Assignment 4: Digital identities (1)

Brief:

Develop a project around the theme of identity within the current digital climate.

This could be an autobiographical exploration examining how you relate to digital culture, or it could be a more critical examination of an aspect of digital culture. You should develop your project over the course of Part Four. This is your chance to find and articulate your personal voice in relation to digital culture.

Start by listing or making a brainstorm diagram/mind map of possible ideas and starting points. Put this in your learning log. Expand your list or develop your diagram as you work through Part Four. Try out a few of these ideas, and develop further those that seem to be the most effective or interesting.

When you have developed at least one idea to a point where you would like to receive feedback from your tutor, submit it to them by whatever means you both agree. Assignment Four is your digital identities project ‘in progress’. It is not expected to be a fully resolved, visually coherent or clearly contextualised submission. As well as visual material (contact sheets, work prints, etc. depending on the nature of your practice and your project) you should include a short text (around 500 words) setting out:

  • the specific themes your work is addressing or what your work is attempting to communicate
  • a list of the practitioners you’ve looked at in relation to this assignment
  • a bibliography
  • a brief self-evaluation. You may wish to consider requesting an audio/visual tutorial for feedback on this assignment.


Your tutor will give you guidance on how to develop and/or resolve and most appropriately present your project.

 

Mind map 1.jpg

 

For some time I was thinking of how to expand and go more deeply into the project that I started as part of exercise 1.2 Through a digital lens. I think this is an ideal moment to do it.

In the conclusion of my Assignment 3 essay, I state that the difference between the new generations and my own lies in their preference of the ‘flow of information’ as opposed to its ‘collection’ (material archives). In line with that, I chose to produce a work based on materiality, which is closer to me, objects like books and graphic novels that, for me, have the power of amulets that I like being surrounded with. In respect to their authors work, I wanted to make a set of images reconstructing scenes that would be additionally digitally manipulated.

My goal was to make a link between paper – monitor, analogue – digital, old – new, all in favour of the presentation of my Digital Identities. For me as 40-year-old, that represents 20 years of the analogue and 20 years of the digital age (give or take).

Inspired by the great read and wonderful illustrations of several graphic novels/comics as well as by the work by Jeff Wall, I tried to reconstruct the scenes that resonated with my personality (identity). I was triggered by a text by David Bate in the last foam magazine (#51) about Wall’s work: ‘… Wall’s work reminds me of a scene from a film (even if I cannot remember which one)…’ (p.144). I experienced that same effect with the work of David Lynch, where everything is strange but also familiar at the same time, close to dream-like experience we all experienced. For this project I found inspiration in the graphic novel Killing and Dying by A. Tomine (see fig. 1.). More particularly, one of the protagonists is a middle aged man, questioning his own creative ability, looking for confirmation, which resonated with me.

 

IMG_0727

Fig. 1. Reference image by Tomine Adrian in Killing and Dying (2015).

 

A4.jpg

Fig. 2. Untitled, 2018

 

To understand the scene derived from a graphic novel (as is often seen in reference to paintings – Jeff Wall), it is not necessary to be familiar with the comics world, but it gives that extra touch to the exploration of my identity (being raised by a father who was journalist all his working life, and was bringing home all sorts of magazines, newspapers and comics on a weekly bases).

For the digital manipulation of images I have decided to use Photoshop. The idea of subtraction came to me from the work of Misha Hanner – Less Américains, 2013. So I thought that in order to make a photograph I need to add props to be in line with the template I pre-selected, and I made a rule that the adding of elements would go only that way (physical) and subtraction would be only possible by digital manipulation.

This is just the first of a series of images that I would like to produce in order to complete the project as a whole. I already have some of the other templates that I would like to work with but first I need to see what my tutor has to say about it.

I always find it difficult to do self-evaluation, as I am this time, but what I can say is that I found this concept fulfilling. It is because I have finally found a way to present myself (My Identity) through the work of others, and that, I think, makes it all right, because I prefer to present myself more as a part of things that surround me – a non-selfie.

The list of practitioners:
Jeff Wall
Misha Hanner – Less Américains, 2013
Cristina De Middel – The Afronauts, 2014

Bibliography:
Tomine Adrian (2015) Killing and Dying. USA: Drawn & Quarterly
Bate, David (s.d) ‘Reconstructions’ In: foam 51 pp.143-144
Shore, Robert (2014) Post-Photography The Artist with a Camera. London: Laurence King

Illustrations:
Figure 1. Tomine, A. (2015)  [Illustration] In: Tomine Adrian. Killing and Dying. USA: Drawn & Quarterly

Figure 2. Radman, I. (2018) Untitled [Photograph] In possession of: Ivan Radman: Luxembourg

Checking my work against the assessment criteria

Demonstration of technical and visual skills:
For this assignment I used Fujifilm x100s, more precisely I asked my son to take several photographs because otherwise, doing it myself with a timer would have taken too much time. He was patient beyond his age (11) and ready to help me with framing and reshooting until I got what I wanted. I had a page from a comic book as reference for posing the props, but I still needed to arrange some of the elements so they wouldn’t get any extra attention in relation to the whole scene. For example, the flash umbrella was dominant so I put it in the back and covered it with my body, which I think worked. The other thing that bothered me was the Coca Cola can. I wasn’t sure about showing the front with the logo or turning it the other way. Would it make the scene less about my work and more about consuming or was it an extra element that would contribute to the story? I am still wondering.

Quality of outcome:
The idea of presenting identity is recurring throughout my OCA experience and even though I do not like being the one who is exposed, I like to be changed. This way I thought I can be exposed but through the reference of others and that idea gave me the push to be excited while making it, and that, for me, means I am on a good path.

Demonstration of creativity:
After positioning all the props, I didn’t have many issues to deal with except in postproduction, due to the time-consuming task of selecting the objects, in order to manipulate the background filling it with colour.

Context:
The idea came from the world of graphic novels. There, the artists use paintings and photographs as references for their work the same way we photographers refer to other art genres (painting being the most represented one because of their comparison throughout history). In graphic novels, same as in photography, the artist in limited within the frame. The story unfolds within the relations between two adjacent frames.

Tutor’s response:

Overall Comments

As usual, lots of good research noted and exercises in this submission. I recommend reworking the final assignment to make full potential of your interesting ideas Ivan.

Feedback on assignment

Your mind map is good and I think there are lots of interesting things coming out of that research and also in the writing, reflection and exercises that you’re doing outside of the assignment itself.

You’re asked for this assignment to set out the following:

The specific themes you’re addressing

A list of practitioners

A bibliography

A self-evaluation

You’ve given a description of an idea that I do find a little confusing and needs further thought and clarification before committing yourself to a course of action for your next assignment. That’s fine, because the purpose of this assignment is to test ideas, get feedback, take risks and to experiment. Currently, I think your proposed project’s relevance to digital identity (to the brief) is a little too vague. That’s not to say this is something that can’t be further discussed and developed but I think it needs a little more thinking through before you begin to develop it.

You say that you took as your inspiration Mishka Henner’s appropriation project where he removes elements from a well-known series of photographs.

Did you try to do something like this yourself in your experiments (i.e scanning an existing set of photographs perhaps of yourself and removing the context in a similar way?) It may be that a more direct approach would be more successful. Erasure (removing certain elements in photograph) can be very effective..

However, you’ve inserted a third element – the comic novel illustration – which I think is really confusing things.

 For this project I found inspiration in the graphic novel Killing and Dying by A. Tomine (see fig. 1.). More particularly, one of the protagonists is a middle-aged man, questioning his own creative ability, looking for confirmation, which resonated with me’.

 So this subject is interesting – a questioning of your own ability etc. (And I know that you are interested in looking at your engagement with the world as someone who isn’t a so-called ‘digital native ‘For me as 40-year-old, that represents 20 years of the analogue and 20 years of the digital age’).

I’d suggest however that this idea doesn’t need to be fed through the filter of a comic novel nut you should look back to photography and montage to explore this interesting subject. We’ll discuss this more at tutorial.

I do like the aesthetics of the work you’ve presented. I like the way your separating yourself out from any background or context and surrounding yourself with a series of rather disembodied looking objects. This reminded me initially of two things: American photographer Sarah Charles’ use of colour fields and negative space and also UK artist Richard Hamilton’s ‘Interior; which was emblematic of the pop art movement in Britain at that time.

Sarah Charlesworth: https://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2013/11/15/unwriting-sarah-charlesworth/

Richard Hamilton’s pop art ‘Interior’: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/63467

NB: There are lots of great new online commissions produced especially for the ‘I was raised on the Internet’ exhibit currently showing in the US here: https://mcachicago.org/Publications/Websites/I-Was-Raised-On-The-Internet

STUDENT FEEDBACK

 After considering tutor’s comments I realize that I should release me from my own fittings, the comics part of it can be perceived and as just a starting point but not the vital point to produce the work based on my (digital) identity.

 I see now that I flew away from digital to analog concept, previously through that it would be enough to use the digitally manipulated in postproduction.

This time I will emphasize the digital part of the assignment.

Tutors references are perfect, especially the work of Sarah Charlesworth, and they will for sure give me that necessary additional push to combine my new concept in the borders of wanted visual effect.

 Tutor comments:

 ‘Board between photography and graphic design is barely visible.’

 ‘Did you try to do something like this yourself in your experiments (i.e .scanning an existing set of photographs perhaps of yourself and removing the context in a similar way?)’

 I can work with that as a starting point.

IR

1 thought on “Assignment 4: Digital identities (1)

  1. Pingback: Digital Identity (2) | ivanradman OCA Photography2

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