Scanography

Scanography (also scannography, or scanner photography) is the art of making photographic images using a flatbed camera.

It is a development arising from Xerox art, in which artists use photocopiers to capture and print an image in one step.

Objects are arranged on the scanner’s glass platen before being scanned to produce a digital image which can be manipulated using editing software and this provides scanographers with a level of artistic control which is denied to practitioners of Xerox art.

Scanners are capable of producing a digital negative which captures extremely fine detail, and which also has shallow depth of field – characteristics shared with large format photography.

Carrotid Scan_Curran D

Darryl Curran, 1995. Carrotid Scan

Darryl Curran is an artist working with scanner technology. His image ‘Carrotid Scan’ is held at the Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena).

The image portrays a seemingly odd assembly of objects: carrots complete with greens, scraps of paper, and a small plate featuring black text on a yellow background are all shown against a background of floral printed textile.

A limited palette allows the vivid orange of the carrots to draw the viewer’s eye to this, the main subject.

Subjects are shown in fine detail except where the shallow depth of field brings an attractive visual aesthetic.

Fundamentally, scanography arises from fairly standard and relatively robust equipment being put to an alternative use: equipment intended for recording and reproducing the mundane and uninteresting (documents) has found a use producing unique works of art which are anything but uninteresting.

It is a process which can be simple, or technically sophisticated – depending on the skill level of the scanographer and the intended effect.

Scanography has a lot of appeal for me – it is an interesting process, producing attractive images. I intend to carry out further research into this method, and use it in my photographic practice in the future.

It’s ability to be a simple process, together with the widespread availability of scanner technology, makes this a cheap, interesting, and educational activity that can involve the whole family – and not just an activity for rainy days. Children love making things and the potential for scanography to produce visually appealing images from almost any object close to hand (parental supervision required) mean that this is an excellent way to introduce an interest in photography at an early age.

See also: ‘Cameraless Photography

Image: https://www.nortonsimon.org/art/detail/PH.2013.1.1

On Reflection: Week 4, Module Three

I looked forward to this week’s activity – cameraless photography. I wasn’t disappointed.

My first attempt at cameraless photography involved making cyanotypes. Admittedly my first efforts were not particularly fine examples of this type of work, but this was purely because of the objects (or lack thereof) that were available for image-making. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the activity.

The brief for the cameraless photography project suggested using unfamiliar equipment, and objects that were to hand as subjects – sitting at my desk, trying to make cyanotypes during a five-minute break from packing for a house move didn’t exactly present me with a huge amount of choice in terms of suitable subjects.

Whilst the results were not outstanding, the activity was especially interesting, and it was a positive experience to create something without the use of my camera. Moving on from this first attempt, I want to revisit the exercise and experiment with different types of subjects. I also want to investigate the role that different types of light play (or don’t as the case may turn out to be) in the making of cyanotypes.

Scanography proved to be a very successful method of image-making for me, and one which I intend to incorporate into my photographic practice.

The same eclectic array of objects which failed as subjects to lend themselves to cyanotype imaging, took on a surprising level of visual appeal when ‘photographed’ by a standard, desktop scanner.

The particularly fine level of detail captured by this process is deceptive. The shallow depth of field adds to the aesthetic appeal of the images.

I think some experimentation will be required in order to perfect the technique, but I see a lot of mileage in in this type of photography.

It is possible I have been bitten by the ‘scanography’ bug …

Cameraless Photography

PhotoScan-web

Morris, 2017. Untitled #1

PhotoScan-2-web

Morris, 2017. Untitled #2

PhotoScan-3-web

Morris, 2017. Untitled #3

PhotoScan-4-web

Morris, 2017. Untitled #4

PhotoScan-5-web

Morris, 2017. Untitled #5

Playtime!

Five images showing an eclectic array of objects: pens, a pair of compasses, an ammonite, and a handful of star anise – all of which were to hand on my desk on Wednesday 21 June 2017 and photographed using a scanner.

Whilst the objects don’t relate to my project I wanted to experiment with an alternative technique and make a timely submission despite being in a state of upheaval due to an impending house move.

A very interesting activity to complete, generating several ideas for ongoing experimentation.

See also: ‘Scanography

 

‘Pillars of Creation’: Nonhuman Photography

Pillars_of_creation_2014_HST_WFC3-UVIS_full-res_denoised

Nasa, 2014. Pillars of Creation

Pillars of Creation’ is an image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2014.

It shows columns, or ‘cold molecular pillars’ (informally ‘elephant trunks’) of interstellar gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula – 6,500 to 7,000 from Earth. The name derives from the fact that stars are being created from the gas and dust whilst also being eroded by the scorching ultraviolet light emitted by other recently formed stars.

The image was photographed by the Hubble Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3, installed in 2009, and produced using near-infrared and visible light exposure.

Pillars of Creation’ was an image originally produced in 1995. This higher resolution image was produced in 2014 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the telescope’s launch.

 

References

Garner, Rob. (2015). ‘Hubble Goes High-Definition to Revisit Iconic ‘Pillars of Creation’’. Nasa.gov [Online]. Available at: https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/hubble-goes-high-definition-to-revisit-iconic-pillars-of-creation [accessed 18 June 2017].

On Reflection: Week 3, Module Three

Where to go? What to do? How to do it?

How do I follow on from the success of ‘Ten’?

A problem which has bothered me, coming in and out of my thoughts but not really going anywhere, for several weeks.

Well, today I wasn’t thinking about it, I was actively thinking about something else, and like a spark jumping a gap, the connection was made and an idea instantaneously developed.

I’m reasonably sure that, as a project, it will work and just need to try a few things out in order to confirm.

Just in time, as I am mindful that the deadline for the next round of assignments is only eight weeks away – seems a long time but it will pass as quickly as the blink of an eye. I really want to crack on.

A very interesting week working on a crowdsourcing zine: ‘Walk in My Shoes’.

The project was an outstanding success, so much so in fact, that it warrants an extension. The request for crowdsourced footwear related images was met with a response that was, and continues to be, exceptional – I would dare to suggest beyond anything we expected. My friend Jo and the rest of the zine editing team were both amazed and humbled by the response and are truly thankful to all those who contributed.

This suggests an area for some very important research – why are some crowdsourcing projects so successful, whilst others are failures?

Who responds, how and why? Who answers the call, and what motivates them to do so?

In terms of establishing a ‘brand’ as a professional photographer, these are fundamental questions.

Fair to say a huge amount of research has been done in this area, it forms a basis for professional marketing agencies, advertising companies and copywriters. But any knowledge I acquire will be new to me.

Furthermore, I think it’s different for artists who create something – they need that level of understanding themselves because they have to balance creating a unique identity, or to use the jargon, a unique selling point or brand, with creating art. The creativity is inside and it isn’t a matter of simple differentiation.

I don’t think it works on the same level in some other businesses where it comes down to (simply) identifying a unique feature of a product and/or getting the product out to customers.

Also, there have been some very interesting and informative discussions this week regarding track licensing, rights and royalties, and monetisation. At this point, several more questions have been raised – questions about ‘weighty’ issues – in fact as many new questions have been raised as answers have been found. But, all very positive and I can see a satisfactory resolution.

Research into the various types of video production software has continued. It’s now moved on from identifying what is available and shortlisting, and has reached a practical, hands on phase of learning to use the chosen software packages.

So, a late night on Saturday, a significant step forward. OK, there were some problems to solve before the task could be completed but I feel that solving those problems made for a richer learning experience.

It’s always a massive sense of achievement to gather all the necessary resources and use them to create something – to sit back and look at something and say, ‘I made that’.

Looking ahead, a project to create photographic images without using a camera (and in the midst of moving home). I’m looking forward to this task, the photography, not the moving that is … … really don’t like moving!

Walk in My Shoes

Walk in My Shoes

 

The task, to produce a crowdsourced Zine …

We were asked to form groups and then to choose a subject or theme for our zine.

Very quickly we were able to identify a small number of potential topics and from that list we chose ‘Shoes’ and the idea of walking a mile in someone’s shoes.

A deadline for contributions was set at 1800hrs on Wednesday 14 June, and this would allow us time to compile images and edit the zine before publishing.

There are a small number of companies which offer a platform for the publication of zines and these were evaluated and potential runners were added to a shortlist.

Background to this activity is the study of photographic projects involving input from people additional to the photographer: collaborative, collective, participatory and cooperative projects, and the ways in which these are unique or overlap with the terminology being interchangeable.

Quite clearly a crowdsourced zine is dependent upon contributions, we as photographers found ourselves in new territory, assuming a project management and editing role. OK, project management is a big part of photography so that isn’t so new, but I think it fair to say that the editing role most certainly is.

The response from family, friends and friends of friends has been immense – truly fantastic. It represents the great things that we can achieve when we all work together. We are extremely thankful, and humbled, by the response.

Part of the brief was to maintain an element of surprise by keeping the themes for our zines secret from other groups. Consequently, we set up a secret Facebook group through which we could request and then receive contributions for footwear related images. Once this was established and proved successful we extended the opportunities to contribute to include quotes and poems related to shoes and walking.

This has been an interesting area of research, it has also been a fun activity which was made exciting by the enthusiasm of those taking part and the diversity of their contributions.

Not in Isolation

Participatory, collective, cooperative and collaboration – all terms used to describe projects which involve the creative talents of at least two persons, quite often more. These terms are used quite interchangeably.

Photovoice, for example, is described as “community-based participatory research” which aims to document reality by combining photography with grassroots campaigning.

Emphasis is placed on inclusion, with participation from community members irrespective of age, social status, language, gender, race or disability.

Photographic projects raise awareness of social issues which affect the community, and which would otherwise be hidden or overlooked, by bringing new insights and perspectives.

Constructive criticism is a further example of collaboration in which the photographer and a viewer approaching images from different directions, nevertheless, the aims of both parties is to facilitate both better photography and more informed criticism.

Relating this to my photographic practice, collaboration for me is rare. Working on food photography projects is a solitary exercise. However, collaboration is highly relevant to food photography, especially for high-end photoshoots where cooks and food stylists might be involved.

Opportunities for collaborative work may not be commonplace in relation to smaller food photography projects. A greater number of opportunities present themselves with regard to the actual operation of the business, marketing for example, where expertise could be drawn upon for the design and production of promotional videos, graphic design skills for development of promotional literature, and copywriting skills.

Away from my main photographic practice, producing a zine has been an interesting, informative and fun task. For me, what we achieved represents the effectiveness of both collaboration – in the form of project related input from colleagues, and participation – in the form of crowdsourced contributions.

A key factor, of course, in all cooperative artistic scenarios is maintaining individual creative identity whilst harnessing the team’s abilities to create a synergistic outcome.

On Reflection: Week 2, Module Three

Appropriation and misappropriation! No, not the title of a lost script from Blackadder the Third, as much as it may sound like one.

Instead a cautionary tale for every artist.

‘Molotov Man’ illustrates the worst way to appropriate another artist’s work. When did it become anything other than best practice, common courtesy, and common sense to credit another artist when using their work. I find it incredible that one artist could source another artists work, and then use that work as a basis for her own project, without giving any credit whatsoever to the original artist (‘Appropriation and Misappropriation’)

The main event this week, however, the production of a movie style teaser trailer for my project. Quite a task and certainly new territory for me – this is an area in which I have absolutely no experience whatsoever.

Straightaway I can see the advantages of developing a skillset in this area – significant advantages. Ideas start popping off in my mind like firecrackers at Chinese New Year. My internal dialogue is running through scenarios of where and how the ability to skilfully produce and edit videos would be useful.

And so research began …

One thing which immediately became apparent, and it’s something I touched on when looking at the use of interactive ebooks, is the disparity between the Mac operating system and Windows based systems.

Mac PCs and laptops come with iMovie included. Windows Movie Maker ceased being included with new Windows based machines some time ago.

I’ve seen some amazing trailers produced by my fellow students over the past few days – all using iMovies. And not only do my fellow students eulogise about iMovies, the software also comes with trailer templates for anyone wishing to somewhat automate the process.

So, what are the options for Windows based machines?

Well, there are a number of options, including Windows Movie Maker, which is still available to download via a link.

These software packages, though, are far from being equal. Some are extremely limited, whilst others could prove to be exceptionally powerful – provided you have a significant amount of time to invest in learning how to use the software. Of course, you then have to assess the risk of investing this time only to arrive at a point where you realise that the software really isn’t that good after all, or that it won’t do what you want.

I intend to carry out some significant research in this area, and have the go ahead from teaching staff to take my time making the trailer in order to do so, and so I don’t wish to write extensively about my findings to date here. But what I will say is that the two software packages that really stand out are Camtasia and Adobe Premiere Pro – these are both very powerful applications, packed with features, and – importantly – are easy to pick up and run with because of their intuitive user interfaces, many features are ‘drag and drop’. Additionally, for those inclined, Adobe Premiere Pro is supported by a wealth of textbooks providing instruction in its use, notably for me the official ‘Adobe Premiere Pro Classroom in a Book’. Finally, Premiere can be used not only in conjunction with all other Adobe products but notably After Effects – a dedicated film and special effects application.

This week, during my research into video production, I heard a fantastic piece of music. I contacted the composer with a view to discovering the title of the work, and instead ended up in negotiations (ongoing) to have the music licensed to me.

Appropriation and Misappropriation

Susan_Meiselas_-_Molotov_Man

Meiselas, 1981. Molotov Man

“Appropriation in art and art history refers to the practice of artists using pre-existing objects or images in their art with little transformation of the original” (Tate.org, ca. 2017).

Nicaragua, 16 July 1979 and photographer Susan Meiselas captures an image that will become an icon representing a pivotal point in the country’s political history.

A petrol bomb is about to be thrown at a Somoza national guard garrison shortly before the Sandinistas take control, holding it for the next ten years.

Fast forward to spring 2003 when artist Joy Garnett begins a project – a series of paintings based solely on images taken by other photographers. Her use of Meiselas’ image prompted a letter from lawyer’s representing the author, asserting her right of ownership, citing copyright infringement and requesting that she seek written permission prior to using any further images.

Garnett’s response? To seek opinion from fellow members of an artist’s forum to which she belonged, thereby triggering a reactionary avalanche of appropriation of the ‘Molotov Man’.

‘Joywar’ seems to assume a certain arrogance on the part of the participants – a “this is our image and we can do what we want with it” antagonistic type of response.

Fundamentally, Garnett failed to acknowledge both authorship and context relating to Meiselas’ image. The consternation felt by Meiselas could have been avoided by Garnett simply crediting and referencing the work.

Garnett appears to have failed to consider the consequences of appropriating images – this is suggested by her response to a letter from Meiselas’ lawyer, a response which saw her turn to members of a forum to which she belonged to for advice and opinion. Giving thought to the potential consequences of appropriation prior to use would have enabled Garnett to do two things: firstly, to understand the need for the best practice of giving credit for the work of others, and secondly, to be able to justify her reasons for the appropriation.

The fact that Garnett had to solicit opinions regarding her appropriation and the author’s response to that appropriation, for me, brings in to question the legitimacy of her appropriation.

Meiselas’ response asserts her inalienable right to be identified as the author of the image. However, once an image is placed in the public domain it immediately becomes a legitimate object for comment and criticism. That is not, though, a licence for uncredited use of the image.

Meiselas’ consternation at the uncredited appropriation of her image which, because it was also unreferenced by Garnett was also stripped of its context, is understandable.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to question why, when her image had been used many times out of context, it was Garnett’s decontextualized use of the image which attracted Meiselas’ attention in such a negative way.

Issues relating to the potential appropriation of my work are difficult to predict. I would expect that any use of my images be credited and acknowledge me as the author. Where appropriate, I would also expect the source to be referenced.

If my images were used without credit, the response would be to request that, as far as possible, credit be attached retrospectively to any work already created in addition to credit be given in any future works. In terms of litigation, I think this would depend very much on whether my work had been appropriated for financial gain by the artist.

 

Reference

Garnett, J. and Meiselas, S. 2007. [Online]. Available at: http://fdm.ucsc.edu/~landrews/film171aw09/readings_files/OnTheRightsOfTheMolotovMan.pdf (Accessed 10 June 2007).

Tate.Org ca. 2017. Art Terms entry: ‘appropriation’ [Online]. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/appropriation (Accessed: Saturday 10 June 2017)