Photography Arts | Field Notes |

November 2, 2019

Conceptual Art Practice | Materials | Centrepiece design


Having completed the location shoot I now knew that my course of action would be to build 3D photo-collage sculptures (which I'll refer to from now on as 'centrepieces') and bring them back in to the location scenes using digital composite techniques.

Practical considerations for centrepieces

The following pages from my notebook illustrates the thinking behind choosing digital composites and size, shape and proportions consideration.

Notes on physically positioning the objects in the scenes

Developing characteristics for each shape

Thinking of the objects as balloons or bundles segmented with strings

Further developing each shape

Thinking about applying the centrepieces to the background images

Blue Craft Foam

I had envisioned a set of centrepieces that were sculpted (possible in blue craft foam) to represent something of my own subjective interpretation of the locations. I had done some sketch work to try to identify the character of those shapes. But as I worked through the practical considerations I found that there were some features to this approach that weren't working to my satisfaction. Firstly, I felt that by shaping the centrepieces individually I was introducing another layer of complexity to the image and perhaps getting in the way of the viewer's interpretation by adding too much to the treatment. Secondly I felt that shapes of this kind functioned to divide the background image into left and right portions, which was not going to work for me. I wanted the background image to read as a whole single image, not as two segments divided centrally by the centrepiece object.

This led me to consider a simpler approach.

Simplifying the treatment

Another issue I had with the polymorphic centrepiece designs was that they broke the relationship with the 6x17 background image. I felt they would work better in circles or squares. Therefore establishing an internal logic to the relationship between the centrepiece and the background seemed appealing. I opted for a 6x17 ratio to the centrepieces so that the correlation between background and centrepiece remained intact.

Considering rectangles

Artistic references

The oblong object with strings (which had developed from an earlier idea about using balloons for the centrepieces tied with strings) reminded me of the 'Packages' of Christo and Jeanne-CLaude. This visual reference provided a useful direction for this treatment. Having settled on this treatment and the 6x17 proportions it remained to figure out the exact size of the centrepiece objects and how to make them, in particular with respect to materials and the limitations of our enlargers.

Notes on making and ordering analogue negatives from digital files

Working out sizes

Printing considerations

Silver Gelatin Emulsion

I wanted the centrepieces to be reconstructions of the original locations. It is thought that the human mind doesn't contain recorded images of places in complete form like video files—but it does contain a kind of index from which a memory is re-constructed from fragments of imagery that are remembered or imagined and are built into a cohesive whole at the moment of recall. My working analogy for this process is collage. In my proposal I outlined a collage method of building the overall image from fragments of the whole. I decided to use a mixed variety of materials and print onto them (from medium format negatives made from my digital panoramas) using Silver Gelatin Emulsion. My goal therefore was to assemble enough materials pieces printed with Silver Gelatin Emulsion to reconstruct the landscapes in collage.


Simplifying the treatment was a major milestone in this part of the process. I felt that I now had a practical way forward that would be achievable and not over complicated, would allow the viewer more room for interpretation and allow me to focus on the materials choices that would need to be made next.


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