Category: Coursework

Prints for Assessment

As I am now ready to submit my work to date for assessment I need to give some thought to size and finish.  This is a subject that I touched on in connection with Assignment 3 for which I submitted physical prints.  In that case I settled on a lustre rather than fully matte or glossy finish and was pleased with the outcome.  I must now apply the same sort of thought process to the prints for the other four assignments.

Given the subject matter and approaches I adopted for Assignments 4 and 5 I am happy that a gloss finish would work well and would indeed add to the end result.  A bit of shine and reflected light will help to emphasise the sense of light in both cases.  I have made a couple of trial prints on  my own printer on a Fujifilm paper that have come out quite well.  Professionally printed ones should come out even better.

So far as size is concerned I am thinking about A4, again with a border.  The prints for Assignment 4 though present something of a problem as these are based on movie images that have rather different aspect ratios to A4 – they also differ amongst themselves.  Having discussed this with my printers we have settled on “gallery hanging” with each print having the same height but different widths according to the different aspect ratios.  Cropping these down to a uniform A4 format would entail losing far to much information

For the final version of Assignment 2 I feel lustre will again work well and for size, 7 x 7 inches with a 1 inch border.  Whilst I am still working on a possible alternative final set of photos for this particular assignment I have now accepted that I do not have the time or opportunity to complete one in time before the middle of January so for the time being the set of sculptural heads will stand.

Assignment 1 though had me in a bit of a quandary.  One thought is that treating the set as a series of postcards, so fairly small and glossy, would work.  This would go with the sense of the set being a sort of travel guide, something that you might carry in your pocket to help you follow the route.  On the other hand there is a lot of detail and texture in each shot so something larger might do them better justice, and a lustre finish would give them a warmth and avoid reflected light knocking out some of the detail.  Again to do them justice I have decided to go for A4.

As the final set for Assignment 3 that was printed some time ago when first submitted were all unmounted, for the sake of consistency of presentation all of the new prints are also unmounted.


Rinko Kawauchi: Illuminance, Ametsuchi, Seeing Shadow – Book

I have become really intrigued by the work of Rinko Kawauchi since encountering her in connection with this course.  I had not otherwise heard of her before.  Is it not interesting how sometimes you can come across an artist who appeals deeply quite by chance and you are left wondering why you did not know about them already?  The same thing happened to me with Hiroshi Sugimoto.  I discovered him, even more by chance, walking past a gallery in Edinburgh where there was a show of his seascapes, and went in with a simple sense of curiosity.  From that moment I have loved his work.  (There, it is not just American photographers who appeal!)  Kawauchi-san falls into the same category, partly because her work seems to resonate with that of Sugimoto.

This book was originally published to accompany an exhibition of her work at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in 2012 and draws on work from the three series in the title, together with the works Iridescence (which was the originally proposed title for Illuminance) and In a Box which I understand were put together for this exhibition, so offers a good overview of her work.

What I find particularly appealing is her sense of light.  Much of the work is overexposed, as with the flower in Illuminance, so that it is tentative and sometimes a little sketchy, but nevertheless subtle and with a strong sense of (subdued) colour.  Although often very pale they never seem cold.  Many have a strong sense of intimacy.

The photos apart, what particularly caught my eye is a couple of comments in one of he accompanying essays which speak of Kawauchi-san’s approach to image making:

“I don’t make works that are documentary , or true-to-the-fact in nature.  Every time I make a book, I leave out any elements that indicate a certain location.  Actually, I consciously choose motifs that are devoid of obvious clues to locations seen when photographing.”

“…the photographs transcend the flow of time.  They present images that are timeless and placeless, they contain the reality that I personally see.”

(Both, page 125.)

I had not read any of this before I wrote my previous post in which I considered her work but it seems from this that my assessment of and reaction to her work was not too far wide of the mark.

I have a funny feeling about this work that is hard to put into words.  Coming across Kawauchi-san’s work is not quite a road to Damascus experience for me but nevertheless it does feel significant from the point of view of the development of my own artistic voice.  There is something in her work and her approach to and philosophy behind her photography that is particular appealing and seems to resonate with me.  I am still trying to make sense of this but there is a clue in another of those odd coincidences, chance encounters, that I talked about in the opening paragraph above.  In the same essay in which the two passages quoted above appears Kawauchi-san mentions that she thought of the possible title of Iridescence having come across the word when reading a poem by Kenji Miyazawa.  Miyazawa is perhaps not well-known in the west but after Basho is probably the most important, and best known poet from Japan, certainly the most important of the 20th century and widely read in Japan.  He was very much influenced in his writing by that characteristically Japanese approach to Buddhism, Zazen, and it was through the practice of Zen Buddhism that I first became aware of his work.  The key focus in Zen is on the moment – in its own right and on its own terms.  It is a moment out of time and eternal.  Applied to photography, an image captures that very instant, that eternal moment, free from narrative and from context.  Of course, in so many ways this goes contrary to what this course is teaching but nevertheless this is something, a philosophy of photography, that I find deeply appealing and ‘true’.

As I say, I have a funny feeling about this work and expect that it is going to have an important impact on my own work.  That is not to say that I propose to emulate the pictures that Kawauchi-sensei (as perhaps I should now address her, recognising her influence on me) makes but there are elements of her approach that I can see having an effect on what I do in future.  Already she has helped to shape some of my ideas about Assignment 5, which I am now beginning to work on, and of which more later.

Kawauchi, R (2012).  Illuminance, Ametsuchi, Seeing Shadow.  Kyoto: Seigensha Art Publishing

Part 5 Project 2 – Fantasy shooting modes

For Exercise 5.2 I set the camera to AV, aperture priority mode, as depth of field was the most important technical consideration for me in making this shot.  I wanted the main sign to dominate the field of focus and act as a barrier to see clearly further into the space.  I wanted everything else to be slightly less distinct, congruent with its physical inaccessibility. An aperture of f/5.6 gave a shallow depth of field that seemed to achieve the desired effect.

In an ideal world what preset modes would I want on my camera?  In some ways I would be happy with little more than Manual as I am now using this setting more often on my DSLR and is effectively all I am working with on my film cameras, my Leica and the new 4×5.  That said, I would ago for:  TA – Technical Ability which enables the camera to take the perfect shot every time!  Otherwise, V – Verity or Truth.

Part 5 Project 2 – Photography as information 2

Again, still waiting for Flusser’s book to arrive but subject to actually reading it I think his observation and comparison with writing is correct.  This is something that applies to any visual art, as Berger observes.  The final sentence of the paragraph cited in the course material, but which is not quoted, is, I think, particularly pertinent:

“The painting maintains its own authority.”

The image stands for itself and on its own terms, despite the passage of time, and does not need words to validate or justify it.  This seems to chime with what Benjamin has to say about stories.

That does not mean though that an image is immutable, that it is not capable of rereading or reinterpretation over time, as we saw in Barrett’s article.  That would, for me at least, reinforce the argument that photographs are like stories. But, like stories, they can be retold in different times and places to produce different outcomes or messages.  They can also be reordered and looked at in different sequences to produce something new.

As an aside, I was intrigued by Frank’s work being referred to in the context of time being closed in a circle.  I had not previously thought of this so have gone back to his book and a couple of thoughts now occur to me.  One is that I already knew that there were a number of recurring themes or subjects in the book, such as cars, American flags, and social separation or differences.  What I had not noticed before is the way they recur in a sort of cyclical way, though I would say it is more of an irregular spiral than a circle.  More importantly though, from a temporal point of view, is that none of the pictures are dated in their captions.  In a way they have been placed out of linear time and have become, in a way, timeless.  It strikes me that many of his photos might well appear very similar if they were taken today, despite all the so-called advances in American society (which is not a sense I get from, for example, William Klein, whose work, strangely, looks more dated now).


Berger, J, (1972).  Ways of Seeing.  London:  Penguin.

Frank, R (2016).  The Americans.  Göttingen: Steidl

Klein, W, (2016).  Life is Good & Good for You in New York.  New York:Errata Editions