Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Exercise: Captions

This exercise is to select up to five images from our personal library that depict events that are relevant on a personal level. These are to be posted on OCA forums with an invitation to provide a short caption for each one.

The purpose of this exercise is to understand that photographs are mute and do not explain context, they are taken in, John Berger describes this as discontinuity or more plainly "ambiguous".

It is open to interpretation by the viewer.... Here were my five...

The Results / Feedback

I received some good feedback from these five images and I was surprised to find that some of the images had the same viewpoints. This would indicate similar interpretations which suggests a good focal point to the images.

In the first image a reference to "eye tests" was common, or "I can see better with this eye", although my favourite was "behind bars". The second image concentrated on the weather which is not surprising. However I was glad to see one comment "Kings of the Mountain", this was true as it was taken on the top of Scafell Pike in truly awful weather, and yes we did feel like Kings at the time.

The third image picked up on more than one occasion pointed out that two people in the photo didn't have a bike. One comment was "Reservoir Dogs, Iron Man Edition". This I thought was a great description and one that was also made on Facebook. There was no reference to the setting sun, except perhaps for one comment that was "End of a long day". Indeed it was a long day, it was a challenge to ride from dawn to sunset in an aim to "Chase the Sun" from the East Coast of Southern England to the West Coast, some 205 miles. So the fact that the sun is still shining is proof of our success and obvious tiredness.

The fourth image was a basic Grandson and Grandfather picture taken in the early 1970's and this was picked up on well.

The final image had descriptions that used the word "contemplation" multiple time, and that is exactly what was happening. Other comments were a bit darker with the possibility of something much worse, with one comment detailing the mobile phone on top of the bag as if a last call had been made.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Exercise: What Makes a Document?

A quick yet interesting exercise exploring a blog entry made by Jose navarro, the course author. We are to read the article and post back on our reflections on the article and the responses...


Here was mine.....

A thought provoking article with excellent responses... all 78 of them. For me a photograph is always a document, but as pointed out its relevance changes over time. The image of Jose’s grandfather is a remarkable one, the contrast of military and religion question the viewer immediately as to what could possibly be going on? For me it has an air of peace and reconciliation but perhaps that is what I want to believe.

Many responses are triggered around time and context and the two initial examples given will continue to change over time. Recently Fidel Castro passed away, you only have to look how his images have been portrayed overtime to see how their relevance has changed. This is what makes documentary so fascinating in that we do not know what today’s images will reveal or be used for in years to come. In many cases evidence of our failings.

For example images of the unsinkable Titanic, which in themselves are rare, were taken as a record of its magnificence, yet in time they are used as a record of its astonishing failure. Images of the first atomic bombs being dropped on Japan at the end of the Second World War may have had the intention of demonstrating military supremacy, or recording the event as a ‘first’. Now they serve us well detailing the unyielding horror and trauma inflicted by so many as a stark reminder of man’s brutal potential.

Often we record not knowing the relevance of the moment, perhaps every image has a future secret to reveal?

Exercise: Realism

We are asked to read section pp 1-8 of the easy "Transparent Pictures: On the Nature of Photographic Realism" by Kendall L Walton, and write a reflective commentary of 200 words.

Walton’s paper got off to a really great start cutting to the chase that photography excels in realism when compared to other forms pictures. This is hardly surprising to anyone, ultimately it is an object’s reflected, or generated, light that is captured and it should be near perfect. Walton makes the observation that there is margin for error, in an incorrect exposure, shutter speed etc., but surely this is a skill that the practitioner and equipment develop. Walton also makes a very important observation in that a traditional artist can create images as realistic as any photograph and is limited only by material and skill.
I remember buying my first large format book by Crewdson, when I opened it I initially believed that the images were artists impressions. Here perhaps is a common example where photography has adapted to take the edge of realism; Walton did not explore this. He did however comment on its authenticity and applications of evidence such as the courtroom where the “camera does not lie”.

Walton spends time to discuss how close we are to the photograph holding it as memories set in time, recalling past relatives. Here the important distinction is that we see our past relatives in our mind-set and not literally. I often wonder though if past images install fake memories or embellish them where our memories are hazy or older? One of the best articles I have read so far….  [240 words]