Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

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I had to read this book for an extracurricular project during my A-levels just before my trip to Venice and loved it so I thought I’d revisit it for this project as it has some interesting perspectives on exploring the city.

Marco Polo tells Kublai Khan of his travels across the world to various cities, categorising them under groups such as ‘cities and the sky’, ‘Cities and Names’, ‘Continuous cities’ and others. Slowly it becomes apparent to the Khan that Polo is in fact only talking about one city in all of these cities, his hometown, Venice.

Calvino paints such vivid pictures of fantastical, ridiculous, impossible cities with his words that you can see them in your mind and it’s a very inspiring book to read. You are transported to these cities that remind me of the hanging gardens of Babylon in the way that they are described as almost too beautiful to be real. Ironically, this is what I thought when I went to Venice and having read this book beforehand gives such an understanding to the beauty of the city and so much more than just pretty buildings and rivers in between.

It’s reopened my mind with how to look at the city, helping me to look at it with a more open-minded view and see it as a living, breathing, multifaceted being.

I want to reference this book alot in the work I do for Visual Exploration because of its varied perspectives on cities and what a city can be by looking at its different characteristics.

Digital Photography Workshop

Today we had a digital photography workshop with David. Our first task was to go out in pairs and take photos of people and find out a bit about them and about their lives and pick our best shot to show. We found quite a few people but our favourite was of this construction worker because he told us we should go ask his colleagues for a photo instead because he thought they were younger and more handsome than him.

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This activity, though enjoyable, was quite difficult for me because my anxiety made it hard to approach people and talk to them so I had to ask my partner to ask most people for me.

The next task was to take a 3 part photo series. Because Rosie and I both did foundation last year, we decided to base our series around one of the first briefs we got in stage one so we took photos that had an element of red in them and a line through the middle.

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Light Night

I was very excited for Light Night, many of the events seemed very exciting so I decided to head out alone so I could get to all the events I wanted to see and more in the few hours I had. I decided to just take my camera because my tripod would be a lot to carry and take a lot of setting up between exhibits which could have been very time-consuming.


Tears Of Angels
Sharon Caton-Rose
Oxford Place Methodist Church

This was the first piece I went to see and the second you walked into the room, you felt the mesmerizing atmosphere wash over you. As a pluviophile, I loved this piece immediately. I sat on the floor and let the sound of rain and the storm surround me as I looked at the piece

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The thin, pearlescent aesthetic of the threads holding the crystals made it seem as if it were raining straight into the bowls below. It felt like a long exposure of the rain falling, the string being the motion of its fall, the crystals being the drops and the bowls being the splash as it hits the ground.

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With the sound combined with it, it created such a meditative space to just sit and relax and enjoy the work. The projections on the walls surrounding me made me feel like I was sat in the eye of the storm, surrounded by rain and storm cloud without getting wet.

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The only downside was that the other people in the room were loudly talking which ruined the meditative feel of the room. Maybe if one of the stewards had asked people to be silent, it would have helped preserve the atmosphere in the room. I really liked the way people’s shadows cut through the wall projections on the wall to make beautiful rain coloured silhouettes.

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 This was one of my favourite pieces I saw throughout the night, the atmosphere of it was so relaxing and I loved it.


Your Colour Perception
Liz West
The Crypt, Leeds Town Hall

This piece was supposed to feel like you were walking through a rainbow however I felt that it just felt like walking through a room with multicoloured lights. When I was walking through the different hues, I was transfixed on the transition of colour across my skin but it was just interesting lights, there was no atmosphere to it at all.

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If the light had been more intense and there had been some sort of smoke or artificial clouds to hold it in the air, something that you can feel as you walk through, it would have felt so much more realistic, like you were genuinely walking through the sky.

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I did manage to take some long exposures of people walking through the room so it blurred them all but the lights remained the same. I like these photos, but if it had been through fake smoke, I feel like it could have had a much more ethereal quality to both the photos and the room.

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I did really like this piece, but it could have been vastly improved to make it more atmospheric for the viewer.


Painting With Light
Michael Bosanko
Millennium Square

From the advertisement in the programme, I thought that Bosanko would be painting fantastic images with light and long exposure in the huge tent in the centre of the square, however he was just taking pictures of other people writing things like ‘selfie’ which was exceedingly disappointing. I got bored quickly and it wasn’t impressive so the only pictures I took were long exposures of his lights with an emphasis on blurring them to create tracks

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Wave Garden
Paul Friedlander
Millennium Square

Friedlander’s sculptures reminded me of kelp gardens in the ocean with the way they twisted around everywhere.

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I took long exposures of them all to try and capture the full scale of their movement but forgot that the crowd and cars on the road were moving in the background and caused quite a distraction in my shots.

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These sculptures were nice to look at for a few minutes but they didn’t make me want to stay and watch them for ages because they were pretty simplistic.


Drawing With Light
Urban Projections supported by Lumen Arts
Leeds College of Art, Vernon Street.

As this was Leeds College of Art’s piece, I was very excited about it but I think we went while people were still practising for it so it wasn’t my favourite thing I saw at light night but if I went later I think I would’ve really liked it. I tried to take some long exposure on my camera but without my tripod or a good perch, it didn’t work very well.

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Prometheus
Ashley Panton
Upstairs @ The Carriageworks

I really loved this piece, the geometric shapes were beautiful and the lights syncing with the sound made it very mesmerising and atmospheric to watch. I got some really cool photos and sound from it as well but my phone ran out of memory quite quickly which meant I didn’t get much footage.

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Life line
James Rosental
Main Theatre, Carriageworks

I hadn’t planned to see this piece but I’m very glad I did. It was a ten minute contemporary dance piece where the group of girls used rope to help their movements. It was amazing to watch and their movements were so controlled and concise. It was a really tight piece of dance and the group worked and moved together so well. The use of light to accentuate certain parts of the piece was amazing and the music was just subtle enough that you noticed it, but it’d didn’t distract from the dancers.

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I was at a very awkward angle to try and photograph the performance, I was on the side balcony in the lighting rig and the lighting made it very hard to capture the girls’ fast movements across the stage

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Although on paper, this piece didn’t initially appeal to me, I’m very glad I went because it was thoroughly worth a watch


Spotlight on Fashion fusion: East Meets West
The business confucius institute at the University of Leeds
Banqueting suite and foyer, Leeds Civic Hall

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This was another thing I didn’t originally intend to see but I ran into two of my friends on Fashion Design and so we went to see the show. The first two designs were by first year Fashion design and Fashion communication students at LCA’s work who won an East meets West Chinese fashion design competition. It was an amazing show and fascinating to see what Leeds College of art Fashion students can achieve and the designs were stunning.

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Then a singer came out and sung this beautifully haunting song in Chinese which really set the scene for the rest of the show.

After that, the rest of the show began. The clothes were beautiful, floaty and a wonderful modern take on tradition Chinese fashion. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in a very good position and didn’t have a tripod so I couldn’t get very good shots of the show

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There were designs around the room made from one of the oldest fabric providers in Leeds which were beautiful as well

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After the show, I grabbed my friend to see if we could meet the designer as the show was partnered with LCA. When we asked, we didn’t realise we were talking to the designer’s translator and she took us over to meet the lady herself. She was really lovely and it was amazing to talk to someone so successful in the industry and network with people. She talked to us about the fabric and her inspiration for her work and then she offered to take a photo with us

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We were so grateful she’d given us her time and left the building so amazed that she’d taken the time to talk to us.


The sun at night
David Henckel
Leeds Cathedral

This was the final piece I went to see. NASA’s footage of the sun was projected on a huge sheet in front of the alter in the cathedral. The sound of the sun burning was reverberating around the church at deafening volume which made you feel as if you were standing right in front of it which was incredible.
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Projecting it on the alter really struck me because so many deities worship the sun as a god or God’s light that it felt like we were sat their worshipping the sun and basking in it’s glory.


All in all, I loved light night and I will definitely be going next year because everything was so good and nice to see

Preparation for Screenprint

On Foundation last year, I did a lot of screenprinting so I felt like this workshop wouldn’t help me very much as I know how to prep an image for screenprinting, however this was not the case. The workshop leader went into a lot more detail than the person who ran this workshop for me last year which was brilliant and I learnt so many other techniques to print my image to the highest quality ready to screenprint with in my screenprinting induction.

Because I am already inducted into Vernon Street Print room because of my foundation, I think I will experiment with the image I made today and make something else to screen print with next week so I have a variety of prints to hand in. I love screenprinting, I find it such a relaxing and rewarding process so I am excited to get back into the print room.

Digital documentary workshop

I’ve never really done documentary film before, I’ve shot short videos at events I’ve been at and I’ve done plenty of documentary photography but film is one I’ve always wanted to explore more so it was exciting to get to do that in this workshop.

We started the workshop by making short ‘Vox-pops’ where we asked people about what their opinion of Leeds was. We only asked people within the college though so mostly people who have chosen to come to Leeds. I think we got a good mix of staff and students in our Vox-Pops which made our video seem a lot more varied in the end.

We were then shown the 5D cameras and how to set them up and began planning our short documentary to film with them. We brainstormed ideas and settled on exploring the supposed rivalry between the University of Leeds (UOL) and Leeds Beckett University. We decided to interview students from both and ask them several questions to gather varying opinions about the rivalry.

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Once we’d settled on these, we decided to go to UOL to start interviewing students first because it was closest. We divided up the labour equally, two of us on setting up equipment and filming, one person interviewing and the others location scouting and getting people to interview. We started by taking some shots of the university to contextualise our work and then set up the camera and the mic in front of the UOL sign so it would be obvious that we were talking to UOL students. We checked the sound and framing of our shot and then got the others to start asking people to interview.

Many people were on their way to lectures so it took a while to get people to talk to us and some people were very rude in their refusal but we persevered and got several people to talk to us. I think we got a good variety of students to talk to us about UOL and they all had varied opinions which was good.

We then went down to Leeds Beckett and set up in front of their sign which was unfortunately next to the main road and it was very windy which meant we had a lot of background noise to our footage which we couldn’t edit out without getting rid of people’s talking. People at Beckett seemed a lot more open to talking to us and we got all the footage we needed at Beckett very quickly so we had plenty of time to edit everything.

When we got back to college, we discovered that we had much more footage than we needed so we had a selection of opinions and we could choose which clips we liked the best for our final documentary. We weren’t as efficient at editing as I would have liked because we didn’t have much time for it so some of the cuts were very abrupt and with more time, could have been much better.

I think we collaborated well together, dividing the workload evenly and sharing ideas throughout the process of making our documentary.

To improve our documentary, I’d have liked to be able to include all of our footage so we had a rounded view from the students. It also would have been good to interview people outside of either University to see if the supposed rivalry is obvious to people who don’t attend the unis and aren’t biased towards one or the other. I think we could have edited the footage better as well and made the topic we were presenting much clearer and the documentary as a whole much smoother and a more professional product.

Before this workshop, I was reluctant to work collaboratively but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I couldn’t have done as good a job as we did on my own at all. It has helped me view collaboration with less adversity and made me be more open to working with others, improving my team-working skills quite a bit which will help me quite a bit in the future.

Is Britain Racist? A documentary review

Is Britain Racist?
Aired on BBC Three, 5 Oct 2015
Presenter: Mona Chalabi
Producer: Tom Pearson
Director: Tom Pearson
Executive Producer: Mike Radford

The way the documentary is presented by a data analyst gives a very interesting perspective on how different what the data on people’s racial prejudice says and what the actuality of people’s racial prejudice is. If a government survey says most people think they aren’t racist, then the government may not think racism is a problem, however if the government is presented with how many race related hate crimes are committed every year, they may have a different perspective on racism in Britain.

The documentary began with an EDL demonstration where the presenter asked many of the members there if they were racist. I have always believed the EDL to be a stigma based extreme hate group so it was surprising to me that many of the people participating in the demonstration were adamant that they held no racist views. Although Islamaphobia and Racism are different types of discrimination they often collide with stereotyping of people who are Muslim which is where the line begins to blur.

The abuse that the presenter got was absolutely shocking and made the opening minutes of the documentary exceedingly uncomfortable to watch. After bouts of both personal and general verbal abuse, members of the demonstration began to get physically violent and the production team decided to leave.

The documentary reported that last year there were 39,000 race or religion related hate crimes committed, they then go on to say, however that was spread across 64 million people. Personally, I think that despite Britain having a larger number of residents than people who are victims of race or religion related hate crimes, 39,000 a year is a number that is far too high and something needs to be done to address this number and configure solutions to lowering that number this year.

Following this, the documentary focused on 3 people going undercover to record their experience of racial and anti-religious abuse for a day.

First was a girl who went to Dudley. She said that she was surprised that she didn’t get any verbal abuse as that was what she had been expecting. For the second half of the day, she wore the niqab which covered her face and every 10-15 minutes she would get verbal abuse and in between verbal attacks, everyone would stare at her as if she were some kind of oddity.

It was then stated “An anti-hate crime group found that 60% of attacks against Muslims are perpetrated against women.” This is a statistic that flies under the radar when the discussion of feminism in Islam comes up. People are determined to ‘protect women in Islam and give them freedom of choice’ but are not helping to defend them when hate crimes are being perpetrated against them for the choices they make. Many of these hate crimes are physical violence against women that in the most extreme cases can result in death. This is a serious problem that we should be working to find a solution for to protect the lives and rights of these people.

The second person spent their day in Somerset where anti-racist groups have reported some issues. They said that they found Somerset a very inclusive place, many people acknowledged him and said “hello” and some people at the pub asked him to join them. He got the odd stare, but nothing that made him feel uncomfortable. His mainly positive experience is a hopeful one and a way of proving that while there are racist extremists in Britain, not everyone in Britain is racist.

The final person was a Jewish man who spent his day in Bradford. For the most part he had positive experiences, however a few people swore at him through car windows as he was walking past. I was surprised that some people had such adverse reactions to a man wearing a kippa because for me I’ve personally never taken note. I smile and nod at people in the street without stopping to think about what their religious alignment is.

This man makes a very good point however, that I think the documentary up to this point had forgotten to mention. He says “I need to be careful not to draw huge generalisations into what was clearly one day, in one city, in one particular year, but nevertheless it happened, and I can’t pretend it didn’t”. This rings very true and without reminding people of this point, people could easily take the bigoted and discriminatory views presented in this documentary as the opinions of all whereas that is not the case.

Many people say that they would not report a racist or anti-religious hate crime to the police. I have often seen LGBT+ people say the same. This could be a mistrust that the police will carry out justice for the victim of the hate crime, fear that it would create further hate and animosity towards them, or many other reasons. A huge percentage of hate crimes of any type go unreported so any statistics showing how many hate crimes have been committed in recent years cannot wholly represent the actual amount of hate crimes committed.

These same three people went undercover in a short experiment to see who could hand out 12 free doughnuts to the public the fastest. It took the girl 6 minutes 23 seconds longer to give out all of her doughnuts when she was wearing her niqab. Some people also made remarks like ‘Are you kidding?’ and ‘Scum’ to her when she was wearing her niqab. It’s incredible how much reliance people put on clothing to form and opinion of a stranger and how because this girl had her face covered, it suddenly made it okay in their minds to give her verbal abuse. This prejudice confuses me so much, I don’t understand it.

A large part of this is what is known as hidden or invisible prejudice which is the subconscious or barely concious assumptions we make about people and is completely made up of mass generalisations and stereotypes. These hidden prejudices can be just as damaging as the verbal and physical hate crimes committed as they affect the livelihood and personal, social and mental security of people in their day to day lives.

The presenter took part in an MRI test to see what her brain’s reaction to seeing black and white faces were. The results for white faces showed no change, however the results for black faces showed that the part that shows fear was active but the part that controls automatic fear response was more active, meaning Mona was fighting the learned prejudices her brain had because of the society she was raised in to make her less racist. I would be very interested to see what my brain would look like if I took this test because I think it would look quite similar, but I can’t be sure without taking the test.

The footage cut to looking at the leader of minor political party Liberty GB who think that multiculturalism in Britain is something that needs to be eliminated. The majority of the things he is saying about deporting people who ‘aren’t useful’, I find disgusting. How people think they have a right to determine people’s ‘usefulness’ is beyond me. He also says “Don’t bring the female genital mutilation, don’t bring the fascist ideas” which are both horrendously sweeping generalisations about Islam which isn’t true for a large percentage of Muslims and I find it a very ignorant statement to make.

He does, however, make a point about how what he has to say could, under proposed new laws, cause serious consequences such as job loss, fines or jail time and how he has a right to speak out. And while I agreed that he has a right to speak out on issues he disagrees with, many of his views affect several of the human rights of the people he is talking about. To be more specific, he is denying people several articles of the human rights act which we recognize as law in the EU and by denying them the previous, also article 30, no one has the right to take your human rights from you.

This man continues to argue with the presenter that she isn’t as ‘British’ as him because she isn’t of ‘Western European ethnicity’. The presenter is completely dumbstruck and doesn’t understand why this man sees her ethnicity as such a big deal and I wholeheartedly agree with her. This man’s ignorant, discriminatory ideas should not affect he ability to live happily in the country that she chooses to live in.

They concluded with Mona talking about ways to unlearn our prejudices which I think is so important. If we can unlearn our prejudices then we can work together to help others do the same and create a more tolerant and welcoming society for everyone to live in in Britain.

This documentary has been an interesting look into whether Britain as a whole is racist. I think a large part of the documentary focused on the south which doesn’t reflect the views of everywhere in Britain. I think it gave a mostly balanced perspective on people’s opinions with a slight emphasis towards Britain being more racist than they realise. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing though because many people who aren’t affected by racism and religious discrimination don’t even realise what a serious issue it is in Britain.

I think if more awareness was raised towards these issues and people were inspired to action to help lower the amount of racism here, we could create a more just, peaceful and equal society for everyone.

Ghost people

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These long exposures I took of my friend walking to a certain spot became really ghost-like and translucent, which I really liked. It highlights the impermanence of people and society and how everything is constantly moving and changing