A5 prep 1: ideas and statement of intent

A5
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What am I hoping to achieve with this project?;

  • a homage to Duane Michals, Andrey Rodchenko, and Walker Evans
  • an enjoyable thought-provoking sequence of cohesive images
  • a variety of shooting techniques
  • to challenge my own photographic abilities and creative ideas
  • to include/reference many inspirational artist (throughout the selection)
  • stay within the brief but unafraid to push beyond it
  • attempt some mixed media not just digital photos
  • finish this course with an ambitious, highly conceptualised (and hopefully successful) assignment
  • to preempt the next course by delving into the power of narration
  • to include an accompanying text/poem for each shot
  • and also to enjoy doing/attempting all of the above!
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8. Final story board of the sequence with detailed prep notes on what and how to approach each shot


What is the conceptual intention?

Having been inspired by a presentation by David Hurn of Duane Michals’ Things Are Queer sequence, I wanted to try something similar with my own photos for this assignment. My intention was to use the sequential power of the images and to include scenes within scenes. The idea was to show the images as having some kind of clear narrative connection between them and possibly to have some kind of stand-alone appeal too (although I don’t want to get too held up with that and would rather work on the sequence itself).

 

I had seen and read about Alexander Rodchenko’s brilliant and influential work and in particular his survival strategy of having to deface much of his work of liberals and artists or otherwise find himself ‘defaced’ or ‘removed’ under Stalin’s Purges. This irony I found shocking and sad and something that I felt needed to be remembered and respected especially regarding Rodchenko’s brave (or even cowardly?) sacrifice; was it his presumed pain of destroying his work and trying to survive at that difficult time in Russia, or a nod to his ability to adapt politically that is so intriguing? Whatever it actually may have been, I find it fascinating and worthy of inclusion here throughout the sequence.

So I wanted to include defacement in each image to pay homage to primarily Rodchenko, and also to create a quite clear homogeneity between the images, a clear linking theme which I hoped would be carried along within the sequence. Also, the defacement idea could be justified as simply adding anonymity as well as attempting to create some tension, and increase visual impact. I even toyed with the idea of not having to defend or validate its inclusion as Zoe Crosher did in her interesting Polaroided series (2008) and just leave that “indecision” there, something that Lucy Soutter (Soutter, L., 2013, p18) points out shouldn’t really be done:

“While contemporary art photographers do not necessarily reference these historical precedents explicitly, they rely on them to legitimate their work and to ensure that ambiguities are read as desirable complexity rather than as indecision, weakness or failure.”

However, I much preferred the inclusion and the reference to Rodchenko’s work more than Crosher’s (brilliantly) ambiguous and curious approach to her project (as well as the (un)ambiguous stab at the ever-increasingly more paranoid Orwelian society and our need for “privacy” (whatever that means) that seems to prevail nowadays – just couldn’t resist that!).

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What type of narrative style will be used?

The narrative style will most probably be from ‘behind the camera’ although I would like to try to mix styles (hopefully not confuse the viewer though).
What I mean by ‘mix styles’ is to try to use the three main conceptions of narrative as Barthes observes in Image Music Text (even if referring to the novel rather than photography, it is still relevant I feel [Barthes and Heath, 1990, pp. 110-112]). The first concept being: a narrative emanating from a person – the author, “…of a perfectly identified individual who periodically takes up a pen to write his story: the narrative (notably the novel) then being simply the expression of an I external to it.”; the second: the narrator as omniscient consciousness – “…at once inside his characters (since he knows everything that goes on in them) and outside them (since he never identifies with any one more than another),”; and the third one where, “…the narrator must limit his narrative to what the characters can observe or know, everything proceeding as if each of the characters in turn were the sender of the narrative.” Although my intention is to experiment, and as much as I find the third concept intriguing, I will most likely stick to the first “external I” narrative for both the images and the accompanying text (although with the latter there could be more scope to experiment with the second and third narrative styles).

The gradual panning out, used so wonderfully by Michals in his photography, was something that I had always admired in the work of writer Alan Moore’s graphic novels, especially his work with artist Dave Gibbons on their 1987 seminal graphic novel The Watchmen, as can be seen here:

The 1988 hardback edition of The Watchmen included extra material from both Moore and Gibbons’ preliminary studies for the book. These notes include a script that Moore wrote for Gibbons to help him visualize and get into the story before doing his first sketches. What amazed (and still amazes) me is the sheer amount of writing that Moore did (and presumably still does) for each panel – I suppose that comes with being a writer, but it is truly something to see (for the layman); like some sort of intense diary monologue which, I assume, must be quite intimidating for the artist; it just roars out his thoughts and feelings all intertwined with instructions and pointers. Here are his notes (from the 1988 edition) for just the first three panels from page one of The Watchmen:

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Alan Moore’s script for panels 1-3 of The Watchmen, page 1

I tried to copy this style when I made my own notes for this A5 assignment (the final story board image above) and found it very helpful for clearing my mind and visualizing and discovering (as well as discarding) various ideas and options available to me. Something I feel should become staple for my note taking (as well as a funny experience of trying to have a dialogue with myself – which we both liked, didn’t we, Kev?)

I also had an idea to possibly develop or include Scott McCloud’s fascinating observations about sequential images (and perception too) from his brilliant Understanding Comics (McCloud, 1994); here are a few snippets that I found pertinent as well as interesting:

I particularly like the final panel from page 101 of McCloud’s book where he discusses the concept of “greater length” suggested by the longer rectangular panel breaking up the normal flow – something which I have also recently read about (although relating to the presentation of photography and not comics) in Maria Short’s insightful book Context and Narrative (Short, M., 2011, p106):

“…it can be possible to achieve a certain pace in the series by using a particular size or shape of image at a key point in the sequence, either as a recurring theme or a one-off.”

This is something that I haven’t discarded as an alternative approach to my own intended presentation of this sequence (see below) and may use it, if not for this assignment, then for a later one perhaps – or even as a personal project in the not too distant future.
This connection between the narrative qualities of comics and photography (as with other forms of images of course) I find totally fascinating and look forward to developing a deeper understanding of this with the next course Context and Narrative.

More conceptual ideas

I was looking to include some of Walker Evans’ work too: The Penny Picture Display, Savannah, 1936 (simply because I like it and his work) and was inspired to make a cover for an invented magazine for one of my shots for the sequence (see shots 3,4, 9, and 10 below). The fact that the first edition of LIFE was also published in 1936, I found serendipitous and intriguing and I thought to include some content in some fashion within the sequence – perhaps using an advertisement from it on the back cover of my fictional magazine as a homage (with an eye to deface it in some way as not to be using any actual content from LIFE without permission of course – another justification for the blacking out of faces and defacement idea throughout the sequence). I also thought about recreating Evans’ wonderful Subway shots from New York (late 1930s to early 1940s) and attempting to put them into the sequence too (see shots 4 and 10 below).
The idea to blend Michals’ and Gibbons’ techniques, and a generous sprinkling of Walker Evans’ magic with the brooding Rodchenko undercurrent was something too good to let slip by however ambitious and challenging to actually realise.

Here’s my final idea as a storyboard (image 8) plus how the assignment took shape through some preliminary notes from my notebook:


How am I going to present these images?

The idea is to present the images as a sequence of 12 images (even if the brief says 10 – although shot 1 and 12 could be seen as the same image as could 2 and 11?) reading from left to right; I will resist my typical urge to crop to a square and use a standard 3:2 format for all the images to give the set its visual continuity (although, as mentioned above, I might use some different image sizes or formats to give the sequence some punctuation).
An alternative presentation could be to print them into a large magazine (almost broadsheet size) and have them viewed page by page to emphasize the sequential nature and to heighten the narrative effect, basically using the cover that I have used for the underground shots here.
Perhaps a series of four triptychs could also enhance the narrative of the images?
The assignment will also be presented online via my blog of course, and I will probably use individual images to allow a clean scroll down to help the narrative work here too, although, the idea of using triptychs in four groups in mini slide shows might also work for this – I am hoping to make some practice shots regarding the presentation and will add them to the blog.
Reading through Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics again, I came across many thought-provoking ideas and observations about images and perception which reminded me of his TED talk from 2005. It is also full of great insights one of which could be developed with this assignment (or, hopefully, at a later date) even though he was referring to the experience of comics being read through a computer monitor (13.01 on TED’s useful interactive tapescript):

“We could do circular narratives that were literally circular; we could do a turn in a story that was literally a turn.”

This gave me a presentation idea that could be used with this project. Whether or not I actually use any of these ideas with this assignment is by the by, what is useful here is just the thinking through it all, and, as I’m sure will happen, these ideas can be used at a later date with other assignments, projects and so on. Here are a few sketches and notes:

I am also seriously thinking about using some rudimentary poetry under each photo as a direct reference to Duane Michal’s use of text with his photography. The choice of text is a risky one, but I like the expected clarity it suggests and would like to play with that expectation to create a slight (or clear) ambiguity and doubt while trying to keep the focus on engaging the viewer and certainly not to condescend or spoon-feed them with the text  in any way, rather a playful addition seemingly in line with Michals’ own quite wonderful/annoying* mischievousness.
*Delete as appropriate (watch and make up your own idea)

I would like to include commentary based on Mark Power’s The Shipping Forecast to one of the images. However, unlike Power, I won’t be visiting the place mentioned in the forecast as I intend to invent my own forecast pertinent to the image presented (see shot 11), although I do intend to keep the format of the text similar to the standard broadcasts, that being: place, wind, rain and finally visibility, but render it as a poem to keep with the Michals’ idea.
Sticking with the idea of including text, I recently came across Jim Goldberg‘s work, and find it fascinating as well as moving. I could possibly include some sort of homage to his powerful work from the 70s onwards, however, I don’t want to overcrowd this assignment, could I run the risk of flooding it with too many signs and signifieds perhaps? Although, I don’t see that as such a massive issue as I need to push myself to see what I can, and can’t do with these projects.

What about the sequence?

Shot 1
The sequence of images starts off from an almost black macro photograph of the front cover of the Watchmen (being black on the hardback edition I have). There needs to be a suggestion of the details embossed on the surface of the book, as to not keep the image totally black as well as leaving some sort of trace of the Watchmen inspired visual, namely the iconic ‘blood splurge’ (but mindful not to have the detail dominate).  Looking at slightly underexposing by a couple of stops or possibly just reducing exposure in post production later. (EXIF data will be added to final sequence but I have not put anything on these test shots below.)

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Here is my preliminary shot – darkened by using levels in post production (exposure/contrast and blacks). Are they gonna sue me? I suppose I could clone out one of the eyes or something – make it clearly different yet still recognizable? I would like to add this short text from the Watchmen’s opening panel:
“This city is afraid of me
I have seen its true face
Of what Reinhart and Malevic didn’t see
And which Robert Fludd left no trace.”
The first two lines are directly from the Watchmen, whereas the final two lines are my words. The references here (Reinhart, Malevic, Fludd) are some of the pioneers to the ‘the black image as art’ or “The Great Darkness” which I stumbled upon when reading up for A2 (see idea 13 from the notes for that assignment, and which was further developed in the A2 addendum) and thought their inclusion only fair if not obligatory.

Shot 2
As we pan out (just as Michals did and as Gibbons was instructed to do by Moore), we see the next frame (shot 2) revealing a close up of Alexander Rodchenko’s portrait of Vladimir Mayakovsky. This portrait is blacked out across the eyes, (one of the main recurring themes of this sequence) with, perhaps, enough contextual clues as to be recognizable as Rodchenko’s famous portrait. My idea is to take a picture of the portrait and then print this shot onto photographic paper. My reasoning being that the defacing would be more authentic and look more like the original scratched and burned out images by Rodchenko himself – or a nod to Emily Watts’ work although without the acetate (M. Short, 2011, p158). I am hoping to include some text from some of Mayakovsky’s poetry:
“If I were dim as the sun,
Night I’d drill
with the rays of my eyes.”
-Vladimir Mayakovsky, 1916, excerpt from:
To his Own Beloved Self The Author Dedicates These Lines
I think the reference to “eyes” here works well, as Rodchenko’s portrait here has captured Mayakovsky’s intense stare.

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Photo of a photocopy of a book image of a photography of the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky taken by Rodchenko in 1924. I really like the unintended profile ghost shadow formed by my shading; almost looks like he is turning away, in anguish.

I’m thinking that the first shot should be connected here somehow, and not just with the black, possibly include the Watchmen smiley? Like so:

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Shot 2 – with poorly edited “splurge” inclusion? Possibly some better editing… The smiley face to the top left here is almost like a thought to the Watchmen which, amongst many other things, has a series of cover-ups woven into its plot;  relevant as this is exactly what Rodchenko was trying to do: cover up his past allegiances (although granted not with Mayakovsky’s portrait – Stalin proclaimed him a hero in 1935!) and look towards a different, brighter future perhaps; which is exactly what Moore and Gibbons did in the conclusion to their groundbreaking – although admittedly dated – graphic novel.

Although, to be honest, I don’t like the Watchmen smiley here, doesn’t seem to work too well for me and I probably won’t include it.

Shot 3
The third image will be of a close up of a magazine cover inspired by the Walker Evans cover from the Penny Picture Display, Savannah, 1936 (as mentioned above). The cover will be different to Evans’ one: there won’t be 15 blocks of fifteen portraits repeated on the cover as he used (the portraits would be too small for my intended idea), whereas my intention is to include twenty inspirational artists (for me) as well as some iconic portraits. These portraits will then be blacked out with a black strip slashed across the eyes (although Rodchenko’s shot needs to be slightly different and clearly represented in the frame to link back to the second shot as well as work as a cohesive sequence).

I could include some text for the cover shot,  (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, i.e. The Met Museum, 2016)
“This picture is a composite portrait of a slice of society. It represents the window display of an anonymous portrait photographer in the South during the Depression. He was evidently not much of an artist but was good at pinching pennies, eager for business, and proud of his trade. On each of his large negatives he managed to make fifteen individual portraits. He thought most exposures good enough to use in this advertising display but covered his occasional failures with more successful images cut from other contact sheets”
I’d like to add this text under my image as a direct reference to Taryn Simon’s use of accompanying text with 2008 project An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar although I will probably present the text under the photo using Michals’ style.

The back cover will be only slightly visible (as it plays a larger part and will be revisited in shot 9). I want the whole frame filled with the cover which will be held at an angle as if someone is reading it (they will be in the next frame) with Rodchenko’s portrait blacked out and clear within the shot – without which I feel that the connection would be too tenuous. However, I intend to paste (stick on) shot 8 to the back cover (which will only be partially visible) to add to the repetitive connectedness of the sequence (much in the style of Things Are Queer).

I am also thinking about writing a long poem as a homage to the artists and characters that I have selected for my cover which can be read here: A5 Prep 3: B/W dummy run with accompanying texts

This shot can be taken whilst shooting images 4-5 as well as shots 9-10, hopefully on an underground train as explained below. The shot could equally be taken in a studio set up (meaning my front room not an actual studio) although the lighting would have to be pretty close to shots 4-5 and 9-10 to keep the technical aspects homogeneous.

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Shot 3 – close up

Shot 4
This shot is a blatant reenactment (a tableaux possibly?) of Walker Evans’ pioneering New York subway shots from 1938 through to 1941 where he hid his fast Contax 35mm beneath his coat and shot random people (mostly unaware of his camera). Genius. I’m thinking of actually using the London Underground as I will be there for a short holiday in early November. But looking at Evans’ shots, we can see that the background is the old wooden structures of the train’s windows that are no longer used. Possibly this shot could be more appropriately staged in an old English pub where the dim light and wooden windows could be similar to Evans’ 1938 work? Have I just justified me being in a pub? Excellent!
Although saying that, A trip to the London Transport Museum might bear promising fruit regarding dated carriage backgrounds (even the old buses could be useful for this).
However, the much more modern trains in use in London might add another interesting effect to the homage though, something that needs to be experimented with – after all I don’t think I want to faithfully copy or imitate Walker Evans’ work to the letter, but rather just be inspired by it for this assignment. The model will be sitting reading my fictional magazine. The magazine will be clearly seen and the model’s face will be blacked out with a black strip (to be added once printed) as mentioned before with the idea of keeping some sort of continuity with all the images, as well as the connection to Rodchenko again.

Whilst reading through Aperture’s Masters of Photography book on Evans I came across  the name of Walkers Evans’ close friend James Agee (and found his poem Rapid Transit about the subway); appropriately, this could possibly (and will) be used for shot 4:

Rapid Transit

Squealing under city stone
The millions on the millions run,
Every one a life alone,
Every one a soul undone:

There all the poisons of the heart
Branch and abound like whirling brooks
And there through every useless art
Like spoiled meats on a butcher’s hooks

Pour forth upon their frightful kind
The faces of each ruined child:
The wrecked demeanors of the mind
That now is tamed, and once was wild.

— James Agee, 1937 (Reuter, 2016)

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Shot 4 – Train shot homage to Walker Evans (this amazing model was in my front room). In this practice shot I think I’ll keep the WRONG framing of having a window frame coming out of the top of the reader’s head alla John Baldessari! Still, well see what happens when we get to London Town…

Shot 5
I’m looking to pan out again from shot 4 where we can see someone holding a mobile phone and using it to take a picture of the scene in shot 4. I could set this shot up by taking an actual picture of someone taking a picture (with a phone) of the scene in shot 4, or I could do this somewhere else and have image four on the phone’s screen – although I’m sure there will be some exposure issues with that – so I may just cut and paste this image in post production (even if I’d actually like to do it literally not with the computer?).
Or possibly just a hand reaching out for a phone with shot 4 on it? Something like this:

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Shot 5 – A homage to no one. Yeah, there aren’t any blacked out faces in the photo on the phone (although there obviously will be in the final selection).

Shot 6
For this shot I would like to insert a slightly panned out version of shot 5 onto a cinema screen – a direct and clear reference to Sugimoto’s Theatre series of photos. I recently managed to get inside a local theatre hall (they were very kind and let me snap away during maintenance and even offered me coffee!) and have been able to get some decent shots of the screen which was off, so some issues there if I want to get a lifelike dark effect illuminated just by the screen – similar to that done by Sugimoto – but that is not such an issue as I have already played around with some software and got the effect pretty close to Sugimoto’s light (even if completely different!). The slight issue may be trying to put (copy and paste, literally or digitally) my image onto the cinema screen (although my first practice attempts have been fun and semi-successful). The reason I say that, is that I don’t have Photoshop and barely know how to use Paint.Net (other products are available no doubt) – although I can always ask someone to help me!

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Shot 6 – Sugimoto eat your heart out, er, maybe not.

These practice shots, although a far cry from Sugimoto’s impressive and suggestive moods, are close enough for me to be used in the sequence. The model (if in the shot) that will be holding up the mobile phone will also have their head defaced to keep in theme with the previous shots – even if the darkness present (added by me) within the theatre hall keeps the photos relevant. Probably easier to use this type of shot with just the reaching hand and the phone on a table or something. Text from Sugimoto’s website (as well as Michael Fried’s book Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before, 2012, p5) could be used under the shot, although, maybe not all of it (just my bold selection for example below):

“I’m a habitual self-interlocutor. Around the time I started photographing at the Natural
History Museum, one evening I had a near-hallucinatory vision. The question-and-answer session that led up to this vision went something like this: Suppose you shoot a whole movie in a single frame? And the answer: You get a shining screen. Immediately I sprang into action, experimenting toward realizing this vision. Dressed up as a tourist, I walked into a cheap cinema in the East Village with a large-format camera. As soon as the movie started, I fixed the shutter at a wide-open aperture, and two hours later when the movie finished, I clicked the shutter closed. That evening, I developed the film, and the vision exploded behind my eyes.
-H. Sugimoto

Shot 7
Here, I would like to shrink down shot 6 and put it in a frame which will then be seen on a shelf with some other pictures – possibly other iconic images or some other relevant symbols from 1936, or of Michals, Rodchenko, Evans, or something new? Or a load of my books and bits and bobs? (The bullet from my “response” to Edgerton’s Bullet Through Apple shot had to go in!).
My idea with this shot is to print the shot and place it in a frame. The frame could be hand-made by me, or I could just use an appropriately sized one from somewhere (store-bought, made, borrowed). I’m thinking of adding a monologue of a viewer (presumably the owner of the bookcase?) in something like the style of Jim Goldberg’s (very interesting) stuff such as The Nursing Home series from 1985 (which is handwritten and similar enough to Michals’ style too, I think); a preliminary idea can be seen here in A5 Prep 2 (text with image ideas and notes).

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Shot 7 – The idea with this practice shot is to add lots of detail, not to lose the “framed picture” shot, but seeing as this will then be inserted into a Thomas Struth gallery shot, I thought it would be appropriate to include detail seeing as those ex-Becher students tend to crave its allure. Not that my tiny sensor could ever dream of matching those view cameras that they all seem to use for their photography, but the idea still works in my view and without totally swamping out my Sugimoto homage. Please note the Watchmen inclusion too, as well as Scott McCloud’s fabulous book Understanding Comics.

Shot 8
Would like to pan out again from the framed photo of shot 7 and we find ourselves looking at a picture on a gallery wall with the framed photo within it. I think I need to take a picture of the full scene from shot 7 to reveal where the photo is? I’m still not 100% clear how to do this bit yet, need some trial and error. For the gallery shot, I was thinking about using one of Thomas Struth’s gallery series, in particular Art Institute of Chicago II, from 1990, as the base and then paste my full gallery picture in one of the large paintings that he captured. I was thinking about adding some quotes from Fried’s book  (Fried, 2008), and Cotton’s too  (Cotton, 2009) regarding their comments on Struth’s gallery shots (first preliminary ideas about using their texts can also be seen on the A5 prep 2 post).

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Here is an example of what I am hoping to do. Here we see my cover portraits pasted onto Sugimoto’s theatre screen (this image would actually be my shot 6 – this is just a dummy run ) which is then pasted into Struth’s main painting in the Chicago Institute. I’m not even sure I understand it, need to do a practice run with it first.
Here’s an experimental shot and what I would actually like to see incorporating shot 7:
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Shot 9
Zooming out from the gallery (institute) scene we discover that this is actually an advert on the back cover of a magazine which someone is holding. So this shot is very similar to shot 3 – this is 100% intended. Only this time the back cover dominates the frame with only a slice of the front cover (the opposite of shot 3) visible. Shot 8 (meaning the pasted shots 6-7) I think still needs to be visible, as does the blacked out portrait by Rodchenko possibly? Although he will be revealed in shot 10 so that may not be necessary.
Something like this?
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Another rough copy which I am hoping to tweak…
The MOMA text that accompanies the Penny Picture Display might also be appropriate here as my “accompanying poetry”

Shot 10
Here we are back to familiar territory with a shot of someone reading my fake magazine again (thinking of using a different person reading it this time); again their face will be blacked out. This shot, along with shot 4, needs to be taken at the same time which poses some creative challenges: how will I get the intervening shots that I need to shrink down onto the back cover advert if I haven’t even taken them when I take this shot? Meaning, if I have to take shot 4 and 10 at the same time (in London), then I logically will not have shots 5,6,7,8 and neither shot 9 which needs to be on the back cover, bearing in mind I still have the idea of shooting on the Underground when I am there, which is causing the problem, I suppose, so I could just set this all up locally…But that would take away half the fun if not all of it!
I need to do a dummy run, see if this is viable. I know it is, just can’t see it perfectly yet. After all, I could just create the images I need by editing the sequence once I have all the shots – I could then just paste in the blanks so to speak, but again less fun and seems like a short cut too (or even a cop-out), one that I do not want to take, but may have to eventually if my practice run fails. Be adaptable, just like Rodchenko was!
Here’s how this shot is shaping up:
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No shot 8/9 inclusion here yet, will be pasting that in at a later date…

I am writing a monologue for this shot from the perspective of the train which will be put under the image using a poem format. The fictional rant is from an imaginary collection of ‘train interviews’ called: The Train Carriage Interviews. This particular train in the London Transport Museum is – appropriately – a 1938 Northern Line Underground train which I found wonderful as both Evans’ Subway series of shots and the Penny Picture Display cover were from that period! Here’s the excerpt in all its weird glory:
“All these years of arseholes; arseholes farting on and staining me with their putrid stenches; Bitches and wenches, drunks and punks, leaving their dust and tears to enter every part of me like I don’t do enough for them as it is; plastering me with their symbols, and images all of which come and go; sad as it is, I am not alone, there are the others with me – they too ripped from their duties, stripped of their meanings, placed in this place, put in the dungeon – this prison of nostalgia, in this resource wasting waste of space; gazed upon like freaks of nature, freaks in a show; relics of your vanity, remnants of your passage through time, watching your noisy brief journey, your wonderfully sad raping of everything; we are glorified by your lights as ours have grown dim – you shelter us, this at least we accept; but let us decompose naturally as all things should, without your eyes, and photographs, without your pity or your pride; I have wheels yet I cannot move, let me move again, roar again; let me live again.”
Unfortunately, a totally fictional collection of interviews, but something that might be an interesting idea to develop on as a personal project: the unheard voices of the forgotten, or something, by looking at the common everyday objects all around us and interviewing them? Ok, not actually interviewing them, but imagining that I were! Imagine the possibilities here: an interview in Chinese (electronic devices), Vietnamese trainers, old Russian Cameras arguing with Japanese ones?

Shot 11
This shot we start to zoom in as opposed to constantly zooming out (why the change? Can I do that? Why not?) and it will be almost identical to shot 2.
This could just be Rodchenko again, or perhaps zoom in to someone else from the cover, Alan Moore perhaps? What about zooming out again – to keep it cohesive – only this time the blacked out figure is Buddy Holly (born 1936) and we see shot 10 reflected in his glasses? But then where would we go for shot 12? And surely this would deviate from Michal’s idea – not that I have to stick rigidly to that.

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Paul Strand – Young Boy, Gondeville, Charente, France, 1951. Gelatin silver print. Thanks to Paul Strand as always.

A nod to the glorious work of Paul Strand perhaps here? Or possibly a different ‘symmetry’ to this set by using another Michals’ inspired surprise shot? Like so:

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Shot 11 – About to Be Switched Off. Probably final idea.

Here, we see someone about to switch a monitor off with shot 10 being displayed. I like the idea of this shot, something that I had thought about in my original notes (page 4 from the above notes), and a good way to ‘get me back’ to the black last image. I could have easily avoided any issues with trying to return to the black shot by ending with a different image, but I really like its closure and how it mimics Michals’ Things Are Queer (the real inspiration behind this assignment), but also how I can then play around with Scott McCloud’s “circular narrative” idea when presenting the work not perhaps for this assignment but more likely for a future presentation of it (as seen with my notes on presentation above).
This way shot 11 would merge nicely with my original intended ending of returning to the black image from the beginning of the sequence, again, similar to what Duane Michals had done with his Things Are Queer sequence.

Would also like to include commentary here based on Mark Power’s The Shipping Forecast which I found looking through Context and Narrative (Short, M., 2011, pp150-151). Unlike Power, I won’t be visiting the place mentioned in the forecast as I intend to invent my own forecast pertinent to the image presented (shot 11), although I do intend to keep the format of the text similar to the standard broadcasts, that being: place, wind, rain and finally visibility. Something along the lines of this:
“Variable 3 or 4, Becoming southeasterly, at times, Rough, or very rough, occasionally high, Showers everywhere, Moderately good, occasionally very poor, eventually dark, or even black”
Adding the “…eventually poor, or even black” last line would pull the viewer nicely into position for the final shot (being almost totally dark, black itself), set them up for the end which is in fact a return to the beginning.

Shot 12
Close up again of The Watchmen cover, this time from a slightly different angle, or possibly the same shot? As mentioned before, the idea is to bring the sequence to a close with the final shot being the first shot, possibly indicating an infinite repetition, the cycle of life, or just the concept of cycle as one of the true constants of human existence.
Or perhaps without any justification (thinking of  Crosher again!) because that is how I want it to end?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With shot 12 – returning to the beginning of the sequence – I stay faithful to Duane Michals’ style, and yet not just a blatant copy. Although I think it should be darker, meaning blacker, as the Watchmen smiley seems to be a non sequitur here – too evident, needs to be more subtle perhaps. I’m thinking more along the lines of something like this:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A black and white dummy run with the above images and the proposed texts as poetry under the photos, can be seen here with my A5 Prep 3: B/W dummy run with accompanying texts post.

Conclusion

This fascinating journey into some amazing photographers as well as photographic techniques has really pushed me to define how I understand (and have understood) photography, particularly my own, up to now.
Duane Michals’ work  – discovered fortuitously thanks to David Hurn – has really caught my eye (and mind), as has looking at Walker Evans’ work, reading through Barthes’ (tricky) analyses, and delving into the often murky waters of Russian Constructivism and Suprematism which I found particularly illuminated by Rodchenko’s art (and others such as Lissitzky, Klutsis but not forgetting others elsewhere such as, Bayer, Heartfield, Moholy-Nagy etc.).
All of this has helped me to appreciate photography as not just a Europe-centric, or American phenomenon, (although, respectively, that’s where it all kicked off for sure), or as some social media fad either, but rather a genuine visual and intellectual language that can be (and demands to be) presented and read in many different ways, and that is undoubtedly culturally bound, yet can (usually) cross those invisible borders with ease.
A fascinating, evolving, dynamic language that I will probably be (and look forward to) studying and observing and learning for the rest of my life.

I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this assignment, and, you could argue, it’s a little crowded and over-thought to some extent; however, I feel that this is my project, my nod to many past/present inspirations that I have had for years (and have discovered recently) and that alone is surely justification enough. Why do we we even need to worry about that? There’s clearly been thought put into this: developement of ideas, creative endeavour, revamping of concepts, planning, merging of styles, awareness of past and contemporary artists, research and reflection, with a pleasant sprinkling of luck thrown in, so, isn’t that good enough?
Good enough for me.

Sources

Dcmooregallery.com. (2016). Duane Michals – Artists – DC Moore Gallery. [online] Available at: http://www.dcmooregallery.com/artists/duane-michals#3 [Accessed 3 Nov. 2016].

YouTube. (2016). David Hurn at The Eye Photography Festival. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hLCisOI0Xw [Accessed 1 Nov. 2016].

Wales Arts Review. (2016). David Hurn at The Eye International Photography Festival – Wales Arts Review. [online] Available at: http://www.walesartsreview.org/david-hurn-at-the-eye-international-photography-festival/ [Accessed 1 Nov. 2016].

YouTube. (2016). Photographer Duane Michals Talks About His Career. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZa_oOzXVkY&list=LLQaHf9JAWYjHV3RrR8ozYCg&index=3 [Accessed 1 Nov. 2016].

Rockpaperink.com. (2016). Undercover: XXXXXXXX XXX XX XXXXXXXXX XXX. – RockPaperInk. [online] Available at: http://www.rockpaperink.com/content/column.php?id=485 [Accessed 9 Oct. 2016].

Moma.org. (2016). MoMA.org | Interactives | Exhibitions | 1998 | Rodchenko | Portraits of Mayakovsky. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/1998/rodchenko/texts/portraits_mayakov.html [Accessed 8 Dec. 2016].

Mayakovsky, V. (2016). Poems of Vladimir Mayakovsky. [online] Marxists.org. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/subject/art/literature/mayakovsky/1916/own-beloved-self.htm [Accessed 8 Dec. 2016].

Veoh.com. (2016). Watch Videos Online | Genius of photography – 2 | Veoh.com. [online] Available at: http://www.veoh.com/watch/v7279508h5dT6DeQ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2016].

Zoecrosher.com. (2016). ZC. [online] Available at: http://www.zoecrosher.com/polaroided [Accessed 1 Nov. 2016].

Moore, A. and Gibbons, D. (1987). Watchmen. New York: DC Comics Inc.

DC. (2016). WATCHMEN. [online] Available at: http://www.dccomics.com/graphic-novels/watchmen [Accessed 4 Nov. 2016].

McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding comics. 1st ed. New York: HarperPerennial.

McCloud, S. (2016). The visual magic of comics. [online] Ted.com. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/scott_mccloud_on_comics#t-825156 [Accessed 18 Nov. 2016].

The Museum of Modern Art. (2016). Walker Evans. Penny Picture Display, Savannah. 1936 | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/58181?locale=fr [Accessed 1 Nov. 2016].

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, i.e. The Met Museum. (2016). Walker Evans | Penny Picture Display, Savannah | The Met. [online] Available at: http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/265556 [Accessed 8 Dec. 2016].

Short, M. (2011). Context and Narrative. 1st ed. 1000 Lausanne: Ava Publishing SA.

Moma.org. (2016). MoMA | Walker Evans. Subway Portrait. from the series Subway Portraits. 1938–41. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/walker-evans-subway-portraits-1938-41 [Accessed 17 Nov. 2016].

Reuter, K. (2016). eCUIP : The Digital Library : Social Studies : Chicago: City of Neighborhoods. [online] Ecuip.lib.uchicago.edu. Available at: http://ecuip.lib.uchicago.edu/diglib/arts/public_art/gallery/paint/paint_undercit.html [Accessed 8 Dec. 2016].

Sugimotohiroshi.com. (2016). Hiroshi Sugimoto. [online] Available at: http://www.sugimotohiroshi.com/theater.html [Accessed 9 Dec. 2016].

Collections.vam.ac.uk. (2016). Young Boy, Gondeville, Charente, France | Paul Strand | V&A Search the Collections. [online] Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1059589/young-boy-gondeville-charente-france-photograph-paul-strand/ [Accessed 23 Nov. 2016].

Barthes, R. and Heath, S. (1990). Image, music, text. 1st ed. [London]: Fontana.

Pro.magnumphotos.com. (2016). Magnum Photos Photographer Profile. [online] Available at: https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_9_VForm&ERID=24KL53ZHEN [Accessed 8 Dec. 2016].

Pro.magnumphotos.com. (2016). Magnum Photos. [online] Available at: https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&ALID=2K1HRGROLS [Accessed 9 Dec. 2016].

O’Hagan, S. (2014) The photographer who caught the heartbreak on both sides of America’s social divide. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/jul/03/jim-goldberg-rich-and-poor-photography (Accessed: 8 December 2016).

Goldberg, J. (2016) Raised by wolves. Available at: https://vimeo.com/39715337 (Accessed: 8 December 2016).

Higgins, J. (2013.). Why it does not have to be in focus. 1st ed. London: Quintessence Editions.

Cotton, C. (2009). The photograph as contemporary art. 1st ed. London: Thames & Hudson.

Fried, M. (2008). Why photography matters as art as never before. 1st ed. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Marien, M. (2014). Photography. 1st ed. London: King.

Contacts

Ok, I have no idea why the date came out like it did on the contacts. Will change that for submission, but just cannot be bothered to change all these now. Yeah, you read that right.

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4 thoughts on “A5 prep 1: ideas and statement of intent

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