Phonar: Task 5 – Step 6 (Postcard to Massimo Vitali)

For the final step of task 5 I had to make a communication with the author of my assignment just like in my other tasks. For this step however I wanted to move away from the more traditional forms of communication such as letter and email and send Massimo Vitali a postcard. I felt like this was the most creative and appropriate method of communication as his work focuses on tourist destinations and the tourism industry and a postcard is a form of communication that is used by tourists while on holiday. While I only had a small amount of space to write that I have completed the task I feel that this is the purpose of a post card, to give a small amount of information.

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Phonar: Task 5 – Final Images + Critical Rationale

For steps 4 and 5 of task 5 I had to complete the assignment in the Photographer’s Playbook by Massimo Vitali and provide a rationale for my decisions. The task called for me to make intentional mistakes while shooting a roll of film and these mistakes could lead to an unintentional masterpiece of an image. Below are my final images and critical rationale.

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Critical Rationale

After reading the assignment many times and trying to work out how I wanted to intentionally make mistakes I decided to use a disposable camera as in the past when I have taken images on a disposable it is very unpredictable what the outcome will be even if I use the correct lighting and keep the camera still. I wanted to play with the unpredictability of outcome of the images even further by intentionally taking images while walking, photographing from angles that would not be in focus, pointing the camera into the shade and direct sunlight, moving the camera while holding the shutter and even using the camera without flash in dark lighting conditions outdoors. After carrying out research into Massimo Vitali for my other steps and discovering he shot in the direct sun on a summers day I wanted to include this element into my own work by shooting directly into the sun. This is something I often avoid due to the sun causing glare or harsh shadows however no matter how hard I tried to distort the image or cause a mistake that would result in the image looking bad once getting the images developed it was evident that my attempts to ruin the image actually created an abstract element to the image and don’t necessarily make the image bad. In fact it makes the images look almost documentary like almost like images taken by a participant. This is something I would like to continue to experiment with in my own work in the future and I now have the confidence to make mistakes while shooting as they could turn out to be an interesting and unusual image.

Phonar: Task 5 – Step 3

For step 3 of task 5 of phonar I had to create an image in the style of Massimo Vitali that was informed by my research. The image I created can be found below with accompanying text as well as on my Instagram here.

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For the final task of #phonar2016 I had to create an image in the style of Massimo Vitali that was informed by my research. Vitali is an Italian photographer that is best know for his large-scale colour images of beaches and mass leisure events that are taken from a high viewpoint often on a large format camera. Early into his career he developed a mistrust towards documentary photography as it did not represent the complexities of reality and as a result this drew him away from photojournalism and towards a more conceptual way of working. Just like Martin Parr, Vitali is a chronicler of contemporary life. His panoramic views show people interacting with their environments and one another and because they are shot at a distance it lends a hint of voyeurism and detachment. In his ‘Beach Series’ he began to photograph people on Italian beaches from a high viewpoint to make a commentary on the sinister elements such as the ‘commodified leisure’ and ‘cosmetic fakery’ in modern society. Vitali achieves a balance between interpersonal narratives and the natural world. 

Phonar: Task 5 – Step 2

For step 2 of task 5 I had to make a visual portrait of Massimo Vitali based on my research on him and his work. The image and accompanying text can be found below as well as on my Instagram here.

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For the final task of Phonar I had to create a visual portrait of the author of my assignment and this was Massimo Vitali. Vitali is an Italian photographer that has tried a variety of different aspects of photography throughout his career all the way from photojournalism to cinematography however his most recent work that he as continued from the 90’s until present day focuses on public spaces in particular Italian beaches as they resonate with him on a personal level. As a result I have used an image I took while on holiday which has similar connotations to his images of Italian beaches and it is a place that resonates with me. Vitali mainly photographers beaches in Italy and therefore this has led me to believe he has a very personal connection with the environment he photographs and that the images are not just aesthetically pleasing for him but have deeper layer of meaning as they show modern society and how people interact with their environment. 

Phonar: Task 5 – Artist Research (Massimo Vitali)

In order to complete steps 2 and 3 for this task I needed to gain a greater understanding of Massimo Vitali’s work and as him as an artist. In turn this will also influence how I take the images in the assignment he set.

Massimo Vitali is an Italian photographer that was born in 1944 in Italy. In the 1960’s he traveled to London to study photography at the London College of Printing. His work is held in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, among other institutions.

He is best known for his large-scale colour images of beaches and mass leisure events that are taken from a high viewpoint often on a large format camera. Vitali has worked as a photojournalist, fine arts photographer as well as a cinematographer and these practices are visible in his work. Early into his career he developed a mistrust towards documentary photography as it did not represent the complexities of reality and as a result this drew him away from photojournalist and towards a more conceptual way of working. Just like Martin Parr, Vitali is a chronicler of contemporary life. His panoramic views show people interacting with their environments and one another, shot at a distance that lends a hint of voyeurism and detachment. In his ‘Beach Series’ (1995-) he began to photograph people on Italian beaches from a high viewpoint to make a commentary on the sinister elements such as the “commodified leisure […] and cosmetic fakery” which showed the behind the scenes of supposed normality. After his series on beaches he later expanded his scenes to include pools, ski resorts, discotheques, piazzas, and other tourist and leisure sites around the world. In his richly coloured, detailed works, Vitali achieves a balance between interpersonal narratives and the natural world. 

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In an interview Vitali explains that he would ‘like people to understand that there are different layers of significance’ to his images and that.‘99 per cent of the beach pictures that I see around, there is only one layer of significance’. He wants to leave more than a legacy simple based on aesthetics and one dimensional images, furthermore he goes on to say ‘I think I always had a problem that so many people – even the people that buy the pictures, even the collectors – don’t really go to the bottom of the story. And sometimes they spend quite a lot of money and they don’t really go to the core of what I’m really trying to say.’ He continues, ‘When somebody asks me where a picture was taken, for me it’s just a disaster. It’s defeat. Because the pictures are not about the place. They’re not about the colours. They’re not about beauty or prettiness. They’re about us, they’re about our society.’

Phonar: Task 5 – Initial Brief + Step 1

For task 5 I was given an assignment by Massimo Vitali entitled Mistakes. The assignment was also accompanied by a quote from Raymond Carver which is as follows “You’ve got to work with your mistakes until they look intended. Understand?”. This quote underpins why Vitali set the assignment as he believes it is essential for everyone to make mistakes in their work to succeed in photography. Below is the synopsis of my assignment:

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My initial thoughts on this task was to explore further into Vitali’s own work yet focus on taking images that I would not normally take due to the risk of them not turning out how I want. Therefore because I have to shoot a roll of film I am planning on using a disposable camera as there is more chance of the image having mistakes on it and not turning out how you expect even if you position the camera correct even in good lighting. This also gives me the ability to be more spontaneous with my images as I do not have to focus them or adjust the aperture.

Phonar: Task 4 – Final video + Critical Rationale

For task 4 of Phonar I had to take one of the assignments that was completed as a class in the Making workshops and either complete the assignment again or remake the image however this time it must be done using audio or video instead of still image. For this task I decided to use the assignment set by Tim Walker that we had to complete overnight. For this task it was important to incorporate key visual language elements that we had been discussing and experimenting with in the workshops. The synopsis of this task can be found below along with my response to the task.

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The image that I produced for the Tim Walker assignment was of the pile of books in my room beside my bed. I wanted to show the spines of the books as well as the pages as they indicate how far I am through the book and it make them more personal to me. By taking the image at a slight angle and not front on I have made the focus of the image less about the tiles of the books are more about me as a reader and why I love reading.

Following on from this image I decided to make a video showing me interacting with the book from the act of picking the book up through to showing where I sit to read the book as this would give the viewer an insight into my personal experience when reading as well as the space around me. In the video I chose to shoot at a variety of angles to tell a story that shows my perspective when choosing the book all the way through to the act of reading the book itself.

The focus of the video is to show the narrative of the ways in which I interact with the book and my personal experience rather than focusing on what is written on the page and the book itself. Hence why on the above shot of me reading the book the text is not readable rather it shows the act of me reading. It was important for me to include some of the visual language that was present in my original image, therefore I chose to include a shot which pans over my bookshelf as this is references the book pile in my original image and also gives the viewer and insight into the amount of books I have in my uni room which in turn gives them an insight into me as a person.

While I used some of the visual language that was present in my image I also wanted to experiment with different visual tropes as it was a new medium. Therefore I have decided to keep my video in colour rather than turning it to black and white like in the image. For the image this worked well as it corrected the yellow lighting in my room and gave a focus to the details of the books however because I was not shooting close-ups of the books this time I felt colour was needed to create a warmer and cosier atmosphere as that is what I experience when reading. In addition to this, I also chose to add an instrumental track to the video as I felt it helped create the atmosphere I intended as without any sound I believe it would not be as emotive. The music I chose was meant to compliment the narrative rather than overpower it therefore it is quite soft.

By using an image as a starting point the developing this into another medium such as video it helped spring board my ideas and sped up the process of generating a concept for the video. This process of starting from a rather simple image and then developing it into a new medium whether this be video or even a physical sculpture is something that I will continue into future projects.