Monday, 18 July 2011

John Cage - Rules

Thanks to L for posting this in response to my John Cage post, I think they deserve a post all of their own:

"some rules for students and teachers

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student - pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher - pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: be self-disciplined - this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There's no win and no fail, there's only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don't try to create and analyze at the same time. They're different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It's lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: "We're breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities."

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything - it might come in handy later. "

I think John Cage was a wise man.

On Being Confused - Part 2!

While writing up my sketchbook and notes about Gina Glover, I'm once again confused over the difference between primary and secondary research!

It's not that I don't understand the definitions of each, its just how to define them within the context of studying art, and when they overlap:
  • Primary - original, first-hand accounts. In photography terms, I think that means my own work? Where I'm finding out information first-hand by making and doing. But what about finding out about an area first (such as my coastal defenses), and then looking at other photographer's work in this area, before I go to make my own work?

  • Secondary - I think this is when I look at other photographer's work, searching through the internet for styles, other photographers doing similar work etc, going to talks, galleries and so on.
But, what happens if, like this weekend, I go to an artists' talk and discover that they have taken similar images to mine, and then I look up this work - is that primary or secondary?!

Haha, maybe I'll just make all my sketchbooks and notes on loose leaf pages so I can sort them out into bundles when I finally work out the differences!! :)

Gina Glover

Went to hear Gina Glover speak at Street Level this weekend and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I know that sounds a little bad, but I had looked at her website and although I really liked the content, I wasn't so sure about the style of her images.

At first it looks like they are all taken with a Holga, but turns out they are all pinhole photographs. Now I love my Holga, don't get me wrong, but there just seemed to be so many of them! But, I've taken my time, and really looked at her work, and with the exception of a few which are a bit dramatic for my taste, I really like it.

Although quite a lot of her earlier work was undertaken as artist in residence at various hospitals etc (, the title of the Street Level exhibition is 'Playgrounds of War' and started in the early '80s when she first visited the site of the Thor nuclear site in Harrington. She now lives opposite there and this work is about her memories of the land, and memory and its association with the way land is used (and its changes in use).

Needless to say, this really clicked for me! She particularly talked about photographing war, after the war has gone. My HNC project was going through my head when she said this - where I photographed the WW I & II coastal defenses which remain along the Forth, and then she brought up images of the very same ones!! I was really pleased and I'm more convince than ever that this is a project I should return to.

Control Tower, Dallachy, Morayshire

Pillbox, Estonia

Some of my own images from Lower Largo Beach in Fife and Cramond Island, Edinburgh:

I particularly liked the quote Gina used:

The sum of our pasts, generation laid over generation, like the slow mould of the seasons, forms the compost of our future. We live off it.
Simon Schama
I'm really glad that I went to see her, she was a very good speaker and a really nice lady to speak to afterwards. I felt very inspired when I left the gallery, something I hadn't expected!

I was even more pleased to discover some of her older work is obviously influenced by William Christenberry - a woman after my own heart!!!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Work/Life/Study Balance

Or how to work and still be a full-time student! Damned if I know!!!

That was the other feedback I had at the end of 2nd year - I work too much! Actually, it's not that I work too much, it's probably that I don't study enough! Actually, it's not that either!! What happens is that I work, I'm both physically and mentally exhausted at the end of the day or the week, and don't have the energy to go out and make photographs. Or, come the weekend I have normal everyday things to catch up on, or, it's raining!! This invariably means that I find it much easier to study and do research (which I got good marks for) but have very little photographic work.

TJC's advice was to work more through 3rd year in order to not have to work during 4th year. Understandable advice, (although I don't want to miss 3rd year) but I have to be realistic - I want a good degree, but when this is over, I'm more than likely to still be a trainer. My aim is to help other artists build their own businesses, and that's not going to happen if I've let my own business go. It's taken me 11 years to build my business and a year out will leave me starting again - not an option at my age.

So, if anyone reading this has any ideas about how I can balance all these bits of my life, I'd be very happy to hear it - and yes, I'm already doing the Lottery, just in case!!! :)

Song for Whoever

My last post leads me nicely on to an a-ha moment I had recently.

Many years ago, when I lived in London, I dated a musician for a while. We were part of a bigger crowd, many of whom were singers and songwriters and being a typical starry eyed, romantic twenty something, I used to ask him to write me a song! Perhaps I thought he'd declare his undying love for me in words and melody, but he never did!

Fast forward to this year and we reconnected via FaceBook. We've exchanged a few emails about those London days, and he recently sent me some of the new music he's been working on - and there I am, finally, in his songs!! Not directly of course, but listening to the words of the songs, it made me realise that song writing is an art form too and like most artists, songs aren't written on demand anymore than paintings are painted, photographs made etc. I know some songwriters do work like that, but for most it's about a culmination of other influences - emotions, ideas, thoughts, events etc - that lead themselves to being expressed via a chosen artistic medium. I now know that I will be in his songs in the same way it's inevitable that he'll be in my images. Not literally, but there none the less. It's my constructed image a-ha breakthrough all over again!!

On Being Confused - Part 1 (of many!)

So while I'm on the subject of personal versus private, I wanted to say something about how confusing my feedback at the end of 2nd year was. Grade wise I did fine and can't complain about it given my lack of images/produced work, but the actual feedback did leave me confused, and to be honest, a bit unhappy and annoyed; it kind of left me not knowing what to do!

The 'conundrum' appears to be that on the one hand my work is very impersonal, but on the other hand is extremely personal and private. I got the impression that this is something that is wrong. When I look at other people's work, some of it is very personal (boobs and bits galore!), or at least comes from somewhere very personal, and yet they didn't get the same feedback.

Today I went to hear an artist talk at Street Level and a lot of her work comes from some of really bad times in her life (and other people's), some of it comes from memories of her childhood. I just don't understand - surely as an artist, your work is an expression of how you think and feel about certain things, so how can it being personal be wrong?

Maybe I'm over analysing this, but I was feeling much more comfortable with the work I was producing (what little there was) after J's feedback earlier in the year. He had pointed out that I shouldn't be so concerned about how people viewed my work; I felt that I'd now understood what he meant, and had become a little more confident about putting my work out there. Now I'm not really sure where I am!!! Need another a-ha moment for this lesson I think!

It's been a while - again!!

I've said this before, and I'll no doubt say it again, but one of the things about blogging is that when you don't post anything for a while, you think you should post about the things that have happened, in the order they happened! But then you always end up playing catch-up. So, here's another list of some of the things that I'd like to post about and, once again, I'll just post things as they come to mind and if my timings are all over the place, so it goes!

  • The book project in 3rd term of 2nd year
  • 2nd year feedback - confused! :(
  • 2nd year just fizzling out
  • The degree show - my highlights
  • The 3rd year show and the PHds
  • The MFA show
  • The Vis Comm degree show - awesome!
  • Work/life/study balance - the problem with being a working student :(
  • Old friends, songwriting and another a-ha moment (outwith GSA this time!)
  • Being homesick!

So that's my reminder list - I'm going to try to post some thoughts on all these things in the next few weeks.
However, I have a dilemma with blogging. I talked to L once about how different my blog is to T's, and she said that T's was about her ideas etc, but mine seemed more about the process of going through this course. And therein lies my problem, so much of what's been going on is my very personal process and a big part of me wants to share it, but a part of me thinks that might not be such a good idea! Will try to work it out, as I think some of what I've been going through is very pertinent, albeit very personal - it's all about balance, MJ, all about balance!!