Zine – Concepts – BIRMINGHAM DUST

Installation Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

In developing an approach and advancing my previous notes on zine production.  I have started an online conversation with a friend and peer who has a strong graphic skill, Rebecca Foster, to exchange things we both find inspiration using Pinterest as a sample board, fig 1, derived from the wider options, fig 2.  It is becoming a form of a visual or conceptual editing process.

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Figure 1

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Figure 2

From this stimulating visual distillation I have today written this as a series of objectives for the zine, thus;

The first in a run of more
Have a materiality that aligns with building making and destructing
There could be a recycling of material theme
The media should definitely be mixed
Tactile delight should be at the fore
Can have a hand-crafted element – though not essential
Needs to be intellectually grounded
Have a richness in a minimal format
Run narrative with visual

‘Birmingham Dust’

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I may create a hierarchy of ‘brand’ using the Fermata musical symbol, underlined by the headline Pause Project, then entitle the installation ‘Birmingham Dust’.  The latter derived from the Christopher Beanland quote regarding BirminghamBuildings bear witness to the tiny dramas that make us human. If we turn concrete to dust, where do those memories go?” and the nature of the paused spaces I capture – they gather dust and become dust.

Collins & Baltz

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

I decided to research two artists, triggered by brief summaries in Cotton’s book, from her chapters, Once Upon a Time and Deadpan.  She cites Hannah Collins and Lewis Baltz respectively.

The status and approaches of both artists are relevant to my own practice, as I seek out opportunities to visually document the intimate commentary of spaces that are paused, but in transition. There remains a subliminal query in my own mind over my practice motives, the manner of shooting and image-making; is it neutral, observational, does it make a point and if so what?  Perhaps it is the constant seeking for definition or redefinition, for bandwidth, for the position. A caution about categorisation is given, with the paradox of deliberate fluidity that my concept allows; to move laterally in the future. Perhaps it is a case of calibration over categorisation?

Hannah Collins

Collins as an artist working in photography, film and word; described as “Profoundly democratic, Collins’s work quietly insists on revealing the complexities of life, and the ways we relate to the world around us collectively and as individuals, through vision and memory, to achieve works of subtle power.” has her work in collections including the Pompidou Centre, Tate Modern, Walker Art Center, Dallas Art Museum, Sprengel Museum and Reina Sofia Museum. 

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Figure 1

The body of work created by Collins, known as ‘In the Course of Time’ (1994-6) is a capture of Polish industrial spaces.  Her poetic diary texts that first appeared in the catalogue accompanying her exhibition at the Chisenhale Gallery in 1995;

“Off the dark brown corridor is the brown wooden bathroom. Old string hangs from a white tank, barely visible lit by a bulb hanging loosely against the dark brown stained walls. Torn newspapers are piled on the floor and flowered linoleum is creased, cracked and re-nailed. Water drips very slowly into a small basin caught below in a pale plastic bucket….

Forgotten and abandoned workshops overheat, burning away the seething furnaces they house…

Round staircases swirl up and up into vaulted towers and luminous liquid breath bursts from hidden attic spaces…

Rough thick long hair brushes cobwebs and dust. Bright eyes gleam frightened at the invading light”. 

In his commentary, Günzel, 2015 catagorsies the work “Collins is ultimately not entirely passive, even if responses call for a listening, but bring forth what they show – for which they accept responsibility. It is a profoundly ethical form of research and documentation that renders account of what has happened or is still happening and that was not yet visible or manifested”.  He goes on specifically about using images to hold a moment “‘In the Course of Time’ … expounds a far-reaching paradox of photography, which as a technical medium also has the ‘ghost-forming’ ability to extract a moment from the flow of time – as well as, and necessarily, a chunk of space”. And, on the medium as a whole Photography …has a paradoxical relationship with history since the moment or continuum that they capture that no longer exists although they preserve the past that would otherwise be lost forever. There exists a dual unreality of the medium that seemingly guarantees the link with reality…. in the sense of facilitating a mediated perception of the otherwise imperceptible, which is the past in the present and the present in the past per se”.

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Figure 2

The scale of her gallery prints, figs 1, 2, are in excess of 5m in width; she uses a panoramic technique to create an almost 1:1 scale impact for the viewer, providing the viewer with both a spatial and intimate opportunity to experience the moment of capture of time.  

Collins has provided me with an opportunity to think about, not only positioning, but also the means of display, whether print or projection – a ‘whole wall’ experience conveys here a strong precedent.


William Jenkins, 1975, coined the collective term for a cluster of American photographers; ‘New Topographics’  included Stephen Shore,  Robert Adams and Lewis Baltz, whose pictures had a similar banal aesthetic, a kind of anti-style style. Within the exhibition catalogue Jenkins wrote “The pictures were stripped of any artistic frills and reduced to an essentially topographic state, conveying substantial amounts of visual information but eschewing entirely the aspects of beauty, emotion and opinion.”

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Figure 3

Baltz wrote regularly about images and architecture within the French publication L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, on that website and archive reference Minimalist and accurate, the American photographer Lewis BALTZ’s perspective on urban and industrial landscapes has maintained its full power over the decades.  His series of photos and individual shots emphasize and question an ordinary and often disembodied world”.

The European Graduate School recalls his work “Lewis Baltz is best known …..showing the images of a world far removed from an heroic vision of America. This move was also illustrated by the subject matter of urban and suburban realities under change, as well as the photographers’ commitment to a critical and ironic eye of contemporary American society. …. Lewis Baltz’ contribution to the show consisted of photographs ….. offer a critical position toward the claustrophobia of urban life. Often displayed in a grid format, it is important to Lewis Baltz that these pictures are seen collectively as a group or series, as for him one image should not be taken as more true or significant than another. Through his original approach, Lewis Baltz most clearly embodies the essence of the movement’s critical depiction of the American landscape. This, according to some authors, makes him more closely aligned with conceptual art than with traditional photography.

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Figure 4

Figs 3 and 4 show the unfinished or part destructed spaces that Baltz captured.  No life is manifestly visible, but the tools and detritus of humanity patently are.  These are not about beauty but the facts of the found.  Thus my Pause Project echoes this approach.  It is also notable that Baltz was wedded to the concept of a narrative described by a gridded stream of images rather than the singular approach of Collins.  A challenge for my future editing process.

References (all websites accessed 12.3.2018)

Cotton C.  2015. The Photograph as Contemporary Art. London. Thames and Hudson

On Collins:



Günzel: http://research.gold.ac.uk/21439/1/Hannah%20Collins%2C%20%27Emotional%20Cartography%27.pdf

On Baltz




Fig 1 http://www.museoreinasofia.es/en/exhibitions/jano-double-side-photography-permanent-collection

Fig 2 http://hannahcollins.net/category/installation-views/

Figs 3 & 4 https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/2009.302


Shoot – The Pause Project – Jewellery Quarter 2, Birmingham

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

I was able to visit a fourth in the series of neighbouring buildings on 5th March.  The upper two floors of this building were accessed.

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figure 1

The first floor had clearly been a solarium, sauna and massage (fig 1) space.  The upper floor was an open space with heavily marked sheets of polythene that bore the marks of manufacturing, though it was not clear what.

The collage, fig 2 shows the images selected from my website.

figure 2



Zine Shape

Installation Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

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figure 1

I set up a meeting with a friend who is a graphic designer and whose work I respect, to create a discussion about the further potential for a zine; its design, materiality, quantity, timing, content, cost, relationship with my gallery show and more.  This was not a case of mutually creating a brief, more a thinking session to sense-check potential.

There is a huge array of options in terms of format and consideration of paper waste, which really ought to be mastered.  We rehearsed standard paper sizes and the impact that has on page layouts and the mix of narrative with the visual.

Timing also is sensitive to an editing process, the drawing in of writings from other commentators and the gallery input, let alone distinguishing the visual content from that of the show.  The ability to discern and discriminate would come to the fore.

The most interesting part of the discussion was the potential to relate the zine to the Pause Project in terms of the interplay with materials, such as a building board to act as a back or front cover with an imprinted or cut image placed into it or through it – this could be the Fermata icon.  The pages, of various degrees of thickness and translucency, would then be hole-punched, collated and held together with a bolt fixing.  This led to the conclusion that a small number of hand-crafted objects would be a nice addition to the exhibition.  Each could be hand numbered as a very limited set.

To be continued…….

Some inspirational images, all accessed 8.3.2018

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figures 2, 3, 4, 5


Fig 1 http://www.bitbyzeus.com/zines/

Fig 2 https://shop.showstudio.com/products/zine/issue-1-aspirational-issue

Fig 3 https://shop.showstudio.com/products/zine/issue-1-aspirational-issue

Fig 4 http://situated.systems/experimental-zine/ 

Fig 5 http://shifter.media/creative-nate-matos-zines/


Map – a Deeper Proposition

Installation Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

In planning for my exhibition I am naturally running the development of a number of components in parallel.

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Figure 1

One of these elements will be a map, fig 1, to demonstrate the coverage of the project since it started in 2016. This will be intended to assist the viewer by providing a local, but also pan-city, view of the practice. This thinking will be developed from a sketch-book map drafted late in 2017, fig 2, with my actual and planned shoots at that time.  These now total 13.


Figure 2

The contextual narrative will be important for the viewer, I thus intend to incorporate a map into a panel which will be wall mounted and relatively concise.  Here I cite a panel from Tate Modern in December 2017. Fig 3.


Figure 3

I am beginning to think of the map as one of the orientation mechanisms for the present, but also the past.  The Pause Project is about memory arguably more than the present, as the moment of image capture has often been the product of opportunity in the face of immense change or destruction.  Thus the collected images may provide the viewer with a social historical context.

Maps provide us with a graphical coding.  A map is to a scale, by this means it compresses and condenses a full scale, three-dimensional, spatial world into a navigable new context.

This caused me to commence an investigation into the distinction between a graphical form, such as a map and the visual inference of a photograph and whether the mind addresses these things in the same part of the brain or if this is distinct. I suspect this is the tip of a whole new iceberg!  Within this new thinking (for me) is the potential for a layered project, applying mapping, imagery and memory.  This goes beyond the MA studies into a whole new area of exploration, yet I will consider how the map can frame and assist in the memoriam.  At the very least a map will provide, in my installation, a spatial, ‘externalised’ content for the photographs which are typically internal and intimate views of place.

The launch of my wider, long-term research in this article and the link to a book authored by O’Keefe and Nadel (1978:1)  from which I extract this introductory passage “THIS book is concerned with three topics which, at first glance, do not appear to be related: (1) a part of the brain known as the hippocampus; (2) the psychological representation of space; (3) context-dependent memory. We shall argue that the hippocampus is the core of a neural memory system providing an objective spatial framework within which the items and events of an organism’s experience are located and interrelated.”

There is much to ponder!


Figure 1 – from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-29524842

Figures 2, 3, 4 Philip Singleton

O’Keefe J. and Nadel L. 1978. The Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map. Oxford. Oxford University Press.

Projection – Developing a Strategy

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

There is a need to analyse and contextualise my strategy to apply projection within my Final Major Project and its manifestation in the exhibition. It is my intention to create clarity for the viewer, as well as myself as the creator, to conjoin but have an experiential distinction between art framed conventionally, art as concrete form, objects as record and projection.

Within the Pause Project, there is inevitably an opportunity to see sub-sets of images that could be denoted in a multitude of ways, for example by building use, interior/exterior, surfaces, marks, remnants and so on. There are however numerous images that cluster into a veiled view, through windows, some of which are so obscured it as if one is looking ‘at’ a window, or through a fabric; all of which hint at spaces and a presence of life beyond – a form of translucently.  This led me to ponder the strategy of showing on a suspended screen, to emulate a ‘view through’, that would invite the viewer to gaze at the stream of related images on the projected surface, from all angles, such as Edmund Clark’s ‘In Place of Hate’ (Ikon Gallery 2018) figs 1-7. This show largely utilises bed sheets suspended from the gallery ceiling, six in total.

figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

I am however enticed to consider an alternative, or additional, strategy; projection onto walls.  Whilst this may seem a simple notion, it has a conceptual shift, as there is an implication of both sculpture and transformation. Lucy Reynolds in her Tate Etc article Experimental fields of Light and Shadow describes the progress of multimedia art” occurring outside the auditorium, among the freely moving audiences of alternative art spaces and artists’ studios during the 1960s and 1970s, projection was being reinstated as a visible component of interdisciplinary art practices, finding new potential at the confluence of performance, sculpture and installation.” On reading this I foresee the architectural forms of the gallery, and indeed other planned experiments in wider spaces, as the three-dimensional surface that can be projected onto, i.e. a sculptural opportunity.  The choice of projected images provides a fertile opportunity to transform and thus modify the viewer’s perspective of the architecture and its enveloping space.  Taking this beyond the gallery has significant potential. There needs to be a dual understanding of the dimensions and juxtaposition of the wall planes as well as the imagery and its precise projection.

figures 8, 9

Cotton, (2015: 41) in her chapter If This is Art, cites Georges Rousse who works within disused architectural spaces, meticulously crafts an image almost in reverse, thus applying Wall’s maxim of a farmed tableau, by setting up a viewpoint from a fixed camera point, then manipulating the space through the application of surface treatments such as paint to create a shape that only defines itself from the fixed viewpoint that is then recorded on camera. Cotton,“Rousse’s act is about making a discrete table within a physical space, crafting another dimension into the picture plane.” These two stills, fig 8, 9, from the short film about Georges Rousse and his Loin Cafe work show the finished star form obliquely and as captured by his camera at the final stage.  The Herculean effort that is invested into Rousse’s image making is no less than the scale and management that Gregory Crewdson commands. My strategy will be conceptually different (involving the temporal projection onto three-dimensional surfaces and then recaptured images to record the effect) however, I cite Georges Rousse for his interventions into disused space and his ability to challenge visual perception in doing so.


Through judicious editing, I have the opportunity to think sculpturally, and thus three-dimensionally, about the projection onto surfaces that, if successful, will offer a rethinking and temporally reconfiguring of spaces in both the gallery context and beyond.  It is a demanding surface to work on and the technology needs to be harnessed to perfect the construct of this form of display. 

There is also an opportunity to position the imagery as a memoriam to past existence of space and place.

I will be drawing out further research and experimentation as the project matures.


Reynolds L. 11 May 2012. Light projections in The Tanks. Tate Etc (accessed 4.2.2018) Tate Etc. issue 25: Summer 2012

Cotton C.  2015. The Photograph as Contemporary Art. London. Thames and Hudson

List of Figures

fig 1 – 7  Philip Singleton, February 2018. Edmund Clark exhibition, Ikon Gallery, (accessed 4.3.2018) Gallery front page:  https://www.ikon-gallery.org/

fig 8, 9 from Documentary / Georges Rousse Art Project in Miyagi(accessed 4.3.2018) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSQtrKtdYEg 


Work in Progress Portfolio

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

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From six shoots undertaken during the sustainable prospects module I have selected 18 images to submit as my work in progress portfolio.

The Pause Project is in full flow, currently in Birmingham; five new buildings in the pause state have been accessed, along with the underbelly of M6 junction 6, that is Spaghetti Junction and the gallery in Walsall.


Images 1 – 7

Reviewing this group, these collectively reflect not only a maturing of a consistent ‘visual language’ but also the period which most were created, as Autumn approached and, in the case of The Roundhouse, captured in the melancholic state and deep light from the sun onto and into spaces.

As is consistent with the Pause Project to date, the spaces were vacant, life was absent but the humanity was demonstrable in the perambulations, ruthlessly so within image 4 where only the trace of a multi-level stair case and landings remained as they had been removed, leaving the visible marks on the walls in what is a disconcerting view.  Abandoned chairs feature in image 1 and 17, perhaps not seen as precious and thus abandoned, they serve to provide scale to those two spaces.


Images 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 17, 18

Of the many quotes on light in photography “Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography” attributed to George Eastman, was on my mind in these shoots. The first seven images, in diverse ways, visually identify the source of light into the spaces and through the translucent panels, the latter group reflect light. All the images reveal the use of ‘found’ light, there is no supplementary lighting.  The image that has drawn more time from me is image 2, the Roundhouse window; this is the most ‘painterly’ in the group; I use this term as I believe this is the nearest image I have made to date that dwells on the cusp of the immediate ‘surface’ manifesting the image as if looking ‘at’ a painted asset.  It is its apparent translucency that reveals an actual or implied depth, seeing ‘though’ to a faint but bright, almost spectral form, or series of shapes.  It is this translucency that one adopts in viewing that evokes the nature of a photograph.


Images   11, 14, 15, 16

My amplified interest in concrete as a medium to form space but also as a method of fused image making is contemplated in this portfolio by the intimate quality of the surface, countered by the enormity of structure in images 11, 14, 15 and 16.

It is the surprising, the unpredictability of visual stimulus and the emotive response one holds when visiting much planned and anticipated shoots.  There has been a sharp variability in this autumn’s shoots, with the Roundhouse laying before me a plethora of textures, detritus, views and depth whereas the negotiated access to John Madin’s own office and studio, 123 Hagley Road, was little more than vacuous with a simplicity of, well almost everything, even uncovering a vacated radio station studio did not create the richness in practice that one may anticipate.  This in part explains that the Roundhouse holds the majority of this portfolio than other shoots.

The submitted package includes the index slide, thus;

Image Titles – shoots August to November 2017

Intro slide 1

Intro slide 2

1 Roundhouse – chair

2 Roundhouse – window

3 Herbert House – main space

4 Herbert House – stair trace

5 Roundhouse – mirror

6 Herbert House – window

7 Herbert House – roof light

8 Herbert House – basement

9 Roundhouse – carpet

10 Roundhouse – socket

11 M6 Junction 6 – concrete surface

12 Roundhouse – ember

13 Gilders Yard – sink

14 New Art Gallery Walsall – stair

15 M6 Junction 6 – soffit

16 M6 Junction 6 – pipe

17 123 Hagley Road – chair

18 Gilders Yard – 3 spaces

Concluding slide