End of Year…

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects. 

This module has provided me with the foundation to create opportunities which were not visible to me in the earlier half of 2018.  Add to this the confidence and knowledge adopted from the MA as a whole to date, which have allowed one to partake in discussions with fellow professionals and practitioners but also convince buyers and investors that I have a credible artistic standing; that is almost immeasurable.

There are two pieces of news to convey here, on top of the print sales, the third installation (happening in 2018) and the appointment of Okk Arts as my agent, thus;

Firstly, I have secured sponsorship for my work in 2018 to a useful level that will allow me to collaborate and create output that surpasses my means.

Secondly, I have reached an agreement with a contemporary photographic gallery to exhibited my work as a solo show in 2019.

This is extremely satisfying news as the year closes.

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Social Media – Progress Report

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects.

During this module I have been developing my activity on social media and I present a number of highlights here;

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figure 1

I have increased my Instagram following to 356 by judicious selection of imagery and hashtags.  This remains, evidentially, my principal point of exposure.

Figure 2, 3

I use two Twitter accounts, one focused on wider professional groups and the other specifically on my photographic practice and interest.  I have increased followers to a combined total of 1,687.  I aim to increase the followers on my photographic account.

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Figure 4

I have a Facebook account for Facilitate Urban Photography as a practice page.  Not only can I track and compare ‘likes’ for each post I am able to note the ‘reach’ i.e. the exposure of each activity.  In the case of figure 4 it is 139.

Figures 5, 6

I have been active also in LinkedIn, not least because this is a different and wider network of people (I have 2,450 plus connections) but also my new agent is active on here as well as all of the above services.  The useful pages on this platform allow you to analyse a breakdown of the exposure of a ‘post’, in this instance, figures 5, 6 there are 76 with a CEO/Executive Director job title that have viewed the entry.  This may prove more fertile as I develop my marketing strategy further in 2018.

ends

Mack & the Art of the Photobook : Parr et al and its Future.

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects.  Research.

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figure 1

Michael Mack, interviewed by Alexander Strecker in a recent post in Lensculture, sets out a really personal account of how he ‘ticks’ and what makes the quality of his production such a desirable and tangible thing.  Strecker sums him up thus  “there are three core beliefs that underpin everything Mack has done: first, mentors are essential; second, human relationships are paramount; and finally, that personal enjoyment is the key to long-term success”.

I make no apology in extracting substantial tracts of the interview as they serve a strong purpose, especially as it sets the agenda for my ambition to make a photobook at a future point.

On his motivations Mack says “I’m driven by a very simplistic, life-affirming notion: I want to keep enjoying what I’m doing. I don’t want to only be running a business, because much of that is quite tedious. You could be selling widgets, if all you’re focusing on is the Excel spreadsheets. In the end, the reason we are doing well is because of our attention to detail and the specificity of each design. I don’t want to do more books. I’d prefer to produce fewer titles that are higher in quality.

On the place for the tangible as opposed to the digital “there was a supposed revolution about to happen in relation to the book and ink and paper. This simply did not occur. In fact, just the opposite: the ever-expanding digital realm created the capacity for small, light-footed entities, both publishing houses and individual artists, to create their own content and market it through digital platforms. That continues to define the moment we’re in right now. It has resulted in many, many people returning to analog, physical forms for various art objects”.

A glimpse about his collaborative approach for which he is renown “Whether someone is working on the street or in their studio, we have to be sure that a book is the best possible presentation for their work. It’s never simply a catalog, a gallery takeaway, we have a studio space where the artists come and work. We bring in our designers and we sit, edit, and talk. We’ll do three days of intense work together, and then they’ll go away for a month. Then we come back together, allowing things to distill further. We give things time”.

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Figure 2

A Magnum website discussion between Olivia Arthur, Martin Parr and Fred Ritchen they review the 20 year march of the photobook; here Arthur opines “People still have a huge desire for the book, for the printed object that they can hold.” which is good to read as the future looks positive for the medium. Parr lays down the challenge for both image making and the need for purpose in a publication Photography is the easiest thing in the world but also the most difficult. It’s very easy to take a body of work and in an afternoon turn it into a book that looks contemporary and exciting but it has no soul, no message, no real substance. People believe they have made an important contribution to photography but they haven’t” 

The audience ‘span’ is addressed by Ritchin “Photobooks are having a golden era but the concern is that we are making them for each other,” and he goes on “It’s not sufficient to just talk to each other at this point. I’m looking for something that restates where we are in different ways.” and Arthur expresses her aspiration “I think we see this big cloud which is the photobook audience and what’s interesting is trying to go out and think about things differently and saying I’m going to reach these people because this is what I want to do,” and she volunteers this “We aspire to be like each other, too much so.”

Practice Planning

I aspire to create a photobook on the Pause Project.  I therefore peruse photobooks and seek out, not only the product, but the process to establish the timescale, costs, qualities and, overall, the purpose and visual/textual messaging that would create value in the widest sense of that term.  Both of these articles provide a good context to the qualitative positioning of a book.

I have started discussions with the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce about presenting the Pause Project, with a view to widening shooting opportunities but also the potential for sponsorship of a book project.  To maximise this I will be researching the sponsorship model, knowing full well that it will be often seen by sponsors as a return on investment and as such may be viewed as a form of crowd-funding modelling that will require the offer of a tangible benefit/asset upon completion.  Watch this space in 2018.

References

All quotes on Mack and image, figure 1,  taken from (accessed 11.12.2017);

https://www.lensculture.com/articles/mack-books-the-enduring-power-of-the-printed-page-thoughts-from-michael-mack

All quotes on Mack and image, figure 2,  taken from (accessed 11.12.2017);

https://www.magnumphotos.com/theory-and-practice/future-of-the-photobook/

 

One Shoot : Many Carpets

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects.  Shoots

During my slightly unsatisfying shoot at 123 Hagley Road, Birmingham (John Madin’s own office/studio, now vacated and due, in the long term for demolition) where I was uninspired by the shoot in general (for example only one image has found its way into my work in progress portfolio) I noticed, especially during the download and review phase, that I had collected a group of images of floors in the radio station and other spaces.  Marks of use, trailing cables, spillages, tape, light, textures wear and some tears.  These create a small but interesting sub-set to the Pause Project.

 

Three Good Leads

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects.  Research.

A while ago I popped ‘artists that work in concrete’ into my search engine and began to uncover a series of intriguing but not wholly useful pages.

The serendipity of conversations that include the phrase “I am now working in concrete” has solicited responses from Jesse Alexander, Paul Clements and Argentea Gallery.  The age old technique of talking has reaped some super leads to three artists for three reasons;

Rebecca Fairley 

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figures 1, 2, 3

Fairley teaches and experiments at the Open College of the Arts with fabric and its interface and infusion with concrete in its wet form which cures into beautiful and intriguing results.  See figures 1, 2, 3.  She writes  “What I love about concrete is its form-finding behaviour. The mould materials and the concrete work together to create something exciting. I am never quite sure what the results will be and I find this exhilarating. I learnt that this hardwearing material is actually very sensitive, it picks up the smallest details of a fabrics surface, giving me the opportunity to create fine concrete textures” and approaches it from a gendered view “It struck me then that the concrete was no longer a masculine cold unforgiving material; in my hands it had become tactile, intriguing and feminine. This has led me to believe that there is a language of materials and a dialogue that occurs in the hands of the maker”.

She also cites a group that cast repetitive elements of work at the Tactility Factory  in Belfast –  their output looks quite exquisite; figure 4.

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figure 4

Both these processes and organisations I will be exploring and possibly meeting as my concrete work evolves.  I photographed a linen drawing in the summer and the possibility of reproducing that and moulding it with a concrete substrate has taken a step closer.

Samin Ahmadzadeh

screen-shot-2017-12-10-at-14-56-06.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-10 at 14.56.24Figures 5, 6

I was fortunate to see a solo exhibition by Ahmadzadeh in the Summer 2017 at Argentea Gallery, Birmingham.  She creates interwoven images bonded onto plywood (see figures 5, 6) and, I have discovered, via an email conversation with her, this week, that she coats them with acrylic varnish.  Her work is appropriate to my experimentation as she bonds (in her case) to a substrate (thus bears some similarity to my work) and most importantly protects the vulnerability of unique woven prints from damage and UV light by the use of this varnish.  My initial experimentation with concrete has led to a severe washing out of the imagery which was printed only on thin, standard paper, but nevertheless has drawn out the need for a solution.

Michelle Henning

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figures 7, 8

Having written about Henning’s Tate presentation in my journal, I have been signposted to I have discovered that she has a width of skills in the image world.  Not only is she a long term collaborator with PJ Harvey (see figure 6 for an example of her art work), thus providing an other ‘photographer/wider artist’ example, but she has written a book being published in 2018 “Photography – the Unfettered Image” which argues that this mobility of the image was merely accelerated by digital media and telecommunications. Photographs, from the moment of their invention, set images loose by making them portable, reproducible, projectable, reduced in size and multiplied”. But also as a photographic image maker she has created these ‘through the glass’ images which my work has echoed.

figures 9, 10

And she has explored construction sites, figures 10, 11

figures 11, 12

So, for me, another one to watch.

 

References (all sites visited 10.12.2017)

Rebecca Fairley

All images from : https://www.textileartist.org/rebecca-fairley-oca-textiles-tutor/

https://www.textileartist.org/

Samin Ahmadzadeh

All images from : http://www.samin-ahmadzadeh.com/

Michelle Henning

All images from : http://www.michellehenning.co.uk/

Book: https://www.routledge.com/Photography-The-Unfettered-Image/Henning/p/book/9781138782556

figure 7 Birdshit, Bristol to London (2009)

figure 8 Dirty Sunset, Bristol (2012)

figure 9 Ealing Shop Window from The White Album

figure 10 Closed Shop, Weston-Super-Mare | from The White Album

figures 11, 12 “Construction Work is an ongoing project of photographs of half-completed or abandoned construction sites. It is based around an implied analogy between the work of artistic construction and of building. Appropriating aesthetic devices from late modernism it takes accidental arrangements and reinvents them as staged spaces for action”.

Henning and PJ Harvey work:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/apr/24/pj-harvey-england-shake-interview

https://www.creativereview.co.uk/designing-pj-harveys-hope-six-demolition-project/?mm_5a2d4c7a955b6=5a2d4c7a9565d

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Melancholia and Image Therapy

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects.  Research.

Partaking in two symposia in close series has provided me with a moment of review of other artists’ work, all of which held my a theme which I call “Melancholia and Image Therapy”.

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figure 1

During the Tate Cartographies session in 2017, Susan Philipsz extolled her sound art projects. In these, audio, with meaning locked into the locale, is set across landscapes at a city level (Edinburgh) but then across huge tracts of land in Scandinavia.  Perhaps her work at the Kassel Hauptbahnhof, Study for Strings for Documenta 13, in 2012 was the most steeped in a dreadful history.  The contemporary reworking of a piece composed in the Theresienstadt concentration camp which was performed by detainees who were then all killed by the Nazis, with the exception of the conductor.  The reworking, with silences and reduced score, to emulate the death of the participants, was played across the station platforms in 2012 via the PA system, figure 1.  Philipsz visually records all her work via still and moving image which provides a remnant of the perforative work for review but also captures the people witnessing the sounds and their responses.  Philipsz naturally responds to place and its history with her work with deeply researched feel for human history.

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figure 2

A few weeks later at the Grain ‘Responding to Landscape’ symposium in Birmingham, two presentations echoed the human tribulation and the response of making images as a way of dealing with family illness and death.  Matthew Murray has made a series of work on Saddleworth Moor, a place with an etched meaning for anyone in the UK with a sense of twentieth century history.  Murray spent days and nights with his assistant walking up, over, down and around the moors, image making, whilst a member of his family was dealing with tragic illnesses, perhaps as a counterpoint and empathy to that heaviness and sadness.  See one example of his work in figure 2.

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figure 3, 4

Murray was followed by Jem Southam who eloquently expressed his response to a bereavement by walking along rivers and by ponds with his camera and making work about place over and over again, figures 3, 4.  Walking and walking was expressed in his imagery.  His voice cracked as he retold his method as he gently rolled through a series of images.  One could not help but feel the sadness but also the beauty and infused pathos in the making and walking.

It was perhaps not necessary for me to look for wider affirmation that walking and looking through the lens to deal with life’s tough stuff is manifest; these visually powerful examples offer evidence alone and I add to that my own history; yet this piece my Bryce Evans in PsychCentral, about the saving nature of camera-work cites these outcomes “motivation to get outside and connect with nature, provides a shift in perspective (you’re literally looking through a new/different lens, often seeing the world differently), you begin searching for and finding beauty in the world”.

One concludes, making images is a therapeutic activity.

 

References (all accessed 10. 12. 2017)

Tate Symposium http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/conference/urban-encounters-2017-cartographies

Grain Symposium http://grainphotographyhub.co.uk/portfolio-type/responding-to-a-landscape-2/

Evans https://blogs.psychcentral.com/photography/2016/07/the-therapeutic-benefits-of-photography/

 

Image Sources:

Philipsz

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/susan-philipsz-war-damaged-musical-instruments/philipsz-introduction

introductionhttps://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2013/soundings/artists/11/works/

Murray

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=matthew+murray+landscape&rlz=1C5CHFA_enIT709GB710&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjBktjUrv_XAhXDKcAKHSDPDqcQ_AUICigB&biw=1242&bih=620#imgrc=BmEVrLzXUhv8AM:

Southam

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=jem+southam+landscape&rlz=1C5CHFA_enIT709GB710&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjGmpjjrv_XAhVpI8AKHbDZBTAQ_AUICigB&biw=1242&bih=620#imgrc=ZbEcpe6KppEwDM: