At the suggestion of my tutor Garry, I approached another OCA tutor and practicing photographer Andrew Conroy for some feedback on my work. I sent him the PDF as produced as part of Assignment 1. I said it would be appreciated to get feedback in any format, whether a 1-1 call or video chat, or by written comment. Andrew opted for the latter.

General remarks

Andrew’s opening comments (with my emphasis):

“The PDF promo for the work is really nice, and I like how you’ve imbued the everydayness of the stuff you’ve photographed with a gentle weirdness that points to you much more than the subjects that you’re actually photographing, ie there’s a very intimate and personal feel to it. Right up my strasse, particularly as there’s an understated gentleness to how you’re looking at things.”

The highlighted phrase really spoke to me: the sense that the work is more about me than the nominal subject matter. This is exactly what I was going for, to somehow articulate this introspective (one might say self-indulgent) impulse to examine my own mind.

Specific feedback

I had asked Andrew whether he thought I had successfully communicated my intention. His response was both enlightening and reassuring, and touches on the subjectivity of artistic interpretation. He remarked:

My general approach is to see my own reading as a small part of the work, and not something that should be ‘imposed’ on it from above. If people read things as I do, great. If they don’t, also great.”

He specifically related this notion to the subject matter of the work:

“Memory is unreliable, always in flux, contingent and very fragile, and I think that the feel and mood of the work conveys this anyway, big time.”

He also said (the reassuring part) that with the title and the intro text I had done more than enough to steer the viewer in the right general direction for what I hoped they would see/think.

On a separate note: there was an unfortunate technical hitch that I need to attend to. The PDF and email used the following web address to link to the project page on my personal website:

robtownsend.com/rememberingforgetting

This is not an actual webpage but a redirect URL; the website builder platform (Squarespace) uses an auto-generated naming protocol for the site structure so the actual project page is located at:

robtownsend.com/projects#/remembering-forgetting

I decided that the above web address was too unwieldy and so used the Squarespace redirect feature to ‘map’ the preferred /rememberingforgetting to the actual webpage for the project.

I had set up this redirect and tested it on multiple browsers and devices to make sure it worked. And it did on all my tests, so I published it in the promo PDF and covering emails.

However, when Andrew tried to follow the given link it arrived at an ‘Page Not Found’ error. Something went wrong with the redirect! Now, I have no way or successfully replicating the error or identifying the exact circumstances in which it arose; it could have been a particularly obscure combination of hardware and software, or it could have been a temporary glitch at the Squarespace server end.

The bottom line is, however, that I can no longer trust the redirect to work 100% of the time.

So I have made the decision to always give out my homepage address only:

robtownsend.com

… and to make sure that the links to the Remembering Forgetting page are as prominent as possible – the title, the image and a text link in the introductory text all take the viewer to the correct project page.

Though slightly embarrassed that it happened, I am very grateful that the glitch was discovered and reported to me by a ‘friendly’ reviewer, ie an OCA tutor!