Encounters, Meetings and Experiences was the title for the last AS Photography exam, so now my class are using it as the title for our mock project where we emulate the real project we will receive later in the year, but with a different title. The way we structured our projects was as follows:
For each artist we studied we
- Studied their specific work of art, analysed it and annotated it.
- Created some images using their style, subject matter, colour, lighting, composition or anything else linking to their work.
- Developed our work further into some new pieces, creating our own styles and techniques.
After repeating this process several times, we then develop more work combining the rest of the project up to that point, eventually culminating into a final piece (as displayed in my last post).
The three images I studied were created by Michael Snow, Chuck Close and Frederick Sommer. (Usually we’d study more but this was a shortened version of the real project). They all contain some element of surrealism, but each artist brought a style that I particularly liked and wanted to combine at a later point in the project.
First Study – Michael Snow
Michael snow produced “Just Looking” in 1969, a series of images taped to a mirror. The images follow each other sequentially in time, the first displays the mirror with Michael Snow taking the picture, the next shows the same but with the first polaroid attached and so on. The image as a whole creates a journey through time, displaying all of the actions that culminated into this piece. A similar piece was created by Duane Michals, titled “Things are Queer”, where as we look at each of the images progressively zooming out, we go on a journey that eventually loops.
Again here we see a journey, so the idea of a journey as an experience was the theme for my images in this part of the project. Below are my favourite studies and my development, a looping gif zooming into my dad’s eye for his birthday. The first few studies all involve a sense of entering the image, or self-contained images such as one where I edit myself in Photoshop.
The gif was created in Photoshop using the motion workspace, where I was able to keyframe the transformation of four different images created earlier in Photoshop and make them seamlessly blend into each other. This is an effect I later used in my final piece.
Second Study – Chuck Close
Chuck close is an amazing artist who’s face blindness has led to his fascination with creating both photorealistic faces and abstracted grid-like representations of faces. Here are two images of his that I responded to:
In the first image, he used nine large polaroids of sections of his face to create a broken, unusual portrait. As he says, “The object is not just to make a picture, but to lay bare what a picture is made of”. That is to say, it isn’t the subject matter that is most important to him, but the way that it is presented. Above are two very different self portraits, one a group of polaroids, the other a series of abstract tiles which together strangely seem to create his face, without any one tile seeming to follow the standard representation of facial features, all containing blobs and abstract shapes. I used the ‘grid’ element of these images to create my own studies:
The first two involved compressing down a picture of a person, removing the unnecessary details between the interesting features using this grid system. The last two are experiments where using Photoshop I created a face using a grid, in the first I used the same face hundreds of times as each tile (with different exposures in order to shade the large face) and in the second I split a face and jumbled the tiles.
Third Study – Frederick Sommer
Sommer created this image of the painter Max Ernst using a double negative, by doing so imprinting the texture of the dark background onto the relatively smooth skin.
The worn and highly textured surface of the concrete gives an interesting view of ageing and wearing down over time; with my studies I hoped to use this style of combining texture with skin to create these interesting narratives:
I then moved on to experimenting differently with faces, instead removing texture:
Final Piece Preparation
For my final piece I hoped to combine all these elements. I decided to create a frame by frame narrative (as seen in the first study) where my brother reacts to his reflection being distorted, texturised (as seen in the third study) and even becoming a grid (second study). I started by creating this practice image (created by combining two images with a mask), then moving on to planning the narrative and taking the shots required.
My final piece then took approximately 6 hours to create on the computer. First I imported all of the RAW files into the Camera Raw plugin in Photoshop and made the necessary adjustments giving the lighting and white balance (see how to do that in my previous tutorial). All of the 28 frames I created (with the exception of the first three) were then edited separately in Photoshop, one at a time, taking care to make each effect appear convincing. I then saved all of the images as Jpegs, imported them into the motion workspace in Photoshop and created a frame by frame animation. I set the duration of each frame to 0.5 seconds and exported the animation as a gif. The rest of the time during the 10 hour exam was spent documenting and also displaying the frames as a long strip, the first frame being the same as the last.
If you have any questions about the process of making any of these images or any other queries, send me a message or leave a comment and I’ll happily create some sort of tutorial for any of these processes.