Surface and Strategies

03/06/19

Week 1 – Strategies of Looking

A little stunned that module four is upon us already, that being said I am also raring to go following my catch up submission for the informing contexts module. Sadly, due to the catch up work I was unable to check out the module break task looking at the 26 gasoline stations work of Ed Rusha. This was a little disappointing, however I did consider the idea of 26 music venues, a look at the diversity of locations for live music within our community. This is something I hope to revisit later in my CRJ.

This week’s content was looking at different ideas around repeat photography, the re-visiting and re-photographing of a scene after a passage of time. I found this idea very interesting, particularly in consideration of the live music venue. So many venues now have been abandoned or demolished locally so the re-visiting of the scene would hold quite a contrast to the original images. It would then be interesting to continue the project at a later date, documenting if these spaces have been developed or revamped or of their state of deterioration. My fear with this, is that it would just become a photographic documentation of the decline of the live music industry rather than a positive representation of its thriving community, the intent of my research project.

I can resonate with the ideas of memory, place and identity re-photography engages with, however, I am unsure if this particular style would add a new dimension or work with the ideas I am currently generating for my research project. Re-photography of a more personal nature would be beneficial, perhaps snapshots of events, performances from an amateur perspective placed in contrast with a more recent professional live shot, backstage or behind the scenes comparison etc. are more likely to work. Due to the historical nature and the vast amount of documentary photography that exists from the punk rock hay day this could work, however for me it is not really a style I wish to explore in great depth. I have never really considered using existing pieces or works within my work. My aim has always been to create something new and a fresh perspective on punk rock.

This weeks content notes/ideas

09/06/19

Week 2 – Strategies of Mediation

This week’s content covered the use of images produced from other image makers and the refashioning of pieces.

This is something we have touched upon previously and a subject I have always found difficult. Personally I have never considered using or reworking another individuals image to resell or commercially reproduce for my own gain. If I were to use works belonging to another artist, I would always ensure the artist was fully credited and happy with the use of their work. I would never wish to use a work and rework for the artists to deem my portrayal as unethical or offensive. If any image of my own were to be used without myself being credited or used in an offensive or unethical manner, I would certainly establish contact with the individual stating my distain and reasons for being unhappy with the images use. That being said, it would be hard not to find flattery in the use or re-portrayal of one of my images if the use was appropriate and ethical. It is certainly a minefield subject area and one hell of a debate topic!!

Using fragments of images or the layering and changing of images from their original form to recreate a new piece is very interesting concept. This concept is even more intriguing to me when produced using found/discarded images. It seems very much along the thought of one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and I love the idea that someone can make something beautiful from images or items which would have otherwise ended up unseen, unused and discarded.

American Suburbx (2017). Kensuke Koike & Thomas Sauvin: No Cut Left to Chance. [image] Available at: https://www.americansuburbx.com/2017/12/thomas-sauvin-kensuke-koike-no-cut-left-chance.html [Accessed 09 Jun. 2019].

Looking at the concept of remixing is hyper relevant to work within the music industry where the work of other artists is constantly reused, reworked or altered to make current music. As you can imagine, this is not always with the blessing or the approval of the original artists. The world is now saturated with an abundance of creative material and many question whether originality is even possible. My intentions as an image maker have always been to make original works, never to replicate or reproduce the work of others but to be openly influenced by the work of other artists (and credit any influences through documentation and research). I definitely believe it is possible to be influenced by works and be subconsciously influenced by your encounter. To take from images or material consumed as an afterthought with no knowledge of who produced or created the piece. For me the only way to use other works knowingly is to reference and pay respect to the original artist.

Sadly I did not make the deadline for the task this particular week but here is my promotional video for my research project. A mash up of my own work and the music of The Atoms I tried to create a visually stimulating and enticing video to encourage people to follow my project.

16/06/19

Week 3 – Strategies of Sharing

As the title suggests, this week’s content was all about re-thinking photography through collaboration. The task set was the production of a zine, created by small groups put together ourselves. By the time I had viewed the material there was a post from a fellow cohort member asking for anyone with community project based interests, which for me was an instant hit. I joined the group and things moved very fast with a WhatsApp group set up and conversation flowing.

I really wanted to be involved in the production stages but feedback on my previous work was very limited and I was very conscious that my visual style is not for everyone.  I found once again my work received no feedback or responses from the group when posted. This led me to become fairly quiet in the group and I worked fast on a submission of some Instax shots taken at a local rehearsal space for the independent music community in Grimsby.

https://www.flipsnack.com/nickmurrayphoto/pho703-zine.html

Here is the write up I produced for the piece explaining my work and my images.

The impetus for my research project is to explore the worlds of subculture, style, fashion and music and to contextualise their importance and their place in modern society. As my work has progressed I have remained focussed on the subculture of punk rock and its established fan base within the genre, documenting their lifestyles after the proclaimed death of the punk rock movement.

A very intimate and tight knit community, I have found myself inspired by the passion and ethics of the musicians and followers I have met, all of whom communicate the importance and embodiment of family values within the punk scene.

My images here focus on a local rehearsal room, The Unit, run by a local band to support musicians of any genre, giving them a space to explore their creativity and talents. The bands have a great sense of pride over their space and the sense of unity and community is prevalent as soon as you enter. The motivation behind the space is keeping the unit locally run, strongly supporting local bands and their local DIY music scene. Rich in culture, with the dominant visual display of music history throughout the space, it is hard not to be taken in by the movement and the passion this community holds.

As a group project I feel this worked well and it was great to see the variety of work produced by other learners, however I feel it was very rushed due to the tight deadline. It would have been interesting to have had more time to work on the brief and collaborate on the production, with each individual having set roles rather than it all be put to one person to produce (thank you Nick for all of your hard work).

25/06/19

Week 4 – Strategies of Freedom

A slightly different slant this week, we looked at camera-less photography and non-human image making. I have to say this style of photography doesn’t really speak to me, although I found the presentations insightful and interesting. This is not really a style I could use for my research project but something which may be of interest in the future with the way technology is developing and becoming more common place.

Activity – Hands Off

The aim of this task was to; reconsider one’s relationship with their preferred apparatus using photographic devices or materials which are unknown or unfamiliar, with 24 hours to produce a mini-series of five images relating to our research projects.

As I was at work for most of the day this was a bit of a struggle so I used a camera but nothing I have used before.

My aim for the task was to shoot using my Hasselblad with a sprocket adapter for 35mm (a recent purchase, unused). Sadly, that film did not work, must have gone wrong in the loading. I had also used a Lomography three lensed camera with an old colour film which I then cross processed. Sadly, only two of the five came out (a dark day inside didn’t help). 
The idea behind my piece (with my research project being based on punk rock subculture and identity as my subject) was to document my day at work where I regularly feel struggles with my identity. I was shooting with lyrics in mind with my images as a story board to the day supporting them. The lyrics were “They want to dress me up like the rest of them, but I’m a wolf, and they’re just sheep” (Interrupters, 2018)

Holding the camera at the point of view of my ID badge, I tried to capture form the corporate point of view, almost seeing what my ID badge would see if it were a lens.

My images received no forum feedback but they were well received in the webinar with Laura. I got some great advice and some suggestions of where to look for further information and research as I am still unsure of the direction my work is currently going. I know I need to look for a new approach to capturing the raw emotion I speak so passionately about and these explorations with new material and new ground is really helping.

02/07/19

Week 5 –Three ‘Surfaces’

I have to say, things are starting to get a little hectic now the workload is pouring in.

This week we received briefs on the workshop, exhibition and publication we must undertake by the end of this unit, alongside our three assignments. Thankfully I have begun shooting ideas for my work in progress portfolio but now time is seriously of the essence and production needs to flow.

Activity – Roadmaps

Below is my piece for the roadmaps activity. The basic consensus here was to make a plan for the next six weeks as a rough guide to follow for the production of our surface assignments.

Title – (current working title) Punk Rock Confidential

Methods/Methodologies –  Exploring lighting techniques for portraiture and new technical approaches to my images is key. I will be taking a      deeper look at the emotional connections and responses to music and musical culture. I will be filming shoots to reinforce the method I am using and also as a means of capturing the natural responses individuals have to the sessions.  At present I am experimenting using a studio location, closed off and isolated. Individuals have been asked to attend a portrait session but no other information has been given to ensure their responses are natural. Once seated they will be asked to think to lyrics of a song which hold some significance, be it a positive or a negative memory/life event or just a means of conveying how they feel at this moment. They will then be asked to write on cards provided their response. Before I begin photographing I will then play the song they reference in the hope of capturing a facial emotive response to the piece.

Number of shoots – I foresee this will take quite a few shoots. I have a test shoot today to see if the project is viable and will move from there. I have a contingency of live shows/festivals to fall back on should this not work.

Outcomes –  Fanzine style booklet, a local gallery exhibition and a masterclass in studio portraiture using the techniques I have explored.

Expected results – Using a documentary style, my aim is to use this new approach to my work and capture the emotional and empowering influence music has within society. 

Relationship of this project to MA research – I have been exploring the visual culture and community of the punk rock movement. This modules new exploration/outlook is to reinforce the emotional connection individuals have to music but also the power of the medium itself.  

My intentions in undertaking the MA were to break new ground within music culture, documenting life away from the stage and performances and a more personal exploration of the individuals within the music scene. This new exploration is hopefully going to build a foundation for my FMP and a new sense of direction for my work. 

09/07/19

Week 6 – Exhibition Guidance

Exactly what it says on the tin, this week’s content outlines the aims and expectations of an exhibition.

As I work producing and facilitating photographic exhibitions and shows as part of my job I am fortunate to have experience in this area, although, a vast subject one can always learn new skills and approaches. For me it would be great to step away from the clinical white walls approach and display my work in ways I have never explored previously.

As my work explores human responses and emotional reactions to music I feel a slide show or video screen projection approach would be more fitting. Using the darkened studio space or one of our music booths I wish to black out my space to make the slide show my focal point and also ensuring there are no distractions whilst viewing the piece. I will compose a video piece including my still images but also the music they are influenced by. I aim to gain some emotive feedback from my viewers, I want to see if they are influenced by the music or the emotional reaction of the portraits. My aim is to gain feedback from all individuals who view, in the form of a questionnaire or feedback sheets.

Webinar notes

17/07/19

Week 7 – Publication Guidance

This week, following the guidance, I began working on my publication. Due to the nature of the material I have covered within my research project and my passion for music it only seemed fitting to go with a zine publication. Having previous experience in the production and publication of punk rock fanzines I already had an idea set out in my mind but with photographic content over written content it is vital that this production be higher quality and aesthetically less chaotic.

Zines are cheap and easy to produce; therefore, my publication can reach a wider audience as distribution costs will be drastically lower than sending out a book format. I have always been a practical person who gains enjoyment in the production of my pieces. It is imperative I produce a master copy of the zine using precut page layouts and good old fashion cutting and sticking. The physical production of the piece is just as important as the final product and the style of production really sits with the core values if the D.I.Y punk ethic. For me, digital zines do not have the aesthetic and experience of a hand produced zine. The physical production communicates the passion and the dedication this following has.

My aim is to send out copies of the publication (which will be made by colour photocopy’s of the original piece and stitched together) to all involved in the piece, DIY music labels and musicians/artists to gain some feedback. The piece will also be available to take away from my exhibition and will include my contact details, possibly a qwerty code leading to my portfolio website for people to explore more of my work. A brief artists statement will be included to explain the piece and the motivations behind my work but as the images included words I aim to keep the written element to a minimum.

During the idea stages for the publication I decided to change the title for my piece. As the individuals have selected music outside of the punk rock genre, the original title Punk Rock Confidential, no longer seemed fitting. As I wish to express my passion for the lyrical content of songs and their ability to emotionally move an individual, the title is now More Than Words. The title of a 2007 song by hardcore band Strung Out, the song explores the need for actions of emotion to reinforce the words people say to prove their commitment. For me, the title reinforces the project, stating these lyrics are more than words, they move us, spark an emotional reaction deep within the individuals photographed. They take us back to memories past but hold their place in the present. They help us to reflect, move on and even heal from significant moments.

Guidance notes

26/07/19

Week 8 – Workshop Guidance

Working in education masterclasses and workshops are a regular part of my job. I teach from school ages right through to level 6 and any photographic subject from darkroom skills to digital photography workflow and printing. Below is my response to the requested task of listing our strengths and weaknesses as photographers.

As I wanted to connect my masterclass with my current project I decided to host a darkroom workshop for staff and their children on Wednesday 31st July from 10am until 12pm. The darkroom would then remain open for a more free-flow workshop time were anyone could stay and practice their new skills or experiment further. As much of what I currently do at work is highly structured and time monitored I wanted to make this session very relaxed and off script as much as possible. I made a rough outline of what would be covered so I had reference points but I mainly went with group interaction and a choice of tasks to keep everyone engaged.

Wednesday 31st July – 10am – 1M11 Darkroom

10:00 – Quick welcome speech, health and safety intro

10:15 – Task intro and demonstration – PHOTOGRAMS

10:30 – Task

11:00 – iPhonography intro and demonstration (go through inversion on phones/screen brightness etc)

11:15 – Task

11:50 – Wrap up. Dry work, Q & A, feedback

12:00 – FINISH

————–

12:30 – Workshop. Be prepared with toners, liquid emulsion, creative processes to extend workflow if required.

Keeping the demonstrations and instructions as brief as possible (just providing the necessary information for practical session to be applied) participants were on task right away. Keeping the conversation flowing and answering questions as production took place worked really well as it did not hold up any learning and people were happy to ask as we worked along helping each other.

My original groups size was ten but eight arrived on the day. This however worked well as there was plenty of room to maneuver without people feeling rushed or cramped. As predicted the art staff were amazed by the use of and iPhone to produce an analogue image and wanted to learn more about how creative techniques can also be applied to this process. We later explored with the use of the iPhone technique, printing on materials, fine art papers and wood using liquid emulsion. The exploratory session went down a treat and I left feeling very positive. I am really glad I kept the workshop open. The morning session was imperative in order to teach the skills required to experiment further but I think they key was using the same day, whilst the information was fresh to let people explore and personalize their work. It certainly gave them the hunger for photography.  

The photographers were also intrigued by the use of artistic approaches, even the little things such as painting or splashing developer rather than submerging and the capabilities of liquid emulsion. It felt good to have inspired people, regardless of their specialisms and give them new ideas and material to explore with learners in the future.

26/07/19

Week 9 & 10 – Production

Seriously starting to sweat now the heat is on to get all assignments produced and the three surfaces tasks. My main aim in week 9 is completing my portfolio shoots. Week 10 will be compiling all of the material for my zine and getting the production complete and ready to ship out. When my shoots are complete I can also produce the video content for my exhibition with the aim to display on week 11 so I can collate feedback in time for completion and submission for the 19th August.

I have begun work on my presentation and as you can see I am frantically typing away at my CRJ. Lesson officially learnt here, never, NEVER let your CRJ fall behind!!!

The content may fall quiet on this section now as the weekly content concludes but please do visit my contextual research and project development sections here for further information on this modules progression.

Notes