Collection: Unit 2: A Photographic Manifesto

Experimentation and Reflection

Tags: experiments, LCC, photographic manifesto, reflection, unit 2

Experimentations and reflections for Unit 2: A Photographic Manifesto.

Task 1 - Three Pages

Poster Creation:

As an initial first step into this Unit, we are to create as much posters as possible, showing our understanding to integrating image and text together. 

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I enjoyed doing this exercise as it brought back some of the skills I had learnt doing graphic design in my A-levels, such as hierarchy of text, typography and the composition of the text in relation to the image. Other than that, I liked that through the different typefaces and fonts, the images become something other than just photographs. An example being the moment the bold yellow words of "Transient Traces" is placed right in the centre, overlapping the orange clothes of the woman, the image seems to become something akin to an advertisement for Nike; or with the white text just placed at the bottom left of the black & white image, sticking out clearly and appropriately, the photograph becomes more like a postcard.

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However, out of all the posters that I had created, I would say that my two best would be these two exhibition posters that I made, seen on the left right now. For these, I had referenced and taken inspiration from actual Royal Academy and Tate posters.

I liked the fact that by doing these, I had to really consider where to place the text and logos in order for it to not obstruct but rather work together with the image, in addition to choosing a photograph that would best suit the words and bring out the intrigue. Thus, these two posters are, to me, what I think this whole exercise is about, finding this element of text and image complimenting each other. 

Task 1 - Three Pages 1

Hacking into the Photographic Code

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The portraits not hacked into yet.

  • From portraits that I took of a few ordinary people (with their consent), I hacked into the photographs photographic code, deleting, rearranging and inserting quotes that people would say when in the process of Cybersex in order to purposely corrupt the portraits that I took.
  • These corruptions, I felt, were a representation of the dangers and delusions of cybersex, as the people will not truly be who they say they are when Cybrsexing and as we Cybersex, we tend to put out an idealised version of ourselves in the progress of the chats, dressing up and putting up a persona that would be raunchier and sexier when talking to these strangers.
  • I really liked how the colours of the images changed as the code was hexed as there was something quite funky, hilarious and retro about them, somewhat like the words and phrases people use when Cybersexing as when reading them, it is kind of funny looking at the lines they come up with.

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Images after getting hacked. 

Task 1 - Three Pages 4

Layout [1st Draft]

[scanned image of sketch]

  • Here I sketched out a very rough draft of some ideas I had for the layout of the three pages.

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Page 1-3 of the first draft

  • Going from my rough sketches, I made the first draft of the three pages. Here, I wanted to have at least one page where it is fully imagery, as that way, I feel that it will balance out the pages with text, as I intend to use and insert code into the pages as an aesthetic choice, hence if there wasn’t one page that had more images than text, the pages could lean a little bit too much toward a text-heavy layout. And that could be confusing for a viewer sometimes, discouraging them from looking at the page.
  • Looking at it in retrospect, there is still plenty of room for improvement. One of my group members, Emma, said that the typeface of the code could be better, which is true. As of right now, the typeface is only the default font in InDesign; not something I want to take further into the final draft.

Task 1 - Three Pages 6

Layout [Final Draft]

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Pages done by Emma, a group member.

  • Bringing in the layouts done by Emma and newer images George worked on as well, changes and developments were once again made.
  • For Emma’s layout, I really liked the blown-up images that she used an background texture, as is added a surreal sense to the pages that my black background didn’t. Also, with the texture, even though the image was small on that page, it could still retain a sense of balance to the overall pages as the texture did not need to rely on text.

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  • We chose these three images in comparison to the other layouts as with these three together, we as a group felt that the pages had more of a voice and was commenting on the roles of woman in cybersex as well as questioning the ethicality and morality of their actions, as what they were doing were very similar to the act of prostitution, which are illegal and frowned upon. So why were they allowed to do it in this space and medium?

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  • The other layouts had their own themes and messages to them, but we felt that they weren’t as authoritative or as concrete as the chosen layout.

Task 1 - Three Pages 2

Making them Black and White

  • However, seeing that it was a black & white publication, I made them so and noticed that in doing that, the tone of the images became more serious and foreboding, like a warning to the dangers of Cybersex.
  • I superimposed the codes and quotes on top of the image to further obscure the person while exposing them at the same time, as via the words displayed, I place further emphasis on the skewered and delusional mindsets of these people as well as highlight the masks and personas that they would put up when engaged in Cybersex.

 

Exeriment 1.jpg Experiment 2.jpg
Experiment 3.jpg  Experiments of superimposing the code onto the   images.

Task 1 - Three Pages 3

Other Hacks

While hacking into the images, I found these accidental conjurings interesting. However, I didn't choose them as I felt that they were too abstracted from the original images and if turned black and white, we might not be able to see what they are.

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Task 1 - Three Pages 5

Layout [2nd Draft]

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Pages 1-3 of the second draft

  • Composition and layering of the codes, manifestoes and images show a sense of depth to the page and I hope that would be effective in bringing out how deep and scary the depths of the internet can be. The use of black background I hope can further cement that kind of atmosphere as well; giving off a sense of danger and malicious ambiguity that the internet and cyberspace can hold.
  • In terms of the images and text, I’m still retaining one page dedicated solely to hold an image and no text for balancing out the three pages overall.
  • Compared to the first draft, I believe that the typefaces and fonts used in this draft are much better, retaining more similarity to the fonts used by the people in the 90s who Cybersexed online.

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More experiments for the third page, looking at different images and how they can compliment the text and vice versa. I felt that the pages with two images felt a bit imbalanced as the smaller image took up too much of one side of the page.

  • Another thing to keep in mind here is also making sure the images and text correspond to each other, as that cold elevate the message of our manifestoes. One example being how the image of the cyborgs with the text was more fitting and compared to the image of the girl, as the phrase “it is the start of the end of human relationships” compliments the context and message of that image and vice versa.

Task 2 - Own Publication 1

Transcient Traces

Taking elements of the crude and imperfect as described in Wabi-Sabi, I went out and shot some initial photographs to try and see what kind of mood and atmosphere I want in my photographs. From what I could gather from my initial research and definitions of Wabi-Sabi, it was to represent imperfection and impermanence; elements and changes that we often don't notice.

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Clouds and sunlight thus came to mind, as they come and go as they please with us being unable to stop how the clouds shift and the sunlight fades as the day goes by. Also, I feel that trees and branches hold an element of Wabi-Sabi to them, as they never move from the place they are rooted in, but adapt and change as the seasons do. Hence to me, they hold a very evident connotation to impermanence as well as universality, as they accept the change and adapt to it, in a way showing the wisdom of nature. 

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I'm not sure I can say I'm satisfied with these photos but as an initial test, I would say that they are necessary to find room for development. 

Task 2 - Own Publication 3

Alia Zapparova Response

Using that technique and editing the images together in order to create a small video, I created a response to Alia Zapparova's work Days/Light as to me, that showed the subtle impermanences that happen everyday without our awareness of it. This response also furthered what I said earlier about impermanence in a seemingly permanent environment. 

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Stills from the video.

Task 2 - Own Publication 5

Film Images

Over the Easter break, I managed to take four rolls of film, capturing compositions or moments I thought represented Wabi-Sabi well while me and my family when on trips to Singapore and Penang. 

Singapore (time)

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These photographs, to me, really captured that sense of time and nostalgia; of capturing a precious moment as it was being experienced at that moment. Also, the images feel authentic in the sense that I am capturing things that people would not notice, but is certainly there, such as the discolouring at the edges of a concrete wall as moss or other things start to grow and die over time. I find that these photographs are a success, with the colours bringing out that sense of preciousness captured while the contrasts in the Black and white film are brought out beautifully by the graininess of the image. 

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Singapore/Penang (sunlight)

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In this compilation of images, I found that I subconsciously focused on the stark contrast of sunlight and shadows. I think this is a good compilation that adds to the concept and representation of Wabi-Sabi, as sunlight is constantly moving and never stays long. Hence, in this sense, I think the images managed to catch that atmosphere of impermanence within a seemingly permanent environment. The compositions are also good and the shots are well balanced, having enough content in the image so that it isn't too plain or boring, which is what I like. Hopefully it will not be too different in terms of tone and clash with the other images.

Penang/Serendah (beautiful desolation)

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Within this roll of film, I love the rectangular length shots of the abandoned structures. The contrast bring out the details well and I feel that the images managed to embody that sense of desolation, yet with the flora and surrounding greenery growing within and around it, implications of new beginnings can be read in these images as well. As Miho Kajioka said in reference to her works on Wabi-Sabi "Seasons come and go, people fall in love, kids play.... There has always been problems, and beautiful things have always remained beautiful."

Hence, the desolate yet beautiful impermanence of the world; the balance of those two intertwined elements; is caught. 

Task 2 - Own Publication 7

Photopolymer Workshop

  • Much of the process for making the plate for a photopolymer print is the same as the photolithography, with the only exception that the special metal plate is a different one (Toyobo Cam plates) and instead of washing and gumming it, we would send it to another UV light machine, the Screen Exposure unit, to expose and harden the image onto the plate. Other than that, it’s the same method of exposing it onto the plate using the Screen Exposure unit.

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The image on dry film & Toyobo Cam plate

  • For photopolymer prints, instead of layering the ink onto the images and rolling them onto the paper, as photopolymer is an intaglio (dry) method, we thus use special clothes to rub and press the ink onto the plate, gently wiping the inks into the crevasses that was made onto the plate via exposing UV light onto it.

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Screen Exposure unit & Print Press

  • Once inked, we would use the print press machine (above) to print our images onto a slightly soaked paper. The paper is soaked so that the fibres will be softer and more absorbent to the ink. With photopolymer, as we are placing the paper over the plate, the images will come out mirrored.

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Photopolymer 2c.jpg Different types of techniques that can be used with Photopolymer.
  • I feel that the images here come out bolder and more defined when compared to my prints made in the photolithography workshop. This could be due to the fact that the paper was soaked. Just like the photolithography results, I like the contrast that comes out of the print and with photopolymer, we can experiment with different tones as seen with the yellow, and since it goes through a press, we can imbed different kinds of paper onto the image.
  • However, I feel like I enjoyed the process of the Photolithography more, but that being said, I would find it preferable if I can incorporate both these processes into my project.

Task 2 - Own Publication 2

Transcient Traces 2

Developing from my earlier images, I thus tried using moving images to convey the passing of time or impermanence via the clouds as they drift through the sky while everything else remains still. To me, this somewhat shows how, even though we think we are in a permanent environment, we actually are not. Hence even though a building or concrete structure can last a long time and appear "permanent"; being associated with symbolism to strength; eventually, it will succumb to dilapidation and cracks and mold will start to manifest and form. 

Transcient Traces 2

Download Clouds 03.mov [13.73MB]
Details

Transcient Traces 2

Download Clouds 05.mov [9.15MB]
Details

Task 2 - Own Publication 4

Daidō Moriyama Initial Responses

These are some images that I took with my DSLR and made them black and white in Lightroom. With these images, I considered what to take that to me, could evoke some sense of Wabi-Sabi. Hence, I focused my lens onto subjects like a seemingly dilapidated house or roots creeping up the side of the building. I wanted to try and capture the slow impermanence of our everyday that go unnoticed. Looking at them now, I can't say that I like them. 

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For most of the images, while the composition is good, I feel like they aren't saying anything. They are flat and I don't think making them black and white added anything to it. To me, there is no texture or rawness to the image, or anything that evokes impermanence or time passing by unnoticed. They don't evoke what I want to say, which is the concept of Wabi-Sabi. I think that they are too still, which makes them boring. 

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These ones were maybe a little better in the sense that there seems to be an element of subtlety within the image. The lower contrast I think, makes the images less jarring and therefore more comfortable to look at. For the sky photo, I like there is a sense of movement, which is what I think makes the image work and somewhat embodies that universal quality. 

Task 2 - Own Publication 6

Photolithography Workshop

  • As I wanted to explore and experiment with new ways of printing photographs for this project, I joined this photolithography workshop. Looking at the examples and how contrasted they are, I feel that it could fit with the mood of Wabi-Sabi and elevate it if done correctly. Also, as it will be us printing it, we can control the amount of contrast that will go to the print, so that will be helpful in setting the mood of the photograph. Plus, with these printing experiments, mistakes will happen, and I feel that those mistakes incorporated on the images will compliment the Wabi-Sabi concept.

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The image on a dry film and on Agfa Offset plate respectively.

  • In this workshop, we will first have to print our images onto a dry film after turning the images black&white and adjusting the levels of the photograph in Photoshop. The prints only work with black and white as it focuses on tones rather than colour. Once printed, we expose the images onto a special metal Afga Offset plate with UV light using the plate exposure unit. We will then wash it and gum it to fix and protect the image onto the plate.

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Plate Exposure Unit & Globe Offset press

  • After that, we will use the Globe Offset press (above) to roll the images (now prints) onto the papers. The ink has to gradually build up and because of that, a lot of tests have to be made and a few layers of oil-based ink has to be added slowly onto the plate. Also, the print will appear as the image on the plate appears, no coming out mirrored.
  • Different types of paper produces different results. For me, I quite like the prints that come out of the Simili Japon proofing paper and the Lumi Silk paper.

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Images on newsprint, proofing paper, simili Japon proofing paper & Lumi Silk

  • To me, the contrast of the images make it a very romantic photograph. I like the bold black that really brings out the small details of the image, like the brickwork or the dirt and moss at the bottom of the building and around the windows. I enjoyed the work and results, even though the whole process is rather tiring and would like to come back to this again.