Reflections on Part 5 of the Course

I found this part of the course frustrating and fascinating in equal measure. Frustrating in trying to get to grips with those elements that were completely new to me (assigning colour and printer profiles for example) as the technology always seemed to beat me – I was sure I had added the profiles correctly, but they never appeared exactly where they were supposed to be! Nevertheless I persevered and I think that I have now conquered it. I must admit that this has now improved my home printing – previously I simple left ‘printer control colours’ checked and then cursed that it didn’t look much like the image on my (regularly calibrated!) monitor.

I thought the creation of the photobook was a good exercise, although it didn’t really work for my subject (at least not in the way that I originally tried it). I loved creating the slideshow, I learned how to put a bit of a story together, slide transitions and accompanying music (from free music archive!). I really enjoyed that aspect of the course (once I had overcome the original difficulty of learning to use the software).

I am fairly pleased with the set of prints I produced for the Assignment – it was good to reference work I had undertaken in a previous History of Art module when planning the images. I find that I am referring more and more to art history when planning my projects. One of the comments that my tutor made on my last assignment was that I could “Develop and articulate own ideas within a critical framework” and “Explore areas of personal interest for future work”. I think that I have made some progress in these areas in this assignment.

I think that I have adopted quite a creative approach to the Assignment and that the final images are technically competent – with what I have learned about profiling I should be able to produce some reasonable inkjet prints.

I enjoyed researching the context for this assignment as I looked into the methods that made the work of the Norwich School painters such an innovation at the time and it was good to think how I might be able to reference this in the context of contemporary photography.

Glen Jamieson produced ‘Shortcut To A Picturesque (after John Crome the elder)’ references Crome’s work and takes as its starting point a flyover and concrete shopping centre, the construction of which entailed the demolition of John Crome’s original house). In a series of photographs and text explores from a high vantage point the people in the area. Watts in Bottinelli (2013 p65) considers that Jamieson’s work “implies that today to work in the Norwich School tradition is not to aspire to scenes of pre-enclosure arcadia mettled by the effects of weather. It is to pick over ruins”.

I don’t think that my work ‘picks over ruins’ but then I don’t agree that this is the only way in which one can work today in the Norwich School tradition. I think that my work has continued the tradition by ignoring the picture postcard scenes to portray Norwich the way it is today, just as Norwich School painters did in their day.


REFERENCES

Bottinelli, G. (ed.) (2013) A Vision of England: Paintings of the Norwich School. Norwich: Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery.
Shortcut to a picturesque – after John Crome – Glen Jamieson (s.d.) At: https://cargocollective.com/glenjamieson/Shortcut-to-a-picturesque-after-John-Crome (Accessed on 16 September 2018)

Exercise 5.7: Artist’s Statement

I researched a number of artist’s statements and advice given on how to write them. Many people seem to agree that it is not easy to write one “I hate artist statements. Really, I do. As an artist, they are almost always awkward and painful to write, and as a viewer they are similarly painful and uninformative to read.” Jaffe, I. et al. (2013)

Another aspect that is perhaps overlooked is summed up by Abrams (s.d.) “This may seem counter-intuitive, but an artist statement is not about you, the artist; its about your work, the art.”

From what I have read the best artist’s statements (certainly so far as galleries and those reading them are concerned) are:

Concise and to the point, maybe just a paragraph or two
Simply explains what the work is about
Uses fewer, simpler words – avoids International Art English (Rule & Levine (s.d.)
Is clearly and simply presented (avoid fancy fonts and backgrounds)

Although this may sound simple I did not find it very easy – nor was I the only one “When an artist does manage to present something honest, to the point, and well written, it is often revealed as having been written by someone else” Jaffe, I. et al. (2013)

However I persevered and my Artist’s Statement can be found here.

Bibliography
8 Artist Statements We Love – The Art League Blog (2015) At: https://www.theartleague.org/blog/2015/08/24/artist-statements-we-love/ (Accessed on 10 September 2018)

Abrams, L. (s.d.) ‘Don’t Quote Deleuze’: How to Write a Good Artist Statement. At: http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/dont-say-deleuze-how-to-write-a-good-artist-statement (Accessed on 10 September 2018)

Agora (2016) How To Write An Artist Statement: Tips From The Art Experts – Agora Gallery – Advice Blog. At: https://www.agora-gallery.com/advice/blog/2016/07/23/how-to-write-artist-statement/ (Accessed on 10 September 2018)

Artist Statement Guidelines (s.d.) At: https://www.gyst-ink.com/artist-statement-guidelines/ (Accessed on 10 September 2018)

artists_statement_bio_info.pdf (s.d.) At: http://www.artspartner.org/files/all/artists_statement_bio_info.pdf

Examples of Artists Statements (s.d.) At: https://www.artbusinessinfo.com/examples-of-artists-statements.html (Accessed on 10 September 2018)

Jaffe, I. et al. (2013) The Anti-artist-statement Statement. At: https://hyperallergic.com/67670/the-anti-artist-statement-statement/ (Accessed on 10 September 2018)

pensum (s.d.) artist statements. At: https://artiststatements.wordpress.com/ (Accessed on 10 September 2018)

Exercise 5.6: Context and meaning

Walker’s essay ‘Context as a Determinant of Photographic Meaning’ starts with the consideration of a wedding photograph and lists a large number of contexts within which it could be seen; from a family album, to a magazine to an art gallery. The argument being that what one sees in, and how one assesses the image will depend on the context within which it is displayed.

Walker says that “Most critical analyses of photographs concentrate on their immanent structure” (relationships within the picture) but he argues tat the external context within which a photograph is viewed is also important in how it is perceived by the viewer.

He illustrates his contention with the same photograph in two different settings, one surrounded by text in a newspaper; the other a glossy print surrounded by a wide border on the page of a prestigious art journal. The way in which the same image will be perceived is very much affected by its context.

Walker goes on to discuss the ‘circulation’ and ‘currency’ of images. Here he defines circulation as the communication of the image and its movement through different social strata and institutions. While it is being circulated an image is current, but if it is withdrawn from circulation then it loses its currency.

He gives a further example of the work of Jo Spence and how he came across images of her in three different settings:
In the Three Perspectives on Photography exhibition at the Hayward
On the cover of Spare Rib magazine
In the entrance hall of a public in Finsbury

This shows how the three different contexts shaped the perception of the work.

It does seem self-evident that the setting of a photograph will affect how it is viewed (and by who). If any of my images for assignment 5 were seen only as a slide show on Youtube by a couple of people, then that is very different to them being exhibited at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery |(see below)

….……………………………….

This exercise asks if there are any particular places that would be appropriate for the exhibition of the work I have produced for assignment 5. The obvious location would be the Colman Galleries at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. The Museum website states that “The Colman Art Galleries house the world’s largest public collection of works by the Norwich School of Artists, the first regional society of artists established in England. Notable members include John Crome, John Sell Cotman, Joseph Stannard and George Vincent.” https://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/norwich-castle/whats-here/galleries/fine-art

Not that the photographs should be displayed in the main gallery alongside the major oil paintings – apart from anything else many of the scenes depicted are not ones that I chose for the assignment. There is, though, a small gallery space, just off the main gallery which is used for temporary exhibitions and this would be ideal.

It is definitely not a ‘white cube’ which is good as I think that a setting with character is far preferable. I would see introductory text about the work of the Norwich school painters leading in to the photographs which would be displayed in sequence and just with the title of the location where the images were taken.

In terms of context and meaning, I think that the photos would gain considerably from being in such a setting and it would increase their relevance to be seen with the Norwich School originals on display nearby.

Exercise 5.5: Create a slideshow

I watched a number of slideshows and noted how varied they could be.

For example:

New York Times 1 in 8 million – a black and white slide show (in fact 54 slide shows) each telling the story of one of the 8 million residents of the area. The people, and their stories are very varied, from the art restorer, to the boat dweller to the wedding wardrober. In each case the slides are accompanied by the subject talking about themselves and their passion. It is a very effective and informative format for the series. http://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/1-in-8-million/index.html?8qa#
Women guerrillas of the PJAK by Maryam Ashrafi. A series of 39 colour slides describing the daily live of the women fighters of the Kurdish PJAK group. There is no sound (either voice or music) to the slideshow. Given the subject matter I think that perhaps any form of music would have been an intrusion. The images are left to speak for themselves which they do quite eloquently. http://maryamashrafi.com/gallery/women-guerrillas-of-the-pjak/
Crossing Macedonia – Europe’s Refugee crisis by Kostis Ntantami – a slideshow from 2015 cataloguing the journey of the thousands of refugees that crossed the border between Macedonia and Greece each day. 26 colour images showing the journey of the refugees with a musical background that seemed appropriate in terms of the subject matter and the geographical area the photographs were taken. http://www.foto8.com/live/crossing-macedonian-europes-refugee-crisis-kostis-ntantamis/ 

Each of the slideshows were very different in how they presented their work,for example the slides faded from one to the next in 1 in 8 million and Crossing Macedonia whereas in Women Guerrillas they transitioned vertically. The NYT show was the only one that did not include a ‘full screen’ option for the images. The other two did offer this option, Crossing Macedonia giving a black background to unfilled parts of the screen, whereas a white background was chosen for Women Guerrillas.

The exercise brought home to me how much needs to be considered in order to make a successful online slideshow.

….………………………………………….

I also put together a short slideshow of my own images for Assignment 5. Again these were preliminary images before I had completed the selection and processing of the final images.

I thought that a simple music soundtrack would work with the show and found what I thought was an appropriate one on Free Music Archive.

I think that the format worked better than the photobook in that I was able to put short text explanations into the slide to add to the context of the images. However thinking it through having completed the slideshow, I realised that I could have perhaps made a better version of the book by revisiting the design and including more text. However this would have meant that a number of pages would have been used for just a small amount of text and probably isn’t the most cost-effective use of a photobook.

My slideshow can be seen here

Exercise 5.4; Online exhibitions

I found the Looking at the Land exhibition very interesting. I paritcularly liked the way that the images had been put together with patterns repeating from one image to the next, e.g Clinging Vine and Independence Rock; or Imperial Sand Dunes and Plane. Very different subjects but related to each other by patterns.

The exhibition had three ways of looking at it;

  • As a slide show with a set timed interval between each transition
  • As a slide show but where the viewer can click on the next image to go at a faster pace
  • As a light box where the viewer can click on an individual image to view it.

This latter point did seem strange as it appeared that a lot of thought had been put into the sequencing of the slide show so why allow viewers to click through in any order?

The slide show itself was impressive and the quality of the photos excellent. It led me to think though, what is lost when work is viewed online rather than physically displayed? Firstly the images are being viewed in all sorts of formats – large monitor, smaller laptop, ipad/tablet, possibly even a mobile phone. The way in which colours are rendered by all of these devices is outside the control of the curator, different people could have vastly different experiences depending on the device used.

This could also apply to the size of the screen used to view the pictures. Having visited gallery exhibitions, e.g. Gursky at the Hayward or Tillmans at the Tate, the sheer physicality and scale of the images played a considerable part in my viewing and appreciation of them. This just is not applicable to online exhibitions, I suppose the exhibition could be cast to a large screen TV or even projected on to a screen, but very few people would have the equipment or the desire to set this up.

This is some of what is lost, but there is one very large gain, without the online exhibition I would never have had the opportunity to see any of these images for myself. There are only so many physical gallery spaces available and most of these are subject to the individual whims of the curator.

Perhaps the online gallery is a more ‘democratic’ display, but one must accept its limitations.

Exercise 5.3: Print-on-demand mock-up

I did this exercise before I had completed taking and preparing all the photos for Assignment 5, so if I had decided to produce a book for this assignment much more time would have been spent on selecting and preparing the final images for inclusion.

Nevertheless the exercise itself was an illuminating one. I had originally thought that my images for this assignment could have been used to produce a photobook, including my photos with copies of the pictures produced by Norwich School painters that alongside them. But having tried it out in blurb, I quickly realised that it wasn’t working. I should have recognised this from my original proposal, when I stated that I was not taking a modern photograph to compare with the Norwich School original but simply using the original as a geographic location from which to produce a series of images of life in Norwich today.

The problem with placing the two types of images alongside each other was that you immediately start to compare the two scenes to see how they differ or are there any similarities – the view down a particular street, do the buildings look the same. This detracted from both sets of images.

Perhaps a book would be possible with just my own photographs, but for it to be worthwhile it probably needs quite a few more images, maybe around 20, otherwise the book would feel very slight. I guess the 10-12 images I was aiming for might just about produce a pamphlet.

The pdf version of the book can be found here (please note in the pdf version the pages are sequential, in the book version the images of the painting and the photograph from the same location would be facing each other as the book lies open). After the Norwich School

Exercise 5.2: Print Quotes

I researched the three companies quoted in the course material; Metro, theprintspace and Spectrum. I decided to seek prices for an A3 print as this is the size required for assessment.

It wasn’t straightforward in that Metro only offered standard format sizes, not A3 size. In addition Metro and Spectrum offered two levels of printing (standard and premier for Metro / online and studio for Spectrum) which seems to be the difference between straight printing of the files as you send them or a level of assessment and intervention in the printing by studio technicians. On top of this Spectrum offered a 20% discount on all services for students, Metro offer students a range of discounts including 10% off off the standard print service whereas theprintspace have no discount offers on their website.

On top of this one also has to take into account delivery costs for the prints as these too vary and would affect the overall price.

In order to do a fair comparison I have assumed 10 different prints sized 407x304mm using the standard delivery price. Te figures below include the student discount offered by each company.

Company Price per print Giclee Cost of 10 prints Price per print 

C Type

Cost of 10 prints Delivery cost
Metro £11.84 £118.40 £8.68 £86.80 £5.18
theprintspace £13.30 £133 £9.85 £98.50 £5.22
Spectrum £9.34 £93.40 £7.05 £70.50 £6.50

So the total cost of ten prints, 407x304mm delivered is

  Giclee C print
Metro £123.58 £91.98
theprintspace £138.22 £103.72
Spectrum £99.90 £7700

I have prepared two files of the same image (the first is for c type printing and the second a giclee on Innova white matt paper)  to the specifications set by Spectrum. The images are here. 

Can inkjet be treated as a photograph?

 The difference between inkjet and c type is that in the former method droplets of ink are sprayed onto a paper whereas c type is much more closely linked to a traditional photographic developing process where the image is transmitted on to silver halide papers and processed in the same way as a traditional photographic development.

The debate as to whether inkjets are ‘photographic’ prints or not comes down to this different method of production.

To my mind this division is false. A photograph was originally produced by exposing film to light, projecting the image on to photographic paper then developing and fixing it. There is an argument to be made that anything not produced by this method cannot be classified as photographs.

However if we take the argument that inkjet prints are not photographs because they do not involve projecting the light onto photographic paper then surely anything produced from a digital camera can not be classified as a photograph as it does not involve capturing the light from an image on to photographic film.

I believe that the important issue is the final printed image, its quality, feel and closeness to the image captured as intended by the photographer. Whether that is by c type or inkjet is, to me, irrelevant. Perhaps we should be less interested in terminology and more concerned with our view of the final photographic image.

Exercise 5.1: Origins of the White Cube

The essay starts with the statement that in this century we “investigate things in relation to their context, come to see the context as formative of the thing, and, finally, see the context as as thing itself”.

It goes on to describe the modern gallery space which, it says is constructed to rules that are as strict as those for building a medieval church. The windows are sealed off, walls are painted white and the ceiling becomes the source of life.

The gallery is described as a chamber whose roots are found ‘not so much in art history as history of religion’.

This religious theme continues throughout the essay where the gallery becomes a place of ritual.

But it is not for the sake of religion that the gallery is constructed in this way, according to the author “the endurance of a certain power structure is the end for which the sympathetic magic of the white cube is devised”.

The White Cube offers access to a spiritual world at the cost of the visitor becoming ‘the eye’ and ‘the spectator’. The eye refers solely to the visual world in the gallery, the spectator means leaving everything from the real world outside, almost a cardboard cut out of the visitor.

The essays are a defence of the real world against the sterility of the White Cube.

….……………………………….

It is interesting to consider the very strident points made in the essay. I think that most would agree that context influences how we view an object and this is particularly so in an artistic or gallery setting.

The White Cube is a recent phenomenon, if you visit the National Gallery or see pictures of older galleries then they are not in any way similar to contemporary galleries. In previous centuries the walls of galleries were covered with works of art , up to, and including the ceiling. It is a recent phenomenon for the white painted walls and lack of windows.

In some ways this can strike as giving space to the object on display, there are no distractions and the work of art can be observed in isolation almost. O’Doherty seems to be arguing that the rituals for visiting such a gallery have overtaken the simple appreciation of the display and have become the reason for the visit.

Tutor Feedback and Review

I had been rather pleased with the Critical Review that I submitted for Assignment 4, so initially I was a little disappointed that my tutor found so much to comment on. Having read his report a few times now, and thinking about what he said, I think that I can learn a great deal from this exercise.

I had tried to take on board previous comments about being more analytical and in this essay I attempted to give a more personal critical response to the images I studied. This was fine but, as my tutor pointed out, I also could have taken a more analytical approach to the genre and why artists had chosen to use it.

He also questioned whether the images were made by landscape artists or political artists, which is something I could have addressed in the essay.

These were the major points he raised and I now recognise more clearly the importance of the articulation of individual thought and analysis. I will revisit the essay to see if I can take on board the main points he made.

Photo Gallery

I have set up a Photo Gallery where higher quality versions of the photos in the assignments can be seen, as well as photographs taken outside of the exercises.

As well as the photographs, by clicking on the i (information) tab at the top you can also see information and comments about the image

The gallery can be accessed here Photo Gallery

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