Bibliography

5selection, (n.d) Things Organized Neatly: Curated by Austin Radcliffe© [online] available at <http://www.5election.com/2012/03/25/things-organized-neatly-curated-by-austin-radcliffe/> [Accessed 10 March 2014]

Allmer, P., Sears, J. (2013) Taking Shots: The Photography of William S. Burroughs. London: Prestel Publishing

Barthes, R. (1980) Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. London: Vintage Books

Brault, P., Dufresne, D. (2013) Prison Valley [online] available at <http://prisonvalley.arte.tv/?lang=en&gt;>

Campbell, D. (2011) David Campbell- Narrative, Power and Responsibility [online] available at <https://soundcloud.com/mattjohnston/david-campbell#t=0:00&gt; [Accessed 23 October 2013]

Carmichael, Y. (2011) Edward Newton – Others [online] available at <http://www.yvonnecarmichael.com/38b/index.php?/exhibitions/others—edward-newton/> (29 January 2014)

Cross, C.R (2008) Cobain Unseen. London: Hodder & Stoughton

Davie, W. (2014) Review of Michel Francois: Pieces of Evidence [online] available at <http://www.aestheticamagazine.com/blog/michel-francois-pieces-evidence-ikon-gallery/&gt; [Accessed 24 May 2014]

Dillon, B. (2011) Rereading: Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes [online] available at <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/mar/26/roland-barthes-camera-lucida-rereading> (26 March 2011)

Doctorow, C. (2012) Knolling: a verb for those who like things nice and Kentucky [online] available at <http://boingboing.net/2012/06/16/knolling-a-verb-for-those-who.html> [16 June 2012]

Edge (2011) LA Noire Review [online] available at <http://www.edge-online.com/review/la-noire-review/&gt; [18 May 2011]

Foam Press (2012) Album Beauty – Erik Kessels [online] available at <http://www.foam.org/press/2012/erik_kessels> [3 May 2012]

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Google, n.d Google Art Project [online] available at <http://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/project/art-project&gt; [Accessed 10 May 2014]

Gorospe, J. (2013) Rain on the Baltic. Spain: self-published

Gorospe, J. (2013) Rain 0n the Baltic [online] available at <http://www.jongorospe.com/gallery/rain%20on%20the%20baltic/gallery-rain-publication.html>

Guardian (2010) Martin Parr: how to take better holiday photographs [online] available at <http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/aug/24/martin-parr-take-holiday-photographs> [23 August 2010]

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Hirsch, M. (1997) Family Frames: Photography, Narrative and Postmemory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press

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Kenedi, A. (2011) 13 Questions for Things Organized Neatly Founder, Austin Radcliffe [online] available at <http://www.printmag.com/featured/13-questions-for-things-organized-neatly-founder-austin-radcliffe/> [25 April 2010]

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Evaluation

1

Click on image to view website

When I first started to look deeper into family archives, I knew that this topic had been heavily researched many times, spanning over a century. Although harder to conclude to an individual viewpoint, I had so much more material to work with, reading essays that contradicted others, which left me having to select elements I agreed and disagreed with. What I also had, which books and essays didn’t provide, was my own ethnological research and personal experiences, which undoubtedly tainted what has been read.

This area of research stems from a very deep and personal experience of family life and how we relate to their records. If anything, this subject has been a form of therapy for me, helping me evaluate what it is I take from my personal family archive and what it really means. Looking deeper into family archives has allowed me to be more open and comfortable with the past, whilst being able to engage confidently with anyone who’s interested in my work. Luckily, family history is a universal subject; everyone owns some form of family archive and can relate in a number of ways to the research I have collated, regardless of background.

After doing intense research into the works of David Campbell, Roland Barthes, George Batchen and a number of others, I suppose my position within family archives is that life is only linear in terms of time. Events may happen linearly but they interlink in a more free-flowing manner, not dictated by time, and it is important that we are aware of this when looking through our family history. Also, in terms of their content, I don’t believe we should turn to them for “truth”, as so many factors dictate the reading of the photograph. They are authentic in terms of their existence and their contents; this is grounded. But their meaning to different people is always subject to change, with new experiences and knowledge, we can turn to the same image with a completely different outlook.

Looking into the archives of my great great uncle was more of an experiment than anything else. I wanted to see if there was a right way to present family history, that could be understood by a much wider demographic than the family itself. I used my uncle’s records mainly because of the many extraordinary things he achieved in his life, but also because he lived in Coventry for most of his long life. As I exhibited my work in Coventry, I felt it made sense to have a local element to the exhibition. In a way, I am lucky that I come from quite a complicated yet interesting family, as I have access to a number of different archives that would be of interest to different demographics.

This project, I feel, is far from over. There are always more artefacts being found and interviews conducted that really flesh out the narrative of my uncle’s life. I would like to maybe expand on a number of different narratives, particularly the invention and his years in Iraq, as they are much stronger, interesting and global.

This topic within photography has opened so many other areas of interest, which I plan to look further into once I have finished university. I have touched upon found family photographs, and am currently working on a project alongside The Photo Fostering Project. I am also looking into exhibiting my uncles archive elsewhere, with potential posts at the Herbert Gallery in Coventry. I have also recently started working at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham and have been discussing my research with the learning team, who are interested in possibly doing workshops around the subject.

Although nothing is yet set in stone, this is something I find quite exciting. I’m not entirely sure what is going to happen when I leave university but I know that regardless of employment and other qualifications, my research will not end anytime soon. This is my hobby and a new way of thinking for me that I don’t want to end.

Hanging my work

photo (3)Hanging my work in the gallery space was no easy task. I had seventeen prints mounted on foam board, some similar some not, that needed arranging in a way that complimented the images as well as the message.

I chose the passport images of my uncle initially because I just needed something on the wall, and they gave a general overview of what the work will contain. Also, I liked the way they are sets of repetitions but all individual. No photograph in this set of images is a copy of another. This is quite inviting. Lots of people were interested in this aspect, asking how I photo shopped them and were surprised when I told them they are all individual prints.

photo (4)The passport photos span across the decades of my uncles life, and initially I wanted them presented in chronological order, giving a more dictated narrative in comparison to the rest of the project. I tacked the work up myself and it was so uniform and tight, it appeared claustrophobic.

I decided to have a few peers assist me with the layout, asked them to be brutally honest with it as I was not happy with it. It became clear that the sets needed to be together as sets but between them have more room, creating a flow. I asked Chantal for assistance with this. Layout isn’t really my forte and I wanted a fresh set of eyes on the work. Also, she has done similar work with her grandfather’s archives and trusted her opinion.

After playing around with different ideas together, it became clear that a couple of the images needed taking out, because they weren’t projecting the same message and disrupted the flow of the work. It also soon became clear that a chronological order was not a good aesthetic for the images. It was too obvious, and actually contradicted the message I am trying to convey. What worked best was to stagger the chronology of them, making them less intense on the eye. There are a lot of images here looking directly at you, and if presented how I originally planned, it is quite intense and could possibly be a little intimidating.  Spread out across the space I have been allocated, I think we found a layout that works with the space, the lighting and the images themselves. This is by no means the perfect layout for these images. I think this selection lends itself to different layouts dependent on factors such as space. But for this exhibition, the image you see above is what worked for the final exhibition.

 

 

Shomei Tomatsu influence

When presented with a series of interesting artefacts from my great great uncle’s archive, I had to find a way to photograph them that reflected my intentions as well as presented these items in a dignified manner. What I had to remember is that this project is not just a collection of artefacts but a portrait of a man. It was this that got me thinking back to some of the things learnt in my first year at university.

From what I recollect, we were learning about the definition of a portrait, easily presumed to be a photograph of a person’s physical appearance. We were then presented with Shomei Tomatsu’s portrait of his father; a black and white photograph of a watch on top of a pillow. Although uncoventional, we are presented with an image that could potentially be seen as more powerful than if we were presented with a photograph of his father’s physical being.

This image is two things; it is a homage to a precious object, something that the photographer treasures and has photographed it in a way to show that it is treasured. It is also, like I said, a portrait. This image comes with a powerful story, of how this is the only thing he has left of his father after his death. Hit by a nuclear bomb in Hiroshima, this watch displays the time of his death. This photograph presents us with more information than a portrait alone, and indeed a personal and emotional take on world history.

IMG_0437With this is mind, I wanted to photograph the artefacts within my uncle’s archive in a similar manner. I want the images to be fairly objective, with no distractions, to be seen for all the information they provide. There are a lot of documents that contain a fair amount of written content, that literally have to be read, and distractions such as a complicated background could cause confusion. I chose to photograph them in the studio, on a white backdrop.

7

2Some items within the archive didn’t work being photographed in this environment. I wanted to play around with backgrounds and ways of photographing the objects. I tried photographing some of the items where they were found or where they are kept, so many images were taken in my grandmothers house. I felt at the time that this worked. Her house, with its dark varnished woods and antiquated artefacts, somehow complimented the objects themselves.

I wanted to see what how the images would work if they weren’t all uniform, giving some items more context than others and breaking up the overall look, possibly making the image set more interesting. When presenting these images as a group, they just didn’t sit right. I talked with a few of my peers about this, and they agreed that these in situe images detracted from the studio images. So after experimentation, I removed these images from my selection.

 

 

 

Polyfoto by Daniel Meadows

 

Yesterday, I went to see Daniel Meadows exhibition at the Library of Birmingham. I have been wanting to go for a while, and as I was doing my regular gallery tour of Birmingham I figured it made sense to go check it out.

The one piece that stood out to me that I had not heard of was his short film Polyfoto, audio storytelling with what is essentially 2 gifs made from the polyfoto images he talks of. It got me thinking about how this form of presentation could relate to my work. I remembered that whilst I was looking through my uncles archive, I came across a polyfoto sheet of my grandmother from when she was a teenager. So, just out of curiosity, I made an animated gif of them similar to the ones Daniel Meadows created.

 

What I like about this is that it adds a new dimension to the still image. The stills now have movement whilst still being recognised as static images. A technique so simple could enhance my website project, adding a new form of media that would contextualise the rest of the work. Using a set of passport photos of Bob, I used the same technique, layering the portraits on top of one another, creating an animation. In this instance, it is not the subject that changes but the condition of the artefact itself.

unclebob
As I am making a website, I want to explore all the possibilities of digital media to create an experience that is interactive and different from a physical exhibit.

Prison Valley: An interactive web documentary

I cannot recollect how I came across this web documentary, probably deep within my twitter feed, regardless I am glad I have experienced this. Prison Valley is a documentary in the form of an interactive website. You simply sign up, create an account and explore the seemingly endless material. I admittedly have not had chance to go through it beginning to end, but the fact that you can create an account and go through it whenever you have time to, makes it more accessible to a wider demographic.

The contents of this site is particularly interesting to me. There is an overall narrative, with many sub narratives within it, looking into different people’s lives in relation to the overall narrative. We are presented with intermittent film clips, giving more of a dictated narrative, and often presented with locations (I am currently in the motel room), which you can move around in a similar way to google maps. Another nice touch is that when you come to a window, something is happening outside, which adds another touch of realism. We are presented with items around the room, able to change the channel on the tele, listen back to answer phone messages amongst other things.

This level of interactivity is really exciting as a viewer. The topic isn’t necessarily something I could get overly excited about, but the method of presentation is interesting and inviting enough. This has got met thinking about my own website. There has clearly been a lot of money that has been put into this, money that I currently don’t have, but also a huge amount of expertise, which I do not yet possess. I have chosen to use an online website builder to make the experience of building the website easier, so I can focus more on the content than how it looks with my limited knowledge of website building.

This is something I didn’t really want to over analyse, but felt it is necessary to my research, giving me a target of how I want my website to eventually look.

 

References

Brault, P., Dufresne, D. (2013) Prison Valley [online] available at <http://prisonvalley.arte.tv/?lang=en&gt;