Category Archives: Project Hyperessay

Project Hyperessay – Conclusion

One of the key ideas that was discussed as part of the Media and Performance class is the private vs. the public. 1/200th Of A Second draws from that discussion because of its transgressive methodology that recalls that of the paparazzi photographer.

This is further implicated by the fact that the Net has greatly reduced the time between an image is made and that when it is seen by others, whilst simultaneously increasing the potential number of viewers who will encounter the image.

While the project does not directly deal with the distribution aspect of the digitalised photographic image, it nevertheless has an implication in the proceedings of the project. This is evident in instances when the subject seeks clarification over why and how the images will be used. Clearly, how they their image may be distributed over the web and its resulting implications, become part of our contemporary assessment of taken of images ourselves.

Interestingly, the number who choose to clarify the motivations of the project are in the minority. The vast majority of subjects photographed behave either indifferently, or look on but nevertheless continue what they were originally doing. It may be difficult to truly account for this behaviour through this project alone despite two separate rounds of shooting. As mentioned in an earlier post (http://oss2014.adm.ntu.edu.sg/weilong/paparazzi-test-shoot/), the proliferation of cameras and general comfort of having others take pictures of us in our contemporary culture are likely factors.

While the development of the project has been relatively constant, reading more about works that deal with the private and public domain has certain helped shaped how I may extend this project further as it manifests into a second iteration or subsequent projects. For example, looking at the GRAM paparazzi catalogue has raised possibilities of using a book presentation format to recontextualise the images.

Overall, completing the project been a fruitful exploratory experience and this project will certainly be a good stepping stone as I explore more about the relationships we have with the camera and the photographic image in our contemporary culture today.

Project Hyperessay Technical Realisation

The following sets for the tentative plans for the technical realisation of the final project:

Pre-Production

  • Searching for participating photographers to form the “paparazzi swarm” (approximately 6-10 pax, excluding myself); with consideration of camera type, camera size, photographers’ availability, photographers’ gender (?), photographers’ physique (?)
  • Coordinating the dressing attire of participating photographers
  • The preparation of image usage and limited liability releases
  • Location scouting and selection of venue to shoot the project at
  • Working out a system to ensure proper project archival
  • Preparing official faculty backed letter to deal with public participants who might request to see the project’s accreditation (aka dealing with irate public participants)
  • Planning for backup cameras in case of equipment failure
  • Planning for contingency plans in case of poor weather on original shoot date
  • Planning for a system to coordinate the paparazzi swarm while in the field
  • Plan for high frame rate video capture of shooting process (tentative)

Production

  • Ensuring that the participating photographers have their cameras and flash working; doing an equipment check before shooting
  • Have subjects and participating photographers to endorse releases officially
  • Proper digital file archival and organisation system to deal with image output from participating photographers; on location backup to ensure data redundancy
  • Setting up positions and provision of instructions to participating photographers so to which angle to shoot from, what to capture, distance from subject to be in etc.
  • Actualise the coordination and control of the paparazzi swarm
  • Setup of high frame rate video capture; camera with tripod

Post-Production

  • Selection and post-production of images shot
  • Printing and mounting of images (tentative)
  • Editing of high frame rate video capture
  • Creation of online gallery/website for online display of images (tentative)

List of Equipment Required

  • Digital cameras with wide to medium telephoto focal length
  • Flash (either pop up flash or external flash)
  • Batteries for flash
  • Batteries for camera
  • Spare memory cards
  • Image usage and limited liability release forms
  • Pens to sign release forms with
  • Clipboard for release forms
  • Laptop with card reader to transfer images from cameras
  • Backup hard drive to ensure data redundancy
  • Letter of Accreditation

Project Hyperessay Role Of The Viewer

(Ideas set forth here in this is tentative and subjected to revisions as the project develops)

The role of the viewer in this project is at once both passive as it is active.

Passively, the viewer is watching the performative aspects of the work (e.g. the paparazzi swarm closing in on a subject), acting as an observer of the event. The viewer is also in a more traditional passive stance, when they encounter the presentation of the work after its completion.

However the viewer moves into a more actively state when they become the subjects of these photographs. Their every reaction is codified into an aesthetic image through the application of the frame, lighting  and image recording. What they do in that instance as they react to the cameras becomes materialised and is placed under scrutiny of the still frame.

This duality in the roles that the viewer can play puts forth an interesting tension between the two states and raising questions about the interlocking relationships between the two.

What happens when one swiftly transits from the passive into the active state? Is there shock, or indifference?

How does being in these two contrasting states of participation in the work create a dichotomy in how the viewer approaches and accesses the work?

– – – – – – – – – –

The presentation of the work would also inherent affect the level and type of participation viewers may have with the project. Tentative ideas include the creation and curation of an online gallery with commenting features to allow more interactivity and textual expression of the viewers’ reaction to the work. 

 

The Camera As An Instrument To Augment Human Interaction and Behaviour (or how I have a final project idea)

After several weeks of moving back and forth between various ideas, I finally came upon one that I’ll be exploring under the our final project for this Media & Performance class.

I was searching for an idea that incorporated an element of the camera (you can read my initial ideation here: http://oss2014.adm.ntu.edu.sg/weilong/project-hyperessay-work-in-progress/) functioning not just as an instrument of image capture, but also as a physical object that exerts a psychological and physiological change on us.

I decided to look at the much maligned form of photography known as “paparazzi photography”.

The direct flash, chaotic composition, celebrity subjects are all part of the visual language of paparazzi photography.  Its intrusive, aggressive and voyeuristic nature are also hallmarks of such a mode of photography.

As a media product, these pictures feed into the larger media and pop culture machinery, stimulating the insatiable demand of the public or curious onlookers for a peek into the lives of the rich and famous.

Tabloid 1 Tabloid 2

Screenshots of paparazzi style photographs found on tabloid and celebrity gossip website, The Superficial.

 

Much like the above examples, these photographs often accompany written articles to produce a visual/text product that freely mixes between ridicule, the salacious and objectification. The subjects themselves often have little to no control to how they are portrayed, and are at best, flatten into simplistic, and easily understood caricatures.

But what happens when such a device is used to photograph the common man? Can such a mode of working reveal a truth or evoke situations for us to understand better how contemporary society relates to photography and the camera?

The work of Bruce Gilden (that’s him below) comes to mind when I began thinking upon these lines. His controversial style of street photography challenges (even till today) what we can accept as “proper” behaviour of a photographer, and what a good photograph is.

Bruce Gilden 2
Bruce Gilden (From: http://erickimphotography.com/blog/2011/06/24/bruce-gilden-asshole-or-genius/)

Gilden gets up close to his unsuspecting subjects and fires his flash into their path. This produces intriguing and unusual pictures with unique results.

Bruce Gilden
Bruce Gilden shooting up and close. (From: http://www.flickr.com/groups/onthestreet/discuss/72157631750358357/

But of course Gilden was probably not coming from/functioning in the capacity of a paparazzi photographer as he approached making his work. Though his lack of regard for social norms (e.g. not getting to someone’s face) recalls the aggressive practices of paparazzi photographers.

The work of Philip-Lorca DiCorcia also comes to mind. The photographer’s Heads series (some examples below) features photographs captured of unsuspecting passersby through the use of hidden strobes. Though, the aesthetic adopted here by DiCorcia is notably much more nuanced and poetic; much less aggressive than the work of Gilden.

DiCorcia
Philip-Lorca DiCorcia’s ‘Heads’ series.

So really, what I hope to investigate through this project is how paparazzi style photography when applied to shooting the layman in the context of contemporary Singapore can become a premise for which to access observations about the relationship between us, the camera, and images; negotiating between the private and public domain.

Screenshot Experiments

Just completed a bunch of quick image quality degradation  experiments using various techniques following last week’s consultation with Randall – some working much better than others.

Results as follows:

#1 – Window screenshots

Didn’t quite give me the image degradation but produced an interesting  stacking effect nevertheless.

Screen-Shot-2014-02-24-at-11.35.45_Lo-Res-Web

 

 

#2 – Manual screenshots

I tried the same idea again but this time using manual screenshots (not screen grabbing the entire window). Almost negligible difference in image quality.

Screen-Shot-2014-02-24-at-11.36.36_Lo-Res-Web

 

 

#3 – Save For Web at ‘Low’ settings

This method gave me very similar results to method #3. There was some loss of image quality when observed unclose but it was not at a level I was hoping to produce. Could possibly work if I saved it numerous times over (100-200 times perhaps?)

Screen-Shot-2014-02-24-at-11.37.57_Lo-Res-Web

 

 

#4 – Resizing

This method produced the most dramatic of results. I resized the image to a small pixel dimension of 49px and enlarged it subsequently to 1965px. Mostly my preferred method amongst the four attempted. I can control the rate of the degradation by altering the range I reduce and enlarge the image.

Screen-Shot-2014-02-24-at-11.25.34_Lo-Res-Web

Project Hyperessay Influences

Influences:

The following are some preliminary references into related works and writings:

#1 – Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel – Evidence
http://www.ahornmagazine.com/issue_3/review7_shea_mandelsultan/review_shea_evidence2.html

  • a play on found imagery and appropriation
  • the relationship between an it image, its context and the initial intent of its creation

#2 – Michael Wolf – Series of Unfortunate Events
https://www.lensculture.com/articles/michael-wolf-a-series-of-unfortunate-events

  • Using a camera to rephotograph scenes found on Google Street View

#3 – NYT’s “With Cameras Optional, New Directions in Photography”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/26/arts/design/with-cameras-optional-new-directions-in-photography.html?hp&_r=2

  • A discussion on how artists, especially current day contemporary image-makers, are approaching photography from a conceptual standpoint. Often negating tradition and idiosyncrasies of the photographic medium.

#4 – FRAME.SG
http://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/frame-sg-internet-photography-and-the-preservation-of-memories/

  • Eugene Soh’s look at the internet and images with a focus on non-lens based capture.

#5 – Thomas Ruff – JPEGS
http://davidcampany.com/thomas-ruff-the-aesthetics-of-the-pixel/

  • Thomas Ruff’s “agitation” of the digital images surface to create new viewer awareness and image experience.
  • Also deals with appropriation and breaking of photographic traditions
  • The transfer and breakdown of a common JPEG file as it moves from one person to another? (18/2/14)

#6 – Jeff Wall and his compositional techniques
http://www.utata.org/sundaysalon/jeff-wall/

  • The layering of multiple “moments” into a single image through compositing of various images.

#7 – John Clang’s Being Together
http://www.johnclang.com/artwork/beingtogether.html

  • Using projections, the Net and cameras (cameras to record the video chat, a camera to photograph the real time composite projection) to connect and augment interpersonal, spatial and time relationships.

#8 – Dead End Thrills
http://deadendthrills.com

  • Hi-res in-game records of a digitally rendered landscape and in-game characters. The creation of a moment not intended by its the content’s original authors.

#9 – Advanced Studies… (Ten Lessons for Life) (added 18/02/14)
http://www.themuse.com.sg/2012/05/advanced-studies…-ten-lessons-for-life/

  • An interesting experimental performance piece by artist Heman Chong who setup the essential perimeters to allow participants to interact with various junior art school students. I enjoy that fact that the project challenges our notion of what can constitute as art by placing the act of conversing with another person at the heart of the piece.
  • Relevance to my project in facilitating and mediating relationships augmented by the Net and the camera?

#10 – Article on the history of smiling for the camera on Petapixel.com (added 18/02/14)
http://petapixel.com/2012/11/04/say-prunes-not-cheese-the-history-of-smiling-in-photographs/

  • Some background and contextual information on how (and why) we “perform” for the camera

#11 – Sensations Of The Super Normal by Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa (added 18/02/14)
http://www.supernormal.co.uk

  • Though not connected entirely per se, they dabbled in an interesting idea of the “super normal” – something to which we encounter daily, and by virtue of its design, slips underneath our direct consciousness when interacting with these objects. The sublime and instinctual.
  • Can the digital image and the camera become “super normal” as well?

Project Hyperessay Introduction

Introduction:

Decisive Moment

(The ‘Decisive Moment’. Left: screenshot by Prakash Haridas, Right: photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson)

In this preliminary ideation process, I am interested in looking at how the Net and its associated technologies augment our use, understanding and experience of photographic images and to an extent, the camera. For example, has these technologies changed or circumvented major photographic concepts such as the decisive moment (coined by photographer Henri Cartier -Bresson)? Has the Net changed how we encounter images, which are just a swipe, click and download away?

 

Strangers

(Performing for the camera, “Strangers” (2013) by Hoong Wei Long)

It might also be interesting to consider that since the photographic medium and the camera often act as social conduits (e.g. how people will formally gather in front of a camera for their photograph to be taken), how these changes also influence or augment our interpersonal relationships.

Lastly, with the constant production and distribution of new images via the Net, it may be interesting to consider the “value” (however we choose to frame and define this) of images. Are more images more important than others? Is this dictated by where we see the images and/or its authorship? How decides this hierarchy? How do search engines and ranking algorithms in Google, Facebook, Instagram etc. come into play? [added 18/02/14)] Do images have a lifespan? Where do images go to “die”?