I decided for this third assignment to pick four separate areas to concentrate on for the four individual areas laid out in the assignment brief. This was in part to break up what could be indiscriminate colour being thrown at an assignment but in the main to challenge my abilities. Indeed the brief was quite specific about experimenting and this is something which I have not necessarily tended to do in photography up to this point. This brief made me consciously think about experimenting before capturing anything on my camera’s sensor.
The four assigned areas are outlined below;
- Complementary (colours that face each other across the circle).
- Similar (those near each other, as in a cool or warm range of colours).
- Colours spaced about a third of the way around the circle: very different from each other, but not quite complementary. Blue and red are an example, as are green and orange. This kind of combination has a strong contrast, and you might even consider them to clash with each other. Using colours with this kind of relationship is not particularly harmonious, but is certainly eye-catching.
- A fourth kind of relationship is when one small area of colour sits against a much larger background of another colour as a spot or accent.
I brain stormed somewhat and read around the subject looking at subject areas other than just photography such as art and craft, architecture, food and flowers. Of course all of these can be captured but I was interested to see how the designers of the above used colour to their advantage and to communicate.
- Complementary – I decided, arbitrarily, that I would attempt still life for this part of the assignment. Still life is somewhat an anathema to me and something I rarely attempt, preferring and tending to concentrate on found objects more often than not. I am aware that I need to add it to my repertoire if for no other reason than to experiment and appreciate a different way of seeing. As I wanted to control the complimentary colours (rather than they control me in found objects such as packaging, marketing and so forth), still life seemed to be the best option.
- Reading from ‘The Photograph as Contemporary Art‘ (Charlotte Cotton – 2009), I came across a couple of artists/photographers by the name of Peter Fischli and David Weiss. These artists took the everyday and stacked them into unlikely forms whilst still retaining the obvious forms of the subjects. The photograph on p.114 (below left) quite arrested me and showed a lovely relationship between the ordinary and art. It appealed to me for the apparent simplicity and mundanity of the subject matter. But given my attraction to the less salubrious side of photography I was quite attracted to it. As Cotton says on p.115, “This series has been a great influence on redirecting….. photography into playful and conceptually driven territories”.
Fischli says in the book ‘Peter Fischli David Weiss’ (Fleck, Danto, Sontgen – 2005) about the series ‘Equilibrium’ (of which the ‘Quiet Afternoon’ below is a part of), that he and Weiss spent a year driving around and going on excursions to research for the show or, as he puts it, “wasted time” occupying himself for an unreasonable amount of time with something that actually gave him a subversive kind of pleasure. It’s an ideology I can wholeheartedly relate to! The green and orange compliment each other perfectly in a world that looks quite ready for me to attempt something similar as still life.
- Another attraction for still life is food. Maybe a little obvious but then Singapore is all about food. It is also all about ‘exotic’ foods and spices. So this is another route that I am interested in following. Buying the fresh spices from Little India to bring back and photograph certainly has an attraction and there is no reason why I can’t combine it with the above in some way.
- Similar – For this portion of the assignment I headed back to my ‘found’ photography. As these colours needed to be close together in the colour wheel, observation was key. I narrowed my ‘found’ field down to a subject called ‘found hanging’. This made my job easier and harder at the same time. By narrowing the constraints it was easier to discount certain situations but as such I had to concentrate harder to find the ones that I wanted to capture. It’s possible there may also be a little manipulation in the post-production but that remains to be seen depending on what I get in camera. The photograph below is one of several waiting to make the cut but gives an idea of the lines I am thinking along. The browns at the top becoming more yellow the further down the frame they get. I quite like the muted tones here.
- Colours spaced about a third of the way around the circle – I wanted to put colours in direct competition with each for this part, to make them vie for space and the viewer’s eye. These colours are deemed to conflict with each other so the space they are contained within is vital. As such I decided that I would use some form of manipulation of my collected images.
- I initially stumbled across a photographer called Anthony Gerace (see entry here) who produces some very mellow mosaics. This led me to thinking about David Hockney (as previously noted) and knowing that he had produced some fantastic examples led me to think about this way of presenting an image. I say image as I’m not sure whether many photographs together is still a photograph or whether it becomes an image. Neither of these examples were quite within my initial remit but it gave me something to build on for this section.
- My thoughts around which colours to use started to stem from the cultural use of colours in Asia. It seems that although Western eyes can see these colours as conflicting, many cultures do not see the same thing so it would be interesting to put these certain colours together and get a response from the viewer.
- Not all people see the same colours, we are not all physiologically the same (i.e. colour blindness) and as such it is only ‘the norm’ which restricts us to thinking that these colour relationships are what everyone sees and perceives. This post led me some way to start thinking about that aspect.
- Indeed, in contradiction to the above point about colour blindness comes the possibility of people being able to see myriad different and even new colours as described in this article in Discover Magazine from July-August 2012.
- Accent – I started here wanting to photograph landscapes in some way as is was an area I hadn’t covered through the other three subjects.
- I made some inroads in to this with urban landscapes or cityscapes but found I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. I figured that Singapore would be in the main grey, with flashes of colour to accent the scene. I wanted to shoot from height (car parks, skyscrapers etc) to get a wide view of the industrial and city scenes. However, the scenes I found and was able to shoot from didn’t match up to my expectations. I was either finding myself shooting large blocks of colour or large blocks of grey without the accents in between as I had expected.
- During my holiday last year I headed to the UK and found that the country landscapes were offering a much richer range of opportunity both in colour and available angle. This is the area I decided to concentrate on and produce this portion of the assignment from.
So after much to-ing and fro-ing between different subject matters and types of photography I settled on these particular headings and areas allowing me some flexibility to work with.
Reference books used through the project;
Colour – Freeman, Michael (2005)
The Photograph as Contemporary Art – Cotton, Charlotte (2009)
The Photographer’s Eye – Freeman, Michael (2007)
Peter Fischli David Weiss – Sontgen, Fleck and Danto (2005)
Colour: Art & Science – Lamb and Bourriau (1995)
Design Elements: Color Fundamentals – Aaris Sherin (2012)
Pantone Guide to Color – Leatrice Eiseman (2000)