Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Self_portrait (cont.)

A few more thoughts about the self-portrait project I'm working on. Part of my attraction to the idea of multiple self-portraits (or regular portraits) is the strange tension that is created. When two or three (or nine) of the same person is looking out at you from the rectangular confines of the image, the confrontation factor is increased (it's hard enough to not feel the heebie jeebies when those eyes keep watching as you walk around the room). What adds to the tension is the bending of the rules of time (in a sense). Our brain understands the time involved in taking one shot of the sitter . . . what happens when we have multiples of the same sitter in the same shot? This is what I think I like best about the idea . . . the concept behind making the image comes through. We start to ask questions: how did he/she do that? which one was taken first? why bother?
If an art piece doesn't ask more questions than it answers, then it's not very successful (look at me. . . all confident and such lol).
So the next stage in the project is to shoot the photos and then I'll retouch and tweak them in photoshop. I think I've got a good white balance and focus going. I had some problems choosing a vantage point for my first shoot last night, but it just takes a bunch of throw away takes to get it right. I've also had problems with the framing (ie. crooked framing lol) but that's just something you learn while doing and paying attention to the crop area.

This one doesn't have much to do with photography but it does question the idea of what it means to be an individual in a mass of people. Also, I think Do-Ho Suh is great.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


"hey, what are you guys doing in my kitchen?"

Assignment 02: Deciphering Self

Our second project for intro to photog and video is to examine self-portraiture through the use of photograpy. The concept of self is a slippery one because it's difficult to examine the vessel your are travelling in and also because it is really easy to get shmaltzy: oh my Self, I'm Unique, I'm individual. To avoid this, we are encouraged to consider the self in term of identity and representation. To quote from the assignment sheet, "If there is no true self (as postmodernism suggests), and there is no truth with a photograph, what then remains to be explored within your ideas of identity, representation, authenticity, fabrication, etc." 
A quick google of "why does postmodernism suggest there is no true self" comes up with this: As Kevin Vanhoozer states, “Postmoderns are so preoccupied with the situated self that they cannot get beyond it.”1 Because of this “situatedness,” no one can claim objectivity for his or her views." One can interpret this to mean that there is no "truth" but instead "your opinion". So what does that say about the self? Self-portraiture becomes your opinion of your self by your self.
Some questions: we are a product of our environment--what does this mean? what might cause your self to be? how can you represent self through portraiture? 
Jeff Wall
Do Ho Suh
I really like this piece called Double Self-portrait by Jeff Wall. It would be interesting to bring this into a digital context! Like a room full of Pete's!

I love Do Ho Suh! I think he's one of my favourite artists! Much of his work deals with identity and the collective community. Below is a pattern for wall paper using cutouts from year books. He also did a piece that was a composite image of many faces of Korean males, all of them overlayed to create a general shape. This example is probably too sculptural but it is certainly intriguing!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What is an art photograph?

Here are the results of my first foray into making art using the medium of photography. I found the text by Stephen Shore The Nature of Photographs extremely helpful. The book describes the essential elements of a photographic image: physical level (actual size and surface qualities of the print), depictive level (ie. vantage point, focus, time, and frame) and the mental level (ie. what our minds process beyond what the eye is seeing).

Bus Reflection
Self-portrait 2011
Bright Idea

This last one is what I will be submitting. I like the idea of still time . . . meaning an image where the content is at rest and time is still. And the content depicts what I think is the foundation of photography: captured light. I might be called on my questionable cropping (or lack thereof) but I didn't want to fuss with this too much . . . I wanted to do very minimal "fixes in post." Thinking about it now, it's ironic that an image that depicts still time required a quick shutter speed (otherwise, the light would have engulfed the film.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Intro to Photography and Video

I've started my intro studio class about photography and video, so to get my feet wet, I just had crash course of youtube snippets of a host of photographers. What stands out for me is that there are a few main streams or concerns: stripping away the artifice of picture making = raw bare portraits and scenes, recreating a scene from memory or to evoke metaphor through a controlled photo shoot with actors and costumes and sets, using light as a main concern for picture making . . . which I think is an idea I get behind.
Coming from a painting background, I think this idea is something that's not too far removed from oil paint on canvas with except of course the difference that painters create the light (by putting dobs of coloured paint on a surface) and photographers capture the light (using light sensitive chemicals or digital wizardry). So at this very early point in my foray into photography (8 hours and counting), I think that a photograph is a thought in the form of captured light.
A side point that I think is interesting is that photography differs from painting or drawing in that it is repeatable (or at least more so). Not only in the idea of taking multiple frames in rapid succession but also the fact that you can make prints, resize them, alter them in post-production etc. The preciousness of the image is questioned in photography I think.
So my first assignment for this class is to make an image using photography that represents what I think makes a photograph art (as opposed to a document, advertisement, or photo journal). Already I have Richard Serra's voice in my head saying "art is purposefully useless."
Interesting things to think about indeed.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Patrick Heron

I was looking for Patrick Heron on youtube and found this interesting clip with John Squire from the Stone Roses.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thread as metaphor

The single thread. Like a moving dot. Moving from body to body.
A thread is a journey. A train of thought. A segment of time.
Many threads become a weave. They create surface plane and patterns: our culture?
"The rich fabric of our lives." But what about the individual thread, the tree in the forest?
Thread means connection. We all share this space . . . this is what connects us. We share this reality although we each interpret it differently. Perception. Your viewpoint from your specific thread.

Thread as metaphor for a single human being's existence.
. . . reality.
. . . life.
. . . the cosmos.
. . . time.
. . . everything.