Our group decided, for our collaborative work that we wanted to focus on old found photography. This was perfect as it was what the majority of us focused our individual projects on.
Gerhard Richter, Atlas –
Sally Waterman – Uses images of her childhood, and old photographs.
Erik Kessels – 24 hours Kessels uses a large amount of images to create the feeling of being overwhelmed. We were inspired by this and chose to do this too.
Simon Fujiwara : Joanne (We took inspiration from how the exhibition was curated. He created a confusing walk through where all you can focus on is the ladies beauty but then you are lead through to the back where you watch a video and you see the lady you once thought as beautiful but now all you can see is a strong woman who you look up to and admire.
When you see old found photographs of family from before you were born, you may not recognise who is in them or where they are until someone starts to explain to you what the images are about then you get a moment of clarity.
Looking at old images or imagery in general that aren’t yours. You don’t recognise any of the people and the images aren’t yours, but because most images carry the same format or positioning and what people take pictures of, you recognise some parts of it. It seems familiar in some way because you may have connections with something/ someone in the image. Whether this is an item of furniture or clothing from your childhood. Once again you get a moment of clarity when you see something familiar in the unfamiliar.
Research/ideas surrounding children remembering experiences and use photographs to confirm these experiences in later life, truth in photography, vague memories
Plan on how we intend to showcase our concept for the viewer to gain the best impact.
What sources will we use to gather this bulk imagery (personal vs found).
What type of images we intend on using (black and white vs colour, more recent 1990s/ 200s vs pre-1940s/ 1960s).
Anything else we want to incorporate – postcards/ newspapers/ letters.
How we intend to input a medium format image, using technical lighting. – If we wanted to use medium or large format.
How we wanted the layout for our installation.
We intend to create an instillation piece where the viewers can walk in and around to gain the best understanding and experience of what we are trying to create.
We have the intentions for our installation, to create the feeling of being overwhelmed and confused. Similar feelings to what you feel when looking at a large quantity of photographs you don’t know anything about. Then as you go further into the installation having the relief of seeing something familiar, (this could be the style of the photograph, someone in the photograph, or something else recognisable). Again the same feeling as if you are looking back at old family photos. When you look back to your childhood, it can be difficult remembering the memories and the past. It can seem unclear, this is when you need photographs to reiterate what you remember or can prompt a memory, as they are a truthful document which you trust.
At the same time we are looking at how photographs become generalised as the become enlarged or when they are together in large quantities… You find it hard to connect with just one as there is so many for your eyes to focus on. We aim to look at the feeling you get when looking at a large document of history, memories, photographs that the individual has no mental connection with. Even more so when what they are looking at a large wall of photographs instead of in small portions within a photo album.
This is the initial plan for our exhibition. We have decided to layout our exhibition like this so that it emits a feeling of confusion (seeing images you don’t recognise in a busy collage) the same as when you are looking at old family albums you don’t recognise. Someone has to clarify the image to you. The collage for this board will be very overlapped and collage like, this is to intensify the confusion. You will not be able to see a whole image, so not only will you be confused about what is going on in the image, but also what is missing from part being overlapped.
The second board is to show slightly less confusion. When you start to recognise a few slight things, or they look familiar. This will still be a collage just not quite so random and overlapped. Although the photographs will still be unrecognisable. This is because they won’t be able to recognise the things inside. The collage will be less intense so that almost all of the images are fully shown, only a few will be overlapped.
Lastly at the very back, we are looking at having one single image that includes each person from out group. Our exhibition will only be open to our cohort, so only people that recognise us. This last board is to connote the feeling of relief. When you finally see something/someone you recognise after being confused for so long. Our next question was what size? A4/ A3/ A5? Medium or Large format? What camera were we going to use?
Initially our plan was to use our own imagery. We then decided this was a bad idea as these images are sentimental to us and we don’t want them getting ruined. The viewers to this exhibition won’t recognise the imagery either way. Whether it is our own images or bought images, they will still be confused. This was when we decided to go onto eBay and go into charity shops. Each of us did this and we were able to collect a lot of imagery. One member of our group has used a few family images.Initially we were going to include objects such as letters, and old clothing items such as bowler hats.
For the final exhibition we had a discussion on what materials and resources we were going to use for the installation we planned. Foam boards or wooden? Size?
We decided that we wanted it to be a large installation to connote the feeling of being overwhelmed by confusion.
In the end we decided upon 7ft by 4ft wooden boards. We thought the tallest person who would be viewing wouldn’t be taller than 6ft5 so 7ft would be taller than everyone, this meant that the feeling of overpowering will be inclusive of everyone.
Our next decision was how we were going to set out the boards. What images will go on each board and how we were going to lay them out. We already decided very overlapped on one board and then not as much on the next board. We had a discussion and decided that portraits will go on one board and landscapes on the next. When discussing we decided that portraits will be on the front board and landscape of the second board. This is because no one will be able to recognise the portraits, but some people may be able to recognise the landscapes. Unfortunately the discussion wasn’t discussed amongst the other members of our group, only a few and the boards ended up with the landscapes being very very overlapped and portraits not being overlapped.
This still works though, as the portraits are very generic. It almost makes the effect even more prominent and conveys that overwhelmed feeling. Many people will be able to recognise the stances and poses. The landscapes when largely overlapped turn into a muddle of trees and bricks and nothing is very recognisable.
Our next decision was how much of the board we were going to cover. Other people in the group decided upon 100cm by 100cm squares. This was because they thought we didn’t have enough imagery.
We initially laid it on the floor to map out how we were going to set out the images. Fortunately we discovered we did have enough imagery, so much that we thought we could almost cover the whole board. This was the perfect outcome because again it gave the viewer the feeling of being overwhelmed. We then started placing the images onto the boards.
We started by laying out 100cm by 100cm and also a plan for the whole board. We didn’t have enough images to cover the whole boards, but as we still had plenty of time we were able to go and visit more charity shops and get more imagery.
To stick the images onto the boards we decided it appropriate to use adhesive picture corners when you put images into photo albums.
This worked well until we found that the images were starting to peel off and lift off. We decided on sandwiching the boards on top of each other to see if the weight would keep them down. We found that they wouldn’t, so we decided to start using masking tape as well as the photograph corners which acted as double sided tape and doubled the effectiveness.
After the two boards were complete we decided to stand them up, a few of the images fell off so we decided to leave them standing up sandwiched again for a few days. We discussed that if the images don’t stay onto the boards, we will need to put a large piece of clear glass or plastic against the boards to keep the images in place.
Thankfully when we stood them up properly and placed them together only a few of the images had fallen off. We were able to stick them back onto the boards with doubled sided sticky tape and masking tape. This worked well, so we decided to leave them as they were.
To put up the exhibition all four members of the group were present and we worked together. This meant that everyone was included but also everyone agreed on placement and the final outcome of our exhibition.
We were going to create the final image using large format, and take a picture of all four people in the group but we felt like there wasn’t enough time. As time grew closer to the end people started getting ill and having personal troubles at home which took some time away. This was still okay as we changed the initial idea, checked this with all the members of the group and went to the hoe to photograph the lighthouse instead. Two of us took initiative so not only does it mean that people don’t have to worry about the final piece but also that we can open our audience to the whole of plymouth instead of just our cohort. It opens up the exhibition and makes it simpler.
400 ISO, f/8 aperture, 1/125 shutter speed. For this shoot we used ambient light. After shooting medium format HP5 film at the lighthouse I then developed the film. Another person in the group scanned them in as that was her strong point. She scanned them in on a hasselblad scanner with the setting on CMYK not RGB like regular photo settings. This is to bring out the details and make them more obvious.
I’m pleased with the outcome of the final image. It was one of my first medium format successes and we worked well as a team within our group. It fits in well with our project and it means that it can be seen by a larger audience of plymouth, instead of people that just know us.
After scanning them in we decided to take a look at all of the images and as a group decided which we preferred.
This was the image we decided upon which we then as a group post pro-ducted to create the final outcome that we wanted.
This is how it turned out. I feel like the final image is very appropriate as it links to the found images. It feels as though it is an old image from a similar time era. To create this image we had to turn it back into black and white and then remove a few things, like the woman and a few hairs that were on the camera that created marks on the image. I am happy with the outcome for the final image, and now I am glad that we didn’t do an image of the people in the group as it meant that we saved time and it means that out exhibition can connect to more people than just our cohort and people that know us.
For our exhibition we wanted something that made you think and you have to physically move to be able to get the whole thing.
‘Familienalben’ was what we decided on as a title – this translates into family albums in German. While looking through our bought imagery we found a letter which was written in German, so we thought the name white fitting to our project.
Board 1: A collage of landscapes and architecture. This is to create confusion and the feeling of being overwhelmed. This is to portray when you look at family albums and don’t recognise anything.
Board 2: A slightly more organised collage of portraiture. This is to convey the feeling of confusion but not quite as much as the first board. This is to show the change of when you start to recognise a few things when you look back at family albums.
Board 3: This is the final image. We decided just one singular image of something people recognise. This is to hopefully make people relax as they see something familiar. As if they are looking back at family albums and calm down as they see something they recognise. Maybe an item of c,nothing or a person.
Board 4: We felt as though our installation needed explaining. We didn’t want people to know in the beginning because that would ruin the emotions of what we hoped the viewers would feel. Although we still wanted people to understand the concept of our project. This is why we finished with the explanation.
Using family albums, we look to explore the process of reflection when viewing personal imagery. We look at photographs as truthful documents and use them in a family album context to reaffirm memories. By seeing ourselves or other family members in images we appropriate an unclear memory and then certify it by this documentation.
In the creation of large scale collages the imagery used becomes generalised and the observer is desensitised from personal connections with the subject. By removing images from between the pages of an album their context has changed from their original purpose. Their individual character and sentimental value has changed.
The imagery displayed is unfamiliar, bought imagery. Collections were composed together from similar time periods but different families and locations. The final image is a present image which is familiar to many people. The process of walking through the images is to recreate the experience of trying to identify a point of clarity, where something makes sense, shown by one final image.
If I was to change anything about the final installation it would be to find a better, more trustworthy and effective way to hang the images. I feel as though this would make it look more professional and our work would have a more formal finish. Other than that I wouldn’t change anything. I feel like we worked well as a team and all worked together on each section of the project, helping each other and pulling the weight when needed. I generally like the outcome of the project and if we had to do this again I would choose the same people and the same concept. Everyone has been enthusiastic throughout, really helpful and motivated. The final outcome is creative and relevant and thoroughly thought through.