Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Assignment 5 - near completion and some closing thoughts.

While I write these few thoughts the printer is busy in the background making the last of the prints ready to send off to my tutor. There is more text to write. The text is in the muddle stage at the moment, with a number of paragraphs on a specific issue or subject associated with the assignment, but no real Introduction, middle and Conclusion. I assume, and only the next few days will confirm this that the muddle will become a coherent six to eight pages of mini essay. I am hoping that when all the prints are in front of me I will be able to comprehend what it is I am doing. This may seem strange, of course I know but seeing the work as a cogent piece of work may have the answer to some of the problems of bringing the work into context, rather than it just being an interesting exercise. I know from previous work that the technical difficulty is of little consequence so I am limiting my writing on that aspect to a few words. The wider context has developed as the images were made and the research continued. The initial thrust was with Karl Blossfeldt but I have widened that now to include William Henry Fox Talbot, Anna Atkins and Julia Margaret Cameron with contemporary references to Amanda Means, Stephen Gill and Rachel Warne.

It is clear that botanical photography sits in two distinctly separate genre. The botanist is interested in the specimen and its place in a catalogue complete with Latin name and common name. The artist is exploring found objects within nature, isolating them or using them in the abstract. I feel a slight unease that I don't know the names of the specimens but I gain some comfort that by not naming them I am not exposing myself when I incorrectly identify them. This would seem a worse situation than no name at all.
For the assignment however I need to identify them, so maybe a simple numbering system will do or do I invent non botanical titles? I 'me not sure.

I need to consider the Learning Outcome. On the face of it I set out to recreate some 100 year old images in a 21st century studio. It has turned out to be a much wider piece of work. The research into Blossfeldt was difficult online (it seemed everyone had read Wikipedia and moved a few words around and published) but broadened into a detailed biographical review with the aid of three of his books. This in turn led to a wider look at botanical photography which goes back to the heart of photography and Fox Talbot. This is the first time I have set up a professional studio for macro work and now that I have overcome a number of engineering and technical issues there is scope to develop this for future work. Still life and the Dutch old masters I don't think so, but I have a few ideas for abstract based images that can be made here.

The assignment has at its base a job of work, which is to produce art that is commercial. This will not happen till later when I try and sell some and enter the 46th Eastern Open in October.

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