The Journey – ‘Holland’ (outreach work)

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As mentioned in the post ‘The Journey’ I ran a  workshop entitled ‘The Journey – 2’ and in this we looked at using imagination to see beyond taking a normal snap shot.

The workshop was linked in with a trip that the teenagers were taking to Holland and during this trip I asked them to record what they saw with either the use of video/camera or just camera.  Most of them had never been abroad at all so this was an adventure for them.

We talked about the different themes that they could use to capture pictures and I showed them some photos I had taken whilst on a journey to London (entitled The Journey) and a recent trip to Finsbury Park (Ecology of the Park).

I have been working with the teenagers this week to go through all 849 photos to pick out their top 50 shots, but we have also been taking into account the following:

Visual language of the shot (shape, textures, mood, leading lines, patterns etc);

Visual Language L1  presentation attached.

whether there is meaning behind the piece for them;

the reason why they have picked the photograph;

Categories that the photographs will go into.  We decided on the following as some photos didn’t fit into the categories that I gave them initially.

‘Representation of Holland’:  what photos really bring across to the viewer that they are in Holland

‘Living things’:  animals/birds

‘Signage’: Road, houses, restaurants, shops, cars

‘Environment’: a flavour of where they are staying eg. windmills, rivers

‘Abstract’: patterns, parts of objects

‘Left Behind’:  things not wanted or lost

‘People (Portraiture)’: people with and who they met there

‘Reflection’: windows, water

‘Accommodation’: where they were staying, a flavour or what it was like

‘Group Activities’:  going out together, what activities involved in

‘Graffiti’: before and after shots, what was used etc.

I have put the chosen photos into a slideshow.   Trip to Holland

We are currently working on a book which I will get printed and present to the teenagers once completed and a video which will be linked in with the photographs that were chosen from the many taken.

Mock up for book

One of the residents Gemma, wanted to do a collage picking out some of her own favourite photographs from the trip.  She painted a board white and then placed the photos onto the board in whatever way she wanted.

Whilst studying the photographs it was very interesting to note that Gemma had placed people that meant a lot to her around the picture of herself. (Gemma is in pink).

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Beyond Entropy – Part 2 (Reeds)

Ed Coveney, a student studying on the Masters in Landscape Architecture (at Writtle College) invited us along to see his installation created with ‘reed’s.  Ed has created a framed representation of what happens with reeds in a river and recreating this within a controlled environment.  He is studying the phenomenon of the reed that is making the patterns.

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When I saw the piece I realised that this would be the ideal opportunity to practise my black and white photography and so returned with my camera the following day.

The reason why I saw this installation as an opportunity to really start to see in black and white, is that I observed the lighting  (the way the light shines in from the window, falling onto the reeds changing the positive and negative spaces within the installation), and movement/ shape,  the way the reeds seem to change shape depending upon the way the light hits them, creating a contrast within the image and a change in composition.  I had to re-visualize the images in my mind before taking the shots and this is something that I have learnt to do as I have developed as a photographer.  Not all photographers do this though and some just take a picture and do not think about the subject matter first.  William Eggleston was known to take one shot of something and if it didn’t work out he would move onto the next without retaking the image.

Within my black and white photography I am looking at lines and shapes and not the overall components of the installation to enable me to create quite abstract results.

I emailed the photographs that I had taken to Ed and he was very pleased with them.  I have his consent to display two of the photos I took of his work in my exhibition (confirmation email dated 30th March 2012).

I have been reading ‘Light and Lens’ by Robert Hirsch who talks about photographers ‘learning to see’.

‘What determines the success of an image is not the camera, but the knowledge of the person operating the camera.  The principal job of a photographer is looking, which defines all photographic processes.  Good photographs are made by learning to see.  Good photographers become skilled at following their eyes and seeing things others overlook’.

This exercise confirmed to me, that is what I am exactly doing.

The Journey – 2 (outreach work)

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I went along to the Homeless Centre to run a second workshop with the teenagers.  The workshop was entitled ‘The Journey’ and in this we looked at using imagination to see beyond taking a normal snap shot.

This workshop will be linked in with a trip that the teenagers are taking to Holland and during this trip I have asked them to record what they see with either the use of video/camera or just camera.  Most of them have never been abroad at all so this will be an adventure.

We talked about the different themes that they could use to capture pictures and I showed them some photos I had taken whilst on a journey to London (entitled The Journey) and a recent trip to Finsbury Park.

Living things – animals & birds

Rules & Order (including rules that have been broken)

Childhood

Untouched/overgrown

Those things Forgotten or Left Behind 

Culture

Environment/Reflections (windows, water)

I also asked them to think about where they would most like to be in the world right now and asked them to complete a confidential questionnaire telling me why this was so.  I took individual pictures of them and transferred those pictures to the place in the world they most wanted to be.  Those that weren’t comfortable showing their faces, turned away from the camera. These are the results.

It was extremely interesting to find out that most of the residents have aspirations to visit certain places, some with a purpose, others because they just want to go there as have never been.  These were the responses I got:

“I want to visit New Zealand because I want to start a new life and find a new path/career and explore what NZ has to offer”.

“Where I want to be right now is here and nowhere else, as I am happy with my life”.

“I want to go to Portugal  just because I have not been and would like to go there”.

“I really want to go to Mexico so that I can play in the homeless World Cup”.

“I want to go to New Zealand as I am moving out there when I have my career sorted”. 

In the photographs I have had to place the person into the scene or on the edge of the scene the best I can as I did not want to ask them to pose for the photo and was not aware of the place they wanted to go beforehand.  I didn’t want to control them infront of the camera so some have turned away as were uncomfortable facing me.  In the photos I have tried to make them as observers because they have aspirations to go there and are not actually there.

I have been reading a book entitled Tim rollins and K.O.S. (kids of survival) – A History, which has been an inspiring read and one which I can really relate to with the work I have been doing at the homeless centre.  It is about an artist and activist, Tim Rollins who was given the job of developing a curriculum that combine art marking with lessons in reading and writing for students that were classified as ‘at risk’.  This book is a catalogue of the work that they produced, even through times of hardship.

The clothes we wear

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As well as studying people, I also wanted to take a close look at the clothing that people wear, especially discarded clothing, linking this in with my ‘left behind’ work.

When I look at clothing, I am also studying the person wearing it, as clothing can represent so many different things about that person.  Clothing conveys to me the person’s gender, class, maybe where they come from eg. different cultures, level of education and if that person has strong beliefs eg. reglious, cult or follows a particular movement.

I am also taking notice of the sculptures that are made from clothing which have been hung up or dropped on the floor, abandoned by its owner, like a shedded animal skin.

I have been looking at Christain Boltanski’s ‘pile of clothes’ installation where he focuses on the themes of death and memory.  In his words he states ‘Someone’s photograph, garment or dead body are pretty much the same thing: there was someone there, now they’re gone.” Garments are also vestiges or marks that bear testimony to a life now past’.  http://www.centrepompidou.fr/education/ressources/ens-boltanski_en/ens-boltanski_en.htm

The Journey – Tilt Shift

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In contrast to getting in close to capture people’s emotions I have been looking at peoples’ lives from a distance and through this have captured these photographs.  I used a new photographic technique called tilt shift which highlights the people within the photograph making them look like miniatures.  Each one of them going about their journey to get to their distination.

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/an-introduction-to-tilt-shift-photography

The Journey

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With this set of photos I am taking a journey and observing the space between things.  I am focusing on the window frame and beyond and highlighting what is usually edited out or not looked at.  I am asking the viewer to think about the way we see and experience our everyday environments.

My intention with these photographs is to show them to the residents of the hostel and ask them to go on a journey and record their observations and thoughts through the use of photography and video.

Detritus (part 2)

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Whilst watching a carrier bag twirl round and round in a wind trap it made me think about the fact that once a carrier bag has served its purpose it is discarded and cannot be recycled.

My memory cast back to a film I had watched called ‘American Beauty’and the carrier bag scene which had me mesmerized at the time by the beauty of the clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHxi-HSgNPc

In my work to date I have been studying themes regarding entropy and the breakdown of systems that are sometimes then put back together again to once again create stability.  I have decided to use this theme to make use of an item (in this case a carrier bag) which is often thrown away by creating the above into sculptures of beauty.

I created these pieces by letting the bag fall naturally, once I had crumpled it, onto the black cloth to see whether it formed a paritcular shape.  I would then pull the bag and maybe tear or rip it to develop the sculpture.  I was actually taking charge and determining how this piece would look which was a contrast to most of my other work.

Finally I would take a few photographs of the piece I had created and pick the best ones to display.

Beyond Reflection

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Following on from my written assignment comparing documentary photographers ‘William Eggleston’ and ‘Martin Parr’ I have decided to take a more detailed look into the study of people.

In this series I am capturing people’s thoughts through the use of the camera, trying to get as close as I can without the person knowing that im there. I am taking a snapshot of them transfixed on something for a few seconds before they come back to reality.

Forgotten

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Previously exploring dwellings that are lived in,  I then had a desire to explore buildings that had deteriorated or outlived their original purpose, being abandoned by their inhabitants.  In a sense I was photographing what has been overlooked visually and historically.

My travels took me to an abandoned Mobilisation centre.  Source:  http://www.undergroundkent.co.uk/north_weald_redoubt.htm

“In the late Victorian period (1889-1903) mobilisation centres were constructed around the London area in order to provide ready ammunition in order to defend the city. These centres were not designed as forts themselves, although they could have been armed if the need arose. Being a mobilisation centre, if the need for armament did become apparent, the North Weald Redoubt would have been armed with whatever guns were seen as appropriate at the time.

North Weald Redoubt is one of these mobilisation centres and it’s structure clearly shows it’s purpose as an ammo store. Viewed from above, the redoubt forms a rough D shape. The arc at the rear of the redoubt is comprised of the magazines. The second building consists of a caponier giving covering fire into the ditch and further casemates known as the gorge casemates that could have been used to either barrack troops or as further storage space for shells. Under normal conditions this would have been utilised for the storage of other equipment.

Within the magazine arc, each room is clearly defined as either a cartridge or shell store and has excellent lighting provided from multiple lamp recesses in each store. As in other similar magazines, the cartridge stores were accessed via a shift lobby.

The redoubt underwent many changes during it’s use and during the Second World War it was fitted with two Allen Williams turrets. These would have been used to protect the nearby Ongar radio station.”

Again I felt like a detective, looking for clues from the traces that were left by previous human activity.  I felt uneasy as I approached the site but once inside I felt sadness at the complete disregard for a part of our history, where the area had been abused by fire, graffiti and theft of lead from the roof.  However, I was satisfied that I was able to record part of that history on my camera as I knew that I would never go back again.

Pockets & bags

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What lies in men’s pockets and women’s bags?  Nobody knows until a possession is taken from within and is observed by someone briefly.

Pushing the boundaries even further into seeking to find out about people’s personal lives, I wanted to explore the personal possessions that people find essential and carry around with them, going about their day.

I asked a selection of my friends to participate in this exercise. This request seemed to form into 3 cateorgies:

  • ‘I haven’t got anything to show you of interest’. –  They didn’t want to share with me what they had;
  • ‘I can show you a selection of what I have’.  – The person was choosing what I saw;
  • ‘I can show you what I have, its not a problem’.  – They were very open and obliging.

All of the above reactions was an indication of how comfortable the person felt, sharing a personal part of their life that I wouldn’t normally see, unless they happened to temporarily retrieve an item from a bag or pocket whilst I was present.

What I was shown related exclusively to that person, which was a contrast to going into someone’s home as the homes I saw weren’t  exclusively theirs but they have to share it with a family or pet.

This selection of items indicated to me that the person concerned was a fan of ‘real ale’ as had tokens and a membership relating to beer.

Contents of a lady’s bag who stores all of her receipts in her purse, which consequently is crammed full of papers. A sort of a filing cabinet for receipts.

This person had a mound of keys in their bag and preceeded to tell me what they were all for.  This was all I shown from the contents of their bag though.