Surfaces & Strategies - Week 3

Whilst like many of my peers I tend to pursue an individual path, I have on a number of occasions chosen to work with others with project with varying degrees of collaboration. And whilst I have at times resisted certain opportunities to work with other my recent practice has pretty much removed such resistance.

Whilst working with other people brings it’s own complications, these are more than offset by the opportunity to capture and create imagery that otherwise would be very difficult to accomplish without subterfuge.

The best current example from my current practice to illustrate such meaning is my interaction with a local camera group; “Lenses of Croydon”. It’s run by one gentleman with the broad and changing assistance of a number of others. With only a few exceptions the organisational roles are very diffuse. It’s run in a very different way to other organisations and groups I’ve taken part in where a ‘ruling’ committee manages the groups activities with much more highly defined roles.

I participate in a number of their meetings, asking the odd question and sometimes taking a few shots of the speaker/demonstrators. The  programme is pretty much the creation of the founder, generally the speakers aren’t paid but are collaborating in the communication of their work and a degree of feedback on future directions.

Similarly other of the group’s events are created by a others in the group, often semi-spontaneously using a collaborative ‘Whats-App’ group. These initiatives, while suggested by one participant, are highly collective in their organisational nature with no particular leader or role-setter.

The founder of the group recently organised a local exhibition, the group acted as a collective with an individual image from each member, the choice solely that of the contributer. For the organisation this Is a collective endeavour. The group also partners with other organisations which have a charitable or social goal. The nature of this sort of partnership is perhaps best described as cooperative.

This type of artistic group is not a new thing, although the growth of internet/mobile based applications makes forming such associations and collaborations much easier. In 1925 two members of the Bloomsbury group, Samuel Courtauld and John Maynard Keynes, set up the London Artists Association that stimulated a number of careers.

Interestingly Thomas Werner in his description of ‘The Team’, a description of a the many potential co-workers in a photographic fashion shoot, feels that how well participants work together is key to to a successful collaborative outcome, even though in this trype of collaboration individual roles are highly defined from the start.

An alternative view of the Artist’s role within a group is provided by Joanna Hedva, Director of Advocacy for the Processing Foundation and event curator. She feels that the artist should always resist the views of others to be truly creative. “…This place is a place of friction, messy and in between: there are no masters here because we’re all standing on the same unstable ground…..”

The collaborative activity undertaken this week proved quite exhilarating and whilst actual collaborative discussion was very limited, the end-result of our ‘photozine’, was reasonably rewarding.  The theme was ‘Selfies’ and I submitted two images that were unlike any images I’ve taken in recent times.

Selfie I - Face reflected by two wardrobe brass handles
Selfie II; Face reflected by the cold water tap in the utility room sink

The images were produced without any significant post-processing. The key was the use of a tripod mounted camera fitted with a 60mm macro-lens with a strong LED light source mounted on a light stand. The rest was up to my positioning.

Project-wise I’m still undecided on what sub-project to pursue this module. I’m pursuing one possible project focussing on certain south London Christian community groups, but my initial approaches wasn’t taken up on and whilst I’ll have one further try next week I’m suspecting this topic should be considered a longer-range target, time is moving on.

I have been getting further background on the final outcome side by going to the open of a number of University’s photography graduation shows hosted at The Trumans brewery in Shoreditch. I laso went on a one day course on ‘corporate photography’, hoping this might show ways to further progress my Influencers and Researchers project. The use of a graduated screen for headshots was useful, otherwise value limited project-wise. More based on studio lighting than I’d recognised before participation.

References

1) Hassell,G, (undated) London Artists’ Association From ‘Artists Biographies: British and Irish Artists of the 20th Century’ Artist Biographies Ltd., Chesham. See https://www.artbiogs.co.uk/2/societies/london-artists-association (last accessed 18-7-18)

2) Author not stated, undated Lifestyle and Legacy of the Bloomsbury Group The Tate website, London. See

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/b/bloomsbury/lifestyle-lives-and-legacy-bloomsbury-group (accessed 17-7-18)

3) Werner, T 2018 The Team, Chapter 4 (pp. 60-95) in “The Fashion Image” Bloomsbury, London