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.

Deep Mapping

Bloom, B and Sacramento, N. 2017. Deep Mapping. Auburn, IN: Breakdown Break Down Press.

I came across this short book by chance at a bookbinding workshop. Bloom and Sacramento describe Deep Mapping as ‘a process of reading and reshaping the landscape that embraces political, social, economic, infrastructural and environmental concerns, challenging accepted knowledge and imposed belief systems’ (p.8). It involves focusing on a specific small area or place, and conducting archival research, seeking local accounts, and, most importantly, engaging directly with the landscape through travelling in and across the area, and paying attention to what lies below and above, and what is hidden or silenced. Deep Maps, they claim, ‘propose a perspective from below, which puts puts the ‘needs and desires’ of, for example, the earth, poor people, devastated landscapes, in a relationship where they are given equal or greater consideration than the narratives of a dominant culture’ (p.6). Inspiration for the approach is taken from William Least Heat-Moon’s (1991) PrairyErth, a detailed narrative exploration of a small area of Kansas which attempts to make visible that which is not readily seen, and to present narratives and insights that run counter to dominant (western/colonial) accounts and ways of knowing. Bloom and Sacramento liken this to production of a form of ‘thick description’ proposed by the anthropologist Clifford Geertz (1973) as a conduit for engaging with cultures and ways of living with which we are unaccustomed. In the development of their own approach to Deep Mapping, as an experiential artistic practice, Bloom and Sacramento also invoke the practice of Deep Listening advocated by the composer Pauline Oliveros (2005). Sacramento presents a method for Deep Mapping, comprising of nine components, from selection of a place through to compilation of outcomes (pp. 13-16). Bloom describes a number of ‘direct social and spatial encounters’ in which Deep Mapping has been applied as a methodology.

There are strong resonances between this approach and my own project (and my wider interests, for instance in minimalist music and sound art). My work engages with specific places and engages with entanglement of human activity and identity with the built and natural environment, and seeks to explore the impact of change in these settings from a range of perspectives (across generations, for instance), using a variety of media (text, narrative, maps, photographs, archives, artefacts etc) and at different levels (from the micro to the macro; see earlier activity using portable microscope and Google Earth images). Challenging the dominance of colonial ways of thinking about our relationship to the land and place problematises western notions of spacetime, and Bloom and Sacramento make an interesting reference to Shahjahan’s (2015) work on the decolonisation of time, the body and pedagogy, forming links with other aspects of my work (on access to higher education and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities). Taking a post-humanist, and new materialist, position, acts to further de-centre the human subject. The approach I am taking, and my range of interests, would seem to be consistent with Bloom’s description of Deep Mapping.

‘A Deep Map of a place includes many things: direct perceptions of that place; its inhabitants’ memories; embodied understandings as place enters you in numerous ways that are emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual, and transcendental; geological formations; more-than-human actors like animals, plants, microbes, and landscapes; historical developments from different eras; weather patterns; agricultural uses; modern infrastructure; bioregional processes; contradictory ideological ratiocinations; and more. A Deep Mapping of a place potentially has no limits to complexity as long as it is meaningful and you have-or a group has-the ability to hold an awareness of the varying ways of understanding. The layers can be added as long as this helps elucidate and makes present a complex way of relating’ (p.59).

There are other dimensions to my work (in working, for instance, with different forms of image making, creation of archives and the oscillation between analogue and digital media), but the idea of Deep Mapping is helpful in achieving coherence at a methodological level. Deep Mapping has been applied mainly in rural settings (Bloom notes the distinctly urban difficulties that have been encountered by group members in getting to workshops and engaging with the process in London, for instance); in working in urban communities with a concern for the manner in which the environment, community and sense of place is being transformed by regeneration, it is useful to think through how the Deep Mapping process can be adapted and applied, and how visual exploration can be given a prominent place in the process. On a practical level, also, Sacramento’s nine-step ‘Lumsden Method’, and example of a two-hour workshop starting from the analysis of maps of an area, are a useful resource for the design of my own workshops (and a timely reminder of Ward and Fyson’s,1973, writing on education beyond the classroom), as well as indicating some of the ways in which maps and mapping can be incorporated into my work.

Thames Ward Community Project, Community Mapping 2019

References

Bloom, B. 2017. ‘Deep Maps’. In Bloom, B and Sacramento, N. 2017. Deep Mapping. Auburn, IN: Breakdown Break Down Press. 56-76.

Bloom, B and Sacramento, N. 2017. Deep Mapping. Auburn, IN: Breakdown Break Down Press. Online at https://www.breakdownbreakdown.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/2017-Deep-Mapping-bookweb.pdf [accessed 05.08.19]

Geertz, C. 1973. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books.

Heat-Moon, W.L. 1991. PrairyErth (A Deep Map). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Oliveros, P. 2005. Deep Listening: A Composer’s Sound Practice. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.

Shahjahan, R. 2015. ‘Being “lazy” and slowing down: Toward decolonizing time, our body, and pedagogy’, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 47: 488–501.

Sacramento, N. 2017. ‘Deep maps and geographies from below’. In Bloom, B and Sacramento, N. 2017. Deep Mapping. Auburn, IN: Breakdown Break Down Press. 14-49.

Ward, C. and Fyson, A. 1973. Streetwork: The exploding school. London: RKP.

Work in Progress draft

These are the eight composite images around which I want to build my Surfaces and Strategies WIP portfolio. Click on the image to get full screen.

Each image is made from three constituent images (human activity, the changing built environment, the natural environment) from the same location (in this case Ilford and Barking town centres, each of which is undergoing substantial planned redevelopment) through a process of channel mixing. Each image in the portfolio is accompanied by an ‘image code’ which gives a clue to its construction (example below: see here for explanation).

Image code for ‘neuropolis #1’

To contextualise the work, I have included two quotes from Fitzgerald et al (2018), which indicate the themes being explored.

‘The Neuropolis is the city understood as a matrix of transactions between urban life and the always-developing, malleable brains of urban citizens. Its object is a real conurbation, and not an ideological fiction: it describes an organization of physical spaces and social lives, of interpersonal exchanges and chance encounters, of economic relations and commercial transactions – and all of these simultaneously lived and transacted through the embodied lives of Neuropolitan citizens’ (p.223).

‘The Neuropolis is old, and winding. It’s easy to get lost there. To think about good life in such a space means not only grappling with history, but also coming to terms with a complex simultaneity of past and present – of the ideas, people and inclinations, that persist, in the shadows, across them’ (p.235).

A major theme in my work (and in the work quoted above) is relationship with the environment. I think this is clear in the images, but not in the quotes. Whilst I could have included more, I think this would have over-complicated the portfolio format and content. I will discuss this in my presentation (and also relate this work to the participatory ‘micro-projects’ and the photography for advocacy work that I am doing as part of the wider project).

The draft WIP portfolio (to be discussed with Cemre on Tuesday) previewed below.

NeuropolisWIPfinal

References

Fitzgerald, D., Rose, N. and Singh, I. 2018. ‘Living Well in the Neuropolis’, The Sociological Review, 64: 221–237.

Getting on (Week 9 Reflection)

I’ve spent the past week making plans for workshops and photographic work relating to my FMP, as well as spending 5 days (Thursday to Monday) in Arles for Rencontres 2019 and the Falmouth face to face (see individual posts on this, including the portfolio review). Getting the WIP portfolio together has been pressing, so I have decided to work on the photobook activity alongside making images for the portfolio. Whilst the portfolio will ultimately not be in book form, working on the activity has been productive. The process has been iterative, in that the portfolio review in Arles provided me with the motivation to return to the channel mixing work, and reviewing, and working from, the images that I have made over the past month in Ilford and Barking has clarified the need for additional images to work with, and helped me to identify the kinds of image I need for the work (in particular, images that show everyday activity in the areas I am focusing on). The portfolio review, and engaging with the exhibitions in Arles, has also helped me to think through how I will display the channel mixing work, and what kind of contextualising narrative I will give. Whilst it will not contribute to the submission of work for this module, I will work further on the printing of my work, and explore the use of LCD panels and projection. Moving between analogue and digital in both the production and display of the work is leading me to see this work as being ‘post-digital’ (as defined by Alessandro Ludovico, 2012; see also Cubitt, et al, 2015, on the affordances of analogue and digital photography and the relationship of the transition of one to the other to wider social, economic and cultural change).

I produced a booklet for the publications activity, based on the images I am working on for my WIP portfolio. Feedback from previous work indicated that some viewers want to see the original images used in the composites, whilst others felt that this would detract from the work by making it look too much like a technical/didactic activity (the same could be said of the animations created from different iterations of the composites from the same three images, which I have not included in the most recent work: I have also not made any of the more graphic iterations). To address this, I have created a grid of the original images for the sequence of eight images that I am currently working on (see below), and for each composite image, I have created an ‘image code’ by removing the three constituent images for each composite.

Constituent image grid for ‘Neuropolis’ series

The first version of the book included that large grid, but feedback indicated that this took away some of the challenge of the work, so I removed it. To contextualise the work, I have drawn on the notion of the Neuropolis, explored by Fitzgerald et al (2018). This relates mental well-being to the relationship between human activity and the urban built and natural environment, an important strand in my work. Given that the work has to represent a particular point in time in the development of my practice, I have simplified the focus, and the quotes provided, I hope, say enough about the key themes in the work to make them accessible.

Initial draft of ‘Neuropolis’ booklet

In the initial draft of the booklet, the ‘codes’ were in colour and their position changed with each image. I did this to vary the rhythm of the sequence, but feedback indicated that this was distracting, and that having everything in black and white would achieve a more consistent visual style, and consistent positioning might be less distracting. I changed these for the final iteration.

Final draft of ‘Neuropolis’ booklet

The booklet is designed for Japanese three hole stab binding.

Japanese three hole stab binding

References

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

Ludovico, A. 2012. Post-Digital Print: The Mutation of Publishing since 1894. Eindhoven: Onomatopee.
Online at https://monoskop.org/images/a/a6/Ludovico,Alessandro-_Post-Digital_Print._The_Mutation_of_Publishing_Since_1894.pdf [accessed 01.08.19].

Installations, exhibitions, surfaces and contexts (Arles reflection)

Les Rencontres D’Arles, 26th-28th July 2019

Apart from the shear quality, quantity and diversity of the work exhibited, it was the manner in which exhibits and installations were designed with the specific setting for the piece in mind that impressed. At its simplest, this involved making some prints on fabric to be stretched across windows (see image below from Guillaume Simoneau’s series The Murder), and placing prints so that the natural light falls on them to the greatest effect.

Guillaume Simoneau, The Murder, Arles 2019

For Christan Lutz’s Eldorado series, shot in Macao, natural light was excluded from the vast shed like space to simulate the artificial light only character of the casino.

Christan Lutz, Eldorado, Arles 2019

Mohammad Bourouissa’s exhibition Free Trade, in a disused floor of a supermarket, took the form of supermarket sections and used, for instance, clothes racks as mounts for video screens, a form that resonated with the focus of the work on domination and economy.

Mohammad Bourouissa, Free Trade, Arles 2019

Many to the exhibition spaces had stone walls and high ceilings, with little or no internal structure.

Philippe Chancel, Datazone, Arles 2019

Hanging on wire was common (including from the ceiling in Philippe Chancel’s exhibition) and a variety of forms of wooden and other temporary structures were used to provide additional bespoke display space.

Philippe Chancel, Datazone, Arles 2019
Libuse Jarcovjakova, Evokativ, Arles 2019
Claudia Passeri, Aedicula, Arles 2019
Mario del Curto, Vegetal Humanity, as Gardens Unfurl, Arles 2019

Most extreme was The Anonymous Project House, which recreated a two-storey house with interlinking rooms, themed to reflect the function of the room.

The Anonymous Project, The House, Arles 2019

Whilst there are clearly lessons to be learned about designing installations in relation to the space in which they will be shown (both in terms of form and content), the major lesson for me here relates to the manner in which images are presented and juxtaposed; particularly important as I will be presenting my own images alongside collaborative work and participant images, as well as other documents, texts, artefacts, projections and, possibly, video and audio material. The ‘micro-projects’ will be presented in pop-up exhibitions, so this material has to be portable, and the exhibition quick to put up and take down in spaces that are not designed for exhibitions. The final exhibition has to bring these projects together as a coherent and meaningful whole, and has to work in the space chosen for the installation.

The use of slides with a loupe on a lightbox, and the suspension of prints from wires with bulldog clips, are two ways in which the mobility of an installation can be enhanced.

Here is New York, Arles 2019
The Anonymous Project, The House, Arles 2019

Projection onto a screen that can be viewed from both sides was also used in a number of exhibitions, which is easily portable and can be adapted to the exhibition space.

Helen Levitt, Observing New York’s Streets, Arles 2019

Investigative Techniques

Lewis Bush, Workshop – Investigative Techniques, 29th June 2019

Lewis Bush Workshop, 2019.

A key aspect of my project is collection of material relating to urban development projects in different parts of east London. This material (which includes maps, planning documents, studies of the areas, archival accounts and images, developer promotional material, consultation documents, press reports and so on) helps to understand the dynamics of change in these areas and provides material to be used in workshops with residents. Some of the material will also form a part of the final outcome of the project and may be incorporated into the images presented (for instance, in various forms of composite and/or juxtaposed with other images and artefacts). Collection, organisation and analysis of this material require the use of particular tools and techniques, and the development and implementation of an overarching strategy.

The workshop with Lewis Bush focused on the tools that he has used and the techniques he has developed in his own work. The workshop provided insight into Lewis’s practice and opportunity to consider how the tools and techniques might be applied and adapted to my own project. This post will explore some of these tools and techniques in relation to my own practice. I am posting this now because (i) the theme this week is on the development of workshops, and this provides an example of one approach; (ii) I am in the ‘research’ phase in working towards my FMP, and am collecting materials for my own workshops and for use in the development of the project.

Gathering information

Lewis stressed the importance of starting with a clear question to guide the collection of information (drawing on Hunter, Sengers and Thordsen, 2011, he called this a hypothesis, because of the association of this term with positivist science, I would prefer something like question or problem statement). For my project, this statement would be something like ‘There is a disjunction between the experiences and aspirations of residents and the stated rationale for, and effects of, housing development in east London.’ Stated as a question, this would be ‘To what extent is there a disjunction between the experiences and aspirations of residents and the stated rationale for, and effects of, housing development in east London?’ This acts to focus both the strategies used and path taken by the collection and analysis of data.

The focus of the session was on Open Source Research (OSR), in which the information collected is publicly available (but which might hint at things that are not known or immediately obvious). As well as published material, this includes information that can be obtained through means such as Freedom of Information requests and patent applications. A clear workflow is needed to handle the volume of data and maintain a clear direction.

Working with these sources enables a researcher to stay under the radar and to gain credibility through providing readily available evidence to support statements. Bellingcat, as well as publishing their own investigations, publish a toolkit for others to use. The disadvantages of this kind of information, apart from the danger of overload, is that it is open to manipulation and difficult to verify, and thus potentially unreliable and/or invalid. Consideration has to be given to who is impacted by the study and what risks need to be considered (for instance, of legal challenge). Precautions need to be taken to protect the researcher, their equipment and the information.

For this reason, it is helpful to explore anonymously using Tor or a VPN (such as Nord), and to set up ‘burner’ accounts for email (proton mail or guerrilla mail) and social media. Running an ad blocker (AdBlock), script blocker (NoScript), and encrypting (VeraCrypt, or PGP for email, though this will be visible) or air-gapping.

The threats to the photographer may be legal, and it is important to assess the rights, powers and interests of the individuals or groups who are the subjects of the work, and to take appropriate precautions (for instance, if the subject is a private individual, their powers are limited, mostly to legal redress, and the precautions include fact checking, legal compliance and keeping a low profile).

Notable examples of investigative work, apart from Lewis’s and Ed Clarke’s, are projects by Forensic Architecture and Anne-Marie Casteret’s (1992) L’affaire du Sang.

For searches, using filetype (filetype:), site (site:) and operators (and/or etc) help to narrow search. Looking for Excel (.xls) and google earth (.knz) files can be useful. Useful resources: search engines such as Bhanvad.com, webscapers (zapper, if this then that) and plugins like foxy spider and download them all (can be used together to harvest images), and other tools such as way back machine, recipe generator, dataminer, jeffrey’s image metadata viewer, yandex (reverse image search), user agent switcher (see site formatted for different devices). For social media searching: politwoops, way back machine, twitonomy. Can use social media to do ‘patterns of life analysis’.

For analysis of images can put on an overlay and go square by square. For google map images can take screenshots at highest resolution and stitch together. Using mymaps can upload gps data. For signs of cloning look for repeating patterns. Can use reddit picrequests and whereisthis to get help in identifying places and things.

Public records can be useful (Land Registry, Companies House, Charity Commission – see CIJ Investigative Journalists Guide to Company Records). FOI requests can be made for specific information (though can be refused for specific reasons) and ‘grey’ or leaked information used with caution. Care must be taken with private information that is inadvertently made public.

On the legal side, need to be careful about contempt of court, respect for right of privacy (privacy law), defamation of character (libel law) and protection of sources (on the record, background, deep background and off the record).

This kind of investigation is just a small part of the background to my own work. Much of the information I need is readily available (about planning applications and developments), but this needs to be carefully organised. Working with images available is important, and clarity of what can be used and how is essential.

As well as the content of the workshop, reflecting on the format has also been helpful for the Week 8 activities on designing and running workshops. It has also led me to think about the design of my own workshop space and how this is best configured for the kind of work that I do.

References

Bellingcat, Digital Toolkit. Online at https://www.comsuregroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Bellingcats-Digital-Toolkit.pdf [accessed 23.07.19]

Casteret, A-M. 1992. L’affaire du Sang. Paris: Découverte.

Hunter, M.L., Sengers L. and Thordsen, P. 2011. ‘Using hypotheses: the core of investigative method’. In Hunter, M.L. (Ed.), Story-based Inquiry: A manual for investigative journalists. Paris: UNESCO.

Publication (Week 7 Reflection)

In his interview with Ben Smith, Simon Norfolk (2019) is pretty forthright in expressing his opinion that the majority of what is produced in book form by photographers amounts to nothing more than vanity publishing. The book becomes an end in itself, without consideration of the readership/audience. Far from democratising art, by bypassing the gallery and patronage system, he sees the current interest in the production of books by photographers as reinforcing the elitist consumption (and collection) of photographic work. Whilst he makes an important point, he is taking a fairly narrow view of both the form and function of books, and how these are used by photographers and other artists (he is also forthright about his opinion that photographers are not artists, on the basis of a vary narrow conception of art). As Lukas Birk illustrated in his guest lecture this week, whilst established publishers do have a certain caché, self-publishing with a clear purpose, and oriented to a well defined readership, can be highly productive, and enable photographers to reach new audiences for their work. Birk produces a range of forms of work (from high volume and cheap bookshop for a south-east Asian market, to limited run artists books), each with a tightly defined sense of audience. Birk is also highly adept as supplementing published work with other forms of dissemination (for instance, the website for the Afghan Box Camera project). This sophisticated combination of print, online and exhibition/installation forms of dissemination is increasingly characteristic of the practice of successful contemporary photographers (for instance, see the work of Susan Meiselas, who has a very sophisticated website which catalogues the phases of her work and relates this to other forms of output, such as publications and exhibitions, including artefacts, texts and other contextualising material).

In my own project, I am not aiming for publication in book form of the work in and for itself (ie, as a self-published photobook or through an established publisher). There will, however, be print outputs from each of the constituent projects. At the moment, I am thinking of these as zine type publications which present the work of the participants alongside our collaborative work and my own work in the contexts we are exploring together. These can be combined to present the outcomes of the project as a whole, for instance by compiling the zines into a single publication, or by putting them together in a slipcase or envelope (designed to represent the overall themes of the project). As the project will also involve collection and use of a wide range of other material (for instance, developer plans and archive material relating to the areas), I was also intending to produce some form of resource pack/box, or perhaps (less didactically) and form of portable archive that could be used to explore the issues raised, reconfigure material collected and generated and provoke new activity (see earlier post about archives and refugee experience). Exploring different forms of publication this week has made me think about a form of artist book as an alternative. Having learned a range of book binding techniques at the London Centre for Book Arts (see post here), I have looked at the work of artists who have used similar techniques to present their work.

In Permission To Belong, Tammy Law uses a Solander Box as a container for exposed spine books which, in addition to photographs, contain letters, maps and other materials relating to the theme of migration, home and belonging from the perspective of families from Burma. Some of the material is bound into the book, and some is inserted (for instance, maps and large folded sheets of images).

Here the artist’s book is being seen as an object, and both an outcome of a project and a resource for exploration by the reader. Even more elaborate, with ornate binding and a wide range of inserts and multi-part pages, is Ryo Kusumoto’s 連師子/Renjishi, which takes the form of a multi-section exposed spine book.

Both these books use techniques that I have learned, and could use to produce low volume work at the end of the project. A good source of inspiration is the Dummy Book Awards at the Kassel FotoBookFestival.

It is also important, at this point, to return to earlier consideration of the political dimensions of self-publishing (explored in this post), and the argument put forward by Thoburn (2016) in Anti-Book: On the Art and Politics of Radical Publishing.

References

Norfolk, S. 2019. Simon Norfolk interviewed by Ben Smith, A Small Voice Podcast, 107, online at https://bensmithphoto.com/asmallvoice/simon-norfolk [accessed 22.07.19].

Thoburn, N (2016). Anti-Book: On the Art and Politics of Radical Publishing. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Architectural futures

Blueprint for the Future, architectural trail, Clerkenwell, 9-11th July 2019.

This exhibition of work from postgraduate architecture courses is spread across a number of commercial practices in the Clerkenwell area. For this module, and my own work, it was interesting for three reasons.

Greenwich @ Knauf, 2019

Firstly the exhibitions were in non-gallery spaces, and therefore placed speculative work alongside current commercial activity. They demonstrate the potential of non-conventional exhibition space, and the way in which this can bring different audiences and forms of activity together.

Bartlett @ USM, 2019

Secondly, the use of models, and movement between 2D and 3D forms, is well-established in architecture. Increasingly people are using 3D printing to produce new and novel forms, and to explore the potential of new materials and practices in construction. In a multi-modal, photography based work there would be potential in using similar techniques (for instance, Giovanna Petrocchi has made imaginary archeological artefacts using 3D printing in her Private Collection series).

Giovanna Petrocchi, Athlete (from Private Collection series), 2017.

Thirdly, there was a strong resonance between the imagining, and shaping, of the future city in some of the work, and core concerns in my own work. This was particularly marked in the University of Greenwich@Knauf exhibition. Most of the work was 2D, and projected a particular view of the future. The resonance may be due to the landscape dimension of the Greenwich programme, and the concern for global environmental and ethical issues. This work, in particular, made me think about other techniques I could use to explore relations between the human and natural environment and the past, the present and projected/anticipated futures.

Greenwich @ Knauf, 2019

Roadmap for Weeks 5 to 11

Title: re.generation

An inter-generational collaborative exploration of community engagement with urban regeneration and responses to local changes in the built and natural environment.

Keywords: urban, regeneration, heritage, environment, community, interdisciplinary, collaborative.

Methods/methodology: collaborative image making to build a collective understanding of individual and community experience of regeneration through visual exploration and expression; participant image making and assisted portraits; collection and analysis of narratives, documents and artefacts.

Preliminary work (Week Five). Workshop with Lewis Bush on investigative techniques, background research on current regeneration projects in Barking and Dagenham, meeting with Barking and Dagenham Heritage Preservation Group (BDHPG), arrangements for image making and anticipated form and presentation of outcomes.

Week 6: Bookbinding workshop 1 at London Centre for Book Arts. Archive work at Valence House (historic images of town centre and riverside areas). Collection of planning documents and developer literature. Image making at Thames Ward Community Project (TWCP) residents summit, and making contacts for subsequent work. Meetings with the headteachers of schools involved to arrange project work in September.

Week 7: Bookbinding workshop 2 at London Centre for Book Arts. Set up participant image making activity with BDHPG. Preliminary portrait work. Printing of work for Arles.

Week 8: Arles meet up and portfolio review. Review of BDHPG participant images and identification of places for rephotographing. Portraits made. Narratives discussed. Response to feedback received.

Week 9: Bookbinding workshop 3 at London Centre for Book Arts. Re- photography done. Composites made and discussed with participants.

Week 10: Selection and printing of images. Design of booklet/archive. Design of exhibition/installation

Week 11: Production of booklet/archive dummy. Production of installation/exhibition material.

Outcomes. Participants images relating to redevelopment of the area, how this relates to their lived experience and how it relates to their aspirations. Assisted portraits of participants. Composites from rephotographs and archive photographs. Accompanying participant narratives, documents and images. Book dummy and installation (or online presentation). Explore possible pop-up exhibition in the Barking Hotel (threatened with demolition in the redevelopment of the town centre).

Relationship with FMP. This will act as preliminary for work my FMP as described in research proposal and updated in my CRJ. The work will be extended by subsequent work in schools and other community groups. The work done in this module will enable my approach to be tested.