For this week, I researched Rochelle Brock who was recommended to me by Jacob. I had definitely heard her name before, but I couldn’t remember if I had researched her or not so I did it anyway. Brock is a NYC based plus sized photographer. She makes photographs that allow her models to see themselves in a positive way. She wants to celebrate their appearance and enhance it with scenery, posing, and natural lighting. Brock strives to photograph people of all shapes and sizes and I do too. I appreciate how she makes it apparent with her work that her models feel comfortable and confident in their image. Brock is just using her camera to capture the moment. I want my work to reflect how my model feels about themselves and their image. I am happy to have looked at Brock’s work because I now have someone I can look up to when photographing people who are not only plus size but also people who just may not be conventional models.
I really loved looking through this weeks swatch reading about the color black. I was really taken back by the concept of being able to see and not to see within the dark, and black spaces. I wanted to take an image that spoke to the ideas of hidden darkness and sight. The picture I took is from Long Island near my house. I edited the image to make it darker, with more hidden from us than there normally would be shown to the naked eye. I also loved the image’s subject matter because of the googly eyes and its nod to the concept of sight. I also kept in mind this weeks swatch colors of black, light blue, and a greenish blue. I paired these colors in my image to the blue of the sky, the green of the tree, and the underlying black darkness of the image.
“Trevor Paglen was born in 1974 at an Air Force base in Maryland where his father was an ophthalmologist. He grew up on bases in the USA and Germany. A former prison-rights activist, Paglen’s photographs often depict classified military activity.”
Some of his previous series of work have featured a National Security Agency’s eavesdropping complex, an Israeli nuclear weapons facility and a secret CIA prison. “The images are always shot from public land. Consequentially, they are often blurred, sometimes even indecipherable. This tendency is embraced by Paglen as emphasising the secretive nature of the establishments from which he is attempting to gather information.”
“Trained in geography and photography, Paglen’s photographs investigate the contemporary American surveillance state. However, he does not aim for perfectly crisp images and understands his photos cannot be used as evidence; he instead wants his work to wake the viewer up to what is going on around them, lurking just below the surface.” Paglen has photographed military facilities, stealth drones and information-gathering satellites.
“Through a practice that generally encompasses journalism, engineering, history, politics, photography and more, Paglen has explored the accountability or lack thereof of covert or offshore bases and more broadly the relationship between public and private information.” While his works usually take the form of large-scale photographic prints, he has also made installations and films.
I thoroughly enjoyed looking through Paglen’s work, his approach is incredibly thoughtful and concretely described. My favorite work that I looked at from the artist is his “Last Pictures” work. “With the help of Creative Time and MIT, in 2012 Paglen launched a disc micro-etched with 100 photographs into distant orbit around Earth. The disc is surrounded by a gold-plated shell and is designed to last billions of years. The project acts as a time capsule for future generations or aliens, or perhaps humankind’s successor.”
These past weeks my personal research has consisted of focusing on the making of my final book and artist statement. I was really moved by our guest and her lecture on our artist statements. The main take away that I wanted to focus on was transforming my writing from “taking you on a walk with me” to showing you how I see and take in my city during these times alongside my draw to the movement of the city. I played around with the core of the statement and made some slight adjustments that I think really get across better what my work is about. I also kept coming back to a statement I said describing my work that Julie told me to write down, “I wander but am not lost.” I added this into my statement and made it the title of my work for the final book.
I additionally looked back into some of my favorite photo books of the semester just to re-evaluate my ordering for the final book. I especially loved looking back into Jerry Hsu’s “The Beautiful Flower Is The World”. I really loved the way the artist varied his shots in order and location as I looked to do for my final run through. All my research really helped me an incredible amount when planning and making my final book.
We were talking about in your last crits, photographers who are known for size inclusive work. Rochelle titles herself as a size Inclusive Photographer. I found her work on Instagram and thought you would like her work.
I thought in general the class would like this photographers work. It is especially interesting how the print becomes a sculpture and a collage in his work. Most of these are from the project “Stage” which is up in Document Space Gallery in Chicago.
Wall/Floor Positions by Bruce Nauman, 1968
Punk Prayer by Pussy Riot, 2012
One Year Performance (Time Clock Piece) by Tehching Hsieh, 1980-81
Script writing workshop
The Course of Love Alain De Botton
A Lover’s Discourse by Barthes
Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
Fernando Pessoa The book of Disquiet
Mark Mcknight Heaven is a Prison
I wish I never saw the Sunshine Pacifico Silano
Omaha Sketchbook Gregory Halpern
Most of my research this week was on two things that I feel like I was behind on in exploring for my new work. Performance and Photobooks. These photo books all came from me finding new books to own for a grant and was a very enjoyable process where I felt like I could enjoy photography and book making. My readings were a continuation of previous readings I have been reading last few weeks.
Catherine Opie was a name that was thrown out to me a lot in the past year of work, and I never pulled her back up. I think it was because I saw Opie’s portraits early on in my career at Pratt and was never that enticed. I decided for my contemporary research I would go more into depth of her work, and give her another shot. Opie is known for her portraits of specific groups. Usually they hold the figure in the tradition middle spot, filling the frame, and a flatish background behind the subject. I originally saw this as boring, but after seeing it again, I realized the lack of details surrounding the figure allowed for more of the focus to be on the person, their persona, their look, etc. This became more interesting to me after reviewing the work. I think what interests me the most about the work is who she decides to photograph. She photographs groups like high school football players, S&M leather participants, and LGBTQ communities. They are all interesting and very different per group, but a lot of the political discussions through these groups revolves around Opie’s own discussion of queerness.
Recent research has been pretty fun and general. I went to ICP with Caroline when I was in New York and the show there ‘But Still it turns’ featured work from artists I had already been looking at for this project like Kristine Potter and some new ones like Gregory Halpern and RaMell Ross. Several of the projects there dealt with similar themes as my work and the American South/West. It felt like a well rounded show and it was honestly just nice to see work in person again. I was also paying particular attention to the wall text and work descriptions because I thought Kristine Potter’s was very well written. I have also checked out books from my local library including a book by Stephen Shore and Joel Meyerowitz and Ways of Seeing by John Berger, and Why People Photograph by Robert Adams. I have slowly started reading both of those and they are very interesting. Finally, I went to the houston center for photography today and saw the show entitled Cowboys Don’t Shoot Straight (like they used to) by Pacifico Silano which I thought was very beautiful even though it’s different because it’s collage based. It reminded me of this project I came across by Luke Gilford called National Anthem which documents America’s gay rodeo subculture. I cannot wait to get back into the city to feel more inspired.
“I could barely believe that my hand was there in front of my face, waving.” This line specifically as well as the explanations of black as a feedback signal when nothing else is visible reminded so specifically of the first time I loaded film in total darkness. Before that experience I had always associated darkness with either moonlight and a sky full of stars or distant streetlights, neither of which are really that dark. From working in the dark, a really absent dark, for the 30+ minutes I took me to learn how to use the 35mm reel I became innately aware that, as La Farge says, “sight, unlike touch or taste, continues to operate in the absence of anything visible,”. It is as if the longer you spend in the dark you begin to see what you know is there only based on spatial awareness. This idea (and the fact that I am visually impaired even in normal light) makes me more aware of how I navigate space and how my work exists in space (and also of the shadows in my work).