Sustainable Prospects // Next Chapter

As we start Sustainable Prospects, I am excited to take a new approach to my work. In both method and presentation.

At the end of Surfaces and Strategies, I felt that my work was not really where I wanted it and was not feeling very inspired by it. I think that the work I produced was fine, but laked in depth and style, partly because I was not shooting or approaching the project truly how I wanted to and that led me to overlook a look a lot of details.

Over our time off I took time to rethink my approach and asked myself what I really want from this project.

  • Do I want to be looking beyond digital photography and what are the pros and cons of doing that?

Yes. I think working with film, both 35mm and 120 will not only allow me to obtain the image style and quality I want, but It will make me slow down and truly think about my shortlist, my approach to my subjects and allow me to have more ways outside of the camera and computer to experiment and create - which I very much need.

  • How do incorporate more of a physical aspect into my work?

    I think by using film, producing prints and finding different ways of printing and utilizing a sketchbook will help me produce a clear sense of narrative, help with my photo selections, give me a better sense of what I should be shooting, which will then allow me to have a clear idea of how this project will best be presented and consumed my an audience.

  • How many locations do I want to shoot at? Will focusing on just one or two allow me to build better relationships in these chosen communities?

Now we are coming into winter months and travel is not as easy cost-effective, I have decided to focus on two locations in Colorado, One being, my current hometown of Jamestown, an old mining town up in the mountains and Alpen Glow Cohousing in Ridgway CO. I also plan to head back Arcosanti in the spring with a refined approach and direction.

I also feel like I need to include more visuals of the land of these locations, to help tell the full story of the connection of land and people in these places.

I did shoot a roll of film while I was at Arcosanti focusing on just that, without really meaning to and liked the outcome of the photos, but did not include them in my WIP, as they did not align with the aesthetic.

Seeing these made me realize, that if I had put more thought and direction into shooting this way I would, but have been satisfied with the overall outcome of my where my project was at the end of Surfaces and Strategies.

I did get out a few times with this new approach in mind and I am really pleased with the results. I focused on shooting landscape that has been added to or changed by people in some way.

I then developed (and scanned) my film at home, by hand which gave some interesting results as my tanks were not completely clean I got some bubble marks on the negatives, not something I would want moving forward, but I am not disappointed it happened.

Overall I’m happy with how these turned out and excited to move forward with this approach. It has definitely given me fresh inspiration and confidence in moving forward with my project.



Surfaces & Strategies // Project development //

I have started to think about transparent prints, right now I have only made it as far as printing on transparent film, and I have played with the images as a negative and not. I think I will be happy to experiment with this a little more. The first sets were fine, but I feel that there is more room to get more creative with printing my images like this.

I have also used the transparent prints to play around with cyanotype prints, again, this time I kept it very simple but enjoyed the process printing on ready-made cyanotype cloth, and ordered the chemicals so I can start to experiment with my own materials, and start figuring out if this is a path I truly want to take my project.

Surfaces & Strategies // W. Seven // Thinking about pages //

Louis Reith

I originally saw this work as a serious of photos published in a beautifully simple bound book. However the more I think of my work displayed beyond a single or series of framed images, the more I want to book to relate to how my work is presented. Louis Reith was the first to grab my attention. His monochrome Décor - made from old book pages and assembled to function as a new visual story that he wants to represent. I don't feel the need to do that, I am more drawn to the collage style and printing methods he uses. I like the very basic approach of the printing, that allows there to be more freedom when creating the layout and images, without it being too overwhelming and messy.

Though I have not had much of a chance to start putting a book, I intend to experiment in the next few modules.

reference : http://shelter-press.org/louis-reith-decor-sp071/

I have also started to think about layering and using different page sizes and papers for my publication. I think by combining different, sizes and paper, it will give the book a unique feel to it, and possibly a very direct extension of certain buildings and Land I visit.

Reference: Grant-Harder


Surfaces & Strategies // Contextual research // Elena Damiani.

I have recently come across work by Elana Damiani, and have been very inspired by her project Fading Feilds which reflects on the past and present.

The viewer struggles to grasp at once to totality of the image, which keeps fusing with the space in the background. As a result, the works function as constant reminders that it is only through the eyes of the present that we can catch a glimpse of the past, and that both realms -virtual and physical- merge constantly in the act of remembrance.

- Elena Damiani

The images from this project of hers are printed on to silk chiffon, which is translucent and causes the image to fade in and out of site depending on the position of the viewer.

I find my self drawn to her way of layering and manipulation of the images without making to many changes to the actual photo its self and allowing each image to be its self, and this has inspired me to start thinking that rephotography could play a role in my work, to help make the past of certain area's like Twentynine palms more apparent and shows it’s evolution to the present.

I am also very inspired by the way this work is presented. Having it displayed at a large scale helps to really capture the viewer's attention and wonder, allowing them to "play" with images.

Surfaces and Strategies // W. Six Course work // Thinking About Spaces //

Some Considerations

Where will you put it?

At this stage, I like the idea of displaying my work outdoors in a public space where people would be able to come upon the work and view it at their leisure.

However, if I do display in a public space I would not want my work to overly intrusive in its location, I would like the display/installation to be something that catches the eye of someone passing by, without being too obvious.

Paul Farmer and his Meditation Trail, Paintings in the wild is a good example of using an outdoor space that already has people visiting it and it not overbearing on the space.

At this point, with the space available to me, I could do something very similar at a smaller scale, for a shot time.

Paul Famer - meditation trail, paintings in the wild

Who will be looking at your work?


The location I am thinking of will be in a small park that has nothing in it but a few trees and is located in my hometown where a number of locals walk by every day. Also having my work being on display in an area that has nothing else in it, would be quite noticeable and hopefully pique the interest of people passing.


Other thoughts on the space.

When using a public outdoor space, I have thought about the permission I would need and, how the majority of the people in the town would accept me having work up in the park.

There is also the fact that my work will be exposed to the elements, so using materials that would have resistance to the weather.

As I am just beginning to explore the idea of creating installations to display my work, over the next few modules I will start to narrow down, how I want my work displayed, what materials will work together and hold up outdoors, and even if I want to continue to think about using outdoor spaces.

Do I want to exhibit my work at the locations I am shooting, or do I want to have an indoor exhibition in a gallery? and will the locations have a large impact on how I display my work?


Surfaces & Strategies // Contextual research // Sem Langendijk

Sem Langendijk

When coming upon Sem Langendijk’s work I was instantly drawn in as he is very focused on certain communities and their role in shaping the landscape of these harbors, the influence they have on a city 's development and he questions the ownership of land.

His series Amsterdam- Agency, in particular, I find intriguing as it focuses on the ADM community in Amsterdam- a community that was developed 1997 by a group of people looking to create an alternative lifestyle for themselves in a former harbor.

Much like Langendijk, I am focused on communities, their habitats, and their impact on the land, and how their additions to it, function within the landscape. As I am moving forward with this project, I have tried to consider ways of approaching and documenting my chosen areas and communities in a less typical documentary style, and I feel that Langendijk starts to do that with his work. When looking at his Amsterdam series, I find that there is another layer to them, that is genital, unintrusive and an non judgemental reflection of the whole community, which I try very much to keep in mind while shooting and spending time within this communities.

Surfaces & Strategies // Contextual research // Reflection

"I think of my life’s work as a celebration of all of nature, an orchestra that plays not the sounds of one musician, the music of one species, but rather an expression of all of nature’s songs."

- Gregory Colbert

Gregory Colbert's’ Ashes to Snow exhibitions, has long been an inspiration, mostly because they are so immersive.

The work that he creates is very intimate, bold and moving, and I think that allowing people to really feel the full expression of his work an immersive experience is the only way to really do so. I also feel that when you create such an experience, it opens up the work to more people and a wider audience, as there is a draw not just to the work, but to the event its self.

When I come to producing my own work and creating an experience, realistically I will not be producing a show on such a scale as Ashes to Snow, but I want to take elements from it. I want to be able to create spaces that are intriguing, intimate and open to a verity of people.

Creating small structures that could be placed almost anywhere, at this stage would be very doable.

Have something small with minimal materials will be easy enough to construct and place in a public space, where it would be accessible to a number of different people.

I have been thinking about producing a small exhibit with 3-4 images printed and presenting them in some sort of fashion such as the examples below.

Surfaces and Strategies // Project Development

Arcosanti:

My last two trips I have been keeping a visual travel journal, (That I post to my instagram highlights) with photos mostly taken with my phone. I find that it helps me think about how I want to approach the space and the people within it and when using a phone, especially when I first get to a new location I find that it is less intrusive and a little more discrete.

Full WIP gallery can be found here.

Surfaces & Strategies // W. Five course work // Roadmap // Refection

Roadmap

Title of work: High Desert.

Keywords: Land, Community, Interdisciplinary, Collaboration.

Methods and methodologies: With this project, I will be exploring high desert areas in the American west (California, Arizona, and Colorado ) I wish to do so with of mix of techniques, such as digital, 120/35mm as well as cyanotypes.  
These images will range from environmental portraits to landscape within the communities I will be visiting.

I feel that this approach will offer a wider perspective of the subject and hopefully and alternative approach to straightforward documentary photography.   

I have also considered producing a few short videos that will help document the people and surroundings, as well as show my process. I hope to do this with my creative partner Mae Frances, so I can focus on producing images for my project.

Number of shoots: I intend to travel to my chosen locations and spend a few days shooting at each.

Outcomes:
I plan to produce a number of images with my chosen mediums that will be made into a publication and exhibit. 

The relationship:
All the work produced relates to my final project and is allowing me to explore, and connect with people within certain communities  I am visiting as well as the approach and techniques I want to use during this project. I feel that is helping refine and explore new ways of using digital and alternative process alongside each other. 


Surfaces & Strategies // Contextual research //

JACKRABBIT HOMESTEAD

After my first trip to Twentynine Palms, I came across Kim Stringfellow. Her work explores the Mojave desert. The Jackrabbit Homestead, in particular, caught my eye. They are a collection of mostly abandoned shacks left from their former residents, who received the land from the US government as part of the Small Trace Act of 1938.

Stringfellow spent time documenting some of the abandoned houses as well as interviewing local residents, historians, and artist, which reside in reclaimed structures and use them as inspiration for their work.

This led Stringfellow to produce a photobook, photographic exhibit, and web-based multimedia presentation featuring a downloadable car audio tour exploring the cultural legacy of the Small Tract Act.

This work and other projects that she has worked on, has greatly inspired how I want to approach my own work and allowed me to truly think about the presentation and methods that I could use to present my work and make it accessible to multiple audiences.

Screen Shot 2019-08-01 at 11.48.09 AM.png


Surfaces & Strategies // W. Four course work // Hands Off! // Refection

This week was one of the more refreshing and inspiring weeks so far. 

I am always drawn to the work of Mike and Doug Starn, two twin brothers that have been together since their teenage years. They have a very conceptual approach to photography. Over the years they have worked with silver gelatin papers and a number of toning and bleaching methods, they tape together fragments of torn and distressed prints together and use other materials such as wood and metal to create beautifully crafted images that go beyond a simple print. 

I very much admire their approach and the way they challenge the idea of photography.

More recently I have come across Peter Calderwood & Lena Gustafson of Night Dier Press a small print press in California. They create and publish prints, books, zines, and monotypes using a number of different processes and alternative printing techniques.

The cyanotype prints caught my eye especially and I was considering trying cyanotype for this weeks activity as I have never done it before.

Not having a lot of time to create more in-depth images and layering for the cyanotypes, I used found objects, mostly from the garden, and overall, I like the results, but more so I enjoyed the precesses, and it has made me consider possibly adding cyanotype prints to my work.

Surfaces & Strategies // W. Three Strategies of Sharing// Course work // Making a Zine

This week I started working within a group to produce a zine.

We have decided to focus on the theme of Social Documentary, and each of us submitting a number of images from around the world.

https://www.flipsnack.com/nickmurrayphoto/pho703-zine.html

One of the reasons I have always been drawn to photography personally and professionally is that there is always some form of collaboration, whether it be with a subject, client, a team and even the viewer. I find it a way to constantly learn, not only about myself but about my practice, others, and it helps me be aware of how to communicate with others.

Surfaces & Strategies // W. Two // Refection

This past week I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my project and how I want to approach it, and what I really want from it.

The idea of High Desert came about after the reduction of Bears Ears National Monument, and all that has been happening with the North Dakota pipeline in 2015/2016 and in genal our disregard not only for climate change but also the cultures and communities that have lived on the land long before the demand for the earth's resources.

I was invited to contribute to 85for85 to help raise money to fund The Wilderness Society lawsuit to fight this administration's illegal step to reduce Bears Ears, for the first edition, and the second edition money was raised and donated to the newly opened Bears Ears Education Center in Bluff, Utah.

After that, I wanted to continue to work on projects that would highlight the land and the people within in it. The people that are reimaging how we Build on and use the land while encouraging and educating others to do the same.

A new location of interest: Paradise Valley, Arizona - The location of Arcosanti, where since the 1970s has been an arcology prototype and I feel that is very relevant and a productive environment that very much reflects the statement above. I hope to explore how this has made an impact on the area and the people that live there.

“The problem I am confronting is the present design of cities only a few stories high, stretching outward in unwieldy sprawl for miles. As a result, they literally transform the earth, turn farms into parking lots, wasting enormous amounts of time and energy transporting people, goods, & services over their expanses. My solution is urban implosion rather than explosion.” –Paolo Soleri, 1977

Surfaces & Strategies // W. One Strategies of looking // Where are You At? // Reflection

After my first trip out to Twentynine Palms, CA I left feeling inspired by the land and the people I met while I was there. It helped me see the reality of the romanticized lifestyle and landscape that is the essence of the High Desert and life in the American West.

My observations and thoughts about my trip that I want to be present in my project

The high desert brings people together.

The high desert is about opening up to an inventive and creative life that gives back to the community and land.

It’s a vast and expansive environment, which makes you feel that there is endless potential and adventure waiting.

My main focus will be to continue to develop this project and concentrate on how people used the land in the past to how they are building a life in high desert areas now. I will explore how individuals and communities have reclaimed and repurposed the structures and the land its self.

Will be exploring the world Arcology.

I also made a trip to Blue Mesa Reservoir, and after spending a few days there I came to realise that this location will not be a good fit for this project. Though the location is convenient, it would be harder to connect with communities in the area for this specific project.

Blue Mesa May 2019

Blue Mesa May 2019

High Desert // Project Proposal // First Thoughts

I was originally going to submit my project idea called Gray. It's one I have been coming back to on and off for quite some time, but have not really found the right way to approach it.

The Gray project dives into my family history and is centred around the disappearance of my great grandfather Ben Gray. He went missing in the late '70s and the project explores the impacted it had my family. There is a lot of family folklore around this story, which I find interesting and think it would make an intriguing photo essay.

My family were (and some still are) ranchers in Gunnison and the Uncompahgre Valley in Colorado. Ben Gray was quite the cowboy. Along with being known for his rodeos, he was suspected of rustling cattle and horses, which as you can imagine made him not so popular with some people in that community. There are two main stories that I have heard over the years. One is that he was murdered by a hit man hired by his brother, and two that he had a dispute about land, and horses with neighbouring Ute tribe members at the time that lead to him disappearing, and again possibly murdered.

I have found it hard to dive into because there is a lot of hypothetical situations and a lot of family, and somewhat social politics involved that I am not sure I want to approach yet.

How does this relate to my current project proposal?

Two of the biggest themes I find myself drawn to consistently are spaces and landscapes... and the people that inhabit them.

Documenting my surroundings and the people in them became a very natural way for me to communicate and connect my UK and US friends and family. Over the years I have noticed that I have always been drawn to the run down, the abandoned, the somewhat lonely looking structures, wild landscapes that paint the picture of the American West and the people that live there or once did.

Above is early GCSE and A level work. This is when I started exploring the idea, but at the time it was more reflective of me searching for identity and being an angsty teenager. Naturally.

(Photos 1 & 2 of an abandoned motel and cars Blue Mesa, CO. Photos 3 & 4 an abandoned house in Langdon North Dakota)

Jumping to current time, this theme is still prevalent and is a strong foundation in all my work. However, now what I am drawn to when I see these places and people, is the impact we have had on the environment and how it has affected past and present generations.

High Desert is a project about life in western America, starting in Colorado and exploring other high desert areas, such as New Mexico, Utah and possibly parts of California.

What I want to delve into with this project is:

*The Utopian / Dystopian balance in this environment

*The history of our relationship with the land and how is it now. Is it evolving?

*The extremes that come from the high desert environment and how we react to it.

-such as the structures we create, and what materials we use

-the emotional response we have to it

*How can we improve the way we use the land, and can we make amends for what we have already done?

My initial research and inspirations:

Jason Lee - A plain view

Source // Instagram //    @jasonlee

Source // Instagram // @jasonlee

''My aim isn’t to make it depressing, but there is a little bit of a loneliness to it,” Lee says. “In a way, that’s kind of interesting, because it makes you want to stop and maybe pay a little more attention. It’s isolated, in a way. There’s something isolated about it, so you’re focused on what the thing is as its own piece, but then hopefully there’s a cohesive overall piece.” - form a format article

I love the gentle stillness in his work, and the very classic representation of the abandoned American dream, which I think is hard to avoid when approaching this topic.

Morgane ErpicumVolatile Permanence

Her focus on the environment itself is what really draws me in. Also very attracted to the stillness and the sometimes abstract point of view she has of the landscape.

Source // Instagram //    @ morganeerpicum

Source // Instagram // @morganeerpicum

Eduardo Cerruti / Stephanie Draime - www.cerrutidraime.com

Source // Instagram //    Stephanie Draime

Source // Instagram // Stephanie Draime

They use the abandoned, dystopian backdrop to emphasize a product or lifestyle. The duality of that intrigues me. 


Blue Sky Center - About

An organisation building resilient, thriving and inclusive rural economies.

Source // Instagram //    @ blueskycenter

Source // Instagram // @blueskycenter


Andrea Zittel - About 

Artist Andrea Zittel created a number of pods inspired by NASA mars space tents on her property in the desert near Joshua Tree CA.

Source // Instagram //    @ andreazittel

Source // Instagram // @andreazittel


Other research /inspirations: Ghost Ranch NM, and Mesa Verde national park, CO


W.Three // Rethinking Photographers //

 Manufacturers and Developers

In relation to your own practice and professional activity:

What is the impact of ever changing technology

I think we live in a world where the novelty of photography is still very much present as it was back when it was becoming more accessible in our daily lives. We just happen to live in a time that gives us the ability to build cameras that we can carry around with us, cameras that can produce still and motion all in one - which leads us to produce more images and spend more money on the ever changing gadget, which seems to lead the consumer to believe that there is a need to constantly update, because I feel some believe its the technology that makes the photographer.

What challenges has this presented you with?

When I first made the leap into the digital photography from the analogue world I did get overwhelmed with the amount of other photographers out there. It was daunting and a big investment, to begin with, but after committing to it and realizing I still had something to offer as a photographer and did not have to give up shooting analouge it was less overwhelming.

How have you embraced (or rejected) changing technology?

Though I have not given up shooting analouge, I have embraced digital and what comes with it.

How do you think the way cameras are marketed affects people’s perception of the value of professional photography?

I feel that some people will buy a camera (or use one they have) because they see that as a better way to spend their money and take their our photos, thinking, again it’s the camera that makes the photographer, and sometimes it works out, but by doing that they dismissing the value of your time and skills as a photographer.

I think that point of view will always be around, and I feel that it spreads beyond photography. There are a lot of people do understand the value of the professional photographer and are willing to invest.