Starting to Consider: Exhibition

I have started to consider how I want my work to be viewed in the lead up to the Landings exhibition and how it actually provides me with an opportunity to really analyse my online presence and start to create a curated online platform for myself that is much more focused on the kind of photography I am developing during this time.

Figure 1: Phil Hill (2020) Top of website homepage, which uses the WordPress theme ‘Sketch,’ before updating.

My website was initially set up much like my MA blog, utilising WordPress and one of their themes called ‘Sketch’ (Fig: 1), which is also the same theme as this CRJ.​*​ I have always liked the flexibility of the WordPress platform having used the blogging platform for over 10 years, more so after they introduced the portfolio feature for projects. WordPress has a massive community network in terms of support and people creating functionality for it, if there is a custom function that I want to use for my own site, chances are that there is a plugin available. It was also great to find out that Falmouth is keen on it and rolls it out for the CRJ meaning that I had prior experience that I could fall back on. The biggest draw of WordPress of course is that it is primarily free (with some exceptions for functionality and premium features), which creates a powerful tool at entry level.

Figure 2: Phil Hill (2020) Bottom of website homepage displaying WordPress logo and links

The challenge has always been that usually the free options equal some sort of compromise. For example, the need to display the ‘powered by WordPress’ logo at the bottom of the site (Fig: 2), which could be removed with some tinkering of the code, this is quite a challenge for someone like me with little coding knowledge and could lead to a broken website. Although, not the end of the world, this display always felt a little unprofessional. A great number of websites that I have been looking at by other photographers, have a horizontal scrolling feature (Fig: 3), which creates an aesthetically pleasing way to look at a sequenced project, in a similar way to how you might read a narrative in a book. I feel that this is important as it can be a way of establishing an initial way to consume the work as I intended.

Figure 3: Luke Stephenson (2020) Horizontal scrolling gallery feature using the Format platform.

There are a number of sites that offer this kind of portfolio website experience including Format and Squarespace. I have previously used the American based Photoshelter when I was freelancing because it had a really good image proof and delivery function as well as full resolution storage, however even that was limited and would not allow me to do everything that I wanted. These examples are also premium subscription services, which I cannot really justify at this stage. Ultimately there are still going to be the inevitable compromises and it is a case of working out the ones that I willing to accept.

My website, although I updated just before the beginning of the MA, was quite bloated, and now that I am adding galleries for my most recent projects, it was also confused. My website was a platform for promoting my freelance practice as a travel and lifestyle photographer, however this is not something that I have done professionally for a few years (although I do still take on commissions and license work); my practice is evolving into more of an art practice concerned with longer term research projects (Such as the ones conducted during the MA).

It is important for the audience of my work not to be confused with the work that I presenting on my site, even though it is useful to show the types of professional work that I have conducted, as this shows a level of competence and professionalism. It is also important that the form and function of my website also create a framework (or surface) for the effective dissemination and consumption if my work.

Figure 4: Phil Hill (2020) New website homepage featuring a minimalist design, distinctive typeface and horizontal scrolling gallery.
Figure 5: Phil Hill (2020) Horizontal scrolling gallery

After some research, I found a well-designed theme that can be used with WordPress and would effectively display my work and could be rolled out to my website ready for the Landings exhibition at the end of the month (Fig: 4). I have decided to utilise a minimalist design that hides the menu unless clicked on as well as the important horizontal scrolling feature (Fig: 5). The website also adapts well when viewed on a mobile device, which is a fundamental consideration as this is a primary means of viewing. The theme also utilises two different typefaces, which creates an aesthetically pleasing means to display my work and lifts it beyond the ‘sketch’ theme that I had been using (Fig: 6).

Figure 6: Phil Hill (June, 2020) Updated website screen recording for computer browser view [Top] and as viewed on a mobile device [Bottom].

There are still a couple of elements that I would change, for example, there is an automatic numbering of images within galleries that could become distracting to the reader of the work, so I may look into removing this at some point in the future. I have also hide a lot of the content that was on my old site, including tear sheets, and my published work examples, which is something that will be important to create a solution for display.

Landings

Figure 7: Phil Hill (June, 2020) Example of how to utilise a community display board – Before & After

I have been considering how best to display my work for the landings exhibition with the idea of creating a community based display. For example, I quite like the idea of creating a kind of ‘art trail’ approach where the work can be displayed in the places that I took the images. This would create an opportunity for the community to view the work in situ. It also creates a re-tracing of the journey that I was making during the process of creating the work, which would hopefully create meaning and connection to the people and place. There are two ways that I though could work well for this. Firstly, during my walks around the local area that I live, I noticed a number of community boards for displaying local information, one method of display could be to ‘take-over’ these displays and present my portraits (Fig: 7). Secondly, an idea that is more grand in approach could be to display large scale prints in the locations that they were taken that could either be discovered by the people using the facilities, or be part of an art trail (Fig: 8). In addition to these approaches, there is an opportunity to support the display with a small publication or catalogue of the exhibition that includes a map of the art trail. I could also incorporate a workshop where participants could walk the art trail with me and we can discuss community engaged photography projects.

Figure 8: Phil Hill (June, 2020) Digital composite of how a large scale print might look in the location it was created.
Current situation

Owing to the ongoing restrictions, my concern is that these ideas are simply not feasible so my intention is to utilise what I have developed for my online platform with the aim to utilise it in an effective local manner. Now that I have established a professional presence with my updated website, I want to use the landings exhibition as a means of self-marketing as well as the online gallery having the potential to outlast the 7-day exhibition itself. Local community engagement is still important to the work and its dissemination so my intention is to seek local means for disseminating the exhibition as opposed to merely adding a link and some images to Instagram. An example of this could be by utilising the local network within Watford like the community noticeboard ‘Next Door.’ There is also an opportunity to contact ‘Watford BID,’ who promote local events. This might be quite valuable as I could also work with them in the future for such promotion. Having an online gallery in place for a year also creates an opportunity for visitors throughout the 12 months.

My intention is to support my exhibition gallery with potentially a downloadable publication of the work or even a physical version that can be purchased through my website. This is not something that I have done before but am keen to explore, building on the experience of creating zines.

How much you consider the audience when making your work?

This question is something that I think that I have been answering, yet possibly not really in enough detail. People do seem to respond well to my work, however I find it increasingly difficult to ‘break through.’ Potentially, the presentation of my online portfolio could have been a factor as it is fundamental that the work should be presented in a professional way. There of course could be innumerate reasons for the work not cutting through, however it could very well be that I am actually not considering the audience of it. Defining who wants to consume my photography is key to the success of the work.

How much you would allow a curator to influence the reading of your work?

Considering the above, I think it would be important to engage with others who might be more experienced art curation than me. It is important to maintain my intentions and how I wished for the work to be read when I created it. However, it is important to remember that I also do not have exclusive rights over the reading of my work, that is an impossibility. It is also useful to engage with other professionals in the dissemination of the work, primarily because as the artist, I will be very close to the project and may not see the value in particular sequences.

How curators could be useful to your practice?

Vanessa Winship on discussing her first book, stated that although she valued the opportunity and process of making the book, she felt that she was having to compromise more than she would have liked (Winship in Smith, 2015). Experince may have played a part in this leading to a lack of compromise in making the decisions about her own work. I do stand by the need to work with other professionals however, expertise in fields I am not familiar in is ultimately invaluable. For Jack Latham’s ‘Sugar Paper Theories’ exhibition at the Royal Photographic society (Latham, 2019), curator Mark Rawlinson discussed the differences between the exhibition over the book, noting that the linear nature of the book allows only for one way to consume the narrative of the book, whereas the exhibition opens up multiple ways to view and construct a narrative from the work as the audience is freed up to walk around the space and consider the images presented as they see fit. According to Rawlinson the non-linear  conspiratorial narrative of ‘Sugarpaper Theories’ is a particularly good example of how two successful sequences can work (Rawlinson & Latham, 2019). That exhibition did feel like there was a good collaboration happening between Latham and Rawlinson, which led to its ultimate success.


  1. ​*​
    I am considering moving this blog onto the new theme, however I may not do this during the MA. Primarily because I would not want to break anything!
Bibliography

Latham, J., 2019. Sugar Paper Theories. Bristol: Royal Photographic Society.

Rawlinson, M. & Latham, J., 2019. Sugar Paper Theories Gallery Walk & Talk. Bristol: Royal Photographic Society.

Winship, V., 2015. A Small Voice: Conversations with Photographers – 082 – Vanessa Winship: “And Time Folds” Special [Interview] (11 September 2015).

Road Map

Title of your work/project, with 3–5 keywords;

‘I hope this finds you safe and well’ (working title – based on many of the emails and communication that I have been making during the last few months).

  • Keywords: Idiorrythm, connection, Identity, community
Methods/methodology you will be exploring;

I am currently exploring new apparatus and the associated processes. Moving outside of my digital comfort zone and onto medium format black and white film, which is in part based on research into a documentary aesthetic and how photographers such as Vanessa Winship, Eli Durst, and Alec Soth have utilised to heighten the idea of nostalgia (linked to the way we view community), and how Winship considers it a way to highlighting the way that the world is in colour. Black and white also considers the photograph as an object as a way to make the reader aware that this is a photograph and how Vilem Flusser suggests that the black and white image can be used as a way of logical analysis of the subject, hence its use as a documentary tool (2000, p. 42). I also aim to explore the qualities that are inherent in film that will bring additional meaning and reading of my project.

Part of my research into the use of Black and White was informed by FSA images of the 1930s referenced by Susan Sontag (1979, p. 6), John Tagg (1988, p. 12), and Sally Stein who considered ‘Migrant Mother’ “as the quintessential 1930s documentary photography” (2020, p. 59). This research, initially brought me to consider the use of black and white seems to have taken on new significance with Boris Johnson announcing yesterday ‘A New Deal’ (Partington, 2020) which was a clear reference to the one of Roosevelt that led to the creation of the FSA photography project and still plays on the mythology of the time and imagery of our learned knowledge.

My aim is to explore the idea of connection through engaging with people in my local community and see if there is a common identity contained within the landscape, the people and the spaces. My project has evolved during the last few months as I start to really identify what it is about this place and people that draws me to photograph them.

Number of shoots you will need;

One of the parameters I have placed onto my project is via the apparatus and its 6×7 format, which means that I can shoot 10 frames per roll of film. This approach need to be considered and planned as I do not have my digital camera to fall back on.

I am also dependent on the weather to conduct shoots, but anticipate that I will conduct roughly 2 shoots per week in order to have a good range of images to edit.

Possible outcomes and where to show them;

My aim is to produce a consistent body of work that might contribute to my broader project goals. Initially, I intend to show the work online as part of the Landings exhibition supported by a publication to create a tangible outcome alongside the digital one.

I will also create a workshop, which can be conducted online and related to engagement within the community. This would potentially with my peer group.

The results you are looking for/expecting;

I hope my new direction in image making will give me a better understanding of why I am making the images that I have been producing for my project.

The relationship between this work/project and overall research for the MA;

My work is a continuation of the idea of connection and identity within my community. Primarily, my intention is to establish an aesthetic style that will be refined and developed to work out the possibilities before moving into the next

Landings exhibition: you need to start thinking about the exhibition and considering how you can work collaboratively. Discuss your strengths with your peers, and what you can offer with regards to organising Landings.

Related to the above, my intention is to exhibit my work online and will explore different possibilities for this.

I would be happy to collaborate and support the Landings exhibition as much as I can. As I have childcare commitments this may not include being a part of the team curating, however, I have experience in using software, such as InDesign and Illustrator, should that be useful.

Additionally, as a lecturer, I would be more than happy to support anyone who wishes to create workshops and help with structure, for example.

Bibliography

Flusser, V., 2000. Towards a Philosophy of Photography. 2018 Reprint ed. London: Reaktion Books.

Partington, R., 2020. How does Boris Johnson’s ‘new deal’ compare with Franklin D Roosevelt’s?. [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jun/30/how-does-boris-johnsons-new-deal-compare-with-franklin-d-roosevelts [Accessed 1 July 2020].

Sontag, S., 1979. On Photography. London: Penguin.

Stein, S., 2020. Migrant Mother Migrant Gender. 1 ed. London: Mack.

Tagg, J., 1988. The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories. 1st paperback ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hands off

I have become interested in a number of concepts that I am aiming to explore throughout this module. This has in part been inspired by some of the ‘documentary aesthetic’ research that I have been conducting, which had led me to explore the use of black and white film during this module.

Figure 1: Justine Quinell (2010) Solargraph of Clifton in Bristol showing the rise and fall of the sun.
Solargraph

I actually have been using a similar set-up during this lock-down period to expose a series of ‘solargraphs’ around my home using pin-hole cameras made from beer cans (Fig: 2), which then have photographic paper placed inside to expose over a long period of time. This was inspired by artist Justin Quinnell who creates these that have exposure times of 6 months or more (Fig: 1). My idea was to record the period of time inside the home (Fig: 3).

Figure 3: Phil Hill (March – June, 2020) Solargraph of bedroom exposed during lock down.

The image is built up over time so that you can start to see how the light changes and the rise and fall of the sun tracing over the sky, for example. As a way of showing time, these are really interesting. The photo paper cannot be fixed in the usual way or the image would be ruined, so the paper would continue to expose and eventually turn black, which could be used as a metaphor for the present time, or creating a sense that the photograph itself has a life that begins and ends. At the end of its life, only the digital scan would remain. My primary interest is in portrait photographs, however there are links to be made between this process and how Roland Barthes’ discusses the image: “As if the (terrified) photographer must exert himself to the utmost to keep the photograph from becoming death. But I – already an object, I do not struggle” (Barthes & Wells, 2002, p. 23). In the solargraph , it becomes an object the personifies this decay and is unable to be embalmed as Barthes’ states.

Pinhole.
Figure 5: Phil Hill (June, 2020) Window image shot on 35mm film

For the week 4 ‘Hands off’ task, I decided to create a pinhole camera to shoot film, which is something I had never done before. I modified a new beer can pinhole, which needed to be lined in order to make it usable for film and to reduce reflection inside the can. Working out the exposure time was quite a challenge but an important one as I only had a few strips of film to play with. The idea of separation and abstraction has been a feature of some of the work that I am producing, which included the barrier created by my windows. I have come back to this at the start of this module by re-photographing them onto film (Fig: 5), so decided to see how I could abstract the view using a different method.

The fstop for my pinhole camera is around 250, which creates a much longer exposure time. In low light it would have meant factoring in reciprocity failure. However, during the day if metering f22 at 1/30th second, my pinhole would need to expose for 8 seconds. The resulting images show the view through my windows, something that I had not done with my other window images, yet they are still abstracted because of the time it took to expose leading to some inevitable movement (Fig: 6).

Could I use this in my research project?

I think that the technique used is not something that I would take into my research project but the idea of abstraction, which creates a separation in the image is an interesting concept to take forward. I feel that even if the image is strictly lens based, indexical and also iconic, it can still be abstracted. Abstracted in the sense that all images are untruths, All images are unable to be true representations. This could then be introduced to my research project subtly as even a digital scan of my photographs is an abstraction of the negative, which is an abstraction of the reality it recorded.

Bibliography

Barthes, R. & Wells, L., 2002. The Photography Reader: Extracts from Camera Lucida. 4 ed. London: Routledge.

Human?

The idea of non-human photography is an interesting one as at some point in the process there has to have been a human action involved. For example, I was quite taken with Flusser’s assertion that: “The green of a photographed field, for example, is an image of the concept ‘green’, just as it occurs in chemical theory, and the camera (or rather the film inserted into it) is programmed to translate this concept into the image” (2000:43) And the same could be said of how a digital sensor resolves an image according to its programmed values. Each film emulsion and camera sensor has qualities that are unique to them, which have been developed by a human. For example, the way that a Canon camera is able to resolve skin-tones vs the way a Nikon is able to all have a subtle impact in the way that the image is read and albeit highly subtle, a bias can be attributed to these differing programmed values.

Figure 1:  Nikolaus Studnicka (2004) Overview and detail of the digital elevation model of the Giza Plateau created by 4 single scans from the top of the Cheops Pyramid visualised in ARC GIS 8.2

For my example, I have chosen this laser scan of the pyramids (Fig:1), which is slowly replacing the use of large format film cameras as a way of recording them. It is a non-lens based technology that is started and then left to conduct multiple scans the object (in this case one of the pyramids of Giza), which is then composited together to form the image. The use of ai and computational modelling is part of the process in creating these images. Arguably more representative than any traditional form of lens based capture as it requires direct contact of the laser to the object in order to create an image vs photographic reflection of light, however a human would have created the technology and the program for it to run.

Bibliography

Flusser, V., 2000. Towards a Philosophy of Photography. 2018 Reprint ed. London: Reaktion Books.

Zine making and Reflecting

I have found the process of zine making a really valuable experience, which has forced me to consider other voices in my own creative process. Working with others means that it is possible to draw on a range of skill sets that are not particular strengths of my own, which results in a much stronger outcome that I might have been able to achieve independently. This was really valuable during the editing and compiling stage of the zine making. I was also able to input some of my other skill sets to support and collaborate in the project, including illustration. In any kind of team project, there is potential for members to become side-lined, however everyone in our zine group was able to contribute something valuable.

Figure 1: PANTONE (2020) Pantone colours listed under ‘Ginger’

At the very start of the week we discussed potential roles for the zine. Tim had a clear experience and background so was made team leader and was able to provide really insightful background on zines, their history and significance. Outside of photography, I was unaware of zines outside of photography. Victoria and Isabelle offered to source and create content, together with Ross who suggested that he could also picture edit, having some experience there. Andy has experience writing so offered to provide some copy and create a short text, which provided the context for the zine’s opening page. This left me to support the design and layout with support from the others.

Figure 1: UK Government (2016) Cover from EU referendum leaflet, which uses Helvetica as its typeface.

I wanted to incorporate some illustration to create a zine with a multidisciplinary approach but which maintains it photographic underpinning through the method of remixing images. I also have a fair amount of experience with InDesign so wanted to offer my support there.

We all came up with a range of ideas initially, which were discussed by the group. There were a number of politically and topical ideas, which on balance we decided to move away from owing to the short amount of time in which to do these kinds of subjects’ justice. It was also felt that looking at the current pandemic as a subject was leading to a kind of over saturation of the topic and again in order to really do it justice, some distance would be need together with time. ‘Ginger’ was decided as the subject, in all of the ways that the word might be interpreted. We collectively thought that the process of this week’s task would be the most value, so by focusing on a word, it was a good way to explore the very different ways that it could be represented in a zine format.

Figure 3: F37 Type Foundary (2013) ‘F37 Ginger’ Typeface example.

The theme created an opportunity to define some of the design features of the zine through the colour scheme, and typeface. Colour theory has an important role to play in semiotics, so this it is important to understand how the colour of our zine would be read by the audience. I utilised colours that are titled ‘ginger’ from the Pantone range (Fig: 1) as it provides a quick way to input the values from these swatches into InDesign and the other Adobe software that we were using, which maintains consistency across the design. Typical for Zines to have a kind of handmade aesthetic, I felt it important that the main text and anything that we wanted to flow through the pages as a narrative would be legible and able to be picked up quickly by the audience. Sans Serif is the obvious choice for this, owing to its legibility and graphic quality. For example, Helvetica is used by a range of governmental organisations because of its authoritative way of conveying information (Helvetica, 2007) such as the government leaflet on Britain’s exit from the EU (Fig: 2). This together with images can have a fundamental impact on the reading and the narrative of the overall message. For ‘Ginger’ I discovered that there was a really great sans serif called ‘f37 ginger’ (Fig: 3), which felt perfect for the project, however this was a commercial typeface, which was cost prohibitive for our purpose. Instead, I settled for an openly available typeface from google called ‘oswald’ that had a similar look to ‘f37 ginger.’

Figure 4: Phil Hill (2020) Ed Sheeran Illustration

Figure 5: Gareth Cattermole (2019) Ed Sheeran reference image.

Figure 6: Phil Hill (June, 2018) Illustration made using reference photographs

I contributed two main artworks to the zine, the Ed Sheeran illustration and the Binary Ginger page. The Sheeran illustration (Fig: 4) was created by utilising a reference image (Fig: 5) to remix and create an appropriated illustration that can be edited to change the hair colour. This is a process that I have been doing for a number of years through an Instagram account called @hell0_Philip, which I use reference and appropriation to construct images to illustrate emails sent to me (Fig: 6). I had not necessarily considered the practice inherently ‘photographic’ until we started looking at remixed photography and it would not be immediately obvious that they could be considered so, compared to, for example, Cold War Steve who creates photo shopped composites of images in order to create new meaning from them (Fig: 7).

Figure 7: Cold War Steve (2019) Composite image made with Photoshop
1A0000114N01110
2B0001015O01111
3C0001116P10000
4D0010017Q10001
5E0010118R10010
6F0011019S10011
7G0011120T10100
8H0100021U10101
9I0100122V10110
10J0101023W10111
11K0101124X11000
12L0110025Y11001
13M0110126Z11010
Figure 8: 5 digit binary code to letter conversion table

The binary image is something that I was experimenting with prior to the zine making task as an extension to the Ed Rucha task. I wanted to see if there were any other ways that I could present a body of images and also include additional information about them. To do this, I utilised a 5-digit binary code system of ‘1s’ and ‘0s’ that can be converted back into the alphabet (Fig: 8), for example: 00001 would equal the letter ‘A’ in binary, which can be converted into an image sequence where each image might equal a number ‘1’ and a ‘0’ would be represented by a blank square, or coloured one. For my experiment, I used my blossom images from my Rucha response to spell out the word ‘Covid-19’ in binary as this was the underlying theme to that series (Fig: 9). The challenge then was to differentiate between letter s and numbers, so I created a different version of the image that used red squares to denote numbers, and black squares to denote letters (Fig: 10). I also produced a sourced image version of Rucha’s ‘Twentysix Gasoline Stations’ in binary (Fig, 11), and a less successful version where each ‘0’ was replace with a letter, however this is quite a busy and confusing layout (fig, 12). From these approaches, I created the ‘Ginger’ binary layout using sources images and a binary code that spells the word ‘ginger’ (Fig, 13).

Figure 11: Phil Hill (June, 2020) Twentysix Gasonline Stations from sources images using 5 digit binary to spell ‘Twentysix’
Figure 12: Phil Hill (June, 2020) 0s replaced with letters
G:00111
I:01001
N:01110
G:00111
E:00101
R:10010
Figure 13: Phil Hill (June, 2020) The word ‘Ginger’ in 5 digit binary – code shown on the left.

Ginger zine is an A5 booklet that would have a middle fold out section to feature the images of Victoria tasting ginger, which makes an interesting mini-narrative as it is folded out of the main body of the zine.

Bibliography

Helvetica. 2007. [Film] Directed by Guy Hustwit. UK: Veer, Swiss Dots.

PANTONE, 2020. PANTONE 15-1020 TCX. [Online] Available at: https://store.pantone.com/uk/en/colorfinder/index/acfproduct/code/15-1020+TCX
[Accessed 22 June 2020].

Collaboration or Participation?

I have never really considered many of these terms and how I might fit into them. However, as I think back to my commercial practice, I would regularly work with a team in order to realise a client brief. In terms of a collaborative, though not necessarily in the strictest sense, I have often worked with a writer in order to realise and illustrate elements of that text.

Figure 1: Phil Hill & Darius Dabrowski (March – June, 2020) ‘Casiobury Park, Watford’

During the MA, I have explored the idea of collaboration much more and during the last module I invited people I had started to build a relationship with and photograph to also photograph themselves using a camera that I provided. Owing to the current situation I have not been able to develop this approach, but I did start to use some of these images for the re-photography task as a way of responding to these images (Fig: 1). This first exploration, I merely gave cameras to individuals with little instruction to see what I would receive in return. I think moving forward, I would be keen to work with the people more closely to discuss how they might want to photograph for their own representation, and my roll could then be to facilitate how they could do this from a technical perspective. In a similar way to how Anthony Luvera approaches collaboration (Fig: 2).

Figure 2: Anthony Luvera (2019) Assisted Self-Portrait of Joe Murray from Residency

For the work that I have been producing, which are primarily portraits. I would usually contact people I would like to photograph in advance so that I can make my introductions, set out my aims, and build a relationship with the subject and this is more of me seeking to find participants. Sometimes, I would not even use my camera on the first meeting so that we can discuss the project and most importantly how we would work together to take the photograph. I am keen to better represent the subjects that I am photographing and am acutely aware that there is still a heavy bias towards the way that I am setting up and taking my images, which I think is a confidence thing. My approach in this way is very much like how Alys Tomlinson approached her subjects for Ex-Voto (Fig: 3), where she arranged an appointment and then photographed them at a later date.

Figure 3: Alys Tomlinson (2019) Unamed from ‘Ex Voto’

For this module, I have struggled to approach people in the same way due to the lock-down and the usual channels of contact being on hold for now. I actually find the process of approaching people without an initial introduction, or in the case of me being hired for a job, a reason for being there. However, my challenge has been to approach people coming back together in the open community spaces as the restrictions lift. This method of seeking participants had the potential to become quite a quick exchange as my own reticence to approach might turn into quickly taking the image and walking away. Instead, I have chosen to shoot this module using a medium format film camera to introduce some theater into what I am doing (which breaks the ice), and also slow my process right down so that I have the space to engage with my participant and talk with them (Fig: 4). This still needs developing as I really need to develop an approach that is much more inclusive of the participant to include their voice and a direction that also considers how they want to be represented much more.

Figure 4: Phil Hill (June, 2020) Portrait of Wais at Callowland Recreation Ground

A collective is fairly new to me and this week’s zine project will be very good for this area of development. I am fairly used to working independently as a photographer so it will be useful to come together with others that have different ideas to my own.

Place over Time II

Figure 1: Sebastiano Pomata & Phil Hill (May – June, 2020) Seb’s image taken in Barcelona (left) and my appropriated copy (right)
Figure 2: Sebastiano Pomata & Phil Hill (May – June, 2020) Different version of the figure 1 diptych, leaving Seb’s original as scanned.

During the lock down I asked a number of people to start taking pictures of their experiences. My friend Seb, who lives in Barcelona, shot a roll of film for me and mailed it over to process and scan. I am unsure where I want to use these, if at all, for my research project. For this week’s task however, I decided it would be interesting to see how I could appropriate his images. Using a slide copier, I re-photographed his negatives and the processed the film again creating the above diptych image (Fig: 1 & 2).

On the face of it, both of these images appear to be the same, albeit with different exposures. A fairly straightforward copy, however, it can be argued that Seb’s image is once removed from the concrete world as he originally photographed it.  

In my appropriated version, I have further removed the reality by copying the image onto a new roll of film, creating a positive image onto the filmstrip. My copied version is also based on decisions that I have made during the copying process. As a result, I have created an object that is mine, in the form of the new negative.  I have become quite interested in how a photograph can represent its subject and it can be argued that my version is even less representative than the original. Yet, if seen in isolation, would be considered on similar merit to the original it copies.

Not shown here, but during the copying process, I also made selections and edited the order of the images that Seb took, which further decontextualises them.

I am considering taking this idea into my own images to see how I can create a sense of separation through this kind of implicit abstraction.

Figure 3: Sebastiano Pomata & Phil Hill (May – June, 2020) Another appropriated image from Seb’s Barcelona series.

Joywar

To be quite honest, I think my personal reaction would come down to the context and how the use aligned with my own viewpoint. And as I write that, I am aware that an appropriation of my work may not align with my own view, yet provide a valuable meaning for others, which should ultimately be considered.

In my professional practice, I have had images taken and used without permission, which is a different issue. I have also had image used in publication, which were edited in ways that I did not intend them to be – for example, turned black and white, and in one case flipped to suit the layout of the magazine. These were both limited examples, which raised an eyebrow but I did not have too many concerns. I also have a number of images that are available on image libraries, that I have limited control on the usage in most cases, however I differentiate the images that are listed on these sites versus images for my art practice.

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Please note that this top by @georgeatasda is in no way associated with Scamp & Dude. It does sadly feature our slogan 'a Superhero has my back' (even though we own the Trademark) but it is in no way associated with our brand. It’s so upsetting when this happens. ?? For anyone who doesn't know the meaning behind 'a Superhero has my back', I came up with this slogan when recovering from brain surgery in hospital. I was so scared that I wouldn't make it through the surgery and would end up leaving my boys without a mummy. A horribly hard thing to go through, but it was this that inspired me to create a brand that helps children feel more secure when apart from their loved ones. A Superhero certainly had my back and I made it though the surgery and Scamp & Dude launched into @libertylondon 10 months later. ‘A Superhero has my back' is at the heart of our brand and we work so, so hard to give as many kids as possible a Superhero to watch over them. We donate one of our special Superhero Sleep Buddies to a child who has lost a parent or is desperately ill for every one sold. We work with various charities and hospitals including @griefencounter @dontforgetthekidsuk and @greatormondst helping children who need a Superhero to have their back. ⚡️ It’s so hard when this happens, but I’m so grateful to all of our loyal customers who have brought this to our attention, we appreciate your support so much. Jo xx ⚡️❤️⚡️ @scampanddudejo

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Figure 1: Jo Tutchner-Sharp (2018) Instagram post to highlight the appropriation of the slogan.

This does remind me of a couple of times this has occurred and dealt with differently with relation to the art practice. Jo Tutchener-Sharp created a t-shirt design ‘a superhero has my back,’ which was created to raise money in response to a period that she spent in hospital away from her children (Petter, 2018). Asda took the slogan and applied it to a range of products that had nothing to do with raising money for charity. Tutchener-Sharp chose not to pursue legal action against Asda (which would most likely come to nothing against such a large organisation), instead she mobilised her own social media audience (Fig: 1) to highlight what had happened. This quickly went viral and ultimately prompted a response from Asda to resolve it.

Figure: 2 Manny Garcia & Shepard Fairey (2008) The Associated Press objects to the use of a photo of Barack Obama by Mannie Garcia [Left] in a poster by Shepard Fairey [Right].

The ‘Hope’ poster created during Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign is another example of appropriated image being remixed and has been referred to the modern Che Guevara poster, another famous example of image appropriation (Barton, 2008). Manny Garcia took the original image and was represented by Associated press who pursued legal action against the poster’s creator Shepard Fairey. However, Fairey countered the copyright claims with his own legal action, citing ‘Fair Use.’ The case was ultimately settled out of court after Fairey was found to have destroyed evidence that linked the poster to the use of the image. Garcia is said to have been proud of the use of his image in this way but objected to the way that it was used without permission (Kennedy, 2009). The hope poster has gone on to have a life of its own, which is far beyond the intention of Garcia when he took the image as a press photographer.

In the case of Tutchner-Sharp, I do not have anywhere near the audience available to me to create a strong response in the way that she was able to. However, it seemed like a good way to resolve the situation that might have been mired in legal action, which might distract from the original intention of what she was aiming to do.

In the case of the ‘Hope’ poster, I feel that it would have been useful to see the dispute between Fairey and AP achieve a more amicable resolution – an earlier acknowledgement of the appropriation, for example. I think that I would ultimately feel similar to how Garcia did about the use as now the image has entered into our collective conscious in a way that I would never be able to do with my own photography, on my own merit. I would hope that there was a fringe benefit for my own practice that my photography was associated with such a remix.

Bibliography

Barton, L., 2008. Hope – the image that is already an American classic. [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2008/nov/10/barackobama-usa#maincontent [Accessed 8 June 2020].

Kennedy, R., 2009. Artist Sues The A.P. Over Obama Image. [Online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/arts/design/10fair.html [Accessed 8 June 2020].

Petter, O., 2018. CHILDRENSWEAR BRAND ACCUSES ASDA OF ‘RIPPING OFF’ TRADEMARK SLOGAN. [Online] Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/asda-scamp-and-dude-slogan-rip-off-accusation-trademark-childrenswear-a8223471.html [Accessed 8 June 2020].

Place Over Time

I took a number of approaches to this task and have found it quite useful in thinking about my own practice. I think that I have been doing forms of re-photography in quite a lot of then work that I produce.

Image 1
Figure 1: Phil Hill (April & June, 2020) Light on kitchen floor

This is one of the images submitted for the last module (Fig: 1). Although not exactly the same in terms of composition, the light cast onto the floor creates an interesting contrast between the two images. In terms of the passage of time, the first was taken in April when it was much cooler and the kitchen door was closed, compared to the recreation, where the door was open allowing more of the afternoon light come into the space.

Images 2 & 3
Figure 2: Phil Hill & Darius Dabrowski (March – June, 2020) Casiobury Park, Watford
Figure 3: Phil Hill & Darius Dubrowski (March – June, 2020) Watford Town Center

Again, during Informing contexts, one of my aims was to start collaborating with others (Fig: 2 & 3). I gave out cameras to some of the people that I met in my community in order for them to photograph it from their own perspective. Unfortunately, owing to the pandemic, I was unable to truly resolve and develop that approach so had to shelve it. I decided to use them for this task as it felt like a great way to apply the techniques by way of a collaboration. As my research project is about connection to community and idiorythym, I am interested in how other perceive the same space as me.

Images 4 & 5
Figure 4: Phil Hill (April – June, 2020) Window images
Figure 5: Phil Hill (April – June, 2020) Window Images

The final two images are part of the evolution of my research project as a result of having to adapt to the pandemic (Fig: 4&5). I was happy with the way that these abstract images of the windows in my home turned out, however they are also a reaction to a situation and something that I feel need further development if I am going to utilise it for future work. After reading Vilém Flusser during the break, I was interested in the way that he discusses the surface of the photograph and how it abstracts from reality: “traditional images are abstractions of the first order insofar as they abstract from the concrete world” (2000: 14), so I wanted to take this concept and start to purposefully abstract using different processes, including considering the photograph as an object itself. This is the first exploration in this are – the images on the left have been re-photographed using black and white film, which was pushed 5 stops (100 – 3200) beyond its normal capability to increase grain and reduce the resolution of the final negative. This was a useful task to start exploring these ideas.

Bibliography

Flusser, V., 2000. Towards a Philosophy of Photography. 2018 Reprint ed. London: Reaktion Books.