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Northern Stars

Just found this post that I never published! Aw bless me!
I'll be graduating soon. And for the last 6 months I have been preparing for my Final Major Project. Firstly, the subject matter is this: Looking at cities effected by post-industrialisation particularly in Northern England. Going to five cities Manchester, Bradford, Sheffield, Newcastle and Birmingham and investigating the ways the withdrawal of industry since the 1980s has effected the landscape and therefore socially.

Britain was the birthplace of the industrial revolution in the late 18th century and so communities circled and gravitated around cities and their industries. Manchester was famous for textiles, Bradford was the birthplace of the cotton and wool industry being the largest manufacturer in the world, Sheffield was dubbed the 'steel city' famous for its steelworks, Newcastle at times of war was the biggest shipbuilders in the country providing many of the ships for the famous British Navy and Birmingham was the spicentre of all these industries with its extensive canal system providing a watery infrastrcuture for Britain connecting all the industries (having a longer canal system than Venice!).

I come from an industrial background, mainly mining, and so I am always drawn to these kinds of stories, and I am very passionate about British heritage. This I feel is partly passed down from my parents who would take me and my sister to heritage sites weekly as children. For my Final Major Project I wanted to create a Homage to my country and I wanted to challenge myself with the journey of traveling across these past cities and look at how they have been regenerated or left frozen in time.

As part of my project myself and my group are exhibiting in the studio of the Impressions Gallery in Bradford. This began on the 11th of May and will go on until the 1st of June. Thinking of my audience, it is perfect to exhibit within a post industrial city as people within the area have an awareness and understanding of the subject.

Noel Bowler

Been a while, this blog is not a diary to whine about life and about people pointlessly. This to me is more important and is about what I think about photography.
I recently saw Noel Bowler's Work "Making Space" at the Impressions Gallery in Bradford. It deals with Islam in Ireland, and how Muslim people have made houses and even churches into mosques of some kind.

I found it amazing how people managed to change domestic areas into holy places and from the outside seem completely the same. His work deals with Ireland's image of being mainly Catholic and when I first heard about the work I was amazed there was such a strong Islamic culture.
Living in Bradford, It has become controversial the dynamic between the Islamic culture here and the non-Islamic culture. And when the Channel 4 documentary "Make Bradford British" aired I was more than critical about what it would contain. But it wasn't some guinea pig experiment it actually showed stored up feelings between both parties and the ignorance on both sides. Having not been brought up religious in any way I always find the conversation between beliefs interesting. And having a photographer with a heritage of Catholicism deal with these issues I found very interesting and inspiring.

Soldier On

As part of the ways of looking festival I was given a few set events I should really attend. One being the Stuart Griffiths talk about his new book "The Myth of the Airborne Warrior". I hadn't heard of him before and when I attended the talk to document it I saw a different side to the conflict in Ireland that is so infamous. I have previously seen Donavon Wylie's work which is exhibiting at the moment in The National Media Museum in Bradford. And so I had seen a photographer who had grown up around the times of "The Troubles" he had looked at watchtowers in Ireland, and then as they were taken down and sent over to Afghanistan to be used as watchtowers over there, he followed them. The work is stunning and moving and shows the development of crossing over views of being on one side where has said he would shout at the soldiers in the street with his friends, to walking with soldiers in Afghanistan through local villages feeling isolated and truly unwanted. Griffiths work is from the viewpoint of a soldier in Ireland in the 80s and 90s. His images sometimes are harrowing and hints at how isolated these men were who were sent to fight against the IRA.

Griffiths says in his book "The Myth of The airborne Warrior", "I did feel alot of animosity towards the IRA...but I didn't find any pride in the reality of the situation". I find this really interesting, you hear stories of soldiers who go to fight for their country but don't necessarily know what they're fighting for. Girffiths says this and implies that yes he did resent the IRA and the trouble and war that had been inflicted on Ireland but it doesn't make him feel proud to have been a part of it. With Wylie's work it is more about his journey of understanding soldiers and the pride and reasoning that goes behind it. And during a lecture held by Wylie he stated well there didn't seem much point. And I feel after reading Griffiths book that he would have similar views. He said that "95% boredom and 5% mayhem". Most of the time soldiers are sent to places just to show a presence rather that steady a seriously unbalanced society. As I am not Irish, a descendent of any close related irish people that have ever lived there I find it very interesting when photographers and artists distribute their stories and the different contrasting views they have.  An audience member during the talk asked Griffiths, What does he mean by the title of the book "The Myth of the Airborne Warrior". And Griffiths replied saying that the myth is that you go to fight and die honourably for your country when the reality is much more blurred and unrealistic to what is commonly heard about being a soldier. I looked more on his site and some of the images of soldiers affected by war are truely heartbreaking and show a darker side to just fighting for your country and taking all the physical, emotional and phsycological damage that comes with it. 


Griffiths, S. (n/a). Portfolio. Available: Last accessed 24th Oct 2011. 
Griffiths, S (2011). The Myth of the Airborne Warrior. Brighton: Photoworks. p39-52.

Half Way Point

So, last Sunday was the official half way point of the Ways of Looking festival which I have been the official photographer for. Its been a bit of a whirlwind. From actually growing a pair and getting myself out there, to meeting the artists and photographers and asking them their ambitions and inspirations to having my work looked at criticised constructively and having it evaluated. I've just seen how many images I took over the course of two weeks, 8 shoots and it totals to 1,652 images. Even I am surprised I didn't think it was quite that many but I am so happy that I managed to develop the confidence to take this many images of an audience that I have had no real experience with. I will be talking more about the festival in future blogs but wanted to give an update and write down some thoughts of so far. For images of the festival go to : And to my website:

Looking Back

The new academic year begins, second year of uni starts and I already am immersed with the module 'Collaborations', basically a work experience until Christmas with an organisation or company. At first I thought it wouldn't be a good module, thinking it was to early to start actual work being a photographer. I didn't feel ready to actually be responsible for representing a company and well putting all my skills to work as I still feel like I'm learning. I managed to set up my collaborations with a renowned gallery in Bradford and photograph the "Ways of Looking" festival which is still going on! The opening weekend which has just gone was amazing and all those fears of being in-experienced did surface but dwindled as I became involved. Artists such as Red Saunders, Daniel Meadows, Donovan Wylie, The Bradford grid, Jeremy Deller and many more were all there presenting their exhibitions throughout Bradford. The opportunity to meet these artists was a privilege as they are my inspiration. The "Ways of Looking" festival is a great chance for Bradford to finally build its reputation up as it has always be infamous and well renowned for crime and violence. I had a few incidents with the public who weren't happy with me taking photographs which initially hurt me greatly as I have never been exposed to this kind of environment but made me realise I need to grow a thicker skin as yeah three people came up to me and voiced their opinions but how many didn't. These kinds of events should be documented, this is the first festival of its kind in Bradford and it was a shame that these few individuals could not see the importance. But many did, the opening night was a brilliant success with hundreds coming to see the opening exhibitions and it made me feel proud and privileged to be a part of this event. One qualm I do have is that more young people should have gone including people from my university. I saw no one from my department there which made me sad and no one from the university even volunteered to help out except at the university itself which again is a great shame as these kinds of events don't happen that often. I guess this is the whole point of the festival, to get people interested, to make people feel yes I can be a part of this community. People often think that the arts is a separate entity that they can't involve themselves with but they can. Art is for everyone.

Blake Dean - Tuesday

Right, the trip did run from Monday to Friday so why u ask is she skipping to Tuesday? Well, what was meant to be an hour stroll on the Monday after we'd all unpacked, that didn't really require a camera as we weren't going to be out long enough, turned into a six hour voyage of discovery climbing over boulders, trekking up vertical hills, rain and gale force winds. So nothing tangible was recovered from that day but many memories remain.
Many photographs were taken from Tuesdays outing. Me and a couple of others went to the Gorple Reservoirs near Hebden Bridge. Weather was cold, rainy, windy, cloudy so really perfect for photographers. Sarcasm aside I actually produced images that were eerie with the cloud sometimes being lower than us setting into the land. And sometimes the rain drops that landed on the lens would create a misty layer that created a ghostly old feeling.

Blake Dean - Prologue

Seems like forever now but I'm just getting round to sorting out my photographs taken on a photography end of year trip to the lovely Blake Dean. I remember being somewhat apprehensive prior to the trip as I am not a fitness fanatic so the idea of walking around the Yorkshire moors all day for five days was not appealing. But, it opened my eyes to landscape as I had never really ventured out properly and taken my own images representing the outdoor environment. The trip entailed visiting several reservoirs and local tourist hotspots in the wilderness and the experience completely changed my views on landscape and me as a photographer. Also, it gave me and my group to really get to know each other properly as we lived in a cabin together throughout the trip. Spending all your time solid around people who have similar if not the same ambitions and outlook as you is very refreshing. We all bounced ideas of each other and helped each other throughout the trip. There was the threat that because most of us were out in the same area at the same time that we would get identical images. But this is not the case, we are each very individual and took stunning photographs in our own right. The next few blogs will be of what I took on the Blake Dean trip.

Critical Evaluation

Critical Evaluation Of Own Media Product

I have always been consumed with interest about the body and mind, especially when it concerns the senses. I have previously investigated the relationship between the brain and the ear and interpreted the connection through photography and animation. Looking at how we as humans have developed a way of being able to cope with so many different interactions within our environment flawlessly. With a new project beginning I felt it was a perfect opportunity to look into another key sense that has always interested me, sight. I wanted to look at how we see and how our brains cope with the endless amount of information almost unnoticeably and portray it into a media product.

The Idea
After reading John Berger’s “Ways of seeing” and watching the accompanying series where Vertov said, “I’m an eye. A mechanical eye. I, the machine, show you a world only I can see it” (The ways of seeing, 2008). Dziga Vertov, a film director, talks about the film camera, how it is a portal of vision and acts methodically, like a hunter on its subject. The camera shows what is there in a way only it sees it. I wrote a couple of blogs about John Berger and Vertov who featured in his series and I realised how in my media product I wanted the camera to have an actor’s or leading role, more of a purpose and sense of place and awareness in the scene. The camera is personified; it has taken on human like qualities and interacts with the viewer. The camera lens has often been compared to an eye and in my final piece I wanted it to be the “preying eye” dominant of the situation, leading it, being the most important element at first. I also knew I wanted to create an animation using photographs to portray my idea.

Eye and Brain
Our brains control every aspect of bodies including movement, emotion, sensation, experience and thought. It is the one part of our body scientists and doctors do not fully understand, as there are areas untouchable whilst alive otherwise it would cause damage the brain as Gregory states “the brain has been described as the only lump of matter we know from the inside” (1966:p60). It is quite beautiful that there is still a part of us that is still ours and secret from exploration especially being our brain as it is our mind. When you think of your own brain you don’t imagine the material and structure of it. You see in pictures, colours, words, sound it’s like thousands of films from everything you’ve dreamt and seen in your life. It is a well-built machine programmed to receive, interpret and understand so many different types of information simultaneously. Gregory discusses how the brain and its complicated collection of nerve cells are like a machine “Like a computer the brain accepts information, and makes decisions according to the available information” (1966:p64). Yet again our bodies are compared to that of machines. So many of our technology today has been built out of the basic foundations of our bodies, artificial intelligence to make unemotional versions of humans. In relation to my media product, it made me think of the electrical pulses that shoot and connect within our brains because of stimulation caused by light changes. Sight is so important and vital and often taken for granted as Slacks describes “we are not given the world: we make our world trough incessant experience, categorization, memory, reconnection” (2002:p10). We grow up, adapt and become accustomed to the environment we live in. But when we are challenged with something new and unknown we become confused and frustrated. Brains are puzzle solvers and must decipher anything it doesn’t comprehend. This is what I wanted to portray. This sense of curiosity and requirement for understanding is what influences and spurs my work on. As Furniss has said “an artist in some respects depicts himself or herself within a work” (2007:p165). I completely agree, especially with the kind of photography I participate in, stop motion. I set up the scene; I control the camera, light the subject, and animate all the pieces together for hours. In a blog I wrote about Muybridge “At this time and even today it was revolutionary to be able to use this technique to actually change the way we see the world” (2011). It was Muybridge that really spurred on the interest to turn my love for photography into something moving, something more than just a photograph, something real. Of course I will be portrayed in my work, as the piece I create is a tangible thought process that I have had. It is something I have wondered about, researched, planned and developed into something so that people can see what happens in my head. It is a piece of footage of my mind.

In the beginning of the video, the figure wakes up, blinks and becomes aware of the camera. He is hesitant but also inquisitive; people are constantly learning and investigating. As he draws closer to the camera, which represents the eyes, he absorbs flashes of light. The viewer becomes aware that something inside his mind is happening, shown below in the images that were used to create the sequence.

Eye to Brain (2011)

People are wary not only of the camera, but situations they are not in control of. Using slow shutter speeds, a torch and a very still model I created something that wasn’t there. If the shutter on the camera were left open you would see the room he was in. I wanted the darkness and blackness to keep the viewer absolutely fixed on him. He is the subject. He is the signifier, and what is signified is that he is the brain; he is a portrayal of himself in his own mind looking through his eyes (the camera) into the world outside. The brain is a never-ending vacuum searching for information and the emptiness around him signifies this endless limit of space. He is unsure of his surroundings when he is stimulated by the world outside and investigates like creatures do. The sphere of light is his brain, as shown below, a cell absorbing thoughts, feelings and senses. We follow one thought and its path to its destination.
I wanted it to look surreal. As we have no actual footage of the brain’s electrical pulses I felt I had a free rein. There are thousands of charts and readings proving brain activity and the impulses themselves but people can only relate to what they know to make sense of something unimaginable. Evidently I have the luxury of being as imaginative as I want to re-create what it may be like inside. There is an irony to writing and thinking about the electrical pulses in your own brain. Because as you do it, your brain has sent thousands of impulses of thinking about these pulses trying to comprehend what it would be like as shown below.

Eye to Brain (2011)

Bordwell has talked about when a spectator looks at a film and tries to make some kind of sense of it there are four different types of people that try and interpret it. The first one interested me the most “the spectator draws not only on knowledge of filmic and extra filmic conventions but also conceptions of causality, space, and time and on concrete items of information” (1989:p8). He talks of films but it relates to looking at any artwork. A person will try and search for any established knowledge they have to relate and connect to the work they see before them. Art is subjective and interpretive to an individual person and each person will see something different. This is true not only to art but life in general. Each person will look at a situation, and comprehend it in there own unique way. Their brains may keep it catalogued as memory whilst others forget, as it isn’t as important to them.
When the figure draws in light I wanted it firstly to signify the inspiration of art and photography. Having looked through the lens and coming away having felt apart of it, using its lens as your own and seeing the world as an eye. I secondly wanted it to signify memory. The signifier is the camera which documents life, be it a real or fake situation, it still documents a specific piece of time. The links aren’t obvious as they are created through convention so it is iconic. As he, the brain, has acknowledged the outside world and comprehended it through the eyes, he draws a camera and takes a photograph of the environment as part of the record of events that happened through his life as shown below.

Eye to Brain (2011)

I didn’t want to make what he actually looks at through the camera important, because that’s not what this piece is about. It’s not about what he is looking at but what happens once his eyes have acknowledged the situation and sent the signals back to him to comprehend so he can deal with it. He starts unhappy; because as humans we are uncomfortable with situations we don’t understand. But by the end he understands and smiles, happy with the surroundings and documents it with a memory.

In this piece I wanted to show the connection between the eyes and brain, between sight and thought. I wanted to show the importance of the connection of sight and memory with the camera. Its how I look at life, how I want to document it. I want a career in taking photographs, which are memories and when I try to comprehend a subject and demonstrate it I do it visually and through the camera and increasingly more through stop motion animation. I really enjoyed this project, writing the blogs really helped me organise my thoughts and make them more comprehendible. The final piece was a 1minute 18 second video consisting of 197 photographs animated together. I feel I achieved everything I wanted to and it has spurred me onto continue this subject in future projects.
Bordwell, D (1989). Making Meaning. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. p8.

Furniss, M (2007). Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics. 2nd Ed. Eastleigh: John Libbey Publishing. p165.

Gregory, R (1966). Eye and Brain: The psychology of seeing. Milan: Librex. p60.

Gregory, R (1966). Eye and Brain: The psychology of seeing. Milan: Librex. p64.

hsargent2011, (2011). Eye to Brain [Video Online] Available at: [Accessed 14 April 2011]

Manwithaplan999, 2008.The ways of seeing [video online] Available at: <>[Accessed 14 April 2011]

Sargent, H, (2011). Visual Diary: I’m an Eye [blog] [accessed 14 April 2011]

Weber, J (2002). The Judgement of the eye. 3rd ed. Bonen: Springer-Verlag/Wien. P10.

Arnheim, R (1974). Art and visual perception: A psychology of the creative eye. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Bronfen, E. Felix, Z. and Schwender, M (1995). Cindy Sherman. Munchen: Schirmer Art Books.

Carroll, J (1980). Toward a structural psychology of cinema. 2nd Ed. The Hague: Motion Publishers.

Chion, M (1994). Audio vision: Sound on screen. New York: Columbia University Press.

Muybridge, E (1955). The human figure in motion. 2nd Ed. Mineola: Dover Publications, inc.

Scholes, R (1982). Semiotics and Interpretation. Binghampton: The Vail-Ballow Press.

Szarkowski, J (2007). The Photographer's eye. 3rd Ed. New York: The Museum of Modern Art.

Final Media Product

For larger version click on video to take you to YouTube

"Eye to Brain"  is my final media product for visual communication. It is a stop motion animation using photographs to portray the relationship between the eye and the brain. This 1 minute 18 second animation consists of 197 photographs and was made using slow shutter speeds in a light-less room using only a wind up torch to illuminate the figure's face and create the light spears and orbs. The figure represents the mind, he is himself in his mind, the camera is his eyes. He becomes uncertain of the camera in front of him, his eyes that have shown him something on the outside that the isn't familiar with. He looks through his eyes and the electrical pulses inside his brain that travels to his cells, he comprehends the new environment that is front of him. He then takes a photograph which represents a memory. The music used is "Philosophy of Time Travel" by Michael Andrews. The music is calming and slow and surreal which I felt really fits in with the feeling if the sequence. I am really happy with the result of this project and I feel that I have started a concept I want to use in future projects.

Eye to Brain - The Shoot

I did this shoot last Saturday and it went really well. A few things were changed like in the sequence I don't circulate around him, it just starts with the figure sat in the center blinking and becoming uncertain of the camera. As said before I used slow shutter speeds of 8-10 seconds and as the shutter was open I would run up to the figure and move the torch around his face. An image from the sequence is shown below.

The effect of the torch on his face is beautiful, water-like and peaceful. In this particular shot he does look very calm, it is before he opens his eyes and sees the camera. He is so unnerved because he wasn't aware of its presence.

" I'm an eye. A mechanical eye. I, the machine, show you a world the way only I can see it."

Dziga Vertov, 1923

The camera is perception, it is vision, it is subjective to each individual and in this sequence it represents the eye. I am the eye, he is the brain and the mind in which I, the doorway to his mind ,will let him see what is there. I can only show him what is known and it is up to him, the brain, to understand it and interpret in his way unique to him and do what he will with the information I give him. He is unsure and inquisitive of the eye and its information as it is new to him.  The figure is inside his own mind, the eye shows him information and an environment on the outside that he doesn't understand, he walks up to it looks through his eyes (the camera) and the sequence goes to the electrical pulses between him and his eyes which are feeding him the data. He opens them now adapting to his surroundings and takes a photo representing a memory being established. Photography documents what is there, or what is wanted to be shown, in this sequence it represents memory and how he has put the new information learnt into a memory trace. Its about understanding and the connection between the eyes sending messages to the brain to learn new information or even establish old information. He is a little man inside his own head representing the mind. Overall, I really enjoyed exploring the relationship between the eye and the brain and interpreting it through a stop motion animation using photographs.