Completing this assignment has been a strange mixture of confidence, self-doubt, decisiveness and procrastination. I have frequently considered discarding the subject of my Grandparents house for the project, but ultimately, the doubts that I have felt about being too close to the subject matter have been outweighed by a compulsion to complete the work. I can only explain these feelings by the fact that this is the most personal work I have presented and putting it out into the public domain is a major step out of my comfort zone.
Throughout, I have been certain that I wanted to present this assignment in the form of prints in a self-adhesive photo album, a physical object that would have connotations of the family photo album. As the album I chose had 20 pages this meant the number of images I needed to include exceeded the 10 requested in the assignment brief. (My final submission has 24 images and three pages of text.) I also knew I wanted to include handwritten text to play on the homemade and personal nature of the project.
Demonstration of technical and visual skills:
The brief for this assignment suggests using a variety of viewpoints and compositions in order to create a visual narrative. Although I have broadly edited my sequence of images by room around the house I do not think this is obvious as they are viewed. I have tried to mix a combination of views which vary between close up and wider shots, the majority of the images could be described as abstract. I fear I have been too conservative in my sequencing by linking the images by room, however, the advantage of this however is that there is a logical flow to the pictures.
In some ways the images are pure documentary in that they are straight photographs of what I viewed at the site – nothing has been moved or rearranged to make the pictures. They are far from record shots however and the abstract nature of many of them show that despite possessing documentary value they show the limits of the photograph to explain what they contain. The inclusion of the text helps but is also separate and intended to stand alone from the images themselves.
The intended way to view the assignment is in a physical form and recreating this digitally dilutes this. The individual images featured are created digitally while the PDF is taken of photographs of the finished book to give an impression of how this appears – the highly reflective cellophane that covers each page is an issue in my attempts to photograph however.
Quality of outcome:
I have spent so much time thinking and working with various edits and sequences of this project that it is difficult for me to give any sort of objective view of the end result. Ultimately, I have produced something that is close to my expectations at the beginning, but, I am conflicted about the works value. Writing the text to accompany the photographs, without which they would be merely images of the rundown and derelict, was an extremely difficult process.
Because I decided to sequence the book at the beginning, a process which left three pages free for text (although I subsequently changed this to two full pages and two half pages), I limited myself to a maximum amount of space for text. It was difficult to distil everything I wanted to say into these three pages and include enough detail to give a flavour of the complex family history that meant my Grandparents house held powerful feelings for me. On reflection, I should maybe have started with the text and worked backwards – although this could have led to even more words and I am concerned that I have included too much text already. Ultimately, the text and images are intended to stand separate from each other while also enriching the narrative when experienced together. One of the main reasons I am now unsure about the text is the final piece sat opposite the archive images of my Grandparents at the end of the book – I wanted these pictures to act as a visual ‘full stop’ to the book and the text detracts from this.
Demonstration of creativity:
I was keen from the beginning of the project to present this assignment in a physical form in a traditional self-adhesive photo album. This, combined with the use of 6×4 prints, imbues the finished piece with connotations of family history which is something I strongly intended. An unintended effect was how the cellophane sheets subtly change the how the images look with the surface being highly reflective and the edges of the cellophane not being completely aligned against the edge of the prints – it is something that is difficult to recreate digitally. The use of Instax prints of the front and back of the house book end the project and add to the notion of the book being a unique object as these are one off prints in themselves.
See my previous post about the work that has influenced me for this assignment.
While working through section three of the course I have found myself beginning to be influenced by the artists I am looking at in a subtly different way. Rather than trying to replicate a particular approach, way of working, strategy or visual style, I am finding that inspiration is acting as a jumping off point to inform my own work. This is also encouraging me to experiment, for example, looking at the work of Anna Fox for this section encouraged me to use flash for this project, and while I ultimately did not use these images, the approach set me thinking about employing this strategy in further work. ’41 Hewitt Road’ is an inspiration. In this series fact and fiction is merged as Fox presents her home as if it has been discovered by an archaeologist. It is unclear if the house is inhabited or abandoned and we can only guess at what we are seeing – the work is a playful challenge to the conventions of family life and domesticity. I find the confidence in the work appealing as well as the fact it is has a strong conceptual underpinning.
I finish this assignment feeling that I am beginning to progress and develop in the right ways. Although I feel unsure about the ultimate success of the project, the process of making it has been a valuable exercise which has caused me to
question and challenge my motivations. At this point I am much too close to be able to make an objective appraisal of what I have done and although I have discussed my intentions with fellow students, I have deliberately waited until the assignment is complete before asking for feedback – before gaining this I feel I needed to be in a place where I have a fully formed project rather than a work in progress.