Having progressed to a point where the content of my work was interesting and visually strong in my view, I needed to start thinking of presentation methods. In a tutorial with Anthony, we identified that my decisions need to to made from in-depth, informed research; the reason of ‘to attract attention’ is a given and can’t be used as a reason behind any choice. I had to focus down on what I want to achieve, why I wanted to achieve it and what presentation strategy could help me achieve the effect and interpretation I desired. Anthony recommended I start researching different presentation strategies employed by artists and photographers examining a similar sort of area to me, so I could get some ideas on what is most effective. Seeing installation shots or visiting the work in a gallery would give me a greater idea of how the work was intended to be perceived.
Originally when I begun working with the idea of the ASL (age, sex, location) I had the idea of making a database or catalogue type response to replicate what technology does with our information. I originally thought if I could gather together a vast amount of data (portraits and information) from different people I could create an archive of people, representing what the future may look like in terms of how we are represented. This could take me along two different paths, producing a physical artefact like a book or a physical archive, or creating and constructing a digital response. I began experimenting with creating websites both on Dreamweaver using my own experience with web design, and using free templates from hosting platforms. This was a process I had attempted in the previous module Phonar, where I used a blog to try and create a portrait of an individual using the inconsequential data they had scattered across the Internet. In my reflection of that project, I identified that I didn’t have the necessary technical skills to be able to create the sort of effective response I would ideally like to produce. If I was going to attempt a digital response to this project, I decided I would ideally need to seek technical support from a computing student in order to build something really effective. This would mean working alongside another individual a lot as well as trying to research and put all of my own ideas into the design process.
I initially tried to contact the head of the international MA department to see whether I could have support from one of the students, as Caroline had told me part of their module requires them to have commissioned experience. However as I am not a professional company with a registered VAT number, I wouldn’t be able to have an MA student support me in my project.The alternative was to get in touch with a third or second year student to try and have their support however I made a judgement call in that if the student did become busy with coursework, they were highly likely to prioritise their own work and not mine. I needed that guarantee that I would receive ongoing support, something I couldn’t get from an undergraduate student. As a result of this, I decided not to make a digital response as realistically, I wouldn’t be able to achieve the result I wanted by myself and I couldn’t guarantee support from another student. In addition to this, conceptually if I want to make a statement about the digital genre, it would be more appropriate to produce a physical response as it would make the audience relate to it more. A physical artefact is more personal and I want the viewer to try and make a personal connection with my work, despite the fact that I am portraying a distorted concept. It would exaggerate the point I am trying to make if the viewer can physically see the response in front of them, a screen is so much easier to ignore. It has been identified in studies that seeing the world through a screen makes people’s emotions disinhibited and they become detached with what they are witnessing. Therefore a physical response will encourage the viewer to really connect with the piece I present to them.
I moved on from the idea of producing a digital response, to producing a physical artefact. I could either produce a box of prints with each different portrait/information in them, representing a physical artefact with hundreds of people ‘filed away’, ready for anyone to view when necessary. This would be a good way of interacting with the audience and establishing this idea of the audience having a personal connection with the people and their information. I had observed in the second year Picbod exhibition, that an interactive exhibit is very popular with the audience, as they can have a real part of the process and control their own viewing experience. Another method would be to produce a photobook with all of the portraits in, I could make the layout very uniformed so that the audience was encouraged to make comparisons between the different people in the images. I had previously researched artists like Donavan Wylie, who used a uniformed style of photography to represent how banal and similar the inner layout of a prison actually is. The consistent style of photography and layout in the book helped to encourage the viewer to make comparisons in the content of the images instead of the layout itself as the design was consistent. This concept was something I researched in relation to my Phonar content in the book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte who suggested that in order to encourage the viewer to observe fluctuations in the data, that the design must be completely consistent. I start creating mock ups of the archival prints and how I would layout a book with the images to see how they would work in an exhibition. When putting these artefacts together I realised that they looked a lot like a family photo album or a collection of family photographs in a box. The fact that you could still see the person in the image, still kept the idea of the human being involved in the process of their own representation, whereas I wanted to create the impression that technology uses information to represent the human individual. My presentation method needed to be a lot less person, more detached and cold in order to create this idea of objectivity and the process of cataloguing without compassion.
Between this stage and the second formative feedback review, I had my tutorial with David Moore and Anthony Luvera, where I started producing the binary images. These would be more suited to the idea of a photo book or a box of prints however there was still that element of the human involvement. In order to counteract this, I decided that in the exhibition environment it would be more approrpiate to display the images as prints on the wall. With the second formative feedback review approaching I decided to print off a variation of prints at different sizes to get feedback on which size would work best. I printed off some at a small size, approximately 10 x 10cm, some at a medium size of 21 x 21cm and lastly I attempted to print a larger size however the A3 printers around the university campus wouldn’t work for me. This larger size, if I had been able to print it, would have been approximately 80 x 80cm. For the small and medium sized prints I proposed displaying all seven images of the party leaders, however with the larger prints I would only display two: Ed Miliband and David Cameron as these are the two dominating parties. With these images I put my updated project proposal and simpler summary to make the project easier to interpret for my peers. It was interesting to observe people viewing my work and seeing which size of prints they engaged with more. In the verbal feedback session following, the general consensus from the group was that the medium sized prints worked the best overall as it was small enough to encourage the viewer to come closer and look. A large print would make the viewing experience too fleeting because the viewer would be able to discern the visual content without making an effort to engage with the image and the small prints were extremely hard to see even when the viewer was up close. The medium sized prints achieved a sense of intimacy and interaction without becoming too easy to consume.
With the size of the prints decided we focused on the additional issues at hand which were the printing paper and framing and textual support. It was identified that an absence of captions or an artist statement made it hard to decipher what the work was about and how the images should be perceived. The images became clearer when I was standing there explaining the concept behind it, therefore it was agreed that I should experiment with forms of textual support to provide the viewer with some information without being too didactic. In relation to the paper I would choose to print on, I acknowledged that I wanted to talk to Joanna at the print bureau to seek advice on which sorts of paper suited a dark print as my images are mostly black. It was suggested that I pursue a more fine art quality paper which would help signify the idea of a portrait, people would relate to the physical quality of the print and subsequently try to relate to the content of the image. In addition to this it was also suggested that I could print on newspaper as the repetitive numbers in the images correlate with the repetitive letters in a body of newspaper text. Taking all this feedback on board I progressed on to researching and experimenting with the different methods of presentation.
I went to talk to Joanna and get some test strips done, I asked her which paper would work best for a black print and we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the different paper types. There was a semi-gloss which still had some shine to the paper yet wasn’t completely glossy, this would make the blacks more vibrant and give the picture some protection from damage. The semi-matte however was less shiny therefore you could see the print more, however there are more risks in terms of damaging the print and with a lot of black there could be a loss in contrast. I ordered a test print of my images on both types of paper she recommended to see what the results would be.
In addition to the test strips from the print bureau, I wanted to search around and see whether any other organisations would offer printing and on what sorts of paper. I was mindful that simply going for the print bureau without researching anywhere else would be very close-minded and potentially limit the capacity of my project if I found somewhere else that was more appropriate. I had been recently messaged by the printing company Spectrum about a photography competition they were setting up and that students get 10% discount off all of their products. I decided to get in touch with them to ask about their different papers and they offered me a free collection of paper samples. I took this offer and up had them delivered before I picked up the test prints from Joanna to see what options they had. Spectrum sent me an envelope of small sized test prints, each with a sample portrait on them with the description of what paper type they were, ranging from ultra-glossy papers to extremely fibrous matt paper. I narrowed it down to three favourite paper types: Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl 310gsm, Innova FibaPrint Semi-Matte 300gsm and Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl 284gsm. All these paper types were Giclee and not C-type, Spectrum had previously explained that a different colour profile was needed for the different categories of paper and to be mindful of this when choosing.
I really liked the Hahnemuhle because it had a good texture to it and was matt so the risk of being too shiny didn’t apply, however when comparing to the other test prints I did notice a slight loss in contrast. The Innova Semi-Matte was really nice, it didn’t lose as much contrast as the previous type and yet it wasn’t too glossy however I did notice that it was the first paper type to suffer some surface damage so I didn’t think it was a good choice to pick. Lastly the Ilford Galerie was perfect, with a pearl finish it meant that the print was still matt enough to see without it being too shiny but yet it had a good contrast to the image and a resistance to the print because of the coating. The fact that the paper was also the thickest t 310gsm would hopefully mean that it would be resistant enough to last for both exhibitions without suffering too much damage. The Ilford was definitely my favourite therefore I decided to order a test print in this type paper, I didn’t order a test strip because for the cost of delivery, I assessed that I might as well get a print, then if I decided it was good enough quality I could potentially use this initial print for submission.
As Spectrum was quite expensive I decided to seek a company that did pearl prints but for a slightly lower price to compare the finish and quality. Then if they were similar, I could order the prints from the slightly cheaper company and put more money into getting them on the wall. The company DS Colour Labs has been the choice for a number of my peers because of their good quality, affordable pricing and good customer service. I decided to look at what types of paper the company did to see whether they offered a pearl finish like the print I ordered from Spectrum. They offered a pearl c-type print which I knew would be slightly different to the Giclee paper Spectrum had offered me, however the price was very affordable. So I decided to get a test print of my image done using DS Colour Lab’s pearl finish paper to see if there would be a massive different between it and the print from Spectrum. As with Spectrum I decided to order a full sized print just in case the finish was so good that I could potentially use it for my Final Major Project. I could have ordered a sample print from DS Colour Labs with the ability to input my own image, however the aspect ratio was wrong for my print and I didn’t want to put in a white border around, I wanted to see how the image would be if I was to order it. It was for this reason that I chose to order a proper print so I could compare the two test prints more easily.
After I collected the test prints from the print bureau, and my test prints came through the post, I was able to look at the different papers and finishes to see which I preferred the most. The semi-matte paper from the print bureau was actually quite fibrous, with a bit of texture which was great to feel, however there was some slight discolouration. The blacks were less dark and the paper itself appeared to be cream rather than white, which meant that the white numbers also appeared to be cream as well. The loss of contrast made the image look a little bit flat, like the numbers had sunk into the background as opposed to popping out and capturing the eye’s attention.
In contrast to this, the semi-gloss paper from the print bureau had a really good finish to it, similar to that of the Ilford Pearl paper from Spectrum which I liked so much. The black was really dark and solid on this paper, and instead of appearing to sink into the background, the numbers stood out and had a lot of presence. In addition to this, the whites actually looked white so the print was more accurate to what I had intended to print.
The print from Spectrum in the Ilford Galerie Smooth Peark 310gsm proved to be as good as I had envisaged it to be. Although the pearl finish gave it some shine, it wasn’t too glossy to be able to view the image effectively, in addition to this the blacks were deep, the whites weren’t discoloured and the print looked to have a good contrast. Ordering an actual test print allowed me to see how the actual image would look if I went with this company for the final version and I was really impressed with the quality. The total time it took to print and deliver it to me was really good despite there being a higher charge than what the usual first class postage price would be.
A little while after the Spectrum print had arrived, I received the DS Colour Labs print on pearl paper; as with Spectrum I was really impressed with the delivery time. It came to me within two days of me actually ordering it, this was mainly because I made sure to order it before 1pm which meant they started printing the order the same day. The finish of this pearl paper was quite different to the paper from Spectrum, the DS Colour Labs print was much more glossy, with quite a shine to it however it was still easy to see the detail of the image. The contrast and colours of this print was really good, with deep, dark blacks and a white that almost looked metallic in some lights, giving the prints a slightly futuristic effect.
Although this print was different to what I was expecting, I really liked it because it provided me with an aesthetic I hadn’t previously thought about choosing. The increase in gloss meant that you, as a viewer, could see slight hint of your reflection when looking at the image, which would really help my suggestion that these images are portraits. Being able to see the shape of a person in what appears to be the background of the print would either help the viewer relate to the idea of the portrait but at the same time challenge them and make them see the contrast between the conventional portrait and the coded representation I am offering them.
After testing out printing companies, I then needed to consider how I wanted my pieces to be up on the wall in the exhibition. As I am getting prints, I had a few choices of how to put the pieces up including framing them, mounting them or choosing a more creative method like using a light-box or making a book. Straight away I could rule out the option of something like a light box, and the option of making a book. In the formative feedback review, the class responded to my work so well as prints on the wall that I felt I needed to pursue this option. A print on the wall is comparative to the environment in which we would see a conventional portrait print; as my prints are so minimalistic in content I assessed that I needed to try as much as I could to convey the notion of a portrait through the way the prints are exhibited. The next decision was whether to frame the print, or to mount it and what materials to use for either option.
As my black prints are very modern and contemporary, I decided I needed a frame to suit it. I want to convey that these prints are a modern way of representation therefore it would be highly ineffective for me to frame them in an antique-style wooden frame. The frames need to be black so that they wouldn’t distract from the content, and in order to break away from the notion of antiquity altogether I decided they should be metal. This material would reflect the distorted, compassionless notion of portraiture I am offering to the viewer and link to the dystopian future I predict is awaiting us if we continue to classify people by their information. I researched different companies which would offer the frame type I wanted, and decided whether each company’s process was appropriate for me in terms of turnaround time, quality, price and whether they would frame the piece for me or whether they just supplied and delivered the frame for me to do myself. Although I have had some experience working with a framing company last summer, I wanted my pieces to be framed by a paid professional rather than attempting to do it myself for the sake of a cheaper cost. Quality is so important in my final major project, if the quality is not up to standard then the viewer isn’t going to take the work seriously.
At the end of the second formative feedback review, Caroline recommended I research an artist who used box frames for the installation of their work. These box frames suggested the idea of preservation, an act of anthropology that is normally seen in the study of smaller animals such as insects. The idea of putting my portraits in a box frame is really interesting and would quite effective at hinting to a future where technology will begin to research and catalogue the human individuals, in a process similar to that of the colonial photography in the past. I decided to research these options to see whether the price and the quality was going to be good enough for my project and whether I would have to frame the pieces myself or get it framed for me.
In my second apt with Emma Critchley, we discussed using a frame for my project and whether this would be the most appropriate choice. She agreed that the presentation should try and reflect and suggest that of a conventional portrait if I wanted to refer to portraiture as my concept. If I wanted to go directly down the route of portraiture she suggested I change the aspect ratio of my images to a rectangle and make the print size slightly bigger. These choices would encourage the audience to relate to the image as a portrait. I explained to her the idea behind wanting to use a square print as it related to the social media profile I had taken the image from, and that I was considering captions alongside my images. We discussed the idea of using a frame and how this may constrict the meaning I am trying to convey, Critchley suggested that if my images were meant to depict a portraiture relying completely on information, then I too should rely completely on the information in my project. The presentation style needed to be completely cold and adding in a frame would take away from this notion. She advised me to get my prints mounted onto aluminium and have wooden baton fixings made, this would give the impression that the prints were just floating on the wall. This clean, expressionless style would accentuate the cold notion of representation I am offering to the audience, with the captions still providing the audience with the knowledge that these are meant to be considered as portraits.
This left me with the decision to make, whether to go with a frame and make the adjustments to my images that Emma had advised, or whether to pursue the new option of aluminium mounting. There were advantages and disadvantages to each option: with the framing, it would indicate in a more obvious way, that the images were portraits. Changing the aspect ratio would contribute to the idea that this is a different form of representation for portraiture, working to challenge the audience. However it would stray slightly from my original concept, if I wanted the to express the possible future of a world where the only form of representation is information; I needed to opt for the aluminium mounting. In addition to this, I made some important decisions to make the images square as it references the images found on social media which is where my found material is from. This also emphasises the fact that a social media profile, including the profile picture and information, is a form of representation in the digital world and online culture. In order to stay true to my project, I decided to choose the aluminium mounting as the clean, cold style would benefit my concept of a future world relying only on information. With my decision made I started research options in terms of getting my prints mounted on aluminium, as ultimately this would decided where I would actually get the prints done.
First of all I went in to see Joanna in the Print Bureau to ask what sort of options she had in the way of mounting prints and unfortunately she didn’t do mounting on aluminium which meant I had to rule her out of the mounting process, however there was still a possibility of getting the actual prints from the Print Bureau. My second option was Spectrum as I liked the print quality and I had seen mounting options on the website so it was highly likely that they would be able to do the aluminium mounting. Sure enough that was a service they offered and it would also include the wooden baton fixings, however the price was higher than I could afford, even with their student discounted pricing. I then contacted DS Colour Labs directly, on their website it said that they print directly onto aluminium so I wanted to ask them if they could mount prints onto aluminium. They emailed me back saying that was something they could do, however it couldn’t be from prints I had ordered somewhere else and they didn’t offer wooden baron fixings. But the price was in my budget and I could afford to find another company who would offer me custom made wooden baton fixings. For these reasons, I chose to use DS Colour Labs for the printing and mounting of my project. I had to resize and make the prints slightly smaller as the bespoke aluminium for my original size would take too long to be made and I would miss the deadline. However this was a very small size change that would barely be noticed. After ordering the prints and mounting, I got into contact with another company online which would offer me the wooden baton fixings. I discussed my project with them and what the size of my prints were and they advised me what size to order, I would then attach the fixings to the print and the wall myself as the assembly isn’t complex.
When I received my prints from DS Colour Labs I discovered a part of the aluminium mounting process they offer that I hadn’t accounted for, that they came with their own fixings on the back: a hook to be hung on a nail and two foam buffers on the bottom corners to make the print look as though it was floating on the wall. These were glued onto the back of my pieces so I had to make the decision whether to order them again, whether to try and get the fixings off and attach my own wooden batons, or whether to use the fixings given. I assessed that there was no time to get the project reprinted, and as it was my own error not knowing the fixings came with the prints, I would be paying double the amount of my project, money that my budget didn’t cover. Using the fixings given would same me the fear and the risk of my own error if I attached the wooden batons, as there is a good chance I could attach them wrong or at a bad angle. In addition to this I would risk damaging my prints if I tried to remove the glued fixings from them, for this reason I decided to leave the fixings on that DS Colour Labs fitted them with as they still served the same purpose that I wanted the wooden batons to achieve. The more I thought about the fixings that DS Colour Labs had fitted with them, it became clear that the look of these fixings suited the project much better than the wooden material of the other fixings. The aluminium hook for the nail blended into the background of the print and the black foam buffers weren’t obvious when you looked at the print slightly to the side because they coordinated with the black in the images and helped give the body of work the futuristic look I had attempted to create. In my haste to try and fit to what Emma had suggested to me, I realised I had overlooked the crucial fact that these wooden baton fixings, if seen, would go against the aesthetic of my whole project.
With my prints and fixings sorted I needed to turn my attention to the other elements I wanted in the exhibition space. It was identified in the formative feedback review that in order to make a point about the people in the images, I would need captions to tell the audience who the portraits are actually of. This was an aspect I was also questioning as it is impossible to actually tell who the images are representing as there is no recognisable indication of their likeness. Initially I decided on captions, these would detail the title of each image and give the audience a bit more information about what the image was representing, it could be that the captions I produced were the names of the candidates. However I needed to research more into the use and text in art to make sure that I was making the right decision for my project, which lead me to reading through the book ‘Art and Text’. It was through researching this aspect of including text in the piece of art that I was able to strengthen my original choice and find the reasoning why this was an appropriate choice for my concept. I started brainstorming what these captions could be and settled on three different options: full names, first names and the designated part colours. I printed out versions of my prints and stuck them to the wall in my room. I then printed off all three sets of captions and put them below each corresponding print, I asked my two housemates, one who did photography and knew about my project, the other who did English and had heard a little bit about what I was doing and asked their opinions. Previous to asking them I had made a provisional decision that I wanted to include the full names however I wanted other opinions to see whether they would differ from mine. I am very aware that my close proximity to my own project can leave me with a certain idea in relation to it’s outcome and that a different perspective is often very useful and sometimes very different. Both of my house mates decided that the first names are definitely the most effective, as it made you relate to the portraits because the names could represent someone real in their life, however when you know that the portraits are politicians it is still easy to identify who is who. The full names were too obvious and didn’t let the viewer interpret the images in any other way, in addition to this, the controversy that surrounds the election candidates could prevent the viewer even trying to relate to them in the first place. The party colours were too ambiguous, instead of representing a person they represented a whole set of people and beliefs, in addition to this some of the part colours are not as expected and therefore it would make it hard for the viewer to realise who the portrait actually is. Despite originally wanting the full names as my captions, I fully saw the reasoning behind having the first name captions and actually this would be the more appropriate and effective choice for my project. The first names would allow people to relate to the images, as it is so possible that the portraits could be of anyone, there is no recognisable likeness for a human to look at. However for a computer they could interpret this code and form the visual represent the binary code describes.
Once I decided the content, I needed to decide the style of the caption and how it would look as this was also a really important part of the process. If my captions didn’t reflect the tone of my concept, the effect would get lost through a mistranslation, so I experimented with different fonts, with reasonings behind each and decided which one would be the most effective.
The first font was Cambria, the default font I have in Word, I made this the basis for comparison between the other fonts to see the main differences in the one I would usually use and the one I would want to use for my project. I could rule Cambria out pretty much straight away because there was nothing really stylised about it, it is just a font that is meant to be disregarded to concentrate on the content. I wanted a font that would help to make the statement about my work that I am trying to make in the content of the prints.
The American Typewriter font was quite interesting, I chose this to be a referent to the older practice of catalogue in the case of colonial photography, linked to the process of making files with the portraits and keeping them tucked away as a record of the culture. This is the kind of stylised font I wanted with my project, however I feel this was too closely linked to the idea of a human sitting and typing these captions, although I do want to reference the colonial photography, I want to keep it true to my concept and create the idea that it is the computer making these observations from the information of the human race.
Bangla was a more modern choice meant to create a sense of contemporary art however on reflection the font is too similar to Cambria in that it isn’t nearly stylised enough to actually make a statement about the work.
I thought the Engravers font was really interesting and it encouraged a fleeting idea I had about getting the captions engraved into metal to sort of bring a modern, contemporary feel to the work. However on reflection the inclusion of metal into the fray would suggest that I am trying to link my piece to the concept of industrialism and the industrial revolution, this would be detrimental to my work as I am trying to hint at a future society, with conceptual referents to the past. Industrialism is not the concept I want to focus in on with my concept so this font is not appropriate for my project.
The Orator font was really interesting, and straight away I felt taken to it, however I needed to pin down why I felt it would be so effective. The apparent loss of humanist characteristics in this font is really interesting, as with Engraver there is no trace of handwriting in this font, it really looks as though this was created digitally, to be viewed on the screen, with no intention to look like a human could have written it. This loss of personality is exactly what I want to achieve in my project, as I want to remove all traces of identity apart from the binary information I am offering to the audience, therefore this would be a suitable font for my concept. In addition to this, there is a subtle reference to the American Typewriter font in the aesthetic, the uniformed style with the thin lettering does look similar to that of a typewriter, making it stylised enough to pick up a reference, but not too strong as to make the viewer think that a human was behind the creation of these captions.
Tekton pro was an experiment which I knew wouldn’t probably work having reflected on the other chosen fonts. I wanted to see what it would look like to have a font which resembled what could be perceived as human handwriting, just to see whether it would actually be appropriate for my concept. As expected however I didn’t think that this font would be appropriate at all, because it reintroduced an element of human identity back into the frame, which was an aspect I wanted to avoid at all costs because it detracts from the coldness of the prints in which only binary data is offered. It was a good choice to try this option out however as it did confirm what I already expected, but it allowed me to demonstrate and reflect on why this wasn’t a good choice.
Orator it appeared was the perfect font for my project because of the aesthetic referencing the historic practice of using portraits as a process of cataloguing and the way it removes the trace of a human influence, creating the impression that this font was made entirely digitally, for the use of computer technology. However there was one aspect that bothered me about the appearance of the font and that was the difference in height between the capital letters and the lower case letters, although it would be grammatically correct to have the capitals in there, I wanted to see whether it would look better as lower case.
This change was really effective for me, the captions appeared to read easier because there was no obstacle for the eye to tackle. Grammar is something that computers are taught in order to help the human being in applications like Word, which we use for our writing. In coding, there are a different set of rules that a computer must apply to, in which the human notion of grammar doesn’t apply, therefore by removing the upper case letters from the captions, not only am I improving the aesthetic, but I am also strengthening my concept.
As well as the captions, I believed my project needed either my artist statement, or a descriptive piece to signify what the project is about, give the audience a bit more information and actually inform them that the images are of the party leaders for the 2015 election. This statement would support the captions and allow the viewer to know who the portraits are of without the captions being too obvious. I wrote a statement for the exhibition catalogue and the source photographic review which detailed the concept behind the project and the statement it was trying to create. I put a lot of work into the statement to make sure that it supported the work but wasn’t too closed so the viewer couldn’t form their own interpretation. The first couple of drafts needed more work because it was either too gimicky or the terminology I used would give slightly the wrong impression. After a process of drafting and redrafting, my final statement read:
‘Figures of Authority’ is a photographic project exploring the role of communication and the representation of the individual in the digital age. Just as the digital image is defined by code, the online user is becoming increasingly condensed into information.
Activities such as politics have transitioned to online spaces where electoral candidates have begun to focus their campaigns. In this environment popularity is measured by how many times a statement is re-tweeted and debates can become highly toxic.
In an age where identity is formed using code, there appears to be a significant loss of humanity. If the potential Prime Ministers can defined by a set of figures, it would indicate society is conforming to a transition in identification, which resembles a bygone practice of cataloguing.
I then needed to decide whether to use this statement or whether to produce something new for the exhibition. I did think about writing another statement which explained the process behind the images and that the representation was in binary code, however I liked the fact that some people might not know what the code actually is, because that represents how unfamiliar we are with the process behind our technology however we continually use it. We couldn’t dream of writing the complex algorithms that are behind the Internet and social media however we trust them completely with our information. Even despite the revelations involving hackers and the knowledge that information on the Internet is rarely safe and ever truly removed, online users still partake in social media, causing their information to be scattered across the Internet. I decided that it would be appropriate to use the artist statement I had previously written, this would also mean that the description of my project is consistent through all the different environments in which it is displayed including web, print and in the exhibition space.
After deciding what the content of my text was going to be in the exhibition, I needed to decide what materials to use to print and put the text up on the wall. There are many different ways and materials which can be used to mount, just like a photographic print ranging from more temporary, light weight materials like card and foam to resistant, long term materials such as MDF and aluminium. The aesthetic and materials used for my captions needed to reflect my concept as much as possible in order to keep the overall effect strong. If I carelessly chose the simplest options for my captions, this might be detrimental to the impact I intend to make with the project and it takes away from the care I took in researching and producing the image content. I chose the company Spectrum, who I was impressed with previously but couldn’t order my actual prints from them because the aluminium would be too expensive. I chose to order on the Ilford Pearl paper, the one which I liked the best when testing my prints because it gave the black and white a good contrast and colour and demonstrated some resistance to wear and tear. These prints were to be backed on 3mm Foamex which is a popular material for mounting giving the appearance of floating on the wall however it is resistant enough to be able be durable for both exhibitions.
With the content and the materials decided, I made the order in Spectrum however a couple of days after I made the order, I had a tutorial with Caroline who suggested I change my captions to the full names and not include the artist statement. This decision was instigated by the last degree show meeting in which Anthony opted against artist statements as it would be a bit too obvious and not let the audience make their own interpretation. As the statements would be available in the catalogue it wasn’t completely necessary to have my statement alongside my work, for this reason I tried to ring the company and stop or change the order. However they had already printed and mounted the order so I had a choice to make, whether to continue with the original order and have the artist statement and first names, or whether to make and pay for another order with the full names. I decided to make the second order however keep the first set of captions with the view of using them for Free Range if my first set of captions got damaged in any way. I wanted to fix these captions on the wall using a detachable system such as velcro to make sure that these could be used again as much as needed or possible.
With all the materials ordered and coming before the deadline date, I needed to provide a concrete plan of what I wanted the piece to look like on the wall. I had already filled in a gallery requirement sheet at the previous formative feedback review and my request wasn’t rejected so I chose to follow the same plan that I had specified in the first instance. I wanted my seven prints (now 20cm x 20cm instead of 21cm x 21cm as previously suggested) on the wall at head height (approximately 160 centimetres) with an inch in between each print. Although I had already made known what I wanted the images to be displayed like, I created a plan to include with my submission to let the markers know how I wished them to be exhibited, this would also be my process if I was handing pieces to be exhibited in any other circumstances. This was also made clear later as one the required pieces alongside submission, to be used as a placeholder for when the curating team started making decisions about which gallery to put the work, and how to integrate it best with the other pieces. It was at this point I needed to decide the order of the different prints, I had the option of either randomising it, alphabetising it by surname or alphabetising it by forename. I didn’t want to randomise it, because a computer filing system wouldn’t catalogue files in a random order, so it would either be alphabetised by surname or forename. Originally I thought surname however I realised that this is a notion humans have introduced to order themselves, when creating the order of files in a folder, a computer would alphabetise it by the first letter of the first word, therefore I decided it would be appropriate for my concept to order the prints alphabetically by first name. When making the wall layout I made sure to include the title, my name and the materials used for the prints and captions, as this would give the curators a better idea of what the piece looks like both content-wise and in physical presence.
Overall I am satisfied with the presentation methods I have chosen to use for the exhibition of my work; although there are always ways I could identify to make it better. The one real hindrance to my project was the budget, and although I did work and save money to go towards it, I still couldn’t afford the printing company I really wanted. I recognise that the creative process is all about overcoming the barriers in front of you, so I negotiated with this obstruction and tried to balance quality with affordability, trusting that my concept was strong to challenge the viewer past looking at the overall artefact itself. I feel I have really taken the care and attention to make sure the presentation method is appropriate for what I want to achieve right now with this project. There were other avenues of presentation that I reflected upon in my research that I was really close to choosing, however it was through reflecting that I was able to identify what was right for my concept. The process of deciding which presentation method to use has been as careful as the creative process behind the piece itself, which I hope will really benefit the project which it comes to exhibit it, as the methods I have chosen are the ones I have identified will be the most effective for the idea I am trying to convey.