Assignment 1: Self Evaluation

Demonstration of technical and visual skills:

It was important for me to experiment with this assignment and I feel that I have done that (as evidenced in my previous post detailing the development of this project.) After arriving at a process of working that resulted in a series of images that could be brought together in a composite, it was important to me to recreate this earlier approach before pushing the limits of what could be made from the images as far as I could. Overall I am pleased with the work I have produced here but frustrated at the amount of time I have taken to reach this point.

Making the final composites has meant that I have needed to refine my use of Photoshop, being able to balance experimentation alongside having a strong idea about how the original piece would look has been a major learning for me. This brief for this assignment could easily mean that two completely separate sets of images would be produced. I have attempted to link both approaches together which is successful to a point, particularly the similar use of the way people are placed either walking towards or away from the camera. Without the brief however, it is unlikely that the two sets would be shown together which makes me question how well they do actually work together. Compositionally, there is a distance present in each of the images that resulted from where I positioned the camera and the fact that I tried not to draw attention to the fact photographs were being taken. Looking back on the work of Peter Funch and Chris Dorley-Brown I note that where they began to take the images was a major consideration for them, particularly Dorley-Brown who in some ways is interested primarily in the urban landscape and architecture rather than the people. The positioning of my camera was based more on necessity than anything else – I wonder if I repeated the exercise again if I would choose the same place?

Quality of Outcome:

At a point when I am so immersed in this project it is difficult to give an objective analysis of the quality of the outcome, however, I am happy with the level of experimentation I have made which I think is real progress for me. I have tried to unify the assignment through the subject matter and to make a feature of the brief to produce two approaches – one physical, the other digital. An unexpected difference between the work I have made here and my earlier digital experiments is how changeable the lighting conditions were on the day I made these images. Initially I tried to blend the tones of each aspect of the images with the background before embracing the uncanny effect which creates an unsettling feeling. I am not sure how well this works and whether it is too disconcerting for the overall effect, or even if my analysis forms a kind of justification that is unwarranted, but the effect has grown on me. Conversely, this aspect of the source images really helps contrast the different ‘strips’ in the physical montage part of the assignment.

Following advice from the tutor on my previous course, I have tried to write the introduction to the assignment as if it was an an artists statement/text accompanying an exhibition of the images rather than as a student. To communicate the essence of a project in a concise way that both explains and unlocks the work while being concise and establishing context is a particular skill and something that is important to practice as I move towards level 3. For this particular assignment I have struggled to hit the right tone and although the introduction details how the work was made there is not enough about why I chose this approach. At this point I need some time away from considering the work to be able to rethink how I can rework this – I am hoping my feedback will help me gain some clarity.

Demonstration of Creativity:

The digital part of the work is definitely my comfort zone although I have been able to refine my workflow and refresh aspects of my Photoshop knowledge. From the beginning I knew that the physical part of the assignment would be the part that challenged me the most and I am glad that I have tried different approaches before arriving at my preferred method. I also think my decision to keep this part relatively simple was sound and has resulted in a more effective final set. Also, although the source photographs were taken over the short period of one hour, many hours have gone into selecting images, experimenting with different layouts and considering each in turn. This emphasises to me the importance of the editing process and it has benefited me having to spend so much time with the set as a whole as it has concentrated my attention on which images should be selected. I have often been faced with the problem that a particular aspect deserves selection only to find that it does not fit into the overall composition – the ability to leave these behind is a real development for me.

Although I approached this assignment without any conscious thought about other artists who have produced this kind of work, I found my research into the practices of Chris Dorley-Brown and Peter Funch provided inspiration rather than self doubt – previously I would have been demotivated by such a discovery, but here, I was able to use this research to spur on my own work.

Context:

When I have considered the length of time that it has taken me to complete this first part of the course, I have considered the amount of research I have conducted and whether I should pare this down. I can categorically say that this research has been essential – even though I have not explored each artist in a practical way I have taken something from each and I am sure I will return to many of these artists in the future for inspiration. The difficulty is that it is impossible to tell which aspects of research will return to inform the kernel of an idea. This is an aspect of my study that I now understand is fundamental to my development and something I intend to continue to pursue through the course.

Although I have alluded to ideas around realism, documentary value and the indexical nature of photography in my introduction to the assignment, there is a lack of theoretical underpinning in the work. I wonder how much of an issue this is in this instance – at this point it would be disingenuous to attempt to retrospectively validate the work by adding theory, in many ways the point is that it is an experimental exercise. I do wonder however if I should have considered this more closely as I developed the assignment. Perhaps Baudrillard (particularly Simulacra and Simulation) would be appropriate here?