What next…

Posted on May 15, 2015


The dust has settled and the assessment submission is now in Barnsley. I have plenty to do over the next few months in preparing for my exhibition. It promises to keep me busy! But I have been turning my mind to what I might do next and in particular what I might focus on if I were to enrol for an MA.

For some time now I have been thinking about how I might continue my work in East London. I am particularly interested in exploring how a new East London is emerging from the past. My focus would be on the transformation as evidenced by the changing architecture and land usage.  As with Lifting the Curtain I want to represent this transformation within the context of the past. I have been mulling over how I might do this. The bones of an idea is emerging. And in good measure this idea can be attributed to Martin Becka’s Dubai Transmutations:

'Dubai Transmutations' ©Martin Becka

‘Dubai Transmutations’ ©Martin Becka

Becka produced these images of the modern day urban landscape of Dubai using a 40 x 50 cm view camera and waxed paper negatives. The resulting images  are intriguing. They look like old photographs because of the nature of the print medium. The static nature of the images and the control of perspective also suggest that an old style view camera was used. In contrast the subject of the photographs is the modern city of Dubai. This dichotomy between  ‘old’ and ‘new’ creates an intriguing tension and introduces layers of meaning into Becka’s work. In particular it draws attention to the transformation or, in Becka’s words transmutation that has taken place in Dubai. The modern day architecture emphatically places the photographs in the present but the old photographic process makes one think of the past.

My idea is to make a series of urban landscapes of East London that reveal the transformation taking place. The images will be shot in colour using a ‘state of the art’ medium format digital back on a technical camera. The prints of the images on the other hand will be made using a traditional analogue printing process. At the moment I am most interesting in Platinum/Palladium printing. The photographs will be made as contact prints onto a matt, fibre based platinotype paper using negatives prepared from the digital files. I am intrigued by the inherent tensions in this proposed approach:

  • The final prints would be one off unique objects—the antithesis of a digital file which is infinitely replicable.
  • The fine art nature of the print medium contrasts with the vernacular nature of the subject matter.
  • The ‘old’ look of the final print refers to the past whereas the subject matter is distinctly modern.
  • The abstraction of the monochrome print departs from the rich colour of the original digital file.
  • The ‘state of the art’ digital capture is reduced to an archaic analogue print.

I have just enrolled onto two workshops to start my education into palladium/platinum printing from digital negatives. I am really excited by this new direction my work is taking.