Sunday, 22 March 2015

Ma-Ness Week 11 Printing, Cyanotyping, Thinking and Stuff

Not such a snappy title this week but a slightly fuller post it note
this weeks post it note on background of openend up envelope that I used to stop the desk getting marked when I was experimenting with paint mourning borders around prints.
This week I have been doing a lot of printing - images, this blog, screenshots of stuff I'm working on, and have just taken advantage of this lovely spring sunshine by doing some cyanotypes too - sadly neither of the lumen prints I tried have worked particularly well (but one day I will succeed at lumen prints!!) and presentation stuff for inclusion in my Practice and Personal Development Portfolio which needs handing in on Friday.

I've experimented with printing some of the same images on different types of surfaces - the cyanoptype format is one I am loving - both as a process as I love its unpredictable and proper old school nature,the inverting of the image on the computer and then printing it on acetate, discovering and creating new images when putting them away, but tracing paper is my favourite paper to print on digitally as it has a translucency to it that I find really appealing plus it is also the cheapest so it's easy to get a good idea of what an image will look like in a large scale format for comparative cheaps before you go for it sizewise or on really expensive paper.

Canvas is the surface I was really excited to try but was really disappointed with the results - I still like the images on it but as a chum said surface-wise it looks like the now mass produced prints you get in supermarkets and that's not the look I'm going for.

I've had less distractions and appointments this week and so have been able to concentrate more upon putting together my portfolio to hand in (PHEW!!!) - and it's been really interesting to look back over the last few weeks and the kind of work I've been making and how my approach to it both in terms of thinking about it and doing it has changed though part of me is still slightly angsty that I haven't been doing enough reading (though I did finish Count Arthur Strong's Memoirs which are brilliantly funny - I especially love his confusion re Robin Hood and Jack the Ripper and he posits that the painter Walter Sick might have been responsible for the killings in 1888 in Whitechapel...) but hopefully I shall get some more reading done over the easter vacation.

I keep thinking about dissertation topics and first of all I thought about the possibility of something about the use of human remains in contemporary fine artwork but as a chum pointed out that might mean having to at least mention Damien Hirst and he gets on my wick so I'd rather not so now I'm thinking more of the portrayal of death in photography - especially since a brief look round the Drawn By Light photography exhibition at the Media Museum yesterday morning led me to fall even more in love with the work of Harold Peach Robinson plus this would enable me to fit in some Barthes quotes nicely thereby fulfilling the theory requirement course-wise so this is looking more likely. It's a long time to dissertation hand in but I'd rather be ahead of myself than horribly behind and trying to do too many things at once....

I was at the Media Museum to hand in my entry for the Drawn By Light competition - I didn't think I would win but I am pleased in that I can now say I have had work on show at the Media Museum, mine was entry 49 and here is a pic of it awaiting being pinned up on the wall: mine is the one in the middle, if a photo could also convey smell you would also be able to smell the strong stench of piss and skunk that surrounded us at the top of the car park but I loved how mine and my husbands reflection looked in the mirror and so stopped and stooped to take a picture......

I might not have been doing much reading recently (aside from Count Arthur that is) but I have been doing a lot of looking and a lot of listening - looking wise I watched the film about Hockney that was on the BBC recently, and I loved it - there were a couple of bits that stood out for me when he was talking about photography - IIRC he said that a photo is taken in a split second and even if you only look at it for 4 seconds that is longer than it took to make and in some ways this is literally true but takes no account of the time it takes to set up the photograph, develop it, print it though I suppose in these virtually instantaneous digital days that is less of a concern than it used to be and Mr Hockney is much more technically advanced than I am - I bet he has a phone that does tinternet for instance, never mind instagram and what have you. I do have a digital camera and there is a camera on my phone which I use to take aide memoire type photos or when I'm trying to sneak taking an image....

The other thing he said was paintings take longer to make than it does to see them and again this is probably literally true and as I'm not a painter I'll take his word for it....he also said that cameras see surfaces but they don't see space and a fellow ma-er also quoted him as saying the view from a camera is 'the view from a paralysed cyclops for a split second' which is also referenced here which made me both chuckle and both kind of agree and disagree with. Again it is literally true I suppose but there have been lots of photographs which may well have been a fixed view of something but they in turn have me me change my view about something...but I am in danger of getting myself tied up in theoretical and philosophical knots here so I'll stop other than to say I do love Mr Hockney and I still have a postcard of his work that I bought as a teenager from the Whitworth many many moons ago 'We Two Boys Together Clinging'. It's quite battered now and smells slightly of the damp bedsit walls it's been blu-tacked to over the years but I still love it both as an object and as a painting.

I am an inveterate R4 listener and have been since I left home really I think initially it was because I was quite lonely and liked the sound of voices plus music radio tends to get on my nerves as they mostly don't play what I want to hear plus I would far rather hear John Humphries relate a tale of national woe than the false most likely drug induced bonhomie of a disc jockey first thing in the morning. Anyway I now can't remember the programmes I heard them in but these points stood out - there was an interview with Helen Sharmer (the astronaut) who was describing the docking with the space station and the relief on both sides of the airlock that it had worked and how that for her 'memories associated with emotion last the longest' and someone else said (but alas I cannot remember in what programme/context) that photography has been a major cultural change as it has changed the way we remember things, which has given me lots of food for thought - including is my love affair of (most) things victorian is because I can see photographs of the people of the time as opposed to paintings or drawings or writings?

Other food for thought this week has come from a chum sending me the link to this blog which is a fascinating and thought provoking read - and I am proud to say I am a morbidly curious person and would like to see more open-ness re human remains, burial sites etc - whilst still being as respectful as possible that is. And whilst I think he has a good point re the treatment of human remains as art in that it can be 'seriously weird or deviant' I would also argue that this isn't always the case plus when people have given their express permission for their remains to be used in such a way surely it is a way of carrying out their wishes.

The other blog post which I read this week but now can't find the link to was about the storing of digital information and what we are potentially losing as formats go out of fashion. The oldest camera I have got is a Kodak Vest Pocket from the 1920's which still works but I have a digital one from a few years ago which works on batteries and does take pictures but it is in effect useless as I can find no driver for it (and the only thing online I've been able to find for it are other people asking if anyone has any software for it - alas to no avail) and so I cannot take the pictures I've taken with it and it has no screen on the back. Though the very helpful and clever chap in the print room did say that MAcs have something called image capture (I am a pc using person and so unaware of what macs can and can't do - all I know is I find them unintuitive to use and had to get the chap in the library to come and show me how to get the mac I was using to print something..which he kindly did, he also had to fix the photocopier for me when the acetate I was copying onto jammed...) which may be able to get the images off it if we can find a cable to connect it with....

Unlike the latest lo-fi digital camera I bought last week - it was £6.99 and has a massive(!!!) 2.1 MEGA PIXEL capacity - it also comes complete with its own photoediting software and it also has a 1.5 inch preview screen and can hold up to 120 photos. It's aimed at children - well actually young girls who are into Monster High as it is emblazoned with logos and characters from it. I am looking forward to using it - if nothing else it should be a giggle.

What else - potential collaborations shaping up nicely, excited about going back to Media Museum for a proper in depth look round the exhibition and to finding out more about Mme Yevonde whose absolutely sumptuous and stunning colour images leapt out at me yesterday and made me go 'wow' as well as the lovely old black and white/sepia images by Harold Peach Robinson... and I wonder if the same gallery assistant will be on duty who saw me looking intently at one picture and said 'you're the gothic artist' from the Cultural Heritage event - it was very flattering to be remembered and we had a good but brief chat about our respective courses - she's doing an MA in Museum Studies and has just handed in her dissertation so fingers crossed both of us do okay in our respective assignments....

Other things learnt this week - cardboard stencils made from cereal packets (circle and coffin shapes) to paint cyanotype solution inside when prepping paper only work well once but then are no longer crisp around the edges so might need to get some made in plastic instead. PVA glue is going to be the way I hem my test fabric pieces - rolled hems are not for me and I am too heavy footed with a sewing machine, and I am so pleased with of my cyanotypes that I cannot bear to part with them so have taken photocopies of them to include in the portfolio to hand in instead.....I wonder what that says about me - I must point out it is not a reflection on the people who will be marking it and is entirely about my haptic possesiveness of objects.

Oh and brain knives - that is knives made for cutting fine slices of the brain so they can be microscopically examined are like very long very sharp palette knives...I got to hold one yesterday at a fascinating event at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery which looked at the way mental health and psychiatry was looked at around the time of the first world war. Fascinating.

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