Sunday, January 23, 2011

Reading and Back to the Course

Somehow this years Christmas holidays completed defeated my desire to take photographs, today is the first day I have even had camera in hand since the 17th December, however, it was good to get out again and think about a few shots for the final two exercises prior to having a go at Assignment 2. Prior to Christmas I was energetically pursuing assignments for both People and Place and Digital Photographic Practice; in November I managed 24 Blog entries across both courses.  I guess this simply exhausted my creativity and enthusiasm.  Then adding the preparation for the holidays and spending the first two weeks of the New Year in an IKEA fueled furniture marathon left no time for much else.

The lesson learned is to pace myself a little more and not get too worried if progress slows down.  A 5 week break from the course enabled me to refresh my batteries a little.  Doing a Degree course in conjunction with a 50 hour a week career should be tough.  When I did my first degree, requiring no more than 30 hours study a week, I had two 1 month and a 3 month break every year. SO time to stop bashing myself for taking a break.

So what has happened recently course wise.  I finished reading the "Genius of Photography" by Gerry Badger just before the holidays, what an excellent book, the best general overview of photography I have yet to read - entertaining and informing.

The Genius of Photography

Beyond those comments (no more review), what did I learn from this book?  Actually, not a great deal that I did not otherwise learn from other histories of photography, however, each different volume layers up an understanding of this artform and introduces a few new artists together with a deeper understanding of the major movements.

The biggest learning point was to finally get a grip on modernism and post-modernism, or at least I thought so at the time!  Modernism appears to be the embrace of new technologies, a newer cleaner design and architectural style, a good example of which would be the Bauhaus movement in 1920's Germany.  Post modernism rejected elements of this style and introduced the concept of cross media art, sculptures including photographs, video installations.  The post-modern is dirtier, dynamic rather than static, less formal, however, I am yet to come to a meaningful understanding that I can write down. I will return to this subject - I thought I had it, now as I write I realize I don't.

Currently I have stepped away from photography in my reading (I even read a novel over the holidays!), and am currently tackling a very introductory text on the history of art, "The Story of Art" by E.H. Gombrich.  Am only up to around page 65, but the easy reading nature of the book and the great story it tells are pulling me on.

This book was one of several that came my way as Christmas presents, my Amazon wish list was carefully selected this year.  Among them are a couple of gems, "The Photobook", volumes 1 and 2 by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger.  What a gift! Fascinating to dip into and look at how the style of photo presentation has developed over the last 150 years or so.  I very much like to produce my own photobooks and so far have created several using the Blurb book publishing platform.  As a final destination for my work I see the photobook as a better medium than the gallery print - presenting my work as an essay rather than an individual statement works with my current outlook.  Thus far the books I have created are either wedding or holiday albums, carefully prepared, but not exactly art.  A personal goal over the next few years will be to slowly build a body of work reflecting the city of Munich as I see it and put this together as a photo essay.

That's it for now - back to working on exercises!

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