Figures of Authority

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.

 

The project is a photographic response to the issues surrounding online communication, digital identity and the residence of computer technology in society. Building on concerns associated with artificial intelligence and research on the online disinhibition effect it appears as though the online world is becoming increasingly compassionless, impossible to tell whether you are engaging with a person or a piece of software. In this world, information is the key aspect and the individual is being increasingly defined by their digital footprint, constructed of personal information. This inconsequential data, scattered across the Internet using applications and platforms such as social media, is used to form an impression of identity by those collecting it. The idea that an individual can be represented entirely by their information or personal ‘metadata’ references the transition in photography where the image is now made up of information. Visual data is just one form it can take, as the digital image is capable of moving between a latent and manifest state instantaneously. The concept that a person can be completely defined by information is alarming, provoking premonitions of a dystopian future where the individual is recorded and catalogued according only to their online presence.

It has been noted that the transition from physical to online spaces has an active effect on behaviour, with anonymity, disassociation, imagination all contributing to this alteration. The online disinhibition effect is an unconscious change in personality and behaviour; where the emotions of the online user can become detached. This leads to abnormal social behaviour which can take place in two ways, either a rush of intimacy leading the individual to reveal more about themselves, or a release of anger where the individual instigates and engages in toxic activity. Previous excuses for this asocial behaviour have involved the individual disassociating themselves with their actions, believing that their online self is separate. However identity and personality is not thought of as being compartmentalised anymore, but rather as a set of constellations; when an individual enters an online space, certain parts of these constellations align to form a particular arrangement of the individual’s personality. Therefore online identity is not an extension of the self, but is just as much part of them as their physical behaviour. As well altering behaviour, online spaces allow the individual greater control over their identity, with the power and tools available to mediate and construct a picture of their identity with commercial idealism in mind.

The images which form the photographic response are binary-coded portraits of the seven candidates for the 2014 General Election, using appropriated images from their social media profiles. 2010 was a very influential year with a coalition was formed and in the five years following this event, politics has steadily become increasingly discussed in online spaces. Party leaders now have Twitter and Facebook accounts, the General Election debates were trending on Twitter and online quizzes were available to see which party is appropriate for each user. The information from political leaders is notoriously ambiguous, with no guarantee that any promises will be held, or that they aren’t hiding more sinister plans. In addition to this, online spaces have contributed to the mediation of their identity, the careful construction of a positive reputation. The Figures of Authority series is making a new statement, can these binary images be considered as a representation, a portrait of this individual? Although humans can’t instantly perceive what these images are offering, computer technology would be able to instantly read and know what visual data this image is telling them. These constellations and fragmentations of identity physically represented by the mediated profiles of information an individual scatters across the Internet makes online users vulnerable, easily exploited by software. Could a future be approaching where a practice of observing, documenting and cataloguing is reinstated with computer technology assuming the authoritative role over mankind?

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Research – Presentation Strategies

Having not taken part in an exhibition before, I wasn’t very familiar with the different options I could take for my own project, therefore I needed to conduct research to widen my knowledge and figure out what would be the appropriate decision for my project. My tutors had recommended I seek the installation shots of the different projects or to visit them in person if possible, this would enable me to see how the prints were displayed and how they worked within the particular environments they were exhibited. I attempted to research a wide variety of different artists, what their work investigates and how they were/are displayed. This would give me my own ideas as well as seeing what sort of methodology is appropriate for the work that is of a similar nature to mine.

 

Kennard Phillipps is a collaborative movement making work since 2002 to respond to the invasion of Iraq; the work seeks to challenge the concept of power and war internationally. Their cause has brought various different people together offering a range of skills to create work for different environments including gallery spaces, printed matter and online spaces. The piece I am particularly interested is also based on a politician, in this case the subject is George Osbourne and his quote ‘Britain is turning a corner’. The piece uses newspapers with economic figures as the basis before using alternative methods to overlay another design and element of subject matter.

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The piece is printed on newspaper which is a really interesting choice to use when responding to political and controversial matter. There is always a subtle indication that anything printed on newspaper, is the news from professional news organisations, our traditional gatekeepers who are meant to have a responsibility towards the public and publish the truth. This notion has been combined with the practice of politics, where information is given to the public in a matter that is meant to sound as positive as possible, being manipulated as much as they can to make sure that no negatives can be taken. A speech or a promise from a politician is always taken with a pinch of salt as they can be no way of knowing what they are telling is true, or what they have chosen not to tell. The medium of print also means that people can really get in close and look at the numbers and figures behind the artwork, looking at the detail may broaden their interpretation of the project. The act of taking something in their hands and looking at each part of it is not available in the online spaces of the Internet, the only function that comes close to this is the ability to sometimes ‘zoom in’ however this does not always achieve the best results. This is something I really need to consider with my images, I had previously thought of displaying them on a screen as this would indicate I am investigating a digital concept, however this would make it hard for the viewer to see the detail in my images. In a printed version of my image you can really see the individual numbers more clearly and a static print on a wall would be much more effective for the viewer and radically improve their viewing experience. These prints could either be separate prints featured on the wall, or all of the images could form a printed book. This piece has also opened up another avenue for my project, using alternative materials to print on as I have identified the newspaper has brought another element to the project. I need to consider whether the materials I use for my project compliment or destruct the notion I am trying to express.

 

Christian Marclay is an artist who explores the relationship between fine art and sound, attempting to produce pieces which explores the dynamics of both mediums. From January to April in 2015 there was an exhibition showcasing a vast majority of the work from Marclay’s work which in turn, demonstrated the vastly different outcomes each project produces. I was particularly interested in the work exhibited in box frames, Marclay took sheet music from songs and put them in frames with warped bullseye glass. The songs themselves indicate onomatopoeia, or reference the art of painting which Marclay envisioned having a dripping, wet sound, therefore the frames reflect this notion by replicating a raindrop.

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These box frames are a really interesting idea and they really help to make the concept behind Marclay’s images clear. The space between the sheet music and the glass means that the audience can still see part of the music to recognise what it would be, without the warped glass becoming too much of a restriction. However the glass adds an extra element which works to convey the idea of water Marclay identified in the creative process. The actual box frame would indicate to me that these portraits are a study, in this case a study of sound. The brown frame, the white mount and the slightly aged tone to the paper of the sheet music all aesthetically reference zoology studies in which the scientist would preserve species such as insects. The idea of preservation and observation could be really effective for my project as it would indicate I am preserving a method of portraiture that might become common place. It could create the idea of the human race being preserved in a way that is convenient and legible for computer technology. In this case it would appear the box frames are a good idea, however when referring back to my reflection on the Kennard Phillips work, I remembered how important is was for the viewer to get close to a piece with detail, especially if the detail is the most important part, not the effect of the overall artefact. The distance between the glass of the box frame and the content would be detrimental to my project as it would obscure the view from the viewer and make their viewing experience limited as a result. The viewer needs to be able to get up close to my prints and examine the detail, a box frame would not allow this close interaction as the glass would act as a barrier.

 

Emma Critchley is a visiting professional to our course and previously gave a talk on her artwork before making herself available for tutorials on her work. She showed many installation shots of her work in the talk and this enabled me to really see how the work interacted and existed in the physical environment. She also explained that the creative process can either be impacted by the intended environment or the work itself can demand a specific type of space to be effective. Critchley’s work ‘Figures of Speech’ was an abstract investigation into the way communication is made and it is altered by a change of environment. Critchley photographed people speaking particular words underwater, capturing the release of air made with each element of speech.

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These images are displayed in a very clean, abstract style with no captioning or artist statement, the work stands alone within the exhibition alongside the other elements of the project. They are displayed in thin black frames, so as not to distract from the image content, working to merge into the black background of the image. The photograph evidences that the pieces also have a specific lighting set up, the spotlights proving the viewer with the ability to examine the images in more detail, however the glass could work to make the viewing experience less effective because of the glare. Without being at the exhibition myself I can’t criticise the choice of glass without seeing how the pieces react being in a spotlight. Lighting is definitely something I should consider when producing my pieces and picking the presentation method, as the background of my images is mainly black, having glass may make it harder for the viewer to see what is in the image. With Critchley’s images it doesn’t matter as much because the viewers don’t have to get very close to the pieces due to the size, however since my pieces are small the viewer would have to get closer, increasing the risk that they might not be able to see. However the use of the black frame is something I can definitely apply to my own project, if I was going to use a frame it would need to be dark to merge into the subject matter and not distract from the image content.

 

I was recommended to research the artists of the Carroll Fletcher gallery, as they experiment with concepts and issues centric to the digital revolution. The first I chose to research was Thomson and Craighead, who have produced many different pieces of work which have operated in both gallery spaces and online environments. They often adapt the pieces to suit the different environments which can help to extend the lifecycle of the project, their piece Beacon began as a gallery installation however now that the installation is over, a digital version is now featured on the Tate website.

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Online Version

 

Although the gallery version looks different from the online version it doesn’t necessarily mean that the project itself has changed or become less effective. It has simply had to adapt to suit different environments, the flip screen installation wouldn’t be able to operate online however it would have had a powerful physical resonance in the gallery space. The online web version wouldn’t have had such a great effect in the space of a gallery, but it does have the ability to withstand and exist continually whereas the gallery installation has a limited amount of time to make the statement. I need to consider the longevity of my own project and decide whether I need to make certain steps to adapt the project to exist out of the gallery space once the degree show and free range are both over. My project needs to be able to exist afterwards online to continue making the statement and also to improve my exposure as a photographer after the exhibitions have finished.

Another project from Thomson and Craighead is London W1W which was exhibited in the Museum of London in 2013, existing as a series of fly posters. The pieces consisted of a number of tweets, statuses and other social media activity over a specific portion of time which where then made into artwork and pasted on the wall in location.

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In contrast to the previous piece, this body of work is very perishable, only meant to exist for a short amount of time. These fly posters will only exist until new exhibitions are put over the top of it, they will either scraped off or painted over. This presentation method is extremely appropriate for the subject matter it is investigating, the limited life span of this project represents the fleeting nature of social media, each thread representing the raw thoughts of the user at a time. The idea of the piece having to be removed or painted over represents the individual trying to change their representation by removing the content they have chosen to share, however like with the physical piece of art work, there will always be a trace of that information left behind. Although this piece of work won’t last and be viewed continually like Beacon will be, this presentation method is extremely effective and works completely for the concept. This is definitely a different element I hadn’t considered before, when seeing how Beacon would continually be seen by audiences, something I believed I wanted for my project. However after being introduced to another form of presentation which is although limited in time, is proven to be more effective I have found I need to be open minded and respect what is right for my project, not just what would be good for exposure. Ultimately if the project isn’t effective, it won’t stay in the public eye for very long which would mean my profile as an artist and photographer would suffer as a result.

 

Constant Dullaart is another artist from the Carroll Fletcher gallery who works with highly digital concepts, the website of Dullaart is an artefact in itself with a self-scrolling device and a digitally  creative site heading and subject bar. Dullaart’s project’s work both in an online space and a gallery environment, similar to Thomson and Craighead’s Beacon, however there isn’t such a big alteration in the aesthetic and appearance. The piece of work ‘Jessica.ps’ was shown first as a gif which explored the transformation a photograph can make when it is highly edited; this is relevant because the original image was one of the first cases of Photoshopping to an extreme standard before. This is a reconstruction of the original however as there was an attempt to delete and destroy the image for good after the discovery.

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The piece was also adapted to also exist effectively in a gallery space, taking different stages of the editing process and displaying them as still images. Although the form of the project has changed, the original aesethetic is still very similar, allowing the viewer to relate to the project in pretty much the same way as they did before. The only difference is that they don’t see the project as a moving image feature, they view the stages in a slower time scale. I hadn’t previously considered trying to make my images into some other format to follow the exhibition however this is an aspect of my project I really need to make a decision about. whether my images only exist as images after the degree show and free range, or whether to change the nature of it to suit a different space. I probably won’t be able to exhibit again for a while and there is no great need to exhibit the project again following two major shows however I do want my project to exist online after the two different shows end. Therefore I need to think about how my project will currently operate in an online space and/or how to change it to make it more effective in a digital space. I could consider changing it into a gif, this would mean that all of my work is seen at once and none of the image are seen out of the context of the series. It also means that the viewer can make comparisons between the images throughout the course of the moving image piece, the fact that a gif is on loop will enable this comparison process to continue. However I wouldn’t be able to include the captions beside the actual images unless I used a different image file; one with the caption embedded or placed on a border around the content. Although gifs can be highly effective, this is clear from Dullaart’s work, I need to be able to justify that this option is appropriate for my project.

 

Reflection:

Overall the research I have done into presentation methods has been really useful, I have opened my mind up to new methods of presentation as well as ruling some of them out. I can appreciate how the different approaches are effective for each project however as the concepts are different to mine, I shouldn’t necessarily utilise them for my own work. I can however, keep them in mind when I next produce a body of work, as it may be that one of these methods I have researched would be perfect. The black frames from Emma Critchley’s work could be appropriate for my work however I am concerned about the glass and whether the glare would be too much. The fly poster approach is so effective for the concept Thomson and Craighead were investigating, but it isn’t effective for mine, I need to reflect that this project is a study of a moment in time, therefore it needs a sense of durability. One aspect both Thomson and Craighead and Dullaart brought my attention to, was the form my project should and would take after the exhibition time was over. I knew I wanted it to exist after the exhibition was over and that would most likely be in an online space, but I hadn’t put any thought into whether I should adapt the project and change it to suit a digital environment. However I now have some ideas to experiment with in relation to my exhibition and the life of my project afterwards which I will go on to pursue.

Research – Colonial Photography

In the creative process of my work I started thinking about portraiture as a medium and how my images fit into this genre. 2014 and 2015 has seen an increase in the arts covering social and cultural history and the practice of portraiture has been integrated in some important historical events, which have impacted the world and relate to the concept behind my project. The ITV drama Indian Summers investigated a the imperial rule of India and the issues surrounding colonialism and cultural domination. Photography and portraiture was employed by the Imperial Government to create surveys of the Indian culture to observe the environment and the native inhabitants. Using photography as a form of power was a significant part of the colonial rule and portraiture was used as a process of identification and observation. The power of the gaze is a concept widely discussed in photography, with Barthes originally describing the relationship between the photographer and subject as the operator and target. This exploitative, aggressive terminology relates to the objective style of portraiture embraced by the colonial rule. The photographer can have an incredibly powerful stance over the subject and this is generally reflected in the early cultural photography where it appears as though the photographer is very much the outsider. Aside from colonial photography this stance can also be loosely recognised in the work of Walker Evan and Robert Frank in their investigations of America. Abigail Solomon Godeau addressed this outsider stance and explained that this notion of portraiture is incredibly exploitative and often results in a misunderstanding of the subject because the photographer themselves don’t understand.

The purpose of the colonial portraiture was to collect and document evidence of physical attributes to learn more about the people of the Indian culture. The practice of photography to document biological attributes, known as eugenics, has been used in many different contexts, including the classification and identification of criminals, with some sociologists claiming to see repeating characteristics in the physical attributes of criminals. As sociology developed and the human race accepted that cultural differences are just variations in the lifestyles and environments of each part of the world, the practice of photographic cataloging reduced. It was only being used for governmental reasons deemed to be necessary in society such as photographing  individuals who have been arrested and the requirement of photographic identification in the form of a passport and driving license. However with the development of digital technology we are seeing a new form of observation and documentation, but this time it is all humans that are being investigated by computer technology. It has become common practice for technology to track and record an online user’s activity on the Internet with the view of creating a profile of information which is used to tailor their search results, target them for particular advertising and even look out for suspect terrorist activity by security organisations.

It has been said that the Internet is the largest free public archive in existence, with social media forming the vast majority of all the information. There have been many instances in which this information has been harvested and exploited by commercial companies in order to target certain individuals to try and sell their products. One key aspect of free social media that many users perhaps don’t realise is that they are the product, the terms of conditions of many social media platforms specify that the information the user shares on social media is technically their property, the only difference between whether the company can offer this information out to third parties, is if the user makes their profile private. Although many see the tailoring of searches, and advertising convenient, it means that humans themselves have encouraged technology to begin a continual documentary process where a representation of the individual is formed of their online information. This is comparative to that of the colonial photographers documenting the physical attributes of a foreign culture. Physical attributes and the information on social media represents the superficial, outward representation of an individual, the true representation comes from knowing and interacting with that individual; something that doesn’t happen in either practice. By encouraging and developing computer technology, we are actually introducing a new form of cultural cataloging, where no one is safe.

Photographer Jason Scott Tilley’s photographic project ‘People of India’ worked against the notion of colonial photography by looking at the people and characters in India and photographing them having known who they are as a person, rather than the process of objective cataloguing seen earlier in the history of India. In his project, he followed the footsteps of his father in attempting to document the Indian culture with an insider stance, producing a celebration of culture and representing the difficulties that certain individuals face. Tilley avoided producing what many characterise as ‘victim photography’ avoiding a dominate stance and not showing pity towards the subjects that he photographed. This was a compassionate statement about the colonial photography in history, aiming to introduce a new form of documentary photography where the subject was respected and empowered. Jason Scott Tilley’s negotiation of his concept was specific to his own personal values and his family history and therefore would have affected the outcome that he produced. In relation to my own project, although I am affected by the notion of harvesting information, it happens to a wide variety of people, and the effects of which are yet to be fully recognised. For this reason I can’t aim to produce a new form of this digital cataloguing, because society and technology isn’t at a point of progression and there is no closure on this very current issue. Therefore I decided that my project should make a very challenging statement, to question each individual’s place in the developing digital culture and question as to whether they are happy with the future of portraiture I am suggesting.

There are similarities between the practice of cataloguing I am investigating today and the colonial photography seen previously in history. There are also similarities in the stance of myself and other photographers that have investigated similar subject matter, in that it is a concept which affects us and we feel the need to make a statement about it. However there are some very big differences which makes the approach to our subject matter very different. I do not benefit from hindsight and historical closure as the concept I am investigating is very current, in addition to this the subjects I have chosen to use are not directly linked to me, meaning I do not have the benefit of an insider stance as I don’t know, nor have I met any of them. Although these appear to be restrictions, it means that I have chosen to take a very specific approach to my project, one that makes quite a controversial statement. Instead of providing an alternative to a past event, I am investigating and describing the possible effects of a very current event.

Research – Art and Text

When I identified that I wanted to use textual support in the form of captions and/or an artist statement, it was suggested I research further into the use of text in art as this could impact the method I would choose  to include text. I had to decide whether the captions would be considered as part of the image, or whether they would just be the titles of the images, in which case they could exist as captions. The book Art and Text constructed by Aimee Selby provides an insight into the way text is used in art through a series of essays, a background into text and many different examples of text as art.

 

Mel Bochner produced work called ‘Language Is Not Transparent’ in 1970 which was made using chalk paint on the wall. The concept behind the work was to investigate the spatial properties of text, how it’s presence can exist as signage and reality, the relationship between the suggested and the real is constantly fluctuating. The black paint dripping would suggest this piece is a act of graffiti and vandalism, however the white chalk written on the black paint references the way in which text is used in schools to teach. This piece demonstrates that text has many roles and uses in society, sometimes it’s physical presence is the statement, whereas in other cases it is the meaning from the language that is the statement. This is a really interesting introduction into the way text and language can be used in many different ways, and it is just as much about thinking of the way it physically interacts with the environment as well as the content.

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Catherine Street’s work ‘I see nothing in your plan but risks, terrible risks’ is a demonstration of how a title can be incorporated into the work in the form of a caption. The piece is collage and oil paint onto a magazine page, with the background depicting this magical, fantasy-like environment whilst the caption is layered on top, resembling a physical extract from a book. The likeness to a page of a book creates the tone that this work is fictional, story-like and poetic in nature, not mean to make a statement about reality but instead exploring the notion of imagination and hope. This is indicated by the impression the viewer has that they are looking up at the night’s sky, suggesting that the concept is dreams and the consequent inevitability of them ever coming true. I can take inspiration from this work in relation to my own project, considering how a caption can still look like an extract but yet still look really effective and stay true to the concept.

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Artist John Baldessari produced an interesting piece of work called ‘I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art’ in 1971 which was a commission from the Nova Scotia College of Art. The piece itself was meant to make a statement about modern art and discussions over the quality of the piece against the concept behind it. The idea that value is assigned by the craft behind the medium rather than if it makes an interesting statement or inspires discussions. The most interesting aspect of this commission piece for me is the use of the artist’s own handwriting in the work, an option which is open for me to use in my project. Handwriting is a form of identity, through signatures and letters we create our own identity through the way that we write. As my project is about identity it would be an interesting element to consider in relation to how my captions are produced. Previously I was of the opinion the captions would be typed and printed however I could potentially use handwriting to reference the images of colonial photography I have come across in research. The captions were handwritten alongside the printed photographs by either the photographer or the printer, to describe the subject content. I could replicate this approach and handwrite my own captions in my project. Upon reflection however this idea is flawed because I am trying to make a statement about identity becoming information and computer technology taking an observing role over humanity, therefore my using my own handwriting I would be reintroducing a human aspect of identity. If the computer collects the different forms of information, it would also be computer technology that titles the images for the benefit of being able to file it away, my original idea of having typed captions was tested however it remains to be the most appropriate choice for my project.

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I came across two pieces of work by Stefan Bruggeman named ‘Sometimes I Think Sometimes I Don’t’ and ‘I Can’t Explain And I Won’t Even Try’  both exhibited in 2001. The pieces are physical installations of text using vinyl lettering which is an adhesive, securing to the wall with minimal protrusion, giving the impression that the piece is simply part of the wall. This simplistic yet modern approach could be suitable for my project and would give it a contemporary feel which could compliment the content of my project. The drawbacks with this idea is the distinct difference between this flat installation and the way my prints are being exhibition, as they come away from the wall to give the impression they are floating on the wall. Having the captions flat on the wall as vinyl stickers could conflict with this notion, the fact that vinyl lettering in itself is a quite a modern statement could take away from the prints and encourage the viewer to look at the captions as a separate piece of work. In addition to this, the university would be featuring vinyl lettering on the wall with the Collective Vision logo and additional text to give details about the exhibition, if I also used vinyl lettering it would give the impression that this is a installation the university has made as opposed to being part of my concept. Although vinyl lettering is a really interesting and modern way of exhibiting text, it is not appropriate for my project because it would exist to make a statement apart from my prints.

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The next piece of work I came across was ‘Photograph of a book (Art Is To Enjoy)’ by Matthew Higgs which comes from a series of book covers framed and presented as an artefact. The reason I was so interested in this work wasn’t as such the use of the book cover, but the way the text was the important part of the image and the methodology behind the mounting and framing used by Higgs to make this artefact. The mount and thin frame is comparable to Jason Scott Tilley’s work in his project ‘People Of India’ where the careful construction of the artefact mirrored the careful and considerate approach to photographing the portraits that were exhibited. I had decided on aluminium prints as I assessed with the help of Emma Critchley that my prints would be better without a frame as it would encourage the viewer to rely entirely on the information. However there was another route I could take with these images and present them in a manner which heavily referenced that of a portrait, in this case I could potentially include the captions in the actual print, would then, when framed, make the captions part of the actual artefact. If I changed my process to reference that of Higgs and Tilley, I could really pursue the avenue of making my images look like portraits, which would encourage the viewer to engage with them as portraits and try to relate to them. This is an interesting approach I needed to consider against the notion of just presenting the audience with a simplistic, clean presentation method with the captions existing externally from the print. I was torn between these two options as both of which would be a really interesting way of exhibiting the prints, however I assessed that the unframed print would be more true to my concept, as although I am attempting to make a statement about identity, it is more about the individual being represented entirely through information than it is about referencing portraiture.

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Reflection:

This research was extremely eye-opening and made me realise how diverse text can be in the creative process, how the physical presence and materials are just as important as the content. However it may be that the physical presence of the work is the statement behind the project, or in some cases it is the content of the language which reflects the concept. I have seen many different uses of text which have challenged my current wishes for my project in a very positive way, in most cases I have assessed that these methods are not appropriate for my work however I have been able to really focus down and identify the reasoning behind these choices whereas previously I was relying on intuition. I was very close to changing the direction of my project altogether to use text and presentation methods to reference portraiture more however upon reflection I realised that my original methodology would be more true to the idea I wanted to convey at the moment. If I wanted to rework this concept and exhibit it in a different manner I would definitely pursue the portraiture avenue as I think this would be really interesting. Overall it has been really useful to my creative process to research this book, as well as an abundance of new ideas that I will no doubt be visiting in relation to future projects, it has strengthened the choices I made in my creative process by challenging their legitimacy in comparison to other methodology.

Research – Photographers working with Information

Following my tutorial with David Moore I identified that my creative process needed to advance from the original attempts I had made using images and text overlays. Through researching artists like Broomberg and Chanarin, I decided that using found imagery would be the most appropriate method for my practice because of the links to my previous work in the Phonar module. However just taking this found material and exhibiting it doesn’t display any skill or further thought so I needed to find some way of making something out of the original images. This process of making could be anything from adding in other elements like text and additional imagery to the images or taking the original image and trying to transform it in some way. I thought back to the project I completed in Phonar where I sourced information about a particular person and tried to make an abstract portrait out them using their inconsequential data. I held this in my mind whilst completing additional research and came across a project by Mishka Henner which realised the ideas I had been thinking about, this is when I started thinking about using code in my final major project.

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I previously researched Henner in relation to using found material however his practice is also very appropriate for looking at photographers who have worked with code. A project which is extremely interesting and actually heavily relates to my ASL work, is ‘_IMG01’  which takes an photograph taken by James Francis Hurley and displays it in a form of code. Just like I plan to explore with my images, Henner investigates an alternative form of representation of this image and displays it in a book.

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When the viewer flicks through this book they are having the experience of effectively ‘reading’ this code like they would with any other book. However the difference is that unless they are extremely familiar with this type of code, they wouldn’t be able to know what the code was actually telling them until they reached the original photograph. The original photograph provides that extra support to let them know what the code is actually describing. If I am going to work with code, I need to make sure that my viewer has some indication as to what they are looking at or provide them with the original so that they can see. This photograph, although historic, isn’t well-known globally which is presumably why Henner chose to include the original as opposed to just a description of what it is. If the image was of a subject or event that is particularly well-known globally then Henner could have just relied on a caption or short description to get the viewer to engage. With my ASL images the information will provide the audience with more knowledge about the subject I’m using however I need to decide whether they will benefit from seeing the original image itself.

 

Jon Haddock

I was referred to Jon Haddock in relation to my Final Major Project work as he has also chosen to work with code in his images. His RGB grid series are images made of up of numeric values which represent how much red, green and blue is in each pixel was in the original source image.

Original Image

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Detail

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Full Coded Image

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These coded images are really clever because a trace of the original image is still visible in the coded image because of the numerical values and the amount of space they respectively take up. This is an approach which tackles the issue I identified previously with Mishka Henner’s image in that the viewer can’t recognise the original in the coded outcome. Here the viewer can recognise the source image in the coded outcome however it still isn’t very obvious and you need the original image beside it to make those comparisons. Perhaps like I reflected on Mishka Henner’s work, the coded image would work on it’s own if Haddock chose an iconic image that is easily recognised globally. This is definitely something to consider in my own work when working with code, although my outcome may not look like Haddock’s I need to consider whether I need to include some contextual support to allow my viewer to interpret this effectively. The black background in this piece is actually really effective and really makes me think of a screen when viewing it which accentuates the fact it is built using a computing technique. These are all stylistic choices I must consider when producing my own images to see which will be the most appropriate for my concept.

 

Reflection:

Mishka Henner and John Haddock have pushed the boundaries of representation by using the computing that we take for granted in this digital age. Quite often we forget that the digital image is only viewed as a visual image when it is required to, for transmission, sharing and sending the image is converted into code in order to be sent instantaneously. A computer can instantly read the code behind the image and generate the visual preview that was originally created using a camera device. Meaning that every self portrait or portrait taken has been converted into code at some point of it’s lifespan as an image. Therefore the individual has been, and has the capacity to be represented by information and code, just like they increasingly are in online communication. This idea has inspired me to try and use the information in my appropriated images in a different way, if I could represent the original images using the metadata or data such as RBG or binary this would link really well to my original ASL idea and link to the ideas I established in Phonar. There are several design choices I need to approach carefully however that I have identified in my research, the idea of context and whether the viewer needs support to interpret the image effectively. I either need to provide the original image for the viewer like Haddock and Henner have in order to let the viewer make comparisons, or I need to consider adding in some textual support which would explain the idea behind the image itself. This research has been extremely beneficial as it has allowed my project to progress in a new direction which I believe will be more effective than what I was previously exploring.

Research – Portraiture

In a tutorial with Anthony, we identified that my work had taken a slightly different turn, I was focusing on the idea of identity more than the original concept of communication. This had resulted in my engagement with several debates surrounding the practice of portraiture, as the images I had produced using binary code, were and still could be characterised as portraits. With this in mind Anthony recommended I research other practitioners working with portraiture in different ways and examine their process and the decisions behind their work. With this knowledge I could better understand the processes behind my own work, enabling me to progress and make further decisions such the presentation strategies I want to employ. In addition to this, in a tutorial with Caroline she gave me some interesting research avenues to explore modern, contemporary portraiture with the involvement of technology which relates to my own creative process.

Nancy Burson

Nancy Burson is an artist who has been working with composite images since her first images emerged in 1982 with her first book being published a few years later. The ideas behind Burson’s images focus on the portrait as a signifier of culture, race, power and status in society. The portrait can be a definition of beauty, an icon of power or a simple means of identification, accompanying all these examples are complications. Burson produces composite portraits to make statements about the different instances of portraits in society which work to make people think about what and how portraits are used in the media.

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First Beauty Composite: Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren & Marilyn Monroe 1982
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Second Beauty Composite: Jane Fonda, Jaqueline Bisset, Diane Keaton, Brooke Shields & Meryl Streep 1982

These two portraits are combinations of celebrities that represent the idea of beauty however when put together it demonstrates how different each face actually is. The pressure to conform to the media’s beauty standards can be extremely detrimental to the psychology of both men and women, with so many different faces of beauty being presented to the public in the media. There are different trends of beauty which emerge when celebrities become famous, which the audience are constantly trying to keep up with. Perhaps the most worrying trend with the social media age is the ‘thigh gap’ where young online users share photographs of people thin enough to have a gap at the top of their thighs. However this is counteracted by some of the most positive trends such as ‘girls who lift’ or ‘girls who squat’ referencing the fitness trend currently circulating. The fluctuating dynamic of beauty is definitely represented by these composite, reminding the viewer that the ‘beauty’ defined by the media is vastly diverse and unachievable.

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A blend of the faces of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao and Khomeini

Where the portrait can be used as an icon in a positive way it can also be a symbol of a power status like a dictator. This portrait is a combination of famous dictators in history, acting as a representation of power. The image itself is named Big Brother, a reference perhaps to George Orwell’s 1984 which takes place in a society ruled by a dictator, using technology to keep people under rule. Although the idea of a dictator to Western society may seem like a radical notion, it is not a concept that has died in the world since these historic examples. The viewer can pick out distinctive features about the different dictators in this image, which reminds us that we do hold on to portraits as symbols of power and danger, that portraits don’t always represent the best part of a person.

 

 

Since the original composites, Burson has taken the process further and investigated the conflict which occurs when people don’t accept a different race to their own, making a the ‘Human Race Machine’ which depicts the viewer with the ‘characteristic’ of each different race. This encourages the viewer to see themselves in a different way and hopefully accept that although someone may be part of a different race and culture, it doesn’t make them any less of a person. Her most recent composites ‘Mankind/Womankind’ was made from 2003 statistics and is meant to depict the combination of every single person from every single race, the image on the left is the male, the image on the right is the female and the image in the middle is male and female combined.

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This image shows us that once all the different racial characteristics are put together, the result still looks like a completely normal person, Burson makes the statement that there is no gene that decides the race of a human being. We are all human, therefore we are all fundamentally the same as each other and race shouldn’t have anything to do with the way we treat each other or perceive one another. Burson’s work is really relevant to my practice because of the way she is using information to create these composite portraits, she uses statistics to generate a representation of the a multi-racial, multi-gender person to make a statement about race and racism. Nancy Burson is using her practice to try and make us feel more connected to one another because we attempt to recognise ourselves in these images. My project however is taking this process and trying to make the least human representation of people possible using information, to make a statement about whether a person could, or should be defined entirely by information. There are differences between Burson’s practice and my own, however we are both using information to try and create a representation of the human race in a way that challenges them to think differently about their role in society.

 

 Two faced: the changing face of portraiture 

As I was recommended to explore contemporary portraiture, I decided to read the book Two Faced which is a collection of portraiture from different fields including photography, art and illustration. These pieces challenge the conventional historic dynamic of portraiture where the depiction of a person was very much focused on portraying a visual likeness or copy. Now portraiture is exploring new areas like identity, personality using new methods like illustration and video. Researching this book will both expose me to new methods of portraiture but also to begin analysing why the practitioner has made the creative choices will help me determine how my project should take shape.

Eboy – portrait of Paul Smith

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This portrait is making a comment on the digital world demonstrating that images are now made up of pixels. There is a definite distinction between this representation and the view you would get of the subject when seeing them face-to-face; this suggests that the artists is making the point that an online or digital presence has the capacity to be far from reality. Despite the obvious fact that the portrait doesn’t look completely like the person, it is still recognisable and isn’t manipulated so far as to loose the identity. This image doesn’t look very sinister however, the bright colours make the image appear light hearted and the aesthetic is somewhat comparative to an old video game. Overall the impression I receive from this image is a light-hearted statement about the emergence of digital technology in society and how this technology may impact the way we see people.

 

Mark Blamire – portrait of Rankin

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This portrait is a clever twist on the recognised paint palette which most DIY and decorating stores have to enable the customer to choose what colour paint they would like. By mimicking the coloured dots and putting skin-type colours together with various shadows and highlights, Blamire has been able to create an effective representation of Rankin from a photograph that we are already familiar with having been introduced to it earlier on in the book. This work doesn’t seek to make a major social or political statement, the practitioner has chosen to experiment with a societal norm and hopefully make people perceive their own world slightly differently. However I believe that this style of portrait can only really work with previous knowledge of the particular person or image it has used to experiment with as the depiction is fairly limited. The familiarity with the image is a key concept for this method of portraiture, this is something I will need to address with my own work. Whether the audience will be able to figure out the concept without any stimulus or whether I need to provide either some visual or textual support.

 

Trevor Jackson – portrait of Ian Wright

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This portrait immediately creates a sinister atmosphere with this intimidating face looming from the black page towards the viewer. As with the portrait of Paul Smith, the face has been broken down into a series of pixellated dots however this version appears to be more sophisticated and doesn’t reference old video games. Instead the viewer gets the impression of futuristic technology, perhaps a hologram which adds to the sense of unease because there is the impression of being confronted with the unknown. The sinister, negative atmosphere created suggests that this portrait is referring to a darker side of technology. Where online users can get exposed to toxic individuals known as ‘trolls’ and children are at serious risk of being exploited through an ignorance of privacy settings. Although this portrait is fairly simple to look at, the aesthetic conjures up negative thoughts and really provokes the viewer to consider a concept they might not perhaps otherwise think about. This is a similar effect to that which I would like to achieve with my work, that increasingly an individual is being defined by the information they share on the Internet as opposed to their real self. I was previously unsure as to whether I should use a white background or a black background for my images, however by researching and coming across this portrait, I am taking inspiration from it and choosing black. This will create the impression there is something serious for the viewer to think about, which will hopefully contribute to the concept behind the images.

 

Hillman Curtis – portrait of Timothy Saccenti

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This body of work made by Hillman Curtis is actually a video portrait, inspired by the work of Sam Taylor Wood. The images here are stills from a clip of Timothy Saccenti which Curtis produced by shooting a quick film. He described his process as looking for the small signifiers of personality and identity through body movement. Each individual moves their face and body in different ways and each have their own personal trends in movement and Curtis determined this was best explored through moving image as a photograph works to freeze movement. One aspect of this project that is particularly ineffective however, is the choice to display it in a book, although video stills are the only way in which this concept could be visually represented, I feel it would have been better to have some sort of link or a QR code which the user could use to find the original content. Viewing a piece of moving image in a series of stills really takes away from the idea Curtis is trying to create with his work, proving that presentation strategy is really important as it can be highly complimentary or detrimental. I really must experiment and consider which method of presentation will be the most effective for my project both in the context of the exhibition and out of it as I intend to use my images in my portfolio, in the exhibition catalogue and in the Source Photographic Review. Although my project is not moving image, I have identified that a series of stills is really not the most effective method for a video, therefore I will consider my project in the same respect and won’t attempt making a video out of the images I have made because this wouldn’t be the appropriate method. I am not trying to reference movement therefore I don’t need the dynamic nature of a photofilm or moving image and definitely will not pursue it.

 

Marion Deuchars – portrait of Nathan Gale

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This portrait, by illustrator Marion Deuchars, relies on the graphic composition of lines to form the depiction of Nathan Gale. The thickness of the line creates the impression of shadow and highlights on the face, which aids the interpretation of these lines as a portrait. The use of graphic composition is highly effective and it demonstrates the fact that it is possible to relate to something other than a believable depiction. This is a concept I am applying to my own project, trying to provoke some response by presenting binary code as a series of portraits.

 

National Portrait Gallery

Having research contemporary methods of portraiture, I also needed to research the historic use of portraiture as this would also impact my project and the method I choose to present it. The National Portrait gallery houses a vast collection of portraiture, from historic time periods to the contemporary portraiture artists are producing currently. The collection of the NPG is online so having already visited the gallery before I was able to research and find images of the collections I had already seen. The gallery features pieces from the following time periods: Tudor, Georgian, Regency, Victorian and Edwardian, 20th Century, Contemporary: all of which are laid out in different rooms. The images below showcase some of the collections and detail the distinctive styles from each era.

NPG 304; Richard Cosway by Richard Cosway NPG 83; James Gillray by James Gillray NPG Gallery Record - Gallery Interior Photograph – Born Digital

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It is clear, looking at these portraits that they are statements of identity in different ways. Some of the choices and methods employed are down to resources and technology however predominately these portraits are meant to showcase an aspect about the subject. In the older periods of time the portraits were a symbolic statement of wealth achieved through both the visual content and the quality of the piece itself. Different colours were used to denote the status of the individual in the portrait and additional elements such as fruit or flowers would indicate that the subject had wealth. The size and quality of the portraits were also a reflection of this wealth, indicating that the main aspect of identity early portraiture sought to express was the status in society. Just as we do now with our material possessions, individuals in history wanted to reflect that they had money and power, and did so using portraiture. In reflection, I must evaluate what I want to say with my own images and decide how this would be best represented in my presentation methods. A large portrait in more historic periods expressed wealth, I need to identify what elements express in the current world, as my project references a very current concept. What I am trying to express in the images is a sense of digital identity so I need to think about what presentation method would best represent this, or whether I try and remove attention from the presentation method to try and express the content as best as possible. My reasoning behind this presentation method needs to be completely informed as it needs to compliment the work and be part of the conceptual process behind it. I must handle the presentation method as carefully as I have attempted to handle the visual content.

 

Reflection:

Portraiture is such a diverse genre in the contemporary period and it will continue to develop as new ideas and concepts are introduced. Originally it appears as though the main statement of identity in portraiture was to try and establish a sense social prominence of wealth. It was customary for the upper class individuals to express their wealth and power in their material possessions and this is still true today however less so in photographic portraiture. Contemporary and current portraiture has introduced new approaches to the representation of identity as explored in my blog post specifically on identity. Instead of just focusing on wealth and social stature, the subject can express other aspects to their identity which could be something as simple as their favourite colour. Portraiture can also now be a way of addressing imperfections and aspects of identity that are perhaps the subject’s perceived weakness and in turn kickstart a healing process where the subject can accept their own self. In addition to this portraiture as Nancy Burson demonstrates can be a powerful tool in getting society to address it’s own flaws, similar to me, she used technology and information in order to achieve this. There are many different reasonings behind the portraiture being produced today and this impacts both their visual content and the method in which they are being presented. I need to address what I want to say about my images, and how the concept behind them can be reflected in both the content and the presentation method. Research behind all aspects of the creative process will enable me to push my project further and really make sure the images can operate effectively in the space of the exhibition.

Research – Using Appropriated Material

In my tutorial with David Moore we identified that my use of street photography in relation to my ASL idea wasn’t really very effective. I was trying to combine a physical encounter with a digital one and make a statement about the difference, however the actual effect was just to blur the boundaries between, making it unclear what I was actually trying to focus on. David Moore suggested that I keep the practice of my project entirely digital and concentrate on continuing to make content and try different approaches to see which would be the most effective. What struck me about this advice was his use of the term ‘make’, this would suggest instead of observing and photographing content, I should be really working with content and trying to create something new that hasn’t really been seen before. When brainstorming a few ideas I remembered reading about Mishka Henner in Jonathan Shaw’s New Fotoscapes, who worked with appropriated and found material in contempt of the image saturation we see in current society. In addition to this I recently attended The State of Photography Symposium and was really interested in the project ‘War Primer 2’ by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin which used a combination of archival imagery and sourced imagery from the Internet to make a statement about the similarities and difference in warfare through the years. Working with appropriated material could easily be characterised as ‘making’ because it is essentially a process of reshaping and moulding the content to make a new statement. It could also be considered as extending the current capacity of the original content and using it to make a greater impact than it was previously doing. With this in mind it would appear that using appropriated material could be an interesting and effective method in exploring my ASL concept.

 

Mishka Henner

Mishka Henner is a photographer who seeks out a new approach to producing content, predominately using material that can be sourced either in a physical archive or from the Internet. Henner, like other artists, exercises his freedom of speech as an artist by using this found material in a different way to make a new statement. In his project ‘Photography Is’, Henner investigates the meaning of photography and demonstrates how ambiguous the term appears to be in the age of digital technology. Similar to the work of David Rule, he explores how the practice of photography can be represented through text without the use of any imagery.

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The use of text to represent what is essentially a very pictorial concept is extremely effective, we stop thinking about the superficial aesthetic we are offered and instead we have to delve deeper into the content to find the meaning and gain an interpretation. The use of small circular breakers instead of large spacing or line breakers is extremely effective and whilst making it easier to distinguish each statement, it actually makes quite an intimidating block of text which the viewer is forced to get closers and consider each statement as one individual. The design of this project is extremely effective at encouraging a closer engagement and interaction, it’s given me a lot of ideas in relation to my project and how I can display the content I produce.

Henner has also worked with appropriated photography as well as text, including Robert Frank’s images from his series ‘The Americans’. The images were manipulated to create a very minimalistic representation of the original content, completely changing the meaning.

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Comically titled ‘Less Americains’, Henner works to reflect that just like American culture and society, the process of photography has completed changed since the original project. Therefore this series could be perceived an evolution of the original imagery to suit the changing culture. This process of change and transition is really interesting and I think provides an effective and engaging viewing experience, although there is some familiarity with these renowned imagery, there is still a sense of mystery that I would love to achieve with my work. Henner features a brief statement of ideas surrounding the project on his website, a resource which is extremely valuable in the interpretation of the work. The images still remain ambiguous enough to allow the viewer to take their own meaning, however the support from the text allows the viewer to engage with the project in the appropriate conceptual sense. Although it has been said that a photograph should speak for itself, I believe that discussion and some textual support can be extremely effective in the interpretation process. Reacting to the superficial value of the image is a very short-term process and supporting text helps to continue these ideas and encourages an audience to pursue the ideas further. I will definitely be considering how I can provide some textual support in the exhibition to allow the viewer to engage with my work in the same sense in which I have done with Mishka Henner’s project.

 

Broomberg and Chanarin

I attended the State of Photography Symposium in the Birmingham Library in January originally to find more about the artists Broomberg and Chanarin in relation to my symposium as their work ‘The Day Nobody Died’ was a case study in my research paper. However at the symposium they were talking about their most recent work ‘War Primer 2’, which is a modified version of the original War Primer by Bertolt Brecht. Brecht paired poetry with imagery to try and describe the World Wars that had ravaged society. Broomberg and Chanarin took the book and the original imagery, coupling it with likenesses and contrasts from current day war imagery to make a reworked, revised version.

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This book is incredibly effective and it really works to make a statement about war, although the technology has progressed and there are new methods in warfare, the nature of war is still very much the same and there are the same issues to conflict as there was before. In some cases however the book works to highlight new differences such as the Abu Gharib prison case which only came to light because of social media and the Twin Towers attack which brought the concept of terrorism into the public eye. This work, although simple, is highly effective and really works to make a serious statement about society and the faults associated with people in conflict. Broomberg and Chanarin did discuss quite a serious issue with using found photography in the digital age in relation to their work which could put me at risk when producing my own work. They exercised their artist freedom by using (and not paying for) the Abu Gharib images, which are all technically owned by AP photographic, who bought the rights from the various social media users as soon as the event happened.  A technicality such as this could put me at risk if I am going to be using appropriated material, I need to be careful when gathering material to find the source and make sure there is no licensing on the imagery. Or I need to be prepared to pay any cost to use the material if it comes to it, it wouldn’t matter as much if I wasn’t planning to exhibit this work however as I am going to exhibit my work under my own name, this could be a problem.

 

Doug Rickard 

Predating Mishka Henner, Doug Rickard used appropriated material to provide a new perspective of street photography with his project ‘A New American Picture’. When approaching and viewing this book the viewer is under the impression that this title is nothing other than conventional, typical street photography of America, practised by individuals such as Walter Evans, Robert Frank in black and white and William Eggleston with the emergence of colour photography. However the true concept behind this book is that Rickard collected appropriated material, screenshots from the streets using the Google Street View.

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Whereas the viewer expects and trusts the photographer to have visited these environments and make an accurate representation, what Rickard has actually done is to bypass travelling and experiencing the environment to be able to get a convenient shot. These images are later rephotographed and taken out of the technological context, presented as a book for the final outcome, referencing the books of renowned street photographers. The locations are carefully chosen, based on the concept of economic depression; areas that are abandoned, desolate and neglected. Whereas the first street photography was to explore and record the cultural environment that was America, Rickard sought to investigate the then current state of the American environment. A society that has perhaps moved past the idyllic notion of the American Dream and come to terms with the real challenges of economic and cultural strain. Rickard’s images very much focus on the place, the location, as the people represent a temporal existence. These places have seen both the economic boom and the aftermath of the depression, and are now  being rebuilt or left to waste away. The use of appropriated material exaggerates the age of convenience, Rickard could be criticised for not providing an accurate representation of these locations, as without having been there to photograph them at that exact moment, he couldn’t know what was appropriate to frame. Using Google Street View has caused Rickard to take the outsider stance, where there is no context, only a simple search to find the desired results. However whilst this is a superficially a flawed practice, Rickard is making a statement about the culture of convenience created, which has ultimately left these places to deteriorate. There is a muted notion of seeing content through a screen which enables the viewer to break off easily and forget, something that can’t be avoided when you are physically present. Any gesture of help made online could be considered as empty, comparative to what could be achieved through physical action. It is clear that in this case, appropriated photography was important to use in order to make the relevant statement, this idea of seeing the American environment in a different way is realised through the process of this ‘screen photography’. I need to also consider what appropriated material would do for my project and whether it would be right decision for my creative process.

Alfredo Jaar

Another artist working with appropriation is Alfredo Jaar, whose work ‘Untitled (newsweek) used a variation of magazine covers to make a statement about the news headlines made by Western corporations, how horrors in less economically developed countries can be condensed to a sentence. Alfredo concentrates this series on contrasting the covers of Western corporations with a timeline of the conflict in Rwanda, demonstrating the time it took for these magazines to recognise and dedicate just a cover to the conflict that was happening.

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In an exhibition space these images are displayed as prints with the relevant captions below, describing what was happening in Rwanda at the time these covers were released. In an online space however Jaar has created a web-based response where the viewer reads the description of the conflict and then is presented with the coinciding Western cover. It is clear why the appropriation of the covers was the right choice for Alfredo Jaar’s concept, because it would be untrue to the timeline he is exploring if he was to recreate the covers, the element of true history is lost. However it is his use of the this found material and the way he has adapted his project to suit both an exhibition environment and an online space which is really interesting to me. Although the fundamental dynamic of the project is still the same, it has definitely changed in aesthetic in the transition from exhibition to this online space. Prompting me to consider whether I need to to continue reworking my project after I have decided on my outcome for the exhibition to make it more effective in an online space.

 

Reflection:

Using appropriated or found photography has proved to be an extremely effective practice when approaching digital subject matter. Whether it is in contempt of the image saturation like Henner, or whether you use both old and new material to make a comparison like Broomberg and Chanarin, it is evident that it you use the material effectively then the work can be brilliant. One thing I’ve noticed about both Henner and Broomberg and Chanarin is that the output of working with found photography is very different, because they have different purposes. I need to consider what I really want to say when I am using found material before making experimentations because the process of working with this found imagery really affects the result. In the case of Broomberg and Chanarin they had to follow the aesthetic and structure of the previous War Primer book in order to let the viewer make the comparisons between the imagery without questioning the actual artefact that much. With Henner’s work he aimed to remove nearly all familiarity in the images to test whether the audience would feel a connection with them anymore; this reflects the way America has changed since the original images were taken. Another thing to remember when producing the work is my vulnerability to copyright and licensing and that I might not be able to legally use everything I come across without paying for the use. This would possibly restrict the way I could use the image and whether I could actually use it at all for my concept. If I am planning to source images I need to find a way to use them without getting into trouble, for example if I source imagery from social media, I need to read the terms and conditions. Doug Rickard and Alfredo Jaar have demonstrated that found photography is often the only method that is suitable for the concept you are investigating, however especially in Jaar’s case he has introduced the idea that I need to adapt my project to suit the different spaces in which I want to engage people.

One aspect I have realised when researching about found photography, is that it really relates back to the project I started in the Phonar module, where I collected the inconsequential data of an individual online with the view of creating a reverse-engineered portrait. The process of gathering portraiture online, especially using social media or web databases like Wikipedia relates to the ideas I established in Phonar which I wanted to pursue further. The idea of using imagery, particularly images of people in a different way is expanding the concept of the Post Photographic Portrait further and developing it into a full body of work. After researching artists and evaluating the relevance of this method in relation to my own concept and ideas I have previously engaged with, I have made the decision to use found photography in my own work. It appears to be a highly appropriate approach for my Final Major Project, and will open my practice up to new areas whilst developing on ideas I have previously established and researched.