University of Tasmania
whole_YeePeterW1983_thesis.pdf (46.08 MB)

Documentation of studio study

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posted on 2023-05-27, 12:55 authored by Yee, Peter W
I use photographic methods and parts of photographs as a means of synthesizing images. I sometimes use the whole photograph as a compositional entity. A camera only makes three distinctions; one is focus, the second is value (the Zone System, Ansel Adams and Minor White), and the third is where the camera puts everything on a two-dimensional surface. There is a danger of making finished photographs; for one, I have to be careful that the image is either under-played or exaggerated in value so that it will allow the completion to take place in the painting. If the photograph is too good and can stand as a finished work of art by itself, there is no reason to make a painting from it. I've always worked from black and white photographs and I do my own developing and printing. If you work from colour prints or slides, you're forced to make decisions more as photographic problems than as painting problems. I found colour prints too restricting; whether I wanted to or not I was constantly referring back to the colour print. With colour prints I found I had to work out all those problems of balance out there or inside with the camera rather than in the painting. There are a lot of things you can photograph, in motion for instance, which make sense as a photograph but which become false in a painting because painting is essentially a static art. A photograph often gives the feeling of a particular moment in time and you get the sense of how that is bracketed in with the before and after. I like the kind of photograph that tends to just be; you sense that what came before was exactly the same as what is shown, and that what comes next is going to be exactly the same. It is a kind of extension of time, which is a very traditional aspect of painting. I try to find and use that particular static quality to advantage to make something happen that perhaps doesn't happen in a photograph. The central problem in the paintings I've done, to me, is a painting problem and not a subject matter problem. It has to do with the relationship between the outside world, the surface of the canvas, and the kind of tension that is set up between illusionary space and the integrity of the surface of the canvas. What I've been working on largely is setting up this kind of tension so that things refer not only to reality but also back to painting. It adds another element to that kind of special tension because it raises the question of whether you are looking at an illusion of objects in space or a representation of a flat piece of paper (a photograph) which is in turn a representation of things in space. So when you add the photograph in there between the things in space and the painting, the painting begins to flatten out as you think of it as a photograph and not an illusion of space. It's the references between what we know, what we see, what we think we see, and what's there between the surface of the canvas and the illusion in the canvas. My paintings and drawings are a result of certain self-imposed restrictions that I set up for myself. I deal in Personal things with the concept that the spectator can still relate to it. I'm not concerned with painting people or with making social comments. Obviously the limitations I've set will ultimately affect the subject matter. Taking the photograph is the first step; the idea occurs and is involved with the photograph. That is the creation of it almost, and the drawing is the technique of transmitting the image. The process I use in drawing is not to validate the image but rather to comment on the process itself. The concern I have now is what implications the image has changed due to the process. The drawings that I have done are to do with the Zone System (Ansel Adams and Minor White), where I obtain a value scale from black to white. In photography the zones are not evenly spaced. They form three groups of low, middle and high tones. This is because of the limitations in the process (silver) itself. This is not the case in drawing, where you can obtain a gradual physical progression. In some of my black and white pencil drawings I see colour emerging; either it's an illusion or it's just my association with the image, I cannot quite pinpoint it at the moment. In the coloured pencil drawings there is a distinct quality as opposed to painting the image, almost a distortion which becomes magic. One of the areas in which I can extend that process is in Printmaking, namely Lithography, to what conclusions it remains to be seen. To make statements of the process of drawing, to talk about the direct use of the medium, to let the drawing itself lead to other connotations rather than restricting the image to communicate to the observer the tactile quality of drawing. It is not a question of representation; it should evoke a language on other levels (dialogue). I find it fascinating and motivating that I can paint or draw something which is very specific as in the jacket series at an unidentifiable location which leaves it open to various interpretations and connotations as an abstract painting.


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Copyright 1982 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1983

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