PHO705: Week 6 Reflection

Reflections on Week 6

The activity was wide-ranging this week and covered the end to end process of the proposal review through, development of the project, research-driven work and some image-making related to contextualisation with a focus on genetics.

In terms of Learning Outcome L06, it is now clear from a reading of (Preiss, 2012) that the photographic project subject matter creates a great deal of entanglement between the author and family ancestors. This entanglement is fundamental to the theme being complicated and difficult to express. A reading of this reference has furnished the tools to disconnect from a deeply personal and difficult subject matter. At first, it seemed that the project could altogether complete as the attachment can now be broken and even a new project undertaken. Reasons now for keeping going are the development of the DNA theme of science as art, and not to mention the level of investment in the project.

The Video section in the list caused thought to be spent on the target audience and in particular highlighted audience limitations – not the younger (game playing) age group in this research.

If research bias is to move towards mitochondria then the visual language contextualization needed to be developed and so the first attempt during the FMP module. A feature of the new approach is there is no travel to southern Scotland for shooting the environment.

It was appropriate to reacquaint with the research skills of a) skim reading, b) scanning and c) close reading. The different reading skills would be essential given the number of reading materials that are currently being dealt with.


Preiss, I. T. (2012) Family Constellations Revealed. 2nd Editio. Antwerp, Belgium: Indra Torsten Preiss.

PHO705: Publication Research

What are the options I feel might work in presenting my processed images?

From my research (Colberg, 2017) page 46 consideration is given to different groups having different degrees of visual sophistication, and this should shape the concept. As a book publication with the intent of avoiding small edition size, it is appropriate to make a photobook accessible. I should avoid making it overly complicated. I ought to add text that helps the viewer understand it.

This is my first obvious challenge as to date I’ve been aiming at multilayered meaning and have preferred by analogy Shakespeare prose rather than Daily Mirror. What is to be gained by trying to be too clever (and potentially failing at it too)?

(Colberg, 2017) page 47 also draws attention to the “zine form often looking like a sloppily made photobook.” I may have made the point elsewhere that I use the zine as part of my workflow when creating a hand-bound book. It is not a deliverable item in its own right.


(Colberg, 2017) page 47 discusses narrative and how it both means “story” (as in what is the story being told here?) and the process or technique of telling a story (as in: how is the story being told?)

I have learned that “it is important to keep these two aspects of a photobook apart: what is the story? How is the story being told?”

Then does there have to be a story. No. Bit most photography os about something so there is probably some sort of story.

I’m going to try and keep these points in mind as I look at some options.

I have these ideas to take into the review this week, Week 6:

  • Use mixed images where archives and abstracts are somehow layered. Until I try it out I won’t really know how effective this will be.
  • Take each abstract as the main image and have around it two small related pictures; a family archive photo in one position, a narrative picture of a person or a newspaper quote of them.

The latter translates through the form of a timeline and should be comprehensible. A complication to this is the idea of time collapsed alluded to here. I now explore the metaphor of a ladder where there is the transmission of the gene as an information carrier. In fact the DNA double helix is visually like a ladder. At each rung, of my ladder there is a photographic archive print relating to relatives who share in common biology.

Still running for a book publication:

  • Use a template approach such as discussed previously by adapting the layout from Rachel Howard’s Repetition is Truth exhibition book. 

The structure is:

  • Interview (including contextualising photos in miniature)
  • Prose (also the same with contextualising photos in miniature)
  • The main body of abstract paintings created using the hidden brush of gravity.
  • A collection of abstract miniatures giving a kind of contact sheet view accompanied by minor captions.

Adopting Howard’s method for me overcomes a problem of wanting to be like this artist and major in abstract imagery. I’m aware of personal significance I had gained from Howard’s exhibition that is not transferable to my audience. Then it is probably too early in the FMP module to bar more considered options.


Colberg, J. (2017) Understanding Photo Books the Form and Content of the Photographic Book. Edited by Taylor and Francis. New York: Focal Press.

PHO705: A Quick Look at Learning Outcomes LO3, LO4 and LO6 in Preparation for a 1-2-1 in Week 6

I comment here on LO3, LO4, and LO6 as areas of focus. Perhaps I did not communicate these strongly in my Final Proposal.

LO3 Critical Contextualisation of Practice

I contextualise my photography and image creation in terms of healing and art, an earlier identification with suffering, along with the spirituality of connecting with family and our remembrance of them. The following references I associate my with:

LO4 Professional Location of Practice

The audience breaks down as follows:

  • Family is the immediate audience. My work emerged from family as a collaboration.
  • Our staff and students within the University are audiences. This a step towards going public through assignments, portfolio reviews and critiques.
  • Accomplished photographers and digital artists I would reach out to as my primary audience.
  • Clinical photographers and scientist experts in digital and medical imaging are an emerging target audience. At present, I use the scientific community to test theory and assumptions.
  • Followers of my work, may or may not represent a professional context yet interaction here often brings pleasant surprises. Some from this group are from teaching or an arts and crafts background. They actively express interest in my work and have done so now for several years. Followers have earned special consideration.

There are several tried ways and other potential ways of reaching out. The exhibition has to be the main driving force, as experienced in an earlier module. From this springs the marketing and publicity of reaching a particular milestone. This would lead to a rich media environment and supporting materials and social media campaign.

A book is a recommended outcome for my work having demonstrated strong skills in making in an earlier module. I would create a book dummy and would seek to convert it into a professionally bound work. Numbers of interested parties might tally around ten at a first count. I need to give this more consideration.

Even if I restrict the list to these for now, I klnow from experience there is a whole lot more making:

  • Video for contextualisation.
  • Audio recording as for creating atmosphere.
  • Online gallery

As an emerging digital artist, it would fit to occupy a gallery space in one of the online communities. At present, this has to be aspirational as there is so much more to find out. I’ve participated in virtual world exhibitions several times, explicitly using Linden Second Life, a virtual world. 

From an online world perspective creating a gallery is untried for me. I’m sure I would need to involve a virtual world developer. This is exciting, really exciting, even it flies in the face of materiality. I’m thinking through how the name Second Life becomes connected with the theme of my work which is really an aside. However, I see a great connection with the title, as sentiment and as the digital presentation of digital making. This would be a true mark of progress, given ancestors could never have predicted the rise of the internet and the discovery of knowledge of genetics. At some point, I was going to get carried away and here we are. I really need to focus right down on making rather than being distracted by technology. This can be saved for later.

LO6 Written and Oral Skills

My chosen area has been hard to convey to a general audience. This circumstance has been a constant for my time on this MA course and it is only through repeated practice that I hone this skill. The starting position each tome involves a trap. It is always too easy to over-elaborate and justify my work. In subsequent iterations this communication becomes more crisp.


Batchen, G. (2004) Forget me not. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Available at:

Kandinsky, W. (no date) Concerning the Spiritual in Art. Edited by M. Sadlier.

Scarry, E. (1987) The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. New York, London: Oxford University Press-23 978-0-19-504996-1.

Tammi, M. (2017) Sick Photography Representations of Sickness in Art Photography. Edited by M. Tammi. Lahti, Finland: Aalto University Publication- Aalto ARTS Books Helsinki. Available at:

PHO705: Week 5 Reflection

My reflections on Week 5.

This has been a week for consolidating and catching-up and a time to start looking forward too. After a poor start to FMP, there is a recovery and so a lot of activity of seven guest lectures. Three on the Photography Hub, four on the FMP Module.

Photographers Researched

Posts have been written on three photographers who were more fully researched: 

  • Susan Hiller – Auras; 
  • Evan Roth, Red Lines; and 
  • David Fathi (also listed in the FMP section below) 

I caught up on three Photography Hub Guest Lectures

I watched the following when off-sick and haven’t written the blog posts yet.

FMP Lectures

In addition to the three Photography Hub guest lectures, four FMP lectures were studied.


This was a lot of lectures (seven) that were caught up. This took me away from preparing photographic work. There is more catch-up with, two more Photography Hub guest lectures to write-up (Forrest and Labas) and a forthcoming FMP research lecture featuring Caroline Molloy

on post-processing from several shoots to catch up on. So a very hectic week ahead. It is just a case of maintaining this level of focus.

Final Proposal

Our Supervisor published the scores for the Final Proposal and I rightly gained a low pass. My excuse is an illness that I’m now over and an unprecedented set of personal circumstances.

Applying for Extenuating Circumstances EC is something offered by the University but I didn’t entertain this. I didn’t anticipate the barrage of further circumstances about to unfold. I wasn’t able to plan and progress my proposal and did not have it reviewed prior to submission.

Overall, there were already too many other activities to catch-up on and EC would only have compounded.

Instead I scraped together a submission and got on with fixing my blog, began advance planning and substantially caught up on coursework and research.

Shoots and Post Processing

Thinking aloud. I’ve managed to keep shooting and even do some practice shooting as circumstances proved favourable. Practice shooting was with local Flora with new techniques I wished to hone before going farther afield, e.g. back to Scotland should this transpire as my method. As yet it is undecided. In a sense, it would be easy enough to arrange to do this, but the purpose and intent need to be clear and robust compared to other approaches I have on the go.

Post-processing, a key element in making a useable image, has only been lightly pursued. Why so? The obvious question of available time but also of needing to know more of the direction I want to take-up. Ideas are still being formed.

e-Zine and Bound Book

On the subject of an eZine, I need to communicate my interpretation of what this is about. My practice is such that when I begin a bookbinding task which of course is only a part of the book publication workflow, I have so far made an eZine using the online tool ISSUU. This is so I can maintain clarity by modeling the book. The vagaries of page imposition are such that the ordering looks completely wrong at every single stage until the printed signatures are assembled in sequence at which point the eZine version and the book-bound version match in page sequence. I’ve been accurate on this so far.

I researched imposition tools and my findings were around expense, software incompatibility and the distraction of learning a third-party application when a direct method in tools I already use would be about as good. There are always refinements to learn including dealing with page creep.


I did go out and find a print shop and talked to them about book production and would need to go back and sort out PDF image format etc.

Something I discovered from a recent announcement by a camera manufacturer is their flat spread binding offering. There is a special appeal for me in the two-page spread that is continuous across the join. If the claim is true it could work for me depending on what I decide to do. I should probably create a dummy to check this out.

Look ahead

There are several activities scheduled for next week, Week 6.

On Tuesday, I have my final proposal feedback – I said I’d analyze the marks (against the Learning Outcomes, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6, LO7. These are searchable categories within this CRJ blog. I elaborate in the following blog post.


Colberg, J. (2017) Understanding Photo Books the Form and Content of the Photographic Book. Edited by Taylor and Francis. New York: Focal Press.

PHO705: Concerning the Spiritual in Art

I continue evidencing my research with reading that began in an earlier study module that I carry into my FMP.

I’ll return to make my update.


Kandinsky, W. (no date) Concerning the Spiritual in Art. Edited by M. Sadlier.

Kandinsky, W. (1977) Concerning the Spiritual in Art. Dover. Edited by M. Sadler. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. Available at:

PHO705: The Body in Pain The Making and Unmaking of the World

I continue evidencing my research with reading that began in an earlier study module that I carry into my FMP.

I’ll return to update this blog.

For now, it is clear to me in my work that making-up is a part of the abstraction process driven by the subconscious mind following a period of deep immersion in the topic lasting now several decades. This is the result of collaborating with a history researcher.

The result though is the print that gives the abstract its material form, and so the tie-in to the following quotation:

“The human action of making entails two distinct phases – making up (mental imaging) and making-real (endowing the mental object with a material or verbal form) …” (Scarry, 1985)


Scarry, E. (1987) The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. New York, London: Oxford University Press-23 978-0-19-504996-1.

PHO705: Sick Photography Representations of Sickness in Art Photography – Maija Tammi

This is one of four contextualization blogs I intend to publish in Week 6 and will expand upon later. The post is meant to evidence some earlier research I started in a previous study module and that I carry through into my FMP.

My reading had led to the Aalto University doctoral dissertation 172/2017 as published in the book by this title: Sick Photography Representations of Sickness in Art Photography – Maija Tammi (Tammi, 2017).

This work covers a similar divide to my own, i.e. that between medical science and photographic art.

The publication overlaps into two exhibitions held in Finland.

Keywords: Sickness; disease; illness; art photography; abject; Kristeva; Kleinman

The best description I can offer for this difficult subject is the Author Maija Tammi’s own words from her book abstract which I have wholeheartedly copied below:

“This artistic research scrutinizes how sickness has been represented in art photography and examines the new ways to approach, think about and create photographic art about sickness. This dissertation combines theoretical research and artworks. t\he theoretical part shows that while scholars have concentrated the ethics of what kinds of images of sickness or suffering ought to be shown or on the psychology of why some images of sickness bother viewers, most art photographers have concentrated on depicting personal illness experiences. The research applies anthropologist Arthur Kleinman’s definitions of sickness, illness, and disease in a diagram to examine photographic artworks approach the topic.”

“To understand the functions and the meanings of the different approaches, the research draws especially from Julia Kristeva’s writings on the abject. The main results of the research, artworks Leftover and White Rabbit Fever are intertwined with the theoretical part. Leftover was exhibited at Photographic Gallery Hippolyte in Helsinki in January 2014, and White Rabbit Fever at Gallery Lapinlahti in Helsinki in September 2016. Both bodies of work have also been published as books: Leftover/Removal by Kehrer Verlag in 2014, and White Rabbit Fever by Bromide Book in 2017.”


Charles Baudelaire, “… copying nature had nothing to do with art.” (Tammi, 2017) Page 54.


Having read this work, it is clear there is a distinction present between the book with sickness, illness and disease versus the photo project and healing as glow. A similarity of sorts is in the book exemplifying the growing and dividing HeLa cells with the progressive colour change of the suspension. Beyond these comparisons the book and photo project are separate subject matters both involving the human body.

Common considerations do exist that have perhaps been down played or given cause to obscure and these relate to:

  • Ethical and aesthetic problems
  • Disturbing images
  • The difficulty of looking – the abject
  • Difficult photos – aversion; Freud’s uncanny; Misselhorn’s aesthetic of disgust

(Tammi, 2017) Pages 29, 37, 181-204, 215

“… it is not sickness that should be be re-defined or questioned but health.” Page 217 And healing in health is exactly what the photo project does focus upon.


Tammi, M. (2017) Sick Photography Representations of Sickness in Art Photography. Edited by M. Tammi. Lahti, Finland: Aalto University Publication- Aalto ARTS Books Helsinki. Available at: