The scholars joined us for two consecutive days in the summer, spending a day each on a clay and a photogram workshop. While both are absorbing analogue processes they both urged us to consider how technology determines our perception of time, and time passing.
Photograms are a form of camera-less image making where objects are placed onto photographic paper and then exposed to light, recording the shadow of the objects as white and the unblocked areas of paper as black.
Each scholar brought a selection of objects with them, from personal object to materials with a range of translucencies and outlines. As they became familiar with the process, and the length of time it took to expose the deepest blacks, we began to explore ways of manipulating the process. We began to understand the nuances of our materials through a growing understanding of how the light passed through and reflected off them. Moving objects in fluid and/or abrupt way, interrupting the light source and chemical manipulation began to add complexity to the images as object forms and movements were translated into flat images. Making photograms can sometimes be unpredictable process; in encourages play. A jog of the hand can lead to a chance discovery. While exposing images, in small bouts of directed light, there is little clue as to what is happening on the light sensitive surface. Not until you place the image in the chemical bath and the image starts appearing around 15 seconds, can you begin to see the image, and then it’s another 3 minutes until it is fixed and you take it into day light, and what seemed a dark featureless image might be revealed to have curious shadows.
Chemical photography is practiced less and less, as the instant feedback of the digital screen has become the norm. Christian Marclay’s giant photograms of cassette tapes document another analogy technology which has been replaced by digital. As a group we discussed the different sensory experience offered by the hand developing; the quality of black is very deep, very different from a printed black, and our images were objects to be handled in their own right, rather than framed by a screen and backlit.
Working with a group the individual ways we compose space become quickly evident; preferences for order, excess, quiet, direct and indirect messages. The difference between a central subject and one which encounters the borders of the paper. Inspired by the work of artists like Moholy Nagy, Gyorgy Kepes, Susan Bee and Nathaniel Mellors the group made diverse images exploring themes from autobiography, health and mementos, to the size of a droplet of water and narratives of fleeting characters. Many fed digital images, constructed of printed pixels, back into their images and used materials to mimic renders, skins, and veils. We explored how our phones could be used to expose the images, accidentally on purpose catching glares and using their mobility to direct light across surfaces and objects.
Our body is one of the prime connectors for the use and application of technology. Our hands are the most important bit of technology available to humankind. Using clay, one of the most versatile materials that has been used for millennia, this workshop explores how our bodies are still at the centre of manipulating and transforming materials. Highlighting different senses, and avoiding the use of other sense, like being blindfolded, the participants experimented with different approaches to think, enhance, and develop their understanding of technology through the manipulation of materials.
Goodbye to the 2015/16 Cohort
At the end of the second day we celebrated the scholars year with an exhibition of their work from the final two days. We were joined by the scholars and staff from Graphic Communication, and discussed the processes they had been learning. It was a fantastic opportunity to see the work in a gallery setting and to enjoy its diversity and ambition.