6: Pre-assessment review

Assignment 6: Summary of discussions on responses to tutor feedback and work prepared for assessment

These discussions with my tutor took the form of a 1 hour phone call with both of us having access to my blog, and to my written responses to my tutor’s comments.

Assignment 1:
This work will be presented as initially produced, as a series of postcards, and without modification. It should be noted that the tutor report was provided by a tutor who has since left the OCA.

Assignment 2:
The majority of the tutor suggestions have been incorporated, including modification to the introductory text. There was some discussion around the use of the final moonset – which could be considered something of a cliché. The suggestion was made, and accepted that the large poster memorial would make a more fitting end to the piece, and that another image to link the “fossils” to the community should be sought. At present I’m contemplating a fossil something with a visual link to the tools being held by the people in the relief – this would seem to work:
I was also encouraged to consider an additional couple of images to develop the community section in some way. This may require some additional photography prior to assessment.

Assignment 3:
Again the majority of the original tutor comments have been incorporated. The text has been modified to address the points raised, although a reference still needs a formal citation and there were some small style suggestions.
We discussed the final presentation – currently proposed to be a Blurb book. My tutor suggested adapting the form of the book to suit the nature of the story created by the images and the text – perhaps presenting it as a kind of travel journal, hand bound in some way on a relatively simple substrate – perhaps inkjet prints on matt paper of some description – even relatively small (A5) to give the idea of a live journal created in situ. This is an interesting proposition which I will be following up – I can already think of some simple additional adornments – such as handwriting the text as contemporaneous notes, and perhaps including a few notes of location or scale which would stay true to the original idea of allowing factual information to create a fiction.

Assignment 4:
I am addressing the comments provided in the tutor notes. Advice was not to expend too much effort as the basic essay was sound, even though my tutor did not necessarily agree with my proposed model!! Subject to words space there is some merit in exploring the idea that there are no truly incidental objects in a photo because we cannot guarantee how a viewer will react.

Assignment 5:
This is the real challenge. We discussed my difficulties with documentary and subjectivity, and the difference between photo-journalism which carries an expectation of truth, and documentary which can be a more artistic or analytical response to information or situations.
Suggested reading: On being a photographer: Hurn/Jay

There is a difference between a photo-story, which has a linear narrative, and a photo essay which admits complexity, reflection and non-linearity – it does not have to tell a story. Curation can be a similar process, giving a personal response to a set of objects. Reference the Curators Room at Tullie House, Carlisle.

In a nutshell I allowed my general dislike of the photo-story and of social documentary to colour my approach to the course. It may be a late realisation but we are where we are and in my earlier assignments my interests were the driving force.

Unfortunately in an attempt to provide a critique of documentary practice as Assignment 5 I basically lost sight of and stopped being honest about the things that interest me, which in this context is curation, archaeology and using my photography to look for meaningful (to me) patterns in the world.
The outcome was an over complex idea, which basically made an obvious point – that all curation is subjective - in a rather overblown way (OK! I said “pretentious” and that’s what I meant).
In my tutor’s words: “If a work lacks the element of truth it’s usually visible.”

Tutor comment: I think I meant something more like – If you are inauthentic about the true reasons or motivations behind a piece of your work, then this will be apparent to the viewer.

We then discussed alternative presentations and I am going to re-visit some photobooks in the light of these discussions and consider how I might present my beach rubbish images in a more positive way – starting perhaps with Moriyama’s Provoke era presentations.

This was a rather revealing hour and I’m grateful to my tutor for the time he spent helping me with this. I just wish I’d done this at the beginning rather than struggling for two years.

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