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† in an effort to qualify for the old Level 2 syllabus - the new one is launched on 1st September.
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Look back at the themes we’ve examined relating to place and our presence within it. What areas inspired you most?
The culmination of this course is a self-directed assignment where you have free rein to choose a subject that relates to any of the material discussed in the course. You may have gathered skills and insights through the projects that you want to revisit or you may have been inspired by other ideas.
The only stipulation is that the final outcome must represent a notion of identity and place that you are personally inspired by. Make sure that your work is visually consistent, relevant to the subject matter you choose and holds together well as a set, both visually and conceptually.
Think carefully about your editing decisions.
● Which images need to be there?
● Which ones repeat other images?
● Are you holding on to a favourite that is no longer required?
● Do you need to re-shoot anything?
Aim for a coherent set of no more than 15 pictures, accompanied by a reflective commentary of no more than 500 words.
Before you send your work to your tutor, check it against the assessment criteria listed in the introduction to this course guide and make sure that it meets all the criteria. Make your evaluation available to your tutor.
Reworking your assignment
Following feedback from your tutor, you may wish to rework some of your assignment, especially if you plan to submit your work for formal assessment. If you do this, make sure you reflect on what you’ve done, and why, in your learning log. I&P, p.137
[The introduction is included for information only and may be ignored for the purposes of assessment. It is in addition to the Reflection which follows.]
[22Aug] Eltham has two locations of note, Eltham Palace (playground of the young Henry VIII 500 years ago and of the Courtauld dynasty 100 years ago) and, about a mile away, the bus stop where Stephen Lawrence was killed in 1993. My first notion for this assignment was to somehow represent this dichotomy of privilege, but I failed to come up with an idea that would extend to "a coherent set of no more than 15 pictures".
My backup was a new and old Eltham, my starting point being a project by Ingrid Newton (2018), blending old postcards of St. Ives with modern equivalents and also incorporating parts of the written message (fig. 24), which gave the project its title, Having a Whale of a Time .
This approach has been used in a number of contexts, including Soomin Ham's exploration of her Korean ancestry (Portraits and Windows, n.d.) and the RAKE Collective's project Police State (2021) where monochrome images of crowd-control police formations are superimposed on Google Street View screenshots.
Although this project lacks Ham's profound personal involvement or the importance of RAKE's political intervention, it nevertheless provides what I regard as an interesting, if parochial, perspective on urban development and some social changes of the past 100+ years.
My initial intention was to seek a technical solution for online presentation of this idea using wipes between congruent old and new images, but two factors changed this.
Firstly, I found that using a wider image than the original often provided useful contextual information on the changes that have taken place.
Secondly, my regard for the project was not great until I found a 1908 image of the now disused Eltham Park Station (fig. 25), built in anticipation of the housing that later surrounded it. When photographing the present view, I wished that there were some pedestrians in similar positions to the old photograph and then later thought of pasting in the characters and some other items from the previous view.
This transformed both the nature of the project and my enthusiasm for it as I began to photograph the subjects specifically with such pastes in mind. In most cases, my inclusions were on a smaller scale than Newton, Ham or the RAKE Collective, but there are some exceptions where the old black-and-white import dominates the contemporary colour image and this led me to visualise a physical display where only the new versions are shown, printed large enough to be viewed at some distance and presented in increasing order of intervention so that the viewer might not at first notice the additions and then, when they did, would return to the start to look for them. The titles would hint at the inclusions by specifying both the original and current dates. For the purpose of assignment submission, I intend to include both the old and the new.
Regarding the image format, I have aimed for consistency since criticism over the first assignment of EyV (Blackburn, 2018a). In this case, it is more important to match the original, old image, with some variation where an expanded view is shown. If the project was displayed without the originals, then greater consistency of format would be necessary.
I found no elegant way to demonstrate multiple changes of building, purpose and ownership (as with the McDonalds and Wetherspoon Corners, see the development blog, Blackburn, 2021a) and so these will not be shown in the Assignment submission.
It has been interesting to note in the imports how little digital information is necessary to create a discernible image (see fig. 26). This brought to mind an exercise in Expressing your Vision, first examining Ruff's JPEGs project and then experimenting with the effect (Blackburn, 2018b).
My research began in the local library, where several relevant books were found and subsequently acquired. Their reference department no longer exists due to reduced funding.
I tried to contact the Eltham Society, of which I used to be a member, as they boast an archive of historical material, but no reply has been received: their website has not been updated since Society meetings were first cancelled for Covid in 2020.
Several individuals have posted online with relevant material, including John Hoad (Pinterest), Michelle Janes (Pinterest), Andrew Simpson (Chorlton History) and Chris Stanley (Flickr).
The brief instructs, "choose a subject that relates to any of the material discussed in the course" that "must represent a notion of identity and place that you are personally inspired by", to produce "a coherent set of no more than 15 pictures" and "(t)hink carefully about your editing decisions" with some specific directions on that last point (Boothroyd & Roberts, 2019, p.137).
My choice of material favoured the later parts of the course, dealing with larger, architectural objects rather than the earlier individual portraits. The subject (my second-string project) is changing urban architecture based on my home town for the last 30 years, Eltham. My approach has been to start with historic images and then photograph the same location in its current incarnation. My initial influence was Ingrid Newton's, project on St. Ives, Having a Whale of a Time (2019) and that led to my incorporating some artefacts and characters from the old images into the new and in turn to contemplate showing only the new photographs with their additions.
I did not regard the project as particularly satisfying either conceptually or aesthetically until this second phase of incorporation began, but since then some results have been produced that I consider to be of merit, the ghostly additions providing a reminder of the changes that have (and in some cases haven't) happened.
As noted in the introduction, the outcomes are nevertheless trivial when compared to Soomin "Ham's profound personal involvement" (Portraits and Windows, n.d.) or "the importance of RAKE's political intervention" (Police State, 2021).
After the criticism of my assignment 4 submission, I have been bracketing exposures in an effort to retain highlight and shadow detail. I regard this practise as sensible in any case with exterior architectural photography, in order to maximise detail in bland skies. My skill at pasting in details from low-fidelity black-and-white book reproductions improved as the project progressed. I aimed to produce images from a similar viewpoint to the originals, allowing a wider angle of view where the additional detail was relevant.
The project grew in stature as it developed a purpose and identity in linking the old and new images.
The project's gradual development, together with the eventual image selection process is described in detail in the assignment blog (Blackburn, 2021b).
Coherence within the series was achieved by using a single geographical location; between the old and new images by sharing some detail; and in the sequence of display by ordering in approximate terms of the amount of detail shared.
Consideration was given to display approaches both online and with small or large physical prints.
The application and efficacy of merging images for personal and political purposes was explored.
I&P Assignment 5 References
Bedford, K. (2013) Eltham Through Time . Stroud: Amberley Publishing.
Blackburn, N. (2018a) Expressing your vision: Assignment 1, Square Mile [online]. baphot.co.uk. Available from http://baphot.co.uk/pages/square_mile.php [Accessed 23 August 2021].
Blackburn, N. (2018b) EyV Part 1: From that moment onwards [online]. baphot.co.uk. Available from http://baphot.co.uk/pages/eyv_part_1.php#ruf [Accessed 23 August 2021].
Blackburn, N. (2021a) I&P: Assignment 5, Development [online]. baphot.co.uk. Available from http://baphot.co.uk/pages_ip/ip_asg_5_1_development.php#mcd [Accessed 23 August 2021].
Blackburn, N. (2021b) I&P: Assignment 5, Development [online]. baphot.co.uk. Available from http://baphot.co.uk/pages_ip/ip_asg_5_1_development.php [Accessed 25 August 2021].
Boothroyd, S. and Roberts, K. (2019) Identity and place . Barnsley: Open College of the Arts.
Eltham Society (n.d.) The Eltham Society [online]. theelthamsociety.org.uk. Available from https://theelthamsociety.org.uk/index.html [Accessed 23 August 2021].
Ham, S. (n.d.) Portraits and Windows, [online]. soominham.com. Available from https://www.soominham.com/portfolios#/portraits-and-windows-1/ [Accessed 23 August 2021].
Hoad, J (n.d.) Roper Street School Eltham [online]. pinterest.es. Available from https://www.pinterest.es/pin/700309810779994975/ [Accessed 23 August 2021].
Kennett, J. (1991) Eltham in old photographs. Stroud: Alan Sutton.
Kennett, J. (1995) Eltham: A Pictorial History. Bognor Regis: Phillimore & Co.
Newton, I. (2018) Having a Whale of a Time. fLIP. Issue 39, Spring 2018, pp. 22-25.
RAKE Collective (2021) Police State [online]. rakecollective.com. Available from https://www.rakecollective.com/ [Accessed 23 August 2021].
Sleep, D. (2004) Images of London, Eltham. Stroud: Tempus.
Wikipedia (2015) File:Woolwich Dockyard gates, ca 1900.jpg [online]. wikipedia.org. Available from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Woolwich_Dockyard_gates,_ca_1900.jpg [Accessed 27 August 2021].