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MAUD GALLERY CAMERA OBSCURA – for one day only

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The Maud Gallery window to become a Camera Obscura

The Maud Gallery window to become a Camera Obscura

 

festival-of-the-darkroom-header

 

As a final event for Maud’s Festival of the Darkroom on November 26 between 12.00 Noon and 4.00pm we worked with Louis Lim to convert the Maud Gallery front room into a public Camera Obscura. We invited members of the Brisbane photo community to join with us for a look back to the origins of photography.

 

What follows are photos from the event…

Set-up day with Louis Lim, Ana Paula Estrada and Gillian Jones

The Maud camera obscura team – Louis Lim, Doug+Vicky PHOTO: Louis Lim

The Maud camera obscura team – Louis Lim, Doug+Vicky PHOTO: Louis Lim

The Maud camera obscura team – Louis Lim, Doug+Vicky with Maud Director Irena Prikryl. PHOTO: Louis Lim

The Maud camera obscura team – Louis Lim, Doug+Vicky with Maud Director Irena Prikryl. PHOTO: Louis Lim

 

Outside looking in ––– The Maud Gallery Camera Obscura

Outside looking in ––– The Maud Gallery Camera Obscura

Camera obscura viewers sitting on the couch - note two holes... PHOTO: Louis Lim

Camera obscura viewers sitting on the couch – note two holes… PHOTO: Louis Lim

Inside the Maud Gallery Camera Obscura

Inside the Maud Gallery Camera Obscura

Inside the Maud Gallery Camera Obscura

Inside the Maud Gallery Camera Obscura

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The Maud Gallery toilet was also converted into a camera obscura

The camera obscura in the Maud toilet PHOTO: Louis Lim

The camera obscura in the Maud toilet PHOTO: Louis Lim

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Vicky standing before the two pinhole projection – someone came in and let the light in…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photographer Neil while making a photograph becomes a camera obscura imaging surface…

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Gallery Director Irena takes a tea break…

 

 

Cooper+Spowart: 16 years of Camera Obscura Collaborations

In our collaborative work, we are interested in both the physical construct and cultural conventions that inform and shape us. This includes the common rituals and structures that surround, support and transport us in our everyday lives. In this work we have extended the context of documentary photographic methodology to include the narrative potential of the camera obscura and architectural projections.

 

Bedroom Camera Obscura 2000 (Y2K)

Bedroom Camera Obscura 2000 (Y2K)

 

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Avochie Bathroom Camera Obscura

Avochie Bathroom Camera Obscura

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In the camera obscura work the viewer’s perception of the everyday is spatially challenged. The structures that can form camera obscura are everywhere, but some spaces present themselves as clearly suitable for the making. This could be a city office, a motel room, a country bathroom or even a car. Our work attempts to contextualize the experience of the camera obscura within a concept, space or site. Upon entering the darkened space, the viewer is initially displaced, as the familiar image of the everyday is dim and unrecognizable. Then after time spent in the camera obscura, the image becomes clearer and the familiar is re-established ultimately resulting in a relocation of the observer’s awareness of place.

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City of Dreams – Ibis Hotel sunrise over Sydney

City of Dreams – Ibis Hotel sunrise over Sydney

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The Travelodge camera obscura 2008

The Travelodge camera obscura 2008

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Some background on the set-up for the Travelodge camera obscura:

Simple black garbage bags and some black electrical tape from the local 711 store. An aperture cut from a ‘found’ piece of aluminium – size around 8mm … we don’t use sophisticated glass lenses – these are direct light projections. A digital camera bares witness to our experience by capturing the image of the camera obscura projection.

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Setting up the room

Blacking out the room

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We were watching TV ...

We were watching TV …

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OUR MOST RECENT CAMERA OBSCURA: ORPHEUS ISLAND BEACH TENT

(A collaborative event with John de Rooy, Spyder Displays and the Orpheus Is Photo Workshop)

Our Spyder Camera Obscura

Our Spyder Camera Obscura

A DUO View of the scene and the Camera Obscura image

A DUO View of the scene and the Camera Obscura image

TO VIEW OTHER CAMERA OBSCURA WORK BY COOPER AND SPOWART SEE THE LINKS

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Our Website:

http://www.cooperandspowart.com.au/4_PROJECTS/RoomCameraObscura-Project.html

Our car converted into a camera obscura and driven across Australia:

http://www.cooperandspowart.com.au/4_PROJECTS/CarCamera-Project.html

Two New Zealand Camera Obscuras in the the Queenstown Rydges Hotel:

https://wotwedid.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/two-new-zealand-camera-obscuras/

A public Camera Obscura performance and live video:

https://wotwedid.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/camera-obscura-pinhole-event-foto-frenzy-a-report/

YouTube videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyA5QP-mX-E

A camera obscura at the Queenstown Centre for Creative Photography:

https://wotwedid.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/camera-obscura-qccp/

A World Pinhole Day Camera Obscura at Mt Barney:

https://wotwedid.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/world-pinhole-photography-day-our-contribution/

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Closing off the hole

Closing off the hole in the Travelodge Hotel camera obscura

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© 2013 Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart for 16 Years of Camera Obscuras Project

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Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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COVERING: The 2016 Libris Artists’ Book Award

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Artspace Mackay

Artspace Mackay

 

A COMMENT ON THE 2016 LIBRIS ARTISTS’ BOOK AWARDS

 

In his announcement speech for the 2016 Libris Awards at Artspace Mackay judge Sasha Grishin makes the observation that: ‘The contemporary artists book is characterised by boundless freedom’, and adds that: ‘… it has absorbed many conceptual frameworks, many art mediums and technologies and goes across the spectrum of the senses.’

 

Visitors to Artspace and the Libris Awards encounter an open space with islands of book presentation devices. Plinths of all sizes – some encased, others at floor level, there are shelves on walls, books as mobile installations hung from the ceiling and other books with ‘pages’ covering large expanses of wall. This is not an easy walk-through exhibition as each work beckons, siren-like, calling for the extended gaze of the reader.

The Artspace Libris exhibition

The Artspace Libris exhibition

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On this occasion the winners were:

  • Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal National Artists Book Award $10,000 Acquisitive Award went to George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by Antoni Jach, for Europa to Oceania.*

 

George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by Antoni Jach, for Europa to Oceania

George Matoulas & Angela Cavalieri, with the text by Antoni Jach, Europa to Oceania

Grishin’s comments about the work were:

After much soulsearching I decided to allot the winning entry for the major prize to a collaborative and fabulous artists book by two Melbourne‐based artists, George Matoulas and Angela Cavalieri, with the text by the novelist and playwright Antoni Jach, titled Europa to Oceania. The three linocuts are by Angela, the three collographs are by George and there are another two collaborative foldout prints. The two artists, one of Greek extraction, the other from Calabria in Italy, with wit, profundity and beauty explore the migrant experience at a time when the Australian social fabric is under stress with the question of refugees and migration.

Highly commended in this award were:
Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison’s Closer to Natural
Monica Oppen’s Metropolis
Tim Moseley’s Kange pholu wanda

Peter Lyssiotis’ Blind Spot

 

  • Mackay Regional Council Regional Artists Book Award for a local artist went to May‐Britt Mosshamer for Tapping the knowledge.*
May‐Britt Mosshamer for Tapping the knowledge.*

May‐Britt Mosshamer Tapping the knowledge.*

Grishin’s comments about the work were:

As much as one fought the temptation, the $2,500 award had to go to the local artist, May‐Britt Mosshamer and her effective piece Tapping the knowledge. In art you can say very important things with a bit of humour in your back pocket. This work is all about the flood of information and the drought in knowledge.

The highly commended, or runner‐up entries in this category were:

Denise Vanderlugt’s I used to wrap rainbows
Jo Mitchell’s For Mary

 

  • Artspace Mackay Foundation Youth and Student Artists Book Award (under 26years), went to Brooke Ferguson and her The Small Garden (for M.S.).*
Brooke Ferguson The Small Garden (for M.S.).

Brooke Ferguson The Small Garden (for M.S.).

Judge Grishin’s comment on the work:

This is an award that is about taking risks, a punt and choosing the unexpected, the promising and the challenging. It is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity for an emerging artist to gain national recognition plus a handy fistful of dollars. I selected the work by the 25‐year‐old Brisbane‐based artist, Brooke Ferguson and her The Small Garden (for M.S.) The MS stands for the wonderful veteran artist, Madonna Staunton, where young Brooke Ferguson was inspired by a poem by Staunton and with gouache, pen and ink and pencil has created a fragile concertina – a beautiful sensibility from a promising young artist.

 

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In my opinion some books call for special mention. Caren Florance’s Pleasure demolition is transfixing. The suspended brown paper sheets with a hand printed letterpress phrases from poetry by Angela Gardner are animated by the flow of air and movement in the space. Forever moving, the oscillation of the pages becomes a machine for the generation of concrete poetry… phrases twirl and merge, poetic moments where new meaningful/less messages materialise.

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Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution

Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution

The individual pages of Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution are pinned to the wall making what may seem like a vast wallpaper pattern. However, Stayt’s work invites a closer reading of the cipher hidden within the layers of the image. He presents some big questions where contemporary notions of tradition are challenged and rapidly changing technology has intertwined agency in the evolutionary pathway for humanity.

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Julie Barratt Blair Athol recut

Julie Barratt Blair Athol recut

Julie Barratt’s Blair Athol recut refers to Solastalgia: a theory on the contemporary human condition for a deep loss of place. In one part of the installation there is a book of dark photolithographs where maps are encroached upon by black inks. For the reader this growing blackness evokes a gloomy absence. Facing the dark pages in the clamshell container are vials of coloured soils, plant fragments and found objects. Although collected from this disturbed place, these samples are vibrant and alive – perhaps they are the vestiges of childhood memories that recall a different time before the destruction of the physical place by coal mining.

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Ana Paula Estrada Memorandum

Ana Paula Estrada Memorandum

Many books feature photographs as the primary carrier of the narrative. Ana Paula Estrada’s Memorandum employs the medium to document elderly people and their connection with life through personal photographs and how their memories are re-lived through viewing these photos. The book, conceived and made through the Siganto Foundation Creative Fellowship in the Australian Library of Art at the State Library of Queensland, is a complex assemblage of contemporary portraits, photo-glimpses from family albums and a narrative conveyed through the turning of pages.

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Exhibition view

Exhibition view

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As usual the artists’ book as exhibition defies direct touch and the turning of pages for narratives to be revealed and for the book to speak of what it has allowed the artist to create. But for the 72 books in the exhibition to be read the visitor would need to stay for the duration of the exhibition, working through the night with white gloves and torchlight. The exhibition reconnects and continues the significant contribution of the Artspace Mackay’s Libris Award to inspire artists and create a space discourse on the book in all its forms. In doing so the assembled exhibition represents cutting edge survey of Australian artists’ book practice.

Some works will become part of the Artspace Mackay collection; others will be re-packaged and returned to their makers. While the exhibition is dispersed its spirit will continue in the form of the gallery’s excellent illustrated catalogue, the text of Grishin’s speech, reviews, videos and other commentaries such as this, as well as the memories of the readers who viewed the show.

In two years time – the next iteration of this important event in the Australian artists’ book calendar will take place again. Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole collection could be purchased and held in perpetuity as a record of the discipline? Until then …

 

Dr Doug Spowart

16 October 2016

 

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DOWNLOAD THE CATALOGUE: 2016-librisawards_illustratedlistofworks

http://www.artspacemackay.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/204955/2016LibrisAwards_IllustratedListofWorks.pdf

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A VIDEO FLY-THRU OF THE EXHIBITION

 

OTHER BOOKS FROM THE EXHIBITION

 

Denise Vanderlugt with her highly commended bookwork I used to wrap rainbows

Denise Vanderlugt with her highly commended bookwork I used to wrap rainbows

Peter LYSSIOTIS Blind spot

Peter LYSSIOTIS Blind spot

Martha BOWMAN You could have sent an email or a text

Martha BOWMAN You could have sent an email or a text

Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution (Detail)

Jamian Stayt’s Soulless evolution (Detail)

Bernard APPASSAMY Constellation of endearment (Detail)

Bernard APPASSAMY Constellation of endearment (Detail)

Deanna HITTI Assimilated museum

Deanna HITTI Assimilated museum

Gracia HABY and Louise JENNISON Closer to natural

Gracia HABY and Louise JENNISON Closer to natural

Caren Florance’s Pleasure demolition

Caren Florance’s Pleasure demolition

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All photographs and videos ©2015 Doug Spowart.  Main text (except Judge Sasha Grishin’s words) ©2015 Doug Spowart   With thanks to Victoria Cooper for her suggestions and edits.

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VICKY DISCUSSES ‘READING MONTAGES’ on the SLQ Blog

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Siganto Research Fellow Victoria Cooper

Siganto Research Fellow Victoria Cooper

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Vicky has recently posted a her latest paper about her research on the State Library of Qld’s Blog. This latest post comments on the montage and is illustrated by some interesting books from the SLQ’s Artists’ Book Collection.

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Read on or visit the post here: http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/ala/2016/05/27/reading-montages-perceptions-dilemmas-edges-and-resolution/

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Reading Montages: perceptions, dilemmas, edges and resolution.

Nomenclature Dilemma: Collage or Montage

In this third blog post I will share the dilemmas of encountering the blurred boundaries associated with the lexicon of these art forms, for example: What is the difference between collage and montage? Does it matter? Are there different “readings” of collage vs montage images that have been reproduced by mechanical or digital means for both wall art, or as encountered in my research, book forms? I will present an Occam’s Razor resolution arising from the considerations that inform my research to provide a path through the complexity of these issues.

Responding to terminology dilemma:

As I progress through the research I am continually confronted with terminology issues and questions regarding the nature of montage and its intersection with collage. The dilemma is with me as a kind of Sisyphean cycle where, after climbing the mountain of wondrous diversity in the Australian Library of Art artists’ book collection; I am drawn back down by the weighty issues of inconsistent terminology.

Many artists, who cut, arrange and glue disparate and/or mixed media elements refer to their work as collage or for computer made images, digital collage.  This should be the end of the debate as the etymology of collage is the French word ‘to glue’. But there are others who cut and piece together disparate elements and ‘glue’ and then fuse them within the image and refer to their process as montage (or digital montage for computer images). Also interesting to note is that the origin of the word montage is a French word meaning ‘to mount’.  Is there a need to differentiate between these similar practices? Does terminology affect the ‘reading’ of these works? In my art practice I refer to myself as a montage maker, thinker and reader and as such I bring my own perspective to reading visual narratives.

Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, who prefer to be known as paper artists, make collage works. Their unique state artists’ books and democratic multiples in the form of zines and editions of artists’ books have a place within this discussion.
Haby and Jennison responded to my email question regarding the nature of the digital work in their book, ‘And we stood alone in the silent night’, where they state that: ‘Digital collages are made in chorus with unique state pieces. They are all a means of making, with the ‘how’ of lesser interest to us than the ‘why’ or ‘message’.

In their statement above they suggest that the means of the making is secondary to the final work. Even when the collage has been digitally scanned and then printed it remains, for them, a collage.

‘And we stood alone in the silent night’

‘And we stood alone in the silent night’

The book, ‘And we stood alone in the silent night’, presents the reader with an enchanted narrative through the composition of images and poetic texts across the pages. Underpinning the reading is the smooth and seamless joins of the elements creating a surreal landscape with a theatre of colourful inhabitants. The compositional elements draw the reader into a kind of Alice in Wonderland experience of reading: where the fused elements are arranged in a mise en page; and the turning page emulates the scenes of a paper movie (i) . The small size text comes through the reading as a poetic aside to underscore the scene.

‘And we stood alone in the silent night’

‘And we stood alone in the silent night’

Haby and Jennison’s careful cutting and pasting of added elements over or alongside the original image distinguish their broader collage work.  Again, in these works the silent edges between these interventions and the original image provide uninterrupted reading. Importantly as this transition or interval between the elements goes unnoticed the added element ultimately colonize the interior space and time of the original image.

So far in my research, I have not found many artists that tear and roughly cut their elements intentionally leaving these edges in the final montage for the reader to interpret. One example however is Lorelei Clark’s work, ‘Brisbane: River City‘.

Although the elements are fused by digital

reproduction, their roughly torn or cut edges seem to separate the elements so that the reading is disturbed much like a jump-cut (ii)  edit in a film.

'Brisbane: River City'

‘Brisbane: River City’

The elements combined in this way demand separate attention and focus on individual parts of the narrative or issue presented. As the source material may have been glossy magazines or pictorial publications, these edges could represent a critique or even an attack on social issues that affect the human condition. In many ways the reading is unsettling, rather like the political montages of Peter Lyssiotis, they shout back at the reader.

'The very first book of fish'

‘The very first book of fish’

Another example of the rough cut collage can be found in Jack Oudyn’s Book of Fish series of small books, where the original collage or paste-up can be seen in the ALA collection along with the small zine like productions. Rather than attached to the surface, the reproduction of these collages fuses the elements into the page and transforms the reading of the text and images. In these little books, the elements are submerged within the narrative and seem to float around like the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life.

Jack Oudyn 'The very first book of fish'.

Jack Oudyn ‘The very first book of fish’.

My resolve:

For the purpose of this research, I have decided to take account of how the artist defines their work as stated in the Library catalogue. As a researcher I am reliant on the information supplied by the artist, either in the form of an artist’s statement or catalogue information. This information allows a deep engagement with the work that ultimately enriches the reading experience for the researcher. Many may consider that too much information may reduce the potential for the book to be reimagined, but for readers like myself there are many ‘readings’ of an artists’ book.  As social scientist, Pierre Bourdieu suggests that an artwork is:

‘in fact made not twice, but hundreds of times, thousands of times by all those who have an interest in it, who find a material or symbolic profit in reading it, classifying it, decoding it, commenting on it, reproducing it, criticizing  it, combating it, knowing it, possessing it.’ (iii)

As mentioned earlier in this blog I refer to my work as montage, and align my methodology and inspiration with that of film and the pioneers of montage and page design from the early 20th century. In this research I have found similarities in the ‘reading’ of collages that have been either created or reproduced through mechanical or digital processes with the images created as montages. As I strive to engage with the many new ways of reading that each artist presents, any background information can take me into new spaces and places, each time I read the same book.

So rather than questioning the terminology, either a collage or montage, I am more informed by the way elements are grafted or combined; their arrangement on the page; the typography and page design. When the elements such as type, photographs, painting, drawing, found objects etc have been fused within the space of the page of the book by photomechanical, digital or another printmaking process, I will read these as a montage. As such, in the research I will consider the following:

•    whether I am seduced by nature of the smooth transition and the interval between elements is subliminal or if the torn edge focuses my attention;
•    whether the adjacency of the elements is disturbing or attacking my attempts to flow smoothly;
•    whether the transition has been digitally achieved or by hand if the information is available.

The nature of the edges of the combined visual elements within the composition is a profound aspect to reading these visual books. So rather than questioning the terminology, whether a collage or montage, I will continue in my ‘montage readings’ informed by the narratives contained within and between grafted edges.

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Victoria Cooper

 

PART 2 of this research series can be viewed here https://wotwedid.com/2016/03/19/victorias-slq-blog-post-montage-research/

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i. Lou Stoumen is the author of visual books including ‘Can’t Argue With Sunrise: A Paper Movie‘ (1975)
ii. Film makers Jean-Luke Godard and Sergei Eisenstein championed the use of discontinuity devices such as jump cuts in scenes to disrupt the flow of the cinematic narrative and create the illusion of moving through time and space. This was intended to engage the viewer proactively to think about the issues surrounding the scene.
iii. Bourdieu, Pierre. ‘The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field’. Translated by Susan Emanuel. Stanford University Press, 1996. Editions du Seuil 1992. Page 171.

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ODE TO TARAGO CARCAMERA OBSCURA

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Just turned 500,000 kms on the Hay Plains near Balranald, NSW

Just turned 500,000 kms on the Hay Plains near Balranald, NSW

 

 

Today I was just remembering when I first bought

the Tarago as a new car…

It was a smooth car/van in 1986 even though it was a 1985 model.

… I was its sole owner

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Although Doug was a major driver and sharer of the running costs

then there are all those kilometers we three have travelled

Doug, Me and Tarago….

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We have travelled, camped, forded flooded creeks, pushed through tracks that only

four wheel drives should go, crossed the sea (Tasmania), been invaded by possums,

carried our art, groceries, garden waste, house moving, friends, family,

and even a tour group of Japanese tourists,

Dodged kangaroos except for one that jumped into the side of us,

driven through bull dust without getting bogged,

though – monsoonal rains,

locust plagues, searing heat,

snow, sleet and frost, wild winds,

And beautiful spring days …

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Dodged crazy drivers that were talking on mobile phones while simultaneously writing

in a book resting on the steering wheel!!!!

And then there was that really big spider that walked across the windscreen while I was driving…

was it inside or outside – not sure where that ended up?

The Tarago survived break-ins back in the Imagery Gallery days in Fish Lane …

There were the breakdowns… we all have so why not CarCamera Obscura Tarago?

But Treg… you always got her going again – Thank you so much …

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Tarago suffered our singing along with the old cassette tapes

of the Travelling Wilburys, George Harrison and Pink Floyd

We planned, we imagined, we argued, we laughed, we cried, we did many things

We ate fish and chips on the Great Ocean Road …

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We made the car into a camera obscura! And drove it across Australia …

Just as we celebrated 630,000 km …

the journey for our Tarago was to end….

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We said our farewells – April 10, 2016

The Tarago CarCamera Obscura will be auctioned we were told…

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A PICTURE STORY OF OUR TARAGO CARCAMERA OBSCURA

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Wooli Camera Obscura with the Tarago

Wooli Camera Obscura with the Tarago

TRAVELLING LIGHT-Invitation from the Qld Centre for Photography show

TRAVELLING LIGHT-Invitation from the Qld Centre for Photography show

630,000 km - the final reading

630,000 km – the final reading

Frontpiece for the Photospace exhibition at the Australian National University

Frontpiece for the Photospace exhibition at the Australian National University

Transcontinental Crossing graphic

Transcontinental Crossing graphic

The CarCamera Obscura in the Ottway Ranges

The CarCamera Obscura in the Ottway Ranges

The Tarago at the Combo Water Holes near Winton

The Tarago at the Combo Water Holes near Winton

The CarCamera Obscura folio was a finalist in the LEICA CCP Photodocumentary Awards

The CarCamera Obscura folio was a finalist in the LEICA CCP Photodocumentary Awards

CarCamera Obscura graphic - how it works...

CarCamera Obscura graphic – how it works…

The CarCamera photographed as a projection @ Bundanon in 2007

The CarCamera photographed as a projection @ Bundanon in 2007

A CarCamera Obscura on the Barkly Tablelands 2005

A CarCamera Obscura on the Barkly Tablelands 2005

Negotiating a hairpin bend at Mt Buffalo, Victoria

Negotiating a hairpin bend at Mt Buffalo, Victoria

 

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THE OPENING RENATA BUZIAK’S ‘Medicinal Plant Cycles’ by Dr Victoria Cooper

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Image: Centella asiatica… anti-inflammatory… 2015, archival print on paper, 66.7 x 95cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Renata Buziak: Centella asiatica anti-inflammatory 2015, archival print on paper, 66.7 x 95cm.

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MEDICINAL PLANT CYCLES: RENATA BUZIAK

 

'Medicinal Plant Cycles' installation

Medicinal Plant Cycles installation

 

@ Redland Art Gallery: 24 APRIL – SUNDAY 5 JUNE 2016

Medicinal Plant Cycles by Renata Buziak is an exhibition of medical plant images was opened by Dr Victoria Cooper on April 22nd. Buziak’s work is based on the fusion of organic and photographic materials in a process of decomposition that Buziak names the ‘biochrome’. They are generated by arranging plant samples on photographic emulsions and allowing them to transform through the bacterial micro-organic activities that are part of cyclic decay and regeneration.

Through this exhibition Buziak hopes to reveal a beauty in decomposition and raise notions of transformative cycles. This focus on Minjerribah medicinal plants aims to promote the recognition, appreciation, and value of local medicinal plants in the context of Aboriginal knowledge and natural science.   (From the gallery and Renata Buziak’s website)

 

Victoria Cooper opening address

Dr Victoria Cooper opening address

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An extract from Victoria’s opening address:

 

Renata Buziak’s art presents a synergy with the natural environment rather than the considered reconfiguration of natural objects seen in the work of many contemporary artists that follow in the land art tradition of Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long­. As such Buziak’s work and methodology invests in collaboration and empathy in all aspects of her research.

Through her Biochrome process Buziak visually explores the complexity–sometimes messy and chaotic–within the lifecycle of plants and the ecological systems that sustains them. Within the process, and evident in the final works, is the agency of borders, boundaries and edges. It is at the edges of the plants from the leaves and stems down to the cellular level that vital exchanges occur between life, death and decay. Buziak also works in the generative but slippery space that traverses the boundaries of art and science, culture and knowledge.

At first sight, these images are an aesthetic experience: of colour, shape, form and texture. But as I spend time to look into the microscopic worlds made visible within each image, I am drawn into other aspects of the work. I am engaged by the evolving story of her investigation with this process that is underpinned by a respect for the lived experience and knowledge of Aboriginal culture.

As I continue to linger–taking time for reverie–questions emerge along with a sense of wonder. These images are a visual thesis for the Deep Ecology of these medicinal plants and the natural environment that forms the unseen and unknown of our everyday existence.

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Renata and Victoia

Renata and Victoria

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PHOTOBOOK WORKSHOPS by Spowart+Cooper @ Maud Gallery

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Doug doing a show 'n' tell with examples of their handmade photobooks

Doug doing a show ‘n’ tell with examples of their handmade photobooks and artists’ books

Vicky making a presentation on constructing narrative in the photobook form

Vicky making a presentation on constructing narrative in the photobook form

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As a companion to the exhibition of the Australian and New Zealand Photobooks of the Year at Maud Gallery we developed and presented a workshop series on the Photobook.

Our next series of Photobook workshops are in the planning stage – if you are interested please get in contact with us by filling out the form at the bottom of this page….

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  • These workshops are ideally suited to people who want to know what is happening within the discipline
  • How to DIY photobook projects within your studio workspace
  • How to access and master online Print-on-Demand photobook-making services – their needs and products.
  • One-on-one mentorships.

 

The program has the following 4 sessions:

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DIY PHOTOBOOKS: YOU CAN MAKE IT FOR YOURSELF

Show and tell tips, tricks and secrets

The photobook 'Borderlines' by Doug Spowart

The photobook ‘Borderlines’ by Doug Spowart

Participants will engage in a lecture presentation that will develop a broader understanding of what a photobook can be—extending them beyond just a collection of photos into a resolved personal narrative of high technical and aesthetic values.

$35

Wednesdays – 2.5 hours, 6pm-8.30pm

 

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DIY PHOTOBOOK DESIGN and INKJET PRINTING

Demonstrate, share and do – tips, tricks and secrets

Photoshopping a book

Photoshopping a book

In participating in this workshop you will gain awareness and knowledge of how to create documents and templates, design, colour manage (for books), select papers, prepare files, print and output self-made photobooks.

$70 including materials (limited to 8 participants)

Saturdays – 3 hours 9.30am-12.30pm

 

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MAKING IT – THE HANDMADE PHOTOBOOK

Demonstrations and Practical hands-on

Making a book

Making a book

  • Folding, stitching and sewing
  • Materials, methods and making
  • The 8-page single sided fold booklet
  • The 3-hole pamphlet stitch
  • Concertina and snake books

$70 including materials (limited to 8 participants)

Saturdays – 3 hours 1.30pm-4.30pm

 

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PHOTOBOOKS: THE ONLINE (PRINT-ON-DEMAND) + TRADE BOOKS

Demonstrate and share tips, tricks and downfalls

POD and trade books

POD and trade books

  • Working with Print-on-Demand service providers
  • Using Publishers and Trade Printers
  • Coffee table books, Zines and Newspapers
  • Colour management
  • Selecting a provider
  • The things that no one ever tells you…

$40

Wednesday April 20, 2.5 hours, 6pm-8.30pm

BOOK HERE: http://photobookspod.eventbrite.com.au.

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VICTORIA’S SLQ BLOG POST – Montage Research

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____ALA-Blog-Victoria

 

http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/ala/2016/03/03/fractured-worlds-i-considering-the-photomontage-work-of-peter-lyssiotis/

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Recently Victoria’s ongoing research on the topic of montage in artists’ books was published. This paper discussed Peter Lyssiotis’ work and the use of photomontage.

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‘Fractured Worlds’ (i) : Considering the photomontage work of Peter Lyssiotis

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Photomontage is the cause before it becomes the picture.  . . .
For me, ideas present themselves as a presence. Their full realization depends not so much on thinking them, but rather in making them…. (ii)

Spanning several decades of artists’ book production, Peter Lyssiotis’ work both openly probes contemporary political issues, while in many books, presents an enigmatic personal vision through his poetic visual narratives. Lyssiotis is a not only an artist and maker of books he is also a reader; he has an extensive knowledge of literature along with historical and contemporary thinking on art. Inspired by the political montage work of German artist John Heartfield, Lyssiotis brings to his photomontage compositions well researched and deeply considered thought processes. As he creates his montage work, Lyssiotis will often have metaphorical conversations with Heartfield. In a recent personal communication Lyssiotis poetically expressed this deep connection:

The shadow of John Heartfield always crosses the work I am making. Sometimes he’s so pleased he smiles and sometimes he gets so annoyed his shadow becomes pitch black. . . (iii)

In my research at the ALA, I look at Lyssiotis’ work not only for its content but also for the deeply considered and painstaking aesthetic work behind each montage production in image, page and book. In his statement in Products of wealth (cited in the epigraph) he discloses how the power of the work is developed through the making. It is this Material Thinking (iv) process that informs my ‘reading’ of the artists books I have chosen to engage with in this research. All artists’ books are invested with rich imagery drawn from the artist’s mind and hand, including computer or photo-mechanically generated and composed narratives.

As a reader of these books I now hold the object that represents the time spent problem solving, the years of knowledge in making and working with materials, the conceptual development of all elements that is the book–whether simple or complex, the aesthetic choices for image, page and text design, the many small or big decisions that are embodied in this work of art that is made to be held and considered by a reader.  My challenge now is to find a way to share these insights with you as a distant reader who is unable to take in the necessary sensory and haptic experience of reading these works of art. In this blog I share my ruminations and questions that inspire me to read and read again many times these books of wondering and wandering, which are deeply poetic and sometimes melancholic.

I chose, Feather and Prey, for the deeply considered and poetic use of the page; the balance and arrangement of image, text and white space. Alternatively, Products Of Wealth has politically motivated photomontage prints tipped-in or glued onto the page. These are two very different ways of composing a narrative with photomontage and text and ultimately presented two different experiences for reading the montage.

Feather and Prey is bound in black leather with details of red leather on the spine and embossed images on the front and back covers.

Covers of Feather and prey by Peter Lyssiotis.

These embossed images at the beginning and end importantly announce that the reading starts from the cover rather than from inside the book. Along with this distinctive book binding, the use of fine art papers and considered printing processes, suggests a reverence in the reading of each page.

The photo-elements in Lyssiotis’ montage narratives are no longer records of reality but now have emerged, through a process of poiesis, as visual codes with a new life and purpose:

In these images giant moths are nibbling away at the perfect mechanical reproduction that photography promises. They don’t rely on the traditional borders of a photograph to tell them when to start and where to finish. They don’t want to be a photograph; they would prefer to be maquettes for pieces of sculpture. (v)

These new hybrid images create a disturbance within the familiar routine of everyday practice and present an alternate way of perceiving and referring to the world. The visual semiotics of reality that photography represents is now channeling through montage–new spaces for imagining–a poetics of dreams.

But what characteristic does Lyssiotis identify in each element as he carefully separates them from their original contexts? Does this question really matter, as each fragment will be transformed having little relationship to its origin. These montaged elements are then fused together perhaps as a metaphorical act of transcendence and then placed or montaged within the page.

These fragments of images and text strategically appear across the white space in the book. In a short exegetic essay or artist’s statement on this book Lyssiotis discusses his intention for the white space in the book:

The white spaces here constitute something unassuming: a whiteness more like a whisper; something neutral.

In the whiteness there are things the photographic paper has not been allowed to reveal; these are not omissions, they are commissions … of sins, failed intentions, of habit. (vi)

I turn the pages and they ‘whisper’ of something hidden where only hints and clues are allowed through as the photomontage emerges through the white space. A cherub holds a curtain rope that reveals a narrow view of the sky behind.

Feather and prey by Peter Lyssiotis

Does the white space hide knowledge from the reader as if in a white out or a fog? Or is Lyssiotis creating a collaborative space with the reader to bring to the reading their own narrative or composition–a psychological montage of memory and life’s experience?

Lyssiotis’ texts are evocative, poetic and political and appear sparingly in different places on each page. The texts and their aesthetic placement on the page–a mise en page (vii) –add to the layering of the reading as a montage. In Feather and Prey Lyssiotis signals that perhaps there could be shifting meanings arising in the reading of the words and their visual placement on the page. In the book he writes:

Words always arrange themselves to tell

The same story: that things will change

But words are heretics and later,

In the fire they will deny it all.

In Products of Wealth the montages  (viii) are not embedded in the page but rather pasted over the white space where the page becomes the carrier rather than part of the message.

Products of wealth by Peter Lyssiotis

These images become windows–looking into a montage hybrid world that may seem alien to us but paradoxically it is of us. Looking into the space of the image–rather than the page as in Feather and Prey–I am transported to a place where there is no space left to think… claustrophobic. The view shows the reader terrifying and perhaps even diabolic territories for consideration and reflection.

The edition consists of six separate books stored and presented in a bespoke box.

Products of wealth by Peter Lyssiotis

The books are bound using the simple pamphlet style, perhaps referencing the tradition of the political publication. The covers of the books are red and the box is covered in red and black cloth again suggesting the political nature of the reading. As I read, I notice that the 3D relief pattern of the letterpress texts (ix) seems to bite emphatically into the paper.  Lyssiotis’ choice of font styles along with the red and black font colours also adds to the political tone that is invested in the photomontages and the binding. In book 6, Lyssiotis writes about the montage:

In these montages, the planet isn’t about to explode; the explosion has already happened. What is left is a fractured world

Finally, I find it interesting to note that these books were produced in the same year, 1997, and yet each have quite different approaches to the montage of image, text and page. Can these differences point to a deeper comprehension of the value in and values of visual reading? In this kind of reading the psychology and memory of the reader can be engaged in the transference of something more than knowledge and information.

So is the montage a space for questions rather than answers?  Reading these artists’ books is in some way also a montage where the visual narrative and the artistic intention is adapted and interpreted by the memory and mind of the reader. Perhaps the nature of the montage hybrid including the page could be comprehended in terms of gestalt. As it is greater than the individual parts–the montage can be a holistic comment or reflection on the cultural and human questions of its historical location.

 

Victoria Cooper PhD

Feb 2016

 


(i) Peter Lyssiotis, 1997, The Products of Wealth, Book 6: Political Photomonteurs Can Give You The Courage To Eat Bricks, Masterthief Enterprises, Melbourne.
(ii) Ibid.
(iii) Handwritten note sent by email to the author, February 23 2016. In this note, Lyssiotis presents an evocative and intriguing discussion on the montage works in his books Feather and Prey and The Products of Wealth. Although seemingly a dialogue between himself and Heartfield, it is more a self-critique informed by the Heartfield polemics and the political montage. This note will be published in full with the permission of Peter Lyssiotis in a future article I am writing on his work.
(iv) As presented in: Paul Carter 2004, Material Thinking, Melbourne University Publishing Ltd, Melbourne. In many ways this book is a philosophical discussion on the work and methodology of the artist including: the interaction with their materials, the intellectual nature of the artists’ visual research and their resulting art.
(v) In the ALA original Materials Archive there are several boxes of Peter Lyssiotis papers. This quote is cited from unpublished writing discussing his book “Feather and Prey” Call Number: item #29358/3 box # 13331.
(vi) ibid.
(vii) This references the mise en scène in cinema theory.
(viii) The montages are black and white archival fibre-based silver gelatin photographic prints where Lyssiotis worked with Robert Colvin to print for this publication.
(ix) Texts were handset and printed by Nick Doslov, Renaissance Bookbinding

 

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