A colour vision

Most of the theory books we are pointed to reading contain essays or information steeped in the history of the B&W image however, with the advancement of modern technologies, more and more photographers and publications are embracing the colour image; ‘influential’ photography festivals within the UK such as Brighton Photo Biennial, Hereford Photography Festival and Format International Photography Festival pave the way for future developments. The coursework points particularly at the years 2010 & 2011 as these festivals showing ‘an eclectic collection of contemporary documentary photography’ which answer Rosler’s question as to the direction of Documentary photography, they revealed a ‘robust health’ within the genre and that colour bodies of work were beginning to dominate documentary practice. Sadly, the Hereford Photography Festival no longer seems to be funded or operating.

The plan for part three is to examine the British tradition of colour documentary looking closely at the work of Paul Graham, Martin Parr and Richard Billingham considered to be at the ‘forefront of contemporary practice.’ Whilst examining contemporary work I need to reflect upon the issue of authenticity, objectivity, re-enactment and reality. In this respect it was really handy to attend the Magnum: New Blood talk at the Barbican Centre and the OCA study day with Edmund Clerk  (write-ups to follow). Research suggested by Russell on Gregory Crewdson also touches upon this discussion.

A healthy debate was undertaken on the WeAreOca forum which I have had a good read of and taken note of some of the photographers mentioned within these posts:

https://weareoca.com/photography/on-an-exhibition-crawl-at-brighton-photo-biennial/

A new name for me was Dhruv Malhotra and I found an interview with Time online speaking about his body of work Sleepers which drew quite a bit of praise. Others mentioned Susanne Opton and her portraits of soldiers. Keith commented on sensitive portraits by Molly Landreth – Queer Brighton at the Lighthouse and Mexican taxi driver, Oscar Fernando Gomez’s, photographs through the window of his cab. William Christenberry is a name I know but never looked at so all there photographers are people I feel I should look into.

Several things stuck out for me on this thread, firstly the comments by Jose that documentary is hard to pigeonhole due to the variety of approaches coming under the documentary umbrella and the fact the someone thought if you put your work on show that it should not be criticized, or rather that some of the comments made were harsh. Sadly, as pointed out, work will attract a mix of both praise and vilification in equal measure.

https://weareoca.com/photography/oca-students-visit-hereford-photography-festival/

This thread I had already found due to an earlier exercise looking at the Time & Motion Studies: New Documentary Photography exhibition but some things to look into perhaps are Adrian Arbib’s image’s of Solsbury Hill the work of the PhotoVoice collective which showed work by visually-impaired photographers from the Sensory Photography collective.

https://weareoca.com/photography/right-here-right-nowsecond-thoughts/

provided another list of names to research  Maciej Dakowicz, Peter Dench, Alex Webb, Constantine Manos, Melanie Einzig , Michael Wolf,  Amani Willett, Frederic Lezmi, Lise Sarfati, Zhang Xiao and Hin Chua and Katrin Koenning’s Thirteen:Twenty Lacuna. If I research all of these in one sitting I may be gone sometime…..

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People Surveys – Research Point – The FSA

There is a lot of reference to the FSA from the outset in this coursework so I have already written and read quite a bit about it, but will add some more bits n bobs here.

Many photographers were involved within this project, which was very political in its motives. Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal aimed to deal with the effects of the Great Depression. The photographic evidence gathered by the FSA, formerly The Resettlement Administration, was essential to help gain public support for the New Deal legislation. This enterprise became the ‘best example of a major state-funded documentary project in the world’. (Wells, 1997. p.81)

The FSA photography group consisted of Theodor Jung, Edwin Rosskam, Louise Rosskam, Ben Shahn, John Collier, Sheldon Dick, Ann Rosener, Jack Delano, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Carl Mydans, Gordon Parks, Arthur Rothstein, John Vachon and Marion Post Wolcott.

Information can be found here  with regards to the work they undertook for the FSA.

So I need to look at some of the work undertaken by a few of these photographers and consider if the photographers were exploiting their subjects… Lets have a look at the definition of exploit…

1.make full use of and derive benefit from (a resource).

“500 companies sprang up to exploit this new technology”
synonyms: utilize, make use of, put to use, use, use to good advantage, turn/put to good use, make the most of, capitalize on, benefit from, turn to account, draw on; More

2.make use of (a situation) in a way considered unfair or underhand.
“the company was exploiting a legal loophole”

Reading those two definitions I would say that, yes, they were. They made full use of and derived benefit from the photographs they took, some of the photographers gained more that others, and the main drive was to benefit the FSA and in turn the farmers. History has shown us that not that many workers/farmers lives improved that dramatically and the numbers who directly benefited was small compared to those who were suffering. As Rosler informed us about Florence Thompson (our Migrant Mother) ‘she was proud to be the subject of the photograph, but that she had never made a penny out of it and that it had done her no good (Rosler, 1989:315).

Similar to the reports of Avedon’s sitters that they had been proud to participate in his body of work and be invited to the opening exhibition.

The FSA photographers were directed to capture certain images in a certain way, although they had no control over the final selected shots; even with some freedoms they certainly manipulated the truth, by using certain signifiers and framing in order to gather the evidence needed for the agency. According to Sontag (2008, p.62) the FSA project was ‘unabashedly propagandistic’ with Stryker ‘coaching his team about the attitude they were to take toward their problem subject’.

Margaret Bourke-White’s image  Sharecroppers Home (1937) is one such example. The newspapers used on the wall for insulation in this instance are used to show ‘elements of white consumer America…the American Dream…’ from which the black child is ‘excluded’. The photograph is not just about ‘poverty, but also about injustice…inequalities…constructed to make us question…’ (Clarke, 1997. P.149)

All images had to be submitted, the control over what was released was again in the hands of the ‘dominant class’ and they chose the face of the ‘under class’ and how we viewed the Great Depression, ‘ the archive has been used as a resource from which some photographs have been more often selected than others…our sense of the project is constructed from the editing…’.(Wells, 1997. p.81)

Selective choice of images from Lange…

Dorothea Lange: Mother and baby of family on the road. Tulelake, Siskiyou County, California. 1939.

Explanatory notes read:

The car is parked outside the Employment Office. The family have arrived, before opening of the potato season. They have been on the road for one month–have sick baby.

…Father washed the baby’s face with edge of blanket dampened from canteen, for the photographs.

Both are truths…one is more realistic…which would you choose to show the situation, the feelings…?

However, some images were used to misinform such as Arthur Rothstein’s photograph Gee’s Bend 1937 where he was ‘instructed to photograph the community as if there had been no [such] assistance’ (Curtis, 2003).

dp212791
Arthur Rothstein, Negroes, descendants of former slaves of the Pettway Plantation, Gees Bend, Alabama, 1937

There were more racial undertones to this image as well which I shall cover in the separate post regards the Curtis article.

More examples of what we aren’t typically shown…people smiling, dressed smartly and having fun!

To complicate matters, adding to the ethical debate as illustrated above and in previous research, the individuals, and descendants, in some of these original images have been traced, re-photographed and publicised. At what point should we leave things alone? Does this further attention add a voyeuristic element? Is it important to understand the perspective now to gain further insights into the history of the events as they unfolded as well as the history of documentary photography?

Once they had completed the agency work was it right for individual photographers to go on and make money off of the back of poverty, write books etc? Wright Morris in In Our Image wrote:

In the photographer’s aspiration to be an ‘artist’ does he enlarge his own image at the expense of the photograph?

Research

Clarke, G. (1997) The photograph: A visual and cultural history. New York: Oxford University Press.

FSA – reading the photographic record p. 1 (no date) Available at: http://www.mississippidelta.com/fsa/ahs/pg01.html (Accessed: 1 January 2017).

FSA photographers document the great depression (no date) Available at: http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30s/water_14.html (Accessed: 1 January 2017).

James Curtis, “Making Sense of Documentary Photography,” History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web, http://historymatters.gmu.edu/mse/Photos/, June 2003.

Journal (2010) Available at: http://www.bu.edu/writingprogram/journal/past-issues/issue-1/the-fsa-photographs-information-or-propaganda/ (Accessed: 1 January 2017).

Kaplan, L.H., Peña, S., Kuhl, D., Hershberger, A. and Whitney, L. (2015) ‘ INTRODUCING AMERICA TO AMERICANS ’: FSA PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF RACIALIZED AND GENDERED CITIZENS. Available at: https://etd.ohiolink.edu/!etd.send_file?accession=bgsu1439562584&disposition=inline (Accessed: 1 January 2017).

Mason, J.E. (2014) ‘How photography lies, even when it’s telling the truth: FSA photography & the great depression’, January. Available at: http://johnedwinmason.typepad.com/john_edwin_mason_photogra/2010/03/how_photography_lies.html (Accessed: 1 January 2017).

Photos of photographers in the great depression (2016) Available at: http://petapixel.com/2016/02/17/photos-photographers-great-depression/ (Accessed: 1 January 2017).

Wells, L. (ed.) (1996) Photography: A critical introduction. London: Routledge.

People Surveys – Research Point – Humphrey Spender

Tom Harrisson Mass Observation

Founded in 1937, by anthropologist Tom Harrisson, writer Charles Madge and filmmaker Humphrey Jennings, the Mass Observation organisation would work with volunteers and full-time observers on a range of social research projects, including East end Anti-Semitism and the West Fulham by-election 1938. Based in a Bolton house they called Worktown and Madge’s home in Blackheath, London, Harrison and Madge favoured different methods when it came to collecting data. Harrison preferred a top-down approach, where behaviour of a group or class of people would be observed, whereas Madge used a top down approach, asking individuals for responses and using surveys to provide qualitative data. After some initial hesitation, the government’s Ministry of Information would work with Mass Observation during WW2 to report on public morale and the effects of the war. Madge would leave the group in 1940, citing the government commissions as one of his reasons, believing that it was a slippery slope from being a majority government-funded organisation, to becoming a spying organ of the state, facilitating government manipulation of public opinion. After the war, many of the Mass Observation workers would go on to join the newly established Government Social Survey, and this coupled with lack of funding saw the organisation eventually merge into a market research company. Among sociologists and anthropologists, Mass Observation is still valued for its pioneering work in the field of participant observation.

For this section in the coursework we are asked to explore Humphrey Spender’s work on ‘Worktown’ and reflect on the style and themes used, paying particular attention to the ethics and purpose of the project. A link to an article ’90 and Counting’, published in BJP magazine is given to provide background information to the photographer and the project.

Spender was the Mass-Observation’s main photographer although the survey also included written material, with ‘eavesdroppers’ listening to conversations and making notes. The intention was to record the everyday life and customs of the British public accurately and unobtrusively. Spender wanted to be unobserved, capture natural reactions and leave behind any pre-conceived ideas that he may have had. Ethically, they had the best intentions yet the House of Commons referred to them as ‘spies and snoopers’ Barron, J. (2000)

An article in the Guardian quotes Spender as saying:

We were called spies, pryers, mass-eavesdroppers, nosey parkers, peeping-toms, lopers, snoopers, envelope-steamers, keyhole artists, sex maniacs, sissies and society playboys.

Continue reading “People Surveys – Research Point – Humphrey Spender”

Own Research 2 -In conversation: William Eggleston @NPG 2016

On 21 July 2016, I was lucky enough to attend this talk with a small group of   like-minded ‘photography people’; tutors, an ex-tutor of mine and some other ex-students of his. It was just how I expected it to be and spent most of the evening giggling away and totally entertained, probably for all the wrong reasons. One of our company was most disgruntled and wanted his money back as he had come to hear William Eggleston “talk” which proved to me he had never researched the man nor understood how he operates.

If he had, he would have known from the outset that “In Conversation” was a misnomer. Eggleston knows just how to avoid talking about anything whilst “In Conversation” and gave the audience a masterful display in how to control an interview.You learn more from the YouTube video posted below about his ways of working, the background of some of his images etc than you did from the “talk.” That was just a masterclass on how to be William Eggleston.

I’ll give you the video version and then the talk version. I have to admit to not being a huge fan of his work. I appreciate his place in history, I admire how he has managed to stay in the frame (no pun intended) for so many years, I love the saturation and rich colours, how he makes a living from photographing the banal. Some of his images I really do like, but the majority don’t resonate or make me feel any emotion other than, ok it’s life. But in actuality, that is exactly what is really good about it, as that is what he photographs. When asked what his images are about his response is “life today.” So you have to hand it to him, his images do exactly what it says on the tin. He documents life today in all it’s bland and ugly glory. As a young man he complained “What shall I photograph? It’s all ugly!”  [in Memphis] To which a friend replied “then photograph the ugly!”

He decided very early on to only take one image, as he got confused with choice and having to opt for the best shot. He also doesn’t caption his shots believing they are what they are and need no explanation, which is quite relevant to the next exercise…

Some fascinating facts emerge as you watch; he was born to a very wealthy family who owned a large plantation, was adored and virtually “kidnapped” by his grandparents who seemed to bring him up surrounded by an equally adoring plethora of servants. What the video does not mention is that his father was killed during WWII so maybe not so much of the “kidnapped” then. An unconventional man, into drugs, guns, women and a taste for the wilder side in life he was given his first camera at 18. He shot first in black and white, with composition heavily influenced by Henri Cartier Bresson. He studied art at a variety of universities for 8 years, but never graduated, and shot his first roll of colour film in the mid 1960’s. At this point I smiled in my head because he omitted, and has done for years, to reveal that as a young man, in 1967, he went off clutching his box of black and white shots and presented them to the man I do feel is the master of colour, Joel Meyerowitz.

The documentary shows Eggleston  (Bill or Egg to his friends) wandering round, fag in hand, snapping away in a totally relaxed manner. In a style which, like his film making, has been described as ‘loose, organic, one take only.’ It was through his friendship with Andy Warhol that he was introduced to a Sony video camera, which resulted in the film Stranded in Canton. Shot in infra-red it depicts life in a night club setting revealing his friends, and the flip side to Eggleston’s family man persona, the drug taking, drunk rebel who associated with those who can only be described as ‘drunks, geeks and misfits’ who really ‘liked Quaaludes’ at the time…He ran two households, one for his family, one for his mistress. He used to have huge house parties where he would entertain the rich and famous; his photographs grace the front of many an album cover. One being the red ceiling, which becomes more poignant as you discover the history behind it. TC Boring was Eggleston’s best friend. One night there were three of them (Eggleston, Boring and Boring’s wife) lying on the bed, Eggleston looks up at the ceiling and snap…history is made. Sadly TC was later murdered, his body burnt, in the very house made famous by a red room with white cables running across the ceiling…

It was John Szarkowski who took a gamble in 1976 and chose to exhibit William Eggleston’s Guide, the first one-man show of colour photographs ever presented at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Interestingly all the images chosen were taken after 1968, postdating his visit to Joel. It was also the Museum’s first publication of colour photography. The reception was divided but on the whole derogatory, with Hilton Kramer calling the show “Perfectly banal … Perfectly boring.” The New York Times called it “the most hated show of the year.”

Eggleston rails at the critics;they didn’t understand it, and it was their job to, they didn’t get it, it was the Museum of MODERN Art, they were just pretty stupid. But, years later they ‘apologised’.The film ends more or less by telling us that journalists hang on his every word…I hope there aren’t many of them, or else that single word is going to be very crowded…

So back to July 2016 and the NPG exhibition of William Eggleston: Portraits. Taking to the stage is Sean O’Hagan and the curator Phillip Prodger. A rather frail William Eggleston is pushed out in a wheelchair.His familiar, slow Southern drawl is much slower than it was as he ponderously delivers his few words of wisdom. Have the the wild days of sex drugs ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll caught up.? Possibly, yet possibly not, as this was taken from an interview conducted by Sean O’Hagan back in 2004:

Eggleston is the slowest and most softly spoken person I have ever met, and the silence while he considers a question is so deep and long that I find myself wondering if he has simply chosen to ignore my fumbling attempts at elucidation. His thoughts, when they emerge into speech, are expressed succinctly and in oddly illuminating phrases that, like his work, are both simple and complex.

O’Hagan and Prodger took it in turns to ask questions and received the best monosyllabic one liners I’ve heard in a long time, mixed in with a few pearls of wisdom.The embarrassed shuffles, and furtive glances between them, as they tried to extract more information out of him, or fill in the gaps, were truly magnificent. Eggleston seemed to be perfectly aware of the cat and mouse game he was playing, cue interview:

Were you surprised when we approached you to put together an exhibition of your portraits?
Quite.

I take it you’re happy with the results?
Quite.

Based on the exhibition; in your opinion what constitutes a portrait?
I couldn’t tell you. It’s the looking at the result that is important , not the writing or talking, infinitely more important. Later on I never had a studio I never asked people to pose.

On what is on display; are the wrong ones being shown, or are any missing?
I’ve not thought about it.

On his first colour image, a young man with a shopping trolley; I understand this is the first one you were happy with?
It was the first one I took – I had no choice.

Did you know it was good when you took it or did you have to see the print?
I don’t know, another difficult one to answer again, I don’t know the difference.

Do the prints ever surprise you?
No…maybe they should.

I found it amusing that in the video he is described as gently and fleeting capturing peoples portraits, as if they didn’t even know he was there but in the talk he is the one who does not ‘see’ them.

[He sees]  shape and form, some are people, [they are] just as aesthetic as that table over there – little elements – whatever results is positive.

On his back catalogue; What does it say about the archives, are they all good?
Pretty good.

On his image of Marcia Hare, did you see the symbolism? What is the significance of her holding the camera?
She was asleep, perfectly healthy, she’s not dead! No I don’t [think about the symbolism] She had a camera, she liked taking photographs.

On the reception of his first exhibition, was he surprised by the reaction?
Yes.
When pressed a little more:
I thought they were infantile responses.

On Stranded in Canton; I shot 2-3 hours – no it was 30 – no it was 1
Sean O’Hagan interjects that it was 30.
How do you know?
You told me when I last interviewed you. I have it on tape!
Did I, Oh well. – shrugs.

Who are the painters that have influenced you?
It’s a long list.

On his commission to photograph Graceland in 1984;
Oh Priscilla rang…
Had Elvis Presley been important to him.
I was not an Elvis fan. Period.

On his opinion of Andy Warhol:
Oh, I don’t know what to say…

On his opinion of Andy Warhol’s work:
I wouldn’t be doing it myself.

On his relationships with many well known personalities: There is an elegiac element [to his portraits] as many have passed on:
That’s the way it is.

Tell us about your relationship with Stephen Shore?
We were friends.

Did he have any influence on Stephen Shore?
NO!

Then it was over to the audience, for the brave souls who dared to ask…

Do you ever crop? Or is it perfect in the viewfinder?’
No.

What advice would you give to your younger self if you were starting out now?
I would say I am not the one to ask.

One of our party managed to ask a question – What was his impression of contemporary photography, particularly portrait photography by women. He didn’t hear and when the question was repeated the “women” part was omitted…
No comment.
When Philip Prodger pressed – is that being polite?
I am saying no comment.

And that was it. Hopeful fans beetled down to the front of the stage, clutching various books in the vain hope that they might get the man himself to sign a few…but he declined, with an enigmatic wave of his hand, and his son wheeled him off stage right…

my reflection will follow tomorrow..that took much longer to write than anticipated and am off to bed…..

Awake but needing to get ready for work I thought I would quickly add this link to Apollo magazine who were also there and saw what I saw and heard what I heard. Sean O’Hagan has responded in the comments.

Incredibly selective. He spoke at length in response to many questions. If you know anything about Eggleston, it was an expansive interview. This misrepresents it somewhat.
Sean O’Hagan

I took quite extensive notes, admittedly some were a little scribbled and deciphering them several months later is fun. I have the name Richard Laycock? MIT …not sure what it means now but the response underneath was:
experiments- didn’t add up to much.
But it did as an art historian?
No – it didn’t add up to much.

His thoughts on William Christenberry-
Underrated
Walter Hopps –
In tune mentally.
Dennis Hopper –
Visited in Mexico…
Joe Strummer?
Oh I don’t know what we talked about – we just kicked back.
Alex Chilton?
I don’t remember taking that..

Yes, in places Eggleston was a little more expansive, for example talked more fully about dye transfer, but not terribly more so. If Sean would care to provide a video of the interview or a transcript of his notes I don’t think there would be that much of a difference between what I have recorded nor by the author of the other article. I don’t think it misrepresented. Compared to some interviews, where he has barked at reporters for asking stupid questions, or just got up and walked out, this could be considered an expansive interview, hence my initial comment that one of the people I attended with obviously had no idea what he was going to see. However, given the fuller responses, by other photographers, at other events, in this instance if words were food most of the audience would have left a little hungry. I found it really hard to find any other reviews about this talk. Maybe because the people attending also struggled to find anything to write about?

References

National Portrait Gallery (2016) Curator’s tour: William Eggleston portraits. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOvahQ7TSoY&feature=youtu.be (Accessed: 20 October 2016).

O’Hagan, S. (2004) Out of the ordinary. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2004/jul/25/photography1 (Accessed: 20 October 2016).

O’Hagan, S. (2012) Joel Meyerowitz: ‘Brilliant mistakes … Amazing accidents’. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/nov/11/joel-meyerowitz-taking-my-time-interview (Accessed: 20 October 2016).

THE RAD PHO (2013) Imagine | the Colourful Mr Eggleston. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jZ_HkaTXh8&feature=youtu.be (Accessed: 20 October 2016).

Rakewell (2016) William Eggleston and the sound of silence – Apollo magazine. Available at: http://www.apollo-magazine.com/william-eggleston-and-the-sound-of-silence/ (Accessed: 20 October 2016).

Own Research 1 – General Observations

Although the course material provides quite a few starting points, photographers and academic writings to explore, as ever, it is always better to carry out research of your own. This gives you a broader view of the subject you are studying (and beyond) and in theory should help you narrow down how to approach your own work, even if only how you DON’T want to proceed.

Because it is always handy to refer back to photographers and artists I have decided to link to my old blog exhibition visits 2008-2011 and also 2012-2013. It will also be interesting to see if my view has changed on any of them over time. In the 2012-2013 there were a few that I mentioned but never got round to writing up which were:

Sharing Photography and Photographs – Photography in a Connected Age 2013
Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize 2014
Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2014
Sony World Photography Award 2014
Klein+Brooklyn 2014
Steve McCurry Afghanistan 2014

Now, I may or may not get around to commenting on them, as I have so much else to read and mention. However, as some may be relevant to documentary they may get a heads up within posts and possibly even a full write up!

To add to that list  I have, since ending my old blog, also attended the following:

In Conversation: Simon Norfolk  and Julian Stallabrass. @Barbican 2014
In Conversation: Stephen Shore and Gerry Badger @Barbican 2014
In Conversation: Martin Parr with Kate Fox and Sean O’Hagan @ Science Museum 2014
Lartigue: Bibi 2014
11 Oct – 5 Jan 2014
Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2015
The Chinese Photobook 2015
Lifting The Curtain – Keith Greenough 2015
Drift Exhibition  – an exploration of contemporary urban environments 2015
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015
Syd Shelton – Rock against Racism 2015
Saul Leiter 2016
Gallery visit and book signing with Joel Meyerowitz 2016
Alec Soth Gathered Leaves 2016
Gallery visit and book signing with Edward Burtynsky 2016
In conversation: William Eggleston @NPG 2016

There maybe a few more that I popped along to during this time period but nothing that is standing out in my mind or that I have come across tickets or leaflets for, and I usually make sure I pick a few odds n ends up so that I can do a write up (or not!)

In attending these exhibitions, talks and book signings I have picked up a few good books:

Joel Meyerowitz – Taking my Time
Tom Hunter – The Way Home
Martin Parr – The Non-Conformists
Chris Killip – Seacoal
Edward Burtynsky – Essential Elements
Stephen Shore – Uncommon Places
Steve McCurry – Untold and In The Shadow of Mountains
Simon Norfolk – Burke + Norfolk

In the spirit of spending even more money and doing further research, I have just ordered Basics Creative Photography 02: Context and Narrative and renewed my BJP subscription; this month’s edition looks particularly relevant.

Hopefully, over the next few days I shall get my physical learning log started and the pile of tickets, leaflets and other ephemera will be stuck it with a view to annotation…

What makes a document? – Post Links

I felt the last post would have become overly long if I added any thoughts and reflections on the links within the WeAreOCA original post and responses so am commenting here instead.

The first link is from Jose himself advising us that context is “a necessary attribute in a documentary photograph, as it is clearly emphasized in a book a recently reviewed for We Are OCA.”

The post for that is here and on reading the entry it looks like a handy reference book to own so I have just ordered it, will update you as to its value as I read through it.

Jose 27 August 2011 at 5:56 pm due to the turn in the conversation posted a link to the BBC news with regards to the “leaping wolf” scandal.

“Your comment reminded me of a photograph which was eventually disqualified from the 2009 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.”What’s most interesting about this case is that we are not talking about digital fakery but a key piece of information which was disclosed and completely changed the way we responded to the image. And that’s because even though what the photograph shows is a wolf jumping, what it tell us is something about the quality of ‘being wild’. Once we know the wolf may have been trained to do the stunt our perception of the image totally changes. The quality ‘wild’ is immediately gone, even though the actual image is very much the same and real, as in, presumably, not the product of digital trickery.

In the context of the original question the shift for me became less that the photograph documented a wild animal but that it documented the lengths that some people will go to in order to enter and win a competition and that from now on the photographer will be linked to a cheating scandal.

Peter Haveland 28 August 2011 at 11:52 am added
For those who like to get their theory via fiction and drama try Stephen Poliakoff’s Shooting the past

All documents mediate that which they seek to document.

From reading the plot outline I gather his meaning is that some people only perceive photographs to have a value is they have context and narrative. I wholeheartedly concur that this is true as sadly years after my Dad died my Mum threw out a load of old photos because she didn’t know who they were! I didn’t realise this at the time as I am fascinated by old photos and have also been tracing my family tree. My father also served in Korea and she threw away all the photos he had of that time bar a few of him that are in really poor condition. If only I had a time machine to go back and rescue them!

Gareth 1 September 2011 at 8:15 pm also contributed
Some photos are documents as soon as they are written to the memory card of course, this startling example from Monday is a case in point. The editorial and comments however show how people bring their own meanings…

Which also supports my argument that images don’t have to have time to be considered a document.

Peter Haveland 3 September 2011 at 12:38 pm then added
Take a look at this chapter by John Berger

but I don’t think the link took me to where it should have…

Pdog19 17 November 2013 at 5:24 pm said
This is one of the more insightful reviews of the difference between photojournalism and documentary photography written by Antonin Kratochvil (Czech-born American photojournalist).

So I will have to make sure I take time to read the article in full but at a quick glance it states:

Photojournalism—in its instant shot and transmission—doesn’t show “life.” It neither has the time to understand it nor the space to display its complexity. The pictures we see in our newspapers show frozen instants taken out of context and put on a stage of the media’s making, then sold as truth. But if the Molotov cocktail-throwing Palestinian is shot in the next instant, how is that told? And what does that make him—a nationalist or terrorist? From the photojournalist, we’ll never know since time is of the essence, and a deadline always looms. Viewers can be left with a biased view, abandoned to make up their minds based on incomplete evidence.

Through documentary work, the photographer has a chance to show the interwoven layers of life, the facets of daily existence, and the unfettered emotions of the people who come under the camera’s gaze. When finally presented, viewers are encouraged to use their intelligence and personal experiences, even their scepticism, to judge. By eliciting associations and metaphors in the viewer, an image has the potential to stimulate all senses. But photographs that do not fulfil this potential remain visual data whose meaning is limited to the boundaries of the frame; the viewer is left to look, comprehend the information presented, and move on.

Nigel Monckton 25 November 2013 at 10:22 pm mentions
A document is “…any concrete or symbolic indexical sign, preserved or recorded toward the ends of representing, of reconstituting, or of proving a physical or intellectual phenomenon.” So says Suzanne Briet in ”What is documentation” – one of the founding texts of information science  On this basis both the balloon, and the image of the balloon are documents – the one of the power of a leader, the other of the existence of a particular balloon. The photo is also a secondary document, in that it references the message of the first document.

All which scarily echos Walton.

Peter Haveland 17 June 2014 at 10:22 am gives us more useful information
There is, currently, a scan of the article but much better to buy Berger and Mohr’s “Another Way of Telling” from which it comes.

but I hate reading PDFs so will possibly download and print it for later consumption.

jsumb20 June 2014 at 11:12 pm adds
Here’s Susie Linfield – author of the Cruel Radiance talking about Documentary, fascinating for all sorts of reasons that are explored on the Documentary course.

Having been to a Don McCullin talk I was interested in this artcle for many reasons. Possibly another post for another day but a snippet would be:

Throughout the book, Linfield asks herself – and us – questions such as: what does it mean to look at photographs depicting violence and suffering? Is the refusal to do that truly a form of respect? Why is this type of photography branded as voyeuristic, exploitation and pornography? What would solidarity with the people in such photographs mean? What would our understanding of the world be like without photographs and why do some thinkers maintain that a world without images would be a better one? What does it mean to acknowledge another human being’s suffering knowing that to truly understand it is often impossible? And how has the photography of political trauma and political witness responded to the radical changes in how war is made, and what it is made for, in the course of the past eight decades?

Anne Bryson 30 April 2016 at 11:23 pm states
I have read the posts of Folio, Anne and Peter, (September 11) questioning whether or not facts are really true. So that brings into question the images such as Felice Beato’s image of the massacre at Lucknow where he apparently arranged disinterred bodies in the foreground before taking his picture to stress the scale of the massacre.

Just like Andrew Gardner then…just because the bodies were moved does not make them less dead, the horror less real, the facts of war a lie, but the images themselves are not in a true sense ‘authentic.’ However they do still document truths and a moment of historical significance…

Leonie Broekstra 29 August 2016 at 1:20 pm adds
Phew, so many replies and ideas to ponder on! I read this article, that questions what makes a documentary and concludes that the question should be ‘when is a documentary?’

But I must admit to not reading any of that yet….again 23 pages of a PDF…

Despite this exercise being time consuming it certainly was worthwhile. I have picked up some useful documents to read and ordered a book which hopefully will further develop my theoretical understanding and inform my photographic practice.

What makes a document? -Realism

Highlighters. Highlighters – How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Gotta love a bit of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, almost as much asI love my highlighters. Do you think she would mind me appropriating her poem to describe my love of stationery? Or do you think, like some photographers, she would feel that her creation was not being put to a suitable purpose? When I nicked it for fun – to demonstrate my need for colourful writing implements – to talk about one of my modes for learning (I do enjoy a bit of kinesthetic “touchy-feely” learning. Seriously, I do find, despite using PDFs and reading PDFs, there is nothing better than to sit, pen in hand, frantically scribbling over bits of paper in front of me. When I get round to starting my physical learning log, hopefully next week, as I already have a pile of papers to insert, this will become more apparent) I wasn’t linking it to appropriation and usage, or Barthes but that’s the problem with immersing yourself into study mode. Everything links to photography! The other problem is branching off research…so I wrote “writing implement” and wondered “is there a better word for pen than that”…hmmm everything comes up with alternative words like trapped or sty so writing implement remained…the next thought was “where does the word ‘pen’ come from?” Easier to find and obvious really, original pens were invariably quills made from feathers, the word feather in Latin is Penna…so we learn everyday and not always solely that which we set out to learn!

But I have now been here for over half an hour and still not entered a post about what I am supposed to be doing..kicks self..Realism…

In the previous post concerning the history of documentary the emphasis was on how the images were used to capture historic moments, real places, real people, real events. The images placed in front of people were believable and believed. There appears to have been more trust placed in photography and its ability to accurately record a scene in front of the photographer. No-one then wondered if Andrew Gardner, renowned American Civil War photographer, had moved dead bodies into different positions, even going so far as taking them to different locations, adding props so he could record more powerful scenes. I liked the term coined by one of the commentators on this article; as Photoshop hadn’t been invented yet Gardner was in the habit of “realityshopping.”

Yet photography was, and is, used as a “documenting process” with the French Missions Héliographiques commissioned by the government to record their historic monuments, proffering an air of legitimacy to the art form:

Photography itself was the technical analogue to the absolute belief in the legitimacy of appearances, a belief whose philosophical expression was, of course, positivism and whose artistic expression was realism and naturalism. (Solomon-Godeau,1994 p.155)

And onto the exercise which is to read the first three sections (pp 1-8) of the essay “Transparent Pictures: On the Nature of Photographic Realism” by Kenneth L Walton and to write a reflective commentary in my learning log outlining my views on his ideas of photographic transparency… I have not read him before and have no inkling what this essay is about so diving in with fresh eyes and an open mind… see you in a while…

*update*

Well…that’s several hours of my morning gone! I have lots of thoughts opinions and side notes about this essay which can’t possibly be condensed into 200 words so what I shall do is waffle on about initial thoughts, and side research, then write a summary. I could probably do it in one word but that isn’t the aim of the game or possibly polite!

To begin, I like the way the essay opens up with quotes from opposing points of view. The first from André Bazin, a French critic, film theorist and social activist, who argues “The photographic image is the object itself,” and the other from Edward Steichen who stated that “Every photograph is a fake from start to finish.” However, that’s where I found myself feeling a bit dubious about the essay and as suspected he was taking Bazin’s quote literally. Or seemed to be arguing from that stance. Also Steichen, during World War I, had helped establish the first U.S. aerial reconnaissance operation and therefore knew the importance of accurate “real” images. Note the importance here of selective quotations to back up your argument or thesis as Bazin has also said about photographs that they are “a kind of decal or transfer” and “it is its tracings” which implies he recognises that they aren’t the object itself more of a copied image.

I’ll then jump to the final paragraph where Walton states “we have uncovered a major source of the confusion” within academic writings being the “failure to distinguish ….between a viewer’s really seeing something through a photograph and his fictionally seeing something directly.

My confusion seems to stem from all the flip flopping of the argument that Walton himself had. He tied himself in knots on the subject of Bazin; his language, I would go so far as to say was in places petty, simplistic and insulting, or is he merely using hyperbole to get his point across?

In the opening paragraph Walton tells us that Bazin and others consider photographs to be “extraordinarily realistic” and proceeds to rubbish his views from then on; one minute stating “perhaps we shouldn’t take his [Bazin’s] words [The photographic image is the object itself] literally” (another seriously dude? moment) then “there is no readily apparent non-literal reading of them” and that Bazin assumes ‘reality’ due to the mechanical process of capturing the image as opposed to “handmade” images. (down Walter Benjamin) Walton then states “That photography is a supremely realistic medium may be the common sense view,” citing Steichen to back him up that “it is by no means universal” casting doubt on this idea. However, reading on, Walton states “I shall argue that…it deserves to be called a supremely realistic medium.” Hang on I also just read him saying “My claim is we see quite literally, our dead relatives when we look at photographs.” Sorry, what? Or is he saying that Bazin was right just his reasoning was wrong? Or because Walton wasted a good bit of ink explaining what he meant by see we understand that he doesn’t mean his Grandfather is actually 8×6 whereas Bazin obviously meant that a lump of granite in California is that small…sorry being just as hypercritical as Walton.

I did find I agreed with many of the points he made to argue the case of public acceptance of images as factual, honest representations: the use of forensic photographs at trial, replays of sports events (think how useful goal mouth replays are now and racing photo-finishes) that certain images are regarded as invasion of privacy…if we argue photographs do not represent realism then we could argue that they are then not invading privacy.

Written in 1984 the essay touches upon photo-realistic paintings v photographs but skills appear to have moved on since then as can be seen here. This is mentioned as to separate why photographs are considered real and paintings aren’t, although both are representations and none are the thing itself (down Magritte). It is a slippery path to be on as you then get into the semantics of  them being interpretations by the photographer/artist and therefore open to the baggage each brings to the table. I did agree with his remarks that a photograph is always a photograph of something that actually exists despite it being disguised or playing a role, whereas a painting could be total fantasy eg his example of unicorns.

Then I fell about laughing at some of the examples of realism he gave; immediately after commenting on claims that the photographs of Abraham Lincoln are more realistic than paintings of him, is where he state that photography is special and deserves the label of being a “supremely realistic medium.”  Sorry what? I thought everyone knew about the stitching together of John Calhoun’s body and Lincoln’s head? Note the importance of choosing examples that  unequivocally support your argument.

There is a lot of repetition on the “special nature” of photography. I don’t see it as special just different. There is also a lot of emphasis on the interpretation of the word “see” as opposed to “perceive” oh, how easy it is to spend hours debating the meaning of a word. If I show someone a photograph and state “that’s my garden” I am sure they realise that I don’t mean it literally IS my garden, but rather a representation on paper or more likely on my phone, that we all understand  to be a perception of my garden.

Finally, five pages in we get to read about transparency, the main title of the essay. Walton argues that photographs are transparent, they enable us to have a perception of the world (Blink and you miss it) that seeing is a way to find out about the world and we see through photographs. How then can’t we see through paintings? If we look at a representation or whatever you want to call a photo and realise that it is just a snap shot in time and derive other information about it then why not the same of a painting. He chooses Henry the VIII as an example, saying we only see a representation of him and that a painting is fictional. But then he isn’t as fussy in his definition of fictional – being invented, make-believe or imaginary. If a true painting (and I’m not going down the route of constructed, politically biased paintings) Henry VIII it isn’t any of those. Although he might have argued that the painting of Anne of Cleeves was! For an image to be transparent, to be able to see the world through it you need to first understand the world it is partially describing.

Having read a lot about his Aunty Mabel she was probably grimacing because she’d just read his essay and had to summarise her view in 200 words! But I guess that is now what I need to do…

‘Transparent Pictures: On the Nature of Photographic Realism’ by Kenneth L Walton

On reading the title I assumed that Transparent Pictures meant seeing the truth of and behind the images taken rather than seeing the world through them, but I was incorrect it was more conceptual. I don’t feel that on reaching the end of the sections I had to read Walton had ever reached any real conclusion of his own with regards to realism, as he does in places seem to argue against his own points. At the end of page 8 he acknowledges that there are differing points of view; confusion lies within those views due to a total failure to distinguish between accepting a photograph that can help you perceive the existence of an object/person and, through that an idea of the world beyond, and fictionally seeing something directly. This can be explained a little more clearly if you listen to an interview here which I found through another blog where Walton expands that if you see a photograph of Judy Garland dressed as Dorothy you see a photograph of Judy Garland but a picture of Dorothy.

His tone when discussing Bazin was disconcerting and examples and quotes did not necessarily help to prove many of the points he was trying to make, nor did his inconsistency when using the word ‘literally.’ I found it difficult to understand in places, not due to any technical jargon or confusing concepts just that he seemed to jump about a bit with his ideas.

Whilst I agree with a few of his observations on how and why the realism or accepted realism of images can be maintained, it all seemed to fall apart in places, maybe that’s because I felt aggravated by the points made above. To answer the exercise question of what do I think about photographic transparency I have to admit that I agree with his statement of seeing the world through photographs and that cameras and photography have opened up a new way of seeing. Although a person’s experiences, background and preexisting knowledge of the world will impact on that transparency. I don’t think it is special just different.

Some things to note for myself and future essay writing: the importance of good quotes, the importance of not appearing to undermine your own argument and to be coherent with points being made.

References

Copyright (2016) André Bazin – cinema and media studies – Oxford bibliographies – obo. Available at: http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199791286/obo-9780199791286-0006.xml (Accessed: 16 October 2016).

Heppenheimer, T.A. (2006) Steichen’s navy. Available at: http://www.airspacemag.com/military-aviation/steichens-navy-11442318/?no-ist (Accessed: 16 October 2016).

Solomon-Godeau Salzmann – documents (2015) Available at: http://docslide.us/documents/solomon-godeau-salzmann.html (Accessed: 16 October 2016).

The bizarre practice of staging civil war photographs (2014) Available at: http://knowledgenuts.com/2014/11/24/the-bizarre-practice-of-staging-civil-war-photographs/ (Accessed: 16 October 2016).

Defining Documentary – Robbie Cooper

This was a new name for me to research, which is always a fun thing to do :o) Robbie Cooper was born in 1969 and therefore has been brought up in a world where there has been quite a few technological advancements that would have been gradually introduced throughout his childhood and early adulthood. A few years younger than me, he would have seen colour TVs appear, have had less than 4 TV channels, possibly not had PCs at school and laughs at 1980’s films where brick like mobile phones were considered state of the art, but unlike even younger people remembers owning one!

Maybe it then comes as no surprise that whilst discussing the gaming world, with a client he was photographing, and how we interact within the virtual world, he was fascinated by how real life people see themselves when venturing out into the ether.

Starting in 2002 Cooper travelled the world for three years, capturing images of 62 virtual world players, placing their portraits next to their avatars. (Games/platforms such as Lineage, Second Life, City of Heroes, Everquest and World of Warcraft) The resultant photographs have been described as:

” poignant, powerful, remarkably eye-opening….fascinating and [a] profoundly human glimpse of our quest for self-hood, identity, and social belonging”

His book,  Alter Ego: Avatars and their Creators – published in 2007 – also contains micro-essays by each gamer  that “offer a layered look at how we assemble our personas in a way that transcends the physicality of our bodies, our genetics, and our circumstances.”

It amused me that he had a virtual launch party for the book.

On looking at some of the examples online I found that write up to be accurate. People swapped genders, looked like themselves, but older or younger, whilst others used the opportunity to transform themselves into hero figures, or merely wished to appear normal in a virtual world where in their day to day existence they fail to be recognised by anything other than their colour or disability.

I think that this series of photographs not only serves to document a fascinating period in our technological advancements  and an amazing pop culture phenomena, but there is an insight into how people choose or view their own identities. I strongly identify with living in a virtual world, I connect with friends around the globe through Facebook, previously I have been a moderator for a large ISP volunteering to host chat rooms and monitor message boards. In these worlds people were just words on a screen, you could choose the colour and style of font, use add-on programmes to share music with each other and have private IMs where you could be anyone you wanted to be. We didn’t have avatars, but if you swapped images who knew if they were real, and occasionally they would be cartoons or obviously fake. Most of the time I “sat” in my red velvet dungeon with whips n wellies with a Kevlar vest ready to hand in case the natives got restless! Good job they couldn’t see me in my dressing gown, biscuit in hand sat in a computer chair held together with gaffer tape! And now I communicate across the world with other students some of whom I have met others wave across the wires… oh and Habbo Hotel…bit of a fad, we didn’t use that much but was a giggle for a while… it’s ok, you can run away and slam the door behind you now…

Each of the participants personal accounts “provide a richness of detail and honest psychological insight to each of the players and how they relate to, and value, their alter egos.” I can also empathise with this. The volunteer programme I worked with was cancelled and we had to delete our host names by a certain deadline, we all sat in a chat room watching all familiar names vanish from our “buddy lists” one by one… Even now many years on it still feels slightly raw thinking about the close knit community we had that went overnight. I still keep in contact with some but it isn’t the same. Without having the book and reading all the information it’s hard to say if their emotional investment comes across, but to anyone who doubts, the virtual world is far more real than can be imagined.

For me this body of work is, on a personal level, a fantastic example of visual ethnography and of how modern technology can influence new documentary work.

In particular the quote in the coursework really rang true for me:

A documentary [photograph,film] takes an audience to an existing or past reality and is so compelling that they can empathise with mind, emotion and imagination. In that sense documentary is an ambitious creative and critical enterprise (de Jong, Knudsen & Rothwell, 2011, p23)

I have written a lot about Alter Egos but in 2008, inspired by his previous body of work, Cooper began to work on a similar project called Immersion.  The photographs are taken from from head-on film footage of children as they play video games such as Halo 3, Call of Duty, GTA 4, Tekken and Star Wars Battlefront. Using a technique developed by film maker Errol Morris dubbed “Interrotron”,’ where autocues were adapted to project the screen display of the game on to the lens of the camera,  therefore capturing the intense expressions of concentration as the children immerse themselves into these games.  Given the violent nature of some the mix of deadpan or relish is quite disconcerting.

Planned as an ongoing project it is disappointing that all links to  his webpages seem to be dead so I couldn’t discover much about the final end result. This is a great example of visual ethnography ; Cooper collaborating with a psychologist and sociologist “to interpret the results in light of the psychological profiles of the individual children.” Whilst I found this interesting to watch and, as a parent relate-able, I did not find it as emotionally engaging as Alter Egos. But it is an excellent example of how to develop and sustain a practice, of how one project can influence another and, by collaborating, can open your work up to different audiences. When asked if what he was doing was either sociological research or an art project, Cooper emphatically replied, ‘Both.’

A link to some of the video footage can be found here.

‘It seems possible that there’s a link between violent games and social aggression, bullying or exclusion; but whether the violent game is the biggest factor in that, it’s hard to say. I think a lot of what has been said so far about the effect of media violence on children doesn’t take into consideration the psychological make-up of individual kids, and how big an impact the different types of media violence have on different children.’

References:

*, N. (2014) MY AVATAR, MY ALTER EGO – the other. Available at: http://www.the-other.info/2014/avatar-alter-ego (Accessed: 15 October 2016).
(*, 2014)

Cawston, R. (2030) ‘Alter ego: Avatars and their creators’, Robbie Cooper. Available at: https://www.opendemocracy.net/arts/alterego_4620.jsp (Accessed: 15 October 2016).
(Cawston, 2030)

Cooper, R. and LensCulture (no date) Alter ego: Avatars and their creators – photographs by Robbie Cooper. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/robbie-cooper-alter-ego-avatars-and-their-creators (Accessed: 15 October 2016).

(Cooper and LensCulture, no date)
Leith, S. (2008) The immersion project. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/3563534/The-Immersion-project.html (Accessed: 15 October 2016).
(Leith, 2008)

Popova, M. (2011) Alter ego: Portraits of Gamers next to their Avatars. Available at: https://www.brainpickings.org/2011/12/14/alter-ego-robbie-cooper/ (Accessed: 15 October 2016).
(Popova, 2011)

Robbie, C. (2008) Immersion. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/video/magazine/1194833565213/immersion.html (Accessed: 15 October 2016).
(Robbie, 2008)

Defining Documentary – Robert Howlett

In the course notes there is a mention of an iconic image of Isambard Kingdom Brunel by Robert Howlett. Although I though I knew the image I never knew the photographer so thought I would do a little light reading…

howlett
Portrait of Robert Howlett – Turner,Benjamin Brecknell 1815-1894

Apparently, Robert Howlett was one of the first photographers to make a successful living from the relatively new “art” of photography. Prior to the early 1850’s the majority of photographers were considered amateurs who progressed to photography from either the sciences or painting. In 1856 Howlett began to exhibit his work at the Photographic Society in London, joining the Photographic Institution established by Joseph Cundall- a photographer and publisher- also one of the founding members of what would be known as the Royal Photographic Society. In about 1855 Cundall and Howlett went into partnership establishing a commercial photography studio in London.

A bit of an entrepreneur, Howlett  also designed and sold portable darkroom tents, writing a booklet called On the Various Methods of Printing Photographic Pictures upon Paper, with Suggestions for Their Preservation. 

Howlett was commissioned by the painter William Powell Frith, and Prince Albert, who wished  him to photograph frescoes at Buckingham Palace. He also received a royal commission to copy the works of Raphael.

Howlett and Cundall were commissioned also by Queen Victoria to photograph soldiers returning from the Crimean War, a war that was notorious for some of the worst military and logistical incompetence in the history of the British Army. More of a traditionalist, Cundall took studio portraits whilst Robert Howlett travelled to the naval dockyards and the veteran’s hospital at Woolwich experimenting with “environmental portraiture.”

One could speculate that at this point Robert Howlett grasped the potential for photography to influence a large audience, “catching… the imagination of the rich and powerful, and of the public at large.”   One of his best known bodies of work would probably be a commission, in 1857, on behalf of the Illustrated Times newspaper, for Cundall and Howlett to document the construction of the steamship The Great Eastern. …who said documentary photographs weren’t commissioned?

Understanding the power of good PR and what  photography could achieve Brunel agreed to the Times’ photo session – his partner had gone bankrupt and was almost there himself and he hoped to attract new investors.Over a number days Robert photographed Brunel in a variety of poses:

We can see how Howlett fine tuned the pose in front of the chains on one of the Great Eastern’s launching drums. In the first version Brunel is semi seated, his short legs foreshortened. In the second he appears inappropriately nonchalant, Then in the final, iconic image Brunel is quietly confident and master of all he surveys. Howlett had tightened the crop, the background nothing more than those massive black chains.

Sadly it didn’t end on a happy note for any of the main characters concerned; the Great Eastern became stuck in its dry moorings and took several more tries to get it waterborne at its launch, on September 5th, 1859, on the eve of its first sailing, Brunel suffered what proved to later be a fatal stroke when four days later, a heater abroad the ship exploded, killing six people. The tragic news is said to have hastened Brunel’s death ten days later on September 15th. SS Great Eastern never became a passenger ship instead she was used as a cable-laying vessel. Even sadder than that Howlett died nearly 12 months earlier at the age of 27. Although his death certificate says he died of a fever many now question his photographic practices and blame the constant overexposure to photographic chemicals.

References

Collections, A. (2016) Portrait of Robert Howlett | Turner, Benjamin Brecknell | V&A search the collections. Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O181757/portrait-of-robert-howlett-photograph-turner-benjamin-brecknell/ (Accessed: 12 October 2016).
In-line Citation:
(Collections, 2016)

Robert Howlett (British, 1831 – 1858) (Getty museum) (no date) Available at: http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/artists/1691/robert-howlett-british-1831-1858/ (Accessed: 12 October 2016).
In-line Citation:
(Robert Howlett (British, 1831 – 1858) (Getty museum), no date)

Gallery, N.P. (2016) Isambard kingdom Brunel – national portrait gallery. Available at: http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw00867/Isambard-Kingdom-Brunel?LinkID=mp07141&role=art&rNo=0 (Accessed: 12 October 2016).
In-line Citation:
(Gallery, 2016)

White, D. (no date) The light shone and was spent: Robert Howlett and the power of photography. Available at: http://www.photohistories.com/Photo-Histories/51/robert-howlett-and-the-power-of-photography (Accessed: 12 October 2016).
In-line Citation:
(White, no date)

Random Research

I am going to use this post as a “sticky note” for the terms I come across that I need to look up as I come across them:

Visual ethnography:

Ethnography is the study and interpretation of social organisations and cultures in everyday life. It is a research-based methodology, and when this research is conducted using photography, video or film, it is called visual ethnography

Artangel (no date) Visual ethnography. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/e/ethnography-visual (Accessed: 11 October 2016).
(Artangel, no date)

Paradigm:

a typical example or pattern of something; a pattern or model.

Postmodernism:

a late 20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism, which represents a departure from modernism and is characterised by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories.

The term postmodernism is used to describe the changes that took place in Western society and culture from the 1960’s onwards that arose from challenges made to established structures and belief systems. In art, postmodernism was specifically a reaction against modernism which had dominated art theory and practice since the beginning of the twentieth century.

http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/p/postmodernism

Tendentious:

expressing or intending to promote a particular cause or point of view, especially a controversial one.

Metalinguistics:

a branch of linguistics that deals with the relation between language and other cultural factors in a society

Metacritical:

A criticism of criticism, the goal of which is to scrutinize systematically the terminology, logic, and structure that under-gird critical and theoretical discourse in. general or any particular mode of such discourse.

Ontology:

a study or concern about what kind of things exist; the nature of being; a set of concepts in a subject area or domain that shows their properties and relations between them.

Plastic Arts:

term broadly applied to all visual arts

Chiaroscuro:

This is an Italian term which literally means ‘light-dark’. In paintings the description refers to clear tonal contrasts which are often used to suggest the volume and modelling of the subjects depicted.