Portraits of the Somerset Carnivals

TR Flaxton

Research output: Non-textual formArtefact


‘Portraits of the Somerset Carnivals’ was formulated to explore the core research question that was part of the original AHRC bid for my 2007 Creative Research Fellowship: ‘In what ways will High Resolution Imaging change the work produced in the convergence of art and visual technologies and consequently, our experience of that work?’ To answer this question I formulated the idea of ‘Quantum Resolution’ which proposed that audience immersion deepens with quantum as opposed to quantitative increases of resolution – that is the effects of deeper immersion would be felt with larger increases of resolution rather than incremental increases of resolution. Initially I formulated 3 practice as research portfolios as differing strategies to uncover the effects (if any) of increased resolution. These three were a) to examine everyday moving images of the world immediately around oneself, b) examine iconic moving images of the world and c) examine human portraiture and by way of this examine ideas around the human gaze. I argued that each work would be a building block in a developing argument to examine my hypothesis and that all of the works would be presented together in a major exhibition as the overall thesis – this occurred in December 2010 in collaboration with University of Westminster in their London P3 Gallery. ‘Portraits of the Somerset Carnivals’ is the third work of the 3rd Portfolio which had as its base idea to investigate the re-presentation of the human portrait in front of an iconic object or landscape. However, in this case the human portrait was to give way to an iconic representation of its surround through the dominance of the imagery presented by the Carnival floats created by the Carnival Clubs of Somerset. This work was funded by an AHRC Practice and Applied award for £20,000. The images were shot at night at 4k resolution (some 4 times the resolution of High Definition). To take account of this level of detail I became involved with the community of the Carnival Clubs and photographed their first display of 2008 at Burnham on Sea. It proved difficult to get some of the huge floats to become still but this became a positive element in the final work. This work was first presented at the Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury and ran for a month, but subsequently has been shown at different venue around the world. Also, the series of works it prompted have been shot in China, America and Italy and subsequently I have spoken of the research outcomes in articles and papers at various international conferences. The excerpt at the url is vastly shortened and is accompanied by music - in exhibition however, this is displayed 20 foot x 10 foot so that the subjects are life sized. At an exhibition in 2010 6 projects were displayed as a 60 foot triptych with people represented from around the world.
Translated title of the contributionPortraits of the Somerset Carnivals
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationVarious (1st Exhibition, Somerset)
Media of outputInstallation
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2009

Bibliographical note

Medium: High Resolution Digital Installation
Event title: Various (1st Exhibition, Somerset)
Other: Part of the 2nd Practice as Research Portfolio from the 2007 - 2010 AHRC Creative Research Fellowship

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