Category Archives: 2. Process of Assignment 6

Tutor Formative Feedback on Progress Report Assignment 6

 

My tutor’s Formative Feedback related to Assignments 4, 5 and 6.  Extract below in respect of Assignment 6 – Transitions.

Assignment 6/Transitions

Progressing well, keep pushing – you may need to shoot in conditions that are not within your comfort zone in order to complete the unit in time. Looking over your recent edits/ contacts, I am less drawn to the images of the occupied cricket pitch or spaces that are explicitly occupied or used for sport, and more to the images that chart some of the traces of human interference in the landscape, such as the strange branch sculptures and pathways etc. I’m not sure the notion of the ‘green man’ works as a concept when viewed cold so might need a bit more work to align and articulate. You’re thinking about different approaches to the edit – continue mining what you might mean by this green man idea, and use this as a guide for a wide selection that you can live with and revisit, questioning what it really is you want to say and using that, and technical quality, to inform the final edit.

 I’ve had consistent feedback from my tutor about her preference for images charting traces of human ‘interference’ in the landscape – my own term for this is ‘interrupted landscape’.  I’ve continued to include the sporting spaces and playground areas in case I do use them at some point and as part of tracking changes over time.  However, looking at this in a different way, sporting activities are pretty ubiquitous in parks and recreation grounds whereas human interaction with woods/trees is more idiosyncratic and, therefore, of more interest .  I have also continued to create short videos with my phone camera and so, potentially, I could use some of the still photographs within a compilation video –  not to submit for assessment but for my own pleasure and practice in video compilation.

 “Green man” Nîmes, France © Przemyslaw Sakraida 2010
from https://commons.wikimedia.org

Norwich cathedral cloisters roof boss
from https://commons.wikimedia.org

 The term ‘Green Man’ is thought to have been applied by Julia, Lady Raglan in her 1939  article about foliate heads or marks which can be found in some churches and graveyards. There is an interesting article here http://greenmanenigma.com/theories.html  which provides an overview of theories and interpretations of such features which can be found in many countries without coming to a specific conclusion as to their ‘meaning’ as symbols of life and nature; fertility; death and rebirth; demon or as artistic interpretation; survivor from other mythologies or primeval archetype central to our relationship with Nature.

However, “A common link in nearly all of the legends and myths which have been suggested as precursors of the Green Man is that of metamorphosis and transformation” and that fits for me with “Transitions” and also my own small green man who has sprouted with leaves all over since I first photographed him. Unfortunately, as he has grown in size it has become increasingly different to get a series of technically good photographs of him because he is slightly behind a larger tree which he has moved closer to as his branches and leaves have grown. I’ve adjusted as much as possible and converted to square format to show the change in growth.

Onwards now to the editing process. Thanks also to my tutor and OCA Support for agreeing to my suggestion that I submit Assignment 6 before Assignment 5, giving me more time to work on the latter during January.

 

 

http://greenmanenigma.com/theories.html

 

 

Assignment 6: Progress June to November 2019

 

I’ve continued followed the year round with my camera at least once a month apart from July. The ‘dog lost’ posters have disappeared now, although there have been occasional mentions of possible sightings on Facebook. Football teams were replaced by cricket teams and now back again to football. I missed July, mainly due to holiday, but compensated with two sessions at the beginning and end of August – this made sure I still had ‘Summer’.

June 2019 

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/376217654″>June 2019</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/cblearninglog”>Catherine Banks</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

I discovered someone had set fire to some documents in an area off the main path amongst the trees next to the same spot where I’d discovered the bird box and branch shelter during Spring.  The fire was still smouldering so I went off and informed one of the park keepers then went back and did a very short video.  I have a feeling it might have been someone leaving school and having a celebration ceremony – not a good idea amongst trees!

August 2019

August 13: I chose 15 out of 63 . My ‘Green Man’ is spreading and it’s difficult to get a good view of him as he’s right next to a large tree so I took a portrait view of him.  I took another portrait of the lower trunk of a tree because the shadows on it really appealed to me.

 

 

August 31: 28 chosen out of 56. Cricket season is going well. Sweet chestnuts are ripening.

 

September

32 chosen out of 67.  The trees are taking on their Autumn colour now.

 

October

32 chosen out of 118.

 

 November

39 chosen out of 99.  The golds of Autumn becoming duller, fading.

 

Next steps

I have many photographs to revisit for a second edit and need to decide my strategy for submission for feedback before starting on this. The Assignment brief states, “The quantity of work that you submit will depend on your strategy”.  Also, “When completed, the assignment should address the notion that the landscape is an evolving dynamic system. You may wish to confirm, question or subvert this assertion”.  That’s interesting because, yes, the landscape has changed – noticeably the colours and the ‘thinning out’ of trees as leaves, horse and sweet chestnuts have dropped.  The ‘view ‘from the Viewpoint has changed accordingly. Yet, these changes have progressed so slowly as to be almost unnoticeable until, suddenly, there appears to be blossom on trees in Spring and then leaves have changed their colour in Autumn.

There’s a sedateness and tranquillity about Ether woods.  In fact, not that many people walk in the woods there.  Probably the busiest time is the Saturday morning Parkrun. Because of this it seems quite dramatic when people intervene in the landscape more specifically – as with the ‘Christmas” Tree, memorial flowers and the small fire.  Even seeing a bird box in a tree seems quite exciting.  There was one day when we were walking in the woods and saw a group of adults and young children in the part where the memorial flowers had been. The children were wrapping what looked like rolls of paper around trees and around themselves.  I didn’t even have my phone with me to take photographs let alone my camera.  It was around Halloween so we concluded in the end that it must have been something to do with that.  There was no sign of anything the next day.

Editing ideas so far are:-

  • By each season – would provide a narrative of each season but not compare/contrast.
  • Specific aspects season by season – particular trees, particular views from the Viewpoint, the ‘green’ man, human interventions. There’s scope for typologies in terms of ‘shelters’ too as here with Simon Roberts’s “Dwellings” (2017) . Thanks to my student colleague Jonathan Lamb for pointing me towards that work.
  • Mixing the seasons to give a birds-eye view. Thinking here of Andy Sewell and “The Heath”,  the flow of the book seems random to begin with but, as I look through and allow the images to drift in my mind, they sink deeper into my consciousness as if I’m walking through it. This fits very much with Sewell’s intention – he writes:

In a way this work is about the perception of what is natural, but it’s also an attempt to explore what E.O. Wilson called the human condition of “Biophilia”, being drawn to somewhere that feels natural without knowing why.  Over the last five years I have spent many hours walking on the Heath.  With this set of pictures I hope to convey something of what I was looking for and what I found.  (A. Sewell, The Heath 2011)

My interest in Biophilia has been an underlying theme during the course of Assignment 6 and was also one of the threads underlying my critical Review for Assignment 4.

I wrote about Susan Trangmar here. In her project “A Play in Time” Trangmar covered a year’s filming in St Ann’s Park, Hove, observing the changes of weather and seasons. For her the internal rhythm and shape of the published work was more important than following a chronology.

Many of Jem Southam’s Projects have followed places through time.  I accessed an older interview here  by Aaron Schuman in February 2005 concerning Landscape Stories a collection of his work from three series. Talking about the importance of series and his strategies/methods of storytelling, Southam says that each of his works is ‘built from the inside’ with an important principle being that it has, “[… ] a distinct form, which has been directed by the process of exploring the site itself, as well as the research that informs that process”. The narrative structure of each body of work, depends on the constituency of each site, his relationship with it.

There’s much to consider.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://susantrangmar.com/about/biography.html

http://www.andysewell.com/the-heath-1

http://www.seesawmagazine.com/southam_pages/southam_interview.html

https://www.simoncroberts.com/tag/saatchi-gallery/

 

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. 

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.

 

 

Response to Tutor Formative Feedback on Assignment 6 progress: February 2019

 I reflected on progress here   and discussed with my tutor in our feedback session in February. Below is the relevant extract from the combined formative feedback report:

Assignment 6

Helen is very happy with progress so far. She said that she was more interested in the wood, is drawn to ones without people and is less interested in the sporting activities on the Memorial Field. The straight-on view of the bench in No.3004 (26.12.18) is very good. She also suggested I keep photographing the split tree and the tree in 2579 (3.11.18). the basketball court (2571) could be a possibility without the foreground. She was also drawn to the ‘memorial’ tree (26.12.18).

 Advice is to keep photographing all the benches because, during the year, everything changes around the benches. Also keep photographing the memorial tree and other structures (try to keep the same standpoint) and to be aware of subtle changes. I can build a visual vocabulary through devising a shooting script and schedule regular intervals – say two shots every season. This won’t be difficult because I go there nearly every day. The challenge is to be disciplined.

Overall, my tutor thought this was a great location to keep shooting and “At this stage I’d be again looking for patterns across these images, what ae you drawn to regularly, what is strong visually – are there any motifs recurring and how can these show “transition”. Her suggestion was to keep things simple, use visual devices to enhance metaphor, seek out compositional clarity, line, perspective.  Also to try to keep frames free of too much clutter – either in form, colour or content, or to have a very clear rationale behind overly cluttered frames, e.g. what does that convey.

In the early stages of editing for Assignment 2 I had analysed the frequency in which I had photographed the same kind of scenes (including this as a PDF in my editing process blog post)  and this had been very useful.  Assignment 6 looks like being quite heavyweight in terms of number of images so a similar editing strategy would work very well.

I know that I’m drawn towards different types of interventions in the landscape – what I’ve come to term “interrupted landscape”.    There’s the official landscaping; the Borough’s 5-year plan, removal of dangerous branches; installation of signposts and footpaths; removal of plant species ‘not indigenous’ to the habitat.  There are also the less official interventions, the marks of human presence often bordering on performance art. As well as the carving of initials on trees; branch tepees come and go regularly and there’s a new artistic activity of painted pebbles which has its own Facebook page and showing that some ‘Ottershaw rocks” have travelled far and wide. The Christmas ‘memorial’ tree was the first installation of its type and I’ll be interested to see if more appear    I am also interested in the difference between the Memorial Fields themselves – the mown grass; different kinds of leisure according to season and the different clothes people wear – and Ether Wood where the changes of season are more subtle whilst changes made as a result of the 5 year plan have been quite marked. – e.g. the clearing out of rhodedendron bushes and holly and building of some paths with grit composite material.

I know my tutor said she is less interested in the people but they are interesting to me, not only in terms of people enjoying being outside but in how they occupy the space; take charge of it. For them it’s there to be used as a stage for them to act upon (borrowing from Simon Robert’s approach).  Susan Trangmar’s film and book “A Play in Time” (2008) is a valuable resource as well. Excerpt below:-

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/4726751″>Excerpt from &quot;A Play in Time&quot; by Susan Trangmar</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user1778739″>Helen Wade</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

This kind of film is an inspiration for me and I think it could translate quite well to iPhone video if I can find the right route to it.

I’m a little concerned regarding my tutor’s advice to try to keep to the same standpoints when I’m re-photographing the benches, trees and other structures.  With such variety to choose from it’s not really possible to put markers down so I’ll have to see how that transpires.

i. July 2018 to February 2019

Assignment 6 : Process
i July 2018 to February 2019

To begin with I have taken photographs of a wide sweep of the area to ‘lay the ground’ as it were and to see what is emerging. There’s still a part of me that worries that this is too small an area to cover in a longer project but I reassure myself that “the assignment should address the notion that the landscape is an evolving, dynamic system”, and I may, “ wish to confirm, question or subject this assertion” and I should certainly end up with sufficient material to do that.

I edited down the many photographs taken and have now re-edited them into contact sheets so that I can see the wood for the trees as it were. Here are the contact sheets:-

 

I can see how I am recording some of the same locations through time and season, including the play area (sans children), people passing through the landscape and some smaller details of graffiti, moss on branches, or leaf patterns.  I have also been thinking about change of use – how the calendar dictates whether football or cricket is played and how the seasons dictate the types of clothing we wear.

Additionally I have also created short videos and two are below

Football October 2018

Snow on the Fields February 2019

 

I’m definitely at the stage now where I need the discussion with my tutor to help me clarify my thoughts and discuss possibilities.