STUDIO PROJECT – Ovelooked Objects (chasing the light)

Contemplating my creative space and the objects within it I determined to explore limitations and embrace the challenge. What is the studio? A creative space in which I work, meaning that it could be anywhere, I just need to put my imagination into practice. In this case, my home, the boat, is my studio. It is, yet again, a challenge as one looks for stimulation outside the closest environment, perhaps it’s because when so familiar to one’s eyes, it does not stimulate any more or as much. Well, that’s about to change. With limitations enabling me to explore the space that I probably wouldn’t otherwise, I took upon myself to explore the challenge, my preconceptions and my location. It is not easy, but it’s through difficulties that I learn the most, so I am quite excited about it. Through reflection on detail, routine, and limitations, I settled on a project about OVERLOOKED OBJECTS, using everyday things that surround me.
They are such small pieces of an enormous puzzle within my space, yet completely forgotten and ignored, I decided to extract them, and give them the attention they deserve, make seemingly boring things – beautiful. I believe that we are merely limited by ourselves and our imagination, and the more I think about it, the more I realise that limitation equals opportunity.

RESEARCH AND INSPIRATIONS

Still Life Photography (2013).

I researched many artists concerning the subject, but the below I present the ones that have been the most influential and inspiring to me.

Jan Groover, http://janetbordeninc.com/artist/jan-groover/.

Her play and usage of everyday, overlooked objects has been incredibly influential on my studio project. I tried to take the awe that she creates with the ‘items of no interest’ and breath it into my work. I took time to plan and design arrangements but also improvised depending on various circumstances, but mostly on the light hitting the boat (on a sunny day, which is rare in the Peak District in the winter, the precious light is entering only from about 11-13, if I’m lucky).

Irving Penn, https://irvingpenn.org/.

Irving Penn is unquestionably one of the pivotal discoveries of the unit for me. I simultaneously adore his portrait and fashion photography and his incredible, abstract and sublime still life images. They stimulate my imagination and make me more mindful of the objects around me, reminding me to be conscious of my surroundings and look with the eyes open. The message is clear, don’t be afraid to do your thing, however bizarre and against ‘the rules’. It did not stop him, and I think it shouldn’t stop anyone with a passion big enough to keep going against the odds.

Irving Penn at the Intersection of Art, Fashion and Photography Forum – Session 2 (2015).

Irving Penn at the Intersection of Art, Fashion and Photography Forum – Session 3 (2015).

André Kertész, https://huxleyparlour.com/artists/andre-kertesz/

I watched an interview with Andre Kertesz, which I found simultanouesly beautiful, inspiring and sad. His story of moving to New York and his work being competely rejected and misunderstood, absolutely breaks my heart (and I wonder why he didn’t go back to Paris). I love the way he speaks of photography, patience and most imprtantly ‘the feeling’ that should emanate from the image, as I resonate with his aesthetics. I adore his going with the flow attitude, and emracing, working with your surroundigs, which sorts of speaks to you to create one way or the other, he says “the studio dictated (…) the happening is dictating for you, you have a different feeling with the happing or don’t, you know, it is in the bad and the good the same…”.

He ends the interview with a great wisdom, I will carry with me forever: “The eye is only a mechanical instrument (…) the eye is nothing else than a natural optic, what is inside, this deciding on the picture not the eye”.

Andre Kertesz BBC Master Photographers (1983).

I felt saddened upon hearing about his isolation in New York, so I was delighted to discover this short video of Kertesz shooting on the streets of his beloved Paris. He seems so alive, stimulated and at home. He says something that I immediately connect to John Berger’s Ways of Seeing ” I don’t look, I see…that’s two different things. It happens, it happens… I don’t look for it. Then, you see, in any case, there is always something creating inside of you (…)”.

Andre Kertész in Paris.

John Blakemore, https://www.johnblakemore.co.uk/

If I had to choose one person that influenced me the most throughout this unit, it would most definitely be John Blakemore. Honestly, I am a little bit smitten with his artwork, completely and utterly fell in love with it, and his outlook on life, objects and creating images. I constantly carry his aesthetics with me and find myself repeatedly reflecting on his approaches and methods, looking where I was not looking before, curious and more attentive than before.

John Blakemore – Master Photographer (2014).

I watched a very insightful interview with John Blakemore. I learned a little bit about his technical process, note-taking, but also about his difficult experience while running a photography studio, shooting portraits. Weirdly, it is reassuring, knowing that even the greatest of photographers have been through challenges and moments of doubt. It makes them more human, and us, aspiring artists, more resilient, knowing that when times are hard, it’s just a part of it all.

Some other artists I investigated and found very inspiring, Edward Weston, Abelardo Morell and Lee Friedlander.

Edward Weston, https://edward-weston.com/

One thing is sure, after examining Edward Weston’s images of vegetables, I will always look at them with special admiration. I found a lot of inspiration in his work, he is yet another artist I familiarised myself with that made me more sensitive to the world around me, especially the simple objects of everyday life.

How Edward Weston Captured His Iconic Images (2019).

Still life of Abelardo Morell, https://www.abelardomorell.net/

Abelardo Morell is mostly known for his Camera Obscura work (which I think is marvellous). Similarly to my investigations of Lee Friedlander, I found some stunning still life in his repertoire. I am genuinely impressed with his photograms and paper images (which is so innovative, simple and obvious at the same time – genius!), simultaneously admiring his gentle, classic compositions, a true inspiration.

Abelardo Morell: On Photography, Life, and Dancing (2013).

Lee Friedlander, although predominantly best known for his ”social landscape” photography, I found myself drawn to his images of everyday objects and his play with light and shadow. I think that there are unique and mesmerising. Another thing that attracted me to Friedlander’s still life is that it’s so different from other photographers that influenced me, I believe it is always beneficial to try to see things from all perspectives.

Lee Friedlander (2012).

SET UP/CHASING LIGHT, EXPERIMENTING, IDEAS

Ideas for studio/ still life.

Tap and water drops. I have not planned the photo that emerged at all. I set up my little station and started to experiment. As I was arranging it, a few drops of water came out of the tap unexpectedly, I noticed it and decided to shoot in that direction. However, I found the image missing something and the drops blending into canvas too much. I resolved to put a few drops of grenadine in them to give them red colouring, it worked like magic and the image, however completely unplanned, came together wonderfully. I think it’s my favourite thing to just go with the flow like this, feeling like no other!

Forks and light.

Apple arrangement, I decided to juxtapose the ‘perfect’ apple core that I have a little model of, and an actual core of an apple (that I created by eating the apple, yum). The idea was to show how the perfection we, as a society, are stiving for is A: unreal, B: unattainable. Besides, how much more beautiful is the REAL thing, with it’s uneven form and life within that stems from the imperfection itself.

Examining the skull for the final image. Due to lack of proper walls (I live on a narrowboat), I improvise and have to very creative with planning backgrounds for my photographs. I often use a sheet of coloured paper, old, stained canvas, kitchen cupboards door, anything goes. For the skull image backdrop, I used the screen of my laptop. With an intriguing deep-blue/black colour, touched by a drop of light hitting the top right corner, I achieved a pleasing effect.

Light play.

Paper arrangements and experimenting.

How To Make an Easy Origami Butterfly (in 3 MINUTES!) (2017).

Butterfly effect.

More origami and paper explorations.

I explored routine by documenting the cups of coffee I drank throughout the unit.

CONCLUSION

The conclusion is simple – I absolutely relished my studio project, the only thing I could wish for is more sunlight, which would allow me to play and experiment more. I feel like I have learned so much, both from my research and my practice. I realised (although when I think about other aspects of my life, it’s not news) that I adore making things out of nothing. Or even better, creating beautiful images out of the seemingly tedious, ordinary or ugly objects, breathing new life into them. Imagination is the key, and there are no limits. I will continue on this path as I flourished on it, and I hope with University opening up, longer days and more light, I will be able to move on to 35mm and medium format for similar images, inspired by the masters of photography I examined, I will pursue to paint with the light the beauty of every day, as they did.

‘Reference List’

‘Abelardo Morell: On Photography, Life, and Dancing’. The Art Institute of Chicago. (2013). [Online video] https://youtu.be/Mn_pVxisf7A. Available through YouTube. [Accessed 15/02/21].

‘Andre Kertesz BBC Master Photographers (1983)’. Rob Hooley. (2013) [Online video] https://youtu.be/Olc_QLDPUeU. Available through YouTube. [Accessed 13/02/21].

‘Andre Kertész in Paris’. The DEVELOP Tube Photography Video Channel on YouTube. (1982). [Online video] https://youtu.be/zCr1r4boxdU. Available through YouTube. [Accessed 14/02/21].

‘How Edward Weston Captured His Iconic Images’. Advancing Your Photography. (2019). [Online video] https://youtu.be/MxBKQn1k0I8. Available through YouTube. [Accessed 14/02/21].

‘How To Make an Easy Origami Butterfly (in 3 MINUTES!)’. PPO. (2017). [Online video] https://youtu.be/cZdO2e8K29o. Available through YouTube. [Accessed 18/02/21].

‘Irving Penn at the Intersection of Art, Fashion and Photography Forum – Session 2 (2015)’. Smithsonian American Art Museum.(2015). [Online video] https://youtu.be/19t6Wb6BbdU. Available through YouTube. [Accessed 13/02/21].

‘Irving Penn at the Intersection of Art, Fashion and Photography Forum – Session 3 (2015)’. Smithsonian American Art Museum. (2015). [Online video] https://youtu.be/19t6Wb6BbdU. Available through YouTube. [Accessed 14/02/21].

‘John Blakemore – Master Photographer’. E ī h w a z. (2014). [Online video] https://youtu.be/HBVgetVIXd4. Available through YouTube. [Accessed 16/02/21].

‘Lee Friedlander’. Icontenttv. (2012). [Online video] https://youtu.be/9I2asDXS0h8. Available through YouTube. [Accessed 14/02/21].

‘Still Life Photography’. The Art of Photography. (2013) [Online video] https://youtu.be/-5uEboOoWw0. Available through YouTube. [Accessed 12/02/21].

Published by Elzbieta Skorska

My name is Elzbieta Skorska. I am a second-year photography student degree at MMU.

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