What I’ve been doing

I haven’t posted on this blog for nearly two months, although I’ve been doing bits and pieces on BoW in the background. I spent a month or so focusing mainly on Contextual Studies, specifically the Literature Review (very enlightening and satisfying) and most of April so far I’ve been concentrating on my fledgling commercial photography business – but now it feels like I need to get back into the BoW saddle.

This post could be a bit of a ramble, for which I apologise to any readers. When I go some time between practical photography projects, I am prone to self-examination and re-contextualisation. I mull over what I’ve done, the response to it and what new influences have entered my brain (this time around: mainly my CS reading, plus a handful of recently acquired photobooks).

Even though I did a ‘quick and dirty’ draft of my Assignment 3 idea very soon after finishing Assignment 2, I haven’t really touched it since. I’d had the idea in my head for a good few months so it felt good to get a version of it done quickly – it needed to come out. However, it’s hung around in the back of my mind throughout the last two months and I know I need to get back and do something with it (refine / overhaul / scrap / other).

Where I’m at

The short version is that I’m still really enthused about the Assignment 3 concept and plan to refine rather than radically change it. The longer version is broken into a few chunks as I attempt to structure my thoughts…

Assignment 2 wasn’t really me

JohnLooking back at Assignments 1 and 2 I’ve come to appreciate what aspects of each feel like they form part of my developing voice for this overall body of work.

For various reasons I now consider the sound wave portraits in Assignment 2 to be a curio, a divergence off the path. That’s not to say that I don’t like them or am not proud of them (indeed, I am delighted to have been asked to exhibit them locally as part of Dementia Awareness Week activities), but rather that they now feel like more of a side-project than my ‘true path’ on this investigation of memory.

I took some time to analyse why I felt this way, and ultimately decided that its for these reasons:

  • I want this body of work to be more of a personal expression of me, my thoughts, feelings, frustrations and experiences around memory issues
    • and this was about other people
    • it felt less authentic than I want my work to be, more based on assumptions and projections
  • I had landed here on an aspect of memory that isn’t the kind of memory issue that I really want to examine
    • Assignment 2 was about capturing moments of remembrance by people with failing memories (I’m generalising)
    • it was based on long-term, nostalgic, possibly sentimental memories
    • as explained later, I’m more fascinated by short-term / working memory

There are however a couple of conceptual aspects of Assignment 2 that I am still interested in, and will continue to consider as potential elements in the evolving work:

  • Forgetting as a ‘canvas’ upon which memories are written
    • and white space as a metaphor for this
  • The notion that memories have ‘shapes’
    • that can be discerned against this ‘canvas’
    • and that reflect the subject of the memory

I appreciate certain aspects of my Assignment 1 more now

A1-17I’d moved away from my Assignment 1 concept soon after completing it. A piece of feedback from my tutor hit the nail on the head – it was a mostly formal exercise, without much of a meaningful underpinning. I had an execution format but not necessarily a coherent theme or concept. Wendy pointed out that this is an unorthodox way to work… to be fair I agree, but at the time I needed a ‘way in’ and I started with the surface, if that makes sense.

However, there is one key way in which I am more satisfied with Assignment 1 than Assignment 2 – it was created from my point of view rather than me projecting onto other people. The construct was a kind of fictionalised autobiography: a set of snapshots where the faces were obscured in various ways, to imply an imagined future version of me who was forgetting the faces of friends and family.

I’m refining my intention, gradually

So looking at what I do and don’t value in these two assignments has helped me to hone my intentions:

  • Assignment 1 was about me forgetting (albeit a fictionalised, exaggerated me)
  • Assignment 2 was about other people remembering
  • Assignment 3 (and hopefully thereafter) should focus on the parameters that really interest me, namely:
    • from my own personal viewpoint
    • about memory issues that I personally experience (and worry about): short-term / working memory: forgetfulness / absent-mindedness / short attention span

A separate post is brewing on this last point as part of Assignment 3 preparation.

I still worry that I’ve been too eclectic

Assignments 1, 2 and 3 are all really quite different, conceptually and visually. I can justify that they are all concerning memory, but that’s such a vast subject, and I don’t feel that I’ve narrowed it down enough until recently.

The BoW journey so far hasn’t gone quite how I expected it to – I kind of assumed I’d start with a broad idea and narrow it down, refine it, evolve it, knock it into shape… but so far it feels like I’m thrashing around trying too many different ideas, throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks. There isn’t a coherent enough thread between the assignments. the ‘body’ of work is resembling Frankenstein’s monster…

I see some other people’s BoW progression as being more single-minded – not necessarily smoother, but more uni-directional. Other students seem to have painted in the broad strokes of their theme earlier on.

I think my concern is that for assessment a certain amount of coherent progression between assignments is expected, and eclecticism isn’t valued quite as highly as I wish it to be!

What next

I have a plan for Assignment 3:

  • Write up notes on various photobooks and artists that have been inspiring me lately
  • Revisit my longlist of lost glove photos (I have many, many more since last posting a draft…)
  • Pay closer attention to the visual qualities of the images and pairing with text
  • Produce further mockups and seek feedback