2. 18th June 2016

OCA Thames Valley Group Meeting 18th June 2016




Six of us attended this meeting and we were joined by Jayne Taylor as presiding tutor – with OCASA funding.

As ever, we followed the progress of a variety of creative and fascinating projects.

  • Evocative black and white images following a walk by Richard, identifying with his recent readings of poems by Edward Thomas, the WWI poet, killed on the Somme, who enjoyed walking in the same area of Hampshire. Words from the poems were also used as captions. We talked of how some words in the poems mirror the battlefield – “bayonets” of plants and “trenches” of a badger’s sett.
  • Stephen talked about his research into the way in which individuals construct their realities, with reference to the term “semiospheres” . A new word for me so I researched it on the web and discovered that this concept was first formulated in 1982 by Juri Lotman who introduced it in the context of cultural semiotics, linking this with the concept of “biosphere” – the sphere of life, as described by Vladimir Vernadsky. This is the link if you are a member of academia.edu . Stephen has used his research into this and relevant photographers in three portrait projects.
  • Dawn talked about her work referencing plastic Vanitas, with three intricately constructed images representing aspects of her life. She has constructed all the components digitally, with the ‘chaos’ of life still coming through its containing frame and within the context of a femininist perspective.
  • Sarah-Jane talked of her developing personal project on girlhood, which continues, in part, to be influenced by her UVC studies. We discussed issues in relation to photographing children, all the permissions to be contained and how, women photographers probably have less problems with this than male photographers.
  • John moved from photography to play-reading today , continuing to explore memory and all its aspects. Sarah-Jane, Sawn and I participated in a read-through of the play Elegy written by Nick Payne , which John will be directing as a private performance. This play has also recently appeared at the Donmar Warehouse (review here ). The play raises many questions about the nature of love, what happens when memory is lost and the role of science in curing us of one problem whilst altering our lives profoundly and not necessarily for the better in the final outcome. We talked about the nature of memory and John mentioned the artist Derek Michael Besant    and his question as to whether memory might be more about forgetting than memory. What came up for me here was how I “know” when I never knew something in the first place and also that  I’ve forgotten something that I once knew. The way in which Besant portrayed loss of “knowing” is fascinating (see here  ) including elements that he believes would be enough to hold onto as personal identity.
  • Somewhere along the way we talked about print making (photography) and Edinburgh Printmakers  were mentioned.

I had printed off work done for my Digital Image and Culture Module, including photographs from my personal archive and also talked about my idea to create a project around letters written to me by my father when he was in the army in Egypt not long after WWII. I took along the letters, some of the photographs and contemporaneous Picture Post magazines (bought from eBay). Regarding the layered images for the 1940s photographs I had queries around leaving borders or not, merging or showing separation. Jayne’s suggested I experiment with layering actual photographs on top of each other as opposed to digital composites.

Another lively and interesting meeting with so many creative ideas discussed. We asked Jayne for suggestions as to theories discussion we could have at the next meeting where she will be joining us (planned for August). Her suggestions was to look at the documentary series by Adam Curtis “The Century of the Self”.