Part 3 Research

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"Keep the river road, all the way, and the next time you tramp, take your shoes and socks with you."                                        Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 

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Lights out for the Territory, Iain Sinclair

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Walking, Traversing, waiting for nothing.

The most pertinent research i can draw from in these recent months, is the travelling,  by foot or train over the UK. 

There's something fascinating about seeing your own country from as new perspective.labyrinth systems of alternative access passages and non-pedestrianised areas, post-industrial landscapes, the last stop of the C2C. A 2-mile walk from Purfleet station; Thurrock bridge obscures the horizon. 

The most relevant point to begin is to keep progressing my subjective understanding of the geography of the post-industrial landscape. To try and truly understand infrastructure, by becoming part of the process. Our Apathy maintains our immoral behaviour, as it's interpreted as the norm, an abstract concept, whilst true injustices repeat themselves every day. (An example - Prison slave labour producing a huge percentage of cheap clothes Americans wear, yet not stealing from multinational corporations who's CEO's earn 200% of the average employee of the company, because its wrong). 

By studying movement, walking, non-pedestrian areas, people's movement within these areas, I hope to understand the senselessness of our actions and try to reduce the time i make arbitrary actions. This is a start. I then hope to push the boundaries of what's possible with the interactions of the city, chiefly the non-pedestrian aspects. 

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Edgelands - Paul Farley and michael symmons

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Edgelands - Containers

Containers have certainly shaped the way 'Edgelands' are formed; The word used in this book used to describe the borders of urbanised space, the abandoned factories, where only a paved space is left visible, weeds protruding with the direction of the sun. 

For me, I feel a tremendous affinity to such spaces; away from the eyes of normal society, and maybe not here in the UK, but in America and other European places, the home or resting situation of our world's transients, outsiders - people who sleep on the ground. I have spent countless time in these Non-places, ants crawling, leafless trees not attempting to obscure the rain on my head. They often surround train yards and other industrial infrastructure sites. In this sense for America, they're like lobbies. A place of wait -  before the next movement begins. 

Containers - 

They have shaped the way this land is structured, reduction in space, in time of transit in infrastructure, there will often be a container to sleep in on these lands, and the trains are now loaded with these ambiguous objects of movement, unrideable to the large part, so one must look to other kinds of freight trains to mount for a journey. In this sense they're double-edged swords. 

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Richard Mosse - Infra - explained in other column

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Pyhchogeography - Will Self

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Will Self

George Shaw's relation to "Edgelands" as topic

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"I started to make these paintings out of a kind of mourning for the person I used to be: an enthusiastic, passionate teenager who read art books and novels and poems and biographies and watched films and TV and listened to music and dreamed. They are paintings of places that were familiar to me in my childhood and adolescence, places in which I found myself alone and thoughtful. They are places in which I forgot things. ... I paint the paintings of all the times and all the thoughts I lack the language to describe. For the one single moment that I can recall, I feel a dull sadness for the thousands I have forgotten."

(Quoted in artist’s statement, 2002.) 

 An alternative representation of a version of the Edgeland, specifically a more residential interpretation. They're like fragments of the Edgelands, ever present, and potentially more relatable, However, I always associate the subject with more vast landscapes. These are the ones present in the post-industrial Areas my films are based out of. It's more defined - The edge of a residential area, and a space of nothingness, with a solid border. 

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Super 8 Possibilities

Super 8 technical Ideas

If I shoot film, i have the dilemma that everything else will be 16:9 and the Super 8 is 4:3. If I want to convert it to 16:9 then I'd have to crop a large amount of the horizontal video. This means I have to film with this in mind, shoot all my shots wider, and have 'dead space' at the top and bottom, needlessly wasting recorded image. One way I can attempt to reduce this is to include the Sprocket in the film, and as the image bleeds passed the sprocket to the edge of the film, with a kind of vignette, keep this image as a 'Lo-fi' border. I could then just include a small black vignette as featured in the video, on the other side, removing the white areas with a kind of in-between version, cropping a little off the top and bottom, and widening the frame slightly passed exposed images. 

Another thing this sample video serves as, is the possibility of image quality of super 8 film. If i were presented this without context, i would assume it was 16mm. I think this is because it is scanned frame by frame, in 4K. This might not necessarily be the effect i'm going for but it's good to know how to get the most out of the image.

Most of the high image quality is certainly down to hardware. A different higher quality lens, and a low grain film. So i think the perfect balance, is to scan in 4k and use a medium grain film, also embracing the flaws in image of my super 8 camera (the Canon 814E). 

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Kai Carlson Wee Poetry

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https://linebreak.org/poems/corn-fires/#

(Link above is to full poem)

I've always enjoyed Kai's poetry since he'd only publicly released 2 poems of acclaim.  Here is just an example of one of the poems. I think something with more conviction and skill such as this could still be successful In respect to a film like Gummo. Or even in a documentary setting. I've used people's poetry read out as a voiceover to film before, but I don't see the issue of tweaking it, writing something with them, or simply allowing someone to read a poem out.

 "Fact doesn't necessarily constitute truth". This is something I believe is incredibly pertinent in documentary; it's not sensationalising, its film. We are trying to present something, physically and emotionally, so to extend the scope of the dialogue, and other things, so they're slightly more considered, done with more conviction, it just makes the viewer more affected.  
  This is what is necesarry, if someone is uninspiring, than that is how it is, but if they are inspiring, there is no harm in trying to stretch that as far as possible without seeming contrived so that the film conveys what it is trying to emotionally as far as possible. 

Hitchhiking UK (my photo)

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Hopping on Freight train America (my photo

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Hitchhiking America (my photo

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Chris Coekin Photographers Gallery

"Having spent a somewhat gruelling six years hitchhiking his way around the UK and Northern Ireland, with little more than his camera, photographer Chris Coekin has certainly had enough of suffering for his art. His efforts have been well rewarded though, with much sought after space in The Photographer's Gallery.

Chris was intrigued as to why we see fewer hitchhikers these days. Are we less trustworthy? What inspires someone to pick up a stranger? He made the conscious decision that every time he was offered a ride he would ask if he could photograph those kind enough to give him a lift. Luckily most were happy to help."

 

Hitcher 1

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Hitcher 1 Concept

Just using a disposable camera (something i don't usually enjoy) The first part of the project was just the camera balancing on the ground or fences etc on a timer, photographing himself hitchhiking, when he displayed this i believe he also displayed the signs he used. I think this series was the most successful aesthetically. 

Hitcher 2

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Hitcher 2 Concept

The Concept for Hitcher two - was simply, to document the people who picked up Coekin, with their Vehicles. For this, he used a more sophisticated Camera, a Medium format film camera by the looks of it. The projects became more successful consecutively, but I still prefer the aesthetical values of the disposable camera, not because of the "Lo-Fi" look, which I actually have a disdain for, but because of the peculiar and fascinating framing and positioning of the camera. Having to place it on things without a tripod on a timer to photograph produced some amazing results. Never the less it's certainly more interesting to see these subjects as opposed to always the creator of the work. 

One of the most interesting things about this project is the look into this 'Unseen world' a modern hitchhiker who barely exists in the paranoid 21st-century climate. I do it all the time, so I don't know what people are on about. Riding freight trains is one of the most unseen things possible in the UK; most people don't know it exists. That's because, for the most part, it doesn't.

Both works have the same aim in revealing what it is like to do this, something unseen, and in that sense, there is something powerful in the sentiment. 

Kevin Frayer Industrial China

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Frayer - China - ideas

Only speaking English is a big issue for me, and would be for any journalist or documentarian. This is why i am learning spanish for the idea i have for a film right after this course in Mexico. Besides this i have wondered for a long time what it would be like to ride freight trains in China. As generally having the most polluted cities on earth, i can only imagine in this heavily industrial country what it would be like to do this. Trains take you from one industrial area to another, places you'd never discover or care to go to without being on them. And you spend your time crawling and sneaking around the densely vegetated edgelands surrounding these Industrial hubs to wait to catch the train. Its always the same deal in some form or another. 

In this respect i can only imagine what kind of Industrial horrific metropolis a train would lead you to in China, Huge strip mining or power plants on the Coal trains, Huge mills and factories around the metal industry etc. With more time this project (but warped slightly to be more about the landscape and journey itself, like Hitcher but trains) could be far more impressive visually and content wise. 

I am focusing at this time on photography and this incredibly busy photograph of working class men who live next to these huge factories is an incredible depiction of this landscape. ( I guess that's why it's in world press photo.)

Donald Weber - Fukushima

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Weber (dead Person Fukushima)

This Photograph particularly stood out in my mind and somehow (worryingly) I was reminded of it when looking at Coekin's Roadkill photographs, and subsequently thinking of my own.

This photo is so stark in its depiction, like you stumbled upon the grave sight yourself, from head level the photograph is taken looking in undignifying fashion, down on the dead body. That is what makes this conventionally framed photograph so fantastic. 

In these Landscapes, like here in the post-earthquake Fukushima, everything is incredibly more dramatic. To the extent the landscape represents the gap between a dead rabbit and human, there is this much difference. Focusing on this human aspect as apposed to animals is so much more harrowing as we're not desensitised to it, we've all probably hit animals in our car, but we've not killed humans, not that this can be manufactured or I hope to stumble across this, but never the less this is a pertinent photograph in modern photojournalism. 

Weber 2

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Non Narrative Documentary work of highest degree - 1, Powaqqatsi

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2, Baraka

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3, Man with a Movie Camera

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Nut Brother - Block of smog - Industrial landscape

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Nut Brothers block of smog.

I was told about this piece of art by a friend and unfortunately had to use the internet to research it, as "Nut Brother" is a relatively inconspicuous artist. 

“Dust represents the side effects of humankind’s development, including smog and building-site dust,”.. .. “When I first arrived in Beijing, I wore a hygienic mask for a few days, but later I stopped. In smog like this, there’s no escaping.”

This idea is one of the few contemporary examples of something I feel to be not only completely unique, but contain the force of unparalleled relevance to the times. It's simple but incredibly effective, as with most successful stand-alone pieces of art. Although the material for the construction of the small sculpture/or object is completely tangible, it is not something we can imagine in this state as dust particles are of course invisible to the eye when not condensed in huge masses; whether it be 1400ppm of various particles of pollution in air, or a compressed block. 

Although the performance of this idea I believe to be more relevant than the final outcome, I am interested in exploring the possibilities (hypothetically) with the final outcome. 

When we look at a post-industrial landscape, we're looking at the effects of a deindustrialisation, and shift from production economy to a research and service economy, one can even go as far as to predict an 'experience economy'. These themes link closely with previously discussed Topics of post-Fordism, which when studying the area of Dagenham/Lea valley (as the industrial hub of London) are of veritable importance, as we can link the terms conception to the area. 

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The sculpture represents the direct effects - and is created by, the industrial landscape (as well as our entire landscape on the urbanised world today). This is far more relevant and exciting than simply representing the landscape with similar materials. What does this achieve? it's almost a pseudo-understanding of the effects and importance of this space and is detached by its layer of fiction. 

? Rather, is it not more relevant to documentary - to create a sculpture that is an embodiment/product/physical manifestation of the landscape, rather than a fictitious representation pertaining to said landscape? ?

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Arrival of train at La Ciotat - 1895 /L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat

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The first film to be played in a cinema

It is not clear that this was the first film shown in a cinema, as in December of 1895 10 films were screened with no mention of this one. It was however definitely played around that time. It is also unclear the response of the audience, however, it was said that "the audience was so overwhelmed by the moving image of a life-sized train coming directly at them that people screamed and ran to the back of the room."

Despite this, I believe we can allow for such discrepancies as the story is an equivocal tail of the power of the medium of film. 

Well -  today we are bombarded with so much visual media, and with the power of corporate advertising on these mediums, we are also subjected to 'pointless' media constantly when we put the TV on. So yes in this day and age we are numb to the power and effects of cinema, even in the cinema. There is no magic or mystery - quite in the same way that we don't flinch to moving 90mph inside a car, despite the fact that one hand action or mechanical error would unequivocally kill us. 

So how can I try to recapture this power of film? secondarily, I am working with the subject of 'trains' in all of their forms and uses quite regularly. Therefore, how do I represent their immense power?

I think that using installation - and triggering multiple senses with a 4D outcome, is the best way, and also site specific video which obviously encompasses the topic of the film will reaffirm this. I shall bare this in mind when i am thinking about the direction my project will take. To answer the second question, I will return to my sketchbook to begin thinking about it. 

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My contact to Ford (will i get further)

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My aims with contacting Ford Dagenham

I have euphemised Filming with 'Documentation'. The word filming always has some intrusive connotations, and I've recently experienced a few instances where people have reacted adversely to my filming (who are directly in the groups I was documenting). This is something quite difficult to deal with in an informal environment on your own, so I hope speaking to Ford, the experience will be different as agreements will be made prior formally. 

This is the Email of my first contact. Let's see what is possible within their formal environment for my interaction. 

The actual aim is to get in there and film time-lapse of the loading shipping and production process. 

 

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Richard Mosse on the refugee crisis

Richard Mosse on the refugee crisis – Channel 4 News The refugee crisis is a modern problem of biblical proportions, with the UN estimating that more than 65m people are displaced by war or persecution. In his latest attempt to document this desperate human struggle, contemporary artist Richard Mosse has turned to a powerful military grade camera that detects body heat…
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Richard Mosse - Incoming

The above is a link to a video of Mosse discussing the concept and execution of his new video installation, currently showing at the Barbican.

This exhibition was one of the most powerful installations in terms of emotional impact and immersion, that i have witnessed. There is a common theme between most of Mosse's work, wherein he uses military equipment in a fine art context. His most famous work would be with the film, Kodak 'Aerochrome', a film meant for military reconnaissance of vegetation and forestry land. His latest project utilises an 85kg military camera which is considered a weapon, to film the refugee crisis. 

Not only will I take inspiration from the presentation of this work in the curve, (as I am ever evaluating the most effective ways to present my work) but also to consider the metaphorical links to my work. Utilising materials of an industrial nature, in terms of scale, usability, and accessibility may relate to the physical aspect of my work. Mine is in fact documenting the use or exploration of industrial or non-pedestrian equipment's landscapes or vehicles, however there is still a link.

Not only this but in my previous works looking at national and international migration, share obvious links, and are something i plan to explore again. However, there is a much more serious aspect to this work, which i wouldn't want to undermine by relating mine in any strong way.  

The final thing to comment on is the works 'Infra' and 'Enclave', utilising infrared film in a fine art context, instead of its practical purpose intended. I do plan to experiment within photography and film using films of this nature, for instance, black and white infrared film, to bring a surreal aspect to the work to link to the subject matter. The furthest I've gone as of now is to use expired film to create similar abstractifying effects.

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The Curve Barbican - Richard Mosse

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Gummo - Harmony Korine

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Gummo analysis

Alot of aspects of Gummo gave me inspiration. It's an art film, and there is no distinct progression or narrative. The way he explained this is when he watches a film he only remembers specific scenes or clips, or characters. So he tried to recreate this with these non linear clips of life in the post tornado rural Ohio town. 

I really love the scene in the kitchen, when the redneck family are arm wrestling and start fighting the chair. It reminds me of a house I went to in Palma Idaho, you should google it, I was really in the middle of nowhere. A Mexican guy who's dating someone's daughter who lives there invites me in, and a guy comes out of the bedroom with his top off tensing like he's gonna hit me. he was quite nice, he gave me directions, the dad is sat at one corner of the room mute, watching westerns on some analogue tv, and the mothers smoking in the kitchen. 

What I'm trying to achieve is the brink between documentary and acted film. Facts do not necessarily constitute truth, especially when it comes to interpreting something - for instance in film. I want to use real people, tell them their actors, and get them to act a version of themselves, tell real stories, say what they would say, but have the power to emphasise or edit, it's the perfect compromise to produce emotionally powerful results. This is what i get from this film, even though it verges on the acting film side, but most of the actors had never acted before, which is almost the same.

I also love the super 8 footage, and the voice overs from the main characters, paired with this, the obscurity or what he says, is so impactful.

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Field recording vocal: Jesus blood never fail me yet

Scene to discuss from "Gummo"

Just to begin with the end of this video, there are a series of still film images, whilst dialogue about the featured character is playing. WIth only 2:40 (at24fps) for £60, it is valuable to use the super 8 camera to take photographs, To create the grainy, soft and oddly coloured images. With around 2000 frames, it's much more worthwhile to use at least some photography. We can hang on each photo for around a second, and with audio, it can still be very immersive. 

I enjoy the tone of the voice of the main character's voiceover. it's not a way to speak you could hear in real life, but with microphone gain, he can speak this quietly straight into the Microphone and create this effect. I hope Roy (not that he can talk about other characters) can create a similar effect.

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External media

Short 'Nat Geo' Documentary :

I did not include this (although the individuals are vaguely similar to the characters in my film) because of the subject matter. The reason i want to talk about this is because of the use of 8mm film.
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Hitcher

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Hitcher - Chris Coekin

I found this obscure project referenced in the book "Edgelands" it was in fact, a photo used from Hitcher for the cover also. 

As I've begun to put my photography in much higher regard (on par with any film work) I have been thinking of ways to incorporate it more so. My issue with using predominantly photography was that it won't be immersive enough on its own. Although I have thought of all of these very ideas before (photographing everyone who picks me up, keeping the signs, photographing the places) I never did it with enough conviction for it to mean something, it was a sporadic process. 

Keeping the physical items to display with the photographs I think works really well aesthetically and makes the work much more profound with the artefacts which also experienced the ventures. 

Hitchhiking is something almost mythical in the UK now, so it's almost as unseen as a world of ventures as freight train riding. Apart from Hitching is one dull wait to another, why I try to avoid it, I'm also not keen on the loss of dignity, relying on other people's judgement and generosity, sitting there patiently as people throw empty cans at you and beep their horn. A train is a long snake-like vessel, running through the veins of our countries, you are a mere fly on the windshield. If it is present, you only rely on yourself, it's risky but there is no loss of dignity. Only determination and a short series of sprints on loose rock. (see my train photo to the left for the perfect summary of the feeling, I believe this to be a profound photo. The Hobo girl runs maniacally at a 'Rear Engine' as each train as 3-6 in USA, she jumps alongside stumbling for a moment before climbing on. The door is Unlocked and we spend the next 8 Hours inside one of the remote controlled engines, in leather seats, out of the burning sun of the midwest.)

His Own Description

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Hitcher 1

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Hitcher 3

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Hitcher 3

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Hitcher 3 Concept

Hitcher 3 leads to the third most obvious thing to document in this experience - The things you see whilst trying to hitchhike. I've inadvertently documented all of the same things as this projects because it's just so obvious when you're actually doing it. The things you find by the roadside, where cars are never supposed to stop, are very strange at times. 

I found a dying fox in a running position, inadvertently became a 2D object through car traffic, and 16 dead moles hooked my their throats onto a barbed wire fence, they're film photographs so i cannot show here yet as they're not processed. The bottom image of the Rabbit, is used on the cover of "Edgelands" the book i have previously researched.

Alexander Gronsky - Russia - pastoral

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Gronsky's Photography

The top Photograph from the series 'Pastoral' Truly inspired me with some of my photography, and I have attempted to take some photographs heavily influenced by this particular series. As said with the conversation about Frayer's work, The trains will always lead you to such environments, However, when I hitchhiked to Didcot to take the first train (of Ford cars) to Scotland, I had forgotten about the Huge Natural Gas Power Station. 

Coupling this and the best weather so far this year, I had to take some film photographs obviously inspired by this series. In a huge field of Oilseed rape, backing onto a landfill site, the power plant loomed over us. These fields of this crop have become a common site in the last ten years as one of our most popularly grown crops and works great in the photos due to its bright colouring. When I receive it from the processing lab, I hope to make comparisons between mine and Gronskys photos to better my practice. 

Gronsky - Norilsk (The Pinnacle)

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Norilsk Series Explained

As with Frayer's Photography of Industrial China, Norilsk represents the pinnacle in observation of this subject matter. I have known about the Town for a while, it was constructed by gulag prisoners, all the buildings made of brightly coloured prefabricated panels, and was ordered by Stalin as a Mining town to serve central Russia's need for such commodities. 

In this sense it's like some sick time capsule, people still born and die there, however it is ofcourse no longer a prison. This is not evident when looking at the town, and i would have to say,  this landscape coupled with -50c temperature's, it must be a contender for the most depressing place on earth. I struggle with landscape 

I struggle with landscape photography and admire this work in its often lack of figures. I think he does this by photographing at "nighttime" however, there is no dark in summer as it is within the arctic circle. This is how this emptiness is achieved. Without this interest in the photo of figures interacting within the landscape, it is difficult to make such a moving image, as this is what we can relate to, especially in an urban environment in the context of landscape photography. These photo's work so well without any human presence, better than within the instances that is the case. This is what i can draw from the work. 

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