Tag: History

1st Week!

What a week its been! Everything has built up to the first classes of the Fall term (or the Autumn Term for those back home in UK).

I’ve figured that as well as doing the monthly blogs, I might do a weekly blog as well detailing everything I have gotten up to the week in a more condensed form, leaving my vlogs to me a more overview sight of the month!

So here goes…


Monday:

So the first class to begin the term off was my Photography, Art, and the Media: The 19th Century.  To start off the class, we decided to watch two film to make us think about the age old question: What is Photography? The films to help the grey brain cells were:

  • Ulysses: Based on a picture that was somewhat spontaneous, the director looked at how the memory affected those that were part of the original photo and how much they could remember of it, whilst also looking at the other historical events that were happening at the same time.
  • Nostalgia: Looking at the pictures taken back by Hollis Frampton, we are taken down a journey with personal comments made on each individual picture whilst they are being burnt; however there is a slight twist to it (watch the film to find out!)

Both of these films were a great start in getting the whole group to think not critically, but offer a variety opinions not only on the film but towards the question “What is Photography?”


Tuesday:

Oh yes. The class I was pumped for. This was the beginning of the Colour Printing class, taught by Darin Mickey (have a look at his work if you can!) I was quite excited for this class as it was going to push me into a new limit of analogue I have always wanted to try. Shooting in colour isn’t the hardest, but being able to go into a fully functioning colour lab? It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass down.

And although we didn’t go straight into printing this week, we are given quite a few tips. For example, with negative printing (this would be colour and Black+White shooting) you want to over pose the prints more as it allows it to be dealt easier in printing.

This can be done by either going up an aperture or shutter stop. However, an easier way is that if you are using a light meter, by changing the ISO settings on it, it will automatically give you that 1 stop change.

E.g.

A 400 ISO —> Shoot at “200 ISO”

So now its onto shooting more rolls of film in order to start printing!

In the afternoon, we had our first Seminar class. As we were in smaller groups, it was an opportunity to get to know each other a bit better, with everyone talking about their interests, their aspirations etc. It was interesting to hear what everyone had to say, giving a deeper insight into them all. Afterwards, we started looking through each others work, but in a different critique method: instead of explaining their work, we as the viewers had to decipher the work with no help and make our own interpretations on it, providing interesting responses.


Wednesday:

This was the first lecture with the Dean of the School, Fred Ritchin. This was possibly the one class I had no idea of what to expect, apart from that I was prepared for a lot of information to be heading my way.

And I was right! In three hours, which seemed to fly by so quickly, we had covered so much material my brain was hurting. The conversation started talking off about hyper text (non linear narrative) and how it can begin a collaboration with the reader, something which the digital is good at doing. This then led on to a conversation about digital and analogue and the restrictions between the two and how a multitude of ideas can be implemented differently.

We was introduced to a site Fred used to run called pixelpress.org which should the capabilities of the digital in which analogue could not do, and in how text can provide a different meaning to the image as well. Do have a look at the website, as it will definitely start making you think about how important text is…


Thursday:

This was the start of my video class. I know I have already done video in the past, however I personally del that there was much more that I could lear from this, especially in terms of editing the video to an acceptable standard.

So we was introduced to some of the tools in order to give more steady shots (fluid tripods, shoulder rigs) as well as some of the better external microphones that we had on offer for us to use. And it was drilled in that with DSLR’s, the internal microphone is rubbish, so using an external microphone is always the route you want to head along.

We was also given our assignment for the week which was to shoot a video on out daily routine, and we was advised to follow the 5 second rule (don’t remain on a frame for more then 5 seconds.) To help us understand this more, we was shown then short film The Big Shave by Sorcasse (again something I would highly recommend but be warned, very graphic!)  to show us how we could shoot a similar video.


Friday:

The class where I was different whoop!

So this was the first class for Future Storytelling and the main thing was that stories can be told however we want them to, whether it be via Transmedia (art of telling one story over multiple media where each is unique) and Multimedia (different forms of media to create powerful stories that can communicate.)

However to make a more powerful story sometimes, it is best to get the obvious out of the way in order to surprise both the audience and you, with surprise being a way for the brain to release dopamine to the body.

We was also introduced to the different types of User experiences out there:

  • Visceral design
  • Behavioural design
  • Reflective design

And finally, to finish off the week, we had our Digital technical seminar to round off the afternoon. This was just a quick introduction and recap over Colour theory and how the Primary and Complimentary colours work together and how it helps with colour correction.

For example:

If there are 256 different shades of RGB (primary colours), we could check to see if we have a correct exposure on an area by clicking a grey area to make sure that there are equal amounts there, such as R= 119 G= 119 B=119.

If one is unequal, then you have to change the others so that you can make everything balanced out

This led onto us talking about histograms and the actual importance they hold when we go and take photographs. The rule of thumb for getting a good capture is to get your histogram more to the right (e.g. making it more over exposed.) Now this may seem strange to do, however this allows the highlights to have more information stored in them and giving more subtlety in the tonal ranges. So when it comes to editing the picture, you can avoid loosing any information in any area if you decided to darken the image in RAW for example.

I also learnt the use of the HDR feature as well! If you are in a situation where you cannot change your histogram at the risk of loosing information in your image, you can use the HDR feature to give a more rounded exposure that will give the information in all areas of the picture by combining multiple images of different exposures.


So yeah, that was just a general overview of what I got up to this week… A lot isn’t it? There was more I could have included, but all I have mentioned was probably the more interesting stuff I think! Next week will begin to get more serious, and I can’t wait for it as it means more information is gonna be chucked at me and I so ready to absorb it all! Until next time!

250MC: Trip to the Herbert History Section + Third Idea

As part of 250MC, to get us thinking more about the idea of site specific in Coventry, we went to the Herbert’s History section about Coventry to provide us some more context as to what happened here in the past, and to give us some more ideas/inspiration if needed. For me this was particularly needed, as I was beginning to struggle as to where my ideas could lead me next. I had managed to get up to scratch with the technical ideas, however I was lacking the backbone of a story.

The first area of interest for me was based on the history of Coventry’s football team. Last year I did some volunteering work with the club, so the idea of creating a piece on them was intriguing. As a football fan myself for Chelsea FC, a football clubs history is quite rich in various aspects that happen on the years. Compared to football today, in the 1960’s football was still popular, but yet it was more based on local grown players that were more idealistic in the idea of traditional football (today we look at teams that are more focused on buying the best players for the most amount of money, or the players that can produce great bits of skill; both which were non existent.)
For Coventry, it was more important period for them as they had recently gained promotion into the top division in the English league. For any club, this was a great achievement which showed off the status as a good club who could play football. However for Coventry, it was a high yet the beginning of a low, as they battled to avoid relegation in the seasons to come. So a decline in the leagues were on the cards for the club, as well as receiving top recognition.However this changed in 1987 when the club recorded their highest achievement to date, when they knocked out Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup to win the trophy for the first time. This created a massive gathering in the town when the club brought the trophy home.
Nowadays, the club isn’t struggling (even though it has had a few financial problems throughout the years) but also it isn’t doing brilliantly. Even though they have moved into a much bigger stadium, the fan support is mixed, however you still get the atmosphere that can’t be missed.

To see items such as the kits, older balls, programs etc, it does show a change in time. However I feel that this isn’t really a history section as such; really I just see it as giving some additional information that I didn’t really know. If I was to compare it to Chelsea’s, the difference is major as they cover every single major point in the club’s history, whereas here there is nothing. This exhibit did inform me though in brief parts, but not enough for me to feel confident in making a project out of it.

The second, and possibly the most interesting idea, was based on watches. To me, what stood out for me actually wasn’t the history, but more from the technical side. Seeing as I have delved into macro photography in an essence, but wanting to have more of a story running through the image. So I thought that with these, I could begin to look at the more intimate part of the watches possibly. But firstly I decided to look more at the history surrounding these watches, as they were pretty unusual.
In Victorian Coventry, watchmaking was an intricate part of society, as it was one of the most important industries at the time, with a rough estimate of 3500 workers being employed. These workers were chosen because to make a watch you had to be extremely skilled and patient as these were complex jobs; however on the flip side these were well paid jobs so competition was high for them. Most of these watches were all hand made as their wasn’t really any technology at the time (late 1800’s) in the small workshops that were located mainly in the Spon Street and Butts area. Afterwards the areas of Earlsdon and Chapelfields began to become well known for watch making as well. However towards the beginning in the 1900’s, factories in other countries, such as the USA, began to arise and make over millions of watches for a much more cheaper price as well in a quicker time period as well. As this began tot threaten jobs in the area, some of the local watchmakers tried to retaliate by setting up their own factories instead. The most successful one was Rotherham and Sons, who went on to employ over 500 workers, including women as well. However, this was set up too late for it to have any effect, with the business eventually collapsing in the 1920’s and dying out.

This was just a beginning point to look at for my new idea as I definitely think that there is something to examine here with regards to a story, as I think a narrative could be built up. However I feel like I need to do more research into the history first so that I can begin to build up a better well of knowledge before I go onto the next step in this process.

Talking to lecturers

So in order to get an outside opinion on my work so far, I decided to speak with my lectures so that not only could I give them an update on what I was looking at, but also so that I could get some opinions and criticism on my work.

I spoke to Anthony first as I wanted his opinion more so on my actual pictures rather then the idea at the minute as it was still early stages. With the whole project being based on the history of the sites, I personally wanted to get more of a story being shown in my pictures, which I was lacking in already, plus I was struggling to see how I could begin to show this in my work.

Anthony said that on the technical side, the pictures were good and it was obvious that I knew what I was doing. However, like my own thoughts, he said that really the pictures told him nothing at all. Only the main spider and the sea snail offered some sort of narrative, but the others were something that you would just see in a National Geographic magazine.

The thing with macro photography is that it is such a common theme to go in the photography world; it no longer stands out as much (unless you have a stunning image.) SO he suggested that if I were to go down the macro route, I would have to think about it differently; with the snail shot it was quite obscure as to what it was plus what was going on. What I had to look at was making things slightly more obscure so that the viewer had to work out things more on their own.

Afterwards, I went to speak to Caroline as well, but this time it was more based on my actual idea to see where I could head next. Again, like with my pictures I was slowly beginning to reach a wall in where I could head next with my ideas. Trying to base the idea of the history of a place and getting a story behind it is quite hard for wildlife I found, as it was more documentary based.
Caroline agreed with my thoughts here, saying that as a starting point it’s a good idea and it shows I can work with the technical part of things. However there was a lack of research that could be done on the site specific part which would affect my grade; so she suggested that I head to the Herbert as they had an History of Coventry section which could give me more of a better idea as to what I could move onto next.

Summer Work – Re-do Project

Last year in the 154MC module, we were asked to do an extra-curricular activity project, which could be based on everything. Mine was based off Slender Man, but at the time I was still in the beginning stages of planning those pictures, as I wanted to make it into a project for me. So the pictures that I made were simply introductory and planning pictures so that I would begin to get a feel for what I exactly wanted to do in the project.

So in order to give myself a better understanding for the project, then a lot further research would be needed in all areas

The first starting point then, as in other projects, would be to look at the origins. In 2009, in the Something Awful forums, a photography competition of a sort was created; a user by the name Victor Surge created an Internet meme depicting a thin, unnaturally tall man with a blank and usually featureless face, wearing a black suit.
In his picture, the man was seen hidden in the trees in a busy children’s park.

The inspiration for this came from the idea of the “shadow people”, paranormal beings that have supernatural powers from apparently the shades of the underworld.

When reading up on the shadow people, you can begin to see the links made that can be contributed towards Slender Man; both have the ability to produce an onset of hallucinations and paranoia, all that come down to psychological problems.

Since the introduction of this meme, many people began to actually turn this piece of fiction into real life, as many fingers were pointed to historical references, which seemingly seemed to reflect the Slender Man.

  • One of the earliest ones is a cave painting found in Brazil that dates back as far as 9000BC, which depicts a large man with tentacles leading a child by its hand away.
  • After this, the next reference is in Egyptian Hieroglyphic, which again showed a person with multiple limbs
  • Perhaps one of the more talked about references has to be Der Ritter, where a multi-limbed skeleton is shown fighting. Freckenberg, the artist, was more known for his painting on human anatomy, so this was very unusual for him. Some say the skeleton was to represent the plague that was ravaging Europe at the time (1500’s) but others think that Freckenberg was trying to represent “Der Großmann” otherwise known as the Tall Man. This was a legend that used to take bad children who wondered into the woods late at night.
  • In both Romanian and English history there are references to a Tall or Tree man, again with references to children being kidnapped and killed.

As depicted in the “history” (some of it has been changed/photoshopped in order for people to create this history) Slender Man has specific behavioral patterns. Some of this is creating pure fear into his victims as he taunts them by visiting them from time to time, letting them see his face, almost a psychological thrill for him.

SO with all this history made from the forums, it inevitably blew up via social media, presumably the only way that it became so popular; this is turn allowed various YouTube channels to create online video series that were based off the Slenderman, with one of the most famous being Marble Hornets.
This series looked into the life of a video director called Alex who was seemingly being haunted by Slender Man, with the episodes delving into the history of Alex and his friends as to some of their sudden disappearances. What made this series so famous was that it followed the lore very well as to what the Slenderman is, yet making it their own in a way though.

However, like most things, there is a negative with these things; and recently, the thought of Slender being real has had some serious consequences in real life. On May 31st, two 12 year olds were reported to have stabbed one of their friends 19 times on the basis that they wanted to become proxies (slaves of the Slender Man) and to actually see him and prove that he is real.
Sadly, this isn’t the only case; recently there have been more of these attacks where young children or teenagers have attacked love ones or friends in these attacks after reading up on Slender Man.
The main reason behind all of these incidents is that all the information is easily locatable online for anyone to see of any age; some people put it down to the fact that as humans, we are more likely to believe in the unbelievable. If we are presented with hard facts about something, the fear factor is lessened in most people; yet if we are told about something that we know that can’t be real, yet there are claims, this fresh fear in increased to the point that we start to believe (I myself have been one of those people.)

Yet these videos just weren’t the end of the Slender Man push; these myths became so popular, some game developers decided to take advantage and create games to push this fear to the next level.
The idea was very simple; you are stuck in a forest with no way of getting out, with the only solution being that you have to collect 8 pages to win, but for every page you would get, Slender would become more aggressive in trying to capture you. Simple, yet effective. The hysteria caused was massive, with more people becoming drawn into the hype. And it increased and increased to create another game, again with more hype caused by it.

And it was really these games that caused the start of this project. I had never heard of Slender before, and when I was first introduced to the game, I was hooked at first with fear, then competition and finally into fascination. I started to read up on all of the lore behind it to quench this thirst for knowledge.

And then with my friends, who enjoyed the game as well, we played our own real life version of it, which was when I discovered that it would make a good project to take in, as most people created fan art of Slender, and no real proper projects. SO this made me more determined to carry out the project to offer something different.

For the actual shoot, it was much more difficult then I had imagined it to be. To make it as realistic as possible, we went into a forest to get that background look into everything. However, when it got later, the trees actually blocked out all the lot rendering it hard to get any natural dark photos as flash had to be used to get the camera to properly focus.
This meant that the subject was clearly lit up when walking around, however the background was covered in more harsh shadows. This was problematic for me as it was becoming harder to get the picture that I was seeing with my eye on my camera.
So I decided to change things up a bit by using my iPhone camera; the reason behind this was that the phone was simplistic in taking pictures of what it sees rather then you changing all the settings.

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This was much more in tune when it came for me taking the homage pictures of the game itself, as I was able to get the lighting to show everything that was important without loosing any detail at all. This is important as if I only used minimal lighting, it would have been near impossible to get Slender in due to the moonlight being blocked out, creating a darkness around the whole area.
What also made it more interesting was the noise created in the pictures; one of the myths that come with the Slender Man is that when you come closer to it with electrical equipment, he creates a disturbance with anything you may be using causes static.

Distortion Slender 1

Overall with these pictures, I was pleased with them as for a first attempt at something that was new to me; they have come out quite well. However though, not all of the pictures, in my opinion, are up to standard. A lot of these pictures are quite basic and are more in line with the game itself. For me to push it out that little bit further, I think I have to go down the lines of the proper myths that surround the Slenderman.
I think there are other areas of interest I have to look at such as lighting in films (Friday 13th is one that I will have to look at) so that I can fine tune everything down into a couple of pictures that really do stand out massively.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27776894

http://theslenderman.wikia.com/wiki/Slender_Man

http://theslenderman.wikia.com/wiki/The_Tulpa_Effect

http://theslenderman.wikia.com/wiki/Quantum_Theory

http://theslenderman.wikia.com/wiki/Canon

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/06/03/the-complete-terrifying-history-of-slender-man-the-internet-meme-that-compelled-two-12-year-olds-to-stab-their-friend/

http://techcrunch.com/2014/06/30/the-story-of-slenderman-the-internets-own-monster/

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/slender-man

http://time.com/2817725/slender-man-killing/

http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/The_Slender_Man