Assignment 5 – Presentation

My tutor suggested to me after receiving the book format for Assignment 5 – Tourism in London, and Me that perhaps this assignment didn’t work in a book format after all. Instead he encouraged me to think of a better way to display the photographs; particularly the ‘standalone’ photographs, which in the book comprised the first half of each diptych. At first I wasn’t that convinced that the book format didn’t work as I had become somewhat attached to the diptych idea to best contrast myself with the tourists in this assignment. However, by listening my tutor and experimenting, I came up with a different way to present the photographs. In retrospect I do like this method better as it alters the meaning of the work so that my relationship with the tourists is not the defining characteristic of the work but actually the photographs themselves stand out more.

1. Original Book Format Displaying a Diptych in a Relatively Small Format Despite a Quite Cramped Layout
1. Original Book Format Displaying a Diptych in a Relatively Small Format Despite a Quite Cramped Layout

The method I chose to present the work differed significantly from the book form. Unlike the book where the diptych placed equal weight on both parts of the diptych photographs, I replaced the diptych idea. I agreed with my tutor’s comments that the first half of each diptych’s photographs form the book deserved to be displayed as a singular centrepiece. This was because I felt they worked as a single-image narrative for each of the hotspots and their inevitable tourist visitors. They were the stronger images in my opinion. They were more effective being directly compared and contrasted against each other than against their diptych counterparts in the original book I’d produced.

2. Original Book Format Displaying a Diptych in a Relatively Small Format Despite a Quite Cramped Layout
2. Original Book Format Displaying a Diptych in a Relatively Small Format Despite a Quite Cramped Layout

I didn’t stop using the other side of the diptychs however. My tutor and I felt both they and the selfies I’d taken at each location in mimicry of the tourists were still effective images. They delved deeper into my relationship with the tourists as well as the whole ritual of selfie taking as souvenirs of an experience although this wasn’t fully explored in these pictures. Therefore I decided to include these images as ‘supporting documents’ to the standalone photographs.

3. Revised, Larger (A3) Format with Centrepiece (Top Left) and Supporting Documents (Bottom Right)
3. Revised, Larger (A3) Format with Centrepiece (Top Left) and Supporting Documents (Bottom Right)

To incorporate the single-image narrative standalone photographs and the supporting documents together in one form I decided to move away from the book format. This was to better show off the standalone photographs by printing them large – A3 sized. If I was going to exhibit the photographs I would probably print even larger. The supporting documents were printed much smaller in comparison to the standalone photographs in order to convey to the viewer they were intended to support the centrepieces. For assessment I printed the supporting documents on a A3-sized piece of photographic paper for each tourist hotspot location. Each location’s A3 standalone photograph was therefore supported by another A3 piece of photographic paper but on these there was the mimicry by myself of the tourists’ selfie-taking and the selfies I’d taken at each of these positions in the respective locations. In this way, the standalone photographs were given much more prominence on the A3 paper than the supporting documents.

4. Revised, Larger (A3) Format with Centrepiece (Top Left) and Supporting Documents (Bottom Right)
4. Revised, Larger (A3) Format with Centrepiece (Top Left) and Supporting Documents (Bottom Right)
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Assignment 3 – Presentation

In contrast to the organic and rustic feel to the handmade book I produced for Assignment 1, I decided to employ a different production method for the book for Assignment 3. Although they were both books, they couldn’t in my opinion have been much more different and this was in order to purposefully reflect their respective assignments. The book for Assignment 3 was designed by myself but produced by an online book company so the finish to the book was quite a bit more professional and, incidentally, colder. This professional, cold feel to the book was because there were basically no ‘mistakes’ or quirks to the production of the book; it being made probably by computer mostly. However, I was after this kind of feel to the book because it reflected from my perspective the process of gentrification in Deptford and also many of the photographs I’d taken depicting the gentrification process.

Front Cover of Gentrification in Deptford
Front Cover of Gentrification in Deptford

I also designed and formatted the book to look professional, paying special attention to borders, text size and placement and colour choices throughout the book. Because the book is a revised edition of the PDF draft I produced initially for Assignment 3, I tried to listen to my tutor’s comments regarding presentation. Drawing upon his comments for both the PDF draft I’d produced for Assignment 3 as well as my original version of Assignment 5 – Tourism in London, and Me. By drawing upon both these sets of comments I feel I was better able to design a professional looking book. Aspects of the books design included a white, uniform colour scheme across the book (excluding photographs and text), all photographs appearing centrally in the page on a separate page and borders appearing uniform and spacious throughout the book.

Back Cover of Gentrification in Deptford
Back Cover of Gentrification in Deptford

My reasoning for making the final presentation for Assignment 3 purposefully professional/cold was that I found through my Researching Gentrification in Deptford post gentrification can often be a process of vast change both positive and negative. People are often displaced or at the least the community changes drastically but lots more housing and a new scene develops. By keeping the look of the book neutral, I was accepting both sides to this argument and instead of taking a side to the argument, I was documenting the narrative of gentrification in Deptford.

Introduction for Gentrification in Deptford
Introduction for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 2 and 3 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 2 and 3 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 4 and 5 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 4 and 5 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 6 and 7 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 6 and 7 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 8 and 9 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 8 and 9 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 10 and 11 for Gentrification in Deptford
Pages 10 and 11 for Gentrification in Deptford

Assignment 2 – Presentation

I deliberated over how to present Assignment 2 – Ephemerality of the Image in my head for some time. Originally it had been requested by the course to present it in an online format and I feel it still works well in this format. However, I have decided to present the single-image narratives as singular prints too. My reasoning for printing the images as well is two-fold. Firstly, I feel the project possesses greater impression for potential viewers because of the size I have printed the images. I printed them A3 sized which is comparably large. With the images online it is still possible to view large and even zoom in on the singular images but I feel seeing an A3 print leaves a greater impression for these images. The fact that the images incorporate Polaroid/Instax images within them (which are usually intrinsically a much smaller format) makes the impact of being printed so large greater.

Note the Large Border on the A3 Print Matching the Large Border on the Bottom of the Instax Photograph
Note the Large Border on the A3 Print Matching the Large Border on the Bottom of the Instax Photograph

Secondly, printing the images showed better the ephemerality of the image as the images were then put together in their printed forms to make a larger picture. The images that make up the final photograph became part of a moment that consisted of myself holding a frame against a dark background containing the smaller images. This moment has now passed and all that’s left of that moment is another image. To better convey this in the prints, I purposefully left large white borders on the singular images to imitate Polaroid/Instax borders. This was in order to further convey the picture-in-picture message and also lead up to the final photograph where all the images appear with my hand holding the frame. In the final photograph the large white borders were still evident which was contiguous with the singular images I’d printed leading up to this final photograph.

First A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
First A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Second A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Second A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Third A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Third A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Fourth A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Fourth A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Fifth A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Fifth A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Sixth A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Sixth A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Seventh A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Seventh A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Eighth A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Eighth A3 Sized Single-Image Narrative Print
Final Photograph - Note How the Large Instax Borders are Continued in the Smaller Photos Hanging on the Frame Which is Also Consistent with the A3 Sized Prints for the Individual Images
Final Photograph – Note How the Large Instax Borders are Continued in the Smaller Photos Hanging on the Frame Which is Also Consistent with the A3 Sized Prints for the Individual Images

Assignment 1 Presentation – Handmade Book

I have chosen to present Assignment 1 in a handmade book, the non-synthetic nature of which I feel reflects the organic nature of the brewery and photographs I produced for the brewery in the project. I have alluded to this in the introduction of the handmade book which incidentally was purposefully hand-written to fit in better with the same theme of organic. For me this organic theme lent to a more personable object (the handmade book) which felt unique, a bit like the brewery I had been photographing.

My Materials Ready for Making the Handmade Book
My Materials Ready for Making the Handmade Book

The book took some time to make and I found this process made me think carefully about formatting options and attention to detail in displaying the photographs. For example a measurement of 145mm was apparent on the long edge for all photographs, landscape, portrait or square, which helped the book to maintain a consistent aesthetic. The photographs were also centred in their respective pages in order to keep the viewer’s eye immersed in the book.

Marking Out the Central Placement of Each Photograph in the Book
Marking Out the Central Placement of Each Photograph in the Book

I decided to use a folded method – the ‘Snake Book’, as per the instructions found in Alisa Golden’s Making Handmade Books – (Golden, 2010) – for making the book. It seemed simple to make yet afforded me the right amount of pages necessary to accommodate the photographs, the introduction and the front and back covers. In order for the book to accommodate the photographs at a decent size (145mm on the long edge) as well as using a folded book method, it was necessary to use a massive-sized piece of cartridge paper (A1) to fold the book from. I folded (and cut) the A1 piece of paper into a Snake Book and then applied the photographs one by one using self-adhesive spray to the centre of each page.

Back Cover of the Book (Created by Photographing One of the T-shirts of the Brewery)
Back Cover of the Book (Created by Photographing One of the T-shirts of the Brewery)
Front Cover of the Book (Created by Photographing One of the T-shirts of the Brewery)
Front Cover of the Book (Created by Photographing One of the T-shirts of the Brewery)

Lastly, I attached a wide ribbon made in hessian to add a rustic feel to the book which could be tied to close the book. Then I applied the front and back covers to the book. The front and book covers served a dual purpose; firstly to show what the book contained quite clearly and also to hold the ribbon in place.

Front Cover
Front Cover
Pages 1 and 2
Pages 1 and 2
Pages 3 and 4
Pages 3 and 4
Pages 5 and 6
Pages 5 and 6
Pages 7 and 8
Pages 7 and 8
Pages 9 and 10
Pages 9 and 10
Back Cover
Back Cover

Overall I would describe my first venture into making a handmade book as quite successful and also liberating and fun, if time-consuming. Provided I could embark on a project which merited presenting work in a handmade book in the future, I would embrace making another one. The experience made me aware how much craft and materials are necessary to make a relatively simple book and was in some contrast to the ease with which digital files like photographs can be mass-produced.

References:

Golden, A. (2010). Making Handmade Books. New York: Lark, pp. 39-40.

Assignment 6 – Pre-assessment Review

Here is a summary of my video call I conducted with my tutor for Assignment 6 – Pre-assessment Review:

I had a useful and engaging discussion with my tutor regarding presenting my work for assessment as well as going forwards with my course after the documentary module is complete. Key points we discussed were the presentation of all assignments but in particular Assignments 2 and 5. These incidentally posed the most difficulty for myself in preparing for assessment.

For Assignment 2’s presentation I purposefully left large white borders on the prints to imitate Polaroid/Instax borders. This was in order to further convey the picture-in-picture message and also lead up to the final photograph where all the images appear with my hand holding the frame. The reasoning behind this was that it remained consistent from image to image in the Polaroid/Instax style where each possessed a thick white border around two sides of the image and thinner borders on the other two sides. My tutor appreciated this nod towards the Polaroid/Instax style and the fact it continued into the final photograph where all the Polaroid/Instax images appeared together (complete with white borders).

Assignment 5 I had presented as a photo book initially to my tutor and on my blog. My tutor and I had discussed in detail during the video call for Assignment 5 whether it worked as a photo book, in particular whether the diptychs worked as a strategy for displaying the images. At first I was quite adamant that the diptychs did work. However, after my tutor’s suggestion that the initial composites produced were the ‘standalone’ images and my own experimentation with how to present the ‘supporting documents’ where I featured heavily in self-portraits, I am of the opinion the initial composites are the ‘centrepiece’ and merit their own space. Therefore I’ve printed them large (A3-sized) for assessment whereas the ‘supporting documents’ for each standalone image have been printed together on one piece of A3 paper but with smaller individual print space.

We then briefly discussed the other assignments. I described to my tutor how I had plans to make Assignment 1 into a handmade photo book, where I was just getting materials and equipment for the book. The reasoning for making it handmade was because I felt it suited the organic qualities of the brewery itself and the subsequent pictures. In contrast I had also presented Assignment 3 in photo book but it had been produced by an online photo book publisher and so was of a professional (and therefore a somewhat more synthetic) quality. I felt suited this type of subject (gentrification in Deptford better). I also showed how I had taken care to pay more attention to the formatting in the photo book produced for Assignment 3 than the formatting for the initial submission of Assignment 5. This included bigger borders for the photographs as well as more attention paid to the text and placement of the text on the front cover/introduction.

For the critical review editing, I had completed three quarters of its revision. I intended to make another paragraph showing how with a lot of contemporary photography, including Thomas Ruff and Bettina von Zwehl, appearances can be deceptive. This was where through use of the existing genre of say portraiture as a template, they introduce seemingly subtle variations which subvert that genre. My tutor acknowledged this was a common strategy in contemporary photography and would be a good idea for my own photography going forwards.

We discussed Daido Moriyama, particularly Bye Bye Photography (1972) which I had been struggling to incorporate into my critical review. My tutor’s insights into Moriyama’s Bye Bye Photography where he suggested to look at the book as a whole as a kind of flowing text rather than individual images was a concept I had begun to develop beforehand. This backed up my thoughts and I now could be more confident including my reasoning into how Moriyama didn’t in fact use emotion directly in his photography (as I had first suggested). In fact Moriyama’s consistent aesthetic (are, bure, boke) and subject matter (or lack of) indicated that it was strangely appealing because it went against all that was traditional photography and made a bold, stark and haunting statement.

Like with the video call I conducted with my tutor for Assignment 5, I found that post-conceptualisation and subsequent experimentation would likely be key to my progression with the course and indeed my photography going forwards. This would mean shooting more frequently and without a clear concept in mind (or at least without my usual preconceptions) during the early stages of a project and allowing the idea to develop through experimentation. Another aspect of experimentation my tutor noted was that of taking risks with the experimentation. He used the example of experimenting with different types of film like slide film (E6 process) in order to differentiate my work. On the subject of taking risks, I asked my tutor whether it would be enough to stick with what I had been experimenting with in both the Documentary and Landscape modules – where I had been interested in the way people inhabit the landscape and how they add vitality to it. My tutor said this was a difficult question but answered it by saying that I could use elements I had been building up in the Documentary and Landscape modules going forwards but to remember to keep on experimenting and pushing outside of my comfort zone. This answer was very helpful and pushed home the need for experimentation and refinement in order to develop.

References:

Moriyama, D. (1972). Bye Bye Photography. 1st ed. Tokyo: Shashin hyoron-sha.

Daido Moriyama at the Michael Hoppen Gallery and in the Exhibition: ‘Another Kind of Life’ at the Barbican

On the 27th March 2018 I visited the Michael Hoppen Gallery to see the Daido Moriyama exhibition there. This was a decision I’d made as I had written about Moriyama in some of my critical review. Although my critical review had been well received, my tutor had some comments concerning my observations about Moriyama’s work. Therefore I thought it would be a good opportunity to see some of Moriymama’s work in person. Then I could make informed amendments to my critical review based upon visiting the exhibition(s) in person.

It seemed that subject was all important to Moriyama, however the high contrast, often grainy black and white medium could not be ignored. The photographs on show still clearly referenced the world they depicted but the overall effect for me was one of disoriented otherworldliness which the black and white medium helped to back up. Some of the photographs were sharp and quite clean (not much graininess) while the majority conformed to the ‘are, bure, boke’ – grainy, blurry and out of focus characteristics which defined the left-wing group of photographers Moriyama joined in the 1960s – (Scaldaferri, 2017). This inconsistency left me somewhat confused; while Moriyama was famous for appearing in the Provoke magazine for precisely these reasons (are, bure, boke), some of the photos in the exhibition went against this trend.

However, what did remain consistent was the high contrast evident in each photograph’s finish which was a trademark of Moriyama’s process. This as well as the disconcerting subject matter (stray dogs staring at the camera, seedy images from Tokyo’s underworld and grabs of American culture in Japan) tied the exhibition together into something weirdly satisfying.

Then on the 10th May 2018 I took it upon myself to visit a larger exhibition in which Moriyama’s work appeared as a feature of many photographers’ work displayed together. The exhibition was at the Barbican and was called Another Kind of Life. I found the exhibition as a whole to be very interesting and eye-opening in places. I enjoyed some features more than others and the one which stood out most to me was Jim Goldberg’s Raised by Wolves. Here he used similar to my eyes strategies and techniques as his Open See exhibition.

When I arrived at Daido Moriyama’s Japan Photo Theatre section, I was surprised to find a very similar layout of the photographs and the way they were framed compared to the photographs in the Michael Hoppen Gallery. I realised later this was probably intentional as both exhibitions were on at the same time. However, I liked the way the frames were all black and they tessellated so that there were no gaps in between the photos. I found this style quite appealing and in my opinion went well with Moriyama’s high contrast, ore, bure, boke look. Again the photographs appeared as snapshots at first glance but the subjects and aesthetics pointed towards something different. Also I found within the context of Another Kind of Life exhibition the work fit in well as the viewer gained insight into the world of people on the margins.

© Daido Moriyama (1968) Nippon Gekijo Shashincho (Japan Theatre Photo Album) from the series Japan Photo Theatre
© Daido Moriyama (1968) Nippon Gekijo Shashincho (Japan Theatre Photo Album) from the series Japan Photo Theatre

I had been aware of the popularity of Moriyama in Japan and that the had influenced a large number of young Japanese photographers. I was therefore pleased to see that another photographer appeared at Another Kind of Life who had been influenced by Moriyama. His name was Seiji Kurata. Although he had been influenced by Moriyama and it was black and white, I found his work to be very different aesthetically. It was much more considered at the time of shooting and the black and white treatment was much less harsh with less contrast. There was stilll lots of contrast but it contained grey midtones and things appeared sharper and more in focus. I liked the work of Kurata and thought he had managed to develop his own style, far from copying the aesthetics of Moriyama but instead using edgy subjects reminiscent of the person he was influenced by.

Seeing a variety of Moriyama’s work in person and some of the generation he influenced left me much more informed about the aesthetics and subject matter Moriyama concentrated on. His photographs were always edgy and the subject was paramount to his way of working. However, he had developed this edgy, distinctive high contrast black and white aesthetic which for me reflected well the state of mind he was in as he roamed the streets of Tokyo looking for a subject which captured his imagination.

References:

Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins (2018). Barbican Art Gallery [Exhibition] 28 Feb – 27th May 2018.

Daido Moriyama (2018). Michael Hoppen Gallery [Exhibition] 22 Feb – 7th Apr 2018.

Scaldaferri, G. (2017). Discover The Captivating Work Of Acclaimed Japanese Photographer, Daido Moriyama. [online] Culture Trip. Available at: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/japan/articles/daido-moriyama-the-father-of-street-photography-in-japan/ [Accessed 16 May. 2018].

Study Hangout 10/12/2017

On 10/12 2017 Bryn, Anne and myself attended a study hangout.

We talked in detail about our respective critical reviews. Anne was quite pleased with her feedback for hers as it was quite positive with some changes necessary, thankfully not as many as she’d feared.

I admitted I was partly stuck with my essay but was awaiting a response from my tutor regarding some questions I’d come to realise were bugging me about my writing and investigation into aesthetics in photography.

Amendment (22/12/2017):

I have since received an email from my tutor regarding my questions about my critical review which I found very helpful and have commenced writing the critical review, while taking into account suggestions based upon my questions my tutor had made.

Bryn communicated that he had read up quite a bit some of the primary resources from the course which was helping to inform his critical review and was starting to look at secondary sources to further back up these readings. Also he discussed how he might include in his essay something about how it was desirable to have a larger project to work on and have continuation with instead of having to constantly reinvent the wheel for each project. Hiroshi Sugimoto has this large project continuation in his Seascapes project which he works on in combination with shorter projects which Bryn admired.

Bryn asked Anne whether she might go back to the Gloucester Docks again for Assignment 5 so that her projects had a continued theme and she said may consider it. Also Anne described her interactive exhibition for the Somerset exhibition of OCA students which sounded very interesting. Here she asked exhibition-goers to reorder a set of photographs into the ‘right’ order that she had in mind and take a photograph of their perceived ‘right’ order and put that photograph in a guest book to document their participation.

Bryn asked Anne if she might consider doing something interactive in the Gloucester Docks similar to this and she said it was a possibility.

Lastly I talked about my ideas for Assignment 5 with Bryn which concern tourism in the city I live in of London. Here I would basically be taking a spoof tourist role, documenting my experience in the city from the perspective of a tourist in London, with myself falling for the usual tourist traps and hotspots/landmarks that a usual tourist would but with twists in the photos used to document this act. The twists would be present in order for the viewer to be able to discern it was a spoof tourist role I was taking.