Having made the decision to end the shooting phase of my project at Stokeleigh Camp, it is time to make my final image selections for submission. This part of any project has always been the most difficult for me and so with my Stokeleigh Camp work I have tried to be utterly ruthless with myself. No easy task.
Additionally, the project has been selected to be included in an exhibition at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol from August to October, so this has added an extra level of realism to the equation.
I have considered the opinions of my lecturers, visiting photographers, my peers and my own students and have highlighted some key questions to answer when making my final choices.
Scale – What size should this work be presented at?
The question of scale is something that has really made me think very carefully about with this project. From the onset, I knew I wanted to make prints for display and felt a relatively large sized print size was the way to go. Opinions on this subject varied with many of the people I discussed the project with placing value on the small 5×4 paper negatives as much as the enlarged test prints I had made. In contrast, the exhibition venue have expressed a strong preference for larger prints to maintain impact in their cavernous space. The reality of the forthcoming exhibition has added a real sense of importance to this difficult decision making process.
The conclusion I have come to is that for my submission I will present three, 12”x14.5” prints flush mounted onto black foam core with an additional 5”x4” print with the 5”x4” negative mounted alongside it. The smaller print and negative will be presented in a deep box frame while the larger prints are intended to be mounted straight to a gallery wall. I feel this meets the expectations of both schools of thought. The larger prints will satisfy my own need to see detail while the smaller print / muddied neg pairing will provide insight into the making process.. My justification for including both small and larger prints is that to me it would be perfectly conceivable to see both sizes displayed in a single exhibition.
Additionally I have also made some small test patch prints of the images on 6”x8” paper. The test patches are taken from 30”x25” actual size prints as this is what I believe will be the best size for the Tobacco Factory exhibition. I have also decided that these images should be mounted to black MDF, but the test patches will allow me to analyse if the images are able to hold enough detail to be printed at this size.
Embedding the landscape – Am I creating sufficient agency between myself as artist, the space I am working in and the final image output?
This question cropped up during a review with visiting photographer Steve Macleod. I am not sure that there is really a correct answer to this point, and perhaps the question was born more out of creating further internal debate than to sway a decision. The conclusion I have come to is that I really wanted to keep this project a photographic print based outcome. I am content with the subtle, yet present, embedded soil into the negatives.
I have considered other options of screen printing outcomes with suspended soil or gum bichromate embedded with earth, but the test images I made did not match the feel of the Ilford prints and I simply did not want to deviate too much from my original idea for the outcome.
Conclusively, I don’t feel the need to justify the link between image and space any further than the negative stage. Making it even more prevalent feels to me to be verging on overkill and I think the subtlety of the negatives is strong enough. After rereading my research posts and reconsidering the work I looked at, I have concluded that the relationship I have established is sufficient. Many of the artists I have looked at maintain a link between location and outcome, resolved only as a photographic print.
Final image choices
I approached this task by first making small laser prints of all of the images I shot. Comparing each image individually, I selected certain characteristics I felt best portrayed human activity at Stokeleigh Camp and reflected the original intentions of the project. I concluded that I preferred the less than perfect exposures, with flatter highlight areas shallower depth of field. The developing marks caused by my own flippant processing technique add a link to myself as artist and the double exposure images provide a metaphor of the space being reused over many centuries. It seemed obvious also that the contours of the ancient ramparts should be included too.
Two, 6″x8″ Ilford Black and White prints showing patches of my selected exhibition images at 30″x25″. These prints will not be submitted, they are simply to assess image quality at a much larger print size.
Two, 5″x4″ prints to be mounted to black foam core and display next to each other in a deep box frame. The original muddied negative image on Ilford paper and a positive Ilford print at actual size.
Three, 12″x14.5″ Ilford prints to be mounted to black foam core for submission.