Cynthia Beth Rubin amid other things. Mainly written 14/04/2008


I took some photographs in Cornwall over Easter. Here is one such picture:

A hillside

Regular readers, (Hi Andy) may notice my fondness for bleak hillsides. It was very nice to get out to take some pictures. At times I could have almost swooned with pleasure. I know this sounds daft. This is a really important part of making anything for me.

Cynthia Beth Rubin

She came and gave us a talk today. She made me realise how much I’ve missed by not attending lectures here. I’ll have to force time into my schedule. She spoke of layering techniques, putting one heavily manipulated image on top of another less manipulated image, then erasing lots of the manipulated one so that parts of the other becomes visible. She was kind enough to give me some slides from her powerpoint presentation that demonstrate this. This layering thing is clearly very relevant to my own thoughts about layering my moments (I’ve so got to find a better word for that).

Here are a few of the images she showed us. I’m a bit disappointed because photoshop has muted the very bright reds, yellows and greens in the process of condensing them. (Does anyone know a really good way of negating this beyond saturating it beforehand? Are PNGs supposed to be good for this?)

Cynthia Beth Rubin,  Brux: Photographs of a synagogue layered over each other, some in rich colour

Cynthia Beth Rubin,  Brux: Detail of photographs of a synagogue layered over each other, some in rich colour

Another point in her work that got me ticking was the fact that a central theme of it is connecting with shared history and wondering what people have done or felt when they’ve been on that spot where she’s now standing. It’s that ‘ours/us’ thing again.

She showed us a page on her website which has some pieces using rollovers which, while only changing one localised part of the image affect the whole of it, in terms of balance and in some cases narrative reading. This, also, has set me rolling a bit.

Then – oh what riches this woman poured forth upon us – she showed us a film about cultural ties in Morocco called les affinités recouvrées made with a programme called Morph Age. Morph Age is a bit of a must, I think. New toy ahoy! But seriously, the possibilities for exploring the transformation of one thing to another are immense.

Adriano asked her a question about the difference between one of her digital images and a painting, citing the fact that they’re quite painterly. She pointed out that the second you use a computer the whole process changes, along with your thought patterns and reactions to the possibilities available; thus digital art’s identity as a separate medium is shot right through it from the top down.

Coincidentally, later that day, I was chatting to a photographer while developing some film and asking him what he thought of the differences between film and digital photography. He concluded that they’re ultimately different media. Simple as that. It was almost as if, in his head they were as separate as oil painting and charcoal drawing. I can actually see his point. I’ve got three, no, four cameras including my phone (which I use a lot). I approach them all very differently. In particular, the minute I leave film for my digital point and click or my phone I’m looking for and composing images in a totally different way, informed by the relative value of each shot, the quality, grain and feel of film as opposed to digital. Not only does the camera treat the subject matter differently, but so do I. Ergo, separate medium (in my flawed and rather changeable opinion).

Yes I have got lots of work to do

Says it all. I’ve got things in my head. I’ve done a lot of rambling thinking. It’s a good time to get stuck in to the surface part of the project. For this, I need to begin at a point that’s a way backwards from where I’ve been thinking.

I want to play with pixelisation and component parts of larger images. Part of this project is about the differences between all, none, some and one. The concept of an individual object. The ego. Alternatively, the thing that separates this banana from that one. This. That. Digital art deals a lot in pixels, squares that mean little alone but combine to create an image. As such they’re intrinsically useful and need to be investigated.

I must try to complete that massive page of phone photos. It’ll take a while but it must be done. I think it will pose a few questions and maybe offer some promising directions.

I must compile my list of questions to ask people. I’ll do a test list first and ask for feedback. Then I’ll try getting random people to answer it. Maybe I’ll ask people on the street.

I’d quite like to experiment with colour too. This picture makes me think of all in a side on way.
matyushin's guide to colour. It come in a book
When you dive into the spectrum, in a sense, you’re looking at a remixed image of all the things you can ever see. Oh, and I should add, this colour guide was by a Russian guy called Matyushin. It was in a rather brilliant exhibition at moma about Russian/Soviet Avant Garde books. The website for said exhibition is here. I’m quite taken with the website as well. The pictures are a bit small, mind.

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