Monday, 21 December 2009

No heating in a snowstorm . . .

The central heating went off last night. We didn't notice for an hour or two. It was -2 Celcius overnight and we're helping to look after an eighty-seven year old. British Gas won't come out to have a look until a daytime slot next day, as we aren"t a priority (we have an alternative method of heating, an ancient electric bar fire). It's been like camping inside the house, every possible blanket piled up on the pensioner, and waking up every half hour to check the temperature. The nice young man at the call-centre last night said they were working 'flat out'. I decided it would be a good time to re-read 'The Spy who came in from the Cold'. Wish us luck. Ecerything's just about warm enough at the moment (06.00 h) but no heating or hot water until the engineer gets here through the ice and snow.
Cluck on the title to go to an article about surviving a power-out. Post-script :- the service-man said that a small piece of ice fell into the boiler flue; this trggered the 'flame-failure device' to switch off the boiler, and that was that.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Photographer stopped for snapping . . .

After I received my letter from the Secretary of State at the Home Office in November 2009, stating in part, in relation to section 40 of the Terrorism Act 2000
" . . . . Important: section 43 does not prohibit the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place and members of the public and the press should not be prevented from doing so in exercise of the powers conferred by section 43."
I concluded that police would not now be preventing me from taking photos in a public place.

This all arose because in September I had been taking shots, from the pavement outside North Greenwich Bus station. of the Docklands City skyline and the O2 building nearby. Two O2 security guards were aggressive (see my earlier post), threatened to personally confiscate my cameras, and called the police. The police, when I also rang them on 999, said that I had to desist immediately. I pointed out that I was in a public place, and would they please come and see. No-one came, and I was able to walk away, although the guards said they were having me arrested for 'being a terrorist' and for 'taking photos'.

I nearly fell off my chair to read in the Grauniad this morning that Paul Lewis (a well-known and award-winning photo-journalist), was closely questioned by a rather large number of City of London police on Thursday, for taking shots which hundreds of people shoot daily, of the Gherkin.

I and a colleague on the HNC course were told, only two weeks ago, whilst she wanted to film in St Pancras mainline railway station in London, that the British Transport police had just the day before been briefed to allow most filming, and to be less aggressive when they approach photographers. This is what I expected to read about in the papers, NOT that a very well-known journalist has been treated like a criminal. Click on the title to read the depressing article in the Guardian.

Reality intruded last week for us, as we were told brusquely by a security guard at Paddington mainline railway station that we were forbidden from filming without a permit. So, we went and got one each. And I noted that every ten minutes someone in uniform passed by. Gosh, we were only waiting for the next arrival at Platform One.

Remember, there are fifty or more security high-resolution CCTV cameras covering most parts of this station. Every move we made has now been stored on film, ready to be reviewed at any moment for at least the next year. If YOU use a station, you're on film now for a while, too.

There is an urban tale which states that if you walk from one end of Oxford Street to the other, you have been recorded on 196 CCTV cameras. Useful, if you drop your keys . . . What do you think ? You could also Google 'I'm a Photographer not a Terrorist', or click on my post title, which is a link to the Paul Lewis article . . .

Friday, 4 December 2009

Left Brain versus Right Brain . . .

It all started at college. The Business Studies lecturer explained 'Artist's Statements' as writing that 'all artists (including photographers) use when they are writing up a blurb to say who they are and what they do' when they are going to be in an exhibition, publish a book, etcetera. I think it's meant to 'contextualise the artist and their work", and perhaps differentiate them from the rest of the pack.
I am worried, because the ones we read in class that day, and the stuff I read at exhibitions, and in books, are so 'over-written'. Unnecessary phrases and clauses, entire paragraphs appear to be included just to 'add on' descriptions of phenonmena which the artist wants you to think about, as guiding principles for the creation of their work before you.

Bryan Appleyard (click on the post title) describes Iain McGilchrist's 30-year search to find out more about 'Right brain-Left brain' understanding of the world. Read more in the review by Appleyard. The article describes the 'left brain' as the 'rule-following and ordering' side, and the 'right brain' helps us understand 'contextualising' understanding, meaning' etcetera.

Basically, McGilchrist's very deep book describes scientifically how each person's brain looks at information and then reports the analysis back to our conscious level (where we 'think').
My homework is to compose an 'Artist Statement' for myself. I'm not sure where to start, but I guess with he facts, then tack on a few concepts . . . . does this mean I start with plain left-side data, and then move on to embellish the raw facts using right-side context ?

Thursday, 3 December 2009

MA Photography - what is it ?

I went to an Open Evening to find out about the MA. They've got several at University of Westminster, one in Photography and another in Photojournalism.
One REALLY important question I asked was "Do you need a first degree to read for an MA?" "Nope, you just need commitment and the ability to do 'high-level' research." So, that's a 'yes' for anyone on my current HNC course. What do you do on an MA Photography ? It seems it's not a regular under-grad route. there are no projects, you set your own work. It lasts one year FT, or several years PT.
What equipment can you borrow/ use ? Everything is at least professional quality. The tour was like going around a television studio, with say ten studios. the ones I saw had lighting I've only seen in books. TEN colour printing machines, three or four digital printing suites (Mac G5's everywhere), the monitors are calibrated EVERY WEEK.
Vacuum-pressing machines for photo-mounting onto aluminium, 24/7 library, thousands of DVD's to borrow as there's media studies at the Harrow campus. Apparently the canteen food is only 'average'. They have loads of dorms, but I guess anyone doing an MA already lives in London.
I might look into it a bit more. But, one of the other candidates (Hello, Jocelyn) was telling me about a similar course on offer at LCC, so I might check that one out. As always, click on the post title to to go to the Uni write-up on this course.