Exhibition Critique: Ian Strange

The photography exhibition that I attended was held at the NGV on Flinders Lane Melbourne by an artist named Ian Strange. The shape of the gallery was a C shape with roughly 10 images printed to large format. Along with the images there were 4 projectors and old wood showcasing the timber of the houses. The first projector is located at the entrance inside the NGV, the second one on the wall in the middle of the room and the third one at the entrance of Flinders Lane. There are 2 headsets attached to this projector allowing viewers to watch and listen to the documentary and making of this project. There were lots of small tungsten lights shining down on the images.

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There is a semi enclosed room, displaying more images on digital screen; the overall design of this exhibition is tidy, warm and inviting.

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Suburban is a photographic exhibition of houses based in the suburbs in Ohio, United States of America. I was fortunate to have met the photographer and he explained that he started this project as growing up in small town Perth he felt there was a lack of opportunity, a need to conform and fit in. As an artist he did not fit in therefore throughout his childhood he felt there was a void in his life. These images are an expression of his feelings and emotions.

When he was old enough he moved to the United States to a small town and learn that there were others who grew up in the suburb feeling as trapped as he did. The GFC had a major impact on the locals in Ohio – their property which previously was worth $400K+ became worthless, sales did not exceed $15K. The tax and lending system is very different to how it is here in Australia, when property was repossessed the government demolish the houses and reclaimed the land. Strange applied to paint his artwork and torched these properties in the name of art. His application was accepted (as the houses were to be demolished anyway).  His exhibition was a journey of this process.

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The artist was able to convey his thoughts and ideas well through documentation at both entries of the exhibition. All the images carried the same theme; houses. This style was effective as the artist was able to retain the viewers focus and made them question and want to explore and interpret his idea. Each image was beautifully composed and photographed, they are all well thought out. The colours are vivid, the tonal range contrasting and the size of the print demanded attention. The images are extremely powerful. The auditory and documentary engaged the viewer and help them understand the story of locals in Ohio and the artist himself. Without this communication it may find it difficult to comprehend the emotion story behind the images.

I thoroughly enjoyed this exhibition. I love the images they are stunning. I appreciated the idea that the photographer was trying to convey, it’s interesting and to be able to communicate and inform the viewer is a gift.

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Interview Questions

List meaningful questions I can ask photographers about their work.

  • What inspires you?
  • What are your influences?
  • What does photography mean to you?
  • How do you connect with your subjects when doing a photo shoot?
  • How and to what extent do you use digital processing to your images?
  • When working on location how would you handle unpredictable weather?
  • What do you perceive to be a great image?
  • What is your favorite type of photography?
  • What are your though process before a photo shoot?
  • What are you communicating in your images?
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Social Media Experiment

Document the steps you take to share these images with the online community. Comment on the positive steps as well as the not so successful. Include your reflection of these images taken as well as your responses to those comments.

I have chosen 2 different media to publish my images. Facebook and Flickr.

The first image is a travel photograph that I took in Cambodia May 2013. When I published it to facebook I wrote a small script to describe the context of the image and to basically share my thoughts:

Cambodia – The slow birth of Peace. It’s difficult to envisage the pain and suffering during the Khmer Rouge revolution, one of the most radical and brutal restructurings of a society ever attempted. 36 years later the land is still undeveloped, the people still hungry and praying for better days.

cambodia

Facebook: 169 people saw this post and there were 12 likes. Flickr: 8 view

The second image is a photo that I took for friends of a friend. Again I wrote a small script just to share some thoughts:

I really like this photo as it captures the essence of the bride and groom, very much in love.

Machi & Mark

Facebook: 720 views, 49 likes and 5 comments. Comments posted complimented the bride and how amazing she looks. I did not comment back.  Flickr: 3 views.

Evaluation: Social media can be extremely effective depending on the social site and purposes of your image. For me facebook is more effective than flickr as I have dedicated a fair amount of time to build an audience of family and friends. I have not invested the same time to the flickr site therefore there were much less views.

The first image (Cambodia) received 169 views on facebook– from my photography and personal page. The second image (of the bride and groom) received 720 views, much more due to the tags that I have stamped. Not only has it been viewed through my family and friends but to the bride/ groom/ wedding planner and hair and makeup artist. And of course being a special milestone for the happy couple flattering comments were posted as a sign of approval. I signed up for deviant art for the purpose of this assignment, however like flickr I have not built an audience and therefore there were only limited views.

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Copyright

Reflect upon these 3 scenarios:

1. As a working professional photographer you have noticed that someone has used one of your images in their blog. They have not credited you for being the original photographer but they have not said you are not the photographer either. It’s just a personal blog showing interesting photographs from around the world.

As a working professional photographer if someone has used one of my images in their blog they need to make references and attribution. The blog is obviously published and communicated on the net – therefore it is my moral rights to be credited for supplying that image. Irrespective of whether the blog is used for commercial or personal purpose the blogger has moral obligation to state who the image belongs to, the owner of that photograph. If the court accepts that there is an infringement of moral rights they can grant the photographer financial compensation or a list of other remedies.

2. As a wedding photographer you notice that one of your images is being used in the display window of a local shopping centre. After talking to the shop owner, he tells you that a couple came in and got some enlargements done and agreed to let the shop owner display one of the images in the shop window.

In this scenario I have been commissioned for a private/ domestic shoot, the copyright of the images belong to the couple. The couple can reproduce copy and communicate these images to the public eg: through website, facebook, emails etc. However as a photographer I have the right to restrain the use of the images – this is a curly situation. Depending on the contract and agreement set between myself and the client it is difficult to ascertain where the moral rights lie. If I wanted to be attributed for the images, it can be requested however in regards to seeking financial compensation we will need to look into the agreement and contract that was in place.

3. As a working advertising photographer you take an image of a building and a cityscape for a regular client. You agree on usage and price. It is agreed that the image can only be used for 12 months and printed up to A3 for brochure, internal marketing and on their website and not to be used overseas. Six months later you notice that your image is being used on the side of the tram, covering the entire tram. Once you started to investigate the matter you also realized that your image is being used for advertising in international magazine.

In this situation the client has breached the agreement on 2 accounts; the printing size exceeds the A3 agreement and the purpose by advertising overseas. As these images are used for commercial purpose the copyright belongs to me, unless specified otherwise. With the restrictions that have been applied to the images more likely I have not released copyright to the client. Copyright has been infringed; I can take this case further and seek remedies from the court. The court can grant financial compensation; injunction to stop advertising overseas/ removing the image from the tram, order that the defendant make a public apology or whatever it is that has been requested.

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Authenticity and Validity

In the past photography has been used as a source of truth, an actual representation of reality. Photography is used in courts and can sometimes be submitted as evidence. Nowadays we have access to photo manipulation programs available at our fingertip it is difficult to determine what is truth. In saying this photo tampering is not a recent endeavor – it has dated back through history as early as 1860.

This is photography of Abraham Lincoln. They could not find a photo of him looking heroic so his head was shrank and place onto the body of Southern politician John Calhoun. Ironically the 2 men do not share the same view on many political stances. To the right on Calhoun’s image the papers would state ‘strict constitution free trade and sovereignty of the states’ however on Lincolns image the words were changed to ‘constitution, union and proclamation of freedom’ [1]

1. http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/photo_database/image/lincolns_portrait

 

This image was taken by Paul Hansen, a photojournalist based in Stockholm Sweden. He submitted this photo into the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year, the largest and most prestigious press photography award. It was award the winning photo; however after much scrutiny it was deemed to be significantly altered. Forensic analysis stated that it image was a result of 4 different photographs combined into one. And on top of that it has been subjected to a fair amount of post production eg dodging/ burning etc. The question that is raised is whether the imagery is a fake or merely enhanced to bring out the important details. Shortly after this story was published a Swedish newspaper published an article, however the imagery was different in light, tone, colour and shadow. Small alterations such as the bruise in the child’s face leading to the hairline and the hairline in one of the man’s face has been altered. This has created much controversial.

The 2 images above are examples of photographs being manipulated, in effect it has lost authenticity and validity – imagery no long portrays the truth. As the eyes do not show actual reality I guess when a photograph is presented to us we will need to question how real it really is.

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Terry Berrett – Criticizing Photography

In this exercise I was required to look at photography from an objective perspective and critically evaluating the image. There are six category which I had to analyze: descriptive, explanatory, interpretive, ethically evaluative, aesthetically evaluative and theoretical.

DESCRIPTIVE:

Descriptive photographs are basically making a record of something.I have chosen an image from a website that describes awesome lighting to explain descriptive photography. This image is a landscape photo of the Basilica–Cathedral of Our Lady of the Pillar otherwise know as Catedral-Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar.  It’s one of the biggest and well known churches in Zaragoza, Spain. The  light in this image is stunning. The church is beautifully lit up with lovely yellow clouds in the background. The photographer would have captured this image at sunset or thereafter. The angle this imagery was taken portrays a beautiful view, fresh green grass in the foreground, still river and bridge in the middle and the church in the background. The rule of thirds is applied hence it looks very balanced. It’s an informative image showing off a destination that is striking to look at and one that I would love to visit.

EXPLANATORY:

Explanatory images help us understand something through the use of photography eg: scientific reports, medical textbooks, owner’s manuals and journalism. I’ve chosen the above scientific image to represent explanatory photography. This was taken by Sung Hoon Kang during a science experiment where he submerged tiny plastic fibers in an evaporating liquid. He used this image to portray an idea – to go green. This image explains that corporate effort across the world can save the earth.

INTERPRETIVE:

Bennett describes Interpretive photography can offer information about the world however from a personal, idiosyncratic, and non-scientific point of view. http://www.terrybarrettosu.com/pdfs/Barrett%20%281986%29%20Types%20of%20Photographs.pdf

This image was taken by Ray Chong, its his interpretation of sunlight through a tree. The colours, the framing and the way he has incorporated movement is an indication of how he interpreted what he saw, what he felt and what he wanted to portray. His interpretation of that moment.

ETHICALLY EVALUATIVE:

Ethically evaluative photographs are used to raise awareness for ethical and social issues. They intend to persuade the viewer to make judgements and even political stance. It disclosed information and reveal truth – it is the soul of photojournalism. I saw this image of factory farmed chicken about 10 years ago and felt morally sick. It encouraged me to think about my behavior and I made a decision to purchase free range chicken and eggs whenever possible. It’s an awful image to view however powerful as it describes a nasty reality for these animals.

AESTHETICALLY EVALUATIVE:

Aesthetically Evaluative images shows beautiful things captured in beautiful ways. It can be in the form of landscape, nudes, still life etc. This image was taken by Rob Geer, a nude portraiture taken in an artistic manner. It has been converted to black and white; showing form and shape of the female body. The light shining on the body shows lovely contouring  – it is what it is, aesthetically pleasing image.

THEORETICAL:

Theoretical photography is about art and art making – many times it can be labelled as conceptual photography. It is extremely diverse, can be anything really – more importantly it’s the artistic perception that the photographer has encountered to capture the image.

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Memorable Images

When I think of the word artwork what comes to mind are the images I saw when I went to the biennial in Venice 2007. For me the images are tied to the experience. One house that came to mind is the work of an artist describing the emotions of a break up. She received a letter from her partner apologizing and explaining why he cannot confront her but has to end their relationship. She was gobsmacked and showed this letter to hundreds of women varying in ages, race and culture. She captured the emotions of the subject reading her letter. The images were simply they were all portraiture of women in their environment; the message was clear – hurt/ pain/ confusion/ anger/ frustration. I found the repetition of the underlying theme powerful and therefore become memorable images. To me artwork needs to make me feel something, it needs to tell a story.

Image by Millie Ball 2007

Image by Millie Ball 2007

The image that comes to mind when I hear the word ‘musical performer’ is a guitarist sitting on a stool performing on a small stage in front of an intimate crowd. I’m a fan of live acoustic and admire artist that write and perform their own music. The images in my head are very balanced with leading lines (from the guitar) drawing my attention from the top of the guitar to the base and the musicians face somewhere in the rule of thirds. The message is very simple and clear; they are living the dream – doing what they love, playing tunes and entertaining. Music has an emotional tie with me therefore images with musical affiliation has an emotional impact.

When I hear the word advertisement the images that pop in my mind are sassy young ladies promoting soft drinks/ telephone or something of similar nature. I relate advertisement to the earlier era of pin up girls, lively, fun and sometimes animated. The images are clean, simple, colorful and quirky. Advertisement images should make me feel happy so I want to go out and buy whatever it is they are promoting.

 

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