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The Fast Dry project has been a progressive development in thought, idea and concept throughout. The premise was to bring extra emotion and depth to my images via an unconventional and abstract technique. I wanted to do something that was fresh and innovative and outside of the realm of my normal practice. Photography on a whole is still rather new to me. Having only picked up a camera 18 months ago, I am still getting comfortable with the medium in terms of shooting and struggle somewhat in confidence. This project enabled me to ponder over the many possibilities obtainable and I can now say I have embraced a new form of understanding; that photography can encompass so much more and there is a potential to push boundaries and create my own form of documentary that feels comfortable to me. Furthermore, I have become increasingly aware of how photojournalism and art are becoming more readily combined and can debatably add newfound gravitas or magnitude to an image. Doing something that concerned myself with this ideology seemed appealing. Now to explain the project itself in further detail. For The Fast Dry Project I attempted to utilise the technique of double exposures using a digital camera but with an additional twist. I have brought an element of self into each image through application of a colour in the second of the two exposures, each different colour representative of my emotion or mood toward the subject in or of that of the first exposure. For example, in one image I have captured a couple sharing a kiss, which is then layered with the colour yellow as an expression of happiness. In another, I have taken an image of angry protesters during a demo and then layered it with a dash of red as a representation of the general air of ire and passion in the scene. I feel the unique aspect in all this is through my use of spray paint; a tangible, analogue medium contrasted/crossed with the digital medium of photography. When first contemplating what it was I wanted out this my re-think project, I envisioned supplying something that accompanied the images. Something extra per-se to add context and further depth. Each colour seen in the final set of images is a direct snapshot of a spray paint mark from the large piece of A2 card. The result on the A2 card is a direct representation of all emotions felt and explored, standing alone of the photographic images and represented as one. My thought was that if ever there be a chance to exhibit, having something more than photographs may also be an attractive, unique feature or selling point which compliments the body of work.
b Exploration and production
Since exploring photography in further depth and increasing my awareness of other photographers and their practice, I have become attracted to those that combine other practical mediums as a means to enforce a message or visual attractiveness alone. For example, Maurizio Anzeri, whose prints I first saw at the 20 Years of Dazed and Confused Magazine exhibition, Somerset House (2012) was of inspiration to me. ‘Maurizio Anzeri is an Italian artist who turns vintage photographs into canvases. Using different coloured threads, he traces portraits with stitches and transforms ghost like images into eye catching, intricate designs.’ (Cook, 2011).
Bernard, Giovanni and Barnaba. Embroidery on print. Maurizio Anzeri (2010)
I was also keen to make colour the crux of the project. The idea to correlate image colour with my moods was something I’d had at the back of my mind for some time so took the chance to think further expand on this. I believe myself to be hypersensitive to emotions and circumstances so building this into a body of photography felt like something worthy of exploring. An image from Adam Broomberg and Ollie Chanarin’s collection, People in Trouble Laughing Pushed to the Ground, resonated with me.
Political 1 sheet 19, People in Trouble Laughing Pushed to the Ground, 2010. Although the concept behind the duo’s photographic set is very different – they looked at a picture archive in Belfast and analysed the coloured dots and marks that appeared, denoted in the formal editing process – the impact, the emotions aroused and tensions that are stresses was the effect I wanted to bring to my own work.
Ideally, I wanted to move away from working digitally; I find working with analogue to be particularly therapeutic and of a slower, more thought provoking pace. I questioned how I could manipulate film to induce colour, ie, burning the negative or exposing it to light but after looking online at the results others had achieved, I felt the outcome to be too random, which was not what I wanted. I’d wondered also about applying a colour cast over an entire image and how this could be achieved. I asked some of my peers and the conclusion we came to is that this could be done in the colour darkroom but the technicalities were far beyond any of our knowledge and perhaps be too ambitious for this moment in time. In addition, I was not even convinced an all over colour was what I desired and was still keen to explore other options.
Ironically, in the process of researching, I came across a photographer who is actually using this technique already. David Benjamin Sherry, who’s work is currently on exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery’s Out of Focus: Photography, casts colours at exposure or later during printing, with the kind of colour and cast dependant on his mood. Stumbling upon his collection was both encouraging but frustrating; a distinct reminder many ideas have been done before but that there’s room for reinvention.
All Matterings Of Mind Equal One Violet
Lemurian Morning Wood. All David Benjamin Sherry, 2011.
Eventually I arrived at the idea of double exposures. I thought that if I could take one shot, a framed image, the second shot could be of a colour and I could layer them together in this way. But how would the colour part be achieved? Spray paint came to mind almost immediately and striked me as an ideal medium to experiment with. It’s quick, current (I am not alone in loving street art!) and I’ve worked it into prior personal projects when creating large collages on canvas.
As mentioned, I was quite keen to work with film. I knew already I was able to conduct and somewhat manipulate double exposures on my digital camera but I had never experimented in this way with 35mm. And so I took a variety of shots whereby I combined a number of different exposure settings in hope to find an ideal balance where the spray paint would show through strong enough. I took one shot of my subject then asked him to hold up a bit of paper with a spray paint mark on it for the second shot. I did two sequences, alternating between the colours of blue and yellow for variation. I kept note of my settings.
I concluded that the results didn’t show the colours strong enough, nor were the results were satisfactory reliable. I opted to stick with digital.
At this point I began to research colour psychology to get an idea of which feelings were supposedly related to what colours but found opinions varied. ‘While perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, there are some color effects that have universal meaning. Colors in the red area of the color spectrum are known as warm colors and include red, orange and yellow. These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility. Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.’ (Cherry, 2012) Ultimately I drew up my own set of colour codes: RED – Passion, anger, ire, brutality. YELLOW – Love, happiness, joy, humour. GREEN – Intellect, prosperity, creativity, wealth. LIGHT BLUE – Calm, peace, serenity. DARK BLUE – Sadness, confusion, alienation.
And so I set to work, still at this point experimenting (my Dad is a great sport!)
Next I took to the streets; here were some shots I took whilst out and about. I carried the marked pieces of paper round with me (pictured before) to see how realistic the possibility was to double expose on the spot. I’d hoped to conduct the entire process in a guerrilla style fashion whereby I carried my large A2 card (or ideally a large canvas), took a photo of something, then marked the canvas immediately and took the second exposure. This, I felt, would add to the authenticity of the process and be an immediate depiction of emotion from that moment. What I found however, was that this is quite simply highly impractical and inconvenient. Note, colours codes somehwat irrelevant here.
b Achieving the final result
By way of somewhat failure, what came next was an intent understanding that I needed to have a better, more solid plan by way of a shot list. This itself caused me to re-think my practice as a whole so as not to work with such haste. To stop and think a bit more, to consider the imagery and message I am trying to convey. As a result, I drew up a list of places to go in and in turn was direct and strategic in the shots I desired. What’s included in my final set of images adhere to the list I drew up. The only difference is that I had planned to include images of landscapes for the light blue colour. However, once I began piecing the project together, the images did not work as part of the collection and so I opted to omit them. Over the re-think period, I collected these images and admittingly ended up having to delve into my own photographic archive for images to use such as the demo shots. I felt there was no way I could have found some of these in time and they were too specific in type. This is the kind of imagery I could acquire over the course of my photographic career with less time constraints. The images I decided to use all put onto my CF card, which was then put in my camera. I would double expose one picture at a time, marking the A2 card with spray paint as I made my way through the set. Continue to the set…
The Saatchi Gallery.
Where a homeless person sleeps.
A used gas canister fired by Greek police during a demo.
Father and child.
V is for Vendetta.
Rush hour. Victoria Station.
The raising of batons, London.
In a world of their own.
Reflecting on the Brixton Riots.
Turf wars, SE26. ‘A teenager was chased through a park in South-East London and killed when he was stabbed with a knife, which pierced his heart.’ - BBC, 2011.
(Supplied with project)
I am conscious now of how there is little punch to the images as a set; the subjects simply aren’t strong enough. I would have liked to have produced something more controversial and hard hitting, more thought provoking, but alas I fear I was sidetracked by the technicalities of the project than the story or message itself. Coming to acknowledge this has been, I believe, part of the lesson and learning curve. I see now that too often I am hung up on the technical practice and so the main point, the narrative, suffers. I have taken from this to be more confident in my ability at a competent photographer and instead focus on strengthening my subject matter. I intend to peruse this project further and take it to the next level, my aim being to use the same concept but add political context. I believe the methodology itself to be good, but needs development. Finding appropriate photos is something I will work on over a long period of time and could be an ongoing task whilst working in the field. I aim to get stronger frames, stronger subject matters and overall strengthen the set as a whole.
b Synopsis (idealistically!)
The Fast Dry Project is a creative collaboration of mediums that explores and evokes emotions within an image. Using double exposures and armed with spray paint, photographer Mary Stamm-Clarke attempts to depict the feelings in a moment in a guerilla-like style. Each colour is a mark to capture the overall emotion and all marks are seen as one on the accompanying A2 canvas. Via the images, one is taken on a journey of happiness to sadness, anger to calm, urging the viewer to think about what it is they personally might feel toward that moment and perhaps challenge the photographer’s interpretation.
“20 Years of Dazed & Confused Magazine” Somerset House. Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA. [exhibition] 4 November 2011 - 29 January 2012 Barnbaum, Bruce. (2010). The Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression. [book] Santa Barbara, CA: Rocky Nook Publishing Broomberg, Adam and Chanarin, Ollie. (2012). People in Trouble Laughing Pushed to the Ground. [online] http://www.paradiserow.com/exhibitions/50/ Cherry, Kenda. (2012). Color Psychology How Colors Impact Moods, Feelings, and Behaviours. [online] Available at: http://psychology.about.com/od/sensationandperception/a/colorpsych.htm Heinrich, Christoph. (1998). Emotions and Relations Foto Series. [book] Berlin: Taschen GmbH Hirsch, Robert. (2011). Exploring Color Photography Fifth Edition: From Film to Pixels, 5th Edition. [book] Waltham: Focal Press “Out of Focus Photography” Saatchi Gallery. King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY. [exhibition] 25 April – 22 July 2012 Saatchi Gallery (2012) Selected Works by David Benjamin Sherry. [online] http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/ artists/david_benjamin_sherry.htm?section_name=photography Wright, Angela. (1998). The beginners guide to colour psychology. [book] London : Colour Affects LTD. Yatzer. (2011). The Embroidered Secrets of Maurizio Anzeri. [online] http://www.yatzer.com/The-embroidered-secrets-of-Maurizio-Anzeri
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