I am interested in the presentational form of a photograph and it’s collaboration with the materiality of the image. These areas of investigation have been at the core of my work over the summer and are essential to the development of my work this year.
The work I produced last year focused on the Castlefield Viaduct and brought me into contact with diverse social groups; members of a train enthusiast society, local botanists, herbarium, paleontology and entomology stores at the Manchester Museum and archives and architectural plans at the Greater Manchester County Record Office. I intend to continue my work with the Castlefield Viaduct; it’s historical, cultural and contemporary significance, and reconnects with my desire to look at the relationship between people, images and things.
As I discovered last year the Castlefield Viaduct was a wonderful way of interacting with members of these societies, this was reflected in the way I used the camera as a tool to interact and respond to the viaduct. I was inspired with the way the public responded to my work last year. How they interacted with it as a structure, discussing the processes, textures and smells, as well as the images themselves. I want to provoke this again, however on a much wider scale, by taking the work back to where it was created, thus removing barriers existing in art galleries.
As I stand looking at the Castlefield Viaduct I see a transformative space. An image of a past that can now be grasped only in its present decay. I hope to engage the public in the reflective semantics of ‘pastness’. Creating a new collection of images printed onto something other than paper that incorporate textures and smells, embrace the colours of rust and decay, the scars of time. Photography allows me to respond to a place in a spontaneous way. I thrive on the element of inherent serendipity of taking photos, allowing the process to be one which progresses through the interaction of the subject and the process in which they are developed and printed.
As I look deeper into these themes and processes, I ask myself what my personal connection is to the work? I feel a barrier sometimes when I walk into a gallery or exhibition. There is an expectation to respond to traditional ideas of art. In contrast, when I find a place or an object in a quotidian environment, one that hasn’t been framed or lit, I am the first person to view it. I, as the artist, am able to respond and/ or ignore, with no one looking over my shoulder or across the room. I can touch, smell and interact confidently. I want to bring some of this interaction into this project.
My proposed plan is to create an installation of my images, taken from the surface of the viaduct, directly onto the viaduct’s tubular steel legs. It will quite simply be a view from above- below, playing with the idea of perspective and providing a different way of looking at the location.
(Michele Selway, October, 2013)
I draw inspiration from American photographer, David Emitt Adams. His Arizonian desert project: Conversations with History, is a work that I feel exemplifies the idea of image (or site) specific processing. He prints desert panoramas onto objects found in this landscape. From his example I feel that it is essential to my work, that the process I choose to print with is concept led and not just for aesthetic reasons. However, I will also need to look into the practicality of printing images on to the bridge structure.
Abelardo Morrel’s Camera Obscure work has also been very inspiring visually and conceptually, particularly by his Tent Camera series where he selects the surface, the ground within the tent, projecting the obscurer images of landscapes onto it and re photographs them: “I photograph the sandwich of these two outdoor realities meeting on the ground” creating an appearance similar to that of oil paintings. Through my own experimentation with this and the pinhole process, I decided it is not the right process for this project.
Jane and Louise Wilson’s exploration into the “psychology of architecture, deep into the way it sounds, reacquaints us with a particular use or archaeology” (Giuliana Bruno, Modernist Runis, Filmic Archaeologies//2003, p76) their continual work resonates with me and is something which has inspired my proposal and will continue to influence my work.
Over the coming weeks I will interview Karen Whiteread, a photographer who has just completed a photo mural, on a hospital building in North London, as part of the global Inside Out art project. My questions to her will be based on the practicalities of producing work of this scale, I will be asking what sort of time scale an installation like this will require and who to approach in terms of permission and possible costs. I am currently in correspondence with some local art funding groups and galleries to help support the project. The processes I plan to use for my printing will be influenced by my ongoing practice of practice of printing onto metal. John Brewer, an internationally recognized artist and alternative photographer, who I have been working in collaboration with for over a year, aids me in this. I have also had the privilege of having one-to-one time with two photographers in Arizona, where I practiced the Wet-Plate Collodion Technique, using large format. I also spent some time as an artist in residence in Ensenada, Mexico this summer where I began to learn a photographic transfer technique often applied to create layers on oil paintings.
(Michele Selway, Sept,2013)
I have some clear ideas of what I want visually for my installation piece; however the work I will produce alongside this will develop in response to the installation and the collaborations with the society members. I am interested in the idea of an exchange of images as a social event and the physicality and rarity of the images and specimens that the societies are collecting and achieving, which makes them so precious.
A possible outcome could be that I use some of the old glass plate images in the Loco Society achieves (do you mean archives?) with the collections of plant specimens at the Manchester Museum as part of my own work. By doing this I feel I am not only engaging people in local history, I am drawing attention to the rituals and importance of this time consuming exercise of categorizing and achieving collections that the members of these societies worry people will grow tired of in the not too distant future.
I intend to present my work in progress, at an open evening at the Manchester Museum in April(?). The museum event has the theme of ‘Conflict in Nature’. A title that I feel has connections to my personal interest in Botany vs. Industry. I will also take part in the running and organization of my class’s final exhibition and plan to install part of my final work at this event in May.