Category Archives: Assignment Five

Tutor Feedback on Assignment Five–and what remains …

I was pleased to get positive feedback, last Friday, on my final assignment submission of the module.  The work was described as a “progressive journey”, as “contributing to contemporary cultural discourses around the challenges and implications of digital identity”, and also as having “interrogated the transformation of the medium itself as a result of digital technology” – all good to read, and satisfying after nearly two years work.  He also feels that it has a lot of potential for further exploration – which is great, but also makes me reflect on whether, by pursuing two projects, I have been in danger of never quite drilling down into either.  Should I have done more contextual work on identity, for example, in support of the ‘Portraits’ project?  Too late now, anyway, and the feedback is good all round on both this module and CS, so I’m probably just fretting!

I submitted some A4 prints of the ‘Portraits’ and various examples from ‘Textbook’ – the first time I’ve sent prints throughout the module.  These were my own prints, so I was pleased to get positive feedback on those, too.  Interesting to look back two years, when I was about to submit the last of my L2 modules for assessment.  I had been producing my own prints but began ‘fretting’ then, too; about whether I should be getting professional prints done.  I did, in the end, but never felt quite as happy with them as I’d been with my own.  I thought I was playing safe, in a way; that by sending in professionally produced and mounted (at my then tutors suggestion) prints, I must be on solid ground.  I reflected in my last post here on the development of ‘confidence’ through BoW.  With the confirmation of this recent feedback, I feel confident that I know what I’m doing with my own prints of my own work – so that’s the plan for assessment.

Which brings me to ‘what remains …’ – lots still to be done, actually, to get everything ready for assessment in the next two and half months:

  • ‘Textbook will be submitted in book form, with some selected, supporting, large prints, representative of what might be used for an exhibition.  I have sourced what I hope will be an appropriate paper (less heavy) for the final  version (due for delivery today), but I may still have to alter the way I structure the ‘signatures’ to enable it to be bound properly.  I didn’t get any detailed feedback on the sequencing and editing I had presented.  I could take that as a positive, but I’m wondering whether to ask the ‘hangout’ group to also take a look at it for me in the next couple of weeks.  Then there’s the little matter of producing it!! [Some inspiration from a gallery visit on Saturday, though – Bank Street, Sheffield has had a show of 200 artists’ books, selected from 450+ entries for their bi-annual book competition.  Saturday was the last day, but just managed to get to see it.  There was some truly wonderful work – all of which one was permitted to pick and browse, a very special experience.]
  • The presentation of ‘Portraits’ is still a little uncertain, a view for which I got tutor support in the feedback.  Prints at A3 or A3+ will be the main form of presentation, but I do need to direct the assessor towards the wider context in which the images are presented.  One suggestion from my tutor was to get the assessor to do a Google Images search and see some of them online at first hand.  Then I also have the ‘Stanley Quest’ website and ‘The Stan’ tabloid.  It needs some reflection – how to get across the breadth of what I’ve done without overwhelming the assessor!
  • My Introductory Notes and Evaluation both got a ‘thumbs up’, too.  They’ll need a little bit of refinement, but more or less done.

So, still a fair bit to do, but I’m genuinely into the final straight!

Assignment Five Submitted

My final assignment submission has gone off to Clive today!  A draft set of Introductory Notes for Assessment, covering the two BoW projects; PDF/video versions of the Textbook book; the ‘Stanley Quest’ website; A4 prints of all the ‘Portraits’ and some of the ‘Textbook’ images; and an ‘Evaluation’ for my Body of Work module – there’s plenty for him to get his teeth into!!  The ‘Evaluation’ is a normal experience at this stage in most OCA modules, but it feels particularly significant for this module and we’re required to write 1500-2000 words.  I did wonder whether to make mine ‘public’ here, but perhaps a more appropriate approach would be to draw out some of the main points from it.

  • There is no question about my overall response – ‘positive’.  The module has worked well for me and I have made significant progress, gaining a great deal of confidence.  That’s confidence in the work and confidence in presenting or talking about it; something that comes as much from Contextual Studies as the development within this module, I must add.  There was one stage where I was struggling to articulate the link between the two, but I got there, and the experience made me more confident in what I was doing.
  • I came out of L2 feeling that a creative ‘voice’ was developing, based around constructed, largely studio-based image-making, and that is the way things have continued.  I originally expressed some concerns about being wholly ‘studio-based’; and also about a tendency to get into ‘over-intellectualising’ the work.  In the end, like it or not, I have produced two projects which, although certainly able to be appreciated in all sorts of ways, are essentially conceptual and highly constructed. C’est la vie!
  • There is a slight regret/concern that the work lacks what I can best describe as emotional resonance!  I set off on a mini ‘personal journey’ early in the module and found no inspiration.  I played around a little with constructing images that ‘responded to events’, but took it no further.  My projects could be interpreted as somewhat cold, detached, at times light-hearted.  So much of what my fellow students produce is about personal responses – mine is not.  I’m not sure whether that matters or is of significance in assessing what I’ve done, but it is worth noting!
  • One question that I reflected in early in this blog has certainly been resolved.  I am not; possible never have been; and maybe never will be ‘a photographer’!  Well, that depends on definition, of course (and tongue is in cheek as I write); but I would describe myself as a contemporary artist who works with photographic images.  And if I am going to make anything of my work in Sustaining Your Practice, that is the cloak I will put on.
  • The ‘Evaluation’ covers influences, which are well enough covered previously in here, so I won’t repeat; and also asks about plans for the work.  ‘Textbook’ is emerging as a book, as expected, and I can see the potential to self-publish within SYP, maybe.  ‘Portraits’ is a little more complicated, as I’ve also discussed in here before – and may end up side-lined after assessment.  By far the most important ‘plan’ must be to find ways for a lot more people to see the work.  I’ll never know whether the confidence expressed earlier is well-founded until the work has been exposed to more ‘criticism’ and I’ve had significantly more feedback.  Which, conveniently, is the whole point of SYP – so, onwards and upwards with that!

… and on that note; I have just set up a Blog for SYP.  There is nothing there as yet, but if anyone reading this is interested (and patient – nothing much may happen for a while), it is here stansocasyp!

‘Textbook’–the book!

Textbook Book

A few weeks ago, I posted a piece about the planning of a ‘dummy book’ for Assignment Five.  This is the outcome.  I’m not going to record all the process of planning, printing, binding etc here; it’s all in a notebook that I’ve kept.  But this is an entirely hand-made, home-printed/bound/backed ‘dummy’.  You can see a video of me turning through the pages here ‘Textbook’ Book on YouTube or a PDF slideshow that shows off the images rather better here ‘Textbook’ Book Slideshow.

It isn’t perfect, by any means.  I used a paper that I like but which is way too heavy.  That has meant a compromise in the way I’ve done the binding and results in some ‘gaps’ here and there where the signatures meet (see below).  It may look quite charming, in a hand-made sort of way, but I’d prefer to avoid it in a final version.

Textbook Book-10

There is one print misalignment across a double-spread that I didn’t spot until it was bound (damn!).  The backing is a bit piecemeal, just to get something presentable for the assignment submission – and I might still bind the final version into the original cover of the book itself, who knows.

However, overall, I’m actually quite pleased with it as an ‘outcome’ for the project.  I haven’t edited out many images in the end because, as I’ve said in this blog before, I feel that all of them have been created to contribute to the project and, I think, the book stands up as a lengthy format that gives the viewer plenty to look at and think about. I sense that, if I was browsing photo-books and picked this up, it would intrigue and interest me; I would want to spend some time looking through it.  It is certainly possible to drop into it at any point and find something that may seduce the viewer to want more.  But the overall sequencing is something that I’ve thought about and planned – as discussed in the previous post about planning.  I hope that there are rises and falls; calms and crescendos; occasional surprises; and enough to interest the viewer as well as making them think. Deliberately late in the book – around image 62 in the slideshow – there is a sort of artists statement (see below).  I prefer that the viewer sees most of the images before reading this but I think some form of statement is required.  It isn’t right at the end, but is followed by a kind of postscript of further images that might add another twist.

Textbook Book-62

So – broadly happy with the outcome and the pdf slideshow will form part of my Assignment Five submission.  I’m hoping I might get the opportunity to show the actual book to a few people for feedback as well.

‘Textbook’–early book planning

Book Planning-2

At present, I am expecting a book to form some part of the submission of the ‘Textbook Project’ for Assignment 5/Assessment.  One possibility is that I do a hand-made book, bound into the original cover of the old Textbook of Photographic Chemistry, where it all began.  I still have the cover, as illustrated below, though I probably wouldn’t use the paper outer sheet.  My idea would be to print one of the ‘patterns’ onto a man-made/nonwoven fabric that I have sourced and create a jacket from that – but, not to get ahead of myself!

Textbook Project JPEG Slideshow-82

I have been doing a bit of research on design and on bookbinding.  Regarding the former, it isn’t something I’ve ever studied and I don’t propose to turn myself into a graphic designer overnight, but, just to get a feel for the ‘basics, I have been reading Graphic Design School.  It covers a lot of ground, in a clear, readable and (as you would hope!) visually well-presented format.  It isn’t that I expect to use that much of what I’ve read, just that I wanted to have some general idea of what a designer would be thinking about.  On the bookbinding side, I came across some excellent video tutorials on YouTube, here Crafty Loops Tutorials.  I haven’t tried to put any of it into practice yet, but it doesn’t seem beyond ones capabilities, with a bit of care and planning.  I had already figured out that these book sections, called ‘signatures’ are formed from eight folded sheets, creating 16 page faces in total.  The original book had 20 of them, printed on thin book paper, of course.  I’ve tried making 8 of the right size using drawing paper and I reckon that, with printed images attached, that won’t be far off filling the book – and it broadly fits with the number of images I have from the project.  A final version might have photographic paper bound into it – but my plan, at this stage, is to maybe produce a mock-up that will form part of the Assignment 5 submission.

The graphic design book encourages the preparation of a planned layout of pages for brochures, booklets etc, which makes good sense.  As illustrated at the top of the post, I’ve made a start.  The image shows one of three A2 sheets that I’ve divided up with the correct number of properly-proportioned pages.  The images stuck onto them are not in proportion to each other or the proposed book – it’s just a way of working on the sequencing.  The larger images do, however, represent the points at which I would plan to insert a double page spread.  Eagle eyes might spot the occasional pink ‘x’ – that’s where the signatures would join together.

That is a far as I’ve got with it at the moment – a principle to work to and a rough ‘first shot’ at a sequence.  I’m going to be at the Rencontres d’Arles next week, at which there has been a competition/exhibition for mock-up books; so a good opportunity for some further research.

Portraits–‘The Stanley Quest’

Stanley Quest Page

I have done some work on another method of ‘presenting’ the Portraits Project; another potential way of bringing these images ‘into the real’.  I discussed the issue a few weeks ago – here.  I mentioned in another post that I had some thoughts for another ‘virtual’, web-based way to present the work and I have had a shot at it.  It’s here – The Stanley Quest.

I shared an earlier version with some of my fellow students on an L3 Hangout, and made some minor changes following their feedback.  It isn’t the ‘finished article’ by any means.  Some of the concerns expressed were 1) too wordy for a visual arts degree (which I understand, though it has to work in its own context as well); 2) is the ‘voice’ quite right for the supposed, fictional author (I’ve made a few changes, but it could take more work, should I choose to pursue it further); 3)in a similar vein, who is this author and why is she doing it (again, understood and partially but not entirely addressed in this version).

My feeling is that the concept – a ‘third party’ who has found and is writing about the fictional images I’ve created – works OK.  Making it web-based, in as ‘natural’ and realistic a way as possible, might almost take it into the (highly topical!) realms of post-internet art – art created in the context of, but certainly not about, the internet.  I’m still not quite sure … might it be better as a ‘blog’ for example?  Would I need to really strengthen the context? I can think of plenty of questions and plenty of ways that it could be further developed – but 1)does the work warrant it? 2)would I actually be any closer to resolving the presentation issue for this project? 3)do I have the time to do that and develop the Textbook Project (which has also been coming under my scrutiny as well – and which is, seemingly, much liked by my new tutor for SYP)?

Not seeking to resolve those questions for the time being – primarily, I’m just recording another step in the progress of this module.