This assignment set out to be many things and changed a lot over time. When I started DPP I was thinking about Gilbert White and his diary and using this as a basis for the work, I got very caught up learning about studio lighting and was going to do a series of ballet poses, which would have been very expensive. I thought of using Karl Blossfeldt as a subject.
What made me end up here feels like real learning and the sort of thing I think a degree should be about so I am really happy that it all finally kicked into gear. For me once I stopped fighting the module the learning was about digital manipulation and the presentation of images. by module 3 I was working on things that make a black and white image good then by assignment 4 I was in a deep wrestling match over the idea of there being a moral dilemma over changing images. to me this was absurd, however, I have to say that was an ill educated statement and it was only when I read Tom Wheelers book : PHOTOTRUTH OR PHOTOFICTION? Ethics and Media Imagery in the Digital Age that I understood the debate, I think that as a bit of a fantasy addict images that are surreal or “Changed” feel normal, I have always loved the fantasy art of Boris Vallejo, and the idea of photography somehow aping his work really appeals to me, even though I would probably be lynched by some of the more narrow minded of my fellow students.
All this said the real debate here was in the title of the book PhotoTruth or PhotoFiction, almost all of the argument about codes of morals exist in the realm of Phototruth and the practitioners of photofiction probably don’t need any of these moral discussions lest the work become rather boring.
So I was in a place where I had thought a lot about changing images, and got fairly good at doing it too, I had done a lot of work so far that was mostly architectural or archaeological being mostly old buildings and monuments, which was largely because they are easy to research and find and they don’t run away while you photograph them.
There was not much evidence of the place I had decided that my passion resided, so for me Assignment 4 was a half way house it introduced the fantasy and left out the architecture, it was a lot of fun to do and it made use of the studio work I was doing.
So when I wanted to do a project for Assignment 5 I really needed to mix the fantasy with the architecture as a kind of bridge to the new me. I came up with the idea of putting buildings on a replica of the holodek from the star-trek TV series next generation as I though the concept was a wonderful one.
For those that have never seen the TV show the holodeck was a room originally for recreation where the crew could load a programme that would recreate almost anything including landscapes and objects as well as complex scenarios. When something was created in the holodeck it became a hologram that you could interact with i.e. solid.
I spent a long time dreaming up complex reasons why the crew of the Enterprise would recreate dusty old buildings from Aldershot and Farnham some got so complex that I would almost have to write a full episode for it to make sense. I knew this would not work as the assessors do not have the time to take it in so in the end I made a simple extract with a simple explanation to accompany the pictures.
Firstly I wanted to use the research I had been doing into Bernd and Hilla Becher, I have been intrigued by the idea of creating photographic series using a typological description. In my studies of Bernd and Hilla Becher, I noticed that the buildings they photographed fell in to two specific camps, Those where the images looked the same but on examination were different and those that looked different but still conveyed belonging to a set.
I will try to illustrate this by example,
The image that describes the first group is epitomized for me by the set called framework houses:
In this series each house is similar, the outward impression is that they are the same type of building, they are all the same shape, they all have white walls and black beams. They all contain horizontal black beams, they all have a pitched gable roof. They all contain vertical black beams etc.
However, when you look closely you notice that the configuration of all the beams is different, some have windows or doors some do not. So there is a great diversity in the individual images even though they outwardly identify as the same thing they are all frame houses.
The second group can be explained by looking at the next two images the Water Towers and the Grain Silos.
If we first consider the Water towers they are mostly quite obviously water towers though some like the first one could easily be something else entirely, from this we see that there is a typographic element that comes by association. If we were presented each image on its own without seeing the others how many would you associate with being a water tower? I did that test and I think for me 20 of the 30 are obviously water towers, you may get a different number as this is driven by our personal iconography. However most people who have some idea what a water tower is would associate the set as water towers.
Unlike the frame houses they are not quite so similar though they do have a similar shape in a more broad sense that the frame houses do.
The Grain Silos are interesting because they have many similarities while still being quite different in shape and composition.
Though they have differing numbers of silos and are quite different ion their make up they do have a class similarity that makes them recognizable as grain silos, I say this though I have personal iconography that makes me recognize a grain silo others may lack this and it does highlight the fact that symbiology, iconography and typology sit together hand in hand when looking at this subject as they each form part of our cognitive ability to decern class and category.
Having discovered the topic of typology and photography I wanted to include this in my A5 assignment. I wanted to make a selection of images based on a topological classification.
Having read the paper by C. Güven İNCİRLİOĞLU entitled TYPOLOGIES IN PHOTOGRAPHY I started to wonder about letting the Engineer out a little, the paper postulates the following:
As banal metaphors of everyday use, one can easily speak of say, *a portrait of a building’ or the ‘physiognomy of a landscape’, in photographic terms, expecting as though the very essence of the object will reveal itself within the sharp details of photographic image, just like the person’s character supposedly do in a good portrait. But further away from these highly polemical metaphors, and specifically concerning this essay is the connection one can suggest between the concept of typology and that of physiognomy as the physical look of the thing, at least since Darwin. After all, what else do we have to understand about the world around us? This naively positivistic viewpoint, for all the different reasons, has been observed in Becher’s work by many critics in what was to be ‘the postmodern condition’. Put in other words, and in the form of a question; what happens when the artist takes his/her subjectivity out of the artwork, as the true scientist does, and abandons the artistic style in favor of a norm or a type? What if the artist replaces the aesthetic judgment with the control of variables that determine the look of an image, just as in a scientific experiment? For one thing, the artwork that comes out is not about scientific truth. In any case, this is what Bechers have been doing in the past several decades. In their most comprehensive typology of Water Towers, the photographs were all made from the same angle of view, at a certain lime of the day, under an overcast sky that supplies the most uniform lighting, and the image of the subject occupied a certain size on the photographic paper which allows comparison among the members of the type.
İNCİRLİOĞLU, C. G. (1994) TYPOLOGIES IN PHOTOGRAPHY, 22 November. METUJFA 1994 (14:1-2) 11-2, .
From this i started to speculate on the idea of using a topological description to determine the content of the image rather than an aesthetic judgment, so often we take images because they are pretty or they are aesthetically interesting. In A3 I had started this process without really realizing the path I was treading. I took images based on a classification, churches from each century of the last millennium. At the time I confess I was looking for the most aesthetically pleasing churches that fit the category. In this sense I think I was on a different wave length to my Tutor Helen, who with more experience probably assumed I was on the Typology path deliberately, whilst, I was doing exactly what it said in the assignment, look for images that will turn into great Black and White images. This lead to my feed back from Helen commenting on my dramatic sky’s detracting from the architecture. Her comments sent me off on this train of thought about Typology, in a way I am glad I did not do A3 with a Typology in mind as the feed back has made me do so much more research into the subject than I would have done otherwise.
So this left me with half of the idea for the A5 assignment, I wanted to do a typological study.
Secondly I have become engrossed in the idea of photofiction, of constructed images and what Gary Badger calls Combination Prints A4 made me do a lot of research into this subject it made me search inside for answers to the whole moral issue about changing images and helped me discover the idea of Phototruth and Photofiction. As I have mentioned elsewhere I have a yearning to make a body of work that sits firmly in the Photofiction realm with more connection to Tolkien and Boris Valleo than to Adrian Dennis or Steve McCurry. This said I wanted to make A5 a bit of a bridge to these two worlds. I have grand plans for the future but I am not ready or skilled enough yet to fulfill them, for this assignment, I wanted to combine the real world with the fantasy one so taking the typology and merging it with the fantastical world of fantasy excites me. Now you can claim this is a superficial joining but for me it is a very important fusion that is going to move me forward toward the work I really want to do in the future.
So why did I go all nerdy and choose the Holodeck theme, simply I wanted to isolate the typology from its surroundings, in the work I have studied the artists/photographers do this using black and white they use lighting such as odd times of the day so that the light is flat, they choose subjects that isolate themselves a little. I thought that by cutting the building out of its surroundings and in several cases cutting away some of the ugly bits of the building I could really isolate the typology. The Idea is to give a different setting which is the same for all the images and segregate the typology in a new and artificially made surrounding.
In my A4 feedback Helen commented about the difficulty of creating a sci‐fy background and that not being a trained graphic artist or set designer may hamper the quality of the final image. I however, don’t think that I failed there, I wanted to stretch and challenge the art side of my Photoshop as it does not often get used, I am however a trained Graphic artist and an ex art student all be it a long time ago so I do have some tricks up my sleeves.
I was also very impressed with the work of fellow student Michael Colvin who created the fictional character Rubber Flapper and went to some extreme lengths making artifacts and photographing them in a kind of detective forensic investigative way to uncover the strange life of his fictional character Michael says:
I intend to create a fictional hidden history by making a series of images of constructed photographs and artefacts. Through my images I aim to plot a narrative path that uncovers the story of a mysterious and intriguing woman who lives in a mechanical, self-cleaning house in the 1930s.
Boothroyd, S. (2015) Rubber Flapper. Available at: http://weareoca.com/photography/rubber-flapper/ (Accessed: 26 August 2015).
Michael’s work really pushes the boundaries and ventures into the whole fictional reality and hidden truth arena, it is a really immersive piece of work and it mad me think that the glue between my typology and my Fictional construct background could be a short story or back story, this was where I cam up with the idea that I would write an extract from the ships log of the Enterprise that contained entries from the Captain and his ensign that set the scene for the project. The premise is that if I were on the Enterprise doing this course the only way of taking the pictures while in deep space would be to create the things I wanted to photograph on their holodeck.
The back story sets up the premise that Ensign Crusher is being asked to do a typographical study by a Holgraphic reconstruction of Gareth Dent our esteemed Principle, in order to do this he is using the images of pubs taken by me to recreate the buildings in the holodeck so that he can re photograph them for his assignment.
The story is simple but it effectively creates the reason for someone on the Enterprise to create images of pubs on a holodeck. As I have explained there are reasons beyond this that drive me to do this but the idea of using a quirky back story to set the whole thing off feels right.
I made about 18 images of pubs around the area and built 5 holodecks and put them all together the results can be seen on the main page under the selection process button on the contextual studies page Linked here for ease I then showed them to friends and my peer group and even to several tutors I know at the OCA to see what they thought, the point was to determine if I should use a single image for the Deck itself or different angles, the consensus was that I should make the deck uniform. This gelled with my research and the idea of segregating the typology from its surroundings. The deck needs to wow without providing a distraction. I chose Deck 5 because it provided the most space for the images to sit in and for them to look consistent.