Uni Reading List (Photography & Video)

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The 7 (out of 85) books I already own.

Last week, during my Uni interview, I asked for the reading list in advance and they provided.

There’s 85 books in total, 7 I already have and 3 which I can’t find.  I’ve made a public Amazon list so anyone interested can see what’s ahead or use the list for photo and video book recommendations.  Notwithstanding, the library should have most, if not all of these titles.

I’m not the best reader, and I suspect it will take a long time to get through them.  I should learn learn to read faster and find a logical order for them so knowledge can build progressively.

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Photographers Interview

IS
How would you describe your photography?
From
From “Rose Tinted”

I see things which other people perceive in the peripheral, things which have been discarded or overlooked.  I see beauty, in forgotten objects and enjoy photographing their decay and the environment where they are situated.  They are personal, expressive, they communicate, and they release a scream from inside.  One of the most important things with art photography is to highlight themes and ideals which people often struggle to talk about openly.

You’ve created various pieces of work, can you discuss the work and the motivation behind the images that you have made?

Over the past year, I have produced many photographs, the four core projects I’m most proud of are “Here I Am”, “Unicorn”, “…Broken” and “Semblance”.

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Here I Am (II)

Here I Am, consists 10 individual portraits of the immediate environment of the person.  Here I Am, invites you into the comfort zone, a portrait of an activity.  It’s voyeuristic; you cease to wonder who the person is and instead ask, what are they doing?

Unicorn was a platform to demonstrate unity across boundaries, and to challenge boundaries during and after the project.  It worked, and caused disgrace and offence from both professional and social friends.  This became a platform to discuss controversial art and people still suggest I shouldn’t enjoy it.  Who are they to think that? (See Unicorn, behind the scenes)

Unicorn (V)
Unicorn (V)

…Broken became a metaphor for how I felt at a particular time, rather than demonstrate the difference in the way people see things which was its intention.  The project’s theme and title was in conflict until I felt something I wanted to photograph.  In these images I wanted to convey the sense of my own inner conflict, the sense that I am broken and this became the overarching theme for the final photographs.

Semblance began during …Broken, and is used to show clarity and openness, this is who we are, without our façade, this is the real us, our inner beauty and innocence which we have deep inside.  I had previously described Semblance as an anti-portrait, but it’s more than that.  It shows what we hide, and what we hide from, even when we’re hiding from ourselves.  Semblance, is us behind our mask. (See also: Semblance II & Semblance III & Semblance VI)

Which photographers and artists have influenced your work and why?

I enjoy photographs by Francesca Woodman because they, also are her inner screams.  She photographs herself, yet obscured.  Like she’s reminding you she is there, yet not present.  In Why hasn’t everything already disappeared, Jean Bulleriad explains that once we label, or photograph, or even recognise something, it beings to disappear.  Sophie Calle, on the other hand documents her life meticulously, storing items for many years.  InExquisite Pain, she returns to photographs and past treasures from 15 years earlier, at which time she couldn’t bear to look at again for fear of that pain returning, and so she couldn’t violate its presentation.

Space², Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1978 1975-8 by Francesca Woodman 1958-1981
Space², Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1978 by Francesca Woodman

My personal favourites remain to be Robert Mapplethorpe, Helen Chadwick, and Susan Sontag, all of whom demonstrate the link between personal freedom, photography as art and willingness to create from their unique view of how reality is superimposed into our subconscious.

Of my own work, Here I Am is a favourite because it’s what people talk about the most.  I enjoy listening to people talk about photographs because they each see different things.  Here I Am, invites questions and that’s one of the purposes of why I create photographs.

An equal favourite is “Metadata” which states that we are all stripped and reduced to an equation.  Something which needs to be processed, we disappear only to be replaced by a copy or perception.  At the time of writing,Metadata has gone unnoticed, unquestioned which is a statement in its self.

I do hope readers enjoy my photographs, thanks for reading.

…Broken

Previously, I had decided to highlight that photographs cannot be stolen due to the method and creativity which underpins each photographer.

It is stimulating to take inspiration from another and recreate a derivative or new work of art.  What then is the difference between stealing or copying an idea or paying homage to another artist?

We all see the world in different ways and from the outset that was a core theme.

This project, enabled me to realise that just as I sometimes dismiss others photographic work, it’s ok for others to do the same of mine.  In fact, I encourage it.  This is just what I do, and there is a need to do it.  Who cares if it’s accepted or not?  It’s ok to photograph the mundane, the depressing and the state of our world today which for many is of personal routine and the uninteresting.  What then of destroying the artistic ideals of others when attempting to display an emotion.  Not an emotive image, simply shooting a replacement photograph to break the original idea.

I consider it impossible for viewers outside an extremely small collective to fully appreciate these photographs but different conclusions and questions may arise nevertheless.

We all see things in different ways, two different people can view the same object, or have an affinity for a thing, a person, an event or a way of living and process their experience differently, eliciting a difference in perspective.

The difference is in the way in which things are seen, not just visually but the way we see things mentally, and how we respond, both inside and out.  A humorous photograph may elicit a favourable response, an insulting photograph may cause offence and an emotional photograph may change a mood.   Does the photograph produce a fixed frame of mind for every person or do viewers create them for themselves?  The response to the same photograph is different for each person and it’s different if the viewer knows the photographer.  Insight is gained if the photographers’ temperament is known.

At the start of this project I knew that it would be challenging to combine ideas from 10 different artists and explored ways of harmonising the set to ensure that my presence is felt within the new photographs that I was creating.  That it may be too difficult to combine different ideas from different people and found myself exploring ways to harmonise them.  I never settled on an idea, initially it was to invade the photograph with my presence, with shadows, with fingerprints and even with my own blood.

A sweat, blood and tears overlay concept was considered to visually connect the images together, I found that this did not work as I wanted to convey that photography is more than what can be seen externally as photography really isn’t just about what you can see.

“Way’s of Seeing’s” theme was in conflict until I felt something I wanted to photograph.  I’ve not taken many photos lately, I’ve simply not been in the mood.  Life got to me and I began to shut down, piece by piece.  I became emotionally fractured, damaged and I ceased to be myself for a long time.  I was emotionally broken.  It’s what I felt, and who wants to take photographs at a time like that unless it’s a method to release pain and angst?  In these images I wanted to convey the sense of my own inner conflict, the sense that I am broken and this became the over-arching theme for the final photographs.

The more photographs I take and the critical photography theory I read such as Susan Sontag, Jean Baudrillard and other journals, the more I understand how to think about and use photography conceptually.  I photograph best when I’m in pain, and they are my best photographs.  Not unlike Sophie Calle who has said “Grief is inevitably a better subject than joy”, she argues. “When I’m happy I don’t photograph the moment to share with people on the wall of a museum. It doesn’t translate so well.”

It’s interesting, the more you get to know a person’s motivation for creating photographs, the more you see that reflected in their work.  Not just what’s in the frame, but in the way they create photographs and what people think about before even conceiving the photograph.

I’ve suffered with depression for a long time, I’ve tried medication but it doesn’t work well for me.  I can function though, I don’t need for anything, I work and more importantly, I play.  Who knows if it’s a genetic trait or the product of my terrestrial existence?  Depression is one of the driving forces for creating photographs and you may already understand that depression is a thread that runs though many of our great artists, I believe this is what attracts me to them.

It’s why I’m dismissive of some photography when presented with a sunset, or fantastical landscape, or macro of a small insect on a twig.  These are all technically perfect I’m sure but they just don’t make me feel anything.  My camera is an engine for me to express myself, not a tool to configure.  I don’t care about tack sharp images, I don’t obey the ‘rule of thirds’ I enjoy photographs which make me feel something, and I’m attempting to do the same with my own work.

My own work? – I often take down things, re-organise and dismiss my projects as worthless.  Sometimes I go for long periods without creating anything and leave gaps in places where there should be photosets.  People tell me my work is good, (I’m even qualified) yet I shun any praise because I do not believe it, when people tell me I have something to offer I tend to shut it out and stop taking photographs.

Low self-esteem, withdrawal, feelings of loneliness and worthlessness are all symptoms of depression.  Depressed people don’t function like ‘normal’ people and it’s incomprehensible to people who have never suffered it, you just can’t snap out of it – that would be too easy!

Yet, there I find strength, my inner self – the source of my creativity and if I were ever given the option to rid myself of this fucking disease I would pay harshly because my camera requires me to be this way.  It’s comforting to release myself to the camera (any camera) and let it flow on the rare occasions I do.  It’s not a therapy but it does allow me to see myself in a different light and it helps me to understand the world around me, it’s my way of seeing.

Consequently, these photographs have become very personal to me, even though they steal the idea and invade the visual aspect of others peoples photographs.  I couldn’t have created these photographs without first feeling something, and at the time I was broken.  The final photograph combines parts one and two of this project as it’s renamed to “…Broken”, completing the full set of twenty photographs, “Here I Am …Broken”.

I forgive myself for the erratic nature of my creativity, and I’m glad I’ve got this off my chest!

Ways of Seeing

In order to undertake additional research across a breadth of photographers and photography genres, a forthcoming project will “steal” the ideas of fellow students in the hope of providing insight into the way they and I perceive the same subject matter. The intention is to escape beyond my comfort zone and using foreign ideas may serve as a mechanism to pursue this.

An original intention of the project is to highlight that ideas cannot be stolen because the method and creativity which lies behind the artist is different to another. Images are stolen all the time on the internet, laws have recently been passed which attempt to provide compensation to an original artist whose ‘orphan works’ are stolen and used online (The Instagram Act). (Available at The National Archives)

I find it interesting that one can take inspiration from another and recreate a derivate or new work of art. What’s the difference between stealing or copying an idea or paying homage to another artist? Is there even a definition for this and would the victim or celebrated individual agree to the fact they’ve been ripped off Daily Post (2013) or respected? BBC (2009) .

We all see the world in different ways, and this may become the foundation of the project, the message I wish to portray, it’s purpose is to highlight that it’s possible to recreate without theft nor homage, just by simply seeing things in different ways. Berger (1972)

Ordinarily, people cannot learn new subjects, or develop in their skill set unless risks are taken and attempts are made to trial something new. For me, it is the reason for undertaking further education in photography.

The above image is a sample shot based on the idea of a retired mathematics teacher, who is undertaking further education in photography. The original idea of the student was to rearrange clothes pegs in precise and specific geometric patterns. I had not seen her original images nor spoke with her about her idea however, after arranging pegs into a geometric shape myself and taking a few shots, I was satisfied with the result. This increased my determination to use other people’s ideas for my own project and the development on my own part is to do so, without stealing, without homage and without offence. If offence is taken, it’s theirs to take.

I also wish to research the artists which my fellow students have researched as research is an area I am lacking. I am unfamiliar with so many photographers and artists; it’s difficult to appreciate both photographs and photographers. I hope that by researching their inspiration, at least eleven different photographers and/or genres I will benefit by enhancing my own understanding of photography while appreciating both the joy and difficulty in creating photographs.

I believe the project has a strong concept, which I can demonstrate, yet the challenge is to ensure the project is not simply a collection of random images based on an idea, or a collection of ideas. Even if the viewer does not understand, or care about the concept, they must find the final set of images aesthetically pleasing when presented together. They should speak for themselves without the need for introduction. Susan Sontag (1977) The thought of invading their ideas with my own photographs, featuring a part of me in some format appeals. I intended to conceptually belong within the picture, not just to sequestrate the idea.

Each photograph will use its own technique which may harm the visual impact of the overall project. For instance, an idea for a single image is to take dozens of photographs then rearrange them into a final image, not different to David Hockney’s photo collages. How could I unify this concept with the above image of pegs?

I welcome the challenge, not just for the additional research and burying myself in other peoples works, for my own research in understanding how very different concepts can belong together in conceptual thought.

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Calke Abbey

 

There is beauty and wonderful aesthetics to be found in the derelict, the mundane and the forgotten.

A photograph is just as much photons on a sensor as they are a picture, hung on the wall. Or a memory, and when taken in participation of an activity freeze that moment in time. Halting further decay, presenting the illusion of immortality.

Calke Abbey tells the story of the dramatic decline of a country house estate. Before the National Trust received ownership of the estate in 1985, most of the house had remained untouched since the 1880’s. Remedial work has been undertaken yet no restoration has been applied. The interiors are almost as they were presented in 1985, the decay of the building and its interiors are halted, not reversed.

Most subjects photographed are, just by virtue of being photographed, touched with pathos. An ugly or grotesque subject may be moving because it has been dignified by the attention of the photographer. A beautiful subject can be the object of rueful feelings, because it has aged or decayed or no longer exists. All photographs are momento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.

Susan Sontag, 1973


Calke Abbey 02 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 03 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 04 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 05 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 06 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 07 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 08 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 09 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 10 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 11 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 12 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 13 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 14 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 15 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 16 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 17 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 18 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 19 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 20 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 21 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 22 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 23 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 24 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 25 by Tom Robson Calke Abbey 26 by Tom Robson Oh-Deer,-by-Tom-Robson

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