I have reprinted all my photos using the adopted lilac Hue style suggested by my Tutor as I like the result and further to his comments, I also re-took the photo of image 5 standing on the soap-box for a better composition and made some Photoshop improvements to some of the other images for example image 3 (please refer to my earlier blogs) . Included in the folder is my Tutor’s report, Shaun Mullins – 512659 – Photography 1 Context & Narrative – Assignment 3 (1) My 300 word introduction labeled 1 of 16 300-word-introduction The character descriptions from my friends and family and a printout of the associated anchoring text marked 6 of 16 a-self-portrait-as-regarded-by-others
As part of my preparation for my final assignment, I decided to read the works of Franz Kafka in order to try and find some visual ideas for an image that was rich in metaphor.
Much of Kafka’s work was never published in his lifetime and thanks to his friend who saved his work from destruction against Kafka’s dying wishes we are able to read these stories today.
Joseph K is a Senior Bank-Clark who one day awakens to find two men in his room to arrest him. He does not discover for what crime he is accused of; but that his crime is serious and his guilt is assumed. However, he is freed and informed that his case is under investigation and that he can continue to go about his normal business but he must present himself when required and he must build a defense. Throughout the book we never discover what the crime he is accused of is, nor who accuses him or why. He discovers that the Courts are all hidden in attics and all the Court personnel are only identified by a gold button sown to their jackets.
The whole story implies a form of neurosis of the mind. Is K really a victim of a secret Justice system or is he having some-kind of nervous-breakdown? This story is full of metaphors. I believe Leni to represent K’s idea of Justice, she is flirtatious, she is attracted to all of the Advocates clients; but she wants to help and she wants to be wanted. The Advocate is K’s idea of a typical lawyer who does his best to string out the work as far as he can for profit. I suspect that K meets the Judge in the Cathedral, he is the Priest and he gives K advise in the form of a story of a man who waits in vein to be admitted to the law only to discover on his death that the door he had waited at for so long was exclusively his.
I have been reading this novel as a result of my research for this course. I learned of this novel through a essay written by Walter Benjamin and I am considering a couple of passages from this story to use as an idea to inspire an image for my last assignment.
The ideas are:
From the book The Essential Kafka, published by Wordsworth Classics.
First idea: A portrait of a man sitting in a chair looking important, distinguished, implying authority, implying a Judge. He is posed to suggest that at any-moment he is about to leap from his chair. One hand grips the arm-rest the other holds a paper marker ‘Petition’ . Behind his a blind-folded, pretty woman stands holding scales in her left hand and a sword in her right. The idea is that she represents Justice; but her pose must also suggest the Greek female Goddess of hunting. She should be dressed classically one breast exposed like that from the famous French revolutionary picture of Liberty charging forward. (Chapter 6, The Uncle – Leni, page 81, lines 23-35 and page 109, Chapter 7, The Advocate – the Manufacturer – the Painter, line 32 to page 110 to line 11).
Second idea: An open door, above the door is a sign that reads ‘THE LAW’ on the door a smaller sign reads ‘Restricted’. A Doorman stands guard by the door and a Country Gentleman sits on stool looking dejected. Behind the Doorman light appears to be streaming out from the doorway. The Doorman must appear to look like he is on guard but is not appearing to be attempting to bar access. (Chapter 9, In The Cathedral, page 161 – 162).
The hero of this story is just known as ‘K’ and is a Surveyor who arrives at the village below the castle looking for lodgings before reporting to the castle to begin work. He discovers that he is not expected and is treated as an undesirable outsider by the villagers. The Castle then confirms that he has been appointed and advises that he must wait for further instructions. The castle appears to be inaccessible without permission and he is unable to find anyone who can grant him an audience with anyone in the castle. This story is a nightmare vision of bureaucracy gone mad with tear upon tear of management that makes anything practically impossible to get done and all the servants that are the management of the castle are aloof from the villagers can only be communicated through unreliable messengers. I believe that Kafka is describing metaphorically difficulties he had with his father and perhaps difficulties that he may have experienced as a Jew in post Austrian Hungarian Europe. The story ends in mid-sentence as Kafka never finished the novel.
Metamorphosis – The Transformation of Gregor Samsa
Was this the dark foresight of a German speaking Czech Jew of the 1920’s? Gregor Samsa awakens one morning to find that he has become an giant beetle, he can no longer be understood by his family and his new physique repulses them and he is forced to live imprisoned in his bedroom with only his younger sister brave enough to show enough compassion to feed him and clean his room. Kafka uses a dark sense of humor in his writing and provides no happy ending but suggests that as one thing comes to an end there is always the beauty of a brighter tomorrow.
We are first told that the hero of this story is a successful business man living and working in partnership with his father and is writing to his friend in St. Peters-burg about his impending marriage. These facts are all thrown in to doubt when he discusses his letter and engagement with his ailing father.
Letter To My Father
This is a letter that Kafka wrote to his father but never gave to him. Addressing his feeling towards his father and venting his frustrations and anger to a man he has grown up to fear and resent. In this letter we learn a little of what has influenced Kafka’s writings and imagination. There is a very useful visual metaphor in this text. Page 590, line 26.
To the left a man stands facing a sheer cliff-face that he is trying to climb; to his right a flight of stairs is being climbed by another. there is a barrier between the two men; so preventing the man on the left from using the same path to ascend.
Photo by William Eggleston.
The weather was warm but wet however, this didn’t dampen our day. On arrival to Trafalgar square, I mistakenly went in to The National Gallery and after a quick scout around asked a member of staff where the William Eggleston exhibition was. The young lady gave me a look that one would have expected to get from the head waiter at Simpsons when asked for a Big Mac and fries. She politely and a little condescendingly informed me that I was in the wrong gallery and directed me around the corner for The National Portrait Gallery.
As I walked around the corner and entered The National Portrait Gallery, I noted that it is all part of the same building but separated and given a side entrance. Unconsciously perhaps placing portraiture in it’s considered place in the hierarchy of Art.
Photo by William Eggleston, this eligant but prim woman sits legs crossed next to a post wrapped in chain and pad-locked. The post appears to act like a metaphor you can look bot can’t touch!
Anyhow, having found the exhibition we enjoyed Eggleston’s mixture of black-and-white and colour photos of mostly friends and family. Some of the pictures on display were seen for the very first time as they had come from his private collection. Also there was a display of some of Eggleston’s video work that he had made in the early 70’s a genre that I was unaware that he has worked in. His pictures and video was of his life in Mississippi and it was clear from his images that he is a very good observer a talent that I have always had myself but only now with this photography degree course can I see a real use for it and have a reason to develop it further. This exhibition was about his portraiture based work and had interesting details about his subjects, such as the dentist who had lost his practice through his use of drugs and later died in suspicious circumstances; his road trip with Dennis Hopper; his friends and neighbors, etc.
Photo by William Eggleston.
This image Eggleston describes as his first attempt with colour and pleased with it’s success that he felt worked continued. I agree the low sun from the sun-set or sunrise gives this young man’s skin tomes a very warm hue. I like the shadow that repeats, yet with what is probably Eggleston’s shadow it also suggests another narrative. The lady in the corner also works for a triangular formed composition.
My personal favorite photo was of a girl he photographed in black-and-white in a local night club who was clearly had at least one too many. (Didigiat image unavailable)
Eggleston’s Grand-father with his man-servant at a funeral, photographed by William Eggleston.
I note that many photographers that are recognized in the art world are from privileged or fairly affluent backgrounds, naturally photography is not a cheap past time and for it helps to mix in the right circles in order to get interesting pictures in sometimes exotic locations. Eggleston is no exception, from a wealthy family background he has been fortunate enough to have the support and subject matter to tap in to.
Following on from this exhibition we ended the day enjoying a good play about a 30’s film producer, called ‘The Last Tycoon’ The play reminded me of my exhibition and the title reminded me of the photo of Eggleston’s Grand-father with his man-servant who is unconsciously mimicking his boss’ pose.
It’s a Lilly!
It’s a Lilly!
This image is fabricated, created from scratch in a Hollywood film studio. The sky is hand painted using a technique called movie-matte-painting. The tree and fence are just props.
The first impression I have, looking at this picture, is a sense of foreboding and a feeling of uneasiness.
What we see: a sunset, a triangular shaped cirrus cloud, a very low horizon, a picket fence and a small female figure. We appear to be looking at her from in front and to her right, so as to see the silhouette of her chest. Her left arm is just out of view, but her posture suggests that it must be mimicking the right. To the far right of the picture stands a tree. Its branches are naked. One branch leans over towards the female figure and ends in a shape reminiscent of a hand-held scythe, with the tip of its blade pointing down on the figure below.
This is the final image from the last scene in Act 1 of the motion-picture ‘Gone with the Wind’. The audience has just witnessed this lady turn from desperation to determination; and the final image is made to look satanical with its fiery sky a witch like figure and a scary looking tree. We are encouraged to draw parallels from our imagination. I see Dante’s imaginable idea of ‘The Inferno’ and to quote from Canto III, lines 1 -3, ‘Through me you pass into the city of woe: Through me you pass into eternal pain: Through me among the people lost for aye.’ I am also reminded of the lines from psalm 23:4, ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me…..’
I see a lot of symbolism in this image:
From the point-of-view of the movie, The American Civil War was still within living memory of an elderly American generation; and perhaps because it was made with access to living witnesses some of the scenes are so remarkable (the siege of Atlanta for example). Therefore, the movie makers intended that this image translates that fences still need mending between the North and South.
However, I see the picket fence on several levels:
1, As representing home, family and her life; it is rickety and in need of repair.
2, Seen with a stripped tree, the broken picket fence also appears to suggest destruction and hardship.
3, The fences denote a road; and the setting sun behind her, with the fence leading to the foreground, connotes a journey.
The horizon has been set very low to give emphasis to the sky above Scarlet’s head, she stands as a small figure, as if under heaven or a damned soul at the bottom of the pit. The sky is like her name Scarlet; and it is also acts as a signifier for many ideas: the unholy oath she just made in this scene, loss of innocence, war, and a sun setting over a disappearing civilization and way of life.
I see 1939 in this picture, war had been declared in Europe. For many people watching this film, their own civilization was in danger of going the way of the South and the sun was setting over their world and their way of life.
The space for the sky on the left is filled with a triangular cirrus cloud with a faint suggestion of a crucifix in its pattern, strengthening this idea of heaven and earth. This iconic symbol can be identified for denoting, love and peace; but it also connotes hope, forgiveness and unity under one faith.
The lone female stands like the tree leaning back angled in symmetry with its trunk. Her arms hang down by her sides and her visible hand appears clenched. Her posture suggests that she is standing to attention, just as a tired and battle weary soldier might stand. For the American audience of 1939, the woman could be regarded on different levels, depending on who you were:
1 For middle-class white Southern and Northern citizens she is the fair and defiant but beaten and battered South.
2, She could also be symbolic for many working class Americans who suffered during the 1930s economic recession; and could be regarded as a figure denoting a nation that is getting back on to her feet and standing defiantly against her adversaries; thus connoting National strength and endurance.
3, In 1939 many people were still denied equal rights. For the audience, this figure in silhouette could therefore be black, white, yellow or any cast the viewer chooses. She is a woman, considered the weaker sex, but seen here to be strong and encouraging hope. “I know I have the body butt of a weake and feble woman, butt I have the harte and stomack of a king, and of a king of England too” Elizabeth I, 1588, Tilbury.
The tree is stripped and broken, yet it still stands, heroically defying the ill winds that have stripped it. In his book, ‘Camera Lucida’, Roland Barthes described a feature in a picture that is a focal-point that he calls a ‘Punctum’ something that makes a nice picture an interesting picture. I see the tree as the Punctum in this picture. The silhouetted woman against the sunset and cloud makes a nice picture which Barthes calls the ‘Studium’ but the sinister tree with the branch hanging over her head turns this in to a more engaging photo (in my opinion). The branch immediately above Scarlet’s head looks like a bony finger; it appears to point down on Scarlet like a condemning finger that is passing judgment. In the context of the movie the tree could also represent the Union with its terrible judicial judgement on the South.
So why the title?
As the Technicolor movie camera began to photograph this scene a technician would have held a card with different colours printed on it in front of the camera to assist for colour calibration later on in development. The Technicolor team referred to it as a ‘Lilly‘ card if the filming was successful at the end of the scene the technician would call “It’s a Lilly!”
Word Doc. Amended Final Draft-Its a Lilly-1
The trailer to Gone with the Wind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFu-jemU-bA
Selznick International Pictures https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selznick_International_Pictures
David O. Selznick Biography https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_O._Selznic
MGM website: http://www.mgm.com/
AOL Time Warner http://www.timewarner.com/
Movie matte painting video – Gone with the Wind https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idQOBhiF-DM
Movie matte painting video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_kaA6250S4
Met Office / Cirrus Clouds: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/clouds/high-clouds/cirrus
Dante Alighieri Inferno, Canto III Lines 1 – 3. Translation by Henry Francis Cary, Published by London Folio Society (MCMXCVIII)
Dante’s Biography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dante_Alighieri
psalm 23:4 – Translation from the original tongues being the version set forth A.D. 1611 Revised A.D. 1881 – 1885 and A.D. 1901 compared with the most ancient authorities and revised A.D. 1952 (The Bible Revised Standard Version Published by WM Collins Sons & CO Ltd. For The British & Foreign Bible Society)
The American Civil War https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_War
Scarlet O’Hara Biography https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarlett_O%27Hara
The South http://docsouth.unc.edu/
Confederate Army https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederate_States_Army
1930s economic recession https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression
Elizabeth I Tilbury speech http://www.bl.uk/collection-items/elizabeth-i-tilbury-speech
Rolland Barthes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_Barthes
Union Army https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Army
Technicolor color card ‘A lilly’ http://oz.wikia.com/wiki/Technicolor
The three strip Technicolor process https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technicolor#Three-strip_Technicolor
Technicolor Film Camera https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-T8MVrw1L0
“A picture is worth a thousand words”
My task for this assignment is to write a 1000 word essay on an image of my choosing.
I can choose anything I like a from famous art photograph to something from the family album but the image must have scope to make a rigorous and critical analysis.
If choosing a well-known photograph, take time to research it’s context – the intentions of the photographer, why it was taken, whether it’s part of a series, etc. Add all this information into the essay in order to be able to draw a conclusion from my own interpretation of the facts.
If I choose to use a found photograph, a picture from my own collection, or perhaps one from an old family album, use it as an opportunity to find out something new. Look directly at the photograph for information. It may be interesting to compare and contrast memory with the information being seen anew ‘reading’ the picture so intensely.
You must use the facts as a means to draw my own conclusion about what the picture means to me. I may wish to apply what I’ve learned in part 4 regarding translation, interpretation, connotation, signs, punctum, etc. Be sure to get the definitions correct!
Follow though association and other images that relate to the discussion. directly or indirectly. Look at the broader context of the image and it’s background and specific narrative as well as my own personnel interpretation of it and what thoughts it triggers for me. Follow these associations in a thoughtful and formal way. Enjoy the process!
The first task for this assignment was to decide upon the picture, I had just finished assignment 3 and I was holidaying in Spain where I could relax empty my head and ‘re-boot’. After the first week I was able to think again and ideas began to come to me, I had taken my laptop with me so that I could use it with my camera and I began to search for ideas. My first idea was of a photograph that I came across earlier this year taken in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by an American photographer in 1944. The image shows local Germans forced to tour the concentration camp and I was fascinated by the expressions each of these civilians made, some visibly shocked and ashamed others indignant and cold. However, one night after a meal in the port we came home to the flat and put on the video and chose to watch Gone-with-the-Wind. I hadn’t seen this movie in years and I was taken by the photography and some of the scenes that were so good. I was particularly taken by the last image from part one. Scarlet O’Hara has returned to Tara having escaped the siege of Atlanta only to find Tara pillaged by the invading Union army starving she eats a raw horse radish that she has dug from the soil with her bare hands. At this point we see a transition in her from desperation to determination and the scene ends with her standing under a battle scared tree making an oath to god that no matter what she has to do she will never go hungry again. This was a very powerful scene and a very powerful image provides a strong sense of foreboding for part two.
This was my first idea for an essay. US Army photograph, 1944.
This image I photographed in the Spanish fruit and veg. market of Altea that neighbors my holiday home town of Calpe a year or so ago. I saw this scene and discreetly pointed my point and shoot Canon camera and caught it right at the best moment.
This was the image that I was so taken with in the motion-picture and I was luck enough to find it on the web.
When I returned to England I emailed my Tutor my suggested options and asked for his opinion. He replied the image from Gone-with-the-Wind. I was pleased that he had suggested this image as by now this was my favorite option.
After carefully looking at this picture I highlighted the cloud formation to help with my essay.
I also looked at how this image is composed.
I then began to make a list of basic information to start the research process which I typed as a word documents. Preperation for assignment 4 I then began researching through websites and for additional ideas on essay writing I read, Reading Photographs, Basics Creative Photography, by Richard Salkeld, published by Bloomsbury, Understanding a Photograph by John Berger, published by Penguin,’One Way Street and other writings’ by Walter Benjamin, published by Penguin, the essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ 1975 by Rachel Rose. The Bible and ‘Inferno’ by Dante Alighieri, published by The Folio Society.
As I researched I kept a record of the source on a word document that I could refer to again later. Notes Having accumulated my reference material I began to write my essay, at this point I was not concerned with the word count as I could cut away as necessary. Working Title I also included images in my basic work. when I came up with a title for my essay I resaved the document under it’s new name and continued to work on it. Draft-1-Its a Lilly! I then emailed my Tutor for advice on my word-count and he advised that I was allowed + or – 5-10%; so I made sure that when stripping away I had an idea of my safe envelope; so as not to take out anything unnecessarily Final Draft-Its a Lilly I then edited down my list of reference material relevant to my final draft and added it Notes for draft .
Finally I checked with my Assignment criteria to make sure that I had understood and followed it.
I then read it to my wife and she pointed out that the only thing I had not mentioned was how the picture made me feel. It was such an obvious observation but in my had not thought to mention it! This is a good example of being too close to the work to be able point out the obvious. this I easily rectified as the original attraction was the sense of foreboding and unease that this image conveyed.
The idea of the title for my work came through my research in to Technicolor and I watched several very good documentaries on YouTube that told the story of the development and use of technicolor which included an anecdotal story from an aging actor who played one on the Munchkins in Wizard of Oz who was puzzled why the always called out “It’s a Lilly!” at the end of a scene.
This time I only got one response from the Facebook OCA forum when I put out my request to critique my essay, but I took on board the comment that I should change the title for the last paragraph which I agreed with. I decided to change it from ‘Conclusion’ to ‘So why the title’. However, I also sent my work to a friend who I could rely on to give a good constructive critique and he came back with some suggestions to shorten a couple of sentences and punctuation corrections sending me his suggested amendments highlighted in red. ShaunDraftEssay from this I made my final changes Amended Final Draft-Its a Lilly-1
On considering if I have access to archive material that I could perhaps use for a later project? the answer is yes. I have my wife’s Aunt’s old photos, plus photos that my wife’s Uncle and Aunt took of themselves and my wife’s immediate family. Plus photos from my own family. I am sure I could obtain access to photos kept at local museums such as Chertsey, Weybridge, Brooklands, Hampton Court, etc.
I had an idea that I once thought of as a good idea for a novel. A few years ago Brooklands recovered a crashed Hawker Hurricane that was built at the Brooklands factory and first flown by the American Eagle squadron during the Battle-of-Britain, 1940. It was later shipped via the highly dangerous Russian convoys to Russia under lend-lease and flown against the Germans on the Eastern-front before being shot-down and crash landing. The Russian pilot survived and the plane was abandoned and forgotten until re-discovered and returned to Brooklands. Perhaps a narrative can be created in a series of photos of the people that this aircraft touched from family pictures of aircraft riggers and fitters, aircrew, sailors, allies to the enemy.
Nicky Bird purchased old unwanted photographs on Ebay, first waiting to see if anyone bid for them and if no-one did he purchased them himself and asked the seller, how they came to own the pictures and what they knew about them?
This is an interesting subject as I had never imagined that family photographs would ever become unwanted / redundant. Their meaning lost, their memories forgotten. That is until a recent event in my own life touched on this very subject. My wife’s Aunt died without issue in 2011, her husband had died the year before and she left her whole estate to her four nieces. When we were going through her things (which was a big task as she left a six bedroom house to be liquidated) I came across two old leather suitcases full of old family photos mainly of my wife’s Aunts family taken in the 30’s and 40’s. No one was interested as Sarah’s Uncle was the family link and if I hadn’t have taken these cases myself they would have been lost for ever. At the time I took them I had no thoughts of photography; but I felt a certain sense of responsibility that these lives should be remembered and these images should be kept. I can’t explain why, I just thought it was the right thing to do. Perhaps it is simply was that we all feel important and deep down wish to be remembered. Photography gives us this chance, even if the name and the memory is lost the image can still tell future generations that we existed, what we looked like, how we dressed, and how we posed, even what the world around us looked like. Photos are more important in this respect than say a painted portraits of a Victorian, for example. The photograph gives a better likeness, it captures the confidence or awkwardness of the subject; thus hinting at his or her character. The camera captures background that can tell a little about that moment in time and perhaps history that the artist may leave out or re-interpret. Sadly many family pictures will disappear over time and the surviving images will become more and more important. Imagine if photography had been around at the time of the first Roman Republic, even if only all that survived was a few family photos of only ordinary citizens our historians would have a field day!
In this exercise I am asked if Bird’s second-hand pictures displayed on a gallery wall elevate their status?
I guess the answer has to be yes, for now they are now the focus of attention and anyone or anything that becomes the focus of attention must by default become elevated in status.
Where does their meaning derive from?
Their meaning derives only from the context of their use if they have lost their original identity. An unwanted family photo of an unknown person, taken under unknown circumstances, perhaps even the location is unknown, then only the meaning that is attached to the picture from the exhibition exists.
When they are re-sold is their increased value because they are now art?
This is a commercial question and one that can not be simply answered with a yes or no. If the exhibition is successful, if the pictures can attract a contemporary historians eye, if the pictures can capture the imagination of art collectors, there is a lot of ifs, if the seller can market these images correctly / cleverly to the right market. Art is very subjective.