Tom Hunter, The Eve of the Party, from the series Life and Death in Hackney (1998).
John Everett Millais, The Eve of Saint Agnes, 1863. Oil on canvas. Private collection
Just as the Pre-Raphaelites did in paint, Hunter photographs in a sharp, even focus to capture every fine detail of his sitters’ surroundings. Rich, luminous colours are combined with subtle effects of natural light. The relationship between painting and the new art/science of photography was one the original Pre-Raphaelites were conscious of, at the time — though of course paintings still had the advantage of colour over sepia and black-and-white photographs. Hunter’s work demonstrates that, far from being distant and Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite art engaged with social themes still very much relevant today: love, loss, death, social alienation. the epicentre of the new warehouse rave scene of the early 90s. During this time the old print factories, warehouses and workshops became the playground of a disenchanted generation, taking the DIY culture from the free festival scene and adapting it to the urban wastelands. This Venice of the East End, with its canals, rivers and waterways, made a labyrinth of pleasure gardens and pavilions in which thousands of explorers travelled through a heady mixture of music and drug induced trances. Is there some suggestion, then, that this urge for young people in the 1990s to formulate their own vibrant subcultures, consciously breaking away from mainstream norms, had its roots in the spirit of youthful artistic rebellion which led to the founding of the P.R.B.? Such a supposition is quite ingenious given the persistent general view that Pre-Raphaelite art is stale and sentimental. In casting the compositions of Millais, Hughes and others in a new light, Hunter invites us to reconsider our relationship with them, as viewers in the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries, and to remember how radical and controversial the art of the P.R.B. was in its day.
This symbol is a signifier, it signifies that the power to an appliance may be controlled at this
Natural history series: away from the flock the sheep seems oblivious to its fate and appears to be prancing with life. Corpses of a sheep a tank with formaldehyde. He transforms an organism-which is lifeless-and he retrieves its lost vitality. He forces us to focus on the sheep’s, an animal that been provides us with food and warmth, transforming it from the mundane into something “special”. Away from the flock, is a term associated with religion, specifically Christianity.
fox Talbot (1840’s) oak tree in winter at lacock abbey
Talbot ideas: Talbot wanted to get away from the ideas of mental pictures and all the fuss that had to do with it. his idea was to coat a piece of paper with a light-sensitive silver compound and place it onto a camera with the sensitive side facing the lens. The compound had to be kept in darkness before it was used in order to work, applied to the paper in a dim room, and stored in a light -tight environment while it wasn’t being used. He used his paper as not just a photograph but rather as a negative. he was able to use the paper negative to create multiple copies of positive prints. He would treat another piece of paper with the silver compound and then after that, place the first developed negative paper on top of the new one. He would put the two together in a glass, then expose the frame to light.
Uelsmann is an experimentalist whose work looks back to the photography of the Surrealists in the 1920s. In the 1950s when Americans were fascinated by the social landscape, Uelsmann’s subject was humanity under constraint…. During the 1960s he began to take nature for his theme, and to represent growth and change across the seasons (The Photo Book (1997) p.464)
Here we have a visual photographic manipulation where the subject
is trees, in a dramatic landscape setting.
Uelsmann created manipulations such as this in the dark room using
multiple negatives. As stated in The
Photo Book (p.464) he was certainly inspired by the surrealist movement and
used his work to convey his themes well.
Again, the inclusion of the trees seems to represent the symbolic
associations with humanity, growth and change.
In contrast to the earlier reference to T’ai Chi, this interpretation,
given in The Photo Book (p.464) is from a sociological view, rather than from a
philosophical stand point.
Floating Tree (1969) Jerry N. Huelsman Gelatine Silver Print
This painting content is based on one of the stories from the metamorphoses by the classical poet Ovid. Pan, the goat-legged shepherd god, desires syrinx and pursues her. The beautiful nymph could not return this love, fled to her father, the river god laden, and exactly now that pan reached her, asked her sister, of whom one is represented at the edge of the image, to transform her into a reed. from this reed, pan, full of resignation, made a flute with various long pipes, which called either a panpipe after him or a syrinx after her. Poussin shows the moment in which pan appears to reach the feeling nymph.
This is a piece of work by Rene Magritte called ‘The Treachery of Images’. The picture displays a pipe and below it Magritte painted ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’ meaning ‘This is not a pipe’. It is a painting of a pipe, not a pipe.
Although some people may have different levels of understanding about a subject, they can speak to each other with broad conceptual maps. Take a gardener talking about a tree for example. He could turn to his neighbour and explain that he has had his oaks and elms pruned but the neighbour might only understand that something ‘tree-like’ is being discussed. His other neighbour might know the difference between an oak and elm tree due to the leaf shape. This neighbour has a broader knowledge of the two trees. The third neighbour might be an expert and know that the latin for an oak tree is ‘Quercus’ and an elm tree is ‘Ulmus’.
The Birth of Visual Literacy
The term ‘Visual Literacy’ is credited to John Debes, co-founder of the International Visual Literacy Association. Debes’ definition of the concept is, “Visual literacy refers to a group of vision-competencies a human being can develop by seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences.”
Visual Literacy is the ability to interpret, negotiate and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image.
The birth of visual literacy:
Hand Print, Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave (circa 30,000 BC)
The Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in the South of France is a cave that holds the earliest known and best kept figurative cave paintings in the world. Above is an image of a hand print showing us that pictures are used to tell stories.
Cave Paintings, Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave (30,000 BC)
Above is another cave painting.
Around 5000 years ago we started to see basic, unevolved alphabets which we call Proto Sinaitic Script. These gradually grew over the next 3000 years, evolving into our western alphabets.
Shapes that are given meaning become symbols which then become letters and numbers. Egyptian art was heavily layered in symbolism. Art in religion use symbols to convey meaning and ideas. The Rise of Christianity saw a re-emergence of hidden symbolism within art.
Islamic art took a more decorative route using a lot of circles to convey the idea of being infinite which reminds muslims that Allah is infinite.
Complex geometric designs give the impression of unending repetition.
Johannes Gutenberg Printing Press
Joseph Nicephorus Niepce- Inventor of photography
The invention of the printing press by Gutenberg set literacy and meaning free, allowing people to read and interpret information for themselves. Like Gutenberg, Joseph Nicephorus Niepce had no idea of the real implications of this blurred image he produced.
Photography released painting and ultimately sculpture from the shackles of reality. This freedom lead to the idea of having the artist as an originator not reproducer. Throughout this turmoil and the growing visual literacy, new commercial exploration of image was beginning to evoke. As photography developed and colour photography became more accessible the commercial photographer replaced the illustrator. Without our now sophisticated visual literacy, advertising has no currency.
Shared conceptual maps are not enough
Language is therefore the second system of representation in the process of constructing meaning – It must be a common language the general term we use for words, sounds, images that carry meaning is ‘SIGNS’ In order to exchange meanings or concepts, we need a shared language.
Connotation- symbol of passion and love
bove is an image of ‘The Arnolfini Wedding Portrait’. This image holds a lot of disguised symbolism.
The denotation of this image is that it is an image of a man and woman on their wedding day. He holds her hand and she hold up her ruffled dress. There what looks to be their pet dog looks on in the foreground.
Roland Barthes was a French literary theorist, philosopher, linguist, critic and semiotician. His ideas explored a wide range of topics but centred on two different levels of signification, ‘Denotation and Connotation’. These are terms used to describe the relationship between the signifier and its signified. He broke images down in structures. What you should do is think about what it means/denotes. We can’t help but look for meanings.
Denotation- literal meaning. What is pictured? e.g. a photo of a child is a photo of a child. No matter how the child is photographed, it still represents a ‘child’.
Connotation- meaning of it within a culture. Ethical issues and society is sue, not allowed to do that. How it is pictured.
Lighting, framing, focus etc are examples that can change a meaning of the way we look at an image. For example, a black and white or sepia photograph of a child could connote the concept that it is old and something from the past. The reader is reliant because they are having to use their knowledge to look further into the image.
The connotation of this image is if you look closer into it you
notice hidden meanings beyond the denotation. If you look in the middle of the
man and woman you see a candelabra with only one candle in it. This refers to
christ as a single light. The pet dog symbolises faithfulness and fidelity.
Fido a generic pet name for a dog- latin for faithful. Having the shoes to the
left and them in bare feet suggest they are standing on holy ground. Behind the
man and woman is a mirror which reflects the setting. It is decorated with the
10 scenes from Passion of Christ. As you can tell this is a very religious
painting when you look deeper into it at the connotations.
an van Eyck (1434) Arnolfini Wedding Portrait
MASS NOUN. The art of representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other: the theory and practice of perspective [AS MODIFIER]: a perspective drawing.
The appearance of viewed objects about their relative position, distance from the viewer, etc. A trick of perspective.
1.the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface to, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point. [as adj.]: a perspective drawing. see also linear perspective and aerial perspective.
– a picture drawn in such a way, esp. one appearing to enlarge or extend the actual space, or to give the effect of distance.
-a view or prospect.
-geometry the relation of two figures in the same plane, such that corresponding points lie on concurrent lines, and corresponding lines meet in collinear points.
2) a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view: most guidebook history is written from the editor’s perspective. True understanding of the relative importance of things; a sense of proportion: we must keep a sense of perspective about what he’s done.
3) an apparent spatial distribution in perceived sound.
Many an object is not seen, though it falls within our range of visual ray, because it does not come with the range of our intellectual ray, i.e. we are not looking for it. So, in the largest sense, we find only the world we look for. – Henry Thoreau
Above is an engraving produced by William Hogarth called ‘Satire on False Perspective’. A first look at this engraving and you would think it makes sense but if you analyse it closer you will notice Hogarth plays with the perspective making it look senseless and abnormal.
In the reading of images, as in the hearing of speech, it is always hard to distinguish what is given to us from what we supplement in the process of projection which is triggered off by recognition.
Unless we know the rules, we have no mean of guessing which aspect is presented to us. After learning that the most appropriate response to reading is reacting, the bush woman learns to read. Egyptians would have a different set of rules and names that we have in our modern-day life.
When we read books, we create an image in our minds of what is happening as well as when we hear a voice on the radio, we imagine what that person looks like.
Above is ‘The Bayeux Tapestry’ which illustrates the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. Using pictures to tell the story even to those who can’t read or write is interesting because even to them it illustrates words on a page.
Above is Albrecht Durer’s interpretation of a Rhino. The image was based on a description and brief sketch of an Indian Rhinoceros. Durer had never seen a Rhino before but as you can see from the written description you can recognise what it is. However, he draws a small twisted horn on its back, and gives it scaly legs. None of these features are present in a real Rhinoceros.
Filippo Brunelleschi was one of the most prominent architects and engineers of the Italian Renaissance. Brunelleschi is probably most commonly known for his development of perspective in its representational form. He discovered the principles of linear perspective and with these principles you can draw using a single vanishing point, which all lines on the same plane appear to meet, and objects appear smaller as they move back into the distance.
Simple geometric perspective took so long to develop even longer than fire or the wheel and yet in a sense it has always been there. You must look at a painting or drawing from one angle for the perspective to be correct.
Leonardo Da Vinci problem
– accurately conscious of the problem of viewpoint
– working on such a scale in a building
Different types of perspective include: Aerial- viewpoint from above, Linear- moving away into the distance, Scale- things looking larger than they should compared to the rest of the image and Receding Planes- where they look to be layered flat but recede into the distance.
Eadweard Muybridge- The Horse in Motion
In 1878 Muybridge produced the first ever moving picture with his early photographic experiments. The idea was to see if a galloping horse takes all four hooves off the floor at any one time in motion. Before the days of moving pictures, the human eye was unable to capture the processes of fast-moving objects. Muybridge used photography to analyse the movement of the horse in stages.
Pablo Picasso – Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
Here is one of the most famous Cubist oil paintings done by Picasso in 1907. The painting was a significant development from the traditional composition and perspective in painting. Picasso decided to distort the 5 female bodies and place them in a demoralised posture. We also see here how African art and savagery influenced Picasso giving these females mask-like faces using very violent brushstrokes.
Kurt Schwitters and Theo van Doesburg collaboration
In 1923 Doesbury and Schwitters created a campaign to introduce and educate artists to the Dada movement. Below is a poster for the evening classes which were put on to help teach about Dadaism. The word ‘Dada’ is repeated several times in a bold, red typeface and it is decorated with multi-lingual slogans. Dadaism inspired Surrealism, Pop Art and Punk Rock.
Here is a quote by Ball, “For us, art is not an end in itself… but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in”.
Sex Pistols 1977