Monday, 25 April 2016

MA-Ness Week 3 - Photoshop, Planning, Victoria Wood and Coffin Lining Print Transfer Experiments

this weeks post it note - full of capitals

items bought and consumed in honour of Victoria Wood - an artist whose work I quote verbally at least once a day and whose death brought a tear to my eye - the only famous person to have done so and which made me feel a little bit guilty about the thoughts I've had about other people who have been far more grieviously affected by a famous person's death and by famous I mean someone who is known but not known to them on a physical day to day basis

embroidery hoop lined with coffin lining offcut ready to get matte mediumed and image transferred - really pleased with how this is working out as wasn't sure if it would because it is synthentic material

image waiting to be transferred

So it's been a busy week of reading, experimenting, printing, doing and grieving too. Sadly due to a hopefully (temporarily) buggered left knee I couldn't take advantage of the sunshine by making cyanotypes as that involves too much leaning over or kneeling by the bath when rinsing and toning them so instead I did lots of digital printing in the college (almost getting RSI trimming the resultant prints - as that took me almost two hours at the guillotine) but I did also do some lumen prints and took some more pictures in St George's Field so  I at least used the sunshine that way. I've also left one piece out to see how long it takes for the image to fade and it's about 5 days as I have a kind of plan to make one and then take pictures of it at regular intervals until it is no more and then make those images into a film. With the lumen prints I did make I treated them (apart from that small piece) as I usually do - taking a picture of them and scanning them and then putting them in an envelope and keeping them in the dark. I then enlarge and digitally print the lumen image.  

I have not tried fixing them in the traditional way you would a normal black and white photographic print as I took advice from the lovely helpful darkroom folks at the Vernon Street Campus and they've advised that fixing lumen prints makes them a little bit lighter and as these are already v pale indeed - a kind of pale egg shell blue as they are made using decades (literally) old Agfa Brovira Paper I'm loathe to make them any paler so will stick to my current method of dealing with them - which is take a digital photo of them and scan them. Quite what Walter Benjamin would have made of the mechanical methods of reproduction available to use today I don't know.  A mix of amazed and intrigued I'm guessing as well as full of ideas as to what exactly that means for art itself and photographic art in particular.

I've also been playing with empty slide mounts and filling them with either photocopied bits of images or acetate or flower petals harvested from St George's Fields when the crocuses were on the wane or bits of matte medium transferred image onto coffin lining offcuts. I was concerned that this technique might not work as the coffin lining offcuts are synthetic and prone to static. I did say to colleagues that it's as well the dead aren't plagued by static or else it would be a very uncomfortable RIP-ing indeed.

The lumen prints I make often have a very roundabout route taking in all sorts of photographic processes on the way - they're most usually made from a 35mm image that I've taken - usually on black and white film but increasingly recently on colour film (at a pound a roll in the poundshop I'd be a fool not to use it) which has been developed in the traditional wet photography chemically way, scanned into the computer to become a jpeg, if it was colour I make it black and white and then I've boosted the levels (ie made the black bits blacker and the white bits whiter) and made it back into a negative, printed it out on ordinary printer paper, photocopied that print onto acetate setting the copier at its highest density and then used that acetate as a negative on a piece of photo paper which I put between the back and glass of a clip frame and then leave in the bathroom on the towel rail in the sunshine for about half an hour....and then I sometimes repeat the process up to the point of making it into a negative to use to make a lumen print.

I'm sure there is some izzy wizzy let's get busy instagram filter or something similarly entirely digital that can do all do this for you with one click of the button and when my back is aching and I'm thinking 'oh why do the feck do I still insist on being as analogue as possible' and 'this is really difficult without a proper dark room at home' I must be hinest that would be really tempting but to me that is far too much letting the machine do everything for me as opposed to you doing as much as possible in a hands on way and exploiting the machines for what bits they do best.

But Photoshop is something I find an unwieldy and unuser friendly beast, so much so that most of the photo editing I do digitally is done using the free with the computer operating system (windows 10) as I find that much easier to navigate. But I wanted to make some images back to front last week so I could make a quartet of them - negative and positive and facing one way and then the other so had to use photoshop. It must have taken me half an hour to work out how to do something so simple - it invloved much googling and quite a lot of swearing too but by the time I had done it I was so elated I felt like running up and down the street shouting WINNER!!!! or rather I would have done if my knee wasn't so rubbish at the moment.

One of the other things I've been doing a lot of is planning and list making - next month is packed for me with two conferences - at one of which I'm delivering my second proper grown up academic paper which is about 2/3rds done, and two showcases which I've (hopefully) got all the printing done now for - next it's a case of mounting them and transporting them. But there is also the somewhat dreaded final hand in deadline of mid August getting ever nearer too - I say dreaded not because I'm scared of not meeting it as a deadline but because it'll be the end of the MA at least - though there is still the end of year show in late October early November.  And whilst in some ways it's been the most challenging and difficult thing I've done (still come out in hives when I think of the dissertation) it's also been one of the acest and I just don't want it to end.

The eagle eyed amongst you may notice the phrase 'toast sandwich' on the post it note and I came across this gem of a recipe in Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management which I was looking at to see if it contained any advice on what to cook for funeral teas. It doesn't as such but it does contain advice on the correct etiquette for paying visits of condolence and how to make old crepe look nearly equal to new but it does have a whole section of recipes that are especially suitable for invalids including a Toast Sandwich and Toast and Water - both of which are as they sound. As in the toast sandwich is a sandwich made of fresh bread and butter with a thin slice of toasted bread in the middle with salt and pepper though you can also include a little pulled meat or very finely cut cooked meat. Toast and water is altogether more rank sounding though - in that it is a piece of toast (ideally made from a hard crust which you have not allowed burn or blacken) which is steeped in boiling water and then the water once cooled is drained off and drunk by the invalid. Apparently it is a most 'disagreeable beverage' if drunk tepid but it sounds rank to me whatever temperature you drink it at.

It's taken me at least two goes to get this blog post done as for some reason I kept hitting something that made the formatting go screwy so fingers crossed it works now as got another busy week ahead and can do without the computer going arse about tit again....

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