Monday, 24 October 2016

Photographic Error Manifestation

In her paper Facts and Photographs: Visualizing the Invisible with Spirit and Thought Photography Margarida Medeiros says:

“The photographic error, the nightmare of the pioneers (the flou, the blurred, the excessive grain, the lack of contrast) seems to have found, in the last decade and turn of the century, another purpose: that of an hyper-naturalist representation and an epistemic support for new types of knowledge. Just as X-Ray images are scientific and can be vague and blurred, so were fluidic images.”

When considering the photographic error, it is on some level viewed as a presence, because it takes on a physical form in the visual plain. It could be an unexpected light, natural or unnatural, a distorted chemical effect or, as in her paper, Medeiros talks about the potential of a spiritual presence.

This concept of a spiritual or materialised thought is interesting although far from the reality for me. But you can understand how this could have been perceived in the past. To actually have something manifest itself in the photograph triggers a curiosity that could be argued is deeply rooted in human nature. Identifying the unknown was once key to survival and now that many things have been explained this appearance of the effected photograph is engaging. We can suppose what happened and then might actually not know how it has. Why not project some meaning upon this?

It also reflects a growing interest in science. Many will assign the photographic error to process and how this went wrong. But yet the result may be aesthetically pleasing and trigger a desire to know how the science actually works.

Photographic error also allows us to categorise the resulting photograph. Whereas it once would be discarded people are now more willing to engage with the actual result as something to preserve, a one off, the result of an experiment or a work of art. The physically creation of this unexpected happenings will never be recreated and can lead to insight on the rare occasion.

It could be argued that because the visual world is now saturated with photographic image that these errors are more common but yet still vastly outnumbered, the ratio the same but the numbers far greater. The error has more context and potentially more of a role in the canon of photographic archiving and as humanity’s knowledge of photographic method increases potentially different types of error will be generated and increase this range of errors.


M. Medeiros. Facts and Photographs: Visualizing the Invisible with Spirit and Thought Photography, 2015, Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Also inspired by the project 'In pursuit of Error' by Tracy Piper-Wright. The project has been running since 2014 and has already amassed an archive of error which can be viewed here:

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Artistic Research - Thoughts on its relationship to Scientific Research

“Our contention is that the very fact that artistic research becomes commonplace will save us from the crushing weight of external ideals that are often alien to artistic research. This will give us the opportunity for a perhaps troublesome and even sticky path towards an increasingly mature and tolerant scientific-artistic culture. This was of defining scientific quality itself from the everyday viewpoint of research is quite a different matter than a methodological ‘guarantee of quality’.”

HANNULA. M & SUORANTA. J & VADEN. T, Artistic Research – Theories, Methods and Practices, 2005, Finland Cosmoprint Oy, Espoo page 15

Reflecting on what ‘artist research’ is I came across this paragraph in the above mentioned book.
For me, here the keywords are ‘scientific-artistic culture’ and how this accentuates the relationship between the two fields of science and art. Primarily the outcome of art is a finished work, as perceived by society and the result is often disassociated with the research, or practice, that has resulted in its creation. For many the process of creating art is foreign and unexplained. Many perceive it as an instantaneous thing, that is the result of the what they might call the evident skill. This perception has created barriers for many conceptual artists for example, who’s work does not reflect this expectation of what art should be.

But for science the public perception of its revelations, the presentation of the resulting scientific research, is heralded as a great break through. No doubt the strength of this is apparent, science solves many of the great problems that face humanity and justifiably has the kudos of such achievement but aside from how the final result is receive there is also an acknowledgement of the effort that goes into the journey of research, the man hours, the connection of scientific break-through with great discovery. Often an individual is identified as the key which unlocks the problem.

An artist could be viewed as this specific individual. They have arrived at their conclusions through a process and it’s the credibility of this process which Artistic Research would hope to embody, drawing a relationship to scientific research and highlighting many of the same processes that both use to achieve their goals.

It begs the question of what art is hoping to achieve through its research? There is the sheen of the superficial when art is questioned, we won’t find the cure for diseases, but something that is often over looked is the relationship that art has with sociology and philosophy and how it reflects the human condition. We strive to understand what makes us human, we question our relationship to the bubble that is our world within a massive world. Art can help us find out more about these conditions and the pursuit of wellbeing, incorporating therapy, enlightenment and revelation, are potentially enriching for the whole of humanity.

The process of Artistic Research gaining credibility allows us to examine its elements and how it can be finely tuned, highlighting the great practices and ultimately rewarding more of what a progressive art practice is and even, in the end, what we should be celebrating in the artist field. Is the final work the ultimate achievement or is the preliminary work more deserving?