1: Voice: Documentary observed and reflected

My work for this module focuses on different approaches to documentary. This continues a concern with the multi-layered nature of experience of places and interplay of subjectivity and observation and the role of humour, metaphor and symbolism in communication of political messages.

It explores ways of working with and combining different media and styles from illustration, printmaking and photography. 

It is concerned with questions like:

  • Whose documentary are we talking about and why? how do we work with other people to get multiple perspectives both in terms of information and feedback. How do potentially conflicting perspectives modify the message. Looking particularly at what might be meant by ‘the feminist gaze’ and ‘multiculturalism’.
  • When documentary – places change over time – even over a few seconds – short term, long term, historical perspective and layers – the past is always present
  • Subjective perspectives:  exploration and deepening understanding over time and ways in which other people have translated what they see into images
  • Imagination:  how I want things to be and why. Selective erasure (eg cars and rubbish bins). Simplification and expressive representation.
  • Communication: what are the strengths and challenges of communicating the ‘message’ – photographs (referential but subjective selection and editing), photo-collage and photo-montage (possibilities for juxtaposition and multi-layered questioning), illustration and printmaking (possibilities for invention), video and interactive presentation. How can ‘real’ and ‘fake/imagined’ can be visually combined or distinguished.
  • Why am I doing it? how best to disseminate the document and engage with the audience to make a difference

Assignment 1 looks in more detail at my practice and personal voice underpinning my work in this module.

1.1 Personal Statement  

This first exercise reviews my currently very diverse work and media experimentation from earlier OCA Visual Communications courses in Illustration, Printmaking and Book Design and how this can be brought together into a more coherent vision and creative visual approach as an illustrator working in different media.

See my portfolio and overview of work so far on my synthesised and updated portfolio blog: https://www.zemniimages.info

This blog identifies four main threads to my work:

  • ‘Us Too’ a socio-political underpinning of social inclusion, human rights and personal reflection that draws on my professional consultancy work, and which I want to make more implicit throughout my work.
  • Documentary using photography, collage, illustration and printmaking of places and journeys to raise questions about society, economics and politics both overseas and at home.
  • Imagining creating single image and sequential narratives based on found images in textures and recycled materials ‘every mark, every splodge has a story to tell’.
  • Process an interest in ‘taking risks’ and ‘happy accidents’, pushing different media and visual dynamics as far as I can to see the range of effects I can produce from each, and how media can be combined to communicate different messages.

This review also identified a number of key weaknesses to address going forward:

  • a need to ‘lighten up’ and use comedy as well as anger if I want to reach a wider audience, and to look at when to use each.
  • although individually some of my images are quite powerful, I need to be clearer about underlying implicit (if not explicit) narrative so that they have greater impact

1.2 Skills and media 

This second exercise looks at my existing skills  and establishes a plan of skills development to significantly improve:

  • the technical  standard of my work across the range of existing media
  • some new media I am interested in exploring

1.3 Creative process

This third exercise starts to look at my working process and how I can communicate with a wider audience

1.4 What’s Next 

This fourth exercise outlines the types of political and visual communications discussions I want to explore in developing my ‘Zemni voice’ from OCA courses and my professional work.

My plans for the division of work between this module and Visual Research Module have changed a little since my original statement of intent – issues in political illustration are now central to Advanced Practice module and the questions about textless illustration are not the topic for visual research.

Statement of intent for Level 3 updated

For my current thinking on how I might approach the different assignments in this Advanced Practice module see:

For some ways of how I develop linkages between my visual communications practice and my professional consultancy work see my proposed research on textless narratives on my blog for the parallel Visual Research Module:

See also some other ongoing projects that evolved from my review in Exercise 1 on my zemniimages portfolio site. These might form the basis for future work either in the final ‘Sustaining Your Practice’ module or after this degree. the final module