Assignment 3 – Tutor Report

Last week I had a Google Hangout with my tutor, which was very helpful and motivating. We talked about my progress in my studies, experiences with the OCA so far and my submission for Assignment 3. It turned out I had taken Russell’s idea of self portraiture too literally, as well as the remark in the reader to add diversity and variety to the images. His idea had been to explore the type of self portraiture that Vivian Maier shows in her oeuvre, finding herself in the image and making herself part of the environment she’s in.

Anyway, Russell was quite pleased with all the different efforts and ideas that I presented in the PDF, but thought it lacks a narrative element. He then suggested to explore the constructed self portraits at night, in the style of Gregory Crewdson, a bit more. More about that in my next post. Below you will find the report in bold and my comments in cursive below.

Overall Comments:
The set of images you have submitted are very good; they are engaging and evidence some strong and considered compositions, which through your postproduction skills have been developed to a good degree. You have slightly waived in the focus of the assignment, which was the formation of a visual story that explores the local environment. However, your self-portrait series demonstrates a developed awareness, which is supported through a very good level of experimentation and contextual underpinning.

Thank you! I did enjoy digging deeper in the ideas of notion of self and the way we perceive ourselves and others.

You have produced a varied set of images, which evidences a very creative and technically interesting investigation. Overall, the series would benefit from an edit and a restructure to refocus its direction to portray a narrative. Looking at all of your images in the book and in your supporting contact sheets, there are a few emerging themes coming through. The most visually engaging theme that is evident is that of the ‘staged photograph’.

Firstly, I recommend removing the following images: 

• Close-up/macro shot of the eye
• Reflection in the kitchen sink tap
• Digital manipulated portrait that represents ‘perception’ set
• Forces of gravity on facial features set
• Reflection in the table lamp

As discussed in our conversation; in the previous report I suggested; ‘putting yourself into the frame’ through shadow play and reflections. This was to encourage you to explore the environment and document your surroundings, with yourself being present in each scene. For example, revisit this street scene by Vivian Maier:

The image depicts a rich and detailed environment, where there are multiple narratives taking place; it serves as both documentary and self-portraiture. With the remaining images it is possible to create a narrative; as mentioned there is the notion of the ‘staged photograph’ emerging form your set, but with a touch of ‘film noir’. You have already stated that the night-time shots remind you of the work of Gregory Crewdson, and you are right. His work sprung to my mind when I saw these images.

The shots titled ‘nacht selfie-1-1’ and ‘Assignment 3-7-1’ allude to something more, perhaps something ominous, which are part of a larger narrative based upon a movie or story. However, it is your image titled ‘mermaid-1-1’ that is the most intriguing and somewhat mysterious; obviously this is largely down to the mermaid flipper, which adds to an interesting if not quizzical narrative. What I recommend is to re-edit your book with a set of images in this style, this then would form a narrative. As part of the rework, conduct a couple more shoots based upon this staged style. Then lay them out in a line to produce a story that is underpinned by a strong sense of intrigue.

I have worked on this, but left out the remaining images in my first book as well. I find myself a bit lost in the documentary aspect of this result, but assume that I have worked on the edges of the term, which is an interesting area anyway.

Learning Logs or Blogs:
There is some very engaging material found in your learning log, your ‘Seeing is believing’ post was clear and good to read. Exploring reality and how photography can serve to evidence aspects of our existence is a topic worth researching further. Your level of visual research is suitable for this project, it seems that you gravitate more towards the theoretical investigations.

Your sentence, ‘All three show a certain disruption of the scene through my presence, changing the subject from a domestic object or street scene into an experience of me being there, showing an integration self with the exterior world and the change of function and meaning of myself and the place I am in.’ is very good, your awareness and commentary about your environments is becoming very interesting.  

Suggested reading/viewing:
The ‘Forces of gravity on facial features’ is great and has the potential to be transformed into a Zoetrope; although this is sidestepping from the focus of documentary, I believe it would be a great and rewarding exercise to explore. Please see the link below for an idea:

For something a bit random, but quite interesting, have a look at Broomberg & Chanarin’s series ‘People in Trouble Laughing Pushed to the Ground (Dots)’. This work explores an archive and the B&W photographic contact sheets, where they have peeled back the round stickers that were used as markers for which image to print, see:

Pointers for the next assignment:
As discussed during our tutorial, you have yet to formulate an idea. Have a read of Baudrillard’s text on the Simulacra and Simulations, this may trigger some ideas exploring reality and the hyperreality, see: ulacra.html

Overall, I find Russell’s comments and remarks very helpful and inspiring, but am not so sure about the final result of this assignment. More on that in the next post!


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