Week 10: 1-2-1

A great chat today with module leader, Gary. Just 20 mins (well, more like 30) but I am appreciative of the chance to bounce ideas, plans and potential directions around with him.

One of the things I feel I have found in Module Three is my ‘muse’. The more I research the environmental issue of sand use, the more opportunities I can imagine for my future work, and an escalation in production.

One of the things I am very conscious of of when creating images, is that I try to be the influence that nurtures the reaction of light on natural substances and light sensitive solutions, rather than being the impact.

However, although you may want to have as little personal, and in my case photographic, impact on the planet, there will always be compromise. For example, even though my choice of process, cyanotype, allows for the unexposed solution to be washed out in rivers/oceans as iron salts, at some point the original chemicals were manufactured, the paper or fabric base were produced, and although I can try to use items which themselves are kinder to the environment, I am aware that having an impact on the earth is impossible to avoid.

Therefore, although I will always try to use the least damaging processes and materials and will continue to create images using nature itself, I will shift my focus to the actual story I want my work to tell, with my own ethics there in the background.

And shifting the focus to the story of sand could open up a number of new avenues. Not only does this resource have a massive global impact on how we live our lives, how we extract it and where from can have devastating effects, and not just ecologically but societally too. And it also has major local implications to people like me who live in coastal areas.

It was encouraging to hear Gary mention that this topic and the ways I plan to explore it have the potential to enable inclusion in photo festivals, grant funding bids and/or residencies. We also discussed my upcoming workshops and how I am going to invite participants to make one image made from sand that they will allow me to display in my exhibition. Thanks to Gary for opening my eyes to a potential new means of interaction – creating a problem solver for participants that will demonstrate how the final images reflects and tells the story of sand and how we use/abuse it. His suggestion for how to do this is something I will look to incorporate.

Advice also included viewing a book The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography. Author Lyle Rexer examines abstraction at major times through photographic history, and given that my images are not documentary in style this could be an interesting means of locating my own work in reference to historical influence. The work of Laura Nissinen was brought back to my attention ( showcased in Week 4) too. She has created her 2014 images for Aleatory Variable through techniques such as burning or damaging with water, while previous work has seen her investigating what a digital image actually is through post production that increases the exposure taken with a lens cap on to show how the camera’s sensor ‘sees’. 

Looking at an example of her work below, and comparing to mine, it will be a worthwhile investigation into the world of abstraction to see if there is a fit.

©Laura Nissinen 2014: Aleatory Variable (burning b&w sheet negative) II
©Josie Purcell 2017: Harena Now sand experimentation 6 (B/W part buried paper plus autotone)

Online reference:

NISSINEN, Laura. 2014. Aleatory Variable Laura Nissinen Available at: http://lauranissinen.com/content/index.html [accessed July 31].