The Evolution of Genres

 

The invention, or creation of “genre” goes way back to Ancient Greece when trying to depict differences in literature, poetry,plays before expanding to the other developing creative forms. The Greeks realised that certain comical aspects are not suited for stories showing tragedy certain actors fitted certain roles better and certain people told certain stories better, as well as having different audiences with different opinions for each one. We could soon see that “genres” are basically the epitome of conventions over time, developing and evolving the creative media through it’s current social state. Genres have to develop and address about the present, as well recurring things. For example, blues music doesn’t really talk about slavery any more even though that’s where it was created from, now it’s more about heartbreak and personal depressive matters.

As life and ideas evolve, genres combine different conventions, mixing, evolving and creating new ones to fit the new theme or to be new and different, as originality is appealing to the audiences. Even in Ancient Greece, they combined elements and invented the genre of “tragicomedy”. Overall, genres are meant to be defined and represented by their literal and visual style, yet there are so many sub genres, mixes and combinations these days, it’s hard to say what one artistic piece is solely one particular genre, but instead many. Although saying this, the specific categories of which photography specialises in – still life, narrative, landscape, portrait, fine art- are a bit harder to talk about, as you can usually categorize photos into a genre they represent most strongly. Yet as art forms strive to evolve and develop and seek originality, they have all collaborated. Photographers have created many surreal and fine art images using the formalities of a portrait photograph all the time. There’s also photographer Carl Warner with their “Gland Canyon” series,turning nude human bodies into massive landscapes, which could be considered both landscape and fine art. We also should not deny that the genres of photography do not just full under their style and techniques, but also the concepts behind them; horror, comedy, romance, drama, fact, fiction and countless others are crucial elements in what makes the image and what draws the viewers attention.

Looking at genres in modern times as a whole, we see that not all art forms concentrate and center around it’s current fads and popularities, this is mainly in subjects such as pop music. However, we can still see these recurrences throughout history. When the world war was happening, as well as the post world war era, people would write, sing, paint and photograph things to do with it. It’s a convention in time, before the war, no one would create any art forms of it, as it never happened but afterwards and during, it was such a crucial part in history and was personal to a lot of people, creating a piece of art related to it was powerful and sentimental to the audience. The theme for this specific kind of art form would be military and documentary I guess, which would have already existed. However, then genres would have developed and evolved, and other genres would have evolved from it as well, you would have had poems and blues songs to do with war, evacuation and genocide, and with all of these being created, surely they come into their own newly invented category?

Another example of the evolution of genres combining would be one such as this; If you’ve got a photograph of a woman reading a war letter, you might not initially relate it to a military genre at first thought, you might just see it as tragedy. This may be true just from the get go, but when you start thinking about it, perhaps with both the image and its contextual/analytic description from its creator, it would come under more than one genre; perhaps tragedy, military, narrative and documentary.

My conclusion I’m trying to get across is that genres and art forms have evolved so much, it’s hard to actually pin point what they solely come under in our modern day culture. The artist and the audience will often have a different opinion about the piece of work created, with the art piece possibly meaning something individual to each viewer, and the author/creator of the piece of work labeling it as whatever the genre they were aiming to create.

 

 

Industrialisation – Post Industrialisation

 

 

How we make things dictates not only how we work

but what we buy, how we think, and the way we live.”

(“Womack, Jones, and Roos (1990: 11) ‘

Industrialisation is the act of a country and society converting itself from what would be an agricultural community, to a manufacturing society, transforming from manual labor and replacing it with factories masses of mechanized machines to mass produce crafts and goods. The act of industrialisation started in 1750. It was not a sudden transformation happening in one year, but a gradual process, and evolution that is considered to still be taking please at this present time. There was the revolution of steam, water and wind power systems, before a revolution into transportation, auto mobiles and railways, and then progressing to the 19th century, we had electrical powered factory systems, before we progress to the late 20th century, in which computer technology was created. The Great Exhibition of 1851 marked the peak of British economic dominance. Taking place in Crystal Palace, a huge range of British goods were displayed for both foreign and domestic visitors. Being the first exhibition of manufactured goods,it was hugely influential in the development of society including art and design education. The results led to the pre-cursor of the V & A museum; The Museum of Ornamental Art.

Post industrialisation is meant to define a country or society that has passed through, or dodged completely, the domination and labour of a manufacturing based economy, and instead receives the outcomes of the manufacturing, concentrating on more of a society based structure and economy, concentrating on innovation, finance and services. Overall this is deemed as an “Information society”, in which creation and distribution and manipulation of information is a crucial political and cultural activity, and is deemed as the succession of an Industrial society. Although we are now considered to have left the industrialisation era, surely it is still persisting? We have managed to evolve from film photography to digital photography, which is forever developing and increasing in quality as new cameras come out every year. With this taking place, many photographers and artists have reverted back to using the old methods as they feel the work created is more of a perfection and more heartfelt, getting what they want just how they want it. Carl Honore, the author of “In Praise of Slow”, said “ The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savouring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity.” I think this is a very wise, important statement, and it’s true; It’s better to get something just right, just how you want it instead of just using an auto focus feature, and this is shown through the work that is produced.

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Some photographers use old methods and try to show the world without industrialisation, or the negative effect it has caused. Olaf Otto Becker has worked on one project on the Arctic landscape for seven years, focusing on the beautiful glaciers but showing us his heartfelt concept of how global warming is destroying them, is we the cracks a melted holes that signify their decay and meltdown, Becker hits the nail on the head with his statement of his images and global warming “My images are beautiful because the landscapes are beautiful. But what you see in my images will cause very ugly images of suffering somewhere else in the world”. Another photographer, Sebastiao Selgado has created a couple of projects that attack industrialisation. One being his beautiful GENESIS project that has one image of an iceberg that looks like a medieval castle. He said his aim was to return to the very beginning of earth, with it’s elements of fire, air and water, giving birth to life. However, his methods of developing the images was through platinum printing, using very toxic chemicals, something that contradicts his concept greatly. There’s also photographer Chris Jordan and his project “intolerable beauty” with one of the images showing a dead, rotting albatross, with all the plastic manufactured rubbish from lighters to bottle caps inside its body. These images show just how bad our littering has polluted the world, with the birds swallowing the plastic items in the vastly polluted pacific, thinking it’s food, and eventually leading to their deaths.

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Technology is forever evolving, with new inventions, and easier to use equipments, but with less skill needed for these new items. These days, everyone is a photographer, with great resolution and sensors inside their phones, a click of a button and they’ve got their image. There’s instagram, giving them the chance to use filters such as cross process, which takes time to create digitally, let alone the effort put into film photography for such an effect. There’s even the new Rambus system being created, which doesn’t need a sensor or a lens to create an image, just a computer chip and an algorithm. It is indeed great that art is produced, create and available to create by the masses, but it does indeed put photography as a career in jeopardy. Photographers abilities and skills would be underestimated and even manufacturers will lose out on money, if we reach such and era where DSLRs and lenses are not needed. I would say the indeed, we are still in the industrialisation/ post-industrialisation era, and we will be for a very long time, as everything is forever evolving. Overall, industrialisation has been both and artists best friend, and its worst enemy, being influential to the artist movement, but progressing at such a rate, artists could become that of a rarity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibition Concept

 

In small groups of three, we were asked to create our own idea for an art exhibition, countering in the location, the artist or artists, and the display around the gallery. We decided on using the street graffiti artist Banksy as our main figure for our exhibition due to an agreement that we wanted to do something clever or witty, friendly to the community and possibly controversial, and we felt this was very much Banksy’s attire. We also thought of Tom Hunter, with his narrative story lines from his “life and death in hackney” series.

We then decided on the location being London, due to the city being extremely busy, the capital of the country and the heart of art culture in the United Kingdom. We felt the exhibition being placed here would not only have the opportunity to for more people to view it, but would also draw in creative minds alike to appreciate the exhibition. Hypothetically, with big figureheads strolling around London, it could also be rather likely that if they were to be impressed by the exhibition, and may commission us to curate another exhibition. We decided to have two locations in London as a bit of a twist. The first location would be the famous, luxurious Ritz hotel, after we researched and found out they had their own gallery spaces. The second location would be in the underground, rather close to the Ritz, and an extremely public place. The concept behind this was that we would place Tom hunter’s images on display along the walls of the underground, and Banksy’s physical pieces placed around the Ritz, with white taped arrows leading over to the underground. We would have advertised the Ritz gallery is Tom Hunter’s work, with the intent that only the rich, high class people will feel they would have the privilege to see this exhibition, when it’s actually completely free to the public just down the road. The title of the exhibition would be “Eat The Rich” after Banksy art piece, with Banksy’s work being the replacement in the Ritz as a hint to the prank pulled on the richer hierarchy.

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The concept was that the exhibition was an art piece in itself, trying to define, mock and revoke social hierarchy privileges in order to show equality, giving the public a chance to see magnificent artwork without spending a penny. Although this concept seems pretty cool and paper, I’m not sure how well it would work out; Overall, the people that didn’t have to pay, the artists, and the curators would think they had performed justice to the social class system, with one great prank. On the other hand, it may well not be deemed as professional, and the people who had paid for the exhibition would have been lured by false advertising, supposedly demanding a refund. Tell us what you think?

 

 

Andrew Nadolski

We recently had a lecture from Andrew Nadolski, a photographer and graphic designer from Cornwall. Nadolski studied graphics design at Exeter College of art specialising in design and photography. He explained to us that he exhibits his fine art work, which is considered to be more of his passion, but also works as a designer and freelance photographer to a good financial income. He also likes to add a scientific element in his exhibitions, talking about geology and sea levels, as this creates extra interest for the viewer and give more insight into his photography. All of his fine art work is shot on film with colour negatives shooting with a standard 80mm lens. Nadolski is also working with a fellow photographer Paul Graham, being part of a website called “OnLandScape”. Nadolski told us a story about how after a heart breaking break up, he went down to his favourite hidden away beach, and began taking photos for a book he was going to make in an attempt to win his ex-girlfriend. By the end of creating his book, he realised that he wasn’t going to accomplish winning his past love, but had created some phenomenal work of the coastline, with long shutter speeds of the water running over the rocks. By the end, he achieved a great result of having exhibitions of the work as well as selling it for a decent price.

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Nadolski also creates the prospectuses for private schools, a great annual piece of commission work that in a line of practice you don’t really hear about. The difference in Nadolski’s work is very different compared to the usual prospectuses you would see; these seemed a lot more creative and portrayed with a more photojournalistic atmosphere.

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Nadolski gave us some great words of advice for future reference, mentioning that being a jack of trades will certainly help your career as there are so many photographers out in the open world now. Nadolski has fine art, graphics design, web design and freelance commercial photographer under his belt, making him a lot more employable to the majority. He also mentioned how keeping your prices for your images high is something you should always do, as that would be the highest you ever get for that image. He sells his photos an average at £600, which he claims as the highest amount would make for that particular image, and once that image is sold, It falls under the buyer who can make the next best deal.

Visual Culture Symposium

Recently, we traveled up to London and went to White Rabbit studios for a Symposium from some pretty influential and important figureheads in the photographic world. These included Rod Morris, David Partner(AoP), Emma Critchley, Bridget Croaker(Troika Editions) and Jason Shenai (Millenium Images). The first talk was from Patrick Ford, a commercial photographer who’s worked a lot with the music and fashion industries. Starting off as an Illustrator, he soon wasn’t quite sure which direction he was heading, before he then turned to an obsession with photography. He explained how his illustrative atmosphere, and his outgoing personality, touring with the likes of The Darkness, landed him the offer of creating the “Permission to Land” album cover. This album soon reached number 1 in the music charts, which accomplished Ford’s dream of creating a number 1 album cover. Ford also told us about how fast you have to work in his line of work, juggling around seven different project on top of each other at once. He also explained about a time he was doing a photo shoot with Eminem, but they were very rushed for time, as they were now back stage of Eminem’s gig before he was about to perform, left with no props, he had to be quick thinking and improvise well.

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We then had a talk from Clarisse d’Arcimoles, a French fine art photographer who had not long finished her masters degree. After studying at Saint Martins, her end of course exhibition came to the attention of Charles Saatchi, leading to Arcimoles displaying her exhibition on the Saatchi exhibition, a huge privilege. She then explained that later after she had finished her course, project became a lot harder to create, a she would need the equipment, something that she would have had for free whilst she was taking her course. However, Arcimoles found a way around the financial problem by using CrowdFunder, a crowd funding website where you pitch your idea, and the public can offer money towards your ultimate target. Eventually, Clarisse achieved her goal and was able to create an amazing project she had desired to, and is now currently using CrowdFunder to fund her next project.Image

Later on, we had a talk from Keith Jeffrey and Lindsay Hopkinson who is the head photographer in the company Taylor James, a high end creative production studio that has a strong presence in the advertisement industry. They have an office in London and New York and their staffs consists of photographers, graphic designers, computer scientists, post productionists and computer animators . However, they did tell us that their photography is shortening, due to the fact they’re not needed as much in advertising as they used to be, as it comes down to computer animators and post productionists. They went on to mention that cars in adverts are no longer photographs, but complete cgi. They also told us about a project they were doing for virgin airlines with the Manchester united football team, yet the new plans was still being created, leaving Taylor James to create the plane from cgi and place their images of the Manchester united teams in the plane using post production. Showing that cgi and the progress in technology, their creations and abilities are endless. This does begin to worry me, as I wonder where careers in photography will be in a decades time.

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By the end of the symposium, I was left with many thoughts, mostly positive and inspirational. I did start wondering where I’ll be by the end of my degree; whether technology has advanced at such a rate that there will not be much use for a professional photographer, or whether I’ll be able to achieve the finance for my goals when I do not have the facilities. However, the general message I got by the end of the symposium is that everyone has their ups and downs in there long lasting careers, some start on downs, and ascend to amazing ups, and visa versa. It also proved that everyone has their moments when they don’t know what direction they’re heading and they don’t know what they’re doing, or whether it will be a success. This has lead my to feel more confident on following my pipe dreams, with the knowledge I will of course have downs in my career, but hopefully amazing positives by the end.

Jamie Beeden

ImageWe recently had a lecture with Jamie Beeden, a freelance photographer who’s main lines of work focus on music photography and stock photography as well is previously working for a car magazine. He’s been working in photography for 15 years, 3 of which he was Rankin’s assistant photographer. Which he said that if you can put up with Rankin, you’ll be able to build your portfolio up nicely. When speaking about music photography, he mentioned that he has done photo shoots with the likes of Kings of Leon, Muse, Dizzee Rascal, Coldplay and The Killers, describing the experience as very rewarding, yet very competitive. To my surprise, he also mentioned that there isn’t as much money in the music photography industry as one might have thought, and it’s lead him to go down other routes of photography at the same time to create a good income.

Beeden then explained that he has began to do Stock photography stock libraries such as Istock and Stocksy and the benefits it gives. Stock imagery is a good way to make money in between commission work, and eventually, it could become your sole line of work. He also explained that stock libraries have an interest of the income of around 60% – 70% yet you can still make an incredible amount. Beeden spoke about a conference he’d recently been to, in which two people had collectively made 60 million dollars for Istock. Halved between the two, with the interest taken away, both people still made 10 million dollars each! When I heard this, this really got my thinking about how simple and great stock imagery is for making some easy money on the side.

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Beeden also gave us some good tips and interesting facts on copyright law. He mentioned that the London eye, tourist attractions and logos are all copy-written, and if you can see the name or logo of a company even when zooming in, you have to remove it from the image. He also told us that you’re able to take photos of the Eiffel tower during the day, but not at night, as the lights on the tower are under copyright. He also gave us a useful tip, telling us we must use file info on our digital images, as this gives your work and identity, and can be used as proof that it’s your photograph.

Check his LinkedIn out here: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/jamie-beeden/1a/284/b6

Copyright and Model Release Forms

‘Clearly copyright cannot easily be defined.

It’s a complex piece of legislation which is constantly changing and some aspects

of that law, clearly don’t sit easily with others’
 – beyond the lens 2003

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Copyright itself opens up a whole can of worms. It opens up the right to authorise or even restrict your work whilst being protected by a collection of rights that also cover the author, the properties used and human rights and covers nearly every kind of art form that can be sold or produced. I also didn’t realise until recently that there is actually no system for registering copyright in the United Kingdom, it exists automatically on your piece of work as soon as it has been created. This is pretty damn cool, as it means are work is always protected without any payments or any hassle. Your work is protected under the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988, a law that was hard fought for to make photographers as equal as fine artists. However, due to the fact photographers have not always had copyright laws, this has created confusion, as work created before 1988 still applies to the previous laws. There are still a few twists and turns in the new law. The copyright’s definition of a photograph “‘Photograph’ means a recording of light or other radiation on any medium on which an image is produced or from which an image may by any means be produced, and which is not part of a film’(Guy Farrow, Beyond the Lens) . This means that if your photograph was part of a film still, it would come under the film copyright law instead. The duration of the copyright law on your work of art lasts for the life of the photographer, plus 70 years, which is now equal to the fine art copyright law.

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When thinking about maintaining copyright, it’s best to create a contract when working with a client that states that you maintain the copyright of the work produced, otherwise the copyright of the commissioned work will fall in the hands of your client if their own contract asks for the copyright. You should only really assign copyright to a client as a last resort, regarding they give a good price/deal, as if you assign copyright, there will be no more payment of the image or that array of work to you. Not only will it create no payment for you, but the company could re use your work in and advertisement or campaign that could damage your reputation. Also, a client would need to be aware that they do not own the rights to the work produced for a one off payment through a sum of money. Things start act differently when underemployment however. If you create work as an employee, your work will belong to your employer. The same goes for if you’re the employer and you have photography assistants; the work does not belong to the person who has pressed the shutter button or the stylist, but the author of the work. You also have to make sure that you have written any of your ideas down as a plan on paper, otherwise you can’t sue anyone for plagiarism if they steal your idea, for you cant copyright your imagination.

On another note, it’s very important to create model release forms for any model you use in your photography. If you dont make you models sign one of these forms, it could result in a complaint or even a sue from the person you had taken a photo of if they weren’t expecting it to appear on a magazine or website etc. this could also result in you having to dispose of the photograph. There have been accounts where people have placed a photo from a wedding they a shot at in their portfolio, and a person in the photograph made a complaint, forcing the photographer to take the image down. Due to this being a liability waiver, it’s a great idea to keep a model release form with you at all times, granting permission for you to publish the photographs you have taken.

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An example of copyright infringement is the Vanilla Ice versus Queen and David Bowie case. Vanilla Ice had taken the main riff from Queen and Bowie’s collaboration song “Under Pressure” for his song “Ice Ice Baby” and distorting the riff in a minuscule manner. When first accused of plagiarism from the song, Vanilla Ice denied anything of the sort, saying they sound nothing alike. However, the copyright holders to “Under Pressure” threatened to file suit against Vanilla Ice, who soon settled with an apology and an out of court undisclosed sum of money.

Check here to see Vanilla Ice’s excuse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13B7xHzWNRc

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