A tad late with getting this uploaded. But attached is my assessment presentation along with images of the notes I referenced from.
As per my current role within the fundraising group, I have written out the first draft for the exhibition’s Kickstarter fundraiser, and it reads as follows:
By donating to this Kickstarter, with whatever amount you can or wish to donate, you are fundamentally supporting a group of talented and hardworking individuals, in what is a crucial period of their development as a photographer and artist in a professional context. Of course, we have set out rewards as incentives; rewards that include a range of beautiful one-off signed prints [INSERT OTHER REWARD] – but ultimately, your donations are worth far more than their face monetary value or the reward accredited to such. What they are, then, is a unwritten declaration of faith and trust in us and our work. They are the catalysts that will allow us to put on a fantastic graduation exhibition, in what will arguably be the biggest moment of our careers to date. A moment helped along by the confidence and faith you have entrusted and subsequently elicited within us all through your show of support here. And that is the greatest reward of them all. Thank you for your support! It means a lot.
I put this in front of the group and received positive feedback from those who actually bothered to reply.
Following my work with Martell, I have further been contacted by Sportsdirect regarding a paid collaboration with them. Unfortunately, as posting the work to my instagram page is a vital part of the collaborative work, I have chosen not to accept this particular offer. The campaign (sports and workout related) does not pertain to my content and following whatsoever. To post such content would very likely drive a lot of followers away and with my last post also being a sponsored post, I feel it is too much too soon. Regardless, here’s the email:
Since my last post, I have taken, edited and uploaded my final image for Martell. Here it is:
Martell has since approved the image, as per the following email:
And here’s a link to the sponsored instagram post: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc7Qsu3hdAB/?taken-by=whiteglare
I had a lot of fun shooting the image. The original image (below) required fairly extensive digital manipulation, relative to my knowledge and experience with such. The glass containing the cocktail was evidently leaning to oneside, something which I hadn’t noticed in-camera (I blame frozen hands, face, ears, everything). With thanks to my Major Project’s interest in implementing digital manipulations and thus my increasing proficiency with Photoshop (I’m currently working through the official class book) I was able to get the job done.
I also created the illusion of a flurry of snow falling within the background of the image (see first image) using the following guide: https://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-effects/photoshop-snow/
Page 47, Chapter 4, Human Character as a Vital Lie. Ernest Becker’s, The Denial of Death. It begins with a quote. A quote from one, Jose Ortega Gasset, and it reads as follows:
‘Take a stock of those around you and you will hear them talk in precise terms about themselves and their surroundings, which would seem to point to them having ideas of the matter. But start to analyse those ideas and you will find that they hardly reflect in any way the reality to which they appear to refer, and if you go deeper you will discover that there is not even an attempt to adjust the ideas to this reality. Quite the contrary: through these notions the individual is trying to cut off any personal visions of reality, of his own very life. For life is the start of chaos in which one is lost. The individual suspects this, but he is frightened at finding himself face to face with this terrible reality, and tries to cover it over with a curtain of fantasy, where everything is clear. It does not worry him that his “ideas” are not true, he uses them as trenches for the defence of his existence, as scarecrows to frighten away reality’
Jose’s insight struck me. It hit home, for I have suffered a great deal at the grappling, gauging hands that punch up through the green grass, and attempt to pull you into the bleak world of pestilence and horror that lies just the other side of its veneer. Just the other side of our delusions. I’m not one for labels, but I cannot deny the fact that I am a nihilist. And it is my experience with this very fact, that I look to explore within my Major Project; The Last of the Material Men. The Last of the Material Men will provide the narrative framework and setup the parameters and guidelines for my images, a function that I feel is vitally important in insuring my project remains engaged and focused on its context. This is a narrative that will not be dictated to my audience, however its presence will be evidenced in the visual cohesion of the work and the narrative such forms. With TLOTMM, the protagonist will be, as implicitly suggested by the title, the last biological human on earth; left behind after a technological rapture, in which masses uploaded their consciousness to the ‘cloud’. Though, as aforementioned, this will not be dictated. This setting functions as a metaphor for the extreme social disconnect felt at the hands of nihilism; the sense of being out of touch, utterly alone yet seemingly but in arms reach of everyone around you… A dreadful sense of being left out, of being forgotten, with no hope of assimilating, no hope of making it back to ‘normality’. It will also, as is the case with all ‘post-apocalyptic’ scenarios, place scrutiny on the legitimacy of social institutions, the mythologised everyday and that of which we place importance or hold weight in our lives (money, status, material possessions, petty grudges/arguments/complaints etc.) – again, something I felt completely unable to assimilate with or understand during my darkest days with nihilism. Less didactyly, I hope to varying extents, to elicit a sense of the isolation, despair, absurdity, ineffability, confusion, betrayal and deceit I felt during the long days, weeks and months I spent in bed. Within the last frame, it will be shown that the images are in fact self-portraits taken by the protagonist, the setting in which this reveal takes place, will throw into question the true nature of the protagonist’s situation. Neither confirming that these are images created within his fantasied world, or the world as is. Though it will be weighted towards the latter. For this is much as is my daily experience with nihilism as it stands today; a perennial agitated flux between the world of absurdity and meaninglessness, and a committal to meaning-finding through my photography. My creations acting as, as too for the protagonist, ‘scarecrows to frighten away reality’. The protagonist’s world, then, being in my eyes no different, no more bleak, no more meaningless than our own. His situation an aggrandization of my own, of course, but at its core, no dissimilar. But I do not wish for this project to be all doom and gloom. For the protagonist’s committal to meaning-finding—to finding beauty in life’s absurdity—is the very thing that had me fall back in love with the world. And so it can be seen, that this project looks to mine the totality of my experience with nihilism.
Lighting and posing test shot
After struggling for a small eternity to exteriorise what it was I wanted the context of my Major Project to be, I am now left with the task of extensively researching the contents of its new focus. For I have spent the last couple of months, banging my head against the wall, trying to assimilate the type of images I wished to produce with a project interested in the sham of the ego. After much head banging, and the realisation of just how difficult such would be to achieve (with thanks to my struggles with my dissertation on the same subject), I was forced to abandon ship. And so, following is my updated plan for the coming months:
December – January:
Extensive research into the project’s themes and interest, namely:
- Social Disconnect
- Post-apocalyptic films/books/stories etc.
- Absurdity (philosophy)
- Cinematic photography/photographers (Crewdson, Lorca Dicorcia, Jeff Wall etc.)
- Films, TV shows, Shorts
- Editing techniques: Compositing, Distortion, Toning etc. (Photoshop, Lightroom)
- Lighting research
- Continue shooting test images (lighting, location, posing, props, mood etc.)
- Initial location scouting
January – May:
Long production period:
- Contextual research will continue during this period
- Aesthetic research will continue during this period
- Finalising of first image plans
- Finalising of props, clothing, equipment etc.
- Finalising of first shoot locations
- Continued test shoots
- Begin shooting first final images
- Peer critiquing sessions (outside of uni)
- Allow time for the images to develop organically and for adjustments and amendments
- Consider outcome (publication, print size, installation etc.)
- Mounting (end of period)
Library literary search:
My plan to gain work and opportunities through a social media presence, as outlined within my submission for Ori for the Art World brief, has again proved effective. Today I was contacted by cognac (a type of Brandy) distillery, Martell – who wish to work with me in a ‘paid collaboration’, which is a roundabout way of commissioning me to take images that promote their products/business. I will update in subsequent posts as the opportunity develops.
AutoPolaroid, 1969-71. Dye diffusion transfer print (Polaroid film)
Looming over the viewer with a crazed, glinting fixation, is the rather unnerving sight of Lucas Samaras. As if a big bristly chinned baby has picked up his mother’s polaroid and accidentally fired a shot, Samaras has thrown caution to the wind and taken his headshot from beneath – the ‘double-chin’ angle, if you will. It is a subject-viewer perspective that we might only expect to find ourselves caught in the midst of in moving image; as the victim or victim-to-be of some heinous crime, such as Woody found himself at the hands of Sid and his new-found sun manipulation torture tool, the magnifying glass. Looking through Samaras’ work, it is clear he is not a man who adheres to conventions, with perhaps his only rule being that there aren’t any. Samaras’ series, AutoPolaroid, marks an interesting moment in his work. The moment in which his psychological paintings and more-so conventional photographic imagery that preceded the body, merged and exploded in a profusion of colour, patterns and distortions.
Much to the disapproval of Polaroid, Samaras had discovered that the emulsion of Polaroid prints remained malleable and therefore, easily manipulable, for a period of time after exposure. A characteristic that he employed in bringing the psychotic nature of his paintings, and indeed a level of a somewhat painterly aesthetic, to his photographic work. Though a lot of Samaras’ work is a little too abstract for what I intend to produce, I am particularly fond of his self-portrait taken within the kitchen and subsequently distorted with a needle or something similar (below, top left). The end result being nothing short of a narcotic trip of sorts. But more specifically, I am very fond of his use of lighting. From left to right, we begin with a soft incandescent light, filling the sink and imprinting the gentle diffused shadows of pots and pans onto the wall. Samaras, with a hand behind his back, then splatters the scene with a harsh blue light, that can be seen bursting from his back as his front bursts forward.
This seemingly inconspicuous light, completely changes the image, but only in the way Samaras’ has implemented it. Had it been off to the side, out of view of the camera, it would have been too diffused and provided nothing more than its colour. Holding it behind himself and projecting it onto the wall with proximity, bestows the scene an entirely different context. Samaras has objectified the light, offered it as something material. It is important to remember such; that lighting is more than just an aesthetic choice, that it carries a context, and when used creatively such as Samaras has done, it can become an object in its own right and weight.