Tutor Report For Assignment 1 – Body of Work

Here is my tutor report for Assignment 1 – Body of Work. I have attached it so readers of this blog can see how I’ve noted my tutors comments and improved upon this Assignment for the upcoming Assignment 2:

Johnathan Hall – Body of Work – Assignment 1

Updating Assignment 2 – Body of Work from My Tutor’s Comments on Assignment 1 – Body of Work:

I have been asked to produce a set of photographs which builds upon the photographs for Assignment 1 – Body of Work and improve on them. I have set about doing this by using my tutor’s feedback and my video call with him discussing these points in depth to provide a sort of base helping to inform my practice. This base along with the work I’ve been conducting for the theory-based Contextual Studies has helped me to produce a stronger set of images.

Firstly I have addressed one of the issues my tutor and I agreed on and that was consistency for the Body of Work. It was clear to my tutor and I that my work was taking 2 directions. Photograph 17 for Assignment 1 stood out from the others because it didn’t follow documentary tendencies and was more conceptual. My tutor did point out in his comments that this was an oversimplification of the two kinds of photography. I feel he summed up the other direction my work was taking better: ‘your ‘documentary-style’ images can be read as commentary on Deptford using a specific language that has roots in documentary photography but also draws upon the developments in the medium over the last 4 decades’ – (my tutor, 2019). Therefore in my second assignment for Body of Work I’ve kept my work more consistently ‘documentary-style’ while still drawing inspiration from more recent developments in the medium. Notably this includes using colour in documentary which has become more acceptable in a documentary art context.

My tutor also suggested that the wider, layered views of Deptford worked more successfully than the closer viewpoints. This was his subjective opinion but I agree and since then I have been concentrating on layering the old and the new of Deptford by juxtaposing the two in one photograph. Focussing on this has produced images which my tutor described as the ‘grand documentary landscape’ for the earlier work in Assignment 1. He likened this to the work of Yan Preston. I completed a blog post about Preston’s Mother River (2010-2014) which leads me onto my next point.

As well as clearing up the above points my tutor referenced me several artists or theorists whose work I might find inspirational or thought-provoking in some way. I managed to look at quite a few of these artists/theorists and I feel I’ve learnt a great deal which hopefully shows in my practice. Along with researching Yan Preston, I looked at Liz Wells’ Land Matters (2011), particularly Chapter 6. Chapter 6 included a bit on the artist Mark Power’s 26 Different Endings (2003-2006), which my tutor had also recommended I look at. As well as this I looked at the theorist Allan Sekula’s On the Invention of Photographic Meaning (1982) and attended the Engaging in Urban Image Making Symposium (2019) at Goldsmith’s while making a subsequent blog post which was relevant to my local area.

I also carried on with the more conceptual work and was inspired to make a paper-mâché structure with a final layer of photographs of Deptford and articles about Deptford printed on plain paper overlaid on top. The articles were about the regeneration of Deptford and one of them was drawn from a quote my tutor had referenced: ‘The neighbourhood seems to have been in permanent regeneration mode since Henry VIII stuck his dockyard here.’ (Dyckhoff, 2018). I experimented with different ways to present the papier-mâché structure once it was finished and I think the results show that experimentation is worthwhile. By presenting these experiments separately to the second assignment on my blog, I feel my work for Assignment 2 is more consistent while still allowing me to try out new concepts.

Further to concentrating on the ‘grand documentary landscape’, I have decided to introduce a digital composite technique into my work. Here, I use a tripod to frame a given scene from a consistent perspective. Then I will photograph the scene multiple times, with people walking through the scene being the main changing aspect that varies form photograph to photograph. Finally I compile some of these photographs into a composite, painting in only the people’s forms onto the base image layer using Photoshop. When I attended a study hangout where we reviewed each others’ work one of the questions I received was: what did I feel using a composite technique added to my photography? I had to think about how to answer this because the answer wasn’t as obvious as I first imagined! The answer for me is the composite technique allows the user to create images which can be more balanced and which organise what is otherwise a usually chaotic scene into what I feel creates interesting juxtapositions and potential narratives between the different people depicted and their environment.

This composite approach isn’t without its drawbacks in my opinion. It loses the realism rhetoric that ties in with the traditional documentary photography ideology. On top of this it is quite easy to make Deptford appear too idyllic. Following this argument, by not documenting Deptford conventionally through photographs which adhere to realism, I could understand the argument of myself not allowing Deptford to speak for itself. Therefore I will be quite interested to see what my tutor thinks of this approach when I submit Assignment 2.

References:

Dyckhoff, T. (2018) Let’s move to Deptford, south-east London: love it, hate it? Worry not. At: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/feb/09/lets-move-to-deptford-south-east-london-property-tom-dyckhoff (Accessed 11.09.2019)

Power, M. (2003-6) 26 Different Endings. At: https://www.markpower.co.uk/Photographic-projects/26-DIFFERENT-ENDINGS (Accessed on 22.07.2019)

Preston, Y. (2010-2014) Mother River. At: https://www.yanwangpreston.com/projects/images (Accessed 22.08.2019)

Sekula A. (1982) On the Invention of Photographic Meaning. In: Burgin V. (eds) Thinking Photography. Communications and Culture. Palgrave, London

The Centre for Urban and Community Research (2019) Engaging in Urban Image Making. London [Symposium at Goldsmiths, University of London, 3 May 2019].

Wells, L. (2011) Land Matters, Landscape Photography, Culture and Identity [Google Play Books Edition] From: Google.co.uk (Accessed 22.07.2019)

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