Recently in university (current) Category

Sam Taylor Wood: Vanitas


Sam Taylor Wood, Still Life (video stills), 2001

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In the arts, vanitas is a type of symbolic work of art especially associated with Northern European still life in Flanders and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries though also common in other places and periods. The word is Latin, meaning "emptiness" and loosely translated corresponds to the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transient nature of Vanity. Common vanitas symbols include skulls, which are a reminder of the certainty of death; rotten fruit, which symbolizes decay like ageing; bubbles, which symbolize the brevity of life and suddenness of death; smoke, watches, and hourglasses, which symbolize the brevity of life; and musical instruments, which symbolize brevity and the ephemeral nature of life. Sam Taylor Wood's work (Still Life, Video Stills, 2001) is another step in this direction: the image, beautiful as ever in Taylor-Wood's universe, decomposes itself. By the end, nothing is left but a grey amorphous mass.On closer inspection, one thing distinguishes this picture from its predecessors. The ball-point pen. A cheap, contemporary object that doesn't decay.

"Futurising is a one-stop shop of opportunities, advice and information for all future and current creative graduates from all universities across the UK. The first opportunities and recruitment festival specifically tailored to the needs of creative graduates will take place at the Nicholls & Clarke Building, Shoreditch High Street, London on 29th-30th June 2010. Whether you are seeking your first step on the ladder, already in work and want more options, or an employer wanting to connect with the cream of the young creative world, Futurising is the place to be."

Futurising: The full story - read interview with Marice Cumber, Director and Creator of Futurising.

Free Range 2010 is here

The Free Range graduate art & design show takes place every June and July at the Old Truman Brewery.  The show provides the best platform for graduate art and design students to showcase their work to both public and industry. Free Range is a one stop shop featuring more than 100 university courses from across the UK providing visitors with a unique opportunity to meet the hottest new creative talent all under one roof. Shows rotate weekly over the 8 week season and are curated by disciplines including design, graphics, photography, art and interiors.

For more information and full listings of events and directions to the Old Truman Brewery, visit



The Photographers' Cookbook:  Say Cheese!

The BA (Hons) Photography students at the University College Falmouth are selling a 100 page full colour cookbook to raise money for their graduation show. Recipes are by photographers such as Elina Brotherus,
 Richard Misrach, 
Alec Soth,
 Rineke Dijkstra, Tierney Gearon,
 Joachim Schmidt,
 Martin Parr, 
Susan Derges and more. Photographs are by students

Pre-order a copy here @ £9.95.

Great idea!

Takashi Ito: Spacy 1981

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Spacy, 1981, 

Experimental Film by Takashi Ito

This totally compelling experimental film Spacy, 1981 was introduced to me by a university classmate (thanks  Sam).  For further info on Ito, see filmography here and continue reading here:

Project #2

Initial thoughts on University Projects this term. Modules are Advanced Practice and Contemporary Cultural Theories:

Advanced Practice:   Practical project. Working title = "A Place to wash the Heart".

Contemporary Cultural Theory: Not the most engaging title choices this semester but will probably do essay on "How can the theory of allegory help us understand a photograph?  Analyse the work of contemporary German photographers, using theoretical concepts developed on the module". Will look at work of Thomas Demand, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff, Gerhard Richter, Candida Hofer and writer Craig Owen etc.

Seminar Paper:   An in-depth look at images which claim a certain measure of documentary credibility or some photo-based engagement with political or social 'reality'. 

Jorma Puranen: Imaginary Homecomings

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Anár, Finland, 1992 ©Jorma Puranen

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Juovlajohka, Norway, 1997 ©Jorma Puranen

Imaginary Homecomings

Cultural Disjuncture

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Three eagles flying, 1990 © L. Aguilar

Asa Johannesson: Portraits of Her

The first time I saw Asa Johannesson's work was at the University of Westminster degree show (2006), Brick Lane, East London. Amongst hundreds of images this series "Portraits of Her" was the only one that really made an impact on me and remains permanently imprinted on my retina.  Aesthetics aside, what interests me about her work is her exploration of the notions of self and otherness, particularly with regard to gendered identity.  See also Portraits of Him which is a project commenting on and challenging masculinity as a form of identity. The sitters are men identifying as FTM (female to male).


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Project #1

Next month I'm back at university.  The modules I'm taking this semester are Perspectives in Photography and Publishing Photography.

The Perspectives in Photography module will consider global perspectives in photographic practice, examining the concepts of identity (cultural, ethnic, national, and sexual). We are expected to a) write a 2000 word seminar paper and b) prepare and deliver a student-led seminar on identity and the construction of otherness, working in groups of five.

I'm typing this in an attempt to kick-start the thought process after a three month break.  What is meant be "identity"; what is meant by "the other"?

identity: a person's identity is their sense of self and the different contexts within which that selfhood is constructed.  It can never be given one simple, coherent description. For example, the national identity into which one is born may well clash with the cultural identity of the community in which one chooses to live; or a gay identity, based on sexuality, may clash with a religious identity based on strict rules governing sexual behaviour.

Identity is not static, but rather a shifting state of affairs that can be investigated, assimilated, and then rejected, as one does an outfit or a hairstyle.  Identity manifests itself through group identification, the places we live, and the influence of mass media and advertising. The ways in which we identify, both with ourselves and with others, is constantly bending and evolving. In today's society consider, for example factors such as:

Social networking tools that facilitate new communities online e.g. Facebook, Twitter;
The ubiquity of cosmetic procedures;
Face transplants performed in France, China, and the United States;
Gender reassignment surgery.

the Other:  a concept used within psychoanalysis and identity theory, and within post-colonial theory, to signify ways in which members of dominant groups derive a sense of self-location partly through defining other groups as different or 'Other'.  Thus, within patriarchy, the male is taken as the norm, and woman as 'Other', that is, not male.  Similarly in racist ideologies, whiteness is taken for granted, therefore blackness is seen as Other.

to be continued ...

[off-topic: if you like a game of pac-man, you may like a game of pac-mondarian - Im easily distracted]


In an interesting article published in the Guardian UK, Baroness Greenfield, a leading neuroscientist states:

Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity

Baroness Greenfield warns social networking sites are changing children's brains, resulting in selfish and attention deficient young people.  
The startling warning from Lady Greenfield, professor of synaptic pharmacology at Lincoln College, Oxford, and director of the Royal Institution, has led members of the government to admit their work on internet regulation has not extended to broader issues, such as the psychological impact on children. Greenfield believes ministers have not yet looked at the broad cultural and psychological effect of on-screen friendships via Facebook, Bebo and Twitter.

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