[28Jul20] I noted the following quotes throughout C&N and I'll note them again.
At OCA we believe that your position or viewpoint is absolutely as valuable as the position of any author that you read; the only difference is that you probably won’t have fully discovered, or at least articulated, it yet. Your viewpoint is the source of your imagination and ideas but it can be quite a long journey to bring it into the light.
Bloomfield, 2017 p.101
I wonder if Brideshead Revisited offers a clue to the origins of this mystery. When Charles Ryder arrives at the university, he is firmly advised by his cousin Jasper: ‘You want either a first or a fourth. There is no value in anything between. Time spent on a good second is time thrown away.’ If Waugh did get a third, as Dr Thomas suggests, perhaps he didn’t want anyone to know.
Manley, 2018 - The Evelyn Waugh Society
[29Jul20, [I&P p.5]] After a brief definition of terms and context, much of the Preamble is so similar to C&N's that it is not worth summarising at any length.
The definitions section states that much of photography throughout its history has been about identity and / or place. It continues,
You’ll be encouraged to reflect upon and critically
examine concepts surrounding the genre of portraiture and the representation of place and
implement them into your own practical projects in thoughtful and creative ways. A major
component of this course will involve developing your confidence and interpersonal skills,
including negotiation and collaboration with, and gaining access to, photographic subjects.
p.6 — email a brief introductory bio. to your tutor
p.7 — maintain a learning log and blog (these sections really should be updated)
p.8 — plan your course, consider assessment [you’ll need to submit:
• all five course assignments as submitted to your tutor plus any amended versions (i.e.
amended in the light of tutor feedback)
• your tutor reports
• your learning log or blog url.] Ha!
p.8-9 — more on asscrit
p.9 — research, referencing, communicating
From the new, online course material
it’s a good starting point to consider what you might want or need to explore.
To help you think about this, consider what you want and what you might need
from the course unit? For example, whether there are areas you are keen to
explore for the first time, gaps in your knowledge you would like to develop,
areas you would like to expand, or study skills you would like to brush up on.
Write a short paragraph or around 5 bullet points identifying what you want
and what you might need from the course unit.
To help support your learning it’s also useful for your tutor to get a sense of your
own creative background, your expectations of the course unit, motivations for
this level of study, and any other information you‘d like to share. Write a short
paragraph or 5 bullet points summarising what you’re bringing to the course
unit. I&P online Intro p.9
[4Oct20 I&P online, Intro p.9]
1. an enthusiasm for taking photographs
2. a wish to learn more about photographic history, theory and distinguished practitioners
3. a reasonable technical proficiency
4. a current practice that does not involve a great deal of portraiture
5. relevant old age and infirmity that limits mobility in general and under Covid restrictions in particular.
1. experience of portraiture
2. continued growth of confidence regarding my output
3. the introduction to new (to me) photographers that will enhance my appreciation of the craft
These are some of the things I have jotted since starting this degree:
My main interest is in photographing statues and other public art: I intend to branch out into architectural photography.
BAPhot, About, June 2018
In May 2020 I described my aim, whatever the subject matter, as,
To produce a visual representation of something that merits this attention in such a way as to do the subject justice.
All these judgements are necessarily subjective and the terms deliberately ambiguous.
BAPhot Blog, May 2020
Exercise 3: Analysing and reflecting
This quick exercise is designed to introduce the idea of analysing and reflecting on the work of others, and to give you some material for your first learning log entry or blogpost.
Here’s a selection of creative practitioners that you will encounter during this course unit:
● Elina Brotherus,
● Harry Callahan,
● Zenele Muholi,
● Nicky Bird.
1. Choose one of these names and find a piece of work they’ve produced. Remember to reference the works you have chosen using Harvard Referencing, so it’s clear what you are looking at, who made it, and when.
2. Pick one of the pieces and briefly describe it. Consider its qualities by trying to describe it. What are the different elements within the work and how do these elements work together? What do you think the work is trying to communicate? Imagine you’re describing the work to somebody over the telephone. Try to do this in no more than 50 words. For image based work, what you’re doing here is analysing the formal visual language of an image. This is known as visual research or, sometimes visual analysis. Writing can be a useful tool in visual analysis, but you can also annotate images with notes.
3. Using the same piece, briefly write about how you relate to this work. Do you like it or hate it, find it intriguing, influential or outdated, and if so, why? Does the work connect to wider ideas or other creative practitioners? In other words, what’s your opinion on this work. Don’t worry about ‘getting it wrong’ or ‘missing the point’. Perhaps your reflection raises more questions than answers. Again, try to do this in no more than 50 words.
4. Use the text you’ve generated to create your first blog post or learning log entry. You may also want to be self-reflective by considering your experience of doing the exercise. Did you find it an easy or difficult task? Did it raise any interesting issues or areas you want to develop further? Write a sentence or two picking up on any of these points in your learning log. I&P online Intro p.12
The two images are remarkably similar in structure, each comprising just two or three lines, one vertical, the other(s) straying from horizontal, with two additional dots at the horizontal extremities in the case of the Weed: they are starkly minimalistic. The subject matter is entirely different, however: a closeup segment of Callahan's wife's upper thighs and buttocks in the case of Eleanor and Weed a small plant before a blank sky. Technically, Eleanor is in low contrast greys and the Weed in harsh high contrast.
Individually they are strong but unspectacular images, but in combination, they are æsthetically astonishing.
3. Personal reaction
I cannot recall when I first saw this pairing, but I first showed them together on a web site in 2012: I do not imagine that the idea originated with me. The practice of pairing was championed by Stefan Lorant between the world wars and discussed in his subsequent book (1940): although his use was often for humour or ridicule, the principle works equally well for serious purposes.
It would be interesting to seek the most appropriate companion piece for Eleanor amongst John Coplans' dark and hirsute partial self-portraits.
Exercise 4: Managing your time
Depending on your circumstances, you might allocate time in different ways - a
day a week, an hour a day, larger blocks of time such as weekends or holidays, or
a combination of approaches.
Ask yourself the following questions?
● How much time you can allocate to study each week?
● What is my most/least productive time of the day?
● How well do I manage time?
● What is a realistic schedule to undertake Part One (around 80 learning
hours) and when might you set your first deadline?
Make some notes in your learning log and discuss your schedule when you talk
to you tutor.
I&P online Intro p.14
I am retired and do not go out a great deal because of Covid restrictions. I therefore have 2-4 hours available per day for working on the course. I previously worked 2 days per week in a debt advice charity, but we are not returning to work at least until the new year.
Under these circumstances, C&N was completed more swiftly than EyV and the same is likely with I&P. I aimed at two months for each part, study and assignment in C&N and will aim for something similar for I&P.
For C&N, the later exercises and assignments, after the lockdown began were not greatly affected by the changes and could be accomplished at home. The same cannot be said for I&P. We'll see.
[5Oct20] From the new, online course material
Exercise 5: Identifying resources
Prepare a list of the equipment and other resources you might need to use.
What do you currently have and what might you need to get? Don’t worry if you
don’t have everything now, there’s plenty of time to build your resources as you
progress through the course unit and degree. If you’re not sure of what you
need, then prepare a list of questions to ask your tutor.
What space or spaces are you going to work in? Consider where you will do most
of your study, and prepare it so it’s an environment you’ll enjoy working in and
you are able to store your equipment and resources.
You may want to take a photo of your studio space to share with your tutor via
your learning log.
I&P online Intro p.17
Here's my workspace, including the Standard Six. The camera kit is kept upstairs, or dangling from my office chair. Anything needed for the course will be bought when required.
Exercise N6 Saying hello to your fellow students
From the new, online course material
Get in touch with other students to say hello, and to share something about you
or your practice. Use the OCA discuss site and/or the email group. For example,
by sharing your online learning log URL, your work on Exercise 3, or a photo of
your studio space.
I&P online Intro p.19
Message posted in GMail, 5th October.
Exercise N7 Say hello to your tutor
From the new, online course material
For your final exercise, get in touch with your tutor to arrange a 15-20 min
conversation. This is an opportunity to say hello to your tutor and put a voice to a
name. It’s also a chance to discuss how best to schedule your time, document
your work, and share it.
The previous exercises and research tasks will have helped you prepare for this
conversation and identified any questions you’d like to ask. Use your notes from
these exercises as a starting point.
Reflect on this conversation in your learning log as a way to identify any key
points and as a starting point to refer back to later on. Don’t forget to refer to ‘my
tutor’ online rather than by name.
Finally, you may want to reflect on doing this introduction as a whole. Has it been
useful and are there things we could do differently? Make some notes in your
learning log and feel free to get in touch with OCA directly or use the forums to
help us improve our support if you have any ideas.
I&P online Intro p.19
[6Oct20 Np.20] Page 10 of the pdf course extract = page 20 of the new online course. Both begin with the dictionary definition of identity, with the Grayson Perry picture on p.12 and p.23 respectively.
[I wrote back in July, ] Now back to the printed course extract.
[29Jul20, [I&P p.10]] And now some course-specific stuff. We'll pick it up there.
Until we get to the end of Part. 1, p.x will refer to the old 2015 course extract and Np.y will refer to the new online course material, see References.
Quotes from the OED and Giddens, the latter to the effect that a personal identity relies on maintaining a continuous narrative with external events and entities.
There are various aspects of identity and personality, including the obvious manifestations of 'social status, wealth, class, gender, race, sexuality, religious background, etc.'
[I&P p.10] and there is nowadays far more scope for changing nearly all of these than in the past.
[p.11, Np.21] An example of changing standards and expectations in social interactions is given, when moving from student life to live in 'a suburban area' and we are asked to give some personal examples and the problems that arise.
Writing as a person of age, life can be seen as a series of rôles to be played in different life settings - work, play, family, travel (for example, the difference between driving and being driven), church-going and partying. And there are many others - the rôles increase in number as one enters one's twenties and then gradually decrease until cessation. Shakespeare probably has something to say on the matter, he usually does.
Problems can arise particularly when learning a new
rôle or when rôles overlap with conflicting expectations.
Photography and identity
And there are various aspects here too. Police mugshots, ID cards, formal portraits and family snaps. Importantly,
photography can also be used to explore identity beneath
the surface of physical attributes. This is what we hope you will find yourself achieving in your
photography as you move throughout this course.
On the other hand (this is me, not the course material), it can be argued that all that is ever photographed, all that it is possible to photograph is the visible surface and that anything 'beneath the surface' is the viewer's personal, subjective interpretation.
Avedon once said, "… you can't get at the thing itself, the real nature of the sitter, by stripping away the surface. The surface is all you've got. You can only get beyond the surface by working with the surface." It was clear from seeing his photographs that the surface contains rich information and could provoke a strong response.
My photographs don't go below the surface. They don't go below anything. They're readings of what's on the surface.
In the January 1975 Aperture special edition devoted to The Snapshot Tod Papageorge (1975, p.27) muses that,
Cameras are like dogs, but dumb, and toward quarry, even more faithful. They point, they render, and defy the photographer who hopes. Photography investigates no deeper relief than surfaces. It is superficial, in the first sense of the word; it studies the shape and skin of things, that which can be seen. By a passionate extension of this, its most profound meanings have to do with immanence, the indwelling grace of what Zen calls our ten thousand facts. This is not transport, or celestial transcendence, but that more footed joy and grief found near any clear sighting of the world.
[p.12, Np.22] The example is given of Grayson Perry's Who are You series and the importance of getting to know the subject is emphasised. There are parallels between this and the work done for C&N Asg. 4 where Bill Brandt's superficial attitude was contrasted with the more immersive approaches of Tish Murtha and Jim Mortram.
[p.13, Np.24] 'If you have a social media profile picture, write a paragraph describing the ‘you’ it portrays. What aspects of yourself remain hidden?' I&P p.11
I do not participate in social media but I have numerous self portraits available for consideration.
Fig. A1, taken around 30 years ago, now only exists as a 275x242 pixel image and is used as an avatar, for example on the OCA Gmail discussion group.
A2 was taken for C&N Asg.1 where I juxtaposed parts of my body with details of Rodin's John the Baptist, a conscious evocation of John Coplans' self portraits.
A3 was taken for C&N Asg.3, for which I responded to a series of self portraits by well known photographers (mostly, as my tutor pointed out, both male and dead) in this case Stanley Kubrick, fig. A4.
A5 is a self portrait taken yesterday (28Jul20), having noticed that even my eyebrows are turning white.
C&N Asg.1 was quite an eye-opener for me, revealing my body's deterioration that I simply had not noticed hitherto. I suppose that I am sensitive to observing further signs.
I think it likely that the first impression any newcomer would have of me would be 'old man'. This is my external appearance, reinforced by a walking stick and confirmed by slurred and hesitant speech arising from strokes.
[30Jul] The hidden aspect is interpreted quite literally. When choosing the matched Rodin/Me images for submission I had the option of including my bottom and chose to not do so. There were two reasons for this:
1. it is not the bottom it once was; and
2. as I wrote on the development page, 'I am not sending my bottom: while it might not be illegal under Sexual Offences Act 2003 †, I am not comfortable with it.' An elderly man emailing images of parts of his body that are normally concealed in polite society to a younger female acquaintance (my tutor) is inappropriate.
†Bedfordshire Police (n.d.) Sexting law [online]. bedfordshire.police.uk. Available from https://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/A-Z/Sexting-law [Accessed 30 July 2020]
[25Aug20] [I&P p.16] Keep doing it - increasingly important in tutor- and final- assessment.
Relate one's work and ideas to that of other photographers. Expose yourself 'to as many genres and ways of working as possible' … '[be] inspired and [move] outside your comfort zone' … '[put] your spin on these methods [and] develop your own voice and style'
… 'do your research and write about it thoroughly'.
An example is given of typology, not a word I have encountered before and not a word that is indexed in and of my Standard Six reference works.
An online search is not short of responses and led me to a new site, photopedagogy.com which gives the examples one might expect of the Bechers and Sander and casts around for a definition, but a textual one is not really necessary if we have those two examples in mind. The cmat also mentions 'Karl Blossfeldt’s obsessive record-keeping of botanics' and concludes, '[c]omparing the strategies of photographers working in similar themes will help you see what may or may not be useful for your project, and why.'
In the case of the Bechers, it would be appropriate to mention their devotion to their subject, their standard treatment thereof and their gradual classification of their captures. I would be inclined to draw parallels with trainspotting, but nevertheless their body of work is impressive in a way that appeals to the stamp collector in me. And it would be a mistake not to mention Idris Khan as an example of tangential creativity.
And with writings on photography, draw together various sources and compare their views.