Luvera on Participation

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

Anthony Luvera spoke at the State of Photography II Conference I attended in Birmingham on 16th June 2017.  This was timely as my group was just completing the crowdsourced zine project that week.

Luvera (born 1974) is both a teacher and practitioner – his practice has, since 2001, moved from commercial photographic work to a collaborative form.  Palmer in his book Photography and Collaboration (2017) cites Luvera and provides a useful historic context to his work, ranging from the Half Moon Gallery in 1975 when the merger took place Jo Spence and Terry Dennett.  Palmer quotes Jessica Evan’s term (1997:11), the orthodoxies which “claimed for photography the status of art with its ideological baggage of expressive individualism” noting that there was a dismantling in progress.  He cites Su Braden (1983) in her book Committing Photography the movement in community photography as a reaction and counterpoint to the ‘high end’ galleries which only celebrated individualised art at that time.  The era saw the co-ownership of equipment essential for taking charge of image making and processing; cameras, darkroom, shows and magazines.  This led to “empowering participants…in the politics of distribution of mass media and its investment in retaining the status quo” (pp91).  The arts funding cuts that began in 1979 saw the demise of the essential funds to make holistic projects such as this viable, the activity thus became minimal for a period.  Luvera moved by serious social issues such as homelessness began to collect tokens for the purchase of cameras and processing.  His first foray was tentative and the strategy of learning by developing ideas prevailed and he now uses what he describes as ‘assisted portraits” using professional standard cameras, flash guns and remote shutter releases enabling complex control by the subjects after being offered a session to learn the techniques.  Film or digital images are then captured and any adjustments are done with his co-participants.

I recorded Luvera’s latest account of his work at the conference. He spoke about “communities being fluid’, whereby the ‘membership’ may vary and circumstances will change through the life of a project.  He placed emphasis on how is the “process briefed and predicted for participation”, thinking through the journey and most importantly how the conversation is engaged and encouraged, to create actual ownership.  He cautioned against funders and the fact that “commissioners sometimes predict and position the lead photographer”, I surmised that his body of work and visible outputs would enable him to withstand undue pressure to bow to a funders expectation of output as the very essence of the practice is to submit and facilitate the group to define its choices each time.  He stated a point suffixed with a question “using images there is representation – what is the power balance?” he notes the fun element and socialisation of defining a project and making the images, many of which are also aligned with textual statements of the personal.  As soon as an image finds its way onto social media, posters, conference presentation, there is an exposure; an audience beyond the group.  I assume that this is the most delicate and sensitised forum for debate and decisions with a mixture of fear and excitement.  Luvera cited an example of one participant deciding that their portrait could not be shown on the London Underground station displays; it was able to be removed; this exemplifies the difference between the notion of display and the reality of visible experiencing your own portrait to a huge audience.  Fundamentally Luvera is providing a voice to his groups.  Not going Shopping (Brighton) and the forthcoming Let us Eat Cake (Belfast) are visible manifestations of his teams’ work.  He insists that a project starts with an open view of its benefits, values, outputs they become cemented only when you ask the participants.  This conversation would help to define audiences for the work, a question all photographers and facilitators should be asking.  I suspect that his ethical positioning would prevent Luvera from making work that defies the wishes, expectation and involvement of his collaborators and this it is infused with authenticity.

Practice Impact

Reading and writing up my conference notes has enabled me to reflect more on how I make work with others.  The most immediate example of my work as a group was the zine project (week 3) – in retrospect agreeing the ‘brief’ more throughly as a team then explaining in more detail the outputs and use of imagery and subsequently sharing would have been good.  I could envisage more learning, founded on this experience in the future as I may involve myself in a zine.

On wider practice, I am currently working with 4 people who have been provided with compact digital cameras and SD cards for 6 weeks to capture the area where I work.  I am increasing my level of interim engagement with them.  This group differ significantly from the groups Luvera engages with but there has been some transferred learning.


Palmer D. Photography and Collaboration. London. Bloomsbury (2017)

Evans J. (ed) The Cameraworks Essays.  Rivers Oram Press (1997)

The Story of Creating a Zine from Crowdsourcing Images

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

We created a team at speed on Friday 9th June to deliver a zine via a crowd sourcing method.  The team was made up of Rita Rodner, Katie Watson, Simon Fremont and myself.  We immediately created a WhatsApp group for all our communications as it allowed us to discuss and keep a record as the team time alliances flowed in and out of the discussion and images could be shared with ease.  Due to commitments we launched our appeal for images ahead of absorbing the research, information and videos which constituted the week 3 learning.  This created a naivety for our project as none of the team had delivered this form of working practice previously.

We were pleased that we had a balanced debate about how to make the project public and develop a theme.  We veered from a conceptual approach, such as showing through self made imagery what home means to you through to the more literal, what is on your window sill?  We were of course aware that consciously or subconsciously people could be making images that were metaphors for their lives, for example, looking out, looking in, the poetical for remediating imagery with icons of lives shown on sills.

We decided to promote on various social media platforms because we each had preferences for different modes and we were keen to engage with our networks.

Our mutually agreed positioning of the project was noted thus “The objective is to explore the domesticity of place via a specific point of reference, we will remediate imagery received by invitation”   

The theme to be broadcast “you’re invited to share pictures you take of your window sills, at home or work or wherever you are as part of a group photo zine project at Falmouth University, take part by putting your photos on FB, Twitter or Instagram by Monday 12th June using this hashtag #windowsilltoday”

We debated keeping the project private from our cohort, as recommended in the project guidance but this was thought difficult or time consuming (for example excluding friends on Facebook by listing out all other friends, then posting).  We were relatively relaxed and confinement in our ability to source and work together to manage the project and it was not wholly competitive.

Having allowed the weekend for people to think about the proposition and create images we were pleased that we were able too gather, primarily from use of directly received images and those that had used the hashtag #windowsilltoday some 83 images.  The images were of great variety and were sent from around the globe.

We began at this point to open up a fertile debate about our role, collectively, having received a series of images ‘gifted’ to the project.  We discussed the implicit rather than explicit obligations to the images and their photographers; should we include them all, what any editing may imply, should we apply a monochrome equalisation, should we include the authors, where known as a list within the zine; were we hosts or manipulators.  We realised that we were remediating the images regardless of the degree of change we may choose to apply, simply because we were altering the context from the social space they had been deported onto and transformed into a new collective space managed by us – the zine.  In fact we had not discussed at the commencement the purpose, style and technical nature of the zine, other than what software we may use.

We pondered points like ‘people have handed over the images with no preconception over what we might do with them and in that sense they have also given up certain rights?’ which led to ‘In which case should we also keep them in colour? If we are trying to be inclusive/provide equal status? Or should we work as pic editors and make a selection/crop and desaturate?’ and

‘We didn’t discuss or indeed state that there would be a ‘filter’ at the point of launch and external communication. No ones’ fault. Useful retrospective learning’.  We effectively empowered people to look, think and see. What they saw is what they produced as images. ‘Definitely we need to decide on our collective approach. And if we decide to put in a list of credits that’s also a choice’.  We realised  that decisions and choices were littered across our pathway to progress ‘Perhaps our role is to look for complementarity in placing images next to each other. As groups. That is a level of secondary judgement. As picture editors and compositors’…..’are we applying photographic discernment or is this a project – community based – that invites all grades of talent into the zine and thus provide equal status to all?’  This discussion enabled us to mutually challenge our assumptions that are innately built into the way we ‘think and do’ work.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 07.46.10

Drafting began production drafts to share.  Adobe Indesign was used and pairing was suggested by one of us then layouts by another, all for comment.  We quite quickly began to agree on gatherings of images and the use of a grey band to ‘rest’ the images, much like a virtual window sill.  Titles are important and we again grasped one which was agreeable from a short list and this was ‘Window Stills’.

We discussed the possibility of printing on simple paper and that remains a choice each of us can make from the zine file.

The whole group presented at the webinar on 15th June 2017, led by David Ellison.  This video (43 seconds) was played to the group;

We verbally presented the journey we had pursued based on the notes presented above.  A useful discussion ensued based on these questions,

Could the project go on?  We agreed it could have a life beyond the moment in time production of the zine file, provided we are committed to either creating a further or expanded zine or simply realising that the hashtag is not ‘owned’ and could be used continuously.

What templates had we pursued? We had assessed both of these typical magazine layout sites, and for templates which would suit the landscape spread format that we were determined to grasp given the type of work.  There were few temples that suited and those that did came with monthly fees which the group thought inappropriate for what was deemed to be a one-off exercise

Had we created a photobook?  Effectively we had.  We had produced a series of images and the only text was the title page (using our own design and background image) and the final page which set out the team and all of the contributors.

As a team we have discussed if it would be possible to share the zine with the contributors and whilst this has a few logistical issues we will endeavour to do that as a responsibility we believe  we hold to people who made the content.

Brief reflection on the two other zines presented during the seminar;

Another group had produced a very fulsome zine with 230 contributions and extensive texts and quotations.  The team was larger and this would have aided wider networks to gather more images,  All images submitted were used and cleverly an ongoing dialogue was created via a closed Facebook page.  The theme was footwear and it was interesting to see how place, gender, wealth and style could all be reflected through the relatively anonymous method of just submitting images of footwear.  The format was a typical portrait zine template.  One interesting observation I made was to pose the question, was there a slight gender bias in the images submitted? This was a point that there group were going to research more deeply.

The other zine was on the theme of ‘tea’ – partly based on the fact that the group was internationally positioned and tea was a common drink globally.  The zine appeared much more commercial, with all images of a high production value, by which I mean it wasn’t clear whether the team had spread out image making beyond its own cohort, thus I questioned whether it was actually a cord sourced gathering of work.

At the commencement of the webinar, David Ellison cited the evolving zine produced by Adam Murray and Robert Parkinson (accessed 18th June 2017) which has blossomed, quoting from the website “Preston is my Paris began in July 2009 as a photocopied zine with the intention of encouraging the exploration of Preston as a subject for creative practice.  It is now a multi-faceted project rooted in photography that includes publications, site-specific installations, live events, digital applications, education and writing.  Work is held in the Tate Library, Fotomuseum Winterthur Collection, Artists’ Books Special Collections at Manchester Metropolitan University and Special Collections at London College of Communication”

Final word

I will be posting the advice of Anthony Luvera following on from a conference presentation he gave on participation on my next CRJ entry.

My Current Strategy – short term

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 3, Surfaces and Strategies, Week 2

I have launched into a round of exciting opportunities to be active in terms or presenting my work and also attending events.  This is not about producing work, but rather receiving feedback and comments about my work.

Here is a short summary;

Redeye Hothouse Sheffield 2017 – Fig 1

This is an opportunity to present with 12 other emerging artists hosted by Redeye and compered by Paul Herrmann.  I will make notes of as many of the other presentations as possible.

The State of Photography Symposium – Fig 2

This is 6 days on from Hothouse and will be a well attended and full day of work review; I am a delegate not a presenter, however I have written to Edgar Martins to ask for a few minutes to discus his work, and mine, as his practice is an influence on my work.  I have written about his work on my CRJ.

The Proposal – Fig 3

This is a new local initiative driven my local independent gallery, Grand Union.  The event will require a small payment to attend, that cumulated fund then is presented to the ‘winning’ artist’s proposal.  A form of small scale crown funding which will be a new experience simply to partake an observe.

FlakPhoto Network – Fig 4

This related to potential practice beyond the conclusion of Module 3, however it demonstrates how I need to plan a long way ahead for shoots.  In this case I am in Boston MA for 5 days and hope to meet people and visit building that I can then shoot.  Watch this space (no responses to date!).

Photocafe; Open Call – Fig 5

This is an opportunity driven application I made – the theme is ‘ground shifting under your feet’ – so my work on buildings going or being repurposed is appropriate. I have not yet heard back from the curator.


Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 15.47.45Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 15.47.54Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 15.48.06Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 15.48.23Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 15.48.13

Fig 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Immediacy. Hypermediacy. Remediation.

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 3, Surfaces and Strategies, Week 2

I have taken upon myself to learn more about the propositions posed by Bolter and Grusin. 

I have found their 40 page paper on this link accessed 8th June 2017

Entitled Remediation Jay David Bolter Richard Grusin (1996)

I follow, in the order of their writings, the flow of their analysis and evidence.  There is an unusually high degree of referencing due to the complexity of the arguments.  The quotes are the result of a two stage distillation process.

Quoting the film Strange Days (1995) and the concept of an enveloping skull cap that, as the sales patter goes “This is life. It’s a piece of somebody’s life. Pure and uncut, straight from the cerebral cortex. ‘ “You’re there. You’re doing it, seeing it, hearing it . . . feeling it.” Lenny is touting a black-market device called “the wire” to a potential customer’ (pp1).  They suggest, quite plausibly, that “our culture wants both to multiply its media and to erase all traces of mediation: it wants to erase its media in the very act of multiplying technologies of mediation (pp1).  Thus the virtual reality of immersive experience is a notion that removes the means, the vehicle, the method of experiential visualisation.  Put simply, there is an absence of media, it is invisible.  In 2017 wearable technology that actually achieves this involves heavyweight gear to remind you mediation is tangible on the muscles if not the immediacy encasing the eyes.

Hypermedia; (defined as ‘A collection of files existing in various digital media, such as text, graphic images, and audio and video recordings, that are connected together by hyperlinks’ see accessed 8th June 2017) Bolter and Grusin postulate that “Immediacy depends upon hypermediacy. In the effort to create a seamless moving image, filmmakers combine live-action footage with computer compositing and two- and three-dimensional computer graphics” (pp3).  They explain, “even the most hypermediated productions strive for a kind of immediacy. So, for example, music videos rely on multiple media and elaborate editing to create an immediate and apparently spontaneous style. The desire for immediacy leads to a process of appropriation and critique by which digital media reshape or “remediate” one another and their analog predecessors such as film, television, and photography.” (pp3).  They choose to provide a genealogical of traits demonstrating immediacy, hypermediacy, and remediation, with historical exemplars and contemporary digital media (as cited in their 1996 paper and thus appear somewhat outdated given technological progress to date).


Immediacy is a technology of mediation whose purpose is to disappear. The intent is described thus “what designers often say they want is an “interfaceless” interface, in which there will be no recognizable electronic tools, no buttons, windows, scroll bars, or even icons as such. Instead the user will move through the space interacting with the objects “naturally,” i.e., as she does in the physical world” (pp5) The aim is avoidance of a conscious medium of conveyance “a transparent interface is one that erases itself, so that the user would no longer be aware of confronting a medium, but instead would stand in an immediate relationship to the contents of the medium”(pp5).  Intriguingly the act of the designer or artist towards immediacy in the world of painting and photography means erasing their presence and thus marking their skill.  Those who are th ebest draw attention to themselves as their skill is celebrated, thus their presence is notable if not overtly there.

Bolter and Grusin contemplate computer generated images (CGI) which can now be virtual matches to photographs and there is experimental evidence that, for certain sorts of scenes, observers cannot distinguish these images from photographs. “even if we cannot always tell synthesized images from photographs, we can distinguish the somewhat different strategies that painting and photography have adopted in striving for immediacy, and we can explore how digital graphics borrows and adapts each of these strategies” (pp8).  They cite (pp9) the traditional methods of making photographs (film based and thus about the hand and eye of the photographer) verses the CGI methodology (programming and the use of algorithms which flow to create once set in motion my the hand on the mouse) when writing in 1996.  Yet diminishing CGI and  digital photography (and its ability to manipulate in cameras and during post production) to the pixel begins to merge the technology and thus the inputs and outputs.

The Logic of Hypermediacy

Bolter and Grusin  go on to describe the heritage of Hypermediacy.  History is invoked “in the earlier “multimediated” spaces of Dutch painting, medieval cathedrals, and illuminated manuscripts” (pp11) through to modernist collage and photomontage. They propose “at the end of the twentieth century, we are in a position to understand hypermediacy as immediacy’s opposite number, an alter ego that has never been suppressed fully or for long periods of time” (pp13). Velasquez’s Las Meninas is regularly referenced as having meanings and messages overtly framed.

Matters are brought somewhat up to date with the art critic Clement Greenberg’s (1909-1994) formulation and the analysis of modernist art when “the paradigm of transparency effectively challenged. 34 In modernist art, the logic of hypermediacy could express itself both as a fracturing of the space of the picture and as a hyper-conscious recognition or acknowledgment of the medium”(pp14)….”Just as collage challenges the immediacy of perspective painting, photomontage challenges the immediacy of the photograph”.  They cite Richard Hamilton’s Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? in that we become aware of the cluttered character of the space created in the crafted image and of the process of its crafting. “We become hyperconscious of the medium in photomontage”.

What are we seeing? “In all its various forms, the logic of hypermediacy expresses the tension between regarding a visual space as mediated and regarding it as a “real” space that lies beyond mediation….the tension between looking at and looking through…. a feature of twentieth century art in general and now digital representation in particular” (pp15)


This is all about “repurposing”: to take a “property” from one medium and re-use it in another, thus remediation. “With reuse comes a necessary redefinition, but there may be no conscious interplay between media. The interplay happens, if at all, only for the reader or viewer who happens to know both versions and can compare them” (pp17).   They see television and the internet as being in competition, each remediating the other.  Agin I suspect that the evolution of technology and indeed ‘media’ companies have actually merged and the cross-referencing – i.e. remediating is actually rather difficult to distinguish now, in 2017. “Paradoxically, then, remediation is as important for the logic of immediacy as it is for hypermediacy” (pp20).

Mediation and Remediation

Bolter and Grusin  introduce this section on strategies for remediation, thus “It is easy to see that hypermedia applications are always explicit acts of remediation: they import earlier media into a digital space in order to critique and refashion them. However, digital media that strive for transparency and immediacy (such as immersive virtual reality and virtual games) are also acts of remediation. Hypermedia and transparent media are opposite manifestations of the same desire: the desire to get past the limits of representation and to achieve the real” (pp20) “the real is defined in terms of the viewer’s experience: it is that which evokes an immediate (and therefore authentic) emotional response”

There is again a useful focus on twentieth century art, “as it offered the viewer a visual experience that he was not expected to validate by referring to the external world” (pp20)….“modern art too promised authenticity of experience, and it too emphasized process, e.g., the process of putting paint on canvas. …painting and sculpture can become more completely nothing but what they do; like functional architecture and the machine, they look what they do.  Digital hypermedia also looks what it does. On the other hand, modern art often worked by reduction and simplification rather than excess. In that sense digital hypermedia  are more like the excessive rhetoric of early modernism than the visual practice of high modernism. The rhetoric of cyberspace is reminiscent of the manifestos of Marinetti and the Futurists. Moreover, the cyberspace enthusiasts have a relationship with technologies of representation similar to the relationship that Marinetti and the Futurists had with technologies of motive power.

So, in undertaking this study, I summarise;

Immediacy is about a visual experience where the medium (the means) are invisible.

Hypermediacy is a collage of media which is visibly just that.

Remediation is an almost unavoidable (if one includes the subconscious referencing as well as the conscious) use of imagery reused in both immediate and hyper mediated contexts.


This peeve of learning has helped me critically analyse peer’s work, in that referencinces are often apparent in image making.

I see my use of technique, theories and style from my ongoing analysis of practitioners, which I shall write about separately.  This is in some ways a form of remediating an approach if not an explicit image.


How (not) to make a movie to promote practice and projects

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 3, Surfaces and Strategies, Week 2

Thinking about ways to promote one’s work is going to be an important stepping stone to success.  My desire was to make a short movie, maximum 2 minutes long.  This meant I would use software that I honestly had not touched before, that is iMovie.  The app has been staring at me on my phone, iPad and laptop for a long time.  Perhaps not surprisingly this presented me with a huge challenge.  In summary, I aborted as I was not able to manipulate sound, make clips work in series and transition, find ways of doing a voice over and more.  So, I made a pragmatic decision.  I reverted to Keynote and inserted a 3 second movie clip (reduced down three times from two 15 second movies made on foot on 6th June) made from my iPhone this week in Birmingham as the intro.  I then paired up all the images from my current portfolio to enable me to speak to more then one image per slide as I tapped through pages whilst recording my voiceover.  The result is not up to the standard of my peers, but in my view I have made a best effort to produce something.

Here is my YouTube piece

Learning points

I need to train in the use of software that I am not familiar with.  The value of moving imagery is powerful to promote work and practice.

Rephotography – Part 2


Fig 1

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 3, Surfaces and Strategies, Week 1

Unlike many of my fellow visitors, I attempted to deal with the emotionally sensitised visit to Auschwitz with care, respect and solemnity – that was my strategy during my visit.

Despite the attempt to sanitise the death camps by the Nazi regime days before liberation of Poland, witness accounts, overwhelming evidence of recycled shoes, cases, clothing and gold told the story of what went on; 1,100,000 people passing through the gates never to reappear.

Photographs make one swallow hard when studying the monochrome imagery made by the nazis.  On asking our guide I realised that it is surmised that Berlin wanted to receive an account of the design, efficiency and operation through imagery rather than written reports.  These images were retrieved and spoke absolute volumes of the journeys made upon entry into the camp, mostly by Jews.  The viewpoint was often from a slightly elevated position which suggested a podium or perhaps taken from a watchtower, of which there was one every 100m around the perimeter fencing.  Occasionally I photographed these images – fig 1 – alongside the spaces or rooms that they were taken in; they added a human stake into hollow a solemn volumes.

I would dare to suggest that the most telling images wre made via a discreet camera held under clothing by an ‘inmate’ and, at very high risk, the rolls of film were passed through perimeter fences via toothpaste tubes into the hands of the Polish resistance.  These show lines of people queuing for the chambers and the bodies being incinerated afterwards.  These were known as the Sonderkommando photographs.  Only four images were made.


Below are three images – fig 2,3,4 –  taken in the most galling spaces, I will leave the viewer to ponder and dwell on the space these describe.


fig 2, 3, 4


Figures 1-4 copyright Philip Singleton 29th May 2017, Fuji XT-1


MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 3, Surfaces and Strategies, Week 1

A defining event is memorised as it typifies and summarises the drama that led to a series of changes.  It could be said that the 18th June 1984 was the defining moment that led to the social and political constructs that prevail in the UK in June 2017; cheap sweat shops and millionaires.  The battle of Orgreave was the bloody confrontation driven by a right wing government and a mobilised mining workforce. The artist Jeremy Deller when asked about his reenactment project of this battle in his interview with David Alan Mellow (Photoworks, 2011) he describes the perforative pice as an ‘awareness raising exercise, it adds a little to the record in that we have first hand accounts in the book and film’. With frank understatement Deller describes his enormous enterprise in staging his work in 2001.

colli room

fig 1

In 2017 there is an opportunity to partake in another reenactment of sorts. The artist Mat Collisahw has collaborated with photographic historian Pete James to create an experimental exhibition known as Thresholds, currently staged at Somerset House and will be touring thereafter. Harnessing both a simple physical space fig 1 Using the latest in VR technology, Thresholds restages one of the earliest exhibitions of photography in 1839, when British scientist William Henry Fox Talbot first presented his photographic prints to the public at King Edward’s School, Birmingham.

fig 2,3

I was fortunate enough to experience this immersive walk through the digitally reconstructed room figs 2, 3 (backpack, headphones, headset) with my fingers touching the bespoke vitrines – a combination of actual touch and visual decorative model projected through my headset. I overcame the faintly nauseating feeling when I first stepped out. Via the headphones you respond to the sound of demonstrations of the Chartist protesters who rioted in 1839 on the streets of Birmingham, and who can be glimpsed through the digital windows.  This was a combined experience, melding the both of the medium, the ability to re-see via a form of reenactment that I am certain will become more prevalent, especially when each ‘VR’ kit wearing person can interact with each-other presently other users are simply ghostly blurs when nearby).

My Practice

So, this brings the question can reenactment feature in my work? As the acting out of a past event it is an opportunity to rephotograph and film from perspectives that were not prevailing at the time of the original event; an opportunity Deller applies in his work. This is not a feature of my current practice, yet as a refine and define my strategy and methodology for my work I will review reenactment as a tool for heaping people and myself understand the history behind the structures I am currently making images of.  The medium of VR may yet be a stretch in terms of the enormity of the kit and modelling required.