A tutor on an earlier course impressed upon me the importance of documenting the working process as part of an academic course such as this. While I wouldn’t necessarily want to ‘show my workings’ on a purely personal project, I do see the value in doing so as part of this degree.
Since a breakthrough in my experimentation back in February led to my use of re-photographed projections, there is an identifiable set of steps that I have followed to create my images. And ‘create’ is the right word – prior to that point I was presenting images that I had captured and selected, but this recent turn in the work most definitely has a sense of what a fellow student Stan calls “having been made“.
I hadn’t captured all of the ‘behind the scenes’ steps photographically when I first started experimenting in this format in February, so when I decided to add some new images to the set in the last couple of weeks, I took it as an opportunity to record the process in a little more detail.
Step 1: gather the source material
The starting point was a set of photographs that I had already taken. It’s a starting point that was, in a sense, an end point of the previous incarnation of the project.
Step 2: project and shoot
I loaded a set of images from step 1 onto a small projector that had internal storage (making it highly portable, which helped a lot).
I set up the projector on a light stand with an adjustable boom arm (to achieve a range of angles in all directions, ie. emulate a tripod ball head) and mounted my camera onto a tripod.
I projected a series of images onto a variety of indoor and outdoor surfaces: floors, walls, ceilings, doors, gates, gravel, paving, bricks, even bushes and grass.
(Not all of these worked, of course. While I personally love the visual effect you get when you project an image onto a three-dimensional surface such as a hedge or a lawn, the shape of the glove all but disappears, and I felt that this was an abstraction too far for this particular project.)
Step 3: processing
There’s a subtle but significant (to me) aspect of the visual presentation that required a little Photoshoppery.
First of all, it’s worth noting that due to the limitations of projectors, the rephotographed image will never look as sharp to the viewer as the original shot, which is at about five times the resolution. I decided to embrace this constraint to a certain degree – the projected images looking a little soft focus actually reinforces one of my intentions (that the images should have a sense of being memories of scenes rather than scenes themselves).
That said, some of the images were so soft, or the lighting was particularly harsh, that I overlaid a semi-transparent copy of the original image, suitably contorted to fit the projected version, to make them slightly more visually appealing.
(click for larger)
I did this with about half of the images in the final set.
The second step, carried out on all images apart from the one I had chosen as the very last image in the presented set, was to artificially enhance the glove itself to make it subtly stand out as slightly clearer to the eye than the background. I did this by cutting out the glove from the original image and making a further overlay as the top layer of the Photoshop file.
The effect is more noticeable on printed copies, but here is a crop that gives an indication of how this helps the glove to capture the viewer’s focus.
Another note on intent: again I am trying to emulate some of the characteristics of visual memories. One of the widely reported aspects of human memory is that what are considered to be key aspects of a memory are ‘clearer’ in the mind, i.e can be described in more detail. Peripheral or seemingly unimportant aspects of the scene or event are less well-defined and harder to recall or describe in significant detail. This is what I was aiming to imitate in this processing approach.
Step 4: book production
As mentioned in an earlier blog, I was enthused to see another student at a critique session show a bookbinding format that seemed perfect for this project. The two elements that make it work for me are: it is reusable (it grips pages in a spring-loaded spine), making it easier to experiment, and it has a window in the front cover –which seems to chime with my ‘projected onto dark backgrounds’ motif.
I added to the printed images a cover page, an introductory text page listing 14 ‘forgettances’ that inspired the images, and a contextualisation page (could be considered an artist’s statement) at the end. Plus a few ‘this page left intentionally blank’ pages to separate sections from each other.
Below is a video of the first version of the book – I’ve subsequently updated the selection and sequence.
I now need to print the final set on photographic paper (the mockup above was on simple brochure quality paper) and make a new video.