Category Archives: Textbook

Assessment Submission

Assessment Submission

Doesn’t look like a lot! Two years work and a concern that I’m submitting too much – but it doesn’t look like it in this image!

It’s ready to go, apart from the box for travel and some final labelling.  There’s more than it looks, actually – about 30 prints in the black portfolio box, across the two projects, some supporting material for ‘Portraits’ in there too, and of course, all the content of the ‘Textbook’ project in that ‘old’ book that’s barely visible.  It’s poking out of its ‘slip case’ – a new soft construction made from four pieces of fabric printed with my own patterns from the project and some padding material (kindly constructed and sewn by my wife). I reflected in a previous post that the re-formed book looked a little bit underwhelming on its own.  I did experiment with another form of case – re-using some Amazon packaging and re-labelling it to look like a second hand book that had turned up in the post. Nice idea, but it ended up even more underwhelming, unfortunately. I’d been wondering whether there was a way to bring the fabric prints into the submission and came up with this idea – my design/print & Jayne’s final implementation (Thanks!).

My only real concern is that the assessors are going to either feel that I’ve sent too much or are simply not going to have the time to consider it all in depth.  But it was discussed and agreed with my tutor and the ‘booklet’ will hopefully provide a guide through the submission.

Contextual Studies is packed and ready to got, too – so this may well be my last post in the blog; certainly for some time.  Maybe come back and reflect on the results outcome in a few weeks!

‘Textbook’–reformed

Textbook - reformed

Spot the difference!

I finally brought this project to what has felt like a logical ‘conclusion’ last week. (Not sure ‘conclusion is entirely the right word because this can go on developing and will be my main focus for Sustaining Your Practice – to be blogged here.) After much trial and error (plus some tense final moments involving the ‘no return’ use of much glue with the need for accurate positioning of wet curling paper!), my ‘Textbook Project’ images are printed, re-bound and brought into the original cover of the original book that I bought getting on for two years ago!  There is a video available here ‘Textbook’ Book.

Besides a sense of relief that I’ve managed to do it, the overwhelming sensation when looking at it is one of strangeness, a weird surreal sort of uncertainty – almost as though I’ve managed to perform some sort of trompe l’oeil on myself. As it sits here on the desk beside me, it could, apart from the edges of the pages being a bit cleaner and less aged, be the original book, which almost makes me feel as if I haven’t done anything, almost a sense of disappointment.  I hadn’t expected to have that sensation, but then that is the ‘magic’ of art, I guess. It will go for assessment in this form and it remains to be seen what sort of reaction an assessor will have when picking it up and opening it.

Perhaps one source for the strangeness is that it is a unique piece of art that cannot be reproduced. Short of getting my hands on more copies of the original work, I cannot produce more versions of it in this form. I don’t think the video does it justice but it’s the only means of sharing it widely (as I will need to do to get feedback in SYP) in its ‘completed’ form – and one of the questions to be resolved in SYP will be how best to develop this project for wider distribution and exposure.

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!

‘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.

Assignment Four Feedback

Councillor Stan Framed Typical Characteristic Curve 02

I had a tutorial conversation with Clive on Friday, regarding my submission for Assignment Four.  That submission included the tabloid version of ‘Portraits’, the Google search outcomes for that project, the ‘wherenothingisreal’ website, the sequenced slideshow version of ‘Textbook’, plus a set of pdf notes bringing it all together and discussing the choices I seem to be facing just now.  The outcome wasn’t quite as I’d expected.  I had thought we would probably discuss the pros and cons of continuing with both projects or concentrating on, say, ‘Textbook’.  Actually, even allowing for due modesty, I have to say that he seems so enthusiastic about ‘Portraits’ that it’s hard to see how I could even consider side-lining it.  Indeed, it might even be argued that he would favour ‘Portraits’ over ‘Textbook’!  Really good to have enthusiastic support and positive feedback, flattering even, but it leaves me with, maybe, an even more difficult situation regarding assessment submission.  There’s  a fair bit of time, of course, but potentially a lot to do as well.  And I don’t want to fall into the trap of submitting so much that it’s hard for the assessor to look at it in enough depth to really appreciate the work that’s been done.

We certainly spent quite some time on the complications of presenting ‘Portraits’.  Clive really likes ‘The Stan’ tabloid and wouldn’t change anything about it.  He also feels that some/all of these images should be presented as large-scale prints – and I agree.  But neither of those formats can do justice to the broader ‘virtual’ context in which the images exist and, in some ways, come into their own.  They are ‘out there’ as, potentially, ‘real’ identities, so how do we do justice to that aspect in bringing the work to Assessment.  I do have an idea for another website that might do the trick, but it’s going to require more work to put it together.  The ‘wherenothingisreal’ website doesn’t do the job – but I have in mind a more ‘conceptual’ idea that would build on some of its content.

Clive didn’t have too much to say about ‘Textbook’.  I’m not sure it appeals to him quite so much – which is fair enough – and he did raise, again, the question of copyright and appropriation; which I’ve mentioned before myself and which would certainly have to be considered in the Sustaining Your Practice module.  We didn’t get into the editing of this work at all.

And mention of Sustaining Your Practice brings me to a final reflection that I should make here.  I think it’s time for me to enrol on that final element.  In fact, it occurs to me that the issues I’m struggling with are precisely those that should best be resolved within that module.  Of course, I’m thinking through the question of Assessment Submission format for BoW, but this is also bound up with ‘How do I take this work to the outside world?’.  A significant part of that module is about networking and seeking feedback on the work and perhaps it’s that wider feedback I’m in need of if I’m to resolve everything in a meaningful fashion.

So – fantastic to receive positive and supportive comments on my work from Clive, but a lot to do to resolve it for the various audiences and I may have to go looking for advice on a broader basis.

Linking Body of Work & Contextual Studies

CS essay front

A few weeks ago, I submitted the first draft of my Contextual Studies extended essay – part of the front cover, including the title, appears above.  I’ve had positive feedback; the essay needs a little more editing and my tutor posed a few questions for me to think about but, in essence, the essay is written.  Apart from being a great relief (!), this also presents a good opportunity (and my CS tutor encouraged it) to reflect in this journal on the linking and mutual support of the two modules.  There is no doubt at all in my mind that the research and writing has helped significantly in contextualising the work I have been producing here; and the making of the work has also influenced and informed my understanding of the contemporary art context in the essay.  Summarising the conclusion of the essay, it says that:

· The particular relationship of the photographic image with something perceived as reality survives today – whatever the context of the making and the viewing.

· The origin of that relationship may be cultural, psychological, even scientific; but it resides, even through the torrent of digital images pouring across the internet.

· The existence of this relationship is fundamental to photography’s significance in contemporary art; and through the exploitation, extension, and also subversion, of the medium, the contemporary artist can create meaning in a viewer’s perception, and provoke questions.

· Digital technology does not replace or undermine this significance, but it offers scope for continuing experimentation and exploitation of the photography/reality relationship.

Both of the projects that have progressed to this stage in my Body of Work have relevance within, and/or owe their relevance to, this context. The ‘Portraits’ project makes use of the perceived ‘reality’ of a photograph to create ‘believable’ images of ‘Stan’ identities that have never and will never exist. Yet they appear in Google image searches with apparent credibility alongside ‘real’ images of ‘real’ people – so potentially questioning the role of the photographic image as a representation of identity and, perhaps, the whole manner in which we perceive ‘self’ and identity. The ‘Textbook’ project constructs a seductive series of images that hover between something ‘real’ and something ‘virtual’, inviting the viewer to look for meaning and narrative, perhaps even to see significance for the photographic medium itself. Yet they are constructs, empty tableaux made from detached signifiers, strung together with no ‘meaning’ other than that they were made – in common, perhaps, with so many of the images through which we seek to construct ‘reality’ in the 21st century.

That seems to be quite a brief reflection, but I don’t think there’s anything else to say about it.  The two modules have come together successfully in my own mind.  I feel confident that I can talk about the context of this Body of Work and I hope my contextualising has the credibility to make sense to those who read/hear it and who look at my work.  “Job done”, so far!  Assignment Four of BoW should go to my tutor in the next couple of days; I hope to enrol on Sustaining Your Practice shortly, too; get BoW and CS into an ‘assessable” form over the next 2/3 months (though they won’t be assessed until March); then ‘onwards and upwards’!