a.Presentation to and feedback from OCA Thames Valley Group Meeting on 21st March 2020
Due to the emerging coronavirus pandemic and pending UK Lockdown on 23rd March this meeting was held online via a Zoom meeting and use of accompanying OCA online padlet. Tutor Jayne Taylor was also in attendance.
With formal Assessment pending for July I thought this would be a good opportunity to do some more thinking about Assignment 1 and my use of an infra-red camera. This would be the second time I had presented work on Assignment 1 to student colleagues (see here https://catherinebankslnd.wordpress.com/2018/09/25/assignment-1-looking-beyond-the-light-an-uncanny-view-of-a-familiar-landscape/ where I refer to online feedback from the Landscape Hangout on the student forum
I uploaded a written presentation to OCA TV Group Padlet (see below) but also gave a verbal presentation during the meeting.
My questions were
- Have I provided enough ‘proof’ that infra-red is appropriate
- Is my ‘new’ statement sufficient or should I include explicit reference to the John Berger quote on the forest as metaphor?
The feedback was most helpful. One group member queried why I was doing further work on assignment 1 as this wasn’t included in the Assessment process itself but as a diagnostic tool for the Module to begin a dialogue with my tutor. I explained that, due to my tutor’s original querying of my use of infra-red I felt it important to make sure that I had explored this as thoroughly as possible. People agreed that I had provided enough ‘proof’ on the use of infra-red but should remove the image of the clock as this no longer seemed appropriate to my theme – although one person thought it was extremely unworldly.
There was general agreement that I should include the John Berger reference in my ‘new’ artist statement to accompany the work.
In terms of presentation, and as a digital assessment process is now very likely, one suggestion was to try a slideshow perhaps using PowerPoint and also to have a white frame around it. Jayne Taylor suggested that I could create a montage where the usual green of the woods merged into red – I had already included in the presentation three images – infra-red; normal colour; and normal colour with a red Photoshop fill-layer applied through different blending modes – concluding that, “the true infra-red still has a sense of being in a different space – more other worldly (with the shade of the red varying according to the ambient sunlight) because it is a light that exists normally unseen and when it is captured it infuses the photographs”.
Further written comments were added to the online Padlet after the meeting ended:-
- I definitely like the red as a sequence. Other images could be added front and back to give the impression of entering another world (the forest). I would need to read your assignment as a whole but for me it is the contextual side that needs to make the link between forest – uncanny – unseen and unseen – IR.
- I understand the suggestion to remove the first image. Even so, I think it is extremely otherworldly, almost surreal. Maybe it would work as the final image?
- I love these images Catherine – especially where the contrast is a bit higher. Well done.
- I look forward to seeing the final presentation, I love the idea behind using them – disrupting our normal way of seeing. I do think you’d enjoy a little video by Donald Hoffman (the book’s good too but a video might suffice)
- Hi Catherine, thanks for sharing your work with us all on Saturday. The images and text work very well together and the quote from John Berger is very neat and apt, especially the references to the kind of ‘negative space’ of the forest and the ‘’intangible’. It would make a good introduction to the piece.
Do you have a title for the work?
As mentioned in the session, I think you’d find it enjoyable and rewarding to experiment some more with the images and perhaps try a collage or blended approach in response to your tutor’s comment about wanting to “see some normal images too”. Perhaps you could have both infrared and ‘normal’ elements within the frame? It would be worth experimenting and recording the process in your learning log, even if you decide ultimately not to go down this road.
- I particularly like your original ‘red images’ – very sublime. I’m impressed that you’re reworking your first assignment – but then again I have to restart mine!
b.Further viewing and reading
I have looked at the suggested video on YouTube, “The Case Against Reality | Prof. Donald Hoffman on Conscious Ageny Theory”, premiered on 9 Nov 2019. This video is almost two hours in length but there is also a shorter one of a TED Talk, “Do we see reality as it is?”. In essence Hoffman believe that ‘Rather than as a set of absolute principles, reality is best understood as a set of phenomena our brain constructs to guide our behaviour. To put it simply: we actively create everything we see, and there is no aspect of reality that does not depend on consciousness”. He uses the example of a video game and how the viewer sees characters in a game whereas the reality is that it’s a pixellated screen with circuits and software hidden behind the screen. There is much that exists in the world which is unseen by humans -such as infrared, microwaves and x-rays.
Hoffman would say that evolution does not shape us to see all of the truth, only that which we need to stay alive. So far as infra-red is concerned I’d have to research as to whether our eyes were never capable of seeing it or if this has an evolutionary advantage, so we have adapted to not seeing infrared (given that some other creatures, such as snakes do have infrared vision).
Recap/Reminder: I used an infrared (converted) camera for this Assignment because of its ability to capture an image which is infused by the kind of light which cannot be seen by the normal human eye. The RAW images are a pinkish colour and I decided to stay with this rather than convert to the more usual distinctive black and white or psychedelic images which can be created in processing software. I think the red has a softer, more dreamy effect which encourages the eye to roam as opposed to the sharper black and white or colour tones which are more startling (see here https://photographylife.com/introduction-to-infrared-photography
There are now eight images excluding the one with the clock. To begin with I had thought of just presenting photographic prints, given this is Assignment 1, and has printed some of the images on Permajet Titanium Lustre Metallic paper the sheen of which suits the idea of a different kind of light. I now began to wonder about other ways of presenting – say in an Exhibition – perhaps a lightbox would be a good idea. I printed A5 size images onto Permajet Digital Transfer film; placed them, two at a time on an A4 lightbox I have and re-photographed them.
It was obvious that the light from the lightbox had affected the colour of the images. So, as an experiment, I then did some adjustments using the Selective colour channel in Photoshop. Each image had to be adjusted individually in its proportions of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black and I then used a high pass filler. Contacts sheet below to show the difference
I then did further test prints – using two further papers – Hahnemuhle smooth photo rag Book & Album 220 gsm and Permajet Portfolio 220 gsm. The Permajet paper captures the colour more accurately but contrast is lost and there is loss of detail in the image. The Hahnemuhle paper provides a sharper contrast between all the different shades of red and has a velvety feel although the colour has too much magenta there so would need to be tweaked for that paper. Of course, neither of the papers, being matte, capture the glowing effect of the Permajet Titanium Lustre paper I used to begin with. It isn’t possible to show enough of the differences on-line so this is an occasion where face to face feedback is needed. Overall, I’m thinking that these infrared images are probably more suitable for viewing online so will take this into account when preparing for the digital assessment submission. I’ll do another short blog post to present my personal statement and the final choice.