Assignment four: image and text
Brief: Create a series of work (aim for 7–10 images) which in some way reflects upon the ideas surrounding identity and place that you’ve looked at so far in this course. Use the written word to play a part in its creation.
Be wary of illustrating your text with pictures and vice versa. Allow for the viewers’ interpretation to be opened up rather than shut down by the pairings. You may decide not to include the actual words in the final production; that’s fine, as long as they have in some way informed the research and development of the concepts and have pushed the imagery further as a result.
Write a short reflective commentary (around 500 words) describing how your chosen ‘words’ have informed your series of images and make this available to your tutor alongside your image
1. The work; ‘I had a dream, just the other night’
1.1 Slide show
1.2 Individual images
These are preliminary selections to show the quality of my work. I will produce A3 images for submission once I am clear how I will use text in the works.
2. My reflective commentary
‘I had a dream, just the other night’ (Finn, 1993)
My starting point was a story that I had heard from a friend, called Adrian, a few years ago about a near death experience which was prefigured by a warning dream the week before. A cleaned and edited of eight minutes of my interview was the foundation for the rest of this assignment; the question was how to illustrate this.
Research and theory
Early on I decided to produce a slide show. I looked at a number of sources, influential amongst these were ‘Firestorm,’ ‘Factory Records,’ and ‘June Street,’ (Henley, 2013; Meadows, 2016; Meadows, 2013). The first is striking because of the sophistication of story construction, from a single memorable image, and the colour and range of material included. The latter two slide shows by David Meadows, are strongly anchored in recorded memories; there are strong parallels with what I am doing.
I was looking for a presentation format which was not literal, as in ‘Firestorm’ and Meadows’, slide shows, but more ambiguous and ‘darker’ in tone. Large in my mind are the images of grief in ‘Solitude of Raven’s,’ which makes me cry. While reading ‘Autofocus’ I stumbled on two ‘body ‘ images by Thomas Florschuetz (Gallery, 2016; Bright, 2010; Gisbourne, 2004). In Florschuetz’s work there are of black and white images of body parts reformed, distorted or juxtaposed in unsettling and interesting ways. In his work Florschuetz is looking for “a reduction…an abstraction” even when photographing buildings; I am searching for something like this. (Florschuetz, 2010).
My story has danger, anxiety, peace and resolution and is without the bleakness of Florschuetz’s ‘Early body figures 1989-90’ (Gisbourne, 2004). I decided to use colour to add some coldness and contrasting warmth. I also realised then that my work and story were primarily about ‘the body’ which was threatened, died and was resurrected! Jo Spence considers the social and psychological representation generated by representations of the body (Angier, 2015; Pages 29-30; Spence, 2016). My construction of this persons identity is clinical, distant and fractured, as is the place of action, and contrast with the measured tones and warmth of this person’s narrative.
Preliminary shoot and slide show
I decided to photograph my own body parts in my home studio to create a 90 second trial slide show which I shared with my OCA peers and a tutor. I had already decided on several intentional elements;
- The background – I was looking for something suggestive of a swimming pool but not obvious waves or bubbles. I took some photographs of stones and flags in my garden to create a texture.
- Colour of the background – I experimented with a few blue colours but I chose a cool ‘swimming baths’ blue which also referenced the ‘clinical cool’ blue of the hospital where Adrian is transported to.
- Black framing to the body parts – These isolate the body parts. The black also references death or threat.
- Body parts – This work is about the dissolution and resurrection of the body. I was clear that I could move these around.
- Placement of body parts – I intended my body parts to go from the left to the right on the frame to illustrate the journey in the story, and to fall to the bottom and then rise up again to illustrate death and resurrection. The placement and fracturing of the body is essential to my story.
- Bounding frame – I had a white bounding frame in the trial video (for prints) but eliminated that as “it looks like a Power Point presentation.”
- The text in the frame – Originally there was a lot of text in the frame but this duplicated the audio and was distracting.
- I included one black and white frame – no one liked that!
Final shoot and editing
My next step was to take images of my model Adrian in his home using two strobes and my Nikon D810 camera with a 50mm 1.4 lens. I tried to keep the iso as low as possible to keen a depth of field of F9 but this was not always possible in this setting with a low ceiling. I also could not get my soft boxes high enough to eliminate spectacle glare and asked Adrian to remove his spectacles for most of the shoot.
This was my first Premier Pro presentation. Once I had edited three audio portions I added ‘threatening music’ then wave noises then created the image. The initial presentation has low resolution images; these image created from Lightroom then Photoshop were 16 bit and high-resolution. All had corrected exposure, were desaturated by 30 points, contrast of 10 points and were sharpened in PS before exporting to Premier Pro. My greatest difficulty was creating the black frames; I experimented with several methods but was unable to create a consistent size as I altered the size of the image for the part they played in the frame.
My final presentation resulted from experiments with text and placement of images. I am still not clear about the relationship of the text to the images in the frame; sometimes they anchor the meaning, sometimes they are for emphasis and sometimes they relay other fears and experiences.
I intend to print several of the images that summarise the story, as A3 size with a 25mm white handling frame, for exam submission alongside the slide show.
Finn, T. (1993). Protected. Before and After. http://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/Tim_Finn:Protected, Lyrically.
Henley, Topham. (2013). Firestorm, , The Guardian on-line. http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2013/may/26/firestorm-bushfire-dunalley-holmes-family. Accessed 12th August, 2016
Meadows, D. (2016). My photography stories, no. 14: Factory Records by Daniel Meadows https://vimeo.com/157846989?from=outro-embed. Vimeo, Vimeo.com.
Meadows, D. (2013). June Street https://vimeo.com/57256051. Vimeo, Vimeo.com.
Gallery., M. H. (2016). “Masahisa Fukase. ‘Solitude of Ravens.’ http://www.michaelhoppengallery.com/exhibitions/127/overview/#/artworks_standalone/10108.”Retrieved 8th April, 2016, from http://
Bright, S. (2010). Autofocus: The self-portrait in contemporary photography. London, Thames and Hudson.
Gisbourne, M. (2004). “Thomas Florschuetz: Korperbilder.” Artists. Retrieved March 6th, 2017, from http://www.m-bochum.com/artist_info2_en.php?SID=2CaHgcq3rogy&aid=61&aifid=141
Florschuetz, T. (2010). Photographer Thomas Florschuetz | euromaxx. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3L0zytDjicE. youtube, youtube.com.
Angier, R. (2015). Train your gaze: A practical and theoretical introduction to portrait photography. London, Bloomsbury Publishing.
Spence, J. (2016). “Jo Spence: Artists website.” Retrieved 12th January, 2016, from http://www.jospence.org/work_index.html.
Interview with Adrian Smith; Recorded 30th September 216 by Morris Gallagher.
Threatening music; ‘Dark Mystery’ http://audionautix.com/Music/DarkMystery.mp3. Accessed 4th March, 2017
Wave music; ‘Summer waves at Charmouth beach in Dorset’ https://www.freesound.org/people/konakaboom/sounds/203156/download/203156__konakaboom__summer-waves-at-charmouth-beach-in-dorset.wav. Accessed 2nd April, 2017