Today was an important day. It wasn’t more or less important than yesterday but differently important.
Yesterday I saw the medical consultant about my bleeding. This has consumed much of my practical and psychological life for the past few years and so I wanted to have ended the meeting with an agreed plan of action and that’s what happened. An operation looms on the horizon, but if it can stop the frequent bleeding then I will be much happier.
Today’s importance was wholly different: assessment results were published for the first part of this MA. My photography and everything related to it consumed me also, but in a different way. It’s my release and I care about everything related to it deeply. So knowing what others think of my work by formally rating it means a lot to me. And so it was with a mixture of trepidation and excitement that I logged on to the University of the Art’s London’s Moodle and then viewed the Online Assessment Feedback Tool.
I am very pleased to say that the feedback is good: well great actually. I achieved what I wanted to – the viewers of my work “get” what I am trying to say visually and have responded well to it.
As I am writing this I have read the feedback twice. There is a lot of it and so I will not propose any actions now apart from reading it once, twice and maybe three or four times, so that I get to a point where I understand the nuances of what has been said and can then apply my understanding to Unit 2: Reflection and Presentation. However for today I will allow myself to bask in the glow of these fine words.
Overall your prolific output is producing a greater depth and subtlety in your work. Your camera is a powerful tool in your hands and you ability to ‘capture’ (in some ways this is the wrong word as it feels to aggressive) maybe you ability to ‘reveal’ the world around you is compelling and at times deeply moving (12 days in summer is beautiful and tough to engage with). We are sure there is no need to say this but do keep going, and keep challenging yourself. Well done!
Research paper A+
This is a sophisticated and thoroughly researched paper that deals, in a nuanced way, with the complexities and distinctions around disability and impairment. Within the limited scope of the word count permitted, the paper does an excellent job of conveying the key points, whilst offering a diverse and informed set of narratives around representation and meaning. It is well researched. It also manages to offer some speculative questions around means of overcoming the problems set out, and is clearly informed by an understanding of creative practice in this process.
[Assessment Team, 2015]
The feedback has got me thinking about words ….
So far I have tried to trigger and impart my intended meaning through subject matter, juxtaposition of images against each other, and symbolism. As yet I have not added words to images.
While many photographers shoot and present an image and allow the viewer and critic to garner their own meaning from that experience, others used labels to direct the meaning either using words as accompanying statements or adding them within the picture. Take these images below and consider how the meaning in triggered by the labelling.
The photo above above left presents the disabled person as a victim – passive, looking directly at the camera – and aims to engage the viewer through the written request made in the first person. Compare this to the second image: the subject is moving, dynamic colourful and supported by democratic inclusive wording. Moreover we see the women has chosen not to to hide impairment – she chooses to where a skirt rather than cover her leg prosthesis with trousers. This suggests quite a new view of disability.
These images would exhibit much more open meaning without the words present. Indeed Allan Sekula’s view (1982) is that images have no inherent universal meaning and I agree with that. The meaning is generated and anchored by a variety of factors, and labelling is one of the most influential.
I have tried, and continue to try, to impart meaning without resorting to essays or notes and written matter within my images. But I recognise that words and their form play an important role in society and in art and so as I progress onto reflection, curation and presentation it is towards words that I will need to turn my attention to.
Sekula, A (1982) On the invention of photographic meaning in Thinking Photography, Victor Burgin (Ed), published by Palgrave Macmillan