OCA Study Visit – Richard Long – Time and Space – Arnolfini, Bristol 03/10/15

I have been interested to see Richard Long’s work after being given his name (and Andy Goldsworthy’s) by one of my previous tutors during a discussion about long distance walking.

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http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/richard-long-time-and-space

My current project “Walking Home” involves a 41 mile walk over three days, tracing closely the drive I make regularly to visit my mother at our family home in Bognor Regis where I was brought up. Having completed the walk, I wanted to look at the way Long works with time,  distance and the landscape, hoping to be inspired as I present images of personal significance in an area that means so much to me.

I found Richard Long’s ideas beautifully simple, that walking and journeys are common to all mankind in all eras. As soon as we can stand, we place one foot in front of another and move through space at a pace which is natural and allows us to observe the world around us as we travel. This is what walkers find so inspiring and why it is such a popular pastime. If you give your walk a purpose or apply an original idea to it (as Long does) then it is art.

Richard Long presents his created  art from walking in several ways. As an idea in text, or as a mark or construction in the landscape which is then recorded as a photograph and left as a semi permanent sculpture. Whichever method of presentation is used, the walk is completed and even though invisible, it is always present  and referred to as an idea.

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In these examples. Long has, (I think) related locations and events to the thoughts he was having at the time or words that express his response to those locations and events. In the second example, he has distilled the five day experience into twelve words arranged so their lengths evokes a perspective.

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Richard Long – A line in the Himalayas 1975  – Made on a 23 day walk in Nepal

This image is one of the photographs used for the publicity of this exhibition. It also appears in the book I bought there, “The Art of Walking – a field guide” I was interested by the accompanying text in the book, written by Long in 1988: “There are a lot of things theoretical and intellectual to say about lines and circles, but I think the very fact that they are images that don’t belong to me and, in fact, are shared by everyone because they have existed throughout history, actually makes them more powerful  than if  I was inventing my own idiosyncratic, particular Richard Long type images. I think it cuts out a lot of personal unwanted aesthetic paraphernalia.

Richard Long also uses the materials of the landscape for his art, a mud installation made from the sediments of the river Avon near Bristol. The work is called Muddy Waterfalls and again was used in the publicity material for the Arnolfini Exhibition.

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Finally, I was impressed by the massive cruciform sculpture made with loose slate blocks laid on the floor of the gallery. With little or no explanatory text, the viewer is left to reflect on the piece. It’s presence in the room is massive and we started looking for a pattern or system of construction. We discussed its thickness – would it have the same impact if the blocks were thinner? We decided that the weight and impact would be less if this were the case. Images of the construction on Long’s website gave no real clue as to the system of construction other than you can see taped markers on the floor as a guide to the shape. As in most of his work, the art is in the execution, the piece is just the evidence of that effort.

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Assignment 5 – Progress with research – 21 September 2015

On 17th Sept. I decided to scout around the Weaver’s Down area to try to get a view of Longmoor Camp from the trig point shown on the map and ariel view below. Unfortunately, now that trig points are no longer used by the OS, the trees have been allowed to obscure the line of sight to the NW where the camp lies. Perhaps a better view of the camp may be had from the range road, which will clearly show the camp’s location as it is now, divided from the ranges by the A3 trunk road. This has set me thinking about incorporating the idea of dramatic visible change contrasting with the almost imperceptible or very slow change around some of the protected ancient monuments.

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Further searches on the map indicate that in places,  my route is close to the line of the Roman Road from Chichester to Silchester. Although the physical evidence of this may not show, using GPS, I can record locations where the road (indicated on the OS map) lies beneath the surface.

I also made another presentation of my ideas to the OCA Thames Valley Group on 19th Sept. I took along some of my research materials  and  some of my tentative images to see what the group had to say. I included my family’s Outings Journal from the 1950’s. to which my father encouraged us to contribute. It had a short life but there are some interesting accounts within its covers including a visit to Kingley Vale, which is on my walking route and is shown below.

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I have also finalised my route and will start the walk on 23rd Sept.,  continue on the 24th and hopefully complete the final leg during the week ending 2nd October.

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The route starts in Bordon and the sites of interest are:

  • Longmoor (Bordon)
  • Torberry Hill (South Harting)
  • Up Marden
      • Chilgrove
  • Kingley Vale and Goosehill Camp
  • Summersdale (Chichester)
  • Chichester City Centre
  • Chichester Canal
  • Sidlesham

The walk ends at my childhood home of Rose Green (Bognor Regis) where my mother still lives.

Study Day – OCA TV group, Saturday 19 September 2015

Following a brief discussion about the presentation of each others work in members learning logs, I have decided just to outline the contributions of others that I may find useful on my own project. Suffice to say, the members produced a range of interesting and varied work. As a reminder only, I have listed below who presented and the topic of the presentation.

Steve – Holodeck Project for the Real or Fake assignment in DPP.

Amano – No way home as a Photography with text assignment for Landscape

Holly –  an assignment on Chronic Pain (perhaps C&N I’m not sure)

Catherine – Putting yourself in the picture, triptychs of herself in the landscape

Vicky – Presented her 50 words for women project which she has now finished and discussed with us her ideas for Putting herself in the picture  which involves issues that she has to deal with each day

Eddy – presented a personal project (motivated by Sharon),  expressing his feelings about his home situation and his wife’s illness. I can empathise with his situation, having been there. I’m not sure I would have been able undertake such a project myself.

Documentary Assignment 5 – Personal Project

As detailed elsewhere, I took along my plans for the 41 mile walk from Bordon to Bognor Regis, some sample images and the “Down Outings” journal that we made as a family in the 1950’s. John made a suggestion about writing a journal of the walk and the feelings I had as I progressed on the route. Everyone was fascinated by the book and Sharon suggested that I could present the project in a similar way to the original, perhaps as a hand made book which looked it. At this stage, I am still not sure of the form the project will take and what is motivating it beyond the original idea. Until I have experienced the walk and been to see Richard Long’s Time and Space exhibition in Bristol next month, I am letting ideas wash over me.

Sharon Boothroyd

At this meeting we, as a group said our farewells to Sharon and wished her luck with her new job and her future work. There was no-one who wasn’t sorry to see her go. We have all received so much support from her, both as a tutor and a mentor to the group. Thanks Sharon!

Assignment 5 – Progress with research – 1st September 2015

After marking out my walking route on OS Maps site and trying to find suitable accommodation in order that I could spend three whole days on the trail, I was defeated by the lack of suitable accommodation at the right place (and the right price). With a friend I have decided to break the walk up into 3 or 4 sections and treat each stage as a linear walk, using cars and/or buses to travel between home, start and end points on a daily basis. I am also looking at the route maps and aerial  views to find historical sites and possible viewpoints for photography, as I plan the route.

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This Trig point on Weavers Down will give an overview of Longmoor Camp and the ranges.

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I have also been consulting old maps to discover the original locations of some of the sites that are of interest particularly, in this case, the railway lines of the Longmoor Instructional Railway where my Grandfather would have worked in 1907 with the Royal Engineers.

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13th September 2015

Today I went out with my camera to to the nearest sites that would be on route. My first stop was at the Whitehill Village Hall which is hidden from view by trees growing on a Bronze Age round barrow, which is one of several in the area.

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This is the first prehistoric site on the route that I shall be recording, as well as sites relating to my family history. It is interesting that it does not appear on the 1930 revised OS map (above) where others (on the Ranges) do. It is unusual for these ancient structures to be disturbed and built around so it is possible that its significance was overlooked. My second location was at the junction arrowed on the map above, which is now part of the range road, the railway having long since been dismantled. The images I made are  to convey the changes and indicate the past use of these tracks in the forest.

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Looking north, the right hand track was part of the Longmoor Railway, the left branch linked Longmoor Instructional Railway with the Alton to Waterloo line via the  Bordon Light Railway.

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Various trackside remnants  and a water filled cutting indicating the course of the railway.

Links to local history sites are found here: http://woolmerforest.org.uk/subjects/about.php

Lines

This post on  in WeAreOCA caught my eye last week and set me thinking:

http://weareoca.com/creative_writing/lines/#comment-33382

My post to this thread:

Thank you for posting this Liz, I am not a poet but a photographer and a walker. My next assignment involves a walk. A walk along the line of which are sites which evoke my family’s history over a period of more than 100 years and has informed the way that I look a particular landscape in the South of England. While the project is still in gestation, the line on the map is already suggesting ways of presenting a narrative.

Rencontres des Arles 2015 3–5 September

Notes: Two days spent in Arles with OCA students, Principal Gareth Dent and Tutor Jesse Alexander. A variety of the many exhibits available were seen in the time available. I have shown these chronologically and given weight to those that I thought more relevant to my current studies  and those that particularly interested me. I will continue to research and read about these photographers after this post.

Day 1 –  4 September

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Stephen Shore: This massive exhibition covered Shore’s lifetime body of work. Apart from owning and reading his book “The Nature of Photographs”, until now I knew very little about his work and have had to do some research into the work we have seen. I thought it best to look at his website to research the relevant work. http://www.stephenshore.net/info.php

Stephen Shore on Uncommon Places https://vimeo.com/32562146

On American Surfaces https://vimeo.com/32521780

On New York City https://vimeo.com/131859555

I can only really sum up briefly what I thought of this work. It seems that although I had not consciously seen Shore’s work it seemed familiar and similar to other work by photographers working at the same time. Shore talked about “un-mediated” images “with no pretensions to art” which seems ironic as he is one of the photographers credited with the acceptance of colour photography as art during this period. His large format images are stunning, not only in their composition but their use of colour. I cannot understand the establishment viewpoint of the time that art photography could only be in black and white. When I started in photography in the 1960’s I was desperate to to work in colour but the  scant availability of media and cost of processing  was prohibitive.  He claims that he works by setting himself challenges which require him to solve problems. Once the problem is overcome, he moves onto the next challenge. I found his 2001 New York City images made an impression on me where he has totally inverted the idea of the street photograph as something spontaneous and set up a field of view, pre-focussed, inserted the film and waited for the  players to assemble. The spontaneity comes from the moment when the shutter is caused to open by the photographer. The images were presented in a darkened gallery at very close to life size which I thought was very effective.

Toon Michaels: American Neon Signs by Day and Night

This typological study, made in the 1970’s in Reno, Las Vegas and other US cities, was unusual for its time in that colour photography was still outside the “art” world.

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The pairs of images of the same scene made by day and night contrast the banality of the daylight scene against the saturated and garish night time view. I very quickly got bored with this exhibit and started looking for differences. I did find at least one pair in which the some of the illuminated letters had failed to show in the night time scene. I have to say that I am not a big fan of typologies. They say more about the lack of imagination of the photographer, relying as he does on obsessively recording similar scenes. (I’m thinking what my tutor would say if I presented this as an assignment) Ten  pairs would have been enough to make the point. It was a good venue and the work was well presented but the space was wasted on this exhibit.

Jean Marie Donat: Vernacular

This exhibit showed three collections from publisher Jean Marie Donat with the titles Predator, Teddy Bar and Blackface. Each collection was made from found archives and each was disturbing, either by the content of the photographs or by what could be imagined when looking at them. Dressing up in a Bear costume and posing with holiday makers at resorts, would I suppose seem acceptable in places where bears have a strong historical presence or association, (USA and Germany)  and provide employment for commercial photographers in an era when owning and using a camera was unusual and seen as difficult. What seems odd about these particular images is sometimes how fierce and  unfriendly the bear seems. They seem to have been taken in the period before and during WW2. The whole idea seems very odd and I was wondering why until I read about the picture of a Hitler Youth girl posing with the swastika clearly shown on her clothing. I could see that the collection had a duality, carefree day trippers and the presence of the Nazi threat effectively juxtaposed.

Predator is presented with a similar but un-named “threat”. Donat has sought out dozens of photographs in which the hatted shadow of the “photographer” appears in the foreground. Immediately I started to question this collection. Was the photographer deliberately including himself in this way? Why are there no pictures where the photographer is not wearing a hat? If they are from different photographers, is this some forgotten game played by photographers of the period? Why are there so many photographers so careless about lighting and composition? Finally, is the inclusion of a shadow merely a manipulation for effect? Perhaps this is a “trademark” of a particular group of photographers. I think the point Donat is making is that this un-named, mysterious presence could be a threat……

Blackface presents a look at the strange phenomenon of white people wearing black make-up in the pretence of being Negroes. In retrospect the idea seems almost unbelievably insensitive but at the time, it indicated just how little attention was paid to the feelings of minorities in the pursuit of entertainment. Photographic artist Anna Fox has recently done a piece on “Zwarte Piet, the blacked up assistant to St Nicholas found as part of the        Dutch Christmas Festivities, who, like Othello has Moroccan origins. http://www.annafox.co.uk/work/zwarte-piet/

Alice Wielinga: North Korea, A Life between Propaganda and Reality. This multimedia work was presented as an audio visual sequence with spoken commentary, music and constructed images which contrast the propagandized presentation of North Korea and the reality of the situation as witnessed by the photographer. Many of the images were constructed using the the official government photographs/paintings and Wielinga’s own photographs.

At the next venue, the work of several photographers was shown in two collections An Unusual Attention and An Exchange of Views. Both were avant garde but at this distance in time and at the end of a long day, my recollections are a bit unclear. The first collection was by four students Cloe Vignaud, Lois Matton, Swen Renault, and Pablo Mendez. The second sees three students looking at the work of established photographers, reworking and re-inventing it. I’ll do a search on the names to see if I can remind myself of the details.

The final exhibition of the day was this one:

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Of the exhibitions we saw today, this was the one I liked the most. It did not have the scale of the Shore exhibit but it was certainly large and ambitious in its intentions. The accompanying website shows interviews with Paulo Woods and other information on the company that is ‘The Heavens’.

http://www.theheavensllc.com/

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The project questions the morality of tax havens even though they may be legal, the deficit of avoided tax on local economies can be significant. The exhibition is set up in the “offices” of the “The Heavens”, a real company incorporated in Delaware USA, complete with reception and board room. To convey the impact of  tax avoidance by global companies, the first part of the exhibition shows the logos or products of familiar brands, backlit in a darkened room. The following rooms are normally lit and show large prints with comprehensive explanatory captions. As Paulo Woods explains, the concept of a tax haven is something difficult to grasp and even more difficult to convey in photographs. He and Galimberti succeed by taking us to the locations and giving an insight into what goes on, not only at the top of the social scale but the stark contrast of a woman working as a maid to a wealthy family, forced into prostitution to make ends meet.

After looking at the exhibition I started to consider whether I should reorganise my finances to avoid companies that encourage and condone tax avoidance. After some thought I decided  such action was pointless. The changes required need to come from within the financial sector. Money is power but unfortunately, transparency  in global financial dealings still has a long road ahead of it.

Day 2 – 5 September

It has been some time since I wrote up day 1 (work on assignments has taken priority) so my recollections may be a little hazy but I’ll do my best to recall where we were and what we saw.

First stop was the Grande Halle, Parc des Ateliers where there were a number of photographers work on show. For me, one of the most original was Thierry Bouet’s “Personal Affairs”. Talking about his work here: http://rencontres-arles-photo.tv/en/thme/arles-2015/#thierry-bouet he explains that he was amazed at the objects people sell on-line and wanted to tell a story about these objects in one picture. He says that his images are all staged in order to make a picture that is, in his opinion, suitable for an exhibition. However he stresses that all of the pictures tell the truth in that the location, people and objects are all real.

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In the same hall was Ambroise Tezenas “I Was Here – Dark Tourism” a disturbing look at the trend for tour companies to take tourists to the scene’s of war, atrocities and natural disasters. http://rencontres-arles-photo.tv/en/thme/arles-2015/#20778  Five years in the making, Tezenas signed up for tours to disaster sites and went,  as a tourist, for the same short period of time and photographed from the same locations. He remarks on the graffiti scrawled on a wall in Cambodia; “I Was Here” and questions the right that some feel they have to record their presence with little or no respect for the sensitivities of those effected directly by the disaster.

Marcus Brunetti “Facades” was a massive collection of European Churches, photographed architecturally in very flat light and printed very large. As a typology it has to be admired but I couldn’t get excited about such a large collection. A niche interest I think. http://rencontres-arles-photo.tv/en/thme/arles-2015/#markus-brunetti

Gareth set us a challenge before lunch, take a look at the exhibits for the “Discovery Awards” 2014 and select our choice for the winner and explain why. With only 30 minutes and 10 exhibits to look at, surprisingly not everyone finished. From the 6 that I managed to look at in the time, my favourite was Delphine Chanet’s constructed reality of the exploration of the world by a group of adolescent girls which told a story of young lives embarking on the journey to adulthood. Asked why I like this, I had to admit that it was probably because I didn’t have daughters, but I immediately recognised aspects of the attitudes and behaviour of my teenage grand-daughters. It took me back to the time when I was not a child nor adult when everything was confusing, sometimes scary but always and adventure. http://delphinechanet.com/projects/prix-decouverte/

The first exhibit in the afternoon was called Congo by Alex Majoli and Paulo Pellegrin. http://rencontres-arles-photo.tv/en/?s=Congo&lang=en#alex-majoli-paolo-pellegrin A large exhibition designed to be shown without captions and curated using the work of two photographers who wanted to show Africa free from the preconceptions and structures of photojournalism. It was skilfully presented and had a light mood, showing what I thought of as perhaps Africa as the people see it, life as they live it.

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After this we moved to the Total Records exhibit to see the  exhibit devoted to the art of the album cover and almost as an afterthought, to view three images submitted and displayed by myself, Gareth and Mirjam in the Sleeve faces  exhibition:

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Mine

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Mirjam’s

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Gareth and Julia’s

This was the icing on the cake for me Although my image didn’t make the book, it was gratifying to be recognised at such a prestigious festival.

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A very enjoyable two days in a beautiful city with convivial company, a comfortable hotel and good food. I shall be back!

 

Project: The documentary project

Photovoice is an organisation that gives a voice to disadvantaged and marginalised communities through photography at home and abroad. The New Londoners project is an interesting example of what community based projects can achieve. Through the publication of a book to carry the message that immigration can be a positive and rewarding experience, they have managed to humanise their experience beyond the mere statistics and negativity that we are used to seeing. The images that the photographers chose to show reflected a wide variety of interpretations of what being in a new home meant to them.

www.photovoice.org

Kingsmead Eyes http://kingsmeadeyesspeak.org It seems that the link given in the course notes goes somewhere completely different. The link above goes to the project web page. I suspect the original and the new page have merged.

The idea behind the project reinforces the concept of collaborative projects involving the whole community, children and parents. As a lesson in communication amongst a diverse ethnic group appears to have been successful with the involvement of renowned photographers and teachers giving the children a real sense of purpose. The main project is presented as a video with an audio commentary by the children themselves. some reading poems they have written about their favourite photograph. As well as the children’s work, a group of parents became involved and presented their own video and audio showing the process involved in teaching the parents and children to use the cameras.

Crowd Funding: The link to the BJP and a search of the site did not find the article “With a little helps from my friends”. A Google search brought up several links, all back to the BJP site and a null result. A search for UK sites brought this:

http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/projects/search/category:arts/  and this:

http://www.artquest.org.uk/articles/view/crowdfunding  which links to the Artquest site and contains a podcast by photographer Marc Wilson describing his successful experiences with crowd funding and in a video Sophie Giblin talks about her experiences. There are also a lot of links to crowd funding websites and helpful advice.

http://weareoca.com/photography/crowd-funding/ Jose gave an interesting overview in this article for WeAreOCA and although the resulting discussion is now 4 years old, it is still relevant. It was good to read opinions of my current Tutor, Derek Trillo.

Contemplating documentary

Exercise: Reading the article ‘The judgement seat of photography’

In summary, Christopher Phillips (I tried to identify him but his name is too common among authors and lecturers for me to be sure exactly who he is – I make the assumption that he is American) tracked the way Art Photography has been viewed during the history of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and its various directors of photography.  I read the article with some difficulty.  Like many specialist writers, brevity and concision elude him and from the list of over eighty references I was unable to see any key research materials that would be useful beyond what I have read elsewhere. His viewpoint does seem to be “metro centric” concentrating on New York and the USA and his article was published in 1992. Much has happened in photography in the intervening 23 years which has had a great deal of influence an the way we perceive documentary photography. However this was a useful illustration on how museums and their directors can influence the direction of photography.

Post documentary art

Open See. Jim Goldberg’s exhibition video gave a clear indication that he was actively engaging his audience with innovative folding books to tell a story. The Open See exhibition website showed a slowly scrolling matrix of  exhibition images from which it was clear to see the extent of his work but not necessarily the detail. I found the presentation of his images with texts written by his subject engaging and powerful. As a documentary project in the gallery it seemed to have worked although there is of course no substitute for seeing the exhibition itself to make an informed judgement.

Post Documentary Photography, Art and Ethics by Ine Gevers

Summary of key points:

  • The boundaries between documentary and art photography have become indistinct and a new term  for the ‘documentary as art’, may have to be found.
  • There is a perceived conflict between the ethics of the objectivity of documentary photography and the aesthetics of art photography. Can a documentary image be beautiful and can a beautiful image be a document?
  • Historically, the objectivity of documentary photography has always been questioned, especially in the west when looking at the way governments have used photography to reinforce dominant ideologies. Photography has been seen as a servant of repression and as propaganda and indoctrination. Any medium which can be used for goodwill always be used oppressively by those with extreme ideas to communicate. The writer is talking about  representation being in crisis but hasn’t this always been the case at one time or another throughout modern history?
  • The writer cites examples of use and misuse of the photographic image giving the the examples of Rosler and Sekula. In attempts to explain how documentary can be of value especially if  the people themselves are involved in the expression of their problems – to report, rather than be the object of the report by a third party.
  • On ethics and aesthetics, the writer quoted philosophers and ideas with which I was not familiar and found too complex to understand (within the time constraints of this course anyway) but the final paragraph was understandable. It was about autonomy and as such, the right of the photographer to express himself and to allow the viewer to interpret that expression in their own way.