Final Zine

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

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The final chapter in the zine account will be its impending arrival.  300 zines to be delivered by Evolution Print, Sheffield, fig 1.  Chosen because of their co-operation to all queries, their willingness to send through a white paper mock up and because they, to quote their Instagram page “We use lots of ink, paper, & big sharp scissors. And still buy books. Often. Shortlisted PDMA Hardback Books & Best Own Marketing Print for My Top Tens” 

Choosing a graphic designer that understands photography, book-making and can bring a working method to a discerning client is critical, I also value the relationship and working knowledge designers have of the printing industry, its attuned firms and the appropriate methods.  In this case, Evolution is litho printing the zine on two paper types, so my expectations are high.

The submitting of the final graphics package was a milestone in its own right.  It represented a close collaboration between Rebecca Foster of the eponymous design company and myself.  Hours of debate and carefully considered and increasingly fine revisions to layout, adjacencies, white line separators, and not, text disposition, front cover choices, spell-checking, map work, paper choices, staple choices and then the correct image sizing and type all melded into the pot labeled zine.

We settled on A5 format with fold-out gatefold as it is portable and will make an impact for the viewer upon opening.  It has a planned life of up to one year as a marketing collateral tool.

I discussed the collaborative nature of this work with my MA tutor, Wendy McMurdo, and we agreed that to create a zine of quality and provide a liaison with printers is relevant and appropriate; clearly all of the imagery and narrative is created by me and the disposition and related matters are framed by the graphic designer.

The deadline was achieved and provided the final risk element is knocked away, that is to say, a bad print run, then all will be well.

These are the screenshots of the final version;

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Notes

Rebecca Foster Design http://www.rebeccafosterdesign.co.uk/

Fig 1 from website accessed 27.5.2018 http://www.evolutionprint.co.uk/

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Resin Idea

Installation : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

Figure 1

This is a short note about an idea I had to embed a number of the concrete shards I had obtained from the Conservatoire demolition site, cited here, into a block of transparent resin – to symbolise the preservation of a lost place and as a deliberate strategy to embed the solid within the see-through. I obtained a quote from the company that created fine work, fig 1, for two ‘block’ sizes 500x500x90mm or 500x355x90mm.  We discussed the options and I was sent a quotation for tooling up for moulds and making the blocks, including polishing for a range of £2,100 to £2,400, including VAT.

I could not justify this expense so instead chose to shoot the shards close up and, having edited and cropped the images, I chose three for insertion into the proposed zine, as shown in the mock-up, fig 2.  Thus, reverting to a more traditional strategy.

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Figure 2

Notes

Fig 1, from CMA, accessed 2.5.2018

http://www.cmamoldform.co.uk/project/clear-cast-resin/#jp-carousel-551

 

Zine – the Hard Edit

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

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Figure 1

Having taken a series of clarifying decisions during a peer review I was energised and in a very productive energy flow as I started to populate the pages of my zine plan.

This involved an edit of images that would provide a rhythm, distinction, amalgamation, message and new content.  The hard, defined boundaries of page or sheet numbers created a discipline around scale and clarity, such that the natural pairings leading to numerous diptychs set out on the first printed ‘contact sheet’, fig 2.  This was supplanted with a further, more extensive sheet, fig 3.  This was useful as I was able to make notes as analysis and then grade the images A for include, B for exclude and A/B as an indecision.  As with my other editing, I remain convinced that paper prints help significantly with the eye, hand, brain synthesis to make decisions.

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Figure 2

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Figure 3

I worked in Keynote software, dividing the ‘landscape’ screen with a grey line to indicate a paper fold.  Fig 4 shows the first print-out of the gate-fold, chosen as this is the primary opportunity to create a wide sweep of images with maximum impact.  I swiftly decided that there was too much wide space and the horizontal layout of landscape diptychs swallowed up too much paper and suppressed the portrait pair.  This also left too much white paper.

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Figure 4

The test prints and image edits were then gelling on the screen, fig 5 in Keynote, allowing me to create a page disciple.

I was making notable exclusions, for example, the complete set of found objects were tuned out, partly through the wish to find space for the concrete demolition samples page, fig 6, I had photographed in detail and secondly linked the ‘shelf-life’ decision that the zine needed to stand for the practice without continuous reference to the exhibition content.

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Figure 5

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Figure 6

The whole set was printed, trimmed and then laid out across the table, fig 1.  The bottom left page on that layout was unsatisfactory but otherwise I was pleased with the quality, consistency, clustering, flow and amount of white paper for the textual insertion.

I decided then to create three versions of the page I was not happy with – actually the left-hand half of the gatefold, fig 7. By the end of the evening, I had made a decision on the middle image.

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Figure 7

I am leaving the images in their printed set for a few days in readiness for the final post-production and cropping for the printing preparation files.  I may make final additions, extractions at that point.

Meanwhile, I made a simple, short video of the work by holding the group of sheets together for a run through of the content as a record, as below.

I decided to create a visual summary for Instagram of this stage of the development and it created more ‘likes’ than many of my recent posts, this perhaps reflects an interest in the production of the tangible – the mini photobook?

My next steps are to have the textual title commissioned and then post-produce and create a file for the printer, step back and continue with the remaining production work.

 

Writing (short) Texts

Installation : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

There is a balance to be crafted between an academic style of writing and what can be regarded as a more accessible format for a broader, public audience.

For my planned zine and exhibition introduction panel, the latter applies, although I remain keen on blending the rigour of academic thinking within an accessible narrative.

I used as my reference point the abstract I wrote in January 2018 as a think-piece to define the final major project.

These are my initial drafts.

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Figure 1

 

The exhibition text is more explicitly aligned with the planned installation content, the spaces and a fixed point in time, fig 1.

In contrast, the zine has an anticipated shelf-life of 6-12 months and thus its content and narrative are written for the future, not the present, fig 2

 

 

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Figure 2

Evolving a Zine

Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

 

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Figure 1

There had been a conglomeration of ideas, thoughts and content for the zine concept.  Choices eventually warrant decisions, on timing, shelf-life, paper, printing process, crafting vs printing, binding, discernment of content and more.  It was time for a peer review.

Armed with Campany and Keppel books, Griffin and Hawkesworth zines, concrete tablets and Madmapper loaded on my laptop along with my blog posts, I talked through all the options and ideas with Rebecca Foster a graphic designer whom I have known for some time.  I needed to review, refine and talk paper, sheets, printing and processes, fig 2.  Having worked with graphic designers previously I always value their ability to liaise with printers on fine detail.

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Figure 2

The first decision was to resolve the debate about hand-printing and stitching a small run zine, as opposed to a professional company printing, trimming and binding a larger number.  A sub-text to that discussion was the linked decision around longevity of a piece of work that would take considerable time and financial investment which would be optimised if not restricted to being an exhibition ‘catalogue’ but rather a launchpad beyond the exhibition and into a visualisation of the practice for future use, for say 6-12 months.  This was perhaps the most fundamental decision, as paper choices and printing processes would follow.  Both pragmatism, driven by pre-exhibition timing and the desire to invest in a longer view drew the decision to direct the thinking towards a commercial process.

Figures 3, 4

The tactile and visual stimulus of paper samples, fig 3 and the quality of uncoated and coated papers was then indulged, fig 4.  Looking at quotations it was deemed affordable to mix the papers within the zine.

The number of sheets, thus pages, thus sides was a discussion point, and reviewing exemplars, fig 1 and 5, 6 and 7, I knew would create a strong working boundary in which to think about content.  It would be indisciplined to run to too many pages.  Having looked at the spacing, flow, text/image mix I decided on 4 sheets of uncoated and a gate-fold centre-fold of effectively 4 sheets.  This provides an opportunity to mix the image and text type to the paper finish choices, noting the projection/concrete/print mixed media at the exhibition.

Figures 5, 6, 7

The sheets would be scored by the printer for the binding as well as the gate-fold.  Staples would be the conventional method of binding but the choice of loop-stitch staples which, for slightly novel reasons, appealed to me, figs 8, 9.  This would create an opportunity to ‘wire’ together with a supplementary sheet at exhibition time if desired.

This decision was informed by the fact that the critical review would not be written within the production timetable period and could be added, via wired joint, at the start of exhibition period.

Figures 8, 9

We made a scaled-down model to talk through the flow of imagery and text and the cover, fig 10.  I thought the ‘A proportion’ would work, most likely at A5, as much of my work is based on the A ratio.

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Figure 10

This enabled a discussion of ideas that translated into a rough set of content notes, fig 11 for me to go away with and attune. This included the notion of one image acting as the ‘wrap-around cover’ to include the Birmingham Dust text at a position on the front cover.

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Figure 11

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Figure 12

I had created a map using Google Earth earlier in the week and located the twelve Birmingham projects.  We decided this could be printed on a sheet but be divided in half by the intervening pages this occurring as an image in two places, split.  I am concerned about the copyright issues with Google and the clarity at such a scale, so will likely have a simple overview drawn instead.  I do believe people will engage with the map.

In summary, the session was useful to clarify and assist with what is otherwise solo thinking.  It gave me the impetus to progress onto the task of a super edit and the next round of zine development.

 

Zine : Content

Installation : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

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Figure 1

I have made periodic references to Edgar Martins‘ practice throughout my MA studies. Meeting him at ParisPhoto in 2016 and then hearing him talk in 2017, I remain awed by his tenacious and detailed research into each body of work that he creates.

In his series ‘Siloquies and Soliloquies on Death, Life and Other Interludes’, 2016-2017, he introduces it thus “this project proposes to scrutinize, expose and hold in tension many of the contradictions and problems inherent in the conceptualisation, definition and depiction of death. These intentions will likely collide, overlap and blur, revealing the fragility of our perceptual and cognitive systems.” and continues by stating that it “encompasses the production of new photographic work, following both a speculative and documentary approach,  the appropriation of previously unseen archive material such as historical photographs, confidential case and medical files, crime and suicide-scene evidence, photo-installation and projection,” 

Figures 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Martins thus captured a series of objects and photographed them in isolation from the context of the research, as if allowing the images to exude their own presence and then, by insertion back into the body of work, a rope suddenly has a sad implication, a rock too, as tools of death. His strategies for narrative are via photo-books and large-scale installations, applying the images to a build a portrayal of his study; figs 2 – 7

Whilst more modest in approach, I have, since mid-2017, been ‘liberating’ objects that summarise the Pause Project, things left behind, the abandoned items that symbolise the use that has passed, actually a form of death.  I have spent the last three days considering these items, the meaning and implications, as well as creating images of them as a way of incorporating them into the multi-media exhibition.  Today, 22nd April, I have edited the objects and cropped them all into a sqaure format (a techniue I applied for my September 2017 exhbition), fig 1.  The gaze is thus invited at parts of objects, to engage the viewer to consider their use and purpose.  They vary from a rusty fixing, to masonic regalia, signs and sex toys.

In the context of Canto‘s work as archeology, I have made images (in parallel with the visual strategy above) of a sample group of concrete shards from the demolished Conservatoire, close up, to present them as if as fossils, as the trace of reinforcing bars, paint and surface stresses are all made clear via this edit, fig 8.

 

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Figure 8

A Strategy

I have previously written about the potential for a zine concept and typology .  I remain of the view that the zine will be produced, but it needs to be viewed as a contingency for the exhibition and its launch; the priority is the media to be displayed in the gallery spaces.

However, the zine concept allows the collection of a series of writings and images and remains an important tool in the armoury of sustaining the exhibition after it closes, as a tool of capture and promotion.  It too may add to the material chosen to be shown as a strategy to illustrate the liberated objects, as there is yet to be a natural place for these in the exhibition space.  If it is created for the exhibition then it has a greater visual width and sampling than simply a repetition of the exhibition.

Fig 9 states my thinking in terms of title, Birmingham Dust, flow and content, as a draft for discussion with peers.

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Figure 9

Notes

Figures 1, 8, 9 – Philip Singleton

Figures 2 – 7 and 10 sourced from Edgar Martins’ website, accessed 22.4.2018 http://www.edgarmartins.com/work/siloquies-and-soliloquies-on-death-life-and-other-interludes/

Fig 10, below, is an illustration from ‘Destinerrance: The Place of the Dead is the Place of Photography at Centro de Arte José de Guimarães, Guimarães (Portugal)‘ showing the interplay between hung images and objects in a field as an exhibiting exemplar.

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Figure 10

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.