Assignment 2 Painting With Light

To achieve these images the camera was mounted on a tripod with shutter left open for a lengthy exposure in the dark. Again, my partner was to be my model for this set of photographs and I thought her magenta fleece top would be a striking colour that would unify the series – a nod to Martin Parr and his use of red in his photobook Last Resort perhaps? The torch I used was a modern LED cycle light that proved to be too bright! To lessen its illumination I had to cover the homemade snood with piece of card with small hole in it.

After a couple of test shots it dawned upon me that I didn’t have to stand behind the camera waving the torch around. As such I varied the direction from which the light was coming, even moving around mid-shot to light the subject from more than one angle. This was easy as the exposures were between 15 and 30 seconds in length. One byproduct of this was that some shots had streaks of light recorded on them. This was due to light creeping out sideways from my crude improvised snood. While this struck me as a ‘happy accident’ the effect on some shots was too bold and distracting. In the final 7 images only one has this streaking effect.

Postproduction of the final sequence was low. As the series was conceived with colour in mind producing them in monochrome wasn’t seriously considered. The colours and exposures were consistence across the images and so didn’t need any adjustment. Generally, I darkened the backgrounds on some of them to emphasise the subject and I used the spot healing tool to remove the spots of light from LEDs on a telephone and audio equipment in the room.

In preparation for the exhibition aspect of this assignment the 7 photographs were printed out on 13 x 18cm photo paper.

Next, the FiP materials ask us to look at how a couple of artists hang their work in a gallery setting. ‘My Vows’ by Annette Messager is an impressive cluster of individual photos hung tightly together, suspended on strings, to form a singular work. The work speaks about identity, age, sexuality and the social construction of gender. Other works by Messager include grid like placing of framed photos on a gallery wall.

Mesager my vows

Annette Messager ‘My Vows’


In common with Messager, Wolfgang Tillmans also steps away from the convention of a linear display on a gallery wall. Sometimes producing quite large pieces that occupy a wall to themselves, he can also display small works in a grid-like structure.

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Wolfgang Tillmanns Exhibition


What makes the placing of these gallery images ‘work’ however is hard to define – especially when looking at photos of the gallery space on the internet. I suggest it is an aesthetic alchemy where the harmony of colour and form as well as discord and contrast combine with the spaces between images to form an agreeable juxtaposition for the artist. And with this in mind I warmed towards this comment about Tillmans approach on the Andrea Rosen Gallery website

…the pictures all come in three standard sizes; nothing is framed, just scotch-taped or hung on binder clips like banners on the wall…   …the hanging gravitates around a horizon and a virtual grid in which images don’t fill all of the gaps but a sense of balance and rationality is conveyed from the placement.

Quoted from: (viewed 5/3/17)

What I don’t sense is that either Tillmans or Messager are applying any classical approach to displaying their works but rather stepping away from traditional conventions.

Before considering the works of these photographers and prior to giving the ‘exhibition’ much thought I assumed I’d display my images in conventional linear format. Of the seven, three were in ‘portrait’ format and four in ‘landscape’ format. I kind of assumed they would alternate in format starting and ending with a ‘landscape’ rendering a balanced display.

Seeing the gallery settings of Messager and Tillmans immediately made me question my latent feelings towards the presentation of my images. Why I had, notionally at least, considered a linear approach is something strange as I have around my home quite the opposite. The wall straight in front of me has a collection of photographs from over 25 years of overseas birdwatching holidays while the downstairs loo also testifies to a somewhat obsessional interest in birds. I picked up this way of displaying images many years ago after reading John Berger’s Ways of Seeing.

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The wall in front of me

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The downstairs loo!

Having decided on a grid-like approach the question I had to answer was what structure I would I would adopt. To work this out I turned the seven images face down and played around with positioning them until I found one that appealed the most. Each permutation was photographed to record the thought process – see contact sheets. Once I decided on the best arrangement I turned them over and began another process of arrangement of the ‘portrait’ and ‘landscape’ formats to find the most agreeable. The final arrangement, which varied subtlety from final face down version (minor adjustments to the positions of the photos), was ‘blu tacked’ to a wall and photographed.

In the final display the boldest image in terms of colour was placed in the centre. Earlier versions had this image on the periphery but the overall look seemed unbalanced due to the extent of magenta. Once placed in the centre it was mater of arranging the others in a harmonious way were no image image clashed with its neighbour – for example the two full length portraits were kept apart due to their similarity. What I feel I have achieved is a circular rhythm within the display.


Messager: (viewed 5/3/17) (viewed 5/3/17)

Tillmans: (viewed 5/3/17)

The 7 Photographs


The 7 Photographs as an exhibition


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Contact Sheets

Assignment 2 CS