Exhibition: NOÉMIE GOUDAL Southern Light Stations.

Interesting exhibition at Photographer’s Gallery:

NOÉMIE GOUDAL Southern Light Stations

Goudal constructs large scale photographs taken of her own installations in landscape settings. Goudal, in an interview with the Photographer’s gallery on their website, connects her work with the mindset and world view of pre-enlightenment observers, trying to work out the structure of clouds, the fiery and impossible comets and strange eclipses.

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Noemie Goudal

Station II, 2015 © Noémie Goudal

At the centre of the exhibition, in a circular observatory like structure, containing tiny back lit slides of dramatic skies taken from different perspectives and linked by lenses allowing viewers to experience an optical effect of a 3d cloud – photo below.

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Noemie Goudal

2015 © Noémie Goudal

Her larger works involve flat constructions with collaged photographs, these are carefully placed in bare landscapes and rephotographed in calm flat light or at night.  The effect is a denial of the trickery of ‘Photoshop’, Goudal is careful to include the marks of her constructions, making explicit their methods and asking the viewer to contemplate how they were made, the effort as well as the outcome.

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Noemie Goudal

2015 © Noémie Goudal

There is plenty to think about in these images, asking questions about what is ‘made’ in a photograph.  Gouda’s compelling idea is to present an obviously constructed, almost surreal illusion, that is both lyrical and successful as an illusion, while at the same time  demanding to be seen as constructed, assembled, MADE.  Goudal uses photography to show a vision of cloud and sky,  a three dimensional effect, far more real and compelling as an illusion, a trompe d’oeille, than any image made from a single camera or our indeed, own unaided eyes, and probably those of our enquiring ancestors.

The first ‘crit’

The all important first ‘silent’ crit on 18th November was an opportunity to show work and get feedback.  I decided to print work from a number of different sub-themes, still following the idea of 36 views of a steam cloud.  I displayed the work a bit like a side diagram or mind map, or indeed a steam thought cloud.  This was a deliberate choice to avoid making a hierarchy of the results so far and to undermine any notion that these would be considered ‘finished’ works.  The work was inelegantly held with shiny bulldog clips and purple pins, ensuring that this was a ‘work in progress’.  Viewers/participators eyes and focus seemed to flow around the temporary exhibit, with comments on a variety of the images.

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Making negatives – another form of image capture

Scanning is another method of image capture, or at least it could be seen as potentially more than the act of transferring analogue information to negative information. There is a possibility of a kind of double capture.  Firstly the capture of particles or dust or fragments onto a sticky surface and then mounting that as a slide or a negative to fit a 35mm format, which can then be scanned in a second image capture.

Strips of wood texture and dust used to scan to trial.
Strips of wood texture and dust used to scan to trial.

In a previous post, first experiments in this created milky way effects.  Sellotape used on wood surfaces and apparently cleaner places, took up finer particles and more elaborate textures.

Scan from tape negative sampling wood texture
Scan from tape negative sampling wood texture
Scan from tape negative sampling wood texture
Scan from tape negative sampling wood texture
Scan from tape negative sampling wood texture
Scan from tape negative sampling wood texture

Now a new way of doing this – essentially a drawing with glue onto acetate creates another semi transparent film that can be scanned like a film.

PVA Glue on acetate photographed on black background
PVA Glue on acetate photographed on black background

The result is a kind of beautiful hazy smoke, 3d, but semi transparent, like sinews or bones, beguiling and beautiful when layered up in photoshop.

A glue drawing scanned in a negative scanner
A glue drawing scanned in a negative scanner
Layered scans from an acetate sheet of glue drawings
Layered scans from an acetate sheet of glue drawings
Layered scans from an acetate sheet of glue drawings
Layered scans from an acetate sheet of glue drawings

Grainy film – 400iso?

There are developing problems with film capture – photoshoot from 2 weeks ago was possibly overexposed – probably due to using the most unreliable of the new school cameras.  When scanned and altered, even at the highest resolution problems of extreme grainy-ness occur. The clarity of the image capture will matter, not sure that the current use of 400iso in hobby quality cameras will be right – need to move to a better quality camera and 100 film?

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grainy 400iso black and white film
grainy 400iso black and white film

Bleaching and drawing

Although bleaching is not a process associated with chipboard or mechanical wood production, it is a prime factor in the creation of the super white paper pages of sketchbooks and computer paper.  The wood pulp is bleached to whiten the fibres in the paper.  Bleaching is also the first part of the process of tinting analogue photos.  The bleach breaks down the emulsions and removes the silver nitrates.  This turned out to be a bit of an all or nothing process……too little bleach and nothing happened (except a sort of roughing of the top surface).  Thick domestic bleach created a sizzling reaction….

Bleach onto exposed and developed photo paper - looking for a smoke effect.
Bleach onto exposed and developed photo paper – looking for a smoke effect.
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Bleached photo after cleaning – traces of image left, but much destroyed.

The destructive results allowed for the possibility of drawing back on top with bleach (hard to control), watercolour, ink, rotring pen and anything to hand.

ink, tipex, gelpen, on bleached black and white photo
ink, tipex, gelpen, on bleached black and white photo
ink and pen on bleached black and white photo
ink and pen on bleached black and white photo
ink drawing on bleached black and white photo
ink drawing on bleached black and white photo

All images from sketchbook.

Distressing and Damaged Negatives (2) – deliberate alterations and creations

After the discovery of an interesting set of damaged negatives……see Previous post on damaged negatives, the next step is to start deliberately altering, damaging, distressing negatives.  The first approach was to try to damage with steam – the effective emmissions in the egger chipboard factory’s smoke stack.

Steaming a blank negative
Steaming a blank negative
negative damaging in a coffee machine
negative damaging in a coffee machine

Truthfully, this was entertaining but did not significantly cause damage or alteration.  Heat started to warp the negative but the only real traces on this blank negative were watermarks caused by the water drying. More possibilities are using the condensed steam to accept other materials – for instance dust to dry onto the negative.

Positive image scanned from standard negative altered with a small drawing with Rotring pen - smallest nib
Positive image scanned from standard negative altered with a small drawing with Rotring pen – smallest nib.

Drawing on negatives could be another approach – I tried drawing onto a standard blank (exposed) negative and then scanning so that the drawn lines become positive.  In close up the tiniest ink trails are visible and create a texture.

This alternative negative was created by gathering wood ash from the fire on sellotape and then sticking to a sheet of acetate
This alternative negative was created by gathering wood ash from the fire on sellotape and then sticking to a sheet of acetate

The next stage was to create a negative from scratch, (!) I picked up wood ash from the fireplace with sellotape and stuck to a sheet of acetate.  I cut a 35mm strip from this and scanned the sections.  Interesting results, similar to the found negatives, like a milky way but much flatter – little grey as the dust is not see through, so it makes a rather binary result.  The slightly  3d ‘negative’  was also not fully in focus, it might be better on a analogue enlarger…..

Image from Alternative negative - layered

Layering up the scans in photoshop at different contrasts and levels creates more depth and 3d.  I am not sure about the direction of travel – is this just texture? To be used as a layer in photoshop on top or below standard negatives – or used in a similar way in analogue.  Or are they potentially things in their own right?  What other materials would work well in this way?

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Egger close up

A close up shoot on an autumn afternoon.  The angle of shot produces a very different quality to the smoke, three dimensional cloud, solid, flat contrasting silhouette or gossamer tissue thins…..

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A silhouette taken in late afternoon with the smoke/steam an artificial black cloud against the low autumn sun.

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Same afternoon, this shot zoomed in with a standard 55-80mm lens steam appears grey and thinning as it disperses, the vantage point was directly below the steam trail so it appears upright.

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The Map – version 1

36 views - First annotated map
36 views – First annotated map

The 36 views project is partly about geographical location.  The factory is marked in red and the shoot areas in yellow(Early 2015) and Orange (September -October 2015) The vantage points of the steam cloud are defined partly by the contours of the landscape, blocking and revealing around the valley spurs and sides, and partly by the landscape features, woods and houses which also frame and reveal the views.  Roads and paths define access to the vantage points.  I am using various ways of getting to these places, mainly car, but also bike and walking. I am avoiding trespass on private property, but allowing some ‘drift’ from public rights of way to the edges of fields to get a ‘view’. I am also seeking fortuitous access through friendship and contacts for some views from private living spaces. The map is becoming useful as it allows some planning now, from this version, I can see that I need to look for close up work on south bank of the River Tyne and much more to North and West.  The map also suggests that a more formal plan could be conceived – on a planned set of radials at 10 degree intervals for example, or a conceived sundial? all with the Egger factory in the centre point.

The decision making about ‘which view’ may be a combination of rival factors: The apparent randomness of the geography and accepting this as a given,   and the conscious decision making of where to stand and place the camera within that geography.  In recent shoots I have knowingly composed photographs in a classic manor – using the features to formally frame the steam cloud in the distance shots. This emphasises the omnipresence of the steam cloud in this geography.