Exercise 1.1

Exercise 1.1

Use the following artists as inspiration

Nancy Burson – http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/296435/nancy-burson-big-brother-american-1982/

Corinne Vionnet – https://www.lensculture.com/articles/corinne-vionnet-photo-opportunities

Idris Khan – https://fraenkelgallery.com/tag/idris-khan

Helen Sear – https://www.contemporaryartsociety.org/artist-members/helen-sear

Create a series of six to eight images using layering techniques.

Due to the digital-only coursework PDF not having any of the proper links to the work of Idris Khan or the blog on Helen Sear, I worked around the issue by doing some simple research into their works and artists statements.

I am not entirely happy with my six images; using the works of Vionnet, Khan and Sears as inspirations for the pieces, I put together the following images. I feel that the layering techniques could have been further advanced by more complex digital manipulation, for example masking layers and then further editing the images. However, I stuck with the concept of solely layering the images without further addition editing. For the images, I went back into my previous works and images and selected individual items which I would then work on. Not every piece worked out and I dropped more than five or six ideas as they just simply did now work out.

Layered screenshots from the Film 'Johnny got his Gun' (Johnny Got His Gun, 1971) with tab, music notation with addition information for guitar players who cannot read sheet music
Johnny Got His Gun – One

Layered screenshots from the Film ‘Johnny got his Gun’ (Johnny Got His Gun, 1971) with tab, music notation with addition information for guitar players who cannot read sheet music. In part inspired by both Khan and Sear

Layered image a wood soaked log lies on a pebble strewn beach. On top of this a layer of red looking like splattered blood this is mixed with a layer of yellow clouds.

Layered images of several items which have connotations to the four elements. Inspired main;y by Sear.

Multicoloured image. Blue and green flower inside a glass ball set of an orange/red background
Round Flowers

A layered stack of previously digitally manipulated images of flowers. The layers stacked together 3 of the circle within square images. Inspired in kind by Burson.

A portrait. A purple haired woman with purple lips covered in beads of water.
Shades of Blue

Inspired by Sears, this images stacks layers together, the lower two layers have been mixed to produce a small blur and colour change. This is the image that I am happiest with.

Edinburgh castle in what looks like dynamic high range which gives the image a surreal look.
Edinburgh Castle

Completely in the vein of Vionnet, this is a nine image stack of Edinburgh Castle from the same location, each time was taken at a different time, and with different cameras, therefore differing resolutions. The stack was then tinted slightly in saturation.

Rainbow coloured image of fireworks taken below edinburgh castle,
Festival Fireworks

Inspired by a mix of Khan, Sear and Vionnet, I stacked six layers of fireworks. Seen from below the fireworks break overhead in a multitude of colours. The most difficult task was arranging the stack so that neither the tress or the tower in the foreground nor the castle rocks or the esplanade. The colours produced are directly a result of the layer stacking.

Once the images were produced, the exercise asks for 500 words on the work of one contemporary artist-photographer who uses layering techniques

Helen Sear

Years ago, when I first encountered ‘Beyond the View’ and ‘Inside the View both by Helen Sear, I was left cold and unaffected by her works, it has taken some years of education and maturity to learn to understand and become comfortable with her work. It no longer is a clash of ideas and colours but instead, Sears work inhibits a surrealistic world of nature. Outside of a driven narrative, her work envelops the viewer with a calming blanket allowing them time to feel the work as well as view it.

By layering nature between the viewer and her subjects, Sear manages to interrupt the male gaze on her female subjects, we are reminded that nature is a woman too and she is a mother. This assists in the interpretation of her work as it makes us the viewer feel involved in the work itself.

At times Sears layering work is quite complex, it can appear as a mix of Victorian portraiture with a complex fractal generation or as a mixture of oil paintings on a rough canvas. The first piece, the fractal nature is generated by a layer of single colour in the pattern of a snakeskin while in the last piece, the texture is created by the eye, on closer examination, it is a mix of the horizontal lines from the portrait mixed with the vertical lines from the stalks of the plants and vegetation.

These complex layers are at first difficult to distinguish, it is only when you take the time to selectively deconstruct the work that you start to be able to selectively separate the layers on see each layer of the image and beyond.

Sear has chosen to introduce the fine art concept while at the same time, breaking the tradition of the male gaze within traditional fine art works. In both of the ‘Views’ works, Sear has her subject with their back to the viewer, so we are left to generate our own concepts of who they are. This first step begins the viewer on the path away from the fine art gaze and into the understanding of women in artworks as something other than a standard semi-naked figure. Sear is forcing the viewer to instead look over the shoulder of her subjects to look further into the image to perhaps see what the subject is looking at. Layered on top of the subject are differing ideas of nature, whether it be patterns of the ground, clouds, or a layer of flowers.

For me, some of the layers are reminiscent of Folk Talbots lace contact prints, the heavy definitive lines surrounded by a sloping scale of visibility as the lines of the lacework become thinner and more complex.

Sears techniques define her work, the manner in which the layers are set out of show the complicated manner in choice and placement. While each layer interrupts the lower layer, Sear has placed each layer at the position which allows maximum effect without damaging the overall view.

I have to admit that I was wrong in my first assumptions about the work of Helen Sear and even now I am only just beginning to scratch the surface of her works.


Aesthetica Magazine. (n.d.). Aesthetica Magazine – A Pilgrimage of Self-Discovery, Idris Khan: The Devil’s Wall, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. [online] Available at: https://aestheticamagazine.com/a-pilgrimage-of-self-discovery-idris-khan-the-devils-wall-whitworth-art-gallery-manchester/ [Accessed 4 Aug. 2020].

Fraenkel Gallery. (n.d.). Idris Khan Archives. [online] Available at: https://fraenkelgallery.com/tag/idris-khan [Accessed 4 Aug. 2020].

Gallery, S. (n.d.). Idris Khan – Artist’s Profile – The Saatchi Gallery. [online] http://www.saatchigallery.com. Available at: https://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/idris_khan.htm [Accessed 4 Aug. 2020].

Johnny Got His Gun. (1971). [Film] USA: Cinemation Industries.

LENSCRATCH. (2012). Helen Sear. [online] Available at: http://lenscratch.com/2012/10/helen-sear/ [Accessed 4 Aug. 2020].

LensCulture, C.V.| (n.d.). Photo Opportunities – Photographs by Corinne Vionnet. [online] LensCulture. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/corinne-vionnet-photo-opportunities [Accessed 4 Aug. 2020].

Metallica – One [Official Music Video (2009). Metallica – One [Official Music Video]. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://youtu.be/WM8bTdBs-cw [Accessed 23 Sep. 2019].

Pharmacy, T.C. (n.d.). Photomonitor – Book Reviews – Inside the View. [online] PhotoMonitor. Available at: https://www.photomonitor.co.uk/inside-the-view/ [Accessed 4 Aug. 2020].

Sear, H. (n.d.). Helen Sear. [online] Helen Sear. Available at: https://www.helensear.com/ [Accessed 4 Aug. 2020].

Society, C.A. (n.d.). Helen Sear. [online] Contemporary Art Society. Available at: http://www.contemporaryartsociety.org/artist-members/helen-sear/ [Accessed 4 Aug. 2020].

The Photographers’ Gallery. (2018). Helen Sear – Behind the View. [online] Available at: https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/content/helen-sear-%E2%80%93-behind-view [Accessed 4 Aug. 2020].

Vionnet, C. (2020). | CORINNE VIONNET |. [online] http://www.corinnevionnet.com. Available at: http://www.corinnevionnet.com/ [Accessed 4 Aug. 2020].

http://www.skny.com. (n.d.). Idris Khan – Artists – Sean Kelly Gallery. [online] Available at: https://www.skny.com/artists/idris-khan [Accessed 4 Aug. 2020].

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