Copyright Issues

Tanya recently e-mailed me a link to a BBC article from earlier this year that reported Paramount Pictures taking down the Twitter account of someone who was tweeting the film Top Gun, frame by frame. In reading the article, alarm bells rang because of the nature of my current project which using war films as source material for a comment on war as entertainment. In particular, there is one paragraph in the BBC reporting:

She said: "In terms of the law, it is even the frames, so even a photograph of a film is classed as a film in law, rather than as a stand-alone photograph."

From this, the inference could be that I could fall foul of the law, but when looking at what @555uhz was actually doing, the two projects are clearly different. Whilst the twitter feed is transformative as a whole (it transforms from cinematic film to individual frames in a Twitter feed), the work could be (sort of) reconstructed and, apart from missing frames, it would be the same (less the audio...). I'm not sure the 
meaning of the work is changing though - it's still Top Gun as a piece of entertainment. Nothing has been added. The flow is similar, and there's a good sized piece of the work that would have been appropriated.

My own work cannot be reconstructed. The work has been transformed; elements have been added such as the representation of the grid imposed by the physical act of projecting it and the text. The visual representation has been changed, in terms of the colours (I apply a filter, there will be something coming through from the projection surface which is not a neutral white), the framing (the images are cropped to some degree, and all have become a standard 16:9 format, regardless of the original) and perhaps most importantly, it's intended as a piece of artwork which provides commentary on the cinematic representation of war, obfuscation of the truth, etc. It's not intended to be the film in stills form.

I've just bought a book on appropriation whilst in Liverpool looking at the work of Heineken and Warhol (I'll write some notes when I get the chance), so maybe this will give me something else to ease my mind (or not), but for the moment I think I'm confident enough to continue.

Task 2 : F3 - further playing, fracturing, reforming and reframing

During the making day discussions, a couple of things were said. One was about the font and positioning of the text and the other was about a stated preference for the black and white image. Well, I’ve done some playing with one of the images from Battle of Warsaw 1920, mixing it with a line from Peace Frog by The Doors. The actual lyric is fairly inconsequential as I have approached this as a simple exercise in comparing a few options.

The baseline image, keeping in with my previous layout decisions would be this:

Film: The Battle of Warsaw
Lyric: Peace Frog, by The Doors

The following are a few alternatives:


And then the same with a grainy black and white film preset applied:


(images used for educational purposes)

I really don’t like those with the offset text, it begins to feel like an advertising slogan. Whilst this might have some relevance (I’m looking at commodification of war/war as entertainment ideas), it just doesn’t feel right for me at this moment. Maybe it will begin to sit easier, but I can’t help but think it’s “wrong”. I’ll not dismiss it for the moment – maybe it would be a good question to through into the group when we have to present the images? I’m not so keen on the text that changes tone either (the last one in both the colour and mono sequences). Again, it might grow on me, and the colour one seems better of the two for some reason. The central text (large or small) is ok. It still feels reasonably balanced and to be honest, I don’t have any strong disliking for it, but I do prefer the lower one as it feels more balanced, or maybe that should be better balanced. The boxed text versions may be something to pursue further, there’s something I like about them. I don’t feel strongly in favour of the red or black text at the moment though.

The fonts I’ve used are Helvetica, Courier and Andale Mono. I know there are many more to choose from, and that Courier and Andale Mono are similar (Courier allows a bold option though and is a bit more typewriter-y). My mind can flit around on fonts from one day to the next, so whilst Andale Mono was the one I was using, this will undoubtedly change at some point before everything is finalised.

Colour or black & white is a bigger question. It’s probably not one I can answer fully either. I have a strong attraction to grainy black and white, to the Provoke type aesthetic that it suggests, but I can’t help but feel that I should be working in colour. Or rather, why 
should I work in black & white – it’s not down to the film stock because this is digital work. It does offer an additional level of abstraction from the original (fracture?), and certainly this particular image feels “darker”, and I mean this in terms of mood rather than palette. But is it “right”? I really don’t know for the moment.



The title of Emma’s e-mail with her wonderfully illustrated art map was “timeline” and this reminded me of something I’d created to go with an essay I’d written on Japanese photography – an historical timeline. Whilst it’s not “pretty”, merely functional, it does help put one of my favourite subjects into some form of context.

Japanese Photography Timeline

The essay Shashin can be found here.
And now I also feel the need to revisit the map I produced and do something better, if I can find the time…


200 words in response to...

… Jonathan Jones.
On the 13th of November, the Guardian’s Jonathan Jones published a blog post about photography that provoked something of a reaction within the photography community. His article (which is
here) takes offence to the fact that at this moment in time, photography appears to have gained in popularity and is being exhibited in galleries. After viewing the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the Taylor-Wessing Prize and some scientific images taken by a robot, his assertion is that only painting is good enough to be framed and exhibited, and that all photography should only be seen on an iPad or some journal. I’ve already posted something about this, but as part of the writing workshop, this had to be pared down to 200 words, so that is what I have done below:

I have a problem with Jonathan Jones’ comparison between photography and painting, with his assertion that photography cannot be art but merely “flat, soulless and stupid”. One second he talks about photography on the gallery walls, the next about some robot beaming images from a comet thousands of miles away. They’re different products for different purposes. I can make a similar comparison between his beloved Caravaggio and my lounge; both are painted, so by these (clearly flawed) guidelines, the same.

For a so-called critic, his observations are incredibly short-sighted, generic and, let’s face it, wrong. Art is not simply about the craft of a painter, but the communication forged with his audience, his “art” aspirations and the manner in which it is intended to be viewed. It would appear that Jones fails to appreciate the evolution from the Baroque, through an age of mechanical reproduction and the “flatness” of the Modernists painters and Post-Post-Modernism, etc. Photography is currently in ascendancy, perhaps at painting’s expense, and will no doubt fall away too, replaced by something else. At the moment though, photography is where it is, and there’s not a lot Jones can do to take it from those gallery walls.
To be fair to Jones, if you look at the fact that he mentions the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, then here we have a more “scientific” form of photography. Many of the photographs will not have been intended to have been viewed on the gallery wall as “art”, but then is that what they’re being touted as? It will be a photography exhibition, not an art exhibition. Where he does overstep the mark, at least in my reading of the piece, is the broad brush approach he takes to all photography. He would be outraged if someone was to do the same with all painting, to lump Caravaggio in with Pollock or Reinhardt’s black squares that were mentioned in another recent post of mine. They’re not the same, so similarly Philae’s photographs from the far side of the galaxy are not the same as a Hockney joiner or one of Crewdson’s composite images, or any number of other photographs intended to be viewed as art. A huge oversight in my view. So yes, I will agree to disagree with him.

Art Map

After reading the first chapter of Stories of Art, we’ve been asked to create an “art map”. I suppose the expected way of doing this might be something abstract, as per the examples in the book (see below), but I figured I’m far to “logical” to do that, so have opted for something else.

Stories of Art
Plate 1: The history of art imagined as a field of stars (J Elkins)

Instead of this, and I might be going off on one here, I’ve done a caricature of the world, with bits that mean more to me bigger in size, and a few photographers and artists listed on there. Obviously, I like my Japanese photography, so that features larger. I like Surrealism, both in terms of painting and photography, so that’s there. Dusseldorf school – check. And American colour photography… Yep, present and correct. Nothing from Italy? Not really, although of course there will be things that resonate with me from that neck of the woods. China? Nobody jumped out at me…


Now, in terms of putting names in places, I know there are a couple of anomalies, but this is where there work is made, or at least what they’re better known for… i know it’s not great, but it’s something we can maybe launch a discussion from and I might update it later.
Elkins, J (2002)
Stories of Art. New York. Routledge (MA1)


Critical Reading/Writing Workshop II

I missed the first reading and writing workshop, and whilst I did get to see the material that was discussed in the hangout, it wasn't really a great help without the context of the discussions. This time, I took part.

The first thing discussed was a piece of writing by Christopher French about Ad Reinhardt's proposition that "Art is Art and Everything Else is Everything Else". He starts of in his introduction that he is against the proposition: "As much as I admire him, I am here to argue against one of Reinhardt's more famous pronouncements...". A clear statement of intent, but one I didn't feel was followed up in what came next. He spoke about Reinhardt's work, about a catalogue of black canvases that would work as a flip book, albeit one that needs to be seen only through first hand experience (contradictory?), and some work presented as a series of 2000 slides so boring that parts of the audience left. There's no direct talk about art being art, or not.

The language being used is sometimes self indulgent, featuring long sentences of long words, or at least a complex vocabulary not normally constituting an inherent component of the common parlance, and arranged within a convoluted syntax (see, I can do it too, and it doesn't make it "good"). His sentence "I think his image bank provided the evidentiary underpinnings that allowed him the freedom to generate the cruciform geometries that infuse and enliven the otherwise too-severe reductiveness of his black paintings." is an example of this. Yes, it makes sense once you've worked you way around the mental gymnastics involved in deciphering it, but is it really necessary to write in that way?

I guess the answer to that will depend largely on your audience. French was writing for 
The Brooklyn Rail: Critical Perspectives on Arts, Politics and Culture, so there may actually be an expectance for this sort of writing. His audience will also be a reason for not including any direct reference/illustrations to Reinhardt's work. Personally I don't know it. I've never heard of the artist, and I can't say I'm particularly "aware" of a large number of painters. Actually, I may have seen one of these black paintings - I recall a visit to MoMA in New York about 6 years ago when I spent some time trying to work out if there was anything specifically within a solid black square painting. I don't believe there was, but I've no idea who painted it either, so this little anecdote carries no weight. The point I was trying to make before it was that I didn't connect with his writing at all, I felt nothing. I suppose I could've gone and researched Reinhardt, but I didn't feel a burning desire to. Plain black images that need to be seen first hand and a series of photographs that are so boring, his audience left. No, I'm not hooked into further looking.

And after all this, he finally returns to his point, to the raison d'être for the piece, and his objection to the proposition. Rather than anything else, he "argues" (or should that be "simply states"?) that the proposition "was a provocative act of misdirection ... what continues to make Ad Reinhardt such an able role model for navigating the ever-more complicated waters of art and life." Personally, I don't see it, but then I don't really know what he's talking about...

Post from
The Brooklyn Rail: Critical Perspectives on Arts, Politics and Culture January 16th 2014 (located at by Christopher French, painter and writer, and President of AICA-USA.

The second part of the session was somewhat thrown upon us with no preparation or warning - we had to write 100 words about an experience with a piece of art, writing in the present tense. I chose to write about the first time I saw some Daido Moriyama prints on a gallery wall, at Polka in Paris a few years ago.

“Seeing Daido Moriyama's photographs first hand for the fist time, I am surprised. The print is so large (about 1.5m across) and very different to anything I've seen of him before in books or the computer screen. There is still the grain and the movement - the 
are, bure, boke - but now there is a previously unknown sense of size. I'm conflicted. The images used to be intimate but now that has changed irrevocably. Here is something that can also be immersive, something bigger. But is it better?”

89 words written in less than 10 minutes with no preparation, slightly under the target but ok. It was a tough ask, especially as we had to read it out to the rest of the group. I think it's ok though. If we hadn't run out of time, the next part of the task would've been to pare it down by about 30%, to 66 words. I'll try that now:

“Seeing Moriyama's photographs first hand for the fist time, I'm surprised. The print is large (about 1.5m across) and different to anything I've seen before. There is still the 
are, bure, boke, but now there is a sense of size. I'm conflicted. The images used to be intimate but now that has changed. Now it can also be immersive, it's bigger. But is it better?”

I've managed to remove 25 words, but added a couple too, so it still makes sense. Which is better? I'm not sure there's a great difference at this point, other than making it fit in a 66 word limit, something that might be useful when it comes to filling in submissions for exhibitions, awards and whatnot... (and the academic essay that will no doubt be coming soon)

Lisa Barnard

Today’s visiting lecturer was Lisa Barnard, a photographic artist who deals with subjects such as politics and war.

Unfortunately, I missed the introductions and the preamble, turning up as she was discussing some photographs taken with a large format, first exploring the psychological aesthetics of the relationship between mother and daughter (
Ps<>D) then those of children engrossed in theatre (the Unicorn Theatre). Whilst these images are shot on a 5×4 camera, they’re not overloaded with the minute of detail that some make use of the format to produce, rather they’re so much more suggestive rather than purely representative, either through the use of tilt/shift or due to the low light conditions that they were shot under. Nice, but portraits aren’t really my “thing”…

Having said that, I did like the presentation from 
Polska by the Sea, with the front/back portrait pairing in the train station in Eastbourne. Maybe not the way I would have done it, I’d have gone down the obvious route and done 180° rotations. Actually, no, I wouldn’t have done it at all, but I may have done something like postcards that formed a kind of juxtaposition with the portraits, being iconography of the idea of Polish-ness and in some ways of life in Britain (Union Flag toilet seats and Lady Di). These postcards featured poems written by a collaborator (I didn’t catch a name) who wrote whilst the photographs were being taken, an interesting MO although maybe not one I’d be comfortable adopting (the idea of collaboration scares me).

Blue Star Moms was another project intertwining portraiture with an element of typology (and indeed, the portraits are also typology of a sort). Again, it was the non-portraiture that I found more interesting – the duality of the Care Packages only really becoming apparent when you are “in the know”. Many of the items seem mundane (and indeed are), however they have added value in a war zone, with cotton buds being used for cleaning equipment rather than ears (which they shouldn’t be used for anyway!!), or sanitary towels used to absorb sweat when added to a helmet lining. These items also serve their normal use as well; a little bit of normality in an un-normal situation. In many ways, this reminded me of Olivia Hollamby (or Robinson – she’s now married and I don’t know which is correct) who worked with her husband in making images from the Gulf (he is a British soldier), but she concentrated on some of the domestic elements, although not in a typographic manner.

Another project with a decidedly blue theme was 
32 Smiths Square, the one time home of the Conservative Party. During the time the photographs were taken, the offices were closed and had been (virtually) emptied, with anything of any value having been auctioned off. All that remained was things with no perceived financial worth, but with interest, notably the series of photographs of Margaret Thatcher that had been affected by the passage of time. Blown up and exhibited in a poll booth type of installation, there was an added depth to the images, all different but so similar – as if the iron lady had an iron façade, unchanging.

The remainder of the work was again centred about the US Army, although no more directly than with the 
Blue Star Moms. Drones form one part of the projects, as is the use of virtual reality. In some ways, it’s quite closely tied into some of my own current work, with the blend of the military, gaming and such. Lisa spoke of Baudrilliard, and his Gulf War trilogy is something I’ve been reading recently, together with other pieces on war as entertainment and the military sublime (Stallabrass). I’ve written a few notes about this, but I’ve also ordered Lisa’s book Hyenas of the Battlefield, so before adding much more I think I will wait for the book to arrive and look in further detail at the work.

All in all, an enjoyable, interesting and informative lecture about a highly relevant subject- Lisa was an interesting talker and put up with me chipping in with typed comments and questions as the session progressed. Yes, thoroughly enjoyed.

"Making Day"

Today is officially a "making day". A group of us get together to make "something" and share the process and products as the day progresses. This entry is intended to be a potted account of the day, typed up as it is happening.

First Hangout - 9am
Brief discussion about the format of the day, and an introduction to what we were all planning to be doing. There will be painting, working with paper and twine, and of course some form of photography. My plan is to photograph a film (
Overlord - a slight deviation from my normal approach in that it's a mix of fictional and archive footage, and produced by the Imperial War Museum), downselect some images, process them and then add lyrics so that there will be something approaching "finished" come 4pm. I've got a backup option too, just in case Overlord  doesn't cut the mustard for me (I've not actually watched the film). Anyway - camera's rolling and... ACTION!

As it happens,
Overlord didn't really bring the results I wanted. To be fair, I suspected it might not as it was a black and white film, so was inevitably going to be "different", although as I'd edited one of the shots from the recent Warsaw film into something of a journalistic image (below), I thought it might be worth a try. From the several hundred images recorded in the first session, there were 2 that I pulled out for further consideration, and only one of those that I've so far done anything with.

The Battle of Warsaw, 1920

Operation Overlord
Image: Overlord
Lyric: God Save The Queen, by The Sex Pistols

(images used for educational purposes)

As I was going through the image cache, I had set another film in motion, 
Apocalypse Now (my process is to set the camera up to take a photograph every 5 or 6 seconds during the film whilst I tend to listen to music and work on earlier images). Unfortunately, whilst I was working away my Playstation froze and lost all Internet connectivity (I stream the films) so I had to reorganise myself, popping a blu-ray of Zero Dark Thirty in instead, but only looking towards the end of the film, rather than all the office based sections. Again, not really anything from these two films in the morning. Well, actually a few nice images from ZDT but not really in keeping with the rest of the images recorded thus far. I'm not sure they can be used, although we will see.

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty

(images used for educational purposes)

Second Hangout - 12:30pm

The second hangout gave us the opportunity to present what we had been up to in the morning, each of us with varying amounts of progress or perceived success so far, but it had only been 3 hours, so that was to be expected; they were all "in-progress". It did give the opportunity to comment, throw ideas or suggestions into the mix which could be incorporated or not as the day went on. As it happens, Angela stated a preference for the Overlord image over the other images I uploaded from an earlier session. As a standalone I can understand why that might be the case, but I'm working with a series in mind so it does appear to be a bit of a "sore thumb".

Korean War
Image: Brotherhood
Lyric: A Drug Against War, by KMFDM

Korean War
Image: Brotherhood
Lyric: Kill Your Television, By Ned's Atomic Dustbin

Korean War
Image: Brotherhood
Lyric: Firestarter, by Prodigy

(images used for educational purposes)


As for the others, Tanya was working with portraits over time, Anne was experimenting with still life, Máire was working with twine and sugan chairs, Sharon with tissue paper and Alison with painting on small canvases.
Back into the second period of activity, I managed to sort the Playstation out again and resumed the process with 
Apocalypse Now. This time, everything went to plan, although again the fruit of the session was limited. This way of working is very much reliant on chance and the source material. Depending on the way the movie is filmed, the locations, the time of day being represented, the results can come out very different. Some of the results are completely unrecognisable as anything and therefore unusable to my mind, although that's not to say they're not interesting in their own right. Anyway, with Apocalypse Now safely in Lightroom, another film started, this time it was 1939: The Battle of Westerplatte, a Polish film which I recounted the first battle of WWII.

A reject from Zero Dark Thirty

(images used for educational purposes)

Looking through 
Apocalypse Now and listening to more music (a shuffled mix of punk, rock, rap and goth), I plucked a small handful of frames out, but found myself looking back over films that I'd been working with over the previous weeks, trying to pair them lyrics that came to me from the random assortment of songs. Again, really quite hit and miss.

Operation Market Garden
Image: A Bridge Too Far
Lyric: Head Like A Hole, by NIN

Vietnam War
Image: Apocalypse Now
Lyric: Peace Frog, by The Doors

The Battle of Warsaw
Image: The Battle of Warsaw, 1920
Lyric: The Love Song, by Marilyn Manson

(images used for educational purposes)

Final Hangout - 4pm
As Weserplatte was still recording as the final hangout started, I presented the three preceding images. Discussions revolved around the final presentation, which is still up in the air; my initial thoughts have always been that these should be large prints on a gallery wall so as to reflect their projected nature and also make the DLP pattern more a part of the work (see below). However, now I'm wondering how they might work as a video, with pretty quick-fire image sequences, with some duplication and perhaps longer on some images to allow the text to be read. I'm never too sure about the music for things like this though, and licensing a major piece of "pop" will more than likely be expensive... As for a book? I've no idea. Does the format and the subject lend itself to a book?

DLP pattern detail

Another topic that was discussed was placement and font for the text. Centrally justified and slightly below the centre "feels" right to me - it affords the text a sense of importance, it's consistent and visually I guess, yes, it just feels right. The font is a simple one (Andale Mono if memory serves me correctly). I don't really feel the need to play with this any more, and if I did I would probably simply revert back to Helvetica or one of its derivatives. Maybe it's worth a go though, and the same will apply with the size of the text. Something to do before the end of Task 2 I suppose...

The others work had also developed in the afternoon, with Tanya's developing a "mug" theme (nice 80's hair btw!! - I will dig out one of mine from the late 80's/early 90's for a laugh sometime), Anne moving from manufactured still life to something more in a "found" style (like Richard Wentworth), Máire moving out into the garden with the twine (which then reminded me of Riitta Päiväläinen), Sharon making her tissue paper into tubes and lighting them in different ways (tree bark came to mind) and Alison grouping the small canvases onto a wall, with the relationship between them sketched in on the background, which certainly showed promise.
All in all, a worthwhile day and actually better than I had anticipated, although if this was to take place whilst I was working in a more"normal" method, it might cause problems; there's certainly not enough time to go out, shoot, come back, edit, present to the group. Maybe it would have to be a case of shoot one day and then spend the making day as an editing day. Whatever, I'm sure I'll find a way of doing things when the time comes.


Task 2 : something a little "angrier"

The last few trials with Task 2 have been a little… obscure perhaps. Deliberately so to be fair, but I’m not 100% sure it works, so I’ve tried a little something else that maybe brings the words together without being didactic. These are instead something a bit “angrier”, and can actually be read as fuelling the images, a reaction to the images or something else I guess. Exactly what will depend on the viewer, and I’m yet to really get any feedback on this. Here are a few images:

Image: Brotherhood
Lyrics: Firestarter, by Prodigy

Image: Brotherhood
Lyrics: Kill Your Television, By Ned’s Atomic Dustbin

Image: Brotherhood
Lyrics: A Drug Against War, by KMFDM

I’ll explore a little further in this direction and see what happens, whether or not it says anything to me in the way I want it to.


Flat, Soulless and Stupid - time to give up on photography?

Jonathan Jones at the Guardian may well have just upset an awful lot of people with his latest article (here), but to be fair he is entitled to his opinion, even if it's... maybe "wrong" is going too far, but I think clearly misguided, prejudiced and somewhat blinkered. The implication is that " It gives us instant visual information from all over the planet and far beyond." and is good for nothing much more than looking on an iPad or phone screen. "Who can fail to be entranced by the first-ever pictures from the surface of a comet that were taken this week?" he asks... Well, lets be straight to the point, that's not art photography. It's remote images taken with a 1MP camera by a robot that's, what, 10 years old? It's like saying that the doodles I do whilst in the hangouts (invariably colouring in the squares of my pad) is to be considered akin to a Piet Mondrian piece!

Mondrian's unseen work?

"It just looks stupid when a photograph is framed or backlit and displayed vertically in an exhibition." The man is, in my opinion, an idiot. and just as I defended his right (albeit briefly and in limited fashion) to his opinion, then I am entitled to this opinion too. I'll not be convinced that I'm wrong either.

"A photograph in a gallery is a flat, soulless, superficial substitute for painting." And I suppose there is no room for Bowie to sit alongside Beethoven, or pie and chips with haute cuisine? Horses for courses might be one argument, but then so is the fact that they're completely different mediums! So is sculpture, or textiles or... well, pretty much anything else you can mention! And wasn't the whole point of modernist painting (granted, not Baroque painting) to focus on the form of the work, so that would've been "flat" too in that particular form: 

"The limitations that constitute the medium of painting -- the flat surface, the shape of the support, the properties of the pigment -- were treated by the Old Masters as negative factors that could be acknowledged only implicitly or indirectly. Under Modernism these same limitations came to be regarded as positive factors, and were acknowledged openly." (Clement Greenberg, Modernist Painting, page 2 - see here)

And yes, painting has considerably more history than photography; cavemen didn't have access to cameras, so that's a given, but just because it's older doesn't give it a greater right to be on a wall, in a gallery or anywhere. And let's not forget that just as painting has informed photography (and yes, the Pictorialists tried to do things to emulate painting, even those like Caravaggio), so has photography informed painting, in terms of composition (as in Degas' Ballerina), and in terms of style; photorealistic painting didn't exist before photography... Ok, maybe it did but I've no idea about that fact. It wouldn't have been called photorealistic though. So many painters use photography in their process. If you're that way inclined, they become intertwined.

I also can't help but wonder what his precious Caravaggio would have been doing if he had access to a camera? Certainly I'd like to think it would've been something Leonardo da Vinci would have embraced one. And I mean beyond the simple drafting assistance that a camera obscura might have offered. Maybe "we are encouraged to give it the same, or more, attention. Today’s glib culture endlessly flatters photography’s arty pretensions." Maybe painting is confined to the history books (ok, I doubt this), but the truth is that things do come and go and this will mean photography too. We're living in the Post-Post Modern era, the Post-Internet era, the Post-Painting era too? Possibly not, but certainly it's a Post-Baroque era and Jones needs to wake up to the modern (if ever so slightly glib) reality.

David with the Head of Goliath, c. 1607
Oil on wood
Dimensions 90.5 cm × 116.5 cm (35.6 in × 45.9 in)
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Located at,_Vienna#mediaviewer/File:Michelangelo_Caravaggio_071.jpg

Clement Greenberg, 
Modernist Painting. Located at, accessed 13/11/2014


A chat with Máire

As part of working through Task 2, we're having small group hangouts; a chance to chat about what we're up to in a little more details than we perhaps would in the normal hangouts. There's only 3 people's work to discuss, so it's more focussed. I say 3, but this first hangout was only 2, me and Máire as Ines had lost Internet connectivity. So, we had plenty of opportunity to talk around what we were doing. We opened up a shared document and simply dropped images into it so we could see what we had been up to - a simple and effective way of looking at the work. We also briefly chatted about the previous Monday's hangout as Máire had missed it, specifically about the autobiographical nature of our work, Louise Bourgeois and how too much information might close off a way of reading the work from the viewer.

Looking at my work, I posted a few images of the work in progress so far, and I gave a brief description of what I was doing, in terms of both physical and thought processes. The response came back that I was being "brave" due to the nature of the appropriation. I'll worry about that when the time comes I think, otherwise I will freeze...

The images I posted were:

Day of the Rangers, 1993
Image: Black Hawk Down
Lyric: Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen

The Battle of Warsaw, 1920
Image: The Battle of Warsaw
Lyric: Saturday Night's Alright, by Elton John

Haditha Massacre, 2005
Image: Battle for Haditha
Lyric: Books from Boxes, by Maximo Park

The Battle of Warsaw, 1920

(images used for educational purposes)

The last image was just intended as something a little different, perhaps a bit closer to being "traditional" reportage type photography. Something for another day though.

Máire also spoke briefly of the start of her own work, which incorporated a sugan chair as the basis for the work. Things were still in the early days of the process she would be carrying out, so we talked more about the idea and the background. There will be more to discuss next week when hopefully Ines will join us too...


Task 2 : further tinkering and some feedback

After creating the first two images as part of Task 2, and the early doubts I had, I posted one of them onto Flickr and invited the OCA photography group to comment. The comments received by the time I’m writing this are copied below:

Haditha Massacre -2005 : 2007
Image: Battle for Haditha
Lyric: Russian Literature, by Maximo Park

From Flickr –

Rob™ says
I’m trying something with some images that you may have seen before, and working on ideas I’ve touched on before, but I’d like to know how you guys react to them. I’ve uploaded one into my stream, but I’ve marked it private – it’s in the pool though, so hopefully that means you’ll be able to see it.
If not, it’s on my blog anyway at…
Basically, I want to hear what the combination of image and text does for you. I expect it to be confusing, but how do you work your thoughts around? Can you get your thoughts around what they mean to you, or do they actually simply not register?
Thanks in advance…

Semiotic says
one of the things you might think about is subverting both the images you make and the original images and intentions. This is on the spirit of photo-realist painting, neither the one nor the other to accentuate both. Also it is worth thinking about post-internet or post-facebook ideas, given the way that images pass round and are used, the ephemeral nature of all images, what is the purpose? What is the status? What is the value?

Anned003 says
Its funny that at the last mixed exhibition I saw there were photographs that were easily confused with paintings (manipulated, overlayered, blurry) and drawings (overlaid b&w) and also paintings (airbrushed I think) that I did confuse with photographs. The only sure way to know what was what was to look at the label!
Anyway on Rob’s picture, the words for me do seem to set up a resonance with the image in that the lock of hair that won’t sit still suggests a kind of movement in amongst stillness, that repeated thing that bugs you as you’re focussed elsewhere, but makes you return to it. Which suggests a mode of awareness…..and I wonder if that might fit with the image – that kind of juddering motion that is suggested which is like a kind of a double take feeling of slowed down reality you can get when in a state of heightened awareness/shock response.
But at the same time the pixilation is reminding me of screening of printed images and makes me think of blown up newspapers and then the text doesn’t fit in that context so well.
Not sure how much help that is! I don’t know the song or the film btw so aren’t using their content or the linkage to inform how I see it.

Southliving says
Seen, but haven’t got anything to add at this moment, got to get to school.
First reaction though, I want to see the whole body of work, and statement, to try and make sense, but I like being questioned.
I’m really not that into music, so the year of the song would be a stretch (for me) to know, and we’ve talked about the culture distance to war, although that was the British / French locations, here it is different, I know… my mind wants to link it to media (tangent: film industry / social / TV / commercialism / romanticism / patriotism / propaganda) (Pete also mentioned media).
Will be back… interested to hear what others say.

Eileen R says
I’ve commented separately on the pictures as I wanted to give my own initial response before reading those here.
I think Peter’s suggestions sound like very interesting options for further exploration that could resonate with this particular body of work.
Like others the songs you reference are unknown to me as are the films so I am judging just on the images and words without any directly relevant cultural references – though of course we all bring a myriad of such references more generally to things we look at and read. I had wondered in passing about states of consciousness for the first picture, though Anne has expressed that much better. Overall I am not sure these resonate as single images at this point in their development.

Richard Brown 56 says
The first image and its text put me in mind of a Skype like video conversation where the viewer is reminded of something about the subject that resonates/reminds him/her of the subject.
The second image made me think of betrayal maybe with the text alluding to a Judas kiss?
Like how the text opens up possibilities that the image on its own may not suggest. Hope this helps.

CliveDoubleU says
Textual punctum. As the maker it’s useful to set some rules but it doesn’t matter if those are opaque to the audience. I would use the text sparingly so a viewer doesn’t become over familiar with the mechanism.

Rob™ says
Thanks for the comments everyone – all grist for the mill as they say. I’ve got another three weeks before this needs to be in, so I’ll undoubtedly change things as I go. And please feel free to continue to comment…
Off to look at some stuff on t’Interweb now.

StanDickinson says
Because I’m already aware that the image is cinematic (and I have a feeling that it may look that way, even without the prior knowledge), the combination with text makes me think ‘trailer’. But it doesn’t flash up and disappear, like a trailer, it stays there, with the juddering image, and I look for connections – probably imagine them, actually. I would never make it to the ‘formal’ connections that you’ve devised, without some significant prompting, but I don’t think that’s what you’re after, is it? Agree with Clive – don’t overdo it. And something cinematic persists, for me.

TheBaronCooney says
I find I try to fit the two together, to try and understand how one relates to the other. The first image I keep focusing on what looks like a grin, I’d say an eery grin, and my first take was this is like a thought. The second image is more menacing to me and again I kind of wonder if this is a thought in a characters head. I find I bounce back and forth between the image and the text trying to resolve the contrast between the two. I find work like this stays with me longer than work that I can see or understand the meaning of. I come back again and again and each time I see something else. Hope that helps.

Rob™ says
Another one added…
whilst unrelated, does the text now seem more relevant?

KarenGregory101 says
I’ve had a look at all 66 images and I find the ones that I’ve seen with text immediately more engaging – they stop me and make me think.
Further to that, because the meaning of the text isn’t obvious (I wouldn’t have known song/verse unless you’d said) the image takes on greater depth – it’s no longer just an image of the war or the soldier, but is more about the mental anguish the individual is going through.
On a different note (and I know you didn’t ask) I find the colours are also influential, they tell me that you’ve crossed over between wars, yet the theme continues – guilt, regret, disbelief.

TheBaronCooney says
I would say it seems easier to resolve the difference with this one, it’s not that it’s more relevant, perhaps it’s neutral?

Rob™ says
Not as obviously obscure….

Thanks Karen – you’ve given me something to think about there.

Taking this into account, I’ve created further versions, at least one of which is probably a little too direct, but I thought it was worth throwing out there to gauge the reaction (which was it was too direct). It was also interesting to see Semiotic (Peter Haveland, an OCA tutor) make reference to Post-Internet as I’ve just been reading an article in Garage magazine about that (more on which later I guess). Anyway, here’s some more of the images:

Day of the Rangers, 1993
Image: Black Hawk Down
Lyric: Some Kind of Stranger, by The Sisters of Mercy

Day of the Rangers, 1993
Image: Black Hawk Down
Lyric: Ziggy Stardust, by David Bowie

Day of the Rangers, 1993
Image: Black Hawk Down
Lyric: This Boy Can Wait, by The Wedding Present

Day of the Rangers, 1993
Image: Black Hawk Down
Lyric: Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen

Day of the Rangers, 1993
Image: Black Hawk Down
Lyric: Go With the Flow, by QOTSA

Day of the Rangers, 1993
Image: Black Hawk Down
Lyric: Can’t Get You Out of My Head, by Kylie Minogue

(images used for educational purposes)


Task 2 : early tinkering

This is a couple of early musings within the bounds of the second task (Take a series of frames from a donor piece and re-form them as a single image. Then I will look to add a textual element from songs to fracture the original material by taking it out of the original context, one of the entertainment song / war film and make it something else). The boundaries I’ve set myself is to combine the film with lyrics from songs from the same year, in this way there is a cultural relationship between the two, with some level of distance from the events through the passage of time between the two. This distance will vary, with films ‘reporting’ more recent conflicts having a closer relationship than something from an older historical event. This will probably also create some level of discord between the visual and the textual – whether it does or not remains to be seen and is part of the point of doing this.

The first couple of images come from the film
Battle for Haditha which gives some level of approximation of the Haditha Massacre in November 2005. The film was made in 2007, so there is little passage of time between the actual events and the dramatisation of them and indeed, the proceedings against the participants had not been resolved by the time the film was released (although some charges had already been dropped). There are therefore obvious questions as to whether the film should have been made at all, never mind so close to the actual events. Whilst it might be showing something of the “apparent” war crimes being committed, it might not be glamourising conflict, it is still serving to provide a level of normalisation of such things. Does the interplay between the visual and the music work to question things? A thought that comes is that it might trivialise things, and this would be a cause for concern.

Haditha Massacre – 2005 : 2007
Battle for Haditha / Russian Literature

Haditha Massacre – 2005 : 2007
Battle for Haditha / Books from Boxes

(images used for educational purposes)

I’ll work with similar images some more, but it’s clear that some careful consideration is needed so that I don’t do exactly what I wanted to highlight.
Battle for Haditha. 2007. [Video Streaming] Nick Broomfield. Channel Four Films.
Maximo Park –
Russian Literature and Books from Boxes from the album Our Earthly Pleasures (2007)


Task 2 : F3

Form, frame and fracture. Or frame, fracture and form. Or Fracture, frame, form... or whatever.

3 words to somehow influence what I'll be doing for a little while. What do they mean, and more importantly what will they mean to me and my work? I think I'm going to have to be conceptual with this, I'm a photographer and therefore not going to do anything clever with the media - the media is photography, end of discussion. Or is it? Is the "media" a discussion about what I make or the subject that I make from? Is "form" something to do with shape, or being a criminal with a rap sheet? Has that criminal been framed, or is their image in a frame? Or whatever. Words are but signifiers of a signified, and they aren't always too precise. Words have many meanings, so do images. And sounds, smells or pretty much anything. So what "concept" do the signifiers
form for us (there's that word again)?

I'm not going to list all the different meanings of the words, there's online dictionaries to do that. I've already decided what I'm going to set off doing in terms of this task, continuing along the same rough vein of enquiry as with Task 1, but with a small difference. I'm going to:

Take a series of 
frames from a donor piece and re-form them as a single image. Then I will look to add a textual element from songs to fracture the original material by taking it out of the original context, one of the entertainment song / war film and make it something else.

Will it work? I've absolutely no idea, but I'll be spending some time to find out over the coming weeks...

Standing on a Beach...

When I was in France I managed to get a single day on the Normandy beaches to do a sort of dry run on what I was planning for my next major project; English battlefields. The beaches are all so much more "obvious" in their history - beaches in Normandy normally only mean one thing when being discussed (especially this year, being the 70th anniversary), but they shouldn't, and to be fair, having visited them, they don't. Yes, there are signs of the landings, from monuments to museums to the occasional decaying bunker and the remains of the Mulberry harbour at Arromanches. But there's also signs of normality, and that's what I really want to be looking at - signs that life continues, that maybe the land forgets over time.

Anyway, without too much more to say at this moment (I want to think about them for longer), here's a selection of images. The only selections that have been done are for the individual image - they've not been curated in any way so they might work together.

Juno Beach

Omaha Beach

Sword Beach

Sword Beach

Gold Beach

Juno Beach

Juno Beach

Sword Beach

Sword Beach

Omaha Beach

Gold Beach

Gold Beach

Juno Beach

Omaha Beach

Gold Beach

Sword Beach

Juno Beach

Gold Beach

Sword Beach

Gold Beach

Sword Beach

Gold Beach


Bart Michiels

Just a quick post to highlight Bart Michiels’ project The Course of History, the approach of which will be something similar to what I was planning to do later in the course, and to which I was alerted when I posted some images from my recent visit to France on Flickr. I’ll take a look at the content of the site in the coming days and post some thoughts on here.

Screen grab from Bart Michiels website (Source:


VL 2 : A footnote about Internet searches

In VL2, Angela spoke briefly about using generic Google searches for artists or artwork, and how this can lead to lack of context or even errors if you’re unaware (related artists will also appear). Well, I’ve just read an interesting article on the PetaPixel site that describes exactly this problem in relation to the work of Andreas Gursky.

Screen grab from PetaPixel site

OK, the article starts off with a similar photograph posted on Flickr and cries of image theft, but then quickly dissolves into a list of instances where the wrong image has been used, or potentially used. Lyza Danger’s photograph has been used by “Art Intelligence”, which then might appear to be something of an oxymoron but when you look into it, it’s just some chap writing a blog rather than something with any degree of provenance or authority. And there are others…

Screen grab from Art Intelligence

There’s also something about the versions, and how there might be different ones out there.
Wikipedia states “There were 6 sets made and mounted on acrylic glass”, but it’s not clear if this means it was an edition of 6 of a single diptych, or if there are 6 different diptychs. I would tend to expect the latter, but this isn’t confirmed by a quick search. The fact the expensive one is called 99 Cent II Diptychon (2001) leads me to expect at least one more (which is what the article says, with the first not being labelled and not a diptych), but there’s possibly 6. Confusing…
To be fair on the people writing these things, they will simply have used Google as a tool without knowing how to use it, and it’s dangerous. A bit like sparking up that chainsaw without reading the instructions. Ok, maybe you won’t lose an arm with Google, but it can probably get you into other sorts of trouble. Better to stick with reliable sources I guess, although of course, sometimes they don’t cover the people you want to research!


The Hay Wain at war

Since watching the BBC video on Paul Nash, I’ve started taking some tentative steps into looking at war art other than photography, mostly paintings but with some other media too. I had also hoped to get to a gallery in Brittany whilst I was there that was showing some paintings on WWI from local artists (i.e. Breton ones), I failed in that respect but I do hope to get to the Tate show Conflict, Time, Photography when it’s on… (I have the catalogue on pre-order at least)

Back to the point, I’ve been looking at painted art and recently saw the piece 
Southern England, 1944 – Spitfires attacking Flying Bombs by Thomas Monnington. My first reaction was that the plane was too low, flying below the tree line. But after that, the details of the typical bucolic countryside with cows in the fields started to register before realising that actually, no, this is not quite a view of a traditional English vista  with added warplanes; the cart is abandoned in the river, the farmer and his horses nowhere in sight. The hay wain is, what appears to me, a reference to Constable’s painting of that name, but here the war is showing an effect on the land, one that had not seen any real and direct signs of battle since The Battle of Preston more than 200 years previously (depending on your definition of “battle” of course). This is not the only time that The Hay Wain has made a showing in an image of conflict, with Paul Kennard creating a photomontage of the painting with cruise missiles.

Liz Wells briefly discussed Kennard’s appropriation in her book 
Land Matters; how Constable’s painting became “an icon of the English pastoral. The scene has come to connote Englishness.” (Wells, p21). Kennard’s montage, and also Monnington’s painting for that matter, introduces a threat to that idyll, something to threaten everyday life; total nuclear armageddon or the random death from an indiscriminate and unguided “doodlebug”.

The landscape genre will be something I will be coming back to after I’ve finished what I suspect will be a brief dalliance in to appropriation and what has become 
Victory and Some Unholy War.  In fact, I’ve already returned there during my recent trip to France, and I will have to post something from it soon, but first I need to finish to give Victory a bit of a polish from what I concluded Task 1 with, and also bring Some Unholy War to a conclusion during Task 2.

Anyway, here are the three images I’ve been talking about, in chronological order:

John Constable. The Hay Wain. 1821. Oil on canvas. 130.2 x 185.4cm (Source: Wikipedia –
Thomas Monnington. Southern England, 1944 – Spitfires Attacking Flying Bombs. 1944. Oil on canvas. 105.4 x 143.3cm. (Source: IWM
Peter Kennard. Haywain with Cruise Missiles. 1980. Chromolithograph on paper and photographs on paper. 26 x 37.5cm (Source: The Tate –

Wells, L. (2011) 
Land Matters: landscape photography, culture and identity. London. IB Tauris & Co Ltd.



OK, so I've to pull something together for an archive that I find interesting... there's a number I dip into occasionally, for different reasons, some I've not dipped into for a little while, some I just follow via Feedly or whatever. They're all pretty much centred around photography but there are a few crossovers, especially into visual culture. Is there anything I follow more than the others? I'm not so sure there is - I simply dip in when I need to. As I'm writing this, I'm not 100% sure which I will actually choose for my presentation, but in going through this process of writing and reviewing a few of my favourites, hopefully I will come to a decision! So, where to start?

Aperture Foundation
The Aperture Foundation in New York (originally San Fransisco) has been going for a while now, since 1952 according to the website, although of course this wasn't as an online resource, but as a "serious" quarterly journal on creative photography. I've subscribed to the magazine on and off over the years although to be fair, I don't often get the chance to read it in any depth at the moment (I really do need to improve my schedule to allow for these things). The website itself now has a number of interesting elements, video interviews with photographic artists, reviews, bits from the magazine and whatnot on their blog. It's a reputable journal, both online and in magazine form, with plenty of stuff in the archive although it isn't all-encompassing by any stretch of the imagination.

Screen grab of Aperture website (Source:
Aperture Foundation -

Tate Shots
Tate Shots is part of the Tate museum online offering featuring videos of interviews with artists, exhibitions and the like. There's quite a number on there (178 as of today), are generally around 5 minutes long (more or less) and give a brief and interesting insight into whatever the subject is, which will probably be something to do with what's happening at the museum at the time. A lot of this is not photography based, so it's a way for me to become involved with other media without getting too in depth - I don't always have the time to look at sculpture or painting, etc. Alongside these Tate Shots, there's also loads of other stuff on the Blogs and Channel section of the site, but it's generally the videos I head on over for - less reading sometimes means a quicker dose of information (media, media, media!!!)

Screen grab of The Tate website (Source:
The Tate -

American Suburb X
Doug Rickard's American Suburb X (ASX) is an interesting resource that has a reasonable collection of stuff (videos, interviews and galleries, etc.) about Japanese photography, something I can obsess about from time to time, and plenty of non-Japanese photography too. It also includes some of the perhaps edgier subjects that can sometimes be missed by others (although, it would seem that this is less and less the case as the years roll by), and photographers that perhaps polarise opinions more than others; I'm thinking maybe Nobuyoshi Araki, Dash Snow and Diane Arbus here, as opposed to, I don't know, Mario Testing or John Davies. There will be others too, American photographers who don't really polarise opinion (although maybe I'm just looking from the inside of the art - what is the layman view on Stephen Shore or William Eggleston?).

Screen grab from ASX (Source:
American Suburb X -

One Year of Books
Actually, before I start to write about this collection, I know it won't be one I choose to feature in the presentation; there's no depth to the content, no text, no insight, nothing really. Just photographs of photobooks from the collection of another collector in Paris. It's simply something I follow as it gives a few images from the books, many of which I might not necessarily know about... I'll leave this one at that.

Screen grab from One Year of Books (Source:
One Year of Books -

Visual Culture Blog
Marco Bohr is a lecturer in visual communication at Loughborough University and wrote his PhD thesis on Japanese photography, so as might be imagined I'm interested in what he has to say. In looking at the blog again, I've just realised its been a while since I checked in on there and there's a lot of new stuff I haven't read. As might be expected, the posts are well written and insightful, but rather than tell you what to think, they tend to lead a course of thought, or at least that's how I read them. They highlight visual memes that appear throughout a range of work, notably photography (including adverts) and film but covering a range of subjects such as gender, politics and consumerism. I really do need to find more time for this resource...

Screen grab from the Visual Culture Blog (Source:
Visual Culture Blog -


There's a number of others that I look at too, including:

1000 Word Photography (Source:

Hotshoe International (Source:

British Journal of Photography (Source:


William Eggleston : Tate Shots and more

I've admired Eggleston's mundane Americana for a long time now, probably since seeing the iconic Memphis (tricycle) photograph from William Eggleston's Guide - I'm pretty sure this will have been the first of his photographs I saw...

William Eggleston, Untitled, Memphis, 1970; dye transfer print, 12 1/8 in. x 17 1/4 in. (30.8 cm x 43.82 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Gift of Laurence A. Short; © Eggleston Artistic Trust (Source: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art -

In deciding which online resource I'd use for the upcoming hangout, I came across the Tate Shots video (bottom) and in watching I was confused about something, there was a lamp isolated against a blue ceiling. So what? Well, the ceiling is normally red. I'd become aware some time ago of some 'anomalies' in the printing of Eggleston's work when I realised that the cover of my 
Guide differed from the images used in an article about the sale of some of his work (Googling "Eggleston Memphis Tricycle highlights this) but from red to blue? A step to far, surely?

Google search results - "Eggleston Memphis Tricycle"

William Eggleston, details unknown Screen grab from Tate Shots video

Well, it would appear that as well as being incredibly eccentric, Eggleston also has something of a sense of humour. He's famed for only taking a single shot of everything he photographs, but that doesn't stop him taking the "same" photograph in different locations...

William Eggleston, Untitled, Greenwood, Mississippi, 1973; dye transfer print, 12 5/16 in. x 18 1/2 in. (31.27 cm x 46.99 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Gift of a friend of the Museum; © Eggleston Artistic Trust (Source: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art -

Anyway, here's the video...