Assignment 6: Pre-assessment review

For the pre-assessment review, Russell discussed different ways I should consider presenting my work for assessment. He advised that assessors would be looking for work that comes across as a single artefact and exemplified my growing personal voice. He suggested using a clamshell portfolio box for presentation and printing the images at A3.Russell recommended using DS colour labs for the prints – I ordered some tests and was pleased with the results. The lab have a number of different paper types available which I had some tests made, however, I decided to print everything with a matt lustre finish to unify the presentation. He also advised that I experiment with different border widths from no borders to standard 4mm borders and generous border of 35-40mm. This is something I have done for each of the assignments as detailed below. For the essay he recommended using a clean sans serif font (such as Avenir Next) 12 pt and double spaced, which I have done. Instead of wire binding as suggested I have used a presentation binder with pvc cover.

Assignment 1:

See reworked submission for Assignment 1 here.

For this assignment I revisited my original selection, changing 4 images that I originally selected, and reconsidered the order they were to be viewed. I also changed my processing, altering the crop and straightening where necessary to eliminate some of the unusual angles that were the result of my shooting from the hip approach. I also edited the tone curve in some of the images that had large dark, blocked out areas as suggested in the feedback from Simon. I printed these images at A3 without borders and would suggest they would be presented in the gallery space pasted directly onto the wall. This is an effective, and immediate, way of displaying work that I have seen at a number of exhibitions recently and something that I think would fit the unconventional aesthetic of the set. Below is an example of this presentation style from the exhibition ‘Small Town Inertia’ by J.A. Mortram:

Assignment 2:

See reworked submission for Assignment 2 here.

This proved to be the most difficult assignment to rework as I tried to make this a digital only submission as the brief requests so found this difficult to translate into physical form. Following Simon’s initial feedback, I had already experimented with different layouts which incorporated text into the images (see here.) I was unhappy with these approaches and had come to the conclusion that I would have to live with something that I was not entirely happy with, see example below:

While I was putting these images together I came upon the idea of superimposing the text over the pictures themselves making text and image one and the same. I reduced the opacity and put a small 1 pixel stroke around the text to help make it legible. The finished effect is something that the viewer has to work to be able to read, this is something that fits with my overall theme of the reifying nature of advertising. The legibility of the writing is on the border of what can be easily read so in a gallery presentation I would also caption the images the same as the text. Simon Barber (my first tutor who provided feedback for this assignment) criticised some of the images for not being clear about the products in the adverts. By including the text, the viewer is able to distinguish the type of product that is being featured, but not necessarily the exact brand. This again I believe is enough information to be able understand the message of the piece overall. I also decided not to include the original newspaper articles, the headlines from which are the basis of the text. Again, I think it is obvious because of the way that the language is used that these are headlines and it is not necessary to include the full articles.

Assignment 3:

See reworked submission for Assignment 3 here.

Russell said that he felt this was my strongest assignment which is something I would agree with. He advised printing as a Blurb book, however, and after much consideration, I eventually decided to reprint the images at 7×5 size and present them for assessment in a self adhesive photo album as per my original idea. The physical and unique nature of the book combined with the connotations of the family photo album are important aspects of the work for me. I am sure that printing a book would have led to a more polished presentation, however, as stated this was not something that was a particular concern for me. In fact, that the book does not have the aesthetic of a traditional photo book lends itself to the project in my view. Russell also suggested pairing down my image choices which is advice I have followed. The original selection was based around a ‘journey’ around my grandparent’s house and Russell’s advice combined with the benefit of some the passage of time enabled me to have a more objective view of the selection and sequencing – I found it much easier to pair the images in aesthetic terms.

Assignment 4:

See reworked submission for Assignment 4 here.

Following Russell’s advice, I removed the section of the essay on Abu Ghraib and added a section about the war on terror and the assassination of Osama bin Laden which centred on the famous photograph of President Obama and other US politicians and military figures watching the operation unfold. I also comment on the decision not to publish a photograph of bin Laden’s body and argue that the motivations for this are somewhat disingenuous in my view.

Assignment 5:

See reworked submission for Assignment 5 here.

Unfortunately, this is the assignment that I feel least happy about and I fear I have made the completely wrong decision in the direction I took with it. I also think there is a much larger project for me to pursue on the theme of the industrial heritage of my local area which is something that leads me to feel the work is unresolved. Similarly to assignment 4, Russell felt that the assignment is two projects and he advised I concentrate on either the Durham Miners Gala or the pictures of the of mine sites at night time. I decided to pursue the Miners Gala rather than the the mine site pictures primarily because these images have an ambiguous nature that fits with my personal feelings on the subject. The mine site pictures also feel closer to landscape than documentary I could not shake the way I felt about these despite it being in the back of my mind that this reaction was illogical.

I imagine this project being exhibited in my local community – something that would mean the audience would be aware of the subject matter and be able to identify with it – I am sure that for anyone outside of a coal mining area the idea of miners banners and commemorating a long dead industry would seem strange and alien. I decided to book end the Gala pictures with images of the two mines that were the closest to where I am from, Morrison Colliery and Morrison Busty. The series starts with two of the nighttime shots of I had taken of these sites today and is finished with historical, archive images of the same places that were the inspiration for me initially and also show how much the landscape has changed. Following Russell’s advice I reviewed my selection to focus on wider views of the Gala and I sequenced these to give a sense of how the days festivities can eventually lead to a number of people becoming tired and emotional. There is certainly a voyeuristic nature to these images and I have deliberately selected those which have elements of strangeness. It would be impossible to give a complete sense of the whole event and by not concentrating on this I have tried to offer a small snapshot of the day which is specific, personal and subjective. In short, I have offered a personal view, albeit one that is built on serendipity and what I was able to photograph at the time. I printed the mining site pictures with a generous white border and captioned these on the prints and had the Gala images printed with a small 4mm border. This decision was based on me wanting to differentiate the two sets – I would present the mine pictures framed and the Gala pictures unframed straight onto the gallery wall, as I have described in assignment 1.

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