PicBod 2014 Week 3

Creative Workshop 3: Nude and Naked
Building on the session workshops you should explore notions of Nude and Naked through your work. You should make at least one study of yourself and another of someone else. You will need to bring your experiences from task one and two to bear as you explore the dynamics of vulnerability vis a vis yourself, the subject and ultimately the viewer.
You should spend time observing the context for your subject. You should look for and work with the different types of light, tone and colour, both in terms of your location context and the effects they have on your subject and the subsequent photographic artefact. Consider Paul Wright’s words on life drawing :
“Look at the subject away from the camera – soak up your subject”, “look for the lines that denote weight and gesture”, “consider echoes of movement in a gesture – the image can be messy and doesn’t have to be ‘picture-perfect’”.
Alternative/additional task: Nude and Naked Film
You should undertake the workshop above but with a mobile phone or video camera framed solely around a sketchpad and your hand – this time, rather than making images, you will be sketching both the self portrait and portrait.
If you are able to, record audio of the encounter and watch the film back afterwards – was it quiet? Awkward? Relaxed and talkative? Can you better understand your working from a review like this?
My Response
I knew after week one that I would be concentrating on myself as a geographical study and a cathartic study of myself in relation to my own feelings of abjectivism that I sometimes attach to the outside world. It was interesting to see the Joel-Peter Witkin video which to start with looked exploitery, but then in his reasoning reminded me of Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty and the externalising of dark thoughts so that we expel them and not carry them with us and I understood where he was coming from. This is application of my idea made sense as it is my own thoughts towards my body that I need to expel.
To start with I wanted to almost clinically and critically photograph my body with all its flaws, almost forensically. This needed to be stark, but I chose to sidelight to give some light and shadow to the asymmetrical context. I chose a black background with low level lighting. An example of which is below. I really like how this one came out and it highlights one of the anomalies that occurs in Polands Syndrome.


As well as this there is usually asymmetry in the length of the arms and the only image I had taken showing this was a full body image. In this image, it also reflected the very first image that I saw in a medical reference book relating to the syndrome (right) and I chose to keep the full image in.
When it came to deciding placements of the images around me, I like the feel of the environmental portraits as done by Alexander Bergström and so I wanted to photograph myself in my environment but surrounded by these external images. The one placement I was sure of was the framed photograph of my genitals or sexual identity confined within the cage, as I feel this is one of the resulting self-abjectifying habits. (It is there, but the print is difficult to see).
I first felt that I would be either seated or reclining in a relaxed manner like a renaissance nude, but when I shot and reviewed the image, I didn’t look part of it, I couldn’t be that distant from the surroundings, I needed to engage with the camera/viewer. By this point of the proceedings, a couple of hours in, my vulnerability with the camera had dissipated also, and instead of hiding, I almost possess a reproachful look to the camera/viewer. The placement of the tablet with the full body image also had come from a rear-side view into the central focus area which brought forward the point of this process.
In reviewing, I really like the fact that apart from everything else, my viewing eye is drawn to the left eye of my portrait almost asking “what is it you are seeing?”
Final image


Unfortunately I don’t have someone else to use as a subject at the moment to do the additional task or the second person in the first, but if one volunteers I will update this post.

Posted in Photography

PicBod 2014 Week 2

Creative Workshop 2: The View from Inside
To photograph from the inside. Photograph as Nan Goldin says ‘Your Tribe’. Study
someone you are close to and make images with them of an intimate nature.
Bear in mind your own vulnerabilities from the first task when you begin this new
photographic relationship and ensure you are completely competent technically so you
can focus on the making of images without being distracted by other details.
Alternative/additional task: The Communal Space
Identify and photograph a space that your ‘tribe’ interact or live within. In treating the space
as a body and considering our image making, can we communicate the interactions and
events that happen within the space? Can we infer a sense of the communal space?
The View from the Inside
This task really appealed to me as I do have an extensive ‘tribe’ that to me are my extended family. Unfortunately, over the years we are apart in physical distance, but I love spending time with all of them on a regular basis and when I can, get as many of them together as I can at home. I don’t venture out a lot so most of the socialising goes on at home. After years in the hospitality trade, this now continues at home too with an ‘open house’ attitude.
The first image is of Matti, a close friend who is as near enough to family as you’ll get outside of a yoghurt pot and a turkey baster. To get a natural image, we needed to be doing what we normally do, and just be ourselves in the room. I put the camera high on a window ledge to be wide enough and high enough to get us both in the shot and operated the camera through my computer desk, which is in the corner, and is where I live 90% of the time.
To start off with I thought that it would probably be easier to set the web cam up as a motion detector camera and let it rattle off a few hundred, but then I wouldn’t have the quality. There also needed to be some input from myself as a photographer with choosing the moments to capture. However, to start off with, everyone knew there was a camera in the room and there was an air of falseness about actions. I needed to let this go, to fire randomly and to almost let the novelty wear off. Thankfully, Matti put on some music which allowed the noise of the shutter to be masked and then both of us were able to relax a bit. It was still a good couple of hours of random and chosen shots before I decided to review what we had.
The image I have chosen, to me, reflects the level of intimacy that is shared between us at a deep emotional connection level. We don’t have to spend time entertaining each other, or talking at each other or making allowances, we are just comfortable to be. At times that can be in silence, or watching a film or the internet or in deep philosophical conversations about life. What defines this connection for me in the image is the mirroring of body language between myself in the foreground and Matti in the background. There doesn’t have to be physical contact to show intimacy when sub-consciously we are communicating that through our physical bodies.
Final Image
The Communal Space
I connected with this task as this is as much of me as it is the space, we are reflecting each other. In this house, I had the first opportunity to create a space that reflects my personality in the creation and furnishing of a conservatory extension. This was like condensing two decades of living and working in the hospitality trade in to one 3mx4m space! So eventually managed that, now to fit that in to a 2 dimensional photograph to communicate the use and feel of the space to an external onlooker.
This is shot low to reduce the space between the coffee table and the corner sofa and wide to allow the full view of the sofa to give the elongated view of the seating, hopefully imparting to the viewer that there is space for a lot of people. This is my entertaining space, it is communal and is meant to be so. Occupying the sofa like a pair of Anonymous protesters are our two dogs Dingle and Kayla, they are on the sofa, they run the house – love me, love my dogs, they are the children of the household. The abundance of greenery is bringing the outside in and again depicting a natural environment.
The foreground has the soft, warm lighting of the candles, also reflected in the background, nothing harsh or judgemental. The fire radiates warmth and a place to find light. The full ashtray in the front at a critical point of intersecting thirds to me and most of my friends, though the numbers are dwindling, this is a safe smoking space and a lot of us have been socially sidelined, to me this represents a common ground and a haven. There are microphones and remotes for entertainment systems to depict the amount of singing and parties that take place. Personally, I don’t like a space that is clinical and void of human ‘remains’, I prefer a sense of used and lived in. I have purposely left bottles and glasses around the room to emphasise that what matters in this space is the people, perhaps invoking the feeling that people are here, they have just left the room for a minute.

Posted in Photography Tagged

PicBod 2014 Week 1

Creative Workshop 1: The Self Portrait
Pre-visualize and produce a self portrait [using only available light*] unrestricted in theme and technique yet still supplying a message to the viewer. You should spend time first understanding what it is you wish to convey before then looking at the composition and mechanics of the image and finally production.

Alternative/additional task: The Distributed Self Portrait
Speak with you close friends, family, partner. Ask them to describe you – your qualities, traits, personality. Use these results to create a self portrait that is informed not by your own representation, but how others see you. Again, you should spend time first understanding what it is that you are being asked to convey before then looking at the composition and mechanics of the image and finally production.
Is this a fair representation of you? How much did you try to ‘override’ their comments through the image making process? Is personality internal or external?

The Self Portrait
To say I got a little confused between the assignments and the class workshop working with natural light is an understatement, which ended up by me presenting my view of me with artificial light as the Additional Task, when in fact it is the Self Portrait. What I wanted to convey is my current headspace and expectations and responsibilities around me that I feel are impeeding on my creative outlet/being me. I am currently out of full time work having been made redundant so there are financial, social, familial pressures around me, sometimes getting me down. I have always wanted to have a go at using projection as part of the photograph, having done video installation work before (main inspiration Bill Viola).

In creating the image, I wanted to appear part of it, for the projection to be almost 3 dimensional, hence the leaving in of the trees and the lamp, to give the impression of the dementors being around me, not just behind (thanks for the Harry Potter screen grab)


In the creation of the photograph, I would be replacing the foreground character, which then gave me the ironic situation of not ‘chasing the light’, instead I had to dodge the light to not appear overexposed by the harsh proectors lamp. Also the angle of the projector was producing too much of my own shadow so I inverted the image to get a direct light and side-lit my face with a small torch from my iPhone off to the right which gave a more balanced light for my face. I liked the resulting position of the lamp as it looks like the bright area of the projection is eminating from it. Final image below. Click for full screen view.


The Distributed Self Portrait

After looking, reading and listening to the information given on the PicBod website for the first assignment, some suggestion from the community and my own thoughts around my own insecurities, I began to get comfortable with the idea of being in front of the camera. I have a history of being a performer, an actor, a different personality, so to strip that away and be myself was going to be interesting. I like portrait photography in relation to capturing the essence of my subjects, I understand the concept of objectifying and I also understand the concepts of abjectism presented by Dr Adrienne Evans. I identified with the photographing insecurities post, is this is where I am coming from, but at the same time, listening to what other people think, what I think, what we both see in respect of producing a photograph using natural light (blurred lines again!).

Externally I have been involved in activism and standing up for people’s rights. I hold a very loyal standpoint with my friends and family and also a stubborn point of view sometimes within my morals and ethics. I am genuine and natural, with strengths and flaws. I am male, white,  gay and differently abled through my Polands’ Syndrome. I am subject to vilification through my sexuality and physical appearance which effects my own self esteem, though for others, when I am able to look beyond that, I am a strong supporter.

In the effort to look at myself through the eyes of others, I use my affected hand, my ‘strong hand’ (sic) to form the fist. Against a background of natural wood, as that is what I am, there is nothing false or created or ‘chosen’. The wood had a beautiful patina, reflecting the natural light coming through the window and I wanted to imitate that in my hand, to give the image a natural sheen, blending the two surfaces together. To achieve this I added a fresh layer of polish to the wood and some silicone lubricant to my arm. Initially I wanted to show the fist or the hand as the subject against the background, but when reviewing the images I had captured, the way that the arm flows with the grain and colour of the wood, even though the hand is almost out of frame, made me choose this image as it successfully blended the two surfaces more than I had originally planned. Final image below, click for full screen view.


Posted in Photography Tagged

Caravaggio up for sale!!!

Have to be realistic now home and under responsibilities…

Have a look-see and please pass on to whomsoever may be interested thanks.

Am going to be doing a reflective post about the last few months soon too, so keep watching


Posted in Italia 2013 Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Highs and Lows of the Etruscan Coast

After leaving Pisa behind, I went and spent a relaxing week by the seaside in Viareggio. The camper stop was free as it was on the side of a pine-lined road in between the trees. Easy to get in to, but the ridge between road and off-road nearly gave me an anxiety attack!

The road was about 1km from the seafront where there was another kilometre of restaurants, pubs and clubs. Along my pine clad road were hidden camp sites and holiday parks, the contents of which took the use of Italian roads to the next level! The steady stream of revellers returning to their accommodations of an evening were accompanied with a cacophony of car horns as the unlit road filled with unlit pedestrians and cyclists alike. Thankfully my little key-chain torch – a tescos 99p extravagance – saved me from accident or rebuke.

I travelled further south to Cescina, up over the hilly coast roads, down to the promise of long quiet sandy beaches on the med, and emptying and refilling of camper supplies at a pay site. On arriving I paid the attendant for four nights and went exploring.

After several hours walking on packed shingle beaches, going from one resort to the next, the quiet sandy beach still eluded me. Rows upon rows of deck chair regimented filled spaces for about 5km each side of the camper. The seemingly purpose built resort, the village was 3km inland, heaved with the seasonal tourists come out from the nearby towns and cities. The shingle beach had burnt and blistered 4 of my toes and having then to walk the 3km in to town and back for supermarket near finished me off.  What did finish me off was the unavailability of services to empty the camper, the neighbouring gun club on one side and very loud p.a. system permanently on the go on the other and the car-park style parking system on site that didn’t allow my windows or the neighbour’s doors to be open at the same time in 36 degrees heat.

The next morning I tried my luck at getting a refund on my blistered toes and heading back inland, but to no avail. Still, if I recouped my loses with a few days in Vinci nothing would be lost. The brilliant colours of the scenery that greeted me in this typically Tuscan landscape would not let me get disheartened for long.


Posted in Italia 2013