Response to tutor formative feedback June 2019 o Assignment 6 progress

 I reflected on progress February to end of May 2019 here .  Below are the relevant extracts from the combined formative feedback report: My responses are in blue italics.

Coursework

 Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Assignment 6

– keep up the shooting for Assignment 6, try to analyse what you are drawn to in your shoots and why, if there are any patterns with this and any gaps in visual messages you think need to be captured.

This is something I’ve already been doing, and including in my write-ups. It’s a fairly quiet area, certainly so far as Ether Woods are concerned, yet I’m continually surprised by new events that keep occurring as people interact with their environment. One of the problems with developing a narrative is, of course, that these types of interventions into the landscape are different from planned land-management by the local Council. They’re ad-hoc, transient so a narrative that seems dramatic or poignant quickly disappears. I’ve realised that such occurrences particularly interest me – because of all the questions as to how, when and why they occur.

I’m thinking that, at my next review, I need to start thinking about potential ‘sets’, how everything is fitting together.

Start to bring in some of your visual research in relation to the transitions brief in these posts too, to show that you are constantly trying to stay informed about new approaches that could inform the development of the project.

I do have a resource list but this is a needed reminder to actually document my research and reading. I’ve already realised that much of what I’m focusing on in Assignments in general fits somehow or other with ‘transitions’ so there is plenty of cross-referencing material I already have. Also,  whilst doing an initial survey on relevant material for an idea I have for Assignment 4, I discovered several relevant artists I had already written about in previous Modules so I need to update on these too

– Also, if introducing new camera equipment that hasn’t been used before in the shooting for a project – for example you take the tilt shift wide lens out with you in April – be aware of the change this will have on the images themselves and how they might sit with earlier work, will there be a noticeable difference? Will it look inconsistent and does that matter for your particular strategy? Be mindful of this moving forward – I’d be tempted to stick to one lens on a project such as this one. Using exercises and assignments to experiment with other equipment for future projects.

Yes, I’d certainly realised that.  It was just so tempting to use the tilt-shift amongst the trees.  I think it’s good advice to stick to one lens – I mainly use a zoom lens anyway which is a very good multi-purpose one.

Suggested reading/viewing

 Context:

The Heath – Andy Sewell, (re:A6) critique both the work and the design of the book, if considering book formats for assessment

Tessa Bunney – http://www.tessabunney.co.uk/project/farmerflorist/ The way Tessa publishes her projects and introduces them, how she uses different types of images to tell her stories and her way of representing communities who work with the land

I think you’d also enjoy reading about one or two of the films of Margaret Tait, especially The Drift Back and Land Makar, in relation to looking at how people live and work with the land and her exploration of the land around her. https://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/newsbfi/ lists/remembering-film-poet-margaret-tait

I’ve looked at all of them and will write about this in a separate post.

Areas of strength and for development

 The formative feedback report was a combined report with Assignment 3. I’m including the whole of it because I think the areas apply to Assignment 6 as well.

Areas for development:

I’ve taken all of these on board.  It’s easy to be tempted to keep an image just because it fits my theme or I feel attached to it and I’ll make more effort with strict self-monitoring.  What I’m doing with Assignment 6 at present is to weed out ‘weak’ RAW images as I’m processing through Adobe Bridge. 

 Strengths:

I wrote about the Memorial Fields/Ether Woods early on here but I’m wondering whether I need to do more site-specific research. I’ll ponder on this as I think visual research needs to take priority.  I gain a lot from peer feedback on my work so this is something that will continue. Another addition to my list for the next review of progress will be to think on potential presentation. That’s another example of the value in attending meetings of OCA Thames Valley group as this always brings in new ideas as does reading other students’ blogs and exchanging comments/views with them. 

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Response to Tutor Feedback on Assignment 3

 My tutor provided written feedback for this assignment.  As previously, she has commented on both Assignment 3 and the ongoing Assignment 6 Transitions Assignment so I will address each of those in separate posts.

Feedback on Assignment 3

Here are some extracts, with my comments in blue italics:-

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

The edit

From the outset it is clear you are very attracted to this site and have enjoyed making this
work. There are some successful images here but I think you could re-think the edit somewhat
to really tighten it visually, to emphasize conceptual ideas and connotations. For example, the
algae and the apparent density of the water is a really interesting visual quality to this
pond/lake – it could be the time of year, but either way it is fascinating, the way it glows and
reflects surrounding foliage seems unusual – that level of abstraction… this to me conjures up
ideas of the surreal, phenomenological, ghostly, and mysterious goings on which you talk
about when researching its history. Also it focuses the viewer on the texture and tone of the
water, especially when set behind foreground foliage – allowing for contrast and shift in depth
through the image – we’re able to gaze into it and imagine what lies or laid beneath, it almost
has a hypnotic quality too which I think serves your subject very well. We’re able to compare
the real and the reflected, which is very engaging.

I was very pleased to read this as it shows that I was meeting my aims for this Assignment. The reflections are unusual which is why I was so attracted to the water and I have worked on the premise that it has always had this quality. I’ve also discovered additional reference material.

In the rest of this section my tutor provides a detailed analysis of my choices – the majority of which are approved but replacements are suggested for some of them (I have to acknowledge that with a couple of them I was aware there could be a problem with over-exposure but hung onto them!) and I will deal with this in a separate blog post. I had been concerned about including too many similar images, but my tutor actually suggested more images which show the algae and the light on the water. This just goes to show me that if I think I’m taking a risk with an edit then it could be a good idea to be even bolder about it.

Presentation

It’s great to see the reflection post for the assignment, your presentation section discusses the
approach you will explore, including titles and captions. It is important to use your assignment
from your tutor before preparing for assessment. These kinds of decisions take a surprising
amount of trial and error and are all part of the core creative process.

I certainly found it useful doing this in more detail as it will be an aide-memoire at a future date.

Coursework:

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Comments here mainly relate to Assignment 6 and I will address these in a separate blog post, although advice to stick to one lens on a project is a good one to follow (I had referred to using a tilt-shift lens during my work on Assignment 6 and how this gave the photographs a different ‘look’ as this prime lens has a different effect.)  which is an ongoing project, except for:-

 Exercises:

Ex 3.3 stands out as an example of you engaging deeply with the materials and sources
provided. You introduce relevant independent research (Handful of Dust exhibition) to counter
and shape your opinion. You also conclude in an objective and open manner, seeing multiple
sides of the debate.

This is helpful feedback and provides a useful pointer towards Assignment 4 the Critical Review in terms of the use of relevant research to counter and shape my opinion and being objective.

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

For this assignment you have undertaken a significant amount of research – from investigating
the site itself, it’s history and associated images, literature and ephemera to reading theory
around the land and the subject of ‘spaces and places’ and visual research, looking into the
likes of Naomie Goudal, Esther Teichmann and revisiting John Gossage’s The Pond. You should
really be proud with the breadth of this work Catherine. Though this is fantastic, your reflection
on photographic work here tends to offer an overview of the photographer’s general approach
(useful but make sure that you pull images as illustration and deconstruct them, just like you would a quote).

I thought I’d got the hang of reflecting on photographic work this time and being as succinct as possible as one of the areas for development for Assignment 2 was to try to keep the write-up concise.  For Assignment 3 I divided contextual research into several sections (see below) and my draft for the section on photographic work was longer – for example I went into more detail in the way that John Gossage had set out the layout for his book – but I cut it down.  Using actual images is more complicated due to copyright issues and the time needed to gain approval for use. This will be less of an issue for Assignment 6 as it spreads over a longer time period.

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

There is lengthy documentation of your process here Catherine, which is great to see. All posts
show that a lot of effort and consideration has gone into the making of your final work. The
reflection on your Thames Valley Group meeting was particularly well structured (perhaps a
little long at the start), recording what you took to the meeting, the ideas you were grappling
with and your feedback and critique is well documented, using images as illustration. It was
useful to break up the different posts as you have, this allows you to go into detail without
things becoming unwieldy and hard to follow.

I’m pleased that my idea of breaking up the different posts gained approval so, with that in mind, perhaps there’s now more leeway to go into more detail on photographic work.  Regarding the comment on the start of my reflection on Thames Valley group meeting being ‘a little long’, I’m not sure I agree with that. My reflecting on the use of text, led me on to thinking about explanation (of which there often seems to be a lot now in relation to concept) and that’s why I decided on the mini-experiment.

Suggested reading/viewing

Context

The Heath – Andy Sewell, (re:A6) critique both the work and the design of the book, if considering book formats for assessment

Tessa Bunney – http://www.tessabunney.co.uk/project/farmerflorist/ The way Tessa publishes her projects and introduces them, how she uses different types of images to tell her stories and her way of representing communities who work with the land

I think you’d also enjoy reading about one or two of the films of Margaret Tait, especially The Drift Back and Land Makar, in relation to looking at how people live and work with the land and her exploration of the land around her. https://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/newsbfi/lists/remembering-film-poet-margaret-tait

I think the suggested reading mainly applies to Assignment 6 – although Tessa Bunney’s work could be a useful reference if I decided to do more documentary style work on the Artisan sites around Silent Pool.

Summary

 

I have addressed Areas for Development in my responses above (I hope) but the summary is a good aide-memoire.

I’m particularly pleased on the ‘Strengths’ feedback and had certainly made efforts to streamline the historical research for focus and relevance and to make sure I documented the printing process and presentation ideas. I know that I can gain feedback on my prints from meeting of Thames Valley group when our attending tutor is present but still think it would be a good idea at some point for my tutor to actually see prints.

Assignment 6: Progress 25th February to end of May 2019

I had a final February session on the 26th ; one session in March; three sessions in April (I did have good reasons) and one on the May Bank holiday, although I’m not counting that because it was Ottershaw Fair that day when I filmed a very short video which I could include if I do a compilation video.

Choices are getting more complicated because I can’t stick a marker in the ground for an exact spot to photograph from, so I remember as best I can, but take extras from a slightly different angle ‘just in case’.  Also, of course, some images turn out to be a better quality than others although not exactly from the same spot as others.

February 2019

21 chosen from 78.

 

Some very bright days, with the sun casting heavy shadows through the trees.  The sun isn’t warm enough to dry the mud ruts left by the Saturday Park Run group. The ‘Christmas Memorial” tree is looking very bare, although some catkins have sprouted on other trees; there is, at last, a view from the Viewpoint and the little ‘tree man’ is sprouting ‘hair’. ‘Posters have appeared asking everyone to look out for a run-away dog.  There is a sense of waiting.

March 2019

21 chosen from 38.

 

Buds are appeared on some trees and catkins are growing larger. I went into a clearing I hadn’t visited for a while and saw some changes. A sturdy branch structure with a blue tarpaulin inside.  There was also a folded notice stuck on the ground in front of it, so of course I had to look; unfolded it said “Don’t touch” so I quickly folded it back! There’s also a bird box fairly high up a tree and logs artistically arranged. I pondered whether this was to do with a local forest school – a great idea which seems to be spreading in the area.

April 2019 (three visits)

3rd.  18 chosen from 78.

 

I took the 24mm tilt-shift with me this time.  This manual lens is excellent for sharpness and, of course, tall trees but it has a different effect from my usual zoom lens so I’ll have to wait and see how it melds with other photographs .

The day before, on the usual dog walk, we’d seen a group of young people gathered amongst some trees a bit of a distance away and wondered what was happening.  We didn’t approach in case they were having a picnic – a great attraction for dogs. Today I saw that many bunches of flowers had been left in that spot, wrapped in cellophane and with messages tied on them.

The dog is still missing and it seems to be travelling quite a circular route from the messages regularly appearing on Facebook.  The difficulyt is that people are asked not to approach or try to catch it because it’s so nervy but just to phone-in the sighting. I also spoke with a very friendly gentleman who was quite keen to have his photograph taken with my tilt-shift lensed camera.  It’s good to see the blossom beginning to show on the trees.

10th. 29 Chosen from 85. A bright day with strong shadows again.

 

 

It’s lovely to see green leaves, the broom flourishing and tree blossoms.  The bunches of flowers have now been taken out of the cellophane, dismantled and placed around the base of one of the trees.  Green ribbons have been tied around other trees.  I videoed the scene as it seemed a lovely tribute to whoever had died (I gathered from messages elsewhere that this was probably a tribute to a young man who had died tragically and this had been one of his favourite places).

Woodland Memorial – April 2019 from Catherine Banks on Vimeo.

16th. 6 chosen from 16.

 

One of those days when there’s an almost white sky and everything is very bright. I wanted to get a better view of the small ‘tree man’ who I’m now beginning to think of as the Green Man.

Summary

It’s been interesting to see the Spring changes – the white blossom and the ‘view’ actually emerging at the Viewpoint spot due to trees being bare.  Everything will change again as the trees gain their summer leaves. What I’ve realised is that I’m most interested in the human ‘interventions’ in the woodland.  It could have been a coincidence as the name on the messages were different, but did the Christmas memorial tree have an influence on the creating of the memorial to the young man?

I have created other videos – a football match, the structures in the clearing and visitors to the Bank Holiday Monday Fair on the Memorial Fields.  I’m thinking of creating a compilation at the end of the Project.

 

 

Reflection on Assignment 3

Reflection on Assignment 3 prior to Tutor Feedback

I’ve already reflected on the editing process as I documented it but I thought it would be helpful to think more about the references I used, potential presentation strategies and what next.

Photographer references – original and subsequent?

Original 

In his project Painters Pool Jem Southam actively referenced the work of Mike Garton, the painter and his friend who was driven artistically by a determination to try to render, through the act of painting, complex visual and spatial fields perceived by immersion in this dense woodland,  My subject was a pool, overtaken to some extent by ‘commerce’ yet still retaining, for me, a fascination to look, to gaze to imagine what it might have been like centuries ago. Before men took possession of it. Garton actually created a pond from a stream that had been partially blocked by a stream. Garton made a dam from the tree, e-directed the stream and dug out a shallow pool which he quietly maintained for many years.  He rarely painted it until just before he died.

Southam wanted to see how the photographic medium might be used to deal with a similar set of concerns. Whilst doing so, over time, he also documented the growing ‘absence’ of Mike Garton’s presence. Southam’s camera peered through trees at the pool, saw it through the seasons as trees grew, shed leaves, changed colour in Autumn. I’m aware that I also have a tendency towards peering through trees with my camera.

John Gossage is one of the New Topographics photographers. His approach is quite downbeat in portraying reality yet evocative in portraying the edges between woodland (almost scrubland) left to creep its way back to nature and the outreaches of urban sprawl.  In his book he directs our view in a certain way – as I have attempted in my own sequence – but leaves us to form our own opinions on what we see.  Gossage’s “The Pool” has been described as a foil to Walden’s pool.  There are several definitions of ‘foil’, but I’m assuming that, in this case, it means something associated with another to provide a marked contrast – something like an ‘anti’ referencing then.  I can’t find anywhere that states that Gossage intended to do this but I’m guessing he probably did because the intention of New Topographics was to challenge the Picturesque (see here)

Thinking of the Picturesque takes me to Keith Carter who also referenced Walden’s Pool.  The more I looked at Carter’s image the more I could see the similarity with some of the coloured postcards  I had collected whilst working on Assignment 3. These were more idealised than some of the monochrome ones – or is it just the colour that makes them ‘pretty’ and more picturesque.  I felt concerned that my images would be too picturesque which was why I was so determined to find a different approach.

I played around with the inspiration from the work of Esther Teichmann and Noemie Goudal. I’m not a painter and so my route towards Teichmann was to experiment with a composite. I think I probably should have persevered more as a way to layer fictive past and present but know that I prioritised and chose a more nuanced approach.  Goudal’s work, again, concerns layering reality with fiction and she uses installation in the landscape to achieve this. My interest in her work led me to have an image printed on fabric and I haven’t yet let go of the idea of creating something pondlike for myself, or a hanging background, as I do like the effect.

Alternative photography

As I’ve written before, I’m very interested in this.  Many of my experiments are on my Instagram page which I use as a place for them. Somehow or other, though, I never really to get to use them in an actual Assignment.  Cyanotypes might have been a good approach and, again, I haven’t let go of the idea of wet-cyanotypes but the main problem for me is that cyanotypes are a very different shade of blue from the blue of Silent Pool. I’m not going to say it’s time wasted because it isn’t as the experiments do help me to think in a different way. Perhaps this allows my imagination to just take over and lead me somewhere else.  Which it did – to go gain further inspiration from other artists and photographers.

Other artists 

Widening my explorations really did work for me because through doing so I was able to clarify an approach that might suit my aim. I wanted my images to be impressionistic of Silent Pool whilst still retaining recognisable features in the series itself. I’m becoming more and more aware of the varieties of repetition in artists’ work whether photographing the same sites through the seasons – showing the effects of time and nature – or adding layers of paint to portray shifting effects.  Clare Wilson’s work encouraged me to photograph Silent Pool in ways that showed more subtle changes of light and reflection in its waters.  Of course, I had to choose between images for the series, but I hope I was able portray the changes without the images together seeming repetitious.

I did feel that I was taking a risk in trying something different but gained reassurance from seeking peer feedback at both a meeting of  OCA Thames Valley Group    and also recently in a Hangout with “Bridge” a recently formed group. “Bridge” was created by fellow student Anna Goodchild, with the aim of supporting students who are near the end of their Course or have graduated to continue to maintain a supportive network. Anna commented that to photograph ‘silence’ is a challenge and how my project has given ‘Silent Pool” a voice.

Historical context

This was important, firstly because it situated Silent Pool through time and, secondly, because this showed me how I’m linking themes.  Similar to Assignment 2 and the Basingstoke Canal, the story of the pool concerns the way in which man has harnessed natural resources originally for commercial gain and then how this changed through time. I was actually able to imagine the real events as they occurred and also gain insight into Martin Farquhar Tupper who must have been quite an unusual person. Looking at the postcards was very useful as well in enlarging my understanding of those early photographers who saw opportunities there as well as linking them with Coursework and views on the picturesque.

I’m also pleased that I didn’t get too absorbed in the research even though I enjoyed it.  It was an aid to my photography work as opposed to taking it over. However, I would like to spend more time reflecting on ‘magical thinking’ or, perhaps, ‘suspension of disbelief’, because this plays such a large part in our lives even now. I’m still surprised, although impressed, at the way in which Martin Tupper got people to ‘believe’ in his story even though its literary quality was poor plus they knew the story wasn’t true.

One thing I didn’t do

My tutor suggested I could use a model and portray the story.  I wasn’t too certain about that – given that the story is fiction, melodramatic and essentially about what could be termed as manslaughter.  If I did then Tom Hunter’s work would be an obvious reference point. There is a sequence there – Thomas Hardy utilised stories in newspapers for his novels and Tom Hunter referenced both aspects. Alternatively, I could reconsider using a model but in a different way – something like Helen Sear’s work in Company of Trees (2015) (video on Vimeo).  Remembering as well that Sear also created a video installation of Pond (2011)  and on You Tube.  Maybe that would be too ambitious at the moment though.

Presentation

At the moment I have a series of photographs, sequenced in a specific way. They could be individually printed and exhibited, again with the sequencing in a particular way. Should there be captions and/or titles? What about a photo book?  If so, I’m thinking of something handmade rather than printed – again there’s the questions of captions/titles and also whether other information should be included.  Some historical information could be appropriate. I’ve noted that Jem Southam used captions followed by the date/s in his book of the Painter’s Pool.  John Gossage has no captions to the photographs in his book, but it does have an introduction and essay.

I would like to do more with the postcards – they’re such a good resource. Should I do a layered sequence with my own images? I could also create my own Postcards, even ‘stamps’, although I did that for my final Assignment of Digital Image & Culture with photographs of my Second Life self.  I wouldn’t want to be seen as repetitious.

I still have that hankering for something on fabric.

Looking ahead

In terms of continuing themes, as I’ve referred to above, I know I’m interested in layers of time and how Culture operates with us.  In a sense the water of Silent Pool was acting as a mirror for this in reflecting it back and also as a window to gaze through and reflect on history and also borders, edges, liminal spaces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Submission: Assignment 3 – Spaces to Places

The Silent Pool

Introduction

In my beginning thoughts on this topic I made reference to several views on the way in which ‘spaces’ become ‘places’. I agree with Liz Wells that “history turns space into place”.  The way that nature is viewed is mediated by the culture within which we live at any point in time. I also think that naming a space makes it into a place by acknowledging its existence, and also that the name itself has connotations that may differ for individuals.  The name ‘Silent Pool’ certainly attracted me towards visiting it.

My approach to this Assignment has been very much an action/reflection cycle. The name attracted me first with a very brief search on some information about it, followed by a continuing process of visit, reflection and further research as the Pool wove its blue waters, and history around me.

I haven’t yet found a very early history of the Pool, although I’d like to imagine it could have been a sacred site in early days and then, possibly, a resting point for pilgrims on the Pilgrims Way. The known history of the Pool represents the way in which men have continually harnessed natural resources for their own purposes. Another man, Martin Farquhar Tupper, also claimed the Pool for his own purposes, giving it a new name of the Silent Pool and weaving his own melodrama around it. To me, his story is very much an example of a male literary ‘gaze’. It is quite a banal story really but, surprisingly, attracted visitors to the Pool – much to Tupper’s surprised delight – as well as the attention of the newly burgeoning tourist postcard trade.

I became quite absorbed in this Assignment, absorbing the atmosphere of the pool and discovering its history and current uses. I aimed to be concise in summarising my research and think I have achieved this.  I am pleased that the theme of both ‘water’ and the way in which men take ownership/possession of nature links with Assignment 2.

Editing choices

There were several ways I could have approached this assignment but my fascination with it decided me to focus on creating a series which might evoke the essence of Silent Pool – the aura it has which attracts people to spent quite some time just standing there and gazing upon it.  Seeking feedback from fellow students was extremely helpful in checking that I was more or less on the right course towards achieving my aim.

I wrote here concerning experiments with a composite, anthotypes and cyanotypes and have also recently created two lumen prints.  At the moment I don’t think that alternative processes fit with my approach although I will continue to experiment anyway for my own personal development and interest. I would like to have used the composite image.

If I did I would place this as fourth in the sequence but, given the ending of the story, it would need at least one more composite image for balance I think.

I have worked with contact sheets throughout and documented the process.  My chosen images for submission are below; there are fourteen at the moment rather than twelve but I know that tutor feedback will help me with more editing. I have already printed some of the images for my mini-experiment at the OCA Thames Valley Group meeting  earlier this month, including prints on fabric which I could possibly use as a presentation method at some point.     I used permajet titanium lustre paper for the prints on photo paper and its slight sheen and metallic effect worked well. The sequence I worked for the chosen images is entrance (1,2), first views (3,4), immersion (5, 6, 7), gaze withdrawing (8, 9) stepping out from the pool (10) through the wooded surroundings (11, 12) and walking away (13, 14). The contact sheet below helped me to check that my colour matching is reasonable.

Final Selection of Individual images in sequence:-

 

I hope the photographs I have chosen give a sense of both my own experience of it and of what it might like for someone else to experience it.

Overall Edit – Process

In separate, earlier posts  I described my initial selections for each visit. These were based on quality and composition and, in the case of the Second visit I had separated out the three areas in the location, see here .

A fellow student,  in commenting on my post on my third visit had written , For me the pool with reflections have the feel of a set, and also convey some of the magic you mentioned in one of the posts. But the details and how it relates to the surrounding area are perhaps what help define it as a place.

I thought this was a very helpful and timely comment to make me check my focus and re-define the meaning of ‘place’ for me. I’m interested in the fact that whilst I see the Artisan buildings as separate from Silent Pool, even though at least one of them depends on it for its water, I do incline towards linking the Pool with Sherbourne Pond, which it gave birth to as it were.  However, one part of the pond relates more to Silent Pool due to the inflow from it, whilst the other part relates to the brook which receives its outflow. I’m probably getting too much into semantics here so will leave it at that for now.  just in case, I have gathered together the images from all three visits I which relate to Sherbourne pond and the brook .

For the time being I have set them aside as I have those from visits to the Distillery.

I then made a selection (the third) from all three visits which totalled 48 images.

These relate to the walk to Silent Pool; the Pool; its outflow to Sherbourne pond; my walk around the area surrounding the Pool and the walk back.

I then printed those Contact Sheets, and cut them into separate images so that I could move them around, see how they relate to each other and also identify duplicates from different dates to choose between them. I also extracted flower photographs – to begin with I thought they added a separate interest and, perhaps, some punctuation in the series but my choices are limited to ‘up to twelve, so I have to be ruthless!

 

This work has left me with 25 images as my fourth selection. I’ve left in the images of the closed gate to the source point of Silent Pools and also the one of the old tree and its roots because they do represent boundaries, possession and survival.  I’m not sure they fit into the series photographically but I can decide when I make the final selection.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Mini-experiment at Thames Valley Group Meeting – Process

 

Reviewing Progress so far: A few thoughts/Ideas

I’ve written before about my efforts to find the right photographic approach to Silent Pool. I’d also been jotting down ideas for presentation, including the use of text – something I’ve written about previously, here  and here . Joel Colberg wrote an interesting piece about the role of text alongside photography in January 2018. His view was that one has to look at what the two do together, but this approach didn’t seem to him to be very common in photography. “Here, photographs are almost always taken as being in the driver’s seat, with text riding shotgun (at best).” He also refers to captions in photojournalism and documentary photography incorporating, “[… ] often very elaborate pieces of text that, however, often are produced by a different author and that usually almost lead a life of their own.” This contrasts with fine-art photography where images might not even have titles. Colberg queries this, wondering why omit text when it could elevate the work beyond what the pictures are able to do. To me that’s a very interesting question because I sometimes think along the reverse – at what point do the photographs become mere illustrations to a narrative?  For me, this is compounded by the fact that, in this student world, we’re expected to write a fair amount ‘about’ our photography plus we have a lot of discussion about captions and placement of text. Having looked at different ways in which some photographers use text Colberg recognises that there isn’t a single model of how pictures and text work together so this has to be figured out in each particular case – how will one inform the other?

This came home to me at a recent visit to Moving The Image,  an Exhibition at Camberwell Space, London.  When we walked into the Exhibition space it struck me as light and spacious but sparse – really minimal.  I then realised that there were no captions or titles, no pieces of information informing me about the photographer or the work.  This meant I had to spend quite some time looking at the work and trying to comprehend what it was all about in some cases; which was a good thing.  It turned out there was actually a list of works handout , with a diagram as to where they were – numbered in such a way that you didn’t follow an organic flow with it. There was also a printed pamphlet containing a quite lengthy essay by the curator, Duncan Wooldridge, with references to the pieces of work and photographs of some of them. I felt pleased I hadn’t known about them to begin with because the lack provided some additional learning and realisation.

My anxiety about my Silent Pool photographs and thoughts on text and image came to a head when I was in bed, unable to sleep, the night before the OCA Thames Valley Group meeting. What if I could do a mini experiment to test out my work; how would I go about it? Eventually I worked out a possible process in my head.  I could present some of the photographs without any explanation other than they were part of the Assignment, give group members a card each and ask them to write words or a brief sentence on anything that came to mind when looking. It would be the images themselves that spoke rather than explanatory text. Next I would tell them about Silent Pool, its history, the story by Martin Tupper and the Distillery and ask  if there was any point at which each of them became more interested in the photographs.  I did manage to get some sleep after that but got up early and printed off some of the photographs at A4 size. I used  Permajet Titanium Lustre paper for most of them as I thought this would be appropriate for photographs of water as it has a slight texture and metallic sheen. Otherwise I used Epson traditional photo-paper which is quite a heavy paper and with a slight satin sheen. I included a photograph of tree roots – kind of like a wild card but it reminded me of hanging on, clinging to the roots of something, existing over time – and also a composite image of the pool and a girl leaning over it.  The girl was from a copyright- free Victorian painting but I had distorted her figure slightly so that she leaned over further and also added a reflection.

Thames Valley Group Meeting – 18th May 2019

There were seven of us, slightly less than usual but good too as it meant we each had more time for presentation.  I presented the Silent Pool images and went through the process of my mini experiment as planned. These are the images I chose:-

 

After cards were written, I narrated all the events and story of the Pool then, during the following discussion, I also showed some small fabric prints.  I had been thinking about the work of Noemie Goudal, and her installation of a fabric waterfall and played with the idea of something similar as a small installation. I used Contrado for the printing as I had used them previously for the mini-project I collaborated on with Dawn.  I chose satin for one and crushed velvet for the other:

 

Dawn kindly made notes for me on points that arose during the discussion, which was so helpful because it enabled me to listen and concentrate on what people were saying.

Peer Feedback:

Cards

 

Discussion Notes

  • Looked at images individually and then interested when they were all together – before the Pool (history etc?)
  • Thought of word ‘silent’ then it looks like Silent Pool
  • Myth – a story of warning people
  • Reminds me of another story where a girl goes in a pool, goes round and round and drowns – Mill on the Floss?
  • Looks like a peaceful and romantic place. Interesting how all the layers of story-telling have built on top.
  • Permanence and fluidity. When told story I felt it was not true. I’m just too cynical. Like the monasteries who invented relics to get people to visit.
  • Like King Arthur – nobody know who or where he was.
  • From romantic landscape to commercial merchandise
  • You could take the water into your own bottles and photograph them. Produce your own
  • To me it’s wondrous; the pure pool
  • Had different histories. I thought of above and below.
  • There’s something about woodland pools that are very attractive; innately attractive.
  • These images could have been evidence from a court case; they could be forensic evidence.
  • All these elements building around the same place
  • Addition of the figure (manipulated composite image) turns it into a Victorian landscape. Conceptually I’d like to see the outline of the painting to highlight the concept.

This was all such helpful feedback for me.  I was pleased that the images did mainly seem to evoke the sense of place I’d been trying to achieve. Interesting as well about the comments regarding from romantic landscape to commercial merchandise which is very much about how we harness, own and make money from them. This led to comments re the fabric prints, including that I could make tea towels as well as bottling some of the water in a bottle I designed.  Those are also useful in thinking about eventual presentation.

Many thanks to Dawn, Miriam, Richard, Kevin, Gerry and Michael for their feedback.

 

References

https://cphmag.com/pictures-text

https://www.arts.ac.uk/whats-on/moving-the-image-photography-and-its-actions

https://www.contrado.co.uk/fabrics