This assignment is designed to give your tutor a feel for your work and won’t count towards your final grade if you decide to have your work assessed. However, the assessors may wish to see it so that they can gauge your progress across the course.
Create at least two sets of photographs telling different versions of the same story. The aim of the assignment is to help you explore the convincing nature of documentary, even though what the viewer thinks they see may not in fact be true. Try to make both sets equally convincing so that it’s impossible to tell which version of the images is ‘true’.
It might be interesting to consider the project as evidence for a court case. What conflicting stories can you make your images convincingly tell? Would it stand up in court?
Choose a theme and aim for 5–7 images for each set, depending on your idea. Discuss this with your tutor.
Here are a few ideas:
• You could interpret this brief by showing the same scenario from two different angles. Does this alter how we read the situation?
• You may wish to create an alter ego by using snapshots of yourself or a friend. This could involve photographing them in two very different and potentially conflicting personas.
• You could make a parody of a dating website profile picture. Create different versions of the same person looking completely different in each one. Which one represents them best and how can we know?
Or you may prefer to use your own take on the theme. However you choose to interpret the brief, ensure the images are candid and ‘taken from real life’. Be experimental and take some risks. Perhaps you could make a list of ideas and choose the most challenging or absurd option to stretch yourself.
Send your sets of images to your tutor by the method you’ve agreed. Include an introduction of 300 words outlining what you set out to do and how you went about it. Also send to your tutor the relevant pages of your learning log or your blog url. It’s good to get in the habit of printing your work so try to send prints to your tutor where possible. This is not obligatory but will help when it comes to assessment.
Developing your prints in order to achieve the best results is a long process so it’s best to start now. OCA, Photography 2: Contaxt & Narrative, p. 45
[25Jan20] Submission text
I interpreted this project as the illustration of contrasts. My intention at first was to shoot Worshipping Gods, depicting ostentatious Christian interior detail and an austere (or alternatively elaborate) other faith. This foundered when, having photographed Southwark Cathedral, I failed to find a synagogue, mosque or temple that allows interior photography.
With little time remaining for an alternative project, I opted for subjects offering availability and chose Representing Bodies, comparing details of V&A human sculpture to my own body. While working at the V&A, I thought that concentrating on a single work might offer clarity and having toyed with the idea of using Canova's Three Graces, chose Rodin's St John the Baptist.
By this time, I had moved some distance from the original assignment brief which specified 'images…taken from real life'.
I printed the images both in colour and in black and white and decided to submit the latter. This allows concentration on the differences and similarities of form, without the distraction of colour (and incidentally sidesteps issues with colour casts).
Technically, they are reasonably competent. The images are rather darker than intended when printed, especially the black and white versions, and I will try to adjust for that in future assignments. The project idea was interesting conceptually and also in practical terms to execute. I realised throughout that I had drifted from the assignment brief. This cannot be an original idea, although I have not found anything like it online. After finishing the shooting, I found in Marcoci's The Original Copy (2010) a juxtaposition from Lorraine O'Grady's Miscegenated Family Album series featuring a human portrait with an Egyptian statue of Nefertiti's sister. I believe that the project concept is stronger (and closer to the brief) than my first effort and, O'Grady's work notwithstanding, might merit further exploration.
Marcoci, R (2010) The Original Copy: Photography of sculpture, 1839 to today. New York: MoMA.
[word count 300]
The assignment was reworked voluntarily as a Dolly Parton Challenge.