Monday, 15 February 2016

MA-Ness Term 2 Week 7 - Cyanotyping Rescue, Dissecting a Heart, Making Stuff Out of Cast Offs Prevarication and Words....

this weeks post it note - along with papers I'm trying to work on but am actually putting off looking at, the most magnificent gift of an old coverless book from one of my fellow MA-ers who rescued it from a skip, some paint, and a bookmark made out of some acetate leftover with some skeleton stickers and my photocopying experiments using multiple copies of acetate negatives overlaid and reinverted on the photocopier.

overdone cyanotype in the wash - think I left it in the sun too long, got distracted with my time keeping...
and in the wash again after a rescue with a bit of a soak in a bleach solution, not brilliant but slightly better as in you can at least see some of the image on it - an image of the subscription graves down the side of the chapel at St George's Field 

lumen prints in progress resting on the towel rail in the bathroom as that gets the best sun first thing in the morning - using  very old Agfa Brovira paper both gloss and matte given to me by friends, not sure how old it is except it is at least 30, maybe even 40 years old. Those on the bigger pieces of matte paper worked better than those on the smaller gloss paper  
having fun at Thackray Medical Museum at their Anti Valentine's Event - I was living my wannabe Viktor Frankenstein fantasies by dissecting a sheeps heart, I could do this as a) it had already been taken from the sheeps body by a butcher b) I had gloves on c) it didn't smell and wasn't significantly decomposed d) it wasn't given to me with a face and e) I wasn't expected to kill it.  I have nothing but awe/admiration and a massive feeling of eeww and revulsion at the 18th and 19th century anatomists who did this without latex between them and their subject and without the benefit of refrigeration either, I also cannot cannot help but admire and feel revulsed by their ability to go against the perceived moral teaching of their age ie stealing bodies, preventing lawful burial, etc....
Photo taken by my ever supportive husband
end result of one of the lumens - need to try and fix it with uv resistant gloss spray and see if that works but as the spray is potentially toxic am going to keep it in the dark and wait until it is a little bit warmer and spray it outside, and in the meantime have scanned it and taken a digital photograph of it and boosted the levels digitally to get more of a contrast.

Lots of pictures in this weeks post - back to its usual Monday posting now anniversary related gallivanting has ended. As you can see from the above pics I've been up to heart dissecting for Valentines Day, lumen printing and cyanotyping over the last couple of days and it's somewhat ironic that this post is so full of pictures as what I'd actually been mostly thinking about last week was words.

Last Friday's seminar was given over entirely to words, and we were set tasks like writing about our work without using the words we usually use. For me this meant phrases like 'being inspired death culture in general and victorian death culture in particular were out as were practically descriptive phrases like 'analogue photographic processes' or 'gothic photographic artist'.

I found it quite difficult and my friends description of me as an historian is making me think even more about what it is I actually do and what it is I am most interested in - not just out of navel gazing reasons but also out of possible phd applications. Anyway what I came up with was:

Eclectic re-image-ing of years gone by, hoping to evoke in the reader/viewer a wish to accompany me on my journey ferreting out the stories of the past that run alongside the present.

Distortion, fading, fixing fading memories, writing up the contrast

Am I really a writer? I'm definitely a reader.

Feelings/Fears of not being taken seriously if I call myself a writer as well or am I actually a historian?

Re-enactments of personal/impersonal histories

Words spoken and forgotten, details lost/blurred but feelings remain extant.


Are you sitting comfortably?    
Then I'll begin.

I found it really interesting to listen to other peoples descriptions of their work and quite scarey having to read what I'd written out after hearing the eloquence of the others in the seminar as well as very thought provoking to think about questions like 'who do you write for?' and 'do you show courtesy to your audience?'. I use this blog as my research journal so it is both a record of what I've been up to and so a document for assessment for the research journal assessment part of the course but I make it public so it is also a broadcast platform. A broadcast platform for me to in some ways brag about what I've been up to - eg heart dissection as well as to question/record what's going on coursewise and what I'm thinking back to the navel gazing point except at least it is navel gazing with an end in sight (ie a Masters qualification) as opposed to just navel gazing...hopefully.

The conversation turned also to why we do the work we do in the first place and questions like - is it important if people like it or not, does it matter if it is understood, is it automatically a bad thing to be misunderstood or misrepresented? What happens in the space between the image maker and the receiver? And my first thoughts are - yes it is important if people like it partly from an ego stroking point of view, partly from a practical point of view as in people aren't likely to hand over cash/time for something they don't like or at the very least appreciate in some way, and I don't like being misunderstood or misrepresented....though in some ways you might never know if this is happening and in others it's all too evident but you might not be able to do anything about it.

Hmm as ever lots of food for thought - as were the opening exercises in which we had to write our signatures in different ways but only after swapping pens with the person next to us. I went from using a wooden pencil to using a rollerball type pen. Until I had to loan my pencil to the person sitting next to me I hadn't realised how much I was enjoying the feel of its wooden-ness as opposed to the plastic casing of the rollerball pen. We had to sign our names using the hand we don't normally write with - I am lefthanded and my righthanded signature wasn't so a signature as a squiggle seemingly made during an earthquake. It went very small and not making much of an indent on the page when I was trying to disappear and quite bold and flowery when I was trying to be a celebrity. I did suffer somewhat from 'blank page anxiety' - which is the same anxiety I feel when starting a new notebook or trying to decide which notebook to use for which purpose. Choosing a new diary/journal is something that always takes me an age - currently using one I bought from John Rylands Library which looks like an old fashioned library card, but I haven't written in it since December 30th 2015. It's on my list of things to do update though...and when I do write in it it will be in black ink - from one of those disposable fountain pens. I've written my diary using one of those for a long time now and whilst I don't like the throwaway nature of them I find they suit my lefthandedness best.

The eagle eyed amongst you might have noticed some of my reusing rather than just throwing away tendencies by my making of a bookmark using some leftover acetate from making a cyanotype negative and some stickers in the top image on this post.

Along with lots of thinking about words I'm also thinking a lot about opposites and how they can't exist without one another - negative/positive, absence/presence,permanence/impermanence and how it is the spaces and gaps between words that help them make sense, without them it would just be a constant stream of letters. 

What else? well chuffed with some of the film pics I took in Morecambe so now looking over them deciding which ones I want to print/get printed, happily playing on the photocopiers at college with overlaying negative copies, acetates and copies of copies and watching how images degrade and evolve, also having lots of fun looking at and re-watching films like the 1935 Hitchcock directed version of The 39 Steps, Young Frankenstein - the Putting On The Ritz dance scene with the Creature is one of my all times faves and snuggling up with Mapp who is being very snuggly at the moment and lovely company when you're watching such beautiful monochrome goodness.

I also spent a very chilly hour in the garage aka pop up meth lab yesterday afternoon developing some black and white 120 film I took on an Ensign Full Vue from the 1950's back when St George's Field was partially snow covered in January. There isn't much room so it's just as well that me and Mr Pops get on so well as we quite often had to swap places - I was mostly in charge of the thermometer and mixing the chemicals and getting them to the right temperature, pouring them in and agitating the tank, he was in charge of threading the film onto the spool (something I find fiendishly difficult unless I can begin to spool it in/on in the light - though I have managed it in the complete dark on occasion, I find that easier than sweating it out using a darkbag) and fetching a big water carrier. And it seems to have worked - as in there are very definitely images on the film and I just need to scan them in - which is my next task, not that I'm putting off working on my abstract submission....oh no....not that the thought of it being rejected or accepted is giving me pause....



No comments:

Post a Comment