Tuesday, 29 March 2016

MA-Ness Week 13 - A Day Late, Lists, Procrastination, Papers, Possibilities and Motivation

this weeks post it notes, a book I got from a charity shop that included a letter (at first I thought it was my inability to read it but it is because it's written in another language - dutch I think and the two cards that were also in the book. I'm up to page 101 and it is an engaging and emotional read so far...

Thanks to Easter Bank Holiday-Ness I am writing this a day later than I normally do, I spent yesterday making a conscious decision not to do anything college related and so instead concentrated on making and eating a roast chicken dinner, then watching a shonky but nonetheless entertaining  film called A Study In Terror on the Horror Channel with a gin and tonic in hand.

A film in which Sherlock Holmes played by John Neville tracks down Jack The Ripper but not before he has killed the five victims he (the Ripper that is, if they were all the acts of one person) is believed to have killed among them Annie Chapman played by Barbara Windsor fussing with her new bonnet instead of paying her dosshouse money. It was made in 1965 and so it was interesting to see how the Victorian period was portrayed then - lots of bustles, alleyways and so not all that dissimiliar to say the much more recent Ripper Street and bits of the sets looked familiar from series like The Saint.

Neville wasn't a particularly convincing Holmes for me - my favourite is Basil Rathbone closely followed by Peter Cushing. I appreciate the fact that the Jeremy Brett version is amongst the most faithful to the original stories as written by Conan Doyle, but for me there is something glorious about the Rathbone versions. Not least because they are in sumptuous monochrome, have ladies in beautiful gowns and as most of them were made in the 1940's they also include stirring speeches to fight Nazism or end titles to encourage the buying of war bonds. Plus as much as the Nigel Bruce version of  Watson is far dimmer in intellect than the Watson in the books he is such an avuncular jovial figure that I can't help but love him.

I have very fond memories of first seeing them when I was very little, and there is something about their period detail (most of the stories were set in the then modern day) and so they feature beautiful cars with running boards, ladies in impossibly stylish hats and gloves making smoking a cigarette look glamorous and unintentionally hilarious versions of London town as imagined by Hollywood. Some years back my husband very kindly bought me the restored films in a gorgeous boxset - it is beautiful and they are some of my favourite comfort viewing.

But as ever I've got sidetracked by nostalgic rememberings of watching lovely old black and white films whilst curled up on the sofa when really I should be writing about what I've been up to.

However I think motivation, procrastination and distraction are part of the things I'm struggling a bit with at the moment. Compared to my much younger undergraduate self I am so much more disciplined and usually ahead if not on schedule when it comes to deadlines but I still find myself getting distracted by tinternet nonsense when I'm supposed to be concentrating on something and reference books I enthusiastically start and get partway through then go by the wayside as I get caught up in something else. The very generous renewal privileges from the college's library don't help with this as there is no immediate urgency there to get them read and handed back.

I am almost two thirds of the way through an English Way of Death by Julien Little and just over halfway through The Art of Death by Nigel Llewellyn and I am still working my way through some Barthes, but I am finding it difficult to (if you'll pardon the pun as a photographer) focus and get tasks started and finished. Part of it is due to concern over loved ones health I think and part of it due to always having had a tangential mind. I can still remember my secondary school history teacher writing in my report that I was always going off a tangent and I guess old habits die hard.

Plus sometimes my procrastination is due to not wanting to do the task especially much in the first place (see dusting and cleaning the bathroom as that's not particularly exciting or especially rewarding) but also for fear of failure - and the longer you put it off the harder it becomes. Top of my to do list at the moment is a paper for the Victorian Representations Conference on May 13th and I have made notes, dug out some old notes I'd made on it for a previous project and had a think about it whilst tramping round the bridlepath but I have yet to sit down and actually start writing it - I will have at least started it by tomorrow evening though....

Key to success in anything though I have come to realise (and agree with one of my filmic heroes Alfred Hitchcock) is planning and preparation. Something I only half did on Thursday evening when I asked my husband if I could have my Easter present the following day. As I didn't want an Easter Egg I had asked for his help at a shoot at St George's Field, time and date to be determined by good enough weather and time off work/non relative visiting. Decided this - given the weather forecast would be best done on Good Friday and I also wanted to use infra red film. Or rather black and white film with a very low iso indeed which picks up infra red light - or at least I think it does, as ever my technical grasp of the details is somewhat hazy but I love the look of infra red images and so I would like to try and make some of my own.

Plus by asking for it as a present it also meant that I could ask my husband for help whenever I needed it rather than either feeling bad about interrupting him taking his own photos or getting impatient waiting for him to help if he was caught up in his own project. I asked him what he wanted for Easter and got it for him - he wanted a small easter egg ( I got him a Star Wars one complete with mug with R2D2 and C3PO on) but I have also offered to be his assistant on projects too.

Anyway I made a mental list of things needed: tripod, SLR that can be used fully manually as both the ISO and exposure times need to be done that way when using this film, camera instruction booklet as it's been a while since I've used that way and every camera set up whilst broadly similar is different enough to fox me on occasion,  little step (v handy for when placing skulls high up on tombs)  and props - namely skull, little skeletal figure, skeletal candles and matches (really want to try and capture the glow from the candles and apparently infra red is good for this) got appropriate filter for lens, sorted out lenses, made sure I was wearing a jacket with pockets for putting lens caps etc in and off we went.

I though he had the tripod and he thought I had the tripod and so when we got there and discovered neither of us had it I decided that in future never mind a mental list - I should make a paper list and actually tick stuff off it so that journeys aren't wasted. As it was when we got there it was full of flags, bits of tarpaulins slung across bits of the field, a gazebo and what appeared to be lots of people in bobble hats and sensible outdoor clothes ticking people off a list. We found out afterwards it was some kind of sprint running event but I'm still not sure about that as there didn't appear to be any kind of sprinting going on and hardly any running, it seemed to be mostly people waiting to be called forward to the next bit.

So I didn't end up taking any pictures as the flags etc would have ruined the views I was trying to get and without the tripod working up close with the small props wouldn't have worked either. Arse. But I did go over what bits of the route I could for the walk and talk I am doing there - but it was somewhat annoying to be told by a rather officious bobble hatted woman to stop walking along a line of graves because we would be in the way of what were at that moment non existent walkers let alone runners plus if someone was sprinting they wouldn't have wanted to be as close to the graves as we were as they would have been on the path....and I can be ditzy but deliberately walking into the path of other people is not one of my usual tricks.

Project for another weekend then....as a mix of the weather not being good enough coupled with prior commitments meant we couldn't go back again this weekend.

But I have tackled some of the smaller things on my to do lists today as in replied to some emails and checked the dates for some projects - there is a deadline of April 1st for the conference I want to submit a paper proposal too so I'd best get that out of the way before I start on the paper I've already had accepted, plus I need to write some labels and that kind of thing...I think what I need to do is get some kind of calendar gant chart malarkey so I know what I need to do when and put it on the wall as at the moment it's either in my diary (which I sometimes forget to check doh!!) or in my head and being in my head is not the safest place for it to be.

Right - best get on with my list making and timetabling....


Monday, 21 March 2016

MA-Ness Week 12 - Distraction, Coffin Furnishings Visitations, Films (or fillums as my Nana would have said) Poetical Musings, Walking, Projects and Student Food.

Not a very full post it note but it has been a busy few days, though I have been struggling to focus properly today as am feeling distracted by health related woes - though hopefully they are more sorted now...and I am determined that I will not leave the desk ( I mostly write this sat at a proper old school pc so I feel in proper 'work mode') until it is finished...though I reserve the right to distract my self  by looking at pictures of cats on the tinternet or listening to Hacker T Dog (one of my current comedic heroes) as he never fails to make me chuckle.

So I last wrote this blog/research journal on last Thursday as I had got out of sync writing it due to lots of appointments at the start of last week. So this week I only have a few days activities to write up as opposed to the usual 7 days so I can get back into my usual rhythm  of writing it - but what fun days they were - firstly a visit to a coffin furnishings factory in Dewsbury to collect coffin linings offcuts. I intend to use the offcuts to print on so I shall have to book a time in the darkroom to paint them with cyanotype solution though I also have something called Solarfast which I haven't used yet. It says it works best on natural fabrics and the offcuts I have are possibly not made from natural fibres but manmade ones....oh well I shall have fun experimenting and as the company I approached were very generous indeed I have lots to practice on. I didn't take any photographs inside the building but it looked very similar in set up to Newman Brothers in Birmingham and I did take lots of photographs afterwards of the fabulous Victorian height of might of empire architecture nearby afterwards.

But it was like stepping back in time - from the paper card clock in system, the old tins which contained many years worth of tea bags, the truly beautiful wood and etched glass, the evidence of leaks on the ceiling and oh it was lovely - I'd like to go back but I'd like to have something to offer in return before I go ask again. They were very generous when they didn't need to be and I don't want them to think I am taking advantage. In the meantime I have sent them an old school postcard with my thanks on it and when the work I've got in mind is finished I'll send them copies of that too.

I also had a lovely time meandering around Dewsbury afterwards - got a good haul from the big Sue Ryder charity shop, saw beautiful tombstones in the Heritage Centre and a heartbreaking memorial tapestry made in 1866 by 36 year old Sarah Anne detailing the loss of her eight children (some died in infancy, the eldest Clara lived til she was 4 years and ten months) over the previous 11 years. I hope she got some comfort from the phrase/belief embroidered 'they are not lost though but gone before....'

I also took part in a community art/history project which was looking at peoples stories of Dewsbury, I stumbled upon it after walking down an arcade which looked interesting and being invited in by one of the contributing photographers.  I don't remember ever having visited there before but have been through it often on the train (especially when as an undergraduate I was travelling back to Manchester) and the artist co-ordinating it when I said why I was visiting said it was the 'most niche reason' she had heard or was likely to for visiting Dewsbury.

I've seen a lot of films recently - the last two weekends have been spent amongst the comfort and huge screen of Pictureville in Bradford watching Hail Caesar (2016 Cohen Brothers) which I absolutely loved - their recreation of lovely golden age of Hollywood genres (the homage to On The Town with Channing Tatum is especially funny as it takes homoerotic undertones to overtones and the Esther Williams water movies recreations is just glorious, as are Tilda Swinton's characters suits) and this weekend was Rams (2015 Hakonarson) - I thought it was going to be a comedic film about two sheep farming brothers who live next door to one another but do not speak to one another and haven't done so for 40 years. It did have comedic moments - the noise of the hidden sheep being explained as 'many cats', the delivery of the drunken almost frozen brother to the hospital via the bucket of a tractor, the written communication system the brothers use via sheepdog but otherwise it was bleak and somewhat grim.

Far more glamorous and exciting was yesterdays double bill of Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015 Jones) followed by Rear Window (1954 Hitchcock) - my only quibble about the otherwise excellent documentary about the interviewing by Hitchcock by Truffaut over 8 days in 1962 was that surely there must be some female film directors somewhere who could also have spoken about the influence Hitchcock had on their work though the male directors interviewed all had very interesting things to say - as did Truffaut and Hitchcock thought the most tantalising juicy bits of gossip were obviously relayed via interpreter after the mics were turned off.  I made some notes in the dark (well the limited light of the screen) and the things which struck me were:

  • the time and preparation Hitchcock put into how his films were going to be made (note to self find out more about his wife and her role in his work, he said he always made decisions in consultation with Alma) 
  • he was a roman catholic - I didn't know this
  • He said of himself - 'my mind is strictly visual, logic is dull' - the former bit makes absolute sense when you realise his made his start in silent films and that 'ideally you should be able to tell a story in film without dialogue'.
  • A director is 'an author writing with a camera'.
  • He made his films to be seen by hundreds in an audience situation 

And those directors interviewed or quoted in the film included Wes Anderson saying that his book of Hitchcock/Trufaut is now a pile of pages held together with an elastic band such has been his enthusiastic and constant reading of it for it is such a film makers bible, that various objects appear in a fetishistic way in lots of his films:
rope, keys, handcuffs,
The transfer of guilt in his films - overtly in I Confess (Montgomery Clift was indescribably beautiful) or the mistaken presumption of guilt (am guessing his roman catholic upbringing has no small part in this)
The omniscient camera angle often used - religion rarely overtly expressed in his films (I Confess being an exception though there are sometime minor figures who are religious eg the nun in 39 Steps)
his incredible use of back projection - which thanks to todays high definition projection equipment can look a bit shonky and dissolve effects
How he speeds up what you expect to be slow and slows down what you expect to be fast...and how as a director he wanted to wrongfoot the audience so that what they expected to happen wasn't going to.

There are elements though of Hitchcock's work which I find problematic, though how much of that is him and how much a reflection of the times he lived in I'm not sure - his portrayal and use of female actors, well all actors actually. Plus I also need to do some more research into the technicians he used plus praise must also go to Bernard Hermann and his incredible scores - Psycho and Vertigo being my favourites.

Rear Window was wonderful - yes there are some plot holes, but as a voyeuristic exercise (as all films are in some ways) it is wonderful. I love the nurse who comes in to give LB his physiotherapy and her somewhat gruesome fortune telling and the costumes made by Edith Head are GORGEOUS!! I know I'm going to really enjoy a film if there is a credit for 'gowns' or if the costumes are made by Edith Head.

A few days ago I got a couple of books from Chapel Allerton Library - from the pile of books set aside to be sold. I always think it is bit sad to see the word 'DISCARDED' stamped inside the cover but I am happy to them be able to buy them and keep them in my greasy little mitts or rather in piles around the edge of the bookcases as the bookcases are already doublestacked and having at the seams so to speak.

One of the books I got was All Points North by Simon Armitage (2009  Penguin Edition) which is giving me both food for thought and funny looks by fellow passengers on public transport as bits of it are making me laugh out loud. His description of his visiting the film set of Regeneration has given me lots of food for thought as he states on page 83 that film is:
'...only just at the potty-training stage in comparison with certain other ancient and well practised art forms' plus it is a 'fairly passive medium, requiring very little of its audience short of not falling asleep. Film rests very comfortable on the retina, whereas printed words seem to get right down through the optic nerve, like microbes of thought, inflaming the imagination.'

Plus films are made by 'collectives' and often are remakes of books and as a rule 'the greater the book, the poorer the film'. Lots and lots of food for thought there.... and I think he is definitely and obviously right re the collectives and mostly right re film adaptations. The only one I can think of that I don't mind as a version of the book is the 1962 version of To Kill A Mockingbird directed by Robert Mulligan - which I think stands up as a good film in its own right...though how much that has to do with my love of monochrome films in general and Gregory Peck in particular I'm not sure.

I'm really interested in place and how place influences the people who love in it and walk in it - I feel an instant 'aaah' feeling of peace and kind of completeness whenever I visit St George's Fields for instance, and I also like discovering new places - though I am also a creature of habit and have certain definite routes to places I follow, so much so that I have to make myself walk a different way to places sometimes, along with making myself look up - you'd be amazed by what gorgeousness you see on buildings just by looking up - especially in Leeds City Centre. I also like the physical process of walking - I find it quite meditative and get most of my best ideas when I'm walking - so much so I always have either a notebook and pen in my pocket or my phone to draft notes notes.

I am still trying to decide which projects to include in my portfolio (hand in is in August) and what format I want them to be in, and this is contrast to my undergraduate self who left things to the last moment and didn't really plan things through til the last moment. However in other ways I have almost completely reverted to early student behaviours ie I listen to Fall albums on repeat - though these days it is less likely to be the Wierd and Wonderful World and more likely to be Fall Heads Roll or Reformation Post TLC. I wear a lot of black (though to be fair my recapturing of my lost goth youth began in earnest some 13 years ago) like I did then but I have also started eating manky but delicious lazy food like I used to - namely pasta slathered with salad cream - though I now add sweetcorn in a somewhat futile attempt to make it more nutritious and at least it's one of my five a day....

Technically it's the Easter Holidays now but I have so much reading to do still, phd opportunities to research, images to make, work to sort out, papers to write I doubt I'll be taking much time off....

Thursday, 17 March 2016

MA-Ness Week 11 - Procrastination, Busyness, History, Films, Crocuses, Soil Harvesting, Mark Making, Printing, Open Days....

A much more jam packed post it note this week - flanked by soil harvested from St George's Fields which I intend to add water to so that I can make a staining wash for cyanotypes I make featuring images from St George's Field, and harvested fallen (I must stress this - I would not and do not take petals that are still attached to the plants) crocus petals which make excellent stainings for the background of images too.  Plus a pen I found on the pavement whilst walking in the rain to a meeting about a forthcoming exhibition in Potternewton - there was nobody about to ask if they had dropped it so I decided to keep it and use it instead - it hadn't been used at that point as it had not been sharpened to a usable point.
Part of the reason I am doing this on Thursday instead of my customary Monday is partly because I've been really busy, I could have done it yesterday afternoon but I just couldn't seem to settle to it and it has been a battle today to make myself sit down and concentrate on it. And partly because I've been a bit distracted, not sure why - think it's partly because I'm worried about health of loved ones and possibly because it's sunny and I could be outside having a walk in the fresh air but I must get back into swing of doing this. Not least because it is a good thing to hand in as part of my portfolio but also because it is the best way of clarifying my thoughts about what I'm doing, why, where I want to take it and what I want to do next.

So onwards....one of the notes I made on my post it note was Hitchcock. I am a huge fan of Hitchcock films - watching Psycho at an impressionable age has a lot to answer for. I am immensely grateful sometimes that a television from Rediffusion or Rumbelows on a 50p meter was one of my babysitters - I longed for rain as that meant I could sit inside watching lovely old films on BBC2 of an afternoon instead of outside. Sunshine meant fresh air and getting outside - my Nana wouldn't let you waste good dry weather sitting inside watching the television.

I am also a huge fan of North by Northwest, Rear Window, Rope (possibly my favourite of the colour Hitchcocks) The Lady Vanishes, The 39 Steps, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934 version as it has both John Gielgud and Peter Lorre), Rebecca, Lifeboat, Saboteur,  Shadow Of A Doubt and also the early silent films - The Lodger is especially haunting and The Ring and Downhill are also v good indeed. Part of our honeymoon was spent in the Film Museum in Berlin which at the time had a Hitchcock exhibition which was AMAZING.

Anyway am getting slightly off topic which is I am really looking forward to seeing the new Hitchcock/Truffaut film but also I watched a Talking Pictures recently which featured interviews with Hitchcock himself and some of the stuff he said in it really struck a chord with me. He said that the early sound pictures were more like photographs of people talking and that in theory you should be able to turn the sound off and a film should still work and tell the story in a purely visual way... It's the succession of images which create emotion and you must always avoid cliche.

I'm not sure I always avoid the cliche - skulls, graveyards, gravestones being the staple motifs in a lot of gothic culture - in fact I actively embrace it though hopefully I embrace it in an engaging and refreshing way - and even if I don't, well I am having fun doing so and that really is the main thing. Plus goth cliche has a readymade goth audience too.

As ever I had a thought provoking and constructive tutorial last week - partly looking at potential phd opportunities and how best to approach taking that next academic step. I attended an open day at Huddersfield Uni last week - what an energetic campus, there was a real buzz of energy about the place and even though architecturally it is a bit too modern toytowny for my old world tastes - you have to walk through fantastic full on height of might of empire Victorian architecture to get there so I reckon I would cope if I enrolled there. One downside though - they do not have an old school darkroom but they do have marvellous digital facilities. Hmmm. Decisions, decisions but I still have lots to think about and decide on before I make a final decision about where to apply and what to do.

But also looking at what is my practice - as it's not just the creation of images but also the research into the history behind the things I'm interested in and which inspire me in the way I make images and what I make/take images of. A process that is a mix of straightforward photograph taking, mostly using film cameras rather than digital ones, but also includes cyanotyping and with the harvesting of crocuses (fallen ones I must stress) mark making on paper using their colour - I am enjoying using them, though they are extremely delicate for my ham fisted fingers but they create a stain on the paper like which is a pleasing shade of mauve and so akin to the shades deemed appropriate in victorian half mourning.

I intend to cover the papers I've stained with their petal carcasses with copies of images I've made printed on acetate so you'll be able to see the transferred colour coming through underneath. I've also put some of the crocus leaves on a piece of canvas and covered it with gloss medium but either I need to wait longer for the crocus to dry or it does just leach colour as the gloss started to absorb some of the colour and go from clear to a kind of v pale purpley colour. Something to work on methinks.

Practice-wise - writing this blog has definitely become part of it, what started out initially as a form of research journal to hand in has become a place in which I can share bits of my research, clarify my thoughts and approach and monitor my progress. Progress which I really need to get started on organising as I have a lot of different commitments coming up and I really need to sit and plan my time around the various deadlines so I don't miss anything but also can (hopefully) do the work at a reasonable pace instead of rushing round like a headless chicken trying to get it finished.

Postgraduate me is at a complete opposite to undergraduate me in this respect. Undergraduate me was all about the last minute. I hate last minute now - or rather last minute is now about the actual last stuff as opposed to stuff which could and should have been done before then...That's not to say I don't still rush about like a headless chicken or forget stuff but it's much less often and so on the whole things run a lot more smoothly.....unlike yesterday when I got the time of a meeting wrong - but this in turn led to a quick perusal in a charity shop which led to the happy and fortuitous purchase of a 3 cd set of 75 hits of the 1940's and a copy of Servants - a Downstairs View of Twentieth Century Britain by Lucy Letherbridge...and as the chum I was meeting was also late it wasn't the end of the world.

May is an especially busy time for me as I have a couple of conference commitments with a paper to deliver at one and a mini show to put up at another,a walk and talk to deliver, and a conference to attend just an attendee. So for the time being researching and presenting academic papers is also part of my practice too - something that it's just as well I enjoy if I do decide to go down the phd route after all. Public speaking is something I've got much less nervous at doing now - it's still scarey but nowhere near as scarey as it used to be plus I usually make time to practise so I'm not just winging it. I'd rather not wing anything if I can help it - I'd find it far too stressful, I am a mix of admiration and incomprehension at those who do though.

The other lovely thing about Huddersfield last week (aside from a very exciting buzz at the university and lovely architecture and really lovely approachable staff) was  the bonus haul of goodies I got from the charity shops, I also had a lovely chat with the lady on duty in one of the shops (I forget which one) who I overheard talking about Jane Eyre with the previous customer - I told her there was an excellent adaptation on R4 and said if you liked that then you'd love Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. R4 and R4 Extra (my staple listening though currently I have Swing Easy by Frank Sinatra on at the moment - I adore Frank and it has one of my all time fave songs which John Waters uses on his soundtrack for Pecker - though that version is by Billy Williams) are full of victorian era fiction at the moment - there was also a wonderful adaptation of Who Killed Zebedee by Wilkie Collins and my appetite for all things victorian era shows no sign of diminishing anytime soon.

Just as well really - though I did also read a modern fiction book this weekend and it was one of those wonderful books that completely absorb you and that you want to tell everyone about - it was The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer (2014 Borough Press) and what a beautifully written heart rending, sad but gorgeous book. It is narrated by Matthew whose brother Simon dies when they were both young - that's no spoiler by the way as that is stated explicitly at the beginning, though how and how it affects Matthew and his family is only revealed throughout the book. It's about loss, mental illness, family relationships, the relationship between creativity and health and I urge every one of you reading this to read it if you haven't already. When I bought it in the charity shop the lady on the till said she'd just read it and I would need tissues and she was right.

And aside from the sadness of the story itself it also includes these bits which I'm going to quote because they really resonated for me:

'Mental illness turns people inwards. That's what I reckon. It keeps us forever trapped by the pain of our own minds, in the same way that the pain of a broken leg or a cut thumb will grab your attention, holding it so tightly that your good leg or your good thumb cease to exist'. p277

...'See if the memories you have are the ones you expect. Or if they are fragments, dislocated moments, a small here, a feeling there. The unlikeliest conversations and places. We don't choose what we keep - not at that age. Not ever really.' p281

...This is how we piece together our past. We do it like a jigsaw puzzle, where there are missing pieces. But so long as we have enough of the pieces, we can know what belongs in the gaps'. p 281

Memory and tradition are something I'm often thinking about - partly because I am so interested in the past and how it continues to have an impact on the present but also how it becomes distorted and confused and half forgotten and half remembered. I am interested in memory in the way people use and share memories of dead loved ones but also in the way traditions and memories become communal.

With it being St Patricks Day and the hundredth anniversary of the Easter Rising memory, tradition and commemoration have all been in the media as topics. Start The Week on R4 was devoted to it on Monday and David Reiff talked very interestingly about how traditions are not so much about the past itself but more about the presents rewriting of the past and how history is really a collective memory that is constantly being rewritten to suit different purposes of the present. I wonder how it suits our purposes as a society to think of the Victorian era as particularly mirthless and prim...

I spent the early part of this week at the two college campuses - spent the morning at Vernon St in the darkroom mixing cyanotype solution and painting different sized and coloured paper - trying pink, yellow as well as my usual grey and red this time to see what kind of a colour effect it gives and I was chatting about techniques and how traditional black and white photo printing doesn't make my heart sing at all. The ability of something to make my heart sing is the measure by which I decide how much I want to do something.

I can do it but I find it very difficult and frustrating as it involves a lot of counting and being precise - I like being as precise as you can be with words but not with numbers and processes. Part of the reason I love cyanotyping and anthotyping so much is that you don't have to be very precise (solution making aside and that is a comparatively simple weighing and then measuring against a mark on a jug really) at all and that it is quite a forgiving process.
But my dislike of this makes me feel a bit of a dunce and incompetent but it was suggested that it's because traditional black and white photo printing is a technical process and I am an experimental as opposed to technical person - which makes me feel much better about my technical shortcomings. I think I'd get more proficient if we had a darkroom at home but we don't at the moment and aren't likely to for a long while yet. If I was at home I could put the radio on and talk myself through the process and not worry about being overheard or interrupted.

The afternoon was spent in the digital print room and as I'd been poorly and so had to cancel my previous appointment I had two months worth of printing to do - so 140 prints in total - not all on tracing paper, some on fleshy type paper which I'm really chuffed with. The paper has a texture that's a bit skinlike when you hold it up to the light. But I need to get some more plastic punched pockets before I can sort them out into folders - there are some of our trip to Morecambe, some of my experiments with overlaid images on a light table, some taken with fish eye lens, some taken a refracting fly like eye lens in front of the camera, some of objects taken in my mini studio and all 140 of them need sorting....that can be a job for next week I think.

As I'm writing this on a Thursday afternoon - it's really the best part of two weeks worth of college-ness....and as yet the post it note for next week is completely blank so I'd best stop wittering there or else I'll have disrupted my schedule for next week as well...and here's to poorliness being much diminished. 

Monday, 7 March 2016

MA-Ness Term 2 Week 10 - Weak being the operative word....

As you can see not much going on on this post it note - thanks to a deluge of snot that started last Sunday afternoon on our return from watching Victim at the Hyde Park Picture House.......

Thankfully the abundance of snot side of things didn't last too long (lying in bed with a tissue stuffed up your nose to stem the tide because you are bored of blowing it is not a good look, nor is it especially healthy I suspect either) but I am still suffering with a sore throat and limbs and joints that feel more achey than if I'd spent all day at the gym - which I haven't for a while as I've been feeling so ropey. So that explains why the post it note for last week is comparatively empty and it mostly consists of my annoyance at having to cancel and rearrange things - things which included going to an phd open day at Leeds Met (I emailed to apologise and also to ask a couple of questions and I have had a positive response and am going to set up another meeting with them) a talk on the rise of the Victorian Underworld at Kirkstall Museum, Show and Tell at Leeds Library, a showing of Rams at the Hyde Park Picture House, a tutorial, a lecture on proposal writing, an appointment in the print room and a dinner date with chums I don't see very often that I was really looking forward to.

Bah to snotty lurgy coughy illnesses and a pox upon them too.

I don't use much photo-editing software as a rule, it doesn't make my heart sing (the measure I use as to how much I want to do something - though it is not to be confused with things that *have* to be done) to sit in front of the computer and mess about with images - other than a bit of cropping/contrast/brightness altering. And until I started cyanotyping that was all I did, I now use photoshop though to boost levels and invert images to make negatives suitable to be used to make cyanotypes - a process which is relatively simple and straightforward. I have also used it to get rid of a 'modern fucking bin' which was otherwise ruining the view of a beautiful avenue of gravestones. 
I have tried to use it a couple of times to put watermark copyright notices on images I'm emailing - I'm increasingly reluctant to post images of mine without this. Last week I spent most of an afternoon getting increasingly frustrated that in spite of following the same instructions I've used before (I have to use them as I do it so infrequently that I can never remember how to do it without them) which has worked successfully, I couldn't get it to do it again.

There was a lot of 'oh ffs just fucking work' frustration on my part - following the same instructions I got it to work on one image but not the other before I gave it up as a bad idea. I emailed off the abstract for another conference with just the one image instead. I shall have another go at this copyrighting malarkey business....I might even just open it in paint and write on it directly. It's probably much easier than photoshop which I find to be extremely unuser friendly and unintuitive.

I find the free as in comes as part of the windows operating system photoediting software much easier to use and aside from inversion it suits my needs admirably. Though part of me worries at my comparative ludditeness and that I could have learnt a bit more about current software over the last few months at college - what other opportunities have I passed by....I'm aware that my time at Leeds College of Art is coming to a close (I have til mid August officially - but then there is the end of year show as well in late October/early November) and how much I still want to learn/do.

Oh well - am still awaiting replies to the abstract proposals I sent last week and I did manage to read a few pages of the Art of Death by Nigel Llewellyn last week too, I also watched a bit of an adaptation of the Woman In White - though I only got about 10 minutes in before I fell asleep. In fact today is the first day in a week that I haven't fallen asleep again by lunchtime.

So last week was massively disrupted by poorliness though I did spend a few minutes playing with a camera and an inexpensive fly eye like lens which creates a sort of kaleidoscope effect and multiplies images. It's a bit fiddly to hold it in front of the camera lens (used digital as it was easier to see on the back of the screen if it was in the right place or not) and attaching it with elastic bands didn't work at all well, but it's less fiddly if you place the camera on a tripod first. It still fecks me off though that cameras are made for righthanded and right eyed people....

Radio 4 Extra is a special treat at the moment - there is an adaptation of the Wilkie Collins story Who Killed Zebedee, an adaptation of Shirley Jackson's beautifully sinister We Have Always Lived In The Castle and the omnibus of the current Womans Hour adaptation of Jane Eyre. Utterly Wonderful.

I'm listening to these whilst trying to get my head round what I need to do this week and what I've got coming up and how to try and balance them all..... Mason has just visited and Mr Rochester is off to fetch the surgeon whilst Jane Eyre staunches the blood from where Mason was bitten.....ooh it's gripping, even if Rochester himself is an entitled selfish knob.