Progress Report to Tutor (and Reply)- 6th Feb 2014

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Assignment 2 - Selected Projects, Assignment 3 - Ralph Gibson Critical Review, Assignment 3/4/5 Major Project - Isolation, Planned Activities and Blogs, Styles, Summaries and Pre-Work


This is the email I sent to Peter and his replies in Blue. I had not been submitting blogs for about 4 weeks, but I was re-thinking a few areas- especially my style. I had also been reading a few of the selected texts, and this was really changing  the way i approached the subject – it is seemed much  deeper now! 

 Dear Peter

Hi Philip 

I feel I need to give you a quick heads up on what I have been doing the past couple of months as you won’t have seen much progress if you had looked at my blog. — Thanks for this

Thanks for your feedback and comments – I have taken these on board, so I hope you will see an improvement.  I too suffer from dyslexia and a word processing feature that seems to switch off spell checker for certain parts of the document!. — I wonder how they manage this?

I have even put three photos into an exhibition in May, one of which is from this module. This should give me an indication of how my work fits in with others, and to explore the printing aspects – which is an area of concern for me.  — you should blog about this, before, during and after.

The main reason for my ‘break’ is that I have been working on another photographic projects that got quite involved and took much longer then planned. I found that I could only complete it if I was focused on one thing at a time – a male thing. Its still not finished but I have broken the back of it and got a workable framework – see Note 1 below.

I have also taken heed of your reading list, and done some of my own which has been very useful and influential in terms of my thinking and approach  – see note 2 below for more information.

I now understand the importance of a personal style at this level and the requirement to produce a body of work that represents this style across all the assignments. However this is my Achilles heels as I am still  without a ‘style’ – however I am working on it. I feel I need to lock this down as a priority in order to apply it to assignment 2 and my main project – and as an addendum to assignment 1. However I am working on it, and I feel that it will be more abstract like Ralph Gibson, Mckenna and Kung. With this in mind, I will also start to do some focused work on my chosen photographer  -Ralph Gibson – to see if this will solidify my thinking.

The one thing I would like help on is in finding articles on abstract photography and why they are appealing , as well as any critical analysis papers.— tricky one this but you might like to look up articles etc on the following artists and see where the trail takes you: Man Ray, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Paul Strand and Alwin Langdon Coburn. To be honest I am not aware of anything that is as directly tackling abstract photography as you ask for.

The Assignment 2  projects was going  quite well before the style question became an issue, and I did generate some good pictures but they don’t quite cut it in terms the exact brief – and they are of differing styles. I will probably attempt all of the projects, but am likely to focus on the one that help with my style or my major projects – which will be experiments in  key, the decisive moment, change, and either separation or  eliminating depth clues. Again the final selection will be style based.

The main project on isolation has been positively affected by the research and reading I have done and on the development of the personal style. 

I have concluded that the best approach for me is to park the assignment 2 for now and look at the part 1 and 2 of my isolation project to help me focus on what this body of work may look like and the style that would best reflect this. I can also use this to blend in my thoughts based on my readings and other studies. — Don’t allow the search for a personal style stall your work.  In general, once the penny has dropped about the importance for a personal vision (style) and it seems to have done so with you, it tends to develop naturally.  However, if forced it can become stilted so just make work and the knowledge gained from researching and thinking about it will help it to develop.

 Note 1 – My Other Project.

I have been working on a commercial idea based on creating visual route around London, and have created a novel  way of presenting a lot visual data within ebooks and the ibooks. I needed to create a new ‘simpler and more compelling version’ of my prototype, that I could test on a wider audience, and to get their feedback.  I underestimated how hard this was to do, and how much time it would take. Style and consistency was also a key feature in this project, as was the concept of isolating images and themes so that all the information the viewer could need was in one place. To use a Roland Barthes phase my aim is to turn the Studium photograph into the punctum by being user there and by adding historical and personal interest. I know the commercial side of photography one of the aspect that I need to bear in mind at this level so I am using this as my training projects – and I hope to apply some of this to my major project too.  — think about the way that the Underground ‘map’ which is really a diagram not a map at all, developed and how this can be of more use to the traveller than the literal map. Also look at the ways that the Situationists used maps of Paris and other places.

Note 2 – Readings/Programs /Exhibitions

I have done a lot more reading and listening to programs about art, photography and some areas of phycology then taking photographs — it happens from time to time!

The critical readings and studies about photography were fascinating and have helped shape my thinking in a number of areas. Some I agreed with and other I disagreed with, but all were thought provoking – although I haven’t quite consolidated my thinking yet. — it is not unusual for one reading to change your thinking about another so changes of mind, at least changes of emphasis are not at all to be discouraged

I have had to develop a study method to help me capitalise on the information that I have read. This is currently a time consuming process where I have to read it twice and then do a mind map to help me consolidate my thoughts and remember what was said. I have also had to be selective in my readings, and discounted the ones that I felt did not address my core areas.  —Dyslexia and associated syndromes can be a real pain!

 Here is a list of some of the one I have covered – I do intend to do a detailed article on each of these in my blog, but I am not ready to do this just yet, as I have just finished my first readings/studies  of  various articles and programs  and need to go back and consolidate my thinking – so these are my initial thoughts.

Film and talk on Schalken the Painter – Sainsbury Wing – National Gallery 4th January 2014.

  • A great film in terms of how it mirrored the style of the painter with the film setting . His paintings focused on isolation of the subject.

John Berger – Ways of seeing – BBC video of the series 1972 and book.

  • This was a very interesting set of four programs which will help shape some of my work in isolation and my understanding of photography. — I think these are extremely important programmes but remember that they were made in 1972 and thinking has developed , often as a consequence of much that Berger was saying, since then, information has come to light that were not thought of, new ideas and world situations as well as technological developments some, any or all of which might have a bearing on how we feel about his work.

Krauss – Discursive landscape – 1982 –

  • A great work that I can use for my isolation project   — definitely 

Linfield – A little history of Critical Photography – a great insight into the how the different critics saw photography, and inspired me to read more

John Szarkowski – The Photographers eye. –        Interesting perspective on ‘what photographs look like and why they look the way they do – and the fact they are taken and not made.

Susan Sontag – On Photography

–       need to get hold of a summary version – too long to make a personal comment yet.

Roland Barthes – Camera Lucida.

–       He has some interesting points but again need a summary version in order for me t make comment – Linfield has been my guide so far.

Wallter Benjamin – A short History of Photography

Some good points but still need to reread to consolidate. — all these three are important works.  Sontag modified some of her thought from On Photography in her 2003 book Regarding the Pain of Others

 Cornelia Parker – (various), What do Artist Do all day (BBC), Book of her works, Talk at the Tate Modern.

She is a great inspirational artist who has given me a few ideas on isolation and ways of working/presenting. — oh yes indeed

 Perception and Imaging Photography – a way of seeing – Richard

–       A number of good articles on isolation

Ann Woodhouse – ‘ Window of the soul’ – Radio 4

–       Very interesting look at Glass and its affect at isolating

Edmund de Waal – Potter- What do Artist do all day – BBC

–       How to prepare and focus on a theme/exhibition.

Beauty and the Brain – Dr Tiffany Jenkins – Radio 4 22 Jan 2014-01-25

–       A great program on Neuroscience and Neuro aesthetics  and how the brain reacts to art and beauty and fakes!

–       Brian Cox – the infinite monkey Cage – Radio 4 – How we perceive the world.

Forum – world of ideas Scarcity – Radio 4

–       How we deal with Scarcity and abundance

Grayson Perry  2013 Reith lectures –Radio 4  Art – Playing to the Gallery.

–       An interesting if irritating view of art from successful artist viewpoint with some good insight into what it takes to become an artist – — you have to really listen to what he actually does say rather than what he might appear to be saying at first listening…I find it less irritating that way!

London Art Fair – January 2014 Islington.

Great venue and art with a number of talks about photography.

SWPP convention – London Jan 2014

–       A convention mainly for wedding and portrait photographers which incorporated a day of master classes – and reinforced the importance of style and printing


In need of some serious updating to reflect this and the other areas that have still to be written up.

Will try and do this a bit at a time over the next two months.  —sounds like a plan!



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At a practical level, a good photograph is more about being in the right place at the right time and knowing what to take then the type of camera, skill and technique. My ambition is to show how anyone with a camera can produce great photographs when they visit London.

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