Mark Power Lecture – Notes and Critical Reflection

On Tuesday 23rd October 2012, my photography course went on a trip to Hinkley and Warwickshire Collage to have a lecture from photographer, Mark Power, who arrived as a guest speaker. We met at Fairfax Street in Coventry at about 8:15 where we boarded a coach that took us to the collage where we arrived at 9:30. We then had to wait around for approximately 15 minutes until we were escorted upstairs to a small seminar room. This was where we were given our practical task for the morning, which consisted of us looking at Mark Power’s project “Black Country Stories” and taking our own photos in response to them. We were given three hours to complete this task that everyone managed relatively easily. Then, at 13:30 we all gathered in a lecture theatre, including the photographs on the collage course, and waited for about 30 minutes whilst some technical difficulties occurred. Mark Power then began his presentation at 14:00, which took an hour and a half. We then got back onto the coach that took us home. Below, are the notes that I took throughout the day, the favourite, edited photographs from the practical, and my critical reflection on Mark Power’s presentation.

Practical Task:

  • “Black Country Stories”
    • Look at work and make images in response to them
    • Council areas
    • Bins
    • Shoes
    • Urban Landscapes

 

Presentation:

  • Technical Problems
  • Mark Power grew up in Leicester – he began using In-sematic cameras
  • Photography became elusive and special to him
  • He studied painting at Collage and left collage in 1981 where he began to travel
  • He received a lot of encouragement
  • Mid 1980’s
    • Mark Power photographed for charities in Brighton
    • He photographed the increasing homeless situation
  • 1989
    • Mark Power thought that he couldn’t be a photographer because it was too expensive and he felt that he wasn’t skilled enough
    • This was when he became a carpenter
    • His friend then gave him £200 to go and do more photography
    • At this time, he was courting a woman in Berlin
    • This enabled him to travel into Berlin where he was able to photograph the collapse of the Berlin Wall
    • This was the major event of the 20th Century
    • His work then became successful so he began to get commissioned to go to European countries
  • “The Shipping Forecast”
    • Mark Power though that the shipping areas all had romantic and evocative names
    • For this project, he visited all 31 shipping areas
    • He then showed his collection of photographs twinned with an audio of shipping forecast which made the presentation of the images elicit an eerie atmosphere
    • This book was published in 1996 and was re-printed twice – this was due to the fact that there was different types of consumers than just photographers

     

  • According to Mark Power, there are 2 types of projects
  1. Fine tune the work as you go through – change direction if necessary (Mark Power prefers this type of project)
  2. Planning everything that you want to do and stick with it

 

  • “A photographers role was to take photos that explain the text”
  • “As much as what you take out of the image should be put in”
  • Mark Power had many dark moments – ‘what am I doing this for? No-one will be interested’

  • Mark Power used the Mamiya 6
  • Reactive photography
  • “26 Different Ending”
    • He walked around the edge of A-Z London Map and photographed areas that ‘dropped off of the map’ (in the 2003 edition)
    • He, obviously, left a trail of disappointed people
    • Make photographs and how they work
    • Construct photographs that hold attention
    • For large corporate images he used large format 5×4 negatives
  • “Superstructure” – 1997-2000
    • Millennium dome
    • One condition – he could take photographs but only if they paid him – ownership on how photos are used
    • Maximum dome lifetime of 25years
  • “The Treasury Project”
    • Shows the destruction through history
    • He then drew a parallel on this work and worked in his personal home
  • “A-380” – 2005-2008
  • “The Sound of Two Songs”
    • Poland
    • 5 year period
    • 2002 – Magnum
    • 2005
      • Magnum Eurovision’s
      • European Union
      • 1 month in the country
      • Made an interesting start so decided to continue solo
      • Culturally different
      • Operating in country he didn’t understand
      • Met Polish photographer, Konnall
      • It doesn’t matter how much information you have, you still photograph the subject in the same way
      • He remained at a respectful distance
      • Mark Power was interested in Polish history – holocaust
      • Layers of information
  • “Destroying the Laboratory for the Sake of the Experiment” – 2007-2010
    • Daniel Cockerel – Poet (documentary)
    • They put together the audio of the poem with the visual photos
    • There are many chance happenings within this collection where the words alter the meaning of the photograph and vice versa
  • “Black Country Stories”
    • Increase in lipstick and nail varnish show that we are in a recession
    • Gentlemen’s clubs where increasing

 

Photographs:

Below are my favourite, edited images that I took during the morning practical. I decreased the saturation to -30 and increased the contrast to 10. I also cropped and straightened the images where necessary. I hope you enjoy them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Critical Reflection of Mark Power’s Presentation:

When we sat down in the lecture theatre at 13:30, I think it was safe to say that everyone was very tired and slightly fed up after waiting three hours for this lecture. That’s never a good way to start a presentation! We then waited, relatively patiently, whilst Mark Power and the technicians of the collage worked out some technical difficulties with the projector and Mac computer. Once this problem was sorted, Mark Power then made a very nervous start on his presentation, which put many of us slightly on edge as we were wondering whether he was prepared for this specific presentation. He began to relax after the first 5 minutes, which then enabled us to relax with him and take into account everything that he was saying. For an hour and a half, we patiently listened to him telling us about his photographic career and showing us a small collection of images from his most ‘influential’ and known projects.

Personally, I feel that his images were incredibly strong and the fact that he focused on industrial photography was something that I hadn’t actually come across before. The way that he captured the light within his photographs and how he managed to take photographs of such busy subjects but still be able to portray a distinctive focal point was simply genius. Not to mention the way that he photographed relatively ‘ugly’ structures and composed them in such a way that elicits a beautiful yet eerie feel to the image. I also really enjoyed how he worked with different people from a variety of different media backgrounds and composed an audio/visual presentation that enhanced the photographs in a very unique way. These aspects really inspired me to look at urban landscapes in a different light, which is why I am relatively proud of some of my images from the practical task at the start of the day. However, despite all of this, my personal opinion is that the presentation in itself wasn’t particularly strong. After he said, “I haven’t really prepared for this” my mind almost switched off. He used a very monotone voice and with the presentation being shown in an almost pitch-black room; it was very hard to concentrate. I struggled to take notes, as I couldn’t see my paper, and found that I was easily paying attention to his photographs, but not so much what he was talking about. This is why I feel that his photographs would have been a lot more effective if we had viewed them in an exhibition where we could read the information as we please and could put across our own opinion on his images without it being forced upon us through speech. Overall, I feel that Mark Power’s photographs are very inspiring, but feel that the lecture media-platform for these images decreased the intensity of excitement that I would have felt over them if I were to see them in a large-scale exhibition.

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