Week 18 Assignment – Michel Foucalt Quote

For our Week 18 assignment we were given the quote :

“Power in the West is what displays itself most and hides itself best” – Michel Foucalt

Our assignment was to create an image which was based around this quote by Michel Foucalt and present it in our Week 18 workshop.  My first task was too research who Michel Foucalt was as he was new theorist who I had never heard of before. After extensive research I discovered he was a French philosopher as well as a ” historian of ideas, social theorist and literary critic”. His theories often addressed the ever changing relationship between power and knowledge, delving deeper into how these elements can form some sort of ‘social control’ among society, especially within social institutions. Foucalt thrived on presenting his thoughts and theories as “critical history of modernity” and he ahs been highly influential throughout academic and activist groups.

After researching Michel Foucalt I felt like I had a different idea on what kind of image I wanted to create for his “Power in the West…” quote. Originally I wanted to portray the power that love can bring to society with love being a physical being as well as a emotion which “hides itself best”; however, after researching I did not think that love was a form which was ‘westernized’ enough seeing as love can be felt everywhere, not just in a particular part of the world.  The image that I would have used for this idea of the power of love would have been this one:

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I felt as if this image would have been successful if my final idea was to represent the power of love as the roses show a physical sign of love where the hidden connotations behind the thought of roses are what “hides itself best”. I suppose that this flowers could have represented “the West” as the are obviously quite expensive and have been put together in an expensive manner, something which might not be able to happen in poorer parts of the world.

However, this was not my final image I decided to use. I did not feel that the image of the roses related to the theories of Michel Foucalt enough so decided to capture another image which can be seen below.

london eye week 18 assignment

 This image for me was the opitomy of how power in the west “shows itself and hides itself best”. I took this image in London in early evening when the lights started to come on yet the sky was still bright. My ideas behind this photograph is looking at the tourist attractions that London has throughout it and the power that they hold within the city.

The London Eye , for example, is an attraction which is not needed within society. It does not serve any kind of formal function other than to be a leisure attraction, something which is used for enjoyment; however we as a society have been told by the Government that this is a ‘necessity’ within our society. The London Eye is a powerful, tourist attraction which brings tourists from all over the world to view it , therefore making it a powerful structure which then gives the Government the power as they are the ones gaining the money from these tourists, a situation which is hidden from the eyes of society.

The sky in this image excited me the most as it’s a very moody sky which I related to a foreboding power which cannot be seen. This foreboding power I linked to the Government as it is a power that cannot always be seen but that is always there, watching society and keeping their power to an ultimate status.

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Still Life (extra readings)

Still Life is an aspect of photography that I am really interested in using for my final images.

To get a better understanding about the use of Still Life photography and the effect it can have on audiences I decided to research further into the history and also the different photographers who specialise in the art of Still Life.

Still Life is an art that has been popular for many years, with the Dutch adopting the concept of Still Life in their own way.

Theorist Svetlana Alpers states in her book “The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century” that “…Dutch Still Life is connected with the notions of attentive looking in the seventeenth century, which were in turn linked to the development of new devices for looking attentively at the world” This means that the creating of microscopes and lenses happened because of the Dutch Still Life and the admiration they had from looking at the world in a more attentive and detailed way.

Example of Dutch Still Life

Example of Dutch Still Life

Still Life is originally an art form that was used by artists and painters; however, it is quickly becoming adopted by many photographers.

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Photography Still Life

As you can see by comparing the two images of the Dutch Still Life and the Photography Still Life they have many similarities. The key similarity is that they both focus on the beauty of natural flowers. Flowers are known to have bright, bold colours which is the reason they are commonly used in the arts of painting and photography. They give a depth to the image that may not be able to be achieved without the bold colours, meaning that this depth invites audiences into the images and captures their eye.

Because both images are Still Life images it means that a lot of detail is painted and photographed, detail that we may not notice when looking at these flowers in everyday life.

I was inspired by this Still Life photography and paintings so decided to practice with my own camera to see if I could capture the same vibrance and detail as these two artists.

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When photographing my own Still Life images of flowers I discovered that capturing the amount of detail that I wanted and needed was a very hard skill to adopt. The flowers were naturally bright so I decided to shoot them against a dark background to help the flowers stand out even more, a concept that was used in both the Dutch Still Life and the Photography Still Life. By using this technique it means that the audiences eye is only drawn to the flowers and nothing else that may be in the background. If I was too photograph these images again I would have a variety of flowers clumped together in a vase or basket (like they have done in the Dutch Still Life and Photography Still Life) as this means there will be more happening in the image that will keep the audience interested for a longer amount of time.

Still Life – Own Images

After researching into Irving Penn I was excited to create my own Still Life images.

Just like him I wanted to photograph objects which had some sort of meaning to me so I searched around my bedroom to find a variety of different objects which I believed to be interesting enough to photograph.

The first object I found was a pair of colourful chopsticks which I had brought back for me all the way from China. This chopsticks were interesting to me as they were full of vibrant colours and shapes which I knew would photograph well, especially when being photographed inside of a lightbox.

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This was the final image that I managed to photograph. As you can see, when I was photographing the objects I decided that I only wanted the most intriguing and aesthetically pleasing parts of the chopsticks to be a part of my image, therefore I decided not to capture the top part of the wooden chopsticks. I included the case which the chopsticks came in as the colours became so vibrant when shooting inside of the lightbox that I decided the bright blue would add an eye capturing element for the audience. If I was to shoot this image again I would make sure that the set up was perfection as you can see from the image that bits of thread were hanging off of the chopstick case; however, another part of me decided that this gave the image a more realistic and gritty feel, showing that something which is so beautiful is not always perfect.

After looking at Irving Penn’s images I was inspired by the black and white feel each of the images had too them. I wanted to create a similar black and white Still Life image, which can be seen below.

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I wanted my image to be in black and white as I believe that by using black and white it allows more detail to be seen within the photography. Irving Penn used negatives, therefore having an instant black and white image; however I used a digital camera which meant I had to manipulate my image on Photoshop to gain the same realistic feel to my image. This image was successful as it really shows the detail of the flower, with a macro lens being used to capture the inside of the flower yet if I was to shoot this again I would contribute more flowers to the image to create a more dimensional feeling photograph which the audience could really relate and respond too.

Still Life – Irving Penn

Today we looked at the art of Still Life photography.

Still Life photography is the “ depiction of inanimate subject matter, most typically a small grouping of subjects”. 

I researched into several artists who thrived in the Still Life industry and found that Still Life originated through the use of paintings.

A photographer that I found that specialises in the photography of Still Life was a photographer named Irving Penn. Penn is best known for his fashion photography; however has also created modern Still Life images incorporating the elements of metal and found objects.

Penn collected found objects which fascinated him with the aim of photographing them in a later date. He collected these objects for years and they included subjects such as glass, bone, metal and even the occasional human skull.

Construction Leftovers

Construction Leftovers

This above image shows the kind of set up Penn would create with his found objects. This image he titled “Contsruction Leftovers” and shows a mixtrue of bolts, nuts and screws being positioned in a thought provoking and unsual way. In my opinion, Penn has created an image which has taken ordinary, mundane, everyday objects and made them into something which is eye catching and somewhat beautiful. Penn photographed this image using negative film which adds to the effect of the image as it has given it a black and white ‘gritty’ feel to it, making it seem more realistic. The use of the reflection on the table / bottom surface also gives the image a two dimensional feel rather than being a flat one dimension picture which also adds to the realism of the objects.

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Construction with Nut

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Photomontage – John Heartfield

John Heartfield was a pioneer of modern photomontage, working primarily in Germany throughout the two world wars, using photomontage as a great political effect of gaining power. Heartfield thrived by reflecting the “chaos Germany experienced in the 1920s and 30s as it slipped towards social and political catastrophe” , using it to his benefit to parade his work of montage to audiences all across the world.

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The use of photomontage meant that Heartfield could create “politically contentious images”. He created his work by choosing recognizable images from the newspapers and articles and dissembled them in a way which would create a very surreal and questionable image. For example, the image above is of the notorious Adolf Hitler who Heartfield has manipulated to show the audience the ‘underlying reality’ of what is really going on inside of Hitler. Heartfield has used photomontage in a way that Hitler’s heart is replaced with a Swastika to show his love for the Nazi party and entitled the image “Adolf the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk”. This was a strong political movement from Heartfield as it made the audience question the beliefs and views of Hitler and made them more wary to believe what he had to say as a politician.

Another ‘anti Hitler’ campaign which Heartfield composed was a campaign which demeaned the most iconic gestures, poses, and symbols used by the Nazi’s to create the awareness within his audience how ridiculous the idea of ‘Fascist Propaganda” was at that time.

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This image above was a parody of Hitler’s most iconic sign of the salute that Heartfield montaged and manipulated to make an obvious statement. In the image Hitler is seen to be at the hands of the wealthy as he is used as a puppet to do the bidding of everyone who is above him and the people who have the biggest financial influence.

Heartfield played an important role in the era of photomontage , especially the use of photomontage as a political tool which can influence audiences in so many different ways.

References

http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/heartfield/

Term 2 – Photomontage, Martha Rosler

Photomontage represents ideas relating to spaces and places and is also used to make political arguments and points.

Consider the ways in which Photomontage is often used to make political points – why does this technique lend itself so well to that?

  • Juxtaposition.
  • Brings the truth forward.
  • Can created unrealistic and shocking humour / situations.
  • Critical and visual representation of opinions onto one media platform rather than several different platforms, means that it is cheaper to create a campaign.
  • Accesibility
  • Emphasises points and makes them more relatable.

Examples of Photomontage

Martha Rosler Bringing the War Home” (1960s and 70s)

Bringing the War Home” was based around the idea of a ‘perfect home’  being layered with photos of war, representating the Vietnam war that was happening at the time of the photographs.

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In these photographs, Rosler utilises the collage / montage technique which is favoured by surrealists in many circumstances. She created a series of shocking images by layering images of war onto glamourised images of perfect hosuewives in perfect locations with perfect lives. This idea was done to shock the audiences who viewed the images by drilling realisation into them that the acts of terror and war were happening around the world and how would they react if these acts were transported into the audiences own homes.

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The above photomontage is an example of how effective Rosler was at playing with the audiences subconscious. She took everyday situations, such a hoovering the curtains, and gave them a disturbing twist by including these images of war which pictured soldiers, soldiers which could easily be the audiences husband, father or son.

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When first viewed many people believed that Martha Rosler was ‘glamourising’ the idea of war; however after further expectation it became apparent that this was the complete opposite to what she was trying to voice. Rosler incorporated a sense of glamour ( for example the woman in the above image who is dressed in a ballgown with a fancy camera) with the images of war to create a sense of juxtaposition and highlight the differences of the two lifestyles. The idea I get from it is that Rosler has shown the young woman as being glamourous with a sense of freedom and no worries, a sense of freedom and no worries that has been created by the soldiers going to war and fighting for the freedom that the citizens back home have.

 

Portfolio Image One – “Fall, Leaves, Fall”

Here is one of the final images I have decided to submit as part of my portfolio.

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This image for me was one of the most interesting images I have managed to capture. This photograph uses a variety of elements including depth of field, aperture control and Photoshop editing to create a three dimensional image which really captures the audiences eye. It’s a very simple photograph with a bright green leaf being the main focus of the image with the rest of the leaves being placed in black and white, creating questions within the audience such as “why is that leaf the only coloured element of the photograph?” and “what is its significance to the photograph?”.

My inspiration behind the photograph was the poem “Fall, Leaves, Fall” by Emily Bronte.

In this poem she uses the strong imagery of “every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree” and this was an instant artistic route that I wanted to follow when trying to capture something beautiful.

I decided to take this quote from the Emily Bronte poem and focus on the nature around me, especially as , like in her poem, it was the season of Autumn when I decided to capture this image. I wanted the main intention of the image to be focusing on the beauty and pure essence of nature so did not want to mess around with my surroundings at all when photographing this leaf. To capture this image I had to keep my eyes wide open for any opportunities that arose for an aesthetically pleasing image and luckily I noticed this leaf which had been the victim of a recent rain storm. The leaf still held water droplets on it and was a vibrant and eye pleasing colour of green which was my starting base for creating this image.

When photographing this image I used manual focus to give me more control over what I wanted the audience to see and how my final image was going to come out. I used a shallow depth of field meaning that the focus was completely on the leaf with the water droplet while the rest of the leaves became blurred. This was to stop distraction within my image and to make sure that the focus of the audience was entirely on this one leaf. It was a very dull and misty day due to the rainy weather conditions so I had to open my aperture as wide as it would go ( F Stop 3) to allow enough light exposure to my lens meaning that I would produce a nicely exposed image which wasn’t too under or over exposed.

When I took my image back to the computer to be re touched and edited, I decided that I wanted to edit the photograph in a way which would emphasise further the importance of the water droplet leaf so I decided to rid the image of colour completely and then re-apply the colour to the main leaf of my image. This was a successful tactic as the use of black and white with a splash of colour draws the audiences eye to the coloured object immediately and also makes the coloured object stand out of the photograph more, giving it a three dimensional feeling. After re-applying the colour to the leaf I also adjusted the contrast and brightness to make it a more vibrant green as I believe the vibrancy of the colour connotates the idea of “healthy” and the colour green also suggests the idea of “nature”, both words which I wanted to express through this image.

Portfolio Image Two – “Burst of Light”

Here is the second image that I am submitting as part of my portfolio.

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My inspiration behind this photograph was the element of light and the different questions that can be raised through the different methods of photographing it.

To create this image it was very simple yet effective. I took a pair of white bulb fairy lights and hung them from my bedroom wall. I then continued to turn off my bedroom lights and then set my camera on a very slow shutter speed (8 seconds) meaning that my image would be exposed for 8 seconds. While I was exposing my image to the fairy lights I slowly moved my zoom inwards and then back out again, creating an image which looked like this.

The reason this photograph appealed to me the most was because it has created a certain three dimensional feeling, meaning that it seems as if the light is bursting out of the photograph and towards the audience. The use of the three dimensional light also gives the image a sci- fi feeling where it feels as if a unknown source has been captured and this makes the audience question “what exactly is creating this source of light?” and leaves them in a sense of mystery. This sci-fi route was something I enjoyed trying to capture as it is completely the opposite to anything I have photographed before, with my previous images focusing on the beauty of nature, and it gave me a different insight to how photography can change the perspective of someone but also tell a variety of stories.

I did edit this photograph in Photoshop by cropping the image ( the original image can be seen below) and also by changing the brightness and contrast of the image.

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I decided to crop the image as I wanted the main focus to be on the light source and not on the black background that surrounds the light. I also changed the contrast to create a sharper look for the image and also to have more of an effect on the audience. This effect is created through the use of the bright light, it hypnotizes the audience in a sense where they cannot take their eyes off the light, but also by not showing the light source it continuously is making them question “what has been used to create this vision of light?”

Portfolio Image Three – “Rain”

Here is my third  and final image for my portfolio.

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When I was researching different images and photographers I came across a quote which really inspired me. This quote was:

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.”

This quote inspired me as it made me think about the different perspectives that people can have over different attributes of life. I wanted to be someone who was able to “feel the rain” so took my camera out to capture any rain inspired images and luckily for me it had been a very grim and rainy morning.

After photographing a variety of images this was the image that pleased me the most. It is an image of a fence pole which has been beaten by the rain and still holds some of the water droplets on it. The pole was positioned at a very low angle and it was not a very windy day so the water droplets have managed to cling onto the pole and create an interesting scenario to photograph.

 To capture this image I had to get at a very low angle to the pole and have my camera on manual focus to make sure I was able to capture all of the water droplets that hung off at different angles. I decided to use a very shallow depth of field for this photograph. This was because I wanted all of the camera’s focus to be on the water droplets that the rain had created to run along nicely with the ability to be able to “feel the rain”. The use of the shallow depth of field means that everything in the background is out of focus and all of my focus is aimed at the water droplets, so much so that on the first two water droplets you are even able to see the reflection of the Clifton Suspension Bridge which was positioned directly behind me.  The use of the shallow depth of field also appealed to me as the blurred background has created a sense of surrealism. This surrealism has been created as the audience cannot clearly make out what the background is definitely supposed to be; however the use of the colours brown and green suggests that it is another form of nature yet it looks as if it has been painted into the picture rather than photographed.

In this image I used a very wide aperture as it was a very dull and rainy day so I wanted my image to have enough light exposure so that it was balanced correctly and not over or under exposed.

What Is A Digital Image?

In this post I am going to be responding to the reading “What Is A Digital Image” and the effect digital images have on everyday life within society.

In the extract “What Is A Digital Image” we were asked a serious of questions to answer and to make us think about what we were reading and the impact it had on us as a reader. The extract is full of a variety of quotes, all of them giving their own opinions on the phenomenon of digital photography.

In the quote from Timothy Druckery in ‘L’amour Faux’, “Digital Photography: Captured Images, Volatile Memory, New Montage”(1988), he states that:

” As digitization emerges as a state-of-the-art method of encoding photographic images, the very foundation and status of the [photographic] document is challenged.”

This quote suggests that Druckery thought the rise of the digital image was at risk of challenging and eliminating any original photography documentation methods and that photography as a whole was being challenged by upcoming technology methods.

Fred Ritchin states in “Photojournalism in the Age of Computers” (1990) that:

“…it is questionable whether many pictures will have meaning anymore, not only as symbols but as evidence”

In this quote from Ritchin he is suggesting that digital images are becoming the photo normality; however they have become a tool for manipulation therefore stating whether they could be trusted as forms of evidence anymore. This is due to digital images being easy to manipulate and also easy to edit, for example an image can be cropped to tell one story and then re cropped to tell a completely different story.