virtual storycubes

16 October, 2008

This week we adapted the StoryCubes methodology used by proboscis in their  face to face workshops, to work in Second Life

In Second Life we can use StoryCubes as poetic and playful devices for displaying snaps in three dimensions, allowing us to reveal different perspectives and make new connections and associations. We can use them as a group to build a collective photo-narrative out of our individual snapshots around second life, and can come to a shared narrative that allow us to see new perspectives.


photography as virtual document

9 October, 2008

Studying photography in Second Life: an in-world  snapshot from the digital photography study group visiting the Kalasha village. The team now working with the  London South Bank University digital photography  program- Matthew Wheeler, Ming Nie and Gilly Salmonpublished How avatars learn together: an immersive experience in ALT newsletter (July 2008). For a wider study of other online social learning projects read Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail and Learning 2.0 by  John Seely Brown and Richard P. Adler in the EDUCAUSE Review, (January/February 2008).

peepshow exhibition

17 September, 2008

In partnership with the Lisbon-based Voyeur Project View gallery, da gallery -the digital art gallery at the London South Bank University- will be transformed into a digital peepshow for two weeks from September 25th.
Today peep show is mostly associated with the entertainment industry, but the beginnings of the peep show mechanism can be traced back to the work of Leon Battista Alberti (1437) and Filippo Brunelleschi (1418-20), Renaissance painters that started using the device of a box with an “eye” to present miniature scenes painted and /or built in perspective, as well as to Martin Engelbrecht (1730), author of peepshow miniature theatres for children, and Edison (1896), who launched the kinetoscope peep show, the first machine to bridge photography, film and peep show.

The project, an initiative of Rodrigo Vilhena with Paula Roush and the participants in the Photographic Art project of the Digital Photography program at the London South Bank University, is developed with a focus on screen-based work engaging with the themes of voyeurism, peep show, surveillance, and the gaze. Whilst the exhibition in the Voyeur Project View in Lisbon is shown in a series of display mechanisms purposefully built to simulate a peepshow effect, the exhibition in the da gallery in London will screen the video works as a running program.


Kate Anthony, Helene Ohman, Karel Polt, Sindy Pussa, Aga Wierzbicka, Shea Rico, Paul Lincoln, Daniel Neves, Georgi Manolov, Alastair Sanchez, Jasmine Blatt, Thomas Evans, MJ Gumayagay, Liz Aspden, Natalie Cheung, Nicola Goodban, Jessica Kril, Nicola Penfold, Parveen Sahota, Lee Slaymaker, Mark Westlake.

Exhibition spaces
Voyeur Project View
Opening: Thursday, 18th 10pm-midnight
Show runs until october 19 2008
Address:Travessa do Convento de Jesus 12a -16a, Lisbon 1200-126

da gallery, the digital art gallery at the London South Bank University
103 Borough Road, London SE1 0AA.
Opening: Thursday, 25th 6p-9pm
Show runs until october 10th 2008

part of the in-struhk-shuhn programme: facebook event page

moose at lsbu

15 September, 2008

This is a paid opportunity for 2nd year digital photography students to participate in the project MOOSE and learn more about photographic practices in Second Life.

Moose or The MOdelling Of Secondlife Environments at the London South Bank University (lsbu) is a cutting-edge research study exploring the concepts and tools of photographic representation within the medium of online 3-D Multi User Virtual Environments (3-D MUVEs).
The 3-D MUVE chosen for the MOOSE project is Second Life. The University of Leicester has recently opened up its Media Zoo island in Second Life. The Zoo space is a pleasant and creative environment specifically set up for enabling small group work for students and staff.
You will learn about the latest media tools in immersive virtual worlds (Second Life), extend your digital photography practice, create new images for portfolio and gain insight into online research that might be useful for future research/dissertation project.


The time and commitment to attend three 2-hour group sessions in the media lab and participate in two individual interviews (first one up to 30 minutes, second one up to an hour).

Both group sessions and interviews take place at LSBU (Faraday wing, Southwark campus.)

Total time commitment expected from you: up to 8 hours over the month of October


Group media lab sessions
3 sessions of 2 hours each, of photographic practice in SL
wednesday 8th Oct, 2-4pm
wednesday 15th Oct 2-4pm
wednesday 22nd Oct 2-4pm

Individual interviews
Two individual interviews, before and after working in SL (to arrange at your convenience
The week of 15th October Mon-Fri am or pm
The week of the 29th October Mon-Fri am or pm

Training/ Support /Interview
The core staff group consists of Matthew Wheeler and Ming Nie from the University of Leicester, and Paula Roush from the London South Bank University.

Contact Paula to register interest as soon as possible as places are limited

Queen, lies and fly on the wall documentary

16 July, 2007


The photographer Annie Leibovitz is commissioned to make a photographic portrait of the queen. A BBC camera crew is making a documentary about the queen, and films the making of the portrait. A trailer of the documentary is assembled and shown to journalists. In the trailer Leibovitz asks the queen to remove her crown. The queen refuses. The next shoot shows the queen walking through a room accompanied by two attendants and saying with badly controlled vexation that she is not changing anything, she had enough.

The palace accused the BBC of lying, on the grounds that the two shoots created the impression that the queen stormed out of the photo–shoot following Leibovitz’s request to remove the crown. In reality, the second shoot preceded the first, which means that the queen was in a foul mood already before the meeting with the photographer. After much soul searching it was decided in the BBC that the at least some of the blame lies with the young, under trained, unscrupulous post production workers who assembled the trailer for maximum effect.

In the discussion about the ethical dilemmas of the fly on the wall documentary, it is conveniently forgotten that underneath all the layers of deception this is a story about the making of a photograph; The anger at the BBC for meddling with the truth is based on the assumption that the photographer at least, was there to record the truth. It is in contrast to this perceived monolith honesty of the photograph, that television appears as a unstable bricolage, open to manipulation and susceptible to lies.

In fact, the making of this photograph as it appears in the video clip, is a brain war between to experienced players: The queen is in the most vulnerable of social situations: not only she is been photographed, but she is also filmed by the television crew while photographed. The presence of the video camera exposes the delicate negotiations between the photographer and the model for what they really are: a ruthless gambit over the domination of the set; for the photographers aim is to break through the photographic face of the model into the aloneness and the fear experienced by one about to be immortalized. for the queen on the other hand, attrition is the most effective strategy – sooner or later the photographer will have to make a move, she only needs to wear the mask for the duration of the shoot.

To win this battle, Annie Leibovitz choose similar strategy to the one Yousuf Karsh famously employed while making a portrait of Churchill. Karsh snatched the cigar from Churchill’s fingers and pressed the shutter in time to capture Churchill’s anger.

Yousuf Karsh: Churchill

Karsh was Canadian, and the symbolic castration he performed on the war leader could be forgiven on the grounds of his commonwealth loyalty and professionalism: he was a studio photographer specializing in flattering portraits of politicians.

Leibovitz on the other hand offended royal sensitivities on several levels; her Jacobean remark: “I think it will look better without the crown”, is a beheading order issued by a red American jewess for whom the values of monarchy are as meaningless as they are alien. Without her crown the queen is dangerously close to crossing the threshold between the dignified and the ridiculous; her position depending on being able to take herself as seriously as others do. The queen is fully aware of course that Leibovitz is working in the shadow of two major figures of American culture – The photographer Diane Arbus, the patron saint of the freaks, and Suzan Sontag, who, in her book “on photography” celebrated Arbus’ great talent for making people look ridiculous in her photographs.

Diane Arbus. King and Queen of a Senior Citizens Dance
Diane Arbus: King and Queen of a Senior Citizens Dance

But even Arbus knew to draw a line between her most glaringly misanthropic personal work and the more agreeable magazine commissions for which she produced some of her most famous photographs. Arbus was not drawn to photographing the famous, preferring instead to concentrate on those for whom the chance meeting with a photographer was a momentous event full of magical promise. Leibovitz’s own photographic style is not as ruthless, she is the master of the flattering visual pun, the extravagant props, the carefully choreographed double take that never fails to reassure the viewer in his own cleverness and sensitivity. Her images are a win-win proposition even when she photographs a hotel maid with a steam iron in hand: it is grace and goodwill all over the shop.

The video clip that caused all this embarrassment for the BBC exposes the deep seated dilemma that the queen so patently failed to resolve. After all, there are any number of jobbing studio photographers out there who would make an excellent portrait of her majesty in the way she wishes to be portrayed. Buy agreeing to pose for Leibovitz the queen agrees to be subjected to the celebrity treatment commissioned by the Vanity Fair. And yet, the tiara stays. What we don’t know, and probably never will, is did Leibovitz press the shutter at this moment of royal anger, when the queen lost her nerve in front of the Lens. And if she did, did she look in this moment like someone from a photograph by Diane Arbus?

Train driver’s view

13 July, 2007


We are all diarists now, but all our diaries are different. Video clips of tube train journeys from the point of view of the driver posted on youtube, are more than a clever pun. In a culture that encourages exhibitionism through consumption, it is the private life that is expected to be paraded, while the work life required to be veiled in secrecy. Train driver’s view is a work diary that records the facts of making a living; what is on display here is not the banality of perversion but the depth of the ultra-ordinary. Unlike doctors, journalists and police detectives, train drivers don’t get a chance to see their work life docu–dramatised for the television, because unless there is an accident, their work is not considered news worthy or interesting. They therefore star in their own reality show, the reality of making ends meet by traveling from A to B.
The train driver reverses the idolizing gaze of the bystander by preempting the possessive excitement of the trainspotter, for whom the inaccessible mystery of his fetish is major part of the attraction. And for everyone else the train drivers view is a reminder of the cameraphone pictures of modern calamities: bombs on the train or man on the track.

iphone terror plot

30 June, 2007

The multimedia section of Wired magazine runs a great gallery of images titled A Tale of Two Cities London Bomb Plot, NYC Iphone Launch, jusxtaposing images of last friday”s symultaneous events. Will tech anxiety one day get color coded as well? Like red alert for when Iphone gets to London in six months time? Can’t wait.