Monday, 24 February 2020

All About Me! A Brief History of Zoe

As an exercise in class, we discussed how filmmakers, artists, photographers, and writers became who they are.  The students then wrote about themselves answering the following questions - so I will do the same here - my early life revealed!!

Why did you choose your subject area?

When I applied to university I was working in a record shop (Andy's Records) in Peterborough.  I had realised that perhaps I might be better off going to university as I had left school at 16 to go to Germany as an Au Pair and when I returned I worked on various office and shop jobs. I had approached my local college and they suggested I take a foundation year - as I was young and also quite confident I said I didn't need to and they asked me instead to write an essay and show them other writing work that I had been doing.  I did this and was accepted onto Media & English at DMU.  I chose English as at the time Media was not considered a serious subject.  I chose Media as basically, I wanted to do Photography and Video. I was taking photographs and writing at the time and I felt I wanted to really learn about this and I absolutely loved taking photos from the moment I was given a camera at a young age.

Why did you choose this university?

I chose DeMontfort University as it was an old Polytechnic and therefore I felt it would give me a more practical application of skills as well as academic work.  Also, my parents both come from Leicestershire and it made sense as it was not too expensive, I would be near my family and I knew Leicester quite well already. 

What do you think you will gain from studying here?

Obviously, I studied some time ago but what I thought I would gain was skills, the beginning of an academic career and a university experience of study.  I actually got much more than I was ever hoping for.  I enjoyed university immensely - I loved and fell in love further with photography.  I discovered my strengths and weaknesses academically and I worked hard coming in every day early and leaving late.  I learned everything I possibly could about photography and art.  I took elective courses in Artist books and German Cinema which I really enjoyed.  I entered festivals and put on exhibitions.  I also worked hard in office jobs to pay my way and over summers I worked as a photographer on magazines and for events - basically anything that I could find.  I gained the foundation for my future life here and I enjoyed every minute of it!

How do you think a degree will help you find employment?

When I studied I was not sure which direction I would go in after leaving university but I thought that it would give me an advantage as at the time only 20% of people went to university.  I found work after teaching Media at a college in Eastbourne and as I had no money I lived in a care home working nights for my rooms.  I ended up becoming the manager of the care home - so life takes funny twists and turns and you don't know where it might lead.

What else will you do while you are here in preparation for finding work at the end of your course?

As I said above I basically did anything that I could find - joining the university newspaper, going to DSU meetings, entering festivals and competitions, working as a photographer over the summer and taking every opportunity that was in offer. 

Who is your inspiration in life and why? 

When I was young I was inspired by David Bowie and writers mostly such as George Orwell, Baudelaire and Mallarme I thought they believed so completely in what they wanted to achieve and they had a philosophy of life that they lived and wrote about with passion.  I wanted to feel that passionate about my own work and life.

How do you see yourself in 10 years' time? 

As I am now much older I am hoping that in 10 years' time I will have completed a PhD and will be living a life that is far more relaxed - maybe writing, taking photographs and enjoying the beautiful sunshine of France!

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Project Progress: Anticipated Dreams

As I was working through my project through the diary that I originally proposed, I found that I wanted to concentrate much more on the images and photography again and through work, in my specialist sessions I found my way to 'Anticipated Dreams' which will be my project for this term.

Therefore after creating one piece of work whilst I was working on this idea in my specialist sessions which I shared in my last post and after looking at Joan Fontcuberta.  I have started to explore further ideas to show photographically my anticipated dreams

Ronen Goldman uses surreality in his image to show his dreams and many artists both past and present have used dreams and the surreal. 

Here are two works by Goldman

These works are almost what I would expect.  Dali takes a sightly more interesting approach and is highly influenced by Freud; 'A well-read student of Sigmund Freud, Salvador Dali – who never used drugs and only drank alcohol (especially champagne) in moderation – turned to a most unusual way to access his subconscious. He knew that the hypnogogic state between wakefulness and sleep was possibly the most creative for a brain.' (Park West gallery 09/02/2010)  It has always been a fascination of artists as to how to put these dream images into work. I prefer Dali's here as this piece was a reoccurring dream image; 'Dali described his paintings as “hand-painted dream photographs.” One of his favorite recurring images, bent and flowing watches, look as if they’re made of wax, melting away on a hot summer day in the desert.' (Spear C. 25/04/2012) This is more how my own dreams work and my anticipated dream will represent some of these ideas.

Moving forward I will begin by creating a storyboard to represent the photo shoot/shoots that I will carry out as these will be integral to actualising my vision. 

The final result will, I hope, show what I intended in photographic form.  I will also be researching further artists to look at how they have actualised these visions. 


Park West Gallery (9th February 2010) Freud's Influence on Dali's Surreal Dream Art [Online] Available from: (Accessed 09/02/2020)

Spear C. (25/04/2012) The Dream Paintings of Salvador Dali [Online] (Accessed 09/02/2020)

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Anticipated Dreams #01

I worked with the images that I created in the last post and put these together to try out how I would create pieces that would work together to exemplify my anticipated dreams.

Reflecting on these images I actually am very happy with how these came together - in fact, unusually, much better than I expected, they have the strange qualities I was hoping for.  My dreams are often frightening and there is that fell of foreboding in these sets - really want to make further sets of these now to explore this idea much much further but as a start, it has actually quite excited me!

Instruction Photography: The Beginning of the Idea

As my project takes a new direction I will share the process with you here.  So the instruction was to take a line from a book or a film.  I chose 'You can't anticipate dreams..' from Hannibal (TV Series)
I really enjoyed this line as I thought dreams are like collages created from the day, your twisted thoughts, the television and so if I could photograph these things they do become the anticipation of my dreams and so here are the first set of contacts for my anticipated dreams...

I photographed mostly in Black and white using a high contrast filter on my Olympus Stylus SH-2 it's actually a camera that I most like to work with.  It is compact yet does everything manually has a really fantastic super macro which is far better than my DSLR and here as you can see you can really play with the light with this filter.  I think I often think about how things look in black and white - I find colours more difficult to process.  Yet my dreams are always in colour!

Joan Fontcuberta: Uncanny Laughter

Joan Fontcuberta is a writer and artist who creates photography that plays with photography.  I am writing about him here as this connects to the new direction of my project. When writing my diary I just wanted to make images and I knew where those images had descended - so in my specialist sessions I was creating instruction photography and the instruction I was working with was a line from a book or a film.  I thought the line will come to me and so it did when I was watching Hannibal.  Lecter stated; ' You can't anticipate dreams...'. In my next post, I will share my first 'anticipation with you, however, in this post I want to discuss Fontcuberta who in his 'Karelia, Miracles & Co, 2002'  has photographs of himself levitating, performing miracles, multiplying, skiing on a shark as a priest all of which have no value beyond manifestation. 

These strange images and his playful use of photography to subvert the conventions of photography.

This short exhibition trailer explains further....

Fontcuberta writes in his chapter The Perfect Blind Man in 'Photography after Photography; 'I invented Borges and now his ghost will not stop haunting me. I invented Borges and cooked up the idea of a photographer-without-knowing-it, a photographer-in-spite-of-himself.  I don't know if Borges is at all grateful to me.  No one has ever arrived at a more profound and poetic metaphysics of the world than Borges, with his visual fantasy and fascination for mirrors, illusions and paradoxes.  he wrote that the memory is as much a prodigy as divination, for both past and present are tracts of time and time is an illusion.' (Fontcuberta J: 2014 P49) What is interesting here is that we are all haunted by our dreams, by ideas that will not stop returning and perhaps that somewhere inside us we realize that in the blink of an eye our lives have existed already in entirety and we are just now actors in a dream that we are still living.  Photography stops time, records moments in time that then become without time.  The photograph becomes false memory and then we live within the photograph.

There is so much more here to be said, but perhaps as it has already been said this is where I shall end for now but I will return to this as we all do in an eternal return.


Fontcuberta J, (2004) Photography After Photography, Mack Books, Barcelona

Science & Media Museum (202) Joan Fontcuberta: Stranger than Fiction (20 November 2014 – 5 February 2015) [Online] Available from: (Accessed 05/02/20)

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Diary Project Research: The Joy and Ecstasy of Luis Buñuel

Luis Buñuel Picture

Luis Buñuel (1900-1983) was a Spanish filmmaker who embraced the surreal, the magic of the moving image and used these to create subversive films that are eccentric, funny and play with and discuss social reality.

Clips from That Obscure Object of Desire

That Obscure Object of Desire is a story of a middle-aged man who falls for a young chambermaid Rothman states that the film was: 'Adapted from the Pierre Louÿs novel on which Josef von Sternberg based The Devil is a Woman four decades earlier, That Obscure Object of Desire tells the story of Mathieu, an aging aristocrat, who pursues the young Conchita through a series of amorous encounters in which she arouses his desire but denies his sexual satisfaction.' (Rothamn W. 19/11/2001).  The main character is played by two different actresses this was due to the fact that the original actress proved unsuitable so Bunuel replaced her with two actresses instead as an artistic device (two sides of the same person).  This film deals with the man's sexual obsession in a backdrop of terrorism 'Few other directors would dare to equate the male libido with international terrorism, but the final feature by master surrealist Luis Buñuel is a dark comic web of sexual obsession' (mjneu59 07/01/2011).  

Why am I writing about Bunuel if my project is on a diary you may ask, well the answer is that as Bunuel was the master of surrealism and used so many different sources of reference and seemly random scenes in his films that I felt this is more towards what my 'diary' should be - if it ends up being a diary at all.  As I have been writing I have been considering not just the films of Bunuel but how Bunuel came to his ideas in a New York Times Interview he states when describing how the genesis of his films: “I start from nothing,” he said. He looked around him. “A man throws this"—he picked up a butt‐filled ashtray — “out the window.” He restrained the impulse; this was a metaphorical discussion. “One image, never a general concept. Little by little I have 20 ideas.” (Gussow M. 03/11/1972) Bunuel goes onto say: 'In creating the script, he said, “there is never logical thought. It is always rather irrational. Images appear. Some I refuse.”'(Gussow M. 03/11/1972).  I think this is important as people like to think they are logical I recall often arguments I have had where people either state that they are being logical or you are being illogical.  The fact is as humans, I believe, most of the time, we are illogical and writing in the form of a diary is idiosyncratic and also allows for freeform thought.  This idea I like and that is why what is important here about Bunuel is his ideas and how he came to them - or I should say how they came to him. Many of Bunuel's ideas did come in dreams and in his book 'My Last Sigh' (Bunuel L. 1994) Bunuel discusses his life and he also discusses at length his dreams and how often ideas had come to him in dreams.  In fact, though Bunuel does not discuss in his book that much about his films and as Long states: 'the details are scant in each case. "It would be absurd to list and evaluate all these movies", he writes, "in the first place because that's not my job, and in the second because I don't think life can be confused with a work". ' (Long H.H 07/02/2005).  Life and living were more important but like all artists I suspect he needed his work to live and without it, he may have been lost. 

Following looking at Bunuel I want to develop my work further by considering perhaps another form and format for the words that I have been writing - perhaps it is only images I really want....for the image can be everything.


Bunuel L. (1994) My Last Sigh. Vintage Classics.

IMDb (1990-2020) Luis Buñuel [Online] Available from:
(Accessed 01/02/20) 

Gussow M (03/11/1972) New York Times: No Symbols in His Films, Bunuel Says [Online] Available from: (Accessed 01/02/2020)

Long H.H (07/02/2005) Pop Matters: My Last Sigh by Luis Bunuel [Online] Available From: (Accessed 01/02/2020)

Project Plan: The Diary

I need to create a plan and timescale for my project to ensure that I can keep on schedule for this project.  Therefore I created an infographic for my plan with details - you can read this clearly through the link below.

Creative Diary: Project Plan 

Friday, 31 January 2020

Prototyping My Project: The Diary Mock Up

I need to create a prototype at this point to begin to look at how this project will work as a final piece, therefore, I have mocked up a couple of pages to test out how this will look.

Beginning with the Front Cover - I decided I would like a small journal A5 so I set up some A5 pages on Photoshop 300dpi so that they are high resolution for printing.  The font I used here was Berlin Sans

The pages I am showing here with just some images I have taken recently and greeked text - you can find out more about this here.  This is a possible layout to a page - 

At present this is very simple and there are no additional design features - I played bout here with the colour background and using contact sheets 

I need to experiment more with these layouts and start to put together more of a plan so the diary has more focus.  It needs a stronger theme that can run through this and then these pages will start to come together - I am thinking I would like them to look like vellum in cream to give is a more classic look.
Image result for cream vellum

I also think I would like perhaps a sans serif text but again more experimentation is needed!

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Finding a Target Audience: Conceptual Art

As I am creating essentially a conceptual art piece with the diary more in the manner of Sophie Calle* it is difficult to precisely identify a target market.  Conceptual originally wasn't exactly made to be sold.  Here is an example;

'In 1970, the collecting couple Herb and Dorothy Vogel spent $250—roughly $1,667 in today’s dollars—on a work of art that can never be displayed, and, in some sense, never existed in the first place. Robert Barry’s Closed Gallery (1969) was a performance in which galleries in Amsterdam, Turin, and Los Angeles followed the artist’s instructions to close the gallery space for the duration of their respective Robert Barry shows. The only physical representations of the work were its certificate of authenticity and three copies of the invitation sent out to promote a show that never happened, which the Vogels received in turn for their money. The invitation simply says: “During the exhibition the gallery will be closed.”' (Freeman N. 29.08.2018)
Essentially often there was not anything to own and as it often encompassed a performative or live element this made it difficult to sell.  Conceptual art is cerebral and about the idea but now if people want it they have found ways to buy this. Yoko Ono created instructions and put them in a gallery so that essentially the participants 'made' the work for example: 'Lighting Piece (1955) reads: “Light a match and watch till it goes out.” and Ono’s Instruction Paintings were objects, usually based on her Event Scores, meant to be completed by the viewer. Painting to Hammer a Nail In (1961/1966) was a wooden panel from which a hammer hung on a chain; a jar of nails sat on a chair below it. Viewers were invited to hammer one of the nails into the panel. ' (Walker Gallery: 2020)

All of this, of course, does not explain how to actually sell it or who the target market is, however, there is a market but it is more complex than stating that Generation Z or X will buy it.  Conceptual has been sold at auction to art collectors, however; 'In his book Art of the Deal, Noah Horowitz argues that because Conceptual art is commenting on the nature of production—he calls it “art about the system of art-making”—it is “deprivileging” art, aligning itself with a Marxist critique of consumer culture. But its success as an anti-capitalist gesture depends on it being genuinely unsellable.' (Freeman N. 29.08.2018) The Guardian stated about one of Richard Long's pieces of Land Art; 'It isn’t possessable. You can’t buy it; it doesn’t exist. All the same, it’s free if you want it. You simply have to conceive of it, to let the idea occupy your imagination.'(Laing 09.04.2016)

So for the average person, the closest you will get to buying conceptual art is to buy one of the many books created by Sophie Calle or Yoko Ono, or even land artists like Richard Long so although the original work is not saleable as such the production of books which include photographs of the work do sell.  As I was writing this I checked out the estimated worth of Sophie Calle and discovered it was $41million! (celebstrendingnow; 2020) Yoko Ono is now worth $600 million (celebritynetworth; 2020) and Tracey Emin $52 million so these conceptual artists have obviously found ways to make their work worth money and people to buy it.

Therefore to conclude, I may not have 'found' a target market but I can certainly study how other conceptual artists work and make money with their work.  Although the ideas of conceptual art come from anti-capitalism and that the original work may be unsellable clearly these artists have to find a way to live.  The art market also is a strange place, in the sense that art is worth what people are willing to pay and this means it has an unknowable factor.  It is difficult to predict what will sell and what will not and which artists are worth collecting and could be worth millions in the future and which will be forgotten.

*Sophie Calle is a conceptual artist who made her life into art and often her pieces were a mix of text and photographs 'Her work frequently depicts human vulnerability, and examines identity and intimacy. She is recognized for her detective-like ability to follow strangers and investigate their private lives. Her photographic work often includes panels of text of her own writing.' (Tate 2020)

References (2020) Yoko Ono, Net Worth [Online] Available from (Accessed 26.01.2020) (2020) Sophie Calle, Net Worth [Online] Available from: (Accessed 26.01.2020) (2020) Tracey Emin, Net Worth [Online] Available from: (Accessed 26.01.2020)

Freeman N. (29.08.2018) Artsy, Conceptual Art Wasn’t Meant to Be Collected. Now It Sells for Six Figures [Online] Available from: (Accessed 26.01.2020)

Laing O. (09.04.2016) The Guardian: Conceptual art: why a bag of rubbish is not just a load of garbage [Online] Available from: (Accessed 26.01.2020)

Tate (2020) Sophie Calle [Online] Available from: (Accessed 26.01.2020)

Walker Gallery (2020) Yoko Ono 1933- Present [Online] Available from: (Accessed 26.01.2020)

Extracts from my diary

I wanted to share a few extracts from diary from the last week.  My project moves forward and even though I do not know what the end result will be exactly yet.  The diary is coming along.  I have had moments of despair but also some moments of joy! 

Day One
I was considering at first why I should do this as I always consider diaries slightly dangerous.  I think it was in one of Gautier's books where a woman's affair was discovered through her letters and diary and the man did not understand why she had not burnt all of this as it is evidence of the infidelity.  I think, like my last project, there is an element of remembering as I often think time passes and I can't recall the details of all the days.

The day started with us (my partner and I) in bed looking at the clouds, or should I say he was looking at the clouds and considering them pretty.  Pretty clouds over Leicester he said.  I was contemplating other things and have a much less romantic view of clouds and was thinking it was quite probable that the cloud was actually a smoggy toxic cloud over Leicester being that Leicester is one of the most polluted cities in England.  However, I didn't say this and said instead that the cloud looked like a long-nosed very long shark.  Funnily enough, the image of the cloud shark did stay with me throughout the day.

Day Four

Thursday - another day, and work commences and I am embroiled and can not extract myself from people all day long. The highlight of the day was a photography class. Every time I pick up my camera (any camera) it is a feeling of being at home. I am at once, calm and I have everything I need. Just holding the camera brings me joy and then when I begin to take the pictures I still love the feeling of not knowing whether the shoot will be good, but always know I will find something exciting within it. Even if the pictures are not what I expected they can be surprising and I will find pure joy in small detail. 

Day Seven 
Finally, the sun appeared and this lifted my mood no end - My flat has huge windows and when the sun comes in it really is bright and lovely inside.  I look down on the city of Leicester and on a Sunday morning it is beautifully quiet - the only sound is usually the cleaning truck that comes round to clean up Saturday nights debris.  My son went off to football fairly early and so I have peace, a good cup of coffee and a little time to think....

At present this seems random however I do feel themes and ideas will emerge for the final piece of work and it has helped me to reflect more on the days - in modern terms it ia a mindful experience!