The last few weeks have been a fairly stressful time for the Art Major students at PSC. The part timers have been struggling with a full time workload and we have all been torn between the need to experiment so we can work out what the hell we are actually on about, and the hard fact that we need to produce a completed, coherent folio at the end of first semester.
We were given some assignments to help us work out what we were doing but despite the enthusiasm of the lecturers they were less than useful for a lot of us. Seems some people respond better to these exercises than others. Wow, people are different, who knew? Actually there seems to be very little recognition of this in the course as a whole and you’d swear that they think that all artists are the same and think the same way.
Anyway…. After a few false starts my folio concept for this year (not just this semester as in previous years) revolves around questioning the photographic portrait and why it has become such a regimented thing. The easy way to explain this is to look at the diversity of styles in the Archibald Prize for painted portraits and then have a look at the National Photographic Portrait Prize where there seems to be a much narrower range of expression.
To start with, and it is just a start to this investigation, I have looked at sharpness which seems to be a key requirement for a photographic portrait. A little bit out of focus is a cardinal sin in photography since it indicates sloppy technique. But what if everything is out of focus? How far must you got to make it look like it was deliberate and then how far can you go before it is too far out of focus? Lots of questions and no clear answers yet, if ever. As always there was a last minute rush with these, mainly because I was still wrestling with technique. None of these are manipulated afterwards, it is pretty much straight how it came from the camera other than the usual exposure and colour adjustments that all photos get. I’m not even sure whether it would be feasible to reproduce this technique in Photoshop since there is more than just blurring going on.
Another new thing with these is size, something that becomes critical at this stage. The last two were printed to almost A0 size (841 x 1189mm) as an experiment since the general consensus was that they need to be large. Fortunately you can get really cheap large prints at Officeworks on plain paper so it didn’t break the bank, but come the end of year exhibition and they will all have to be done on a proper printer with expensive paper.