Week 4 – Independent Reflection – Strategies of Freedom

This week I have learnt how controlled and programmed my practice has been to date. It has been revealing to break out of my normal methods and apparatus and consider the range of possibilities not considered so far. I can illustrate this by looking at work I produced before the MA began.

I reentered photography after a twenty year absence in 2016. I read The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum to remind myself of all the rules to obey. I took a Diploma with the Photography Institute to catch up with all the new developments of digital photography. I read up on the right kit to buy. As an owner of some Canon lenses and happy with them in the past I purchased an 80D. I joined the Royal Photographic society and got involved in their documentary and landscape discussion groups.

I felt pressure to get better kit and yielded purchasing a 6D and then an R. I went on trips with Light and Land to Andalucia and with Tim Mannakee to Tuscanny and Venice.

I read my new hero Fusser and his basic concepts of ‘image – apparatus – program – information’ in which ‘image contains within it magic; apparatus contains within it automation and play; program contains within it chance and necessity; information contains within it the symbolic and the probable’ (1983:76). Looking at my work to date as a photographer I can be described as a well trained Golden Retriever (my favourite dog) who can now sit, walk to heal, sit at kerbs, not beg at the table and not jump up on people when they arrive. I am a lovely Golden Retriever.

This week has made me consider what it might be like to run off my leash and become a wolf in the wild. Fusser helps again as he describes what the wolf in me might wish to achieve ‘consciously attempting to create unpredictable information, ie to release themselves from the camera, and to place something within the image that is not in the program. They know they are playing against the camera.‘ (1983:81).

This resonates for my project ‘The Truth & Beauty of Me.’ In particular how can I get in to my images within the surface presentation some indication of what is going on behind the external image. For my face how do I show my state of mind, emotions and thoughts? I don’t yet know but this is a search to continue armed with Fusser and playing this week.

In our work this week we tried out different ways of creating work. Hilde, Chris, myself, Nick, Nathan, Michael, James, Andrew and then back to Hilde created a photochain. Hilde started the process and each recipient then had to produce an image inspired by the image received. From it we created a zine. It was great fun working together collaboratively and with all of us curious and a little excited to see the end result.

Photochain

For the 24 hour task to produce images not using our normal processes or apparatus I asked a friend who is painting a portrait of me from a photograph of me to give me five images related to what she was doing on the Wednesday.

Once again it was fascinating to have no control and exciting to see what came out. Another sculpture friend has this week agreed to produce a sculpture of my head. It will be interesting to go through the process of sitting for this and seeing what comes out.

I was really interested in Hilde output this week as she took a digital image and then converted it to a sound image to see what she got. This really plays to Fusser’s idea of apparatus and programme giving us the information and in this case Hilde playing it out in a different form. Makes me wonder how you could convert digital information gathered as an output you could smell!

Great week.

Reference:

Flusser, V. Towards a philosophy of photography. 1983. Reaction Books ltd.

Categories: Coursework, Positions and Practice, Surfaces and Strategies

LEN

I am a Photographer. As well as taking many photographs I am currently studying for an MA in Photography at Falmouth University. I will direct my attention through the lens of my camera for the next couple of years and see what shows up. I see a photograph as a little bit of magic capturing a moment in time. If successful it surprises and engages your emotions. It tells a story about the wonders of being alive or tells us what we need to change to make it a better world to live in. That is enough for me to get going and then like walking a 1000 miles, which I did across the UK in 2010, or walking 200 miles across Cyprus, which I did in November last year, it is one step at a time.

I was a writer. The title of my unpublished book was ‘You Would Have Done The Same.' It is about a successful guy in love with his wife who lets her die when he discovers her in the process of committing suicide. The title gives a clue as to what I think you would have done. The book is 200 pages long. I found it cathartic to write it but after two years of work and reviewing with agents decided it probably needed another 2000 hours to get the whole book up to the standard of some of the pages. Writing is great but it is a lot of sitting down so I decided to get out and walk, play tennis, play bridge, go birding, watch football at Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Valencia and anywhere else if I can, meditate, cook and eat. I was a writer who has so far failed to become an author.
I was a young man who loved Mathematics and thoroughly enjoyed getting a BSc at Liverpool University. While there I went often to Anfield and the Philharmonic Hall. I was all set on doing a PhD until I went for interview practice at BP and got seduced by the excitement of an International business career. BP was a great adventure building trading teams and businesses in London, Antwerp, Cleveland Ohio and Singapore. Fabulous people and some great challenges and also very hard work, constant jet lag and lots of fun along the way. I married Karen, my stunning wife, and had the most amazing time with her and our three boys Alex, Tom and Dan. She has multiple sclerosis and we have taken on many challenges together but somehow keep creating a new normal against the horrors thrown our way. She is the love of my life.

After BP I decided to coach senior executives and quickly realized I had a lot to learn
about what makes people tick. I had a fantastic 18 months on the International Programme of the Cleveland Gestalt Institute. A great faculty and a
wonderful group of people on the programme. We studied and worked in Dingle, Singapore, Holland, Cape Town and
Lisbon. This also got me interested in the way we think and make decisions so I studied for an MSc in Psychology atUniversity College London in 2010. The
Masters was in Cognitive and Decision Sciences and I found it fascinating what
we do know but also how much we don’t know about how we think and make
decisions.

I loved coaching and making a difference. I got a number of people to hear themselves, remove some of their own chains and free up the way they thought about the world. I remain fascinated by how people react to and engage with the world. My Masters thesis was why do two people given the same information make different decisions? Put simply, it is because each of us are unique in the way we are constructed.

Since returning from Singapore I found English winters tough so moved to Spain where I now live. The people are lovely, the scenery amazing, food delicious and the sun shines all the time. Almost.

All of these experiences will feed in to my time now as a Photographer. Three motivations I am lucky to have are enthusiasm, curiosity and a continuous interest in learning. All the time I look forward to meeting old friends and making new friends and experiencing this wonderful life together.