3.1 - Practice and Research one projects

project plan 1.0

It has taken me ages, but I have finally managed to get going and get my project plan to the point where I can share it with my tutor and get on with the rest of the course. I’ve eaten up a lot of time doing this, but it hasn’t all be wasted, I think, as I now have a fairly good idea of what I’ll be doing for the next three months or so, as I work through remainder of the first part of the course.

fig.1: glyph 1 – one of the themes I’m going to be looking at here is how we ‘read’ the things that we see around us and in turn create things to be read by others…

If you have access to the OCA’s google shares, you can read the whole plan here, but for those who haven’t, here are the main text bits where you set out your stall.

What are you going to do for your practical or creative project(s)?

I am going to return to the subject-matter I was working through at the start of the pandemic, three years ago now: the huge volume of stuff that I have amassed during my twenty five years of living in London. My shelves and bookcases, my cupboards and spare rooms are filled up with things, with stuff. I want to squash the chaos that threatens to engulf me down from three dimensions into two…

I will look at selected items from places within my house to try to work out why it is there and what can be done with it. I want to see whether it can be made to make some sort of coherent sense and be turned into an understandable story of sorts  and ideally to process it  – mentally, physically, photographically – in a way that subsequently will allow me to get rid of a large proportion of it… 

I will not only experiment with the artistic representations of objects, within the genre of still life and also look at other related, vernacular attempts to create meaning from the everyday: lifestyle features in the papers and on television and self-promotion through social media; archaeology and forensics; advertising…

Put simply, I am going to take lots of photographs of some of the objects taking up space in the place where I live. Then, in the second half of the unit, I will combine the resulting images to see if they can be made to take on some wider, associative meaning for others as well as for myself.

What does your research explore, and what is your topic or outline research question?

My research will build on three, connected strands of reading.

  1. I want to look at the way the transition from analogue to digital has affected what Villém Flusser described as ‘the photographic apparatus’. Am I simply following commonly held ideas of what ‘photography’ expects me to do with my camera – the program – or do I in some way determine the pictures that I produce.
  2. Then, drawing on Victor Burgin’s recent, short polemic, Returning to Benjamin (Mack, 2023) and the striking statement reproduced in its blurb:‘Benjamin found that the medium of photography and film had dissolved the auratic quality of art. If this is the case  Digital technology has dissolved the very category of “medium” itself,’
  3. Finally, as yet with no single, specific text to pin it to yet, I  increasingly wonder, what is it that I – and by extension anyone with a camera or a phone or some other device capable of making digital image files  – am attempting to do with all this digital photographising?! Surely it has to be something more than simply laying down deeper and deeper deposits of unviewed, digital silt!

A first stab at a question might be, ‘What does it mean to talk about a work of art in this age of digital replication?’ Or possibly just: ‘What sort of a photographer am I?’

Why have you chosen these practice and research projects?

We live in an age of plenty, surrounding ourselves with stuff. Much of this stuff is not strictly necessary for our survival. But we still want more. And yet more. We are told that the economy must grow, but also that we must consume less. 

‘Photography’ does not occupy a space outside this system of ‘more and more’.  Just as Iz have accumulated more stuff than I can ever use, and more books that I can ever read, I have taken – and continue to take – more photographs than I could hope to look at in any meaningful way. 

I am not alone in this. We take all these photographs and – thanks to the internet – share them with each other to an unprecedented extent. Why? What is compelling us to act like this?

My research will look at the cultural forces that determine our photographic behavior and try to relate it to more general ideas how we behave as a society. Practically, I am working through ideas of what it might mean to make digital art at this time…

And so now all that remains is to stop procrastinating, press publish on this and to get on with it!

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