John Stezaker

John Stezaker is a relevant artist to research and visually learn from. He re-uses found photographs and collages them in a unique way to makes new and surreal subjects.

The portrait collages that are often known by him as ‘marriages’. They usually involve different identities and show different worlds coming together. This technique inspires my work to be created into one piece instead of separate images.

Stezaker uses various techniques such as maskings, rotations and removals. The juxtaposition allows a new creation to be formed. His precision is perfect, especially his work with portraits and landscapes or nature.

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Roger Peet

Roger Peet displays how white people see the world. The concept of his art, is to show what the western culture are forgetting when they decide to appropriate elements. Peet created ‘whiteness goggles’ for the audience to wear. Once put on, the painful image of what people of colour have suffered in the background fades away.

Cultural Appropriation Response

During this project, I wanted to explore collaging and I began with combining digital images with illustrations. The main idea is take figures from the western culture and illustrate hairstyle they class as ‘urban’ use for fashion shoots.

These hairstyles they claim to be ‘urban’ originate from the black culture, which would also be seen as ghetto if worn by the original culture.

Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy Review

Julia Margaret Cameron is considered to be one of the most important female photographers in history and as part of her 200th birthday, exhibitions across the UK have been celebrating her excellence by displaying her work to the public. Museums in London will be holding exhibitions for Cameron. The Science Museum is currently showing her work until 28th March 2016 and The Victoria and Albert Museum is to do the same, starting at the end of November.

It might seem unusual for a photography exhibition to be held at a museum based on science. However, the exhibition is taken entirely from the world’s largest collection of Cameron’s photographs. “The Media Space is a major new photography destination, presenting a programme of world-quality exhibitions, commissions and events for national and international audiences and celebrating the Science Museum Group’s unrivalled National Photography Collection” (Science Museum, 2015).

It includes a portrait of Herschel taken by Cameron, in her unique style. This would have been unconventional at the time to take a photograph of someone to be considered an equal to Sir Isaac Newton as Cameron did. Cameron was in fact a friend and mentored by Sir John Herschel who was a scientist and had made contributions to photography and its science.

The exhibition, which takes place in the Media Space at The Science Museum, features the Herschel Album, gifted to the scientist from Cameron in 1864. Inside the album is portraits of her family, companions and acquaintances that she has photographed in her unique style.

The gallery is set out to showcase images that show the life of the Victorian age. It also displays how experimental photography can create such brilliant and dramatic images. All images and objects are in one room and at the entrance of the room, there is a photograph of herself and her daughter. This added a sentimental touch, as the other photos did not include herself and her daughter is the person who began her career as a photographer.

At the age of 48, Cameron received her first camera, that was a gift from her only daughter and son-in-law. Her work displayed at the exhibition definitely makes us re-examine the word amateur, as her the images are on a professional level especially since they are from an era in which photography was first being experimented with. Cameron’s photographic process was a common method at the time, involving producing albumen prints from wet collodion glass negatives.

The exhibition did well in presentation to allow the photography to stand out – three different colours of the walls, Burgundy, Navy and White, with images placed in simple black frames with reduced light level to protect the objects on display and yet made the room look lavish. The room did not have enough space on the walls for entire collection to be displayed on, so extra ones are set up in the centre to allow the audience to walk around the outside and the inside to view work.

It was great to see a mixture of rare objects like her camera lens that is the only remaining piece of her photographic equipment and handwritten notes from her autobiography.

Viewing the exhibition, we begin to forget that it is based on photography. The exhibition is co-curated by Colin Harding, the Curator of Photography and Photographic Technology at Bradford’s National Media Museum and Tim Clark, Associate Curator of the Media Space. It is as though we are in a gallery for paintings due to the styling of the room that strongly reflects Cameron’s idea of photography being an art form.

Walking round the room and looking at her photos, you do not see just a portrait of a figure, but a form of art. “Her mistakes were her success” (Science Museum, 2015).  Some portraits are out of focus, blurry or had other imperfections. At the time, other photographers would have rejected these flaws. But were they something that she intended to run throughout some of her work or did she endure faults?

Although what Cameron did intend to do was to expose her photographs to direct sunlight. This was not and probably still is not the best method for photography, as the sun can be a very harsh source. But this is what makes her work unique.

Speaking on Cameron’s series of Life Sized Heads, The Photographic News wrote: “Some of the large heads, in which definition was quite sufficiently precise for the subject were exceedingly charming, and possessed artistic qualities rarely seen in photographs”, also describing them as “sunny and transparent to a rare degree” (The Photographic News, 1866).

The photograph “Plate 43 Love” (above) portrays the beauty Plate 43 Lovewithin imperfections. The child’s face on the left side is completely out of focus and it is amazing how the other figures are not.
After making sense of her work, there is a theme that she uses. Her models are posed as characters from biblical, historical or fictional stories. Some are also dressed up as characters from Shakespeare and poems.

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The exhibition displays the only existing print of her iconic portrait “Iago, Study from an Italian”, 1867. The character Iago is from Shakespeare’s play, Othello. At first glimpse, you can grasp that it is the well-known character from Shakespeare’s Othello. The figure is not family or a friend to Cameron, but is a paid model named Angelo Colarossi. He is probably the only professional model she ever used. The image is very powerful and yet does not give too much away for the audience. His tough jaw and unkempt hair shows Cameron’s way of capturing the natural beauty within her models, even with the eyes not looking directly at the lens. Since this is the only print, it makes us want to know more about the man.

Julia Margaret Cameron continued to photograph until her death in 1879. In 1875, Cameron moved to Ceylon, Sri Lanka and took photos of Sri Lankan women. These were also exhibited in the Media Space. The showcase from a different culture during what we know as the Victorian era, is brilliant to see.

Her sentimental and religious approach hypnotises the audience, as it captures common Victorian subjects in a poetic and literary way. Viewers who want to see a diverse insight in photography and images that were taken ahead of its time, will enjoy Cameron’s work.

 

Bibliography

Cameron, J M. (1864) Plate 43 Love (Mary Ann Hillier, Elizabeth Keown & Alice Keown)

Available: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/504684701966779023/

Last accessed 27th Nov 2015

 

Cameron, J M. (1867). Iago, Study from an Italian

Available: http://blog.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/2013/05/26/julia-margaret-camerons-iago-30th-birthday-countdown/

Last Accessed 29th Nov 2015

 

Malcolm, D. (2004). Julia Margaret Cameron (1815 – 1879).

Available: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/camr/hd_camr.htm.

Last accessed 25th Nov 2015.

 

Science Museum. (2015). Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy.

Available: http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/about_us/press_and_media/press_releases/2015/06/julia-margaret-cameron.aspx.

Last accessed 27th Nov 2015.

 

Science Museum. (2015). Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy.

Available: http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/Plan_your_visit/exhibitions/julia-margaret-cameron.aspx.

Last accessed 24th Nov 2015

 

Victoria and Albert Museum. (2015). Julia Margaret Cameron: Working Methods.

Available: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/j/julia-margaret-cameron-working-methods/.

Last accessed 25th Nov 2015.

 

The Body

the_turkish_bath

The human body has forever been a fascinating object for a photographer to focus their lens on. There is so much a body can communicate a message and can allow a deeper insight in to not only the subject, but also the insight to the photographers mind.

Most times, the object that is being photographed is known as a ‘subject’. The ‘subject is often put in a position, most commonly known as a pose, that portrays what the photographer wants to express and not necessarily what the ‘subject’ is. This is where the concept of ‘the other’ is implied.

Othering is formed by the understanding of oneself and one’s culture as normal and dominant. The ‘Other’ is anything that is seen as different which is identified by gender, race, culture, religion etc. In history, the white man of western countries was seen as a person to go out and ‘help’ those who were seen as uncivilized (Other) and not developed. Colonial Records is an example of Colonial travellers classifying the ‘Other’ in photographs. The photos often showed the ‘Other’ unclothed and in full or half length. Pultz explains “such photographs reproduced the hierarchal structures of domination and subordination inherent in the institutions of colonialism.” (John Pultz 1995)

The subject is an object to be studied and not just looked at. Therefore there is a sense of curiosity within the subject and the attention is on them and not the photographer.

The idea of ‘Othering’ is also portrayed in art history. Jean Auguste Dominique ingres ‘Turkish Bath’, 1862 (Above) displays how a The Orient becomes the object. The design to this artwork, is for it to appear that as though one is peeping in to a room, to show what is happening behind closed doors. The Turkish bath shows naked women and body language reflects a strong culture of sexuality. The Western gaze is about characterising and displaying the relationship between the subject and object. The gazer is clearly dominant over the object.

And of course, taking a photo does not represent or clarify how all ‘Others’ live. In fact, no live model was used for this painting.

“In the late 19th century, photography, considered to be a truthful witness, had developed into a means of social documentation” (National Museum of African Art). There is obsession within a photographer to document people who seem ‘needy’ and again showing them as needing the photographers help. It is though we forget who they are as a human.

Bibliography

Ingres, J (1862). The Turkish Bath.

Available: http://www.artble.com/artists/jean_auguste_dominique_ingres/paintings/the_turkish_bath.

Last accessed 24th Nov 2015.

 

J, Pultz. (1995). In: J, Pultz The Body and the Lens: Photography 1839 to the Present. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. p25

 

National Museum of African Art. (No Date). Section One Central African Peoples through the Eyes of Western Photographers.

Available: http://africa.si.edu/exhibits/focus/colonial.html.

Last accessed 3rd Dec 2015.

 

The Turkish Bath Story / Theme. (2015). The Turkish Bath.

Available: http://www.artble.com/artists/jean_auguste_dominique_ingres/paintings/the_turkish_bath.

Last accessed 24th Nov 2015.