Introductional thought

For this assignment, out of the two options, I’ve chosen to photograph the unseen, the unphotographable. Atmospheres, ideas, thoughts, feelings seem the obvious ones to attempt to depict. But what about status and situations, phases in time, stages in being or becoming. Wandering off in numerous thoughts for this assignment, I’m trying to get used keeping a notebook, an idea grew about life and death, but not as fixed stages, but the phase on the edge of either.

 

Submission Text

Seeing the harsh life in Spain, the thought and execution became more clear in my plans. The ubiquitous draught and heat are threatening every life, constantly. Stray dogs do not die of hunger but heat and thirst.  Always on the edge of living and dying. It’s beyond survival; it’s not an activity; it’s an imperturbability in being or not.

Everything crushed by the sun. Bleached, crumbled, desperately in search of moisture. Animals take huge risk finding water, old dwellings seem to powderise in the sun towards their end but holding on in solitude, small cantinas seem to balance on the edge of existence for decades, never knowing and hardly noticeable if and when it is over. It is that typical phase on edge; it’s not the dying nor the living; it’s almost a form of resignation in between. Impossible to live, unwilling to die. An orchard in neglect, abandoned, left to die, most pomegranate-trees have given up years ago, some hold on with the utmost effort and persistence, a few green leaves are the result of all their effort without the promised support of human irrigation and care of the land.

More then anything, I sense the presence of the scenes from the images of Robert Capa of the Spanish Civil war (Magnum Photos). The earth and vegetation breathe that history—the dry gravel ground, the faded colours, even in monochrome. History becomes weirdly touchable in this ever hard-fought land, so easily neglected again.

Image series

Series brief: Now implement one of your ideas. Aim for a tightly edited and visually consistent series of 7–10 photographs.

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Bibliography

anomiepete (2020). One day, one photo. [online] One day, one photo. Available at: https://oneaday.photo.blog/ [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Arts, O.C. of the (2013). Student work uncovered – Peter Mansell. [online] Vimeo. Available at: https://vimeo.com/66225200 [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020]. Student work uncovered – Peter Mansell from Open College of the Arts on Vimeo. Jesse Alexander and Sharon Boothroyd talk about Peter Mansell’s work for Photography 2:Landscape. In the video they refer to the work of John Davies.

Barrett, T. (2000). Criticizing photographs : an introduction to understanding images. Mountain View, Calif.: Mayfield Pub. Co.

Botha, D. (2010). Blurb Books. [online] Blurb.com. Available at: https://www.blurb.com/books/5578908-please-sit [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Davies, J. (2012). John Davies Photographer – home page. [online] Uk.com. Available at: http://www.johndavies.uk.com/ [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Deutscheboersephotographyfoundation.org. (2020). John Davies. [online] Available at: https://www.deutscheboersephotographyfoundation.org/en/collect/artists/john-davies.php [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Magnum Photos (2016). Robert Capa and the Spanish Civil War – Magnum Photos. [online] Magnum Photos. Available at: https://www.magnumphotos.com/newsroom/conflict/robert-capa-spanish-civil-war/.

Mansell, P. (2010). Paralysis Unseen by Peter Mansell | Blurb Books UK. [online] Blurb. Available at: https://www.blurb.co.uk/b/6944225-paralysis-unseen [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Open College of the Arts (2013). Ring Road: by OCA student Dewald bothaYouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z8nFG4WGbg [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Open College of the Arts (2015). Student work uncovered: Dewald BothaYouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3N1Twb7reg [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Pete’s Photographic Essay Website. (2016). Pete’s Photographic Essay Website. [online] Available at: https://clkpete.weebly.com/ [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

The Open College of the Arts. (2013). Peter Mansell | The Open College of the Arts. [online] Available at: https://www.oca.ac.uk/weareoca/photography/peter-mansell/ [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

The Photographers’ Gallery (2018). John Davies Interview: Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2008YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIOua8NnlVM [Accessed 25 Sep. 2020].

Hunger, F. (n.d.). Kati Horna | nothere. [online] Available at: http://www.irmielin.org/nothere/kati-horna/ [Accessed 17 Oct. 2020].

International Centre of Photography (2020). Gerda Taro. [online] International Center of Photography. Available at: https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/gerda-taro?all/all/all/all/0 [Accessed 17 Oct. 2020].

Magnum Photos (2016). Robert Capa and the Spanish Civil War – Magnum Photos. [online] Magnum Photos. Available at: https://www.magnumphotos.com/newsroom/conflict/robert-capa-spanish-civil-war/.

Reflection (before submission/feedback)

Before sending my assignment to my tutor, hereby my reflection on this assignment.

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills
Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills

In this exercise, I searched for a longer period of time, perhaps too long, for a cohesive set of images that could depict the chosen idea. I found it difficult to create a set of over 7 images that are visually consistent. At last I managed using more or less the same area, the same light however still maintaining variation in the subject of viewpoint. I tried the late afternoon sun for more drama and used high apertures for sufficient depth, the foreground and more specific the dry ground was essential. Not every day was suitable to create consistency in the images, several shooting days were needed. At the end, I think the set is visually cohesive, a nice variation of subject and variation in use of depth. Colours are well balanced throughout the series.

Quality of Outcome
Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, with discernment

In an all-digital assignment, my log, jpegs and accompanying text are the variations. I tried to maximize the quality within the limits given in a cohesive style and non-default weblog, visuals returning in the text file letter type and layout.  As suggested on numerous occasions, I tried to minimize the text and stay within the limits.

Demonstration of Creativity
Imagination, experimentation, invention, personal voice

As agreed, I developed seven ideas, explored a few of them, costing me a massive amount of time. Every time I got stuck, not least because of the corona restrictions and consequent demotivation. Lack of freedom caused more problems then I would have guessed at the beginning. After an idea, I tried to be lead by local situations as I picked them in advance. I started the assignment with more shocking images of animals either dead or barely living but the quality did not make it at the end. The series in the dying orchard feel very close to me at least, away from my usual city/Amsterdam style of subjects, a lack of people, almost therapeutically working in these abandoned areas. Overall, not stunningly groundbreaking, lack of freedom and doubts got in the way, but visually pleased with the cohesion and consistency which caused most of my problems during this assignment.

Context
Reflection, research (learning logs)

Most of the research was done in the previous adjacent course project. I try to write less and read more. I have some difficulties to research after a personal idea. Usually, I let myself lead by external inspiration but in this assignment, the ideas developed more or less autonomous. I had to research backwards almost. At that point I found myself lacking the knowledge to “know” where to look for reference in “homage” or inspirational work, hence the inspiration was mostly intrinsic. During my work on this assignment, I tried to emphasize the drama of the land itself and how timeless it seems to be and how it can be connected to an endless stage of not living and not dead either. Images by Robert Capa, Kati Horna or Gerda Taro are images shot with a completely different context and style, but the land is so unmistakably, I had to emphasize it in this series.