7. Response to tutor feedback on Ass 2

7. Response to tutor feedback on Assignment 2

My tutor’s overall comment was, An impressively research submission and great potential here to develop your ideas further in relation to the archive Catherine

 She recognised that the amount of research I undertook may have been due, in part, to my vision problems but continued

The research is of course very helpful (and yours is thorough and relevant) but as you move through the various assignments and exercises be mindful about keeping a balance between research (reading) and practice (making images)….. it is the final assignments themselves which will stand for all the past research carried out and you must ensure that you allow yourself enough time to play and to re-edit various projects

 Re the photobook and the letters …. The juxtaposition of two very different landscapes is one that I think you could develop further.

My tutor would like me to have a close look at the work of artist Sara Davidmann “Ken, to be Destroyed”.

In the book itself, Davidmann makes extensive use of two things, the handwriting included in the letters she is focusing on in this project and the envelopes that these come in too……….. I think it would be very helpful for you to have a look at the structure of this book and use what you learn from it to develop further ‘Letters Home’.

 You have a tendency to make juxtapositions and montages a little too complex. In your submitted assignment, the double page that works best for me is also one of the most simple.  On pages 26-27 you show a handwritten note jotted quickly on the back of a small photograph and on the right. On the left, you reproduce (to scale?) what is presumably the front of the photograph. This strategy – making visible what is normally invisible (I e Grace’s written intentions) is a simple yet powerful strategy (and one used by Davidmann in Ken, to be Destroyed and also in Gillian Wearing’s seminal ‘Signs’ series.

My tutor also suggested looking at the work of Tony Oursler and Susan Hillier if I am interested in further exploring the history of spiritualist photography.

Her pointer for the next assignment was:-

Concentrate on making rather than reading! Your research is very thorough and now you need to focus on the physical making of your work. You are clearly very connected with the archives theme.

My written feedback –  added to the Tutor Report

I have taken note of advice to keep an eye on the balance between research and practice.  Certainly, having the eye problem did make it more difficult to work with photography because I lost confidence in the clarity of my vision. There was a lot of reading suggested though for Part 2 of the Module but, of course, I added to it due to my choice of work for the Assignment. I’m pleased that at least my reading was relevant.

I have already played around quite a lot with layering, folding faces, linking past with more recent images in layers and/or composites – much more so than previously. I also experimented with handwriting on images but some ideas were discarded along the way. These were not only summarised in Exercise write-ups, but so far as Assignment 2 is concerned, there are composite/montage images on seven pages of the photobook, plus the front and back covers.

Wendy and I discussed the composite images – some work better than others and I’ll certainly aim to keep montages more simple. I will also repeat the strategy of revealing what’s normally invisible as in pages 26/27 of the photobook.  Regarding handwritten material; this was one of my concerns regarding how much of the letters to show’, how large and whether I got this right.  However, I do realise that I must put aside notions of  ‘what’s right’ and edit as seems appropriate towards the aims of my concept. The suggestion I look at Sara Davidmann’s work Ken to be Destroyed raised two aspects that I had wanted to touch upon in our discussion – my thoughts around revealing personal family information particularly when there are other family members to consider, plus ethics in general. I’ll return to this when I’ve read and reviewed the book.

Juxtaposition of landscapes was a thread through the photobook. I think that if I develop juxtaposition of two very different landscapes further this might turn into a different kind of project – less concerned with the messages in the letters and so not in line with themes around the way in which gender stereotypes are re-inforced from childhood (however lovingly).

Tony Oursler’s newer books are very expensive so I’ve ordered one of his early ones to gain a sense of how he views his work.  I have also looked at Susan Hiller’s work on the web and it’s familiar to me as I remember looking at it during Exercise 2.1, (although I referenced another photographer who had an AuraCam 6000 camera), where I posted a photograph of my own aura.

I have taken on board the strong advice to play around more with images; experiment with different sizes; cut and paste and produce several book maquettes.

Further thoughts as at 7th February 2016

Sarah Davidmann’s book has now arrived and I will be visiting the Exhibition (see my write-up here. It also occurred to me that I might become less personally immersed –  and lost in memories – if I work with someone else’s letters to experiment with the book maquettes. I have now purchased a series of letters from eBay. It also completely slipped my mind, but one of my Christmas presents was a day workshop on 11th March at Shepherd’s bookbinders   and I’m looking forward to it – hoping as well that it might reduce some of my inhibitions about not being creative in a practical sense.

I have now received the draft book from Blurb and I’m quite pleased with it how it looks, plus reassured that the PDF I downloaded first does match the book. I will be taking it with me to the next OCA TV group for some feedback. ( see my write-up at the end of this blogpost here .