Week 4 | Forum Posts

Post 1: Week 4 Forum

The example I have chosen is the Satellite Landscapes project by Jenny Odell. Currently reading her book ‘Hot to do Nothing’ which is a type of critique of the attention economy created by social media. The Satellite Landscapes project as Odell (2015)  suggests is ‘ a place whose existence feels peripheral to immediate experience, geographically, psychologically, or both’. Her ideas often comment on the way that technology has a power to create distance between people and human experience highlighting that as technology develops the impact is to remove more and more of the humanity between people. I really identify with her intentions and consider her work to be unusual while forward thinking and intelligent.

Post 2: Week 4 Activity

Continuing the theme I spoke of in the first task of this week in relation to the Jenny Odell’s 2015 project, ‘Satellite Landscapes’. Odell suggests ‘The peripheral nature of satellite landscapes, then, has as much to do with repression as it does with distance, the hiding of visual traces, or habituation.’ What most intrigues is the idea of ‘habituation’ as it was a word I was unfamiliar  with. I often find myself faced with new terminology and feel that developing a language to speak about photography is important as a personal goal.

I used Google Earth to explore the surrounding areas and communities of the football grounds I have visited. I felt that the images may be interesting and provide visual clues regarding the infrastructure of these places. Saying something about their importance, their local industries etc.  However by the time I had found the 5th image, the landscapes started to become familiar and slightly banal. 

In considering the idea of ‘photographic freedom’ Flusser (2000) comments ‘Freedom is the strategy of making chance and necessity subordinate to human intention, freedom is playing against the camera’.  In this sense, I consider this a central theme to the Jenny Odell projects I have researched such as Satellite Landscapes. In making work such as this, the impact of the work in a conventional sense isn’t the main concern. I feel that the use of google earth in this context represents a piece of activism as it highlights a technology we all have access to but wouldn’t think of using to include in a creative project.

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

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)

Jenny Odell | How to Do Nothing

Throughout my project I have been interested in my non commercial football project as being activist in its nature. A comment against the digital consumption of football. In order to understand my objective in a broader sense my research had led to the consideration of the digital economy as opposed to an experience led economy. By this I don’t mean to suggest that all experiences are non commercial however my reflection upon reading some of this book lead to an idea of the higher echelons of the football such as stadiums may be comparable to theme parks. Where experiences are researched and manipulated to provide maximum efficiency or productivity. Stadiums are designed with excellent facilities to eat, drink, read and purchase the latest range of leisurewear as opposed to the spaces that I inhabit, where the emphasis is ‘watching the game’. Whether that be in a local park or local stadium. Odell (2019, p14) states…

‘In a public space, ideally you are a citizen with agency; in a faux public space, ideally, you are either a consumer or a threat to the design of the place.’

It is not my intention to argue that all non league football spaces are comparable to public spaces. In fact they are quite the opposite. Usually having to pay to enter in addition to being able to purchase a number goods. The spaces inhabited by people within this world could neither be considered as a ‘faux public space’. From my experience, spectators may attend for a number of reasons. As fans, a centre for the community or somewhere to be alone and collect ones thoughts. As previously stated/illustrated in the last module, figure 1 represents an example of consumption on ones own terms. Entering the space to be alone and watch the spectacle take place, without being seen as a consumer or a rule breaker for arriving with her own seat and supplies.

Figure 1: Drew Findlay

Odell (2919, p13) continues her argument regarding public spaces in a way that may be illustrative of the example I have used when she states

‘True public spaces, the most obvious examples being parks and libraries, are places for – and thus the spatial underpinnings of – ‘what we will.’ A public, non commercial space demands nothing for you to enter, nor for you to stay; the most obvious difference between public space and other spaces is that you don’t have to buy anything, or pretend to want to buy something to be there

Although not usually free space to watch football. The non league part of the game represents fairness. Usually under £10 for an adult with concessions usually under £5.

Odell (2019, p15) ‘just as we lose noncommercial spaces, we also see all of our actions as potentially commercial’

I understand that the ideas expressed above appear to be far away from a photography project. The ideas of Odell are relevant in establishing the theme and justification of my project and the activist roots that I use to underpin my argument. Such ideas may be useful going forward as a broad message to communicate the intent of this project. The intent may fuel the potential to produce metaphorical or work of a poetic nature.

Week 3 Reflection | collaboration

I have found the theme of working with others very useful but quite difficult to engage with as my approach to this course is very much an individual journey. When considering the ideas of Azouulay (2016) who states “The photographic event’s degree zero”. In relation to collaboration. I disagreed to some extent as I felt that the practicioner’s intent wasn’t recognised within this sense. I understand that intent usually isnt a collaborative process however in preparing for a project or a study, one is required to to build a framework for collaboration to happen. It is my argument that this stage of pre collaboration needs to be recognised and highlighted. 

In terms of collaboration on the weekly forums, I had a useful discussion with a fellow student. It was interesting to share our methodologies. As reslt I felt that my work project work was quite basic and provoked further reflection of the non league football project I am undertaking as I am currently colaborating with a local junior football club. I have used this space to apply knowledge of feedback I received from Michelle regarding my approach to portrait photography. I feel the I am improving in this area but at present I am struggling to find the connection between the work I am creating at the moment with the work I have created in the previous modules. I feel further research is required in this area. I previously researched Julian Germain ’Football in Wonderland’ which has a disjointed narrative contained within the broader context of football. I will look closer at this text in order to develop the philosophical reasons for my project. Lockdown has ensured the fandom element of my work to come to a standstill. At the same time it has provided an opportunity to consider different perspectives of the broader theme of football and the noncommercial part of the game. 

My current reading is in the direction of philosophical approaches that oppose progressive technology and the idea of technology replacing the idea of ‘being there’. The lived experience and interaction with people, places and objects. This I am finding is useful with regard to my previous justification of the project as a piece of activism. I always felt that the subjects encompassed within my work are reacting against the modern cmmercialised game. The people who choose to consume the lived experience as opposed to the digital experience of TV, social media and the attention economy of opinions based on other opinions without ever being there. 

All things considered at this time. I feel that I need to cultivate the philosophical reasoning for my project with a positive message in mind. Most football fans consume the game in digital format in one shape or another. Attacking this as a form of activism through my project would be cynical and counterproductive. Therefore I feel it is important to have a positive message of which I feel the idea of ‘being there’ will encompass the celebration of physical experience and humanity. Further research needed to cultivate.

Week 3 | Helping Others

I find the work of Simon Terrill – Crowd Theory a very interesting project and the pictorial nature of some of his work is in no doubt impressive, and the achievement is something to be admired.

Terrill states on his website ‘The works are carefully stage-managed public operations that involve many collaborators and are a collective effort in coordinating lighting, soundtracks, camera, catering, marshalling and sometimes a smoke machine or closing off a street.’  

When considering this approach I am led to consider the event itself as a staged production and to question whether the people in the photograph are participants or performers.

What power do they have to represent themselves?

Does the extent of these stage managed productions influence the actions of the people in the photograph?

Is their position managed and manipulated?

Terrill further states that once on site, people are left undirectd and uncontrolled however. The issue I take with the stage managing of the location and management of participants with the intention ‘representing themselves in the spaces the inhibit. Is that in some cases the places that participants inhibit have been changed in line with the intentions of the author/photographer. I feel this makes the photograph less about the real, rather the creation of a piece of art where the paticipants are asked to perform in a place that they recognise as familiar.

The participants may be compelled to act as if they think they should act, they may be hearded by officials, drawn to lights. Manouvered in some way. Without criticising his type of work, because I do find it appealing and think what Terrill has achieved is hugely impressive. However I consider the work to have more in common with that of a stage production where the participants all play a small roll. Its relationship with authenticity and the people who inhabit these spaces is regarded with suspicion as a social document. Although an interesting piece of work.

Crowd Theory – Port of Melbourne, type C print, 180cm x 242cm, produced in association with Footscray Arts Centre, 2008

Simon Terrill (2008) Crowd Theory 1-5 [online] Available at: http://www.simonterrill.com/Crowd-Theory-1-5 (Accessed 18th June 2020)

Contextual Research | The Tea Party (Zine)

In recent weeks we have been encouraged to start looking at the subject of zines and I was intrigued by them as my most pertinent memory of them is a zine produced in the 1990’s for supporters of Stockport County Football Club. as a small child I have vivd memories of a long haired hippy type middle aged male selling the Tea Party outside the turnstile at home matches. Having done some searching and asking I managed to get hold of a copy in order to find more about the content and the rhetoric that it promoted.

On first reflection, the content of the zine is a type of social commentary on issues surrounding the town of Stockport and its football club. To say that this product would raise a few eyebrows in present day is an understatement. The layout itself conforms to many of the hallmarks of a classic, self published zine. Pink in colour with a secondary colour red, the zine appears to be low value in its production values however in terms of the content it is clear that the producers are passionate about the football club. Around 50 pages, the Tea Party is heavy on written content which verbally attacks rival football clubs in addition to the local media such as the Manchester Evening News (MEN) for not having enough content about the club and choosing to focus on the two Manchester football clubs in addition to Bolton Wanderers.

The main visceral aspects of the zine come in the form of comic strips and drawn illustrations which many place the players at the time in funny or offensive stories at the expense of other football clubs. One of the comic strips is about a Police horse who describes how he like to treat football fans by kicking them pensioners and attacking the younger fans in order to keep them in line.

In an ideological sense, the Tea Party is highly activist against any form of authority in addition to attacking the mainstream media. One would assume that its audience is white working class males as some of the content is comparable to a poor tabloid newspaper. Although quite funny in one respect, I don’t think it could exist in its present for today.

The Tea Party | Front Cover

Szarkowski in Eggleston 2002

Over the course of the last module I became aware of the work of Eggleston and was seduced and intrigued by his motivations. At times, his work overstretched my creative intelligence sometimes enjoying his photographs but unable to pontificate as to why I was drawn to them. This is where studying at MA level has really opened up a broader understanding of the world we see around. Being able to access an understanding of the vernacular world, finding enjoyment from it as a starting point, to developing a critical understanding. 

In terms of training my personal gaze, Eggleston has been very important in furthering the way I see photographic opportunities. Upon reviewing William Eggleston’s Guide, I wasn’t able to jump in and immediately understand the work and be able to comment on it in with immediacy. Having had a quick review of the photographs contained within, I was able to familliarise my self with his work and have some of the photographs in the mind so that I could contemplate. I also engaged with a brief reading of the Szarkowski essay included within the book. 

Over the months I have built some knowledge of Szarkowski’s writings, and understand that he is a type of gatekeeper of the art photography world. I find his writings engaging and able to engage with, which is something I sometimes find difficult. Reading his essay within the book I had an idea of what to expect but I wanted to choose my time of reading in order to prepare myself appropriately. 

Before engaging and contemplating the work contained within this book, Szarkowski makes a number of useful comments regarding relevant themes helpful in in the aid of contemplation. As a starting point, Szarkowski in Eggleston (2002, p 6) states… 

‘If we see pictures clearly as photographs, we will perhaps also see or sense, something of their other, more private wilful, and anarchic meanings’.

In considering this point, I am led to think about the intuition of the photographer in both my own sense in addition to understanding the work of others. I photograph the world as I see it. As a result of study at MA level I have no doubt that I see the world with a different perspective. That perspective is my own, and is shifting and evolving with my education. It is interesting to look back at my past work, whilst studying the MA and before studying the MA. In doing this I see a plethora of photographs, some nieve, some horrendous choices and some creative accidents, the occasional photograph that I am proud of. On reflection of this, I feel that the important lesson here is to understand the unique way that an individual looks at the world and be able to, and have the confidence to recognise work that represents my creative choices at their most powerful and moving as opposed to chasing ideas as dangerous as the pictorial.

With regards to the work I am producing at present, I feel that I am breaking new ground in the selection of when to fire the shutter. However having not been as successful as I would have liked on the last module, the knock in confidence serves to both create indecision while providing a drive to improve. Ultimately, I am working towards the justification by education and reflection on as deeper level as I am able to access. Photography offers infinate opportunities to reflect one’s voice. The pursuit of informed choices which represent maturity as opposed to sophistication is my shifting intention towards the future. 

Reflecting a private gaze which reflects the effort I invest. The destination as Szarkowski  (2002, p7) puts it ’The photographer hopes, in brief. To discover a tension so exact that it is peace’.  in doing this Szarkowski further states ‘photographers of exceptional talent learned to use the entire plate with boldness’.  Szarkowskis comments in relation to one’s approach are relevant to my practice especially at this point in the face of dissapointment of my own recent progress. Serving as motivation to keep trying, keep progressing and keep failing 95% of the time in order to be able to seek as much development as possible and make the images that reflect the intelligence of my creative capabilities. In search of this I will endeavour to ensure that I am being bold, I am using my research and make the reflective cycle work, the end point being the photograph. 

In  relation to being bold, and considering what it is to be bold within my own work, I use the images of Eggleston as a beacon of ‘being bold’. This idea doesn’t belong to Eggleston alone. Rather a blueprint for the the work that I am attemting to create.

When reviewing the work of Alex Webb, I see the boldness, not just in the vibrance and use of colour or the busy compositions. Rather the confidence to accept all of the variables but make work as a result of them. The difficulties of working with composition and colour I will address later but those such as Eggleston and Webb at present are a metaphor for where I want to be in a philosophical sense. Not simply trying to copying but being bold with choices. Stepping outside of my own vernacular and limiting fear of failure. 

Sometimes in seminars I would present images in black and white and my tutor Michelle would challenge me to explain why I had made such choices. In response I would often offer little response which is no doubt due to my lack of knowledge in this area. Having researched the work of Webb and Eggleston I am building a knowledge that black and white photography often revolves around the power of the composition or form as opposed to the colour photography where form and colour Pallet are considered seperately. I have found this quite difficult in some respects of my work thus far. The most obvious problem for me is dealing with the sky. Understanding the difference between the colour blue, and the sky Szarkowski (2002, p9) is a relevant issue as many of my shoots have yielded results with blown out skies, this I feel to an extent is a result of the dreary Manchester weather in the winter months when the majority of my work was composed. However I have had limited success when attempting to make work which echoes that of Hans Van Der Meer, shooting at a higher aperture whilst using floodlights to illuminate what would be the darker areas of the photograph. Using this method and exposing the camera for the sky opened up the texture in the sky and allowing one to add the colour of the sky in addition to the texture, which resulted in encompassing a richer colour and more interesting texture with the result of filling the edges of the frame, layering the the image with further interest.

When considering the composition in the work of Eggleston Szarkowski (2002) comments ‘the design of most of his pictures seemed radiate from a central circular core’. This may sound like a fairly simple observation with most amateur photographers aware of such basic rules however what is interesting to me about this observation is Szarkowski’s use of terminology when he state ‘radiate’. Here the reference refers to the idea of a progressive nature of waves of simulation, waves of semiotic unions leading to a more complexed reading. Having use of the whole frame in order to add veracity. Raising questions, Selecting vantage points to encompass further layers for contemplation. Whether the use of colour, composition or both in union to illustrate the vernacular. Eggleston furthered this approach by alluding to the notion that he bases his compositions on the Confederate flag. An idea that Szarkowski appears to be unsure however the idea is certainly worth considering and being aware of in future shoots and having in mind. The idea that Eggleston’s pictures ‘aren’t concerned with large question as opposed to describing life’ I fees is slightly puzzling as I feel that Eggleston’s work deals with complex issues relating to the vernacular. I understand that Eggleston’s intentions we’re not noble in the sense that he wasn’t dealing with relevant issues such as inequality or poverty. He deals with the everyday, his work is about the private sphere, an idea that reveals as much about his subjects lives and environments as do the intentional imperfections in his work. Alluding to his dislike of the pictorial and the conventional rules.

Eggleston, W. (2002) William Eggleston’s Guide. New York, The Museum of Modern Art.

Michelle Sank Lecture | Personal Reflection

I found the lecture with Michelle Sank informative and and very useful in trying to decode the issues that I am trying to address with my own project. In terms of my approach to portraits, It was useful to learn that Michelle used flash as a fill light to compose her work. This is hugely relevant to my approach as I always felt that using an on camera flash was was unhelpful. Having previously attended wedding photography workshops with the likes of York Place Studios who profess to never using flash within their work. 

In reviewing some of the images Michelle has produced, I really like the way that she uses artificial light in order to expose skin tones and control the light which is something I was advised to do in my last set of feedback. I will definately be experimenting with this approach more as my portrait photography develops. I am taken back to one of the first shoots I did back in the positions and practice module where I photographed an evening football match. I was unsure whether to use flash as I was aware that I would probably be firing the speedlight into the air and felt the effect would probably be quite poor. However, revisiting these images I now feel that it was quite a successful approach. And I feel that some of my best work thus far was made at this shoot. 

Another aspect that I felt is impressive about Michelle’s work is the arrangement of her photographs and the relationship between the subjects and the background. This is something that I don’t feel I have addressed within my own work to a large degree. Listening to Michelle’s approach I was stuck by how careful she is and how thought provoking her work is. I was recently struck by a portrait I saw in the front garden of a local family I saw during on Instagram. The way that the frame was divided in addition to the human presence and secondary narrative between the child and who I assume to be mother serves to enhance the interest and raising questions beyond the visual. In my quest in search of the poetic, I found that this image really helped in trying to understand narrative. It strikes that the narrative and the poetic isn’t defined by the subject matter alone. The consideration of the photographer in terms of vantage point, in a personal sense is represented perfectly in this image with regards to the context of reflecting on how I may improve my creative choices. I understand that these considerations are nothing new and we have considered similar types of questions before but this image was helpful in illustrating such questions in a way that I identify with.

In keeping with my personal development. I have previously blogged about the importance of themes such as vantage point and the use of light. I have engaged with the selection of vantage points in previous shoots within this module. However the key focus here was in relation to photographing landscapes and structures. As a result  of recent reflections I feel that I should and will apply further emphasis to vantage within my portrait work. Combined with experimenting with flash in order to use as a fill light. At this stage, I feel the result of viewing the Michelle sank lecture will enable me to navigate a personal road map to improving my work.

Chatonsky | Vertigo@home | Contextual Research

Chatonsky and the project ‘Vertigo@home’ is an interesting project in which he used google street view to recreate a scene from the 1958 film by Hitchcock, while using the soundtrack from the original film. This creates a bizarre union between sound and the visual which separate expectations between the ritualistic acts of using google street view and watching a film for pleasure. 

When one uses google street view they are active in choosing the route or place they are trying to get to, assuming the the operator is using it for a purpose and not to roam around. In watching a film the audience is positioned as passive although the ideas of active and passive spectatorship are aknowledged. 

In a personal sense, the interest here is the collision between the act of the functional with the act of pleasure by consuming art. The result is a mediated experience where one experiences the disjuncture between these two rituals, the functional, and pleasure. Sprengler (2014) comments on the ‘Although google Streetview offers us a virtual tour of San Fransisco, its images are read as real.’ However the score invites us to scrutinise the audio and I would argue that the music begins to dominate the consumption of the text which is rare as the sound/score of a film is often used to punctuate the visuals to bring understanding to the audience. In this case, conventions are deliberately subverted and provide a further passive experience here.

One may compare this text with the act of a teenager watching a video game walkthrough on YouTube. Not playing the game, but watching someone else play a game. 

The outcome of this project in synthesising the non-diegetic audio with the functional visuals of google street serves to produce a strange juxtoposition between science and art. Baudrillard makes ralatable conclusions when considering the book ‘Crash’ (Ballard 1973:116). The book explores a community who seek pleasure and sexual gratification with victims of car crashes.

Boudrillard comments ‘It is not a question of orgasm, but of pure and simple discharge. And the coitus and sperm that traverse the book have no more sensual value than the filigree of wounds has violent meaning, even metaphorically speaking. They are nothing but signatures’.  

Vertigo@home may be relatable to the ideas perpetuated by Baudrillard in relation to the google street view images rendering them as ’signatures of the film’. The images are not, and never will be part of the film however the route depicted will always have a vague association.

The google street view images are not loaded with intentional ambiguity for the meaning making process in the cinema or literary world, much in the way that Baudrillard (1982: 115)  highlights the language used by Ballard (1973) to seperate the literary discourse ‘Here, all the erotic terms are technical. No ass, no dick… But the anus, the rectum… No slang, that is to say no intimacy of sexual violence. But a functional language’. Here is where I draw similarities with the functional nature of the google street view in order to produce vertigo@home. 

In conclusion the project may support the idea of being a type of re-photography project, even a simulacra of sorts to produce a phantasms. The project also illustrates the possibilities of the ‘virtual’ by using technology sich as google street view in combination with texts such as classic films such as Vertigo. 

Brittany Marcoux | Contextual Research

Brittany Marcoux and her project ’The Shore Project’ is an intreguing approach to rephotographs. In creating a project that is a homage Shore.

The work is interesting when coupled with the original work by Shore and the shift in time is clear. Buildings have become dated or in many cases replaced by newer structures and it this is where the real interest is in a personal sense.

When observing the images my first experience was to observe the similarities before inspecting the differences. Is it the same structure? What has been replaced? How has the landscape changed?  

Such questions may align with the intentions of Marcoux as she states on her website about the project…

‘I hope to raise many questions such as these and make photographs that offer the visual pleasure of looking as well as provide a way of seeing objective change’. 

I feel that Marcoux has been successful in achieving the objectives she outlines for this project and her accuracy in composing the work provides voracity to the claim of seeing objective change. Relating to my own experience of consuming these works in such a way  Klett et al (2011: P117) offers guidance in order to aid contemplation. 

‘Carefully relocated vantage points result in photographs that convince viewers they are made from the same place, and encourage greater participation in interpret­ing the image contents. By eliminating the variable of where two photographs were made in space, the viewer is free instead to contemplate other differences, such as visible changes between the two views’. 

Klett’s emphasis on the importance of the vantage point represents a clear indicator of the success and voracity of Marcoux’s approach which is one of the central reasons the viewer is able to inspect the shift in time and change.
This work is interesting in furthering awareness of the work of Shore which I suspect that he would be pleased to be acknoledged in this way. Furthermore, the work when positioned side by side may invoke and rejuvonate phantasisms (Baudrillard 1981) in international audiences about American identity and the unique landscape consisting of wilderness, capitalism and a warm climate. 

In a personal sense I found myself making such phantasisms in the recognition of my own experience of living in the USA. The vanacular landscape, romance and poetry of Shore’s images has been capitolised on by Marcoux which has polite interest but it could be argued lacks a personal voice.

Brittany Marcoux, The Shore Project


Baudrillard, J ( 1994) Simulacra AND Simulation, Michigan, The University of Michigan.

Klett et al (2011) The SAGE handbook of visual research methods (Repeat Photography in Landscape Research), New York, SAGE.


Marcoux, B (2010) The Shore Project, [online] Available at: https://www.brittanymarcoux.com/statement-3 (Accessed: 5th June 2020)