Project 2 Masquerades Nikki S Lee

I think the first thing I want to say about Nikki S Lee, is that she is clearly talented and brave and narcissistic. Substituting herself into others’ groups and images, becoming fully immersed into the subject group. She is an actor and a challenger as wells an artist.

How I read her images is simply, Concept Is King. The quality and the composition of the photograph becomes unimportant, in comparison to the actual narrative she is trying to fit into and portray.

This interpolination appears to transcend different mediums of art and can also be seen in performing arts, animation, painting and sculpture.

What is she really searching for?

Does she like seeing her self in other people’s shoes?

Is she a lost soul, searching for a new and own identity?

Is it my cup of tea, most definitely not, but I do understand that it asks some fundamental questions with photography? The main ones being –

  • Does an image ever represent the truth?
  • What is the truth and how do we know when we see it?
  • Who are we as individuals?
  • Can you capture the true essence of a person/group in an image?

I believe that she exploits the good will of the group for her own vanity. This then loses the actual identity of the group, as she is in outsider imposing herself fictitiously within it. The group is not “the group” any more, as usually one of the group is missing (photographing the new group) and there is an imposter in there, creating a visual lie, albeit a humourous one.

I do see and understand what she is doing, but this type of work is simply not for me. It’s all acting, posing, and far too self indulgent for my liking. Yes it raises questions, which is good, but I simply don’t enjoy it.

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Image taken from ; – Scharf, A (Not known) Nikki S Lee Conceptual Framework Photography, Available at: https://www.hawamediaplatform.com/nikki-s-lee (Accessed: 02/08/17).

 

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KL – Nikolaus Wachsman

KL.jpeg

This is the most comprehensive book I have ever read on the Nazi’s Final Solution and the concentration camps that were established.

It documents  the inception, the running and the demise of them and looks at individual stories of survivors and those who died, including Kapos and Nazis.

The amount of research done to complete this book must have been immense as Wachsman source list is lengthy.

In parts the book describes in detail the treatment of hundreds of victims from the gassing, to the vile experiments that such “people” like Mengele carried out.

72 photographs are added to the book in two places. They show a wide variety of KL related scenes and some are obviously very upsetting. The photographs themselves are simply incredible as a result of the fact that photography was banned in most places these we taken. They are a remarkable record of this shameful event in human history.

Of all the books I have read of the Holocaust this has surpassed all the others.

If anyone shares my interest on this subject, this is a must read.

Blog amends

I have now made multiple amends to my blog and I am happy with the layout, which is based on my blog from the EYV course. I have checked all elements of the first two parts are not visible and I am unclear why my tutor could not see these. Other people have road tested them for me and can work their way through it.

Feedback will be sought when I am allocated a new tutor.

Tutor feedback Assignment 2

Well done for reaching assignment 2 Nick.

This is a difficult subject choice, which you approached positively and professionally (contacting the museum for permission and arranging your shoot). Overall, your weaker area is your learning log at the moment, as it isn’t documenting the extent of your efforts or coursework and skips over important stages of your creative decision-making.

I know you have been busy recently with setting up your studio and photographic business, which is fantastic and will benefit your practice long-term. However, if the large gaps in the learning log are not addressed, your work risks appearing rushed and incomplete at assessment, which I fear might jeopardize you achieving your potential. It might also mean you won’t get the most out of a tutor during CAN, as time will be taken up back-tracking or repeating feedback. When I speak to you, all your decisions and research are there – you just need to get it written down and on your log! So just keep pushing!

Assessment potential

I understand your aim is to go for the Photography Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to pass at assessment. In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration

of Creativity

• Strength: Prints are presented in a professional manner and it’s great to see labels on the reverse on this submission – they are sleeved and arrived in good condition. Treatment of prints is consistent too with even borders. This allows for an accessible and focussed viewing experience.

• Tip: Take time to really study technical qualities of the final images, especially in printed form as this emphasises any potential flaws. From looking at your prints I observed some blurring/possible camera shake on Images 2, 3, and 5… did you take a tripod with you? Were you able to use a tripod in the conditions you had? How did you deal with this challenge? Are the shooting techniques you used telling us more about the subject, do they help to create a certain atmosphere or message above and beyond the literal objects/scenes within the frame?

• In shooting you had taken a few images of the same object/corridor/area… what made you choose one over the other? Summarise your editing decisions in another Assignment planning post which explains your decisions from the contact sheet to final edit stage.

• Tip: Experiment with giving your project a title and image titles or captions. To help inform your ideas, think about the contexts where you see images like yours – When do they appear without any captions or titles or credits? Perhaps advertising could be one example, where the text is actually slogans or calls to action, but are your images advertising images? Think about (and document) the appropriate context for your images. How would they function in the ‘real world’ – what is their main agenda or indeed your mission? (Try to apply these questions to future projects too).

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

• Upload your coursework for Part 1 and Part 2 – this includes any reflection and notes in response to each exercise, research point and project. If you have written the WordPress posts, make sure they are visible to external viewers and not set to private,test your website with others or on other computers to check things are displaying correctly.

• Make sure you write-up your notes as separate posts on your online learning log, which are clearly labeled as Exercise 1.2, Research Point 3 (for example).

• If you are struggling for time, read ahead to each assignment brief and use the exercises to trial ideas, techniques or subject matter you are considering. I can’t stress enough how important it is to show evidence that you have responded to the coursework, if it is not there, you risk failing the unit.

Research Context –  reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

• Great to see the photographs of books you have read on Auschwitz – however, you need to evidence your reading in more detail. Assessors are looking for you to reflect on the material you are consuming and show how it influences your decisions – ie; summarising key points made in the texts, any questions they raise for you, what aspects of the reading or viewing stay with you or relate to your own ideas and intentions for your work.

• Your learning log doesn’t document any photographic research for A2. This is very important.

Learning Log – Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

• In A1 feedback, I encouraged you to upload all of your previous coursework and assignment planning, reflection and research before submitting A2. I can’t find this. Try to do this asap whilst the work is fresh in your mind and so it doesn’t become an overwhelming task at the very end of the unit.

• Review A1 and A2 feedback – write up some reflection on tutor pointers from each feedback report on your learning log and make your changes and reworks. Document your process on your online learning log.

• I also suggested making some changes to the wordpress navigation of your log – it would be fantastic to see you refine the site to optimize accessibility and ease of the assessor’s viewing journey – they don’t have long to review your work, make things as synced up and simple as possible.

Suggested reading/viewing – Context

https://www.saatchigallery.com/selfie/ ‘From Selfie to Self Expression’, a Saatchi Gallery exhibition OCA tutor Dawn Woolley won the ‘Saatchi Selfie’ competition which ran alongside the show, with her work ‘The Substitute’. Dawn’s work primarily uses her own image and would be great to explore further during your research for this next section of CAN. http://www.dawnwoolley.com/

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/performing-camera This exhibition from last year (there’s still some content and interviews you can discover from it online) features works where the photographer or artist has expressed themselves or their position on subject matter through self portraiture and performance. Personally, I never tire of looking through Vivian Maier’s self portraits, they have so much variety and the square format allows for balanced framing of geometric forms http://www.vivianmaier.com/gallery/self-portraits/

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

• Try to get into the habit of emailing your tutor a notification with links to your learning log on or before the assignment deadline, alongside your postal submission. Exactly like you did for A1. This formalizes your submission, acts a prompt incase your prints haven’t arrived and provides the direct links to your work.

• Try to think laterally about your ideas and images in this next section, research will be really important in exposing you to the different approaches photographers can take to documenting themselves or their world. Try to challenge yourself and conduct as much brainstorming and research as possible. One useful way to approach it might be to explore three initial ideas through test shoots and see which one starts to resonate. Then refine that idea further with more shoots to allow you plenty of images to choose from in the edit.

• Try to put in place at least two or three developments outlined above for when researching, planning and producing Assignment 3. Try to conduct any re-work and uploading of additional planning notes from A1 and A2 as soon as possible.

I love Led Zeppelin but…

Lindisfarne.jpgIn part 3 I am required to keep a diary, which is a great idea. I am doing so in written form, as I do not want to lay my soul bare here for all and sundry to read. May be I just don’t want you to see may real thoughts!

However I do want to vent some frustration. I feel Dazed and Confused (Led Zep reference in the title for the uninitiated). I will be having no Part 2 tutorial. This may be partly my fault as I have requested a change in tutor. not because I dislike my old tutor or that we don’t get on. On the contrary, I really enjoyed working with her and learning from her, but I believe that my pace of work may simply be too quick for some tutors.

As I write this I am tutorless and I had an original deadline of 11th August for this part of my degree. I did want to complete C and N in 5-6 months like EYV, but due to communication issues (not of my making) this will now not be possible.

I am a great believer that constructive criticism is of great benefit and that we all learn from our mistakes, but I feel that some of my latest written feedback is not as fair or as accurate as it could be. One of the points made is that not all of my project work is there, when in fact as far as I cans it is all there.

My blog for EYV was easy to negotiate and was well received by my tutor,  for that module. It has also stood me in good stead as I have received a pass on my formal assessment fr that part of the degree. I was asked to make some changes, in my last and only tutorial so far and these were made. My blog was one of the areas that I was wanting to discuss on the face to face tutorial. Sadly there was a mix up with the dates and my tutor did not dial in, meaning I missed the f2f feedback.

As a result I have reverted my blog to that of the EYV set up and will see what my new tutor feels about the lay out.

I am carrying on regardless (to quote The Beautiful South) and I look forward to hearing from my new tutor soon.

At the moment I feel as though I am being left out to dry as time is ticking on and non of this is my making. and the sun is setting.

Any way nose back to the grind stone, my steam is vented. Not sure if this should be posted here but we are all adults and it makes me feel better.

My toys are now back in the pram!!!

 

References for Part 3

Project 1. Exercise

I have been asked to reflect on the photographers I have looked at and add some notes and thoughts on their works. These are added below.

  • All the photographers I have looked at are ladies. May be this is due to self-expression being more socially accepted amongst women. They are also all white!!!
  • Is there some evidence of self exhibitionism in there?
  • Nakedness is a metaphor for vulnerability, baring your soul, being comfortable with yourself, expressing sexual frustration, exhibitionism.
  • When looking at Woodman’s and Brotherus’ work, I have asked non-photographers for their opinion, which ranges from weird to perverse and pointless. Therefore does this mean such images need to be captioned or further written context should be added?
  • I believe that Woodman is addressing her own feelings, and is also talking to others about sexuality, vulnerability and empowering women to be more bold, not only in their work, but in their lives in general. Brotherus is speaking to all people, so they can try to have empathy with being involuntarily childless and not to be afraid of who we al are.
  • Clearly all of the works have some element of self-indulgence in there, but self portraiture gives you a willing subject that is constantly accessible.

I will try to look at some male photographers as I progress through the course to gain a balance.

Vivian Maier, Street Photographer.

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Image photographed from the book

This is a beautiful book that presents solely black and white images. To me it has an Elliott Erwitt feel to it in some regards as there are many humorous images in there and some where the main subject are dogs.

It is apparent from this book that Maier was able to build up a good rapport with most people and was unafraid to photograph strangers. I imagine this to be very difficult given it was a man’s world she was living in. To me Maier is a pioneer for women photographers.

The title of the book gives the subjects away, but what is not clear is the natural ability she has for making what could be a boring image, become interesting. She clearly had a raw talent and one that understood basic photographic principles, without any formal training. How clever she was. There are a multitude of different photographic techniques in the book, which draw the viewer in, making you feel you are there, with the subject. Images portray humour, but also the hard nature of the life people around her had.

What I also like is that she does not stick to the white race. There are a number of photographers of the black population, at a time when the vile scurge of racism was still accepted as the norm in America. It is great to see her challenge the pure white photography issue. Very brave.

My favourite image from the book is included below.

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Image taken from :- Maloof, J (2011) Vivian Maier, Street Photographer, USA: powerhouse books.

There are  number of reasons why I like this image. I will list them below.

  • symmetry within the frame
  • being in the right place at the right time
  • the cleaner’s shop being in the background, with the two large men cleaning up
  • there are two burly men, dealing with someone who appears to be smaller in stature
  • the faces of those watching in the background
  • the photographer is a lady in a man’s world
  • this is night time flash photography, which is somewhat unusual
  • the cigarette held in one of the men’s mouths
  • I have a number of questions around this about the man?
    • What had he done?
    • Was he drunk?
    • Had he been fighting?
    • Was he being treated fairly?
    • Was he picked on due to his size?
    • What was he wairing a suit?
    • What was his name?
    • What was his job?
    • Where did he live?
    • Did Maier know anyone in the image?
    • How did she know where the action would be?
    • Was she safe on her own in the dark back streets?
    • How did she feel?

I could go on with the questions, as the image raises more questions than answers.

I feel the book is well worth a look and a handy addition to my collection. Maier was new to me, and I have enjoyed her work and will return to it time and again.

Project 1 Vivian Maier

The first thing I note about Vivian Maier is that she was born of  Hungarian Jewish heritage, whose family fled the conflict, murder and the utter pointless and vile destruction of the Jewish population in Europe, around the time of the second world war. I wonder if this had an unconscious effect on her work, as I am sure discussion at home would have covered such topics. The reason I raise this is due to my interest in the Holocaust and its’ effects on the world.

The main focus of her work was street photography and self portraiture. It is clear that she did not feel her images were worthy of publication, due to the way these were horded in storage, only seeing the light of day just before her death. My view is that she was interested in the process of making a photograph, rather than the final image, which seems odd given the number of cameras she appeared to own.

Her fame was only really established after death, echoing artists like Van Gogh, Lautrec and Gaugin. This is very sad given her subjects and the quality of her work, both of which I enjoy.

Although a lot of her work itself portraiture it is interesting to note that in these shots, her own image only takes up a small proportion of the overall image. Her face is dead pan, expressionless but the composition is very cleverly done and very artistic in most shots. She is also showing off her surroundings and the people around her. There is also a number of images where she is making use of her own shadow which is something I have done. Please see the 2 images below.

20161107-OCA- EYV-Part Two-10
My image, prior to knowing about Maier.
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Image taken from ; – Maier, V (2017) Self-Portrait, 1955 VM1955W02784-03-MC, Available at: http://www.vivianmaier.com/gallery/self-portraits/#slide-12 (Accessed: 01/08/17).

I have enjoyed researching Vivian Maier and may even use some of her work to influence my next assignment. There is one question that I am left with though, and that is what is she reflecting on? The answers are manifold and I will leave this up to the reader to decide.