Pecha Kucha

T3 : Mapping the Territory Pecha Kucha

The Pecha Kucha presentation is here:

Draft v1 of my notes for presentation are as follows (not time trialled, so fully expected to change when I say it):

1: I started this task using mind mapping - a little program I'd never used before called Mind Maple on the Mac. Inexpensive, but it allowed me to start putting my thoughts down in some form of logical order, although I did actually change my mind on this a couple of times. The thing with the software though is you need to know where you want to be going from the outset.

2: Having changed direction a little, the mind map quickly grew as I added more artists, more influences and more subjects into it, even though the categories were quite broad to begin with. I could've continued adding names, but felt I had to stop somewhere. I also knew this wouldn't be the finished piece.

3: It all got very complicated very quickly when I added some of my own categories so it became useful to me personally, even if I left these at a top level.. There's not really enough within the tool to allow me to do this as I wanted. Everything is too chaotic to be neatly arranged. And too neatly arranged to be chaotic...

4: If you take someone like Martin Parr, he's influenced a lot of photographers, and has been influenced by them too. I do find that photographic national identity interesting, so being able to trace from Tony Ray Jones to Parr to Peter Dench... the stylistic patterns can appear, but then that all relates to others again and identity can become diluted.

5: With Japanese photography, there's a very distinctive identity at the surface, but then there's also many others that don't follow that obvious style. And Japanese photography traditions are rooted in European photography anyway, but with a little twist. It's not so easy to pigeon-hole.

6: As well as other artists and influences or interests, I also added a few questions that I sometimes ask myself, questions that I probably won't be able to answer as a result of doing this activity in isolation, but I thought they needed to be there.

7: So how to make sense of it? My first thoughts were to fill the walls of a room with images. Erik Kessels took this to extremes with his 24 hours of Flickr. It's a valid approach in questioning how we make sense of visual stimuli in the 21st century. Or even whether we can make sense of it at all.

8: I kept it somewhat lower key, selecting some images by those artists I'd written down, adding some of my own to the mix, and a couple of others that I felt were relevant to a somewhat vague plan that was growing in my head who didn't appear in the mind map so far.

9: From there I pinned them randomly to a board and started to trace what I saw as logical lines between them, not necessarily who knew or followed who in their world, but how things appeared to me. What they mean to me and how I interpret them.

10: This approach reflects the chaos I feel when trying to unpick the contemporary photography scene, and the art scene in general. Things that might not actually be connected in real life are connected because of associations I make, rightly or wrongly in terms of their intentions.

11: As some of the things from mind map weren't easy to pictorially define, I opted for some text, the use of which within the image I find interesting anyway, so it seemed relevant to do it this way. Again, they were pinned randomly to the board, using the same pins as the photos. Not sure if this was the right way forward.

12: The questions are things I often ask myself. Should I have photographed this empty cereal bowl, or should it have been a full one as seems to be a bit of a trend in social media from time to time? Is something so mundane actually interesting, or is it just like a filler track on an album? I do like the idea of "elevating the mundane" though, as with pop-art, and a lot of other photography, basically...

13: I stood and thought about the images then tried working with long lengths of thread, linking the images in a single line according to an idea I had that created connections for me, this generally didn't work out though to be honest, and I often found myself adding legs later as something else occurred to me.

14: Not everything is linked either, some of the text especially has been overlooked at the moment (the images are linked though). I might add these in time, although it may be a good thing that it be changed so they stand in isolation. It appears they're linked but its not the case.

15: There's so many connections that haven't been made too, but to do this properly would result in something truly chaotic and needing another way of fastening things - the effect is getting close to what I envisaged though and information overload. I also need more colours of thread.

16: The fact that almost everything can be connected is sort of like the movie game the Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon. You will be able to do the same with these artists, although that's not really what i've achieved here. Not in such direct terms. It might be an interesting approach to take with it though.

17: But in a modern visual culture, the links are for the reader to make, and as Foucault said, we interpret everything in terms of everything else, so with enough different colours of cotton and enough time, this could take on all sorts of different meanings.

18: I suppose doing this is a little like looking inside my own head, and the jumble of things that can be there in terms of the visual - over time I will be processing all these things and trying to make them ordered, as they were in the mind map, but the truth is that the more I look at, the more unordered things can be.

19: And the more questions I can find myself asking too, and the more things - images, songs, films, books, whatever - are added to the mix and the more connections can be made or, in some cases, unmade. It can gets complicated even as I try and make sense of it.

20: I suppose the most important question for me is that which sits above a snap of my camera at the approximate centre of the board - what is photography?