I've been thinking about where to go with my map. I have a board, I have images tacked to it, but what does it mean? As is, nothing. Well, nothing more than any board with images tacked to it will mean. I need to branch out more to reflect the way the mind map was going before I paused with it because it was becoming too much; too unconstrained and too complex (last version below). This fully reflects the way I've been thinking though, so it will undoubtedly be useful. But what to do with the board..?
Well, I've decided to add snippets of text in the form of questions, places, things or people. This will then add another layer to the board map. Will it work, time will tell... I think it is though. A little more work and I'm hoping it will be ready to Pecha Kucha-ise, and hopefully I'll be able to make sense of it in order to talk about it for 8 minutes or thereabouts.
Another thing worth mentioning is the Constellations map currently at Tate Liverpool - another way of doing...
Constellations at Tate Liverpool
Marc Feustel talking at the Open Eye Gallery, 25/2/15
Marc is clearly a knowledgable chap on the subject, and he spoke of the radical change in the country, socially, economically and photographically, as they transitioned from Pictorialism through Surrealism in the pre-war period to a more documentary approach of social realism (Ken Domon's "unstated snapshot"). Damon's vision was for a very pure documentary aesthetic - nothing to artful, but rather providing a direct window into difficult situations and subjects (homelessness and beggars for example, but not in the same way as the "beggar photography" that swept America).
After Domon, there was a shift towards more of a French Humanist approach with Hamaya and Kimura, featuring more of HCB's "decisive moment" and generally with a more positive outlook - a different way of working, with a greater scope although remaining documentary in nature. Subject matter tended towards questions of "what is Japan?", covering the folklore and rural areas that were not so devastated by the war (these areas had always known hardship, and had avoided the bombing as they were not of military significance).
From 1956, there was a wave of newer photographers who had not been active during the war (Ishimoto for example). These photographers sought to break away from the past - the "old ways" were no longer really applicable as things had changed so much. Again, there was an increasing influence from outside of Japan, Ishimoto for example studied with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind in America at what was considered to be the "new Bauhaus" school (Chicago Institute of Design). The compositions were becoming very meticulous, and a long way from Domon's approach.
Eikoh Hosoe produced what might be considered his signature work in the 1960s, with Barakei, Kamaitachi and Man and Woman. The work can still be considered as documentary, although not in the traditional sense as he is documenting a collaboration with other creatives - he's documenting ideas or movements rather than the day to day. (This work is particularly stunning...)
Also in the 60s, the photography began to take on an unsettled air and a darker edge, as can be seen in the photographs of Shomei Tomatsu and Kikuji Kawada, who both revisited the scenes of the bomb, Kawada in Hiroshima and Tomatsu in Nagasaki. Kawada's Chizu (one of the ultimate photobooks as objects) provided a collective memory in order to try and comprehend the incomprehensible, with the well known image of the trampled flag representing the state of the nation in the aftermath of the war. Tomatsu was more symbolic as he photographed items from the peace museum, such as the watch that was forever stopped at 11:02, the time of the bombing and also the title of his book on the subject.
The photographic style was also becoming more visually chaotic, leaving the idea that documentary needed distance, poise and neutrality. Instead of blending into the background and being "invisible", he was coming more to the fore, putting himself within the scene, even if not directly within the frame. The photographer is becoming part of the world. From here. the path to Provoke is clear...
Whilst much of this is something I was aware of from my own interest in the subject and writing the essay as part of the degree, it was really good to hear someone talking about it, reconfirming my own ideas and actually adding extra bits of detail from his own research, talking to the photographers themselves and his own interpretation of the subject. It was also interesting to hear his view (albeit briefly) on the contemporary scene. Yes, he mentioned the well known names (Kawauchi, Homma, Araki, etc.) but also others that were beginning to make their mark - Daisuke Yokota, Go Itami, Nagoya Hatakeyama and Lieko Shiga. Yes, I know the first two (I have books by both), but the latter are potentially new to me (I may have seen them in passing, but not registered their names).
There's the labels and captions, panels and catalogues (all subject of the asynchronous discussions at the moment), aiming to provide knowledge about the art on show. As a personal preference, I'd opt for a panel and then, if necessary, a minimal label. A label providing the artists name might be construed as elevating the artist above the art, commodifying the creator rather than what has been created. Seems wrong to me, but then that name will also provide a degree of context as we would look at the art within the artists wider cannon... Maybe it is appropriate after all, or maybe this information should be on the panel? Context needs to be considered, just don't make it too prescriptive and/or reductive. Another aspect of the signage and leaflets is that which guides the viewer around, herding them to the highlights during a snatched lunchtime visit or whatever. It all seems quite obvious really, but then I'm not sure about it, about the discourse analysis and the research... Maybe I just need to discover that little spark that will make it all make sense. I feel like I’m losing my way a little.
Line (Tate Modern)
Rose, G (2012) Visual Methodologies. 3rd Edition. London. Sage Publications Ltd.
Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Wedding Portrait, 1434
(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnolfini_Portrait#mediaviewer/File:Van_Eyck_-_Arnolfini_Portrait.jpg, accessed 21/2/15)
Another example comes with the series of images of prostitutes in the East End of London, part of the residuum Rose keeps on referring to throughout the section on Discourse Analysis I. The fact they are prostitutes is not immediately apparent to me - the first image is from The Bridge of Sighs, 1878 (Gustave Dore) and shows a woman being pulled from a river by three men, another has a body of a woman being looked at by two policemen (W Gray's Found, c1870), or a woman standing on a river's edge (Hablot K Browne's The River) or simply alone and dead on the bank (George Frederick Watts' Found Drowned, 1848-50). Only one image shows a woman that is more easily identified as a prostitute to me (perhaps I'm naive), that's Lost which is presumably the precursor to Gray's Found, and shows a woman in heeled boots and showing her petticoat outside a licenced premises whilst being observed by policemen in the shadows... At least, it's an easier but still bold assumption to make - if we were to look for provocative actions such as showing one's underskirt as being a sign of prostitution in a contemporary town or city on a Friday evening, then pretty much all women could be deemed prostitutes! (Dougie Wallace and Mariej Dakowicz are worth looking at here). The series of images apparently drives home the fact that prostitutes from the "residuum" all ended up dead in the Thames after having committed suicide. Having been told this, how is it then possible to "read them and look at the with fresh eyes" (p210)? An interpretation has been presented to me and it's logical, so why expend energy and effort coming up with something different? OK, there was a "ripper" prowling the East End in those times, preying on women. Were these his victims? Oh, but they were prostitutes too, so were all women in the region prostitutes...? Obviously not (as is the contemporary case presented by Wallace and Dakowicz, just before anyone thinks that I think that way), and I guess that's where some of the research comes in. And also the ability to detach oneself for the contemporary and apply the natural, conventional and symbolic codes of the time and the region to what is being looked at.
The other thing this mini-set of images brings to the fore is the intertextuality element. Ignore the iconography for a moment (if that's actually possible), but by displaying 5 images in which one is perhaps more clearly a prostitute, then the series is about prostitutes. And the fact that in three the women are dead at the side of the river, under a bridge then it's fair to assume that the woman standing at the riverside, watched by two men in the background, is about to stride out into the waters to her death as she is ashamed of her actions... Together, a narrative forms that might not be the same if viewed in isolation, or at least without viewing the others with them - as Foucault discusses, we bring the weight of all the other images we have seen to bear when we look at the current one. And what would be the assumption if there was an image of a "royal carriage" included instead of one of the others? Adding more and more images can muddy the waters if not controlled, and it has to be acknowledged that when performing a Foucauldian analysis that his other works include What is an author?, something I need to return to before long. Therein lies the theory I have in a way been demonstrating, that it is not the author (or painter, or maker) that decides what things mean, but the reader (or viewer). True, a point of view can be presented and strengthened by the way that it hangs together, but cover too much ground and it all becomes too much and what might once have been more concise suddenly grows a "sore thumb" that piques at the reader and sends them off on their own tangent. Horses, water and drink.
Rose, G (2012) Visual Methodologies. 3rd Edition. London. Sage Publications Ltd.