Photography Continues Around The World

Hello all,

I know it’s been a long time since I was blogging, and even though this blog was for my Visual Arts subject (which I no longer take), I would like to continue to share some of the photography that I have taken over the months.

Recently, I travelled to the Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces of China, including cities such as Hangzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing. Here are some photos of my experience. These photos are centered around the West Lake area in Hangzhou, China.

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Inquiry Questions 101 – WHAT IS ART ?

Factual – How has art changed over time ?

Art started off with basic carvings, before we moved on to paintings and sculptures. We started off with basic carvings as a form of art and communication as well like hieroglyphics. We had paintings as a form of expression come up next once we had paint, and then we went to complex sculptures carefully made, such as those made by Michelangelo.  As we slowly approached the modern era, art slowly became more unique. We tried to create different form of expression that went the extra mile – art slowly became more of a diary. Art turned more personal and something that we could connect to more. Art also became more abstract and the meaning wasn’t as shallow. We moved on from recording the scenery and places to recording what was in our heart. In cubism, dadaism, futurism, and what I call “the splashing” artwork (a paining where it seems like the artists just splashed cans of paint on), the message is communicated in an abstract manner. Art has become more meaningful.

Factual – What is Visual Culture ?

Visual Culture is the ways we express ourselves through visual art. It’s about expressing practices, beliefs and our emotions that are deep down in our heart. How we express what we think things should be like, how a home should be decorated to suit our needs. When we talk about visual culture, it’s all about you and what something you truly and personally feel. In the world of visual culture, we can express ourselves in any way we want -it all depends on you.

Conceptual – In what ways can visual art influence or even change society ?

Visual art could change what we think about others. For example, in my montage, I trying to provide hope into people that may not feel confident in themselves. Visual art is one of the mediums of communication that we can use to tell people about not just how we feel, but about a part of society that people don’t know about. This could change people’s thoughts on the matter – from ignorance to sympathy. Visual art changes the relationships between people, because art’s message is very subjective and change almost anybody, as long as they can express the message in a fantastic manner.

Conceptual – How can small things change the world ?

I have mentioned that some scientists predict that if the temperature was to go up by five degrees Celcius, most or all species would become extinct. Juxtaposition is something very interesting, because we get different perspectives into the subject, which is why a montage enhances the message of the original photograph. Some photographers, when composing montages, use different lighting but the same setting and place. Basically, it starts off with a photograph, but using different tones and a rather grid-like artwork could mean a lot. Some photographers may also take the photo of just one subject, but zoom in at different angles and use different profiles that create a very abstract piece. Sometimes the montage could even seem as if it is falling apart, and that is how small things can mean the world to you.

Debatable – Is there ever an original photograph ?

In my opinion, photographs are always original because you take them. You are inspired by your surroundings to take them. It’s not done by the world, but by you. That unique process of thought that you go through is always something personal. Even if you may try to use other’s styles, you will always put a personal message or a unique twist into it that changes everything. A photograph is always original, because the photographs are all about you. If not, they will sill connect to you, right ?

Debatable – Who is the owner of a digital photograph ?

In my opinion, there are two owners of a digital photograph. The first one is you, because you decide where you want to take your picture and the message you put into it in whatever mystical way this is done. The other owner is none other than the camera, because you decide the settings it can take. In a DSLR, there is so much you can experiment with. You could experiment with colors and take sepia photos on the spot using monochromatic mode. You could change your shutter speed and aperture to change the look of a subject. Lastly, you could also change your ISO or white balance to make your photo live with color and focus. A camera could change your photos in many ways, and that’s why it owns majority of a digital photograph – it completely changes it.

My Photo Montage – What’s The Message ?

This is my final product – the photo montage ! I decided to name it “Light Choreography”, because the light seems as if it is dancing.

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Artistic Statement/Intention

Who said light travels in straight lines ? Anything can happen. When you are down, light brings you wonder. When you feel like the entire world is against you, you must remember that there is one thing – light. Life is like a flower, and we start at the bottom, and by shining light on ourselves, we climb up before reaching a petal at the top. When is something we cannot control but where is something that we can change. Remember that the light you shine on yourself is who you are. There is never saying no to hope.

(99 words)

Explanation of The Artwork – How It Becomes More In Depth

If you have noticed carefully, joining up the colorful lines of light gives you a face staring into the sky. The black sky is the face and the colorful lines of light give it an outline and therefore it’s shape. I am trying to say that from this face, the light you shine on yourself represents who you are. The flower was meant to depict that if you rise, light will welcome you. Motion is utilized based on the movement of light in different directions, hence light choreography.

Inspiration

David Hockney was the one that inspired me for my artwork. From his montages, I took the fact that he took many images of the same thing, which resulted in my experimentation with light. Later, he joined everything together that could still give off that aura, which I tried to communicate with a display of light. Here is an example from one of my previous posts. He took photographs of the same subject, but still joined them together, and what could have been an ordinary world turned into a fantasy. In my montage, I tried to do that by trying to make it more abstract, and therefore more of a world of fantasy. I turned the cars upside down and the light into something as never seen before to try and add on to the effect. Therefore, I would say that this work is my inspiration for my montage – something abstract and dreamlike.

Hockney Montage 2

The Art Movement Beside The Photo Montage

Today, we will be discussing about a few art movements that are somehow linked to the photo montage. We will quickly take a look at each work and respond to them.

First up, we have Dadaism. Since we have already covered this before, I will just explain it briefly. Dadaism was art by the Dada Group after World War 2, where they used the photo montage as a form of anti-art in protest of the chaos that was going on in the world. Their art was like something no one had ever seen before – it defied everything we knew about the world. I have the link to a video here that explains Dadaism very well, and I love this short section where one of the members of the Dada Group spoke about how to make a “Dada Poem”.

“Choose a article. Cut out the article. Then, cut up the words that make up the article and put it into a bag. After that, take out the words one by one and place them in the order they left the bag, and here is a poem that is all about you, infinitely original, and sensibly charming, though beyond the understanding of the mankind.”

It really shows what the function of a photo montage actually was for. They were talking about a GLOBAL ISSUE – the WORLD WAR. Photo montages are made to communicate who you are, while being infinitely original, sensibly charming and yet beyond the original understanding of mankind. This is what I can apply to the the photo montage – by randomly mixing things up to get an unexpected but totally original yet charming composition. As our Statement of Inquiry says,

Changing the boundaries of expected relationships can inspire unexpected compositions.

Video Link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=213&v=vK7CWwpFizc

Here are a few examples of art from Dadaism.

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This montage basically communicates all the themes and beliefs of the Dada Group in a way that feels like the world is falling apart. I can see how they took everything, put it in the bag, and spread everything out in some of the most random ways. It feels like all of the buildings and sharp objects are crushing all the people at the bottom – the world is in an utterly state of chaos that cannot be escaped wherever you run to.

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This is basically similar to the montage above, except that I feel this one is like others “kicking” others using their legs. Humans are fighting humans for their own survival. In the meantime, we suffer great misery, and much suffering.

Our next art movement is Cubism. Cubism, which was in the early to mid 1900s, was more about geometric shapes used to resemble the subject being taken. It was developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. The shapes are used to create a rather mystical aura which is still understood by mankind. The way the painting is broken up is supposed to help in the communication of the message of the art. I describe cubism as “breaking apart and shuffling around”. It’s a little like Dadaism but it isn’t the chaotic type.

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It feels like the violin player is stuck in a statue. The shapes make her look very fixed and as if she cannot escape playing the violin for the sake of money. You can see it from the determination yet sadness in her eyes.

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This artwork clearly shows that a guitar has been split up into many parts. There are many guitars, but no perfect ones. There is nothing that is complete and whole and something we can call perfect – just like us humans.

Now looking at the photo montage, Dadaism aims to communicate something as random as possible yet has a lot of meaning. That’s what a photo montage should communicate – something like the global issues going on around the world. For example, I read about tax evaders from companies, who try to ensure that the prices of their shares are as high as possible, which is why they do not pay tax. It’s an issue that hampers the government’s funds and ability to develop the nation into a better place to live in. Dadaism communicated on the global issue of war, which is how both are similar.

For cubism, the fact that everything is rearranged for the sake of deeper meaning is exactly what the photo montage is about, like this task of creating a photo montage. The “geometricness” of the shapes give it a very fixed meaning that is often, no, always circulated around lines. As mentioned before, lines draw us into a photo, creating composition, and that’s how cubism relates.

The art movements inspire others. Have they inspired you ?

Composition Matters

Composition. It’s something that we always incorporate into our photography, yet we never realize that we implement the rules of composition. For me, composition is about the skill of knowing how to seemingly fit each and every element of your scene into a photograph to make it seem stunning and perfectly done. We all experiment, don’t we ? We try and focus on our subject, change the angle or viewpoint we look at things, and even change our shutter speed and aperture in order to get those precious moments sharp and clear. According to photographymad.com, here are the ten major composition rules, and from my opinion, you will need to master the first nine to master the last rule – experimentation. Here are the ten rules and the pictures for each rule from the website. The link is attached below. (Note: The description is my own understanding of the rules.) No copyright intended.

Rule of Thirds – The fact that your subject is not exactly at the center point of the 3 x 3 grid but rather on the lines of the center square adds some balance and interest to the photograph.                      Lighthouse with rule of thirds grid

Balance – When you have your rule of thirds, you need something to ensure that your subject doesn’t become the only thing in the photo. Something needs to ensure the effect isn’t too big. That’s balance.Road sign with building behind

Leading Lines – Lines are something that really draw us into a photograph, which is why for my photo montage, where we are following the theme of motion, I am really focused on making lines and shapes. Going back to the topic, lines capture the eyes very well, especially when they are unique, Lines like zigzags, curves, and diagonals will really help in boosting the interest and therefore the composition of your photograph.                                Road winding through mountains

Symmetry and Pattern – Having an obvious focus point can bring about unexpected compositions, even if we think that symmetry is just plain boring. Objects  both natural and man made will produce some fancy photography.           Chapel entrance

Viewpoint – Often, we just decide to take things from their perspective at the front, which often gets boring. Take time to think about where you can get the most unique views that no one else can easily experience – just like what we touched on last quarter, where the unexpected brings upon curiosity towards photography. Think about a place which seems like Utopia and looks abstract; the leading lines, balance and patterns will naturally come into place.Man sitting on beach photographed from above

Background – Often the background interrupts with the balance of a photograph, because what is in the back often  influences where in the photograph we look.Therefore, finding a suitable background is key in creating a focus.  Female violinist

Depth – It something that we often lack, yet it makes it seem realistic, making us feel like we are actually in it ourselves. Layers also help in creating depth as the eye naturally thinks that depth is present.  Sheep in field will misty hills in the background

Framing – Focus is not always a key. Ensuring that the objects around us such as trees become the perfect frame for our photography. This also helps in “leaving the subject alone” and giving it more impact.Lake framed by hills either side

Cropping – Although this is more of an editing technique (for those that are “original” photographers), cropping helps eliminated the background, which is where that element comes into place. Cropping is technically not an editing technique anyways, in my opinion, because it’s just cutting the photo up and presenting a section of it, where we eliminate what we dislike and keep the focus alive.                                                Ceramic ornaments of characters hugging

Experimentation – With a modern age of photography constantly being on the rise, there is no worry about running out of film or having too less shots to experiment. Describing experimentation in three words ? Easy. TRY AND TRY. A balance of all nine is essential to know WHAT IS SUITABLE AND WHAT ISN’T. Only then can you do an effective type of experimentation.                               Lone tree in field illuminated with golden light

Now, let’s take a look at the photo montage. Composition really matters in a photo montage because we need to know what is the best place to place things into it to make it seem stunning, realistic and yet abstract. It needs to be perfectly fitted, and each and every element MUST be considered. That is why I defined composition as a art where you fit pieces together above; it’s just like cooking, where you mix and match with your ingredients and the different brands of food until you get that stunning combination of flavors that your adore. With photography, knowing what goes where helps enhance your message.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 What will you be composing  today ?

REFERENCE:

 “10 Top Photography Composition Rules.” Photography Mad. Photography Mad, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

(For those that want the link: http://www.photographymad.com/pages/view/10-top-photography-composition-rules)

The True Meaning of Happiness (My Photo Essay)

During the Chinese New Year holiday, I captured a few photographs that for me, showed a little of the dark side about how some people may not be feeling as happy when others are. The places that the photographs were taken include Kuala Lumpur, Kedah and Penang, and have not been edited in anyway.

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Narration/Artistic Intention

We walk around. We talk, we go on social media, play games, the list continues. Yet, we forget that there are others. People without anything. They are busy washing, while others just have fun. The bell strikes 12, and people like me are woken up by the sounds of fireworks and celebration. Clock hits 11, and we become models as a united family. Yet, we forget that some are quiet, while all others do is crave for more food. What is the true meaning of happiness ? We may never know – some will never experience the development and fairness.

 

(100 words)

Breaking Into Three (Rule of Thirds)

In this post, we will be looking at the rule of thirds in photography, one of the most common rules in the art form.

The rule of thirds is when the view of the camera is divided into a 3 x 3 grid. The rule states that the subject is supposed to be within the centre square, and then this feature will make the photograph interesting and more convincing. The theory for this is that putting it on the lines of the grid will make the photograph more balanced as a whole and therefore allow the viewer to feel for it more. They can make their conclusions better and therefore “like” the picture better.

In some occassions, the lines of the grid may be used as a point of focus. Here is an example of the rule of thirds in action. The subject’s eyes are the point of focus and align with the lines of the center sqaure.

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However, wouldn’t it be a little too boring if all we did in any photograph was place the subject in the center. Here is an example of a photo which goes against the rule of thirds.

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Since placing the subject in the center maybe a little bit awkward for this situation, which means that the chair is on the table, we get more interest as our curiosity is raised on other parts of the picture due to a focus in a different place.

Personally, I feel that if you want to break this rule, you should be daring and learn how to use your own theory effectively, such that it is more effective then what you have right now. The link below provides you with more information on the topic.

http://digital-photography-school.com/rule-of-thirds/