Showcase Portfolio: Glenn Porter

GlenN Porter

Glenn Porter first studied photography at the Sydney Institute of Technology and has a mix of art, science and photography qualifications. He also holds several postgraduate qualifications including a Graduate Diploma in Science from Sydney University, Masters of Applied Science (Photography) from RMIT University and a PhD in Communication Arts from Western Sydney University. Glenn has also been recognised by the Royal Photographic Society with an imaging science distinction as an Accredited Senior Imaging Scientist (ASIS) and a Fellow (FRPS) of the society. He is currently studying on the MA Photography at Falmouth University. Glenn has exhibited his work in several group exhibitions and has his first solo show in China in 2022. Glenn’s work has been recognised in several prestigious awards as finalist including the Head On Portrait Prize, the Olive Cotton Award for Photographic Portraiture and the Mullins Conceptual Photography Prize.

The Holga Experiment began as a method of approaching photography from a more instinctive position and being free from technical equipment and fixed ideas about content. It was initially an experiment in opening up my awareness to the environment around me and to shift my photographic vision from being a farmer to a hunter of images – moving out of the studio and into the world with just a single lens and camera. The simplification of the approach to my photography was liberating and the work began to get stronger as I became comfortable about shooting by feeling rather than planning. Henri Cartier-Bresson suggested “Technique is important only insofar as you must master it in order to communicate what you see. Your own personal technique has to be created and adapted solely in order to make your vision effective on film” (Cartier-Bresson 1999). Cartier-Bresson also applied a simplistic approach to his photography using the same camera format and focal length lens with the majority of his work. Keeping the method simple, allowed me to explore the purpose of the work from an internal perspective and to develop my work more intuitively.

Glenn Porter (2021) Crow Flying Over Hill, Dorrigo

The work is about my personal connection with photography and my experience with creative practice. It connects me spiritually and symbolically with two ancient Japanese philosophies; ikigai and wabi sabi. The simplification of the photographic process with a hyper-awareness of the environment around me is what this body of work attempts to capture. The work displays an ephemeral moment of my life’s journey with images that celebrate the beauty of the everyday with the imperfection of life.

Glenn Porter (2021) Motel Room, Mittagong

Mitsuhashi (2018) suggests the word ikigai (pronounced iki – guy) is a combination of two Japanese characters iki 生き meaning life and gai 甲斐 meaning value or worth. However, Japanese philosophy is often difficult to translate into western values and language. Mogi (2017) also provides a translated meaning close to Mitsuhashi’s and indicates iki literally means to live and gai reason, while Garcia and Miralles (2017) claims gai translates to worthwhile. The concept of ikigai is for people to find their ikigai by living life while practicing something that gives them a sense of purpose that also derives from personal pleasure. Ones ikigai does not have to be materialistic, success-driven or financial. It is often simplistic values like cooking, growing vegetables, art, fishing and even cleaning.

Glenn Porter (2021) The Jumper, Nepean River

Wabi sabi 侘寂 is another type of Japanese philosophy that examines how we perceive and live life. It is also a combination of two complementary phrases; wabi which is the personal process of finding beauty and sabi which is the joy of things that are imperfect or the decay of things due to the passing of time (Fujimoto 2019). Fujimoto explains how these elements combine to form wabi sabi; “together, these notions form a sensibility that accepts the ephemeral fate of living: celebrating transience and honouring those cracks, cervices and other marks that are left behind by time and tender use” (Fujimoto 2019 p.33). Kempton (2018) describes the wonderment of wabi sabi as feeling the moment “of real appreciation – a perfect moment in an imperfect world” (Kempton 2018 p.5). Wabi sabi can be experienced anywhere and has a lot to do with the awareness of the feeling and environment. Fujimoto (2019) claims “describing an aesthetic consciousness bound up with feelings of both serenity and loss, wabi sabi might be found encapsulated in a simple Japanese garden” Fujimoto 2019, p.33).

This project uses an inexpensive plastic Holga lens attached to a DSLR camera body. The Holga lens attached to a digital camera is a variation of the original medium format film-based Holga cameras, nevertheless, the lens is the same as the plastic film cameras and produces similar artefacts. The project also set down some rules; i) the image must be taken with a Holga lens, ii) the lighting must be available light and iii) the image must be cropped square. The Holga lens is a fixed focal length of 60mm with a fixed aperture. Exposure adjustments can only be made using the shutter speed and/or ISO setting.

Glenn Porter (2021) Corella Squadron, Aberdeen

Holga cameras were developed in the early 1980’s in Hong Kong as an inexpensive plastic medium format camera for the Chinese market (Malcolm 2017). Holga’s are often referred to as plastic toy cameras with a low-priced plastic meniscus lens. Images display overt artefacts such as film fog or light leaks, low-fidelity images with strong vignetting.  The image imperfections, caused by the inexpensive manufacturing and lens design, has produced what is referred to as the ‘Holga aesthetic’ and has become highly celebrated. Bates (2011) notes that other plastic cameras like the Diana also produces a similar aesthetic to Holga cameras.

Glenn Porter (2021) Twin Trees, Pine Forest, Armidale

This body of work is a result of my own ikigai, my passion for creating images that resonate with my personal creative vision. The application of the Holga aesthetic works perfectly for experiencing a sense of wabi sabi with the imperfections clearly witnessed within the images. The loss of fidelity due to the inexpensive plastic lens demands an approach that focuses on form and tone as a compensation for sharpness. The square format is in keeping with the original Holga tradition. The body of work is an eclectic set of urban and natural landscapes that connotes my personal concepts or notions of ikigai and wabi sabi which becomes a highly personalised visual statement. The work intends to provoke a sense of stillness, reduction, tone, form and self-reflection, and to also harmonise with the Japanese aesthetic and its traditions.

The notion of ikigai is an important one within this work, not only as an internalised purpose for life, but more so for the joy this purpose brings to me personally. My ikigai, is largely about the production of a body of creative photography work which brings me great joy. Cartier-Bresson describes this concept of joy when practicing photography in his The Mind’s Eye autobiography. He exclaims “To take photographs is to hold one’s breath when all faculties converge in the face of fleeing reality. It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.” (Cartier-Bresson 1999, p.16). Cartier-Bresson also describes the notion of feeling the image during the hunt for images rather than seeing or taking a more analytical viewpoint when shooting. This is a significant point of difference when considering ikigai as a philosophical notion, which impacts how I feel spiritually rather than how I think. Cartier-Bresson further suggests; “To take photographs means to recognize – simultaneously and within a fraction of a second – both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give meaning. It is putting one’s head, one’s eye, and one’s heart on the same axis” (Cartier-Bresson 1999 p.16).

Glenn Porter (2021) Road Caution, Uralla

Cartier-Bresson is explaining what it is like to work intuitively and reducing or simplifying the equipment helps promote the notion of working from feeling and gaining the intellectual and personal joy that comes with this approach. I have experienced what Cartier-Bresson is describing throughout this project. It is my connection with photography through my spirit and ikigai. Cartier-Bresson further indicates; “It’s a way of life” (Cartier-Bresson 1999 p.16) and this can be interpreted from a Japanese philosophy perspective as ones ikigai. Nathan Jurgensen (2019) also mentions Cartier-Bresson’s thinking regarding the personal joy photography offers practitioners. He also refers to Jean Baudrillard’s suggestion that there is a certain joy in the transformation of the real into a document within the concept producing a condition of hyperreality (Jurgenson 2019, Baudrillard 1983).

Glenn Porter (2021) The Pontoon, Nepean River

Several theorists like Sontag, Barthes, Jurgenson, Bates have described the condition of photography through how the audience may perceive the work as an extension of reality or reality through the lens of modernity. The intent of this body of work, while it may be interpreted through this lens, is a more egocentric focus on my connection with photography as my ikigai. It does not try to raise issues about the world or society, it is simply a way of expressing how I feel about photography by using photography. The work does however, raise questions about what is photography and what is art?  Cotton (2014) examines these questions primarily from an aesthetic theory position but also explains how phenomenology plays a role in how the interaction between the viewer and the photographs operate within different viewing contexts including gallery, newspaper, billposter, family album, screen etc.

Follow GlenN Porter on Instagram

References
  • Bates M., (2011) Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity, 2nd edition, Focal Press, Oxford.
  • Baudrillard J., (1983) Simulations, MIT Press, Cambridge.
  • Bunnell P.C., (1994) Introduction, essay found in Michael Kenna: A Twenty Year Retrospective, (2011) Nazraeli Press, Portland.
  • Cartier-Bresson A., (1999) The Mind’s Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers, Aperture, London.
  • Cotton C., (2014) The Photograph as Contemporary Art, 3rd Edition, Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Fujimoto M., (2019) Ikigai & Other Japanese Words to Live By, Modern Books, London.
  • Garcia H., Miralles F., (2017) Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, Hutchinson, London.
  • Jurgenson N., (2019) The Social Photo: On Photography and Social Media, Verso, London.
  • Kempton B., (2018) Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life, Piatkus, London.
  • Kenna M., (2017) Holga: Photographs by Michael Kenna, Prestel, London.
  • Kenna M., Meyer-Lohr Y., (2015) “Forms of Japan” Prestel, Munich.
  • Malcolm F., (2017) Beyond the Visible, essay found in Holga: Photographs by Michael Kenna, p.5-13, Prestel, London.
  • Mitsuhashi Y., (2018) Ikigai: Giving Everyday Meaning and Joy, Kyle Books, London.
  • Mogi K., (2017) The Little Book of Ikigai: The Essential Japanese Way to Finding Your Purpose in Life, Quercus Editions, London.
Glenn Porter (2021) Little ‘Big Chook’, Moonbi
Routledge Award Winner: Summer 2021

In Conversation With: Shona Waldron

Shona Waldron

Shona Waldron is an interdisciplinary artist based between East Sussex and Cornwall, UK. Working across a diverse range of media including photography, painting, moving image and installation, she articulates a world of uncertainty, frequently using a combination of digital and analogue techniques to manipulate the periphery of fact and fiction. The blurring of these demarcations plays a crucial role in exploring ideas centred around time, space and the nature of existence, presenting life as a source of wonder and infinite possibility. Investigating states of change or metamorphosis is also a recurrent theme as she uses her work to illustrate the transition into a future which is impossible to predict or control. 

Follow Shona Waldron on instagram

Primordial Loop from Shona Waldron on Vimeo.

Shona Waldron Sensorium

24th – 28th June 2021

The Fish Factory, Penryn, Cornwall

Private View: 24th June 2021: 6pm – 9pm 

BtL: Your upcoming exhibition Sensorium opens on the 24th June 2021. It brings together works from several of your recent projects. Can you sum up any overall themes in your practice?

SW: Sensorium is a collection of work that encompasses moving image, photography, painting and installation. The title draws inspiration from the sensory apparatus of the human body which is responsible for receiving and interpreting external stimuli. Intended to be viewed as part of an immersive experience, each exhibited piece explores themes surrounding the intersection of art, science and technology, evoking the idea of new realities that are activated by our perceptual encounters with the space.

Although my work often makes reference to scientific language and taxonomical systems, there is equally a free-flowing element that induces feelings of fluidity and life in a constant cycle of evolution. There are also parallels made between the organic and the technical, with a blending together of analogue and digital media to allow the subject matter to exist in a transformed state that surpasses the limits of its original definition.

BtL: You seem to be interested in visually exploring the relationship between the technological world and the natural world. Why is it important for you to incorporate a range of media into your practice?

SW: The incorporation of a variety of media and processes is definitely very important. I find that moving beyond the boundaries of a purely photographic practice allows the work to function in a universal context which is useful when dealing with these expansive and broad themes. This mixed media approach makes it easier for my work to emphasise connections on multiple levels, whether it be visual, auditory or as an entire sensorial experience. I think this way of working is helpful in creating a sense of dynamism, something that is of particular interest in light of my ideas surrounding the mutable relationship between technological and biological forms.

Shona Waldron (2021) from Merge / Melt

BtL: The title of your video work Primordial Loop seems to both juxtapose and connect the idea of new possibilities / the inter-connectedness of man and machine; the technical and the organic…

SW: Primordial Loop is an experimental video piece that incorporates 3D modelling and animation. Its title draws inspiration from ‘primordial soup’, a term often used to refer to the blend of biological conditions that first enabled life on our planet. In addition to looking back towards these early beginnings, the work explores our immersion in the digital world by reinterpreting natural environments through the screen-based society we inhabit. The study of evolutionary processes is also of great importance as this ultimately evokes a transcendental journey through the past, present and future as well as a fusion of the organic and the technical.

Shona Waldron (2021) from Primordial Loop

Emphasis is placed upon these themes from the very onset of the piece which opens with an animation of cells dividing, a sequence that delineates a point of origin and the genesis of new life. The cells then fade out of view to be replaced by jellyfish that float across the scene, gelatinous in form with iridescent hues of purple and blue. Although included due to their    their correspondence with the cells, the jellyfish are notable in presence since they are one of the oldest species to exist on our planet, residing in our oceans for more than 500 million years. This remarkable timescale predates the dinosaurs and is fascinating in light of my ideas surrounding primal states.

 

Shona Waldron (2021) from Primordial Loop

Following this, the video transitions into a haze of violet light which dissipates to reveal the shapes and structures of tree branches, rocks and mountains as scenes of a digital jungle emerge. Moving deeper into the landscape and through the undergrowth, circular patterns begin to appear with organic matter converging into the centre point where the panels of the video meet, creating a hypnotic effect that is reminiscent of a kaleidoscope.

Shona Waldron (2021) from Primordial Loop

BtL: Do you think your process of digitally constructing the work is important as a way of situating these primitive visual landscapes within the conditions of the 21st Century?

SW: Absolutely. The digital process allows nature to exist in a computational form and suggests that it is not estranged from technology in the way that we might initially imagine. In the text Novacene – The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence, (2019) the scientist James Lovelock reiterates this view. He proposes that ‘computers work purely in zeros and ones; from   that they can construct entire worlds … information may indeed be the basis of the cosmos’ (2019: 88). It is this description of the cosmos being made up of information, that is referenced in a literal sense within my work.

Shona Waldron (2021) from Primordial Loop

This environment visually resembles many of teamLab’s installations such as The Infinite Crystal Universe. Presented as immersive experiences, teamLab encourages us to reach infinity and oneness by seeking to ‘transcend boundaries in the relationship between the self and the world, and of the continuity of time’ (Pace Gallery 2014). Computer programmes and algorithms are widely used in the creation of these works, engendering the belief in a computational universe in the same way that my work intends to.

teamLab (2015-2018) The Infinite Crystal Universe

BtL: You seems to situate your visual practice across a variety of thresholds. Can you give us a few examples?

SW: Further influential research includes the concept of the technological singularity, a term first popularised in 1993 with Vernor Vinge’s essay The Coming Technological Singularity. In physics, a singularity is defined as a point of infinity, such as the centre of a black hole, where matter becomes endlessly dense and physical  laws break down, resulting in the merging of space and time. In relation to this scientific definition, the theory of the technological singularity hypothesises that we will soon cross a threshold where machine intelligence will surpass biological intelligence, an advancement that will lead to irreversible changes to civilisation.

Ray Kurzweil, futurist and author of The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, suggests that ‘machine intelligence could become indistinguishable from that of its human progenitors within the first half of the twenty-first century’ (2005: 3). What this will look like for humanity is unclear as both a dystopian and utopian scenario would be possible. Either way, it is the notion of transcending current limitations that is most intriguing. It is also speculated that the universe began by such an event, meaning that there was a singularity in our past as well as one potentially in our future, demonstrating the way history repeats itself in a loop.

Shona Waldron (2021) from Primordial Loop

This notion of the singularity manifests in Primordial Loop when the screen becomes increasingly pixelated and the motion accelerates, referencing the exponential rate that we are approaching what is often referred to as the ‘event horizon’ (Kurzweil 2005: 7). Once this is reached, the centre of the screen unfolds to reveal a passage into a new space-time dimension.

Shona Waldron (2021) from Primordial Loop

The final scene reveals the culmination of this journey into a post-singularity state. The video fragments, breaking apart from its original structure and transforming into multiple screens floating within a dark void. The plurality of the work opens up new ways for it to exist, with the panels constantly moving across the X, Y and Z axes. The music also shifts from its electronic sound to something choral and celestial. At this point in the video, space is perceived in a more fluid way, it bends and stretches, becoming something that we develop a heightened awareness of.

Yayoi Kusama (2019) Infinity Mirrored Room: Dancing Lights that Flew Up to the Universe

This exploration of a boundless existence relates strongly to Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Rooms, another key inspiration for my practice. The installation, Dancing Lights that Flew Up to the Universe, is described as a perceptual experience that functions as ‘a harmonious and quiet place for visitors to contemplate their existence, reflect on the passage of time, and think about their relationship to the outer world’ (Hirshhorn 2017). The title of Kusama’s piece acts as an expression of hope and resonates with my own feelings of reverence for the infinite. A sense of spirituality is embodied within the ending of my work, suggesting that it has indeed transcended in the same way that it is predicted that we, as humans, will one day transcend our own experience of reality.

BtL: The photographic strand of your practice, titled Merge/Melt, seems to explore similar notions to Primordial Loop through amalgamating technological and natural elements to create something that exists in a transformed state.

SW: Merge/Melt experiments with the use of digital tools to build new forms and structures, revealing warped patterns and textures that suggest  the physical world is melting into an electronic one. During the production of the series, photographs of jungles and cityscapes were fed into an algorithm and then merged together to generate new entities.

Shona Waldron (2021) from Merge / Melt

The Deep Dream algorithm was used specifically for this purpose as it was able to draw out interesting shapes within the depths of the images. Deep Dream is described as a convolutional neural network and was originally developed in 2015 as a means of providing AI researchers with an insight into what an algorithm sees when it analyses an image. Since its inception, however, it has primarily been used as an artistic tool with results that are psychedelic in appearance. The artist Mario Klingemann is one of the pioneers of working with neural networks in this way. The works Archimedes Principle and Parting From You Now, draw attention to the pareidolic details that can emerge from an image, in the same way that humans are able to observe random shapes in passing clouds. The ability of Deep Dream to provide an algorithmic vision of our environments relates to the computational form of nature seen in Primordial Loop, epitomising the suggestion that ‘computation is existence’ (Lloyd and Ng cited in Kurzweil 2005: 342).

Mario Klingemann (2016) Archimedes’ Principle
Mario Klingemann (2016) Parting From You Now

BtL: There is appears both a visual and conceptual fluidity to your practice, yet also a sense of chaos and the unexpected.

Artist and theorist Joanna Zylinska’s text AI Art: Machine Visions and Warped Dreams also feels especially relevant. Zylinska refers to algorithmic art as ‘an ouroboros-like circle of random variations’ (2020: 72), a description that encapsulates the chaotic nature of my work but equally observes the connectivity that is so integral to its construction. The effect of this merging process is the predominant feature.

Shona Waldron (2021) from Merge / Melt
Shona Waldron (2021) from Merge / Melt

In some images, it becomes difficult to distinguish city lights from stars as the sky dissolves into the architecture and structures blend together like coloured inks, a liquid yet luminous appearance that could almost be the result of street lights reflected in a pool of water. Due to the alteration and enhancement of certain hues, some of the images look more industrial and synthetic whilst others, with jewel bright shades of green and blue, are more jungle-like, allowing each composition to exist on a continuum between metropolis and nature. It is this fluctuation that I find most inspiring as it underscores my interest in the creation of multiplicities.

Shona Waldron (2021) from Merge / Melt

To clearly communicate a sense of things evolving, I present my images as animated video sequences on screens and opted for a circular format in order to create a stronger comparison to the concepts explored in Primordial Loop. These circular shaped pieces embody a more pronounced mutability and link back to Zylinska’s reference to the loop of the ‘ouroboros’, reflecting wholeness and infinity. They additionally have the look of portals, perhaps acting in a similar way to black holes. This creates a further parallel with my video piece which also leads us through into a new dimension.

Shona Waldron (2021) from Merge / Melt

BtL: You are a graduate of the BA Photography course at Falmouth University. Any tips or advice for current / prospective students?

SW: My advice would be to view university as a time to experiment with photography, to try out new ways of working and push the boundaries of the medium. Over the course of my three years at Falmouth, I feel fortunate to have been able to expand my practical image making skills, both with analogue and digital processes. Although it can be strange to do something unfamiliar, I would completely recommend it as it will enable you to develop new areas of interest and gain a broader experience of the arts. And, it goes without saying, to make the most of the university facilities and technical workshops in addition to opportunities for collaborative working whilst you are a student as this provides invaluable support.

BtL: What can we expect from you next?

SW: I am planning to develop more work that expands upon the themes seen Sensorium and incorporates a variety of techniques, I will be continuing to practice in other visual disciplines alongside my photography. In addition to lens-based media, i will be continuing to branch out into other areas such as painting, sculpture and installation – and continuing to experiment. Who knows?

Routledge Award Winner: Summer 2021

Literature Review: Advertising & Social Media

How Has the Rise of Social Media & Social Influencing Impacted on Advertising?

By Amy Miles (2nd june 2021)
In 2015, Facebook launched its first UK advertising campaign, titled Friends and spanning a range of media from TV to posters, magazines and newspapers. Among these images of bodily closeness and handwritten expression there is not one picture of anyone sitting alone at a computer or on their tablet or mobile, tapping the keypad. Yet that, in essence, is what Facebook activity is. There is an inverse relation between the time anyone has to engage in real-world activities and the time they have to spend online looking at pictures, sending messages or ‘liking’ or ‘unliking’ things (and people). Facebook’s campaign draws on the world of robust physical relationships as a means to advertise its online world, which is represented in the ads simply by the box with the tick and ‘Friends’ on it. (Williamson, 2015)
Facebook (2015)
Introduction

The topic of this Literature Review explores how visual material is used within advertising, and how advertising techniques have changed due to the rise in social media. In a society where social media is expanding, it’s important to understand what effects imagery on social media has on purchase decisions from the public.

The Visual Advert

When thinking about the role of visual material / photography within the advertising industry, we may think of large creative teams executing refined advertising imagery. As Swift (2015) proposes, ‘creative teams became the industry norm in advertising agencies’, with advertising shoots being led by art directors and photographers being seen as ‘cultural heroes’ for making imagery to sell items. (Swift, 2015) As a result of these teams, advertising is an expensive outgoing for companies. In 2004, Baz Luhrmann directed a 3-minute film for Chanel, which cost $42 million (Jhully, 2017).

However, in considering how such visuals are used, staging is one technique used to grab attention of the viewers (Messaris, 1996). Messaris outlines how staging of photographs is a technique used within imagery, involving manipulation of photos, as well as misleading text. In his (1996) text Visual Persuasion: The Role of Imagery In Advertising, he discusses a 1990 Volvo commercial (Figure 1) of a monster truck running over a line of cars, until getting to a Volvo which remained untouched. However, the Volvo in the advert had actually been reinforced by steel beams and that the supports of the other cars had been weakened, therefore misleading the viewer.

Figure 1: Volvo (1990)

Despite being written in 1996, thinking about this technique, the analysis still does apply to advertising today. This is also discussed by James Fox (2020) in his documentary Age of the Image. Fox explains how advertising creates a ‘fantasy world, in which we are happier, healthier and more successful.’ (Fox, 2020) Advertisers then suggest that to make this ‘fantasy’ come true, we should go out and buy the products that they’re promoting. This applies to what Messaris (1996) was discussing in the Volvo advertisement, because Volvo created a fake reality, one which still occurs in advertising nowadays, what makes advertising successful is the fact that it relates to the everyday within consumers lives. Berger (2001) discusses how Fenske, an American copywriter, considers that ‘advertising deals with the minutiae of everyday life’ and an advert may be ‘about something that happened to you that very day’. (Berger, 2001:10). This mirrors Fox’s idea of ‘fantasy’ worlds, potentially enhancing your everyday life to become an ideal ‘fantasy’ within the everyday.

Advertising as ‘Art’?

Is advertising considered as a piece of art in its own right, or is it just purely an advertisement? One argument is that advertising cannot be art because ‘it is conceived for commercial purposes, and controlled and financed by corporations’ (Berger, 2001:13). Berger goes on to discuss how advertising professionals think that it is risky to consider creators as ‘artists’ lest the aim of the advert is forgotten. (Berger, 2001) Nonetheless, there is the idea that this depends on the extent creative freedom the creator of the advert is allowed (Bonello, 2005). (Figure 2 & Figure 3)

Figure 2: Cindy Sherman (2011) Mac
Figure 3: Nan Goldin (2016) Alexander McQueen

Bonello (2005) discusses how Peter Saville (Figure 4) has created record covers, but also advertising campaigns, maintaining creative freedom when creating the work. However, he also argues that the line between art and advertising, depends on the intentions behind the work, and whether something is simply being shown, or whether the work is trying to seduce the viewer (Bonello, 2005). Yet, Jordan Seiler proposes that ‘Ultimately the interest of advertising is not to create something that promotes thought or contemplation. It’s to promote a single message. Advertising is about monologue, and art is about dialogue. The two are completely different’ (Seiler in Krashinsky, 2010). This somewhat compliments Berger’s (2001) argument, that the creation of advertising is to send out one clear message, with ‘art’ sending out a message to the audience that requires more thought and time.

Figure 4: Peter Saville (2002) New Order | Retro

Social Media Marketing

According to Tuten (2018), ‘social media are the online means of communication, conveyance, collaboration and cultivation amongst interconnected and interdependent networks of people, communities and organizations enhanced by technological capabilities and mobility.’ (Tuten, 2018:4) Expanding on this, Zarrella (2009) discusses how social media is different from traditional media, because traditional media are ‘one way, static broadcast technologies.’ (Zarrella, 2009:1) He discusses how social media allows users to connect with one another in real time, as opposed to watching a TV commercial for example, and not being able to connect with the broadcaster instantly. With 4.38 billion global internet users, along with the fact that the ‘average user has accounts with 8 different social media services’, it’s no wonder than social media is now used to advertise products. (Tuten, 2018:5)

In terms of companies deciding which social media platform would be best for them to advertise with, Kietzmann et al (2012) conducted research focusing on the 7 building blocks that form the ‘honeycomb model’, (Figure 5) which would help companies to understand consumer engagement on social media platforms. An example of one of the blocks is ‘sharing’, relating to the ‘extent to which consumers engage, distribute and receive contents.’ (Kietzmann et al, 2012:115).

Figure 5: Kietzmann et al (2012) Social Media Functionality

In synergy to this notion, Newberry & McLachlan (2020) discusses the importance of choosing the right type of social media campaign for the content produced, depending on who the target audience is. (Newberry & McLachlan, 2020) This idea somewhat mirrors the Kietzmann et al’s ‘honeycomb’ model, as if companies want their consumers to reproduce their content as a way of marketing, they’ll need to pick a social media platform that is easily accessible for sharing. Despite Kietzmann’s research being conducted in 2012, the ‘honeycomb model’ does still apply when thinking about what social media platform to advertise on, as numerous social media platforms now exist, even more so than in 2012. Despite more social media platforms existing, the model is still relevant and up to date with the characteristics of social media. (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Twitter response to Gillette (2019) campaign
The Rise of Social Media ‘Influencers’

According to Freberg (2010) ‘social media influencers represent a new type of independent third party endorser who shape audience attitudes through blogs, tweets, and the use of other social media.’ (Freberg 2010:90) Freberg also discusses how social media influencers are identified, explaining that this can be through the content statistics; how many times a post has been shared or how many hits on a blog there are. However, Freberg does also point out that brands cannot solely use this method to identify influencers, and that they need to use other methods to ‘evaluate the quality and relevance’ of social media influencers, as well as the influencers audience impressions. (Freberg, 2010: 91). However, Tuten (2018) describes influencers as ‘develop[ing] a network of people through their involvement in activities’, and explains that others trust and rely on influencers to give a truthful opinion. (Tuten, 2018: 94) (Figure 7)

Figure 7: Sydney May Crouch (2020)

Khamis et al (2017), go on to discuss the role of celebrity endorsements (Figure 8 & Figure 9) within advertising and social media influence, explaining advertising that involves celebrities can be used within mainstream media, as well as using their own social media or websites ‘to cultivate their own audience.’ (Khamis et al, 2017: 5) However, Kl and Kim (2019) argue that the technique of using social media influencers (compared with celebrities) is more relatable to consumers, as the advertising content is being produced in the ‘context of SMI’s personal lives’ and is more ‘accessible and credible’. (Kl & Kim, 2019: 905).This links back to Fenske’s argument that advertising is at its best when it’s relatable to the everyday consumer.

Figure 8: Omega (2019)
Figure 9: Heineken (2020)

Many social influencers use the platform ‘Instagram’ to showcase their personal lives, as well as advertisements for brands. According to Manovich (2015) Instagram ‘allows you to capture, edit and publish photos, view photos of your friends, discover other photos through search, interact with them…all through a single device.’ (Manovich, 2015: 11) Manovich also discusses how Instagram was used to document ordinary moments in people’s lives, that they like to show friends and family, meaning snapshot style images are the basis of Instagram posts. This leads onto Schroder’s (2013) observations regarding the snapshot aesthetic. He explores how snapshot type imagery is also used strategically for advertising. (Figure 10)

Figure 10: Larry Sultan (2002) Kate Spade

‘A key aspect of the snapshot style is an appearance of authenticity; snapshot like images often appear beyond the artificially constructed world of typical corporate communication.’ (Schroder, 2013) An emphasis on the fact that snapshot style images promote authenticity is clear within the text, and how snapshot images can show how a product can fit in with the consumers everyday life. This mirrors Kl and Kim’s (2019) arguments; namely that consumers can therefore relate to social media influencers, due to the snapshot aesthetic that their content is (often) styled around. (Figure 11)

Figure 11: Ryan McGinley (2017) Levi’s

Despite this, in Kl and Kim’s (2019) research, proposes that the ‘attractiveness’ of the Instagram photo means whether the consumer believes that the ‘social media influencers content to be visually or aesthetically appealing.’ (Kl & Kim, 2019: 909). Therefore, suggesting that if a consumer finds an influencers’ content appealing, they’re more likely to think that they have good taste, therefore are more inclined to buy the promoted product. The whole idea of social influencing through images on Instagram, links back to what Fenske stated about how adverts are successful if they relate to the everyday, which is what the snapshot type images demonstrate, as they relate to consumers even more so than high budget advertising shots. Yet, creating an appealing image, requires thought and potential editing to make it attractive, which defeats the idea of images being ‘snapshot’ like, so whether influencer ads are really in the style of the ‘snapshot’ aesthetic is debatable, due to the thought and processing that is required to make an image visually appealing. (Figure 12)

Figure 12: Calvin Klein (1995)

Moving on from this, Instagram has the ability to deceive consumers, as false realities are being exposed. In Driel and Dumitrica’s (2020) study on Instagram influencers, the topic of highly edited and overly curated images is explored: one example being that influencers may over-prepare images; they may include props that aren’t realistic in an everyday setting. In addition, the study looked into how influencers now ‘invest in improving the quality of their photos by migrating toward professional equipment.’ (Driel and Dumitrica, 2020: 12) With this being said, the study also went onto say how Instagram content is moving towards looking like an advertisement, rather than a regular upload to Instagram – thus removing the sense of authenticity, and that influencers are starting to make their own higher budget advertisements to make the images attractive. This may have an effect on consumer engagement, because consumers like to see relatable content, but on the other hand, relatable content might not necessarily be as attractive as higher quality content that is produced with higher quality equipment/budgets. As we’ve seen above in Kl and Kim’s (2019) text, attractiveness of an image is important when wanting consumer engagement and purchasing.

Figure 13: Flat Tummy (2018)

With regard to to posts being unrealistic, this may come down to how brands work with the influencers themselves. Haenlein’s (2020), study investigated how to be successful on Instagram, and discussed how brands can become too involved when working with influencers in terms of how they promote the product. It concludes that brands shouldn’t get too involved with the creative content side of the arrangement, because it may result in multiple influencers producing the same content, which consumers would not percieve as authentic. Additionally, approval of content was discussed, because brands don’t want influencers to promote false information, for example Kim Kardashian’s advert with brand ‘Flat Tummy’; (Figure 13) she promoted a product which claimed to cleanse your body and lessen bloating. This is important when producing content for an audience, as false advertisement can discourage consumers from trusting and purchasing from the brand.

Conclusion

The material explored here seems to suggest that when social influencing is carried out in a truthful and reliable manner, it can be successful for brands, however it did identify that Instagram influencing is becoming more and more commercial, due to taking steps that aren’t as relatable to consumers – moving away from the authenticity and snapshot aesthetic that influencing initially started out with. This then suggests that influencers are more advertising creators (who also create other relatable content), rather than people who create relatable content as well as a few adverts sporadically. This relates to what Berger (2001) was discussing, especially regarding being an ‘artist’; are social influencers creators, or are they simply just another form of advert for brands to use? When exploring the literature, it was significant that there was a lack of research regarding the extent to which influencer created images affect consumers / what consumers think of influencer content – in terms of thinking visually rather than statistically, with Driel and Dumitrica’s (2020) work being one of the key studies in this area.

Follow aMY MIles on Instagram

References
  • BERGER, Warren (2001) Advertising Today London: Phaidon.
  • BONELLO, Deborah (2005) Inside Design & Media: Art in Advertising: The dark art shows its colours: some say inside every copywriter is a frustrated novelist struggling to get out. But perhaps the difference between advertising and fine art is illusory, say Deborah Bonello in The Guardian, 14 March 2005
  • Fox, James. 2020. Age of the Image. Series 1: Episode 3: Seductive Dreams. [TV Broadcast] BBC Four, 16 March 2020.
  • FREBERG, Karen. GRAHAM, Kristin. McGAUGHEY, Karen. FREBERG, Laura, A. (2010) ‘Who are the social media influencers? A study of public perceptions of personality’ in Public Relations Review. 37(1), 90-92.
  • HAENLEIN, Anadol (2020) ‘Navigating the New Era of Influencer Marketing: How to Be Successful on Instagram, TikTok, & Co’. California management review 63(1), 5–25.
  • JHALLY, Sut (2017) Advertising At the Age of an Apocalypse.  [Film]
  • KHAMIS, S. ANG, L. AND WELLING, R. (2017) ‘Self-branding, ‘micro-celebrity’ and the rise of Social Media Influencers’ in Celebrity Studies, 8(2), 5.
  • KIETZMANN, Jan. H. SILVESTRE, Bruno, S. McCARTHY, Ian, P and PITT, Leyland, F. (2012) ‘Unpacking the social media phenomenon: towards a research agenda’ in Journal of Public Affairs 12(2), 115.
  • KL, Chung-Wha &, KIM, Youn-Kyung (20190 ‘The Mechanism by Which Social Media Influencers Persuade Consumers: The Role of Consumers’ Desire to Mimic’ in Psychology & Marketing 36(10), 905–22.
  • KRASHINSKY, S. (2010) ‘Happy Together: art and outdoor advertising’ in The Globe and Mail. [Online] Available at https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/marketing/happy-together-art-and-outdoor-advertising/article4327362/ Accessed 17.11.20
  • MANOVICH, Lev. (2016) Instagram and The Contemporary Image in Academia.edu. [Online] Available at https://www.academia.edu/34706553/Instagram_and_Contemporary_Image [Accessed 25.11.20]
  • MESSARIS, Paul (1996) Visual Persuasion: The Role of images in Advertising. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.
  • NEWBERRY, Christina and McLachlan, Stacey (2020) ‘Social Media Advertising 101: How to get the most out of your ad budget’ in HootSuite [Online] Available at https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-advertising/ Accessed 23.11.20
  • SCHROEDER, Jonathan (2013) ‘Snapshot aesthetics and the strategic imagination’ in Invisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture. 18. Available at http://ivc.lib.rochester.edu/snapshot-aesthetics-and-the-strategic-imagination/ [Accessed 25.11.20]
  • SWIFT, Rebecca (2015) ‘Advertising Photography’ in Oxford Art Online. Available at https://www-oxfordartonline-com.ezproxy.falmouth.ac.uk/groveart/view/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.001.0001/oao-9781884446054-e-7002274532 [accessed 12.11.20]
  • TUTEN, Tracy L. (2021) Social Media Marketing. 4th edition. London: Sage Publications.
  • VAN, DRIEL, L. and DUMITRICA, D. (2020) ‘Selling brands while staying “Authentic”: The professionalization of Instagram Influencers.’ in Convergence. P1
  • ZARRELLA, Dan (2010) The Social Media Marketing Book. California: O’Reilly Media.

 

Showcase Portfolio: Hannah Wright

Hannah Wright

‘A family album holds a profusion- a confusion – of pleasures and pains, as pictures old and new offer themselves up with depictive innocence. Family collections are never just memories’ (Holland 2000: 1)

 

The intent of Detriment (2016) is to unpick the family myths and reflect on a personal journey of loss, with significant memories from my childhood. Photographs from my childhood are haunted with memories of conflict and abuse, or as Barthes would refer to as the ‘Punctum’ of a photograph, a personal response that ‘pierces’ or ‘pricks’ me (Barthes 1980). My pieces are a response to the past, and elaborate on the referent, which haunts my family album, by combining elements of past and present. This project is similar to the workings of a family album in that I am bringing new perspectives, new understandings and new forgetting’s (Holland 2000: 1).

Letters of Expired Devotion (2017), is a progression from my previous project, Detriment to a Family Album; Where I continue to explore identity, memory, absence and metaphors for the process of remembering and forgetting. In a response to the absence of my own family album, my practise pieces together fragments of family history with my own memory, by creating reconstructed archives, with the aid of my Grandparents love letters. I created this project with the intent of placing my own identity within existing family archives, and shift personal details of family, loss and conflict into a public space. My practice enabled me to gather and piece together these fragments of family history, combine them with my own memory, to create a personal response to them.

‘The archive oscillates between embodiment and disembodiment, composition and decomposition, organization and chaos’ (Spieker 2008: 1)

My practice works in a similar way to an archive, in that I am organising, and piecing together fragmented memories, preserved in the form of photographs, files, objects and stories. My work has taken the shape of a reconstructed archive, as a substitute, to make up for the absence of the family photographs of my childhood that are in the possession of my Dad. An archive can become a haunted place, as they do not simply reconnect us with what we have lost. Instead, they remind us (Spieker 2008: 4). My practice recycles and reinvents family treasures, showing present family perspectives, such as my own, to reveal the time that has past. In Freud’s terms, the unheimlich can be connected to archives, as “Heim” meaning home in German, and “Heimlich” means secret, or hidden; Marking the unexpected return of an object we recognise as familiar.

George Wright, My Granddad, survived the sinking of HMS Sikh off Tobruk, 1942, at 20 years old. During a two-year interment as a prisoner of war in Italy, he became friends with a fellow prisoner, Bert Cottrell, who later became his Brother – in – law. The letters between my grandparents began when my Granddad was sent to Lympstone, Devon, to recover in a rehabilitation centre after falling ill with dysentery and malaria.

‘Ownership is the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects. Not that they come alive in him; it is he who lives in them’ (Benjamin 1969: 61)

The letters were passed down to my mum and I when my Grandparents passed away, precious memorabilia to cherish and remember them by, as a part of their lives are preserved in writing. My starting point began with a running theme of Melancholy and absence throughout my practice.

Follow Hannah Wright on Instagram

Showcase Portfolio: Louis Stopforth

Louis Stopforth

Strangers (2018) is a social documentary looking at street skateboarding sub-culture. The presentation of this work as a low quality newsprint zine formed a tactile and sensory viewing experience which reflected the rawness of the subject matter. Utilising the poor quality of a 35mm point and shoot camera, resulting in grainy images which highlight the rough terrain and movements of those recorded. This combination of imagery and material presentation created a visceral and dynamic series of images that ‘interact with one another and form an eye-catching, compelling picture story’ (Kobré, 1996, P.132). Alongside documenting the act of street skateboarding in an environment un-suited to it, the zine interspersed the zine with portraits of those that were part of the sub-culture during this period. Inspired by Larry Clark’s Tulsa (1971) I worked on this project as an insider, presenting the perspective not of an observer but a participant. ‘I wanted the audience to be eavesdropping on a world they had no chance to enter’ (Clark, 2015). It was this insiders perspective that allowed me to honestly and accurately depict a group otherwise not understood for its creativity and innovation in regards to their environment.

 

‘everything takes form, even infinity’ (Bachelard, 1964, P.212).

Concept of Space (2019) is a photographic investigation of space, in a metaphysical sense, and the relationship between this intangibility of subject and the representational nature of photography. The medium of photography is limited in the sense that something must physically exist before the camera in order to create a readable and representational photographic trace; photography deals ‘with the actual’ (Szarkowski, 2007, p.8). Exploring the abstraction of the photographic image itself I present minute extracts of photographs which exhibited variations in colour, shadow and form, and thus suggestive of depth and dimension. This is an abstract interpretation of a ‘non-subject’ yet derivative of imagery that showed clear and descript spaces such as rooms and corridors. As singular images one section of this project was titled monoliths, and the other, layers. The latter section is comprised of multiple singular abstractions overlaying one another and was developed as an ode to cubism and the belief in merging perspectives to better represent the three dimensional when challenged by the confines of a two dimensional medium. This issue is a discussion which goes beyond this project and speaks for all photography presented in its typical flat surfaced, depictional form.

Both sections of Concept of Space are printed onto transparent acetate, a material comparable to that of photographic film. However it was the tactility of this material and its transparent attributes that drew me to work with it. The transparency of the acetate means that the viewer can simultaneously experience their surroundings as well as the image, eliminating the simple act of looking at a print that discusses an idea but doesn’t physically interact with it. The works can be experienced both as an image and as an object in themselves; they are ‘both images and physical objects that exist in time and space’ (Edwards and Hart, 2004, P.1).

Follow Louis Stopforth on instagram

 

Showcase Portfolio: Shona Waldron

Shona waldron

Strangers (2019) The term ‘stranger’ conveys a sense of distance, anonymity and perhaps even a slight uneasiness. These images explore the way we construct internal barriers to shield ourselves from others, a physical separation which is epitomised by the blurred areas of the work. The notion that ‘photography only depicts the surface of things’ (Ruff cited in Rehberg 2017) encapsulates the way we might perceive a conversation from an outsider’s perspective, blind to the personalities of the subjects as well as the original context of the exchange. Although concealment is the primary intention, some images paradoxically reveal pieces of faces as each stranger was asked to hold and position the rips and scratches in any way they felt inspired to do so. This idea of enabling the subject to be an active participant in their own depiction reflects the way we constantly adjust which facets of ourselves we reveal to others.

 

Light of the Mind (2018) turns to nature to externalise inner psychologies, creating a world where warped patterns and textures begin to emerge. This intends to replicate the landscape of an unsettled mind, capturing strange resonances which exist somewhere on the margin of our everyday reality. Through burning the negatives, the construction of each image is a two-fold process as, even though the original print is destroyed, it is reconfigured into something entirely new. This transformative effect relates to the power of the human subconscious to build a place home to both material and immaterial forms.

Organic Body (2019) Through the use of bold combinations of colour and shape,Organic Body conveys anthropomorphic presence within the natural world in an abstract, less defined way, blurring the definition of what we are able to identify as human. The physical manipulation and transformative quality of the work encapsulates the notion of life in an ‘alien everyday reality’ (Debord 1994: 153) as the subject matter becomes estranged from its original context. By creating something unfamiliar and alien-like, the images intend to evoke a futuristic vision – a contemporary renaissance in a sense – which questions what it means to live in a world on the constant brink of evolution.

Follow Shona Waldron on instagram

Showcase Portfolio: Amy Miles

Amy Miles

Goods Inwards is an observational study of how the purpose of Industrial Estates have changed and evolved over time. The work shows characteristics of the area which may be overlooked, making the viewer notice the un-noticeable. In the context of New Topographics, Baltz is significant when he posits: ‘What I was interested in was the phenomena of the place. Not the thing itself, but the effect of it: the effect of this kind of urbanization, the effect of this kind of living, the effect of this kind of building.’ (Baltz in Campany, 2015). Goods Inwards is a progression on from the intent of New Topographics – rather than looking at the immediate effects of the industrialization, it studies the effects of societal development in terms of how the area has once thrived, and now declined – maybe much like the circle of life.

Follow Amy Miles on instagram

 

Campany, D. (2015) ‘Fast World, Slow Photography’ in The Financial Times Magazine (16th May 2015) available here

Showcase Portfolio: Lydia Page-Wright

Lydia Page-Wright

Untitled Films aims to draw from – but not provide the answers to – known visual tropes from both cinema and photography and explore how an aesthetic / narrative / subject matter may (or may not) be recognisable to the viewer. Drawing from Kristeva (1966), Alfaro (1996) reminds us ‘There are always other words in a word, other texts in a text. We [should] understand texts not as self-contained systems, but as differential and historical, as they are shaped by the repetiton and structures of other textual systems’ (Alfaro, 1996, p,268). The work aims to sit on this oscillating boundary of a nagging recognition, between the literal and the obscure, the description the photograph (and accompanying text) might seem to promise, but yet the metaphor that ultimately, it always is.

Follow Lydia Page-Wright on instagram

 

Alfaro, María Jesús Martínez (1996) ‘Intertextuality: Origins and Development of the Concept’ in Atlantis (Vol. 18, No. 1/2) December 1996.

Showcase Portfolio: Cicely Oreffo

Cicely Oreffo

Mindfulness aims to discover peace and contentment in frantic times. It is about being aware and present, whilst at the same time, acknowledging that ‘life only happens here – at this very moment’ (Williams and Penman, 2014, p.108). Mindfulness focuses on the mundane, exploring places and objects that provide comfort and happiness but are often overlooked. The images have a sense of melancholy and nostalgia, with a focus on ubiquitous and overlooked subjects; there is a mix of sharp and unfocused photographs, and images with bolder colours; this is to prevent a lull in the audience’s attention, as mindfulness is about maintaining awareness. As part of this project, engagement in mindfulness practices such as conscious breathing and walking meditation was important, yet another connection with not only the subject, but the world around us,

Follow Cicely Oreffo on instagram

 

 

Williams, M. and Penman, D. (2014) Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World London: Piatkus