Introducing Steve Tyler

Inspired by the idea of mass consumption and concerned about how much we waste on our daily basis, photographer Steve Tyler gathered items collected from friends and relatives in order to create a set of images which he organised in grids of 81. Through this project, which he called “Typologies of Mass Consumption”, Tyler says that he hopes to expose how much we actually waste while third world nations are left to live at the very basic of human conditions.” He worked with objects that some of us uses on our day-to-day life such as shopping receipts, can tabs and cigarettes.

I believe that Tyler managed to get his message across wisely, not only presenting us with ordinary items but also arranging them in a larger number of grids than the standard nine one we usually associate with typologies to emphasize his idea of mass consumption of goods in our societies nowadays.

Born in 1991, Steve Tyler is a British freelance photographer who works between Oxfordshire, Nottinghamshire and London. He has done other assignments typology-related using found objects around his surroundings and he says that using this type of classification is like an extension of his “obsessive need of having things in the correct order”.

In the same way, Tyler has done a series named “Toy”, made with old toys he collected throughout his childhood and categorised over 8 collections production a body of work with 500 single images which he published in a book. “Toy” is a personal encounter of the author’s childhood.

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Jeff Harris: 4,748 Self-Portraits and Counting

“I would make all these resolutions to keep a diary, but by February they would fizzle out. That’s when I realised I could make 5mins in a day to take a self portrait. I started in 1999 and a lot of the earlier shots were very repetitive and boring, but the longer I did it, the stronger my visual sense became. It’s one of those things the longer you do it, the harder it is to stop.” Jeff Harris

Canadian photographer Jeff Harris started his self-portrait ongoing project in 1999, capturing himself each day for over 14 years and his recording has culminated in a visual diary with 4,748 photographs gathered up to December 2011.

Jeff Harris

Jeff Harris – Self Portraits

He used his Olympic Stylus 35mm film camera (he has photographed with six different ones during his visual diary) to either take a self-portrait each day or ask a friend to have his picture taken and then posted the results on his website. The project, which began long before the widespread popularity of blogging, Facebook and Flickr, allowed viewers to follow the photographer along on his adventures. “I didn’t want 365 images of me sitting on the couch each day,” says Harris. “There could have been that tendency, especially during the cold dark winter months to stay inside all the time, but this project inspired me to get out there and seek out interesting things.”

Presenting imagery with different themes, his pictures range from completely solitary, auto-timed self-portraits to photographs inspired by a collaborative spirit with whomever Harris encounters on a given day. Regardless of his mood, the location of the shots or the activity of the images in the series, they all show an amazingly open and thoughtful approach to both daily recording and sharing everything from intimate moments to athletic adventures with a wider audience. He shows a variety of experiences a person can live from “mundane inactivity to joyful dives to his body being open on the operating table.”

Since started the project the Harris battled pelvic cancer in 2008 which left him permanently paralysed in his left leg and this diary has encouraged him to make the effort not be a patient 24 hours a day,  but instead, using it as motivation to keep going by making the most of the life he still had.

“I see no reason to not make a self-portrait each day (…) I’m always around and always free. It’s kind of like going to the gym—it flexes your muscles and keeps you in shape.”

From my point of view, I feel that Jeff Harris managed to communicate his message in a very clever and interesting way in his visual diary, through the images chosen to document his life’s story full of highs and lows. Furthermore, more than only capture and reproduce his life in picture, his visual diary is an inspirational record of episodes of life and this project, that having started as a simple new year’s resolution, turned out to be fantastic, inspiring me to create my own one for this unit, also documenting my personal and professional development, as a person that I am and as student throughout my journey to improve and learn new skills in photography.

References: A & B

Hidden Rivers, Final Year Show

Kensington and Chelsea College National Diploma in Photography End of Year Show 2014. “Hidden Rivers” is the end of year show for 2014 and has a strong selection of images using processes going back to the beginnings of photography, right through to digitally- generated images and screen-based work. Our photographers have worked across fine art, fashion and documentary genres, all with a sense of passion and commitment. Their professionalism during their stay with us has led to commercial assignments and a very strong sense of teamwork during the year. The “Hidden Rivers” exhibition contains much more of each student’s work than can be seen here, but you will find links to their on-line presence throughout this catalogue.”

Clicke here to view show catalogue,

Pieces of Inspiration – Part II of V

This is the continuation of a post I wrote a few weeks ago which you can find here.

Now for this second part, I am going to write about a photograph I came across a couple of months ago that caught my attention. The picture is from the series “The Price of Cement” by Mozambican photographer Mario Macilau in which he portrays the “reality of young boys and girls who work in illegal cement bagging operations in Mozambique in darkened buildings, hidden from view, recycling and cutting cement from cement spillages with disastrous consequences for their health.”

According to UNICEF, “in Mozambique, hazardous labour activities involving children are mostly related to farm work either in the cotton or tobacco industry. The largest number of children works in the Inhambane region.

Children working in agriculture work on farms and small plots known as machambas and use dangerous tools, carry heavy loads, and apply harmful pesticides. Limited evidence suggests that children in agriculture often work with no pay and that there are cases of children used as labourers to pay off family debt. Some children in Mozambique are subject to debt bondage. However, most working children take up unpaid work for the family.

An estimated 22 per cent of children between 5 and 14 are engaged in child labour. Overall boys and girls are involved in equal measures, with the exception of domestic work where girls make up a larger proportion of the affected children.

Access to education in Mozambique is limited because of teacher shortages, indirect schooling costs, and the lack of schools and sanitation facilities. The Government of Mozambique estimated in 2011 that nearly 200,000 school aged children were out of the school system. Despite government efforts to provide birth registration to children, some children may not attend school because they do not have the birth records needed for enrolment. Even though the National Organization of Professors established a code of conduct, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse is common in schools. It is also common for teachers to demand sex as a condition for advancement to the next grade. For many children, especially girls, this type of abuse leads to withdrawal from school.

Additionally, there are an estimated 900,000 orphaned children in Mozambique, many of whom lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. The Government of Mozambique estimates that nearly 20,000 children are heads of households and are responsible for their younger siblings. As a result, these children are particularly vulnerable to poor school attendance and engagement in the worst forms of child labour.”

From the series "The Price of Cement"

From the series “The Price of Cement”

This picture is very simple in terms of composition and lighting techniques but I feel that the photographer managed to beautifully yet provokingly capture  this portrait in a way that instantly draw our attention, raising awareness to the situation of thousands of children that around the world are victims of child labour.

Macilau is a documentary photographer born in 1984 in Maputo, Mozambique where he currently lives and works. He was featured on Al Jazeera’s Artscape programme in May 2013, a six-part documentary showcasing how a new generation of African photographers are keen to celebrate what is unique about the region, while remaining unflinching about the real problems facing their countries. You can watch the show here.

Similarly, if you are interested in his work, you can see his series ‘The Zionists at the Saatchi Gallery in London, on display until 2nd November 2014, as part of an exciting new exhibition entitled ‘Pangaea: New Art from Africa and Latin America’. In this body of work he documents the “religious rituals of the Zionist African Christian movement which are practised predominately by poor Mozambicans and are a familiar sight to passers-by along Maputo’s Marginal coastal road at dawn.” A show not to be missed!

Photo Etching Experience

Photo Etching is an intaglio printmaking method in which a “metal plate, usually zinc or copper, is coated with a high contrast, negative working photo-sensitive resist such as KPR (Kodak Photo Resist)  or sensitized fish glue or a thin film photopolymer such as Puretch”.

This method of printing started many centuries ago (pre-historic age with carving on stones and was also used with old master prints such as Rembrandt) and nowadays it still remains in use, giving a fine art finishing to the work etched.

Through the classes on the etching printing technique, we were able to understand its process and print our own images which were previously turned into negatives (acetates) and transferred to a zinc plate in order to be etched and then printed.

The printing process goes around many phases. We first select the images we want to print and on Photoshop, prepare the plate (beveling and filing corners and rough edges), coat it with photo emulsion, and finally expose the plate with the negative on (acetate) in a laser press.

We then, re-exposed the plate using a dot structure and, afterwards, take it to be developed in caustic soda.  Followed that this, the plate is put in the acid bath, soaked nitric acid, which will eat into the exposed images (dots, bitmaps).

The plate was then aquatinted, a tonal process used to achieve wash-like effects, and is “lightly sprayed with enamel spray paint and put into an acid bath. The acid chemically reacts and etches away the areas between the particles of spray paint, leaving a pitted surface. The pits will hold ink, which become the greys and blacks of the printed image. In contrast, the areas covered by spray paint particles resist the acid, remain smooth and will not hold ink, leaving these areas white when printed. An aquatint has a pattern of small black and white dots, giving a grainy feel”.

By this stage the plate was ready to be printed and the ink could be added to it. Using a piece of cardboard we spread the ink on the plate making sure that all lines and etched areas were covered. Excess of ink was removed with tarlatan (cloth), leaving the it only in the lines and etched areas. The inked plate is finally put on the press bed and printed in watercolour paper, previously soaked in water and pressed between blotting papers to remove the excess of water, so that it can offer a better printed image.

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Warhol, Lynch and Burroughs Exhibition

The Photographer’s Gallery in London has presented us a few weeks ago with a show in which it gathered some photographic records of pop art artist Andy Warhol, film-maker David Lynch and writer William Burroughs.

I believe that the curatorial aspect of the whole display was well though in many ways. Firstly, by presenting us with images whose author’s are not widely know for their photography, allow us to explore the other side of their visual language and make some connections with the work there are most known for.

Secondly, the exhibition was divided into three separate rooms, which one allocated to an artist, being David Lynch presented with the larger room. There, we can find around 80 pictures of industrial building shot in USA, Poland, Germany and England. The pictures were all in the same size of the frame, meticulously arranged and displayed in small groups throughout the room and when analyzed in detail we can also subdivide each set of images into different range of themes (i.e. outdoors/exteriors, windows, degradation, reflections, broken glass, etc).

The room in which we could see the pictures taken by Burroughs, although the pictures were also arranged in small collections (which could also be subcategorized in other themes such as collage, self-portraits, intimate pictures, flowers, among others), in terms of presentation it showed a completely different layout from the Lynch’s one and were missing some sort of unanimity with regard to the size of the pictures, and the way they were displayed within each set on the wall. It looked as if they were assembled without any previous thought, but I suppose that this is because as in his writing Burroughs never followed the convention and broke the rules, dissecting texts/words in order to create new words or meaning through the cut-up technique which he mastered.

Andy Warhol room, which was the smaller one and also the one in which the walls were painted, although unusual, went to revealed part of his persona as a pop art, visual and colorful artist. Through this show we can see snap shots and images Warhol took capturing almost everything around him or the things and the people he encountered on his day-to-day. The images were displayed with no particular order or reason to be as his “obsessive” use of the camera use to be at the time as well.

Overall, I believe that this exhibition was well thought and brilliantly put together, not only showing us another creative and imagery side of Andy Warhol, David Lynch and William Burroughs. It showed us a different perspective into their works, highlighting a side of they work that perhaps many of us, me included, did not know and also trying to combine each artist with the show itself as well, adapting their personality or incorporating it within their show. At the same time, it made me observe and wonder what aspects the curator had into account in order to come up with the final result of the show.

Pieces of Inspiration – Part I of V

OBS: This post is divided into three parts (for now, I might add a couple more posts) presenting the some of the artworks I am inspired by, and the background information and creative ideas behind them.

FERNANDO PESSOA BY ALMADA NEGREIROS

This a portrait of the modernist and Portuguese writer/ poet Fernando Pessoa made by the also Portuguese artist Almada Negreiros in 1964 is an artwork that I was

Portrait of Fernando Pessoa, Almada Negreiros (1964)

Portrait of Fernando Pessoa, Almada Negreiros (1964)

This is a painting on canvas that was “commissioned by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The painting consciously replicates another portrait of the poet painted in 1954 for the restaurant Irmãos Unidos in Lisbon”, a place was where Almada and other modernist artists with whom he created the avant-guard magazine named Orphey used to hang out.

This portrait is of particular interest to me for many reasons. I like Fernando Pessoa’s works and how well he managed to connect each “personality” he created within his writing with “its” own unique style as well as Almada’s paintings and written works. Furthermore, I also relate to Almada as he was born in Sao Tome and Principe (the country my parents are from) and then moved to Portugal when still young and later to France, while I did the other way around (was born in Portugal, moved to Sao Tome while still a toddler and now live in England).

As a modernist artist, and under the influence of the cubist and the futurist arts, Almada used warm and vivid colours as well as layers of shadows that we can associate with Pessoa’s “multiple personalities” and his distinct writing style. Similarly, Almada gaves us a hint of what Pessoa was showing him in front of a desk with a piece of paper and a pen giving the idea of him being a writer. What’s more, he also included the short-lived magazine Orpheu, which only had two editions published.

I believe that Almada managed to deliver a great job with this painting, not only in terms of his painting skills but also in the way he brought us the character and the individual that Pessoa was.

Energy & Process: William Eggleston

Energy and Process is the motto of the collection displayed at Tate Modern, whose aim is to look at artists’ interest in transformation and natural force” and, likewise, where we can find the work of the American photographer William Eggleston.

Born in 1939 in Memphis, Tennessee, and best known as a pioneer in colour photography, Eggleston first started in black and white film photography at the age of 18. Claiming to be “at war with the obvious”, he breaks the monochrome style of traditional photography and begins to experiment with colour negative film and colour transparency in the 1960’s, which at that time was considered audacious as they were mainly relegated to advertising and others commercial industries rather than photography as a fine art product. Similarly, in the early 1970’s, Eggleston has his first dye transfer printed, which has become the hallmark of his work. This printing process allows the colours within a photograph to be reproduced separately “by a series of related processes in which three carefully superimposed layers of dye are transferred to a gelatine-coated base.” In this way, it is possible to increase or decrease the saturation of one colour, without affecting the other ones or vice-versa, presenting us with strong tones as well as bright and vivid colours.

The photographs that Eggleston brings to the Energy and Process exhibition depict the banal and the everyday situations of the American culture and in particular of his hometown Memphis, Tennessee. The images shown are divided into two series: “Chromes”, made between 1969 and 1974, is a set of photographs using Kodachrome and Ektachrome film; and, “Election Eve”, which was taken on the occasion of the presidential election of 1976, portraying a road-trip through the state of Georgia, around Plains and Sumter County, where the campaign headquarters of Jimmy Carter (the then elected president) were based. Eggleston’s work is highly marked by “bold colourful interiors, cars and gasoline stations, and portraits of individuals known to him as well as strangers encountered in the street.”

Although his photographs represent the ordinary and unexciting life, Eggleston successfully managed to turn the “ugly” of what he called “life today” into beauty in order to present us with unspectacular everyday moments in a striking way. He looks at his subject matters with this idea of what he defines as “a democratic way of looking around, that nothing is more or less important.” In a documentary called “the colourful Mr Eggleston”, he declares taking only “one picture of one thing, as two make it difficult to choose later”. Still, we must not underestimate his images or take anything for granted when looking to a photograph as “every single, little tiny space in that page works and counts”, he says.

Having this thought in mind, one of the pictures that caught my attention was a landscape image of what seems to be a desert or abandoned road, which it can be considered as an uninteresting theme,  but given to its vibrant and warm colours, it makes a very powerful photograph.

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Looking at this picture with much more detail, I find the balance of blue, orange, yellow, red and green well achieved, and in terms of symmetry, the image can divided horizontally to the middle into two parts, where the sky and the earth combine together. Eggleston has also a brilliant sense of composition, the oblique lines that interject with the horizontal one rapidly draw your eyes to the vanishing point that gives us a sense of dynamism and mystery. I feel curious about wanting to go down that road and, at the same time, I wonder what I could encounter when arriving to the other edge.

From my point of view, the magic in Eggleston photographs is how he manage to simply capture “life today”, those sometimes unexpected everyday situations and bring them to us in a way we have never thought of them before. Photographing “whatever is there wherever he happens to be” with no particular reason, he presents us with interesting results and, at the same time, teaches ours eyes to see the beauty of things and the world just as it is.

Everything is transformed…

The idea of this assignment is to “discover some redeemable features between the images and to organise them into a presentable form”. Lavoisier was a French chemist who perpetuated the quote “in nature nothing is wasted, nothing is created, everything is transformed” when referring to the conservation of mass and doing his combustion experiments. Although I’m far from being a chemist, I did have to find some kind of “chemistry” between a set of given images for my bad snap project and change them into something that visually would turn to be more attractive than the original photographs.

After looking at the photographs I had, I realised that this three pictures when put together would result in what is called a triptych, which refers to a picture shown in three parts or a series of three images. Triptych or diptychs, when two photographs are presented, are normally used in photography to tell a story or present an idea or to contrast two different ones.

At first, I wasn’t quite clear as to the theme or narrative behind my final product, but while presenting it in class, I was suggested to find a connection with time and nature as the pictures I had chosen had those elements in common. So, I worked my images in order to bring that notion of time passing and I popped up its colour saturation and luminance contrast so that I could finish with some vibrant and vivid colours which represents the nature itself and its power.

BadSnaps3

Here are some more examples of this technique used in photography by the German photographer Adde Adesokan and the French Tom Spianti.

Poetry and Dream – Graciela Iturbide Review

Graciela Iturbide

Graciela Iturbide

“The unconscious obsession that we photographers have is that wherever we go, we want to find the theme that we carry inside ourselves.” Graciela Iturbide

Widely regarded as one of the most influential Mexican photographers at present, Graciela Iturbide presents, within the Poetry and Dream collection exhibited at Tate Modern, a set of black and white photographs that shows “the deception of everyday life in Mexico, exploring themes of urban and rural life, indigenous rituals, the role of the women, identity and the tensions between tradition and modernity”. Her images are a result of her relationship with the people or the community worked with over the past 40 years, giving us a more personal and close look of the subject portrayed. In a documentary called about her work called “Hay tiempo” or “There is time”, Iturbide refers that she uses her “camera as an excuse to know the culture”, either it be of her own or others. Working only and solely with the camera, not making use of any other source of light or camera support, she tries to “find something poetic” in what she photographs and “keep the human dignity always present”. Her assignments truthfully portrayed this idea of a more meaningful sense beyond the reality itself. Presented in black and white prints, her pictures do not lack of life or emotion, as the white walls of a spacious room in which they are exhibited allow each visitor to “paint” and “interpret” her work in a vivid and colourful way. All of the pictures are part of a series of projects she developed involving: the indigenous people of Mexico; the women in the city of Juchitán, which is a matriarchal society; the bathroom of Frida Kahlo, a famous surrealist Mexican painter; and birds, one of Graciela’s passions.

Throughout the all exhibition, one of the pictures that capture my attention was the “Mujer Angel” or “Angel Woman” photograph – a portrait of a Seri woman walking across the Sonora Desert from 1979. This piece is part of the work Iturbide was commissioned to do a year earlier about the Mexico’s indigenous people by the Ethnographic Archive of the National Indigenous Institute of Mexico.

Angel Woman

In terms of composition, I believe that it is very strong, revealing invisible oblique and horizontal lines at the same time that we can frame triangle shapes in a few parts of the picture. Likewise, Iturbide used the ambient light available in a clever way in order to give us more detail about the image and its surrounding as well as the chance to recognize the different textures given by the varying tones from white, to grey and to complete black. Similarly, the greater depth of field given to the background maximizes the sense of being in the middle of the desert, driving our eyes to the infinite. Nevertheless, making use of the rule of thirds and focusing on the woman, keep us aware that she is in fact our subject and central point. Knowing a little more about the photographer, I feel that this portrait is equally expressive and full of symbolism, but before explaining this let me first introduce you Graciela Iturbide.

Born in 1942 in Mexico City, to a Catholic family, Iturbide had her first contact with photography at the age of 11 when offered a camera by her father. Wanted to be a writer but pressurized by the society she lived in at the time, and her family, she ended up marring at the age of 20 to the architect Manuel Rocha Díaz. Following the next eight years of marriage, they had three children, two boys and a girl, named Claudia, who dies suddenly at the age of six in 1970. This incident is a fact that in a way marks Iturbide forever. At that time she was studying in a film school and one day she decided to enrol on a photography course ran by Manuel Alvarez Bravo, who later becomes her mentor. Her resorting to photography and committing to work when offered a position as Alvarez’s assistant was a way to overcome the grief at the loss of her daughter. She stayed with Alvarez for a year and then started to work on her on career as a photographer. After losing Claudia, she started to develop was she later describes as “an obsession with photographing ‘angelitos’, little angels” and the theme of death which made her visit many cemeteries of different towns.

For this reason, now referring back to the symbolism of this picture, and although it was a commissioned work, her creative and personal experience is expressed with in the elements included in her photograph. The desert represents obstacles, abandonment and lack/loss and his related to her daughter’s death. The veil worn by the “Angle Woman” seems to shape a cross on its back which makes me assume that she is in search of a way out and faithfully that or divine entity that will look her the way. The radio player that the hold in one hand is what intrigues me the most, has I can only see that as a companion or some kind of inner voice that walk with her through this journey.

Seeing this picture at the exhibition and also on digital format in different sizes and even varying in colour, from the original back and white to a more sepia look, my interpretation remains the same but I feel that at the exhibition, and as part of the Poetry and Dream collection, within the space allocated to feature her work, I had the sense of freedom to imagine whatever I wanted and then write my own poetry through her photographs.