Assignment 2 – Tutor Feedback

I received my tutor’s feedback on Assignment 2 and to put it mildly, I’m over the moon! Apart from the amazing feedback that I received, she also gave me a few ideas on how to push my assignment even further – ideas which I will definitely be trying out. Her comments are below. My reflections are in italics.

Overall Comments

 An excellent assignment Lynda, well done! You have pushed yourself out of the comfort zone and produced images that communicate both a personal and universal experience of pain.

Thank you!

Feedback on Assignment

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills:

In this assignment you experiment with a range of technical skills to explore how the unseen, in this case pain, can be communicated. The techniques you explore both in camera and post-production, suit your conceptualizations; layering images, slow shutter speeds, broken patterns interrupting dis-jointed compositions, all work to convey a psychological experience, there is a dream or should that be nightmare-ish, quality to the work.

The subdued colour palette you utilize confirms the sense of un-reality, of other-worldliness. I especially enjoy the portraits where parts of your face overlaps the other, suggesting many different selves, it reminds me of the work of Francis Bacon and Edward Munch, there is a ‘darkness’ to the work but also a very human experience rooted within it. If the work were too far abstracted I think we would loose this aspect and possibly it would be harder to relate to. As the work currently stands I feel you have a good selection of images that compliment each other.

I agree. I was worried about going over the top with the abstract, but its good to receive confirmation that I applied the right amount.

I would recommend moving away from too many images where your face is represented and towards more where there are other elements of your form/body. This way the viewer is able to identify more with the work, it becomes less about you and more about the universal experience. However I do feel you still achieve this within the set, my comments are directed more towards the editing and sequencing of the work.

I can see the point of including images of my body (it would have been my leg), but at the time when my leg was the most “interesting” I was not really physically up to hopping up and off the bed to frame shots. The majority of the images of my leg that I managed to take were very much top-down images and compositionally quite drab, so I did not include them.

Have you considered how you will present the images? I feel they would work well in a book layout, with some sort of sequencing. Another point to consider might be how you could use text to anchor the work or disrupt the flow of the narrative in some way.

Truthfully, I have not considered how to present the images. I agree a book layout may work well and I will definitely try it out. Since reading this report I have a few ideas bubbling in my head regarding a book format. I do have some captions in mind for the images and will include them as well.

Quality of Outcome:

As explored above technically the work is excellent and there is fluency between the technique and the concept/idea. Thank you for including the contact sheets as this gives me greater scope for analysis of your working process and final editorial choices.

The contact sheets I included were from my final selections. There were many more images, many of the same ‘image’ as I was trying to perfect the technique I was using at the time.

This is indeed highly effective work, as the feedback from your peers confirms, however I feel it could be made stronger in its presentation, I’ll outline what I mean below.

When presenting images as a sequence consider the impact upon the viewer – think of it like listening to an album, if I hear power ballad after power ballad I become exhausted and less appreciative of the qualities of each song, so too with images.

Each of your images is so dense, so rich with meaning, that in viewing one after another, one becomes almost fatigued and a little numb. This is where some thought to the editing and sequencing can help. The photo book is a good structure to experiment with in this respect – I don’t mean a hard back published online book, it can simply be a photocopy, folded and stapled together for low cost, it’s more to get you thinking about the way in which the images impact on the viewer and how to create flow within the narrative.

It is very gratifying to hear that my images are rich in meaning. I really was quite worried that I might have misinterpreted my theme. I had never considered that the viewer might become fatigued – definitely something to keep in mind for the future.

Continuing with the album analogy, think of any album you enjoy listening to, I’m thinking of Neil Young’s Harvest right now, there are several ‘big ballads/well known anthems’ interspersed with quieter reflections/mumblings and tracks that take your mind somewhere else, before bringing you back to the themes of sadness, heartache, loss etc.

Good analogy! I’ll go over Freeman’s The Photographer’s Story again. I understand the idea of pacing and climaxing the sequence. It’s probably a question of practice, trial and error to get it right. Its something that I will work on.

This is why it’s good to see the contact sheets as I can see there are some quieter images on them. I would suggest possibly pairing some of the images up into diptychs and seeing if you get a different reading from them. You might also like to try putting them into a book layout to see if again the meaning changes. You could write up these reflections as part of the assignment – although this is not mandatory, just a suggestion/development point.

I’m not sure if my tutor means I should pair some of the images with my current assignment images, but I shall get clarification from her via email. I do rather like the idea of diptychs though, but also wonder if mixing straight photographs with abstract photographs would work cohesively. Again something to raise with her.

Thank you for the referencing of the extra work on the contact sheets, the feedback suggested that you include and annotate some of the decisions where you felt you had not achieved what you set out to do as this could be rich pickings for future work, whilst giving a holistic view of your process.

Demonstration of Creativity:

Your work is strongly creative and experimental in approach and I am extremely impressed in the jump you have made from assignment 1, you’ve really pushed yourself in what must be a difficult situation. This takes a lot of courage, especially to then share it with your peers on the OCA forum – I can not commend you enough, well done!

Thank you!

You mention some other ideas, referencing Sarah Byrne, that were too ‘dark’, I would be interested to see these, even if they were just contact sheets, perhaps with a few annotated reflections. This way we can actually see the work developing. Often it can be the things and ideas we dismiss/overlook that become our richest resources when developing the work further.

I think there is a slight misunderstanding here. I mentioned trying to make images similar to those of Sarah Bryne, but I wanted to make mine ‘darker’. Bryne’s images are very light and fresh looking. I did include two of my attempts in my contact sheets. They are on Contact Sheet 3 (_DSC0661) and on Contact Sheet 4 (_DSC0268). I haven’t given up on trying to perfect that technique, but I wasn’t having a lot of success with it and found I was spending too much time on it so decided to shelve it.

In your reflection you state that you feel ambivalent towards the assignment, this puzzles me…. I wonder why this is as. My interpretation of the work and the feedback it has received from your peers is that you have been very successful in communicating the unseen, spanning the personal and universal in your work, you should be proud of what you have achieved.

My ambivalence largely stems from my insecurity about whether I was interpreting my theme correctly … and the fact that I was unsure about the images. Abstract photography is really very new to me and I think it needs some time to percolate within me before I will be able to discern what is good or not.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Context

I’ve already feedback regarding peer learning/sharing above so won’t repeat myself here, only to say continue the good work!

I understand it has been difficult to get about to shows etc. given your operation so please don’t feel as though this is a priority at present. As soon as you are recuperated do continue to visit those shows which are of interest to your practice.

That is my plan. I have some catching up to do.

Overall your reflective writing is excellent, you consider both the merits of and the further development of your work. You are articulate and self-aware and use a wide range of research sources.

I have outlined some general reading below following your comments on getting an overview of art movements and critical discourses.

Suggested reading/viewing

 Context

  • The Story of Art -E H Gombrich – caution this is a weighty tome! And one which is written from a Western perspective (omits the rest of the World’s contribution of art!) however it does sketch out developments up to Modernism and is worthy of a good skim.

I note there is a pocket edition available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Story-Art-Pocket-Edition/dp/0714847038

  • The ‘Art in Theory’ series (various authors) is also worth a look. Again quite weighty, the series is broken into varying time frames/eras including; 1648-1815, 1815-1900 1900-2000.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Art-Theory-1900-2000-Anthology-Changing/dp/0631227083/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1444133648&sr=1-1&keywords=art+in+theory+1900-2000+an+anthology+of+changing+ideas

Please note I am not suggesting you buy these from Amazon, merely using them as a point of reference for ISBN numbers.

I had mentioned in my feedback that it would be good to have some sort of reference about all the various (what I call) “-isms” … structuralism, modernism, constructivism, etc. Something that could put them in order for the lay person like me with no art history background. Thank you for the recommendations. I will certainly take a look at them.

Pointers for the next assignment

  • Consider the sequence and flow of images and how they relate to each other in their presentation.
  • Include work in progress/material previously dismissed within blog/journal to show development. You could password protect this content if you were not happy to show publicly.

I’m definitely going to have a re-read of Freeman’s text as mentioned above. I found it invaluable to get peer input from the Facebook Level 1 group. I had amazing feedback there, so will most definitely use it more often. I did actually show work in progress on my blog on two occasions for this assignment, but I think I forgot to link to it. I will amend that in my assignment so that it reads correctly for assessment.

Post Feedback Email Exchange with Tutor:

After reading my tutor’s feedback I posed these questions to my tutor for clarification:

Do you mean I should pair some of the images on my contact sheets with my current assignment images for the diptychs? I’m also wondering if mixing straight photographs (i.e. non-abstract) with abstract photographs would work cohesively?

and received the following reply:

The feedback suggested that you might experiment with pairings as you see fit to see what associations develop, there is no right or wrong in this situation, it is your work and your story.
The comments relate to structure and flow, the sequencing of images. Look at the work of other photographers with this in mind and see how they create structure.

Thank you for the referencing of the extra work on the contact sheets, the feedback suggested that you include and annotate some of the decisions where you felt you had not achieved what you set out to do as this could be rich pickings for future work, whilst giving a holistic view of your process.

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