Picbod13 exhibition | change of plans

Picbod brief
Inspired by some the idea of photographing a display and make it as the pixels show sharp, made change my installation theme. It is still based around the digital as well as the values of the physical artefact, the edition. After some though and experimentation with my new concept I decided I will call it “Analog to digital, Digital to analog and the art of databending.”
Heavily influenced by digital technologies, the internet and it’s social implications, as well as my appreciation for film and the processes involved, I will be combining the two in to one.

Glitch/Databending

Last summer after being frustrated with a Canon 5Dmk2, which was giving me corrupted files, I did a research on it and instead of finding a solution I discovered Glitch Art. A glitch is a short lived computer malfunction. In case of file being corrupted I got files with permanent transformations, that I really didn’t enjoy, but the beauty of these chaotic patterns, with these vibrant colours attracted to find a way to recreate it.

glitched photograph from a Canon 5Dmk2

So I discovered databending, which is similar to circuit bending but with data. Databending is the practice of intentionally causing a file to be corrupted, by simply not doing what you suppose to. Open the file with an editor it was never meant for. The act expresses the non-conformity of our nature, the need to set the bits and bytes free from their proprietary chains. The idea of hacking away something is revolutionary and can be very creative.

Very basic techniques of databending include using Wordpad, Hex editor, text editor, audio editor or even write a bit of code that will perform the bends to the code. Processes for video exist although I haven’t been involved yet.

I have been researching on this topic and it’s relation with art since September. More advanced techniques like cachemash or sonification of data can create very impressive results.

cachemash by eaubscene, on flickr
cachemash by eaubscene, on flickr
hellocatfood(audacity)
image passed through an audio editor. by hellocatfood on flickr

A few links:

GlitchikerGlitchBot(Bit_Synthesis), Glitch Art (flickr group), Precise Mishandling, GLI.TC/H, stAllio!’s way, Rosa Menkman

Were does it all fit with my project?

I decided I want to use such techniques because their results are random and permanent. Although a digital replica can occur, the digital artefact produced is unique. Only after a lot experimentation you might know what to expect, but you never really know what will happen when you replace a few characters in the code, add some text, or even random strings. Still it doesn’t defy the rules of digital politics. If it can be copied, then it is not unique. Sean Carroll explained in his talk, the idea of “fixing the fluid image”. This will be the path for this project. Printing in the darkroom unique editions of these photo manipulations.

The process

Step1
I made some portraits with a 35mm film camera in black & white film. I scanned these in high resolution.

Step2
I took raw (CR2 file) photographs of the images off the display with a Canon 5Dmk2 in order to create new files. Each file has a header that tells the computer of it’s type and origin. The scanned jpegs differ a lot in structure with the ones from a digital camera.

Step3
Imported the new files and then converted the high-res raw files into smaller, easier to manipulate jpegs.

Step4
I bended the code either with Notepad++ or xvi32 Hex editor.

20130307-045224
self portrait

Step5
At this point I brought in the game the Mamiya RB67, a medium format film camera with a 127mm lens and a 80mm extension tube. This gave me the chance to get close enough to see the individual pixels of the screen. I used a 120 roll film, b&w ISO 400. I took a reading from the screen and exposed for 4 seconds at f/32. Obviously times differ when the screen has different brightness or just displaying a darker or brighter image.

Step6

Develop the film and get in the darkroom, produce unique prints.

One branch of this project is the darkroom prints for the physical exhibition and the other is the digital exhibition, which stops at step 4.

What is the message?

I am using these effects produced by the bending of the data to visualize the noise introduced into our lives every single moment by the information overload of the digital media. Every line of corrupted code, is a line visualized by different colour. Every corrupted character represents the signals interfering with us.

When I did these portraits I didn’t explain the reason behind them. I didn’t want to affect the subjects in any way… Well this is relevant. The fact that they all look at the camera is because I asked them for a portrait.

This project is going to be an installation at #picbod13 with one or more screens displaying the digital files and next to them the black & white prints.

Feel free to leave your feedback. I will soon be posting more material on this project.

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Fresh@CU: Analogue Photography Workshop

I was employed by Fresh once again, though this time George Rippon was running an analogue photography workshop and I was to his teaching assistant. The workshop was targeted to students currently studying on the foundation year of the School Art & Design of Coventry University. The purpose of the workshop was to introduce analogue photography to the students and also show them a part of what we do in the Photography course. George had prepared a schedule for the day starting with a lecture on the principles of photography and manual exposure -ISO, aperture, shutter speed- and induction to Pentax K1000 35mm camera, probably the most famous “student” camera since 1976.

I have been using older model for the past two years, Asahi Pentax KM, so it was very familiar to work with and be able to explain how is to be used.

This pdf is the brief given to me by George a few days before the workshop.
analogue-workshop.pdf

After George delivered the lecture we introduced the cameras and film to the students. I explained the basic functions on the body and lens as well as health and safety tips as the workshop happened in a photo studio. After this I assisted the students to load the black & white film on the back of the cameras. Some struggled more than others, but we eventually loaded about 15 canisters.

In order to let students go out and use the 24exp. film we started working indoors, in the studio, were light 100% controlled, in comparison with outdoors conditions. We put the students into small groups and set the lights on the modelling lamps in order to practice. The exercise involved a person posing in front of the light and a person taking the photograph. After a few frames they switched. The goal on this was understand manual exposure and use the built in light metre of the K1000.

Half way the films we let the students to go outdoors and this time except of light, think of composition as more elements would have been involved in their frame.

After the break the students brought in their films and I explained them how to unload it. I loaded the films on the Ilford FP40 processor and file them in labeled sleeves as they were developed.

I filled the darkroom trays with chemicals.

The darkroom session started and first thing we went through with George was all the health and safety related information. It is very simple to work within a darkroom, but it could be dangerous for ones health or the equipment’s if one doesn’t know the related information.

We started with contact printing which is fairly simple and would allow the students to have an image of a printed negative. I explained to the students the benefit of doing test strips before you print big. We let them develop their prints and showed them how to use the dryers. Next step was to choose one frame and print on 5×7 RC paper.

For many it was a challenging experience but I really enjoyed giving my knowledge on this matter. I am very sure I could do it again specially with people eager to learn. One more thing I would certainly like to is work at a printing lab. I was given a few emails from London labs, by photographer Laura Hynd, though I haven’t pursued this yet.

Core Project

Building on previous experience and concerns, your task is to make a piece of work, which integrates your personal interests with an assigned site in Coventry. To help clarify your personal response, you are encouraged to research your site fully before you start taking photographs, using local social and cultural history, myths and/or the landscaped geography as starting points.


Your project needs to be lens based but there are no restrictions about which direction you develop your project; it has been specifically designed to encourage your own personal interests and direction. However, it needs to be original to you. You are advised to use this flexibility as an opportunity to explore your own photographic direction and investigate an area of photography, which interests you. The presentation of your project should be appropriate to its development.

After changing my plans I decided to set my project on Map 7. Initially, I didn’t consider Map 7 as a possible candidate because it is close to City Centre of Coventry, which I though I new very well. I was planning to base my project as further away possible from the City Centre. The reason was because I wanted to explore new grounds. Also the fact that since the beginning of the term I own a bike, made me eager to investigate and document new places.

Map of Coventry. Google Maps. Designated documented area.

to view original PDF click here

to view the Core Project click here