Wednesday, 29 February 2012

David Cotterrell: Monsters of The Id, The John Hansard Gallery, Southampton.

The John Hansard Gallery was presenting the work of David Cotterrell called "Monsters of the Id which is based at Southampton University. David is an installation artist who works across a variety of media such as; video interactive media, audio and hybrid technology. "The exhibition captures the disorientation of a civilian observer within a militarised environment." (
When entering the gallery the first instillation called the "Observer effect" took me a while to adjust to. We are exposed to a 180 degree landscape projected onto a plain white wall which presents an image of a distant, self absorbed population. The presence of people who enter the area to see the instillation distract the projector which senses this and another "avatar" appears in front of us which gradually grows in number.
The second instillation called "Searchlight 2" was a huge platform created using a tonne of chalk demonstrating higher and lower areas of the "desert". The growing population from instillation one "The Observer Effect" are generated using technology to appear on this chalk landscape. The avatars travel around and their direction is completely randomized. I found this fascinating to watch as every time you looked at it, it was different.
After exploring around the different rooms, I began to understand there connection with each other and how the whole exhibition is a response to what David Cotterrell experienced in Afghanistan.

Images all sourced from "The John Hansard Gallery"

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Metaphors and Allegory

Metaphor -

1. A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.

Allegory -

1. S
tory with a meaning other than the literal one/ Description of one thing under image of another

After establishing and learning the definitions of Allegory and Metaphor, we applied them to imagery created by Sarah Lucas.

Self portrait with two fried eggs - 1996

"Self portrait with two fried eggs was a photograph I hadn't come across before. I didn’t realise how many metaphors could be included in one image. The first thing we addressed as a group was the fact that she presents herself as a male and occupies that role for the photo by her choice of clothes; and by the way she is sitting. We then began to discuss the idea behind the two fried eggs which represent female breasts in an unusual way. The idea of fried eggs is altered in this instance due to the idea of egg representing new life and now the eggs have been fried there’s no longer life.

The setting of which she’s posed has a meaning in itself enhanced by the vibrant tiles, because of the idea where a "Women’s suppose to be in the kitchen" contrasting against a women’s stereotypical role. Her stance and body language are an interesting aspect of the image as to me its one of the main factors of her stereotyping men. She appears very confident and confrontational.

After studying this image, I have become aware of how much impact "the metaphor" has, and that each aspect has a large contribution to the viewer’s ideas.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Booooooom and John Farrar

Sourced from "Booooooom" blog
Booooooom is another blog which I was introduced to by other course friends who had discovered it.

It is a very lively blog which is interesting to follow as if discusses the work or different mediums. It looks at art, film, photography, design and music, keeping its followers up to date with recent artists in different areas.
I really like the layout of this blog as its vibrant, busy and very colourful making it very eye catching. There's always lots of information to keep on top of an interesting research to share with other photographers.

John Farrar

I went to visit open houses in Brighton during the Arts festival and came across the work of John Farrar and his blog Recently developing an huge interest in fashion photography his work has been a huge inspiration to me which I shall use within my own personal photography to develop my ideas. His use of fine art and vibrant colours incorporaited into his photographs is what initially caught my eye.

All images sourced from John Farrar's website

Semiotics and Source magazine

This session we looked at semiotics and exhibition review examples. We were introduced to some short exhibition reviews from Art monthly and Source magazine as a prompt and guide for the other 50% of this unit. One review which we looked at was in Art Monthly and of a recent exhibition by Hannah Starkey.
The introduction to the review was based on research mainly and also incorporated quotes from the exhibition catalogue.

The middle section included areas of the reviewers understanding and what their interpretation of the work is. I felt this also continued into the conclusion however the reviewer summarised the work and later questioned it.

Source Magazine
I recently purchased a subscription to "Source magazine" which I’ve found really helpful in writing my review. I also broadened my knowledge of various photographers and what other people were creating at the moment. I established looking at these reviews that a very small amount of writing was descriptions of the exhibition; it was more about the reviewer’s personal thoughts and their interpretations.

  Sourced from "Source magazine"

The latest edition has really influenced my ideas for my Representation project looking at identity and only using specific characteristics to photograph.

Semiotics is the study of signs. It includes sounds, gestures, images, words and objects. It is also something which we all know and develops through our experiences and culture that we're exposed to throughout everyday life.
We live in a world where we are constantly surrounded by advertising and signage with signifiers which display and portray different things. Firstly, we looked and analysed male and female toilet signs.

I felt this was a good example to use, purely because we all automatically know what the sign means. We then discussed as a group the connotation and denotation of the sign and we were asked how we automatically know what the sign means? Is it the impact of the colour? The shapes used etc? We talked about the ideas of how just because this symbol is on the front of a door, we only presume that what is behind that door is what the sign states it is. We don’t definitely know.

To develop and apply our understanding of semiotics further and the way in which each person interprets imagery different we watched the music video "Hurt" by Johnny Cash. We watched it once without music taking notes of each understanding. Then, after we watched it with music to see whether it affected our responses/ideas and connotations of the video.

Sourced from Youtube

This video demonstrated a lot of traits of religious views showing a renaissance painting. I also felt that there was elements of death portrayed as he was an older man sitting in a room alone singing lyrics which presented an idea of reminiscing.

"What have I become?"
"I wear this crown of thorns"
"Full of broken thoughts I cannot repair"

Monday, 6 February 2012

Review writing lecture

This lecture we learnt and discussed the skills and techniques to writing a good review as the other half of this unit. The total word count will be 1000 words and should include an introduction (250 words) , main section (500 words) and a concluding paragraph (250 words).
The introduction should include a general overview of what the reviews about and indicate the main points which are going to be discussed.
The main section should discuss a variety of theory and concepts supporting different ideas which are being brought to attention.
Finally the conclusion is used to summarise all the issues raised and to conclude with a final clear understanding.
With this review we are also told to incorporate two illustrations to support our writing.
We were also told various other tips such as to try and avoid using the first person such as "I" "me" or "my" and to try and write in third person to make the register more formal. We discussed how to use paraphrasing and to use Harvard referencing when creating our bibliographies.
This session i found useful to re-fresh my mind about writing reviews and essays and i now understand the criteria for writing a good review. I can also refer back to this post at any point throughout my development if my review.

Friday, 3 February 2012

John Berger - Ways of seeing. 1972

This week we were set a reading and to study the pictorial chapter from John Berger, Ways of seeing essay (1972) and later responding and discussing various questions which we brought to attention in our seminar groups. I personally found this text really challenging, but since discussing it I feel I’ve broadened my ideas of what I think and created a better understanding.

                                      Sourced from scanning the article - Ways of Seeing - 1972

These are the questions and my responses:

1. Consider why Berger has produced a chapter in a book based solely on images.
2. What narratives are suggested by this sequence of images? What ties them together?

3. What are the similarities of the images stylistically and from what periods of art history do they come from?

4. Following on from this how can readings of these original images change over time?

Berger presented a chapter in a book based solely on images purely to allow the audience to have their own interpretation. There’s no text to distract the viewer or provide any additional information distracting the audience away from the images. There is also no context provided which could allow the audience to interpret something completely different than it’s original meaning.

The majority of these images seem to demonstrate an act of slavery (pages, 116,117) each image depicts black people who are from a lower class status. In the bottom left image the people particularly are seen as objects, sold alongside paintings at an auction.
The narrative perceived by the photographs on pages 118 and 119 initially created ideas of child poverty however looking at the studio background it could suggest a different status.
Pages 120,121 show a domestic setting with religious aspects and vary in status. The bottom left images look very authoritative however the top right look more like they resemble a lower status.
The main change could be the impact of culture and how that changes over decades. E.g - the religious imagery would have had a much more powerful effect when it was created as oppose to now due to religion not being a major part of our lives today.

Show studio - "in your face"

Show studio - "In your face"

For the second half of our visual exploration unit we have to write a gallery review so I felt it was appropriate to write about the recent exhibitions that I have visited.
I went to see the "In your face" exhibition in London to expand my knowledge of different photographers. I really liked this exhibition because there was a range of fine art, fashion, sculpture, film and photography. The exhibition largely focuses on portraiture, which also contributes to my representation unit and reflects the exhibition title "In your face"
Instillation 1
                                               Black power - Hank Willis Thomas - 2008

Self Portrait of You + Me (David Bowie) ,

"Upfront, direct and sometimes brutal, in your face explores the contradictions, difficulties and traumatic engagements involved in our relationship to the world." (Show Studio) - This quote reflects the ideas of ethnicity, emotion and various thoughts. E.G - the photo "black power" by Hank Willis Thomas talks about ideas of race and discussing the connotations of how black people have power over white people. Gold teeth represent wealth and are considered as a higher status; "powerful".
The self portrait of you + me by Douglas Gordon I found interesting, purely because I also have an interest in fine art. An edgy effect has been created by the facial features being burnt out of the face and replaced with a mirrored surface to involve the audience within its piece. By erasing all features from the image he has removed all quality’s of expression which would help create a portrait. I also found it rather interesting at the fact using a celebrity - David Bowie a vast majority of people still recognise who it is. However, using someone else the image could have become unrecognisable, therefore changing the context of the image.