Tag Archives: exercise

Part 2, Exercise 2.5 Text in Art

The exercise asks that 12 to 24 brief observations are made during a short walk or journey in a similar manner to Richard Long’s ‘Textworks’. Once the observations have been gathered they are to be presented in the learning log. The student is to examine the manner in which the text is presented as a means of expression. The student is referred to Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger, and Mark Titchner

In this journey to and from the dentist, I made the observations onto a notepad; these notes were then typed up at the end of the journey; they are presented as follows

1.

Cars
Bridge

Bridge
Cars

2.

Road flows to
Field flows to
Shore flows to
Sea flows to 
Land flows to
Mountains flows to
Sky

 

3.

Cyclists bright yellow jacket
Against brown and grey buildings

4.

Statues and seagulls gaze down impassively as I walk slowly by.

 

5.

Volcanic Stone Crags
Tower over the city

6.

New buildings
Old Buildings
Stopped clock right twice a day

7.

Three colours of grey for the pavement hopscotch all the way to the hospital
Happy tourists, unimpressed locals

 

8

Sun has gone, rain has come. Faces looking down at phones
Wet pavement reflects shiny shoes.

 

9.

Amongst the forest of high rise buildings, trees stretch for the morning light

 

10.

Dark street. Dead end
Bright light. Dentist.

 

11.

Edinburgh street
Multitude of Windows
An ambulance rushes by
A million points of reflected light

 

12.

Georgian church on the corner
Graveyard becomes a festival market
4 beggars outside
Church sign says try praying

 

13.

Overlooked by the castle
3 red buses
3 blue bus
Tram swishes by
1 white bus
Green bus mine

 

14.

Pass ancient graveyard
People buried halfway up a wall

 

15.

Princes street distance
Hotel, column, the disgrace
Ignored for the Ferris wheel

 

16.

Kaleidoscope of colours
Parked tour buses
Behind grows a park
Filled with bushes and the displaced.

 

17.

Meadowbank
The building declared Art in 15 feet high white letters
Inside insurance and taxes are adjusted
Willowbrae, Flats contents out on the street, the mattress stains a blotch amongst the colours
Home of the part worn tyre sale.

 

18.

We pass the edges of the city
Poor pushed out to here
New construction mixes with old graffiti
Who will last longest?

 

19.

The Jewel
Identikit houses, abandoned Asda shopping trolley on 2nd roundabout
The bus takes both lanes on the 3rd roundabout

 

20.

Wallyford
New houses go up
Gardens are landscaped
The communal pond fills up with rain and groundwater
But the iron framework of the dog racing track continues to rust, never finished

 

21.

Tranent
Stuck in a traffic jam, or part of the traffic jam?
Looking out of the bus window, I see
Frustrated drives gripping steering wheels or wiping mouths
A happy dog walks by.

 

22.

Mamerry
Drive slowly it says
School ahead it says
Slow down they say
Man in a van tailgates the bus.
Their hurry over everyone else.
Fields
Industrial park
Fie(sheep)ldes
Hedgerow and bus stops fly past
Express bus now.

 

23.

Haddington
New house’s float on a bed of brick and concrete, a dream is born it advertises.
Market town, market street, bus stop
Fatigue burns my body, nerve pain drives thousands of fishhooks into my legs pulling flesh. My feet burn, hot coals, shoulders push against crutches; step, breathe, rest, repeat

 

all the way home.

Part 2 Exercise 2.3

In this exercise, we are instructed to read Sean O’Hagan’s article on the 1975 New Topographics exhibition and watch a video of Lewis Baltz. We are then asked to write down responses to the work of any of the photographers mentioned in the O’Hagan article and thoughts on typological approaches.

O’Hagens Article

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/feb/08/new-topographics-photographs-american-landscapes

O’Hagen examines the influence of William Jenkins’ 1975 exhibition, where he considers the work exhibited to be the linchpin in a turning point in Landscape photography. Jenkins Exhibition brought together a number of photographers who knew each other and who had influenced each other but the exhibition should not be considered as a “collective”. These ‘New Topographics’ allowed photographers to shift their approach of documenting the landscape. Instead of a capturing the romanticised view of the American Landscape, this approach focused instead on the changes made by man on the environment and on how society was exploiting the landscape and the environment.

By focusing on the man-made changes and the encroaching urbanisation and suburbanisation of the land, they documented the unspoiled wilderness of the ‘new frontier’ of Adams and O’Sullivan which was now being sullied and destroyed by the construction of water towers, parking lots, fuelling stations and roadside diners and drive-throughs.

The “New Topograhics” approach of constructing a narrative and vision by placing the image within the frame and isolating it allowed the geometric shape of the structure to be viewed as a shape and to show the viewer something which they regularly see but ignore. By then repeating the same view, angle and post production it shows the rhythmic shape of the narrative, enhancing it bringing to view the things constructed by man that man then ignores.

The ‘New Topograhics” approach can be identified in works such as ‘Ed Ruschas’ “Every building on Sunset Strip”. While this work does not sit tightly with the aesthetic approach outlined by ‘Bernd and Hilla Becher’ it does present a social view of anonymity and abstraction.

Closer to the Becher’s aesthetic and mentioned in O’Hagens article are the works of Frank Gohlke, Robert Adams, Stephen Shore, Lewis Baltz, Nicholas Nixon, Andreas Gurtsky and the aforementioned Bechers. These photographers wanted to create a family of motifs, a pattern of experiences which the viewer experiences sequentially as they view a network of photographs of objects which have been divorced from their original purpose and everyday function.

Andreas Gurtsky.

Gurtsky is a student of Bernd and Hilla Becher and has cultivated the aesthetic response of the Anonymous Sculpture. Gurtsky tries to draw the viewer away from the transparent notion of representation by purposefully avoiding context and association.

Gurtsky uses a system of rigorous  procedural rules; standardised format and ratio, near identical lighting and a consistent approach to colour, which is a step away from the Becher’s restricted use of black and white photography, as does his use of a higher vantage point which creates a fantasy world, full of human creation but without the human representation.

While Gurtsky could be interpreted as cold and unfeeling, it can be seen that even within the frame he uses the technique of rhythm and repetition to present his view. ‘Rhein II’ is a prime example of this.

Frank Gohike

Gohike as a contemporary of the Bechers, worked on landscapes where man-made constructions competed with nature. He examined how this competition created a frame through which could be seen the way that man has marked the landscape with his own constructions. Grohike frames this aesthetic so that for the most part the suburban or industrial landscape stretches off into the horizon, leaving little room for nature. This scale creates an imbalance in the viewer and questions the viewer’s perceptions of the items within the frame. ‘Grain Elevator and Lightning Flash, Lamesa, Texas, 1975’ is a prime example of Grohike’s work. Here he uses the monochromatic zone approach and values,  which is characteristic of the work of Ansel Adams, to give depth to the scene, but unlike Adams, Grohike focuses on the man-made changes which have created the new landscape.

Like Gurtsky, Grohike for the most part does not represent people within the frame, instead choosing to represent the landscape as a fluid and dynamic relationship with the forces acting upon it, whether they be man-made or natural.

 

References

The Guardian. 2018. New Topographics: photographs that find beauty in the banal | Art and design | The Guardian. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/feb/08/new-topographics-photographs-american-landscapes. [Accessed 03 July 2018].

Media Art Net | Ruscha, Ed: Every Building on the Sunset Strip. 2018. Media Art Net | Ruscha, Ed: Every Building on the Sunset Strip. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/works/sunset-strip/. [Accessed 03 July 2018].

Tate. 2018. ‘The Rhine II’, Andreas Gursky, 1999 | Tate . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/gursky-the-rhine-ii-p78372. [Accessed 03 July 2018].

Andreas Gursky | home. 2018. Andreas Gursky | home. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.andreasgursky.com/en. [Accessed 03 July 2018].

Places Journal. 2018. Frank Gohlke: Thoughts on Landscape. [ONLINE] Available at: https://placesjournal.org/article/frank-gohlke-thoughts-on-landscape/. [Accessed 03 July 2018].

Photography and the Limits of the Document Symposium: video recordings | Tate. 2018. Photography and the Limits of the Document Symposium: video recordings | Tate. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/photography-and-limits-document#open240431. [Accessed 03 July 2018].

YouTube. 2018. Photographer Donovan Wylie on his Outposts series – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQekhfX73zE. [Accessed 03 July 2018].

YouTube. 2018. Photographer Donovan Wylie on the Maze series and his influences – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naoxP-iLvqU. [Accessed 03 July 2018].

Exercise 1.6 – The Contemporary Abyss

In this exercise. We are instructed to read Simon Morleys Essay ‘Staring into the contemporary abyss’, so that we can have an overview of the sublime within visual culture.

http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/staring-contemporary-abyss
We are then asked to choose a body of work that best explores the sublime and then write a least 300 words on how the chosen work relates to the sublime.

I wanted to avoid any of the works mentioned in my previous entry on the sublime, so using the initial image of Albert Speer’s ‘Light Dome’(1937) from Morley’s essay. I reviewed a number of images from the Nuremberg Rally all of which originate from the Nazi Propaganda film “Festliches Nürnberg”

I decided to use the sequence of Images from ‘Cathedral of Light’ a short essay on the rare photographs website about the rally.

In the early eighteenth century Joseph Addison described the notion of the sublime as something that ‘fills the mind with an agreeable kind of horror’. Edmond Burke went further describing the sublime using terms like ‘vastness’ and ‘terror’ as opposed to ‘balance’, ‘colour’ and ‘smoothness’ for beauty. These terms describe the sublime as an aesthetic form which makes the viewer or reader feel off balance and pushed into an uncomfortable feeling.

sublime - Speer - COA 7

The images within ‘Cathedral of light’ do just that. They go straight to the pit of the stomach and pull making the viewer feel both overawed and horrified at the same time.

Albert Speer was the architect for the Third Reich and using the power of film and television, he designed and built their vision of the future in these rallies. His design for this rally in 1937 consisted of 130 search lights pointed skyward to create a series of columns, these columns not only reached far into the sky but could be seen for miles around. Their message was that the Third Reich was not only so powerful that it could turn night into day but that they had to power to reach into heaven itself. They served as a back light and a wall behind Hitler where he would be displayed in a mystical and ceremonial way.

sublime - Speer - COA 6

sublime - Speer - COA 5
Each image demonstrates Speer’s design, which demonstrates the subtle way that Speer used Architecture, Technology and Art as a way of showing how the sublime could be used as a powerful tool by an authoritarian state.

sublime - Speer - COA 4

Speer pulled lights away from the Luftwaffe just for this ceremony, these lights would later be used in wartime where they would spear an aircraft in their column and point the anti aircraft guns at the craft. When this happened it almost certainly signed the death warrant for the aircrew aboard the plane.

The lights here however show that the sublime was used to impress the audience with a show of power and mysticism. This use of power through art makes the viewer uncomfortable not only because of the subject of the images (Nazis) but the way in which the images push the viewer onto the back foot through use of Landscape as a power.

References

Staring into the contemporary abyss | Tate. 2018. Staring into the contemporary abyss | Tate. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/staring-contemporary-abyss. [Accessed 16 March 2018].

Rare Historical Photos. 2018. The Cathedral of Light of the Nazi rallies, 1937. [ONLINE] Available at: https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/nazi-rally-cathedral-light-c-1937/. [Accessed 16 March 2018].

Cathedral of light – Wikipedia. 2018. Cathedral of light – Wikipedia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_of_light. [Accessed 16 March 2018].

History Learning Site. 2018. Albert Speer – History Learning Site. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/nazi-germany/nazi-leaders/albert-speer/. [Accessed 16 March 2018].

 

 

 

Exercise 1.5 Transitions

My starting point for this exercise was Turners Bell Rock lighthouse. A painting that I had time to examine while once waiting for a job interview. I was very taken with the waves and the way that Turner has worked the light within the scene to create drama.

I thought about how the lighthouse looked on calm days and how that would make a comparison and a transition from one scene to another.

It is advised by the text that before undertaking this exercise to jump ahead and read the text for Assignment six as this will be the cumulative work taking in points for all along the course. As the subject for Assignment six may be influenced by my choice in this exercise I want to ensure that I choose a subject which can not only be personal to me but will stand out.

I noted a number of ideas and what the possible causes of the transitions within the scene may be, then I had the opportunity to have a chat with my tutor who was able to help clarify my choices and options.

 

  1. The Royal Mile, this street is in almost constant change as it switches between seasons and events. There are numerous transitions going on; as the locals move between the remaining artefacts’of previous events as well as the tourist churn, weather and big events like the festival and the fringe where local people are pushed into the side streets to get away from the ongoing performances in the Royal Mile itself.
  2. Tantalon Castle from across the bay., this ruined castle sits atop a cliff overlooking a tidal bay. The transitions I was thinking of are, light/dark, weather and the sky.
  3. Dunbar Bridge, there is a small concrete bridge which crosses a river, the river itself is part of a tidal bay and the ends of the bridge are submerged at high tide. The transitions I was thinking of are tide height, light/dark, weather, usage of the bridge and position of the bridge as part of the overall bay.
  4. Edinburgh East End from Calton Hill, Calton Hill overlooks the St. James development area which has recently been demolished and work is ongoing to replace it with a large hotel. Here I was thinking of the transition of the building, the workers, the cranes and all the surrounding parts of the development as the building goes up.
  5. My back garden, as a disabled student this is the easiest idea, the ongoing season changes and planting changes which would happen in the garden over the spring and summer seasons.
  6. Edinburgh and its social balance, I have been reading recently people’s reactions to a planned development in a part of Edinburgh. The development will destroy a local venue used for live music performances and replace it with student accommodation and a hotel.

After discussion with my tutor, I had decided that I would like to continue long of the lines of social politics that I started to explore during my “Context and Narrative” course. I plan to examine the divides in society in Edinburgh through a series of Landscapes. Trying to capture the transitions with in the scene of the class divisions and the protest against some of the gentrification of areas which are ongoing.

Exercise 1.4 What is a photographer

In the first part of the exercise the task is to read de Zayas’ essay Photography and Artistic Photography (de Zayas, 1913) and after reading, to summarise the key points made by de Zayas.

The next task in the exercise is the note personal responses to de Zayas’ point of view and to consider whether the questions he raises are still relevant today.

The final task is, as practitioners, to think about where we stand on the main issue raised by the essay.

de Zayas begins his essay by stating

‘Photography is not Art, but photography can be made to be Art’

He then splits photographers into two main groups and expresses his view on the differences between the two groups that he has defined as photography and artistic photography. In a nutshell, form and objectivity versus creativity.

Photography in the first form, from de Zayas’ point of view, is a process where the photographer captures the actual state, a representation without emotion.

In the second form which de Zayas describes as Artistc-Photogrpahy is a process where the photographer uses their emotions within the representation as a means of expression, to represent more than what can be physically seen within the scene at the first glance.

de Zayas demonstrates his point of view by using two established artists of the time; Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz. de Zayas considers Steichen to be an artist whose work expresses ‘the perfect fusion of the subject and the object’. Stieglitz is considered as being in the process of eliminating the subject in a prescribed Form in order to seek out the ‘pure expression of the object’.

These two groups can sit happily side by side however, the artist can move between the camps as they see fit.

Is de Zayas’ points of view still relevant today?

de Zayas was a Dadaist and at times looked for structure within Art; as William Bohn points out, in his article ‘The Abstract Vision of Maruis de Zayas’, de Zayas used an algebraic formulae to try and demonstrate the human spirit and the thought processes of the artist.

de Zayas’ article was looking at the new forms of photography created due to Eastman’s development of the roll film. This development moved photography from where the photographer had to carry a dark room with them to this new form where images could be captured on ‘plastic’. This new plastic age meant an expansion in how photographs were taken and how a photographer could work. It was no longer the realm of the rich, photography had become a artform that everyone could be involved in.

When the article was written there was a definite divide in what was being considered as ‘art’ and what was not. Photography was still in its infancy and still being used by artists to capture scenes that they could paint later it was still seen as ‘not art’. It was still to ‘instant’ a form for it to be considered as creative.

The idea that photography is ‘not art’ would be challenged only a few years after this article was published as the world moved on, technology and skills advanced and picture making was freed through roll film and new technologies within cameras and lenses.

Now with the digital age and advanced camera technologies, the lines between photography and art are blurred, which makes it, in my own view, very difficult to separate it into only two distinct categories. Especially with the manipulation of images, moving images and digitally created art pieces, now even

something as simple as a selfie with a camera phone comes with a flurry of filters, add-ins and instant adaptions.

As a practitioner where do I stand on this issue?

Where I stand on the issue depends on the brief that I am working to. It may be a direct commission to capture and record an event, something which does not require that an overall artistic viewpoint or changes to the image, unless requested in the brief.

It may be a commission which requires or benefits from an artistic point of view and this would be sought by the person or persons making the request for the commission.

In my own work I look for different points of view and angles as a way of expressing myself, it may be that a simple recording of an event is all I want, or I may want to put my ‘personal representation’ as de Zayas describes it into the piece.

I do have to say that I did find some of what de Zayas wrote as quite disturbing; he expresses in the essay ‘Photography and Photography and Artistic Photography’ some points of view which can be interpreted as racist and white supremacist. His view that proper art can only be created and understood by White Europeans as they are ‘the latest is evolution and consequently the most advanced’ is just wrong and I have to take a personal stand against his view.

Bibliography

de Zayas, Marius (1913) Photography and Artistic Photography http://www.camramirez.com/pdf/DI_Week6_PhotoAndArt.pdf [Accessed 07 March 2018].

The Abstract Vision of Marius de Zayas on JSTOR . 2018. The Abstract Vision of Marius de Zayas on JSTOR . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3050029#?seq=10#page_scan_tab_contents#page_scan_tab_contents#page_scan_tab_contents#page_scan_tab_contents#page_scan_tab_contents#page_scan_tab_contents#page_scan_tab_contents#page_scan_tab_contents#page_scan_tab_contents#page_scan_tab_contents. [Accessed 07 March 2018].

Anon, 2016. Man Ray: Writings on Art. Tate Publishing.

Part 1 Exercise 1.1

In this, the first exercise, we are tasked to draw a rough sketch of a landscape or describe and make notes of a landscape. Either way the exercise is to examine the preconceptions about landscape that I may have and then to review these preconceptions to see how they fit with the reality of landscape and Art.

While I went straight to reviewing images from Turner and Constable before the course material started I had already started to realised that I had a number of preconceptions. When the course material arrived and I started this exercise I realised that these preconceptions can easily be challenged and some of the “rules” that I instantly thought of can be broken. At this point no rules are really set in concrete and this course should help me challenge myself.

What I sketched was a simple view looked over a road and off into the distance, I could see people, movement, a fixed foreground, deep depth perception as the view moved off towards the horizon.

I can see that straight away I fixed the horizon in the middle of the view and that this itself is one of my main preconceptions which I shall have to break.

The exercise also asks that I write a few lines on why we chose to study this course and what we hope to learn from it.

I chose landscape as I wanted to continue to challenge myself; I had just completed my last level 1 course (Context and Narrative) and I enjoyed the challenge of that course and I felt that I was time that I stepped up. Personally, I am fascinated by landscape artists and I want to learn all that I can about the style, technique and challenges of not only putting the countryside into frame but also seascape, architecture, cityscape and the combination of these together. I want to see how I express myself through this work and help strengthen and expand my voice as an artist.