College

Space, Place and Obligation by ellie berry

botanic gardens.jpeg

Space

I’m standing at the spire, waiting for Walking in the Eire to finish her incredible 6 month trip walking the coastline of Ireland. It’s a part of Dublin I never visit - it’s reserved for tourists, no “Dubliner” would put themselves through this stressful street (not that I’m sure I can claim that title). Over to my left there’s a guy literally standing on his soap box, preaching to his un-co-operating congregation that Jesus Christ can forgive them, and they can find their immortal life. Even with his small speaker hanging from his elbow I don’t think many people can hear him. There are hundreds of buses, thousands of conversations, and one busker playing drums pretty well but also pretty loudly, and it echoes up and down this wide thoroughfare.

But it’s not as uncomfortable a place as I was expecting - since coming back to the city I’ve had the opposite experience of most outdoor people I know, and find the mass movement of strangers so energetic and energising. I’m still wrecked at the end of a day, it’s still over whelming, but I think the city gives me as much life as I find in the outdoors.

There’s no immediate sign of the inspiring walker I’m here to congratulate so I start jotting notes for a blog post I’ve been meaning to write for weeks. I know how loose time is when you spend all your days walking. I pick a pole wrapped in bamboo and lean against it. I watch old friends collide in screeching hugs, and first dates ask each other what food they like. There are just so many people. I look around me and wonder who is here for what.

There’s a lull in traffic, and my preacher friend across the road can be heard shouting for us all to trust in our Jewish saviour. Saviour seems to be his favourite word. Then the drummer strikes up a powerful tempo, and a swarm of teenage students pour across the road.

So far I can confirm that standing is harder than walking, but I’m enjoying getting the time to write. I’ve been meaning to write something for my own website since I got sick a month ago. When you’re sick and can’t do anything it’s easy to build to do lists of things that don’t involve going places, but still involve more mental energy than you actually possess. But I’m back on feet, so here we are. Time to do a big general update.

ellieberrydart.jpg

Place

A quick summary of my life this year would be - I walked 1,446km this summer, and then took a short break which resulted in my immune system crashing. In my anti biotic stupor of the past month I; moved back to Dublin, attended a conference, built IKEA furniture, took part in a feminist internet workshop, got lost learning my new corner of the city, more artist takes, and finally, I was accepted to do a Research Masters in IADT Dun Laoghaire!

So lets start from the beginning of this month.

I moved back to Dublin after my immune system crashed and I had to go through a whole series of antibiotics. There are lots of strange things that happen to you when you drastically change life style and living places, so I think I might just say I’m still acclimatising and leave it at that.

The conference I attended has actually inspired the name/grouping of this post. The title of the event was Space, Place, Obligation (An interdisciplinary inquiry into creative practice in contemporary Ireland). Organised by Niamh Campbell in Maynooth university, it was an intense day of artists sharing their artistic practice in relation to the title topics, while also discussing themes of home and sense of belonging. It was still probably too early in my antibiotic days to be attending such a full on event - I hadn’t yet bought a bed so I was camping in my room. My printer stopped working when I tried to print the conference notes off, my shoes cut my heels to pieces running for the bus, and at the event my hands took every opportunity to spill coffee on my notes, shoes, clothes, and hands.
But it was a really great event - thank you to Moran for inviting me to attend it with her. Ideas I had while walking all bubbled up, demanding attention after the event.

People always say that living in a tent with someone must be the ultimate test for a relationship. I disagree - building IKEA furniture for 7hrs together will always be the real exam. We now have a bed on stilts.

I am starting a Masters by Research! It’s two years looking at walking, photography, and the cultural landscape of Ireland. Induction is in two weeks, and I am both incredibly excited, nervous and relieved to have been accepted. To be perfectly honest, I’m still not entirely sure how I’m going to afford the fees, so in the next few days I might have a print/book sale.

 

Obligation

It feels a little weird to admit this, but this seems like a good section of this post to write about it. For possibly the past 3 years I’ve kept myself purposefully ignorant of a photographers work. There wasn’t anything malicious in my avoidance, it was purely a naive selfish fear.

I started incorporating walking into my practice while on Erasmus in third year of college. Then during the summer I walked the camino. Arriving back in Dublin to finish my degree, I showed my friends what I’d been working on while I was away. And there was one thing everyone told me: while I was away a photographer had been in to talk about his new work on walking and photography. He’d also made work in Spain. So I looked him up, saw two of his images and immediately stopped. I thought that if I looked at his work before really looking at my own I wouldn’t be able to see mine without seeing his - and I was afraid that if I compared us, I would think his work was far better. Such a scared artist I was. And so I have avoided this other Irish photographer who also works with walking and the landscape for almost 3 years. Now, it’s not like I’d see his book in a shop and frantically jump behind the nearest postcard stand. But I never engaged with his work. Until this conference.

I was sitting on the floor, staring in frustrated disbelief at the pages my printer was spitting out at me. How can it print something without black ink? Why does it have to do this now?! It’s the night before a conference, and my whole body is still fighting me with flus and infections. I haven’t yet really read the conference pack, and because staring at a screen had been hurting my eyes I thought that printing off the sheets would help me. But instead blank pages were being gently washed up against my sock. I sigh as I cancel the print project on my laptop. However, before the new command gets through to the tiny printer brain, the images at the end of the document are being painted onto my the cheap tesco paper, and they look so psychedelic without black ink that I don’t know what’s happening. I smile at the mess, and go to my inflatable bed, falling asleep reading the notes on my phone.

And so at the conference the next day I had the very surreal experience of listening to someone introduce and discuss their walking work that I had selfishly avoided. They went right from that first project 3 years ago, to now. It was a really amazing experience, and I’m glad it was such a surprise to me. I got to see all the similarities and differences in how, what and why we create. I think 3 years ago I would have seen the differences in our work as pit falls in mine, but seeing the development of their practice, and how things changed or didn’t change through each project reminded me how fluid and ever-changing everyones work is, and how impossible it would be for our work to be the same. The fact that I am genuinely excited and like my own work and creative process right now probably helps.


And so here we are.

Most of my writing this year has been for a personal journal or for the tough soles blog. It’s a little odd to remember what and how I usually write on my own site - going back and reading my old posts would be too easy. I’m hoping to use this space as a online visual research journal going forward.

In this post I’ve only talked about a handful of things I want to talk about, so just so future me doesn’t forget:

  • I went to the Sugar Club and heard artists talk about their practice/how they’ve come to be successful. The one that really stuck with me was by Craig Oldham. I think he managed to give a talk about himself and his practice without it just being a slideshow of his life. He was the most eloquent in sharing how and what he learnt from mistakes, and how different choices affected him.

  • The Feminist Internet and Mariam Kauser of Wrk Wrk Wrk collective hosted a workshop in Rua Red as part of the Glitch digital arts festival. I’d like to learn how to think of questions during an event as opposed to just absorbing and then processing at home. The workshop group itself was very small, and so lead to interesting discussions as opposed to working on the exact tasks, which I think I benefitted from more.

  • The Arts Management Ireland site is a wonderful resource and I wish I’d known about it sooner.

  • The botanic gardens are always a good place to go to.

Chapter 1: The Poetics | Representation and National Geographic by ellie berry

This is the second part in a series of mini essays - here's the introduction

I: The National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is chartered in Washington D.C. as a non-profit scientific and educational organization “for the increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge.” Since 1888 the Society has supported more than 9,000 explorations and research projects, adding to the knowledge of the earth, sea and sky.[1]

For many people issues of The National Geographic Society magazine were shown to them as a child, the bright vibrant colours alluring. It was, and still is, marketed as a scientific journal – words which in English carry the ideas of “truth” and “fact”. The articles and the images of far-flung places contained within its pages are continually absorbed by millions of people every year, and have helped form views of the world today.[2]

The quote above can be found as a standard introduction paragraph in a vast majority of National Geographic’s physical publications since the turn of the century. Founded in 1888 as a scientific journal, The National Geographic Society was not an illustrated publication until 1905. Set up as a scientific institution, the Society is a private body that relies on sales to continue running as a company. There are plenty of theories as to why National Geographic became successful, with most claiming it to be a combination of the following ideas. Firstly, the end of the nineteenth century saw the start of mass journalism in the form of monthly magazines (which would not have been possible before the completion of America’s intercontinental railway system in the 1860s) and the start of advertising within said magazines. Secondly, the Spanish-American War in 1898 caused American citizens to become more interested in foreign lands and America’s colonial expansion.[3] Skip forward to 1905 and a ‘revolutionary’ editor goes against the managing board and publishes eleven full-page images of Tibet, increasing membership to the magazine by over 7,500 in that year alone.[4]

Whether such claims are true or not make little difference because it reads as an exciting success story. The company’s mission statement proclaims to be an “organisation driven by a passionate belief in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world.” National Geographic presents itself to the world as a storyteller. The articles and photographic content the magazine began to produce at the beginning of the twentieth century were designed to be consumed as small samples of the places and ideas they represented.[5] It was the idea that these small representations have considerable power to create a specific worldview when viewed as a whole that intrigued me to begin researching this thesis topic.

II: Ideas of Representation

 

Stuart Hall is a writer who has worked extensively with the idea of representation. The quote below is taken from his book Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices,[6] outlining the power that representation has on the everyday.

In part, we give things meanings by how we represent them – the words we use about them, the stories we tell about them, the images of them we produce, the emotions we associate with them, the ways we classify and conceptualize them, the values we place upon them.[7]

Human communication through language reaches far further than the words we speak. Our language encompasses music and objects, images and emotions, body language and written word - all of which allow us to share our opinions, ideas and feelings.

There are two prominent forms of representational analysis for photographic work: the poetic (semiotics), and the political (the discursive – the effects and consequences of representation). Semiotics is a form of communication; it is a study of sign processes and cultural codes. As Stuart Hall writes “It is we who fix the meaning so firmly that, after a while, it comes to seem natural and inevitable. The meaning is constructed by the system of representation”.[9]

This quote is an example of how through the repetition of a specific notion of representation, the representation becomes an accepted truth or assumed reality without further proof. And these meanings we affix are produced in a set way. To develop this train of thought, we must discuss representation on a fundamental level. To do this, we turn to Ferdinand de Saussure, the Swiss linguist who is known as a father to modern day linguistics. His ideas about representation and language also helped construct semiotics.

In interpretations of Saussure’s work, it is said he believed that the production of meaning depends on language; if things such as words and photographs are used to communicate ideas, they are part of a protocol. His theory centered on a sign (the protocol) being two parts. There is the signifier (word, photograph, etc.) and the signified (the thought of the object, person, etc. that then pops into your head). These parts of the sign are not separate, but create one idea. According to Saussure, this sign or idea doesn’t exist if it doesn’t have an opposite (or binary). As with traffic lights, the red you see does not hold the idea of stop; it is applied to it through its inclusion in the sequence. It would also hold no meaning without it’s opposite colour, green to ‘tell’ you to go. Of course this categorizing of things into simple opposites and binaries completely ignores the fact that there can be finer details than black and white. But it was this work that lead to Saussure’s “proposition that a language consists of signifiers, but in order to produce meaning, the signifiers have to be organized into ‘a system of differences’”.[10]

Looking again to Hall’s Representation, it discusses a specific example of the power of language in the 1960’s. [11] Discussing how an advertising phrase changed representations of black people during that time period, Hall argues that simply because of a popular slogan, ‘Black is Beautiful’, the signification of the word ‘black’ changed. While the word (signifier) black remained the same, social connotations changed around the word. This clearly presents how signifier and signified are not independently affixed meanings, but come from a hierarchy of social conventions specific to places, cultures, and historical moments. Meaning is not freestanding, but comes from the society.

Roland Barthes took Saussure’s theories a step further. As each sign develops in a culture, with its signifier and signified, this sign becomes the signifier for the next iteration or a deeper cultural reference. In the constant building of signs and meaning, each sign is returned to the beginning and the meanings continue to deepen and evolve. See (fig. 1) below.   

 ( fig.  1.1)  Roland Barthes, ‘Introduction to Semiology.’

(fig. 1.1)  Roland Barthes, ‘Introduction to Semiology.’

This meta-data that structures culture, and forms what societies are built on, is the structure through which people witness themselves, and recreate themselves for consumption. In Orientalism by Edward W. Said, he foregrounds his work by discussing how this constant evolution of signified becoming signifiers of further representation have lead to todays representation of the Orient.[12] 

The idea of recreating for further consumption and representations developing naturally within culture is reiterated in Peter Osborne’s Travelling Light[13], where he discusses Dean McCannell in reference to tourism in the modern age. The creation of tourism imagery allows us to constantly review our existence. Osborne discusses the roles that tourism fills: its offer of ‘escape’ from the disassociation and pressures of modernity. The same can be said of the role of the National Geographic photographer. As specified earlier, National Geographic include in their ethos: “We believe in the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to change the world.”[14] It is such sentences where similarities between National Geographic and Osborne’s writings of photography’s flirtation with representation are drawn. Both pieces reiterate this blurred line of fact and fiction. On one side, touristic imagery is an enabler for fantastical daydreams, while holding onto visual realism.[15] Be it their own imagery or photos taken for brochures, tourists see these images as both proof of events and circumstances, while accepting that the situations depicted in this imagery are constructed ideals, fabrications. Taking a quote from Jonathan Culler:

The tourists are fanning out in search of
Frenchness, typical Italian behavior,
exemplary Oriental scenes, typical American
thruways, traditional English pubs.[16]

There is this concept of searching for the perfect touristic image, and an act of detachment with this process. Between you and what you are witnessing there is the camera, a machine built to put order on what one sees.[17] What Culler is observing is the tourist or traveller’s search for ‘authenticity’. If they can capture the assumed culture of the area, on their return they will be hailed as having experienced the ‘real’ place.

In an earlier section of the book, Osborne referred to Zygmunt Bauman describing the tourist as a modern day pilgrim. The word pilgrim invokes the idea of people travelling to a place in search of a special power, and that by reaching this place the pilgrim is given a new identity. As a tourist, it can be read that travelling for the touristic image, the pilgrimage to key sites, are all towards the formation of identity. However, while constructing this identity relies on the tourists immersing themselves in a new element or experiencing something different, the tourist is still disconnected from the activity. Whatever is being partaken in must be ‘wash-off-able’ – something that they can leave at the end of their time off and return to life as they left it. The imagery in National Geographic is styled to offer such escapes, with the text also following a storyline that arches through a beginning, middle, and end, so that the reader may leave with a whole and resolved experience while never leaving the comforts of their own home. To give these theories a context, I am looking at the print edition of National Geographic Magazine from February 2009, specifically at the piece made around the cover image, “What Darwin Didn’t Know”. Split into two articles, the first broadly looks at Darwin and how he came about his theory of natural selection.

The piece starts with four double page spreads, each spread depicting four contrasting landscapes; a green rainforest, a frozen bay with snowy mountains, sheer sea cliffs with birds, and tortoises bathing in misty murky brown hot springs.  Each image is accompanied by a quote from Darwin’s journal, which became the travel book The Voyage of the Beagle.

The article accompanying the imagery is written in a familiar manner, with a clear progression. It opens informing us that the story we know of Darwin and his discovery is more myth than fact. Written in a tone that suggests personal insight and connection to him, the piece goes on to describe Darwin as somewhat an underdog in his field, someone with “intense curiosity … talent for close observation, and … instinctive sense that everything in the natural world is somehow connected with everything else.”[18] This portrayal of Darwin sells him as someone anyone could imagine himself or herself being. The story highlights escaping the boring life of a small town, living for fun and adventure, while skimming over any serious details of his work. When interpreted as such, the text works as a reiteration of The Society’s ethos.

After the opening large landscape shots to the article, the subsequent five pieces of imagery are illustrations of maps and bones. They are all tinted yellow, giving the impression of being aged and ‘otherworldly’. The final imagery is contained in a timeline of how evolution as a theory developed in science. Throughout the article, there is always at least one image per double page spread.

 ( fig.  1.2) Sourced without text overlay. Text located bottom right corner. Text overlay:  The Atlantic Forest, Carlos Botelho State Park, Brazil “The day has passed delightfully. Delight itself, however, is a weak term to express the feelings of a naturalist who, for the first time, has wandered by himself in a Brazilian forest.”               - The Voyage of the Beagle , February 29, 1832

(fig. 1.2) Sourced without text overlay.
Text located bottom right corner. Text overlay:

The Atlantic Forest, Carlos Botelho State Park, Brazil
“The day has passed delightfully. Delight itself, however, is a weak term to express the feelings of a naturalist who, for the first time, has wandered by himself in a Brazilian forest.”

            - The Voyage of the Beagle, February 29, 1832

 ( fig.  1.3) Above. Sourced without text overlay. Text located on the black mountain on the right hand side of the image. Text overlay:  Pia Bay, Tierra Del Fuego, Chile “It is scarcely possible to imagine anything more beautiful than the beryl-like blue of these glaciers, and especially as contrasted with the dead white of the upper expanse of snow.  - January 29, 1833

(fig. 1.3) Above. Sourced without text overlay.
Text located on the black mountain on the right hand side of the image. Text overlay:

Pia Bay, Tierra Del Fuego, Chile
“It is scarcely possible to imagine anything more beautiful than the beryl-like blue of these glaciers, and especially as contrasted with the dead white of the upper expanse of snow.

- January 29, 1833

The landscapes at the beginning of the article are all bright in their respective colours. Each image is framed to lead the viewer into the image, with the clear connotation to further exploration, be it the overgrown path in the forest image (see fig. 1.2), or the mountains funneling the reader’s view towards a beach hidden from sight (fig. 1.3). Each picture is also paired with a suitable quote from Darwin’s journal. Through a combination of the vernacular writing, picturesque imagery, and deteriorating illustrations, the piece gives the impression that little to no time has passed since his exploration of the area (or that there has at least been no further development of the landscape).

Here is where concepts of space and place develop. Yi-Fu Tuan introduces this idea clearly in his piece Space and Place: Humanistic Perspective[19], beginning by observing that place has more substance than is commonly recognised. Place embodies meaning and history; it ‘incarnates the experiences and aspirations of a people’[20]. Once acknowledging the substance that ‘place’ holds, its relation to time also shifts. When Western society contemplates distance, tied to the thoughts ‘near’ and ‘far’ are also the words ‘here’ or ‘there’. A distant place (such as a non-Western country) ‘can suggest the idea of a distant past: when explorers seek the source of the Nile … they appear to be moving back in time.’[21] These images of South America give the impression that with the distance between the viewer and the location there is also a transition backwards in time.

The imagery of this article combined with its relaxed text sells the notion that such a journey is possible for almost anyone, and that these places of the distant past are waiting to be viewed. As considered by Osborne, the sight becomes two things for the viewer: a broadcaster of certain meanings and views, and then becoming a magnet for people who wish to immerse themselves in these ideas in physical form.[22]

This theory connects with Said’s discussion of it being our ‘job’ as westerners to go and observe these places – the reason of the place existing is for it to be seen, or alternatively, these places only exist because of our knowledge of them. Said in Orientalism opens his examination of the topic by studying a speech made by Arthur James Balfour in the House of Commons June 13, 1910, titled “the problems with which we have to deal in Egypt.”
To have such knowledge of a thing is to dominate it, to have authority over it. And authority here means for “us” to deny autonomy to “it” – the Oriental country – since we know it and it exists, in a sense, as we know it. British knowledge of Egypt is Egypt for Balfour, and the burdens of knowledge make such questions of inferiority and superiority seem petty ones.[23]

The ‘non-West’ only exists because of the West’s observation of it, and there is no deeper knowledge than what ‘we’ the westerners possess. The ‘West’ and ‘non-West’ are not inherent facts of nature. They are not simply there. They have been constructed. Said refers to the thought that men make their own history, and applies it to geography, and says that ‘both geographical and cultural entities  … such locales, regions, geographical sectors as “Orient” and “Occident” are man-made.’[24] He furthers the debate by saying that both representations of ‘West’ and ‘non-West’ are ideas that have developed a history, and therefore their own specific stylized imagery and set of assumed ideals, ending with the ‘two geographical entities thus support and to an extent reflect each other.’[25] This reflection can be seen as a direct link to Saussure’s work, where one side cannot have a meaning without there being an opposite to compare it to.

 

In the following Chapter our discussion moves to two major topics; the digital medium as a way of disseminating photographic content, and content analysis.


Footnotes

[1] The National Geographic Society Magazine.

[2] Currently, National Geographic states that, “National Geographic reaches more than 700 million people a month through its media platforms, products, events and experiences” on their About page.

Source:
Geographic, National. About the national geographic society. National Geographic Society Press Room.[www document]

<http://press.nationalgeographic.com/about-national-geographic/>

(Date Visited: 27 Jan. 2016) (Date Last Updated: 4 May 2012).

[3] Lutz, Catherine A., and Jane L. Collins. Reading National Geographic. 1st ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. Print. p. 16.

[4] Ibid. p. 27.

[5] During the nineteenth and early twentieth century, George Stocking writes that the Society sold the classical evolutionary idea, where rationality was at battle with instincts, and ‘primitive’ cultures were merely developing to the standards of western nations. It reinforced the mantra of looking at “how far we’ve come”, and reinforced the inequalities towards the ‘others’, be it gender, class or race.

Ibid. p. 19.

[6] Cit. Op. Hall.

[7] Ibid. p. 3.

[9] Op. Cit. Hall

[10] Ibid. p. 32.

[11] Ibid. p. 32

[12] Said, Edward W. Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient. London: Penguin Classics, 28 Aug. 2003. Print.

[13] Osborne, Peter D. Travelling Light: Photography, Travel and Visual Culture (The Critical Image). 1st ed. New York: Manchester University Press, 10 June 2000, p. 75

[14] National Geographic, http://www.nationalgeographic.com/annual-report-2014/, 29.10.15

[15] Op. Cit. Osborne, p. 77

[16] Culler, Jonathan. Framing the Sign: Criticism and its Institutions. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma University Press, 1989.

[17]Again looking to Osborne’s text (cit. op. Osborne p. 82), this time with him referencing Davydd J. Greenwood in Culture by the Pound: An Anthropological Perspective on Tourism and Cultural Commodification:

“We look on or look in through the distancing arrangements of the camera or through eyes educated to see with the same ontological remoteness. The world of the tourist is ‘over there’, in the past-present, in the exotic-ordinary.”

[18] Quammen, David. “Darwin’s First Clues.” National Geographic Feb. 2009: 36 – 55. Print

[19] Tuan, Yi-Fu. “Space and Place: Humanistic Perspective.” Philosophy in Geography (n.d.): 387 – 427. Print.

[20] Ibid. p. 38.

[21] Ibid. p. 390

[22] Cit. op. Osborne, p. 84

[23] Cit. Op. Said. p. 32.

[24] Ibid. p. 5.

[25] Ibid. p. 5.

240km in words by ellie berry

Day 1:  Home, Dublin city centre - Sallins, Kildare. 
Day 2: Sallins, Kildare - Monasterevin, Kildare (via Robertstown).
Day 3: Monasterevin, Kildare - Carlow Town, Carlow.
Day 4: Carlow town - Kilkenny city, Kilkenny.  
Day 5: Kilkenny city - Cloneen, South Tipperary.
Day 6: Cloneen, South Tipperary - Home, South Tipperary.

The idea for this walk came about in my final semester of college. The year before I had spent more of the year living abroad than in Ireland, and had walked 1,100km through France and Spain with my boyfriend Carl. While spending so much time away, I had thought a lot about Ireland and the idea of home. So many people we met were in love with our country and culture. And so when it became time to make new photographic work, walking seemed like a natural option. 

I didn't leave with a specific outcome in mind, and the images I made were definitely not what I expected. This walk was quiet and long.

I stayed in B&B's and hostels along the way. Not bringing a tent hugely cut down on the size of my bag. Which means I hiked with one extra pair of pants, one extra top, and change of socks and underwear, a book and notebook, my camera, a charger for my phone and camera, and a few snacks. 

My route planning was fairly simple - I followed the grand canal south-wards out of Dublin, until I reached Carlow. From here, I ended up following Google Maps - which on the first day brought me along a closed road, over a mountain and down into Kilkenny. From Kilkenny onwards was a wandering mix of small and smaller roads, crossing into areas that I had vague memories of driving through a when much smaller. 

Reaching my mother's home was a mix of excitement, exhaustion, and a lot of relief. I got to sit on the grass for a long time, and I relished getting a clean pair of socks. 

Life after college: the big decisions? by ellie berry

Above is a photo I made during my final year of college. I borrowed a camera from the stores so I could try my hand at some medium sized navel-gazing. It had been a long time since I had shot in that format, and wound on that kind of film - which as you can see, I didn't get quite right. So I ended up with a couple of oddly (and one that turned out to be unusable) exposed rolls. 

Looking at those rolls, and 35mm that I've shot since then, it's clear to me that I've been wandering without a purpose for quite a while. 

But I didn't start writing this entry with the aim of discussing the possible listlessness of recent work. That's only happened because I decided to use this image as the header or introduction to this piece.

I've come to ... I've forgotten. 

I've developed an interesting problem. Since finishing college I have lost my attention span. I spend hours flicking from one social media to the other, reloading and rescrolling through the same feeds. Ask me to read a real body of text, that isn't some horrible clickbait infested mess and I cannot concentrate. Two sentences in and my mind has stopped focusing on the text - instead I have music lyrics, book plots, random celebrity gossip, and trash shouting over my inner monologue reading voice. 

I currently have four different journal drafts simply because I get half way through writing something and my mind moves on, not willing to work through that awkward sentence I need to phrase. 

Having now admitted and assessed my problem, it is time to start working. Over the last few weeks of December, I am going to start re-writing my thesis "The Poetics and Politics of Imagery: National Geographic's misrepresentation of non-Western countries through Instagram." And! Actually, I would love to finish reading Edward Said's Orientalism. But the two of these go hand in hand. 

And now for an image to break up my words. I've typed more than planned. Apologies if I have shown this image before - it is from the same roll as the photograph above. 

I think it is time to finally get around to the title of this piece, "Life after college: the big decisions?". I graduated with a first class honours 24 days ago. This was as far as I had planned in my life. Up until now, it's been easy. I've followed the general path I've been planning since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. No one warned me how scary it would be reaching the end of it. Lots of parts of me want to run away to somewhere beautiful (New Zealand has been the fixation for about a year, but really anywhere far away qualifies) and kind of postpone or completely cancel this idea of making "big decisions". 

"Are you going to do a Masters?"
"Where are you working now?"
"What's the life plan?"
"How's the boyfriend? You've been going out a long time now."

I have been asked these questions a lot. My unfocused mind mentioned above has also been using these questions to distract me from actually living, and so I feel like I've been bombarded with this since the summer. Change feels like it is definitely needed, but committing to something has become difficult. 

Do these "big decisions" even exist, or is it just me asking myself these questions while I figure out what is actually supposed to happen? Eh. Life, aye? 

The costs around Exhibitions by ellie berry

Collecting the final frames take two

When people come and look at my graduate exhibition I - not quite worry - but wonder if they know how much work and time and thinking went into these small prints sitting quietly on the wall. My piece certainly isn't a large one, and while I try to ignore the thoughts that "size doesn't matter", I know to people who don't normally look at images it often does. 

With this post, I want to share more of what when into making a piece for exhibition, and the costs that are incurred by the artist. We are told, as students, that throwing money at a project is not what will get you the grade. There is some truth in that. There definitely needs to be a concept. But once you have that concept, it is indirectly expected that some money throwing should probably be part of it. 

My graduation exhibition piece cost:
Printing ----- €250 ----- Printed myself using college facilities. 
Framing ----- €405 ---- Framed in Hang Tough. Not without complication, but otherwise fine. 
Hanging ----- €30 ---- Screws, mounting board, etc. 

In my search for information on funding and affording gallery space, I've come across these PDFs - "The Costs and Funding of Exhibitions" and "Business to Arts: Private Investment in Arts and Culture Survey Report".

Nothing in Stone
Nothing in Stone is an exhibition I'm organising with 13 of my fellow photography graduates. 

Gallery Space in Dublin
In my opinion, Dublin is lacking in low cost/affordable art spaces/spaces interested in showing student work. The largest space I have been able to find is Steambox on School St. in Dublin 8. Recently I found a new site called Fill it (currently still in it's 'beta' stage) which allows people to rent out currently empty space in the same style as Air BnB (in fact the website feels exactly the same). While I am really excited to see where this goes, at the moment the spaces on it are a little too expensive for not enough space. 

What am I paying:
For 13days I am paying €500 for gallery space, with an additional €140 deposit. 

Sponsorship?
Sponsorship is hard to come by. Not impossible. Just hard.
For a show I'm currently organising I spent an evening sending out emails to companies I thought  most likely to sponsor a small art event. I didn't hear back from a single one. However, every exhibition that I have been involved in has been sponsored in some way by local shops or places that one of the artists works. 

Current sponsorship: 
€200 from Tiger. Huge thanks to Tiger and Hue Hale for organising this.

Promotion
Now that there is only one month left before opening, promoting the event will start. Posters, pice lists, websites, there are some many things we would love to do. 

Graduate Show by ellie berry

Recently, I put work on a wall and had people come look at it. 
It felt a lot more stressful than that sentence makes it out to be. 

The largest and final project of my course is to create a body of work for exhibition. For my piece, I walked from my home in Dublin to my mother's home in Tipperary over the Easter period. The whole walk took about six days, and roughly two hundred and forty kilometres. When you're walking it's hard to keep track. 

Stylistically, I would like to say the images I made while one this walk stand half way between a documentary piece and a contemporary fine art photographic work. 

While walking I was certainly thinking about my connection to and impression of Ireland. I've been away quite a bit recently and wanted to spend some time just outside in the place I'm supposed to be from. Did I get that connection - I don't know. But I certainly want to spend more time outdoors again.

Finished college by ellie berry

I've finished college. While an easy sentence to write, I'm finding the content of it hard to connect to.

Finished college. 

People ask what my plans are for the summer, the rest of the year, "the real world". My answer is usually some variation of a nervous joking laugh, talking about how my focus was primarily on finishing my graduation project so long term hasn't been in my field of vision, finishing with general buzz words around travel. 

And travel sounds amazing. I would love to run away. But what happens to the books and prints I've collected, the boy I've been with for two years? And how does a person with €300 to their name run away, exactly? 

I have no resolution to these questions at the moment. Maybe I'll start waiting for a sign. I'm sure that's a realistic way to continue living my life for now ... 

Film Stills Fun with The Screaming Skull by ellie berry

ellieberryfilmstill

A week and a bit ago, I had the pleasure of shooting some film stills for The Screaming Scull, a grad project for Film & TV at IADT. Shot as a live TV broadcast (one continuous take) the drama is based on a supposedly true ghost story from England at the beginning of the twentieth century. Fearing he is being haunted, a retired sailor calls on the help of his daughter, a detective's secretary, to solve the mystery.