A 4: Tutor’s comments, my responses and changes

A 4: Tutor’s comments, my responses and changes made

1. Tutor’s comments

Overall Comments 

Thank you for assignment 4.

Please find your feedback below. The feedback in is note form. It is in support of, and in addition to, the verbal feedback that you received on 11 May 2017.

 Assessment potential

Assignment 4

 I understand your aim is to go for the Photography/Creative Arts* Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to pass at assessment.  In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.   

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

You are commended for working with moving image.  I think it is important to take risks, work experimentally and push beyond your boundaries. This will help you find new ways of working, and explore your full potential.

I think your subject matter is rich and full and has mileage.

Your visuals are interesting and yet in need of refinement. I appreciate your nod to medical slides – the look of your work has the aesthetic of medical professionals PPT presentations. I understand why you have used a blue backdrop (water), I get that you have used black boxes around your images to separate them from the backdrop (we have discussed ‘straight photography’ and the F.64 Group in relation to this approach), we also discussed the orientation of your shots – they fall onto the PPT both straight (anatomically correct), and at an angle.  Whilst I understand your justifications for this approach, it just isn’t sitting right. It is difficult to position your approach within contemporary practice. It would be difficult to curate this work into a show or a book– where would it sit? Whose work would it sit alongside? Please look at Susan Bright’s book Art Photography Now, Charlotte Cotton’s The Photograph as Contemporary Art and Mark Durden’s Photography Today. These books should help you understand contemporary practice and its approaches. Hopefully the following will help you hone your approach:

The music is distracting. I think some silence and pauses (rather than filled in with music) would be more sophisticated and engaging. At points the music drowns out the narration.

We discussed watching Peter Greenaway’s early shorts – A Walk Through H is particularly relevant here, in terms of subject matter and moving image.

In thinking about the key elements of your subject – water and (near) death experience. We discussed using the body in water. I pointed you to the work of Emma Critchly (see films and photographs). Water itself restricts the body; being submerged in water makes is disorientating; sound becomes otherly. The flesh becomes stripped of its colour.

Have you considered using Power Point in a way that doesn’t look like a slide layout? By this I mean, using slide after slide of full frame photograph. This way, when it runs it will look more like moving image (a sequence of photographs), rather than a PPT presentation.

We discussed your text. Currently it is too literal. The varying sizes of text are distracting. If you use it over images, you may consider using a softer, more neutral grey, perhaps. Keep the size and positioning the same. You have had some useful peer feedback on this.

I am concerned that you may feel that I am asking you to undertake a mass overall of your project. I see this as an enhancement not a change in direction or a fresh start. Do check your completion dates and assessment dates, and reflect on our conversation, this written feedback and undertake the research before moving forward. Remember you can use yourself to test out your ideas before asking your sitter. This should help you progress the work quicker.

Coursework

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

You are working through the assignments.

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

You are adding this to your blog

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Clear and navigable.

You evidence context, reflective think and critical analytical skills.

Do evidence all of your learning journey – initial thoughts, first workings out, reflections, research, edits, reshoots, and of course your developments after tutor feedback

Suggested reading/viewing

Context

Please see above feedback section

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

We discussed hand-made books – to contain the work. A handmade book will keep it personal. A handmade book after moving image is a lovely step – continued interest in sequencing of images.

There are varying binding techniques that you could experiment with – concertina, Chicago, staple, spiral…. etc. We discussed medical notes and a paper surface. If you consider this approach (and I’m very much encouraging you), please do your research. The best way to do this is to look at artists/photographer’s books. I suggest a visit to:

http://www.specialcollections.mmu.ac.uk

 These books will also help – they are full of photobook inspiration.

Parr, M. and Badger, G, (2004) The Photobook: A History Volume I

Parr, M. and Badger, G, (2006) The Photobook: A History Volume II

Parr, M. and Badger, G, (2014) The Photobook: A History Volume III

In addition to the binding of the book please also think about its size and the paper surface. The materiality of the book will aid the reader.

I showed you Anna Fox’s My Mothers Cupboards, My Father’s Words (small staple bound)

Ori Gersht’s books (3 perfect bound and 1 staple bound all contained in a box)

Jo Longhurst’s book on perfection, which contains notes, research, work in situ etc.

I recommend looking at Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood

2. My responses

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

You are commended for working with moving image.  I think it is important to take risks, work experimentally and push beyond your boundaries. This will help you find new ways of working, and explore your full potential.

I think it was right to invest time in trying a moving image presentation but the learning curve was steep, took too long, as this was a long story of eight minutes, and distracted attention away from focussing on the content and wider options.

I think your subject matter is rich and full and has mileage. Your visuals are interesting and yet in need of refinement. I appreciate your nod to medical slides – the look of your work has the aesthetic of medical professionals PPT presentations. I understand why you have used a blue backdrop (water), I get that you have used black boxes around your images to separate them from the backdrop (we have discussed ‘straight photography’ and the F.64 Group in relation to this approach), we also discussed the orientation of your shots – they fall onto the PPT both straight (anatomically correct), and at an angle.  

I was not familiar with Group f.64 of clear detailed pictures as a response to pictorialism and my images sit within that style.

Pictorialism was the then-dominant style, where photographers used soft-focus lenses and luscious papers to make pictures look like etchings or drawings. Edward Weston and his cohorts believed in what they called pure photography: images made with sharp lenses, printed on glossy papers and employing extensive depth of field to allow sharpness across the entire picture plane. They wanted photography to embrace its inherent strengths to make pictures that amazed viewers with texture, composition, complete tonal range and light. Essentially, they were modernists. https://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/12/11/an-in-depth-history-of-group-f-64/?_r=0

Whilst I understand your justifications for this approach, it just isn’t sitting right. It is difficult to position your approach within contemporary practice. It would be difficult to curate this work into a show or a book– where would it sit? Whose work would it sit alongside? Please look at Susan Bright’s book Art Photography Now, Charlotte Cotton’s The Photograph as Contemporary Art and Mark Durden’s Photography Today. These books should help you understand contemporary practice and its approaches.

I found this is an unsettling comment and I am trying to think why that is the case, perhaps because it is true. I thought my work was more interesting than it was and in a style that was contemporary. I realised in my last module that it is only by understanding what has gone before and what exists now that you can do work that is good and new and interesting. My doctorate was a qualitative study of how patients ask for help; during it I realised that I had to become a ‘Qualitative Researcher’ to be any good at it. This mean surrendering a lot of my biases and prejudices against this approach and fully embracing this new (at least at the time for me) research approach. It is a similar feeling now and I will see how that works out.

I re-read the books suggested. You are right in that my work does not sit in any clear category. I thought it related more to ‘intimate photography’ with a story telling/documentary element to it. Your comments helped my to ask the question of where A5 sits. It is about my experience of grief; I looked at Breda Beban’s series ‘The Miracle of Death 2000’ in the chapter Intimate Life in The Photograph as Contemporary Art. Beban’s husband, Hrovje Horvatic died in 1997, which caused Beban to produce a series of images of the  box with his ashes in the different rooms of their home, which still held her husbands possessions.

Charlotte Cotton describes Beban as unable to give the box of ashes a fixed place, “thus indicating her inability to reconcile herself to her loss. Beban’s photographs epitomize the capacity of intimate photography to describe a detail of life simple and without obvious elaboration, and to invest it with the profundity of human emotion.”

This is a simple idea; perhaps I am making things too complicated.

Reference

Cotton, C. (2014). The Photograph as Contemporary Art. London, Thames and Hudson.

Hopefully the following will help you hone your approach:

The music is distracting. I think some silence and pauses (rather than filled in with music) would be more sophisticated and engaging. At points the music drowns out the narration.

I had concluded that myself and will remove it.

We discussed watching Peter Greenaway’s early shorts – A Walk Through H is particularly relevant here, in terms of subject matter and moving image.

I identified this work but could not safely download it.

In thinking about the key elements of your subject – water and (near) death experience. We discussed using the body in water. I pointed you to the work of Emma Critchly (see films and photographs). Water itself restricts the body; being submerged in water makes is disorientating; sound becomes otherly. The flesh becomes stripped of its colour.

I liked her work a lot. It is modern and pushing at photographic method. I also liked that she talks about the distortion of person and reality under water. http://emmacritchley.com/writing/drawn-into-the-deep/

So we are submerged (on the plane of the imaginary), placed underwater into a world bereft of direct forms of speech and thus confined to the space of gesture. The recorded image within this space itself is subject to warping and folding, as if flickering on the edge of being without the certainty of substance. Perhaps such images do not properly coincide with reality, and as such, are closer to hallucinations or reveries. We are not only asked to re-orientate sense but to give ourselves over to the difference implied in this (a being under or the under of being). http://emmacritchley.com/writing/drawn-into-the-deep/

I think that I could do something like this for the water element of the presentation but that would not carry well through its three phases of warning, death and resurrection and reflection. I am thinking about what I can do.

I have come to the conclusion that my presentation idea of body parts is not strong enough to carry throughout the three parts of the presentation. What shall I do?

Have you considered using Power Point in a way that doesn’t look like a slide layout? By this I mean, using slide after slide of full frame photograph. This way, when it runs it will look more like moving image (a sequence of photographs), rather than a PPT presentation.

I have been thinking about this a lot. I noticed in some slide shows that I reviewed (June Street) where full frame images work well. I will make changes.

We discussed your text. Currently it is too literal. The varying sizes of text are distracting. If you use it over images, you may consider using a softer, more neutral grey, perhaps. Keep the size and positioning the same. You have had some useful peer feedback on this.

The literal text does not work. Using single words that ‘trigger’ emotions or stimulate might work better. I think the presentation, which was reduced from 24 minutes to eight minutes could be cut to reduce the work involved. When we discussed this on Skype you suggested adding additional shots such as of my subject sitting in his car waiting for an ambulance. My subject also suggested some images for the end. This might create a fuller image story and I regret not taking more different images.

I am concerned that you may feel that I am asking you to undertake a mass overall of your project. I see this as an enhancement not a change in direction or a fresh start. Do check your completion dates and assessment dates, and reflect on our conversation, this written feedback and undertake the research before moving forward. Remember you can use yourself to test out your ideas before asking your sitter. This should help you progress the work quicker.

My reaction at the Skype interview reflected my experience of that day and not the interview. I think that I can do what is needed to improve my work and am game to do it.

I have had to slow down my work because of family commitments and personal grief related issues but perhaps there will be fruit from these in the next assignment. I cannot make July because I am spending more time away and abroad and working in this next three months but will make the Nov assessment. I am to complete assignment 5 by the end of June. I am familiar with the OCA legislation on submission – within two submission dates from completion of the module.

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Do evidence all of your learning journey – initial thoughts, first workings out, reflections, research, edits, reshoots, and of course your developments after tutor feedback

I have always done this but on this occasion more detail about this further working out would be a good idea and would show change and growth and learning.

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

We discussed hand-made books – to contain the work. A handmade book will keep it personal. A handmade book after moving image is a lovely step – continued interest in sequencing of images. There are varying binding techniques that you could experiment with – concertina, Chicago, staple, spiral…. etc. We discussed medical notes and a paper surface. If you consider this approach (and I’m very much encouraging you), please do your research. The best way to do this is to look at artists/photographer’s books. I suggest a visit to:

 www.specialcollections.mmu.ac.uk

 These books will also help – they are full of photobook inspiration.

Parr, M. and Badger, G, (2004) The Photobook: A History Volume I

Parr, M. and Badger, G, (2006) The Photobook: A History Volume II

Parr, M. and Badger, G, (2014) The Photobook: A History Volume III

These are fantastic books and I have commented on them in my learning blog and A5 where I have used their framework for constructing a novel and interesting photobook.

I recommend looking at Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood

I have already looked at a number of photobooks including the Redhead Peckerwood one which is excellent. Probably the ones that made the biggest impact were the ‘Jolly Postman’ and ‘In Soccer Wonderland souvenir Stamp album’ both of which have inserts.

References

Ahlberg, J. a. A. (1986). The Jolly Postman and other people’s letters U.K., William Heinmeann.

Germain, J. (1992). In Soccer Wonderland Souvenir Stamp Album http://www.juliangermain.com/publications.php, Why Not Publishing

I have decided to go to Manchester to see the special collection; I have sent them an email and will try to do this with another student. My initial response is to have the book as a facsimile of NHS patient of shared care record but with unusual content – about my experience of anticipatory grief and care for my dying daughter. More in the A5 preparation tab.

3. Changes

3.1 Initial summary of changes to make

  1. I will lose the music but maybe not all of the sounds
  2. I will take more images to add more visual images to the presentation
  3. I will look at the background colour and edging – do I need them at all?
  4. I will look it I can print this as a Power point slide show but using Adobe Pro
  5. I will edit the audio narrative which was edited from 22 to 8 minutes but in retrospect this is far to long
  6. I will think about how I might represent water but and now I am wondering if that is too limiting to the rest of the work

3.2 Audio – editing

There are four audio elements; the story narrative, the threatening music, the waves and the ECG recordings.

I removed the threatening music but included some limited wave music at the start and end to bracket the presentation. I think this works well and avoids the intrusive  waves which sometimes obscures Adrian’s story. My most important task was to edit the story.  I have become more skilful in editing in Premier Pro; originally there were 6 edits to the 22 minutes audio story to make 8 and a half minutes of story, this time there were 30 edits to the story to bring it down to just over 4 minutes. I should have done this at the start but lacked confidence in my editing. I think that the story still flows well despite the removal of lots of duplicated ideas. Once I had the story I decided to take new images and words to match.

3.3 Shooting new images

3.3.1 Thinking about re-shooting

My tutor pointed out the presentation would benefit from images of Adrian when he had his heart attack.  I could shoot such as ‘garden, arms and hands, sweating, passing out, telephoning, ambulance, sitting in the car alone’ as ideas or areas to photograph. The challenge however is not to be literal and capture more ambiguous images (poetic ambiguity) that other people can bring their own ideas, experiences and emotions to. I also don’t want to duplicate the spoken narrative but enhance it.

I have been thinking about photographic story telling. There is a tab in my learning log about this. https://drgsiandp.wordpress.com/research/exploration-telling-a-story/ I have been looking at the work of Les Monaghan, which I discovered in A 3, where there is clarity of image and subject selection (Monaghan, 2011). I will also take new images for the final part of the story – about its meaning which is the final part of his story.

Reference

Monaghan, Les. (2011) “444 Squadron. .” from http://lesmonaghan.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/444-sqn-8-april-2011_28.html.

3.3.2 The first re-shoot

This was at Adrian’s home. I had decided to look for images that were oblique to illustrate his heart attack. We started taking pictures in the car, some were obvious such as sitting in the car but others such as the car aerial spoke to me of isolation and distance. We moved on to the garden. I was attracted to a wood store with an open door and darkness within to illustrate pain. I also saw a bucket of stove ashes next to a flowering plant which spoke to me of death and life. We moved on to the interior of the house. I found some props to take photographs of but was looking more for images of a whole Adrian, the person.

Here are a few contacts – selections from this shoot.

Contact shoot 2 - garden-1

Contact Reshoot 2 - home

I can see that I am building enough images up to illustrate my story. I also decided to visit my surgery to take images to illustrate being in hospital. These could again be more oblique images, although I am struggling to illustrate the “brilliant creamy light” when he dies. Here are more contacts.

3.3.3 The second re-shoot

Contact - re-shoot surgery-1

I also have some images from an exercise I did in a health centre, during this module, which I can use to illustrate constraint and pain – some bars on a window. I am interested in space in medical buildings and what they and their objects signify.

3.4 Editing the images – creating the series

I am in a bit of a quandary about what to have with framing  my slide show or whether to have a slide show at all. While the trigger for me photographing the body was Thomas Florschuetz the images different but still clear and sharp in the unclothed images at the start of the story – as the F.64 group. I decided to experiment with no framing and different and full frame images. The following are screen saves of slide transitions in Adobe Premier Pro.

Screenshot 2017-05-29 14.48.20.png

Without external framing

Screenshot 2017-05-29 14.59.40

With white external framing

I think that the latter with frame, as in a PP presentation is cleaner and the full frame image brings to the fore the person especially with the gaze which is serious and questioning – certainly not light. I asked Adrian not to smile when these images were taken. I will try out a bit more and decide as we go on.

I dispensed with the coloured backgrounds and used 4 words in the “creamy light” death phase which were very subtle and would let the imagination of the viewer read into the space.

My framework of dividing the slide show into four and creating images for all four areas worked well and quickly I realised that the story was illustrated well. Sometimes the images were representative of what was happening e.g. the ECG machine, but at other times they were more interpretive e.g. the juxtaposition of the bucket of aches and the flowering plant.

Here is the 2nd version of the slide show

On the next tab is my 2nd radical re-working of this brief which my tutor commented on at the same time as A4.

This was the most painful of the assignments as I had to let go of that effort in learning Premier Pro and a single ideas to make radical changes of the slide show. I am happy with the final output which has audio and visual impact. Most importantly my model did not like the first one but liked this one a lot and shared it widely.