Week 4 Reflection | Strategies of Freedom

Week 4 

As in previous weeks I have found this weeks tasks difficult but rewarding. Initially I had the guilt of feeling that I wasn’t doing enough or being disorganised due to putting too much emphasis on last weeks zine task and fiddling about with InDesign.

Throughout the module I have been mindful of broadening my contextual understanding and trying to engage with the research of at least two practitioners a week, commenting on them in accordance with the weeks theme, this week being strategies of freedom. 

In order to understand and effectively respond to the tasks it was necessarry to generate an understanding of photographic freedom in order to navigate an effective response which encompasses my project. The starting point for an understanding was one of context. In terms of my own project, this was initially the decision of using digital or analogue techniques however I then begun to contemplate the question of identifying strategies of freedom in a hypereality. Flusser (2000) reminds us that…

‘life is coming to mean feeding apparatus and being fed by them… The task of the philosophy of phoography, is to question photographers about freedom. To probe their practice in the persuit of freedom.’

Here Flusser poses a useful question which one may consider beyond the basic concepts of image, apparatus, programme and information as he earlier argues. As a result I continued to look deeper at the work of Jenny Odell this week focussing on her projects ‘Satellite Landscapes’ (2015) and ‘Travel by Approximation: A Virtual Road Trip’ (2010). 

In relation to Satalite Landscapes I was interested in Odell’s ideas about distance and the lack of visual traces as a critisism of satellite photography.  In order to explore this approach I used Google Earth to observe some of the football pitches that I have visited throughout my football project. I did find this interesting to an extent however having identified 5 images, the repetition of vantage points, I felt diluted the impact and subsequent interest in them. Threefore I am inclined to agree with Odell in her assertion. Although the images were interesting.

Screenshot of East Manchester

Going forward with such tasks, due consideration will be required about the presentation of images. Disseminated as a collection of similar images I feel an audience would be subject to an overload of information. However as a stand alone piece or part of a sequence. The images may work more effectively. A juxtaposition of distance when coupled with some of my documentary work a possible strategy. I will experiment with this type of sequencing when this post is concluded.

As a result of these observations I decided to further my engagement throughout the task of making work relevant to my project by making a short video using google street view. NavigatING my way through the streets of Manchester. The starting point being an area of South Manchester where the old Manchester City stadium once stood to an area of East Manchester where the new stadium is. The inspiration for doing this was the Odell project, ‘Travel by Approximation’ where Odell makes a virtual road trip using google street view and trip advisor amongst other sources in order to find accommodation, eat and fill her car with petrol.

Andrew Findlay: Strategies of Freedom Video

In terms of the use of sound, I took influence the Chatonsky project, Vertigo at Home. Here Chatonsky used the score from the 1958 Hitchcock film ‘Vertigo’. For the video I chose to use a piano version of the Stone Roses ‘I am the Resurrection’. The Stone Roses are an important piece of Manchesters cultural history and I felt the theme of the song met with the narrative of Manchester City  leaving their old stadium and creating a new history for themselves. 
The final photographer of interest this week is Robert Overweg and his 2010 project ’Shot by Robert’. Overweg describes himself as ‘a photographer in virtual world environments’. His project focuses on glitches in computer games such as Grand Theft auto. He seeks and isolates scenes highlighting the disjuncture within them. Commenting on his work Overweg states…

 ‘I proceed to the outskirts of the virtual world which I dissects through my photography. In doing so, I draw your attention to environments that are often overlooked and yet ironically appear eerily familiar.’ 

in doing this Overweg is operating in a hyperreality with the intention of highlighting indescrepencies within specific contexts such as Gran Theft Auto. I see this as a type of activism against digital innovation insofar as the digital realm is often responsible for the dissemination of photographs of human inperfections, Overweg is choosing to disseminate images of digigital insecurities. In suggesting this I am not arguing for the existance of a digital conscious. Maybe aimed at game developers or gatekeepers of mass market digital products. 

The digital world that Overweg challenges is relevant to my project in this case the Electronic Arts game franchise Fifa.

Screenshot from Fifa 2020
Screenshot taken from Fifa 2020

Flusser, V. (2000) Towards a Philosophy of Photography. Reaktion Books, London.

Chatonsky, G. (2015) Vertigo@Home [Online] Available at: http://chatonsky.net/vertigo/  (Accessed 26th June 2020)

Odell, J. (2010) Travel by Approximation: A Virtual Road Trip [Online] Available at: http://www.jennyodell.com/tba.html (Accessed 26th June 2020)

Odell, J. (2015) Satellite Landscapes [online] Available at: http://www.jennyodell.com/satellite-landscapes-book.html (Links to an external site.) (Accessed 23 June 2020)

Overweg, R. (2010) Shot by Robert [Online] Available at: https://www.robertoverweg.com/Shot-by-Robert
(Accessed 26th June)

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