PHO702:Week 5 Coursework Gazing at Photographs

CRJ, Informing Contexts

Gazing at Photographs

Resources: Gazing at Photographs

Week 5 Webinar: Seeing Through Photographs

Week 5 CRJ: Independent Reflection

Week 5 Activity: Of Mother Nature and Marlboro Men

First to list these Landscape photography female role models:

Astrid McGechan, Cheryl Hamer, Marianthi Lainas, Margaret Soraya, Susan Brown, Fre Hocking and Morag (Mog) Paterson an Intentional Camera Movement ICM specialist from Castle Douglas in Southern Scotland who I met briefly back in November !

Resonance (or otherwise)

Ideas from the above resource that resonate. Rather than resonate actually,  some of the content I found to be quite shocking. Here are some examples:

The nexus of the following: the major museums, art history, the art market and the loop of acceptance by photographers combine to deliberately cut out representation by women,  formally stylise landscape work when there are detractors, and they exercise power to push aside photographers for political reasons.

The way the landscape marks former inhuman actions such as through a monument to miners, gunned down by the Colorado State militia intent on squashing a strike. 

The way capital is made of the land has created a major force whether that is with regards energy or making of places such as Disneyland for the tourist trade.

I’m not sure how disingenuous the argument of viewing the landscape as a dynamic environment people use the land rather than the land being a primeval site. Planning of land use for feminist purpose and the reconsidering of land for women to use other than simply for going shopping was another example.

Female reproduction leading to perspectives of women as nature does seem dated. 

Some of the language categories were interesting in terms of power: Public | Private | State | Government and in terms of aesthetic: Noble | Picturesque |Sublime | Mundane

Select an image:

I’ve selected the following image from Adbusters #142 The Metameme Insurrection from from within the Advertising Subject Guide. I hold no personal opinions about the subject of the campaign, the image being selected for the loud visual language that is readily apparent. Along with the text it makes a very tough point.

Meme image from Adbusters #142 The Metameme Insurrection

Activism is about as far removed from my ways as it is possible to get. This meme however right or wrong in intent, certainly does jar.

The whole thing looks highly political, and is full of the macho thing we read about in the resource above. Whereas that discussion related back to the 1920s Western Cowboy films and occupation of the land and male control over the landscape since, here we have a modern reference of counter-hegemony.

Week 5 Presentation 2: Just Giving?

This topic is about other and likely to cause debate for the simple reason that in society we are biased towards people like ourselves. We feel safer, more secure and confident (less stressed). We tend to be simply more at ease in the company of those like us:

  • same race,
  • same belief system,
  • same gender,
  • same intellect,
  • same politics,
  • same profession,
  • same wealth,
  • same power, and so the list goes on.

Enlightenment can lead to richer relationships, understanding and cohesion, but maybe this requires effort. One of the factors that defines human intelligence is laziness. We are driven to find easier ways that require less effort. Part of how we evolved.

It is being naturally human then to opt for an easier / lazy outlook and fall into feeling more comfortable with like people. This may have its dangers as without counter-hegemony groups can go on accepting leadership towards the mass polarised movement and the events we see unfold on the world stage.


When basing societies on the principle of fairness, then some individuals are stronger than others, and should help the weak, some are richer than others and so should help the poor e.g. through taxes.

Given this is how society is organised then institutions are formed to provide this balance, but in doing so there is the so called transaction cost. Whilst I see this an overhead for example in monetary term, there are also the inefficiencies faced those in need of finding the help required.

Charity Organisation- as actor

At this point, my thought turns to the parties discussed in the presentation. The charities are institutions in their own right, and so introduce further transaction cost. To me this indicates inefficiency of the state institutions as far as the weak and poor finding the support that is needed and indicates a degree of lack of measurement and lack of planning. 

This argument is saying that high transaction cost in the state provisioning and is met by charity by introducing further transaction cost. This next point as example is a bit different as legal powers are involved but serves to emphasise a point. If the police forces upon whom we depend for public safety were not able to execute their remit, then it would not be tolerated if vigilante groups set themselves up to take policing into their own hands. I’m not too happy with that connection, but hope the point translates. Even so, we learn of examples where vigilante groups operate or operated.

The presentation narrows the discussion to people of disability and probably does so as the topic is likely to generate a range of emotional responses alongside informed argument. 

As a strategy it may be valid to decompose societal inequality down by case. 

Advertising Agency – as actor

As for the ad agencies, they demonstrate how clever they are at their practice. Across the strategies they use we see an evolution of strategy and style. It is interesting to see how the minimalistic form has become more prevalent. In the case study, they are just agents of the Charities and so again area main contributor to the transaction cost. No matter how good they are we are talking about wastage.

Moral Dilemma (and excuses?)

Do I turn my back on those in need, certainly not. I’d begin with creating a strong environment for family to thrive in. In a sense this is one step towards alleviating the wider problem. Would I turn to those nearby, the elderly and recognise when they have times of need if I could make lives easier by offering some assistance from time to time? Yes. Do I gamble? No, but occasionally I will contribute by paying for a lottery ticket. Again though there is a transaction cost, of the Lottery Fund. My preference is to fund centrally like this as an additional level of tax, rather than evaluate individual charitable requests. As charitable causes go, much bad press is printed these days, over exploitation of power or misuse of funds.

Established Research in Giving

There was some post-doc research done at the University of Southampton to that analyse different social media strategies based on individuals as network nodes. Research was designed to optimise charitable campaigns/increase revenue. After receiving an online presentation on this work I did get to visit the University for further presentation and exhibition of the work. Southampton pride themselves on having on their staff, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Worldwide web. Their motivation for conducting social media research becomes clear.

Maybe, there is a sense of moral idealism in the above response. Also, as a lifelong advertisement rejectionist (as far as that is possible), I’ve only recently become open to advertising, Will I change and start lashing out donations left, right and centre. Hmm, let’s see. Sadly, for now I’m in the advertising space out of self interest to learn how to make my practice sing. Maybe influence will become unavoidable.

Week 5 Presentation 1: The Body and the Land

In passing, I register having seen one of the Course Leader’s published Husbandry photographs that use the foil of viewer seeing back of person looking into a rural landscape. So now that much is explained in the presentation. What remains is a question about the presence of fabric draped across a. wall in the middle distance. If I were to use imagination, one reading might be about the landscape dressed as female attired to match the man who is gazing. Is that it?

Learning of the work of Helen Chadwick and nature images created from swabs of intimate body parts then I hold out a bit more comfort towards the acceptability of my own images of trauma and healing of the body.

Do we continue to imagine the land as a female “other”?

In a source below there is an assertion of frequent lapses into cliched and obsolete discourses of landscape, gender and identity

Can you find examples of this, or find exceptions?

As asserted below there is a tendency towards gendered expression of land amongst American-Irish film producers. In trying to find exceptions, I’d look towards history and earlier times in Scotland where a clan chief might well be a woman, or in early England where for example Boudicca ruled. This highlights a different era with different power base giving hope of finding exception. Amazon warrior women once ran their society, so again potentially different perspectives on gendered landscape. Interestingly these examples bind race into the discussion and are somewhat historical in context.


Whilst I’ve been mostly unaware and automatically accepting of the norn regarding gender descriptions of landscape, it is clear from independent research that there is a history to the topic even going back to ancient times. Also, there are feminist issues at play. I find from my research that there is widespread coverage in conferences and through many publications. From this sea of references it is sufficient at the moment to pull out some example phrases and the name of a conference or practitioner


Some thoughts on the topic:

… frequently lapses into cliched and obsolete discourses of landscape, gender and identity and is redolent of American-Irish …

Thoughts on landscape and  gender, expressed through romanticism and poetry. Written about alongside race and identity. There are texts on gender and power in the landscape.

From Unframed Landscapes: Nature in Contemporary Art | NeMe

“Feminism in general, and ecofeminism in particular, have brought a new understanding of how gender has shaped the ways in which we see the environment. This has involved drawing attention to the ubiquitous binary coupling of women with nature and men with culture. Landscape art is deconstructed as mastery over nature that is evident in the rules of perspective and the stress on viewpoints for representing nature. Eco-feminists aspire to move beyond dualistic thinking and to establish relationships based not on hierarchy and domination, but on caring, respect, and awareness of interconnection.”


“The contemporary understanding of landscape includes the sense of it as ‘an ideological tool shaping the way in which we envision and construct the natural world.’ This aspect of landscape can be traced in the areas of gender, class, national identity and the exercise of colonial power.”

Historic connections between the landscape and women are studied by Dr Helen Damico.  Damico has made important contributions to the study of women in Old English and Old Norse literature. 

The topic has been addressed by a conference organised by the research project “Representing and Sensing Nature, Landscape and Gender” (Academy of Finland). (Gender, Nature and Culture (May 20-22, 2010, Helsinki, Finland), 2010)

Catherine Harper creates art connecting landscape and gender


Gender, Nature and Culture (May 20-22, 2010, Helsinki, Finland)(2010). Available at: (Accessed: 25 February 2019).

Week 5: Module Leader Sessions

Week 5 Forum: Fascinating Looks

Gazes in visual culture might be explained as being derivative of: an infant gaze of survival; adult gaze of reproduction. 

Within my practice it is difficult to pinpoint how the gaze fits in, as the processes of the digital darkroom obscure the original photographic content of which trace is present in colour, shape or form. This is perhaps an example of a veiled gaze. In this image the gaze is out into a form of landscape. This image is based on impressions, the body as “photogram”, in which the physical world is imprinted.


Other gazes are cognitive and priming: reading emotion into words, seeing through by reading between the lines, looking into the soul in empathising, or reading ahead of thought process. Some of these have a visual element? Perhaps there are many other gazes when committing to memory or when casting back to living memory and so on. These “gazes” relate to the viewer making an interpretation of my practice. There are intentional hidden levels of meaning which with contextualisation may become apparent to the viewer.

So, my photographic work is based on metaphorical representations. Gaze is related to making meaning whilst exploring the images.

I wrote a bit more explanation about this within a section of the CRJ titled “Week 4 Module Leader / Group Tutorial” at this link

Week 5 Introduction: Gazing at Photographs

Alpern in her so called anthropological study, and despite her openness with the viewer (and critically not with the subjects), is actually spying on folk in their partial attire, recording elicit behaviours and in one image kissing with a client who is possibly recognisable.

You do wonder if all this doesn’t whet the desire in Alpern, creating excitement over what she might discover. Given her vantage point and frequency of visits to her hidden location, was she being opportunistic? What if she recognised a client as a relative or as a public figure? There was a game of chance unfolding and an excitement – it could all suddenly go beyond her ability to control. 

As for the posed question over the inquisitive stare, this could be tricky. The photograph is a still so any stare within the scene will linger for always. The evidence of rudeness might be the reaction of the person being viewed and any shift that occurred in body language or posture. There is the role of the photographer present in the scene taking the picture whilst mediating and exercising a controlling influence. 

As for the viewer of the photograph they can look at a still for as long as they wish and nothing will change unless they are engaged in detailed analysis and make a series of observations. What may happen is the viewer may undergo a physiological reaction over whatever is depicted in the still.

In life, a stare that lingers may be deemed rude if the slowing down to look results in a fast startled reaction. There may be a sudden transition from slow to startled response of the person gazing. By now both parties become fully aware of the situation and a consequent reaction will no doubt play out.

And regards when representation becomes fetishization, this may be a different matter. Hall in Representation (Hall, 2013, 258)discusses the fetish in terms of cover, or of both looking and not looking. I’d previously understood the subject in terms of applying special properties or powers to a representation that really did not exist.

If we take the former definition from Hall, then you could argue that Alpern was engaged in both looking and not looking and so was exhibiting fetishization.


Hall, S. (2013) ‘The Spectacle of the Other’, in Hall, S., Evens, J., and Sean, N. (eds) Representation. 2nd edn. London, [England], p. 258.

PHO702: Reflections

CRJ, Informing Contexts

Guest Lectures

I almost passed over blogging on this topic when, in fact, I attended all lectures, made copious notes in my logbook and often contributed to any questions discussions.

Two particularly fruitful sessions were those with university staff and tutors I was then able to go on and meet and listen to present at the almost week-long Face to Face event in Falmouth.

At the present hour, I will stick with my handwritten lecture notes as there is little extra added value in translating these into a blog post.

Week 6 to 10

A change in Blog structure, Reflections rejoin the weekly Coursework blogs and have somehow become closely allied with the weekly Tutor sessions.

As. is often the case with a filing cabinet, a single item might fit within more than one place (file pocket). For reasons of efficiency and in trying to keep up with the flood of information and activity, I do my reflection within the coursework blogs as thought is prompted there.

The overarching structure of the blog settles on:

  • Coursework activity
  • Development of Practice
  • Contextualisation

Week 5

Throughout the events this week, you have reflected on the nature of your gaze both as author and consumer of images.

Spend a few moments looking back on your reflective notes from the presentations, the Bright (1985)  Article and the contributions and feedback of your peers on the forums.


Think about the following questions:

  • What is the ‘nature’ of your own photographic gaze?
  • How is the body represented to us?
  • Where do we see this?
  • Do we maintain views of individual bodies as ‘inferior’ or ‘dangerous’?

Then, write a brief summary in your research journal that reflects on your work in the context of:

  • Your own ‘look’.
  • How it might be interpreted, by whom and why?
  • Any ideas / visual practices you were particularly interested in.
  • Any ideas / visual practices challenged/shed new light on your existing practice.
  • Your work/ideas in the context of other visual practices and
  • critical insights.

My work/ideas in the context of other visual practices and critical approaches.

Student input in open forum focusses on gaze, photography and landscape.

Gaze seems to be described as a dynamic element of vision in terms of the first look, looking again, or looking more and searching. The gaze is mentioned sometimes in an apologetic manner with denial or admission to the fore. There are examples of fetishisation, perhaps if we take the definition of holding two conflicting ideas at once.

In the course presentations, the focus is broader covering landscape, gaze, photography and disability.

In the presentations, the gaze is covered in broader terms, including the sexualising nature of the gaze, and as such, it is talked about without reference to the author so can be more open. The presentations are therefore more expansive and roam across difficulties such as voyeurism and the exercise of power and aggression and how gaze may be lingering (with intent) and done to satisfy. It is the rare student that will own up to such behaviours.

The persons of disability aspect are covered and include the role of charity organisation or advertising agency (implied). Having recently learned about signifiers and admitting advertising as a role model may just be early in the week yet for this discussion to have caught up on the student side. There is a lot more to “mine” in student blogs if there were only the time. I may return to it.

My own ‘look’.

In photographic terms, my look is very directed in sensing minor trauma as happens from time to time, and the (ordinary) viewer (distinct from this analytical academic audience) may only realise through extended gaze at which point Barthes punctum is triggered. For my practice, I have developed an eagle eye for minor accidents/injury, and with family as subject to maintain the genetic narrative, they know what I’m about and never ready for when I pounce with the camera then plaster. They realise the work is published in the abstract and have read the book (reading gaze?) that my spouse and co-collaborator researched. As the course evolves, so do my photographs, now images and a body (sic) of work takes on a new life of its own.

How it might be interpreted, by whom and why?

Interpretation or acceptance is never going to be that easy amongst close family, even with cooperative understanding. I suppose it is a distraction from the conversation and seen as mildly intrusive. It is quite a challenge to get in focus the camera and get back out quickly. If necessary, I can sometimes offer first aid for minor cuts, bumps and grazes.

With self as subject, that too is a challenge as trying to capture some photographs really requires there to be a photographer present as it is quite a contortion even for the most straightforward arrangement.

In a conversation, the bluntest comment was from a public health professional who coined the term skin photography. Creepy, especially knowing what their work led them to. I prefer the definition of Body Art from the Tate website. I’m reminded of the surname Bucket, pronounced Bouquet.

One fellow hinted at a mildly symmetric abstract as female genitalia. I don’t want by accident to make a rude image, but really symmetry detracts from the narrative theme of collected photographs, title and captions.

Clinical photography shadows my work. What medics do is standardise on technique to record the progress of the disease, e.g. on the body surface. There is enough separation between medicine and art to be comfortable alongside standards of medical ethics and privacy of stored full-body photographs

Any ideas / visual practices I was particularly interested in and Any ideas / visual methods challenged/shed new light on your existing practice.

The Landscape presentation was engaging, somewhat surprisingly. Without thinking it through, we probably don’t immediately think of Landscape as the male gaze. To a degree, I feel that this gaze interpretation references Art History rather than Contemporary practice. Once mentioned, it starts to communicate, although there are references better related to Art History. Interest in this course has to be Contemporary in intent (in the main).

The link for me is that my abstracted trauma imagery takes on a layered aesthetic in which I allow the viewer to sense depth and signifier of a seascape or landscape. Fading memories of home and dark scenes from the theatre of war are classic male gaze as the male fighter is the subject – there is the historical narrative of 100 years past, so I adopt the Art History view. One image to date has been representative of a relative (now signified is the female (mother) looking out on a veiled landscape to a sea that divides.

In one narrative, two out of 17 were sent into battle, so the gazes ought to be numerically in favour of the 15. However, the intensity is in the struggle. There is scope to work with this balance and gaze.

An interested art acquaintance enquired, of which there is a growing audience, and discussion about gaze rolled on awhile, and as their daughters final year project had been on the subject we realised she thought the conversation was about gays. That was quite surreal.

Your work/ideas in the context of other visual practices and critical approaches.

In terms of breakthrough, this week, I looked again at the Art and expression of Mark Rothko’s work. This was a significant diversion into an area of personal research and understanding and very very worthwhile (thank you, Michelle). I’ve written about this elsewhere in the blog under the Week 5 Contextualization I recall.

There is more research, but I risk repeating myself here (bioglphs, photogram workshop, other practitioners usually painters).

In the analysis, I allow my interpretation of genetic inheritance to motivate Practice. Soon I will introduce this within the visual language.

In answering the set questions, if there is a hierarchy and there is a risk of any sort, it would lie in the unknown. The general rules of genetic inheritance are mostly accurate, not always enforced by nature. Then we make natural assumptions of propriety in the recorded relationships.

Week 4

Reflect on the content of this week’s presentations and the personal response you had to the images we discussed, as well as any different readings of the adverts you discussed in the forums. Reflect on the reaction to your work.

Write a passage in your research journal that reflects on:

  • The ‘intent’ of your work.
  • The strategies you use to achieve this intent.
  • Whether you think these strategies are successful and, if so, for whom?
  • Is photographic ambiguity an intent in its own right?

The intent of my work has been consistent and is already documented. What changed going into the week is one thing and change on exiting the week another, the latter being influenced by the week’s learnings.

Experimentation was vital at the start with colour control being achieved by spot colour (red injury) and colour filter on monochrome. These two new techniques were added to my digital darkroom processes for the practice.

Exciting the week, I now need to take on board semiology learnings, look more at adverts and try and adopt a common visual language. This aligns with a recent review.

My strategies emerge from the digital darkroom and reading of landscape works with the viewer when trauma is superimposed. That intent seems to work. It should work in the context of a book.

Ambiguity is a part of the work. It protects identity to some extent and transformation from trace is the method of creating art. It will be challenging to closely align with the visual language of advertising in my abstracts, but nevertheless, there is something to take from it.

Position your work into a broader image world and viewing the community as you keep working and reflecting on your own practice in preparation for the webinar.

The broader image world I link with includes the work of painters in the main of which several have been mentioned in this blog. As always, I create work and then discover artists. The challenge I note is to do with scale and how painters can add as much texture or detail as necessary for whatever canvas size they choose.

Week 3

Throughout the activities this week, you have been required to reflect on how photographers construct their images to evoke an intended narrative or meaning – sometimes explicit and inter-textual and sometimes more open-ended and ambiguous. As Lori Pauli (2006: 135) notes: ‘In an era when all photographic representation has become suspect, these fictions encourage an interrogation or the “truth” of photographic representations’.

Spend a few moments looking back on your reflective notes from the Week 3 presentations, your reading, the contributions of your peers and feedback on your posts.


Reflect on:

  • Whether any of these ‘constructed’ approaches give you ideas to develop your own practice.
  • If so, why? What ideas?
  • Is our reading of a photographic ‘truth’ merely a symbolic construction itself?

I use layering and abstractions that may combine trace with the imaginings wish to portray. As a construction, I want to start developing textual or typographical references to drive the meaning forward. I’ve been asked to consider sound on several occasions, and this is likely to get included for potential gallery/exhibition.

As for truth, there is only an overlap of some degree between authors intent and the reader’s interpretation. That is the truth, and it will vary by context and by an individual.

In your research journal:

  • Find three photographs that interest you regarding multiple interpretations of the world and a ‘constructed’ approach.
  • Record the manner of their constructed nature.
  • Identify why you read them the way you do.
  • Position your own practice about this, both aesthetically and conceptually.

Okay, how to find constructed images. Let’s see.

Week 2

Throughout the activities this week, you have reflected on the culturally perceived veracity of the photograph, perhaps in opposition to other forms of visual communication.

Task: Spend a few moments looking back on your reflective notes from the two presentationsthe Snyder & Allen (1975) article and the contributions of your peers to the forums so far. Take into account the following questions:

  • Did any ideas particularly interest you?
  • What challenged you?
  • Have your ideas changed?

Authenticity, for me, is vital when finding my voice. Active emotional elements are there and at times can overwhelm. As family as diaspora and in reconnecting with our culture is dominant and lives on in a new generation.

The main challenge for me has been the language. Either reference is typically outdated coming from the history of photography rather than being contemporary, or the presentation content is almost impenetrable where a half-hour lecture can take me over two hours of activity to digest. This then takes away from free time for reading, which is a shame.

Being acutely organised is a necessity and is challenged occasionally by the starting structure of the blog beginning to be outgrown. It all has to be kept on top of, or it would readily career out of control.

A personal challenge is in using citations both in using a software tool and given the variety of methods and knowing where to draw the line. That is about the experience. It is easy to get overly diligent and cite where it becomes an affectation rather than reliable support to a research base. I have to remind myself this is not a doctoral research degree and cite appropriately. I tend to over-record on maintained sources, which has a slowing down effect, but a price I pay to alleviate future risk. I have a bit of trouble with page-level citing.

As for my ideas changing, I did take a photogram approach to bodily contact instead of minor trauma. It gave another method of moving forward with practical making.

Write a brief summary of your research journal.

  • How might your work be (or not be) considered a ‘peculiar practice’?
  • Think about how the context affects how people view your work.
  • Reflect on your practice in the context of other visual methods and theoretical points.

A unique of my practice is the recording of injuries to the skin, which may seem somewhat weird but is a basis I use for creating my punctum.

IF I think about complementing my work with sound, then a gallery context demands or facilitates a different approach to a book or a Zine or a Journal. All of these are potentially extended contexts for my work.

My work is a form of art and uses a potent metaphor. Being photographic rather than painted, it sits better in a book than a painted work with surface texture.

Week 2 CRJ: Independent Reflection

Did any ideas particularly interest you?

What challenged you?

Have your ideas changed?

Write a brief summary in your research journal.

How might your work be (or not be) considered a ‘peculiar practice’?

Think about how the context affects how people view your work.

Reflect on your practice in the context of other visual methods and theoretical points.

Ideas briefly, that interested me were the definition or new definition received for Indexicality as Causal Relationship. (Snyder and Allen Neil Walsh, 1975).

To me on previous readings and research, Philosophy takes up the idea of Indexicality in terms of what is there that is unique to, in our case, Photography, that defines Photography. This began with Studium and a second concept that has driven my work to where it stands now the Punctum. (Barthes and Howard, 1980) Since I’ve conducted a brief language analysis and note that punctum is a foreign language word that has been used for centuries and that what we talk about is Barthes punctum.

It was also interesting to discuss Truth when looking at Authenticity. Clearly, there is no one truth but many attempts possible at the fact. In returning to this, I note from a later reading that there is no universal truth, only the intersection between the authors intent and the viewers reading.

Context is a challenge at present. As my work was initially intended as a book and I learned of other exciting means of getting my work out there, then complexion changed. The challenge I’m learning about is one of simplification of intent, something I continue to strive to get right affecting how I communicate about my work. While I rise to this challenge, which I find tough to get right, I now have other considerations to manage.

In a book context, I could manage the message, while in this academic environment we study in, I describe much deeper the intentionally hidden layers. I learn that intent mustn’t guide too much as the room must be there for the Viewer to make interpretation and should be allowed to go in their own direction with it.

Next is a rather exciting part of the extension of contexts where these call for supporting methods, from moving still, to the movie, to sound. I will always express the excitement of the child within and yet as I learned in my first module, the work needs to be focussed, contained in scope as to what I choose to do and make sure it is achievable within an MA. So I am thinking more substantial, being a bit more aspirational but with realism as to what might be achieved. I’d hate to create the video then discover there was no available means of playing it in whatever space.

My ideas had to change during Week 2, as over the inactive Winter period there have been fewer opportunities to capture that minor trauma and so have adapted and focussed on a healthy glow and now on the trace of objects imprinted on self as an analogy to photogram and photographed, and abstracted. With practice during the assessment period, I’ve been able to develop skills in controlling colour and in particular luminosity. The latter led to some recent competition successes, and I’ve now begun to apply a level of sophistication to the look of my images. This should evolve during the module. Some of the subject matter I capture in Photograph responds in the digital darkroom and some not. I improve my image selection as I go and have reverted to flash photography to cut out environmental lighting contamination.

In terms of peculiar practice, then if the work was viewed through the lens of clinical photography (Nayler, Jeremy (Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street, Hospital for Children NHS Trust, 2003), there could readily be negative feelings. In my experience, others who have some medical interest seem to engage without adverse reaction.

In reference ibid, there is the guidance that “it is not acceptable to use photographic tricks to enhance the outcomes of clinical outcomes”. I do not create clinical outcomes. Instead, I create art. There is an enhancement as I seek out the glow in an image and increase the saturation to draw the colours back out.

In terms of general context, I have initially thought this through and written of it: book versus Zine, versus, Gallery etc. This is a developmental area and still quite early as I just started making the current batch of images only yesterday. Obviously, with two terms completed on a two-year course, my work cannot yet be viewed as complete, and some of the questions addressed here must wait for the action to unfold. I am grateful though to be prompted now on such matters as contexts rather than proceed irrecoverably down the path with little time to adjust.

I reflect on Clinical Practice as I seek to obtain higher quality images in a controlled environment. I may decamp to the photographic studio ultimately.

The visual practice I am drawn to and cannot avoid, and others tune into on my behalf is Painting. At a personal level, religion tried to enter the practice arena, and discussions held had a very marked effect. The context was regarding paintings.

Not all is visual as culturally I seek to include poetry or parts thereof or inspiration or even my own writing. The rhythmical elements of music too are present on the perimeter of my practice and through lyrics has been present in the past.

In terms of the punctum I experience through my practice, I am guided to look for detail and visual elements that do not appear contrived where the punctum is or may be lost.


Barthes, R. and Howard, R. (1980) Camera lucida: reflections on photography. London: Vintage.

Nayler, Jeremy (Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street, Hospital for Children NHS Trust, L. (2003) Clinical Photography: A Guide for the ClinicianClinical Photography: A Guide for the Clinician. JnPostgrad Med. 2003. Available at: (Accessed: 8 February 2019).

Snyder, J. and Allen Neil Walsh (1975) ‘Photography, Vision and Representation’, Critical Inquiry. Available at:

Week 1

In this section, I cover a general response to Week 1 but start by addressing the following activity, which I’m glad to have found! I nearly overlooked it in my efforts to get organised

Week 1 CRJ Independent Reflection

The ontological nature of the ubiquitous photograph within its specific contexts of consumption, as it relates to my own practice.


Think about:

The ‘nature’ of my own photographic practice;

The importance of context in our reading of images;

Any ideas / visual practices I were particularly interested in;

Any ideas / visual practices that challenged/shed new light on your existing practice.

Write a brief summary in your research journal regarding:

Where you are now;

The ‘nature’ and intent of your practice;

What contexts your work could be consumed in;

Your training in the context of other visual practices and critical ideas.

I almost overlooked this reflective exercise as having been covered in other places my CRJ and in Canvas. The important thing here now relates to having gone back over reading, in particular, Sontag (Sontag, 1977)

My intent is abstract Impressionism related to intentionally hidden layers of meaning. This refers to genetic connections that establish connections that link over 100 years and creates closure. Gaps recognised are filled regarding communications made to me as a child. These gaps (feelings and people missed) and the filling of those gaps has become vital. A  diaspora is reconnected with its culture, and a family is healed. Family members have made their trek back, and even the youngest family member now has made their first cultural visit. It is not solely due to this work, but its wider repercussions have been felt. Central to this is a family member, now of advanced years to whom a lot of this work is dedicated – the “Mother of all Fathers”.

I have become more acutely aware of what a photograph is, and the relationship, such as it is between painting and photography. This is of particular importance to my practice. I quickly moved from photo to digital abstract art.

The main point I picked up on relating to context, refers to a common concern of how I communicate my message to the viewer if I still feel it is essential to guide their interpretation. In a museum context, if that were to be realised, this would need to be clear, in other settings, there could be different presentations (e-Zine, Book, Journal). Different have different capabilities or require different strategies for mixed media. Having once started working with other media moving still and sound and eliminated this from my work on course assignments, it has been prompted as a tutor comment, so I have to consider mixed media. I feel that could be quite a positive addition by I do need to build up my skill level as such, skills have gone dormant and remained so for a while. There is a necessity, and I personally would find it exciting. The challenge would be to reach professional quality in the remaining time.

A practice that I employ that is of particular interest is the one of a kind nature of my work as I feel that may increase its value as I am currently forced into destructive editing and it is difficult to repeat the steps and arrive at the same end image. A starting photograph can be looked at for promise in taking it into the post, and then there is a process of intuition that drives the development of the abstract. Therefore it is not formulaic – the process is open loop. Work can be set aside if it does not technically process.

I was particularly interested in the Squires Exhibition What is a Photograph, notwithstanding the exhibition title question not being answered. The contributors work though I take something from in terms of their ideas. This is much in the same way that I relate to the work of David Hockney (Hockney David, 1998)

My photography can be representational but always returns to the abstract, as observed as being my natural tendency or the natural style. In earlier times I strove to make the photograph almost appear to be painted. I do not use filters but use a mix of techniques. I mention this here as is often the case, others refer my work back to painting and painters (Millar and now Rothko). I have also related to (Howard).

I’m currently satisfied that my photography is a trace of the original subject. With bodily healing, the matter of minor trauma disappears, so in slow time there is a critical period (moment?), so timing is a consideration.

As in Sontag, the idea for the image is in the authors head before the shutter is released seems right. The categorisation of the work as Fine Art needs further consideration, although it is not that important to the author.  Well having said that, not initially so. I’ve seen the argument in either direction as to whether photography is a fine art. I thought to myself for a while it had gained such recognition, but for now, I conclude that Photography gained a new acceptance and is nowadays displayed in places where Fine Art is posted as noted in the Times article (Campbell-Johnston, 2012)

Campbell-Johnston, R. (2012) Seduced by Art: Photography Past & Present | The TimesThe Times Expert Traveller. Available at: (Accessed: 9 January 2019).

Hockney David (1998) David Hockney on Photography & Other Matters (Secret Knowledge) – YouTubeSky Arts. Available at: (Accessed: 21 January 2019).

Sontag, S. (1977) On Photography. Penguin Bo. Penguin Modern Classics.

General Commentary on the Week

I ended the week on a high as I start to get the information sources under control. I’m happier to read a variety of resources having tried out the set-up I have here for making citations. I still have one or two unanswered questions: tags seem to be at blog post level yet I try to avoid a proliferation of posts of the same type, in attempting to keep them on a single page with the latest entry at the top. So can a tag be more local, at sentence level? Hoping yes. So having allocated tags, what is the mechanism for searching? I’m sure I’ll be able to look it up.

Answered: During our FMP, we were invited to attend two meetings where the design of a blog was documented and discussed in detail. There was also a student demonstrating an exemplar, and this specifically highlighted the differences in WordPress dashboard (education version versus standard version we had used. Once this was resolved (in my case by an upgrade), then it was possible to use all of the controls and indeed start using Tags correctly in a blog. This did take a couple or more long days to resolve, in the end.

Things were slow while getting organised, but in the end, I enjoyed the week and started to view my work in a new light and started to get some fresh ideas together.

I was able to read/research and cite material and was able to express a more unobstructed view of my project though by being prompted by the coursework. What I need to do more of is draw in critical resources, provide balanced argument and move forward, and do this across a range of my own research to “put fuel in the tank”.

Intensified focus and improved organisation. There were so many seemingly disparate inputs.

Some things are settling down, over access to conferences and group etiquette within conferences.

For a while, I carried a question about modernism is art versus photography. It took a while to resolve as amongst the many sources that had become available I didn’t initially find my way back to the learning material (video). Here it is:

Modernism, Postmodernism (and back again) (Cosgrove, 2019)

Cosgrove, S. (2019) PHO702: Informing Contexts: Falmouth Flexible Photography HubFalmouth Flexible. Available at: (Accessed: 1 February 2019).

Assessment Period

PHO702: Week 4 Coursework Into the Image World

CRJ, Informing Contexts

Into the Image World

Week 4 Webinar: You Make Meaning

In the webinar this week you will be considering the intent and authorship of your own practice and how you construct your work for a presumed audience and context.  

Intent – the work I do makes common over family as diaspora. This is where it starts and continues.

Under the MA, there is influence to take this forward and expand context.

A major element of the taught work I thought initially I could not use in my work at least until I translate what I’ve learnt from pictorial work into abstract imagery.


Presumed audience – this starts out as family and extended family

Context – recently the book returned as strong context (I had tried to move the work way beyond this to challenge myself. I have to consider the signification in other contexts). A possible exhibition is a strong maybe.

You will informally present your thoughts and relevant examples of your practice to your peers and tutor. You should try to contextualise your reflections with other relevant visual material and critical ideas.

First Blood: experimental approach

Spot colour v colour control

Identify aspects of this week’s content that have / could influence your own developing practice.

Main influence this week is reading of Photography and Cinema – David Campney

  • Narrative, La Jette

Also, Representation – Stuart Hall – in respect of culture, society, communication

For example, you might choose to:

Examine your own work in the context of any common / disparate interpretations emerging in the forum: So Where is the Author Now?

The taught part was on case studies around advertising. I rejected advertising up until now as a poorly regulated/implemented endeavour. I might change if adverts teach me how to get my work to transmit signifiers guided by author intent.

Reflect on any important peer feedback you received in the forum: Viewers Make Meaning.

Photograph posted and commented upon by a fellow student. Different photography – different abstraction – different intent – yet same theme emerged. This confirms author interpretation carries forward naturally into work.

Provide examples of relevant practices you think are successful in achieving their intent. 

Abstract method 1 is readily supported and works. It works again in combination with further layering and it is trace. It connects with critical reviewer is the sense I get. As commented recently, I can create such representations quite simply now and for the MA  I was looking do achieve something more challenging.

Abstract method 2 is successful in creating visually stimulating (beautiful) images. It works in combination with Abstract method 1 in toning down. These images tend not to fit the theme in call and response titling of trauma and are more inclined to celebration of a theme of life’s force.

From ongoing experimentation variations in abstract style have been introduced this week

Abstract method 3 monochromatic from 1 or 2 with optional colour filter and 

Abstract method 4 monochrome from 1 or 2 with spot colour.

Narrative Call and Response works really well: brief, dramatic in rhythm and to the point. Allows depiction of mental trauma.

Lighting the skin – discussion took place in a studio context of gelled lighting and skin tone (for different models). Actually, I might bring out the gels as a way of enhancing my work.

Explain why you think this is.

Images don’t naturally make a narrative, but video presentation does. Book with written narrative and photographs with text does create narrative. Abstractions with landscape appearance is a form of imagery readily signified to viewers and takes om more effect with layering (as depth).

Discuss the intent of your own work and reflect on how successful you think this is. 

Recognise gaps in childhood communication loved ones to child. Complete those gaps many decades later.

Analyse the audience and context in which your work should be viewed.

Family or by identification other families.


Evaluate how meaning might change with context.

Let’s get the core solidly set and plan for other contexts what I term MA “influenced” contextualisation.

Week 4 CRJ: Independent Reflection

Week 4 Activity: Viewers Make Meaning


A fellow student wrote:

This is an enigmatic image which could carry multiple meanings. There are soft-edged abstract shapes in the foreground, on a background which itself appears to have a layer of soft blurring shadow – it reminded me of a rain storm crossing an expanse of water.  On the ‘horizon’ a pinprick glow guided my eye like a distant ship or lighthouse, perhaps symbolic of a search. To me, this reflected a sense of lost-ness – a small dot in a large space. The kite-like shape seems to pull upwards as if wanting to lift, and the dark shape is underscored by a reddish version of a similar shape, like a reverse shadow. The lower part of the image, the tail of the ‘kite’, is slightly disjointed, and at first appears distorted by water or by an effect of technical interference. The darker shape perhaps shadows or masks something that the viewer is prevented from knowing fully.

Another fellow student wrote

Nice work Michael, added black and red to image constructs it a little more on a different plane. Seems it adds depth, and I don’t mean physically, I mean emotionally, it’s trying to show something.

Horizon pin light: ‘most very amazing!’ That tiny light speck as powerful a draw, if not more so than the black square. Malevich would be proud.

Author Summary

This image sits apart from my normal work being different photography, different abstraction and different initial intent. Surprisingly (or comfortingly?) the interpretation offered takes the theme right back to practice.

Waxing lyrical on the second review:

Sometimes stuff is intuitive and now having read the crit about emotional depth, I have to be honest and admit constructing the remark in response along the lines of seeking. Not knowing what. Knowing it is nearby. Removing and replacing. Leaving trace of having looked and not found. 

Jesse reminds us in the P&P module of how sometimes the author writes of their photography in such imaginative terms that often do not convey through the actual image. #inturmoil

Earlier mention before of crossing over that mental border, resonates still. And you know, (there’s adopted phraseology), it is something that leaks out and almost unawares. Something to be feared. A desperation to never let go and yet in self defeat becomes inevitable.

Week 4 Presentation 2: ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ – The Gendered Ad

In this presentation we examined gendered advertisements of camera manufacturers and a watch manufacturer and in the former saw a range of objectification, and sexualisation of women and then recognition of independent women as a market and compared this to family themed advertising of a watches.

As for the watch advertisements of family, the photographs are divide by gender and with such a family biased message being given it is hard to claim the ads are more gendered than a family might ordinarily be. Maybe male bonding then female bonding might be taken as transmission of existing ideals of gender. This is probably the most neutral permutation of family members and avoids complications or questions yet promotes a continuation of a very conservative family unit. It does not challenge change in any way as it maintains a sense of status quo. It would become more political if women’s independence was to be promoted for the young girl with her mother. I mention this as many might claim there is still a long way to go is removing stereotypes. However, the stereotypes may be recognised by the readers the ads are aimed at and so satisfy a dominant reading.

An ad with interesting relationship to gender

As a convert to advertising only this week, it would be false to suddenly be very knowledgeable especially having only recently been introduced to semiotics in any detail. To be fair I did read about semiotics in Barthes Camera Lucida in an earlier term, but this is my first opportunity to practice, Accordingly, I’ve judged the following as an interesting gendered case but also one that at first seemed reasonably straightforward at by comparison to other cases that could have been used.

The chosen ad is for Harry Winston jewellery. The ad was placed in the Economist 1843 magazine

I’ll look out for signifier (denotational) and determine the signified (connotational).

Two diamond encrusted rings of generous size are featured. A quality desk with a collection of books with gold edging and a contrasting white page with illustration of a ring are shown. The text sends a message of rarity and the reader is invited to act and discover the classic collection. The brand comprises the names Harry and Winston.

The viewer is watch as if looking at a representation of their own desk. They are treated as though educated and knowledgeable and perhaps a professional from Law for example. The person addressed is deemed to be wealthy and in the current times could equally be a successful woman or successful man. The product is intended for a woman. A decision seems to be illustrated by the printed illustration of a ring and a choice perhaps is being considered over the alternative shapes. This perhaps indicates a very busy professional is being addressed and so to help them, they are already tuned to deciding as this is the expensive and quality product they should purchase and helpfully they are prompted to decide on their choice. What more help could be given to ease the purchase. Absence of pricing is only proper as it is clear with wealth it is not necessary to ask the price. The name Harry is famous in England as the nickname of a powerful King and is combined with the name Winston a vey respected British war leader. There is nothing ot question. The brand is very high quality.

The interesting thing that immediately catches your attention is that we have jewellery intended for a female but with opposite gender product branding. This must signify that the product is good enough for a named person to have put their own name to it. Nevertheless it is quite a masculine brand. Maybe it is aimed at the man as purchaser, given the higher numbers of wealthy professional men to women.

Week 4 Presentation 1: Looking for Signs

From this presentation on signs we determine the signifier (denotational) and the signified (connotational) and seek out a common visual language. It is important to become skilled in this reading to improve our own practice. Signs used in ads are full, and formed for optimum reading, whilst being frank or at least empathetic.

So how does this apply to my practice? In my portfolio I theme on remembering ancestors by relating present day injury abstracts to their trauma. Images form into several (potentially too many groups or sub themes) and has been noted in one critique. There is trauma/injury, there is a them of the life glow we emit as a direct biological representation of others in the past and there is trauma as highly coloured imagery that has a different fit again. There is another emerging representation from further experimentation at a time of reduced numbers of injuries. There is scope to analyse signified and signifier amongst these different visual representations as a way of achieving the objectives around signs in the previous paragraph.

There may be an element of the obvious yet there is need for growing awareness as intuitively and through review we can see that the visual language needs to be better formed.

Week 4 Module Leader Sessions

Week 4 Module Leader / Group Tutorial

We had an extended lecture on the subject of Gaze.

We looked at Scopic drive, and began by counting numerous gazes in a film clip from American Beauty. To the count we added the viewers gaze. The presentation illustrated forms of gaze and objectification with mention of feminist viewpoints with perspectives generally balanced.

Apart from more direct forms of gaze a really insidious form is that of the Imperial Gaze. I’d encountered the Imperial position more generally in terms of land use in some earlier studies. The Imperial Gaze, is something we are due to learn more about in Week 5.

We were presented with quite a lot of explicit sexualised material with different gender perspectives. Well, it is a liberal arts course that we study. Regarding the explicit, internet traffic is driven by pornography, I learned elsewhere. The images and ideas we encountered in the presentation were quite edgy but likely mild given that examples in the main were from released film clips and earlier era adverts. Attitudes had changed in the intervening period.

Throughout I was reminded of a Freudian interpretation of gaze, where as baby, we look out and yet are unable to control the things we see, being unable to move towards and interact. In terms of basic nurturing and survival I’d assume that the baby, irrespective of gender, would be attracted to its source of protection, warmth and food not even realising at the earliest stages that the mother is a separate entity. Babies in this argument are programmed for survival and behaviours are reinforced in the baby-mother bond.

This behavioural response initially carries forward into the growing individual. However, it then becomes difficult to exploit this argument further and so we have to turn to another explanation. There is the realisation that as human animals we are programmed for reproduction and hormonal differences then (usually) develop and according to gender, possibly modified by lifestyle and life’s pressures, i.e. how we live and behave amongst others we mix within and those we spectate.

Some species mate openly and the strategy for attraction and the use of dominance is open. In humans it is different. There is an argument around fertility where humans have the ability to reproduce all year round. There is then a behaviour where signs are hidden and this generally would mean covering up. So whilst nudity is quite natural it would not be welcomed if it gave away mating opportunity signs say. This would vary by individual no doubt. If we are programmed to recognise and react at a basal level without full cognition, other than guilt over societies generally acceptable levels of behaviour and where these are often legally enforceable. So a potentially dangerous game for the unruly. The consciousness mind is left to react to signs give through verbalisation and other physical behaviours. Dance is an overt example.

As described, this becomes a game with many uncertainties with risks of misinterpreting signals in respect of society or cultural norms. We now especially live in a developed society with economic advantages and choices not known in the past. Self actualisation and freedoms across a broad range of choices are now there to enjoy and such freedoms need to be upheld. Meanwhile modern life develops so fast it is not clear if the two or three generations it may take to adapt behaviour, is consistent with rates of change. Some will recall the summer of love and the accepted norms in the decade that followed alongside empowerment though new methods of birth control. We are only entering the third generation since those times and with living memory of the times, the impetus is to reject former ways, to castaway or even deny life’s earlier experiences in favour of progress.

Given the circumstances, you’d image there would be pressure all round even when trying to conform to new behaviours. Modern communications are awash with interest group impositions concerning (unenforced) Political correctness and new moral codes. If we return to the gaze then both natural display and natural reaction can fall foul of the modern standards.

Feminist viewpoints have been tested against these arguments or observations in the past alongside other points and still they may cause push back. That can be politic and done on principle. It might just be that reliance upon argument of the human animals programmed survival and reproduction behaviour is invalid if seen to be lenient, open to exploitation and if not representative of the cognitive minds ability to exercise self control. Particularly with the Gaze, it is difficult to know if it can always be or even should be stifled if it is what humans do.

Week 4 Module Leader Office Hours

The previous Friday Guest presentation by Matthew Murray was discussed. It was said that given the circumstances of upbringing our guest was a shining example of getting a break in the industry and making progress to the highest levels.

Our guest was seen to be very honest and open.

Starting as a child with a basic camera that created parallax errors and tended to cut off or hard crop portraits, he began a personal style that in recent years has gained popularity. 

Normal practice would be to frame the portrait deliberately rather than leave the cropping to chance. It would be counter-intuitive to create such hard crops across the neck or slice through the top of the head.  Photographers properly or classically trained would no doubt find this counter-intuitive and so missed the opportunity to use hard cropping as an established style.

Mention was made of this week’s reading, David Campany, Photography and Cinema (Campany, 2008). David was also a guest lecture and the recording should be in the archive <not found> .

The Face to Face at Falmouth was mentioned. There will still be lectures etc running as normal. It would make sense to front load work to fit it in. F2F attendance is optional.

A note had been sent out summarising the purpose of the different opportunities to connect with the course from Guest Lectures, and Group Tutorials through to Tutor Webinars.


Campany, D. (2008) Photography and cinema. London: Reaktion. Available at:

Week 4 Forum: So Where is the Author Now?

I took this in two parts. First I had a lot of baggage around advertising and rejected it almost outright at the same time knowing it is impossible in practice to avoid advertising influence.

I then got back on track with the task of selecting example ads for oppositional, negotiated and dominant readings.

Part 1 – unravelling attitudes

I tend to tune out advertising as an intrusion on a valuable commodity, time.

I tend to stand back and view advertising from a structuralist perspective when it intrudes. When advertising claims are made they can often fail examination or be seen to include bias.

On an associated subject of branding, it is clear that meanings are consumed. When overseas it is not always possible to know what the brands are. Is the roadside Carrefour a supermarket chain or something else? I can’t find breakfast cereal on a shops shelves and settle for something different that is a little experimental. So abroad it becomes clear as to what it is we have absorbed at home without realising it. So we bring our own meaning and it might easily fail us.

Dominant reading would be that a particular brand of computing and mobile equipment is intuitive to use and designed around the person using the equipment. Competitors have sacrificed their business model for the data driven approach that pilfers personal data for financial advantage. This alone justifies paying more for the products.

Oppositional reading would-be towards money-making schemes that encourage selling a share in a property (equity release) in return for cash now. The advertising proceeds in the face of expert analysis that the industry is built on a poor foundation as there is insufficient funding long term to sustain these companies thus creating a climate of financial risk. The next big financial idea set to collapse over the next decade.

Negotiated reading, I initially thought would be the starting position for all advertising when giving advertising a chance. Of late, examination of a supplier’s claim was found to misrepresent. Even when given a chance suppliers can let themselves down. Online ordering and delivery from an internet market place was given a negotiated reading but again there were tricks being played. So even in shutting out advertising and letting it in only on special occasions, it sadly proved untrustworthy and is demoted to oppositional reading.

An aside really but an explanation as to why adverts get shut out:

In a money making advertising world there are many issues around data processing as well as variable pricing models and offers that disadvantage existing customers who must surely pay for the offers.So whatever picture and text is presented are the claims sustainable in practice.

An allied point is that of the individual paying for services that include standing charges and data charges and advertisers intrude on this serving advertisements.

Part 2 the task: oppositional, negotiated and dominant readings

Post made was lost in the act of saving. Here is the abbreviated version:


Clockwise from top: negotiated, oppositional, dominant.

Rafael Nadal advertising Giorgio Armani clothing was a negotiated reading in keeping an open mind over the male reading of an ad more likely aimed at the female fanbase?

The NETJETS ad had lots of signs of negotiated reading for a convenient family friendly service, nicely composed, turning to oppositional due to the frequency of private flights that go over at low altitude creating nuisance by distraction.

The watch ad, has text and styled image giving personal appeal leading to a dominant reading. At twenty grand a time piece though, the lack of calendar function is a downer.

Week 4 Introduction: Into the Image World

My practice is not from the world of advertising but images I create within practice and for competition do benefit from appropriate titling to guide the viewers attention, to aid their interpretation and occasionally to try to say something borderline profound if at all possible or simply entertaining.

A number of the examples of advertising we examined are a couple of decades old now and different in style to modern approaches. Probably the least avoidable adverts are on the walls of tube stations, or alongside escalators and inside carriages alongside the transport route map.

In that environment I’d be more interested in the move to electronic billboard advertising to figure out what new creative methods abound. In the case of illustrated strip advertising alongside the tube route maps over how innovative the advertiser can be in such a restrained space.

About Barthes (who continues to be quoted)

As I spend more time reading and make a closer pass of the work of Barthes the philosophy makes clear sense. In this case claims made, communicate. Elsewhere and by recollection it is understood that Barthes had a tendency to switch interest at will as he followed a smorgasbord of intellectual interests. What Barthes did produce on the subject of photography is insightful although ripe for revision. The technological world continues to march on. So what of the selfie or cameraphone photography and public news gathering / citizen journalism, the gradual fall of printed media, the rise of cinema, then video alongside television, as well as the internet and the worldwide web.

PHO702: Week 3 Coursework Constructed Realities

CRJ, Informing Contexts

Constructed Realities

This week a change in writing style is introduced in order to mix conversational, style with the more academic reflective and critical methods. The keynote entry appears in the Week 3 CRJ: Independent Reflection title below and serves as both a description but more importantly a reminder to use more formalised approaches

Week 3 Webinar: The Theatre of the Photograph

My own photographs as constructions and as potential fictions:

Photographs and images I prepared for this week’s webinar showed place connected, alongside cultural references. Sources of intertextuality were demonstrated; the arrival of Christianity being one, the romantic poetry of Robert Burns in the same place another. This is foundation thinking applied to work and in part reserved for future making. This part defines narratives relating to my work on those taken from these lands.

An ancestral theme runs with wound and repair identified as injury and repair in the contemporary. This is guided by common mDNA as the source of  life’s glow and leads to an IR styling. I manage to obtain this in the digital darkroom.

Memories of home is a fiction deliberately introduced as dreamlike images representing fading memories of those ancestors caught in battle. Wounds today, captured in terms of healing and bodily glow are abstracted into these landscapes, then layered with trace of wound or healing. In the same, darker landscapes created are viewed as imaginings from war.

The purpose is tied to personal experiences, as child become adult, pondering on gaps: missing humankind and unexpressed feelings of loss. Such were not conveyed to the child yet now more is recognised and understood. 

Originally aimed at the audience of family, as descendants and diaspora we reconnect in our common heritage, of place, our culture and experiences with others passed who were left to heal. Family is reunited in identity. Sign exists of influence spreading to the next generation.


Weak image.

Last week I detected a strong reaction to an image on Falmouth (on Instagram) with purples and pinks. For that I stand guilty. Since then we have been exposed to learnings of photograph as construction, with an accompanying sense of persuasion. For my imagery this was a Rubicon already crossed. A week later, perhaps audience may be more accepting. Work still has to be good. I now experiment with impressions and as always I’m prone to fail and sometimes succeed. 

I did, trauma/healing, life as bodily glow last module and now include impressions – those marks we bodily capture that then fade. Work on bodily impression continues as that experimentation is not yet evolved. It is a linked endeavour with healing and glow. The work provides continuity when wounds become less. 

The same image was questioned as decorative. 

In review my portfolio was viewed, and I agree the initial images have a stronger link to wounding.

Nature of construction:

As demonstrated in the webinar and as mentioned above, construction is not staging but rather one of layering. For wound, trace is layered with landscape abstracted from the same. Both layers are indexical of the wound. For wound I also imply, glow and now in this module impression. 

I think I’ve given my statement of intent, above and shown the strategies. I could shorten, make more concentrated language to describe intent. I view other writing opportunities this week so will hold back rather than repeat repeat.

Improvement of practice.

Through the current week’s studies, I can apply renewed vigour to the push pull within images and become more aware to use method intended or even accidental to draw in the viewer – not being explicit as always and now allowing signs with an intent of triggerring cognition. 

How I convey something of my theme to the viewer will undergo a continual transformation for different points of consumption developed.

Juxtaposition is intended as a next step; juxtaposition of type, of poetry of symbols, as sharp contrast to defocussed imaginings already portrayed in the imagery.

Technical improvements made this term include the use of flash photography to overwhelm environmental lighting for consistency of starting image. 

Not dropped, simply not taken forward this module is the use of a microscopy element. Last module microscopy was not always practical. Adoption was trialled for improved print resolution. An alternative I am trying is the use of advanced software that performs image scaling. My work is that of a digital worker and so trace of the process may be acceptable for me, in so far as it does not overwhelm the images created. 

Week 3 CRJ: Independent Reflection

Reflection in one definition (Reflective and Critical Writing: Falmouth Flexible Photography Hub, 2019) requires: Description (short), Interpretation (most important / useful / relevant and Outcome ( what was learned, how impacts future)


Reflective and Critical Writing: Falmouth Flexible Photography Hub(2019). Available at: (Accessed: 9 February 2019).

Week 3 Activity: False Indexes

I hope that the authenticity of practice shines though.

Let’s find some direction. Starting with the title, it appears to give an oppositional reading. The reason for saying, is that in this week’s work I feel we were to be persuaded not to view the constructed even heavily constructed image as faux, where truth is expected of the lens and camera in capturing the  photographic record, yet notwithstanding this we know of the myriad adaptions of photographer and selection of image within the larger setting including what, and why now.

Next up, Hutcheon showed great clarity in viewing the matters we have here to discuss though interpretation of the metaphor of Farmer. I mention this as it is implicit, failing to be mentioned in the Activity text.

So, we are talking through the metaphor of Farmer yet even then we must allow for work that crosses over to or shares within an implied dichotomy of Hunter, the opposed metaphor. In fact, these are not opposed as we have seen, but may become shared in practice by different artists as a device or as expressed through a lens of critique.

As for objective and subjective aspects of practice, then yes, I will choose here the role of Farmer when making abstract work. Intertextuality is strong as written narrative of publishable academic quality, exists and informs the work. There is poetic reference too of landscape. As accident or coincidence, the land is where Robert Burns lived out his short life and is proximate to the legendary site of St Ninian’s landing and subsequent introduction of Christianity to southern lands. No shortage of intertextual references exits. The scope for intertextuality is so strong and yet remains to be fully exploited, but surely in time it will be.

Ancestors from their homes, found themselves overseas, and several were transported in war to other lands. Subjectively imaginings are created of homeland as remembered from afar. The objective returns based on site visits and photography of places hardly changed since those earlier times. These home imaginings intermingle with others of theatre of war where kin perished or survived only as prisoner.

The objective nature of biological connection stamps the greater visual impact in practice through wounding and healing then and minor injury and healing in the contemporary but visually abstracted. The subjective re-enters as connection is made to those who were lost, who were never mentioned to self as child. Gaps of human existence and unexpressed loss established as data and records and now they are remembered. Early communication to child completes as adult. I learn of them alongside the lives of kin

The technological and creative exist in practice occur as technology leveraged in the interests of the creative. This happens through technical trial and skill development and with a willingness to follow a photograph in whichever direction it naturally will go. With increased experience, a degree of guidance can be imposed, but is of uncertain outcome from the start.

What could have been dichotomy becomes a blend.

Context of viewing is expected to strengthen these relationships. Yet to be resolved, indeed planned and created, is a guiding hand an invitation to the viewer in any context supported. Viewer ultimately make their own sense from the abstract perhaps recognising the signs laid there.

In a sense, this work is so founded and heartfelt that what really matters is deeply personal as family reunited, a diaspora strengthened in identity and re-united. Already impact has spread to a new generation.

For the wider audience to whom this work must ultimately be taken through MA Photography studies, I can only express belief, that they will discover an authenticity of voice. I express hope that the wider audience will at once gain viewing pleasure in the visual nature of the artifice and even seek out the intended layers of hidden meaning. Such constructions as exist within layered abstraction may push and pull the viewer and be causal in their further reading of the images.

In view of this then the short answer, yes, it must become increasingly important to me and others within family and other families who can identify with this work.

Week 3 Presentation: Hunters & Farmers

Such a hard to read but wonderful piece to break through.

Heavily or obviously constructed images is the starting premise and we land up surveying a whole area of work/endeavour/employment in photography. And such promise in return. As poetry exceeds sentences then poetic images exceed the intertextual references.

From my Practice or even my photography in general that witnessed or witnessed through the lens by the camera is not the memory retained by the mind’s eye and so I proceed to simplify distractions and tune into the content captured intuitively or retake the image or at first take several photographs with intent on placing distractions into the background. The tripod can be important here as long exposure can simplify. I would aim to do this as Hunter and act more as Farmer in abstracting images choosing amongst and taking forward those selected to new worlds that reflect on the past and memories of home and bridge 100 years into the past.

In practice, creating narratives had not been considered through constructions, well other than text or poetry. I should consider visual construction from this point on. How as yet I do not know, but there is the challenge to imagination.

At the end of this, we may take Brecht’s advice and remind ourselves a picture is not real. And yet, suspend reality for one minute and make gains. The Practice is going to keep me much more busy than I ever imagined.

Having seen progression in the abstract work of a fellow student (RR) who introduced mixed media and use of signs, in a textual/visual lexicon. Now I understand the development this student made and perhaps now have a glimpse into their development path.

Week 3 Module Leader Sessions

Week 3 Forum: Subjective Traces, Spaces, Faces, Places

The constructed photograph shows the photographer in each case this week as true to themselves, unless of course someone forced them to make constructions. Rather unlikely at least for the work we have seen. In a totalitarian state an artist may be leant on. Others would no doubt rebel or go overseas and rebel. 

In terms of audience and lie, does the audience really include me as a direct consumer? For me it is happenstance as far as the originating photographers are concerned and happenstance again that through this MA Photography course that their images have been taken together with the others in this context. In other words, images perhaps considered marginal may become tarnished by the company they now keep.

As for fiction in photographs and in the examples, we have been shown, there is the photographer and the extent to which the  mind’s eye is at variance to the detail a camera captures in a photograph. Depending on how good a photographer, they may spot the deviation and have to reshoot or amend, or if really experienced anticipate and make an accommodation and possibly still amend.

My interpretation of the world is personal to me as it is for others. My work was with computer program generated images before ever getting a DSLR camera. My eye is/was for line, shape and form taking in physical perspective. I learn more now of the beauty of light – the exposure triangle, and light. 

Genuine natural thinking and freedom of expression in personal projects is the aspiration. Religion had a go at breaking down the doors last year – that was a surprise. Things got very heavy for a while. Fetishisation was to be avoided.

A self-conscious adjustment to style resulted in adapting to empathy over logic.

Early commercially oriented work is based around art, artist promotion, craft sales and collaboration.

A composite created for competition was a rarity at the time. That image continued to do rather well. 

Another piece, Inner Light it was suggested be put forward to the London Salon – maybe one day. 

Exhibit A a print abstract of scene with the rusting remnant of a push along scooter was a flop. I,t had an intentional hidden meaning related to a transport map. Something about the print though reminds of Eggleston’s – trike.

Where are those image files …

Week 3 Introduction: Constructed Realities

When considering the photograph many I see presented are of travel and wildlife – particularly one’s I see in competition. Sometimes it appears that the photographer in terms of the psychology, is trying to make a statement: look where I have been, look what I have done and look how closely I achieve similar results to those I openly admire and emulate.

What is not shown is the personal expense and days of travel involved in getting a series of these emulations. Not seen is the getting up so early, going out in the dark with lighting in uncomfortable conditions. Nor is the exposure to danger and reliance on a guide with a rifle who helps stage the scenes and offers protection.

Given this investment, there is going to be a bias no doubt against staging and manipulated photographs, at least we might imagine so?

We are asked to take travel and nature at face value, admire the person for their display of wealth and ability to emulate accurately the work of others.

If I look at the images, I’ve seen today, the presentation apart, They were on social media, where constructions were apparent to a number of degrees, from collage to photographer imposed vantage points etc. In the press there was a mixture of imagery that actually was rather disturbing: the banker frustrated in joining a bank, depicted in harsh monochrome with background colourized.

Then the successful female investment analyst who’s sketch treated image was placed in the context of her marriage and having children when she ought to have returned to the US – shocking.

The story of the company that had no ferries that won a government contract for ferries depicted the minister responsible collaged with a company logo as background – so constructed to strengthen the storyline.

The photography was marked as Agency rather than photographer.

The work in the presentation we viewed is in an Arts context of photographers as raised on a plinth, making a name for themselves, or simply making their way in the world.

As students of photography, I guess we learn to associate with the them and hope to gain commercial success such as through agency.

If I address the posed question of why this now? In my practice the answer is in several parts. The memory from a hundred year history theme and events will diminish completely as those who can still touch that past diminish themselves. Timing is key to preserving proud narratives that would otherwise be lost within records and data.

The work began as dedication for someone elderly. It is timely now to act.

Timing also relates to the MA Photography course – not using work shot between terms, using shots made since the first day of term, shooting progressively at 10 hours per week as each week progresses.

An aside triggered here is that of a course with digital delivery being matched with digital productions by participants makes sense. This averts a return to materiality. 

Many of the presentation examples of constructed work, I can isolate myself from by arguing, who am I to interfere in someone else’s “contract”? Between photographer and whoever commissioned the work. I likely wouldn’t have come across their work and so the only purpose left is to establish a general position regards making of new work. Take each case on it merits perhaps. 

The presentation attempts to enlighten and persuade? If we assume the acceptance of naturalism by the intended posrgrad audience perhaps some we benefit from accepting a wider view of what is acceptable. For the digital worker creating abstract imagery that Rubicon has already been crossed.

Important to current practice is learning the ability to create narrative. Noting earlier in this module how we naturally learned to interpret the surface of the photograph to the extent we no longer realise that transition. Add to this audience acceptance of the visual language of cinema then the viewer brings such readings to a new work. Strategies other than cinematic reference exist, and can be exploited in support of narrative such as sound, music and poetry.

In response to Eggerton’s trike, my catalogue contains a piece titled Exhibit A. Here I take visible signs of dirt and rust, beyond Egglestone’s trike in my portrayal of a push along scooter. As is often the case the representation made is abstract and there is a level of intentional hidden meaning relating to a transport map.

In terms of push/pull created in the viewer from overtly staged photography, this probably isn’t a concern in my abstract work, where there is no prospect or intention of trying to trick.

The subject of photographic trick in terms of warning, does appear in writing in the parallel area of clinical photography. (Nayler, Jeremy (Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street, Hospital for Children NHS Trust, 2003). This is a useful warning as it concerns medical photography and potential misrepresentation of progress in curing disease.

An emerging theme from the presentation in reading between the lines, is one of propaganda, and/or political bias. A viewer not using cognition, in lacking critical awareness might look through presented images and simply accept what they see.  

In the world of painting in a talk about Turner’s landscapes (and seascapes), at the Tate Britain, it was noted that work was created for prospective markets, and space would be incorporated for the eventual buyer to request additions, for example add more sheep to represent a better representation of wealth. The additions would be made by a spot painter rather than Turner himself. An aside really, in his latter years JMW Turner liked to work quickly and made work that was much more abstract and incomplete as he experimented with outcomes and style.

The presentation asks about the Alfred Krupp portrait. Here is my response. Krupp had been brought to justice we gather and was now pursuing the dream of wealth even if by keeping others employed on marginal wages.

In terms of acceptance of Constructed realities, there are no doubt many levels of complexity involved. Some images may be easier for the viewer to recognise quickly and identify with. For example, the carte de visit portrait could be straightforward to interpret. In the example of Kiss where landscape is collaged and obscures, it contains a strong sign to the viewer of deliberate image manipulation. If the kiss is shown in lesser explicit terms, it may be more readily bought into, as in Barthes on pornography, (Barthes and Howard, 1980). In Kiss, if the landscape is seen to obliterate (which I don’t think happens in the example), the obscuration might work against the image for some.

The theme of ambiguity leading to narratives, is readily acceptable to me where my intention is to enable this, if only the viewer is triggered to wonder about it.

Masterson seems to prove a happy medium to those who might be sceptical. Natural images he notes were presented at exhibition with a minor amount of digital manipulation in some. So that’s okay then. All done in the name of good or consistent aesthetics. Is there a slightly specious tone? More can be at stake for work of notoriety.

My practice uses natural images of an almost clinical nature, where the colour and form is lent to the abstraction process for transformation into something colourful and new. A trace of the original is retained. The work is motivated by a consistent cause. Intentional hidden layers of meaning are incorporated. Should a reviewer seek extra depth, then it can be found. The work is a product of the authentic. Viewers have responded to the aesthetic and style and some recognise simple themes Context is consistent at the present as the images are shown on screen with similar presentation as images of prints in a book format. But, as the context develops as this course is expected to demand or enable, then creative thought is to be exercised. It is still early days.

A viewer is invited to read the images and from toned down titling etc start may be guided. A darker subject is presented in terms of healing and is a celebration of life’s force. Presentation is of new new work and in time ought to develop in consistency and direction.


Barthes, R. and Howard, R. (1980) Camera lucida: reflections on photography. London: Vintage.

Nayler, Jeremy (Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street, Hospital for Children NHS Trust, L. (2003) Clinical Photography: A Guide for the ClinicianClinical Photography: A Guide for the Clinician. JnPostgrad Med. 2003. Available at: (Accessed: 8 February 2019).

PHO702: Week 2 The Index and the Icon

CRJ, Informing Contexts

Week 2 Webinar: Seeing / Taking / Making

I’m a day late arriving here as the Webinar took place yesterday. 

As I am overtaken and had barely just begun image making, I was only able to respond verbally in the Webinar. However, as I said elsewhere I put down my books and did some initial image making that has now been posted and sent out as well. Having comprehensively discussed my practice and the theories we have learned I now detect a level of repetition, well at least in terms of the seemingly retrospective nature of the task.

Now I am able to refer to my Development Project as written up here.

Week 2 Activity: Further Questions of Authenticity

Week 2 Activity: Further Questions of Authenticity

My own position on really real is an interesting one in terms of the course and the other students. Given the dichotomy and the way moral views polarise for and against manipulation, I have to say I understand the argument yet, at the same time feel an immunity. 

This is me yet again, on a trajectory from post processing in digital where I worked with computer generated images before ever moving to DSLR camera work. I have principles to uphold that I take from being a professional in my main career work that I choose to impose. This is without reaction to other photographers who so often seem less sure of their position whilst they may wish to criticise my work – I don’t know. 

In my image work, it all starts with Authenticity and a subject I feel deeply involved in emotionally. So much so, that it calls for a break from time to time. The themes involved reach across the whole of my sentient life and an upbringing in another culture. My work uses metaphor and intentional levels of hidden meaning to represent a set of consist themes.

The work is Abstract Impressionism and Conceptual and the results take on different meanings for viewers. A parallel that is present that I try not to major on that serves to obfuscate would be the work of Clinical Photography and aspects of Biology pertaining to inheritance.

My pictures, I do try to make unique and whilst others work may be likened to mine the theme and the detail and so on can be discerned.

As always my work proceeds knowledge of theory such as that of Snyder and Allen, but I am open to ideas and especially if it helps validate my work. I’m more than happy to learn of their ideas and find them palatable from a perspective of Constructivism. I wonder where their works leads and I envisage a path that leads to Propaganda it’s recognition including in political and commercial areas the former I definitely would not wish to engage in.

So key points around vision, of the Fovia and the 150Hz jitter of the eye, and all of the lens based perspective etc, makes sense. So does the separation of subject from image  and if allowed how image transparency leads to suspended interpretation, a loss of cognitive meaning and dangers associated with accepting ideas as given.

I have two or three main readings I would reference at present in this area; (Barthes and Howard, 1980), (Sontag, 1977)and (Sturken and Cartwright, 2001).

And saying that I have gained some new perspectives on theory from (Barrett, 2010)and (Berger and Dyer, 2013).

As my work proceeds ahead of learning these theorists ideas, to some extent I have to retrospectively quote key points.

To make life simple, let me consider the one main idea at present. That would be that of Indexicality, that is described at present as a causal relationship. When I first learned of this 6 months back now, to me Indexicality was from Philosophy, a means of describing something in a way that was unique to it, in this case photography. For photography, this might be mechanical image making, light chemical processes and so on. Then from this the development of ideas of Studium and Punctum. This is all from Barthes (Barthes and Howard, 1980). The latter, Punctum as I interpreted it was missing from my early Close-up and Conceptual mix of photography. I had a moment where everything came together: persistent wounding of ancestors, minor trauma in our daily lives and rules of Biology for tracing back to specific others and then to the narratives of their lives. Their absence left gaps and now those gaps are filled. I make abstract images that create a genuine punctum and in my work I layer in a sense of landscape presence – the place we would have met, then as image further low key cultural reference to the use of tartan – as mode of dress, as uniform as symbol.

The peculiar nature of the photograph for me arises from the digital sensor being filtered to prevent IR detection, yet partial detection can be processed into a representation of glow that shows up in many of my images.

I decided to include in my Contextualisation of Practice Blog the requested completion of the Critical Review Development document.


Barrett, T. (2010) ‘Principles for Interpreting Photographs’, in Swinnen, J. and Deneulin, L. (eds) The Weight of Photography. Brussels, pp. 147–172.

Barthes, R. and Howard, R. (1980) Camera lucida: reflections on photography. London: Vintage.

Berger, J. and Dyer, G. (2013) Understanding a photograph. London: Penguin Classics.

Sontag, S. (1977) On Photography. Penguin Bo. Penguin Modern Classics.

Sturken, M. and Cartwright, L. (2001) practices of looking: an introduction to visual culture. New York: Oxford University Press.

Week 2 Presentation: Is it Really Real

Week 2 Presentation: Is it Really Real?

Reference reading and video 

[A] The importance of indexicality for photography.

[B] The iconic, indexical and symbolic characteristics of the photograph.

[C] How these ideas and visual practices inform your position on a presumed photographic veracity.


[D] Do photographs hold more veracity than paintings?

[E] Which of these representations of Las Meninas do I find most authentic?

[F] Is this aesthetically/contextually specific?

[G] Why?

[D] Yes to a photographer photographs do hold more veracity

[E] If I consider myself a follower of Picasso and I would appear to be from my last assignment submission then of course I would be biased to Picasso’s representation as it allies to my practice of Abstract Impressionism.

[F] The context is side by side comparison on a monitor so both. There will be a loss of texture without the materiality

[G] I’m biased by my practise and preference as my work is often compared to art.

Baldwssari’s image looked like a scene of crime phot with the hand giving scale to a bullet

In my practice there are abstractions and imaginings. Colour a dominant red naturally fits with the theme. The layering always refers to landscape and doubles as a cultural representation of tartan even if sometimes vague or missing and if present low key in terms of presence.

Can I accept Snyder and Allen’s critique of the visual model of Icon creating truth and us learning to see as a camera? No, not exact agreement. We see as we see and we have learned how a camera represents. If we treat the photograph as transparent then we lose something of what is available to us and we have suspended belief. 

As for expecting the photograph to be iconic, then if it can be viewed as such it make our experience simple snd straightforward and require less interpretation.

In my practice my originally intended audience should get-it and yet still impose their own iconic interpretation, as I witnessed. The interpretation may diverge from the authors intent and even if  an author’s intent or titles guided interpretation. Right now the importance is how it affects the making as I am in early stage development.

  I leave it to the media and regulators to decide what is shown regarding the burning pilot.I guess you want to read the image as propaganda and make an interpretation, like we were as bad in the past, and yet hope the image might be constructed.

Transforming into a kind of painting is my natural intent. 

Subjective choices are addressed to the author of an image, but whether or not they are conscious of such choice is another matter. Personally, my trajectory took me along the path of image manipulation before using a DSLR camera. I do not suffer the same pains of many others of moral conscience and I am settled with this for as long as I do not make political point/propaganda.

In context there are guidances and rules, and sometimes laws and cultural aspects which the originator of the image should be professionally aware of by being given some briefing, and test perhaps but it is for the organising bodies or end supplier to determine for themselves. I am not responsible for them and their actions.

Indexicality is important for discussing photography. In releasing a shutter Indexicality is not necessarily in the mind of the photographer other than they might be making an image in a style they have seen and accepted in the past. Photographs originally constructed may serve as a model for another photographer to emulate. 

Technically, all photographs within reason are constructed – an image of a dark room looks dark so has no construction until the light level allows something to be discerned.

I construct in a way that retains trace, and from which saturation and flow are processed and then by layering I introduce a consistent theme like landscape (or tartan).

Regards the Mandarin spoken it is more opaque to me as I have not learned the language only some epistemological aspects of its construction.

I take Snyder and Allen’s comments as a positive assessment and particularly as this is conveyed in a scientific manner I am used to consuming. My work may have fallen down against the analysis and would have perhaps had to have stopped, if it were not for an authentic approach, I took in the creation of my abstract art images. I perhaps was aware of the moral dilemma many face in presenting work so have been guided by such interations.

The iconic, indexical, symbolic photograph is in a modern age the preserve of the critic who selects amongst the outcomes of media portrayal in the main.

I’m good over my practice, and I would never knowingly create propaganda and hope images I make are enjoyable to look at and allow the viewer to take from the work as much as they like from aesthetic thought layers of meaning if they stop awhile and look.

Week 2 Independent Reading Photography vision and Representation

As a strategy with the current reading (Snyder and Allen Neil Walsh, 1975) I decided to jot down rough notes, where these are not for the reader of this blog, serving as a means of distilling out some reminders of the content, to trigger discussion in a task that follows in Canvas VLE.

Independently reflect on:

[A] Any key ideas you agree or disagree with.

[B] Whether or not photography is a unique medium or if it has conventions it shares with other forms of representation.

27 pages 27 points

144 Naturalism

145 Painting versus Photography

146 As documentary are the photographs true

147 Surreal with nudes in a scene. Visual peculiarities reminds viewer s looking at a photograph. Physical reality versus not gaining perfection

148 Photography closely related to art but different to traditional art. [A]

149 similarity between camera and the eye. Lens characterisation

150 Choice of equipment and how image made. [A] if public take snaps maybe not aware, but photographer would be.

151 The equipment and position. Comment about accidental firing of image.[A] Wrote recently about accidental firing.

It is about light physics not the subject. Subjects do not contain images. [A] True of my practice.

152 Moment in time, staying still and one eye. 

The fovea and 150Hz – [A] Ah I wrote about this in module 1

Difficulty matching image to vision.

153 The rabbit duck figure. JM Cameron Alice Liddel photo taken below eye level.

154 Photo of rowing in lilies

155 JMC photo of Alice

156 Static dry goods image versus movement. Muybridges horse photo. We have learned to read fuzziness as movement. [A] With motion vision the spinning wheel appears to move backwards in video.

157 Maybe not hypnotic powers of the photographer. [A] sometimes a respectful and engaging personality is helpful.

From elsewhere photography akin to poetry or more so, music as a slice from a continuum.

Portrait and Landscape artists I’ve seen in action, painting, use tablet / iPad photographs as a reference to perspective or to recall elements that moving into and out of the scene etc.

P158 Photo finish camera

P159 ibid a trick photo also IR colour allocation so question of truth [B] not sure painting would be like this at all though not impossible if artist referenced the camera

P160 Exposure on face is correct but second person in the blacks

P161 ibid then for shaded face [B] a unique limitation of basic photography partly solved by exposure bracketing  

P162 Rules for exposure [A] probably true for video as photography, but an artist could paint the perfect picture.

P163 Constraints [A] burdensome and strict.

Search for universal theory like Szarkowski instead show overlaps and difference between presentation in each medium. 

P164 [A] The Kodak clinical photography manual ought to be a parallels to my practice.

Also see clinical photography guide (Nayler, Jeremy (Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street, Hospital for Children NHS Trust, 2003)

P165 [A] What is acceptable for taking photographs varies for acceptable results and that varies. James Dean at Cal’s grave demonstrates a number a wide number of critical approaches can be made.

P166 Photographer (Stock) probably had an idea of how he wanted to photograph Dean[A]

P167 Previsualisation must have taken place and the photographer known what kind of image to make. The scene is not one you would encounter normally in real life. [A] According to Barthes is the image appears contrived it loses effect. (Barthes and Howard, 1980)

P168 The photograph can be assessed on its own or in relation to other photographs, its subject matter and conventions it shares. [A] The contrast may bring out more meaning.

P169 Arnheim The documentary value of a photograph is not just determined Authenticity – Correctness – Truth. We should ask, who made it, what it means [A]


Barthes, R. and Howard, R. (1980) Camera lucida: reflections on photography. London: Vintage.

Nayler, Jeremy (Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street, Hospital for Children NHS Trust, L. (2003) Clinical Photography: A Guide for the ClinicianClinical Photography: A Guide for the Clinician. JnPostgrad Med. 2003. Available at: (Accessed: 8 February 2019).

Snyder, J. and Allen Neil Walsh (1975) ‘Photography, Vision and Representation’, Critical Inquiry. Available at:

Week 2 Module Leader Session – Alumni

One presentation I saw was of portraiture with mask then as face markings then another presentation was of photograms of bee material as a contact method. From these if it is possible to follow we arrive at body contact/impression.

I attended the latter part, and watched the earlier part as a recording, such were the demands on my time (and still growing state of organisation). I comment on the work of the two Alumni who actually attended and presented rather than the three invited who didn’t all make it.

In two areas I’ve learned. The second first were the ideas around CRJ. I really get the necessity and have tried hard to improve structure of my own CRJ. Time permitting I still have to go back and read the alumni blogs which I will have previously read as I did this when locked out of the very start of my course. However, no excuses, I still have to relook at their CRJs. I can tell my needs concern some kind of workshop on the mechanisms available in WordPress. The resource we have has helped but I have no time for full immersion on aspects relating to web design.

in terms of the first aspect covered the actual projects self portrait and photograms, I gained something from both.

The former started as mask then moved on to painted marks in face, In my abstract practice I photograph bodily healing and minot trauma as such provides a place for the eye to rest. However, in the absence of trauma I can still photograph for bodily glow. At this point I changed concept to the metaphor for early photography. I had rested against something and it left a trace upon my body, this being read as metaphor for photography. It was still showing life’s glow, an after image of the object. This is my response to the marks placed upon the self portraits.

For the photogram, I find it quite indexical of photography and again my capture of after glow and the trace of the item making the mark is analogous to the placement of bee related objects on photo paper.

One the one hand this seems fanciful but does open a line of endeavour from my bodily parallel to photography. Metaphor and analogy are strong themes in my world.

Week 2 Forum: A Question of Authenticity

In Camera Lucida (1980: 89) Roland Barthes states that ‘In the Photograph, the power of authentication exceeds the power of representation’.

The question at first is telling but not necessarily too complicated to address and here we are reading this in the context of a semi-nude construction of a centaur and that has been devised to sway the discussion, surely.

So, given the photograph contains a trace of what was present (and perhaps is now from a philosophical standpoint is now dead), the photograph could without cognitive effort be taken at face value for what it is. This of course can be one the one hand a simple loss to the viewer who losses the opportunity to engage. On the other hand photographs used as political instrument of bias might simply be accepted as true.

Post modernists might take the modernist approach of Barthes as seen in other photographers work and use it as a springboard to make a post modernist point and this could be agreement but expressed as a montage or collage or as the example of Witkin the Centaur.

Authentication means there was scope when the photograph was made for the artist to give a modernist representation of what existed before the camera and no framing adjustments or lens distortions were used to deliberately mislead. It wouldn’t stop this happening in the reading by the viewer as that depends on what they bring, their culture and the time in which the photograph was read.

Representation, I used to see as the photograph being a most perfect portrayal or the best that could readily be obtained as a likeness to truth. Now I shift towards Barthes inferring that the image could be made in a way that is not the true thing we see but perhaps a metaphor for something else. Mapplethorpe’s flowers are about sensuality.

Any such photograph to which Barthes statement might naturally refer, and not the contrived one of the centaur placed in plain view of the question, we need to consider the context and then taking the centaur we cannot suspend belief. We know there is no centaur just separate images processed into one and no doubt taken at different times, so not a true photograph.

For my own practice it is highly metaphorical in intent and in presentation but still remain true to several key factors. An image in my portfolio is a trace. It does extract glow our eyes do not readily see and in doing so lifts colours. Sometimes shadow has a guiding effect in tonality in the end result and I have been known to control colour if consistency is required across a group or make separate groupings of like images.


Week 2 Introduction: The Index and the Icon

Definition (and I’ll try not to reference using wikipedia in future): In semiotics, linguistics, anthropology and philosophy of language, indexicality is the phenomenon of a sign pointing to (or indexing) some object in the context in which it occurs. A sign that signifies indexically is called an index or, in philosophy, an indexical. Link

[A] What sort of ‘truth’ you think photography can / might offer.

[B] How this might differ from other forms of visual and written representations.

These musings relate to inqury [A] and [B] above.

From Berger (Berger, 2013) et al. Photography offers a truth insofar as the lens can capture the image. The subject and image are two entities. One writer Nadar wrote of Balzac’s “vague dread” of being photographed as it would detach and use up one layer of the body  (Sontag, 1977, p.158)

In the case of Barthes, (Barthes and Howard, no date)none of the photographs of his mother sufficed as acceptable representation except a single image of her as a child, in which that younger face showed a kindness that he remembered seeing in her as his mother. The image seemed heightened by the presence of the brother alongside and parents standing in the background as soon they were to divorce.

In my abstract practice, the photograph contains the trace and after work in the digital darkroom,  with post processing, the art retains the trace, unlike the painting where the association is less or non existent.

Photographs carry more credibility than other kinds of images and especially require interpretation (Barret, 2010)

Photojournalistic and I certain contexts (competition) wildlife (doing something) photography almost entirely relates to the truth, again insofar as the lens is able to represent it and the picture editor or judging panel are able to enforce their moral standpoints. 

For reel film, inspection of the contact sheet, will show a more complete scope so surrounding images corroborate the truth. National Geographic require their photographer to hand over the whole card from their camera. Newspapers require JPEG images as having greater tamperproof ability.

Contextual specificity was mentioned above for wildlife photographs entered into wildlife category  competitions.

[C] What sort of “truth” do you think photography can / might offer?

[D] Is this different to other forms of visual and written representations?

[E] Is this contextually specific?

[F] Ane any aspects of this important to your practice?

The following musings relate to inquiry [C] to [F] above.

Compared to a text, a photograph provides a representation and the meaning may alter according to the crop applied. A text or writing on the same subject may be limited in how much information is conveyed and would largely depend on the reader recreating a past like image in their mind. The photograph provides a new instance of such images and so is more capable of discerning a more exact feel for what existed. 

My practice relates contemporary images right back to the same genetic ancestors over a hundred years earlier and without ever having seen them. The truth here relates to a) ancestor and person being correctly linked to family line and b) their being a true birth parent linkage across the years given that where secret adoption or surrogate mother situation may have occurred for example, these would break the narrative bond. 

However, the process of identification across a century would still hold as strong an emotional bond, for me, and may vary by individual if they identify less with the past and have less concern for the future of their daughter and daughters sons – this relates to my reading of gentic connections.


Barret, T. (2010) ‘Principles for Interpreting Photographs’, in Swinnen, J. and Deneulin, L. (eds) The Weight of Photography. Brussels, pp. 147–172.

Barthes, R. and Howard, R. (no date) Camera lucida: reflections on photography. London: Vintage.

Berger, J. (2013) ‘Understanding a photograph’, in Berger, J. and Dyer, G. (eds) Understanding a photograph. London: Penguin Classics, pp. 17–21.

Sontag, S. (1977) On Photography. Penguin Bo. Penguin Modern Classics.

PHO704 Week 1 Technological Modernity (as applied to Photographic Practice)

CRJ, Sustainable Prospects

This item has been moved to the Contextualisation blog

Apologies for that. I’m trying to instil a higher degree of order and finding it quite a challenge as (with any filing system, and this blog is a document filing system) one item might store in two locations. Ultimately it is better if readers can find stuff.

Note: the blog structure was eventually resolved at Week 4 of the FMP!

This has happened following discussion amongst fellow students at the new session Module Leader Group Tutorial. Having said that we have three Alumni visiting next week to talk and specifically mention about organisation

PHO702: Week 1 Photography Photographies

CRJ, Informing Contexts

Week 1 Informing Contexts?

[A] Demonstrate how your work emphasises the characteristics of a particular case study;

[B] Note how these case studies may not fully represent the full nature of the photograph within context;

[C] Demonstrate that certain characteristics are more / less important to your own practice within its intended context.

Identify the inherent characteristics and contexts of the ‘photographic’ nature of your own practice. I reference the case studies (Cosgrove, 2019)

The inherent characteristic my practice is that using photography in the onward creation of a higher level representation as Abstract Impressionism. Elsewhere, I confirm the work is Abstract impressionism as opposed to Abstract Expressionism which exploits contemporary anxiety.

My photographs contain a trace the camera sensors detection of our bodily low and in some cases the repair process from minor trauma provides a source that creates some Image structure – something for the eye to rest upon. There is no direct image of trauma and no one is hurt deliberately in the making 

In reading the case studies, this week, I can relate to all three cases: with Swarkowski I’m happy to accept the analysis of photographer, but I do wright elsewhere, but I feel with the advancement of technology the analysis does need updating; with Shore, there is a Focus on the photograph and yet there is overlap with Szarkovski – again with less criticism and before I find this analysis also interesting and useful. 

[A] However, the case that really excited is the exhibition “What is a Photograph” curated by Carol Squires. Whilst criticism can be aimed at Squires for not actually answering the title of the exhibition and, for example there is no digital content, that did not put me off. For me what really mattered where the ideas of the contributors, who focused on the making and in particular by over painting photographs I felt there was a commonality of purpose with my own practice, where present and, with the latest Digital software, I have to perform destructive editing. By the time I make print I feel those correspondence between Squires exhibition in the making of my own work.

There are aspects of this generally that address the question can this be allowed? Is it photography? For me, it is the kind of work I want to make, as noted I was very excited. When I learned of the criticism over the curation I applied a brake immediately and almost stopped any further thought if my work would not be accepted within an MA Photography course for not being photographic – only being photographic in the initial making.

[B] It is due to the digital nature of my work, the post processing in the digital darkroom combined with the constraints applied to argument/thinking of Szarkovski, Shore and Squires, that sets my work apart.

[C] The characteristics of Photographer / Photograph apply to my work at the initial making stage. My photographs though are non pictorial, they are not perspective views and do not attempt to meet traditional photographic making characteristics. I tend to work more with light and exposure, with hidden levels of IR detected by a camera sensor and I have in mind what cannot be seen necessarily at all or be seen easily by eye. I bring this out in digital processing. Also, my work is design around intentional hidden levels of meaning so this although not mentioned as a characteristic is another element of the photographer as opposed to photograph and is important to me in the creation of work.

I can relate to the idea of the subject and the image, the banal being made beautiful by the camera as discussed by Sontag (Sontag, 1977)

Cosgrove, S. (2019) Week 1 Presentation: Photography, Photographies : Informing Contexts PHO702 18/19 Part-Time Study Block S2Falmouth Flexible. Available at: (Accessed: 1 February 2019).

Sontag, S. (1977) On Photography. Penguin Bo. Penguin Modern Classics.

Photography Photographies

This is my blog post on Photography and Photographies topic. Subject first tackled Szarkowski. Here I connect with my practice and attempt to answer posed questions.

My work transforms minor everyday trauma into art. So that which is before the lens creates a photograph which is separate to reality and then in post , the glow that our bodies emit is processed.

The first characteristic I would add is that of the accidental photograph taken by a person who has a camera and normally decides when to use it.

Another characteristic I might add (and I’m keen to explore in the background) is one broader acceptance of the therapeutic interpretation of the photographic.

Different end points or destinations for my work would likely call for adaptions. In a gallery or as an installation moving stills and sound may be effective. If published in an e-Zine this might equally allow moving image and sound. At first a book seemed to be how to publish my work, a book was the original intent, and the suggestion has returned. In that case I’d work more on the call and response titles in my portfolio. All these actions are a means by which the viewer may engage with the images and the connection with the ancestral past.

Mechanised production of the photograph (Szarkowski, 1980)for me becomes mechanised capture by mechanical and electronic means. It is the electronic is key for me as it is what allows creativity through the digital darkroom.

Szarkowski concentrates on the nature of the photograph and what he defines are taught in beginner and above photographic workshops.

Szarkowski seems to me to constrain the scope of his endeavour when analysing the photograph. He differentiates the photograph from a painting, but I’m aiming to create art. Either my work is moving away from the photograph and into a realm that might quickly attract criticism. I enjoy my work so wont easily be swayed by adverse opinion.

Szarkowski is set on promoting photography. I wonder that motivation he has. Could he be self serving ? or acting out of a sense of duty. Counter to his analysis my work is concerned with freedom of expression of ideas and of feelings. Photography for me is a means to an end.

I’m not opposed to Szarkowski’s analysis and in fact I’m quite interested in the presentation of his analysis. Maybe I’m happy with a dichotomy of views.

In respect of Szarkowski’s work time has moved on and by now I’m sure he’d have revised and republished. He may have acted as a Modernist but we have since moved beyond this witness the Industrial Modernism and expansion of technology. 

The most popular camera on Flickr is the smartphone. Nowadays influence is not so much academic but is with the marketing department of the technology firm. Scope for photography is greater for smartphones especially in having storage and distribution including via connection to social media. There is a whole new area of study around social analysis and psychology as photography proliferates.

Szarkowski took an informed view in creating his work and that has to be admired. But it is time for a revision with wider scope and new concepts. 

The idea of the invisible picture must have altered somewhat, from the time of film photography as digital cameras, including smartphones provide image live view as well as a histogram. As processing is immediate there is often scope to take a picture again.

Barthes is mentioned with regards the perceptual relationship. When I take a photograph I may retake or edit it to accord with the mind’s eye. 

Szarkowski considers the limitation of the frame yet even in this a modern 360° camera will take in the all-round view. I mention this as it challenges the constraint.

I did take issue at Szarkowski describing work as pretentious failures. To me it sounds like tableau work opposes his ideas of the photograph so he uses a put down. 

In thinking about the photograph my own thoughts turned to the camera obscura. I use this in comparison to the photograph. In doing so some of the effects of the camera fall way, such as image blurring or freezing. What then remains are perceptual effects. This might be red and white hoops on clothing looking pink. Other effects might be colour being misread in a field of other colours. The eye also automatically adjust for White balance. Therefore perception is important to consider.

Where Szarkowski claims that the photograph cannot have a narrative, to me it seems that groups of photographs can. My practice contains narrative and has signs. My work is symbolic and metaphorical.  Also comment where Szarkowski notes Sontag’s belief on photography being able to create beauty even from the mundane, then in my practice too the quite unusual photographing of trauma can indeed lead to beautiful imagery.

Where framing has been identified I go along with it. And in fact I did try to alter the hard frame into more of a spy hole effect in my recent work, but have more to do.

Where time has been identified, I relate to this not so much as the moment in which I take the photograph so much as I take to opportunity to record minor damage in the present in order to relate it back to the past, across a century. I do this for purposes of identification and in order to close gaps in communication.

In terms of blur my images do capture this in terms of DoF. I don’t photograph as a practitioner would in the medical field and I’m unlikely to get fully sharp images. In fact the blur adds to the abstraction.

I enjoyed the comment on Viewpoint and the use of balloon flight to enable overview images to be made. What I picked up from this was how political considerations enter into photography, that being something I do not press.

In the discussion about detail, I look at my practice where detail is not so important as a lack of detail. The images I produce glow and just as the suns light can create effects, such as crepuscular rays and blue light and sunrise and sunset aesthetic, you do not and indeed cannot see the details of solar flares or other surface activity.

Where a level of detail helps is where a minor wound creates some structure that guides the viewers eye and allows it to settle.

If were to attempt to add to the list any characteristic I felt missing from Szarkowski’s analysis I might add: hue/saturation and exposure/shadow/tonality.

Shore and the Nature of Photography in retrospect in part is dichotomous with Szarkowski and also shares characteristics (Frame and Time).

Shore places emphasis on the photograph:

Physical – Depictive – Mental as characteristics.

Szarkowski focusses on the Photographer: 

The thing itself – The Detail – The frame – Time – Vantage point as the traits.

As described by Shore, I tune into the world as it might be seen as a photograph.

In terms of the physical photograph. I do now print, but did resist this in terms of wastage, cost and struggle to control the image on paper.

Week 1 Forum: Where Are You Now?

This section allied closely to the development of my practice / Project and so is blogged in the Week 1 Development Project here and within Canvas (our VLE) here where I also respond to other Students practice.

Week 1 Introduction: Photography – The Shape-shifter

Within this Post on photography– the shape – shifter I provide my comments and take the three questions below and code them throughout my text

[A] context of practice

[B] Means of consumption

[C] How practice received

My practice is that of a digital worker operating in post within the digital darkroom. My practice could translate to 35mm film at the taking stage off my photographs. The processing I do perhaps works better at slightly lower resolutions with regards the software used.

[A] my practice falls into the category of the public display of private photographs. The work originated within family, was intended for family, is appreciated and understood by them. and so on. [B] The whole endeavour has changed, becoming much more externally focussed to the extent that initial discussion took place with a museum with interests related to the narratives. This is greater than just the book originally intended. It could also be delivered online.

[C] The Life’s Glow part of the practice is likely acceptable to the viewer. The related part that gains abstract focus from minor trauma could generate unwelcome responses of seeing somewhat weird ! or as disgusting skin photography. However, the message is that the genes that power the cells that effect the visible repair process are the genes that reflect back a century. Such things haven’t harmed the development of the work of Damien Hirst, so perhaps there is scope for progress with my practice. 

The practice might benefit from being worked in Black and White. I have been practising the skills, but the whole thing is styled on colour saturation and would lose its identity. It is just that at times I wonder if the saturation is too much and perhaps needs to be toned down. I’m immersed in it so maybe I’m more sensitive to this.

[C] There is potential shock value to my work. That was me responding to the course in terms of having learned about studium and punctum. 

[C] If my photographs were to make it in a museum, then potentially there is a shop that might sell prints? Even without such commercial sales, there is a question about how my work would sit alongside the sorts of goods a museum shop sells. This could cross “contaminate’ and either build the context or as in some of the Benneton adverts go awry, if I have no control over associations.

[C] Whilst there is no Pieta or like element in my work, the ideas have received religious comment. Once in the setting of the Howard exhibition (Howard Rachel, 2018)and second time with a Pentecostal Pastor Prince I met at a War Museum. This concerned more the making of the work but did include viewing of the early stage abstracted images. It did seem that the work was inspired (by God might be one reading – if that were so it is quite haughty in respect of my intentions).

[C] There may be some read across between area of medical science around DNA and the study of Dermatology. 

[C] There may also be a nod towards the Evolutionary Debate and Creationism. However, my work spans only 100 years not the evolution of mankind.

[B] There seems to be secondary scope for my work to be used in education in the context of Genetics teaching? If used in a museum the intention would be to address an audience of learners.

Shape-shifting would be a natural outcome of presenting my final work in different contexts. The effect would be down to a matter of taste.

As mentioned Damien Hirst has set the stage and sustains public comment in areas where I see our types of work overlap.

If my work gained onward distribution e.g. to a newspaper or journal then IO feel the editor would have responsibility for preventing any clashes of content. 

[C] I performed digital manipulation before ever owning a DSLR camera and so for me work has always had a baseline of manipulation. In a way that’s how I attempt to create art. However, I realise the moral debate in some circles. However, I remain true to my subject matter to maintain authenticity. Where this becomes tricky is from a curatorial standpoint if I did not maintain a proper trace between source imagery and the narratives so linked. 

To communicate narratives I have to make some creative choices. Examples might be the incorporation of diptychs as a visual substitute for the text narrative that was created.

There are medical parallels to my work, not least starting with the conditions under which photographs are taken. The medical profession has methods, training and equipment for capturing best image. I have to work in an informal context and sometimes almost need an operator to capture trauma depending on placement, lighting et.

In a museum context a military historic theme would impinge on my work. There is a Great War background so that should remain compatible. I could hamper my taking the work out to other contexts, other audiences.

In terms of creativity, I may chose a layout that does things like, challenge the existence of the frame, insofar as that is possible. Carey has achieved this with some of her work (Barry Tim, 2016)using Polaroid push / pull techniques resulting in surfboard images.

[C] If my practice quality continued to improve (bearing in mind this latest phase is 3 months in the making) and I accepted an Editor / Editorial team challenge to publish in their journal, that might work, given the audience of Contemporary Photographers. This would be less risky to manage than  newspaper. 

When I look at the work of Benneton, to me it is clear from Toscano being moved on or moving on tht a limit had been stretched too far in their advertising subjects. Whilst individual images might stand, I feel the problem becomes one of aggregation and association. Pulling one advert can no longer resolve conflict if it is a wider attitudinal problem. 

In as much as such weighty things of mediation and the slipperiness of images and how this could impact on my own work, I’m afraid that without this MA Photography Course, I would have remained naïve and become a lamb to the critics slaughter.

Barry Tim (2016) Aesthetica Magazine – Interview with Ellen Carey, Poet With A Lens, Les années 1980, Centre Pompidou, ParisAesthetica. Available at: (Accessed: 21 January 2019).

Howard Rachel (2018) Repetition is truth via Dolorosa. Edited by A. C. Beard Jason. London: Other Criteria Books. Available at: