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Marcus Backman - Final presentation and conclusion 31/5/2012

We presented our work today in the Phoenix Gallery, in groups of 14 or so at a time.  I put my work up in the second half of the class, and was lucky enough to get a spot that had plenty of space and lots of viewing room around it for the audience to see the piece as it should be seen.  The presentation went really well - I just discussed the piece, including the work that went into it and some more of the conceptual aspects that I hadn’t mentioned in my research presentation.  Feedback was really positive from the class, and in the end I am really proud of what I have created in this work.  It is one of the first pieces I have made that has a really solid visual and conceptual link, and I feel it has allowed me to express myself perfectly through the photographic medium. 

My research question for this assignment was:

"How can transitional periods in one’s life, such as when one is in the process of moving house, along with the emotional and mental feeling of disconnection and liminality of living neither ‘here’ nor ‘there’ that go with it, be faithfully portrayed using the photographic medium?" 

In response to this question after completing my work, I feel that the photographic medium is much more than simply ‘one shot/one perspective’ shots and prints, i.e. more ‘traditional photography’.  By investigating other methods, such as photo-collage where one is creating multiple perspectives, including creating a virtual space that inhabits 88 different milliseconds, and 88 different perspectives with slightly different focus, one is able to escape the restrictions of the photographic medium and, ultimately, can create new and exciting forms of expression like I have.  My work was all about the state of ‘liminality’ - the state of transition which I am experiencing while in the process of moving house - which individuals find themselves in at different challenging points in ones life.  I felt disconnected at not belonging to any one ‘home’ at this point, and used this assignment to try and work through this conscious state, and to attempt at displaying a liminal state visually.  By creating the work entirely in my new room, which didn’t feel like my room when I began this assignment months ago, I was able to explore my new space which I will call ‘home’ soon in a meticulous and close perspective.  By spending many hours in the room creating the work I was able to breathe life into this area, and at the end of this creation process I now feel that this room is my home, no longer some empty space.  Spiritually, i have moved through this liminal period in my life nearly completely as a result of creating this artwork - and could be seen as an example of ‘art as therapy’, or as a process whereby one puts their heart and soul into a practical source and, in the end, creates a part of themselves in a physical art form.  I personally feel this is some of my most complete work in photography at Deakin uni so far, and am completely proud of the final piece.

Research Assignment / Presentation

Assignment 2 Research paper and presentation

Marcus Backman

 

Title of project:

Neither/nor; Investigating a liminal conscious state using the photographic medium

 

Brief Description:
This assignment is a personal response to the emotional and personal feelings attached towards moving houses for the first time in one’s life.  In my personal situation, my family has bought a new house, but are yet to sell our old and current one, so we are in a state of transition where we aren’t living in either house entirely, with the added stress of weekly house inspections and an expensive monthly ‘bridging loan’ that goes towards the new house adding extra stress to our lives.


Research Question:

How can transitional periods in one’s life, such as when one is in the process of moving house, along with the emotional and mental feeling of disconnection and liminality of living neither ‘here’ nor ‘there’ that go with it, be faithfully portrayed using the photographic medium? 

 

Deeper Discussion:

The bulk of my research was directed at the concept of ‘liminality’, which I discovered upon researching psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s concept of ‘transcendent function’ and ‘individuation’.  Liminality is defined as the conscious state whereby one is on a ‘threshold’ between two separate planes (i.e. divided between two separate homes, or standing half way in a doorway, being half inside/half outside at the same time).[1]  In such a state, one is stuck at the midpoint of transition in a sequence between two positions – it signifies the paradoxical situation whereby the death of the old coexists with birth of the new[2].  The idea of ‘Liminality’ was originally conceived by anthropologist Victor Turner, whom used the term to describe the middle of three stages of primitive initiation ceremonies, known as ; separation (signifying the detachment of an individual from a fixed state), margin (liminality; the state of ‘in-betweeness’ and transition), and finally, aggregation (when passage through this state is consummated)[3].  In such initiations, one is separated from their status in a culture, placed in a state of liminality, and after the initiation process, is returned back to their social structure with a new status or role.[4]  Turner described the person going through a liminal experience as ‘structurally invisible’ because he/she belongs neither to the old nor the new in that period.[5]  Carl Jung also added that while one is in this state or transition, their consciousness moves into a new territory of pure possibility that is the potential source of all sorts of original and new ideas.  This space allows and forces the reformation of old into new, and forces ones consciousness to embrace change[6].  As someone who is stuck in this disjointed inner state of chaos while in the slow and arduous process of moving house for the first time, this research into liminality has influenced and fuelled the creation of my photographic work for this unit, and has allowed me to channel my energy into something productive rather than something detrimental and counterproductive.

 

Aside from my conceptual research, I also investigated and was inspired by a handful of photographers.  I began with a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve visually with my final pieces, and my research into the works of people who had worked using ‘photomontage/collage’ techniques inspired me greatly.  David Hockney’s joiners have been my main influence, with his insights into finding a new perspective in photography using a photo-collage grid aesthetic being the core influence in the visual parts of my works. [7]  I’ll return to Hockney later in more detail.  Another photographer who worked using a grid display was Thomas Kellner, who lined up horizontal rolls of developed film to create a final composite image that displayed a large scene split into hundreds of tiny pieces.[8]  I was also inspired heavily by Daniel Crooks video works that had a heavy emphasis on the portrayal of time and motion.  Crooks’ works hold a transcending nature to them that almost shows a spiritual side of the human race visually, which crooks achieved through the editing of his videos.[9]  The self-portraiture works of Lee Friedlander also helped me understand the ‘self-portraiture’ genre in a more realistic sense.  His self-portraits of himself and his shadow/reflections, in his “Self Portrait” series, led the way in a new form of self-portrayal in photography that was raw, real, and in no way glamorous.[10]  Friedlander showed audiences his own self in the most bare and basic ways, showing no emotion, and remaining as ‘objective’ as a photographer can.

 

David Hockney, though, remains the most important influence for my work this year.  Hockney has been an important figure in painting, illustration, and photography for the past 40 years.  Although not being trained in photography, Hockney worked extensively using the polaroid camera since the early 80s, and exhausted nearly every possibility in the medium of ‘photo-collage’ or ‘joiners’ as he liked to call them, by 1986, when he returned to painting as his primary interest.[11]  Hockney states that his experimentation with the Polaroid camera making photo-collages rekindled his interest in cubism, and allowed him to see the world in a new light.  Hockney’s earlier experiments in the medium focussed on the grid structured photo-collage, where he would take 40 odd photographs of each piece of an entire scene close up, then combine them together to create the final image.  These pieces allowed Hockney to portray 40 different moments in time from 40 different perspectives, creating new meaning when paired together, evoking a sense of time as well as spatial depth and complexity.[12]  In Hockney’s book ‘That’s The Way I See It’, he explains that there are two ways of seeing the world; seeing the world from a distance (through a keyhole/window, from a one-point perspective), and oppositely, from being ‘in the world’, i.e. being an active participant in viewing a scene without ‘edges’[13].  In his later photographic works, Hockney attempted to remove the edges to his pieces, allowing his audience to feel more connected to his works.  When viewing an image from the ‘keyhole’ perspective, the viewer can remove himself from the image and see it as a portal into another time/space, whereas when the edges are removed, the viewer becomes more involved in the subject in a very personal way.[14]  Hockney was primarily concerned with experimentation using cubist aesthetics in his photography, and his investigation into perspective and time accompanied this aesthetic perfectly.

 

One of Hockney’s most impressive pieces, which was also the last created using photographic medium and also a culmination of techniques he had experimented with during the 1980s, is titled ‘Pearblossom Highway’ from 1986, which was commissioned by Vanity Fair magazine.  Hockney states that the piece is a mixture of photography and painting, as he had to literally paint each piece of the entire scene and combine them together in a collage to complete the piece.[15]  Each close-up photograph of the signs featured in the setting, the road, or rubbish found on the ground, was taken in front or close to that subject.  The entire piece is a construct of moving about the setting, even though it looks like an entire scene shot in single perspective at first glance; and it accentuates Hockney’s championing of the non-central standpoint in his photographic works.  Pearblossom combined all the experimentation Hockney had trialled over the 1980’s, using reverse perspective in the close-up objects, no central standpoint, and the manipulation of “perspective” as a core feature of the photographic form, much like he did in his earlier piece ‘Walking in the zen garden’ from 1983. 

“Most photographers think that the rules of perspective are built into the very nature of photography, that it is not possible to change it at all.  For me, it was a long process realizing that this does not have to be the case.” – David Hockney [16]

Present and discuss the issues in your work:

My work is personally important as it is a way to understand and cope with being in a liminal situation – being stuck in the middle of chaotic circumstances and not knowing where to find peace amidst the chaos.  The fragmented nature of these works will be presented as an overall image made up of composite photographs placed in a grid structure, influenced by David Hockney’s ‘joiners’.  This accentuates the idea of disconnection in ones consciousness during a transitional period in their lives.  The pieces will be large scale in their final form, and will only be able to be viewed as a whole image from afar.  As such, there is a physical involvement of the audience with the work that acts as metaphor for the work one has to make consciously when working through a liminal period.  By stepping back from the chaos, one is able to view the bigger picture and make sense of their lives (and the work).  Also by looking introspectively at a close distance, one is able to analyse these past parts of their lives (symbolized by each image individually in the grid in the pieces) that they worked through, ultimately forming who they are as people in the present.  Technically, I want each photograph to be successful on its own, and as such I will have to make sure the exposure and focus are correct for each self-portrait photo.  My final presentation will be made up of either 1 or 2 large photo-collage pieces made up of approximately 64 images (an 8x8 grid).


Annotated Bibliography:

 

Anonymous, David Hockney’s Joiners, 5election, 2010, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://5election.com/2010/09/05/david-hockneys-joiners>

An internet article from 5election (the international coolhunting magazine) about David Hockney, mainly focusing on his experiments into the photographic medium during the 1980s.  It features a historic look at Hockney’s work, from his early experiments using a Polaroid camera, making photo-collages in massive grid layouts (much alike a huge version of a polaroid exposure), to his evolution into 35mm print photomontage creations, where there were no edges to his pieces and each photo overlapped another (creating a  non central standpoint in these pieces), to his latter pieces which created narratives showing the passing of time or an activity (his famous work of these is the portrayal of an active scrabble game in photographic form as it progresses), and conclusively, his final piece ‘Pearblossom Highway’, whereby all his past experiments in the medium were combined in one final, massive piece.  The article also discusses Hockney’s latest projects, from 2009, whereby he made paintings using the apple iPad, and displayed them in a dim gallery using the iPad as the display and lighting for each piece.

This article is a fantastic starting point for anyone interested in David Hockney’s photographic experiments, and gives great amounts of insight and quotations from Hockney himself that accentuate the works and provide new meaning to these pieces.

Anonymous, Liminality, Evolve The Conversation, 2012, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://www.evolvetheconversation.com/words/liminality.php>

Friedlander, L, Self Portrait, Meseum of Modern Art, 2005

Getty Museum, David Hockney’s Pearblossom Hwy, Youtube, 2012, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD123svCFHQ>

Hockney, D, That’s The Way I See It, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1999.

This is a book written by artist David Hockney that discusses the philosophy and conceptual/technical ideas behind his life’s work in both painting and photography.  It includes in-depth analysis of not only bibliographical pieces of Hockney’s life and art, but also the ideas, the deeper meaning, and the philosophical ideas of what it means his art means to represent, and how it achieves that.  Although mainly focusing on Hockney’s lengthy array of painted works, there are 2 chapters based on Hockney’s photographic works, including discussion on the mediums limitations and its representation of time, perspective, and space – including how these can be exploited.  All chapters link into each other, and provide historic insight into various painting movements, with cubism the main focus throughout most of the book.  This text also includes full colour reproductions of Hockney’s painted and photographic works in great detail, all of which are accompanied by a brief insight from Hockney himself. 


This book is the ideal source for anyone wanting to understand Hockney’s work, as all of its content comes from Hockney himself.  It would be the perfect reference material for painting and photography students, and just ‘art’ students in general due to its in-depth discussion on how art is perceived and understood in our society.

 

McRae, E, Profile: Daniel Crooks, Experimenta, 2007, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://www.experimenta.org/mesh/mesh17/crooks.htm>

Miller, J, ‘Chapter Six: The Deeper Roots of the Transcendent Function’, The Transcendent Function: Jung’s model of psychological growth through dialogue with the unconscious, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2004, p. 104.

This is a book by Jeffery Millerwhereby he discusses themes and research by psychoanalyst Carl Jung, and investigates these findings in an in-depth manor, linking Jungs research to that of others, and discussing them in a general manor that is accessible for most people (i.e. not solely for psychology students).  Chapter six investigates Jung’s interpretation of ‘liminality’, and how it fits into his ideas of ‘transendent function’ and ‘individuation’ – which are two key focuses of his psychoanalytical work used to describe the evolution of ones consciousness throughout life.   Jung states that a liminal conscious state acts as a psychological purpose to transition psyche from a conflict set of circumstances to one that allows us to resolve a conflict.  Miller’s book draws heavily on the history of ‘liminality’ in this chapter, referencing the words and ideas of anthropologists Victor Turner and Arnold Van Gennep, who coined the term ‘liminality’ when studying ancient initiation ceremonies in Zambian tribes.

This book acts as an anvaluable link between the historic forms of liminality researched by Turner and Van gennep, and the more pshycological works of Calr Jung – where the focus is on liminality as a conscious state that helps us evolve and grow through conflict, rather than using the term to solely describe stages tribal ceremonies.  Jung’s research allows the term ‘liminality’ to be applied to many contexts, and proves that the state is a pivotal stage in personal inner-growth in life.

Scully, J, ‘Can you take out insurance against the hazzards of self-expression?’, Modern Photography, vol. 49, 1985.

Turner, J, Cubism, Joiners and the Multiple Viewpoint, The Delights of Seeing, 2007, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://thedelightsofseeing.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/cubism-joiners-and-multiple-viewpoint.html>

This article was posted on a blog ‘The Delights of Seeing’ by photographic teacher, J Turner, in order to inform and inspire photographic students.  This individual post focuses on cubist aesthetics in photography, including works that focus on multiple viewpoints, the manipulation of time and perspective, and a large focus on painter/photographer Daivd Hockneys experiments with the Polaroid camera.  The article goes in depth with information on how Hockney created his photocollage creations, and then delves into his influences, which range from ancient eastern art, to painters and cubists Picasso, Paul Cezanne, and George Braque.  A link is drawn between these painters latter cubist inspired works, and Hockney’s latter photographic experiments with 35mm camera, whereby he attempted to show no perspective/reverse perspective/and no edges in his works.  The article then goes on to investigate, briefly, other contemporary modern artists whose work shows these cubist aesthetics, which ranges from the video works of Daniel Crooks, to the photomontage cityscapes created by Sohei Nishino, to the epic grid photo collage creations on film by Thomas Kellner.  Overall, this is a valuable starting point for anyone investigating these ideas in photography, and although the information is brief, it is informative and proves as a spring board onto artists you otherwise may have not heard of.

Victor, T, ‘Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage’, Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Rituals, Cornell University Press, p. 94.

This book, and most specifically this chapter, written by anthropologist Victor Turner in 1967, focuses on the investigation into the idea of the ‘liminal period’ in ancient tribal initiation ceremonies, drawing reference on another anthropologist Arnold van Gennep’s research into ‘rites de passage’.  The text discusses this idea of ‘liminality’ as the middle of three stages during rites of transition, separated by three different stages (separation, margin, and aggregation).  This middle phase, defined as liminality, is explained as a point of ‘in-betweeness’ and transition in an individual, whereby one is neither part of the old or new, and symbolizes the death of the old paradoxically coexisting with the new.  Turner states that all individuals must go through this process in order to transition through phases in life (puberty – from boy to man, marriage – from single to coupled, etc) and to evolve as individuals.  Turners study focuses on examples found in initiation ceremonies of the Ndembu tribe of Zambia, and relates the idea of ‘liminality’ towards the transition of boy to man through these ceremonies, but his studies can be related to any other transitional period whereby there is a liminal period in life – you just need to change the context into a more contemporary form.  This chapter is invaluable to anyone investigating the idea of ‘liminality’, as it defines the original terms and helps one understand how it was conceived in a historic sense, thus allowing one to understand the term when related to contemporary contexts.

 

In-text References:



[1] Anonymous, Liminality, Evolve The Conversation, 2012, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://www.evolvetheconversation.com/words/liminality.php>

[2] J Miller, ‘Chapter Six: The Deeper Roots of the Transcendent Function’, The Transcendent Function: Jung’s model of psychological growth through dialogue with the unconscious, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2004, p. 105.

[3] V Turner, ‘Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage’, Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Rituals, Cornell University Press, p. 94.

[4] J Miller, ‘Chapter Six: The Deeper Roots of the Transcendent Function’, The Transcendent Function: Jung’s model of psychological growth through dialogue with the unconscious, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2004, p. 104.

[5] Ibid, p. 105.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Anonymous, David Hockney’s Joiners, 5election, 2010, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://5election.com/2010/09/05/david-hockneys-joiners>

[8] J Turner, Cubism, Joiners and the Multiple Viewpoint, The Delights of Seeing, 2007, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://thedelightsofseeing.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/cubism-joiners-and-multiple-viewpoint.html>

[9] E McRae, Profile: Daniel Crooks,  Experimenta, 2007, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://www.experimenta.org/mesh/mesh17/crooks.htm>

[10] L Friedlander, Self Portrait, Meseum of Modern Art, 2005.

[11] D Hockney, That’s The Way I See It, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1999, p. 89.

[12] J Scully, ‘Can you take out insurance against the hazzards of self-expression?’, Modern Photography, vol. 49, 1985.

[13] D Hockney, That’s The Way I See It, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1999, p. 102

[14] Ibid, p. 129.

[15] Getty Museum, David Hockney’s Pearblossom Hwy, Youtube, 2012, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD123svCFHQ>

[16] Anonymous, David Hockney’s Joiners, 5election, 2010, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://5election.com/2010/09/05/david-hockneys-joiners>

[17] D Hockney, That’s The Way I See It, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1999, p. 112-113.

Marcus Backman - Final day of work 30/5/2012

I continued work today on my final piece for ACM328, and managed to finish it by the afternoon.  I managed to work around the problem I had yesterday, where there was a gap on the right side of the middles pieces of paper and also on the right sides of the right pieces of paper, by overlapping the paper and connecting them with tape, ultimately making them 1 piece (which now makes it 4 panels of paper in total for the piece).  By combining the paper together I was able to avoid inconsistencies in the final grid, and didn’t damage the paper by attempting to cut it in any way, which was great.

I finished sticking all the remaining photographs onto its corresponding piece of paper, and finished the work once this was all complete.  The final composition looks fantastic, with the border surrounding the piece looking tantamount to a polaroid exposure border, which is a nice little nod to Hockney’s work in the 1980s.  After completing the work I went and bought a pack of sturdy pins for tomorrow to hang the work up with - I’ll try to pin the work up in such a way that they will not get in the way of the final composite image.

Marcus Backman - paper, measurements, and final composition 29/05/2012

I stopped by the arts store today and spent a long time deciding what backing I would use for this piece.  In the end, I went with these 6 portable and convenient cardpaper pieces, as they mostly fit in with the size of the final piece (with an extra 10 inches across, and an extra 3 down).  I also picked up small double sided adhesive stickers to stick the photos to the paper.

When I lay everything down on the floor, it took a while to get all components of this piece working in harmony, as there was small breaks between each piece of paper that needed to be taken into account when making the grid.  In the end, I figured it all out and just need to cut a small piece of the two right pieces of paper in order for the border to be consistent throughout the entire piece.

The next process, which I only got half done today, involved sticking double sided sticky squares onto all four corners of each photograph then sticking it down so it fit in to the grid sturcture.  This process takes a long time as it is all hands on and has to be precise.  As the nature of the piece is self portraiture at heart, I decided that I would not get any outside assistance to help me get it done quicker in order to stick to the conceptual backing behind the work.

Tomorrow is Wednesday, the day before we present our works.  I just need to finish sticking all the photographs down, plus cut down the backing paper on the right pieces so they fit in properly, then buy 24 sturdy pins for when I hang the pieces in the Phoenix gallery on Thursday.  Everything is going to plan and I’m right on schedule!

Marcus Backman - Measurements and prints 28/5/2012

I got the photos printed today at Harvey Norman.  In total there were 88 photos, printed on 6x4 paper.  The grid of the final composition is:  11 down, 8 across.  The final dimension of the piece, including the space between each photograph that makes up the grid, is 51x48” inches.  I measured the length and width, while adding an extra inch each way to leave room for error.

The next task is deciding how to display this piece.  I originally wanted to pin each photograph up at the Phoenix Gallery individually, leaving space between each photo for the grid, but I thought this was too time consuming and would not allow the work to be portable.  Seeing as though we have to take our work down for the other half of the class to present their work, as well, it would be too much of a hassle.  I now need to look for some paper/mounting board that is big enough to support this piece, which is quite large in its final form.  If I cannot find a board big enough, or find it is too inconvenient, I may just purchase two smaller boards that make up the final size, and just combine them next to each other when presenting the pieces, essentially making the work portable and less of a hindrance.  The 88 photographs will be stuck onto the mounting board with 4 small sticky mounting squares each, allowing each photo to be properly attached to the board.  I’ll look into this presentation task tomorrow.

Marcus Backman - final composition 27/5/2012
I continued the piece all morning today, and edited in the afternoon.  I completed the front carpet, adding in my headphones, including the wire squiggled through the bottom photos, and my record player on the right bottom side.  Both these objects represent the things that I have moved to the new house - which are my music equipment (speakers, amplifier, record players, mixer, headphones, my record collection, my armchair).  As they are a part of the new house, they are included in this piece as this is their new home, as it is mine.
I edited the roof so it was more consistent across the piece, and fine tuned some of the white balance in the photographs.  I also finished off the photographs of my body in the chair for the piece, which was a long and hard process to get things working properly and consistently (the final shots featured many blurring or badly composed pieces, as i was using a remote shutter release).  I decided to leave out the two photographs of my face, as it compliments the conceptual backing to this piece - that I am in a &#8216;liminal&#8217; state while moving house, and although I feel that the new house is my new home, I am not fully moved in yet, which is represented by a small part of the final piece (my face) missing.
Now that the final composition is done, I&#8217;ll need to fine tune the last images, and rename them in order in preparation for printing, which will probably be done on Tuesday.  I also need to find a backing board/paper big enough to stick all the images onto.

Marcus Backman - final composition 27/5/2012

I continued the piece all morning today, and edited in the afternoon.  I completed the front carpet, adding in my headphones, including the wire squiggled through the bottom photos, and my record player on the right bottom side.  Both these objects represent the things that I have moved to the new house - which are my music equipment (speakers, amplifier, record players, mixer, headphones, my record collection, my armchair).  As they are a part of the new house, they are included in this piece as this is their new home, as it is mine.

I edited the roof so it was more consistent across the piece, and fine tuned some of the white balance in the photographs.  I also finished off the photographs of my body in the chair for the piece, which was a long and hard process to get things working properly and consistently (the final shots featured many blurring or badly composed pieces, as i was using a remote shutter release).  I decided to leave out the two photographs of my face, as it compliments the conceptual backing to this piece - that I am in a ‘liminal’ state while moving house, and although I feel that the new house is my new home, I am not fully moved in yet, which is represented by a small part of the final piece (my face) missing.

Now that the final composition is done, I’ll need to fine tune the last images, and rename them in order in preparation for printing, which will probably be done on Tuesday.  I also need to find a backing board/paper big enough to stick all the images onto.

Marcus Backman - Addition of feet and turntable + correction of the couch shape 26/5/2012
This project is great because you can leave your progress for one day and continue it the next, building on the scene in greater detail.  Today I trialed adding another object to the scene (the turntable) and started my body (with my feet and ankles).  The turntable will be connected to headphones which I will be wearing in the &#8216;final piece&#8217;, but the four photographs of the turntable need to be taken more precisely to allow a more cohesive final image of the object.  I&#8217;ll just need to use rulers and measuring tape to get it correct tomorrow.
The addition of my feet has already added much needed life to the piece, and I&#8217;m sure adding the rest of my body will go well as long as I continue with my formula I am using at the moment.

Marcus Backman - Addition of feet and turntable + correction of the couch shape 26/5/2012

This project is great because you can leave your progress for one day and continue it the next, building on the scene in greater detail.  Today I trialed adding another object to the scene (the turntable) and started my body (with my feet and ankles).  The turntable will be connected to headphones which I will be wearing in the ‘final piece’, but the four photographs of the turntable need to be taken more precisely to allow a more cohesive final image of the object.  I’ll just need to use rulers and measuring tape to get it correct tomorrow.

The addition of my feet has already added much needed life to the piece, and I’m sure adding the rest of my body will go well as long as I continue with my formula I am using at the moment.

Marcus Backman - Trial for room 25/5/2012
I experimented further in greater detail with my photo-collage work today with this trial.  I composed each shot much closer to each object to allow for greater detail in more photographs, and to lessen the chance of overlapping pieces in the final composition.  I also went further with reverse perspective by adding the roof and the beginning of both sides of the room, including a cupboard on the left and a curtain and window on the right.  By flattening out space in this way, you can create a one perspective view on a 180 degree viewpoint, and it looks fantastic visually.
I will shoot again this week and attempt at creating my final piece.  The most important part of the work will be the chair + the self portrait (of my body in the chair), and its the most difficult as I am not directly in control of how the shot will turn out.  After that piece is complete I can just paint in the room around the chair quite easily.

Marcus Backman - Trial for room 25/5/2012

I experimented further in greater detail with my photo-collage work today with this trial.  I composed each shot much closer to each object to allow for greater detail in more photographs, and to lessen the chance of overlapping pieces in the final composition.  I also went further with reverse perspective by adding the roof and the beginning of both sides of the room, including a cupboard on the left and a curtain and window on the right.  By flattening out space in this way, you can create a one perspective view on a 180 degree viewpoint, and it looks fantastic visually.

I will shoot again this week and attempt at creating my final piece.  The most important part of the work will be the chair + the self portrait (of my body in the chair), and its the most difficult as I am not directly in control of how the shot will turn out.  After that piece is complete I can just paint in the room around the chair quite easily.

Research: Liminality as a concept

Research from my Research Presentation, which presents the  conceptual and philosophical backing behind my works:

The bulk of my research was directed at the concept of ‘liminality’, which I discovered upon researching psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s concept of ‘transcendent function’.  Liminality is defined as the conscious state whereby one is on a ‘threshold’ between two separate planes (i.e. divided between two separate homes, or standing half way in a doorway, being half inside/half outside at the same time).  In such a state, one is stuck at the midpoint of transition in a sequence between two positions – it signifies the paradoxical situation whereby the death of the old coexists with birth of the new. 

The idea of ‘Liminality’ was originally conceived by anthropologist Victor Turner, whom used the term in his book ‘Forest of Symbols’ to describe the middle of three stages of primitive initiation ceremonies , which were: separation (signifying the detachment of an individual from a fixed state), margin (liminality; the state of ‘in-betweeness’ and transition), and finally, aggregation (when passage through this state is consummated).  In such initiations, one is separated from their status in a culture, placed in a state of liminality, and after the initiation process, is returned back to their social structure with a new status or role. Turner described the person going through a liminal experience as ‘structurally invisible’ because he/she belongs neither to the old nor the new in that period.  Carl Jung also added that while one is in this state or transition, their consciousness moves into a new territory of pure possibility that is the potential source of all sorts of original and new ideas.  This space allows and forces the reformation of old into new, and forces ones consciousness to embrace change. 

As someone who is stuck in this disjointed inner state of chaos while in the slow process of moving house, this research into liminality has influenced and fueled the creation of my photographic work for this unit, and has allowed me to channel my energy into something productive rather than something detrimental and counterproductive.  The idea of a ‘liminal state of consciousness’ is easily understood using Turner and Jung’s conceptual theory on the term when related to my own situation, and sheds light onto the feelings of ‘in-betweeness’ and of not belonging to any definite state during a liminal point in one’s life.  As the term ‘liminality’ is not an actual term found in a dictionary, it is lesser known and not understood as it should be, as we all go through these periods in our lives, both physically and mentally, and it affects our conscious state while stuck in it.

Research: David Hockney, continued…

More research from my Research presentation:

David Hockney, though, remains the most important influence for my work this year.  Hockney has been an important figure in painting, illustration, and photography for the past 40 years.  Although not being trained in photography, Hockney worked extensively using the Polaroid camera since the early 80s, and exhausted nearly every possibility in the medium of ‘photo-collage’ or ‘joiners’ as he liked to call them, by 1986, when he returned to painting as his primary interest.  Hockney states that his experimentation with the Polaroid camera making photo-collages rekindled his interest in cubism, and allowed him to see the world in a new light.  Hockney’s earlier experiments in the medium focused on the grid structured collage, where he would take 40 odd photographs of each piece of an entire scene close up, then combine them together to create the final image.  These pieces allowed Hockney to portray 40 different moments in time from 40 different perspectives, creating new meaning when paired together.  In Hockney’s book ‘That’s The Way I See It’, he explains that there are two ways of seeing the world; seeing the world from a distance (through a keyhole/window, from a one-point perspective), and oppositely, from being ‘in the world’, i.e. being an active participant in viewing a scene without ‘edges’.  In his later photographic works, Hockney attempted to remove the edges to his pieces, allowing his audience to feel more connected to his works.  When viewing an image from the ‘keyhole’ perspective, the viewer can remove himself from the image and see it as a portal into another time/space, whereas when the edges are removed, the viewer becomes more involved in the subject in a very personal way. Hockney was primarily concerned with experimentation using cubist aesthetics in his photography, and his investigation into perspective and time accompanied this aesthetic perfectly.

One of Hockney’s most impressive pieces, which was also the last created using photographic medium and also a culmination of techniques he had experimented with during the 1980s, is titled ‘Pearblossom highway’ from 1986, which was commissioned by Vanity Fair magazine.  Hockney states that the piece is a mixture of photography and painting, as he had to literally ‘paint each piece of the entire scene and combine them together in a collage to complete the piece.  The sky, made up of hundreds of blue hued squares, is the perfect example of the painting aspect of the piece.  Each close-up of the signs featured in the setting, the road, or of rubbish on the ground, were taken in front of that subject – for example, he had to climb a ladder to get the ‘stop sign’ photo.  The entire piece is a construct of moving about the area, even though it looks like an entire scene on first glance.  The piece accentuates Hockney’s championing of the non-central standpoint in his works.  Pearblossom combined all the experimentation Hockney had trialed over the 1980’s, using reverse perspective in the close-up objects, no central standpoint, and he also escaped perspective, much like his earlier piece ‘Walking in the zen garden’ from 1983.

Marcus Backman - trial 2

Marcus Backman - trial 2

Stephen Shore - Self portrait

Stephen Shore - Self portrait

Research: Lee Friedlander - Self portraits

Lee Friedlander is an American photographer whom focuses mainly on self portraiture - but in an unconventional and nontraditional sense that focused on capturing a realistic portrayal of himself, rather than capturing, like most photographers do when taking a self portrait, a vision of themselves as they want to be perceived.  Friedlander was interested as he abandoned this sense of aesthetic trickery, and stayed true to a raw and real view of himself, or his own mental state at the time of capture, instead of creating a false reality like Cindy Sherman did.

Friedlanders self portraits are done in an objective light - and they attempt to capture the basic truth of his inner self without adding false extraneous details to the image (such as trying to make himself look more intelligent, attractive, or interesting than he actually is).  As such, Friedlander created images that were direct and to the point.  They wanted to show his audience what he believed to be a true self portrait in its purest form, and in a way, he was successful in these images, especially in the first image above titled ‘Philadelphia’.  Shot in a totally unflattering style, showing Friedlander in his boxer shorts looking entirely blank and indifferent, in a dim hotel room.

Friedlanders self portraits were not consistent portrayals of himself, but were malleable forms that adapted to their surroundings.  I think this alternate portrayal of ones self when in alternate environments stays true to life, as our surrounding affect our mood and conscious states on a daily basis.  Friedlanders grim and raw portrayal in the dimly lit hotel room changes to something more curious and content whilst amongst other people (as seen in the image below). 

But, ultimately, Friedlander keeps a blank face in his self portraits in an attempt to minimalize the involvement his conscious self can add to the portrayal of himself.  By staying blank and remaining completely physical, he is able to create a true to life portrayal of himself, but he does not give much away on his message in each image.  I guess it is ultimately a study of self and self perception, made more as a form of self discovery for Friedlander himself.  There is a lot one can learn from viewing Friedlanders self portraits; most importantly, to not get sucked in perfecting what you want yourself to look like and just accept what is reality.  We cannot change who we are, and we have to stay true to this using the photographic medium.

Self-portraits show different sides to the subject and photographer taking the photography - these sides can be realistically portrayed (Friedman, Nan Goldin) or portrayals of how something they want to be, but aren’t (Cindy Sherman).  Self portrays show the portrayal of self amidst an environment (self and setting are the two main elements of self portraits), and how both interrelate or sometimes don’t.  The setting affects the photographer, and the photographer inhabiting that space affects the setting, and both influence one another in harmonious and not so harmonious ways.  Self portraits are ultimately a visual portrayal of self, either realistic or unrealistically, and the relation between individual and the environment surrounding them.

Updated Research Proposal

ACM328 Research Proposal
Marcus Backman


Project Title
Neither/nor; Investigating a liminal conscious state using the photographic medium


Research Question

How can transitional periods in one’s life, such as when one is in the process of moving house, along with the emotional and mental feeling of disconnection and liminality of living neither ‘here’ nor ‘there’ that go with it, be faithfully portrayed visually using the photographic medium? 

Project Overview Statement
I intend to mainly research the idea of ‘liminality’ for this assignment.  Liminality is described as the conscious state whereby one is on a ‘threshold’ between two separate planes (which could be separate spaces, between homes, jobs, important decisions, etc).  In such a state, one is stuck at the midpoint of transition in a sequence between two positions – it signifies the paradoxical situation whereby the death of the old coexists with birth of the new.  For me personally, this is a sensation I am currently dealing with in the process of moving homes for the first time in my life, and I feel stuck in this state of limbo while we wait to sell our house before we move into our new one. 

I want to explore this idea by creating two separate pieces of photographic work, containing photography I will create at both my old and new houses; representing the old and the new coexisting with me stuck in the center of each piece in a luminous state.  Ultimately, these pieces will be self-portraits of myself as the subject, with my homes acting as the setting.

The final pieces will be created using a photo-collage grid like aesthetic, similar to David Hockney’s Polaroid ‘joiners’.  As such, they will be large overall images made up of smaller prints of a scene, combined together to create an overall ‘whole’ image.  These small prints will be organized and stuck up on a wall, combined together to create the final pieces, and will make up the final presented submission of my works.  As I will be split into 64 different pieces in each image, this grid aesthetic is a perfect way to visually portray my disconnectedness in this liminal state. 

I will be using my Pentax K5 DSLR, a tripod, a shutter release, and post-processing in adobe lightroom for this assignment. 

 

The Context of your Work.

The genre for these pieces are ultimately ‘self-portraiture’.

Technically, there are many photographers who have worked using photo-collage/photo-montage techniques that I am going to use for this assignment.  David Hockney’s Polaroid and 35mm joiners, Robert Flick’s grid creations of settings and streets, Sohei Nishino’s immense cut and paste/photomontage city scapes, Thomas Kellner’s technique of creating a complete image on rolls of film joined to each other, and Bill Vazan’s unique portrayals of geometric settings, are some of the most important visual influences for me.

On the theory side of this, I have done extensive research into the idea of ‘liminality’, drawing on works by the psychoanalyst Carl Jung, whom investigated this state of ‘in-betweeness’ and how  it affected and helped an individual grow.  Jung stated that :’What takes place in the dark phase of liminality is a process of breaking down…in the interest of “making whole” one’s meaning, purpose and sense of relatedness once more’.  Jung’s idea of liminality is also directly related to my technical aesthetic using the grid structure.  I also researched anthropologist Victor Turner, who investigated this state whereby a person is separated from one status in a culture, then placed in this state of liminality, and after time, is returned to the social structure in a new status and role.  This research was undertaken in relation to primitive tribal initiation ceremonies, but the concepts created by Turner on liminality can be used extensively on more contemporary situations, as Carl Jung has done with conscious states. 


This project works within aesthetic boundaries set by artists such as David Hockney and Robert Flick, but conceptually I think this is unique, with the idea of ‘liminality’ not being a common known conceptual term, nor has it been properly investigated in photographic form.

 

Marcus Backman - self portrait(s)
I have found a new direction for my final piece(s) for the final assignment submission - as it is more direct and conceptually appropriate to my mind and life situation at the moment.Currently, my family and I are in the process of moving houses, and for me, it is the first time I will have lived in in a new house from the one I was born and grew up in.  As we are still in the process of selling our original house, and currently own the new one, we are in a strange transitional period where we feel we &#8216;don&#8217;t have a proper home&#8217; and are stuck in limbo between old and new, our past and our future.  As this moving process has been fairly stressful and emotional, and has been taking up most of our energy over the past few months, I thought I would incorporate what I am feeling into my photography work to make it more conceptually stimulating.  Luckily, the techniques I have been experimenting with compliment the conceptual aspects of my final piece ideas.
New Concept:
Taken at my new house, in my new room, in my new armchair, I want to create a self portrait (done in a photo-collage style in a grid) that represents how I feel towards being stuck in limbo between an old period of my life (my old house representing my birth, memory, everything I have become, and has been my sole idea of a &#8216;home&#8217;), and a new period of my life (the unknown future).  The grid/multiple viewpoint aethetic displayed represents the different parts of my body, which represent the different pieces of me, internally and externally, and the literal translation of being torn between different phases in my life.  This concept will create the bulk of my work, while the ideas expressed in my original statement (exploring cubist elements such as multiple perspectives, motion, time, and the relationship between photographs placed next to each other, among other things) will still be explored in the pieces.
Final submission plans:
I want there to be two final &#8216;pieces&#8217; when I present my works on the submission date.  Both will be made up of 8x8 grids of photos, combined in a photo collage to create one whole final image.  The sizes of the final prints will be experimented with closer to the submission date, but if each photo is printed on 6x4 paper, then the final piece will measure 32x48 inches.  Piece 1 will portray the &#8216;old&#8217; period of my life, taken at my old home, with Piece 2 portraying the &#8216;new&#8217; period of my life, taken at my new house.  I will trial ideas attempting to link each of the pieces visually, or if they work separately, I will leave them as they are.
Piece 1 represents the spiritual, the inner self, the intangible, memory, while Piece 2 represents the physical, the present, the emotionally conscious self.  The pieces will represent Cartesian duality - the separation between mind and body.

Marcus Backman - self portrait(s)

I have found a new direction for my final piece(s) for the final assignment submission - as it is more direct and conceptually appropriate to my mind and life situation at the moment.Currently, my family and I are in the process of moving houses, and for me, it is the first time I will have lived in in a new house from the one I was born and grew up in.  As we are still in the process of selling our original house, and currently own the new one, we are in a strange transitional period where we feel we ‘don’t have a proper home’ and are stuck in limbo between old and new, our past and our future.  As this moving process has been fairly stressful and emotional, and has been taking up most of our energy over the past few months, I thought I would incorporate what I am feeling into my photography work to make it more conceptually stimulating.  Luckily, the techniques I have been experimenting with compliment the conceptual aspects of my final piece ideas.

New Concept:

Taken at my new house, in my new room, in my new armchair, I want to create a self portrait (done in a photo-collage style in a grid) that represents how I feel towards being stuck in limbo between an old period of my life (my old house representing my birth, memory, everything I have become, and has been my sole idea of a ‘home’), and a new period of my life (the unknown future).  The grid/multiple viewpoint aethetic displayed represents the different parts of my body, which represent the different pieces of me, internally and externally, and the literal translation of being torn between different phases in my life.  This concept will create the bulk of my work, while the ideas expressed in my original statement (exploring cubist elements such as multiple perspectives, motion, time, and the relationship between photographs placed next to each other, among other things) will still be explored in the pieces.

Final submission plans:

I want there to be two final ‘pieces’ when I present my works on the submission date.  Both will be made up of 8x8 grids of photos, combined in a photo collage to create one whole final image.  The sizes of the final prints will be experimented with closer to the submission date, but if each photo is printed on 6x4 paper, then the final piece will measure 32x48 inches.  Piece 1 will portray the ‘old’ period of my life, taken at my old home, with Piece 2 portraying the ‘new’ period of my life, taken at my new house.  I will trial ideas attempting to link each of the pieces visually, or if they work separately, I will leave them as they are.

Piece 1 represents the spiritual, the inner self, the intangible, memory, while Piece 2 represents the physical, the present, the emotionally conscious self.  The pieces will represent Cartesian duality - the separation between mind and body.

Marcus Backman - Final presentation and conclusion 31/5/2012

We presented our work today in the Phoenix Gallery, in groups of 14 or so at a time.  I put my work up in the second half of the class, and was lucky enough to get a spot that had plenty of space and lots of viewing room around it for the audience to see the piece as it should be seen.  The presentation went really well - I just discussed the piece, including the work that went into it and some more of the conceptual aspects that I hadn’t mentioned in my research presentation.  Feedback was really positive from the class, and in the end I am really proud of what I have created in this work.  It is one of the first pieces I have made that has a really solid visual and conceptual link, and I feel it has allowed me to express myself perfectly through the photographic medium. 

My research question for this assignment was:

"How can transitional periods in one’s life, such as when one is in the process of moving house, along with the emotional and mental feeling of disconnection and liminality of living neither ‘here’ nor ‘there’ that go with it, be faithfully portrayed using the photographic medium?" 

In response to this question after completing my work, I feel that the photographic medium is much more than simply ‘one shot/one perspective’ shots and prints, i.e. more ‘traditional photography’.  By investigating other methods, such as photo-collage where one is creating multiple perspectives, including creating a virtual space that inhabits 88 different milliseconds, and 88 different perspectives with slightly different focus, one is able to escape the restrictions of the photographic medium and, ultimately, can create new and exciting forms of expression like I have.  My work was all about the state of ‘liminality’ - the state of transition which I am experiencing while in the process of moving house - which individuals find themselves in at different challenging points in ones life.  I felt disconnected at not belonging to any one ‘home’ at this point, and used this assignment to try and work through this conscious state, and to attempt at displaying a liminal state visually.  By creating the work entirely in my new room, which didn’t feel like my room when I began this assignment months ago, I was able to explore my new space which I will call ‘home’ soon in a meticulous and close perspective.  By spending many hours in the room creating the work I was able to breathe life into this area, and at the end of this creation process I now feel that this room is my home, no longer some empty space.  Spiritually, i have moved through this liminal period in my life nearly completely as a result of creating this artwork - and could be seen as an example of ‘art as therapy’, or as a process whereby one puts their heart and soul into a practical source and, in the end, creates a part of themselves in a physical art form.  I personally feel this is some of my most complete work in photography at Deakin uni so far, and am completely proud of the final piece.

Research Assignment / Presentation

Assignment 2 Research paper and presentation

Marcus Backman

 

Title of project:

Neither/nor; Investigating a liminal conscious state using the photographic medium

 

Brief Description:
This assignment is a personal response to the emotional and personal feelings attached towards moving houses for the first time in one’s life.  In my personal situation, my family has bought a new house, but are yet to sell our old and current one, so we are in a state of transition where we aren’t living in either house entirely, with the added stress of weekly house inspections and an expensive monthly ‘bridging loan’ that goes towards the new house adding extra stress to our lives.


Research Question:

How can transitional periods in one’s life, such as when one is in the process of moving house, along with the emotional and mental feeling of disconnection and liminality of living neither ‘here’ nor ‘there’ that go with it, be faithfully portrayed using the photographic medium? 

 

Deeper Discussion:

The bulk of my research was directed at the concept of ‘liminality’, which I discovered upon researching psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s concept of ‘transcendent function’ and ‘individuation’.  Liminality is defined as the conscious state whereby one is on a ‘threshold’ between two separate planes (i.e. divided between two separate homes, or standing half way in a doorway, being half inside/half outside at the same time).[1]  In such a state, one is stuck at the midpoint of transition in a sequence between two positions – it signifies the paradoxical situation whereby the death of the old coexists with birth of the new[2].  The idea of ‘Liminality’ was originally conceived by anthropologist Victor Turner, whom used the term to describe the middle of three stages of primitive initiation ceremonies, known as ; separation (signifying the detachment of an individual from a fixed state), margin (liminality; the state of ‘in-betweeness’ and transition), and finally, aggregation (when passage through this state is consummated)[3].  In such initiations, one is separated from their status in a culture, placed in a state of liminality, and after the initiation process, is returned back to their social structure with a new status or role.[4]  Turner described the person going through a liminal experience as ‘structurally invisible’ because he/she belongs neither to the old nor the new in that period.[5]  Carl Jung also added that while one is in this state or transition, their consciousness moves into a new territory of pure possibility that is the potential source of all sorts of original and new ideas.  This space allows and forces the reformation of old into new, and forces ones consciousness to embrace change[6].  As someone who is stuck in this disjointed inner state of chaos while in the slow and arduous process of moving house for the first time, this research into liminality has influenced and fuelled the creation of my photographic work for this unit, and has allowed me to channel my energy into something productive rather than something detrimental and counterproductive.

 

Aside from my conceptual research, I also investigated and was inspired by a handful of photographers.  I began with a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve visually with my final pieces, and my research into the works of people who had worked using ‘photomontage/collage’ techniques inspired me greatly.  David Hockney’s joiners have been my main influence, with his insights into finding a new perspective in photography using a photo-collage grid aesthetic being the core influence in the visual parts of my works. [7]  I’ll return to Hockney later in more detail.  Another photographer who worked using a grid display was Thomas Kellner, who lined up horizontal rolls of developed film to create a final composite image that displayed a large scene split into hundreds of tiny pieces.[8]  I was also inspired heavily by Daniel Crooks video works that had a heavy emphasis on the portrayal of time and motion.  Crooks’ works hold a transcending nature to them that almost shows a spiritual side of the human race visually, which crooks achieved through the editing of his videos.[9]  The self-portraiture works of Lee Friedlander also helped me understand the ‘self-portraiture’ genre in a more realistic sense.  His self-portraits of himself and his shadow/reflections, in his “Self Portrait” series, led the way in a new form of self-portrayal in photography that was raw, real, and in no way glamorous.[10]  Friedlander showed audiences his own self in the most bare and basic ways, showing no emotion, and remaining as ‘objective’ as a photographer can.

 

David Hockney, though, remains the most important influence for my work this year.  Hockney has been an important figure in painting, illustration, and photography for the past 40 years.  Although not being trained in photography, Hockney worked extensively using the polaroid camera since the early 80s, and exhausted nearly every possibility in the medium of ‘photo-collage’ or ‘joiners’ as he liked to call them, by 1986, when he returned to painting as his primary interest.[11]  Hockney states that his experimentation with the Polaroid camera making photo-collages rekindled his interest in cubism, and allowed him to see the world in a new light.  Hockney’s earlier experiments in the medium focussed on the grid structured photo-collage, where he would take 40 odd photographs of each piece of an entire scene close up, then combine them together to create the final image.  These pieces allowed Hockney to portray 40 different moments in time from 40 different perspectives, creating new meaning when paired together, evoking a sense of time as well as spatial depth and complexity.[12]  In Hockney’s book ‘That’s The Way I See It’, he explains that there are two ways of seeing the world; seeing the world from a distance (through a keyhole/window, from a one-point perspective), and oppositely, from being ‘in the world’, i.e. being an active participant in viewing a scene without ‘edges’[13].  In his later photographic works, Hockney attempted to remove the edges to his pieces, allowing his audience to feel more connected to his works.  When viewing an image from the ‘keyhole’ perspective, the viewer can remove himself from the image and see it as a portal into another time/space, whereas when the edges are removed, the viewer becomes more involved in the subject in a very personal way.[14]  Hockney was primarily concerned with experimentation using cubist aesthetics in his photography, and his investigation into perspective and time accompanied this aesthetic perfectly.

 

One of Hockney’s most impressive pieces, which was also the last created using photographic medium and also a culmination of techniques he had experimented with during the 1980s, is titled ‘Pearblossom Highway’ from 1986, which was commissioned by Vanity Fair magazine.  Hockney states that the piece is a mixture of photography and painting, as he had to literally paint each piece of the entire scene and combine them together in a collage to complete the piece.[15]  Each close-up photograph of the signs featured in the setting, the road, or rubbish found on the ground, was taken in front or close to that subject.  The entire piece is a construct of moving about the setting, even though it looks like an entire scene shot in single perspective at first glance; and it accentuates Hockney’s championing of the non-central standpoint in his photographic works.  Pearblossom combined all the experimentation Hockney had trialled over the 1980’s, using reverse perspective in the close-up objects, no central standpoint, and the manipulation of “perspective” as a core feature of the photographic form, much like he did in his earlier piece ‘Walking in the zen garden’ from 1983. 

“Most photographers think that the rules of perspective are built into the very nature of photography, that it is not possible to change it at all.  For me, it was a long process realizing that this does not have to be the case.” – David Hockney [16]

Present and discuss the issues in your work:

My work is personally important as it is a way to understand and cope with being in a liminal situation – being stuck in the middle of chaotic circumstances and not knowing where to find peace amidst the chaos.  The fragmented nature of these works will be presented as an overall image made up of composite photographs placed in a grid structure, influenced by David Hockney’s ‘joiners’.  This accentuates the idea of disconnection in ones consciousness during a transitional period in their lives.  The pieces will be large scale in their final form, and will only be able to be viewed as a whole image from afar.  As such, there is a physical involvement of the audience with the work that acts as metaphor for the work one has to make consciously when working through a liminal period.  By stepping back from the chaos, one is able to view the bigger picture and make sense of their lives (and the work).  Also by looking introspectively at a close distance, one is able to analyse these past parts of their lives (symbolized by each image individually in the grid in the pieces) that they worked through, ultimately forming who they are as people in the present.  Technically, I want each photograph to be successful on its own, and as such I will have to make sure the exposure and focus are correct for each self-portrait photo.  My final presentation will be made up of either 1 or 2 large photo-collage pieces made up of approximately 64 images (an 8x8 grid).


Annotated Bibliography:

 

Anonymous, David Hockney’s Joiners, 5election, 2010, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://5election.com/2010/09/05/david-hockneys-joiners>

An internet article from 5election (the international coolhunting magazine) about David Hockney, mainly focusing on his experiments into the photographic medium during the 1980s.  It features a historic look at Hockney’s work, from his early experiments using a Polaroid camera, making photo-collages in massive grid layouts (much alike a huge version of a polaroid exposure), to his evolution into 35mm print photomontage creations, where there were no edges to his pieces and each photo overlapped another (creating a  non central standpoint in these pieces), to his latter pieces which created narratives showing the passing of time or an activity (his famous work of these is the portrayal of an active scrabble game in photographic form as it progresses), and conclusively, his final piece ‘Pearblossom Highway’, whereby all his past experiments in the medium were combined in one final, massive piece.  The article also discusses Hockney’s latest projects, from 2009, whereby he made paintings using the apple iPad, and displayed them in a dim gallery using the iPad as the display and lighting for each piece.

This article is a fantastic starting point for anyone interested in David Hockney’s photographic experiments, and gives great amounts of insight and quotations from Hockney himself that accentuate the works and provide new meaning to these pieces.

Anonymous, Liminality, Evolve The Conversation, 2012, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://www.evolvetheconversation.com/words/liminality.php>

Friedlander, L, Self Portrait, Meseum of Modern Art, 2005

Getty Museum, David Hockney’s Pearblossom Hwy, Youtube, 2012, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD123svCFHQ>

Hockney, D, That’s The Way I See It, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1999.

This is a book written by artist David Hockney that discusses the philosophy and conceptual/technical ideas behind his life’s work in both painting and photography.  It includes in-depth analysis of not only bibliographical pieces of Hockney’s life and art, but also the ideas, the deeper meaning, and the philosophical ideas of what it means his art means to represent, and how it achieves that.  Although mainly focusing on Hockney’s lengthy array of painted works, there are 2 chapters based on Hockney’s photographic works, including discussion on the mediums limitations and its representation of time, perspective, and space – including how these can be exploited.  All chapters link into each other, and provide historic insight into various painting movements, with cubism the main focus throughout most of the book.  This text also includes full colour reproductions of Hockney’s painted and photographic works in great detail, all of which are accompanied by a brief insight from Hockney himself. 


This book is the ideal source for anyone wanting to understand Hockney’s work, as all of its content comes from Hockney himself.  It would be the perfect reference material for painting and photography students, and just ‘art’ students in general due to its in-depth discussion on how art is perceived and understood in our society.

 

McRae, E, Profile: Daniel Crooks, Experimenta, 2007, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://www.experimenta.org/mesh/mesh17/crooks.htm>

Miller, J, ‘Chapter Six: The Deeper Roots of the Transcendent Function’, The Transcendent Function: Jung’s model of psychological growth through dialogue with the unconscious, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2004, p. 104.

This is a book by Jeffery Millerwhereby he discusses themes and research by psychoanalyst Carl Jung, and investigates these findings in an in-depth manor, linking Jungs research to that of others, and discussing them in a general manor that is accessible for most people (i.e. not solely for psychology students).  Chapter six investigates Jung’s interpretation of ‘liminality’, and how it fits into his ideas of ‘transendent function’ and ‘individuation’ – which are two key focuses of his psychoanalytical work used to describe the evolution of ones consciousness throughout life.   Jung states that a liminal conscious state acts as a psychological purpose to transition psyche from a conflict set of circumstances to one that allows us to resolve a conflict.  Miller’s book draws heavily on the history of ‘liminality’ in this chapter, referencing the words and ideas of anthropologists Victor Turner and Arnold Van Gennep, who coined the term ‘liminality’ when studying ancient initiation ceremonies in Zambian tribes.

This book acts as an anvaluable link between the historic forms of liminality researched by Turner and Van gennep, and the more pshycological works of Calr Jung – where the focus is on liminality as a conscious state that helps us evolve and grow through conflict, rather than using the term to solely describe stages tribal ceremonies.  Jung’s research allows the term ‘liminality’ to be applied to many contexts, and proves that the state is a pivotal stage in personal inner-growth in life.

Scully, J, ‘Can you take out insurance against the hazzards of self-expression?’, Modern Photography, vol. 49, 1985.

Turner, J, Cubism, Joiners and the Multiple Viewpoint, The Delights of Seeing, 2007, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://thedelightsofseeing.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/cubism-joiners-and-multiple-viewpoint.html>

This article was posted on a blog ‘The Delights of Seeing’ by photographic teacher, J Turner, in order to inform and inspire photographic students.  This individual post focuses on cubist aesthetics in photography, including works that focus on multiple viewpoints, the manipulation of time and perspective, and a large focus on painter/photographer Daivd Hockneys experiments with the Polaroid camera.  The article goes in depth with information on how Hockney created his photocollage creations, and then delves into his influences, which range from ancient eastern art, to painters and cubists Picasso, Paul Cezanne, and George Braque.  A link is drawn between these painters latter cubist inspired works, and Hockney’s latter photographic experiments with 35mm camera, whereby he attempted to show no perspective/reverse perspective/and no edges in his works.  The article then goes on to investigate, briefly, other contemporary modern artists whose work shows these cubist aesthetics, which ranges from the video works of Daniel Crooks, to the photomontage cityscapes created by Sohei Nishino, to the epic grid photo collage creations on film by Thomas Kellner.  Overall, this is a valuable starting point for anyone investigating these ideas in photography, and although the information is brief, it is informative and proves as a spring board onto artists you otherwise may have not heard of.

Victor, T, ‘Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage’, Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Rituals, Cornell University Press, p. 94.

This book, and most specifically this chapter, written by anthropologist Victor Turner in 1967, focuses on the investigation into the idea of the ‘liminal period’ in ancient tribal initiation ceremonies, drawing reference on another anthropologist Arnold van Gennep’s research into ‘rites de passage’.  The text discusses this idea of ‘liminality’ as the middle of three stages during rites of transition, separated by three different stages (separation, margin, and aggregation).  This middle phase, defined as liminality, is explained as a point of ‘in-betweeness’ and transition in an individual, whereby one is neither part of the old or new, and symbolizes the death of the old paradoxically coexisting with the new.  Turner states that all individuals must go through this process in order to transition through phases in life (puberty – from boy to man, marriage – from single to coupled, etc) and to evolve as individuals.  Turners study focuses on examples found in initiation ceremonies of the Ndembu tribe of Zambia, and relates the idea of ‘liminality’ towards the transition of boy to man through these ceremonies, but his studies can be related to any other transitional period whereby there is a liminal period in life – you just need to change the context into a more contemporary form.  This chapter is invaluable to anyone investigating the idea of ‘liminality’, as it defines the original terms and helps one understand how it was conceived in a historic sense, thus allowing one to understand the term when related to contemporary contexts.

 

In-text References:



[1] Anonymous, Liminality, Evolve The Conversation, 2012, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://www.evolvetheconversation.com/words/liminality.php>

[2] J Miller, ‘Chapter Six: The Deeper Roots of the Transcendent Function’, The Transcendent Function: Jung’s model of psychological growth through dialogue with the unconscious, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2004, p. 105.

[3] V Turner, ‘Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites de Passage’, Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Rituals, Cornell University Press, p. 94.

[4] J Miller, ‘Chapter Six: The Deeper Roots of the Transcendent Function’, The Transcendent Function: Jung’s model of psychological growth through dialogue with the unconscious, State University of New York Press, Albany, 2004, p. 104.

[5] Ibid, p. 105.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Anonymous, David Hockney’s Joiners, 5election, 2010, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://5election.com/2010/09/05/david-hockneys-joiners>

[8] J Turner, Cubism, Joiners and the Multiple Viewpoint, The Delights of Seeing, 2007, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://thedelightsofseeing.blogspot.com.au/2011/03/cubism-joiners-and-multiple-viewpoint.html>

[9] E McRae, Profile: Daniel Crooks,  Experimenta, 2007, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://www.experimenta.org/mesh/mesh17/crooks.htm>

[10] L Friedlander, Self Portrait, Meseum of Modern Art, 2005.

[11] D Hockney, That’s The Way I See It, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1999, p. 89.

[12] J Scully, ‘Can you take out insurance against the hazzards of self-expression?’, Modern Photography, vol. 49, 1985.

[13] D Hockney, That’s The Way I See It, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1999, p. 102

[14] Ibid, p. 129.

[15] Getty Museum, David Hockney’s Pearblossom Hwy, Youtube, 2012, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD123svCFHQ>

[16] Anonymous, David Hockney’s Joiners, 5election, 2010, retrieved 22 May 2012, <http://5election.com/2010/09/05/david-hockneys-joiners>

[17] D Hockney, That’s The Way I See It, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London, 1999, p. 112-113.

Marcus Backman - Final day of work 30/5/2012

I continued work today on my final piece for ACM328, and managed to finish it by the afternoon.  I managed to work around the problem I had yesterday, where there was a gap on the right side of the middles pieces of paper and also on the right sides of the right pieces of paper, by overlapping the paper and connecting them with tape, ultimately making them 1 piece (which now makes it 4 panels of paper in total for the piece).  By combining the paper together I was able to avoid inconsistencies in the final grid, and didn’t damage the paper by attempting to cut it in any way, which was great.

I finished sticking all the remaining photographs onto its corresponding piece of paper, and finished the work once this was all complete.  The final composition looks fantastic, with the border surrounding the piece looking tantamount to a polaroid exposure border, which is a nice little nod to Hockney’s work in the 1980s.  After completing the work I went and bought a pack of sturdy pins for tomorrow to hang the work up with - I’ll try to pin the work up in such a way that they will not get in the way of the final composite image.

Marcus Backman - paper, measurements, and final composition 29/05/2012

I stopped by the arts store today and spent a long time deciding what backing I would use for this piece.  In the end, I went with these 6 portable and convenient cardpaper pieces, as they mostly fit in with the size of the final piece (with an extra 10 inches across, and an extra 3 down).  I also picked up small double sided adhesive stickers to stick the photos to the paper.

When I lay everything down on the floor, it took a while to get all components of this piece working in harmony, as there was small breaks between each piece of paper that needed to be taken into account when making the grid.  In the end, I figured it all out and just need to cut a small piece of the two right pieces of paper in order for the border to be consistent throughout the entire piece.

The next process, which I only got half done today, involved sticking double sided sticky squares onto all four corners of each photograph then sticking it down so it fit in to the grid sturcture.  This process takes a long time as it is all hands on and has to be precise.  As the nature of the piece is self portraiture at heart, I decided that I would not get any outside assistance to help me get it done quicker in order to stick to the conceptual backing behind the work.

Tomorrow is Wednesday, the day before we present our works.  I just need to finish sticking all the photographs down, plus cut down the backing paper on the right pieces so they fit in properly, then buy 24 sturdy pins for when I hang the pieces in the Phoenix gallery on Thursday.  Everything is going to plan and I’m right on schedule!

Marcus Backman - Measurements and prints 28/5/2012

I got the photos printed today at Harvey Norman.  In total there were 88 photos, printed on 6x4 paper.  The grid of the final composition is:  11 down, 8 across.  The final dimension of the piece, including the space between each photograph that makes up the grid, is 51x48” inches.  I measured the length and width, while adding an extra inch each way to leave room for error.

The next task is deciding how to display this piece.  I originally wanted to pin each photograph up at the Phoenix Gallery individually, leaving space between each photo for the grid, but I thought this was too time consuming and would not allow the work to be portable.  Seeing as though we have to take our work down for the other half of the class to present their work, as well, it would be too much of a hassle.  I now need to look for some paper/mounting board that is big enough to support this piece, which is quite large in its final form.  If I cannot find a board big enough, or find it is too inconvenient, I may just purchase two smaller boards that make up the final size, and just combine them next to each other when presenting the pieces, essentially making the work portable and less of a hindrance.  The 88 photographs will be stuck onto the mounting board with 4 small sticky mounting squares each, allowing each photo to be properly attached to the board.  I’ll look into this presentation task tomorrow.

Marcus Backman - final composition 27/5/2012
I continued the piece all morning today, and edited in the afternoon.  I completed the front carpet, adding in my headphones, including the wire squiggled through the bottom photos, and my record player on the right bottom side.  Both these objects represent the things that I have moved to the new house - which are my music equipment (speakers, amplifier, record players, mixer, headphones, my record collection, my armchair).  As they are a part of the new house, they are included in this piece as this is their new home, as it is mine.
I edited the roof so it was more consistent across the piece, and fine tuned some of the white balance in the photographs.  I also finished off the photographs of my body in the chair for the piece, which was a long and hard process to get things working properly and consistently (the final shots featured many blurring or badly composed pieces, as i was using a remote shutter release).  I decided to leave out the two photographs of my face, as it compliments the conceptual backing to this piece - that I am in a &#8216;liminal&#8217; state while moving house, and although I feel that the new house is my new home, I am not fully moved in yet, which is represented by a small part of the final piece (my face) missing.
Now that the final composition is done, I&#8217;ll need to fine tune the last images, and rename them in order in preparation for printing, which will probably be done on Tuesday.  I also need to find a backing board/paper big enough to stick all the images onto.

Marcus Backman - final composition 27/5/2012

I continued the piece all morning today, and edited in the afternoon.  I completed the front carpet, adding in my headphones, including the wire squiggled through the bottom photos, and my record player on the right bottom side.  Both these objects represent the things that I have moved to the new house - which are my music equipment (speakers, amplifier, record players, mixer, headphones, my record collection, my armchair).  As they are a part of the new house, they are included in this piece as this is their new home, as it is mine.

I edited the roof so it was more consistent across the piece, and fine tuned some of the white balance in the photographs.  I also finished off the photographs of my body in the chair for the piece, which was a long and hard process to get things working properly and consistently (the final shots featured many blurring or badly composed pieces, as i was using a remote shutter release).  I decided to leave out the two photographs of my face, as it compliments the conceptual backing to this piece - that I am in a ‘liminal’ state while moving house, and although I feel that the new house is my new home, I am not fully moved in yet, which is represented by a small part of the final piece (my face) missing.

Now that the final composition is done, I’ll need to fine tune the last images, and rename them in order in preparation for printing, which will probably be done on Tuesday.  I also need to find a backing board/paper big enough to stick all the images onto.

Marcus Backman - Addition of feet and turntable + correction of the couch shape 26/5/2012
This project is great because you can leave your progress for one day and continue it the next, building on the scene in greater detail.  Today I trialed adding another object to the scene (the turntable) and started my body (with my feet and ankles).  The turntable will be connected to headphones which I will be wearing in the &#8216;final piece&#8217;, but the four photographs of the turntable need to be taken more precisely to allow a more cohesive final image of the object.  I&#8217;ll just need to use rulers and measuring tape to get it correct tomorrow.
The addition of my feet has already added much needed life to the piece, and I&#8217;m sure adding the rest of my body will go well as long as I continue with my formula I am using at the moment.

Marcus Backman - Addition of feet and turntable + correction of the couch shape 26/5/2012

This project is great because you can leave your progress for one day and continue it the next, building on the scene in greater detail.  Today I trialed adding another object to the scene (the turntable) and started my body (with my feet and ankles).  The turntable will be connected to headphones which I will be wearing in the ‘final piece’, but the four photographs of the turntable need to be taken more precisely to allow a more cohesive final image of the object.  I’ll just need to use rulers and measuring tape to get it correct tomorrow.

The addition of my feet has already added much needed life to the piece, and I’m sure adding the rest of my body will go well as long as I continue with my formula I am using at the moment.

Marcus Backman - Trial for room 25/5/2012
I experimented further in greater detail with my photo-collage work today with this trial.  I composed each shot much closer to each object to allow for greater detail in more photographs, and to lessen the chance of overlapping pieces in the final composition.  I also went further with reverse perspective by adding the roof and the beginning of both sides of the room, including a cupboard on the left and a curtain and window on the right.  By flattening out space in this way, you can create a one perspective view on a 180 degree viewpoint, and it looks fantastic visually.
I will shoot again this week and attempt at creating my final piece.  The most important part of the work will be the chair + the self portrait (of my body in the chair), and its the most difficult as I am not directly in control of how the shot will turn out.  After that piece is complete I can just paint in the room around the chair quite easily.

Marcus Backman - Trial for room 25/5/2012

I experimented further in greater detail with my photo-collage work today with this trial.  I composed each shot much closer to each object to allow for greater detail in more photographs, and to lessen the chance of overlapping pieces in the final composition.  I also went further with reverse perspective by adding the roof and the beginning of both sides of the room, including a cupboard on the left and a curtain and window on the right.  By flattening out space in this way, you can create a one perspective view on a 180 degree viewpoint, and it looks fantastic visually.

I will shoot again this week and attempt at creating my final piece.  The most important part of the work will be the chair + the self portrait (of my body in the chair), and its the most difficult as I am not directly in control of how the shot will turn out.  After that piece is complete I can just paint in the room around the chair quite easily.

Research: Liminality as a concept

Research from my Research Presentation, which presents the  conceptual and philosophical backing behind my works:

The bulk of my research was directed at the concept of ‘liminality’, which I discovered upon researching psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s concept of ‘transcendent function’.  Liminality is defined as the conscious state whereby one is on a ‘threshold’ between two separate planes (i.e. divided between two separate homes, or standing half way in a doorway, being half inside/half outside at the same time).  In such a state, one is stuck at the midpoint of transition in a sequence between two positions – it signifies the paradoxical situation whereby the death of the old coexists with birth of the new. 

The idea of ‘Liminality’ was originally conceived by anthropologist Victor Turner, whom used the term in his book ‘Forest of Symbols’ to describe the middle of three stages of primitive initiation ceremonies , which were: separation (signifying the detachment of an individual from a fixed state), margin (liminality; the state of ‘in-betweeness’ and transition), and finally, aggregation (when passage through this state is consummated).  In such initiations, one is separated from their status in a culture, placed in a state of liminality, and after the initiation process, is returned back to their social structure with a new status or role. Turner described the person going through a liminal experience as ‘structurally invisible’ because he/she belongs neither to the old nor the new in that period.  Carl Jung also added that while one is in this state or transition, their consciousness moves into a new territory of pure possibility that is the potential source of all sorts of original and new ideas.  This space allows and forces the reformation of old into new, and forces ones consciousness to embrace change. 

As someone who is stuck in this disjointed inner state of chaos while in the slow process of moving house, this research into liminality has influenced and fueled the creation of my photographic work for this unit, and has allowed me to channel my energy into something productive rather than something detrimental and counterproductive.  The idea of a ‘liminal state of consciousness’ is easily understood using Turner and Jung’s conceptual theory on the term when related to my own situation, and sheds light onto the feelings of ‘in-betweeness’ and of not belonging to any definite state during a liminal point in one’s life.  As the term ‘liminality’ is not an actual term found in a dictionary, it is lesser known and not understood as it should be, as we all go through these periods in our lives, both physically and mentally, and it affects our conscious state while stuck in it.

Research: David Hockney, continued…

More research from my Research presentation:

David Hockney, though, remains the most important influence for my work this year.  Hockney has been an important figure in painting, illustration, and photography for the past 40 years.  Although not being trained in photography, Hockney worked extensively using the Polaroid camera since the early 80s, and exhausted nearly every possibility in the medium of ‘photo-collage’ or ‘joiners’ as he liked to call them, by 1986, when he returned to painting as his primary interest.  Hockney states that his experimentation with the Polaroid camera making photo-collages rekindled his interest in cubism, and allowed him to see the world in a new light.  Hockney’s earlier experiments in the medium focused on the grid structured collage, where he would take 40 odd photographs of each piece of an entire scene close up, then combine them together to create the final image.  These pieces allowed Hockney to portray 40 different moments in time from 40 different perspectives, creating new meaning when paired together.  In Hockney’s book ‘That’s The Way I See It’, he explains that there are two ways of seeing the world; seeing the world from a distance (through a keyhole/window, from a one-point perspective), and oppositely, from being ‘in the world’, i.e. being an active participant in viewing a scene without ‘edges’.  In his later photographic works, Hockney attempted to remove the edges to his pieces, allowing his audience to feel more connected to his works.  When viewing an image from the ‘keyhole’ perspective, the viewer can remove himself from the image and see it as a portal into another time/space, whereas when the edges are removed, the viewer becomes more involved in the subject in a very personal way. Hockney was primarily concerned with experimentation using cubist aesthetics in his photography, and his investigation into perspective and time accompanied this aesthetic perfectly.

One of Hockney’s most impressive pieces, which was also the last created using photographic medium and also a culmination of techniques he had experimented with during the 1980s, is titled ‘Pearblossom highway’ from 1986, which was commissioned by Vanity Fair magazine.  Hockney states that the piece is a mixture of photography and painting, as he had to literally ‘paint each piece of the entire scene and combine them together in a collage to complete the piece.  The sky, made up of hundreds of blue hued squares, is the perfect example of the painting aspect of the piece.  Each close-up of the signs featured in the setting, the road, or of rubbish on the ground, were taken in front of that subject – for example, he had to climb a ladder to get the ‘stop sign’ photo.  The entire piece is a construct of moving about the area, even though it looks like an entire scene on first glance.  The piece accentuates Hockney’s championing of the non-central standpoint in his works.  Pearblossom combined all the experimentation Hockney had trialed over the 1980’s, using reverse perspective in the close-up objects, no central standpoint, and he also escaped perspective, much like his earlier piece ‘Walking in the zen garden’ from 1983.

Marcus Backman - trial 2

Marcus Backman - trial 2

Stephen Shore - Self portrait

Stephen Shore - Self portrait

Research: Lee Friedlander - Self portraits

Lee Friedlander is an American photographer whom focuses mainly on self portraiture - but in an unconventional and nontraditional sense that focused on capturing a realistic portrayal of himself, rather than capturing, like most photographers do when taking a self portrait, a vision of themselves as they want to be perceived.  Friedlander was interested as he abandoned this sense of aesthetic trickery, and stayed true to a raw and real view of himself, or his own mental state at the time of capture, instead of creating a false reality like Cindy Sherman did.

Friedlanders self portraits are done in an objective light - and they attempt to capture the basic truth of his inner self without adding false extraneous details to the image (such as trying to make himself look more intelligent, attractive, or interesting than he actually is).  As such, Friedlander created images that were direct and to the point.  They wanted to show his audience what he believed to be a true self portrait in its purest form, and in a way, he was successful in these images, especially in the first image above titled ‘Philadelphia’.  Shot in a totally unflattering style, showing Friedlander in his boxer shorts looking entirely blank and indifferent, in a dim hotel room.

Friedlanders self portraits were not consistent portrayals of himself, but were malleable forms that adapted to their surroundings.  I think this alternate portrayal of ones self when in alternate environments stays true to life, as our surrounding affect our mood and conscious states on a daily basis.  Friedlanders grim and raw portrayal in the dimly lit hotel room changes to something more curious and content whilst amongst other people (as seen in the image below). 

But, ultimately, Friedlander keeps a blank face in his self portraits in an attempt to minimalize the involvement his conscious self can add to the portrayal of himself.  By staying blank and remaining completely physical, he is able to create a true to life portrayal of himself, but he does not give much away on his message in each image.  I guess it is ultimately a study of self and self perception, made more as a form of self discovery for Friedlander himself.  There is a lot one can learn from viewing Friedlanders self portraits; most importantly, to not get sucked in perfecting what you want yourself to look like and just accept what is reality.  We cannot change who we are, and we have to stay true to this using the photographic medium.

Self-portraits show different sides to the subject and photographer taking the photography - these sides can be realistically portrayed (Friedman, Nan Goldin) or portrayals of how something they want to be, but aren’t (Cindy Sherman).  Self portrays show the portrayal of self amidst an environment (self and setting are the two main elements of self portraits), and how both interrelate or sometimes don’t.  The setting affects the photographer, and the photographer inhabiting that space affects the setting, and both influence one another in harmonious and not so harmonious ways.  Self portraits are ultimately a visual portrayal of self, either realistic or unrealistically, and the relation between individual and the environment surrounding them.

Updated Research Proposal

ACM328 Research Proposal
Marcus Backman


Project Title
Neither/nor; Investigating a liminal conscious state using the photographic medium


Research Question

How can transitional periods in one’s life, such as when one is in the process of moving house, along with the emotional and mental feeling of disconnection and liminality of living neither ‘here’ nor ‘there’ that go with it, be faithfully portrayed visually using the photographic medium? 

Project Overview Statement
I intend to mainly research the idea of ‘liminality’ for this assignment.  Liminality is described as the conscious state whereby one is on a ‘threshold’ between two separate planes (which could be separate spaces, between homes, jobs, important decisions, etc).  In such a state, one is stuck at the midpoint of transition in a sequence between two positions – it signifies the paradoxical situation whereby the death of the old coexists with birth of the new.  For me personally, this is a sensation I am currently dealing with in the process of moving homes for the first time in my life, and I feel stuck in this state of limbo while we wait to sell our house before we move into our new one. 

I want to explore this idea by creating two separate pieces of photographic work, containing photography I will create at both my old and new houses; representing the old and the new coexisting with me stuck in the center of each piece in a luminous state.  Ultimately, these pieces will be self-portraits of myself as the subject, with my homes acting as the setting.

The final pieces will be created using a photo-collage grid like aesthetic, similar to David Hockney’s Polaroid ‘joiners’.  As such, they will be large overall images made up of smaller prints of a scene, combined together to create an overall ‘whole’ image.  These small prints will be organized and stuck up on a wall, combined together to create the final pieces, and will make up the final presented submission of my works.  As I will be split into 64 different pieces in each image, this grid aesthetic is a perfect way to visually portray my disconnectedness in this liminal state. 

I will be using my Pentax K5 DSLR, a tripod, a shutter release, and post-processing in adobe lightroom for this assignment. 

 

The Context of your Work.

The genre for these pieces are ultimately ‘self-portraiture’.

Technically, there are many photographers who have worked using photo-collage/photo-montage techniques that I am going to use for this assignment.  David Hockney’s Polaroid and 35mm joiners, Robert Flick’s grid creations of settings and streets, Sohei Nishino’s immense cut and paste/photomontage city scapes, Thomas Kellner’s technique of creating a complete image on rolls of film joined to each other, and Bill Vazan’s unique portrayals of geometric settings, are some of the most important visual influences for me.

On the theory side of this, I have done extensive research into the idea of ‘liminality’, drawing on works by the psychoanalyst Carl Jung, whom investigated this state of ‘in-betweeness’ and how  it affected and helped an individual grow.  Jung stated that :’What takes place in the dark phase of liminality is a process of breaking down…in the interest of “making whole” one’s meaning, purpose and sense of relatedness once more’.  Jung’s idea of liminality is also directly related to my technical aesthetic using the grid structure.  I also researched anthropologist Victor Turner, who investigated this state whereby a person is separated from one status in a culture, then placed in this state of liminality, and after time, is returned to the social structure in a new status and role.  This research was undertaken in relation to primitive tribal initiation ceremonies, but the concepts created by Turner on liminality can be used extensively on more contemporary situations, as Carl Jung has done with conscious states. 


This project works within aesthetic boundaries set by artists such as David Hockney and Robert Flick, but conceptually I think this is unique, with the idea of ‘liminality’ not being a common known conceptual term, nor has it been properly investigated in photographic form.

 

Marcus Backman - self portrait(s)
I have found a new direction for my final piece(s) for the final assignment submission - as it is more direct and conceptually appropriate to my mind and life situation at the moment.Currently, my family and I are in the process of moving houses, and for me, it is the first time I will have lived in in a new house from the one I was born and grew up in.  As we are still in the process of selling our original house, and currently own the new one, we are in a strange transitional period where we feel we &#8216;don&#8217;t have a proper home&#8217; and are stuck in limbo between old and new, our past and our future.  As this moving process has been fairly stressful and emotional, and has been taking up most of our energy over the past few months, I thought I would incorporate what I am feeling into my photography work to make it more conceptually stimulating.  Luckily, the techniques I have been experimenting with compliment the conceptual aspects of my final piece ideas.
New Concept:
Taken at my new house, in my new room, in my new armchair, I want to create a self portrait (done in a photo-collage style in a grid) that represents how I feel towards being stuck in limbo between an old period of my life (my old house representing my birth, memory, everything I have become, and has been my sole idea of a &#8216;home&#8217;), and a new period of my life (the unknown future).  The grid/multiple viewpoint aethetic displayed represents the different parts of my body, which represent the different pieces of me, internally and externally, and the literal translation of being torn between different phases in my life.  This concept will create the bulk of my work, while the ideas expressed in my original statement (exploring cubist elements such as multiple perspectives, motion, time, and the relationship between photographs placed next to each other, among other things) will still be explored in the pieces.
Final submission plans:
I want there to be two final &#8216;pieces&#8217; when I present my works on the submission date.  Both will be made up of 8x8 grids of photos, combined in a photo collage to create one whole final image.  The sizes of the final prints will be experimented with closer to the submission date, but if each photo is printed on 6x4 paper, then the final piece will measure 32x48 inches.  Piece 1 will portray the &#8216;old&#8217; period of my life, taken at my old home, with Piece 2 portraying the &#8216;new&#8217; period of my life, taken at my new house.  I will trial ideas attempting to link each of the pieces visually, or if they work separately, I will leave them as they are.
Piece 1 represents the spiritual, the inner self, the intangible, memory, while Piece 2 represents the physical, the present, the emotionally conscious self.  The pieces will represent Cartesian duality - the separation between mind and body.

Marcus Backman - self portrait(s)

I have found a new direction for my final piece(s) for the final assignment submission - as it is more direct and conceptually appropriate to my mind and life situation at the moment.Currently, my family and I are in the process of moving houses, and for me, it is the first time I will have lived in in a new house from the one I was born and grew up in.  As we are still in the process of selling our original house, and currently own the new one, we are in a strange transitional period where we feel we ‘don’t have a proper home’ and are stuck in limbo between old and new, our past and our future.  As this moving process has been fairly stressful and emotional, and has been taking up most of our energy over the past few months, I thought I would incorporate what I am feeling into my photography work to make it more conceptually stimulating.  Luckily, the techniques I have been experimenting with compliment the conceptual aspects of my final piece ideas.

New Concept:

Taken at my new house, in my new room, in my new armchair, I want to create a self portrait (done in a photo-collage style in a grid) that represents how I feel towards being stuck in limbo between an old period of my life (my old house representing my birth, memory, everything I have become, and has been my sole idea of a ‘home’), and a new period of my life (the unknown future).  The grid/multiple viewpoint aethetic displayed represents the different parts of my body, which represent the different pieces of me, internally and externally, and the literal translation of being torn between different phases in my life.  This concept will create the bulk of my work, while the ideas expressed in my original statement (exploring cubist elements such as multiple perspectives, motion, time, and the relationship between photographs placed next to each other, among other things) will still be explored in the pieces.

Final submission plans:

I want there to be two final ‘pieces’ when I present my works on the submission date.  Both will be made up of 8x8 grids of photos, combined in a photo collage to create one whole final image.  The sizes of the final prints will be experimented with closer to the submission date, but if each photo is printed on 6x4 paper, then the final piece will measure 32x48 inches.  Piece 1 will portray the ‘old’ period of my life, taken at my old home, with Piece 2 portraying the ‘new’ period of my life, taken at my new house.  I will trial ideas attempting to link each of the pieces visually, or if they work separately, I will leave them as they are.

Piece 1 represents the spiritual, the inner self, the intangible, memory, while Piece 2 represents the physical, the present, the emotionally conscious self.  The pieces will represent Cartesian duality - the separation between mind and body.

Research Assignment / Presentation
Research: Liminality as a concept
Research: David Hockney, continued…
Research: Lee Friedlander - Self portraits
Updated Research Proposal

About:

This online blog houses an online journal presenting my investigation, research, and discovery of all aspects of photographic practice; including (but not limited to) the works of photographers from all genres and styles, the techniques they use, and even the tools they use to create their work. This blog was created specially for a 3rd year university unit 'ACM328 : Experimental Photography - Shifting Focus', which I am currently undertaking at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia.

· My research will primarily be shown as images from a photographer followed by a textual response from me including facts, ideas, and a personal response to the work that I gain from my research. These will all be found under the 'Research' hyperlink.

· New posts will always be shown first on each page, with older posts following. To see an archive of all posts, including when they were posted categorized by date, visit the 'Archive' hyperlink.

All research by Marcus Backman - Studying Bachelor of Media and Communications at Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia