Assignment 6 Transitions -Abandoned process.

The process I was working on regarding assignment 6 Idea not just working out.

I had been working on an initial idea of a steady locked off tripod pointing at a particular landscape and videoing what was passing in front of the lens.

The resultant video would be processed in the same manner as in my learning log post Resuming the Journey. I was working on the conceptual idea of transition is not only the light passing during the day but also the transition of place and space as the earth revolves.

The first sets of videos were finally captured and ran through the algorithm to produce the first set of timeslices which could then be put into the barcode formats. However, on examination, I am finding too much of a similarity in the images and therefore they are not showing the transition even though the lighting conditions and condition of the landscape have changed as they are different times of the year.

The three Barcodes which I have produced are shown here.

Barcode Spring

Spring Early Day

Barcode Summer

Summer Stormy Day

Barcode Autumn

Autumn Fresh Day

 

I am now examining two other locations where there are physical transitions occurring on the landscape and will then make up my mind whether they are suitable for the brief or not.

Assignment 5 – Self Directed Project

Interpreting the brief

The brief for the assignment was largely unchanged from the ideas created in Exercise 4.6 which were “to research and photograph Jacobean doocots (dovecots) in the East Lothian district. The project will be guided by the doocots listed in the 1937 publication ‘Transactions of East Lothian Antiquarian and Field naturalists Society Vol 3’ which listed the doocots and their state at that point in time. “

I chose to expand the aims as follows:

 

  1. Lost History and lost landscape due to the perception that Agri-rural history not being important enough to protect.
  2. An examination of the concept of a space becoming a place and what happens when there is a change of place.
  3. Examination the concept of land ownership in Scotland which is at times in conflict with the Scottish law of “Right to Roam”. This extends to the ownership and stewardship of historical buildings by the landowners
  4. Examination the idea of accessibility for all, by looking into how actual accessibility and disabled rights translate into walking on public land.

 

The main Influences for the project is the New Topographics group. I chose to approach the subject of landscape photography in a nonstandard way, which allowed me to concentrate on the buildings themselves as they stand within the context of the landscape rather than the other way around. The project is directly influenced by the work of Hilda and Bernd Becher and Edward Burtynsky. My aim was to produce a set of images within this aesthetic to show that the idea of landscape photography can be malleable.

 

Undertaking the Brief

The first challenge of the brief was to gather the locations as described in the original survey. The publication which was produced in 1937 is based on a survey of Jacobean Doocots undertaken in 1931 by J. Whitaker. The survey was never completed due to the untimely death of Mr Whitaker in 1932. The final survey was gathered from his notes and has additions from several individuals within the society who had worked with Mr Whitaker in compiling the information. The locations in the published survey differ from modern-day locations in several aspects. First, the publications use place names which in some cases are no longer in use. Second, due to the change in the shape of towns over 80 years, some of the places no longer exist. Thirdly, due to the nature of the buildings, some had already been lost by the time of publication. Land ownership has changed in the region from just a few central landowners who owned large tracts of land within their estate to a large number of smaller private owners of small parcels of land which is some cases are formerly estate land. Where there were small farms who worked small fields, there is now large industrial-scale farming which was knocked down many of the walls and boundaries and who have opened up the land, by removing the smaller older farm buildings, so that they can use large modern farming techniques and machinery.

Initially, my aim was to gather a basic survey and plot using digital maps, GPS positions and digital footprints from modern maps, alongside historical and archaeological websites. This was only partially successful as parts of the digital footprint were, in fact, direct text copies from the 1931 survey. In other cases, the data had not been revisited since the 1980s and was out of date. It quickly became clear that accessibility was an issue. At times, it required gaining permission from the landowner, and some requests were not well received. I had to deal with a number of landowners who were not aware of the Scottish right of way. In other cases, it was quite simply, that the stewardship of the land, the access path to the building and the building itself had not been undertaken and that the land was being left to be as unwelcoming and inaccessible, possibly with the aim of having the public right of way denied as it was no longer in use. In the majority of cases, no consideration was given for ease of access for the disabled.

When visiting the sites to capture my images, my main hurdle was in trying to give each location the same treatment. I quickly found that I could not use the treatment of a set distance using the same parameters – angle, height, position relevant to the camera in an attempt to capture scenes which will be comparable with each other. At several sites, I was forced to use a telephoto lens to photograph the subject as access was impossible. The project was further hindered when during a return from one site, I suffered a major muscle spasm and I dropped all my equipment breaking camera and lenses. I had to buy a new camera and lenses which were significantly different from the originals, and so a period of adjustment was required.

I took several photographs at each location, from varying distances, angles and positions. I then chose images which were not always identical, not because the subject matter was too similar or boring but because each subject photographed differently from the same position. Sometimes I felt that shadow or highlight distracted from the subject and so these images were discarded from the final choice selection. I felt that the basic shape of the doocot remained the same which allowed the topographic aesthetic to continue.

Outcome

I acknowledge that the potential outcome of a new Topographics style set of images was in danger of being abandoned as the images were at times completely different. I continued because I felt that the project was still probable. Even though I had to modify my set of rules, I continued to photograph as close as possible to those rules. The project gained in the weight of the brief regarding the accessibility/landownership aspect of the brief. After examining the first sets of images again, the topographic idea was strengthened. I could see the differences and the commonalities within the doocots and started to understand how and why they were there.

I broke the subject matter down into three distinct build types of the Jacobean period; the initial beehive shape, the later Lectern shape and the final tower shape. After this final shape doocots fell out of use. I used these shapes as the identifiers for their topographical type, trying to keep within a strict Linnaean definition of type.

Here the project will take two different routes:

Exhibition – The works will remain in colour and be printed individually on A4 and hung in alphabetical order, as per the original survey publication. This will be done to allow the viewer a chance to observe the differing archetypes of doocots and their current state against what was written about them in 1931.

Assignment and Final Submission – The works will be gathered together in a format similar to the Typographic aesthetic, with the doocots ranked first by type and then within that subset alphabetically. They will be presented in monochrome, as I found that the use of colour caused the images to be far too busy and the subject matter was overshadowed by the colour. In some cases, nothing could be seen of the final sets of images but washes of green and brown.

As with Assignment 3, I have continued with the exploration of visual accessibility by placing braille in the images. Again, I have kept the braille to a minimum size, as it represents my own partial loss of vision and the continued disturbance it contributes to what I see. I decided with black braille this time, as I wanted the normally sighted viewer to understand that for some people with vision loss, that this is an invisible disability and so, is unseen, and like the braille, not understood by the main populace.

 

Beehive 

 


First set of 4 Beehives

Congalton/Dirleton/Dolphingston/Drylawhill


The second set of 4 beehive-shaped doocots

Nunraw/Phantasse/Preston Mains/Waughton


Lectern 

 


First set of 4 Lectern shaped doocots

Athelstaneford/Belton/Bourhouse/Crocegate

 


Second Set of Lectern Shaped Doocots

East Fortune/Friars Croft/Hermanston/Humbie


Third Set of Lectern Shaped Doocots

Johnstounburn/Lady Kittys/Nungate/Pencaitland


Fourth Set of Lectern Shaped Doocots

Preston Tower/Redhouse/Saltcoats/Spott


Fifth Set of Lectern Shaped Doocots

Tantallon/Tranent

 



Tower 

 


 

8 - Doocots First complete set of 4 Tower in B and W completed with Braille

Amisfield/Bolton/Colstoun/Elvingston

 


 

9 - Doocots Second complete set of 4 Tower in B and W completed with Braille

Haddington/Heugh/Lodge/Newton Hall

 


 

10 - Doocots Third complete set of 4 Tower in B and W completed with Braille

Ormiston/Prestongrange/Saltoun/Stenton Church

 


 

11 - Doocots Fourth complete set of 1 Tower in B and W completed with Braille

Thurston

 

 

 


Torn Done 

The black and white shapes represent the unknown effect of losing doocots. The red ‘X’ is representative of the more computer-driven iconography of a missing image link, usually presented through an internet browser.

 

13 - Lost to History


Inaccessible 

This was created to represent the hostility felt when approaching landowners when attempting to gain access to their land to locate and photograph a piece of local history.

12 - No Entry Private Land


Conclusion

Do I consider these images as landscape? Yes, I do. These doocots represent a space which was by kings statute created on the land as a representation of the Lairds fealty to King James VI and the money and the power that they held over their tenants. These spaces have in fact become places, lending of their name to locations, such as dovecot farm, or dovecot lane, even where the doocot has been destroyed. These images represent the land as pieces of history, some of which have already been lost and some of which are inaccessible due to the fencing in of property by later landowners.

By bending the Topographic rules which I had set in the brief, I have created a set of images which are not repeated regular architectural shapes. Each location shows its own individuality through its setting and the final image selected. Some of this is down to the different time of day, differing light conditions and differing lenses but also down to the location itself as each site had its own set of identifying features even amongst the most common of buildings.

The work took longer than designed into the original brief, due to the amount of research required to locate the physical doocots. Since the survey was never fully completed, I had to pick up where it left off and continue to locate the doocots and acquire access. This was not always easy as a disabled person and a person with visual impairment. I also had to manage the issues of surrounding my health condition, and my energy levels. I was not always successful in getting these to align and ensure that I was able to get out and photograph when the weather allowed it.

I am satisfied with the final work as it covers the points I wanted to raise within the brief

  • Local history some of which is being lost
  • Social Inclusivity of the landscape
  • Power, stewardship and ownership of the Landscape

All of these points are covered in the completed work both in exhibition form and in the submitted form.

Once the project is completed, I hope to offer Historic Scotland a number of images for their Canmore site. This will allow Canmore to update their database with the missing images and information about the current condition of the Doocots. These records could then be made accessible for the public and could also be available for reference through the East Lothian Council’s John Gray Research library and website.

 

References

British Journal of Photography. 2019. Edward Burtynsky: The Anthropocene Project – British Journal of Photography. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bjp-online.com/2018/10/edward-burtynsky-the-anthropocene-project/. [Accessed 10 October 2019].

Welcome to Canmore | Canmore. 2019. Welcome to Canmore | Canmore. [ONLINE] Available at: https://canmore.org.uk/. [Accessed 4 April 2019].

Dovecotes of Old England, Wales and Scotland. 2019. Dovecotes of Old England, Wales and Scotland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.pigeoncote.com/dovecote/dovecote.html. [Accessed 10 October 2019].

East Lothian Antiquarian Society. 1938. East Lothian Antiquarian Society. [ONLINE] Available at: https://eastlothianantiquarians.org.uk/files/2018/02/1934-38-ELAFN-Soc-Transactions-Vol-III.pdf. [Accessed 26 September 2019].

Edward Burtynsky. 2019. Edward Burtynsky. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.edwardburtynsky.com/. [Accessed 12 June 2019].

Historic Environment Scotland | Àrainneachd Eachdraidheil Alba. 2019. Historic Environment Scotland | Àrainneachd Eachdraidheil Alba. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/. [Accessed 1 October 2019].

John Gray Centre. 2019. Haddington Library – John Gray Centre. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.johngraycentre.org/about/library/. [Accessed 10 October 2019].

New Topographics: “Landscape and the West – Irony and Critique in New Topographic Photography” (2005) – AMERICAN SUBURB X. 2019. New Topographics: “Landscape and the West – Irony and Critique in New Topographic Photography” (2005) – AMERICAN SUBURB X. [ONLINE] Available at: https://americansuburbx.com/2012/05/new-topographics-landscape-and-the-west-irony-and-critique-in-new-topographic-photography-2005.html. [Accessed 15 June 2019].

New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape …. 2019. New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape …. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.sfmoma.org/exhibition/new-topographics/?ds_rl=1263130&gclid=Cj0KCQjwrfvsBRD7ARIsAKuDvMN-Y5AzdamX3TGr-T1gX3l8aRTxOcphHJCNTWPtMRHyzUPbxrRkgKQaAoRCEALw_wcB. [Accessed 16 June 2019].

Ogilvie Homes. 2019. Dovecote Steadings, East Lothian – Ogilvie Homes. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ogilviehomes.co.uk/location/dovecote-steadings-east-lothian/. [Accessed 10 October 2019].

Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot, East Linton – Historic Buildings & Homes | VisitScotland. 2019. Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot, East Linton – Historic Buildings & Homes | VisitScotland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.visitscotland.com/info/see-do/preston-mill-phantassie-doocot-p255601. [Accessed 8 October 2019].

Showcase Archives. 2019. East Lothian Antiquarian And Field Naturalist Society. [ONLINE] Available at: https://demo.orangeleaf.com/collections/getrecord/ELCAS_EL335. [Accessed 7 October 2019].

Tate. 2019. New topographics – Art Term | Tate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/n/new-topographics. [Accessed 16 June 2019].

Tate. 2019. The Purloined Landscape: Photography and Power in the American West – Tate Papers | Tate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/21/the-purloined-landscape-photography-and-power-in-the-american-west. [Accessed 15 June 2019].

Tate. 2019. Who are Hilla and Bernd Becher? | Tate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/bernd-becher-and-hilla-becher-718/who-are-bechers. [Accessed 16 June 2019]

Exercise 5.7 – Prepare an Artists Statement

This exercise asks the student to spend an hour or so researching and reading artists statements. Most of the artist’s statements can either be found on their own websites or on the website of the art galleries representing the artist.

The student is then asked to write an artists statement to accompany their self-directed project which will cover the work produced for Assignment 5.

I produced the following statement to accompany my work:


 

My current work looks at landscape, lost history, accessibility and land ownership today. Through the examination of the landscape, the people using it and the threats affecting it, the work will drive conservation on how man-made change of the landscape disconnects the land from its own history and how these ongoing changes relate to accessibility for disabled people to explore.

I am interested in the work of other artists and what I can learn from them. Specifically, I am exploring the techniques and methodology they used to approach landscapes and how they portray them. As subsequently how I can apply these to my photography. My series, Doocots of East Lothian, takes as its starting point an incomplete survey undertaken in 1931, which was published posthumously in 1939 and then left unexamined until now. I am applying the new topographic principle to the subject and am producing a sequence of images within a certain container of that aesthetic.


 

 

Exercise 5.6 Context as a Determinant of Photographic Meaning. 

This exercise asks the student to read, consider and makes notes of John Walkers essay “Context as a Determinant of Photographic Meaning. 

Walker opens his essay by asking the reader to consider a wedding photograph and the many differing contexts in which the image could be displayed; for example, within a photo album or as a framed picture on a mantlepiece. The photograph can be contextually read as a precious image which has personal value to the owner or if the image is displayed in the window of a commercial photographer, the photograph can be read as an example of their skill and competence. Although the image itself has not changed, the context in which it is displayed changes the context and its meaning to the viewer. 

I agree with Walker in making this assertion, for even if the framing of the image is exactly the same, the image is limited in context to what is seen within the frame. The viewer asked to consider only what is within the frame and not what was captured outside of the frame at the time. The context in which the image is presented, architecturally and socially, changes the reading of the image. 

The essay then examines the process of the resulting change of context by presenting additional information. This can be done either textually, presenting the image as part of a sequence, or presenting the image within the wider context of an exhibition. This provides the viewer with the opportunity to analyse the image with a wider view of the “reality” of the image.  

Once again I agree with this concept. Placing an image within an exhibition of images allows the content to build upon itself to provide a greater context within which to read the image. This allows a greater understanding of what is presented whereas titles are displayed, further detail is given as notes and the viewer can read each image as part of the greater whole. 

Walkers essay moves on to consider the effect of mobility of images. He does this by concentrating on the mechanical process of the photograph and the many differing contexts that an image can hold at the same time. Photographs – due to their ease of repeated production – allow a single image to be presented in differing contexts easily due to the way that they are presented. Two copies of the same image can have different contextual readings depending on how they are presented. Walker uses an image presented in a newspaper and the same image presented within the “white walls” of a photographic journal as his example to demonstrate this. Both are publications, but the image is presented differently creating two different readings of the image. 

He then goes on to present the idea of an image as a lifespan, not only considering the birth of the image, but the life of the image, and how and when it is presented. Walker borrows the terms ‘circulation’ and ‘currency’ from John Tagg. Tagg originated the idea of an image as money and how the image will move from context to context as it is presented in differing situations before the image finally disappears either due to destruction or being “banked” and forgotten in an archive. 

This is an interesting idea which I had come across but never conceptualised. Walker and Tagg both present the idea that not only will an image change hands over the years, but the reading of the image will change too. For example, Eddie Adams ‘Execution of Nguyễn Văn Lém’ when it was first published depicted what was happening in Vietnam during the conflict from a reportage point of viewWithin a fairly short period of time, the photograph took on the context of being an anti-war image,  having been used by the protesters to show the cruelty and meaningless of the Vietnam war. This use of Adams’ image has been surpassed with anti-war protesters using newer and more recent images from the internet; inside Abu Ghraib prison for example. However, these new images have already been replaced in the wider human consciousness due to the rapid evolution of the situation and of the news cycle. Adams. image continues to be printed in publications and shown in academic circumstances, however, it is still presented in an anti-war context rather than the original reportage use. 

Walker essay goes on to examine the work of Jo Spence and her exhibition ‘Beyond the Family Album’. walker posits that the reading of the image changes when the context of the exhibition changes. Quite simply the images can be read differently depending on when and where they are presented. Walker invites the essay reader to examine their perception and understanding of people who visit art galleries, What are the visitors expectations, why are they there, and what is the main driver for them attending a gallery or a specific exhibition within a  gallery? Research and analysis via survey of visitors can help to give an understanding on this abstract idea and provide an understanding on why the visitors are there and how they understand the context of the exhibition. 

Walker closes his essay by presenting the fact that a viewer of an image, no matter the context, will have their own preset concept of the context, mainly created through human memory. That viewer will first use this to read an image when they encounter it. Being aware of these preset contexts can assist the photographer when creating the context in which they wish to present the final set of images. Walker reminds the reader that pictorial stereotypes are everywhere, even within our own conscious and unconscious minds. As to the ideology that all individuals are different, therefore all individuals will read an image differently; I concur with Walker’s opinion that individuals are in fact part of a set or subset and therefore, due to commonality, will read an image within the same context due to a shared lowest common denominator, especially when you regard the concepts put forth by Barthes on Semiotics.   

The exercise then asks the student to design a draft for an exhibition of work which is being produced for Assignment 5.

I have designed the exhibition so that the images are displayed on a curved wall. The images will be displayed in 3 columns, the middle row should be easily accessible by a wheelchair user. The images which will be framed A4 prints will have no glass in them, to allow the braille dots to be read.

2D overhead layout of gallery display for exercise 5-6

Exhibition design for exercise.

 

 

References 

CBS News, 2004. Abuse Photos II. CBS News. Available at: https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/abuse-photos-ii/ [Accessed October 3, 2019].
Anon, 2019. Iraq Prison Abuse Scandal Fast Facts. CNN. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/30/world/meast/iraq-prison-abuse-scandal-fast-facts/index.html [Accessed October 3, 2019].
Anon, John Tagg. PhotoPedagogy. Available at: https://www.photopedagogy.com/john-tagg.html [Accessed October 3, 2019].
Ruane, M., 2019. A grisly photo of a Saigon execution 50 years ago shocked the world and helped end the war. The Washington Post. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/02/01/a-grisly-photo-of-a-saigon-execution-50-years-ago-shocked-the-world-and-helped-end-the-war/ [Accessed October 3, 2019].
Anon, Saigon Execution | 100 Photographs | The Most Influential Images of All Time. Time. Available at: http://100photos.time.com/photos/eddie-adams-saigon-execution [Accessed October 3, 2019].
Walker, J.A., Context as a determinant of photographic meaning. Academia.edu. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/11911020/Context_as_a_determinant_of_photographic_meaning [Accessed September 21, 2019].

Disaster – Dropped Camera

On occasion, I have muscle and nerve spasms, most of the time nothing major occurs. This week was different while moving away after photographing a subject for Assignment 5, I suddenly and unexpectedly spasmed and dropped my camera and bag.

Whilst the bag should have protected everything, this time around, the bag split open and out tumbled everything. One camera, two lenses, assorted items and myself landed very roughly onto the ground.

Assessing the damage was heart breaking and now I have to procure a replacement.

 

Exercise 5.5 – Create A Slideshow

The exercise asks the student to prepare a Slideshow to present their ongoing work with Assignment 5. 

The exercise asks the student to consider a few points when creating the slideshow. 

  1. Is the Slideshow the most appropriate treatment for the work? 
  1. The length of the slideshow, how long will it run? 
  1. What relevant audio or textual material will accompany the images? 
  1. Consider the relevance of any music used? Ensure if music is used that it is available and suitable for use, and credit the artists. 

The exercise ensures the student that complex software such as Final Cut is not required and that the student should familiarise themselves with whatever software they plan to use. 

At first, I was tempted to use PowerPoint for the slideshow, but after looking at the application, I felt it did not meet my needs. I then considered Windows 10 Videomaker but found again that the software did not meet the requirements I had. In the end, I used Nero Video which I was familiar with and while it did not have all the refinements I wanted it suited the exercise. 

 Gathering more of the work together I decided to continue to use the alphabetical sequence as it fitted with the original document which started the project and guided the brief. 

After processing the images, I worked out a template for the images and the text and started to create the slideshow. I was heavily influenced by “Looking at the Land” curated by Andy Adams, which I viewed in the previous exercise. I really like the clean, clear layout and I felt it was suitable for the treatment of my work. 

Once I had the images in sequence within the application, I started to examine the look and design and tweaked the layout slightly. Then I watched the slideshow and changed the timings to allow more time for the viewer to read each image. 

After draughting and finalising a narration piece, I used Audacity and Lame to produce the narration. Slicing the narration into paragraphs which then allowed me to move them about to improve the timing and sequencing.  

Once I had changed the timing on the images to fit the narration better and again increase the amount of time for each image, which now also included a transition. I felt that there were still too many quiet moments in the slideshow, so I chose a piece of music available via creative commons, the piece was chosen because it met the requirements for a peaceful Celtic sound. 

Once again, I reviewed the slideshow adjusting the timings to suit what I wanted. Even in the final version, I am still not happy with the transitions, but it was one of the few which were not too over the top. 

The slideshow can be viewed below. 

 

Conclusion

On review, while the exercise has introduced the treatments of online exhibitions to me for my own work, I am not sure that it is the correct treatment for the Assignment. 

I feel that the presentation, being Audio/Video, does not meet the requirement of the brief, which is to make a number of accessible pieces which can be viewed and touched by individuals with visual impairments 

I will however not discount the concept of an online exhibition as it is a good way to show and display certain works.