Student: Cormac513273 — Online learning blog at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/
Submission: Photography 1 — Context and Narrative
Title: Photographing the Unseen
In preparation for this Assignment two Exercises in ‘Project 3 Photographing the unseen’ were completed — please see my Learning Blog at:
I began the Assignment by listing nine subjects that could be seen as un-photographable (please see my learning Blog at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/reflection-1-photographing-the-unseen/). I choose subject number nine: ‘Need’. The rational for this choice revolved around the idea of graphic communication in cities, specifically advertising. From my learning Blog:
Such displays have a constant, unremitting purpose that revolves around need: to induce the feeling in the inhabitants and urge them to fulfil it. Such advertising, each skilfully competing with the next, each offering to fulfil a need, can lead to a kaleidoscopic, fragmentary perception or experience of a city.
Reflecting on the chosen subject I considered several approaches including one exemplified by William Klein and another by Otto Steinert – for discussion please see my learning Blog at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/reflection-2-photographing-the-unseen/. Both the ‘Klein/Moriyama’ and ‘Steiner’ styles rely on the abstraction of black and white photography while most modern advertising relies heavily on colour for impact. Additionally, the specific subject of the Assignment (‘Need’) is likely be lost in the abstract (graphic) nature of the photographs produced. For these reasons I was drawn to the ‘cooler’ images (i.e. lacking the kinetic dynamism of ‘blur and grain’) of photographers who photograph cities in colour, for example Stephen Shore — for further discussion please see my learning Blog at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/reflection-3-photographing-the-unseen/.
My first attempt at shooting for the assignment confirmed me in this choice in that I photographed at night, in colour, hoping in this way to emphasise the visual impact of city advertising. The resulting images however were one dimensional and lacked the narrative depth of interaction between advertising and people (please see Gallery 1 ‘city ads’ at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/sketches-1-photographing-the-unseen/). Equally photographs of for example people eating fast food on the street or smoking on the street (because unable to do so indoors), while depicting ‘need’ were devoid of graphic advertisements (please see Gallery 2 ‘eating’ and Gallery 3 ‘addiction’ at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/sketches-1-photographing-the-unseen/).
More successful were those photographs where people and advertising were caught in the same frame. These photographs conformed strongly to the aims of the Assignment:
The Assignment ‘Need’ will photograph dwellers and workers in a modern city as they navigate the myriad visual stimuli (‘advertising’) that impact on them, often subliminally (https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/reflection-2-photographing-the-unseen/)
The four images below captured something of the high density of advertising in a city, the final image suggested an interaction between the advertising and the individual – this image (Image 12140118) was included in the Assignment’s final selection of images.
These images can be seen in ‘‘Need’, ‘Dissatisfaction’ ‘Manufacturing of Desire’ Gallery 2’ of my learning Blog at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/sketches-3-photographing-the-unseen/
Note: All the above images were processed (e.g. cropped), converted to 16-bit tiff format, saved and then converted to jpg.
The nine images below are from another shoot similar to the above — here it was the size of the advertisements relative to the people that was of interest and also the apparent absence of interaction between the two (in contrast to A above). The muted colours of the passers-by in the chosen image complemented the almost monochrome of the advertisements and their setting.
Note: The first eight images in the above grid were rejected for the Assignment’s final selection while viewing the Raw image file and so are not processed, for example cropped; they were converted to jpg straight from the unprocessed raw (CR2) file; the final image 11142029 was cropped, converted to 16-bit tiff format, saved and then converted to jpg. Some of the above images can be viewed in my Learning Blog in Gallery 1 at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/sketches-2-photographing-the-unseen/
The three images below are from another shoot similar to the above – however this type of scene did not work well – the wall of graphic advertisements were too varied, too heterogeneous in colour and content. Although I considered several such hoarding-type areas none were found to be applicable to the Assignment.
These images along with other rejected scenes/types of city advertising can be viewed in ‘Gallery 2: Other images/ideas’ in my Learning Blog at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/sketches-2-photographing-the-unseen/
The three images below attempted to find a visual that complemented the sign ‘Love. Want. Gift!’ in the shop window. The final image (Image 12140557a) was included in the Assignment’s final selection of images.
Note: all three images above were processed (e.g. cropped), converted to 16-bit tiff format, saved and then converted to jpg. The images can also be viewed in ‘’Love. Want. Gift!’ Gallery’ in my Learning Blog at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/sketches-4-photographing-the-unseen/
The six images below are from a shoot where the size of the advertisements relative to the people was of interest (similar to images shown in section ‘B’ above). The final image (Image 12141369) was included in the Assignment’s final selection of images.
Note: The first four images in the above grid were rejected for the Assignment’s final selection while viewing the opened Raw image file and so were not processed (e.g. cropped); they were converted to jpg straight from the unprocessed raw (CR2) file; image 12141375 and image 12141369 were processed, converted to 16-bit tiff format, saved and then converted to jpg.
Some of the above images can be viewed in my Learning Blog in Gallery 1 at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/sketches-6-photographing-the-unseen/
The image below was included in the Assignment’s final selection of images because it has a surrealist quality in that the graphic displays in the windows appear to gently mock or openly ridicule the person who has succumbed to the power of advertising. Also, the colours in the street – blue, red, yellow, green – separate this area from the place where the faces are, almost as if the shopper was being observed through some manner of observation port.
Note: the image above was processed (e.g. cropped), converted to 16-bit tiff format, saved and then converted to jpg. The image can also be viewed in ‘Gallery 2’ in my Learning Blog at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/sketches-6-photographing-the-unseen/
In researching this Assignment I consulted the book ‘At the Edge of Sight. Photography and the unseen’ by Shawn Michelle Smith. The two images below are included in the Assignment’s final selection because they reflect Smith’s suggestion that some photographs can separate photographic “signifier from signified, altering and expanding the indexicality of the photograph, transforming Roland Barthes’s ‘that-has-been’ into ‘imagine this’.” Please see my Learning Blog for discussion and reference at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/sketches-5-photographing-the-unseen/
Note: the images above were processed (e.g. cropped), converted to 16-bit tiff format, saved and then converted to jpg. The images can also be viewed in ‘Gallery ‘The constant imagine this’’ in my Learning Blog at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/sketches-5-photographing-the-unseen/
The image below was included in the Assignment’s final selection despite the fact that it relies heavily (perhaps too heavily) on the reading of text in the image. However the coincidence of the words ‘attack’ and ‘piercing’ in conjunction with the soft-sell advertisement for Coca Cola gives interest to the image. The ‘snack attack’ advertisement was on a rotating display and the photograph freezes it in what I took to be its optimal position for the purpose of the image.
Note: the image above was processed (e.g. cropped), converted to 16-bit tiff format, saved and then converted to jpg. The image can also be viewed in ‘Gallery 2‘ in my Learning Blog at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/sketches-6-photographing-the-unseen/
The three images below were excluded from the Assignment’s final selection. The first image (12141254) certainly fell within the ‘imagine this’ category and therefore was included in the Gallery ‘The constant imagine this’’ in my Learning Blog at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/sketches-5-photographing-the-unseen/
However, the image itself is dull and not strong enough for the final series.
Again, the second image below (12141411) fell within the category described by the size of the advertisement compared to the people as illustrated and discussed in ‘B’ and ‘E’ above; the image itself did not add to the series and was merely repetitive of the two images chosen i.e. Image 11142029 and Image 12141369 (above).
The final image (12141260) shows no people and possesses a heavy gender bias (see section ‘J’, ‘Summary’ below). While fitting well with the images in the Gallery ‘The constant imagine this’ (please see my Learning Blog at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/sketches-5-photographing-the-unseen/ and also ‘G’ above), this image was considered superfluous to the final selection.
Note: the image above were processed (e.g. cropped), converted to 16-bit tiff format, saved and then converted to jpg. The images can also be viewed in:
‘Gallery 1‘in my Learning Blog at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/sketches-6-photographing-the-unseen/ (Image 12141411)
‘Gallery ‘The constant imagine this’’ at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/sketches-5-photographing-the-unseen/
The first two images (section ‘A’ and ‘D’ above) of the final Assignment series (images 12140118 and 12140557a — see ‘K’ below) show graphic advertisements aimed at a female audience. The person in the second of the two images (12140557a ) is blurred by motion. There were alternative images whose subjects were in focus (see ‘D’ above), however, the chosen image has a wistfulness that complements the first image in the series (12140118).
The next (third) image (_1142414; see section ‘G’ above) is placed in the series to restore balance as this is an advertisement aimed more at a male audience. Additionally this image contains two disparate elements found in the cityscape – graphic advertisements and architecture – that when combined subliminally in the mind of the city dweller (or the viewer of the photograph) evoke a sense of longing for adventure/escape and also offer a means of its fulfilment. This photograph could be unsettling because it offers a glimpse of something that is constantly present in the city but hidden from conscious awareness.
The fourth and fifth image (11142029, section ‘B’; 12141369, section ‘E’ above) relate to the individual being overpowered by the graphic advertising of a city. The sixth and seventh images (12141393, section ‘F’; 12141334, section ‘H’ above) are ideal for placement towards the middle/end of the series because they are too subtle to stand apart from the themed series.
The final image of the series (12140873, section ‘G’ above) has an appropriate dream-like or ‘imagine this’ quality whereby the reflected image of the adventure-laden motorbike is placed alongside the enhanced display of desirable, life-enhancing hand bags. There is also a gender balance in this photograph.
The Assignment’s final series of eight images arranged in sequence