Re-work and Reflection on Tutor Report Assignment 5

Re-work and Reflection on Tutor Report Assignment 5

Overall I was pleased with the completed Assignment and the tutor’s Report. Following the suggestions in the Report I re-visited the canal walkways and took a number of series of photographs; in post-processing (Photoshop) I layered individual photographs to produce a single composite image. Gallery 1 below shows the final composite image make from several photographs taken from the same point of view as that shown in Image #4 in the Submission series. In the composite image individuality is maintained because gaps are visible between people – there is much less blending than in, for example, the work of Alexey Titarenko (Titarenko, 2015). This is in keeping with the ‘individual psychological ambiguity’ idea behind the Assignment. In addition, the spacing of the individuals allowed for the place to be discerned and not totally obscured by the mass of people. Converted to black-and-white (see Gallery 1) perhaps the crowd becomes slightly more homogeneous.

Gallery 2 is a composite image made from about 25 separate photographs (see examples in Gallery 3). The point of view in this photograph allows for the place to be unambiguously present and for a greater density of people to be overlaid. The conversion to black-and-white (see Gallery 2) is more successful in that the absence of points of colour makes the mass more homogeneous – this is definitely a crowd.

The place I chose for this Assignment (a functioning 18th century city canal) does not attract large crowds, mostly individual or pairs of walkers along the canal banks. In the Assignment images the blurred individuals compliment the ambiguous place (i.e. city or park). It is the individual (identity) and the place that is under view. With the images in Gallery 1 and 2 (below) the emphasis changes to that of the city crowd and the threat to the inner life that city dwellers can face. Examples of explorations of this theme include Berenice Abbott’s ‘Tempo of the City 1, 1938’ (see fig. 1.), Paul Strand’s ‘Wall Street, New York, 1915’ (see fig. 2.) and Hiroharu Matsumoto’s  series ‘Quiet Tokyo’; this latter changes locations throughout the city (Gear, 2017). The subject in these examples is the individual and the de-personalised culture of the modern city, which differs to what I was attempting in this Assignment where I choose to explore a specific place i.e. the locale of a specific canal and its interactions with individuals as it coursed through a city. Thus, in the Assignment the place is not generic to the same extent as it is in the example  above. While true that the Assignment theme may be generalised to the subject of alienation in modern society, nevertheless emphasis is on a particular place (or more broadly a particular mix of the geographic with the social).

Gallery 4 (below) shows a series of nine images as suggested in the tutor Report; four of the images in this new series were also included in the Submission’s final series of fifteen photographs. I agree with the Report’s observation that in my Submission’s fifteen images there is a blurring of the balance and visual representation of ‘Analogy’, ‘Witness’ & ‘Reportage’; a less complicated series, for instance leaving out ‘reportage’, makes for a better series.


Figure 1 (click to enlarge) ‘Tempo of the City 1, 1938’ – Berenice Abbott


Figure 2 (click to enlarge) ‘Wall Street, New York, 1915’ – Paul Strand


Gallery 1 (click to enlarge) Composite layered image make from individual exposures


Gallery 2 (click to enlarge) Composite layered image made from about 25 separate photographs


Gallery 3 (click to enlarge) Examples of individual photographs used to make composite image shown in Gallery 2 (above)


Gallery 4 (click to enlarge) Series of nine images as suggested in the tutor’s Report


 References

Gear, E S (2017) Photographer captures loneliness in the crowds of Japanese megacities [online] Available at: https://www.featureshoot.com/2017/06/photographer-captures-loneliness-crowds-japanese-megacities/ [Accessed 19 03 18]

Titarenko, A., 2015. The City Is a Novel. Bologna : Damiani editore

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Assignment five ‘Identity and Place’ Submission

Assignment five ‘Identity and Place’ Submission

My ‘Assignment five’ learning blog (parts i – iii) address:

https://iandp513273.wordpress.com/category/assignments/assignment-5/

The final sequence of Assignment images are show in ‘Gallery 1 submission’ below; also below are the contact sheets for the Assignment.

How the Assignment meets the Assessment Criteria Points is discussed in my ‘Assignment four’ learning blog here:

https://iandp513273.wordpress.com/2018/02/20/assessment-criteria-points-assignment-five-identity-and-place/

Reflective commentary (about 500 words, excepting quoted text)

The place I photographed was a stretch of canal dating from the 18th century that passes through the inner section of the city in which I live. The canal contains at intervals locks which allow for the navigation of stretches of the canal waterway that are at different levels. The area surrounding each lock is distinctive, unique and this gave me the initial thought of describing the place (the canal) by means of photographing in turn each the individual locks in the manner of ‘New Topographic’ photography (Bate, 2009: 98), for example Ed Ruscha’s ‘Twentysix Gasoline Stations’ (Tate, s.d). While this strategy speaks strongly to ‘place’, it does less so to ‘identity’.

The concept of ‘place’ has been teased apart to encompass the ‘non-place’, i.e. somewhere that has none of the organically structured social attributes of a place. An examples of ‘non-place’ is the departure lounge of an airport (Augé, 1995: 82), and broadly the concept:

defines the ‘decentering’ to which the present day individual is subjected. Bombarded with a slew of information from every corner of he globe, endlessly urged to keep up to date and on the move, we fleet about, disorientated (Couterier, 2012: 58).

This visual association of place with the psychology of the individual has been explored previously for example in the work of Philip-Lorca diCorcia (b. 1951) and Lynne Cohen (b. 1944):

Her [Cohen] photographs of interiors — domestic spaces in her early career, mostly institutional spaces in the last two decades or so — are famous for never depicting the people who inhabit them. … It is clear now that Cohen’s priorities are not formal but social and psychological. Her pictures are social studies, meditations on how we organize our private nests and how others design for us the public spaces in which we conduct our lives (Bogardi, 2002).

The canal possesses an ambiguity: it is part of the city — traversed by road and rail bridges, its wayside paths used by city pedestrians going about their business — yet also it is a linear park, with for example benches that accommodate visitors. These visitors encounter no demarcation boundary that tells them that they are now entering a park and leaving the city streets, the boundary is entirely a psychological one. Thus the canal is both a ‘non-place’ possessing the alienation associated with the city, and also it has the attributes of an organic social place typical of a park. Whether the canal is experienced as a ‘rest area’ (a non-place) or a park (a place) is unique to each individual. Augé (Augé, 1992) has remarked that: ‘a person entering the space of non-place is relieved of his usual determinants. He becomes no more than what he does or experiences in the role of passenger, customer or driver’ (Augé, 1992: 83). In the context of this Assignment the roles played in the non-places of the city reflect the definition of an individual by occupation (e.g. office temp., marketing executive and so on), roles which are not required to be maintained by an individual in the setting of a park. The Assignment’s use of blurred images of individuals attempts to visually reflect this psychology of ambiguous identity, while the mixed surrounding environment of canal waterway and cityscape reflects an ambiguity of place (this photographic blurring was not the only visual analogy for ambiguous identity – see image # 2 _1185584 in Assignment series). The use of long exposure also suggested a future exploration of the relationship between change/individual psychology (indistinctly imaged individual) and time (blurring of water in canal lock ‘waterfall’) – see Image # 9 _2185894 in ‘Gallery 1 submission’ below). This was not explored in the Assignment.

The finished series, along with showing the canal’s differing ‘moods’, also contains photographs with elements of the different poles of meaning as described by Allan Sekula in ‘On the Invention of Photographic Meaning’ (Sekula, 1982: 84 – 110). It is possible to use his conclusion’s ‘schematic summary’ to say that the Assignment series involves, analogy:– the blurred images analogous of individual psychological ambiguity; witness:– to the canal as an ambiguous place in the city; reportage:– the place as a working system of (leisure) transport.

For the final edit the series of photographs a selection of images were printed out at low resolution sufficient to enable an overview of the material to be obtained and also different image sequences to be tried and assessed (see fig.1.)

Technical Note:

In this Assignment I used neutral density (ND) filters (Lee Filters, s.d) to achieve firstly the blurred images of individuals in the landscape, and secondly images of the landscape devoid of people. The technique required some experimentation not all of which was successful – for example the long early series (# _1185375 to _1185414; contact sheet # 002 – 003) where I attempted to isolated dark blurred figures against the white background of a stationary tour bus, eventually achieving this, but I felt the composition did not work. Additionally on some occasions the light levels meant that when using a 10-stop filter (Lee Filters, s.d) I had to open the aperture too wide, and thus loose too great a depth of focus, in order to achieve the correct shutter speed required to blur the moving pedestrians – on these occasions I changed from a 10-stop to a 6-stop filter (Lee Filters, s.d) and achieved good results i.e. the moving figure did not appear insubstantial or ethereal and the background was not lost to the composition.

References

Bate, D., 2009. Photography. The Key Concepts. London: Bloomsbury.

Bogardi, G., 2002. ‘No Man’s Land: The Photography of Lynne Cohen’. In: Canadian Art [online] Available at: https://canadianart.ca/features/lynne-cohen/ [Accessed 14 02 18]

Couturier, E., 2012. Talk About Contemporary Photography. Paris: Flammarian.

Lee Filters, s.d. The Stopper Range. [online] Available at: http://www.leefilters.com/index.php/camera/bigstopper [Accessed 15 02 18]

Sekula, A., 1982. On the Invention of Photographic Meaning. In: V. Burgin, ed. Thinking Photography. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 84 – 109.

Tate s.d. Edward Ruscha ‘Twentysix Gasoline Stations’ 1963. [online] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/about/projects/transforming-artist-books/summaries/edward-ruscha-twentysix-gasoline-stations-1963 [Accessed 13 02 18]


Figure 1 (click to enlarge)

Low resolution prints


Gallery 1 submission (click to enlarge)


Contact Sheets (click to enlarge)

Photographs from the final image series (‘Gallery 1 submission’ above) are marked in red

Assessment criteria points — Assignment five ‘Identity and Place’

Assessment criteria points — Assignment five ‘Identity and Place’

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills. (40%)

Technical and visual skills were displayed in the preparations for photographing at different times and on different occasions a particular chosen place. The technique of neutral density filters was applied. Digital images from each visit to the place were processed and edited. A final edit resulted in the series of photographs submitted for the Assignment.

Quality of outcome – Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas. (20%)

Prior to taking photographs research was undertaken, as documented in my learning blog, into the concepts of ‘place’ and ‘non-place’, and also into the visual representation of physiological state. The blog also includes some images from shoots. At the end of shooting a selection of photographs were printed at low resolution sufficient to enable an overview of the material to be obtained and also different image sequences to be tried and assessed

Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention. (20%)

My goal in this Assignment was to photograph a section of inner-city canal waterway: the images of the landscape and the people in it reflecting the interface of the place (park; anthropological social place) /non-place (city roads). The technique of neutral density filters was employed in an attempt to make a visual metaphor for this unique landscape’s implications for the sense of personal identity felt by those who frequent the banks of the canal with its many paths and seating benches.

Context – Reflection, research, critical thinking (including learning logs). (20%)

My on-line learning blog and Assignment reflective commentary (500 words) demonstrates my reflection, research and critical thinking on the Assignment.

Assignment 5 (iii)

Assignment 5 (iii)

The place I photographed for this Assignment was a stretch of canal dating from the 18th century that passes through the inner section of the city in which I live. Consequently when commencing the Assignment I was mindful of the following:

When you set foot in the landscape, try to remember that you are treading on ground that countless generations of your ancestors have walked on. It has been fought over, hunted upon, cultivated, worshipped, and used in myriad other ways. You are setting foot on it with the sum of your prejudices, memories, spiritual and philosophical beliefs, and hopes and expectations. Everything you know and have yet to discover about the place will be squeezed, in an instant, into your viewfinder (Alexander, 2015: 185).

I was also mindful of the work and practice of Paul Hart (b. 1961) and his ‘Poetry of Place’ series (Strecker, s.d). A critic commenting on Hart’s work and on how the spirit of the 1960s, 70s and 80s — the ‘nearly spiritual promise of wisdom and insight that could be gained through movement’ (Strecker, s.d) — gave way ‘to increasing convenience and commercialisation’ (Strecker, s.d) suggests:

all of this indicates that we now live in a thoroughly different atmosphere of travel than when Kerouac sat down and hammered out On the Road [Kerouac, 1957]. Perhaps, then, the radical act has been turned on its head; perhaps the greater revolution in 2018 is not to move, but rather to stay put. To lay down roots. To understand the infinite complexities of place via careful attention, repeated visits, and that one irreplaceable element: time (Strecker, s.d).

David Campany’s ‘The Open Road. Photography and the American Road Trip’ (Campany, 2014) explores the phenomenon of seeking insight by travel from place to place. Paul Hart’s approach is radically different.

Because I photographed a place that no longer functioned for the purposes for which it was built i.e. an industrial transport system, there is an element of ‘late photography’ (Campany, 2003) to the Assignment. There is therefore some quality of stillness in the Assignment photographs, which is contrasted in the same images by the slight blurring of the barges due to the combination of the long exposure times used (by means of a neutral density filter) and the sluggish movement of the canal water (see Gallery 1 below).

Gallery 1 (click to enlarge)


References

Alexander, J. A. P., 2015. Perspectives on Place. Theory and Practice in Landscape Photography. London: Bloomsbury

Campany, D., 2014. The Open Road. Photography and the American Road Trip. New York: Aperture.

Campany, D., 2003. Safety in Numbness: Some remarks on the problems of ‘Late Photography’. [Online] Available at: http://davidcampany.com/safety-in-numbness/ [Accessed 18 02 2018]

Kerouac, J., 1957. On the Road. New York: Viking Press

Strecker, A. s.d. Poetry of Place: Rooted in the English Landscape. [online] Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/paul-hart-poetry-of-place-rooted-in-the-english-landscape?utm_source=General+List&utm_campaign=630cf8710f-01-23-18-Editorial+NL&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f1724e682d-630cf8710f-88872905&mc_cid=630cf8710f&mc_eid=719a905ac4 [Accessed 15 02 18]

Assignment 5 (ii)

Assignment 5 (ii)

Part of the work of Aristotle Roufanis (b. 1983) focuses on ‘human interactions defined by the condition of urban life and architecture’ (Aristotle Roufanis Photography, s.d). Roufanis’s work ‘Alone Together’ (Roufanis, ongoing) is relevant to my Assignment because of the manner in which he treats the theme of: ‘The overwhelming sense of being surrounded by people yet feeling alone among them’ (Lachowskyj, 2017). In the images from ‘Alone Together’: ‘Among the dark-blue stillness of the night-time street grids, dots of yellow light emerge that illuminate solitary subjects in their homes’ (Lachowskyj, 2017), see Figures 1 – 3.

Roufanis explores the theme of alienation in large cities (for example in ‘Alone Together’ the cities of Paris, London, Miami and Athens) and employs ‘an advanced digital-editing technique that requires stitching together multiple files, ensuring every inch of the final photograph is in absolute focus’ (Lachowskyj, 2017). Here the small individual yellow window-lights are employed as metaphor.

My Assignment deals with similar themes relating to identity and space in a city (see (i) above)  in the sense that the ‘the dark-blue stillness of the night-time street grids’ (above) of Roufanis’s work could be viewed at ‘non-spaces’ and the dwelling space represented by the yellow light as a ‘place’  (see Augé,1995; de Certeau, 1984).

Figures 4, 5 and 6 are photographs taken at the place I choose to photograph for my Assignment, a stretch of a canal running through a city. As described in an above blog post (see (i)) the area is a linear park but with no demarcation  to separate it from the city, leading to the possibility that it may be experienced differently by individuals – as a ‘rest area’, i.e. a non-place, or as a park, i.e. a place. I attempt to reflect this ambiguity by the use of long exposures using a neutral density filter.


Figures 1 — 3 (click to enlarge) from Aristotle Roufanis ‘Alone Together’


Figures 4 – 6 Assignment photographs

Figure 4. (click to enlarge)


Figure 5. (click to enlarge)


Figure 6. (click to enlarge)


References

Aristotle Roufanis Photography, s.d., About. [online] Available at: http://www.aristotle.photography/about [Accessed 30 01 18]

Augé, M., 1995. Non-places. An Introduction to Supermodernity. London: Verso.

de Certeau, M., 1984. The Practice of Everyday Life. London: University of California Press

Lachowskyj, C., 2017. Alone Together with Aristotle Roufanis. British Journal of Photography, November , pp. 26 – 27.

Roufanis, A., ongoing. Alone Together [online] Available at: http://www.aristotle.photography/alone-together [Accessed 30 01 18]