1. What are you making?
In the last week I’ve made a couple of things. I’ve experimented with Risograph (or Riso) printing. At this stage I’ve tested the process using a photograph I took on my phone. The photograph is of an image of the front tyres of an airplane, which was being streamed from the plane live cam (which is mounted somewhere at the bottom of fuselage) onto the headrest screens during the journey. There is digital degradation inherent in the initial stream from plane camera to headrest screen, followed by a further degradation when my phone captures this image of an image. Some aberrations include loss of resolution, introduction of banding, loss of sharpness, etc. The Riso print is a four colour separation of the photo from my phone using the closest colours I could find to Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black; in this case being Blue, Fluorescent Pink, Yellow and Black inks. The result is a 28 x 28cm four-colour Riso print.
In the last week I’ve also built a pinhole camera as well as a mini camera obscura using prototypes from The Focal Camera system developed by Mathijs van Oosterhoudt. I’ve printed a number of prints in the darkroom of the resulting images from the pinhole camera.
2. Why did you choose Riso print?
I chose Riso printing as it allowed me to emulate the photographic printing process/CMYK offset printing process at a reasonably high resolution of 200ppi. Riso allows me to increase the physical size of the photograph, which is quite small as it’s from my phone, without introducing interpolation artefacts. I also chose the Riso printing process to add yet another layer of removal from the original image (in this case the image recorded by the plane cam); I want to explore the idea of an image within an image within an image. It also speaks to my interest in exploring the analogue through the lens of the digital and vice versa. Even though Riso printing is a digital process it has an analogue aesthetic because of the way the ink is laid on quite thickly on the paper.
3. Why did you decide to make a pinhole camera and camera obscura?
I decided to make a pinhole camera because I wanted to understand the essence of how a photograph is captured. I wanted to demystify what a camera does.
I wanted to make a camera obscura to see the effects of any changes to aperture, lens, etc immediately on the ground glass (mounted in place of film) rather than waiting for the film to be developed. It’s a real-time camera that doesn’t record, and therefore an ideal tool to further understand the mechanics of the image capture process.
Have you found out about anything interesting from the pinhole prints?
I was surprised by how wide the field of view of the pinhole is. My fingers ended up in a number of shots as I was opening and closing the shutter, which I didn’t really expect. I was pleasantly surprised that my photographs were reasonably sharp and not too “messy”. I think I expected the pinhole camera to “corrupt” the integrity of the scene in front of the camera more than it did.
4. Does it relate to other things you have done?
In some ways these “experiments” do relate to things I’ve done in the past, even though the end result may seem like a departure. Previously I have recorded video through the viewfinder of an analogue camera. This technique is one way to explore the idea of an image within an image; a layering of sorts.
I consider the process of Riso printing itself a bit of a departure from what I have done in the past — it's a more painterly process, less true to the original image. It is a distinctly different result from the photograph I’d captured with my phone. I’m not sure if Riso is the right or relevant medium at this stage, but this exercise was a chance to experiment and further explore my interest in journey.
The pinhole camera goes against everything I have done with photography so far. I started photography with a camera I purchased, a ready-made if you will. Making a pinhole camera made me ask myself (not for too long though) Why do I spend enormous amounts of money on wide-angle lenses when the pinhole is so wide already?
5. Are you going to experiment further with the pinhole prints?
It might be a nice way to sketch ideas but, at this stage, I don't have a conceptual reason to use this camera. I can imagine further exploring the camera obscura concept, for example by turning a full size room into a true camera obscura or something that could be developed into an installation.
6. How are these different to other things you have done?
I view these exercises as extensions of previous work and a tool to further understand what I have done in the past. Although they may not be a total departure from previous work they demonstrate a difference in thinking or approaching my work. In these experiments I am less precious about the image; I am more willing to let go of some “honesty” (for lack of a better word) of the photographic image.
Back when I was studying graphic design and, before that, when completing a portfolio preparation course (many moons ago) I used a wider variety of techniques and media such as screen printing, drawing, illustration, ceramics, etc. I haven't worked with those mediums for a while so I view the Riso printing exercise as a way of re-embracing a part of my practice I have become distanced from.
7. What are the most significant choices that you made recently?
The most significant decision I’ve made recently is deciding to embark on this Masters program at PZI. Having chosen to challenge myself, extend and open my entire practice and method of working to critical input from others has certainly required a shifting of life priorities and a challenge I feel I needed at this time in my practice.