Saturday, 28 January 2017

Experimental photography, a lecture by Stella Baraklianou.

Experimental photography can generally be discussed and termed as "anything that is outside of the ordinary."... In this lecture, we will explore the idea of "the moire" (this expression is taken from a French textile method and is pronounced 'M-war-ey').

In essence, the description of moire is, an overwhelming interference of meshes, concentric rings, grids and so on that are overlaid on one another, so as to create an optical pulsation.
The artist Liz Deschenes exploits this, but instead of using digital techniques she uses analogue, camera-less, traditional film techniques, in other words, photo-grams.

The effect of changing the angle of meshes. Image
This moire effect, however, is an enemy of digital sampling. Because when a digital photograph is taken of certain items, say for instance a mesh drawn on a television presenter's clothing or suit, then depending on the speed of sampling within the digital camera, a moire effect may be produced when the photograph is replayed. This occurs especially on television. However, most digital cameras have what is called "anti-aliasing" filters to actually stop the moire effect.
Liz Deschenes work is all about exploiting and playing with the viewer's perceptions. This artist is playing with the experience of understanding and exploring the unintended.

Stella Baraklianou also investigates similar themes. In her recent international exhibition, in Banff, Alberta, Canada, where she was the artist in residence, Stella experimented with the properties of the material mylar, where it was used as a reflective substrate and is a sculptured reflector of both silver and gold. (This reminded me of some of the work that I have seen before by Joseph Kosuth).

Stella's enquiry was… How are these installations going to manifest themselves together with the ceramics, the tassels and the everyday objects?

By creating abstract "projected stage sets" as she called them, she was able to create new sculptures. The idea of light mirroring the piece in the centre of the stage set, changing the refraction and reflection of light to become an unknown projected object.

Clearly, there are two sides to the mylar sheets, one that stellar terms as a "cool" side and the other a "warm" side. These two sides of the mylar different effects. This has led to Stella coming up with the phrase of "Constructive Reversibles".

Stella has more recently displayed her art at the "Photography Is Magic" exhibition and also at the "Aperture Foundation" in New York in July 2016. At this event, the curator of the Photography Is Magic show was Charlotte Cotton. Further exhibits of refraction were provided by Sonja Thomsen and other artists, the website can be found here.


  • the idea of using the moire effect is an interesting concept.
  • My own ideas of trying to visualise the peregrines perception could possibly incorporate the moire effect?
  • Further studies into visual optics of other animals is going to be useful
  • Already reading the work by Tom van Dooren entitled Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction, and in particular the symbiotic relationships that humans have with other birds, and in this book, circling vultures and mourning crows provides good reading material.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Innovation and Ideation. A Workshop with Auntie Beeb...

In this module of creative innovation and entrepreneurship, we were lucky enough to be able to attend the workshop which was held by members of the user experience team at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

There will be three workshops over the next few weeks, and these will be attended by;
Paul Crowley, Head of User Experience:
Dan Ramsden, Director of Creativity:

The three workshops will cover;
A) ideation; that is, coming up with ideas.
B) testing; validating the ideas and finding assurance through screening.
C) presenting; pitching to customers and selling your idea.

The BBC has always been the front of commercial communication, and as such, they adopt some methods to help them both facilitate and generate new ideas.

A presentation was given and referred to the work of Prof Eddie Obeng, concerning the difference between knowledge and learning.
Filmed June 2012 at TEDGlobal 2012

Eddie Obeng: Smart failure for a fast-changing world

Our ability to learn has been outstripped by the amount of knowledge that is available to us. We, therefore, live in what is called a "foggy environment" and this was articulated through a simple quadrant table as follows:


In this sense, the BBC suggest that the only way to deal with the wealth of information that surrounds us is to what in their words is a mantra for their group which is "run confidently into the fog."

In a way what is being said, is to avoid over-planning. In my case it's about avoiding the Gantt chart and thinking from a fresh point of view;

To have an excellent idea it takes lots and lots of bad ones first. We learn from our mistakes better than we learned from doing something correctly once. The great ideas that have emerged in the last 500 years, in fact in the last 200 years since the Enlightenment, have usually been a product, even a by-product of many many years of struggling failure.

Let's explore the idea of divergences to convergent to divergent and convergent thinking.

We can talk about this as four separate steps.

Start as an "explorer."
engage with the outside world to find stuff that interesting, be a collector but don't judge anything that you've witnessed or collected.

Then become "an artist."
Turn the stuff that you have found into other stuff by combining them. Just create things, but do it without any constraints!

Then become "a judge."
it is in this mode that you critically evaluate your ideas and start to find out through verification and testing what actually works or is likely to work.

Finally, make the step to be "a warrior."
In this step you press ahead regardless with your chosen ideas beating your chest, banging the drum, and selling the idea to everybody come across. This gets momentum behind your idea and starts converting others to your way of thinking.

We then conducted a short icebreaking session where we were shown a picture of a paper aeroplane, the typical paper dart. The facilitator stated that the next few moments would be spent by the group in designing the best possible way to get those three clean sheets of paper across the room.

Everybody started making paper planes, the typical bear trap. In my case, I suggested to the group that we brainstormed what the actual objective was and how we were going to do it. To get these three sheets of paper as far as possible, we need to compactness tight as possible and also a small surface area that we can. It may have been appropriate for us to only screw up the three pieces of paper into a ball. This would have met the objective, and having seen the outcome of this exercise before, this would have second-guessed the facilitator's demands. But I went one stage further by thinking about the actual objective a little deeper. My solution was to compact all the paper as tightly as possible, and also to reduce the surface area to a minimum, without the use of Sellotape or anything else to hold it together.  The idea gave me the inspiration to simply roll the paper in as tight a formation that I possibly could, and then to tie it into a knot.

Sure enough, this design actually won. It ricocheted off the back wall with a thump, whereas the paper planes fell short, and the screwed up piece of paper while travelling a little further, was unable to hold and sustain momentum. I was well chuffed!

The lesson of this session was the importance of "reframing" the challenge. What does the project need? Really and truly?

The next exercise was what the BBC called the "red ant man". This was a method to reframe your challenge as problems, blockers, constraints and goals.

Step one, define your opportunity by breaking things down into component parts so that the limitations, blockers can then also be broken down.
(I felt this was a similar exercise in the swot analysis, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats: but perhaps with a new name).

Again by using a simple quadrant diagram, one can position the elements as follows;

Goals versus constraints
issues versus blockers

It was pointed out that a "blocker" is something where it is possible regarding overcoming and obstacle or getting inertia and momentum for example. Whereas "constraint" is a continuous limitation that is immovable and cannot be overcome.

We should be asking you "what does success look like?"

For example, if one is to create a website, is that in itself a goal, or is the real goal to reach an audience?

The "five whys" method.

Why is this important

Why is this important

Why is this important

Why is this important

And finally why is that important?

So what is stopping us?

The next part of the method is finding ways that we might reframe the question or a problem and its solution through the phrase "how might we…"

Give our problem a perfect frame for creative thinking, but without suggesting a particular approach. In deconstructing these three words,
"how" invites us to think about many solutions
"might" suggests that there are many possibilities and solutions,
"we" is a collaborative address, which means that as a team we all own the problem together.

1) As an example, how might we appeal to the widest audience?

We brainstormed this idea and came up with creating banners with details of the website to be posted throughout Huddersfield and the University; get a publication in the Huddersfield Examiner, the local newspaper; develop and create posters with details of the website with links and URLs; establish and print leaflets with details of the website et cetera

2) how might we see what success looked like?

  • Ask the curator's opinion:
  • get opinion polls in the leaflets through some sort of voting:
  • ask the public verbally who visit the exhibition, or people in the street:
  • build a model and get feedback on it:
  • communications with other groups:
  • promotional and marketing events in the street, interactive handouts.

The second session after lunch started with an icebreaker, where we were asked to use sheets of paper with 12 preprinted circles on them. We were all asked to fill each circle with anything we can possibly think of, over the next five minutes. This was an exercise in creative thinking. There is an infinite series of ideas for any given problem, and nothing is a stupid idea because it could lead on to something else.

Another method used in the creation of ideas was what the BBC called their "crazy eights". This was an exercise again to create quantity not the quality of ideas and was solely based on folding a sheet of A3 paper into eight segments and then drawing possible ideas in each of the eight sections. Anything goes, and nothing is wrong or stupid!

In our own team, which had been tasked with creating a website for the new rotor event commencing in February, we need to think about roles and responsibilities and how the site will develop.

We thought in terms of:
pre-event during the event, and future post event.

Each of these phases of the website would need to be managed in different ways, such as the first phase would be about promotion and marketing as to "what will be happening".
During the event, web updates should show "what is going on now".
And the future post-event website should show "what happened".

Therefore content for each of the three phases should be something like 1) static photos. 2) videos of current activities. 3) video archives and interviews together with transcribed discussions and records of debate.

So roles and responsibilities seem to be emerging in the form of;

  • content creation
  • Web design and layout
  • ongoing management of the website and updates.

The third method that the BBC team suggested that we could use is known as the "Beetle" method.

In this process, we come up with a simple idea name to insert in the Beatles head, which in effect, becomes a brand-name for the notion. Keep it simple, so that people can readily identify with it, and conversations can be had with anyone in the team.

In the body of the beetle, we create what is called an elevator pitch; this is a short summary of the idea and its objectives; to open up new possibilities: for example the gallery, learning, attendance, and wider audience.

On the legs of the beetle, six in total, we can either use why, how, what, where, who and when. Alternatively, on each of the six legs, we can use them as a mind map style, an aide memoir, to ask ourselves six tough questions. Such as why would anybody care? Why is this important? And so on.

Once we have gone through the first three methods, we can then map the ideas against a cost versus impact grid. Again this uses a simple four-quadrant grid, with one axis showing "Cost" ranging from low to high, and on the other axis the expected "Impact" from low to high.

And finally considering the "the Warrior mode" remember how the original Olympiads used to think, before starting a battle. They visualised their best possible successes. What is the maximum vision of success? If we were to read a national newspaper headline about our success what would it be? Write this down in as bigger letters as we can find and broadcast it to as broad an audience who are prepared to listen!

So to recap:

1) we thought about methods concerning the fish diagram, as diverging convergent and then divergent and convergent thinking.

2) the red ant man method. Break up the challenge.

3) "webbing or the five whys" this is about dogeared resilience, asking ourselves at each stage why is this important? And then replaying it to ourselves by asking "so what is stopping us"?

4) use dot voting. Democratically select the strongest ideas and avoid any arguments at this stage.

5) reframe the solution and the problem. "How might we…?" Reframe the challenges and the briefs for a fresh approach.

6) the crazy eights. Here we want to come up with a quantity of ideas and solutions to the issues. Quantity, quantity, quantity!

7) the beetle map. This helps the switch from the artist and explorer mode and into the judge. Judge and make the idea practical.

8) needs and impact plotting. Map your thoughts onto a quadrant set to highlight and show up the relative merits of each idea. This facilitates clarity in finding the right solution.

9) write your news headline. Become "the Warrior". What does success truly look like? What would an Olympiad see in victory?


  • The above tools are a useful inclusion into my toolkit for facilitating creative thinking, ideation, setting goals, and thinking about outcomes.
  • By coupling these ideas of methods and tools together with other instruments that I have become familiar with in previous work, you should be able to build a flexible set of tools to implement good micro-projects over the coming months.
  • It is worthwhile for me to review these tools periodically and make sure that I'm exercising them in the most appropriate way.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Notes on a guest lecture by Liz West, University of Huddersfield, Wednesday 18th of January 2017

Liz West introduced herself as an installation artist. She talked about her own journey, and explained that she was now 10 years out of art school, having attended the Glasgow School of Art between 2004 to 2007.

Liz explained that her initial work seem to be of superficial interest during her first and second years, but she then began to flourish in her final third year and started to explore the work of Ian Davenport, especially his paintings and paint drips. This was of interest to Liz because of the changing glossiness and wetness of the paintings rather than the finished article. Liz seemed to be captured by the changing nature and the temporal nature of the paint during its transition from wet to dry and it was not the pigment itself that she was interested in, but how the light played and how it was reflected in itself.

Her tutors recognised that she was "super-sensory" and had an inherent need to touch and feel, to get qualitatively immersed into her artistic environment. In fact she had indeed grown up in an environment that was very artistic as both parents were professional artists too.

The real break occurred when she used a mirrored chamber to present works based on the primary colours of light. However she then went into a phase where she didn't do any real work for the next 3 to 4 years having done a number of jobs but eventually quit as a security guard and then moved to Manchester in 2011. At this time she got studio space at the Rogue Studios in Manchester and this allowed her to exhibit some further works at these Manchester galleries such as "Difference is Important" (2012). In this work vivid chemical colours were used in a fully immersive environment for a spectator.

In Liz's own words the key to all practice is "just keep making shit" and also start writing about it!

The blog is a great vehicle to get the critique scenarios and invite discussions and as a professional artist outside of university you no longer have access to peer review and critiques.

Liz explained that if you get good feedback from exhibitions and blogs then it's worthwhile to try and invite curators and other artists into your own studios to allow them to critique your work. Don't be afraid of paying their expenses in order to get them onto your premises.

David Batchelor is a key influence on Liz's works.

After having become independent in 2012, she then it rather a brick wall and as a result spent a week in the Kurt Schwitters "Mertz barn" located in Cumbria, in 2014, as a way to engage with herself in deep contemplation. During that productive week, she broke her component of interest down into what was key to her. She constantly asked herself why she would do something, artistically, and then reflecting upon it, and then asking herself "why" again. Repeating the cycle of creating work, then reflecting, then asking "why" is essential as a cycle of iterative improvement.

In 2015, on impulse, she put together an instant relation in an area where she found a 10,000 foot office site which was part of the old Manchester Co-op building (Federation House).

This led to the invitation by Leeds City Council to assist with the "leads right night" however in hindsight she felt that this was a mistake, because she failed to specify the need for a very large space in order for the exhibition to take place. What she got was 1000 ft.², whereas what she needed in order to repeat the Co-op building installation was 10,000 ft.².

Thankfully though somebody spotted it and this was enough to win a commission to create a piece of installation in Bristol. This commenced in 2016 and was called "One Colour". This was so successful, that 3500 people attended on the last day to that exhibition. This essentially launched her career.

There have been other exhibitions in between however such as in 2015 "An Additive Mix" together with "Through Number One" which was exhibited at Derek Horton's "And Model" gallery. For this work she used gelatine lighting film, which she sourced from the company Roscoe.

More recently she has been using dichroic glass and film to generate ideas and outcomes in order to make her final pieces. For example "Our Spectral Vision (2016)" and now her new permanent work called "Sevenfold, 2016" installed that Bury council offices.

To look at more work by Liz West visit or alternatively her Twitter feed @LizWest_art.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Reflections on the lecture regarding 'Documentary Image'; by Richard Mulhearn.

Richard opened the lecture by describing an interesting juxtaposition of ideas where the presentation of his images may  appear to be a meandering wander, and yet his presentation was in fact entitled "Stand Still"...

This is like the notion of a photographer shouting to a subject "don't move" and then later a viewer coming across an image and suggesting "you set that up". This notion of photography being the capture of the temporal moment is articulated very well by Susan Sonnestag who says that "Photography becomes interesting when it is constituted, yet static".

In this sense documentary images are the most fertile of photographic practice.

For example taking a look at the work by Gary Winnogrand and his image taken in Los Angeles, in a later period of his life post New York (where he originally came from), his work was much more querky.  No longer just taking images to sell to magazines, he was more interested 'As a student of Photography, and a Student of America' in the juxtapositions found in real life. (


 This is an observed situation, where the photographer recorded an authorial point of convergence.
Gary Winnogrand was intuitive. There is a narrative, and yet this image is very aesthetic. There is an element of commentary.
- In the extended un-cropped image above, there is a sign displaying "No left or U turn"... The woman appears to be compliant, but she also appears to have removed her shoes. What on earth is going on here? - Was the image "staged"? - Allegedly not.  This is a real life documentary evidence of a momentary event, captured forever.  Winogrand's intent was, through his photography, "To question what you 'think' you know!"

Consider also the work by Henri Cartier Bresson, "Valencia, Spain 1933" "An image can stop time"
how we intuitively see a moment in time is often replayed to a viewer who assumes that a photograph is set up. The experience and the image being connected is known as the "indexable".
This is discussed further by the work by Roland Barthe's in his book "camera lucida". The description shows that the person is present in time and space and therefore the photograph becomes indexical.

Consider the work by Alexander Gardner: the portrait of Lewis Payne. This image is amazing, this is the murderer of the President, Abraham Lincoln, after his arrest.
See the website HTTP://
the "future anterior tense" and consider it with the title "he's dead but he's going to die" (Roland Barthe's, in Batchen)

Taking the snapshot of time… Andre Bazin (the ontology of the photographic image 1960) in Wollen: 1984, page 116.

The indexicality of a photograph is apparent when it becomes an influence on our own psychology.
"The unspoken emotions of people in the room", from the work by Don Dellello "Underworld".

For further theory on these notions, take a look at the work by Michel De Certeau "Walking in the City", which describes the fascination of being in a particular place and at the same time looking at and being there to.

This relationship of photography to invent an event is of interest here. Look at the work by Gert van Kesteren, such as "Baghdad Calling" a book by this author which describes a world event, but from someone else's point of view. Gert Van Kesteren was an independent photographer who was unattached to any news company and he gave out cameras to Iraqis in order for them to take their own photographs of the war.

In this sense the photographer then becomes a "selector" instead of a "composer"
see the sequence of images by Paul Graham "American night, the hidden and the visible"

The reevaluation of the perfect image is what is being tested here. Nothing is certain.

For another extension of these ideas, look at the work by Daan Paans entitled "Rhinoceros". In this work he kind of explores and plays with the idea that Albrecht Durer once drew and made a woodcut of a rhinoceros completely from an explanation and description, given by another person and Durer never actually seen one of these creatures, yet was able to present the perfect image through the woodcut.

Further work to explore might be that of Lorenzo Vitturi, the Dalston Archive (the book) 2014.  This provides layout and design ideas based on the collusion of experience and evidence.

The work can be seen through multiple strategies such as that of Jack Latham and his "Sugar Paper Theories".  See

At this stage in photographic development as an art, we are now breaking the indexable relationship and the documentary image. In digital media there are multiple issues for photography including for example multiple layers; digital composite's; and hence authenticity.

The plausible relationship of two images being thrust together can break the old paradigms of photography and its expectations that are historical. Are the digital and the indexable opposite terms therefore?

See the work by Moira Ricci, at

How can the book engender a sense of honesty?  In Ricci's work above, she appears to be photographed in the centre of the image, next to her mother and mother's friend.  However, Ricci's mother died when Moira was quite young.  How is this possible? Is it a real photograph? - Yes it is, but what do we want to believe?

The speed of presentation of an image is now what is critical. The criteria of what is real and what is unreal is now based on an emotional engagement. For example migration.

Alternatively look at work by Mohammed Bourousissa, which looks at political contexts and motifs and strategies of moving image and studio production.

Take time out to look at the TED talk "photosynth: 2007" which can also be found on

www.HTTP://photo media photo mediations open

Or even HTTP://


Sunday, 22 January 2017

Introduction to Digital Media Processes - lecture by Richard Mulhearn, Friday 20th of January 2017

An overview of this new digital media processes module TMA 1407 was given during this lecture and included general observations and feedback from our previous module. Overall our individual critical voices seem to be lacking in some of the feedback that we had given for the previous module. The main issues of our presentations seemed to be a lack of comparative analysis with other practitioners and the demonstration of our ability to pick through a multitude of viewpoints. This critical analysis is key to develop as a master student.

In this new module, digital media practice, the critical outcomes will be;

A) analysis! The clear articulation of our practice, including the what and why certain things were done and ask yourself again? Why?

B) know your audience, is it working for them?
Who are you trying to engage with?
Develop the critical life from a different point of view.

C) demonstrate "what has gone before and what is your relationship with it"?
How will the work that is historical influence what will you will do in future?
What are the new meanings in your work that you derive from your practice?

D) demonstrate and provide evidence of your research.
Your research should be informed, intuitive clear experimentation.
This is necessary in order for students to approach the final major project.
By expanding the scope of your research, you can then spend more time in practice and be more critically reflective to position your work correctly.
Be selective again! Describe what and why in your research and practice!

E) it will be necessary to write a critical reflective summary again for this module which outlines your individual process and direction to create a framework for practice.

F) this is a clear requirement to evidence your critical analysis of your individual processes and outcomes.

Overall the module requires an approximate word count equivalent of 9000 words including the presentation and portfolio.

Formative presentations will be conducted on 17 February 2017,

Summative presentations will be presented on 5 May 2017.

In order to meet this module objectives correctly, it is extremely encouraged to create an individual study plan.

  • Develop your own project brief;
  • explain different processes and outcomes
  • contexts and platforms for your work to develop.
  • Demonstrate divergent and heterodox practice.

The critical reflective summary should be created early, to test your ideas.
Referencing of all research articles must be correct to the APA 6th edition
& the presentation should be clear in a specified manner.

  • Overall the focus is on creating a distillation of what is important? 
  • And why? 
  • What in my own practice needs to change in order for this distillation to be done demonstrated?

By creating and continuing a line of enquiry from which work later emerged emerges.