Wednesday, 9 December 2015

MA-Mess Year 2 Term 1 Week 13 - Blog Slog, Printing, Writing, Reading and the reverse of the Talking Heads instruction Stop Making Sense

this weeks post it note - mostly made up of quotes, fab events and argh-ness
Mapp doing her best to help.....

It's been a really busy few days and it has been really increasingly hard over the last few weeks to keep going - a mix of insomnia, ongoing upset and distress given the accumulation of recent events have left me struggling to concentrate and make sense of things...but I have kept plodding on. But it really does feel like plodding at the moment - plodding with a heavy backpack uphill through treacle and with a badly drawn map....though at least I have more time in which to plod at the moment and so I don't feel quite so stressed anymore...still a bit stressed but nowhere near as much as I did...but it is still plod, plod, plod....and some writing is easier than others...this is a slog but it is less of a slog than the dissertation which is making me think really hard about - or rather I know I'm going to have to do some very hard thinking about whether or not I'm cut out for/want to do a phd....

So that extended metaphor and musings over - what have I been up to? mostly reading and writing. With a bit of conference going in the middle which was very interesting indeed and at which I premiered my first proper grown up academic poster and got to chat about various things including what's hot and what's not (in a fashion sense) when it comes to clothing for the dead and the reasons why clothing for the dead is so important, murderabilia (until last week I was happily ignorant that apparently you can buy fridge magnets* of Jeffrey Dahmers victims -that raises a whole truckload of uncomfortable and interesting questions) pathographies aka dying memoirs  imagery associated with psychobilly and last but by no means least and way up near the top on the scale of yuck - necrophilia and the different kinds of it. I like to think  I have a fairly strong stomach but I don't think I'd have the stomach for that kind of research, fascinating though it was.

This was at the Marginal Death Studies Conference held in an especially picturesque but also in the arse end of nowhere bit of York University campus.

Other things which caught my attention this last week have included a Don McCullin article in the Guardian in which he said that digital photography could not be trusted and his difficulty with photography as a fine art form. You can read the full interview here, I think he raises some interesting points but I disagree that digital photography is inherently less trustworthy than film photography.  I prefer using film - I like the fuss and faff and time it takes and I prefer the look of the images I make and take on film but either kind of image can be manipulated - right from the way the photographer frames the shot and decides how to shoot it up to the way it is processed and edited. The camera might not lie - but the person using it can certainly manipulate the viewpoint it shows.

The article on peta pixel opened up lots of debate along these lines and also along the demarcation and battle lines between 'documentary' photography and 'art' photography, something else McCullin has strong views on. The quote that stood out the most for me was one from someone called Jim Marton in which he wisely and rightly said 'some people pick up a camera to document the truth, others use a camera to make art. Nothing wrong with either pursuit.'

There was also some discussion this week about the development and spread of digital photography to the point where photograph taking as a skill has become devalued - everyone is a photographer now. I can see that argument but I also think you can see the difference between 'good', 'bad' and 'better' photographs  and there will always be different kinds of photograph taking and different levels of skill. I'm all for the democratisation of technology and techniques because you can still do something unique with it and everyone's vision and realisation of that vision is different.

What else - well a couple of lovely latin mottos:

mors vincit omnia - death always wins or death conquers all
mortui vivos docent - the dead teach the living.

And I think that's enough for hoping that some proper time off once I've finished a couple of things off will recharge my batteries and give me the oomph back to do all the things I want to crack on with in the new year - things like more image making at St George's Fields, more cyanotyping, more anthotypes, just lots more doing in general.

* I have a fridge magnet of a Deads Man Hand on my fridge - from Whitby Museum, it is a a picture of a hand found in a building. It will have been chopped off after they were hung for a capital offence.
The folklore around deads men hands was that they were used as a magic charm by burglars to keep the people they were burgling asleep - the thumb was used as a wick and apparently it worked best if it was the hand of a murderer used. And what is the difference between that and the Dahmer victims? Although neither chose to be killed and made into an object to go on a fridge and Dahmers victims will presumably still have living relatives which in my mind makes them far worse than a hand of someone we don't know and definitely doesn't have living relatives. Plus who is making money from these ghoulish trades? I'd far rather Whitby Museum got my cash but when I really sit and think about it is there really that big a difference between the two cases?

As ever - much food for thought.  

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