Whitechapel Gallery on a monthly basis organise an tour of exhibitions in South East London and my exhibition was selected as 1 of the top 5 exhibitions. They arranged with the gallery that the tour would visit the gallery as one of the last stops on the tour and therefore I arranged to keep the gallery open until 9pm for the tour.
Being featured on the Whitechapel Gallery website resulted in a steady stream of visitors to the gallery through out the evening with people asking questions about the exhibition and my motivation for creating the work. Some of the people had very personal stories about the impact Brexit would have on them. I was a asked by one group if any pro Brexit people had visited the exhibition? My view is that I have tried to put on a show that does not show bias for leaving or staying part of the European Union instead I am asking the question ‘What do you want from the future relationship with the European Union?’
The main group from the Whitechapel Gallery arrived at just after 9pm and I provided the group with a short talk about the work and answered questions from the audience. A gentlemen from Austria asked me why I referred to the United Kingdom in a way that suggested it was not part of Europe. Though I felt I had not displayed any form of bias when creating the work my use of language could lead someone to infer that I felt the United Kingdom was somehow separate from Europe. Whereas the gentlemen felt that the United Kingdom was indeed part of Europe. This has made me consider my use of language and how that might infer unintentional bias in the way I communicate my projects. Another person commented on the melancholy colours from the blue hour landscapes and the haunting effect it created within the space.
The Whitechapel Gallery tour provided an opportunity for additional exposure, it provided me with additional feedback that I can take into my practice for development of this project in other locations and future projects. The visitors had the chance to hear directly from the artist behind the work instead of having the intent translated or replayed by an intermediary which can result in additional meaning being inferred on the work that does not exist.
In addition to the video piece I decided to include audio in the exhibition in the form of a morse code version based on the letter that formally triggered Article 50. Unlike the video I did not want it to be a continuous loop instead I wanted it to be spectator triggered. The trigger device would be a Morse Key that would start the morse code transmission.
Similar to the video piece a Raspberry Pi micro computer was selected as the brain of the piece. In this case I needed to have an interface module to detect the Morse Key being depressed.
After conducting some research on the internet I found a design for the hardware and an associate code segment using the Pi’s GPIO module.
I built up the module and ran a few tests which showed that the breadboard module was fragile and it did not trigger the audio consistently.
Based on my own production values and with a weather eye to future installations where the piece might be left unattended for long periods of time I decided to search for a more robust solution.
A second internet search identified a company sf-innovations who make interface modules for the Raspberry Pi used under the banner Custard Pi. I order the 8 digital I/O module. This module mounts directly on the the Raspberry Pi resulting in a more robust installation.
The following day the module arrived so time to install write a new script and test the new rig. The tests resulted in a much more stable solution where the Morse Key successful triggered the test audio file.
Next steps are to procure some authentic 2 core cable to connect the Morse Key to the Raspberry Pi. Source a box to install the micro computer, speaker, power supplies and adapter cables.
The current version of the wall text contained two diary entries one from a time in the 1990s where I was commuting to Europe to work for the first time and a second entry dated from around the start of my journey to consider Brexit.
Though recent impasse within government and events of the last week have led me to consider revising the strategy to reflect recent changes.
My revised strategy is to break the text into smaller segments representing different dates in the Brexit timeline aligned to points along the journey from Tilbury to Harwich. This approach allows me to revised the text and include information that covers recent events.
The initial revision has split the text into three sections though it leaves the middle section significantly longer than the other two. Splitting the middle section into at least two diary entries could provide a more balanced presentation without loosing meaning.
The intention for the exhibition is to have two video installation pieces and an audio piece. The two video pieces are intended for monitors however it is important that the video sequences are on a repeat loop. When discussing this with Wendy in a 121 tutorial the advice was to find a solution that would ensured that the pieces would function without any complex setup. Based on this feedback I started to do some research on technology solutions that provide a reliable platform for operation in the gallery space.
One of the video pieces will be displayed on the check-in monitor from Terminal 1 Departures which was purchased from the recent Heathrow Terminal 1 auction. When in the terminal the monitors were controlled by Citrix terminals mounted on the back of the monitor. This would provide the processing capability to run the video clips on that monitor. However it Citrix boxes were running unsupported version of windows plus the power supply was missing.
The second video piece is intended to run on a new TV screen my initial thought for this piece was to place the video on a memory stick and use the devices internal video player, however they do not automatically start when the device is powered on.
Therefore it was time to undertake some research to find an alternative solution. After a few days of research I decided that using a micro computer such as the Raspberry Pi with appropriate software would provide me with the required solution. The only downside of the Raspberry Pi solution is it is not capable of driving the 4K monitor I wanted to use for one of the pieces. Therefore an alternative solution would be required to resolve the piece for that installation.
Having selected the Raspberry Pi as the primary platform for delivery the next task was to find an stable solution to play video loops. Reviewing posts on the different Raspberry Pi forums contained posts where people posted issues with getting the Pi to play seamless loops. I did consider creating custom scripts which given my technology background was a realistic option yet writing custom scripts / code would require time to debug and test the scripts. Having had experience of doing that as part of my first degree I decided to continue to look for a solution that would only require me to configure the player.
I found a suitable software solution which I downloaded and configured the Pi to run a test on my desktop monitor. The installation process proved painless and after a series of tests I was comfortable that the platform operated seamlessly. I was ready to sign-off the Raspberry Pi the lower resolution video installation.
Further tests are required to confirm that the Raspberry Pi will support by Audio piece. To drive the 4K monitor I have found an alternative microcomputer called Rock64 which hopefully will be my 4K source though it will require a different operating system and software to build the complete platform.
Having created a shortlist of images for the exhibition and completed a number of test layouts it is time to make decisions the print method and type of paper that will transform my vision from virtual form in the digital domain into the physical realisation. The intention is to mount the images on the wall using a frameless method with the prints mounted on a foamex substrate to give the print structure. The images will be either A1 or A2 in size. The paper and print method selected needed to enhance the images.
Based on the print size there were two options available Inkjet and C-Type. Using inkjet would allow a wider range of paper stock to be considered for the project at the expense of the more subtle graduation of colour available. Based on the fact the the landscape have blue as the predominant colour with large expanses after careful consideration it was decided to select a C-Type printing method over inkjet which is the method that has been used for earlier work during the course.
I having decided on a print method the next decision was paper stock. Printspace the selected prints for the project offer 4 types of C-Type paper. I decided that the metallic paper would not be suitable for the project This left 3 possible paper options. I eliminated the Fuji Flex paper as it has a yellow colour cast which did not fit with the overall colour palette of the predominant images. This left two paper stock options Fuji Matt and Fuji Gloss. The Fuji Matt paper is really a Semi-Matt which was similar to the Hahnmuhle Fine Art paper that I had selected for earlier prints for the project.
I decided to order 4 test prints each of both the Fuji Gloss and Fuji Matt paper at A4 size to help make a final selection on paper stock. The images selected for the test run needed to be a representative sample of the overall exhibition. I selected the following 4 images.
The test prints arrived within 48 hours of being ordered. Reviewing the test prints placing each pair of images next two each other I decided that the Fuji Matt presented the best option to represent my vision for the project.
In preparation for my exhibition at the start of August I decided to return to Krakow and visit Photomonth as part of my final research for the design and layout of the gallery space due to the fact that the previous years event had provided me with inspiration for the ‘Strategies and Surfaces’ Module.
There were two exhibition spaces provided me with useful input for my exhibition.
In the main museum building at Mocak there were a number of pieces that explored different aspects of Europe that I found particularly interesting and provided inspiration for development of my work.
This piece by Cerny was interesting way of representing the different countries in Europe as Airfix similar to the ones I used to make model planes and boats as a child.
The above piece using a series of flags on brooms to represent the countries impacted by the Arab Spring was full of symbolism and gave new meaning to something we see in everyday life. I particularly liked the fact that as events impacting those countries evolve the exhibit will change to reflect those facts.
These two pieces provided inspiration for covering a suitcase with the flags of the 27 member states that will remain part of the EU after the 29th March 2019.
The next piece of interest was a map of Europe that used thread to display the paths of migration across Europe an aspect of the EU Referendum that is often cited as being an important factor in the nations voting intentions that helped influence the outcome of the vote.
The final piece that I found interesting was in one of the smaller spaces art Mocak. The exhibition dealt with the subject of Switzerland’s desire to protect data of its citizens. The aspect that was interesting for me was the interactive aspect of the installation where standing on pressure pads under the carpet triggered specific actions on a computer in the corner of the room. I felt that using a similar approach would allow me to introduce an interactive element into the exhibition. This is something that I had discussed with Matt from Doomed Gallery in 2017 when exploring the use of layers in my work http://fineart.photography/magnum-photos-matt-martin-curator/.
This project was not conceived to resolve on to a book based surface and therefore during the module the majority of time has been spent on refining the work for resolution as an installation within a gallery space. I felt it was important to allocate some time to exploring how the project might resolve on other surfaces as a way of validating the decision to present the work as an exhibition.
For the Group Critique with Victoria and other cohort members (Chris Northey, Philip Singleton and Jo Sutherst.) I presented both the layout for the book dummy and the EU Withdrawal Agreement Intervention piece.
I presented the book layout first and Victoria provided the following feedback
The Book needs a cover as I was only presenting the internal content
Placing the text at the front of the book Victoria felt was a very hard introduction for the reader and she suggested that the text was moved to the centre of the book.
The graphic of the coastline was good and should be kept at the front but separated from the text and place the graphic on page 2 or 3 of the book.
It was suggest to look at the start of other photobooks to see how they use limited text and space to provide a soft introduction to the work.
The portrait fold out pages Victoria felt would present a production challenge and for the dummy she suggested gluing them in after the rest of the book is printed. To allow the book to fold flat she suggested printing the book with two addition blank pages for each portrait image. These would then be cut out and replaced with the folded portrait image. This would allow the final book to fold flat.
Consider using 1 different type of paper for the folded images to provide tactile interest to the reader.
Added credits to the book.
A couple of copies might need to be printed to allow for experimentation with the overall construction of the book.
Other members of the group asked questions on the construction of the fold-out images and the use of text in the book. Potentially considering using a multiple column layout to make the text more readable in a landscape orientated book.
I felt the feedback on the book was constructive and provided a clear direction that would allow the project to be resolved in printed form however it would only allow me to present a subset of the overall content from the exhibition and would prevent the reader from viewing the images in overall context something that is possible in the gallery space.
I then presented the EU Withdrawal Agreement Intervention as I was explain the concept to the group it was evident that the work was less resolved than the book and they found it difficult to understand my intent with the work. Though I did get some useful feedback.
Victoria commented that working with the large volume of printed material in Edmund Clark’s war on terror had been problematic and that is why only limited amounts of the redacted text had been included in the book. She suggested experimenting with just one article from the agreement to present a more manageable surface. Secondly the green of of the alterations in the version I used she felt was a further distraction.
The group felt the text swamped the images. One suggestion was to shrink the size of the text so that multiple pages of text fitted on to one page resulting in a better balance between text and images. I considered this reasonable feedback as I sensed when presenting the work that the concept had not delivered inline with my expectation when I was creating the work. This exploration is another example within this project where I am using scale to emphasis one piece of information in relation to the other. The landscape in all of these pieces is the one constant reference point as I consider the landscape to be the enduring element agreements in comparison are transitory even though from a human perspective we might invest what feels like a significant amount of time it is small in relation to the time the environment has existed and been shaped by the passage of time.
My feedback on the work presented by other cohort members is summarised below:
Jo Sutherst shared the images from her project on the self and how people try to alter their appearance to meet expected norms. The book concept was at a very early stage of development so it was difficult to comment on the construction methods. The images convey a powerful message by using a single sitter in every image namely Jo herself. Though the fact that different pages of images use different different image orientations becomes distracting after a while. I think it would be better to select a single aspect ration and use that consistently through out the publication. Maybe using the passport grids as a reference point. The working is commenting on the fashion and cosmetics industry and therefore could consider drawing from the layouts we find in fashion magazines to draw attention to the obsession with manipulation of the face through different methods.
Philip Singleton shared his zine for his Pause Project and Birmingham Dust aspect of the work. The zine was a well constructed book with careful consideration clearly having been given to each aspect of the finished product. The bifold in the zine making use of a different type of paper was a nice touch. The map showing the location of each of the building helped provided the reader with context. I was less sure about the white space around some of the images in the zine as all of the other elements had clear purposes. Overall I felt the zine achieved the outcome Philip had assigned to it.
Chris Northey shared the layouts for his book dummy as a limited edition publication to support his exhibition. The book has a consistent layout running through each of the pages shared using tracing paper pages to initially obscure the image each of those pages contains a quote. The intended construction of the book was punched pages bound together by a ribbon. This construction method reminds me of a loose leave scrapbook of collected images. This construction method could mean that the book has a limited live before it starts to age. Chris could use the colours of LBTQ+ for the binding ribbon to reference the queer identity theme explored in the book. The use of upper case text is a contra visual reference to the softer nature of the tracing paper and the images contained within. The cover using a grey geometric structure which is a hard form does not give the reader an indication of the contents of the book. In summary I felt that adjust the elements of text and front cover would bind the book together as that the current time these elements do not appear to work in harmony.
A few days after my emails to the newspapers I receive my first reply from Andy Greenacre at the Telegraph. The email was short and polite, he thanked me for my proposal and informed me that the newspaper was planning on running a Brexit piece though unfortunately they had already selected another story for the article.
Though the rejection was a disappointment it confirmed I had at least reached 1 of the people on my target list. It validated the fact that the subject was a subject being considered by at least 1 newspaper. On the negative side it did not confirm if level of information contained within the pitch was sufficient, too little or too much to convert a proposal into a potential meeting.
During a recent talk at Photographers Gallery between David Hurn and Simon Roberts, Simon mentioned that he pitched ideas to publications as a way of getting commissions because if the publication like the images in the pitch they already know that they have the perfect photographer to deliver images for the final article as they have seen samples of your work in the context of the article.
The experience has given me confidence to adopt the same approach with future ideas that I feel might be appropriate for dissemination through the print medium.
While undertaking research for my project I have been gathering material on the negotiations taking place in Brussels on the EU Withdrawal Agreement. As an experiment I decided look at injecting images into EU Withdrawal Agreement which only consists text.
The current agreement document is 138 pages of text with gaps at the end of different articles within the document. I decided to insert images into the white space within the document. The broad concept was that people do not expect to see images within legal documents however the agreement document that will define the role of the border and the flow of people and goods across across that transitional space. An initial version of the intervention was prepared using a section of the document to share alongside the book dummy during the Group Critique with Victoria Forrest. The resulting work was converted into a PDF so that it could be shared with the Group.
Though production of a book is part of the final resolution of the project in preparation for a guest group review with Victoria Forrest I decided to create a book dummy to mock-up the project would resolve in book form. The images in the exhibition are a mix of landscape and portraits of differing sizes and in my book dummy I wanted to convey this message to the reader as the different sizes are important to the overall narrative within the body of work. This potentially presented me with a number of layout challenges. The first being overall book format:
Square book would provide balance between the landscape and portrait orientated images though all pages would contain an element of white space.
Portrait layout would allow the portrait images to be printed larger giving them the same context as the exhibition context. However it would result in landscape images that would be significantly smaller than the portrait images plus they would also have over 50% of the page with white space.
Landscape layout would allow the landscape images to take their appropriate place in the book context allowing them to be a full page bleed and where images are paired they could sit next to each other as a double page spread. However it would result in the portrait images being smaller than the landscape image which runs contra to the intended presentation of the work.
Based on this analysis it would suggest that book layouts do not provide a suitable solution. Though a custom approach to book construction might provide a suitable answer. When Mark Power worked with GOST Books in the creation of his book Mass they created a series of fold out pages that allowed the book to contain larger images than would normally bear possible in book format. Using this concept as a solution I decided to create a landscape book so that on first impression the reader would consider the book in the traditional sense of a book of landscape images. Then I would have the portrait images be fold out pages.
There are three possible orientations for the fold out pages. The first is the the fold line is at the top of the page so the bottom of the portrait and landscape images align. The second is to have the fold line at the bottom of the page so that the top of the images align. The third option was to have fold lines at the top and bottom which would centre the images however it represents the most complex method of construction. Based on positioning of images in the gallery layout I decided to place the fold so that images would fold downwards.
The final global decision to make in relation to the book was the method of construction as this will be a single book dummy it was decided that the portrait images would be inserted as second step in the construction process.
In preparation for the Group Critique with Victoria I created a draft layout in Indesign which was converted to a pdf for presentation purposes.
[pdf-embedder url=”http://fineart.photography/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Landscape-Book-reduced.pdf” title=”Landscape Book (reduced)”]