VL2 : Questions

Video Lecture 2 signed off with 3 questions to ponder:

1. In what way do artists' biographies inform of detract from the viewers experience of the work?

2. What are the implications [of] Ward's assertion that "That all art is a form of proposition and anything's possible."?

3. If you could only read or hear one view on an exhibition, would you choose to hear the artist's view to that of a critic or reviewer and why?

With question 1, I suppose I touched on that in the previous post with Dorment and Bourgeois in that his view is that the biography is the work, or the work is the biography... This then precludes any other reading of the work, limits the possibilities and in that respect limits the communication, the dialogue that takes place between the artist an the viewer. Maybe the artist is no longer "dead" as Barthes and Foucault proposed. However, without any knowledge of the artist, their biography and other works, viewing their works is also a less fulfilling experience. Yes, you can enjoy the craftsmanship and the skill the artist brings to the table, but the artist must be quite dead - there is a void that is only filled by the reaction of the viewer to the signifiers in the piece. The artist's biography will bring some level of insight to the work, richen the viewers experience. With someone like Bourgeois, knowing the family business was weaving, there is something that can be derived from the various signs of weaving within the work and there is then some level of association. With my own work, looking through it there can often be seen a lack of people, space, distance and horizontal "barriers"; these might be interpreted as being a sign that I'm shy, often shunning the company of others and certainly avoid the limelight. As an artist, you have to draw upon what you are aware of, and that is often something quite biographical - Bourgeois and Emin may make (have made) this as plain as the nose on their faces, but even for others it will still be their, even if veiled to some degree.

It might be argued that whether "anything's possible" will depend on the sort of art that you practice, and the often self-imposed constraints that you put on the creation of the work. A "straight" photographer can only photograph what is visible before the lens of the camera as realistically as possible (and then it's governed by the laws of physics), whereas anything can be drawn that can be imagined. Of course, it is possible to manipulate and post-process the cameras recording, to add or subtract in Photoshop (or even to the analogue image), but then it will be argued this is not straight photography. And of course, photography was long considered a craft or a science, not an art, but this is not the understanding that a contemporary commentator like Ward is coming from. No, I don't actually believe that is what he was meaning. Duchamp proposed that an upturned urinal was art, and whilst not initially accepted as such it has taken its place in history. The implications are wide reaching, and to be honest I've only really started scratching the surface of this in my more recent explorations into a more general art (as opposed to what was fairly strictly only photography, in terms of medium).

The third question is a tricky one. I suppose the best result might be to read the review of a critic who has an understanding of what the artist was intending. In this way, there will be a duality of the commentary in that it will be cognisant of the artist's intentions, his thoughts on the juxtaposition of images (or whatever) with their neighbours, with their surroundings and why the images were pulled together in the way that they have been. Why the images were made, the intent. You also get another view from a different perspective, perhaps bringing in a different context and playing them off against the work of another. The view will also (generally) be more objective - certainly a problem I often have myself is that I become too close to the work, wrapped in the idea rather than the execution or relying too heavily on connotations that may be too personal for the viewer to grasp (unless you really spell it out for them).

If time permits, I often find myself going around a (one-man) show twice; once to simply look at the images and see if anything talks to me, pulls me in without being spoon-fed the artist's statement. This also allows me to make my own little narrative too. The second time will be after reading the statement so that the context becomes apparent if it wasn't before. Of course, there is a danger that the artist's statement can be a bit on the obscure side and confound that understanding, but there we go. I often find myself going around an exhibition counter-clockwise, and looking at books from the back. I'm not sure what that says about me...

VL2 : From Archive to Interview

Angela’s second video lecture looks at online resources and the commentary provided on the work of a small handful of artists, and how they can differ whilst also perhaps agreeing…

The first thing to be said was a word of caution when looking online, highlighting the lack of context and basic information (scale, material, etc.) that can be seen on doing a simple Google search and the possible confusions and misinformation that can result from taking your information from a website with little or no provenance. The Internet is a wonderful tool but, as with many things, has to be used thoughtfully and appropriately. Take Wikipedia for example – this can be a good source of basic information and a springboard to further reading, but it is indeed error strewn and has nothing in the way of reliability of information or authority. It was also highlighted that Googling for something or someone might bring up unexpected results, featuring the art of a contemporary instead of the desired artist for example. All fairly basic stuff I suppose, but worth mentioning for the less savvy out there.

The lecture really got underway looking at the work of
Thomas Schütte, the German artist who studied under Gerhard Richter. Principally, it was one work that was the focus of the lecture, his Model for a Hotel (2007) that was on display on the 4th plinth of Trafalgar Square in 2007 and later in the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn as part of his solo show, Big Buildings – Models and Views in 2010.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 06.31.25
(screen grab from Schütte’s website)

The lecture featured three different reviews for Model for a Hotel, one from the Guardian’s Adrian Searle, one from Time Out’s Ossian Ward and a third from Richard Dorment from the Telegraph. Searle’s review is an audio piece (that can be found on the Guardian’s website
here), he speaks in hushed but excited tones, he’s clearly a fan but does not seem to fall into obscure prosaic ramblings about the work, his is a descriptive style, interspersed with exclamations of what I can only think of as being delight: “groovy!” he says. He goes further than simply Model for a Hotel though, also describing the other pieces in the Bonn show – the plywood and scrim Ferienhaus für Terroristen for example, and some silver angels that look like “brand new kitchen instruments”. He’s full of little pieces of back story, and it wasn’t really a huge surprise to see he has co-authored a book on Schütte’s work.

The other two reviewers only spoke of Model for a Hotel within the context of the 4th plinth installation, so there is no relationship to be had with Schütte’s other works, only with the surroundings. Ward was clearly unimpressed in his review (
here) – “a similar shrug went round those assembled at the unveiling of Thomas Schütte’s new sculpture for Trafalgar Square’s empty fourth plinth.” and that it mocked monumental art. It’s merely a model and not the finished article. Dorment is, as the Telegraph review states, “blown away by Thomas Schütte’s delicate sculpture on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square”. He’s clearly impressed by the juxtaposition of the lightness brought by the colourful glass structure and the heavy and inert monumental monochromatic surroundings. Searle also referred to the piece in its Trafalgar Square location, but found the installation within a building to be “glorious”. What would the others have thought of it in Bonn I wonder?

(Thomas Schütte: Model for a Hotel, 2007, glass, aluminium, steel, installation view, Bundeskunsthalle 2010, Photo: David Ertl)

Moving on from Schütte, the next artist to be discussed was
Kiki Smith, another artist I’d never heard of (this is becoming quite shameful!). Again, three different reviewers of her oeuvre and three different views, this time it’s Elizabeth Brown, the Mary Ryan Gallery and Christine Kuan. Elizabeth Brown’s review dated from 1994 and spoke about sculpture and the body, the unusual effects that she achieved such as “evoking solid bodies in fragile silk tissue” or “transitory visual effects in bronze”. Brown is another who has gone on to write a book about the artist in question, so clearly has a level of interest in her. The Mary Ryan Gallery commentary was from a biography on their website circa 2001 where the work was described as feminist and that it was “BODY ART imbued with political significance” and “undermined traditional erotic representation”; an agenda has been identified that was not apparent 7 or so years earlier (the website currently states that “Her work addresses feminist, philosophical, social, sexual, and political aspects of human nature, employing non-traditional materials. Her early work, transgressive in nature, dealt with mortality and decay, while her more recent work explores the natural world, portraiture, fairy tales, and myths.” so may well have changed again). Kuan’s piece on Oxford Art Online provides a much more balanced view, talking about the craft, the processes, her influences. It’s an interview rather than a direct critique.

Whilst some of this might be contradictory, it is more likely representing a shift in ideas and ideals, it probably also has something to do with how we bring something of ourselves to the work, so we interpret things as we see fit. A feminist will draw more upon the feminist elements of the work, bringing them to the fore, making them the dominant aspect of the review or biography, whereas someone without such feminist ideals would probably play them down a little. There’s also a certain amount of writing for the audience, and the nature of the intent of the writing (interview, promotional biography, critical review for an exhibition, etc.).

The next artist, I did know. Louise Bourgeois’ spider sculpture (Maman) was present in the Louvre gardens a number of years ago (in 2008) – the photograph below isn’t a particularly successful one, but it’s the only one I’ve been able to locate from the day.

Paris_03_08 298
Bourgeois’ work has been described as biographical, as the journal of her life although I’ll be honest and admit that I’m not sure what the giant spider has to do with that; I don’t know anything about her life, certainly not enough to make an informed reading of it and certainly not without reading someone else’s thoughts on the matter*. In looking at the three sources of writing on her, the first was an obituary (she died in 2010) and Angela described it as “nice”, as you might expect in that type of writing but without any thoughtful critique or commentary. In it, the one thing that seemed significant enough to be written down was “culture is the body, my body is my sculpture”. What has this to do with a giant spider?

Dorment has also
written about Bourgeois, and he has said that once you know the symbolism of the work it makes sense, and is nothing without it (tapestries represent the family business, cages to imprisonment, houses to security of her childhood and guillotines to the end of that security). With this knowledge, it all become subject to obvious indexical symbolism and that this has fed the academic “feeding frenzy” that came relatively late to her work. As such, the work is more famous for this academic interest rather than for any particular aesthetic qualities and may not stand the test of time…

Siri Hustvedt has a slightly counter argument in her piece for the Guardian (
here), she argues that “The story of Louise Bourgeois’s early life has become so enmeshed with her work that many critics have been seduced into biographical or psychoanalytic readings of the art, punctuated with pithy pronouncements from the artist”. From this is can be deduced that there are other ways to read the work, but we’ve been conditioned to read the biographical and psychoanalytical signifiers that repeatedly appear. Does this then mean that Dorment’s view is not his own? That it’s lazy? Well, of course there’s the fact that he might not like the work and therefore feels less inclined to come to his own interpretation and is indeed swept up with what has been already said about it, particularly by Bourgeois herself (he virtually says this in his article anyway – “Bourgeois’s work often fails because she gives us too much information”). I’m not implying this is the truth of the matter, Dorment is clearly more switched on that I am. I guess I’m just asking the question because I know it’s what would happen to me…

* Bourgeois has said, “The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. My family was in the business of tapestry restoration, and my mother was in charge of the workshop. Like spiders, my mother was very clever. Spiders are friendly presences that eat mosquitoes. We know that mosquitoes spread diseases and are therefore unwanted. So, spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother. “ (from

The final artist was the performance artist
Bobby Baker who deals with subjects motherhood and cooking,routines, daily lives and such. She uses comedy and food, drawings and stuff and is influenced by world affairs… Rather than a particular critique on the work, this was used as a way of introducing online collections as a resource, with Baker’s Diary Drawings featured on the Wellcome Collection site.

There was also the Turner Prize and the Stuckists, perhaps here as a means to illustrate that we should look at different views as there might be something of interest hidden within the rants or the negativity.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 21.16.10
(from From Archive to Interview, video lecture 2)

The Stuckists (and others) will be against “an empty gallery with a three-part recording”, they were also against Tomma Abts receiving the prize – a German winning a prize for a British visual artist under the age of 50? How does that work? But they seemed to be a bit more concerned with the abstract nature of the work, which is counter to their figurative painting manifesto, as is the giving of prizes in for art… or galleries in general for that matter.

The final part of the video is about online reference sources, such as the UCA website, or major galleries such as MoMA and Tate. I’ll not bother repeating these resources here, but below there are the ones used in this entry. All references used are also repeated in the Resources section of the site (although only the parent URL in the case of web pages). And from this we are then presented with three questions:

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 21.28.59
(from From Archive to Interview, video lecture 2)

I’ll answer this in a later post.

Web references – all accessed 29/10/2014















Papergirl Blackburn mention

I mentioned the other day that I was taking part in the Papergirl Blackburn initiative (exhibition in November, from the 6th to the 16th), well they ran an entry on my submission the other day whilst I was in France – I was lucky to catch it really. Anyway, here’s the start of it, and there’s the full entry here.



Alumni mention...

Apparently there's an OCA alumni newsletter, although for some reason I don't receive it. In a recent edition of the newsletter, summer's exhibition in Sheffield received a mention. I've blogged about some of the work going into [( 6 )] earlier on, so won't go into it too much more, other than to say it's nice that people are still talking about it and generally in a favourable light. I just wish that they'd not misspelled my name, that's something that has irked me for many, many years now...




I posted the Sonic Outlaws video about Negativeland the other day, and I’ve now actually had the chance to look through it fully. In it there are plenty of interesting sound-bites and quotes that got me thinking about the nature of appropriation and the artistic traditions that exist around the subject. There’s also a few other things that I need to research further that were mentioned in the film. Things like Detournment, (which a very quick Google search seems to show originates from Guy Debord and SI), someone called Marshall McLuhan and the Billboard Bandits (not necessarily in that order).

Returning to Negativeland, I suppose they should be classed as Culture Jammers; they take clips of audio from various sources including TV, records, radio scanners and the like (and also video in the live shows) and mix it up, repurposing and recontextualising it before redistributing it as their own work. The crux of the film revolves around discussion of the appropriation of some U2 clips and the ensuing legal battle and how this stacks up with both the law as it stands, and the history of appropriation through the ages. On the face of it, U2 themselves may not have been against what Negativeland were doing, certainly that’s what The Edge said in the interview, that it was the record company’s doing, but the first problem would have been the “U2″ cover and how this would fall outside of the copyright fair use clause that would allow them to carry on…

(I guess the copyright rests with Negativeland, but possibly a bit contentious)

The cover could cause confusion and financial loss as it could lead to people buying that instead of the new U2 album that was due for release around the same time. In a story filled with amusing turns, the band took advantage that the news machine does exactly as they did and re-reported a bogus press release (without checking any facts) that the band were somehow connected to an axe murder that occurred, supposedly, following a row over one of their records. This went from fanzine to music press to mainstream news to the point the story had to be retracted. A story that was appropriated without question – as one of the members of Negativeland mentioned – reprinting, cannibalising and copying is so routine, it’s frightening!

Much of the discussion centred around the nature of the arts and a history of appropriation and copying, be it a tune that is reused for something else, or how paintings inform painters, how something will sbde incorporated in the art of another and presented to the viewing public as something new: “In the visual arts there is a long-standing tradition of found image collage, from [Kurt] Schwitters and [Bazon? Not sure who is being referred to here] Brock, and [Robert] Rauschenberg and [Andy] Warhol. In modern terms, appropriation is often about culture jamming, capturing the corporately controlled subjects of the one way media barrage, reorganising them to be a comment upon themselves and spitting them back into the barrage for cultural consideration.” (circa 35min into the film)

All this ties in with the idea of visual culture, of these representations (TV, music/muzak, high art, speech, dreams and ultimately society) and how it structures the way people behave (loosely from Visual Methodologies). At the start of that book, there is also an introduction to occularcentrism, and the centrality of the visual to Western society – something the postmodernists, SI, Debord and Baudrillard spoke of, and something I will inevitably come back to later during the MA.

Another ironic turn of events was with the ZooTV tour when U2 appropriated TV images and redistributed them as part of the show. Surely this is exactly the same as what they sued Negativeland for, although as they are “bigger” they got away with it, with many of the media providers probably happy to be appropriated by U2 in this way…

There was also some discussion on the copyright laws (of America) and fair use in terms of parody. Now, I’d always considered a more traditional use of the word:

1. An imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect:
the film is a parody of the horror genre (from oxforddictionaries.com)

however, there is another definition too:

Although a parody can be considered a derivative work under United States Copyright Law, it can be protected from claims by the copyright owner of the original work under the fair use doctrine, which is codified in 17 U.S.C. § 107. The Supreme Court of the United States stated that parody “is the use of some elements of a prior author’s composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author’s works”. That commentary function provides some justification for use of the older work. See Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. (from wikipedia.com)

The UK laws are different but changing, so will see on that one.

Lots to think about and something of small level of reassurance that Some Unholy War / Victory are not going to get me into too much trouble…

Rose, G (2014)
Visual Methodologies. 3rd Edition. London. Sage Publications Ltd


Sonic Outlaws

Another tweet, another something of interest – this time a video from the Denver Open Media Archive:

I’ve not watched it all, I’ve not got the time at the moment, but there was something at just over 3 minutes into the video that really struck a chord with me.

“…you can put a bunch of stuff on the air or in a record that are really not necessarily related to each other at all, put them in connection with one another and if there’s any way to do it, people will make a connection in their mind and they’ll make it have a meaning.”

Now, this is all fairly basic stuff, but it is probably something that forms a cornerstone of my work for the last couple of years. I’m not saying it always will, and it’s not been like that for all my work by any stretch of the imagination, but for the moment… I certainly like the way that images juxtapose with each other, like they did in A Forest and how words and images have been working together in one way or another during
Game-on for Task 1 (I really need to rename this in line with my normal practice).

Human Motions : Peter Jansen

I saw this on twitter and liked it – shame the images aren’t large enough to see them properly.

Looking at his website, again the work isn’t really large enough to get a really good look, although the impression is clear enough. Whilst this is sculpture, there’s an obvious relationship with some of the work I’ve been pulling together for Some Unholy War with the blurring effect. Is this something to look into more? Adding more blur? It would be difficult as the background also blurs and everything becomes too “unclear”. Perhaps some could work, and thinking about it, some are already more in this vein. I suppose it’s time to put something of SUW on here, rather than the brief glimpses that there has been so far.


Papergirl Blackburn

About a week ago I received an e-mail from ACE Nelson about a community mixed arts project in my area called Papergirl Blackburn, part of the Blackburn is Open initiative. The idea has come over from Germany where there was some legislation introduced about displaying arts in the streets so an idea was born to hand the art to people instead. I don’t know the nitty-gritty of the back story, but basically the art is distributed free of charge, loosely rolled like a newspaper might be. Or something like that. I kind of like the idea, although of course it will never make an artist rich (or even afford the beans to go on the toast) to give work away, but there is always the possibility people will see the work that might not otherwise see it, and who know where that might go?

Speak My Language was originally printed as a (roughly) A3 newsprint book, and A3 is the size of the work requested it seemed to be an obvious choice to submit. Unfortunately the newspaper was snagging in my printer this time, so it’s now on a thicker inkjet paper stock. A compromise, but this wasn’t a project I was willing to sacrifice hundreds of pounds worth of printer for...

The prints are ready now, packaged up ready for posting before the deadline, so that’s a done deal.

The work will be exhibited in November for 10 days prior to distribution at the St John’s Centre in Blackburn, I’ll try and get in to see what’s on show, but there’s no guarantee with that.


Meet the Students

Today was meant to be a “Meet the Students” session but the second year cohort were otherwise engaged doing something else, so there was a short Q&A session with Caroline before being virtually introduced to our second year “buddy”.

The main thing raise for me was by Mathew, in that he questioned the essay writing and requirements for assessment. There’s an essay writing session next week so that will hopefully cover the lions share of that, but the requirements for assessment were interesting. They are:
  • the practical work
  • a piece of academic writing “the essay”
  • 8x A4 pages pulled from the journal

The first two I knew about, but not the latter (although I probably should’ve) - these entries can be anything: a gallery visit, a review of some work, some reflection, etc. It does all need to be pretty central to the development of the work and the course though. No point worrying about that now, but it is something to try and remember going forward (8 A4 pages isn’t really a lot!)

The other thing from the night was being told which of the second years we would pair up with for a discussion, and that would be Mark Daniels. He uses iPhonography amongst other things in his work. I’ll be getting an e-mail in the next few days, so will take it from there as I don’t really know what this is about at the moment, perhaps just a chance for a chat as you might have in a normal B&M? It might be worth having a browse through his blog though.

OCA Vimeo feed : A Forest

Student work uncovered - Rob™ from Open College of the Arts on Vimeo.


Mishka Henner : 42 Portraits by Nobuyoshi Araki

There’s a series of these videos, I’m not sure how many but I saw a small number at a talk given by Mishka Henner a few years ago. Really interesting work, and I’ve since seen similar things done, not least by Keith Greenough, who joined me in the [( 6 )] exhibition in Sheffield in July this year (there’s some stuff about [( 6 )] in the Development section).


Take 2 Influences : Group Crit

I’m trying to think back to whether I’ve ever done anything like this before. I thought not, but maybe I have at the Leeds tutorial Penny (a BA Photography student with the OCA) organised. It was very casual, but there was discussion about the work, albeit mostly by the tutor (Peter Haveland). I’ve also done a portfolio review, and that was very different again.

On the work of others, I’m not intending to dwell too much here (they will all be blogging their own thoughts anyway) but there were a few things I did find really quite interesting, Emma’s sculpture being one, Anne’s re-photography being another (I do like photographing images within their context, even if sometimes slightly abstractly). Bits of other things too - crows, swirls of colour, hidden identities, text and ‘loose’ painting of various kinds. In fact, I think it was all really interesting, especially with the finite time given to the task. Some people were more adventurous, trying something new, others saw the opportunity to explore. Still others just saw the chance to move an idea along a little. I think I fall into that category.

So, we basically had 12 minutes to describe then discuss. My approach was different to the others in that I used the 5 images to create a narrative rather than to try different things, different versions or develop an idea. This wasn’t my original intention, and I was worried that the approach, aping to a certain degree the Commando war comics of my youth, might glorify conflict too much, whereas my intention was to question the way that conflict is “normalised” by media - films and computer games. I don’t really remember all that I said about my work, and for future crit sessions it may be worth planning more - time goes ever so quickly and I’ve no record of how I described the work, which is a shame - I may have said something insightful on the spur of the moment! I wish I had made a recording! Talking about the work, reading the comments in the chat box and listening to people ask questions and formulate your answers is incredibly hard work. There’s certainly no time for making notes! Luckily, Angela made a copy of the chat box comments, so this has served as something of an aide memoire.

These comments and questions were:

Is this a celebration of boys' comics, a comment on their glorification of war?

They are ambiguous, but that is more interesting to me

Have you seen Willie Dohery
Will Doherty's use of text I mean!

I feel like the images conflict so much with the glib words, which makes a really interesting awkward balance between them - the pop culture words definitely make us question what we're looking at!!!!

Yes, it does glorify it, for me, but I'm coming from a very personal position of being anti-war

I feel it glorifies and partitcularly the words used.

You are doing with photography/computer games what Roy Lichenstein did with oil paint - I like it.

As in, if you give us information, statistics etc, you are trying to make us feel a certain way, whereas this challenges us to see how kids learn about violence, and organised violence etc.... really exciting work!

I'm a bit caught as to whether to read the text as irony ... not sure, there's some ambiguity of whether glorifying or not
slide 4 looks like a child ..


Thank you for your personal story - that really informs the images for me.

I find the photos disturbing and scary, so maybe in a way that means it's not glorified. I'm conflicted about them! (pun intended)

Do you know Idris Khan's photography? I'm sure you do. There's a lot of similar movement

It's a brave place to go.

the images are full of threat and full of tension so very successful in terms of what you are trying to do I feel

EMMA how did you get to Idris Khan from these?

Movement - blurring! 

Some of the questions were answered, I spoke with Sharon about how my intention was to question, not glorify or romanticise conflict. I suppose it’s more about our (collective) attitude and how conflict is very much normalised. There’s was a question of perhaps needing to show “pain” in the images for there to be less of a glorification effect - not mentioned but relevant is how we are bombarded with more and more extreme images of real events, through the news etc. and that, even though these are censored, we can find more and more gruesome images if we want - this is normalising us too, in conjunction with Hollywood and the computer games industry. How much pain do we actually need to witness? Does it need to be absolutely everywhere?

Willie Doherty I now know, and I’m still not sure if I knew of him before, but he was mentioned in my tutorial the other day. I’ve not had much of a chance to dig into his work this time around, so his work has not been particularly influential in any way. It is certainly something to look into though.

I can sort of see where Emma was coming from with Idris Khan, with the blur, although the process is very different (more akin to the Mishka Henner video I
posted), and to my mind more appropriate to Ines’ work on identity.

Tanya mentioned that the photographs were “equipment heavy” or something like that. True, two of the five photographs featured planes and that was intended to carry the Commando comic theme, and was also the only real way of getting the computer game element on board. I don’t play computer games (although I did when younger), and this one was bought specifically for this project. Maybe with further exploration of the game there might be a way of adjusting the various views to make it more appropriate-able (is that a word?), more flexible in the way it could be used. The time didn’t really allow for this exploration from the starting point of a “noob” - there was a couple of hours with the film, a hour or so with the game, then the rest was going through the images, working in post and sequencing them and trying different things. I probably went over the 8 hours to be honest, but not by a great deal (post takes very little time as I tend to just work the same things). Back to Tanya’s comment, to be honest, there’s far more people involved than I normally would have, although this current series (
Some Unholy War) is mostly people, but it’s quite a deviation from my normal MO.

On the whole though, it seems that there has been a successful outcome, although perhaps the glorification aspect is a little strong. Would this be better if printed large scale? If compared to Lichtenstein (who Mathew mentioned), that I feel does more closely reflect the comic book action, which is of course what it is supposed to do. I’ve never thought as to whether it has any particular stance though...


I’ve been dipping into and out of the book Interviews-Artists for a little while now, without really putting down many thoughts anywhere. This post will attempt to address this shortcoming.

The first artist I read about was James Aldridge, but not because he was the first in the book but rather because he was specifically mentioned in the video lecture VL1. Aldridge isn’t a photographer or one of the stellar names from painting (I’m thinking van Gogh or Turner), so I’d not heard about him. My knowledge of painters is fairly limited, but I’m sure this will be addressed in the coming years. Looking at his work, my first thought was that it was quite colourful, and there’s plenty of nature in it; trees, birds, cats, etc. However, colourful it may be, but it’s also quite dark, and I found it really interesting to read that he is influenced by death metal, and that he feels that comes out in his work. I’m not a death metal fan, but I do have a dark streak than runs through me and this often influences the work I do like. It probably influences some of the way I work too. much of what he says is also mirroring what I think; that what we like outside of art informs the work we make. We are the people we are, so to pretend to be someone or something else when we create whatever it is we are creating can only lead to work that isn’t honest. Unless we can fulfil the role of actor and artist.

Another mentioned in VL1 is Chritiane Baumgartner. I know nothing of the process of woodcut, but do find the
Transall image somewhat compelling and appreciate the connection with time in her other work. It’s interesting when she speaks of wanting to get people in close to her work, as this is something I tend to do, especially with larger works so that I am immersed by the image. I saw Thomas Struth’s work at the Whitechapel Gallery - I wasn’t convinced this was meant to be viewed up close. Similarly with my work on Some Unholy War (and Task 1), if you get in close to the images you get the feel of where they came from as the DLP “mesh” becomes visible. Of course, this also resonates with her work in that if you get in close you see how the larger image is made up. I think this is important to me, time will tell on that one.

I started to read about Jim Dine but was very quickly put off with his statement that he was an artist before he had language. The rest might be really inciteful, but I just couldn’t get past that.

Luke Frost... I don’t know that it has any impact on me at all, my response to seeing the
Volts No 22 in the book was ambivalence, however it does look different in the book to the linked image on the a-n website and of course it would be very different to see it first hand, although this piece isn’t the large scale of some of the others he mentioned. No, I really don’t believe this is my cup of tea.

There were a few things in what Rachel Goodyear spoke off that mirrored much of my philosophy, on coming back to something in terms of what her practice is (I strayed from photography for many years), of how she will hear or see little things that become ideas, either straight away or after it has been through the mill with the grist of other things and become something later. Also, she can’t explain all of her own work, which is great to know because that’s exactly how I feel about my own work sometimes, especially at the moment. I’m not alone.

Take 2 Influences : Image sequence

These are the images as presented for the group crit. They’re intended to be viewed as a short 5 frame narrative which hopefully questions our approach to the way war is often portrayed, and the conditioning to it that we get through varying media - films and video games are used as source material, with the narrative being loosely based on boys war comics. As a finished piece of work, I’d probably envisage these images being quite large.

(images used for educational purposes)

I’ll add some thoughts on the crit later.


Free Thinking : Barbara Kruger


The interview with Barbara Kruger takes up the first 50% or so of the broadcast, together with Laurie Penny. There much said about feminism, they both work with this so it would be expected. From a point of view of Kruger’s work, it’s interesting that she denounces the claim that her work is subversive, but rather that she likes to work with doubt, asking questions and resistance. In terms of the doubt, it was also interesting but maybe not really surprising that she was very cognisant of the fact that others will their own meanings to her work, that some will be successful and others won’t, depending on the person looking at the image and reading the text. Of course, there is something of herself in there too, it would be an impossible claim to say that there isn’t - nobody can be that objective.

Free Thinking. 2014 [Radio Broadcast] Georgia Catt. British Broadcasting Corporation
located at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b047bs61 (accessed 04/10/2014 )


Take 2 Influences : Going around the buoy

After playing with the images (small printed versions) to come up with a single pairing that I was reasonably happy with (below), applied the text and came up with what I put in the previous posting, an e-mail came reminding us to submit our 5 images and 2 questions as a slide presentation for group crit. In deciding which images to include with the diptych, further thoughts came to mind of an alternative take on the images as the individual slides started to work like a more traditional narrative and I was reminded of a comic book collection from my youth. One by one, the images looked like frames from the book, albeit as photographs instead of black and white line drawings.

Game On
(images used for educational purposes)

So, with the diptych discarded for the time being, a second round of activity started, playing with the order of the images, pulling more options from the library of images made when viewing the film Battle of Britain (by Guy Hamilton) and the Ubisoft game Blazing Angels, organising them in a longer sequence, a narrative of five instead of two. Adding more images allows for different options (obviously), so things were definitely changing - back to the drawing board and around the buoy... not reworking the images but what they mean and how they interact with each other.

IMG_3094-2IMG_3093-1 IMG_3095-3

The “influences” for this piece originally came from appropriation and mixing text and photography in a way that goes beyond mere captioning (the text is part of the work). Barbara Kruger is one source of inspiration, although she is very recognisable by her graphic delivery (I still haven’t listened to the radio programme mentioned by Angela - on my list of things to do over the weekend). I like it, it’s a throwback to my own short-lived graphic design training. Maybe it can be argued that this is a third influence, but I would prefer to think it’s a continuation of the text and art form, whilst also feeding the realms of the appropriation and the position that could have in the postmodern arena, I’m thinking Roy Lichtenstein and positioning low culture as high culture - I have mentioned these might be developed as large scale artworks for the gallery wall, not small images on a computer screen or pages in an A5 booklet, although this could actually be an alternative resolution of the piece - back to being similar to the war stories, referential to its roots.

With this idea of a more narrative driven piece, still mixing video film and video game source material, the mood perhaps changes a little. Does this continue a theme of glorification of war driven by the media, is it romanticising a period of our history? Or does it actually question what we see, what we do with that media? This is where I want to be coming from, questioning the raison d’être of the source material, that conditions us to be more accepting of conflict, maybe even more aggressive in our outlook - certainly as a male anyway. Perhaps this questioning stance would have to be supported by the statement that accompanies the work, otherwise people will simply take what they see and not be nudged into thinking about things (it’s the same with pretty much anything I’ve produced).

The work submitted for the crit is not truly “finished”, not by a long way; it’s been bound by the constraints placed in terms of time and the number of images. I’m not even truly sure if it’s actually worth pursuing further, but I’m sure the feedback due on Monday will give some guidance with regards to this. Maybe it will be worth playing a little more with styles of text, or working with the underlying DLP mesh that is a feature of this way of working to square everything up in order that it is suitable for printing large...

I’ll post the image sequence and some further notes on the outcome of the critique session later next week.
(images used for educational purposes)


Tutorial - AR 29 Sep 14

Ok, I’m going to state all this in the opposite order as to what happened because the tutorial ended with a discussion about my being on the brink of dropping out of the MA. The reasons are all hard to voice, not because I think they’re personal and I want to keep them private, but because I’m not 100% sure of the reasons. One will I guess come from the fact that I’d much rather be dong a Photography MA, not Fine Art. Whilst I do consider myself to be an “artist”, that’s more because I don’t consider myself to be a social documentary photographer, or a fashion photographer, or a portrait photographer. “Artist” feels like it’s all that’s left. I’ll be honest, the Interactive Design Institute Photography MA doesn’t appeal (anyone from education that promotes colour popping on their website should be banned from any form of education, or even photography for that matter). Yes there are perhaps other options... but I am where I am at the moment. I’ve voiced concerns in the past, and I still have those concerns. Is this the right vehicle for me in terms of attaining an MA? It’s different from things I’ve done before in distance learning, something that I’m not unfamiliar with (I have a distance learning BA with OCA, and a distance learning BSc with OU, I even studied it as a subject in itself at one point). I’m not necessarily saying that these differences are good or bad, just that they’re differences and not what I was expecting. Maybe it’s my expectations that are part of the problem? I expected to give a proposal on what I would do and then go off and do it, but that’s not really happened yet. I expected to be able to be creative in my choice of presentation styles, but this is being questioned (I will say now that I will resist Wordpress for as long as I continue to blog). Some of the course elements are not what I would expect. I don’t expect to be able to contribute much in terms of the “making days”, not if I were to go out on a shoot anyway - a medium format camera and mobile internet are not good bedfellows. I don’t really expect to be making random things if they’re not on my “agenda” either - time and my capacity will collude to prevent this anyway. Yes, there’s a mix of things going on that have me in turmoil, which is strange, because whenever I speak to Angela or Caroline, the doubts fade to an extent, but only to return a little later. The fact that I’m even writing this now is indeed positive and would indicate that the doubts have receded a small distance. I have however contacted Lee in the OCA office (although still waiting for a response) and drafted a couple of notification e-mails. Nothing can be taken for granted yet.

This conversation took place at the end of the tutorial time as I did not want it to take up the lions share of the discussion, which it undoubtedly would have done if mentioned first.

Back to the first section of the tutorial then...

Well, that went ok, there was some comment on not being able to see all the detail of the
A Forest image in the Google presentation, which is kind of understandable. I suppose some of it depends on what you’re viewing it on. I could see it, but I also knew it was there.

In discussing the current work, WIllie Doherty was mentioned. I’m not sure if I’ve seen his work before, it sort of rings a bell, but....

Other than that, I suppose I will have to fill in my tutorial report form. If I can actually make head or tail of the scribbled notes I made.