Assignment 5.1 Zemni Creativity with an audience (April 2021)

Assignment 5.1 reflects on visual communication in single images and the evolution of my creative practice across different media during this module. It brings together different creative approaches and frameworks, applying these to selected images to either present alternative messages, or develop alternative images in different media.

A key focus – as soon as it is possible after current COVID restrictions end over the summer – is to get back into my art studio to develop images in a wider range of media beyond photography.

A second focus is to look at my decision-making in the light of audience feedback, including audiences for my earlier work in Assignments 2 and 3.

I then draw some conclusions for a creative methodology that can provide a framework for taking risks ‘inside and outside the box’ that make my work more interesting and challenging, but also helps me avoid getting stuck down repetitive unproductive rabbit holes.

At the time of sending Assignment 5 to my tutor In this module because of the COVID pandemic, access to my art studio and printmaking workshops has been severely restricted 2020-2021. As a result my work has been much more dependent on photography and digital media where it is much easier to ‘play safe’ and avoid risk. And ‘acceptable outcomes’ for many audiences need to be ‘tidy’ and conventionally ‘professional’. Nevertheless I have attempted to push my experimentation using creative prompts and develop a creative workflow that can also extend my work in these media.

5.1.1 Bridge Edgelands 1 revisited

I had initially intended to extend my range of printmaking media for this assignment. Including further images that I thought would be suitable for Photoscreen, and also trying other media like solar plate, monoprint and linocut. However because of COVID restrictions printmaking workshops were shut.

I therefore focused on working further on the black and white monochrome images to produce photographic prints in response to feedback from Cambridge Camera Club members. In general the images were too documentary-focused for Exhibitions, or too contrasty because of the camera used. The main exception was the pylon that members suggested I flip to make the reflections a mysterious construction in the sky.

I also experimented with colour styles.

Other narrative-based photography work on the Bridge can be found in:

5.1.2: Aldeburgh Great Escapes revisited

Assignment 5.1.2 Aldeburgh Great Escapes revisits the carnival image series and sketchbooks, looking at storytelling of different perspectives on Carnival in different media:

  • Carnival Colour: Aldeburgh 2017 is a Photo Essay on colours – pushing Martin Parr processing further in Nik Viveza and sequencing as an on-line narrative.
  • Carnival People: is different black and white selection from the same image series where the focus is on emotions and character – somewhere in-between the Northern documentary of Shirley Baker and the brash New York street photography of Bruce Gilden.

Other new narrative work on Aldeburgh from 2020 can be seen in:

5.1.3: Woman Walking Lost revisited

I have not been able to work any further on this without access to my work studio and updating my working arrangement for digital art. Again in this part of the assignment I aim to select items that are suitable for further work to showcase a wider set of skills beyond photography. I hope to have done part of this in time for the Zoom session.

  • E2.1.1 Orange: Visual Dynamics 1 where I applied these creative prompts to experimentation with image and text in Adobe Illustrator. I like this quotation as a more optimistic and light counter to my more angry and ironic work. I want to do quote a bit more work on this in physical media eg a poster version using gelliplate and/or colour masked screenprint that I can do at home. Maybe collage of scanned and printed images cut out as text. Again experimenting with creative prompts.
  • E2.3 Love and Other Islands takes selected images for a Photo Essay as part of audience-based work for Cambridge Camera Club Annual Exhibition.

Assignment 3 Teetotal Street is also revised in the light of my work on documentary narrative in Assignment 5.2. Other narrative work on Cornwall will be further developed as part of Sustaining Your Practice on the basis of a new visit to Cornwall booked for September-October 2021 and Spring 2022.

5.1.4 Light and Life in T’ien Shan revisited

My main work in this part of the assignment was to work on individual photographs following recommendations and suggestions from the Cambridge Camera Club as a showcase gallery on my SMUGMUG website and as submissions to the Cambridge Camera Club annual exhibition. This is described in:

!! More to be done.

The photobooks are further developed together with other photo series from Kyrgyzstan as photobooks and an interactive on-line experience in:

!! still to be done over the summer, after the new lockdown in Kyrgyzstan. I have not yet been able to get the information I need. If I cannot get any more feedback from Kyrgyzstan then I will base my work on memories and Internet.

Cambridge Camera Club Annual Exhibition:
creativity with a professional audience

This involved in particular selection and submission of 12 images in the gallery below to Cambridge Camera Annual Exhibition. Each image is displayed with others at random and judged on its own merits. They are supposed to be as different as possible from each other so as not to be in competition with myself. Awards are given in a number of categories: people, pictorial, creative and travel so my selection included contenders for each of these in each section.

Other images sent to their Zoom sessions were too documentary, intended to retain the audiences attention to provoke questioning rather than the rapid snap judgement assessment made in Camera Club exhibitions and competitions. Nevertheless the feedback was very useful in helping me improve the Documentary of Place images below.

Colour section submission (max 6)
Monochrome section submission (max 6)

Zemni Creative Framework 2021: some conclusions

!! to be significantly developed, including references to VisRes, when I have been able to finalise my work, particularly non-photographic work.

Useful quotations

In all creative processes a number of possible ideas are created (‘divergent thinking’) before refining and narrowing down to the best idea (‘convergent thinking’)…But the Double Diamond indicates that this happens twice – once to confirm the problem definition and once to create the solution. One of the greatest mistakes is to omit the left-hand diamond and end up solving the wrong problem.

Mat Hunter, Chief Design Officer at the Design Council.

If we make assumptions about what we can and can’t do we are locking off a range of potential solutions.

Downs 2011 p144

“Most of the best ideas I have come from doodling, or playing around with markers – creating ideas from making mistakes.”

Ivan Brunetti 2006 (in Hignite, 2006 quoted OCA Coursebook p148

“Rather than simply ‘failing’ embed risk-taking into your creative process by:
establishing challenges or harder ways to solve a problem
allowing yourself room to play with ideas without ‘finishing’ the project
adjusting the filters that edit what you think are appropriate reseacrh materials or ideas.

Course text p51.

I work across a range of physical and digital media: sketching/drawing, printmaking, photography, collage, painting and animation/moving image. I enjoy risk-taking and ‘happy accidents’ of discovery – and what I learn from ‘unhappy messes’ about how far and in what directions things can be pushed.

!!How to deal with tensions between audience feedback and ‘voice’?? choice of work, identification of appropriate audiences, at what stage to engage? and how far to push??