At this (still early) stage in Assignment 4 I wanted to get some detailed feedback from a bunch of people who are familiar with the work so far, whose opinions I value. I am in a study group that gets together online once every couple of weeks and so I gave them the two sets of images and questions below in advance of our discussion.

Note that the original text I asked them to read and respond to is in italic grey text; the feedback received is in regular black text.

1. Latest image longlist

Below are 20-odd images that I have taken since Assignment 3 that I think may be worthy of inclusion in some version of the series. They are broadly grouped according to visual style but the sequence is not directly relevant at this stage.

Bear in mind the ultimate presentation format will pair the chosen images with text fragments – covered in the second part of this post – but for now the images are standing on their own two feet (/five fingers).

I do have in mind some selection criteria and an overall intent (artistic strategy?) for the series, but at this point I’d just like your opinions on the following:

  • Do any particular images stand out? (for any reason)
  • Do certain images ‘work well together’? (however you interpret that question)
  • What adjectives would you use to describe the overall set (or parts thereof)? What sensations, emotions or thoughts do they provoke?

(clicking on the first image should start a full-screen slideshow)

Feedback below – bullet points represent separate reviewers’ comments, and my own response is in the indented sub-bullets.

General comments

  • Too disparate in terms of style (lighting, depth of field, vantage point) – lacks coherence
  • Two, maybe three, identifiable edits within this set
  • Lots of people said the above, one way or another
    • And I concur – I knew going in that this is a collection of work-in-progress, not a honed edit
    • My intention is to identify what direction I wish to take the aesthetic and refine down from this set to a subset
    • … that will then form the basis of a subsequent longlist
    • I am getting clearer on which ‘kinds’ of images work better
    • But I don’t plan to limit it to a single homogenous ‘look’ – I am drawn to the idea of starting the set in one aesthetic and gradually moving through to a different look
    • I want to inject some element of ‘narrativity’ to the sequence (somehow)
  • Words and phrases evoked: lost, lonely, blending in, standing out, invisible, hiding in plain sight
    • Interesting – in the same ballpark as what I was aiming for, communication-wise, though more visually-biased, if that makes sense
  • Tempting to inject an element of narrativity when viewing – making associations, imaging glove owners, anthropomorphising the gloves etc
    • Good! I like these interpretations :-)
  • 16/23 are composed with glove to the right, 3/23 central, 4/23 to the left
    • Hadn’t consciously considered this!
    • Maybe I just have a preference to positioning the subject right in the frame?
    • Or if I indulge in a little post-rationalisation (as this did occur to me after the point was raised) – I see the ‘unreliable memory’ notion that is supposed to underpin this work as being a middle-to-old-age phenomenon, and if you imagine reading a photo from left to right representing chronology, the right hand side of an image represents old age (that makes sense in my head, even if nowhere else…)
  • There’s some ambiguity (the good sort) – there’s “something going on” but I haven’t sufficiently pinned it down yet
  • The continuum of real vs staged – the edgelands between the two – something there?
    • I really need to give this some thought…

Comments per image

a4-wip-01
1
  • Felt discomfort looking straight down like this
    • Interesting. Looking down to the ground doesn’t generally induce such a sensation, so I wonder if it is because it is on a bench i.e. raised off the ground.
    • Is it an unusual angle?
    • Although I’m not averse to a little deliberate viewer discomfort / disorientation :-)
a4-wip-02
2
  • Rust leaf works, yellow leaf is distracting
    • Yeah I see that now
  • Ambiguous / incongruous – glove is wet but slate is (mostly) dry; makes it visually more intriguing
    • I hadn’t considered this but I like it
a4-wip-03
3
  • Messy
  • Visually similar (but inferior) to previous photo
a4-wip-10
4
  • More like a disembodied hand than a glove (due to 3-dimensional nature)
  • Sticks out as it is a work glove, others are all to keep your hands warm
    • I hadn’t considered this at all; as per 1 I don’t mind a little disharmony, it pulls the viewer up a little, which isn’t a bad thing
    • Personal preference: I really love the textures on this so will rationalise why I will keep it in :-)
a4-wip-14
5
  • Too messy, and found the ridge at the bottom of picture off-putting
  • One of the more compelling images as it has connotations of ‘sinking into the background’ more – implying a longer-lost memory?
  • Interpreted it as decaying / leaving this world
    • I like the symbolism of the glove (/memory) sinking / dying
    • This might work towards the end of the sequence in a full edit?
a4-wip-13
6
  • Looks very staged
    • Ironically it’s one of the gloves that wasn’t! It’s exactly as found
    • This is intriguing – I assumed that people might be able to discern the constructed /adjusted vs the untouched, but they are sometimes being mis-identified
    • This is something I need to give more thought (see general comments) 
a4-wip-09
7
  • Works well as the glove is small in the frame, you see more context (like 11)
    • I agree it gives it a different feel to the rest. Maybe I should do more wide shots like this
  • The ‘hand’ looks like it’s between ‘knees’
    • I hadn’t seen this! Fascinating what other people see in images…
a4-wip-20
8
  • Too centrally-placed
    • This was deliberate – there’s a glass shatter pattern behind the glove that maybe isn’t discernible
  • 8, 9 and 10 look like a set
    • Yes, they were taken in the same shooting session, quite close to each other
    • They are too similar and probably too obviously contrived
a4-wip-19
9
  • See 8 comments
a4-wip-18
10
  • See 8 comments
a4-wip-17
11
  • Good to see wider context (like 7)
  • Too faint / hard to see
a4-wip-12
12
  • Too central; would have liked to see top of arch
    • Fair point – could try to recreate this if I think it’s a goer
a4-wip-11
13
  • Looks almost portrait-like (same comment about 14 and 18)
a4-wip-20
14
  • See 13 comment
a4-wip-08
15
  • Visually disorienting: first thought it was shot straight ahead (hand gripping pole) then realised it’s looking down onto a horizontal bar – some discomfort / tension
    • As noted earlier, I don’t mind a bit of tension somewhere in the set
  • Looks almost ‘animated’ – like the glove has forgotten its person rather than vice-versa
    • I do like the ‘gestural’ aspect of this
    • The personification of the glove is something I need to think about, as to whether it fits with or confuses my intent
a4-wip-16
16
  • Cars distracting
a4-wip-15
17
  • Too close
  • Looks very ‘fresh’ (compared to other extreme e.g. 5)
    • Might suit a particular place in the overall sequence – earlier?
a4-wip-22
18
  • A favourite: provides some context and looks natural
    • Again, misidentified! I placed this one for the shot…
  • Connotations of ‘keeping safe’
    • Interesting: hadn’t read that into it but can see it now
    • My own interpretation was that it looked like a hand pressing a buzzer (e.g. in a game show… what that signifies, I don’t really know…)
a4-wip-21
19
  • Ouch
  • Low viewpoint is a bit blocking and slightly higher would show some background/context
    • I have wider alternatives as outtakes, will look at this again
a4-wip-07
20
  • Good – the glove looks ‘just forgotten and left behind’
    • Again, this is one I deliberately placed
a4-wip-06
21
  • Looks somebody has picked it up and placed it on the gate
    • As per above, this was staged – I must be good at this faking thing :-)
    • However, I’m not trying to make this a ‘guess what is real and fake’ puzzle – I just find it interesting that it’s not immediately obvious which are which
a4-wip-05
22
  • Colour and light good – has context
  • Lighting etc is a bit ‘chocolate box’ aesthetic (see 23)
a4-wip-04
23
  • Same comment as 22 re ‘chocolate box’ aesthetic

2. Text pairing executions

As previously noted, I’m trying to get the text fragments to be seen as relay rather than anchoring text. I don’t want people to mistake them for captions/titles, I want the viewer to see the text and the image (specifically the glove itself) as ‘equivalents’. I tried various ideas last time around and landed on coloured blocks picking out a colour from the glove. But I’ve fallen out with that idea as it didn’t fit with the overall ‘mood’ I’m aiming for.

So I have tried two new ideas.

First, continuing with the adjacent block execution but matching the general shape, size and position of the text with the glove:

 

  • Marginally better than the second option, but neither really work
  • Might work for a book layout
  • Mimicking the shape of the glove doesn’t add anything, and makes the text for some of the images look unnaturally large
  • Need to make the words ‘quieter’ in the frame
    •  I tend to agree; I’m not happy with it
    • There’s the basis of an idea here but it’s not working in this format
  • Look at Karen Knorr and Anna Fox for examples of text-image juxtaposition

Secondly, simply adding the text into the image itself (this was a suggestion from another student some time ago that I only just got round to trying):

 

  • Almost everyone felt that this didn’t work (one dissenting opinion)
  • Too small (though might work printed large?)
  • Resembles adverts too much
    • Yeah I agree; totally gone off this idea now
    • Onwards!

Next steps

This was really insightful, nourishing feedback from the group.

I have some things I need to do now:

  • Refine and articulate my artistic intent better
  • Revisit the w-i-p set here against that emerging intent statement (and presumably jettison many / most of them)
  • Take more new photos, more purposefully, with the refined intent in mind
  • More research on text + image juxtaposition strategies