Conclusive reflection

SURFACES AND STRATEGIES – INDIPENDENT REFLECTION

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And here we are, at the end of another Module of this experience at Falmouth and it is time for those consideration about what worked and what did not.

I have been through a lot of things during these weeks, both on a personal and on an educational level, and not all of them have been positive. There are moments in our lives in which everything seems to collapse and we have to use all our energy to find a way out: this has been one of them.

Of course, it must be said that I had the chance to further experiment during Module 3, also thanks to those activities I had the chance to be part of: creating a Magazine in collaboration with my peers made me understand, once more, the importance of working with other photographers in a constructive way; creating a small project avoiding to use the tools I usually work with enhanced my ability to think out of the box; managing a workshop made me understand how much I love discussing about Photography and made me reflect on how I should improve to do it in a more effective way; after printing a dummy publication I better realised what was working and what was not in the way I conceived my project as a book and creating an exhibition made me realise what are my limits in terms of managing an event in unfavourable conditions and with a very small budget.

Focusing on this last point, I wasn’t expecting a great participation. As previously discussed, the central week of August is a moment in which everyone is on vacation, moreover it is a National Holiday in Italy and so not everyone is available to actively be part of a student’s project, but I am grateful to all those people who, with one or more photographs, decided to spend a few minutes to be part of it.  I was hoping to receive about 50 photographs and, with one day yet to come, I received 66 images both on Instagram and via private message on the Facebook event page.

Analysing it under the advertising perspective, many more things could have been done to improve participation, but since I also had to focus on my Assignments, the only things I could do have been creating a small advert on Facebook, an event and sharing information during the whole event on Instagram and Twitter in order to let the widest audience possible knowing about my work and providing them with the chance to become part of it.

Day by day, I had to adjust the language I used: while at the beginning I tried to provide the biggest amount of details possible, then I realised that people on Social Media need brief information to be read in the most easy and fast way possible. I also created a brief video to explain the procedure to follow, but again, I had to face linguistic barriers, with some people asking for a translation (which I provided, of course).

But since my Facebook page has now about 234 followers and my Instagram page 144, since all published images received a decent numbers of likes even without the use of ashtags to promote them, apart from the ones necessary to participate, since, again, the images I created for my projects received a notable appreciation in terms of likes and positive comments (considering I am “Ms No one” in the World Wide Web): why those people did not participate?

I decided to directly ask this question to some of them and, alongside the sentence “I had no time, I am sorry”, many people told me they did not like the idea of showing their emotions with a photo on Social Media, especially because it is something that will remain there. Once more, the starting point of my project , that sense of awkward, emerged and this is why I still believe that my research could be important, even if maybe it might sound selfish. I am doing it for each person who, after those screams I portray, told me or, hopefully, will tell me “It was worth it” or “It helped me”, because my hope is to assist more and more people, creating something that matters. I wished someone did it for me and this is why I decided to do it for others. This does not mean that all comments have been positive, some critiques have been quite heavy and some others simply mean, but only who does nothing never fails and in my life I understood that everything can be useful and generate improvement. Another common opinion shared by those participants I had the chance to talk with about this issue, was that nowadays most of people do nothing for nothing: maybe, then, providing a small prize to the best image shared for this project could have generated a wider participation, but due to the subject matter it would have been simply wrong: I want to enhance empathy among individuals and it is a process that must start with the will to undertake this path.

Thanks to this work-in-progress exhibition on Instagram, now I have more images to integrate into my project, I have more information to process and new elements to analyse in order to decide how to proceed in the future.

I reached the end of this module taking the decision to experiment new routes in my practice, still maintaining its central part, in order to depict different aspects alongside the act of screaming itself. I started with those “Behind a scream” images I decided to insert into my Portfolio after the positive comments of my Professor and Tutors and my intention is to make further attempts in the future, even creating something new and different, always combining diverse forms of Art.

To conclude, if I would have to define this Module with a single word, I would say “hard”, but I must admit that, it provided me with many useful data and information that will perfectly work as a starting point for future considerations.

 

References:

Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now, Instagram profile, https://www.instagram.com/icanhearyounow/

Oral Presentation

SURFACES AND STRATEGIES – MODULE ASSIGNMENT

Dayana Marconi, “I can hear you now, Oral Presentation of my current practice”. Assignment created for Module 3 of the MA Photography at Falmouth University ©Dayana Marconi 2017. Copyright for this video belongs solely to Dayana Marconi.

Facial expressions and emotions

SURFACES AND STRATEGIES – PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH

Traditionally, facial expressions have always been conceived as connected with emotions, but different experts in History of Psychology debated the idea that, in some cases, they might only appear as related to them.

Charles Dawin has been the first one to suggest that those expressions were universal as the emotions behind them, claiming that they were “biologically innate and evolutionarily adaptive” (Darwin, 1872). His idea, then, was not simply that those manifestations are already present in all humans and animals, but that they evolve in time due to their need to adapt themselves to the environment they live in, as a response to Evolution.

Since his research has been then considered as inconclusive thanks to those further researches conducted in the world of Psychology, a second theory arouse: the one that linked those expressions to different cultures. However, Darwin’s theory found its “evolution” in the work done by Doctors Tomkins and McCarter, who demonstrated that “facial expressions were reliably associated with certain emotional states” (Tomkins & McCarter, 1964), and Dr. Paul Ekman., who made a distinction among main facial expressions and developed, subsequently, the theory related to subtle expressions, those non-obvious micro-expressions uneasy to detect since their duration is usually brief. Their work generated over 75 studies managed by different psychologists in time and analysing the topic from different angles and with different aims.

David Matsumoto 2008_facial expressions

David Matsumoto, The Seven Basic Emotions and their Universal Expressions, explicative image, 2008, San Francisco State University, USA. ©David Matsumoto, 2008.

Ekman and Keltner, also stated that personalities and psychopathologies do not affect those expressions even if, in some cases, they might result as amplified or diminished. They provided as example the case of some disorders, like schizophrenia, in which some emotions have a prominent role and might cause a certain level of misconception in the interpretation of their emotive causes.

Doctor Shimamura, in 2015 highlighted the importance of the role of the observer in the interpretation of those expressions, discussing how we “frame” them, declaring that, of course, “a smile may be viewed differently depending on the situation, what happened just prior, or the disposition of the person transmitting or receiving the expression” (Shimamura, 2015). He provided visual examples alongside his theory and one of those images was the drawing created by the psychologist Roger Shepard for his “Mind Sights: Original Visual Illusions, Ambiguities, and other Anomalies” in which there are two identical running monsters following each other. Thanks to an optical illusion, named “Ponzo illusion” that creates a sense of depth in the context around those figures, the following one seem bigger and the most provided interpretation has always been that the smaller one seems scared while the second monster seems angry.

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Roger Shepard, Terror Subterra, drawing, 1990, New York, USA. © Roger Shepard, 1990.

All these perspectives might fit into my project since, while we commonly read emotions displayed into a photograph in a similar way, being my images open to personal interpretation and to internalisation, their reading might change depending on those eyes observing them.

Something interesting has been written by Roland Barthes in his “Mourning Diary”, created after his mother death: “Each of us has his own rhythm is suffering” (Barthes, 1978). Then what if the same person would observe one of my photographs during a moment of happiness and then during a moment of sadness? Would his personal interpretation be the same? Would his emotional state influence his ability to judge what he is looking at?

I can guess that the provided  interpretation on an intellectual level would remain the same, or at least similar, but on an inner level, grounding a response on an emotional level, things could drastically change. We tend to mirror ourselves into the outside world and the same happens when we face a photographic image. We often use our personal and cultural background alongside what we feel in that specific moment of our lives to understand the contents of a photograph, something similar to what we do when we misinterpret a sentence said by someone in a moment in which we are upset: likely, we would never provide the same interpretation to those words in a more serene one. Ansel Adams once said “Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution” (Adams in Scala, 2012), relating, in my case, not only the role of the viewers with the one of the sitter, but even to my interpretation. Those emotional process I depict have an impact not only on a potential audience, but also on my inner-self while shooting. I once said that I suffer and I feel relieved with my sitters and for my sitters and this is still true and, at the same time, I read their expression, I have a personal idea of what they might feel through observation, like any other viewer.

 

References:

Adams Ansel, quoted in About Photography, Andrea A. L. Scala, 2012, Lulu Press, North Carolina, USA, pp.7.

Barthes Roland, Mourning Diary, 1978, re-published in 2010 by Hill and Wang, NY, USA, pp.162.

Darwin, Charles, The expression of emotion in man and animals, 1872, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Darwin, Charles, The expression of the emotions in man and animals, 1872, John Murray, 1st edition, available on Darwin Online website http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?pageseq=1&itemID=F1142&viewtype=text

Ekman Paul, Keltner Dacher, Facial Expression of Emotions, in M. Lewis and J. Haviland-Jones (eds) Handbook of Emotions, Second Edition, Chapter 15, 2000, Guildford Publications, Inc., NY, USA, pp.236-249 https://www.paulekman.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Facial-Expression-Of-Emotion1.pdf

Ekman Paul, Paul Ekman Group’s official website http://www.paulekman.com/

Matsumoto David, Reading facial expressions of emotions, article released on the American Psychological Association’s official website, May 2011 issue http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2011/05/facial-expressions.aspx

Nassif Claire, Shellow Greer, Facial Expressions and Emotions, article posted by Alexandra Murphy on Developmental Psychology at Vanderbilt official website, May 2014 issue https://my.vanderbilt.edu/developmentalpsychologyblog/2014/05/facial-expressions-and-emotions/

Paul Ekman Group, Are There Universal Facial Expressions?, on Paul Ekman Group’s official website http://www.paulekman.com/universal-facial-expressions/

Shepard Roger N., Mind Sights: Original Visual Illusions, Ambiguities, and other Anomalies, 1990, WH Freeman and Company, NY, USA.

Shimamura Arthur P. Ph.D., How We Frame Emotions Through Facial Expressions, article released on Psychology Today website, April 2015 issue https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-brain-the-beholder/201504/how-we-frame-emotions-through-facial-expressions

Tomkins, S. S., McCarter, R., What and where are the primary affects? Some evidence for a theory. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1964, Springer Publishing Company, NY, USA, pp.119-158.

WIP: Takeouts

SURFACES AND STRATEGIES – CREATIVE TAKEOUTS

Due to the fact that into my Work-in-Progress Portfolio I decided to include those contacts which had a related confrontation sheet in order to alternate them and provide more “variety” in a work that is basically composed by a collection of people following the same process, I decided to not include these two images, since they did not have a confrontation equivalent.

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“I can hear you now – Process Analysis, Long-exposure Contact sheet 12 & 13, horizontal versions” ©Dayana Marconi 2017. Copyright for this photo belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

I created these images at the end of the workshop at Costigliole’s Castle I already mentioned several times and since my believe is that all those individuals who put themselves into play to support me in this project, while supporting themselves, deserve my attention as photographer, I opted to include them as part of my Journal.

Compared to those contacts I included into my WIP, these sequences are much shorter, but what must be understood is that these two women were coming from an almost three-hour shooting related to emotions and so maybe they felt a bit overwhelmed by the whole situation and they had too much to express at once. And yet they volunteered.

Unconventional spaces

SURFACES AND STRATEGIES – UNCONVENTIONAL EXPOSITIONS

During week 6, we have been asked to reflect about alternative spaces that might be dedicated to Art exhibitions.

While each one of us presented solutions that have been used by different artists to display their works, we had the chance to listen to Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale talking about their “Caravan Gallery”, “a mobile exhibition space that engages with people and places ‘normal’ galleries might not easily reach” (Williams/Teasdale, 2017).

Looking back at that presentation and at the discussion engaged with the Artists themselves, I am now reflecting about what an unconventional solution to exhibit my work might be.

Costigliole’s Castle, the place near my hometown in which I had the chance to lecture about Photography and emotions in collaboration with the photographic group “Scatti d’Autore”, would be a dreamy place to exhibit my project. It’s a historical building full of beautiful rooms with showcases and panels, some of them suspended, that would be perfect to display my images and there are many tables to place computers to show those videos that are integral part of my practice. I would have the chance to recreate a path that the audience could easily follow and it would be even possible to place refreshments outside in the garden.

It would be simply perfect and I hope I will have the chance to organise an exhibition there, but could it be considered as unconventional? I doubt it.

A few moments ago, I was outside my apartment, alone in the dark, smoking a cigarette and trying to imagine how I would like my work to be experienced by viewers in an alternative way and suddenly an intuition enlightened my night. I often refer my work to Cinema and to its visual language, then why not considering an old small cinema to display my project once it will be finally concluded?

To link my practice to David Lynch’s work once again, I imagine a small place like Mulholland Drive’s Club Silencio, surreal, with a few seats and red velvet curtains, immerse into the silence.

David Lynch, Mulholland Drive, Club Silencio scene, 2001, Les Films Alain Sarde, Asymmetrical Productions, StudioCanal, The Picture Factory, USA/France. Video released on Youtube on November 2016.  ©David Lynch/Lynchnet.

I would like to introduce my project by projecting a surreal silent video, narrating those stories and feelings which are the main source of my work in a symbolic way, on an actress standing on the proscenium, in silence but responding with facial expressions to those images, performing those emotions she feels while perceiving those images on her skin. Then I imagine her slowly walking back, always maintaining a visual contact with viewers, until she disappears behind the curtains. Due to the lack of sound into that video, I would like to use music score technique during that moment to enhance the emotional impact that my work might have on the audience. Again, a collaboration among different forms of art would be engaged.

After this introductive moment, I would like to present my project assembled as a film, and all its parts could be separated by white titles on a black screen like in an old silent movie. I could create a selection of materials, mixing videos, like my scream score experiment, and sequences of photographs organised in a clear path easy to follow. Also in this part, score would be fundamental: a fusion of music, sounds, voices and noises could accompany what the audience is watching.

To create more interaction with viewers, I could provide them with sheets that they might use to detect those emotions portrayed by my confrontation sheets. A sort of quiet break in which they would have the possibility to actively participate. I could provide them with small flashlights, so to enable them to answer to those questions. Then single elements of my contact sheets might be displayed in a fast video-montage to recreate that sense of malaise and anxiety my sitters felt during the shooting phase and I could also include moments of absolute dark in which some collaborators might scream to generate a “full spectrum” situation, until I will create a sort of emotional climax for those participants.

At the end of this visual experiment, I would like to project a sequence of symbolic and calming black and white stills to symbolise the end of that path: it would also represent the sense of void and relief that the people I portray usually experience once the shooting phase is settled. Alongside the mentioned sheets people could be asked to compile, I might also provide them with small boxes containing each one an object: a piece of fake grass, flowers, something soft like cotton, so to provide that tactile experience I discussed while writing my CRJ article about those antiqued journals that will contain all words said by my subjects.

A small selection of printed images of my work, tactile books, postcards depicting my confrontation sheets (and containing information about project’s website) that the audience can take home with them as a souvenir might be exhibited into the hall at the end of the “show”, in this way I could observe how people will perceive those materials at the end of the experiment.

Of course, this is only an idea born late at night, but it could become a starting point to rethink the way I would like to exhibit my work in order to reinforce its potential.

 

References:

Lynch David, Mulholland Drive, 2001, produced by Les Films Alain Sarde, Asymmetrical Productions, StudioCanal, The Picture Factory, USA/France.

Scatti d’Autore, Photographic Group, Costigliole d’Asti, Italy. Official website http://www.scattidautoreat.it/

Williams Jan, Teasdale Chris, The Caravan Gallery, official website, About page http://thecaravangallery.photography/about/

Oral PPT: how it evolved after the received feedbacks

SURFACES AND STRATEGIES – ORAL PRESENTATION

After I participated to the Webinar dedicated to the creation and improvement of our Oral Presentations and to the last one-to-one Tutorial, I could understand how my starting perspective was wrong. From the comments received during previous webinars, I erroneously assumed that I had to avoid talking about those information like describing the project in a general way or discussing those references that were evident (while I have been simply asked not to concentrate my attention exclusively on that point), focusing only on new perspectives. My Tutor David made me understand that what I had to do was presenting my project as a whole: proceeding from generic to more detailed information.

This is why, in its creation, I started by briefly describing it, discussing its reasons and aims and how it evolved in time, both visually and conceptually. I discussed the interaction and participation I want to enhance in the audience and what techniques I used to do so, why I opted for an inclusive and experimental approach and why I decided to collaborate with other artists operating in different fields. In its central part, I insert a selection of photographers who worked as visual references in the evolution of my practice, while most of the quotes have been insert by images instead than into my speech, this also to have the time to focus more on the influence those authors had on my work, rather than simply verbally quote them.

I briefly analysed my work also discussing how the activities I completed during this module and how all received feedbacks helped me stimulating progression in my work, to conclude talking about what are my future plans for “I can hear you now”.

One of the first exercises we had to do during this “Surfaces and Strategies” Module, the creation of a trailer, influenced the style I used to create this presentation and, since my work is a combination of moving and still images, I decided to recreate a similar path for this Assignment, too.

Anxiety and dyslexia are something definitely not helpful in creating an oral presentation and its ten-minute duration always generates difficulties to me, since I always have the sense of leaving something behind. This is why, before starting to write down my speech for this video, I went back reading those evaluations received during the previous Modules and those shared details about Falmouth’s Learning Outcomes in order to avoid the same mistakes made in the past. Of course, rules are rules and must respected by everyone with or without disorders, and hard tasks are something that help us improving as practitioners and in learning how to discuss about Photography.

In spite of technical difficulties I encountered and video-making skills that still must be improved, I hope that the effort I have done and a sense of progression will be noticeable in my practice.

Deconstructed realities: what’s in a contact sheet?

SURFACES ANS STRATEGIES – VISUAL EXPERIMENTS

Since into my Work in Progress Portfolio I could not exceed eighteen images, or equivalents, I did not have the chance to show more in details what my contact sheets contain. This is why I decided to deconstruct one of them here on my CRJ, in order to provide further visual details to analyse the work done so far.

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“I can hear you now – Process Analysis, Long-exposure Contact sheet 7, horizontal version” ©Dayana Marconi 2017. Copyright for this photo belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

Into the following slideshow, I included each shot as a single image to allow viewers to better follow the emotional process while in progress in front of their eyes and, to better clarify where that series starts, I insert the vertically-oriented version of the “Process Analysis, Long-exposure Contact sheet 7” as first image.

This is a suggestion I recall from Module 1 Portfolio’s evaluation, even if, in that case, it was related to triptychs due to the fact that I started creating long-exposure images only during the second Module of this MA.

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“I can hear you now – Deconstructed process Analysis, Long-exposure Contact sheet 7, slideshow” ©Dayana Marconi 2017. Copyright for this photo belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

This idea of extrapolating single components out of my contacts has been also suggested during the webinar related to the creation of a dummy publication and its subsequent review. Since my intention, as previously discussed into this Journal, is to create a future publication made of small books that will represent each step of a visual and emotional path, deconstructing this image might reveal as a suitable idea to create the layout of one of them. I am still interested in working with this technique, but maybe experimenting different visual solutions alongside these creations might enhance the visual impact my project will have on the audience, as suggested by my Tutor Stella Baraklianou.

“Deconstruct to recreate” might become a key concept in my future practice, in more than one sense, in more than one way.