3: Text and Image: Tales from the Edge (January 2020)

This third part of the course takes a more imaginative approach to documentary. It explores the dynamics of text and image:

  • how text and image combine to create narratives and meanings
  • the ways in which visual communicators author such content
  • the role an audience has in reading it.

Based on existing and new material from Aldeburgh, Norfolk Coast and Peak District I develop a body of imaginative work from a subjective feminist perspective. This continues my consideration of what might be meant by ‘alternative documentary’ in the light of discussions around walking and psychogeography and selection and treatment of what I draw and how I draw it in relation to both ‘visible’ and ‘invisible’ dimensions of:

  • Whose place? different perspectives and interests. Looking particularly at what might be meant by ‘the female gaze’ and ‘multiculturalism’
  • When place? places change over time – even over a few seconds short term, long term, historical perspective and layers – St Ives has a long and colourful history going back to ?? times
  • Subjective perspectives: exploration and deepening understanding over time and ways in which other people have translated what they see into images, including St Ives artists
  • Imagination: how I want things to be and why. Selective erasure (eg cars and rubbish bins). Simplification and expressive representation.

I am particularly interested in the role of individual subjective perspectives, perception and imagination in ‘documenting’ reality and communicating a message and how ‘real’ and ‘fake/imagined’ can be visually combined or distinguished. Linking with my interest in ‘feminist gaze’, it considers what difference my gender might make to what I see, what I drawn and how I draw it. It will explore different ways of visually representing the visible reality compared to an ‘invisible’ history and my own imagination.

Project 3.1: Visual Dynamics: Moot Tales revisited

Revisits ‘Moot Tales’ from iPad photocollages of wood and stone textures in Aldeburgh, exploring the visual dynamics of black and white to produce feminist versions of Aldeburgh folk-lore and history.

Project 3.2: Finding texts: Walking through the Looking Glass

Takes texts and poems from Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and drafts feminist versions, experimenting with quick sketching in kitchen lithography and drypoint.

Project 3.3 Developing Content: Tree Talk

Uses collages of photographs of trees from Norfolk and Devon to create amusing narratives around relationships – also reflecting scientific evidence on the ways that trees communicate.

Assignment 3: Jabberwocky

Assignment 3 uses photographs and sketches of Hagg Wood in Peak District, some of which were originally used for an earlier rendering of ‘Jabberwocky’ from Book Design 3.2 . The different projects rework the poem as an ‘edgy image/text’ on-line animation on violence from a feminist and environmentalist perspective, using Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects.

  • Who is meant by ‘you’? Myself?  An absent imaginary friend you wish was here? A voyeur always watching? Unseen presence of different artists who affect one’s perception of the place?
  • Where or what is ‘here’? Which ‘here’ are ‘you’ at? Different focus and viewpoint.
  • When? places change over time – even over a few seconds – short term, long term, historical perspective and layers – the past is always present
  • Subjective perception, exploration and deepening understanding over time
    Imagination and how I want things to be. The ‘here’ I want you to see (if I like you) Selective erasure (eg cars and rubbish bins)

Although these questions might at first appear rather philosophical (that was encouraged by the brief), they have important implications for other types of documentary and travel illustration. Going beyond just sketching and recording what can never be ‘objective observations’ to make more explicit and interesting the biases and thoughts of the illustrator. It will explore different ways of visually representing the visible reality compared to an ‘invisible’ history and my own imagination.

I will continue to explore and experiment with ways that style and technique affect the interpretations given to the same text and vice versa. In particular comparing what can be done on the iPad compared to Photoshop and Illustrator.

Assignment 3: Walking St Ives