Overall, this part of the Module has been a good experience for me and realising how much the projects and exercises feed into the Assignments has mitigated my weariness sometimes at the time it takes to record them. This period during Part Two has been a busy time for me as I’ve also attended Exhibitions, spent a weekend at the Brighton Photo Festival and been involved in the organisation of the OCA Thames Valley Group Exhibition at the Lightbox Gallery and Museum in Woking.
I’ve also been experimenting with cyanotypes and anthotypes and recently went to a half-day session on hand-weaving where I began to create a representation of the canal. All this is waiting to be written about.
So far as Assignment Two is concerned this is now complete and my self-assessment is below.
Technical and visual skills
I think I did reasonably well with the challenge of dynamic range on a bright, Autumn day when the sun is low in the sky. The editing process itself was quite lengthy, mainly because I had a lot of photographs to choose from, although I’m aware that some people might think I should have taken a lot more photographs. Once I’d made the ‘final’ selection I converted to jpeg reasonably quickly but I intend to re-visit these conversions when I’ve decided how I will eventually present them for Assessment.
I’m still pondering on my exclusion of graffiti and litter on the basis that ‘there wasn’t a lot of it”. Was I unconsciously aiming to provide the best possible view of a public leisure amenity? I’ve acknowledged that I was caught by the ripples and reflection in the water and note this is reflected in the photographs I’ve chosen.
Quality of outcome
That fits in with the above really. It was hard to avoid taking a pleasing image on that particular day. ’Change of use’ is something that came into mind early in Part Two during the first exercise and the canal as it is now certainly fits that. My final question in writing about the final selection was whether the canal has been too sanitised. The word simulacrum comes to mind – a prettified version of something meant for hard work, alternative transport and to make a profit. If I’d thought about that earlier I might have done an entirely different kind of project – layering old photographs of working boats on the canal over the present day for example.
Comments on my first idea for the Assignment – the video of journey by bus and train – lead me to think that, maybe, I should have used some video for my eventual choice of using the canal. The problem there is that the towpath is narrow so, apart from being obvious I would also be an obstacle if I stood in one place for too long. One thing I forgot to mention was that apart people walking their dogs it was obvious that most were either using it for exercise or to get to one place from another. In this sense that moves away from the leisure aspect to the towpath having a functional practical use. I did photograph people, but that was mainly from a distance, either appearing from or into it. Also, I found it difficult to contemplate the idea of standing on the narrow towpath and shoving a camera in someone’s face, especially when they were going about their business as opposed to ambling along. Then again, when I go on the boat ride when the season starts I could video from there.
Different weather, less-used stretches and a different time of year could also have produced a different outcome and certainly the canal would be a good subject for Assignment 6.
Demonstration of creativity
I aimed to approach the project with an open mind, which meant taking the photographs before I read up on the historical context. Having written that; I was probably fooling myself somewhat because I have previously studied social and economic history. That was a long time ago now but I’m aware how much I’ve absorbed this into my way of thinking and articles I read. I think that undercurrent has always been there in my photography work, but I was aware I was using this more consciously in this Assignment in acknowledging and challenging my views on local government – of which I’m usually quite critical amongst friends, relatives and neighbours but not in print.
I was sparing in respect of the historical context, but providing a PDF of my notes which could be accessed separately seemed a good way of demonstrating my knowledge of the history. Regarding artistic influences – I haven’t cited that many but those I have were influential in my thinking and approach. I am constantly viewing the work of others and, at times, my head feels swamped with images, so I’m learning to go with what comes into my head as I’m thinking of a project whilst attempting to ensure that this isn’t just the last artist I looked at!
Researching Mark Titchner’s work brought my personal context more into focus for me. Firstly, I acknowledged to myself that my experience of living somewhere influences how I think about myself and, secondly, this highlighted my continually growing awareness of myself as an observer. I am a participant-observer in my environment; partly through nature and also through having moved homes reasonably often. I know I’ve referred to this before and I think it’s probably going to become more apparent as I voyage through this Module