Pecha Kucha

She'd sigh like Twig the wonder kid...

...and turn her face away.

Ok, that’s got nothing to do with anything, other than it’s from a song, which is the idea that probably what got the most mentions from the PK presentation. Not everyone provided feedback, but yeah, the music slant was the main thing. That and listing some interesting photographers.

And yes, that was indeed me on the first photograph, some 20-odd years ago in a Photo Booth in sunny Blackpool.

Not sure what else to add at the moment.

Pecha Kucha

A Pecha Kucha video about influences... What drives me? What makes me work? What makes me tick?

Here it is, from storyboard to the final video - 20 slides, 20 seconds each and a live voice over...


I’ll add what I’ve prepared as the voiceover text later, whether it ends up being what I actually say remains to be seen.

Slide 1 - Rob, some time ago...
Slide 2 - Concert photograph, 2010
Slide 3 -
Heinz Hajek Halke, The Home of Sailors, 1930
Slide 4 -
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brussels, 1932 (MoMA)
Slide 5 - Daido at Polka, 2011
Slide 6 -
Shomei Tomatsu, Kadena-cho, Okinawa, 1969
Slide 7 -
William Klein, Torn Cine Poster, 1961
Slide 8 -
Tony Ray-Jones, Glyndebourne, 1967
Slide 9 -
Christopher Petit, Radio On, 1979
Slide 10 - Untitled, from
Speak My Language, 2013
Slide 11 -
Petra Wunderlich, NYC Kingdom Hall, 2009
Slide 12 -
John Darwell, Legacy: Inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, 1998
Slide 13 -
William Eggleston, Untitled (Peaches), 1973
Slide 14 -
Stephen Shore, US 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, 21 July 1973.
Slide 15 -
Ridley Scott, Blade Runner, 1982
Slide 16 - Books 1, 2015
Slide 17 - Menu, 2012
Slide 18 - Books 2, 2014
Slide 19 -
Barbara Kruger, Belief + Doubt, 2012
Slide 20 - Pop Art Rob

Here’s what I
intended to say, but it didn’t quite work out that way:

1. Hi, my name is Rob and I’m addicted to photography
I’m going to talk about some of the things that I’ve liked and have influenced me over the years. The first thing I have to mention is music; it’s affected the way I looked, the way I feel and the work I produce. As you know, I’ve used lyrics in my images, but I’ve also used music as the image itself.

2. Here’s a photo I took at a gig, the photograph shows the audience and the effect music can have. Elsewhere it might be less overt but it’s there if you know where to look for the signs. All of my recent projects are also named after songs too. Might be a bit cheesy, but there we go.

3. Surrealism was the first “ism” I became aware of at school, and it’s stayed with me to some degree ever since. Not just in terms of photographers either, but Dali, Magritte and so on too. It probably comes from reading too much science fiction when I was younger.

4. Another surrealist was Henri Cartier-Bresson, but he will be better known for his photographs of the “decisive moment”, like his famous St Lazare photograph. I really got into black and white photography from these old images from Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau and Atget, etc.

5. From France, my interests moved over to Japan and the Vivo and Provoke groups from the 60s and 70s – photographers such as Tomatsu, Hosoe, Moriyama and Takanashi were producing images in the “are bure boke” style - grainy, blurry and out of focus.

6. The images were politically charged, and even though they were influenced by the West, and new wave filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard, they pushed against the American occupation of Japan and reacted to the experience of the atomic bomb.

7. William Klein was an influence on Moriyama, and I thought their exhibition at the Tate a couple of years ago was brilliant. What draws me is the way he layers different elements – photo with photo as with this one, or with text or graphic design.

8. Coming closer to home, I have to say I’m English, and I do like the more contemporary style of English photography – after the Picture Post era like this one from Tony Ray-Jones, it became a little edgier and… eccentric. I find this really interesting.

9. Cinema is another big influence, as you may have noticed from the work I’ve been doing. This still is from Christopher Petit’s Radio On, which was a direct influence on the work I exhibited in Bank Street last year with Speak My Language – a mosaic of images viewed in a large grid to form a non-linear narrative.

10. This is one of the images from that work, it’s of Wong Kar-Wai’s “Fallen Angels”, which also gave me the title of the project – Laurie Anderson’s “Speak my Language” was on the soundtrack to the film, and this frame and the lyrics were included in the mosaic.

11. I’ve also got to mention Objectivity and the Dusseldorf School – people like the Bechers, Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky. I find this relatively recently but it appeals to the engineer in me, with everything neat and ordered and logical.

12. Quite a few years ago, I attended a talk by John Darwell. During that talk, he spoke about his transition to colour photography, saying “This is now”. It really struck a chord with me and I’ve generally worked in colour since, but not always…

13. William Eggleston was one of the early colour pioneers, who helped make colour photography acceptable on the art scene. I really do like his eye for mundane details, the way he picks up on all the little things we might overlook and makes you look at them as if they now meant something. They become important somehow.

14. Stephen Shore was another of the early colour art photographers. This particular image illustrates postmodernist ideas for me, the simulacra of the mountain in front of the real thing, not quite a map so big it covers the country, but still…

15. This brings me back to film and Blade Runner – an all time favourite of mine, and a perfect postmodern film, with its themes of simulation, what is real and all that. Looking at something like this starts to make sense of some of the pomo theory.

16. I’ve done a reasonable amount of reading on visual culture, and I do subscribe to some of it, but not all – it gets a bit… aloof in places, and it assumes a lot. Some times I just like to appreciate things for what they are to me (itself part of the theory), rather than what they might mean or not.

17. My favourite kind of book is the photobook though. This is one I produced with Daido Moriyama at an event at the Tate. My methodology was much different to his, I was much more considered, and he was very random, more spontaneous. His juxtapositions can be down to luck rather than planning.

18. I like the physicality of the photobook, the image becomes an object that you can “own” rather than something just seen on a computer screen. Whilst books might be thought of as a limited media, you can do so much with it if you want to. And we all know about bookness now.

19. I’ve mentioned text before, but then I don’t like direct captions. I like to think about what I’m seeing, rather than being told what it is. Ok, sometimes I’ll admit to needing a clue, but if the caption is reductive, I’d rather not read it.

20. And that’s it, back to music, me and popular culture… I probably should have been born 20 years earlier.

I’m waiting for feedback from some of the cohort, but I think things went well enough. And it was quite interesting that the Barbara Kruger text came up in the lecture beforehand (as did Warhol’s Marilyn).