presentations from week 4 I have chosen from the wide array of poetical sources a small number which chime or challenge me into think about my practice and its techniques.

Collage work such as Hockney (1986) (ref 1), as a form of ‘post-photography’, is “work that considers the objectness of a photograph” according to Geoffrey Batchen (2000) (ref 2).  This overt and explicit overlaying draws attention to the multiplicity of ‘edges’ whist simultaneously creating a whole, wide view.  This is very much focused on the artist as the maker, whereas there is a strong reminder by Joanna Zylinska (2016) (ref 3) of the process that is largely automated in the making of images “The Human agency required to make a decision about what and how to photograph is only one small part of what goes on in the field of photography, even though it is made to stand in for the whole of photography as such.” 

In his talk Flusser speaks of “photographers dance around an event” thus implying a multiplicity of shots with a roving eye on composition required at every step (ref 4)

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 07.46.00

figure 1

Richard Kolker (ref 5) studied a sixteen year old girl in the tradition between teenage hood to womanhood and used software to trace her movement and stance using Microsoft Kinect Sensor, a physical/virtual interface, to plot lines which are then shown on a series of neutral backdrops as constructs.  These images (fig 1) are not abstract, they clearly denote a human form and are a highly worked example of Zylinska’s observation of process.  There was a subject, a process and an image; highly distilled but nevertheless very close to what we may choose to call a photograph.


I am now asking myself about the limitations of my technique and particularly my equipment which are now reaching a higher consciousness for me.  I realise and acknowledge that I was building into my thinking about image making these boundaries and limitations; lens focal length, camera weight and portability, air freight restrictions, the unknown character of shooting on film (and the reverting to digital with regularity), my own eyesight (I wear veridical glasses), restricted darkroom access and the limits on time, complexity of cameras and recalling controls on each shoot, image loss anxiety, economic cost and software acquisition and ignorance.

So there is much to do, to think, to do and to act on to hone my approach especially in terms of the technical equipment.


1,0.3433,0.91 accessed 22nd June 2017

2 Batchen, G. (2000) Post-Photography. In: G. Batchen (2000) Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History, Cambridge, Mass, London: The MIT Press, pp. 108–127

3 Zylinska, J. (2016) The Creative Power of Nonhuman Photography. In: K. Kuc and J. Zylinska, eds. Photomediations: A Reader. London: Open Humanities Press, pp. 201–224

4 accessed 23rd June 2017

5 accessed 23rd June 2017

‘Hands Off’ an Exercise in Not Making Images.

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 3, Surfaces and Strategies, Week 4

This proved to be an provocative stage of learning.  We were tasked with not making images uses the established methods in one’s practice. I was thus faced with the choices which began to open up from what felt like a restrictive ploy but actually opened a metaphoric window onto two new trains of thought.

The task was to make work in a 24 hour period on the longest day of the year, 21st June 2017, exploring the new then posting the outputs on the VLE portal and via programmed webinars.

My initial reaction was go ‘back to basics’ and test out techniques I had not ever explored, either using photograms or cyanotype papers.  A trawl of web based retailers did not guarantee delivery before the day of activity.  I had decided that it would be a group project using wither of these media.  This group idea led me to creating a short piece on the past and future of a central regeneration project in Birmingham , UK, known as Paradise Circus.  I created a 4 page paper to share with 5 colleagues, set out here.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 15.49.08

I invited answers to two questions, one about the past, the other the future.  I deliberately asked about feelings about both states.  All 5 were completed on the day of 21st June.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 15.49.17Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 15.49.26Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 15.49.35Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 15.49.42Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 15.49.50

The second, parallel project was very different and came about through a discussion with a peer, Simon Fremont.  We held a late night debate about practice, technique and challenged each-other’s thinking.  I was particularly feeling ‘old fashioned’ in using 21st century versions of 19th century inventions, capturing light, space and making prints (to distil an enormously complex process and all the thinking that goes with it).  I then downloaded an app called Splash onto my iPhone and started using it in my work meetings (one of which interestingly was in a huge 19th century space), my garden bedroom and, least successfully, on my own head.  As a free app it is crude in its execution and as it is stitching in real time the complete image model tends to make errors, as can be seen below.  However it was the first time I had created a ‘spherical’ image.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 15.50.24


These two exercised have helped advance and consolidate my work.

The consolidation comes from the appreciation that photographic work is about collaborative ventures and engaging others in image making and now in textual narrative is likely to find its way into my cross media work in future.

The largest and most advancing leap is the creation of images that are spherical panoramas of spaces.  As I work in buildings and structures which are going through transition there is a new opportunity to widen the visual capture by ‘mapping’ whole spaces and finding ways (VR and more) to recreate those spaces that are disappearing from reality and making them recur in a new reality.


Splash IoS app (if link does not work try from your phone)

For the textual engagement project:

An Emerging Methodology

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 3, Surfaces and Strategies, Week 4

My Evolution

My thinking about making work, thus my practice and strategy and indeed methodology, are on my mind. Week 4 of the Surfaces and Strategies module has led me to develop my writing about my work.

My early writing on practice on this site included minimalism followed by a  review.

I then recorded approaches and  practitioners that I could draw on  Art movement a Dutch style and the imprint of human intervention leading to a review of places/surfaces to show

On being uneasy about a change in shooting location container city, on testing out and developing my skills and kit using film time.

So, there is an ongoing and revealing journey, cogitating, revolving and gelling in my own mind and my goal is to able able to succinctly narrate my practice.

Where now?

I have uncovered a purposeful definition of methodology;

“A system of broad principles or rules from which specific methods or procedures may be derived to interpret or solve different problems within the scope of a particular discipline. Unlike an algorithm, a methodology is not a formula but a set of practices”.

From accessed 23rd June 2917

I have reached a point where I can describe my approach conceptually, which is satisfying because it provides a matrix whereby I am able to test an idea against and if it proves an appropriate fit it will then smoothly ‘plug-in’ to the matrix.


My practice is centred on Documenting Memories

It is about liminality, the state of change and transition that leads to birth : life : death : rebirth.

Each state casts off, but emerges from, its predecessor; my practice intent is to record the previous; the preceding state and the interstitial.

I equip myself with the techniques to capture the whole, the intimate, the trace, the space and the material.

I reinterpret via visual strategies to provide an experience of memory.



Luvera Surface and Standard 8

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 3, Surfaces and Strategies, Week 4

Two very contrasting surfaces for work.


Anthony Luvera’s practice, centred on collaboration (see previous post) resulted in a free newspaper in the case of his Brighton based project, Not Going Shopping, I obtained a copy, fig 1 & 2, it contains his collaborators’ images but also extensive text taken from the project Facebook group and blog posts, thus combining media in an engaging read.

FullSizeRender 18IMG_2167

figures 1& 2


I have posted before about the proposal I have made to create a fixed digital screen in the public realm in Birmingham (a surface of a distinct type – requiring several years of curation as part of the plan). There has been a small step forward in that I have uncovered a store (fig 3 & 4) holding numerous stands by Standard8 ( I have made a proposal to the main sponsors that we use a small number of these as an interim photo project in the allotted city Square and allow this to promote the location for potential additional funders. The content is likely to be a selection of images from the South Asian show due to start at the Library of Birmingham in August 2017 (a new partner to the project).Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 18.18.54Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 18.18.43

figures 3 & 4


Thinking about ‘Surfaces’

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 3, Surfaces and Strategies, Week 4

I have been actively visiting as many photographic shows, events and galleries in the last few weeks to catalogue the style of surfaces that are used to show work.

I will make brief comments on each entry; I have made images as I perambulate around various spaces.


Hung printed fabric, in series, suspended.  BCU Visual Communication Degree Show.  June 2017


A wet plate collodian demonstration at Redeye Hothouse 17, Sheffield, June 2017


Contemporary Daguerreotypes by artist Jo Gane – part of this programme Summer 2017 BOM 


A wobbly iPhone image – Sophie Hedderwick’s work (reviewed by me in a previous CRJ entry) now hanging and for sale in Bar Opus, Birmingham. June 2017


Head and body gear for Mat Collishaw’s VR show Thresholds, Birmingham launch June 2017.

FullSizeRender 18

Beat Streuli – translucent window transfer imagery, main entrance, Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow May 2017


Inserting myself into a gallery installation, Krakow, May 2017, image by Simon Fremont


Main Programme Curator Gordon Macdonald, Krakow Photomonth Festival, May 2017 show in a contemporary gallery space Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art


Myself being interviewed for Falmouth University, talking about the MA in Photography


Main Programme Curator Gordon Macdonald, Krakow Photomonth Festival, May 2017 describing French street dance.  Large scale paper print fixed directly to gallery partition.


4 images.  From the UFO Show, Krakow Photomonth Festival, May 2017 papers and books in cases, wall mounted prints, video and slides, plus reflective wall finishes.


National Museum, Warsaw, May 2017, medium scale acrylic panels and publications in boxes.



Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), Manchester, May 2017 work by Michael Wolf, intimate show with the theme of gloves and mops


The remaining images are all from the show Strange and Familiar at Manchester Art Gallery – devoted to a whole floor at the top of this city centre gallery.

Work was all mounted behind glass and hung, with a small number of exceptions, plus a dark room with the video by Hans Eijkelboom

Extract from

Curated by the iconic British photographer Martin Parr, Strange and Familiar considers how international photographers from the 1930s onwards have captured the social, cultural and political identity of the UK.

From social documentary and portraiture to street and architectural photography, the exhibition celebrates the work of leading photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rineke Dijkstra, and Garry Winogrand. Bringing together over 250 compelling photographs and previously unseen bodies of work, Strange and Familiar presents a vibrant portrait of modern Britain.

Exhibition curated and organised by Barbican Centre, London.

In each case I photographed the introductory panel then chose the image that, to me, reflected intent to the greatest degree.  Note – as displayed here each artist is cited after the image.  Visited in May 2017.

IMG_1521 2IMG_1519 2IMG_1517 2IMG_1516 2IMG_1515 2IMG_1514 2IMG_1513 2IMG_1512 2IMG_1511 2IMG_1510 2IMG_1509 2IMG_1508 2IMG_1505 2IMG_1504 2IMG_1503 2IMG_1502 2IMG_1499 2IMG_1498 2IMG_1497 2IMG_1496 2IMG_1495 2IMG_1494 2IMG_1492 2IMG_1491 2IMG_1490 2IMG_1489 2IMG_1488 2IMG_1487 6IMG_1486 2IMG_1485 2IMG_1484 4IMG_1483 2IMG_1481 2IMG_1480 2IMG_1478 2IMG_1477 2IMG_1475 2IMG_1474 2

Featuring in an Artist’s Video

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 3, Surfaces and Strategies, Week 3

15 photographic artists responded to an open call to be included in a video work by the artist Anneka French at Photocafe which is a Birmingham based network which meets monthly to view and debate work and practice, founded by Somecities and Grain.

I made an application and was one of 7 artists selected to be included in Anneka’s collated work, where she remediated our images and gave a narrative in the context of the theme and her own practice.

The theme was ‘….how do our bodies understand space?’

I submitted this statement about my work:

Information for PhotoCafe 14th June 2017

Philip Singleton

Philip is a lapsed architect who, in 2016, embarked on studying for his Photography MA at Falmouth University. His current work is based on creating images of buildings, and things that reflect their use, at the end of their life, just before their execution.

Philip’s interest in the theme for Photocafe is around the ground shifting below our feet; centred on living in, working on and observing Birmingham for 27 years and seeing its places and buildings reconfigured again and again.  My image making related to this is about accessing spaces that are about to disappear for ever or are being repurposed.  It is about capturing the human relationship with the fabric of these places, the marks, scars and wear that are almost hidden on the surfaces of these places.  The work is neither romantic or holistically capturing buildings, it is a walking and pausing lament infused with melancholia at imminent loss but tinged with the celebratory.  The portfolio is naturally an ongoing undertaking and I have chosen to interweave the buildings into one body of work as I see and capture views, materials, light and colours that bind into a single edited group.

The buildings featured to date:

The BCU Conservatoire – demolished summer 2017

The Calendon Suite, Masonic, Edgbaston – imminent demolition 2017

Two office buildings on Calthorpe Estate – demolished over the next 2 years

Church of St Thomas More, Sheldon, Birmingham

The video (with music) is available here

I was able to meet Anneka at the session along with others and these observations and questions emerged about my own portfolio:

Why don’t I show the exterior of buildings?

If I work beyond my desire to create a photobook, the prints for showing ought to be big scale.  Plus the context for work if exhibited – take care over that choice.

Did I use supplement to found light?

What are the images for?

Practice Learning

I was  happy to be selected but was naturally uncertain about the outcome having had my images reappropriated, although effectively not manipulated.

I woudl be happy to pursue a deeper working relationship with an artist and writer.

The questions whilst addressed by me during the evening are assisting in my current reevaluation of my work.

Here are some images of the evening



some cities

Anneka French  Photocafe




Making (an impromptu) Video

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 3, Surfaces and Strategies, Week 3

As part of the through tour made of Krakow Photomonth Festival 2017 main programme (all links accessed 18th June 2017), one of our days as a group commenced by visiting the show based on archives of ‘UFO’ sitings which was a testament to truth or fabricated ‘realities’ in photography and narrative shown here we then arrived to hear curator Gordon MacDonald provide a guided tour of the show focused on aspects of dance and sub-culture in the UK from the 1970-90’s which included large-scale, wall mounted prints, video and sound.

My course colleague Jo Sutherst and I plucked up the confidence to find Gordon in an ante-space after his tour to ask him a few questions and chat about what it is all about.  We were really thrilled that he engaged really effectively with us.  What also provided pleasure was the fact that a video came out of it, via Jo’s iphone, at which point I became the principal host of the questions and conversation.  The video link is seen here as it has been posted up to YouTube.  What it does prove is that in tackling an interview preparation is of key importance as I stumbled into now realising that Gordon had in fact curated the whole of the main prohgrmmme at the festival (an oversight on my side), but then it was a matter of serendipity.


YouTube video

Extract from the main Festival web site;

“Gordon MacDonald is a curator, writer, artist and publisher based in Brighton, England. MacDonald was founding Editor of Photoworksmagazine (UK), co-founder and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Brighton Photo Fringe (2003–2014), and is currently founder and Director of GOST Books (London, UK) until 2016. He is also one half of the creative partnership MacDonaldStrand alongside Clare Strand”.

After this we saw another of the shows in the series

Practice Learning

This was a useful new ‘surface’ on which to describe insights into photographic work.