Wet Plate Collodion Workshop June 2017

Wet Plate Collodion Workshop held at the Gallery of Photography, Temple Bar, Dublin http://www.galleryofphotography.ie/

Date: Sunday 4th June 2017; Time: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Six places max.

http://www.galleryofphotography.ie/wet-plate-collodion/

I attended this intensive one day workshop led by experienced wet collodionist Monika Fabijanczyk. The group was divided into two, one to photograph portraits, the other still life, and afterwards the groups swapped tasks.  In the darkroom we each prepared 4 x 5 inch plates by pouring the collodion on the plate, sensitising it in a bath of silver nitrate solution, loading it in a wet plate holder and taking it to the studio and the 4 x 5 camera to make an exposure (Ingledew, 2013: 264; Eastman Kodak Company, 1935).

After making the exposure the plate holder was opened in the darkroom and the plate developed, rinsed in a stop bath, fixed, washed, dried and varnished (shown in Gallery 1 below are photographs of two black-glass plates I produced in the workshop).

Gallery 1 (click to enlarge)


References

Eastman Kodak Company (1935) Collodion and the making of wet plate negatives. Rochester: Eastman Kodak [online] At: http://motamedi.info/text/Eastman-Kodak%20(1935)%20Collodion%20and%20the%20Making%20of%20Wet-Plate%20Negatives.pdf (Accessed on 05.06.17)

Ingledew, John (2013) Photography (Second Edition). London: Laurence King Publishing

Advertisements

Study Visit: ‘Wolfgang Tillmans 2017’ exhibition

I attended the exhibition ‘Wolfgang Tillmans: 2017’ at Tate Modern as part of an OCA Study Group led by Jayne Taylor.

Each entrant to the exhibition is handed a small Booklet of commentary on the exhibit. Included on the inside cover is a map showing the floor layout: fourteen rooms, entering at room number 1 and exiting at room 14. The rooms do not comply with the usual gallery layout, something not unexpected from Tillmans who is recognised as an ‘artist who uses photography’ rather than a fine art photographer. The works included are from 2003 to the present.

The Booklet provided a single page of descriptive text was given to each of the rooms. However, as usual when visiting exhibitions I first began by walking through the exhibition to attempt an overview before retracing my steps for a considered look. In this first pass I would normally ignore any explanatory text that might be attached to the wall beside a picture. I followed this course until Room 4 of this exhibition which contained the ‘truth study center’ – on a number of tables are laid out photographs, drawings, newspaper clippings, magazine pages, pages from scientific journals. These table required to be ‘read’ in all the senses of that word; in this room I realised that the exhibition itself could be considered as an installation and that each Room had its own characteristics or mood.

Speaking in January 2017 as he prepared for this exhibition ‘Tillmans said:

There is not one correct way in reading my work I sometimes say that if you have an encounter with five percent of my work in an exhibition, where you get a sense of “umm, I know how that smells, or I know how that sounds, or I’ve seen this before, I understand this, I can feel like this” that is really what I would say is success in my work (Tillmans, 2017).

Here then is my ‘five percent’ (above), my encounter on the day with the exhibition. The ‘truth study center’ collection of copies of scientific papers (with reports on brain imaging) placed alongside for example reports on a symposium on conspiracy theories were intriguing. My first fleeting thought was that perhaps this was some trickster post-modernism and that the reports were fake facsimiles (all the more to make the point about fake news and the elusiveness of truth today). But on reading I found all the material, including some newspaper headlines that I recognised, to be authentic. This to me created a stark contrast within the exhibition, that between scientific truth and its analytical search for laws, and the pursuance of Art with its interpretative search for meaning.

On one of the table displays was a document which declared “We’d rather feel more and think less”; with this in mind I looked again at the photograph ‘CLC 800, dismantled, a’ (see fig. 1.). Here Tillmans recorded an obsolete colour photocopier after he had dismantled it by ‘unfastening every single screw’. The result is not beautiful. The original machine could possibly have had aesthetic merit, a property of machines that Tillmans is conscious of – for example Room three’s image of the car headlight (see fig. 2.). However, looking at the photograph of the photocopier I was reminded that the process of dismantling had stopped before any new aesthetic could emerge – for example that of each separate precision engineered piece laid out and ordered.

Also in Room three was a wall-covering photograph ‘Market I’ (see fig. 3.) which had wonderful colours along with play of light and shade; overall a beautiful image. The Booklet’s commentary was that ‘now using a high resolution digital camera, Tillmans captured images in a depth of detail that is immediately compelling, but also suggests the excess of information that is often described as a condition of contemporary life.’ Reading this while standing in the warmth of the picture itself brought the cold shiver of analytical thought, here better to feel than think.

At one point while viewing a photograph a small image above caught my eye. Looking up I saw an image of a koala bear (I think) clinging to a tree branch, placed exactly where such it should be, high up in a tree. This non-typical placement of art works (here it was playful) was typical of the exhibition overall, inviting (forcing) the visitor to move about in order to place themselves correctly in relation to the differently sized images.

Also among my ‘five per cent’ (above) were Tillmans’s perhaps now iconic images ‘astro crusto’ and ‘Tucan’ (see fig. 4. and fig. 5.) which were absorbing to look at, visually stunning and interesting – is ‘astro crusto’ depicting a stage in the life cycle (of both lobster and fly)? Its conventional ugly aspect (a fly on food) connected in my mind to Tillmans’s photograph ‘Weed’ (2014), something conventionally ugly but nevertheless living in the cycle.

The exhibition was difficult to absorb in one visit because it was extensive in itself, but it also reflected fourteen years of a prolific artist’s output. In addition full appreciation probably required a broad, perhaps detailed knowledge of Tillmans’ work from his early snapshot documentary of the 1990s to the present.

Writing now about my visit I’m reminded of the critic Geoff Dyer’s words:

When writing about difficult pictures or music or poetry, it’s important not to forget, deny, or disguise one’s initial (or enduring) confusion or perplexity. The purpose of criticism is not to explain away one’s reaction but to articulate, record, and preserve them – in the hope that doing so expresses a truth inherent in the work (Dyer, 2011: 187 – 193).

Certainly I will not ‘forget, deny, or disguise’ my initial (and enduring) ‘confusion or perplexity’ at some of what I saw. On the journey home I read in the exhibition catalogue the question: ‘What context would account for this linkage in Tillman’s worldview between photographic materiality and the twinned concepts of vulnerability and openness?’ (Godfrey, 2017:16). Later the answer: ‘Tillmans’s linkage of materiality, vulnerability and openness has to be understood in connection to his experience of the AIDS crisis’ (Godfrey, 2017:20).

Still much to see and think about.

References

Note: uncredited quotations are from the Tate Modern Booklet given to attendees on entry.

Dyer, Geoff (2011) ‘Afterword’ In: Alex Webb: The Suffering of Light. Thirty Years of Photographs. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 187 – 193

Godfrey, Mark (2017) ‘Worldview’. In: Wolfgang Tillmans 2017. London: Tate Publishing

Tillmans, Wolfgang (2017) Wolfgang Tillmans – ‘What Art Does in Me is Beyond Words’ Tate (2017) 6 minutes At: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/wolfgang-tillmans-what-art-does-me-beyond-words-tateshots (Accessed on 11.05.17)

Illustrations

Fgure 1. Tillmans, Wolfgang (2011) CLC 800, dismantled, a. At: http://www.artnet.com/artists/wolfgang-tillmans/clc-800-dismantledaaa-a-zhlLtgC67O7W8-tZ6odxPQ2 (Accessed on 13-05.17)

Figure 2. Tillmans, Wolfgang (2012) Headlight (f),. At: http://www.artzip.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/IMG_2548.jpg (Accessed on 13-05.17)

Figure 3. Tillmans, Wolfgang (2012) Market 1. At: http://www.art-agenda.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/1_TW2012-009-Market-I-framed-XLM-JE.jpg (Accessed on 13-05.17)

Figure 4. Tillmans, Wolfgang (2012) astro crusto. At: http://www.tate.org.uk/sites/default/files/styles/width-600/public/images/wtastrocrustoa2012.jpg?itok=eYBQ_pS8 (Accessed on 13-05.17)

Figure 5. Tillmans, Wolfgang (2010) Tukan. At: http://www.tate.org.uk/sites/default/files/styles/width-720/public/2010-073_tukan_a4.jpg?itok=7sBGm6aZ (Accessed on 13-05.17)

Bibliography

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

Angier, Roswell (2015) Train Your Gaze: A Practical and Theoretical Introduction to Portrait Photography. London: Bloomsbury

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

Badger, Gerry (2007) The Genius of Photography. London: Quadrille Publishing

Barrett, T., 2012. Criticizing Photographs. An Introduction to Understanding Images. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill

Barthes, Roland (1980) Camera Lucida. London: Fontana Paperbacks

Barthes, Roland. (1957) Mythologies. London: Vintage Classics

Barthes, Roland (1977) Image Music Text. London: Fontana Press

Bate, David (2009) Photography. The Key Concepts. London: Bloomsbury Academic

Belsey, C., 2002. Poststructuralism. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin Modern Classics

Berger, John (1980)  About Looking. London: Bloomsbury

Bright, Susan (2005) Art Photography Now. London: Thames & Hudson

Bright, Susan (2010) Autofocus. The self-portrait in contemporary photography. London: Thames & Hudson

Brilliant, Richard (1991) Portraiture. London: Reaktion

Bunnell, Peter, C. (2006) Inside the PhotographWritings on Twentieth-Century Photography. New York: Aperture

Burgin, V. (1982) Thinking Photography. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Bussard, Katherine A. (2014) Unfamiliar Streets: The Photographs of Richard Avedon, Charles Moore, Martha Rosler, and Philip-Lorca diCorcia. New Havan: Yale University Press

Butler, Christopher (2002) Postmodernism A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Campany, D., 2015. a Handful of DustFrom the Cosmic to the Domestic. London: Mack

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

Campany, David (2008) Photography and Cinema. London: Reaktion Books

Chandler, David and Henneman, Inge (2009) Theatres of the Real. Brighton: Photoworks

Clarke, Graham (1992) The Portrait in Photography. London: Reaktion Books

Clarke, Graham (1997) The Photograph. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Cole, Teju (2016) Known and Strange Things. London: Faber & Faber

Conrad, P., 2016. Mythomania. Tales of our times, from Apple to ISIS. London: Thames & Hudson

Cotton, Charlotte (2014) The Photograph as Contemporary Art. Third Edition. London: Thames & Hudson

Cotton, Charlotte (2015) Photography is Magic. New York: Aperture Foundation

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

Crawford, Matthew (2009) The Case for Working with Your Hands, Or, Why Office Work Is Bad for Us and Fixing Things Feels Good. London: Penguin Books

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

Dexter, Emma (2003)  Cruel and Tender. London: Tate Publishing

Durden, Mark (2014) Photography Today. New York: Phaidon

Edwards, Steve (2006) Photography. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Eskildsen, U (2008) Street & Studio. An Urban History of Photography. London: Tate Publishing

Evans, Walker (1938; 2012) American Photographs. New York: Museum of Modern Art; Tate Publishing

Ewing, William E. (2006) Face. The New PhotographicPortrait. London: Thames & Hudson

Frank, Robert (1959; 2008) The Americans. New York: Grove Press; Gottinberg: Steidl

Franklin, Stuart (2016) The Documentary Impulse. London: Phaidon

Freidus, M. (1991)Typologies: Nine Contemporary Photographers. Newport Beach, CA: Newport Harbor Art Museum

Giddens, Anthony (1991) Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the late Modern Age. Oxford: Polity Press

Goldberg, Vicki (2010) Light Matters. Writings on Photography. London: Aperture

Grange, A. l., 2005. Basic Critical Theory for Photographers. Oxford: Focal Press.

Hoppé, E.O. (1945) Hundred Thousand Exposures: The Success of a Photographer. London: Focal Press

Hirsch, Marianne (1997) Family Frames. Photography, narrative and postmemory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press

Hustvedt, Siri (2016) A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women. Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind. London: Hodder & Stoughton

Hustvedt, S., 2005. Mysteries of the Rectangle. Essays on Painting. New York: Princeton Architectural Press

Jasanoff, M., 2017. The Dawn WatchJoseph Conrad in a Global World. London: Harper Collins

Jay, Bill (1992) Occam’s Razor: An Outside-In View of Contemporary Photography. Tocson: Nazraeli Press

Jeffrey, Ian (2014) The Photography Book. London: Phaidon Press

Jeffrey, Ian (2011) How to Read a Photograph. London: Thames & Hudson

Jeffrey, Ian (1981) Photography. A Concise History. London: Thames and Hudson

Klein, W., 1958. Life is good and good for you in New York: Trance Witness Revels. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

Kozloff, Max (2007) The Theatre of the Face. Portrait Photography Since 1900. London: Phaidon

Laing, O., 2016. The Lonely City. Adventures in the Art of Being Alone. Edinburgh: Canongate Books

Langford, M., Fox, A. & Smith, R. S., 2015. Langford’s Basic Photography. The Guide for Serious Photographers. 10th ed. New York: Focal Press

Lowe, P., 2016. Photography Masterclass. Creative Techniques of 100 Great Photographers. London: Thames & Hudson

Manguel, Alberto (2000) Reading Pictures. What We Think About When We Think of Art. New York: Random House

Marien, Mary Warner (2014) Photography: A Cultural History (4th edition). London: Laurence King

Meyerowitz, J., 2016. Morandi’s Objects. Bologna: Damiani

Parr, M. & Badger, G, 2004. The Photobook: A History Volume I. New York: Phaidon Press

Parr, Martin and Badger, Gerry (2006) The Photobook. A History Vol II. London: Phaidon

Präkel, D., 2012. Basics Photography 01: Composition. 2nd ed. Lausanne: AVA Publishing

Respini, Eva (2012) Cindy Sherman. New York: Museum of Modern Art

Reynaud, F., 1984. Eugene Atget – Photofile. London: Thames and Hudson

Rideal, Liz (2005) Insights. Self-portraits. London: National Portrait Gallery

Rosenblum, Naomi (2007) A World History of Photography 4th Edition. London: Abbeville Press

Shore, S., 2004. Uncommon Places. London: Thames & Hudson

Shore, S., 2007. The Nature of Photographs. London: Phaidon

Short, Maria (2011) Basics Creative Photography 02: Context and Narrative. Lausanne: AVA Publishing

Sobieszek, Robert (1999) Ghost in the Shell: Photography and the Human Soul, 1850-2000. London: MIT Press

Solomon-Godeau, Abigail (2017) Photography after Photography: Gender, Genre, History. London: Duke University Press

Solomon-Godeau, Abigail  (1991) Photography at the Dock. Essays on Photographic History, Institutions and Practices. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

Sontag, Susan (1977) On Photography. London: Penguin Books

Soutter, Lucy (2013) Why art photography? London: Routledge

Paul, Stella (2017) ChromaphiliaThe Story of Colour in Art. London: Phaidon Press

Strauss, David Levi (2003) Between the Eyes. Essays on Photography and Politics. New York: Aperture

Szarkowski, J., 1966. The Photographer’s Eye. 2007 ed. New York: Museum of Modern Art

Szarkowski, John (1978) Mirrors and Windows. American Photography since 1960. New York: The Museum of Modern Art

Tagg, John (1988) Burden Of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Trachtenberg, A. (1980) Classic Essays on Photography. New Haven: Leete’s Island Books

Wells, Liz (2015) Photography. A Critical Introduction (5th Edition). Arbington: Routledge

Wells, Liz (2003) The Photography Reader. London: Routledge