BA (Hons) Contemporary Photo Arts Practice

Yr 3

Major Project Proposal Form

Katy Lewis

 

Date: 22/09/09

Due Date: 16/10/09

Title:  Soliloquy of Transference or Pulling Petals, or Quod. 

Area to be investigated:  The human tendency to try and make sense of rejection or abandonment by way of repetition and transference.  

Main questions to be explored:

Is it possible to emulate the experience of observing the obsessional state of mind and repetitive need for analysis (of situation and self) that human beings are capable of when relationships fail or become outside of their control? And if so is transference achieved?

Confusion and questioning (both of subject and viewer)

Reflection and entrapment (of oneself)

Introspection based on doubts about an unknown situation.

Method: primary and secondary research:

Primary – To obtain and re-work footage of the subject in question. Primary research will also include notes I’ve made around this theme and also my own experiences where I’ve exhibiting this particular kind of behaviour.

Secondary – Sophie Calle , The Exquisite Pain. Coming Apart, 1969. Sam Taylor–Wood, Breach’s Girl and Eunuch. Gillian Wearing, Signs that say what you want them to say and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say. Douglas Gordon, 24 Hour Psycho. Pedro Almodovar, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.  The use of the screen in installation. Bruce Nauman, Pierrick Sorin. Theory to include; Jaques Derrida and Michel Foucalt, Madness and Civilization.

Action plan: In the first instance to rework the footage I have already shot and possibly record a new set of interviews if the man in question sticks to his verbal agreement. This will not be the main crux of the piece though, just supporting research because I find him unreliable.

To record all research in my blog and to take my starting point from the installation I made last year. Assess which elements worked in my opinion and which did not. I have very clear ideas on what was achieved and what was missing or ineffective so I want it to evolve by starting to consider my presentational requirements from scratch. 

 

Anticipated equipment needs:

Own equipment –  Flat monitor screens (approx 15 inch) connected to 4 laptops, a pc with premier pro, HD camera with tripod.  External speakers x4

College equipment – None foreseen.

Anticipated material needs: Access to the wood workshop and considerable help with construction. 4 wood panels and some kind of stands, 4 mirrors, some chairs. Paint. 

Anticipated presentational requirements: A space that is a minimum of 6ft x 6ft with the necessary output nearby to power to 4 laptops

Form- 4 screen installation with mirrors

Space- Any that can be darkened but open space is best.

Materials- Probably more than I can anticipate at this point.

Equipment- It’s too early to say at this point.


Yesterday we presented our Minor project to the group. The crit was an assessment point and so it felt odd not to receive any feedback or comments from the tutors. I’m hoping the fact that they had no questions meant that the concepts within the work had been sufficiently explained. It was the first time that I had heard my videos playing simultaneously as intended and I liked the results. I like the murmuring of voices, far enough apart not to interfere with one another but audible in the middle of the room. Overall I am especially happy with this piece and think that it worked according to my original intentions. The technical side wasn’t easy as explained in my self assessment which I will upload here as the final page on the minor project workbook.

Self assessment, Katy Lewis

  Katy Lewis – CPAP3 – Minor Project

 Self Assessment     

Summery of idea

 Two video pieces to be played in the same space which look at the private vs. the public image we make and present of ourselves through the medium of the snapshot or “home mode” imagery.

 Based on the concept that our private images and archives are a blend of established conventions that seldom acknowledge what is going on under the surface.

 It’s about the “us” we want to present to others through our photographs, the selectivity of them and the fact that images by themselves, although out of context, may be recognisable to us in a universal sense. It has been said by Richard Chalfen in his book Snapshot Versions of Life that private snapshot images by themselves do not “speak” at all and it is the accompanying narrative that becomes important in our understanding of them when shown in the “home mode”. I wanted to play with this idea.

 

 Does the work fulfil the requirements of the assessment criteria?

 Yes. I feel that I’ve invested a lot into this project and that it runs concurrently with the research I’ve been undertaking for my dissertation topic which is based on the snapshot and how it has changed in the digital age, in terms of the technology we use, the way we photograph and also the way that we view our images. Whilst thinking about our private photography with an awareness of how I generally feel and how that is not represented by the image I present or the image others have of me in snapshot terms, I could see the obvious discord, and when looking at the found images I had begun to think about this in relation to other families and question why the images we make and keep for ourselves never venture “beyond the smile”. This is explored in my dissertation.

 

What new concepts/ideas/theories inform the work? 

 I’ve been considering the way that the aesthetics of our snapshots has changed from something more formal and rigid perhaps, to a more relaxed and “random aesthetic” and this is seen in the contrast between the images that form Karen’s story and those that form Will’s.   

 The conventions we read as belonging to the snapshot that form our understanding of the “Kodak moment” were perhaps in part dictated by the limitations of early equipment, and manuals that told us how to take a better photograph defined these standards hence the interchangeable nature of  the images we see within our family albums. We learned what and not to photograph. The compacting of the technology and the introduction of digital which didn’t cost pence per frame has allowed us to keep our camera with us all the time (the camera phone) and this is, in a way, towards a more professional practice if we are to assume that the definition of professional means keeping your camera with you.

 More photographs have seen a relaxing of the conventions and “bad” photography is forgiven. It is interesting though that we are still presenting ourselves as we’d like to be seen. Holidays and parties are still included and we show ourselves having a good time. In this way the role of the snapshot remains about social acceptance and status. 

 

What new techniques were used and why?

 The first video was made entirely in Adobe Premier Pro, which I have used before. The vocals were recorded into Free Audio Editor. This was unproblematic because the slides were scanned with my Microtec Artixscan 4000t and then imported quite easily.

 I had untold problems with the second video though as I wanted to take screenshots of the images playing through windows picture viewer and when I imported these into Premier Pro the resolution was terrible. I asked Stuart for help in the FLA but he was unsure what I meant and so I downloaded a free trial of Abobe Captivate which is a piece of PC training software. It allowed me to record the piece in real time. However when I played this back it didn’t match my mock-up edit in Premier Pro. Although it may not seem like it, the changing of the images in Will’s piece is very carefully timed to emulate a supposed real viewing experience. This took weeks to resolve and in the end I found that the two programs weren’t running the footage at the same speed and so I had to reduce each “slide” by 10% to match Adobe Premier’s running time. This was incredibly tricky. It can now only be viewed on a system that has Captivate installed and so I would use my own laptop if it were shown in our exhibition.

 I’d like to add that I haven’t worked with found imagery for a while and I really enjoyed acknowledging the value of those discarded images.

 

 Does the finished work meet the original intentions?

 Hearing both videos playing simultaneously in the crit, I have to say that the work really does meet my original intentions. I liked everything about it, the murmuring of the two voices when I stood in the middle of the room and the interactivity of the audience. I’ve looked at Gillian Wearing’s work Family History which seems to be in the same realms as my piece and found that she first exhibited in a domestic setting then transferred it to a gallery space when it came to London. She set up rows of seats etc. I would like the recreate lounge and kitchen spaces if I had the budget and the space. Otherwise having one on a projector screen or a television set and Will’s story on a laptop computer, about as far apart as I showed them in class would be just fine because to me it works as intended.

 

What have you learned from this?

That I am a naturally stressed person, but with time and patience I can get there!


Please click above to enlarge

Above are excerpts ftom “Mass Observation” by Gillian Wearing and are concerned with the sound of the narrative voice. Wearing uses sound in her installations to alienate the possibility of “truth” and often mis matches visual and audio. This is somethnig I have not attempted in an extreme form in my piece but I do feel as though her comments are relevant as they speak about the inner voice. The voice that  I am suggesting is concealed by our family imagery and the narrative voice that gives this work an element of the auto biographical.

“I CAN NEVER FORGET THAT I AM ALWAYS “OUTSIDE”  the inner experience of another person. Wearing adds to this knowledge of the less obvious observation that talking about such experiences-communicating them to each other-also places the other person outside of his or her own experience, introducing an irreducible inner difference or nonidentity. we hare our self-estrangement by giving voice to it. Cold comfort.” 

 pg 38 – Mass Observation, Gillian Wearing

 


18Jan10


“Snapshot collections, like home movies, reveal most photographer’s reluctance to create visual stories or visual narratives. The narrative  remains in the heads of the picturemakers and on-camera participants for verbal telling and re-telling during exhibition events. Significant details remain as part of the context; the story does not appear in the album or on the screen; it is not “told” by the images. In this sense a picture may be “worth a 1000 words,”…words that are stimulated by and accompany the showing of a snapshot. Home mode imagery provides an example of how pictures don’t literally “say” anything – people do the talking.

Kodak’s slogan “America’s Storyteller” provided an interesting stimulus to reformulate the notion of “story” into the context of an individual lifetime. Snapshot photographs document key moments in an individual’s life, a life story.”

Chalfen. R.  pg. 70


“An Exhibition Event consists of any action(s) which occurs after shooting, in which photographic, filmic, or video imagery is shown and viewed in a public contect. For purposes of studying the home mode, we will call “public” any audience that consists of more than the picture taker or the editor (if editing was done at all). We must be prepared to include one-or-two member audiences-as when an individual or two children want to look at an album or a tray of slides without the rest of the family.

Information on how exhibition events work in the context of Kodak culture has been clarified by asking the following kinds of questions: What kinds of behaviour characterize the exhibition and viewing of a collection of snapshots or home movies? How are exhibition events socially organized? Who initiates, promotes or restricts this activity? Where do these events take place? What other kinds of behaviour of social activity are likely to accompany the showing of pictures? What are the social relationships between the people who plan the image, people who take them or appear in them, and the people who subsequently show or see the pictures?

The most commonly ridiculed example of home mode exhibition involves the showing of travel photographs to relatives and friends who did not make the trip. A short satirical description of this phenomenon appeared in a popular magazine article entitles “How to Stop Them-after they’ve photographed Paris”:

Let’s be honest – is there anything worse than spending an evening at a friend’s home looking at slides of his trip to Europe last summer? I say there’s nothing worse…Ususally, there are four or five couples called together on a Saturday evening for this ritual. I always hope that nobody will ask to see the photos, but that has never happened. Somehow the photos have some strange sense of  inevitability about them. From the moment I walk in the door. I know it’s only a matter of minutes until the familiar question is raised.

“Mona, we’re all dying to see your photographs of London. Will we get a chance to look at them tonight?” – Leonard S. Bernstein, “How to Stop Them After They’ve Photographed Paris,” House Beautiful, October 1972, pp. 171-172. “

To me this highlights the importance of the conventions of the viewing of amateur imagery and for the purposes of the minor project crit we have little scope to create a viewing space specifically taylored to the work. So I have to think that theoretically if this piece was to be shown in a gallery context then would I even attemt a re-creation of the home viewing space? The artist Gillian Wearing exhibited some of the work for her Family History project off site, in residential settings. Then brought it to the gallery in London.

http://www.mattlippiatt.co.uk/Gillian%20Wearing%20extended.htm

ML: And how about the difference between screening it in Birmingham and Reading to now that it’s coming to London?

GW: Thinking about installation, just trying to build an installation that, now that it’s in a gallery – obviously, when it’s in an apartment you can bring that idea of the television coming into your home, but this is obviously not an apartment. But I have thought about building a wall. So we’re going to have a wall built with seats that are going to kind of echo the sort of seats that you get in a studio. These kind of half-circular seats, just a row of two, it’s not going to be like a big arena because there’s not the space.

With a significant budget and if I had a gallery space allocated I could attempt to recreate the home viewing space for Karen’s story because I feel that this would be appropriate to the viewing of it. Ideas include the darkened carpeted room with sofa chairs and nibbles. 

I feel for Will’s story that the setting would be more like a kitchen. With a metal stool, laptop on a breakfast bar, that kind of thing.  A light space with contemporary fittings.   

But for now the differences in the two display mediums i.e, Television and laptop computer, and the suggested differences in the viewing method that have been incorporated into the piece such as the projector noise vs. the mouse click, and the blank black back screen vs windows picture viewer, will have to allude to my presentational ideas of grandeur unless I can secure an arts council grant or have my final exhibition not at uni.


Will’s facebook page is looking ready for the screenshots but I noticed that having not tagged any of the photographs it doesn’t look quite as we’d expect. I’m wondering whether to tag the people with made up names or whether to keep them nameless implying universiality. I defiantely didn’t want to caption any of the photographs as I felt this would distract from the audio. The thing about this facebook idea is that the images are directly now related to the character of Will in the story and this was something I didn’t do with Karen’s story. I’m wondering then is actually showing them in the context of the social networking site too overt? I liked the connection between the audio and the image in Karen’s film because it wasn’t commenting directly on Karen’s memories, just the difference between private and public demonstrated by the snapshot, and how there are conventions to what we expect. Now I feel as though I’ve distorted this with the facebook idea by directly linking these images to the character in the story and suddenly that feels wrong.

I’m wondering if it is better to show the images I’ve chosen in the same format as Karen’s images, with a black background, and keep continuity and concept in tact. It’s my gut feeling that the presentational method and the images themselves will speak enough about the way the snapshot has changed (as has the means by which we view them) for the viewer of the work to make this connection independantly.

I think doing it this way would invite comparison between the style of photography in both pieces which is totally right. In the context of the social networking site there are numerous distractions such as attention grabbing adverts down the side and applications of the site. Both good devices to mask the audio, as was the original point, and thinking about the context in which we view our images once we put them on social networking sites in terms of things like advertising is certainly valid and interesting but I don’t feel like the work needs or would benefit from this extra layer at this stage because it would be attempting to address too much, and I think as a result, the point of the work would get lost in the many issues the social network page itself presents.


My final dilemma of this project is that of presentation. I have been thinking that in order to be authentic and true to the original way in which each media would now and would have then been displayed, that I should do a projector slide show for the slides with some method of having a sound track played alongside, still keeping to the laptop computer for showing the digital images.

The problem with this is that the last slide show I made with a soundtrack was when I was at the London College of Printing and because it was synced, much like this, it required me to stand in the little room at the back of the theatre and manually change each slide to the music after I’d pressed play on the tape recorder! This seems so primative now and I’m sure there is a digital projector avaliable these days which can handle a DVD with soundtrack but to be honest I can’t escape how much I prefer the aesthetics of the work I make on actual screens. This was the same for my independant project. So my dilemma is this; is it enough to make a presentation decision for my work based on the fact that I favour a certain way of working, style or look, and if not and we compromise the luxury that is the personal preference of the artist for the sake of the concept then what makes the work we make inherently ours? Not to be too precious about it or anything… 

Having said this, if I felt like this was a pivotal point and that the work would not communicate successfully within it’s current state then of course I would change the method, but actually I don’t feel this way. I remember the feeling of excitement I felt as a child when my Dad used to set up the projector and screen because it felt like a real spectacle, an event to counteract the boredom. (Although from the research I’ve been doing for my dissertation I think that boredom is an interesting word in relation to home movie showings). I remember the little breaks when he would change the reel and the lights would come on. Soon after, probably because of the inconvenience of storing of the equipment for those rare shows my family had our cine camera footage put onto VHS. There were titles to signifiy the start of each new film reel because it was assumed that you’d still want to remember which was which, and for the entire duration the footage was accompanied by a weird and endlessly repeatative folk music soundtrack poorly chosen by the video editing guy. My point here is that to me it seems familiar to view family imagery on a T.V screen, yes our footage didn’t consist of slide photographs like the ones I am using, but had we have taken slide photographs, I’m sure that these would have been converted too.

The viewing experience wasn’t much different after the conversion, only the lights stayed down and we got the bonus and somewhat questionable benefits of this added soundtrack. I think this is perhaps why when thinking about creating this project my thoughts turned to DVD as a way to allow me to combine both. Also Adobe Encore  has allowed me to add in a title menu meaning that if this were displayed in a gallery context the film would only begin when there is someone there to view it and they push play, meaning that I didn’t have to loop it which would drive everyone insane (being quite a short piece). The same option is avaliable for the laptop and I forsee that the two would be placed far apart enough to still be related but just out of earshot of each other negating the need for headphones and the singular viewing experience.

The main thing about the DVD format is that it keeps image and sound synced in the exact way I intended (control freak…who me?) which I think ultimately does make all the difference to the meaning of the piece as that juxtaposition is the work in essence.

I’m not absolutely keen on borrowing the TV and DVD from uni as the speakers on the TV were rubbish last time and the DVD player skipped the start of the film so I may source my own equipment to avoid these issues. Also some external speakers for the laptop would be good as I know that laptop speakers are a bit limited. It may seem contradictory that I’m trying to improve the equipment that I use to display this and that this isn’t really embracing the authentic experience of using said equipment, part of it being that it never really was perfect when we showed our footage on an old TV. I just want to strike a balance between getting the optimum out of the audio without compromising any of the aforementioned presentation intentions.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8446649.stm

I’ve just been made aware of this article on BBC News today which seeems to adress the exact issue I’ve been referring to.

By Zoe Kleinman
Technology Reporter, BBC News

people at a party
Cheers… but is this photo an invasion of privacy?

“People who post intimate details about their lives on the internet undermine everybody else’s right to privacy, claims an academic.

Dr Kieron O’Hara has called for people to be more aware of the impact on society of what they publish online

“If you look at privacy in law, one important concept is a reasonable expectation of privacy,” he said.

“As more private lives are exported online, reasonable expectations are diminishing.”

The rise of social networking has blurred the boundaries of what can be considered private, he believes – making it less of a defence by law.

We live in an era that he terms “intimacy 2.0” – where people routinely share extremely personal information online.

“When our reasonable expectations diminish, as they have, by necessity our legal protection diminishes.”

When our reasonable expectations diminish, as they have, by necessity our legal protection diminishes
Dr O’Hara

Dr O’Hara, a senior research fellow in Electronic and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, gave the example of an embarrassing photo taken at a party.

A decade ago, he said, there would have been an assumption that it might be circulated among friends.

But now the assumption is that it may well end up on the internet and be viewed by strangers.

Raging debate

Privacy has long been a thorny issue but there were very few court cases until that of former motorsport boss Max Mosley in 2008.

Mr Mosley sued the News of the World over the publication in the newspaper of explicit photos of him secretly taken during an orgy.

He argued that the publication of the photos was an unwarranted breach of his privacy – and won.

Mr Mosley had taken steps to keep his private life private but Dr O’Hara’s concern is that other people’s disregard for privacy online will spill over into other walks of life.

As debates continue to rage over whether the new airport body scanners and CCTV are an infringement of privacy or useful protection, some argue that it already has.

“Recent security decisions have become a privacy discussion – but if security suffers, the community suffers,” Dr O’Hara said.

He was due to deliver his research paper at the annual Media Communication and Cultural Studies Association (Meccsa) conference held at the London School of Economics from 6-8 January.”

…It seems the images I was pondering may be safely classed as “found” after all.


Found Imagery?

08Jan10

My initial thoughts were to use the imagery that I’d found on the broken laptops that my partner repairs but having gone through these they don’t really communicate anything relevant for the piece as I imagine it. My thoughts have been to keep continuity with the past piece in which I’d actually purchased discarded slides specifically of couples. I don’t know why I looked for couples, I suppose they just resonated with me as almost all my work seems to focus on relationships. The slides were sitting around for a few months in the same brown paper bag in which the teller had wrapped them, basically doing nothing. I had no intention for them when I bought them I just sort of knew I’d want to use them at some point and they seemed the perfect choice when I considered the minor project and the cyclothymia issue both in terms of depiction of the relationship between husband and wife, and in relation to what I’m discussing in the dissertation themselves being found images, and also showing some very definative snapshot aesthetics as I have come to understand them.

My struggle with the imagery to use for Will’s story comes down to a dilemma. I have been going through the facebook pages of random people. These people are not known to me or connected to me in any way. I started out with a friend and clicked on a friend of her’s and then a friend of his and so on and so on and have been saving images of interest to my hard drive. Karen’s story is primarily focused around her leaving the marital home so therefore couples seemed the obvious choice. Will’s story is slightly more diverse in that it mentions his family but primarily speaks about the effect of the disorder on his career and we see his shame of being discovered by his university friends. So therefore groups of friends seemed the parallel route to take if i was going to mirror what I had attempted in the first film. 

This may be unrelated but I feel it’s worth mentioning. Some common scenarios have emerged repeatedly when looking at random photograph’s of groups of friends in this way such as – the ski resort, football team, Mediterranean holiday and the trip to Thailand or a trekking equivalent. It’s sort of as though there is a list of things to do before you’re 30 and these photographs are there to act as proof that you’re having the life you should be having at a young age. 

As I’ve been selecting which images to save I’ve been conscious of wanting them to convey something of the changed conventions of the snapshot photograph as it is today from what it was back in the past when equipment was more limited and we shot on film which cost money per frame. This would talk about things like the ad-hoc approach, the instantaneous nature of taking the image with not much foresight and the resulting sometimes happy accident. I also thought it appropriate to aim to use more imags than we see in the first piece because of the way we keep and upload more of our photographs than ever before being that they don’t cost us per frame and that cameras are smaller, therefore we are able to have them with us on occasions we formally mght not have done.

As well as the studio borrowed portrait conventions which we still expect  i.e we are all looking and smiling (but not blinking). I wanted to include notions of the carelessness, i.e. The stray arm or leg or the head cut off etc. photographer errors that would once have been considered incorrect mistakes or bad photography, these days included and given a value that is not entirely negative, I suppose reinforcing the throw away perception we have and have probably always had of this kind of photography.

But can I say that these photographs are found objects?

They are not objects as such but they are out there online and in the public domain for all to see and use. They are not marked as private in any way so are therefore free to view. Although they are authored they are not copyright stamped like a professional studio portrait would be so in a way I do consider these found. It begs questions of what happens to our images when we put them online. Do we lose control or power over what happens to them? And where will they end up?  Perhaps on broken hard drives at the tip instead of in boxes being sold to strangers for 20p each. Do we place too much reliance on the idea that these social networking sites will always be up and running?  Do we take this for granted as a way to store our images and therefore our history?

This afternoon I created a facebook account for the fictional Will and uploaded my found images to “his” album and had a weird moment which reaffirmed what I have been saying in my dissertation about the interchangablity of family imagery. The photograph page, in reality a composite of different and totally unrealted people’s photographs looked exceptionally convincing and plausible as belonging to one person. It seems the interchangability photographic theorists have spoken about, is still very much with us if not moreso than ever and I think this will definately be worth taking a screenshot of and mentioning in the final chapter of my dissertation.

As a further experiment in our need to assert our popularity through our photographs and these social networking sites I added a few people I didn’t know at all, in order to gain access to their photographs. Surprisingly all have added me as a friend, no questions asked. I find this really telling about modern life!