FMP Proposal and Schedule

The major benefit of putting the research proposal together for me has been drawing up a provisional timeline for the completion of the work. The nature of the project means that I have to leave the possible outputs fairly open, but the major milestones are clear. Here’s the full proposal. The timeline is below. Important to keep this under review (and assess the impact of any slippage).

Final-Project-Proposal-AB

Planning and set up
(23rd September 2019 to 20th October 2019)

Week 1 Unseen Amsterdam. Meetings with partners and participants, making images for the community, community day, demonstration.
Week 2 PK presentation and first tutorial. Planning session at school. Visit exhibition spaces.
Week 3 Meeting with Barking and Dagenham College. London Prosperity Board meeting. Initial briefing of community groups and schools.
Week 4 Submission of Final Project Proposal. Archive work at Valance House.

Collaborative image making and micro projects
(21st October to 15th December 2019)

Week 5 Workshops and fieldwork.
Week 6 Workshops and fieldwork. Feedback on Final Project Proposal.
Week 7 Workshops and fieldwork.
Week 8 Workshops and fieldwork. MPF/RPS group meeting (Bristol).
Week 9 Workshops and fieldwork. Magnum weekend workshop with Sim Chi Yin.
Week 10 Workshops and fieldwork.
Week 11 Workshops and fieldwork.
Week 12 Workshops and fieldwork.

Series of workshops and photographic fieldwork with the following groups: Greatfields School, Barking and Dagenham College, Thames Ward Community Programme, Thames View Residents Association, Thames Reach Residents Association, New View Arts, Eastside Community Heritage, Barking and Dagenham Heritage Conservation Group. Each series will have a specific focus relating to community and regeneration determined by the group.

Composite image-making and preparation for pop-up exhibitions and simple publications
(16th December 2019 to 12th January 2020)

Week 13 Collation of images
Week 14 Creation of composites
Week 15 Printing and preparation of outputs
Week 16 Initial sequencing and layout

Sharing of composites, feedback, pop-up exhibitions and preparation of cumulative outcomes
(13th January 2020 to 23rd February 2020)

Week 17 Selection and exhibition layout with participants
Week 18 Preparation of publications with participants
Week 19 Preparation of publications with participants
Week 20 Pop-up exhibitions
Week 21 Pop-up exhibitions
Week 22 Reflection and follow-up with participants

Final outcomes: exhibition, artists book/archive and presentation
(24th February 2020 to 5th April 2020)

Week 23 Finalisation of outcomes
Week 24 Exhibition
Week 25 Exhibition. Falmouth workshops and portfolio review
Week 26 [Canterbury Elder Care]
Week 27 [Singapore Expert Panel]
Week 28 Public presentations

Preparation of FMP submission
(6th April 2020 to 1st May 2020)

Week 29 Review CRJ and online portfolio
Week 30 Finalise Critical Review of Practice
Week 31 Finalise Project pdf
Week 32 Submit Project pdf and Critical Review of Practice

Tacita Dean on Film

‘I know it is invevitible progress, and I’m invested in the digital world as much as the next person. This is not my point: cinema made with film and shown as film is very different from cinema made and shown digitally. Within art this is mostly understood, because the world of art has appreciated medium specificity since before the Renaissance: Giotto’s mural is a fresco, conceived, made and seen differently from an oil painting by Leonardo da Vinci; we understand that an etching is not a watercolour and a drawing, not a relief; they are made differently and the experience of seeing them and handling them is different. They might share the same content, the same images and even be copies of one another, but they are not the same. However, they are still pictures. But for some reason there is a cultural blindness towards the difference between film and digital: a blindness with an underbelly of commercial intent that is invested in seeing one replace by the other so the difference can be quickly forgotten. Both film and digital are pictures, perhaps copies of one another, but they are not the same thing – one is light on emulsion and one is light made by pixel, and they are also conceived, made and seen differently’ (Dean, 2011: 16)

Dean, T. 2011. Film. In Cullinan, N. (ed.) Tacita Dean: Film. London: Tate Publishing. 15-48

PK presentation and first tutorial reflection

Having to put together the PK presentation was a mixed blessing. Valuable to think about where my project was coming from and where it was heading. I’m not sure whether the fixed duration for each slide is helpful. Greater freedom in the timing and number of frames would have given a better presentation of the work (but still within seven minutes).

Helpful discussion with Wendy, which has given me confidence to develop the proposed focus for the FMP (which can only be a relatively small part of a bigger, over-arching project). Important to think about strategies for exhibiting and disseminating the work. Will check out Ponte City project by Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse as a way of exploring life in a particular housing project. The spreads from the working book dummy are particularly useful.

And look more closely at Gideon Mendel’s Dzhangal project (focussing on left behind objects, which resonates with my earlier object related work in museums and collections and the refugee archive work at UCL).

Barking Art Trail

http://www.studio3arts.org.uk/ig11-art-trail-2019

Barking Art Trail 2019 Opening, Studio 3 Arts

Fortunate to have two images in the exhibition at Studio 3 Arts in the Vicarage Fields gallery. Particularly apposite that the images are both made from photographs taken just outside the shopping centre, and that the redevelopment of the shopping centre itself has been approved and compulsory purchase order are being sought. The development would include the purchase and demolition of the current Barking Hotel, the original Barking Hotel having been compulsory purchased in the 1980s for the building of the shopping centre. The owner of the hotel wants to be able to record his experiences, and I have offered to help with this – more in a later post as this develops.

The art trail involves a number of commercial sites and public places, some of which might work for my pop-up exhibitions.

Open City Documentary Film Festival 2019

My second year at this event, and a good opportunity to think again about the relationship between film and photography, common issues in both, and seek out ideas and work that help me to think through my own project.

Research as Creative Practice

The focus of the discussion was principally exploration of the extent to which non-fiction film making could be considered to be research, fuelled perhaps by the association of all three panel members with universities, and concerns around what counts for the Research Excellence Framework, and other measures of research productivity. Each panelist presented examples from their work, each of which had some resonance with my own. Brett Story’s The Hottest August is formed around casual conversation around New York during a heatwave, starting with the question ‘what are your hopes for the future’, creating a sense of the anxieties of people at this particular place and point in time. Whether or not this constitutes research, it does provide some insight, and uses visual (and audio) means to capture these encounters and engage and provoke the viewer. For me, it raises the question of the capability of photography to do capture everyday activity in this way. The method used is interesting as well – walking around with a camera and sound rig and asking the question to whoever you encounter, something that could certainly be done with still photography (though, interestingly, it might be more difficult to explain as an activity – the higher visibility of the video and audio rig giving a much clearer initial message about what is going on and what is expected of the participants; presumably permission are sought after the event). The idea of the production of an archive of the present, through these conversations with strangers, is interesting. A still image cannot do the same thing, but it can sit alongside other artefacts and media in a way that extended video cannot. This relates back to an earlier discussion provoked by Stephen Heath’s presentation at last year’s festival: the relative advantages of the installation over the film (in this case, his film Island). An enduring question, for those working in any media, is ‘who are you in this encounter?’

Bo Wang‘s Many Undulating Things explores spatial inequality in Hong Kong, starting and ending in a shopping centre, and exploring different kinds of public and private spaces (from housing projects to commercial warehouses). Interesting issues here include the difficulties in gaining access to privately owned land (and ways of subverting this) and the nature of the encounters with people (and rejections), leading in some cases to verbal interactions off-camera, but on sound track (interesting to explore with still images, with either text or audio). The primary focus of the film is on the experience of social and physical space, and the bodily experience of inhabited space, questions that are implicit in my work, but should perhaps be more explicit.

Interesting discussion, and resonates with my own approach to using photography as a means of investigation and interrogation (as research) rather than seeing research as just a precursor to visual work. How this might then contribute to inter-disciplinary research programmes remains a core question (which will be addressed again in future posts).

Masterclass: Mila Turajlic on Filming a Nation

https://www.othersideofeverything.com/

Raised interesting questions about the use of archives, and what happens when a country ceases to exist and archives are scattered. Also about the creating and maintaining spaces for dialogue (and the manner in which polarisation destroys this, constantly asking the question ‘whose side were you on?’). Who do you trust to tell the story of the past? On working in the archive ‘Every day in the archive is a shooting day for the Director’ (ie, creating content).

Films and shorts

I booked a session to view a selection of films and shorts, including the following (of particular relevance to my project).

Here for Life, Andrea Luka Zimmerman & Adrian Jackson, 2019

https://www.fugitiveimages.org.uk/projects/here-for-life-2019/

Collaborative film with ten Londoners, where individual stories blend one into the other. A number of scenes that provoke thoughts for my own project (i) posing in front of developer CGIs on hoardings; (ii) conversations between local people and site workers; (iii) darkened interiors, street scenes, court converted into a hotel; (iv) flickering between the poetic and the mundane; (v) acting on and in the world; (vi) privatisation of the land; (vii) sequestering of labour; (viii) juxtaposition of folk song and demonstrations; (ix) production of a community play. Most importantly, has provoked me to go back to earlier work by Zimmerman and Fugitive Images around Haggerston.

On the Border: Yoshiki Nishimura, 2018. Japan. 7’

Visually arresting photogrammetric rendering of beach debris with soundtrack.

E-ticket. Simon Liu. 2019. Hong Kong, UK. 13’

Cut up archive of 35mm film, 16k splices, spliced together in rigid increments. Good to think about in relation to the animations I have made from composites.

CRJ strategy for FMP

Moving from the taught modules, with their structured schedule of readings, presentations and activities, to the more open Final Major Project phase, with its principal focus on the timely completion of a defined project with public outcomes, requires a rethinking of the form and function of the CRJ. With the exo-skeleton of module structure removed, an alternative device has to be put in place to give shape and direction to the journal. Posts need to be more tightly focused on my own project, and the pace of development has to be maintained, so I think that means shorter and more speculative items, with occasional longer posts to take stock and pull things together. There is a complex range of topics to cover, including: technical development, artistic development and contextualisation, theory, production, presentation, dissemination, background research, galleries of images, progress updates, milestones … To make this work will require careful tagging – something to develop over the next few weeks.

Portfolio Review in Bristol (WIP portfolio)

Saturday 17th August 2019

Neuropolis #1 print

I took the complete set of prints (each print 24x16cm on A4 paper) of my WIP portfolio for review with Jesse and others in Bristol (at the RPS). I wanted to get feedback on the quality of the prints and the extent to which the way I had placed the ‘codes’ between the images had worked. Having made prints, I could experiment with the manner in which they are arranged spatially (keeping the code close to the related image).

Whilst the pdf submitted has to take a linear form, it is interesting to think about the effect of displaying the prints in different ways in a gallery or other exhibition space. The grid layout, for instance, has very different connotations than the linear (vertical or horizontal), suggesting layers rather than a sequence (which might lead me to think differently about the ordering of the prints),

The feedback was very positive and reinforced my intention to work further on the printing of composites, with careful attention to tonality and texture. Jesse suggested experimenting with liquid light and printing on glass, and also exploring the physical layering of images. The codes seemed to make sense to people, and were of visual interest in their own right. One suggestion was to explore 3D ‘cut outs’ of the images used, in the way that Emeric Lhuisset has done with maps of areas destroyed in conflict in When the Clouds Speak (on show at Cloitre Saint-Triomphe, Les Rencontres d’Arles, until 22 September 2019).

Located in the Mardin province along the Turkish-Syrian border, Nusaybin was partially destroyed during fighting between the Kurdistan Workers Party and the Turkish Army in 2015 and 2016, Emeric Lhuisset.

Post-digital practice

One major consequence of thinking critically about both methodology and modes of presentation (and the relationship between these) has been to consider the relationship between analogue and digital forms in my practice. In making my composite images (see, for instance, the Neuropolis series) I have worked entirely with digital images. Alongside this I have been making large and medium format film images and experimenting with the use of these in producing large composite images, using the following process (which can also be integrated with collaborative workshop activities).

  • Initial research and exploration of the area using archival, resident and made digital images.
  • Identification of scenes to be rephotographed in large format film.
  • Scanning of negatives and the production of composites digitally.
  • Production of prints and use in projection and on screen in local pop-up exhibitions alongside other images and artefacts.

As well as the technical benefits of this process, in enabling very large prints to be produced, this approach has the potential to be collaborative (for instance, in the initial production of images and making decisions about rephotographing and combining images). It also mirrors the process of decision making in urban regeneration, which is increasingly data driven. The lived experience and characteristics of residents are quantified and decisions are made on the basis of the analysis of this data (see, for instance, how demographic data, and projections, are used in applications for compulsory purchase orders, which lay the basis for large scale redevelopment of housing estates). The consequences of these decisions are subsequently felt directly and viscerally by residents, translating this back again into ‘analogue’ form. The photographic process I am exploring here mirrors this process of ‘datafication’: analogue forms are quantified (scanned) and manipulated digitally, and then translated back into analogue (as physical artefact) form, and placed back into everyday activity and experience.

I am identifying this shuffling between analogue and digital as ‘post-digital’ practice in the sense that the term is used by Alessandro Ludovico (2012) in relation to print. Ludovico argues that, despite declarations of the immanent death of print in the face of digital forms of production and distribution, print has come to thrive in particular domains (there is, for instance, an interesting case to be made for paper based archives, especially among mobile migrant and displaced communities, in the light of the instability of digital systems and dominance by corporations and the state). In a post-digital practice, analogue and digital forms exist alongside each other in synergy and critical dialogue. This goes beyond a nostalgic yearning for lost or increasingly marginal forms of practice, to looking at the ways in which the dynamics of digital production and distribution create (deliberatively, incidentally or serendipitously) spaces for analogue practice (and vice versa). As Cubitt et al (2015) argue, the technologies and political, economic and socio-cultural practices that fed into and influenced the development of and transition to digital photography, from analogue forms, have shaped digital practice in such a way that qualities that are available in analogue photography are not available to those working digitally. In developing a form of post-digital photographic practice, I am working with the affordances of different forms of production and distribution in a way that acknowledges the wider political, economic, social and cultural contexts and connotations of these forms, and the transformations that take place, beyond the solely technical, as we move between the analogue and the digital. This requires a broader and more nuanced conception of both analogue and digital domains. For instance, Robinson (2006) has observed that analogue:

‘has come to mean smoothly varying, of a piece with the apparent seamless and inviolable veracity of space and time; like space and time admitting infinite subdivision, and by association with them connoting something authentic and natural, against the artificial, arbitrarily truncated precision of the digital’ (p.21).

In relating post-digital photographic practice to (data-driven) urban regeneration, I wish to highlight the losses and gains in moving between the qualitative/analogue and the quantitative/digital (and the connotations of these moves), and the heuristic potential of image making and engagement in illuminating, understanding and influencing the transformations that take place. This brief post is just intended to indicate a direction for further investigation, theoretically, methodologically and practically, in my FMP.

There is also some technical experimentation to be done, particularly in the production of composites from film negatives, and in chemical printing from digital negatives, to increase the number of points at which moves between analogue and digital can be made.

References

Cubitt, S., Palmer, D. and Walkling, L. (2015) ‘Enumerating photography from spot meter to CCD’, Theory, Culture & Society, 32(7–8): 245–265.

Ludovico, A. 2012. Post-Digital Print: The Mutation of Publishing since 1894. Eindhoven: Onomatopee.

Robinson, D. 2006. Analog. In Fuller, M. (ed.), Software Studies: A Lexicon. Cambridge, Mass: Leonardo Books. 21-30.

Oral Presentation

Final version of my presentation.

I have considered the development of my project over the course of the module and critically discussed production methodologies and presentation strategies in relation to this. Whilst it makes sense to separate methodology and presentation pedagogically, in practice they are closely related and this makes structuring the presentation tricky. I have also considered a selection of relevant work by other photographers, and how, in terms of methodology and presentation strategies, this relates to my own. Keeping within the time limit, as always, means heavy editing is necessary. Rather than attempt to be comprehensive in discussion of my project, and other work, I have selected examples from the work. Hopefully, there is enough background material in my CRJ to make it comprehensible.

New View Arts Workshop

7th, 8th, 14th & 15th August 2019

As planned, I ran a series of workshops for 7-11 year olds with Susie and Fiona from New View Arts at the Sue Bramley Children’s Centre on the Thamesview Estate. We ran four half day sessions for a group of six children (with permission from guardians for photographic and video work), designed to use photography to explore the way in which the area is changing and how the children are responding to these changes. On the first day we listened to accounts by residents who had been moved to the estate in 1954 after the Creekmouth Estate, on the banks of the Thames and the Roding rivers, flooded and was subsequently demolished. We made notes, drew pictures and looked at period photographs, and thought about how we might build an archive that would help to tell the story of the displaced residents, and started to prepare materials and make plans for a visit to Creekmouth at the second workshop.

At Creekmouth, 8th August 2019

In the second workshop we took photographs at Creekmouth, which we printed off for the third workshop. For this workshop we worked on making archive boxes and talked about living in the area and how we might build our own personal archives. For the fourth session the children brought in objects that they wanted to put into their archives, and we made photographs of these, and for the Creekmouth archive. At the end of the session we looked through all the prints and other materials and the children decided what would go into the archive boxes (personal and for Creekmouth) and discussed why. We provided digital cameras for the children at all the sessions, and ran a portable printer so that prints could be made. We also made videos and conducted interviews to feed into a film about Creekmouth to be shown in October at the Centre. I set up a large format and medium format film camera to explore, and provided card frames to experiment with framing before taking photographs. The process of selecting photographs for the archives gave further opportunities to talk about the process of making photographs, and the ways in which we might use photography, and photographs as artefacts, alongside other drawing, painting and making activities.

Curation activity, 15th August 2019

The children really enjoyed the workshops, which provided an opportunity to try out activities (the future workshops will be with older school students and adults). The images produced will feed into the Creekmouth film and the exhibition for the opening of the Men’s Shed being built on site in October, which will explore the changes taking place around the Thames Ward estates and the lives of residents (to which the children and their families will be invited).

Framing, Shed Life, 8th August 2019

Having the equipment on site also meant that activities spilled over into the Shed Life sessions, generating more interest in making photography a core activity in the shed, and as a tool in the development of the Shed and documentation of the construction process. Interestingly, there was a good deal of interest in film photography among the group, and a some expertise and prior experience with film.

Camerawork, Shed Life, 15th August 2019

More to follow in the next update on project plans. The experience has demonstrated that the plan for a number of micro-projects with pop-up exhibitions, and a subsequent collective output, is feasible. Having the help of the young volunteers was invaluable in keeping the activities moving, and it would be good to think about involving them more actively in documenting the workshops in the future.