Laughing in the Face of Doom

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Photo credit: Dave Overton

Photo credit: Dave Overton

The last few months have required some extreme plate spinning for me as I have found myself lurching from one disaster to another which explains my 103 day absence from the blogosphere! At times it has felt as if the world has slipped on its axis and I have had to exchange a light touch and gentle persuasion for brute force and dogged determination to keep all of my plates in the air. An unexpected illness, unexpected Home Ed experience and unexpected school move for my daughter have all nestled uneasily against the demands of my freelance work and consequently my current residency at the University of Lincoln has at times been pushed out into the cold.

I have motivated myself to ‘keep calm and carry’ on through this strange time by indulging in a few simple pleasures (consuming my body weight in biscuits, watching the musical Annie and buying unnecessary stationary) and slowly I am bringing the balance of my life, work and residency back into a state of equilibrium. I think it’s safe to slam the door on doom now and to banish it to the bottom of the garden!

The project that I’m working on through my residency hasn’t actually been devoid of attention, it’s switched between ‘pottering’ and full on ‘warp’ mode to fit in with whatever is going on around it.  I’m very pleased with the progress that I’ve made; the pinhole cameras are no longer driving me insane (see previous post), I’ve had my first experience of using a Hassleblad and developing a 120 roll film, I’ve set up a studio shoot and produced a series of bespoke invitations for my project participants.

As the project’s exhibition now looms on the horizon I am going to attempt a blog-a-thon over the coming weeks to catch up on the task of documenting my journey so far. Although it’s frustrating to be blogging retrospectively I have come to the conclusion that blogging in real time could actually act as a ‘spoiler’ for my project participants.

During the next two months I will invite each of these nine people to take part in three identical interventions. I like the idea of these interventions evolving as secret missions shrouded in mystery; a digital footprint could blow my cover and potentially steer the project down a predictable path. So thank you doom, your unexpected presence may have helped curiosity and intrigue to flourish and increased the opportunities for serendipitous exchanges!

Coagulated Thinking

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Since my last blog post I have slowly been driven insane by pinhole photography. I have experienced a plethora of emotions born of frustration; from disappointment and dissatisfaction to annoyance and irritation. If I had not been encouraged by a minute number of sporadic successes, or been driven by a stubborn desire to create an image via a process which is slightly beyond the bounds of possibility, my tiny army of match box cameras may have met an untimely death by now.

My children have started referring to me as ‘The Nerdatron’ as my pinhole related behaviour has become steadily more obsessive. I can be found lurking in online pinhole forums or hanging out in hardware shops admiring sub 1mm drill bits/pin vice combos and chatting enthusiastically about the benefits of owning a digital vernier calliper. My bulk purchase of matchboxes has also been noted by the women on the cigarette kiosk in ASDA and I fear they may have me down as a potential pyromaniac.

So why do I need to master pinhole photography? Well let me explain; my AA2A project (University of Lincoln) will develop through a series of physical interventions that will allow me to meet and spend time with people that I have met online. These interventions will consider each individual’s relationship with a personal space, place and object and will be documented through an analogue process. The rationale for using pinhole photography has been informed through a combination of research, observation and experience and the cameras I have made will be used to explore the first of my 3 themes, personal space. I have attempted to pull together the murmurings of my brain over the last few weeks below to coagulate my thinking…

I am interested in the way in which we curate both our domestic and work spaces to differing degrees through placing personal, often every day, objects within them. It fascinates me that the worth of these objects is anchored to the emotions that they hold and the memories that they evoke rather than their monetary value. When thinking about how I would go about documenting the personal spaces of my online friends I felt that the use of a conventional camera would be intrusive as would be my presence. Without wishing to plagiarise the answer presented itself via Lucy Phillips’ enthralling project ‘What Cannot be Seen.’

I researched Lucy’s project as part of my MA and its many facets continue to captivate me. Lucy mails participants a match box sized pinhole camera which they use to photograph what cannot be seen before returning it to her for development. Although the idea is simple Lucy has created the conditions necessary for individuals to document a personal, hidden, aspect of their life should they chose to do so and the resulting imagery is not only revealing but beautifully poignant. She has enabled this to happen through combining an invitation open enough to elicit a variety of responses with the resources needed (support and materials) to create an image independently.

Once I feel I have grasped the fundamental principles of making a pinhole image I will post a camera to a selection of my online friends with the invitation to photograph a personal space. Once I have developed the image I will print a copy for them and deliver it in person which will be the first time that we meet.