I haven’t decided on a title yet, so this one is just temporary.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do my dissertation presentation on but for some reason the photojournalist Weegee popped into my head.
Did an essay on one of his images in first year.
Found him very interesting.
Was a freelance photographer selling to around eight different New York Newspapers. Press photographer, socialite and fashion photographer.
Photographed New York between 1935-1947.
To begin with I looked at several books on photojournalism but nothing was catching my eye.
Weegee unmentioned in any of the photojournalism books I was looking at.
This book was created in conjunction to the exhibition Weegee: Murder is my Business by Brian Willis for the International Centre of Photography (New York).
Contained loads of information on his most famous work – press photography for tabloids in New York and the exhibition Weegee curated Murder is My Business in 1941 for Photo League.
Photos taken of the exhibition in 1941 of Weegee’s exhibition Murder is my Business at Photo League.
What I found notable about the exhibition was how strange it seems to see images of murders in this way – as art. Weegee saw the murders as art, each was different and sent a message.
The only image shown in the book to have been edited before it could be printed. Took the body out of the trunk.
Shows Weegee’s darkroom skill.
The books Weegee produced in order earliest to last.
The Village (1989) was the last book Weegee was involved with but was published after he died. The writing in it and the order the images were chosen by him though.
Naked City (1945) Weegee’s first book was by far his most successful, photographer Paul Strand said that it was “The first major contribution of day to day journalism to photography as a creative medium.”.
After Naked City he no longer took pictures of murders and claimed that “murders weren’t anything anymore”.
He shot some pictures for Vogue, he shot Hollywood, celebrities, operas, everyday life.
Worked on a lot of film and starred in some.
Re-construction and comparisons.
Exhibitions – for inspiration.
– What you’re looking for in the work – issue.
– Other photographers of the time.
– How we look at images today.
– The camera changing the context of the situation.
– The depression
– Psychology and trauma
– Cultural history
– Film and crime novels of the time.
References to Andy Warhol, 5 Deaths, 1963 and Jean-Luc Godard, Weekend, 1967.
‘With digital image processing, post-production has become the principal site of photographic image production, where recorded and calculated images are merged into what I will call augmented documents. The augmented document emphasises not only the hybrid temporality of contemporary society but also the hybrid temporality of its representation, displaying a possible present where different space–times coexist’.
Ingrid Hölzl ‘Blast-off Photography’, History of Photography, Feb 2011.
Need to expand what photography is.
Nancy Davenport, WORKERS (Leaving the Factory), 2005-8.
Telling a story in a different way. Globalisation, work with new technology.
10,000 word written project on a freely formulated topic in/on photography.
Structured into chapters.
Includes an introduction and conclusion.
Can be 2-5 chapters long.
Introduction – 1000 words
Conclusion – 1000 words
8000 left for chapters = 2700 words for each chapter
All chapters relate to the same thing (same research)
Tutors will not proof read the draft
Publishing Trading Centre – proof reading services we can use to look over our dissertations for spelling, structure, grammar issues before submitting.
Use Harvard referencing
Try and write what you’re doing in your dissertation in the introduction (can you summarise it in the first sentence?).
Have a focussed path.
Use a very limited set of key concepts (dissertation examples show this well)
How many images? Enough to address your topic. For example if you were doing it on mass production you would need to include a lot of imagery.
Questions to ask when trying to think of a topic:
What are you interested in?
What should be included in the proposal:
What we want to tackle.
How we plan to use it.
Related to visual case studies.
Example dissertation marks:
Reporting from the Bushes, The photograph’s version of events
Still Time for the Moving Image Mark: 72 Comments: Ambitious, interesting area of visual culture. Spelling/grammar.
Dialogue and the burden of representation. Perspectives from the work of Alfredo Jaar and Susan Meiselas Mark: 80
Comments: Ambitious, showed independent thinking. Alternative reading of exhibition. Structured, resolves the issue.
Blossfeldt’s photographs appeared in this exhibition.
Benjamin celebrates Blossfeldt in 1928 as one of the artists who are working at the limits of our perception and hence stretching our ‘image of the world’ in new ways.
Georges Bataille illustrates his essay ‘The Language of Flowers’ (‘Le langage des fleurs’) with Blossfeldt’s images in his Surrealist publication Documents in 1929 (Documents, No.3).
Was Blossfeldt really a modernist?
His photographs were not aimed intentionally to create autonomous’ photographic art. Rather, they were intended as teaching materials for classes in sculpture.
This seems like a violation of the modernist principle already: photographs in the service of sculpture which would be based on photographs: interdisciplinarity.
Might have used a homemade camera.
Basis of sculpture, not that interested in photography – just means to an end.
(Working collage) test prints etc. on sheet of card.
Very different from modernist way of working (see the world in photographs).
Karl Blossfeldt, Indian balsam and dogwood. (Working collage.)
Karl Blossfeldt, Umbellifers II. (Working collage.)
Since the recording process [in photography, unlike in painting] is instantaneous, and the nature of the image such that it cannot survive corrective handwork, it is obvious that the finished print must be created in full before the film is exposed. Until the photographer has learned to visualize his final result in advance, and to predetermine the procedures necessary to carry out that visualization, his finished work (if it be photography at all) will present a series of lucky – or unlucky – mechanical accidents
(Edward Weston, ‘Seeing Photographically’, in Wells, L. ed. 2003, The Photography Reader, London: Routledge).
Blossfeldt, not pre-visualising his work, extensive test prints etc.
Karl Blossfeldt, Indian balsam and dogwood. (Working collage. Detail.)
Karl Blossfeldt, Umbellifers II. (Working collage.) (Detail.)
Mindium campanuloides. (Bell-flower.) 5 times magnification.
Blossfeldt obviously worked on his negatives and even on the objects he photographed.
This is contrary to the principles of Neue Sachlichkeit and modernist ‘straight photography’ from the United States.
Both German and American modernists insisted on knowing one’s technique so thoroughly that the finished print was already worked out before the photographer exposed his film.
What are these images? Nothing but a teacher of sculpture?
What’s interesting about plants, argue that plant is an organic structure as man made architecture (exotic architecture).
Man and nature intertwined, similarities with buildings show this.
Blossfelt worried less about modernist, more about relationship between man and nature?
Blossfeldt wrote a forward the year he died on his work, which hasn’t been translated from German, however Dr Teemu Hupli has made his own translation.
It begins with a quote:
Were you, ramblers, able to grasp ideals
Oh! You would venerate nature as ‘tis proper,
Were you, philistines, able to see nature as a whole,
You would surely be led to higher ideas
(Goethe, Schiller, Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1797)
Natures eternal spring of youth, look at nature to become good artists.
Reawaken people’s eyes with natural beauty around us.
“A plant is to be understood* as a thoroughly artistic-architectonic structure. Besides the decorative and rhythmic creative drive, which prevails everywhere in nature, a plant builds only necessary and purposeful forms. In its continuous struggle for existence [Daseinskampf], it is forced to create robust, essential and useful organs. It builds according to the same laws of statics [statischen Gesetzen] that every construction engineer, too, must observe. But the plant never lapses into mere dry display of functionalism [Sachlichkeitsdarstellungen]; it moulds and builds by logic and purposiveness [Zweckmäßigkeit], and constrains everything with elemental force to highest artistic form.”
*Bewerten: literally, judged, assessed.
‘Struggle for existence’ relates to Darwin.
‘Law of statics’ relates to Newton and Descartes (physics).
‘Purposiveness [Zweckmäßigkeit]’ relates to 80th and 90th century natural philosophy.
Interested in theories of nature.
Insofar as nature’s products are aggregates, nature proceeds mechanically, as mere nature; but insofar as its products are systems—e.g., crystal formations, various shapes of flowers, or the inner structure of plants and animals—nature proceeds technically [i.e., purposively], that is, it proceeds also as art.
(Kant, CJ, First Introduction, section VI)
SO: Flowers (and crystals) + techné/art (which is also close to purposiveness) = Kantian thinking.
And it seems that Blossfeldt’s work contains the same combination of interests/ideas.
Purposiveness: We need a concept (starting point) for thinking to form logical concepts.
Concepts of thinking of objects, otherwise we would not understand them.
Think what we see.
What are concepts? Collections of characteristics of objects. For example, trees are all somehow different, but all have similarities. We formulate a concept based on these differences and similarities. Same concept each time. We need an assumption that nature has order – purposiveness of nature.
Insofar as nature’s products are aggregates, nature proceeds mechanically, as mere nature; but insofar as its products are systems—e.g., crystal formations, various shapes of flowers, or the inner structure of plants and animals—nature proceeds technically, that is, it proceeds also as art.
(Kant, CJ, First Introduction, section VI)
Two kinds of objects in nature, mechanical and systems.
Mechanical: sand, snow, comets. Forms in the sand produced by water and wind, snow placing itself. Comets are matter, which could if went off course crash into Earth.
System: predictability of nature. Blossfeldt shows natures ability.
First person to photograph single snow flake.
Forms made by sea and wind, interested in how nature systematizes itself.
Complex, intricate systems.
Student of Bernd and Hilla Becher.
Photographs of crystals.
Micro photographs of crystal formulation.
Silicate, most harmful dust after 9/11.
Fährenkemper and Richter’s work not joined completely but relates to one another.
Meyer-Stump, Ulrike (2001), ‘Karl Blossfeldt’s Working Collages—A Photographic Sketchbook’, in Wilde A. and J. (eds), Karl Blossfeldt: Working Collages, Cambridge MA and London: MIT
Everything we can quantify physically is analogue: length, width, voltage, and pressure. Telephones are analogue; the hands of watches that turn with the rotation of the earth are analogue; writing is analogue; drawing is analogue. … Thinking too becomes analogue when it is materialised into a concrete form; when it is transmuted into lines on paper or marks on a board. It is as if my frame of mind is analogue when I draw; my unconscious reverie made manifest as an impression on a surface.
Tacita Dean, Analogue (exh. cat.), Basel, 2006.
Finding things by chance and responding to an object.
Using postcards of disasters.
Study of trees.
Big physical objects, 3D (can see curled edges).
Scale relates to body, more size of trees.
Fighting the end of analogue film (Kodak) when the factory closed down and filmed the film roll.
Disappearance of skill, work almost got destroyed when someone cut it wrong.
Work shown at the Tate, Turbine Hall, installation piece, projection onto the wall.
Photographs the everyday, references to the analogue.
Material things we don’t want to get rid of (dust) outmoded.
Ageing, illusion to mortality.
‘Speaker’ book by Moyra Davey.
Recovering from illness.
Idea of communication.
Intimate relation to her own body.
Speakers and receivers. Material things relate to them to her own body.
Series of lights arranged in blocks.
Mail art (mailers) work sent to friends, being who are buying the art or galleries who are commissioning it.
Davey pins work onto the wall, not flattened.
Alighiero Boetti, Mail art, 1972.
Alighiero Boetti, Twins, 1969.
Mail art; post it and send it. Everything has a date stamp.
Can get damaged or lost (although that’s rare)
Can use different kinds of stamps.
Zoe Leonard, Meat’n’More, from the series Analogue, 1998-2007.
Zoe Leonard, Graham Electronics, 2006, from the series Analogue.
Disappearance of small shops.
Uses a medium format camera (Rolex)
Analogue, individuality, materiality, passed their prime, closing down.
Tactile, physical things.
Impact of globalisation.
Walter Benjamin on the ‘outmoded’
Benjamin writes of André Breton, the surrealist leader, that:
He can boast an extraordinary discovery. He was the first to perceive the revolutionary energies that appear in the ‘outmoded’, in the first iron constructions, the first factory buildings, the earliest photos, the objects that have begun to be extinct, grand pianos, the dresses of five years ago ….
Walter Benjamin, ‘Surrealism – latest snapshot of the European Intelligentsia’ (1929)
Surrealism found energy in analogue, not nostalgia but re-born, potential in analogue.
Marks says that the title is ‘a metaphor to emphasize the way film signifies through its materiality … It also suggests the way vision itself can be tactile, as though one were touching a film with one’s eyes: I term this haptic visuality’.
Laura Marks, The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment and the Senses, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2000, p.xi.
Laura Marks The Skin of the Film
‘tactile visuality’ – feminist and inter-cultural film
One could also link Yokota conceptually to the iconoclastic Mono-ha movement of the late 60s and early 70s, where sculptural raw materials included sand, glass, soil, cotton and even paraffin, as well as traditional stone and metals.
Sekine and Takamatsu, silhouette’s inspiration for Yakota’s light and shadow work.
Parallel to Yokota’s work.
Performing for the camera.
Corpus focus on the body, abstract.
O’Hagan describes Yokota’s technique:
‘His process is meticulous to the point of obsessive. He shoots on a compact digital camera, prints and rephotographs the results on medium-format film, then prints them again several times using heat and light to mark or distort the images.’
Obsessive and material, attacking the surface.
Daisuke Yokota – experiment and influences:
“there’s a lot of experimentation with delay, reverb and echo, which is playing with the way that you perceive time. Of course there’s no time in a photograph, but I thought about how to apply this kind of effect, or filter, to photography. I was definitely influenced by the idea of “ambience.” David Lynch is probably the same for me, in the way that he works with time and perception.”
“There’s no element of duration to your experience of a photograph; it’s closer to an object. I felt that this was an extremely weak point of photography. So, I’m aware that photography can’t function in the same way as films or music, but I wonder whether it isn’t possible to create a way for photographs to carry time within them.”
Daisuke Yokota, interview with Dan Abbe.
Away from photograph as still image, engage with time, richer experience.
Hybrid, works with music.
Borrow ideas from different media. Move from frozen moment.
Solarising photograms, flash light onto the paper.
Remains, sites in Hiroshima; weeds overlooked.
Inspiration for From the Weeds of Hiroshima.
James Welling, Flowers, 21, 2006.
James Welling, Geometric Abstractions, 2008-12.
Flowers, colour paper and emulsion.
Abstractions, dropping onto the paper.
Working with accidents.
Metaphor, round about way of referring to the events.
Parallel to Welling’s work.
Cyanotype invented by John Herschel.
Directly imprinting with blue paint.
Work inspired by shadow imprint from Hiroshima.
Multimedia, music, records. Hybrid.
Uses medium most appropriate.
‘Artists have always been attracted to detritus. Because by the time something reaches the dustbin, we have had enough interaction with it to finally reflect on it. When something is too new we are still under its spell, too seduced to take enough distance and be disrespectful or critical’.
Christian Marclay cited in Lyle Rexer, ‘Blue Tape: Christian Marclay’s old Masters’, in DAMN Magazine, no.33, May-June, 2012, p.104.
Edgy, playful, uses humour.
Big in frames, leaned against the wall.
Any material/flat surface.
History of the studio, objects which went through it.
Different size print.
Turns rooms into camera obscura’s.
Urban views on sensitized paper.
Montage, multiple different images put together.
Big piece of work, sculptural.
Micro monuments, places of nuclear weapons (trinity site)
Watch frozen at time of bombing was painted on.
Physicality of object.
During this lecture, we looked at artists who have returned to old technology and how this can be related to materiality. Different ways of thinking about this and photography experience; optical sensations, engaging, embodiment.
Digital, enhanced, manipulation of images, erasing and inserting.
Ontology changing; indexicality under threat.
Not as anchored in real world; journalism, consequences. Example, Adnan Hajj, Beirut, 2006, tried to make the smoke look more enhanced.
Adnan Hajj, Beirut, 2006.
“Smoke billows from burning buildings destroyed during an overnight Israeli air raid on Beirut’s suburbs. August 5, 2006. Many buildings were flattened during the attack.” (Reuters in 2006)
Photography approaching painting, limit, line between photography and painting is blurring; anxiety for photographers.
Idealised, photography losing its core.
“Given the proliferation of digital images that look exactly like photographs, photography may even be robbed of its cultural identity as a distinctive medium” (Batchen, 1994, p.47).
Anxiety; photography being left behind. What is this new medium? Defining characteristics.
Analogue and digital; the difference between the two, share more than separate? Look similar – must be because sensor is different.
Not that different, emulsion or light sensitive. Indexicality is still happening.
“Is there so much at stake when the indexical quality of a photographic image is registered by an array of charge coupled devices rather than silver salts or electro magnetic particles?” (Lister, 2007, p.252)
Lister: discussion not on different aspects, not technology but social context, how they are operated and used. Ontological shift is taking place.
[T]echnology (in itself) is nothing until and unless it is given cultural and social purpose, gaining definition and meaning in specific historical circumstances (Lister, 2007, p.251).
Photography in social and political terms; event of some sort, context tells what it is (Azoulay).
Osborne: Social context more important.
His theory; what does it mean, does it help?
Analogue Use Value
————— = ——————
Digital Exchange Value
Marx theory, somehow similar.
What, if anything, does digitalization tell us about the nature of photography in art?
(Osborne, 2010, p.62)
Exhibition, funders, between photography and art world.
Wouldn’t normally call art but comes into art world (non-art).
Confining photography and art, widening Osborne’s theory.
Wide spread anxiety analogue to digital, something lost. Truth value in digital – citizen journalism.
Every has a camera (camera phones) is photojournalism being threatened?
This anxiety appears irrational – which is, of course, no more than to acknowledge it as an anxiety: a free-floating anxiousness about the real that has ‘latched on’ to digital photography as a cultural site in which to invest, because of the social importance but current uncertainty about the various documentary functions of photography. The basic source of such anxiety has nothing to do with photography itself (Osborne, 2010, p.64).
Truth in image isn’t changing rapidly. Truth aspect has latched onto digital – not to do with photography – something else.
What are we anxious about with digital photography?
Osborne’s anxiety is about the real. Marx economic terms, financial anxiety.
In late autumn 2008, the media incessantly repeated the message that the world financial crisis had started to feed through into the ‘real’ economy (ibid.).
Parallel – divorce between reality financial and digital photography.
The fact that there is, in principle, no necessary visible indicator of the referential value of [a digital] image mimics the structure of the commodity, in which there is no necessary relation between use-value and exchange-value (Osborne, 2010, p.65).
Shift away from reality – use value to exchange value.
Chapter 1: Marx
All objects has two values
Human want/need use value
Anchored to physical qualities (chair and strawberries) and physical reality.
Can also be related to exchange value
Chair and larger quantity of strawberries; no longer use value. Negotiation. Commodities, not isolated quantitive value. Expanded to all commodities (car) creating an infinite network.
Not value in own right; how much gets you something else? Commodities for commodities.
Marx theory, one commodity which all others are measured. Have to want each other’s commodities – exchanges limites.
“In the direct barter of products, each commodity is directly a means of exchange to its owner, and to all other persons an equivalent, but that only in so far as it has use-value for them. At this stage, therefore, the articles exchanged do not acquire a value-form independent of their own use-value, or of the individual needs of the exchangers.”
Family photos used to be taken in order to look at ourselves and to show other family members and friends.
No longer for ourselves (selfie) to be viewed by others in an online community. Trying to increase likes. Something new each time – more and more attention online. Trying to project a certain type of person.
“By posting selfies, people can keep themselves in other people’s minds. In addition, like all photographs that are posted on line, selfies are used to convey a particular impression of oneself. Through the clothes one wears, one’s expression, staging of the physical setting, and the style of the photo, people can convey a particular public image of themselves, presumably one that they think will garner social rewards.”
“We now all behave as brands and the selfie is simply brand advertising. Selfies provide an opportunity to position ourselves (often against our competitors) to gain recognition, support and ultimately interaction from the targeted social circle. This is no different to consumer brand promotion.”