Sunday, 29 November 2015

MA-Ness Year 2 Term 1 Week 12 - Ongoing Dissertation Determination, Walking, Not Doing Enough Doing, Joy of Doing, Poster Meltdown and Lumen-Ness

this weeks post it note - looking a lot fuller than last weeks - got a bit more blog mojo back

Mapp 'helping' with my research - she told me she too was fascinated with Secure The Shadow by Jay Ruby  - the name comes from a daguerreotype photographers advertising slogan 'secure the shadow, ere the substance fade, let nature imitate, what nature made'
a nice bit of doing - a lumen print made using very old photographic paper indeed - Agfa Type W Brovira Crystal normal white lustre and a card sent to me by a chum a while back which I thought would make a nice 'negative' as it's a cut out. This is a photo of the print - I have also scanned it, might try and fix it too but not sure yet. Did a couple of others using acetates I'd initially made to make cyanotypes with - well chuffed with the results. 

I was getting slightly better at maintaining a balance between doing and thinking (which for the purposes of this blog also includes writing and reading - by doing I means hands on image creation of some kind)  but the last couple of weeks that went right out of the window as all the concentration has been on what has become known as 'the bastard dissertation'.

It's also thanks to the 'bastard dissertation' that I am writing this on a Sunday afternoon (which is normally reserved for proper 70's Columbo watching) for the third week running when I normally do it on a Monday but deadlines are fast approaching and as this blog functions as my research journal and also needs handing in for assessment I need to keep up with it and if I do it today it means I have more time to concentrate on said 'bastard dissertation'...

I had been getting more disciplined at going for a walk before settling down in front of the computer but that too had got a bit lost in the midst of bad weather and the bed being so much warmer than the cold outside. But I must remember that I feel *so* much better for doing some doing and going a for a walk too.

I did try last week though to follow my husbands suggestion of going for a walk around lunchtime as opposed to earlier in the day but then it didn't happen as I was stuck in midst of bastard dissertation arguments and didn't want to lose my thread plus the weather was really horrid and so I stayed in front of the computer instead. On balance I think it would have been better if I'd gone for a stroll.

Very glad though that I went for a walk today and also that I went when I did - ie before the weather became really wet and storm force windy or else there was a real risk I'd have ended up in either Kansas or Atlantis. Didn't really do much thinking on the walk though, was too busy enjoying squishing through mud and big puddles in my wellies..andf hoping that the wind didn't blow down any trees or blow the pilot light out on the boiler.

But I forwent the temporary loveliness of the weather on Wednesday morning for a go at doing some lumen prints instead using some very very old photographic paper given to us by a chum. I also used the safe light they gave us too - made poking about in the dark so much easier. We don't have a darkroom but we do have very heavy bedroom curtains lined with black out material so in that room at least I can block out the bulk of the light. There is still a bit of light that comes in over the top of the curtains which I can't block out and a bit at the bottom of the curtains which I can by flattening the curtains against the radiator so although not completely light tight it is light tight enough to set up cyanotypes and lumens - providing I get the bulk of it done beforehand - ie deciding which acetate to use, getting the clip frames ready and the red safe light saves a lot of extra fumbling about on my part.

Can't find a manufacture date for the paper but it must be decades old - it looks like Agfa started manufacturing Brovira in the 1940's and the packaging on the stuff I've got looks quite 60's-70's. I love that it has none of the browny purpley tones I've got with lumen prints before and instead is a quite gentle shade of original paper and blue. I left them in the bright wintery watery sunshine for about an hour - I really must get better at timing things and making a note of what time I put things in the sunshine, but think it was about an hour - it was long enough for me to do some washing up, hoovering, tidying round and some washing and also to check email and so have a mini meltdown over an email informing me that the academic poster I'd sent through for a conference in York wasn't the right size.


I am a bear of little brain when it comes to computery things at the best of times and I googled for how to resize it, asked on Facebook for advice and got some but still wasn't able to do it myself as in spite of following the instructions and getting partial success I couldn't do it....but a knight in shining armour (well a chum in a very nice new winter coat) came over and helped sort it out for me in return for dinner (lincolnshire sausages, mashed spuds and sprouts) and I am enormously indebted to him. Not just because he helped me sort it out - turned out to be quite a simple fix (setting image size in powerpoint before you even start) but also because his saying that he would come round after work and help me fix it (he is a photoshop wiz and one of the sites I'd looked at suggested using photoshop) meant I could stop trying to fix it and getting nowhere and concentrate upon bastard dissertation instead in the meantime.

I am very lucky indeed to have such clever, technically able and generous friends.

What else - well the week before I went to a lecture at Thackray Medical Museum which was partly about the use of puppets in theatre and featured the story of a woman called Anne Green who in 1650 was sentenced to death and dissection for infanticide (it was a crime then to not reveal if you were pregnant and you then miscarried - if this happened you were considered to have brought about the miscarriage on purpose) but who revived on the dissection table and whose first words when she properly came round were 'behold god's providence'. She was helped in this coming round-ness by one of her would be dissectors ordering one of his maids to get under the covers with her and warm her up.

You can see an image here  of the woodcut contained in a pamphlet called Wonder of Wonders which was published the following year.
It was fascinating - both from a seeing how a puppet can become so lifelike that even though we know and can see it is a puppet we still believe it is real and from a history point of view too and from a wow - just how misogynistic a culture and legislature we have had (and in lots of ways still do) and also I am really glad I am not anyone's maid and can't be ordered to do things like that.

But aside from computer wobbles, not going for a walk (as I typed the word 'walk' The Cure song of the same name came on - I am experimenting with working to music at the moment again and have got some kind of 80's compilation on media player, not sure what it was called as when I ripped it, it didn't transfer over the names or titles so it's been a fantastic meander down memory lane so far with wonderful gems from Landscape, Haysi Fantayzee, Associates, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Soft Cell and Japan to name but a few...) I have also done some gazing this week.

I gazed at the buildings being demolished on Headingley Lane - a huge crane like machine with a jaw on the end was twisting and tearing down girders - fascinating to see the skeletal insides of a building - the layers of bricks, plasterboard and insulation as well as watching the jaws almost play with the girders the same way a cat does with a spider - that is tapping and gently holding before applying the killer blow. I was utterly mesmerised by it and spent a good few minutes just watching it and wishing I'd had a good quality video camera on me to record it....

The other gazing I did was at the big screen - the big screen of the ever fantastic Hyde Park Picture House to see a documentary called Star*Men which was part documentary, part road trip and part memoir of a group of british mathematicians, astronomers and physicists who literally changed the way we view the world or rather the sky. Donald Lynden- Bell, Wal Sargent, Nick Woolf and Roger Griffin met at Cal Tech in the early 60's and one of them helped develop the spectrascope, one changed the way telescope mirrors were made and the film followed their reunion, the recreation of a long road trip to an american national monument called Rainbow Bridge interspersed with head shots whilst they talked about their respective childhoods and beliefs and of course amazing shots of the night sky which thanks to light pollution we so rarely get to see.

Apparently to make mirrors suitable for use in modern telescopes takes 2 days to bake the silica in the oven, 2-3 mths to cool it down and then 2-3 years to polish it!!! - clearly not a job for someone as impatient as me which does make me wonder why I love the comparative slowness of film when I could have the speed of digital...I occupy some kind of liminal space inbetween the two photographic disciplines though my heart belongs to film really.

It was that fantastic mix of thought provoking, poignant and just gobsmackingly beautiful to look at and it made me want to learn more of the stars (I can only reliably spot the Plough) and learn a bit more about astrophysics too. I saw a bit more - I know feck all of astrophysics so some would be a more accurate word to use. One thing that stood out for me (partly because it's one of the things I look at in my dissertation) was Wal Sargents assertion that it was hearing Fred Hoyle's voice on the radio - not just what he was talking about but that he had a yorkshire accent which made him realise that he (Wal) as a working class man could also learn of these things and go to university and how that Britain was and is such a class ridden society. The others in the film came from much more middle class backgrounds where university was more of a matter of course than a rarity. Anyways you can see a trailer for it here  - see it if you can for it is aces...especially the bit where Roger Griffin explains that though it might look to others as if he was in a sulk - actually he was in a misery.

The other word on my post it note is Locarno - when I was little my folks used to talk about the Locarno all the time, which was initially the local swimming pool and then converted into a dance hall and then sometime in the late 60's it was converted into the form it has now - a bingo hall. I didn't know then that Locarno was in Switzerland but I knew that it was some kind of exotic place where all sorts of shenanigans had gone on - girl and boyfriends met. It just reminded me of the way places might change but that the names for them stay the same for some and is all part of the differences of language and how people might ostensibly be speaking the same language but might mean or understand very different things....

It's making me want to visit it - not the part of Switzerland but the Locarno as was via time machine in its dance hall prime.


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