Assignment 5.2 ‘Lost Reflections’ overview (old)

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Much of my work is concerned with ‘alternative documentary of place’ and communicating ‘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.

In this assignment I am interested in different forms of documentary photographic narrative: Photo Essays, photobooks and moving image. Continuing to explore and experiment with ways that style and technique affect the interpretations, how narratives are created within images and between images in a sequence and the potential role of text in contextualising/ complementing/ questioning the image.

Reviews of narrative approaches being developed:

Assignment 5.2 takes my interest in single image narratives and image and text further to look at different types of narrative, the way the same image series can be manipulated and combined to produce very different types of narrative in different media.

Focusing on photography-based narrative, I explore the different narrative principles and questions involved in sequential, time-based and interactive media, linking to my consideration of visual narrative in VisCom4Dev and Moving Image course.

!! Still works in progress until COVID-related restrictions reduce over the summer.

I build on Assignment 2 Landscapes of Place to produce two new bodies of documentary narrative work:

5.2.1 Bridge Edgelands (photobook to be finalised with sketchbook over the summer when it is COVID-safe for me to go back)

5.2.2 Aldeburgh Lockdown Escape 2020 (book to be finalised with sketchbook and moving image presentation over the summer when I have access to my art studio and upgrade my pc)

I will use those insights into narrative creativity to finalise:

Assignment 3: Teetotal Street (summer when I have access to my art studio again)

Assignment 4.2 Light in the Shadows of T’ien Shan (summer after current wave of COVID in Kyrgyzstan)

Assignment 4.3 Cuckoos at Dawn: Outsider in a Kyrgyz Village (summer after current wave of COVID in Kyrgyzstan)

5.2.1 Bridge Edgelands

The River Cam is part of a longer term body of environmental and social documentary work in different media about ‘Cam Edgelands’ that is central to my practice going forward. There is a potentially important local audience and market for physical images: photographic prints and art prints in different printmaking media, photobooks and sketchbooks eg as part of submission to Cambridge Open Studios, and more socially-interested Cambridge residents and tourists. As well as on-line presentation, interest from Cambridge Camera Club and other creative networks in Cambridge.

Because of COVID restrictions I was unable to do any new work 2020-2021 because of the very runners exercising along a narrow towpath. In this project, I focus on taking stock of my existing photo series of the Bridge taken 2009-2019. I started with a free brainstorming of what I thought were potentially the most interesting images and angles that I could use – with some processing in Lightroom and/or Topas AI and/or DxOFX and/or Photoshop to improve technical quality. This led to an initial ragbag of images that did not have coherence in themselves, but sparked ideas on a number of very different narrative approaches requiring different styles and processing.

In order to make my narrative explorations more systematic, I use the Creative Prompts from this module to push my different narratives in divergent directions as Photo Essays with different photographic styles and narrative structures for audience feedback.

I aim then aim (for assessment) to combine these together in some way as different sections in a publication and/or (if I am able to get audio on location over the summer) as a moving image work.

5.2.2 Aldeburgh Lockdown Escape 2020

Assignment 5.2.2 Aldeburgh Lockdown Escape 2020 is a completely new body of work based on a two week holiday during the COVID-19 pandemic in December 2020. At the time when the very first vaccinations were being started, people were relaxing their behaviour in anticipation of a removal of restrictions over Christmas. And before the horrendous second wave in January and February 20201.

It builds on and complements the much more colourful and upbeat ‘Aldeburgh Escapes’ of carnival and morning light in Assignment 2.2 Amend: Aldeburgh Great Escapes.

I had originally intended to do a street documentary of Lockdown. But in the event there was too much traffic pollution and too little social distancing for me to be comfortable going out except for one daily blow along the edge of the sea, and that only on days when it was not raining. At the same time the austere grey cottage interior had very interesting reflections and angles, and the reflected light through condensation on cold morning windows and the see-through cotton blinds were ‘sublime’.

I worked on two interlinked ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ projects:

1: Lockdown Landscapes: Photo Essays in colour and monochrome

2: ‘Reflections in Grey’ is a black and white photographic ‘a journey’ round our holiday escape two-room cottage under lockdown in December 2020. a series of rather rambling but hopefully interesting reflections on ‘politics of the sublime’ and the ‘new normal’ post-COVID-19. I also have audio recorded on location, and plan a Moving Image version of this work.

See full portfolio (not sure why this does not format correctly. to be sorted):

5.2.3 Islands Reframed, Cornwall

St Ives – and Cornwall itself – is a peninsula. One that is in cut off in different ways culturally and economically from the rest of England, Britain and Europe. This was shown very much in the Brexit debate focusing on fishing, but also in the movement for Cornish identity, the Cornish flag. In my body of work on Cornwall I also explore the ways in which tourists separate in groups, and also as individuals, when on holiday in search of a ‘romantic wild’ of the coast path or surfing or their particular patch of sun and sand – or just a deck chair.

Assignment 5.2.3 focuses on approaches to documentary narrative. In particular working further on sketchbook, illustration and social and environmental documentary photographic material that provides the backdrop to Assignment 3 Teetotal Street and its redrafting.

Lost on the Way to Zennor: Photobook and video of Concertina Sketchbook (ink or scraperboard or drypoint images?) looks at attitudes towards walking along busy coastal paths.

Future development: work still in progress that brings together some of my background documentary ready for discussion with local and other audiences in October as part of Sustaining Your Practice

  • The Island: cartoon and/or animation about Pendinas social history and concepts of island and insularity (to be done when I can set up my equipment in the summer)
  • Love and Other Islands: Photobook of tourists on holiday and their interrelationships or lack of them.
  • Wheal Dreams: photo social documentary work on St Ives fishing community
  • MINE: photodocumentary, concertina sketchbook and printmaking.

5.2.4 Reflections from the Mountains of Heaven, Kyrgyzstan

In the light of the subjective, environmental and social documentary work from UK and further audience input, I revisit my photobooks of Kyrgyzstan.

The COVID pandemic has taken off again at a worrying rate. This means that it is highly unlikely that I will be able to get the input I was hoping for from communities on the ground – colleagues will be much too busy trying to get projects progressing in any gaps they have.

So my earlier work on Kyrgyzstan will be revisited with my own reflections. These versions may not be final, but will indicate how I could take them forward post-COVID – hopefully 2022.

I develop a series of alternative Black and White photo essays as on-line web galleries. These serve to identify different narrative options using the more ‘gritty’ black and white images as a higher end photographic monograph for an international audience. Drawing on the feedback from Kyrgyzstan, but particularly from Cambridge Camera Club and photography social networks.

I develop ‘Cuckoos at Dawn’, together with English and Kyrgyz music and spoken audio from the participatory workshops, on-line links and my own personal reflections as an interactive on-line moving image web page experience. Written text would be minimal, and presented or linked to translations in both English and Kyrgyz.