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Friday, September 28, 2012

MA Exhibition - Serendipity - Family Photograph - Video

This is a video of the installation Serendipity which is discussed in a previous post, see here for further information.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Dissertation - Abstract and Synopsis

Self: The Photograph, Memory and Nostalgia

Abstract 

This enquiry takes the form of a personal reflective narrative within a theoretical framework influenced by the writings of Barthes, Sontag, Benjamin and others. It opens by briefly exploring the historical development of photography and the emergence of the photograph as a as the snapshot in the context of the family photograph. The enquiry considers the relationship between the family photograph and the development of autobiographical memory in turn a detailed exploration of the influence of autobiographical memory and the sense of self. Finally the dissertation explores the emotional influence of nostalgia as a catalyst in the development of a sense of self and place.

This dissertation is part of a larger body of work including a practice based exhibition comprising three installations which explore in turn; the notion of aging and mortality through the decay of memory and the ephemeral photograph; the family photograph and the uncanny nature of the pose based on a selection of family photographs spanning four generations; a simulation of the frailty of memory in which appropriated frames of decaying film stock are combined with familiar images in a dissonant melange of the familiar and the confused.

The enquiry is informed by a series of questions: Is my art practice born out of a sense of self and agency? What are the influence of autobiographical memory and the emotion of nostalgia?

Synopsis

The objective of this dissertation is to explore the influences which have informed my art practice and which give rise to my recurring themes of decay, memory and nostalgia through the medium of photography, in its broadest terms.

My contention is that my practice is born out of a sense of self and agency moulded by the influence of autobiographical memory and the remembered self. I will argue that I am influenced by the cultural background and geography of my childhood the embodiment of which is the family photograph.
My enquiry is composed of two elements, the dissertation and a practice based exhibition. The dissertation will take the form of a personal reflective narrative. The practice component is based on the experimental aspect of my current practice with an emphasis on themes drawn specifically from the substance of my enquiry.

I shall open by exploring a brief history of photography and the emergence of the photograph as a medium and as an intrinsic part of family life whilst considering the influence of the photograph in the development of autobiographical memory in association with the family photograph and the family photograph album. This in turn will lead me to a more detailed exploration of the nature of autobiographical memory and the influence of memory on the development of the sense of self. Thirdly I shall explore the emotional influence of nostalgia as a catalyst in the context of self and place. Finally, I shall introduce the practice and contextual aspect of the dissertation.


Friday, September 21, 2012

MA Exhibition - Serendipity - Family Photograph

Serendipity – a homage to the family photograph album, the “snapshot” and the uncanny nature of the pose based on a selection of family photographs spanning five generations, intended to invoke memory and nostalgic emotion.



Following the invention of photography the family photograph album quickly became an essential part of family life as a means of storing paper prints but more than that, as a repository for memories,  a source of nostalgic reflection and trigger for story telling. 

The nineteen fifties saw the arrival colour photography and with this the 35mm colour transparency  which because of their small size, to be shown as a projected image. A symbol of the genre was the Kodak Carousel slide projector, another form of family photograph album. The darkened room and the sound of the slides changing evoke nostalgic memories for a whole generation.

The installation comprises digital projected images of old black and white photographs re-photographed from the family album to show elements of the textual information that accompanied the photographs in the album.

The installation simulated the walls of a room and the pages of a photograph album superimposed on these are the projected images from a Kodak Carousel projector overlaying and merging with the black and white images, occasionally giving rise to serendipitous juxtapositions and third images. The image selection emphasises the banality and commonality of the pose despite being separated by up to five generations in time.

The viewer will be prompted to consider their personal relationship with, and their experience of, the photograph as a means of spontaneously making new memories from old memories. Confronted by the banality of the pose in many of the images the viewer will be prompted to reflect upon similar poses within their own collection of photographs.

When viewing a family photograph album, the images are but single frames from a view of life which can be reconstructed into a variety of narratives be pendant upon the viewer’s relationship to them. A photograph captures the moment which immediately becomes the past. The imagery is fuel for the imagination, we see not only what is signified by the photograph but we recall related memories and emotions and our mind creates new images, our images.

To add an additional dimension to this installation a narrative sound track by family member, Bill Turner aged 80, my mothers’ second cousin, in conversation with me and my brother reflects on photographs from the family archive, not necessarily those being shown. The commentary demonstrates the role of the photograph as a record of social history and an aide memoir.  The objective of the installation is to explore how family photographs shape our memory by triggering remembering and random thoughts, whilst prompting the viewer to consider how they remember their own family photographs and related memories.

Medium: Projected digital image of original photographs, analogue  projected colour transparency [slide], with commentary.

This is a slide show compiled from stills from the presentation, for a full length video [6min 34sec] of the presentation see here.

MA Exhibition - Memento Mori

Memento Mori – a form of invocation which explores the notion of ageing and mortality through the decay of memory in relation to the ephemeral but enduring photograph.


Perusing a family photograph album I came across a photograph of my mother as a beautiful young woman at the age of 18, I was reminded of the last time I saw her before she died, a frail old lady of 78. 

I was suddenly overwhelmed by my own sense of mortality how long would it be before a member of my family contemplated my photograph and reflected on my passing. 


Roland Barthes had been similarly affected by the finding of a photograph of his mother as a young girl. His ultimate response was to contemplate death, the death of his mother and himself. Barthes was of course mourning the recent loss of his mother. 


My situation was rather different my mother had been dead for fifteen years. What the photograph made me realise, confronted with the prospect of my own death, was how I had been unable to grieve at the time of her death. 


This photograph was important to me as a memento mori, it was the way I wanted to remember her as a she appeared in this photograph rather than rely upon the insubstantiality and frailty of memory, which had already started to fade until revived by this photograph. 


The installation prompted by this reflective occasion considers the nature of the snapshot as a memento mori and as a signifier of mortality compared with, the insubstantiality and fragility of memory. 


The installation uses an iPad as the means of presentation, representing on the one hand a fading memory and on the other an enduring photograph. The installation is in the form of a peepshow with the intention of creating a sense of intimacy with the image and as a means of concentrating the gaze.
The presentation is in 4 parts, the photograph, the aging of the photograph [18seconds], the decay of the memory [78 seconds] and the reflection of the enduring photograph. 


The presentation is accompanied by a sound track by Leila – Underwater. Due to copyright restrictions I cannot include the soundtrack in the video, as an alternative, to hear the soundtrack open the YouTube version here before viewing Memento Mori.

Medium: iPad – Digital animation from original photograph with sound.


MA Exhibition - Decasia - Frailty of Memory

Decasia: Frailty of Memory – a simulation of the frailty of memory in which appropriated frames of decaying film stock are combined with familiar images in a dissonant melange of the familiar and the confused.


This installation is a simulation of the frailty of memory and the confusion related to aging changes such as dementia. The work is informed by the practice of cinematographer Bill Morrison and his cinematographic creations using decaying nitrate film stock rescued from the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. 

Morrisons’ use of decaying nitrate film provides the perfect metaphor for failing memory, the juxtaposed elements of decay and imagery results in a surreal simulation of a decaying memory. The effect is serendipitous the result tantalising, we are all familiar with the frustration of trying to recall or complete a memory we may be able to translate Morrison’s imagery as an emulation of how a person with dementia or failing memory struggles to recall memories, the fleeting vivid moment in a sea of confusion and distortion.

I have appropriated frames from Morrisons’ film “Light is Calling” which show only abstract visualisation of decay and reworked them by blending in images from the family photograph album endeavouring to emulate the process of decay and the related frailty and confusion of memory.

The video is constructed to give an initial sensation of remembering, the viewer is struggles to reconstruct familiar memories from the noise and confusion of the mind as the memories melt into the background only to reappear in a different form the emerging image reacting with the background to create an element of indeterminacy in a tantalising and frustrating tangle as the memory is reconstructed.

The imagery is accompanied by extracts from the sound track of Morrisons short film Light is Calling the sound track was composed by Michael Gordon. In this installation it is hoped that the viewer will recognise almost inevitable prospect of failing memory whilst being prompted to recall their own memories visually and aurally.

Medium: Video constructed from appropriated film stills and digitised photographs, with sound.

Note: the title Decasia is appropriated from Bill Morrison’s full length feature film of the same name.


MA Exhibition - Personal Statement



Self: The Photograph, Memory and Nostalgia

This exhibition is in partial fulfilment of the MA Contemporary Arts Research
MA Contemporary Art Research (Fine Art)
Personal Statement
Dissertation: This enquiry takes the form of a personal reflective narrative within a theoretical framework influenced by the writings of Barthes, Sontag, Benjamin and others. It opens by briefly exploring the historical development of photography and the emergence of the photograph as a as the snapshot in the context of the family photograph. The enquiry considers the relationship between the family photograph and the development of autobiographical memory in turn a detailed exploration of the influence of autobiographical memory and the sense of self. Finally the dissertation explores the emotional influence of nostalgia as a catalyst in the development of a sense of self and place. 

Exhibition: This is a practice based exhibition comprising three installations which explore in turn; the notion of aging and mortality through the decay of memory and the ephemeral photograph; the family photograph and the uncanny nature of the pose based on a selection of family photographs spanning four generations; a simulation of the frailty of memory in which appropriated frames of decaying film stock are combined with familiar images in a dissonant melange of the familiar and the confused.

The enquiry is informed by a series of questions: Is my art practice born out of a sense of self and agency? What are the influence of autobiographical memory and the emotion of nostalgia?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

iPad - How To Loop a Video - Updated



I needed to have a video loop for one of my Art Show installations. I tried a couple of apps for this, vLoop and Video Looper but I could not get either of them to work. Then I came across a post on one of the Apple forums with the following suggestion:-
1.       Create a folder on your computer called anything you want, mine was “video loop”. Place your video file in here (must be Apple iPad compatible – see below).
2.       Open your iPad in iTunes click Photo tab, tick “Sync Photos from” box and choose folder from drop down options> selected folders, browse to your chosen folder – mine was “video loop” and Sync your iPad.
3.       On iPad, go to Settings> Photos> turn on "Repeat ON" ignore the "Play for Each Slide Timing", this does not matter for this purpose.
4.       Back to desktop, click Photos icon and create a new Album called Loop place your video in this Album. [See update below]
5.       Open Album and choose Slideshow and choose “Start Slideshow”, when you start the video it will now loop continuously.
I find it amazing that there is not an obvious native way of looping a video on any iDevice.

UPDATE: Although the above method worked the first time I tried it when I come to try it with another video it would not work, that is it would not loop. After much head scratching I discovered if I added a second copy of the video to the Album, when I ran the slide-show as above it worked perfectly

FURTHER UPDATE - 13.3.17: I needed to create a looping video display for an exhibition I was mounting last wee. I followed the method outlined above. It would seem that due to an update to iOS since the original post the Slide-show option in iPhoto (Currently iOS 10.2.1) irritatingly appends a Title to the Slide-show, which I cannot find a way of removing it. The Title is based on the Name of the Album. The only work around was to choose an album name than also doubled as an appropriate Slide-show Title. On this occasion I created a blank black slide and made certain this loaded first followed by the video. In the bottom right corer of the screen is an Options Menu which allows you to add music if required and there are options for the slide change, dissolve etc. I used dissolve with no music. The sound track on the video is unaffected. Irritating but  a workaround.

iPad/iPad 2 Supported Video Format
  • H.264 video up to 720p, 30 frames per second, Main Profile level 3.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats;
  • MPEG-4 video, up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats;
  • Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format.

Friday, September 14, 2012

MA Art Show: Object - Memory



As part of my recently completed dissertation Self:The Photograph, Memory, Nostalgia I had to include a Practice based exhibition. This will take the form a joint show with fellow MA candidate David Ogle, in the LICA Building at Lancaster University LA1 4YW. Preview - Friday 21st September at 6pm, Show open from: Saturday 22nd till Friday 27th September 10am till 4 pm.

This practice based series of installations explores nostalgia,the fragility of memory and mortality through the lens of the family snapshot and the family photograph album. The overriding theme is the notion that the sense of self and agency as an artist is informed by nostalgia and the autobiographical memory through the photograph. The installations utilise the iPad, digital and analogue projected images as a means of visualisation. Below are images from my sketchbooks. This installation Serendipity - explores the emotion of nostalgia and memory through the lens of the family photograph. Using the idea of the walls of a living space images of black and white photographs copied in-situ from the family photograph album are digitally protected on to the walls. Over the top are projected colour slides using original slides and a Kodak Carousel projector. The images come together in a random fashion often creating a serendipitous juxtaposition to form a third image which combines of the elements of both images in an uncanny fashion.


 Serendipity - Wall Projection Photoshop Mock Up
 Serendipity - Wall Projection Test Set-up

The show is being held in association with fellow MA candidate David Ogle.This is an example of Davids' spectacular sculptural work.


David describes his work thus:The immediacy and linear quality of drawing naturally lends itself to my way of working. Growing out of this, my sculptural work aims to take the fundamental properties of drawing (with a focus on flatness and line) and transfer these into new spatial situations. Physical spaces are intersected by lines and forms that optically flatten an environment, each step the viewer takes offering a new perspective on extruding entities that seem to discard any kind of three-dimensional physicality.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

The House Lancaster


I recently attended a summer school at Lancaster Uni, a joint venture between Live@LICA and itd (imitating the dog) an avant garde theatre company I mentioned in a earlier post.  The weeks activities were recorded by Leo Burtin  on a dedicated blog The House Lancaster
 
The School was run by itd’s founder members Andrew Quick (director, dramaturg, scenographer) and Simon Wainwright (video designer) with composer (and itd collaborator) James Hamilton.

The school explored experimental ways of storytelling involving the layering of digital images, animation, soundtrack and text. The group comprised 17 people from a wide range of backgrounds including teaching, theatre, performance, fine art and computer science. Over the period of 5 days the group cooperated to produce a 30 minute performance from complete scratch.



The only clue given at the outset was that the theme was to be based on a house. The next step was each participant was asked to visualise a house with which they had an emotional connection and the rest of what happened evolved from that. As a source of ideas each person was given a small cardboard box which contained a selection of items that would be of help in completing the task like a pencil and notebook, a selection of nostalgic items and the bus fare into Lancaster where we were expected to collect photographs of houses and bits of houses and where possible sound and video clips. Oh yes there was a chime bar, one note from a xylophone, this would be used to contribute to the construction of a sound scape.

One of the most exciting learning experiences for me was the use of  Projection mapping a technique of moulding projected digital images to 3D surfaces. The whole production including the projection mapping is controlled by the software Isadora.  In this case we were going to project onto a mock up of the corner of a house complete with doors and windows.You can see the final 30 minute performance in this unofficial video by Julieann O'Mally.