Freedom in art is something that is assumed to be inherent. It is something that extends beyond creativity, It is a simple human right. The western world embraces a freedom of speech, we are free to travel where we want, and with the advancing technology we will soon be able to do whatever we want. Artists have always pushed the idea of freedom to it’s ethical limits, as that is the freedom of creativity. However, limits come in all sorts of forms, that can physically, mentally or emotionally constrict us. The rights and wrongs of contemporary art are constantly tearing us apart. Many get offended by art that violates their ethical values, and the idea of an ethical boundary is what hinders and limits our ideas. The idea of our society being constantly watched is a pressure in itself, to appear and act in a certain way. However many artists such as Vargas and Hirst have worked with dead and/or decaying animals, in order to shock and push boundaries, and break these social constructs. Art is important to explore the areas of our mind we keep locked away and hidden from others, to temporarily feel liberated and free from the watchful eye of society.
I photographed the environment surrounding the Tate and some of the art&instalments within it. Many of these pieces break the typical "painting on white paper" convention that comes with art, and I enjoy the idea of working with mediums not typically seen as creative or malleable, such as a radio. The paintings I saw had a strong message, and I enjoyed looking at them also. There are freedoms in limiting objects if you have the creativity to mould it as you wish.
This task required experimenting with movement. This includes changing shutter speeds and exposures to create different effects.
"Starting in the early 1950s I asked every famous or important person I photographed to jump for me. I was motivated by a genuine curiosity. After all, life has taught us to control and disguise our facial expressions, but it has not taught us to control our jumps. I wanted to see famous people reveal in a jump their ambition or their lack of it, their self-importance or their insecurity, and many other traits."–P.H.
Philippe Halsman is Latvian photographer, born May 2nd in 1906, and he has been photographing since the age of 15. In 1950, NBC asked Halsman to photograph many popular comedians such as Ed Wynn, Bob Hope, and Red Skelton. A single photography session would result in 2-300 images being taken, which would end up being narrowed down to just 1. Working with famous comedians was not a relaxing task for Halsman. "I assure you that often, before approaching the person, my heart would beat, and I would have to fight down all my inhibitions in order to address this request to my subject. At every time when the subject agreed to jump, it was for me like a kind of victory." How did Halsman persuade so many to abandon their composure for his camera? Somehow, he managed to convince each person that the risk was all his own.
In this task, I was required to take photos at a fast shutter speed to capture movement. This links to the theme of 'Freedom and Limitations' because it captures the freedom to move and manipulate the limiting form of the human body.
I then looked at artists who use a slow shutter speed. I decided to look at the work of Francesca Woodman who experiments with slower shutter speeds in her own unique way.
Francesca Woodman was an American photographer, often classified as a modernist, surrealist, and a gothic artist. Born in 1958, many of her images present naked models or blurred images of herself. Her self portraits, obscured by long exposure and fast movement, present her struggles with her mental health, as she appears to be constantly trying to hide, run away, or escape from herself. Committing suicide at 22, her work is critically acclaimed as a visual image of entrapment, and an attempt of making meaning in a life she knew would be cut short. A letter written to her friend soon before her death read: “My life at this point is like very old coffee-cup sediment and I would rather die young leaving various accomplishments, ie some work, my friendship with you, some other artefacts intact, instead of pell-mell erasing all of these delicate things.”
I lowered my iso and aperture as much as I could, however with such a long exposure a lot of light was entering the camera, so my pictures turned out too bright.
To develop this, I would make them black&white and increase the contrast. However, I have lost the original images.
In this task I was required to photograph backgrounds or objects with the limit of frames in the environment, A frame that was naturally in the space, rather than taking or moving something to do so. This task links to the theme, Freedom and Limitations, as it shows how a frame will limit what you can see and what will be photographed. However there is freedom in noticing things you may not have paid attention to, had you not been required to look for frames.
With these images, I like the saturation of the colours, and the way the framing obscures the background. However, If i did this again, i'd focus on using windows and doors as a frame for contrast.
This task focused on 'limits'. I explored the limitations of space, bodies and objects, and how these things affect an image's outcome.
Irving Penn was One of the most prolific photographers working in the 20th century. He shot a series of minimalist studio portraits back in the 1940s and ’50s that were celebrated for capturing the personality behind the celebrity. Penn began making portraits constructed in a set of upright angled backdrops, to form a stark, acute corner, floor covered with a piece of old carpeting. It was done in a studio with indirect Natural light coming from skylights and windows. In many photos, the subjects appeared wedged into the corner. With this tight, unorthodox space, Penn brought an unprecedented sense of drama to his portraits, driving the viewer's focus onto the person and their expression. “a very rich series of pictures resulted. This confinement, surprisingly seemed to comfort people, soothing them. The walls were a surface to lean on or push against. For me the picture possibilities were interesting: limiting the subjects’ movement seemed to relieve me of part of the problem of holding on to them.” Penn’s subjects constituted a wide spectrum of writers, dancers, artists, socialites, musicians, political figures and other celebrities of the era. Some of these were Noel Coward, the Duchess of Windsor, Marcel Duchamp, Joe Louis, the Gish Sisters, Duke Ellington, and Truman Capote.
restricting the model with large rolls of paper - edits
In some images I experimented with the colour of the paper digitally, considering we only had pink and purple. Exploring the freedoms of Photoshop partly counteracted the limitations of the colours of our resources, however I was limited by my editing skills with how realistic the colours would turn out. Things like the colour reflecting partially on skin and faces was something I found difficult to fix, however when it comes to editing realistically, the devil is in the details.
Composition and Focus
In this task I was required to take images with 'incorrect' composition and focus. This task links to the theme freedom as it shows that we can experiment with these rules. We expect focus, strong composition, good exposure from a photograph, and value an image less if it lacks any of these elements. So by creating these images I challenge these preconceptions.
This could be developed by having more things to photograph, then obscuring it.
In this task I was required to experiment with bleach and stitching. This task links to the theme, Freedom and Limitations, as it shows the freedom of manupilating with substances and thread.
This could be developed by using the bleach more strategically, and using inspiration from an artist for the stitching.
Strand 1 - Neon
My main theme is colour, and I wanted to explore this in different ways.
"Hunting for what's left of Hong Kong's iconic neon signs, an essential element of this cityscape's visual culture, covering HK's streets for years with glow, I roamed the dazzling roads aimlessly reminiscing about a dystopian past that only existed in neo-noire cult fiction movies like Blade Runner, trying to burn these lively picturesque streets in my memory before they vanish, all while figuring out how to thrive creatively in this organized chaos."
my contact sheet
I went to God's own Junkyard to find a large space surrounded by neon signs. I enjoy the large choice of signs and colours, however after a while the images started to look very similar, especially since most of the signs emit a reddish hue. I tried to experiment with the style of photographing it by finding reflective surfaces, however ther wasn't much variation.
I like how the images turned out, however it would of been interesting if I could have done close ups for variation. I may try find some neon signs outdoors to photograph.
Strand 2 - Portraits
I used colour and tone to invoke mood. I then experimented with photoshop effects.
Petra Collins is an artist who also models and curates. As the art world is often seen as dominated by 5 men who shoot almost every campaign, her young, feminine outlook and style has turned the focus onto her. I'm focusing on the style her series of images titled "24 hour psycho", which is focused on capturing the female psyche. She photographs 10 women in distress, looking vulnerable, which juxtaposes with the pretty, feminine, flattering colours, and softness of the light. She made this project as it meant something personal to her: “My mother struggled immensely with mental illness and so did I, she grew up bipolar, but it was never diagnosed nor recognised. It was shrugged off like a ‘symptom’ of being female – of her being weak. I also experienced this growing up: I felt that the great pain I experienced was a dramatisation.”
In the studio, I set up a light with 2 colour gels in front: an orange and a teal, with a white background. When enhanced, the images display a wider variety of hues under the surface, almost like a rainbow. I'm focusing on technique rather than expression and emotion, as I want to perfect the style of lighting first.
Combining neon & portrait strand
Back to god's own junkyard: I realised the neon itself could be used as lighting, so decided to experiment with it. However, the face had to be really close to the light, and many of them were too far away, and the ones that were accessible either barely showed up on the skin or had similar/same colour. It was hard to make the light look flattering, so I narrowed down my images. I also wanted dynamic lighting to reflect Petra Collins' art style.
I wanted to reflect Collins' style by making sure the background was blurred, so the focus is on the face.
Experimenting at home
I realised colour gels have a similar effect with a wider range of colour.
I photoshopped the backgrounds black for a cleaner appearance, and so the colours look stronger.
This time I did some softer editing to reflect Collins.
The majority of the images casted a strange shadow which didn't look very nice, so I had to narrow them down. it would be better if i had another pair of hands to hold up a light on the other side.
Strand 3 - Stitching into images
I thought the images I had taken could do with something extra to make them unique.
I had difficulty using a sewing machine on paper, and often made mistakes. I then moved on to hand stitching, which was equally as difficult.
First, I printed the images and tried to stitch into them. Then I stuck a piece of material onto the back and tried to stitch into it like that with a sewing machine. Then I scanned and reprinted the images onto transfer paper, then onto a cloth-like material which was a long process. I then tried to use a sewing machine on it like that, which was much more successful, however not being able to change the speed of the machine, or being able to move the material as freely as I liked (as if I was drawing onto the image) it became quite messy, and appears rushed. So I then went back to hand stitching, which took much longer and was harder to get smooth or rounded lines. I couldn't create the shapes I wished to stitch due to slow speed and difficulty.
I realised my work was similar to something I'd seen before.
Combined strand: Colour photography
I used a strobe light and changed the colour gels during the exposure time.