Thursday, 23 February 2017

A guest lecture by James Somerville, Vice President of Global Design, Coca-Cola. Monday 20th February 2017.

James opened the lecture with the explanation that he was a local boy! He was taught at the Batley school of art, in Dewsbury. He is particularly interested in connecting with young and emerging artists and designers and the area of Huddersfield has a rich history in developing creative skills.

My first observations were that the slide set that he used all had subtle Coca-Cola brand images hidden somewhere within them, either the bottle logo, or the Coca-Cola text, or even just the ribbon that is often seen in their advertising devices.

James talked about the "7X". That is, the seven secret ingredients which are the constituents of the Coca-Cola product. I have heard this suggestion that there are just seven ingredients before, and also that there are only two people in the world at any one time who know the precise details of what those ingredients are and their respective quantities. They are therefore rarely together, and even less so, do they ever travel together.

James tailored the presentation to reflect his own influences, and the continuing stream through the presentation was that of the Liverpool band "the Beatles". There was in fact a profound quotation from John Lennon, about happiness.

James started his own career with his business partner Simon Attik, through initiating a freelance agency in one of their bedrooms during the 1980s. Indeed he also mentioned to women that inspired him during his early years in the business. They were his grandmother, and Margaret Thatcher. He also referred to the Conservative advertise meant of the time which helped Margaret Thatcher to win the election, in which there was a large banner with the quotation on it "Labour isn't working". The simplicity of that tagline spurred the two on to create their own agency which was actually called "the attik".

Coming forward now some 30+ years, in his role as global vice president, he stated that Coca-Cola, as a corporation, in all its massive identity, is scared the most of "two dudes" working somewhere in an attic, coming up with ideas. It is almost always from these embryo sites that new killer competition starts to develop.

The underlying message throughout James's presentation was "make yourself different from the competition". In his own case, working with Simon, they did this by going to the United States and attempting to engage the music channel "MTV" with a photo shop design that they had created in response to a promotion that MTV were doing. The MTV folk wanted to know if it was part of a motion graphic. It wasn't. But they said "yes"! As a result of this willingness to take a risk, they won the business and neither of them have looked back since then.

Eventually in 2006 they got a call from Coca-Cola in Atlanta who had been looking at some of their designs. After meeting the Coca-Cola team and working with them for a number of years they eventually sold the agency "Attik" to the Japanese firm Dentsu. Knowing that James had recently sold the agency, Coca-Cola offered him a job!

The key to the Coca-Cola brand is that it has never changed its language, that is its visual language. The brand heritage that makes up all the design work for the company is drawn from 130 years of archives.

Originally a designer called William d'Arcy provided the logos and publicity for the Coca-Cola company through his design and advertising agency. William was the owner, and his brother Archie Lee d'Arcy was the graphic designer who came up with the red disc Coca-Cola brand sign which became a very easily recognisable logo, that was placed over the entrance of various vendor's and sellers of the product. Archie Lee also created a "brand identity" called the Visual Identity System, for the Coca-Cola advertising brand. This "Visual Identity System" remains the backbone and reference manual for all of Coca-Cola's future designs. By treating the product almost like an art form in the gallery, new interactions with the logo, and how it is presented have been able to be created.

When James took over his role, just over 10 years ago, he recognised that by this time, the corporation was a huge, complex and amorphous collection of image posters that were scattered all over the world. There needed to be a significant rationalisation, and yet James recognised that each nation has its own cultural heritage and individual identity, which interplays with how Coca-Cola advertises within that society.

James commissioned the designer Jonathan Mac to start creating new logos, based on the original brand identity and visual language which conformed to Coca-Cola's Visual Identity System. Very cleverly, he selected the ribbon logo, which is actually formed by placing two bottles (that is Coca-Cola bottles) head to tail, and then drawing the negative space between the bottles to create the ribbon. Taking the ribbon logo further, Jonathan created a "handshake" out of the ribbon. So he used the original brand devised by Lippincott so many years before, to create something completely new, and yet instantly recognisable.

Somerville has also used the designer "Mr Brainwash". By taking a 1940s poster of a Cuban woman holding a Coca-Cola bottle, (known as The Lady in Red), he modernised and redesigned the image into a new creation and a series that still held the same language brand. That is he created a cartoon, focused down on the red lips of the woman, and within the lips the glint of light is the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle!

Whilst all these designs are really clever use of the visual identity system, there is one thing for certain, there will always be a need for graphic designers and artists to supply innovative ideas in order for consumers to be sold to!

Somerville's best advice is to make sure that as a graphic designer, you make yourself into a jack of all trades when it comes to the business and industry of the future. "Design Thinking" in Somerville's own words "is the hottest topic in the United States right now". Develop the skills of being "a creative problem solver". Make sure that you have the skills or you know somewhere to to get them, to work in this new digital age. Develop a proprietary language, something that can be recognised as your specific work. But equally turn ideas onto their heads in order to get new ideas.

E.g. see Norma Barr, an Israeli designer who lives in London. He has a uncanny knack of being able to create graphic designs where we are able to recognise the familiar but the artwork delivers a surprise! Another in this genre, is Neville Brody, a font designer. He has looked every letter in the Coca-Cola archives that go back 130 years and has come up with a uniform series of fonts for the new millennia. Another artist, Lance Wyman, is a master of wayfinding. Now in his 70s, James Somerville has paired him with Margaret Calvert OBE, who originally designed the United Kingdom road signage system, which is now replicated virtually throughout the world. Between them they have been tasked to create a new "Way Finder" system with the Coca-Cola brand.

Storytelling through your own work will get you much further than the work itself. At this point the film "Evolution" with the Beatles members John Lennon and Paul McCartney, was briefly shown where they were discussing their own music business and the development of what I think must have been the Abbey Road studios, and their desire to create a music making space for other musicians and creatives. They clearly appeared to have an no idea of what they were doing, but the point was being made, that they were prepared to make risks. Furthermore, the message here also is "just start" you never know where your work will lead you to.

Going back to the history of Coca-Cola, it was a meek and mild-mannered chemist called John Pemberton who initially came up with the tonic that we now know today as Coca-Cola. Allegedly there were some 49 failed attempts to get the ingredients just right, with the 50th being successful.

The original Coca-Cola logo was designed by an accountant, who appeared to be bored whilst doing the chemists bookkeeping, and very skilfully wrote the words Coca-Cola in the margin of the accounts book. So the design arguably, was accidental. It gets better. The original bottle design was based on the outcome of a competition. The brief which was textual, was to design a suitable bottle for the Coca-Cola brand. The winning design was wrongly based on a Cacoa pod, that is the raw and unrefined fruit body that cocoa beans and eventually chocolate is refined from. This unusual fruit I have seen for myself, being approximately 20 to 30 cm long and elliptical. There are longitudinal ribs from the top to the bottom of the fruit, and these ribs, plus the elliptical shape of the fruit were incorporated into the design of the bottle, in the misguided belief that Coca-Cola contained either cocoa or chocolate. Apparently it contains neither, but this bottle logo has remained ever since.

The lesson here is that through evolution, and experimentation with somethings heritage, you can take products past and then reinvent it.

Somerville also uses Stockholm designs Ltd for much of their work together with local agencies and designers for other products in the Coca-Cola product range. For example take a look at the Fanta drink and its designs for Halloween which is aimed at 10, 11 and 12-year-olds as their specific consumer base. Compare this with the new "vintage" musical range which includes themes such as Phantom of the Opera, for consumers of the age group 15 to 16 years of age. This was highlighted by James as it is necessary to create a partnership through people's strengths.

Coca-Cola itself is for simple brands 1) the traditional Coke 2) Coca-Cola-zero 3) Coca-Cola-red 4) and diet Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola recognise that all of these variants need to have an immediate recognition and individual identity they have decided upon a strategy of using the "Rising Red Disc" as their new brand image based on Archie Lee's original disc design. This unwavering colour use of red, together with the original design script of 1886 is still valid. This idea of continued strategic visual images has been taken forward with the idea of using the Coca-Cola brand as part of the World Cup. The response to this massive event is to have kept a systemised and recognisable brand by mashing together both the logos and the World Cup football itself.

It should also not be forgotten that graphic design has been in constant revolution. We now have to think of graphic design in motion, which in turn we have to think of as digital design, which again in turn must now include audio.

Consider also some of the symbols of Coca-Cola that they are regularly attached to. For example the Santa Claus that has been used for so many years by the company has arguably become an old gentleman dressed in a red suit. Allegedly it was Coca-Cola who made Santa red.

Combining the old with the new, consider some of the incredible designs of Norman Rockwell and think of him being collided with technology such as Instagram. This is a direct example of where design meets advertising. [See Norman Rockwell's huge ideas in drawings and paintings, and in particular the way that he asked so many questions through his paintings!]

It was here that James Somerville exposed the reasons why the Beatles had been so fundamental to influencing his development. It transpires that Brian Somerville was James's uncle, the same Brian Somerville who was the Beatles publicity manager and regularly appeared in a number of photographs of the famous four.


The guest lecture by James Somerville was closed with some words of advice;

  •  "think like a big company, then when you are as big as Coca-Cola, start thinking like a small company". Like the dog and the cat, they are both enemies but they both complement each other. 
  • Be strategic in your decisions. 
  • It is not just about the design, it is about why is this design important?
  •  And how will my work make a difference?
  •  Why will this design make a sale for my customer or client?

 Keep asking yourself these questions and it's unlikely that you will go wrong.


Notes recorded by the author at a Lecture by James Somerville, Vice President of Global Design, Coca-Cola. Monday 20th February 2017 at The University of Hudderfield.

Group dynamics in action! Reflections of a Group meeting on Weds 22nd Feb.

On the actions arising from the last meeting we had on 15 February, I made sure afterwards that our discussions were sufficiently documented in order to clearly articulate the need for evidence based research, the need to individually contribute a summary of our work so far (and I suggested that we should each produce two "slides" to visually represent this), and have a record (within those slides) of our decision making; This was decided and divided into the group responsibilities of 'Event Research', 'Web Research & Design', 'Event execution, documenting and Archiving'.

I purposefully showed a sense of frustration at this meeting this week, that there seems to be a lack of action.

In particular my main concern at the moment being the progress of the design of the website. As there are two group members responsible for this activity, I was initially worried, but am now pleased, in fact delighted that one of them has not only stepped up and created a strong visual example of suitable a website, but they also provided a good presentation of it which helped the group as a whole engage in productive debate as to suitability.

Notwithstanding this strong presentation, my fears that the web design may become a real issue for us is still present, as it relies upon the two team participants to not only work together successfully, but also help to drive and position other members of the team as well. Whilst I am able to provide a level of maturity in support of their endeavours, (as is always the case within a group), certain people appear to work harder than others.  From my own point of view I am conscious that I need to continue to put pressure on the development of not only the research evidence, but also the finished outcomes, or at least considered outcomes of this task.  This remains a concern as it seems that the two individuals have a slight clash of personalities. That's something we (I) must manage through.

As we will be making a pitch to Dr Devlin next week, it seems appropriate that a rehearsal of the presentation takes place a couple of days beforehand. In the absence of some of the requested information required to construct a coherent slide show from the group (as mentioned above), I felt that this meeting might create even greater worries for some team members through the lack of tangible material...   It is always difficult to explain the need to create 'more' than the 'end' outcome, in order to distil the best parts from their work, and it is very evident that some of the group feel that this process is "wasting their time".   I recognise that this is merely a difference in opinion and in different ways of working, but many years of managing large bids and proposals for projects have shown me that this approach tends to produce far better results than 'just coming up with something the night before!'

However, we are where we are, and in reflection we can only do, what we can do with what we've got!

Initial Conclusions

  • In hindsight, there probably is sufficient material now to go forward and create a suitable presentation, albeit, limited. 
  • I call this the "Turkish Slipper" approach, as like a Turkish slipper, it almost always turns up at the end!  I don't like this, it's unprofessional, untidy, laissez-faire and poorly considered. So my own personality type is at odds with this approach too.  
  • I'm still very cautious though, as likewise, being over confident, hubris is a terrible thing.  I must help the team stay vigilant in trying to create a professional and polished outcome.   I don't like being unprepared, and as there is a focus on me to hold the team together, I'm not sure just how much frustration I can show without upsetting some of the more sensitive team members. This is always difficult to gauge, but if the team want me to lead them properly, I have already said that at times I will make myself un-popular... 
  • It's all about negotiation and communication styles ultimately.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Reflections on the photo project workshop with Sebaastian Hankeroot (of the Hague - The Photobook), 20th February 2017.

The purpose of this photography workshop was to help students bring out the 3-dimensionality of photographs, by bringing out light, establishing the correct focus, and removing distractions. By revising the contrast of photographs and combining the activities above, it can create a new expression in the finished works.

It is perfectly acceptable to change an existing "poor" photograph by changing it and refining it. Do not be afraid to do so, simply because you will always have a backup of the original in any event. Creating a sense of three-dimensional's is essential to good photography.

Ask yourself why you originally made the photographic shot? Keep coming back to that question and critically analyse the work that you do.

Before embarking on photographic adjustments it is essential to calibrate the screen on which you are viewing and adjusting the shots. There are a variety of applications on the open market such as "Spider, Colour monkey, or T-one"

It is also important to consider colour spaces that do not exist on the actual screen, but yet we know that the camera can record. CMYK is a very much smaller file size and range of colour space than what the proprietary Adobe RGB pallet is capable of, or is even more, what our own human eye can see.
S-RGB is an even smaller colour space than either CMYK or Adobe RGB; so the lesson learned from this in itself is to simply forget about sRGB as the colour space is so narrow that it is not worth using.

An important tip when calibrating the screens is to use natural light. Do not allow direct sunlight to hit or reflect onto the screen been calibrated. As a rule of thumb, Gamma can be set to 2.2 and White 26.5. By doing this, this, stops extra warm tones appearing on photographs. With regards to colour adjustment within the camera, try a setting of 200 red 150 green, and 100 blue. Within the camera, the output must be consistent!

By adding other colour filters, such as for example in a photo with a strong magenta cast, this can be corrected with a green filter and so on, choosing the complimentary colours of the actual cast.

The story told by your image changes the way that you edit and feel about it. Create enough density in your image before you do anything else.

Like a painter, build up layers of information when composing a photograph in order to to create an illusion. The photograph can then be manipulated by under exposing and then adding exposure (a recent book by Christopher Edwards shows this technique very well). It turns a clearer three-dimensionality to establish curvature and depth. The light within photographs creates atmosphere.

Organise the process and the work! Take these steps seriously so that you are well-positioned for postproduction. For example, the choice of a book cover, its hardness or its softness, its size et cetera; even the smell, makes a massive difference to your output and the finished artefacts.

A practical explanation of Sebaastian's work was then shown;
the first step using Adobe Lightroom, is to create a picture by reducing the exposure of the original image. Generally this should be no more than about 1.25 to 1.3.

Then by using the Lightroom's feature of "tone curve" it's possible to change the shadows in the image, but these should be adjusted gently. It is also possible to change the quarter and half tones as well. It is at this point that it is possible to change contrasts too, and by doing so, the detail of the image can start to be brought forward, and overexposed areas can be subdued.

We then conducted a practical analysis and adjustment of some of our own work.
We started with a piece that Sam had created which was an image of Hull docks, with two people sat on a bench overlooking the run-down docklands. An interesting feature of the image was Sam's capture of a kind of triad which included the union Jack flag on the left-hand side and then the two individuals people. Within the whole frame, the two people looking at the shipyard (which is now redundant), holds some irony in the union Jack flag also being displayed. The inclusion of the two people makes the viewer ask questions. Is it boredom? Probably not, - is it Britishness? Possibly.

Liam observed that there was a lovely low light to the image, and there is a lot going on within it.

  • Do we want to bring attention to the union flag? 
  • There is a misty quality and some "dead space" in the layers of the image, for example the bottom left-hand is a little too dark.
  • By attempting to pitch a triangle, the light on the side of the ship in the centre right of the photograph helps to create the triangle with the people, which is also shown within a portion of focus.
  • There is a tension of banality and unusualness, a little bit like the famous Turner painting of "The Fighting Temeraire".
  • The desire to crop the image is towards the left-hand corner, to place the triangle of the people and ship in a position to retain it.

We then analysed a photo that I had created, perhaps some eight months earlier during the summertime. My intention of this photograph was to create three-dimensional layers by the use of a foreground wall and layers within the landscape and hills beyond. The foxglove provides a link from the foreground wall to the scene and then to the sky. We debated whether this was an important feature of the photo.

Some practical observations of adjustment would be to change the light within the sky area by bringing this forward to emphasise the detail. On the right-hand side of the image, the wall needs to be lightened in order to make a richer engagement.

However the foxglove creates a focus which is a suitable subject. Nevertheless in contrast to the dark area on the right hand side, this dark area becomes a distraction.

The wall itself can add expression to the final print and the fronds of each of the branches on the left-hand side can be brought forward through the appropriate adjustment in exposure and contrast to become more detailed. Before and after effect can be clearly seen.

In the analysis of Tim's work (which was a hot sulphur spring that he photographed somewhere in Italy), there is an interesting juxtaposition of focus which is elusive as to being on the water and the face of the person on the left-hand side. This creates a mystery and it takes a while to figure right what the photograph and image is of. The colours are beautiful and so can be brought out to full effect. There is also a sense of chaos in play; the contrast is interesting too. As Tim said, the smell, that foulness of the sulphur and the misty-ness adds to the theatre. There is a sense of the magical, the person emerging on the right on the left-hand side seems to be coming through the gloom.

There is a good sense of three-dimensional reality in the image. It is balanced, but that may be improved by throwing it off balance? The picture itself is a question. There are no distractions, but it could be enhanced.

In analysing Liams photograph (which is actually an image taken by Natasha), of a person sitting in a pub in Hull; this is very interesting as it is clear from the image, that this is a regular customer who has a particular seat that he always occupies. The subjects gaze is accepting and arguably intimate?
The background is interesting too, for example there is a picture of Linda Lusardi who is appearing in a pantomime poster on the back wall. This helps to place the social context of the photograph and where it is. Perhaps some further detail could help?

Overall the composition is balanced. The viewers eye is drawn to the subject eye in the image through good focus. There is a distraction in the glare on the top right-hand, but overall it is non-judgemental which is a good example of good photography.

Perhaps some visual enhancements can be made through postproduction on the gentleman's coat by under exposing it a little bit further.

When we compared all the photographs we asked ourselves if there were any similarities? It was found that the depth and cropping were necessary on the first two photographs, however on the third and fourth photographs the use of shadows is key to these enhancements here.

If it seems that there are dominant colours of an image, it then becomes a question of density, colour balance and tonality. It is critical to reduce the exposure of an image if useful postproduction is going to be used. The workshop was very useful and seemed to imply that exposure reduction was the most important lesson learned from the activity.


  • Creating a sense of 3D, 3-dimensionality is essential to good photography.
  • S-RGB is a smaller colour space than either CMYK or Adobe RGB; Forget about sRGB as the colour space is so narrow that it is not worth using.
  • By adding colour filters, say, in a photo with a strong magenta cast, correct it with a green filter.  Choose the complimentary colours of the actual cast colour.
  • Narratives of images changes the way you edit and feel about it. Create density in images before any post-production.

Further thoughts;

  • Thinking about layering in my own work, how can I manifest this through the appropriate use of proximity and composition to help form Gesthalt?
  • What are the boundaries of perception an recognition that can be transposed to a Peregrine falcon's sensory experiences?
  • Thinking about the 'deep fovia' found in almost all raptors, how can I apply these thoughts to the drawings I am making?
  • There's much to do, and lots of experiments to take place!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Discursive Documents - Exhibition Opening; Reflections of the first event

The discursive documents exhibition held at Huddersfield art gallery, Princess Alexandra walk, Huddersfield opened its doors this evening to a curated framework of three exhibitions.
Gallery space provides interaction with artefacts that encourage viewers to discuss and debate both the artists work and the issues that have been highlighted by their work.

There are three sets of two artists (six in total).
The first pair of artists explore the difficulties faced by individuals and families who are seeking asylum and safety after fleeing various threats to their lives, persecution and war from around the Middle East and North Africa. The artists engaged in this exploration are Seba Kurtis and Alex Beldea. These two photographers have adopted very different approaches to presenting the challenge that refugees and migrants face when attempting to find a safe refuge within the continent of Europe and the United Kingdom.

The second pair of artists is Richard Mulhearn and Richard Higginbottom. Both of these photographers will present their work that explores how the 'quotidian' or everyday gestures can relate to photography and vice versa. They are interested in the unspoken conventions that humans tend to conform to and gesture.

And the final pair of artists are more sculptural and visual media users. They are Sara Eyers and Leila Sailor, who provide an exhibition that explores the representations of objectification of femininity and fashion.

The show was opened by Dr Liam Devlin who introduced the agenda for the evening.  This included an overview of the curatorial framework of the exhibition together with a short contemporary performance dance piece, organised by Gerry Turvey.

The whole show is set up to 'situate' art spaces to interrogate and instigate debate.

How people respond to Artworks is through various discussions, however, in this case, the interpretation can also be made through movement, which Gerry Turvey's team of dancers were able to articulate through gesture. They created a piece in response to each artistic point, and each dance piece provided a snippet of reflection against the artworks presented.
The dancers moved around the gallery space a great deal and so, the audience were requested to position themselves in between the dancers and the artworks. However, it was necessary for the public to also move continually so that the dance was unencumbered.
The curatorial framework of the exhibition really is set up to explore the fascinating and ever-shifting subject of blank spaces, which in a way this gallery space is.
Photographic practices and ideas of social agency discuss the idea that photographs and cameras are now everywhere; they are ubiquitous.
In Dr Liam Devlin's words, "we have cameras now where we don't think we even have cameras. We carry around smartphones, for example, which are perfectly adequate, and yet highly sophisticated and complex tools in themselves for the recording not only of photographic records but also audio and video files.
The photograph has become embedded into our society, in ways that we don't always fully appreciate. They are used in almost every aspect of life including documenting events, to constructions of identity. For example Snapchat amongst other applications, giving immediate access to photography and global communications. Photographs now circumvent the globe in virtually unquantifiable amounts. This is why the understanding of photography has expanded beyond recognition.
A lot of the critiques of photography in the 1970s, attacked perhaps, that photography needed to record only "events of reality". It challenged its authority to speak of this. At the time this was very useful, but having said that, it is necessary to understand that photographs still operate pretty much as visual documents. They are therefore immensely important in how we structure and in some ways limit the way that we see the world and this in itself raises the question "what is seeable". What is invisible?... What is not photographed and what is not photographable.
Equally we need to consider what can be said, what is sayable; audible, and so this becomes intensely powerful, because it is political.
The aesthetics of photography are fundamental to politics (with a small p), as arguably, any photograph is a political act.

The notion of an aesthetic aspect of the political debate is not a founding rationale for the documentary practice in particular; that is, socially concerned photography, but initially, photography relied on their imposed voracity.

However, there is now a much greater opportunity for photographic images to be used in a much more explicit, and yet a much more refined way, as a reflexive articulation of an idea, or point of view; Rather than an old and "only" claim which was, 'to represent reality'.

Therefore this exhibition is a call to arms if you like, to bring together practitioners and audiences together to discuss, and to test. It is a formulation of a photographic discourse that frames the photograph as an object of debate. And as "Discursive Documents".

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Reflections on a 1:1 Tutorial, Digital Media Processes, (UoH), Friday 17th Feb

I had a really useful tutorial and one-to-one discussions with my tutor, Richard, on Friday, after which I quickly made as many notes as I possibly could because I found the session so valuable!
We opened the discussion by my explaining that I was now "trying to keep it simple," in the sense that (as one of my feedback points that Richard made at the end of the Christmas term), I was perhaps over-complicating things previously.
By referring back to the previous module feedback (which was highly useful), I have been able to create a "single page brief".  This will help me to try and focus my attention, over this next term. I felt that Richard was very supportive of this approach too. I also think that my tutor took on board the fact that I seem to be adapting my practice at the moment towards writing. While this is acceptable regarding the module brief, (where there need to be approximately 4000 words or the equivalent created), I recognised that it is equally critical to address the issue of artistic practice itself, as almost a separate mindset from the act of writing. It seems clear that the physical and visual method is what is of particular importance here.
I recall that I also explained the very successful workshops that Stella Brackley and Sara Nesteruk had carried out in which, in reflection, I found both of their practices to be very stimulating, and their enthusiasm and encouragement has certainly helped me move forward. This is not forgetting another workshop (by Dr Anna Powell) around post-production which I also found of equal importance, but I can separate out as an almost theoretical workshop, whereas the other two engagements were much more practice focused.
The act of writing and then going forward to "making and producing" something in itself seems to be an excellent exercise that I have begun to adopt. While it is early days, I am confident that this approach will give a richer and more fuller account of my creative visual practice.
I also recall that we discussed this approach of the theoretical writing taking place first.  I think I explained to my tutor the reviews that had begun to delineate around the core of my chosen subject matter, which continues to be "how I can use drawing" (as the primary form of expression) through digital media and collide it with the philosophical construct of speculative realism?
I also further explained that I am continuing to use the book by JA Baker entitled "the Peregrine" (1968), as a backbone narrative to help me position my work. By creating a visual reinterpretation of the above, and staying with the initially chosen book "the Peregrine", I used an example of a piece of work that recently came to my attention. A visually stimulating idea from a fantasy / other world views, and explained that by creating something that "isn't the normal thing" for humans to see is what I'm interested in.  I'm committed to re-articulating this through drawing and sketching by taking passages from Baker's book.

I'm also thinking about how biology can provide an understanding; That is, the idea of how falcons can see. The eye itself is like a camera which I particularly like.  The idea of the image being transferred to the back of the retina: the fact that peregrines eyes take up most of the cavity within the skull: their ability of their binocular vision. All these start to act together to provide new concepts and thoughts about how the Peregrine's perception can be very different from the human's.
I was really pleased to feel that my tutor seemed to 'link-up' with me and appeared to join into these ideas. I also picked up a genuine interest from Richard which I found truly encouraging.
I went on to discuss some details about the structure of the Peregrine's eye and how the retina is composed of two different parts of the fovea. - Recalling too, my explanation how the Falcon is entirely reliant upon its eyesight and without it, it is unable to find any kind of "reference". This is the reason why falconers use a 'hood' to put their bird of prey into total darkness; because quite simply, the birds will not attempt to fly without the faculty of sight.
I was able to articulate how Stella was able to describe her research and the concept of "Pixel".  Her paper was really precious for me as I've been able to awaken my knowledge of the retina's construction; namely the rods and cone receptors on the retina itself.
Taking that idea, one step further, (the rods and cones within the retina) and comparing it with the charged coupled device (CCD) that is found in the photographic sensor, completes the circle really well. Therefore, in a digital sense, the eye and its retina together with the rods and cones that make up the organ are very similar in philosophical terms, to the digital camera!

I seem to remember that at this point I also brought in the subject of Egyptian mythology and some of the work that I have been recently studying around the myths of Osiris and Isis and their son Horus, who later became the god of the sky. Horus is depicted as a God in human form, but usually, with a Peregrine's head. I have already blogged elsewhere about this research, so I'm need not delineate it any further here.

I think that in reflection, I was touching on my concepts of the all-seeing eye, and then comparing it to the notions and research around speculative realism?
This is a general concept of looking at the world from an entirely different angle. I seem to recall that I said something like "this idea of looking at the world from a completely different viewpoint is at the heart of speculative realism". Or something similar to that, which I was delighted to see Richard jumped on and made notes to the same effect!
I can't quite remember the precise words I used but it was something along those lines, I also seem to remember that I put an alternative phrase together which included "looking at the world from a different point of view (reference point or perception) is at the heart of speculative realism." But the original phrase was more succinct!
Then, with a further recall, I became a little bit tongue-tied in my explanation of my "artistic problem statement". As by trying to explain the ideas of speculative realism through a verbal/linguistic medium "in itself", might lose some of the magic of translation. It makes it tough to explain the theory; by using words is limiting.
In terms of the work itself; the practice has been chosen as the drawing because drawing is a whole and overarching language in a way. I also seem to recall my tutor agreeing with the concept that drawing is a perfectly acceptable medium.   I think he said " it is the method of the mind and of the eye," which is a really brilliant reference for him to make.
My idea of drawing the world according to this specific Peregrine, the one that JA Baker wrote about some 50 odd years ago, is what lies at the heart of the reason why I want to use his book as a backbone. What was important to that Peregrine, would have likely have been something completely different to what was important to Baker at the time.
 Therefore any image of Baker is likely to be quite insignificant as far as the Peregrine was concerned at the time too!

It is interesting therefore that there are now two viewpoints; one human and one Peregrine. I think that Richard was also keenly interested in some of these thought processes that I was having. I was very encouraged by the feedback that Richard was giving me and it seemed that we had 'connected' with a joint understanding. My previous attempts to articulate my ideas have not been quite as successful as this one-to-one meeting, and I was delighted that we seemed to be of one mind.
Overall, to close, my tutor was extremely helpful in making some additional recommendations for further reading; In particular the work by Liz Wells and the book entitled "Land Matters".  The ideas of landscape photography and cultural identity are what Liz Wells articulates in a particularly elegant fashion. I'm glad that I have the opportunity to read this book through an online resource within the University. The chapter entitled Time, Space, Place & Aesthetic;  and another detailing 'The photography Journey and Memory' are also crucial.
Another book which was recommended (which I have a copy of already is by Rebecca Solnit). A copy of "The Field Guide to Getting Lost" which I need to dig out and read again, as I recall this was one of the books I found very useful during my first year of undergraduate study.
However, the book that my tutor was keen for me to review was a series of writings by Rebecca Solnit (that has been edited by Marcus O'Donnel). Entitled "Walking, Writing and Dreaming. Polyphonic voices".

(The book "Wanderlust" is also particularly useful resource as there are further dissertations and essays by a variety of philosophers practitioners and artists including Roland Barthes).


  • The idea of working with two viewpoints seems to be of particular interest to Richard, which I want to expand upon too. It is through this that I think that I understand the concept that was being put forward, in the idea of "proximity".
  • Through this concept of proximity, what I choose to put in the foreground versus what is in the background, in relation to the visual experience is what is important in order to engage the viewer critically in relation to who is seeing what where and when.
  •  This becomes a visual language, in the concepts of proximity and composition, the place is also important to consider; the idea that the physical place formerly in Bakers book, was the Essex marshes, much of which is no longer there.
  • Whilst this is interesting, as an artist, it is possible to make up the landscape in the absence of any real world scenes. I'm glad that my tutor Richard, explained that the "veracity of location" is something that can be mutable.
  • I need to develop the language of how I can draw, and how I can relate this the imagination and the language of my mark, concerning how our Peregrine might perceive things.
  • How I represent "things" in how I draw, is the critical challenge set for me to try to define.
  • The idea that the work is experimental works well with speculative realism because in direct terms the "speculative" part of Speculative Realism is about the unknowable and, how, we as humans engage within a space?

Further Conclusions (Updated)

  • I've been really enthused and inspired by the conversation that I had with my tutor, and I understand the importance of continuing my practice without deviation from the elements of proximity, composition and drawing through digital media.
  • The closing remarks that were made have given me a strong challenge to address in how I want an audience to see through my drawings a relationship in space between Baker and the Peregrine.
  • To articulate this, my work needs to develop through much more drawing practice and those ideas that are being incubated at the moment will start to flourish.
  • Quite simply put I must draw, draw, draw!...