Assignment 5: Reflections on feedback

My first, hasty thought after a quick reading of Prof. Rose’s feedback has been that my essay was in many ways ‘wrong’ and that I needed to rework it substantially, so I was initially discouraged even if my tutor’s overall comment was positive.

However, when I reread it carefully I started to see things differently and the feedback got really rich: the observations and suggestions were certainly meant to be useful pointers on how to make improvements in some places of the essay at hand and give me additional information on aspects and issues that I might not be aware of, but also offered important criteria for tackling essay writing at large.

I shall now try to summarise the main ‘lessons’ I got from this feedback (I put my tutor’s words in inverted commas).

I should be precise and consider carefully what I write, also implicitly: if I say for instance that the works were also exhibited in their entirety ‘is it the case that they are ever displayed singly’? Here an innocent little word like also does create misunderstandings.

It is advisable to double-check the meaning of what I write, to avoid mistakes: to say that an artwork is site-specific means that it remains in the place for which it has been created, otherwise if it is displayed elsewhere this ‘immediately removes the possibility of their being site-specific.’

Try not to be vague, go into details, go below the surface: if I say that the works belong to the landscape from which they came this is true ‘in a way, but also think about the artist’s intervention’.

Do not take at face value what primary sources say, always make an effort to evaluate them critically, question them: for instance ‘always approach artist’s own words with a degree of caution since they will emphasize (quite naturally) what they want their work to mean which is not necessarily the same as the viewer’s understanding.’

(Following from the above) Do ask myself questions about aspects of work mentioned, probe them further: in this case the relevance given to process in these artworks, their ‘history’, the act of repetition, the concept of ‘nature’.

So with all these precious inputs I got myself to work again on the essay and I did the following the best I was able to. After correcting mistakes and inaccuracies, following my tutor’s suggestions I tried to distantiate myself from my primary sources – in this case the substantial absence of secondary sources gives me a certain responsibility to at least attempt a critical appraisal. I also eliminated parts that did not seem really necessary or that were somehow reiterations of concepts already expressed at some other point. I rearranged some of the paragraphs in order to chain ideas in a more consequential way, to enhance cohesion and readability of the text. And lastly I rechecked the meanings of the words I was not totally sure of and my grammar, being English a second language for me.

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Assignment 5: Reflective Commentary

 

Studying for Part 5 has been a different experience from the other parts of the course: even if for several years now I have been dealing with fabrics and fibres in multiple ways – from stitching and manipulating them in experimental samples with multi-media techniques to learning rigorous pattern making, cutting and sewing – this has been the first time that I have approached textiles as materials/media having specific qualities that make them suitable for use in a high number of functional, design or art contexts.

In this regard and considering the very wide scope of the subject I have found very useful and stimulating the organization of Part 5 in four main viewpoints centred around the course themes of time and place. This has greatly helped me to connect the study of textiles to the other 4 parts of the course – contemporary art, creative reading, visual communications and photography: if at the beginning these disciplines seemed to me rather vaguely linked, they appear now all neatly and satisfyingly ‘stitched together’ – if I may use a textile metaphor. And having seen how the themes of time and place have been successfully ‘weaved’ through all parts of the course, I have now an idea of how I could decline and explore a theme in different disciplines, contexts and media.

The section on the life cycle of textiles and sustainability (Project 1) has opened up new perspectives for me. Like many, I am already used to collect old garments and fabrics for recycling or upcycling in new projects but I had never thought of doing so in the wider frame of well-defined practices to adopt during all the design/making stages as proposed by the Textiles Environment Design (TED) on their website. And this is certainly something that I shall try to implement in all crafts – textiles – but also jewellery and ceramics, two activities that I practice and that present many sustainability issues, from potentially toxic chemicals to waste of energy resources.

In Project 2 (revival of craft and the hand-made) I find particularly inspiring the distinction made between the workmanship of risk centred on the individual and the workmanship of certainty centred on the industrial design/production. I think that this type of approach can really offer a useful conceptual tool to designers, makers and artists in their experiences and dealings with materials and methods, especially if combined with the development of a personal narrative as further mentioned by Project 2.

Another very helpful instrument is the set of qualities outlined in Project 3 to analyse the various contexts in which textiles are employed in the environment. The same qualities can also be profitably considered during designing and making so as to work with enhanced focus and awareness in one’s own practice.

Finally Project 4 shifts attention from the use of textiles in the environment to the intimate relation that textiles have with the human body and while it concentrates research and exercises mainly on fashion, the function of ‘enveloping the body’ could also be explored in art by taking advantage of the visual/tactile characteristics of textiles and of their draping/handling/protective qualities.

(509 words)

 

 

Assignment 5: A sense of place, a sense of time: ‘Caught by the Tide’ (2014) by textile artist Debbie Lyddon

 

 

(All images are from Debbie Lyddon’s website and blog)

I discovered the work of British textile artist Debbie Lyddon two years ago and started following its evolution closely but it was only in the last months that I gradually understood how her slowly developed reflective pieces are in many ways deeply connected with the fundamental themes of this course – place and time. This is why for my last Assignment I choose to study a body of work by her, ‘Caught by the Tide’ (2014), that has directly grown from her special, intimate, prolonged relation with the coastal environment of North Norfolk, and specifically of Wells-by-the-Sea, and the processes of change brought to it by the daily tides.

The pieces of this series – a variety of Cloths, Pots and Pipes – were created over an extended period and finally exhibited as a cohesive whole in 2014 at the Society of Designer Craftsmen Gallery in London. Even if, judging from the images of the exhibition, it seems that also in the artificial and space-limited setting of a gallery they still resonated strongly with the landscape from which they were born, the act of exhibiting them in a gallery somehow interrupted and froze the flow of their organic evolution and set them apart as objects. This ‘objectification’ is a step that the artist deemed necessary to get a perspective on her work but of course it also implied creating a distance from it, a separation that took away ‘the closeness of being with it’ as Debbie Lyddon noted in her blog.

That said, I think that reading the posts of her compelling, at times poetic blog and learning how her pieces organically evolved in time, how they grew from her thoughts and her walks and experiences in the environment is really important to understand her creative practice, develop a fuller appreciation of her work and usefully integrate the exhibition. Her emphasis on the processes of creation and on the action of natural elements on the materials she gathers and transforms makes us look at her actual pieces with increased attention, ‘through’ their story, and they become ‘charged’ with the place they are physically imbued with. These are aspects of her work that remind me of another textile and paper artist, Cas Holmes, who creates evocative mixed media pieces from salvaged materials found in the urban and natural landscape.

From reading Debbie Lyddon’s blog we get to know that the canvas she uses is that found on the beach in the form of tarpaulins, boat covers and sails and still bears strong associations with its primary functions of protection in a marine environment and for sailing by people who live by the sea. We learn among other things that to create some of her pieces, the ‘Tarpaulin Cloths’, she repeatedly dipped them into saltwater – ‘I like to use the sea as a resource – it is another material available to me – so I put this cloth into the sea and then left it outside in the salty, coastal environment’. And in describing the process the artist uses what I think is a very beautiful, powerful expression – ‘taking the cloth to the water’ – like for a personal, repetitive ritual that goes well beyond enriching the cloth with salt and let the sewn-in metal rings gradually rust.

An aspect that appears as fundamental in this artist’s work is the act of repetition, in the form of repetitive, contemplative gestures, recurring shapes and stitches. On the one hand, repetition connects her work to her former practice as a flautist and so to her story, to her personal narrative: ‘I think this way of working recalls my former life as a musician and the hours of repetitive flute practice required to learn a new piece of music’ (debbielyddon.wordpress, 2016).

On the other, the repetition of certain elements like holes helps to draw attention and direct vision. Holes are for her ‘an immaterial emptiness’ which ‘allows us to see a nothing – to make visible the invisible’ (Art that Inspires, 2016), and so encourage a meditative, intellectual exploration of her pieces. And in this regard Debbie Lyddon reflects on the holes in the works by Barbara Hepworth, an artist that she admires and quotes often, and sees an analogy  between matter and empty space in sculpture and sounds and silences in music, again reconnecting her work to her previous musical studies (debbielyddon.wordpress, 2016).

In this sense her pieces can be considered a form of conceptual, process-led form of art, but they are also very physical, materially intense objects having a strong visual, tactile and textural presence which can be perceived in the gallery space. The traces left on them by the salt and the sea demand an intimate, close-up appraisal. These are definitely immersive pieces that want not only to be looked, but also touched and felt – and in some cases even heard, like the ‘Aeolian Pipes’, which in their original environment resonate at the passage of wind (Aeolian Pipes, 2014).

Her previous experience as a musician was certainly crucial for the creation of these Pipes – whose shape and holes remind me of flutes – but the use of wind as material seems also connected to the rhythmic movement of breath which is ‘fundamental to life and being’, as she notes quoting Being Alive’ by Tim Ingold.

And I think that the idea of rhythm, which englobes also the idea of repetition, lies ultimately at the core of Debbie Lyddon’s work: rhythmic is the movement of the tides of the coastal landscape from which her pieces are born – ‘dominated by the twice daily tides, it is land for half a day and then sea for the rest’ (www.debbielyddon.co.uk) – and rhythmic is her constant movement as an artist from the inside to the outside, from the inside of her thoughts, readings, memories to the outside made of long enjoyable walks in the landscape or happy sailings on the sea. Her inspiration constantly moves between these two poles – in and out – and is nourished by both.

Rythmic and cyclical is finally also the sense of time in her pieces, that reflect the cyclical changes of the environment and absorb the energy of the place as it evolves. This is a vital, necessary connection with their origins that the artist underlines in her blog: ‘The energy of the place is within the energy of the piece … The introduction of the work to the place brings together two halves of a whole’ (debbielyddon.wordpress, 2016). I perceive in her vision an implied acceptance of change in life and nature which does not contemplate regret for the decay of things or the passage of time, and so her way of dealing with time is fundamentally different from the drama of the vanitas paintings. The word drama does not seem to belong to her art, harmony instead, and a close, calm and passionate attention to all the small variations of her landscape of choice with which she subtly interacts, in receptive correspondence and uninterrupted exchange.

(1149 words)

 

Bibliography

Barnes, C.J. (2012) Exploring Dimension in Quilt Art, London: Batsford

http://www.casholmes.textilearts.net/page3.html (Accessed 12/08/2017)

http://debbielyddon.co.uk/ (Accessed 12/08/2017)

https://debbielyddon.wordpress.com (Accessed 12/08/2017)

Fox, A. (2015) Natural Processes in Textile Art: From Rust Dyeing to Found Objects, Batsford

Lyddon, D. (2013) ‘Responding to Environment’, In: http://www.textileartist.org [online] At: www.textileartist.org (Accessed 12/08/2017)

Lyddon, D. (2014) Aeolian Pipes and Air-songs [online booklet] At: debbielyddon.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/aeolian-pipes-and-air-songs-booklet.pdf (Accessed 12/08/2017)

Lyddon, D. (2016) Textiles: A Response to Landscape, In: TextileArtist.org [e-book online] At:  https://resources.textileartist.org/products/textiles-a-response-to-landscape (Accessed 12/08/2017)

Lyddon, D. (2016) ‘Art that Inspires’,  In: TextileArtist.org [article online] At: www.textileartist.org (Accessed 12/08/2017)

Meech S. (2012) Connecting Design to Stitch, London: Batsford

Thittichai, K. (2009) Experimental Textiles, London: Batsford

Triston, J. (2014) Contemporary Applique, London: Batsford

 

 

 

Assignment 4: Reflections on feedback

As my tutor Dr. Belshaw said in his email accompanying feedback on Assignment 4 there is a bit of a challenge in his response: he correctly perceived in my essay some doubts about David Hockney’s account on the limitations of photography as an autonomous medium and actually as I was writing the essay I thought that somehow this consummate painter missed the special point of photography – its unique capability of capturing a slide of reality in an instant of time – or else that he deliberately chose to ignore it because he is interested in making a point about painting, not photography. And on noticing my hesitation I think that Dr. Belshaw rightly encouraged me to muster up some courage and pursue my ideas a bit further thus adding critical thinking to my essay.

This was the first time that my tutor raised the question of critical thinking as such and it certainly rang a bell with me. It made me realize that I have always used my critical thinking intuitively, I would say without too much speculation, and that now, almost at the end of my first course with OCA, the moment has come to examine this issue in a more structured, intentional, less casual way. So I am taking his notes as a short lesson in critical thinking.

‘This means taking issue with something in the material you gathered for the assignment. The easy way to overcome this is to consider what the artist says with some scepticism’: it is a first general suggestion from my tutor about how to tackle the task and this is what I shall try to do on critically rereading my essay before assessment.

Then Dr. Belshaw goes into details and offers some critical perspectives among others that might be raised in the specific case of Hockney’s photocollages or photographic drawings. These are not meant to be as prescriptive, but by way of examples. Other questions could be asked, the point being here how to learn to recognise possible issues and hint at rational speculative directions. And he continues suggesting two possible questions: What does it mean to say some kinds of pictures are truer to experience than others? Or else: What do we mean by a “way of seeing”?

I must also especially thank my tutor for suggesting me Neill and Ridley, Arguing About Art: Contemporary Philosophical Debates, which is a really useful read and an eye-opener in connection with the topic of critical thinking. It just arrived in the mail and I am reading the chapters about photography debates as a start.

(429 words)

Assignment 3: Reflections on feedback

On reading the dense feedback that my tutor sent me on Assignment 3 my first thought was that I am proceeding through this introductory course to Creative Arts as in a thick forest where I slowly make my way discovering new trees and unknown animals at every step: it’s an exciting if challenging journey in which there are always more questions than answers and every answer generates new questions in a continuous search. This is really stimulating.

I try to follow every thread as best as I can but I am beginning to think that after all is the journey itself that matters, that there will always be new ways or detours ahead and that a progressive increase of awareness is what I can be striving for.

In this particular feedback Dr. Belshaw points to me several directions that could be followed and explored further in this forest and I suspect that he could as easily have suggested several others.

Starting from my remark ‘… the aura is not dispersed’ I am invited to expand on the concept of ‘aura’ and to think about the critical problems that arise when the market – in this case fashion and advertising – appropriates art – in this case an absolute masterwork like Las Meninas by Velázquez.

First thing I went back to Benjamin to look for more information about his conception of aura and I found this definition:  ‘What is aura actually? A strange weave of space and time: the unique appearance or semblance of distance, no matter how close the object may be’ (SW: 518)

These words mark the uniqueness and the extraordinariness of the object of contemplation and also the almost religious distance that separates the viewer and the object – as if the object could be never completely approached and explained, but only intuitively and not rationally absorbed and understood.  When this object is brought closer it loses its aura.  Benjamin adds elsewhere that the aura of a work of art depends on ‘its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be’ (Work of art: 3): only a piece of art that is original and authentic has an aura, when it is reproduced its aura is destroyed.

If this is so, in the poster reappropriation of Las Meninas the aura IS indeed dispersed, only a cosmetic superficial resemblance with the original has been retained, all complex cultural, historical, artistic, emotional elements of the masterpiece are lost in the translation from high art to marketable fashion. The aura of the original has been used and transformed into something of an altogether different nature: the aesthetic experience of the aura has become an efficient marketing tool to sell fashion.

This is true, but I don’t think that in this operation the aura of the original has been exhausted and destroyed by the poster. The painting is still there, in The Prado Museum, and has maintained all its aura, and even if it is surrounded by noisy or even inattentive crowds it’s still possible to perceive this aura, this beautiful distance, if only the viewer pays attention, is open to it. I would say that the painting has been lending its aura to the poster without losing it.

I think that this can happen because the painting and the poster speak different languages, are judged according to different criteria, do not have a real relation between them and we as viewers have learnt or can learn to shift between the two communicative ‘modes’, from high art to visual culture and back again, from being immersed in the aura of the painting to the commercially effective message of the poster. There is no real exchange going on, the channels remain separate: the poster borrows what it needs from the painting and invites customers to buy and the painting lives on untouched with its irreducible aura. I’m going to briefly expand on this in the final review of my essay.

I also think that the case can be very different when a work of art is appropriated by another work of art, like when Picasso appropriates Velasquez’s Las Meninas in 58 paintings or Jeff Wall appropriates Manet’s Un bar aux Folies-Bergère in Picture for Women (1979), as mentioned by my tutor. Here the language is the same and the aura of the original is explored, reverberated and perhaps even enriched with new layers and viewpoints by the appropriations – the presence of a mirror in all these works is not casual and creates complex exchanges in all directions, within the works themselves,  between the appropriated and the appropriating works and between the works and the viewers.

As Dr. Belshaw correctly guessed, I was aware of Barthes concept of ‘Italianicity’ when speaking about the Spanish signification of Las Meninas for foreign consumers, at least for European consumers. The advertisement was presumably addressed to visitors in their ‘tourist mode’, to use Dr. Belshaw’s words, and could be lost for example on a Chinese audience not familiar with the Western tradition of painting and the Spanish cultural identity, and for which the connotations of the poster could be others. This is certainly another interesting area of research in Visual Communications, how connotations of the same message do change depending on several individual, social and cultural factors.

My feedback includes also the stimulating suggestion to have a closer look at the meaning of ‘meaning’. This is a difficult area to grasp thoroughly given also the linguistic intricacies of the different theories on the two sides of the Atlantic and it is a very suggestive idea to look at it in the light of the ‘heresy of paraphrase’ thesis of Cleanth Brooks, from a literary and philosophical point of view instead of a linguistic one.

At a first guess the notion that a poem cannot be explained because it is not possible to rephrase it without destroying its irreducible meaning that is inseparable from its form might be usefully extended to the visual arts: also the aura of a work of art cannot be really expressed – paraphrased – in words and can be perceived only in its whole and not in its separate elements. When we look at the parts we seem to lose track of the whole, and its ‘meaning’ evaporates. It would look as if the meaning cannot be explained, can only be ‘felt’.

Another thought: if this is so, to differentiate between signifier and signified, denotation and connotation is analytically useful but does not explain the ‘meaning’ of the sign.

 

Bibliography

Benjamin, W. (1931-1934) Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings. Harvard: Harvard University Press [online] At: https://bookshttps://books.google.it/books?id=7M0x5svvwyEC&pg=PA518&lpg=PA518&dq=what+is+aura+actually?+a+strange+weave+of+space&source=bl&ots=2ak13tdNZk&sig=elnfJsMYLvzb6qvbGyCtXQQi7NY&hl=it&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiK44nRuODUAhVE1hQKHYDVBLgQ6AEIJDAC#v=onepage&q=what%20is%20aura%20actually%3F%20a%20strange%20weave%20of%20space&f=false.google.com/?hl=it (Accessed 27/06/2017)

Benjamin, W. ‘The work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ (1932) [online] At: http://web.mit.edu/allanmc/www/benjamin.pdf (Accessed 10/04/2017)

Assignment 4: Reflective commentary

This short introductory section on Photography has certainly been for me another voyage of discovery into the unknown as it had already happened for Visual Communications before. Like everybody else I live surrounded by photographic images of every kind and have often found certain photographs beautiful or artistic for various reasons, or some photography exhibitions particularly interesting and compelling but never before I had truly had a chance to focus my attention on photographs as objects in their own right, having their own specific unique features, or on photography as a genre.

Being exposed to a series of very different images and artists in a structured way has greatly raised my level of awareness both when I look at a photograph and when I take one. I know that my knowledges are still really limited but a process has started. Also reading for the first time books on photography has been important, especially Shore’s The Nature of Photographs (2010) and Edward’s Photography: A Very Short Introduction (2006) because both of them have in different ways prompted my curiosity and answered some first questions on this medium that may seem deceptively easy and approachable but also elusive and difficult to define.

I have been particularly attracted by the narrative use of photography that some artists make, by the capacity to tell stories with photographs that could not perhaps be told as effectively and poignantly in other media, like for instance by Robert Frank’s photographic diary The Americans or by Alec Soth’s poetic series Sleeping by the Mississippi, or by the skillful juxtaposition of industrial sites and daily life made by Mitch Epstein with his ongoing project American Power. I had never really thought about the possibility of successfully narrating stories through a sequence of still images, instead of choosing perhaps more obviously moving images to do so or a fiction, or that the choice of the photographic medium produces a totally different impact.

Another feature of photography that has strongly interested me is its very intimate and unavoidable relationship with time and as I said in the exercise about family photos (Project 2 – It’s about time) especially the double nature of photographs: they frieze moments of the past making them present and preventing them to fade into oblivion and so act in this regard as ‘memento vitae’ but they are also intrinsically sad because of course they make us remember that that past is lost forever, that our present will change too and vanish and so act also as ‘memento mori’ like a vanitas painting.

A last short note: as I was writing my essay on David Hockney’s ‘joiners’ I happened to think how this artist, who has repeatedly criticized photography for what he sees as its limitations – its special capacity to capture that ‘tiny spark of contingency, of the Here and Now, with which reality has so to speak seared the subject’ (Benjamin: 510) – has dismissed the very elements of photography that other artists have chosen instead to give voice to in their artistic visions.

(501 words)

 

Benjamin, W. (1931-1934) Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings. Harvard: Harvard University Press [online] At: https://books.google.com/?hl=it (Accessed 27/06/2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assignment 4: David Hockney’s ‘photographic drawings’ and his idea of photography

There are thousands of perspectives – not just one – everywhere you look. Perspective doesn’t exist in nature. It is just a convention’, says David Hockney in a recent conversation with Lita Barrie (Barrie, 2015) speaking about his latest ‘photographic drawings’ exhibited in Los Angeles at the L.A. Louver Gallery in 2015.

They consist in digital collages of hundreds of photographs arranged in compositions that show every detail in close-up views, from multiple vantage points, in ever-shifting perspectives and taken at different moments of time, and though for these works he has been using new digital tools – an iPad and Photoshop – the artistic vision and concerns behind them are along the same line of his early experiments with the ‘joiners’ which were made up of hundreds of at first Polaroid and later 35mm prints back in the Eighties, like My mother, Bolton Abbey (1982) and Pearl Blossom Highway 2 (1986) (Wikipedia, 2016).

As Hockney charmingly recounts in his autobiography That’s the Way I See it (Hockney, 1993), in 1981 he had rather casually started to play with the Polaroid camera and was soon exploring its creative potential in a rich series of photocollages. He explains how his deep involvement with photography at that stage was strongly associated with his long-held interest in Picasso’s explorations of multiple points of view in his Cubist paintings and revolved around the concept of perspective and the nature of realism in art.

From reading his autobiography it seems in fact that Hockney’s engagement with the problems of realism in art and his dedication to create works that are truer than ‘reality’ as it is commonly understood have actually been at the very heart of his painting practice for decades now and also that his use of photographs has been mostly instrumental to his painting, rather than born out of an authentic interest in photography as an autonomous medium to explore. What always mattered to him is painting, not photography.

Hockney’s long-felt dissatisfaction with ‘naturalism and the depiction of naturalistic fixed-point perspective space’ had led him to concentrate on Picasso’s works early in his career and made him ‘realize fully that … there is no actual distortion in Picasso … that Picasso’s way [is] far more real than anything else’, and not only far more real, but also ‘far more vivid’. This is because in looking at Picasso’s Cubist paintings the viewer feels to be ‘inside the picture’ and can see ‘the back and the front at the same time’ and ‘slowly [the picture] then begins to look more and more real. In fact it is naturalism [based on the single-point perspective] that begins to look less and less real’ (Hockney, 1993: 101-2), and so unsatisfactorily limited.

But in his photocollages Hockney does not limit himself to use photography as a tool among others to obtain an enhanced and sharper sense of reality, in the wake of the Cubist lesson: in creating them, he wishes also to overcome what he considers ‘the limitations of photography’, seen by him as the ultimate product of the Renaissance invention of the single vanishing point perspective theories and consequently as ‘the end of something old, not the beginning of something new’ (Hockney, 1993: 124-5). According to this view, rather than being a faithful reproduction of life, a photograph, exactly as Western pictures based on single-point perspective, is a conventional construction and not a natural category (Edwards, 2006:91), and so basically an abstraction of reality. Speaking about Pearl Blossom Highway 2 (1986), Hockney said once that it is ‘a panoramic assault on Renaissance one-point perspective’ (Hockney, 1993:112).

Hockney aims to go beyond the frozen moment as fixed by the single photographic image and through the assemblage of hundreds of photographs taken at different times and from changing vantage points to create works that reproduce reality in a way that looks to him much closer to the human natural vision, which is binocular and not monocular as the ‘mechanical eye’ of the camera: ‘take one step and something hidden comes into view; take another and an object in the front now presses up against one in the distance’ (Shore, 2007:48). From Hockney’s approach, it would seem that he considers the distinctive features or ‘nature’ of photography as a medium – to use Shore’s words, the capacity to freeze an instant in time and to obtain a ‘slice through the world’ among others (Shore, 2007:64) – as a limitation, not as an opportunity to explore for what it offers, like other artists have done.

The effect Hockney is after is to build a reality that is truer than that offered by photography, with a touchable, immersive character. Besides being exercises in the exploration of the deep nature of place, his photocollages wish also to be viewed as explorations of how a place changes in time since being made up of hundreds of images taken in a succession of days they are able to create a narrative of that place as remarked by the artist: ‘I was using narrative for the first time, using a new dimension of time’ (Hockney, 1993:97).

I think that there is a certain implicit irony in the fact that Hockney, notwithstanding his views on photography dismissed as a useful but limited tool and not valued as a medium in its own right, creates a work as compelling as Pearl Blossom Highway 2 which could never have seen the light if not for photography: it is exactly by being a photographer almost against his will – he insists that his photocollages or ‘joiners’ are to be viewed as drawings, not photographs – that he brings the viewer inside the picture, makes his or her eyes move along it, slowly and sequentially absorb its many elements, one by one, as the eyes naturally focus on and off the different details, almost as if the viewer were physically walking or driving along the road represented in it.

Hockney’s position on photography seems to be part of the old and never resolved debate if photography can or cannot claim to be an independent form of art and, more specifically, in which relationship it stands to painting. His ‘way of seeing’ is that photography is born old, being the last expression of the single-point perspective of the Renaissance, and as such cannot be considered really innovative. To Hockney photographs can show only artificial fractions of reality – single moments, single frames – and not offer the complex vision that he is after of the innumerable changing positions in time and space perceivable by the human eye and brain (Gayford, 2011; Cashdan, 2010).
(1066 words)

Bibliography:

Barrie, Lita (2015) ‘David Hockney Interview: Review of Painting and Photography at L. A. Louver’ In: http://www.huffingtonpost [online] At: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lita-barrie/david-hockney-painting-an_b_7853808.html (Accessed 6/06/2017)

Cashdan, Marina (2010) ‘Into the Woods’ In: Blouinartinfo 31.03.2010 [online] At: http://www.blouinartinfo.com/news/story/276547/into-the-woods (Accessed 06/06/2017)

Edwards, Steve (2006) Photography: A Very Short Introduction. [Kindle edition] From: Amazon.it (Accessed 06/06/2017)

Gayford, Martin (2011) ‘The Many Layers of David Hockney’ In: The Telegraph 23.09.2011 [online] At: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-features/8782275/The-many-layers-of-David-Hockney.html (Accessed 06/06/2017)

Hockney, David (1993) That’s the Way I See It. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

Khan Academy. (n.d.). ‘David Hockney’s “Pearblossom Hwy”’. [online] In: http://www.khanacademy.org At: https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/getty-museum/getty-photographs-films/getty-photographs-photographers/v/david-hockney-pearblossom-hwy (Accessed 6/06/2017)

Shore, Stephen (2007) The Nature of Photographs. London, New York: Phaidon Press Ltd. Phaidon Press Inc.

The J. Paul Getty in Los Angeles. (n.d.). ‘Pearblossom Hwy., 11 – 18th April 1986, #2’ [online] At: http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/105374/david-hockney-pearblossom-hwy-11-18th-april-1986-2-british-april-11-18-1986/ (Accessed 06/06/2017)

Wikipedia. (2016). Article ‘David Hockney’. [online] At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hockney (Accessed 6/06/2016)