Zidane – A 21st Century Portrait

Upon walking into the lecture theatre, I was completely confused as to why there was a football match being shown through the projector. Football seems completely un-relevant to photography. As time went on, I began to notice that the camera was focusing on one player in particular, Zinedine Zidane, one of the greatest footballers to ever play football.

The ‘work of art’ was created by video installation artists, Philippe Parreno and Douglas Gordon. The video is accompanied by 10 atmospheric tracks which coincide with the action which is happening. There are also subtitles throughout, which are quotes from Zidane on his career. They tell a story and give it significance. Without these words, we are left guessing what the video is about.

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17 cameras placed around the pitch focus on the player for the whole 90 minutes of the match between Real Madrid and Villarreal. These cameras all followed Zidane, getting close and long shots of every move he made, from pulling up his socks, to laughing at a joke, and of course, his football skills.

Philip French says “This art work is hypnotic, self-indulgent and lacking in context, rather like doting parents at a nativity play concentrating on their daughter’s Mary or their son’s Joseph to the exclusion of the other performers and the Gospel message.” This quote shows how the video completely cuts out any other person and just focuses on the one star of it all.

After thinking about how the music, quotes and way the camera was used, I did see how this piece has been called a work of art. It is about far more than football, its about how Zidane is the best at his profession.

 

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Curation Workshop

In this weeks session we had a curation workshop. In groups of 6, we looked at many photocopied images and had to select 6-20 which the group liked and fitted within a theme which we got to chose. Once we had began to look at the images, our group decided to look at images which were portraits, but not the average head and shoulders shot. This image is an example of the kind of images we were looking to find.

Image by Barbara Bosworth, Indigo Bunting 2003

Image by Barbara Bosworth, Indigo Bunting 2003

Once we had selected our images, we began to sort them into sections and put them up on the wall. Some images were easier to put together as they were from the same exhibition, whereas others did not seem to go with any other images. Ones which did not fit at all we removed from our selection, or tried to add to match with them. It took a lot of moving around to get the images in a place where the whole group agreed they fitted. Unfortunately, I found it very difficult to work with some of members in my group as they would not listen to others thoughts and I did not agree on the final presentation of our chosen images.

In three weeks time we will be presenting this work. To get to our final outcome, we must research artists and find other images. Our group have decided that we will each do our own research and then come together to discuss what we have found and progress from that point.

Image by Phillip Toledano, From the collection “Days With My Father”

This image is by Phillip Toledano and comes from the collection of photographs “Days With My Father”. The images tell a story of how his father is living with dementia, after his mother suddenly died. He tells it very truthfully without over-dramatising to make it seem worse than it is. He uses humour to lighten up some images, but others are utterly heart-breaking.

This is the kind of image which would fit into our collection because it isn’t the normal kind of portrait you would see but still fits into that bracket. The emotion felt in this image is so intense, there is no need for the image to show their faces as enough can be read from just seeing their hands. The light coming from the father shining onto the hands is natural and subtle making it feel intimate. The way Toledano’s father is using both hands to hold onto his hand makes it seem as if he wants to feel close to him and not let go.

As much as I like this image, I perhaps feel it could be hard to find something with such emotional depth in the meaning to go with it in our collection.

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Metaphors and Allegory

This week we looked at metaphors and allegory within an image. A metaphor is a figure of speech in which term is transferred to something it does not literally apply to. A metaphor should not be confused with simile where a simile makes the comparison explicit by using “like” or “as”. Allegory is a story with a meaning other than the literal one or a description of one thing under the image of another.

In this session we looked at two images which are based upon the image “Ophelia” by John Everett Millais. The painting is of a girl laying in a river, fully clothed, looking dull and lifeless. These images when looked into have a much deeper meaning that what is just on the surface.

Ophelia, John Everett Millais (painting)

The colours in this image are very muted and dull. The girl and the area which she is laid in is limp, lifeless and peaceful, however you can see the busy city behind the bushes, almost hidden but slightly showing. The camera is above the girl looking down onto her, which is perhaps to emphasise that she is submerged. There is allegory within this image. This image was based on the story of a girl who on her way home from a drunken night out, fell into a river.

On the Way Home, Tom Hunter

There are no main lights in this setting, just natural light from outside, which is flooding in through windows and small lamps. This gives an idea of the time of day, as well as the clock which is in the background showing it is 10 past 4.The room looks dirty and oldfashioned. There are 3 pictures on the wall which could be family pictures, these are mirrored by the windows on the door. Her slippers and robe are on the stairs which could show that she took them off before coming down or perhaps tripped over her slippers. She is wearing just a white night dress. White symbolises purity and heaven. There is a medicine bottle and glass of water on the table by where she is laying, which if she comitted suicide could have been the way. The stairs look like the only way to get out of this room. They are lit by the natural lighting and could be seen as the stairway to heaven.

Untitled, Gregory Crewdson

Apple Article by Judith Williamson

After reading the article I was shocked about the working conditions of Apple’s employees and felt a great deal of guilt for owning an iPod (which I did not buy myself). I asked myself a number of questions whilst and after reading it; why are people not aware of the working conditions? How can people allow their employees to work like that? Why do Apple, such a large company, allow this to happen?

Picture from Apple article

Picture from Apple article

Upon looking at the Apple website, I was unable to find any information about the conditions their factory workers have to put up with. Unfortunately for them, they cannot just stop working there and go somewhere else, as the likelyhood is that this is the only job they will be able to get. The BBC, Guardian and Daily Mail have all produced articles explaining the exploitation of Apple’s factory workers, including images and graphs to add to the shock.

Our tutor began the session by asking us who owns an iPad.The two people in the class that said they did were then asked why they bought the product. One said that she had an Apple mac and found that it was too heavy to take to work every day, so the iPad was much more convenient. She also thought that they would be able to link together, as Apple devices do not link with other branded devices. The other student said that it was the advertising that drew her in. It was a new gadget and she wanted to try it. He then asked the whole class who owns an Apple product and shockingly the whole class did. We discussed how we felt about the fact that we all owned products that are being made by workers in terrible conditions. Many of us felt tricked and misled. Apple’s advertisements seem so innocent and exciting, often using bright and colourful images which catch your eye, making you want to buy the product.

Apple Image of iPad Mini

The way that this image was constructed would have had a lot of thought put into it. Everything from where the girl is holding the iPad to her bracelet. The girl who is of a mixed-race background which is suggested by her colouring and facial structure, adds diversity to the company showing that the Apple consumer is not just in California but worldwide. She looks comfortable because she is laid in bed and pure because of her white dress. By having a colourful bracelet you recognise that she is a child and is innocent. The iPad is the only form of light and is held above her head in the place where a sky light would be. As Williamson says “we are witnessing a scene of annunciation – she is being touched by something ethereal, even godly”. She continues to say that the illumination is entering her.


Designed by Apple in California” has been carefully written. The words which are important have been written with a capital letter to make them stand out. By choosing to state where their products are designed rather than made makes you think the company is more glamorous. When you think of California you think about the sun, rich, beaches, bright and colourful. Whereas is it said ‘Made in East Asia’ you may not feel as inclined to buy it.


The text on the image is in the font Apple use and in white to make it stand out and again seem ‘pure’. It is written with a very short sentence almost on each line. It turns the iPad into a living being by saying “Does it deserve to exist”. Williamson has said in the text “the product has gained a moral life, while its producers have disappeared from discourse entirely”. This powerful sentence shows just how much the workers are belittled in this world. At times, Williamson has a very sarcastic tone calling the writing a ” ‘poem’ ” (with the inverted commas).

Apple advertisement for the iPod Nano

Some people buy Apple products because they are easy, others because they want all their gadgets to link together, and others simply because they can afford to have every new version of a product. Not just one person can stop this problem, its something we would have to do globally and it is not very likely people would stop buying these products, even if they knew they shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, because of my job (dance teacher) and the convenice of using an iPod for it, I have to say that I would buy another. It is the best product for organising and playing music as it is easy to use, small to take around, can film things and has a large amount of memory. However, I think that this has put me off of buying any other Apple products… I would like to think that anyway.

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My Version

This was one of the images on show at the Purdy Hicks Gallery. I found it incredibly interesting as there is so much detail, yet it is so simple at the same time. The white background and frame against the fiery orange and burnt brown colours emphasise the detail of it. Because it is so abstract, the viewer has to look in great detail to work out what the image is actually of. I have come to the conclusion that the image is of cracked paint.

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Winter Landscape by Anni Leppala

I found this image so fascinating that I decided to have a go at creating something similar myself and this is the outcome.

Image by Tegan Upton, Clovelly Road

This image has been taken of a wall on Clovelly Road in Southampton. The road is very run down and there doesn’t seem to be pride from the residents on the road; with sofas and mattresses dumped outside peoples houses, bottles and litter all around.

Although there are similarities, I feel that my image is very different to the one above. There is much more colour and features in my image. Rather than looking sophisticated, I think my image looks chaotic and grubby, much like the road appears.

London Trip 10.02.2014

This week we visited the Jerwood Space and Purdy Hicks galleries in London. These two galleries were very different to each other. They had very different atmospheres and work collections.

We went to see the Open Forest exhibition at the Jerwood Space, with work created by Juan delGado, Adam James, Amanda Loomes, Semiconductor and Chris Watson & Iain Pate. They definitely made made it feel like the outside had been brought inside. It was naturally lit with one wall made of just glass panels and many sky lights around the ceiling. There was also a water feature outside which could be seen through the glass wall. We had a talk from Sarah Williams, Visual Arts Gallery Manager, who told us about the exhibition.

It is funded by the Jerwood Foundation, which was established in 1977 by Alan Grieve for John Jerwood, who passed away in 1991. Grieve has created the ethos of Jerwood which is to support excellence especially within the arts and education.

There were four sections to the exhibition. The first was in the centre of the main area. Televisions were placed on top of large wooden crates and videos were being shown with headphones for you to put on if you so wished to listen to the videos. The next section showed a collage of different sized images put together to create an uneven shape.

Image by Tegan Upton, Collage of Images

Image by Tegan Upton, Collage of Images

At the back there were two dark rooms, one of which was very cool and the other very warm. Whether this had been done intentionally to create atmosphere I am not sure. A large wooden structure was in the centre of the room, with two projectors inside (facing different walls). The projections were a circular shape which flashed images of trees and forests.

Image by Tegan Upton, Projection

Purdy Hicks felt much more like a typical gallery as you would expect it; a white space with images dotted around the room. The upstairs had a much warmer feel than the industrial feel which the downstairs had. As at the Jerwood Space, we had a talk from Nicloa Shane, director at Purdy Hicks. Purdy Hicks seem to keep everything very simple; the leaflets we were given were very minimal with just a few images and the essential information, whereas the Jerwood Space gave you several leaflets all very busy, on coloured paper/card and full of text. Purdy Hicks gallery does not receive any funding and purely relies on the sale of work to run. It is linked with the University of Art and Design in Helsinki.

Upstairs was a photography exhibition showing the work of Anni Leppala. There were a few very small scale pieces which we were told is how Leppala normally works and that the few larger pieces (which weren’t really that big) were very unlike Leppala. Most images were mounted on thin white wooden frames, however one or two images did not have frames.

Image by Annie Leppala

Image by Annie Leppala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Downstairs there were several small rooms which showcased artwork and one or two sculpture pieces. I did not enjoy these as much, they didn’t seem to have as much story behind them or to interpret. However, this Susan Derges image did catch my eye; it is a Unique Ilfochrome Print. The ripples in the water distort the shape of everything else but also adds detail to the water.

Image by Susan Derges, Gibbous Moon Alder 2 2009

I liked how the two exhibitions were very different to each other but still had their similarities. This has shown me that exhibitions do not have to be presented in the same way as eachother and has inspired creativity within me for when it comes to me presenting my own work whether in a white space or book.

Semiotics

Semiotics is the study of signs which includes words, gestures, images, sounds and objects. It is how meanings are made and how reality is represented. Signs consist of the signifier and the signified. The signifier is the material aspect; what we see as being there. The signified is the mental aspect; it is learnt through our society and culture.

It is…possible to conceive of a science which studies the role of signs as part of social life…We shall call it semiology (from the Greek sèmeîon, ‘sign’). It would investigate the nature of signs and the laws governing them…Linguistics is only one branch of this general science. …” -Saussure, Course in General Linguistics, 1916

Semiotics are analysed in three main ways; a linguistic message, a non-coded iconic message and a coded iconic message.

The linguistic message is all or any words which are in the image. Lingustics can attract both connotation and denotation in the analysis of the image. A non-coded iconic message are the denotations in the image. This is the recognisable and identifiable (signifier) objects in the image. A coded iconic message are the connotations (signified) in the image. The connotiations of the images are dependant on a number of external influences which the image maker has no control over. This could be things such as age, religion, culture and race.

An example of semiotics which we are taught from a young age is male and female toilet signs. The linguistic message is “female toilet” or “male toilet”. There is also braille below this writing. The images tell us whether the toilet is for females (dress) or males (trousers). The blue background and white writing tells us that it is an information sign.

This is an advertising image or Italian food. The main linguistic message in this image is “Panzani”, which we can assume is the brand of the food in the shopping bag. It is on every product which means that you can notice it. At the bottom of the advert is French writing which translates to “Pasta, sauce, parmesan; Italian luxury”. Luxury is a rich word which makes something sounds heavenly and comforting.

The pasta is dried and sauce has been put in a tin so they have added fresh food to the image (tomatoes, mushrooms etc.) to make it seem like a healthy and fresh option for dinner. The whole image is well lit so that you can see all of the products. This is the non-coded iconic message (signifier).

The coded ionic message (signified) show the connotations that go with the image. There are three main colours used in this advert; red, green and white (colours of the Italian flag). By using a red background the advert makes your think of luxury, passion and desire. This is what the company wants you to think about the food and it will convince you to buy it.