PHO702: Week 1 – 12 Development Project

Unbeknown to myself as author I was keeping two blog posts running on this topic. How can this even happen?! Anyway the other post can be found at the following WebPage URL.

Week 12

Social and cultural elements underpinning my work concern place and absence of persons related, the loss of able-bodied young men from a farming family. Outpouring withheld, those who remained quietly lived out their lives in peace.

Two things happened within the social structure: local migration, west to east; settlement within Burn’s poetic landscape; focus on a place of Christian adoption and fishing employment; early globalisation with travel reaching out to Canada, United States and India,

Themes exist within my practice and work expanded in Week 11 to cover an underlying basis of social connection based on biology represented as epigenesis. Here are the themes corresponding to the structure of my Critical Review and edit of my Work in Progress WIP Portfolio:

  • Commemorative – somber mood
  • Celebration of life – unseeing eye
  • Faded memory
  • Narrative – photogram and captioning
  • Biology – epigenesis

I realise now I need to order this list and in the CR introduce these and us subheading to add structure at the outset then proceed having scoped this for the reader. No big surprises or unexplained diversions.

At present I improve contextualisation practice as all the learning and all the reading begin to take hold. My moments of realisation become intensified but deadlines do loom. Keeping a balance between assignments is paramount, acting before everything has sunk in better. Suddenly from a smouldering the course as experience has once more ignited and again engagement is on fire.

Week 11

In the past weeks (Week 5 to 10), experimental inputs have been included in my work motivated by portfolio creation rather than collection of single images. I return now to capture a new concept about making based on my philosophical research into life as represented by our healing glow. Perhaps what follows can be classified as wild idea or maybe free thinking. On this occasion instead of letting intuition have full reign I plan out the making steps ahead of time – a discipline encouraged by the existence of the blog. I have yet to make and see the visual result – it might not work out, let me see. Images created better be good or I will have wasted my time.

I’d be excited to experiment with an interchange between form and shape. I have it in mind to revisit some separate abstraction from the past and use it to stage the work. The reason for wanting to try this out is to extend the intent of taking photographic representation deplete or deconstruct it further. I capture glow and remove details but trace remains, and some viewers recognise it. So make a radial 3D image (I need to remember how I did this before). It is derived from the camera sensor. The end result is a 2D surface or print. In clinical terms there is a comparison between the images from an MRI scan built up in slices and the microscope sample as a single slice. I find that a little off-putting for some reason so will stick to my image making.

Image Deconstruction to Trace of Glow

  1. Normalise the colour balance (key to moving from single image to images that collocate), process in strips of 5 (I get two or three matching successes), processes out the distractions and emphasise the warmth and glow.
  2. Introduce a processing step into this beginning workflow. Translate the image into a radial 3D form as I’ve practiced in the past (as a sideline to a small worlds project).
  3. Conduct the invisible paint brush work and layering. A recent move here has been to introduce a high resolution tablet. There is better scope for artistry – I have to prove I’m capable. I know people who are and even though I love to collaborate I’d never convince them and besides, for now I insist on my own original work. Maybe after the MA I can collaborate.

These deconstructionist effects now disguise the trace but it is still there more as an emotional element that direct physical one. Some abstractionists maintain photographic trace. In philosophical terms, there is a metaphor here for epigenesis, that complex state of human development where the genotype (DNA) is converted into the phenotype (the physical organism that we become). So this is a nod to the complex bio/chemical transformation that no one in human endeavour has yet been able to map. The new making step, step 2 as deconstruction is maybe the reverse of human development phenotype back to genotype. Nevertheless it is metaphor of so called prosaic isomorphism. DNA strands do map to the physical as in family resemblance transmitted, hence the isomorphic. We can’t follow the mapping, but there has to be a map of some sort. That much established, if only it were prosaic – a dull process. Instead it is highly complex and full of obscuring details, overwhelmed by unknowns. Hence the exotic and so, the term exotic isomorphism.

I set this observation aside and concentrate on the craft of making a visual metaphor. There is scope to apply with Occam’s razor.

Light Transmission

Something that settled with me that I didn’t make explicit and that stared back at me after a face to face critique held in Falmouth, is to do with reflected light versus transmitted light.

It goes like this. From a photograph usually of a wound or marking, I go into the digital darkroom and do all my processing as transmitted light. This is where I get first evidence of glow. If I continue to work the image and try to be creative in introducing depth and marks then in that environment it is still transmitted light. Control is exercised over environmental lighting and screen calibration here.

Turning for a moment to the taking of the photograph. Again there is environment and much more controlled these days. A mix of external light and flash light directed at the subject do two things a) reflect from surface and b) penetrate the surface, pick up colour there, then reflect back at the lens. Then when there is a wound there is an additional concentration of blood supply infused into the damaged area as part of the repair. It feels warm to the touch and emits a glow. This later bit is what manages to sidestep the filter designed to cut out infra red from entering the camera sensor.

So you might ask, why not shoot with an IR conversion? Apart from not wanting to destroy a perfectly good camera and besides, which wavelength conversion should be selected – it is a bit left to chance. What I actually use is a natural blend of visible and IR in my picture aesthetic. Another development I’m starting is to use light metering to measure natural and flash exposure and obtain a measure of colour temperature.

So some photographic artists construct the sets of their images with weeks of effort. I’m starting down a clinical route of gaining consistency. It offers the possibility of tracking healing as other factors than the wound progress are eliminated or at least controlled. Do I really want to do this? Well, I don’t want to shut out the possibility.

Finally, if you follow all this, then it is only natural that the images sing in the context of a display monitor or light box I suppose. This becomes more readily apparent in comparing print to monitor. The monitor forces enough light through and with enough dynamic range to make an effective job of exhibiting.

That’s not to give up on the paper medium. It’s enough to get a result on display at the moment without diverting off into repeat printing on a vast range of paper types. I’m thinking metal print might be worth a go. I’ve no clue at present it being only 18 months from my being a print virgin, as they say, whoever they are.

Week 5 to 10

I’m not going to pretend that I updated project development, religiously each week. I got up a head of steam and set to in making progress. I return at the end of a burst of activity to reflect on developments.

In reverse or mixed order, order doesn’t matter here:

  1. Make hand drawn glyphs that emphasise symmetry and blend into the image. Symmetry is pleasing to the eye and helps disguise an inability to sketch to a high standard – my practice is more geometric than aesthetic. I let the camera provide the aesthetic input by pointing and framing. Symmetry is also metaphor for the double helix structure of DNA. Semiology through this introduction of signs is an aid to guiding the viewer to help them get some narrative from what might otherwise be a series of smudges or indefinite smokey forms with call and response captions.
  2. From the visit to the Institute of Photography I’d shot 35mm and 5 by 4 film and processed and scanned the films. I returned to digital and started to process strips of my digital images. Why? I always processed individual images and got widely varying results and now wanted to go beyond square crop as a link, to images processed together that have an increased likelihood of being able to collocate. This actually works quite well. I used to find as single image. maybe 1 in 6 would respond well to my actions. Now with consistent lighting and processing as strips I go on to produce 2 or three images that do go together each time. So far so good. In my portfolio, I have an established pattern of three images then blank to break the sequence and so on, so this production method works for me.
  3. I restarted image creation in Week 2 of the module and at first got decorative results. They were good – I thought so but in review I was being persuaded to the sombre style of Mark Rothko. I appreciate his work highly, and I gain a consistent look and feel from this but cant fully let go as I am conflicted by my intent of representing the fact that they (ancestors) lived out their lives in colour and yet representations in book and film are mainly in black and white. Here the image is a separate thing to the subjects who once lived. I prefer the image to have closer connection to their lives.
  4. I process an image into several layers and recombine. With a bit of luck it works and creates a sense of foreground depth with layers of patterning or marks. When this is successful the viewer response it terrific. Very encouraging. However, I’m also aware that mastering the aesthetic can produce fantastic image collections, yet it is all for nought if there is no evidence of underlying purpose or strong narrative sequence.
  5. Something that occurred and really inspired and has yet to take shape is to go back to an inspirational scientific film of viral invasion of the human body. My link to this is the pictorial aspect of healing glow. In this film, what unfolds is a takeover of the cell nucleus through spoofing, followed by the defences we mount shown as body constructs of tiny molecular machines. This battle has raged since bacteria first inhabited the earth and our mitochondria, the very same, has fought its corner for millions of years and survived, and so we developed and continue to live on. Such is the power of scientific development the it can be shown. I’ve put this very imaginative inspiration on the back burner until I find out what to do with it. In film format, maybe that job has already been done by someone else and doesn’t need me to translate it to stills. Never say never.

Week 4

This weeks developments have much more to do with culture and communication and takes from advertising the direct ways in which dominant readings are created. Having said that the ideas work for literature, and pictorial imagery and whilst it is not immediately apparent for Abstract work the same ideas apply and as author I simply need to consider this and apply myself. As a self confessed rejectionist of advertising which of course is impossible to fully be, I begin to acknowledge the effect of advertising and from my reading this week, realise there is a lot my practice can gain from being more savvy about ads, so for now I’m a convert to advertising. For me this is a turnaround.

The following question and responses below are based on the Week 4 Webinar preparation form.

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 from.

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.

Authorship – this for me has been a challenge for some visual projects.

Although some reasonably successful approaches have been developed (see abstract categories below), there remains the next big challenge, to continue to home in on and author a consistent set of images. To some photographers this might be natural. For me it is a key developmental point and this week’s studies have drawn back a veil.

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.

<examples> portfolio is best example for now

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, two key aspect arising from discussion of

  • Narrative, photo presentation film La Jette

Also, moved to the fore by Representation – Stuart Hall – strengthens my ideas around 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.

A photograph was posted without title or explanation and was commented upon by a fellow student. Although compared to my norm this was 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.

In the time the current form of work has run, we encounter the first spillage of artist blood from a little mishap. Trauma – Minor – Ignore i.e. get back on with things. In fact there were two separate mishaps. No injury whatsoever throughout the quiet winter period then suddenly, ouch and ouch.

First occurrence – Artist Blood with Water (dramatic presentation loses some delicate edge texture)
First occurrence – Artist Blood with Water (preferred representation)
Trauma – Minor – Ignore
Trauma – Minor – Ignore


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

Trauma – Minor – Ignore

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 narrative, but video 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 3

So work was made that develops the imagery but looking back from Week 4 the author has still to target signifier-signified when placing before the viewer.

Disparate thoughts at this stage were initial panic at not shooting trauma (there simply was none). A fallback position of physical impressions came about through Alumni influencers. The same influencers triggered ideas on layering which I felt was a necessary future inclusion to more clearly transmit intent. A formative idea that needs thinking through properly for plausible contexts.

Each image has a summary comment in the title as a reminder to the author of discussion in three reviews.

Glow ! At last the glow is back. Perhaps novelty styled but image elements can be used.
Combined abstraction – creates interest and consistent signification
Glow – low key effect
Impression – mismatches trauma theme (but colours loved by author)

Too decorative

Week 2


In terms of development my ideas became much more unconstrained and I hesitate to say wild. Here for now I’ll mention my anti-frame perspective as clearly photographs are conventionally framed but I try for creative reasons to resist this. Whether that is a good thing must depend on the distraction caused versus the support it gives to the work.

Other ideas of form may or may not relate to framing. Printing on silk I want to try out. The fact I could wear my work would be the ultimate identification.

Printing somehow on a ball must be possible although involve tricky convolution. But why, that would be making a self serving point of trying to be too clever and ought to be resisted. Too many such diversions will surely dilute my work and make it gadgety.

I’d like to make my own installation by way of a gallery model. The return to the material. This could work and I could distribute my gallery top others rather than expect them to travel to a location. There would be scope for relevant technology with weblink to media via QR code.

On framing I diverted into a photograph as Mobius strip. That would need to be carefully designed but again is this a distraction? Trying to be too creative, in effect trying to show off? This type presentation would be a bit structured and really I’d prefer the print on silk method.

A subsequent wilder thought I probably wouldn’t take further would be robotic presentation of images like a juke box effect. At least though here there is link to the narrative as the War concerned was in my interpretation a war enabled by mechanisation.

Do please excuse these wild musings and feel free to comment.

Review of images and Artists intent

I need to cross refer here to the section on Barrett. This is where the practice ideas evolved within the Contextualisation section.

Week 1 Forum: Where Are You Now?

A summary response was given with links out to my text and images. Tutor feedback (thank you) led to a longer reply. Here we go:

The blog post from me, created during the assessment period is given in text form here .

Visuals for my current practice appear here .

I started out with Commemorative Historical work implemented as Close-up and Conceptual photography. The same theme moved to Abstract Impressionism. I continue to refine the technique to increase the standard of finish and consistency. Meanwhile, I continue to photograph intuitively for a change whilst exploring different avenues.

Feedback: Had I looked at the work of Mark Rothko? I have now. Also there was comment about giving consideration to moving image and sound. My reply is next.

I had added to the blog a Week 1 section in preparation for meeting and mention it here as there is a section on psychological impact as experienced when in discussion about the intentional hidden meaning in my work. 

Mark Rothko I looked up and I immediately get why you mention his still or silent Abstract Expressionism.I love the work of painters and always thought if my work could almost be passed off as painting then the job was well done.

I waver now in this objective. Why? I am learning through the course the additive and subtractive nature of these visual media and so discern between them having become more informed. I hope this doesn’t spoil my enthusiasm.

I have begun to realise the impossibility of making groundbreaking creative work. I always later find someone else has also explored the technique. This is to say I work with a freedom without knowing of these other works, without taking influence from them. As I learn more and gain greater discernment this will close off my chances of creating something entirely new. 

Contrary to this, I’m always tuned to the possibility of collaborating although this is not absolutely the correct term here.

Let me look deeper into Rothko’s work.

Sound, yes sound. I created a short moving stills piece with rational way back in our first module. It was raw, but I found it so compelling. I’ve looked since at the ability of the mind to create colour in response to sound. Sound and moving stills can be such a useful thing to work with. I did learn about it on a course but haven’t practised much, but would love to. I’ve since heard live and experienced the work of former painter and now performance artist Bill Jackson photographer whom I met last year. By chance, he picked up on my work on Instagram. He is one of two artists who follow me, which I find amazing. I always get why they like certain items I post.

Let me look up the link to the short (short) I mentioned. It is on Vimeo. Here we are, there were two items I created:

Title: Beginning – this brings me to tears still.

Title: Taster this was devised to set the emotional context of my project. It was rough and ready then dropped for the assignments as we are discouraged from using sound, and I understand the explanations as to why. I’d definitely want to include sound in any future work as an exhibition though.

Photography the Shape Shifter

Modernism and Postmodernism

Vincent Van Gogh is the father of Modernism in Art ? True or False ?

True for Painting (e.g. by way of making marks), but not for Photography (e.g. reproducibility)


I have two purposes immediately below: to appraise my practice and to prepare work ahead of this week’s Tutor meeting.

My Practice

My portfolio developed during the last module is evidently work in progress and certainly would benefit from more thought and analysis.

When I look at this, I immediately bias towards editing and technical refinement as I seek a common visual consistency.

Also though from the thematic standpoint, I need to resolve some things. I wrestle with these thoughts going into Informing Contexts module. This is my opportunity to test for worthwhile endeavour.

My work has addressed physical trauma as healing. As they (ancestors) became wounded and healed we pick up injury and heal. This parallels to create feelings of personal identification with those who were lost, and the loss, and maybe not the exact right word, the concealed loss. I refer to the gaps in communication made to self as child but which I now understand. Communication completing thus, decades after the event is a powerful and magical experience, or at least as personal experience.

Visually a particular kind of abstraction generally results in my work and is distinct. The origin of the injury is not apparent.

Before moving on, before going much deeper into this with a second important form of visual representation, something challenging has emerged. A successful project will have a message that is simple and clear. The viewer should get it.

Repeated attempts my making direct communication are not complete. A few months ago my expression of the emergent work ran deep. I’m not surprised as the work is deep, emotionally deep.

Through simplified expression, and a selective silence, I reduce the risk of the viewer (listener/reviewer) making an Oppositional Reading. However, a root cause is still there. The challenge is not solved.

There is a learning prospect as the MA unfolds. That’s on the positive side. If a continuous process of adaption on my part doesn’t help the viewer get it i.e. not get the message of the purpose of the work, it will become increasingly difficult to sustain.

Returning to the project as is, the other branch of development relates to images styled in terms of Life’s Glow witnessed at body surface level and detected by a camera sensor where invisible to the eye and brought out in processing through the digital darkroom. There is an intentional hidden level of meaning, whereby a descendant – ancestor linkage is identified in which materially and in energy production (e.g. warmth) is a direct one to one manifestation is established or some part of.

I don’t expect audience to get this without being primed. From my involvement in it I initially associated with ancestors missing from my life but whose siblings I’d met. That was an act of bonding. However I learned I had no connection in terms of Life’s Force. When I checked further, it was my father who had that connection, not me, and he is a direct biological descendant.

Then I learned, that my sisters had a fractional linkage of common connection.

Finally, I could steer back through my mothers line for my own direct connection. With some researcher input I discovered I did have a direct connection with relatives in the same world event, the Great War.

This shifted my attention to one of information based of records and on science and now I connect with other ancestors exploits and have learned of a different set of narratives including from newspaper articles of the time.

Although a different aspect of life, I could liken the experience to a (lesser) form of adopted child uncovering knowledge of their true birth parents. I use this description to illustrate the weight of the subject and eiher for feelings of acceptance or rejection. Those other than people we bond or connect with are brought into our lives with a stronger relevance and they may have as in my case simply been missing – I refer to gaps.

This latter piece led to initial ideas on the value as education. Here there is a problem as taking a person who has well formed bonds and then linking them in ways not previously accepted, could have repercussions.

In one discussion I had it was evident that the idea once conveyed allowed an exploration of thought. The individual concerned ranged across bonds in their own life and quickly made connections regarding their loss of loved ones. That had not been my intention and I’d not been ready for it so it was just as well we have a long term friendship. Potentially I had triggered raw thoughts and feelings. You just don’t know how these things will turn out. When it comes to individuals psychological resilience it is tricky and no doubt varies with proximity to loss and other connections such as births and other things like anniversaries. There are so many potential triggers.

Moment of Realisation

We know there are family interests that others outside the immediate family have no interest in, yet these others may be interested in comparing with their own family. I found this when presenting the early work to an audience. The group did not hold back and made helpful suggestions – things I could embellish the work with. As far as that goes, yes there are embellishments that can be made, so the audience showed support, a willing to say things to encourage project progression. This input in part came from an Arts Council sponsored University Lecturer and other eminent and respected individuals.

During my presentation I looked out at the audience in sensing and gained interaction with one individual. With a little interplay, conversation lit up after an initial reluctance. We related to their connection in their own family. Then a second audience member joined us and the wider audience looked on in interest.

On winding up for the break, someone came over and discussion continued as our experiences intersected. Then a magazine editor and book publisher/educational reviewer rallied to further discussion. They smilingly set me the challenge to develop the work to be published in their magazine.

Clearly work given freely and of a standard is of interest to them. They’d of course gotten in their pitch.

What I learnt:

Communication worked by seeking out grounds of common experience.

I’d uncovered about a 10% slice of the audience who engaged, that day.

Most others were neutral and appeared to enjoy witnessing the interaction.

Around 10% appeared oppositional, this given away in their clever questioning strategies. They were readily disarmed by the response.

Another individual told me their favourite image – always nice. That was encouraging. I’ll put that alongside a request for prints from another context, and prints in the style of another subject.

Original Scope

Before this project runs away with itself it seems prudent to recall the original scope as being family, who as a diaspora get this reach into the past and towards their culture as children. Beyond this a museum seemed interested at least in the text research (illustration photographs were not available to show at the time of meeting in the Curator department back in July 2018).


I was going to make comparison with a simpler to explain project I have on the go then remembered a golden benchmark, Chloe Dewe Mathews work, Shot at Dawn.

The title says what it is about. Then everything photographed directly connects with the title. Everything said relates back to the same theme. We can argue, is that enough for successful work? Well no. It also has to be substantive. And of course the work is substantive.

If only my project had such clarity of thought and of presentation. I’ve got to determine if the gap can be closed.

All Pervasive Nature???

I have to comment on this and to be honest will need to go back over this weeks work to figure out where this comes from and understand what is required.

PHO702: Contextualisation of Practice

From This Module’s Reading

Week 6 to 12

It was all in the melting pot at this stage and a very uphill struggle at times. Engaging with the language of Roland Barthes translated from the French is made more difficult than is necessary, at least that was how I felt. Consecutive to this, I read Susan Sontag On Camera multiple times in the hope of extracting something of value for my practice. Maybe if there is very little or no overlap with practice then the work does become a labour.

When I returned to Camera Lucida I improbably discovered that by reading the last paragraph in the book first I at last made progress. I’d noticed this effect first when reading an interview with Jeff Wall. Nothing said struck any chord with my practice. When I turned to reverse reading two things happened:

  • comprehension. Ideas that made complete sense were then seen to be developed,
  • surprisingly many paragraphs were left hanging and this demanded attention and so the preceding paragraph had to be consumed.

Anyway, it worked better and allowed progess to be made again.

Revisiting print size

I’ve been sensitive about large scale printing of small scale subject matter (after all I would not wish for massive trauma only monitoring minor happenings and latterly memory of body from contact pressure). Now having read of Gurky’s large scale work in the Journal American Photo (Jan 1, 2015) I’m caused to analyse and challenge this. The first module sensitised me to low res pixelated image presentation. But I do not say a flat no to large scale prints. In fact I have some testing on the go using Artificial Intelligence AI software and can print up to a limit of 18ft using roll paper. Initial results were encouraging but I need time to do more over my return to materiality (a nod towards Carol Squiers ICP exhibition What is a Photograph?

Week 5 Critical Thinking

If there is any doubt about gaze for abstract practice then let me consider

  • [A] Week 5 presentation The Body and the Land
  • [B] Mark Rothko Art as an Experience (thank you Tutor)
  • [C] Tate Exposed Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera (thank you Module Leader)

[A] Week 5 presentation The Body and the Land

See the Week 5 coursework blog

[B] Mark Rothko Art as an Experience

Mark Rothko Chapel a Week 5 visit to this research topic

In terms of his life’s work snd how this impacts my Practice:

The phenomenology of perception is key to Mark Rothko’s work where this concerns the structures of experience and consciousness. There may be a risk in engaging in this world and so a hidden warning. At his peak, Mark Rothko died of a drug overdose in New York. It was this day exactly 49 years ago on the 25 February 1970.

This anniversary and many other coincidences around my work can lead to fetishisation – a false attribution. It goes on – by accidentally touch typing one letter to the right on this keyboard just now, “his” translated to jod before autocorrecting to god.

Rothko’s work moving again into my consciousness has a rational explanation. The timing of so many of these events can be harder to explain. Religious context moved to the fore twice last year in conversation with Olympia and Pastor Prince whom I met separately. My own work can become obsessive which requires one to chill out. An original manifestation of my practice changed to abstract expressionism. This helped normalise sustained emotional outpouring. Now the tears have been wiped away. In the written word this may seem overstated but feelings ran deep and challenged who I am as a person.

Rothko’s work becomes a performance work. The paintings emerge around floor level and are large scale so as to envelop the viewer. The paintings have no central focus, paint being evenly spread from edge to edge, and corner to corner. Upon closer inspection the viewer becomes immersed as layers of colour reveal at the edge transitions. In the context of the chapel the work provides a sacral experience and you begin to comprehend how some become enveloped in the here and now and are given cause to weep.

Sadly, the viewer may experience the “imminence and transcendence of the tragic in human existence”. I tend to express this as the motivation to create work but the intent towards the viewer could be quite the opposite. This holding two opposing ideas in mind simultaneously might be taken as fetishisation. I’m obviously conflicted and have a task to sort this out. The emotional impact was originally my punctum insofar as I understood this by the close of the first module.

It has been hinted at various times that we learn first about ourselves as practitioners in doing this MA Photography course. On that score and in light of the return to fetishisation, I would draw a parallel with my other professional practice outside of photography. Here, some are trained to think in linear terms, and go step by step through a problem solving it. In my personal experience, I had to learn to carry many states at once. I liken this to waves lapping a sandy beach. As the waves retreat, water, returns to the sea along many tributaries at once or even soaks into the sand as one.

It is clear that the artist has control over the terms and conditions of the work and its contextualisation.

Mark Rothko Chapel a week 2/3 visitation to this research topic

Here is one of the earlier videos watched on Rothko’s Abstract Expressionism (Mark Rothko (video) | Abstract Expressionism | Khan Academy, 2014): note: no frame; floor height and viewer stands “within’ the work; effect is painted all over rather than a core with corners and edges of less importance; and no frame. Not action painting like Pollock.

From a previous mention, Mark’s son on video Rothko Chapel (Rothko, 2015) acted as guide to the Rothko Chapel. He talked about his father’s work and how visitors of all faiths sit and experience the black and purple wall paintings and how many have been moved to tears.

The sentiment to his work differs from mine as I struggle to hone my message towards a celebration of life. At present it doesn’t always translate that way as my motivation to doing the work gets in the way of the message. In other words I try to separate the motivation that drives me to do the work from the voice I wish to express – they are almost opposites and voice is opposite too to Rothko’s work.

Let me read the PDF and gain from a comparative analysis. 



Mark Rothko (video) | Abstract Expressionism | Khan Academy(2014). Available at: (Accessed: 29 January 2019).

Rothko, C. (2015) TCA Rothko Chapel Video on Vimeo. Available at: (Accessed: 25 February 2019).

Week 4 Critical Thinking

Film Documentaries

Some documentary films were consumed  Hidden Histories: WW1’s Forgotten Photographs (‘Hidden Histories: WW1’s Forgotten Photographs · BoB’, 2014)and The Genius of Photography (‘The Genius of Photography 1800-1914 Fixing the Shadows · BoB’, 2009)

Week 3 Critical Review – Reflective Thinking

As the next week of study begins (Week 4), I realise the Week I’m leaving behind needed some finishing off. I’d got distracted by making work and setting up the framework for the week to come and realise I need to act on advice and read to inform my work.

Of several books I’ve majored on this week, only one Campany(Campany, 2008)resonated enough to impact on my photographic practice. We’d previously been informed how comparing a medium (photography) with another medium (in my case this week Cinema), you begin to discover the essential nature of photography.

I’m going to set aside Barthes (Barthes and Howard, 1980) and Sontag (Sontag, 1977)

Before departing into the insights gained from Photography and cinema, I should also not broader aspects at this time whilst enumerating the sources I’d been to during research and study. Resources checked out following a library webinar include:

[A] insightful definitions of photographic genre (Szarkowski, 1980)

It seems wrong to categorise my work as Abstract in the vanilla sense as to be abstract it should not trace to a source, at least that is how I interpret and feel about it. I forever give away hints that tie the image back to the subject photographed. A closer genre I think, has to be Abstract Expressionism. I’m not fully settled on this as I do not wholly find expression in the negative, being more of the happy photographer aligned to the glow of life’s force and healing and the conceptual idea of impression upon the skin as analogy to photography, the latter being more in the realm of intellectual pursuit.

Also, a review during the week, highlighted the closeness of portfolio introductory images to the theme of title and captions used, and I agree. I can see a split now opening wide and I have to think whether to pursue trauma in its physical and mental modes, the theme that created for me the punctum that elevated the work above its previous status of illustration.

Trauma does depend on there being minor injury and when this falls away the subject matter becomes sparse. At first, I diverted towards the above mentioned theme of “Impressions”. Since then, there have been two instances of minor injury, one to me, the second to a close other. It is difficult at times as the taking needs another photographer really for perfection and ease of working whilst it remains slightly weird to be recording injury although by now it is understood and becoming tolerated. This new subject matter has led to a variation or economy of approach. As often now said, I follow the direction a photograph will move in based on practice, developed skill and latest informed intent. There are usually several points in the image making where multiple images can result. It does require a higher degree of image and file management. The approach is quite exciting though, as the photograph may lead to an image that invokes landscape, or incorporates the glow I so often seek or may demand comparison as monochrome. In fact the last image I made went off on the monochrome trajectory but with spot colour to let the eye rest and remind of injury. 

In a sentence, several images worked/made from the base photograph. I wonder what my tutors would make of that? To find out I need to create something to view.

[B] access to hi res photography sources (Artstor, 2019)

I’ve been able to check the look of war photography, and as it happened around the American Civil War. This archive material so often is in the sepia style when I declared early on in my practice that they lived their lives in colour and so I would honour that in my representations based on their worlds. This did rather drive me to the logical extreme of highly saturated work. The colours are trace if not somewhat overwhelming but visually interesting. It is a specialised branch of my practice and has evolved due to studying this MA Photography course. It is marmite according to the responses received but hey, I like it. I like it a lot. It has a very strong aesthetic and is trace and solidly linked to trauma and healing.

Week 3 Informed Context:

Photograph and Cinema – Stillness

Photography has developed a trend towards slowing down alongside the burgeoning of the Fine Art market. I should note this as my Practice is not vernacular.

Photograph and Cinema – Paper Cinema

My practice is likely to take on the context of a book and it would be very worthwhile revisiting this chapter later.

Something I seem to have and is seen as a feature of cinema is the mingling of real and imaginary; present and past; the probable and the improbable. Possibly my practice contains less of the latter, or maybe it does have probability in the balance.(Campany, 2008, p62)

My work is intended to be didactic in that it may be adopted by a museum or be used as an example for genetics teaching. The aleatoric or presence of chance exists in the making process, but is guided by learning the art. (Campany, 2008, p67)

I should check which of these film shots applies to my photography and image making:

Establishing shot | Narrative shots | Close-ups |Cutaways |Details | Summary endings

If moving still is used (it is anticipated) then consider dissolves etc (Campany, 2008, p83)

Photograph and Cinema – Photography in Film / 

As noted by Barthes and recorded in Campaney underlying the stillness of photography is Death. Indeed that theme underlies the loss in my narrative and again as memory is lost as other pass. (Campany, 2008, p96)

The photo novel La Jetee I find has resonance with my practice. “European filmmakers since 1945 include memory, history, war, identity, loss, desire and uncertainty” as themes and many of these apply. (Campany, 2008, p96)

Taking La Jetee a step further is is described in terms of “the patchy nature of the imagination and promise of redemption” (Campany, 2008, p101). The former is a very strong theme of my abstraction process. I need to think how redemption applies or could be applied.

Photograph and Cinema – Art and the Film Still

Trompe l’oeile addresses the details that give realism to cinema/stills.(Campany, 2008, p119). I need to consider this aspect as I largely remove detail to spare the viewer, and improves the aesthetic. However, I wonder if the additional layer of lines of poetry for example would compensate if included visually in support of the abstractions.

There seems to be a problem of stills not carrying forward narrative meanings. (Campany, 2008, p135). Perhaps the origins of my work in a narrative text clouded this for me as photographer and I should give narrative more attention. So far, a title and call and response captions are all I use. Note to self, to think this through further.

Artstor (2019) ‘Ode on Returning Home’. Available at:;prevRouteTS=1550155470171 (Accessed: 14 February 2019).

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

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

‘Hidden Histories: WW1’s Forgotten Photographs · BoB’ (2014). Available at: (Accessed: 17 February 2019).

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

Szarkowski, J. (1980) ‘Introduction [IN] The photographer’s eye’, in Szarkowski, J. (ed.) The photographer’s eye. London: Secker and Warburg, pp. 6–11.

‘The Genius of Photography 1800-1914 Fixing the Shadows · BoB’ (2009). Available at: (Accessed: 17 February 2019).

 Week 2 Critical Review: Developmental thinking points

Think about your work each week under the following headings:

1: Aim of the work

What are you trying to say or express with your work? What is its ‘intent’ (this will change from week to week, but in the final Critical Review should explicitly refer to your Work in Progress Portfolio). Refer to your research here – does anyone else try to explore similar issues?

The intent is to close a gap in communication made to me as a child where those missing were never mentioned and hence the gap, and how it has been possible decades later to recognise these gaps and magically fill in these gaps. 

The intent is to relate myself and family as a diaspora to events of the past and to a culture left behind – a family healed.

The intent is to reference specific others in the past and through reflected trauma in the main create the closest of ties to ancestor.

2: Reflection: Aesthetics, subject matter, technical approach

How did you try achieve this intention? What does the work look like? What is it’s subject matter?. Is it successful? Why? How does it differ?

The work had three and this week another, so three strands of abstract imagery now based upon-

Trauma (healing) – Life’s Force (glow ) – and Impression (as image captured)

The images become consistent and yet have different characteristics: 

Trauma both mental and physical take on a depiction upon which the injury as it was photographed allows the eye to settle. There is trace yet is unlikely that reality would reach out to the viewer.

Glow is apparent as an indicator of health and well being and localises to subject areas photographed and varies with shadow effect and source lighting or now use of flash.

Impression is the transitory mark left upon the body as a trace of some object.

There are two levels of abstract processing now often combined in my work.  There are edges and marks with horizontal landscape and vertical atmosphere and combined where visible reference to tartan. 

The second level is immediately noticed by the high saturation levels of colours. These are trace, being present in or reflected from the subject. As in the darkroom level s are reduced to allow glow to emerge, it is when the colours are again raised that the glow appears and the colour saturate. 

I combine the techniques for different purposes mainly presentational.

As I experiment the work becomes more unified and some early images as in my last WIP Portfolio, which were remakes to fit the course constraints did not entirely fit in. In a sense they looked different, a little more bland than the originals and by then I’d started to manage colours to a theme that started with a earlier title Poppies are Red … (of course Himalayan poppies are also blue). 

Given how long I’ve been working on these abstracts I am taken aback by how eye catching the images can be and so initial signs and impact for me are really good as I sense there is mileage in a project that indeed has a life of its own either inside or outside of the MA Photography Course. 

That is the excitement of the practice that keep me working with it. Indeed there are already areas of improvement for real success if the work is to get out there.

During the assessment period I worked with colour and with luminosity and in other work for competition I seen increased recognition and I now start to develop further and apply these growing skills to my practice to make better work.

I started photographing again during Week 2 and by the end of the week new work was emerging from the Digital Darkroom.

3: Reflection: Research/Awareness

What/who has informed this work? Intent? Aesthetic? Subject matter? Are there any photographers who work in a similar way? (e.g. aesthetically, technically, conceptually etc.). Refer to your research here

The written narratives and many discussions within family and the academic research conducted by my wife all combined with visits to place and earlier work towards publishing a book. 

There are other artists I have since discovered who make work with some visual references and mostly they are painters. Much of what I do is wholly unique and creative and exists and emerges from a world of digital computation and digital image processing.

Some references randomly connected with my work through religion, first through superstition then through conversations that I have now learned to classify as fetishistism. No not of a sexual perversity nature but of assigning powers to objects and happenings where in truth coincidence is more the likely action.

4: Reflection/Evaluation 

Do you think your work is successful? Why? Are these any images that were less successful? How did this inform the development of ideas and practice?

As work in progress my practice needs numerous adaptions. Aside from the basis which is solid and integrating, I need to work on how I talk about it and need to be sensitive to not guiding others overly in any artists statement or in applying titles. 

I sometimes think of strands within the work and yet when I take my gold standard of presentation Chloe Dewe Mathews Shot at Dawn, I have some way to go. I met Chloe and have spoken although not about this practice more on an earlier group book project as she reviewed the work Commissioned by Ruskin College Oxford, and feeling I know the artist at a more interactive level then her work is my choice, even if not abstract.

A look at my last WIP Portfolio is telling in its own right, (Turner, 2018). It has evolved as presented and ripe for further exciting creative inputs, The work is sustainable.


Turner, M. (2018) ‘WIP Portfolio’. London, [England]: Turner, Michael. Available at:

Week 2 Readings

Significant close readings or re-readings this week are noted

Sontag (Sontag, 1977)

Suffice to say I’ve read and re-read and read again with help from the Audible reading. Usually I’m not in a position to take notes so for this resource, I’m only too glad to have broken through the barrier presented by the writing style and can do text searches as particular messages come to mind that need referencing to page level. 

I also found another work and skim read this piece relating to a communication made for Amnesty International (Sontag, 2004). As my work has a background of loss in a war then this and a second reference on images of war (Stallabrass, 2013). I parked these for when I move apart from my emotional involvement with narratives and start to reach out to established references to contextualize my work. In the latter for example there is modern day example of captured prisoner torture method where by comparison my ancestor was captured but had no complaint and lived on a long life after the war.ß

Barthes (Barthes and Howard, no date)

So far I’ve read Part 1 and begun Part 2 in the available time, so intend of course to return.

Since reading this work again, I’ve been looking at my photography and that of other differently, and by the time of the Week 2 Group Seminar I was reading others photographs differently. I can now combine the aspects of detail and evidence of a concocted theme (not best) and how signs of accidental inclusions and uncontrived detail have powerful repercussions.

Within the area of Indexicality I got a much clearer understanding of Studium and Punctum

Barrett (Barrett, 2010)

Ah. I’m becoming progressively more organized and somehow in getting here I’ve mislaid some notes on this reading and have to skim back over. Lesson learnt I feel. Ah ha! Eureka ! A second reading has been transformative. The rambling list of musings (my first feeling) in the reference I’ve this time related closely to my practice and gained ideas and reinforcement of other ideas. This has been a top read and I say has really helped me. As I go into this it starts of as mere reflection, then catches fire as I see the writing in terms of my practice.  

Week 2 Terry Barrett Principles of Interpreting Photographs

Danto’s theory of art and interpretation is referenced.

Photographs carry more credibility than other kinds of

images and especially require interpretation.

This is to draw upon the cognitive value.

Photography is persuasive and we need to check what we consume

Turn image into language an important consideration.

Rorty is quoted and draws together Photography and Poetry. And books and music emotions we have felt in our and others experiences.

Thoughts – Feelings – Actions over seen and experience.

The photograph as altered 

Stop looking through a photograph  … it is not a beach … it is a constructed image.

The Photograph as opinion

Be guided by feeling when interpreting

Goodman referenced in terms of feeling being more fundamental or important than cold intellectual endeavour.

Feeling and thought as false dichotomy

Indexicality in terms of light reflecting.  Barthes referenced That which has been as Realist theory.

Notions pof Realist versus Conventionalist of factual and fictional: factual and metaphorical.

My practice is metaphorical.

We are reminded of the subtractive medium verses the additive medium in photograph versus painting.

The Photograph we are reminded is cut from a larger context. 

The instantaneous nature of photography references Barthes a photograph is like death.

In uniqueness, selectivity instantness and credibility Modernism is mentioned as we live in a Post Modernist social environment.

Mention os made of post modernists playing off of modernist ideas.

The content of the photograph is considered and subject matter is different to subject. Mapplethorpe’s flowers are about sensuality.

The Form of my practice is determined in the digital darkroom. Any my context is causal around identification and closing a gap of 100 years. And the content of my work expresses healing and repair of wounds. I also mustn’t let language over-determine my photographs meaning.

Where my work is presented alters meaning: compare with the image of the living embryo then it shown on a placard in a demonstration.

I need to be aware that judgements formed may prevent other judgements.

Critical activities around my work in describing, interpreting, judging and theorising are interrelated and interdependent. I must try this in my Tutor presentations.

My work may lead to many  non-unified interpretations so I will look out for other insights.

My work is definitely based in culture both my own technological culture and that of diaspora in family reunited. And in abstract the images result from other images both photograph and imagined.

There is also a world view in my work as a human family (biology) and of ongoing unceasing warfare. 

My work in a way is diagrammatically close to Rorschach inkblots, but sign intrude to bring the images back to nearer what hey are our at least so as a group of images and other supporting signs (text).

I must accept that my work may take on meanings I did not mean. However, yes I try to create visually stimulating work that goes together. I have to realise any artist statement  once out can take on meanings and other meanings. My work may have my intent as part of overall linguistic, cultural and artistic conventions operative at the time my work is produced. I should be aware I may put readers of intent into a passive mode and rob the viewer of the joy.

I must look out for viewers and readers interpretations as more or less reasonable, convincing, informative and enlightening.

Some interpretations made may be better than others or simply wrong especially if they do not interplay with other interpretations from tradition or previous. In this my work has to be relevant.

i shall too be aware of self satisfying ramblings if personal narratives are not made relative to the image being interpreted. I was guilty myself this week on critiquing a wolf with forest within as person made from typography. I was triggered but not relevant.

Hopefully my works critics will focus on my work and not me.

I should look out for individual critique and group critique.

 For some reason Barrett then goes off on a major critique of Sally Mann’s children’s sexuality. Perhaps that could have been lessened.

Interpretation is self correcting within the group.

I have receive critique for my work and regularly about the statement but also about the images. i must encourage or invite others to link interpretations with others.

Berger (Berger, 2013)

The photograph as trace and innocent transcription.

This was an interesting read that advised we miss so much of a Photograph when viewing it as Fine Art. Through stages of developmental argument about the difference between Photography and Painting what’s not in being important as a photograph is an instance from a continuum versus art is placement within the frame. 

Art transforms particular into the universal. Not photography is uses constructs. No transforming. NOW The degree to which I believe this is worth looking at can be judged by all that I am willingly NOT showing.

The argument develops towards use of photography within the Ideological Struggle. If there is such an ideology in my work it would be some aspect of loss and the futility of war.

So I am as yet facing the dichotomy of my work as art. For Fine Art I think at present the Photography has developed in its acceptance by museum or gallery curators and so photographs today do get room in galleries where Fine Art is displayed. Fine Art only by association but recognition nevertheless. Here is an example of the National Gallery written up in The Times (Campbell-Johnston, 2012)


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. (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.

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

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

Sontag, S. (2004) Regarding the pain of others. London: Penguin.

Stallabrass, J. (ed.) (2013) Memory of fire: images of war and the war of images. Maidstone: Photoworks.

Week 1 Contextualisation

 Only brief notes at present as I start to assimilate the rush of information. All of these references I have consumed and need to digest either by way of a write-up here or by incorporation in other part of this Critical Review Journal CRJ.

Mark Rothko

Gary Fabian Millar

Technological Modernity

Medical Practice references Week 1 Photography Photographies

David Hockney

Vincent Van Gogh

Antony Gormley

FT Life of a song podcast

Formerly called FT Arts. Description by Financial times. October 2010 to April 2018.

PHO702: Week 11 Peer Review Presentations

Peer Review Presentations

Week 11 CRJ Independent Feedback

Week 11 Interim Feedback

Week 11 Activity Peer Review Presentations and Feedback


I talk about my abstract expressionistic, even surreal work originally related to commemoration. I cover aspects of our existence around our glow which I record and relate to others. I mention care over unintended consequence of identification with events present, in the past and laid open to the future. I mention only a few of the painters or photographers I draw on, then break down the making, into different branches of intent and include the main trade-offs made at for me this halfway point in the course.

This work in the abstract, serves to commemorate family unknown to me as a child. They were never spoken of having died during the Great War, yet I knew their close relatives and I lived within the same culture of Southern Scotland. 

I detect and visualise the glow that we emit, myself and close family members and trace back into history each of our various links and this led me to special narratives of the circumstances of the land they left behind and the circumstances they met with, in France and Flanders.

I take photographs of healing and the glow of life aided by the camera and how it detects this when the eye may not, and I remove distraction by removing detail, a kind of insect eye view perhaps just as other species tune into light and heat differently to humans. In the digital darkroom through processing I meet my intent. Detail is distraction. It is the glow I seek out. 

If I shake a hand and feel a warmth, that becomes a physical experience that links through biology to certain ancestors long past. In this way I identify with them and experience a connection. Within my project I can portray that connection as an image, and it serves to remind me of them. As a conceptual work it is replicable across other individuals and their own histories. A selfish interest becomes generic. In my experience this work has already had a uniting effect on a family as it had become widely dispersed. It has reacquired focus.  

I discovered an unintended psychological impact. In the present, a person I know well enquired then was caused to think of the recent loss of close ones. They were brave as the feeling was raw, and yet they gained solace as their own life force had propagated to ensure survival. 

There is a highly complex analysis and yet the discovery was made of a simpler connection that people can use to guide their perceptions of family. We incline to such social constructs as patriarchy for example. The work makes visible lines of social connection at variance with bonds made through close biological connection.

Unlike the work of Chloe Dewe Mathews commissioned by Ruskin College ahead of a centenary commemoration, passed in November, my work started 20 years earlier and with this conceptual work and imagery it will reach far into the future and has the power to bond people who wish to take it up. 

Branches of the work exist:

Some images I make, take on horizontals (for me of landscape) and verticals (again for me linked to environment) and there can at times be an uncanny linkage to the paintings of Rachel Howard, from Repetition is Truth via Dolorosa – Newport Street Gallery 2018.

An intent of my theme becomes subtle as it is partly lost in layering and in the development of the work but still can reoccur. These are linked to Scottish cultural themes of blue as a national colour and of tartan as worn by family today and in the past. This is becoming less obvious and less enforced in the work as time goes on.

Another branch of work has become conflicted. They lived their lives in colour and colour represents in us today a vibrancy of our lives and begins to make way to more sombre tone in keeping with sad events. 

I used monochrome within a colour sequence to acknowledge moments of mental trauma. I accompany portfolio work with call and response captions and intend this be developed in a rhythmical sense almost as if chant. The interruption of the sequence with monochrome imagery was an alert to mental trauma. 

I implement such things almost as intentional hidden layers of meaning. I resist over-simplification as say demonstrated in advertising when an actor as Wordsworth scribbled down, “I went outside and walked about a bit” which after sipping the featured beverage transformed to “I wandered lonely as a cloud”. We’d have to say too that Shakespeare’s work would be a lot easier to read if written in standard Daily Mirror newspaper language. 

My visual work is not meant to be pretentious, so moderate layering of meaning only is allowed in order to add some discernment.

Another recent branch of imagery is the sombre monochrome mentioned now sees the addition of glyphs or photograms as original intent. I find now that visual consistency is created throughout when using the sombre style. Before I’d introduced consistency through a square crop which may see a return. It will take some reckoning to fully accept this divergence from original intent from “they lived out their lives in colour”. At present I’m conflicted over adoption of art as an experience, the theme in Rothko’s work. Whilst there seems to be choice, I continue to address the small markings of floor to ceiling height painting (Rothko Chapel) compared to small subject photography and limitations of clinical style photographic matter. Microscopy has been tried, then improved and consistent lighting, yet for what I am doing there are the compromises we all get in close-up work where there is movement. 

As my work is not made in camera, and I have a lot of images now comprising mild injury or latterly when injury ran out, memory of impressions on body. I can process more images for the edit (always sensible) before finally resolving the sombre versus celebration. 

A further branch of my current work are images as imaginings of faded memory. These serve several viewpoints. From home those remain look out over the sea and remember. Those in the theatre of war gain faded memories of home alongside murky imagery of the battlefield resolved in the mind of myself as author across a century elapsed.

Experience in the presence of artillery gives me special insight into this as surreal. I repeatedly saw a shell explode, then heard the explosion but then heard the gun fire. It is indeed a strange environment far removed from our normal experiences. I cannot but help this relating me to my project. Such things may intuitively help my work along, and in all hope transfer to the viewer through a feeling of authenticity. It does not have to be spelled out.

Another part of Rothko’s work compared to my own is he chose to paint in a partial monobloc style going from edge to canvas edge, right into the corners without central focus. Whereas my work adopts injury or marking as metaphor for the soldier’s experience and serves a purpose of guiding the viewers eye. 

As I engage more with the academic side of the course, I find the message I give over the motivation for the work, sometimes becomes mixed with themes of celebration of life of the healing and the glow. 

I need time to resolve my decision of sombre and consistent versus celebration and colour. As of today, I will have a portfolio of work in progress which may conflict. If I remain true to myself, I would not be overly happy to start emulating Rothko yet why reject the learning opportunity of this even if it turns out to be a temporary diversion from plan? 

I can demonstrate a consistency based on Rothko yet risk a mixed portfolio. At this moment I  show a willingness to take onboard learning. Even if it looks like a setback for now at a halfway point, full resolution is still a year away and so I take the risk and the learning opportunity. 

As always, the more recent introductions are less settled. With growing practice in making I can hone the visual language. This is true of the introduction of glyphs. They are intended as signs to guide the viewer and help create some visual narrative.

When I look back, I started with natural philosophy as a base, with ideas of the spatial and temporal with themes of information bearing and light and heat detection entering in.

I can recognise algorithm characteristics in digital and I attempt to exploit these when taking a photograph and making an image. In doing so I follow intuition as I seek to make my own art. 

I’m very committed to this work as a highly personalised family experience and hope to develop it into book form, with plans of opening it out and generalising the work as an educational piece for entry into a museum context. Here individual narratives of relatives bring to life otherwise dry historical records making any museum visit more engaging to the visitor. Already the principles established create a level of resistance to change in thinking, is what I sense, yet in winning through it soon becomes apparent there is a method here that guides further research into history. It is unique in connecting people through initial lines of enquiry that are seen to expand areas of historical research. 

The present time seems opportune for making the work as modern methods get used nowadays in the making of images and again in the support of research. Even in quite recent times, only large institutions could have afforded the means which are more widely distributed today. 

I hope you have enjoyed some or perhaps most of this presentation and in anticipation thank you for listening through to the end and I would most certainly value any insights you may be able to give to help me improve my work.

Week 11 Peer Review Video Presentations

Draft Video Presentation

and Transcript

Above is the attempt at the task I decided to submit. Ideally it would have been scheduled to happen during the week to allow a second pass edit, slide re-sequence and captioning.  

PHO702: Week 10 Speaking Photographically

Speaking Photographically

Week 10 Webinar Reflecting on Practice

Week 10 Independent Reflection

My independent reflection leaves me in a mild state of shock. This passion I call photography, turns to obssession and if sustained becomes unhealthy. We all go through it and for me I have to recognise the onset and start to de-commit in order to restore or maintain life balance.

So after an intense period invluding catching up from the Falmouth visit whilst the course ran on, I got up to date, more so in the previous 8 weeks but engaged a bit less with the material content of the course to address my perceived shortfall in finished work. The 140 injury photographs had resulted in a dozen or so images and I needed more for the portfolio edit. That is the main assignment score so cant be left to chance.

I’ve taken. time to engage over the ElliotHalls Amsterdam – Falmouth University blog collaboration and done some Peer to Peer engagement – a great way of progressing.

As I turn back to the course and the option of making a video I reflect on the images made this week. They address the strange translation of injury into landscape – don’t ask, it happens when I apply intuition to my work and it serves to address the intent of memories faded. The results created with consistency of method I find magical as I work groups of images that go together. As my work is compared to painters and to Mark Rothko I become increasingly aware of differences of constraint. The painter can paint from floor height to ceiling height especially in the context of art as an experience and make as many marks as is necessary. My work where it involves injury on a small scale, doesn’t adapt to microscopy and now matter how expensive the camera resolution is the known limitation. My this week work I am happy with as being highly imaginative and connected to intent but at a small scale. The creation of depth with appropriate perspective I am amazed at getting. Enlarge the images and they break down, first taking on a style akin to a cartoon filter effect, which is far from my direction.

Also, in fine boomerang fashion I’ve listened and followed taking others perceptions onboard and got visually consistent images which with more polish would be fine, yet there is a but. I’ve gone into a fog and have emerged at a place that wrong for my intent. The sombre mood of Rothko style work for me parallels only the motivation for my doing my work. The outcomes I want are colour. They lived their lives (in the past in the Great War) in colour but we represent them in black and white. I have always had the intent of a perspective of a coloured past. The other pillar of my work is a celebration of life and that definitely demands colour and vibrancy. I maintain my bond with them but celebrate freedom out of their sacrifice.

Week 10 Activity Positioning Practice

Week 10 Presentation Pictures Like Poems

We listened to Jeff Wall in a gallery surrounded by his work, talk in reflective mood. This wa in the form of a video that interleaved his thought about his photography with the gallery team working hard to set up an exhibition.

Here are some observations I made from this, although on a second viewing / reading. On the first viewing, with no introduction, I had wondered who this stranger was until around 5 minutes in I realised we had seen some of his constructed images earlier in the module.

Wall has an interest in painting photography and cinematography and discusses art. He is able to objectify the photograph and at the same time objectify people within the photograph.

He avoids talking in the inclusive style preferring to exercise his own voice. He creates a reference between the photograph and himself and leaves it to the reader to accept the parallel experience.

He relates to the enjoyment and liking of good work. And he talks occasionally in an instructional manner.

Also, he creates a benchmark in photography of the snapshot to which all other photographs must compare. Then he references the idea of straight photography to which he relates the constructed scene.

He’s concerned with happenings and often as accident, through his involvement in the slow process of making. He has an interest in participation and involvement and relates this to scenes that relate to existence or that which existed. 

He considers the love of imagery and in the practical dealing with things, observing them and liking them. He has a concern for appearance. He perceives the world as a set of relations either created or found in which there is the dynamic changing of content over time.

He expresses a resistance to fixed beliefs and to conformity and seems to entertain elements of doubt concerning uniqueness, complication or complexity and idealism.

He has a wide interest in art which he studied at school as art history and yet somehow did not become an art historian. Wall does not believe in the old in photography only in a contemporary interpretation.

He is concerned by causal aspects of photography, such as the photograph as illusion, in the looking through, as well as the effect of accompanying text or indeed its absence. He also relates causally to photography in its making and the resulting feeling of confirmation that he is observant the happiness that he gains.

Week 10 Module Leader Sessions

These sessions have to be the highlight of this course module. Contact time is very impressive. The first session is usually difficult being so early in the week with the work still to be engaged with yet it does provide context for a quick start. I fell over this week on scouted ahead to the Jeff Wall reflective. He’d not featured on on my known list and it took 5 minutes to realise he was the photographer who likes to construct snap shots if I may put it so bluntly. Although Wall is an esteemed academic, in my usual manner I resist placing photographers of pedestals.

So that is not to say I could not or on second viewing learn from his unique experience and insights. Such is the delight of this quick start to the week’s study.

In the next session, I gained from numerous reminders over key information designed to assist our success on the course.It is hard to overstress the importance of this as otherwise the online delivery and engagement falls off into the abstract.

The last session is my favourite and easier to enjoy as by then I will have prepared and engaged in Tutor sessions. As we are able to engage with our own and another Tutor, I gain a great deal of insight and see much more work of others. This is so important to my development and hopefully I can give insight to others. Having been through this readies one to participate here and begin to reflect on the week gone by and its learning points.

So thank you all.

Week 10 Forum Evaluating Practice

Week 10 Speaking Photographically

PHO702: Week 9 Coursework Enter the Academy

Week 9 Resources Enter the Academy

I’d got on with my reading and kept switching the theme from advertising, to politics and propaganda to the interpretation of oil paintings. That was quite a breadth of material, and I’d love to be able to just sit and read and read and read. Well actually, yes I have been regularly dipping in and out of one reading or another.

Week 9 Webinar Contexts of Consumption

Here, if I talk from experience of my part in 2018 group exhibitions.

[A] Identify and research a real-life group exhibition that you feel your work would fit into.

I was part of a group project from the outset. Although I’d expected a book I hadn’t contemplated the exhibitions. In the charge of experienced hands it was a great group experience.

[B] What is the curatorial intent of the exhibition?

People and events on specific routes through London. It gained significance as the Grenfell tower disaster happened on our shift. So too did the terrorist action on London Bridge where the public were run over and hacked by weapons. The next event was much more of the every day, the project we shadowed delayed so substantially the contemporary nature of the work was dented. You could never plan for all these events. It was a good 6 months or more of effort but we worked at incredible pace. That was amazing, I still have to pinch myself.

[C] Why would your work be included in it?

As major contributor there was one reason. Being invited by the editor to spend the day shooting and lunching with him must have also helped. Being a willing partner in other accompanied shoots helped team building and helped gain recognition.

[D] How would the reviewers relate your practice to the other works shown?

Reviewers included Zelda Cheatle, Martin Parr foundation and others then Chloe Dewe Mathews. By proxy I was told about the power of recognising a situation and capturing it being a powerful thing. Some images, even though not my best worked because in a book you have page matching and the editorial intent could be recognised.

[E] What is the most appropriate means for the public consumption of your work?

Book, taster exhibition and full exhibition wth opening night were all appropriate. Other surprises included my written work being included in a journal as an individual amongst other group member entries. I think that happened twice.

I attended two tutorials. In the first I was able to gain something that allowed me to enter the second better prepared.

Week 9 Independent Reflection

[A] Who writes interpretation material for galleries / museums?

[B] What do you notice about this voice or voices?

[C] Does it speak to you?

[A] Curators (and others not stated here at the moment)

[B] It is all upside and why not. Given the power to curate, why pick bad work?

[C] The material may or may not speak to me. I’m broad minded enough to patiently listen and apply interpretation. I don’t seek out all of the material all of the time. I might opt for preserving original thought and bypass the material and read it afterwards having gained personal experience. If I was leading a group to an exhibition say I’d be honour bound to do the homework and read the materials to be able to handle queries or to garner interest. If I was securing funding to attend I’d have to do my due diligence and read the materials.

Week 9 Module Leader Office Hours

Another very valuable week of support to those who could make it. Contact opportunities are full time equivalent.

Week 9 Independent Reading Contemporary Cultures of Display

Week 9 Independent Reading Contemporary Cultures of Display

[A] How do photographs acquire value and meaning?

[B] Is ‘art’ separate from society?

[C] Is contemporary ‘art’ photography different from earlier forms of ‘art’ photography?

Sadly I cannot engage with this fully as the reading link leads to a library meta dataset of information about the book but certainly no download link – tried another browser still no luck.

Let me try without the resource.

[A] I covered most of this in the preceding section. Repetition of task is detected.

[B] Art exists within sections of society and at any point in time may not be displayed and copies as illustrations on books or catalogues could serve to remind. Art can’t be read without reference to society or culture. It can be looked at and looked though or be ignored especially if it is not noted for its popularity. It’s just that it may not always be accessible. Propaganda art is going to be out there in the faces of the public in some instances on the side of political campaign buses.

[C] Yes Contemporary art photography is different to earlier forms. It’s intent may be more defined in order to distinguish it in a sea of images. However, time may need to pass, I usually say a hundred years from now, for the latent meaning to become more fully apparent. Contemporary work may also now be digital something not invented in time for earlier forms. Earlier forms will have had a chance to be exposed to exhibition and commentary by curator or critic. Contemporary work may be waiting its day.

Week 9 Introduction Enter the Academy

[A] What is ‘art’ and who has the authority to decide what is ‘good art’?

[B] Do we place value upon these artefacts? How and Why?

[C] Is photography ‘art’ or the ‘plastic verification of a fact’ (De Zayas, 1913)?

[A] Marshall McLuhan is my go to source for the definition of Art and sometimes incorrect attribution goes to Andy Warhol. “Art is what you can get away with”.

For me going back to this week has given me a tough lecture to crack. 

I watched the recording several times over. I got almost to the point of parsing each sentence to follow what was said. Maybe I’m tired, maybe too many distractions from the current week forum based on the videos we created. I entered a fog. At at some point I’ll emerge from it.

An earlier piece by different author was also a challenge and in the end I read the last paragraph then progressed step by step to the first page and remarkably it engaged me. Perhaps that’s it. Not every lecture will have the same relevance to individual practice.

[B] In my independent reading and at another week of the course I did dive into art and value. I can relate to that as a parallel to the lecture. Works of art gain cultural value through ownership which makes then causes access to become scarce. With equal works of art say by two different authors one may gain acceptance in the gallery world, the other not. Politics of the art world can determine selection and hence value. Once a work makes it to the gallery walls and is in the company of other work or even just the space of the gallery then importance is assigned. Even provocative bad work can find it’s place and as in Damien Hirst’s work the public may be astonished at what gets displayed and so are by now used to good and bad in their perception. But, once there, the work gains something that makes it desirable to art buyers.

In Hirst’s case his cheeky chappy repartee allows him to survive onslaught and in such a disarming way. Every piece of art is going to have its detractors, so realising this the artsist can be easily forewarned or forearmed. In emerging generations where they have grown up through school much more as co-collaborators a group can easily form around a work and free discussion and a common creed can act to strengthen the work against opposition just by being ready with the argument and a healthy disrespect for formality or formal argument.

[C] As for art or plastic, the answer is straightforward. Photography is both. Let’s pin down a single piece or body of work and answer that. Even then, there is all the ambiguity of contexts and reader experiences. Photography as a subject is now such a wide thing it resists being pigeonholed.

PHO702: Week 8 Coursework Responses and Responsibilities

Responses & Responsibilities

Reflection (this paragraph is due to move to the relevant blog post)

With work piling up fast again I’ve pressed ahead this week. At Week 5 I’d finally got organised over the coursework finishing on a Friday rather than the Sunday (or later) and this left time for reading activity. I do need to do more research into Mark Rothko. Attendance at the FFTheLivingImage took 7 days out of my schedule and put me behind again. Week 6 work I’ve only part covered at present. The tactic adopted is the simple one of keeping up to date with the current (live) work and go back to earlier sections of the course and catch-up. The pressure is on with a video due to be made for Peer review in the short term. Not mentioned is Week 7. It was reserved for Tutorials which I engaged with and wrote up but probably need to revisit for some finishing touches including doing more i.e. re-issuing the draft Critical Review.

Week 8 Resources and Responsibilities

A quick read ahead of Benjamin (Benjamin, 1982) has helped to distil something of the theme and intent of this week’s study.

A particular element of my portfolio project continues to be authenticity. Therefore it was with interest I read, “the Revolutionary strength of Dadaism lay in testing art for its authenticity.  [ibid, page 23]. This gives me some comfort as a starting position.

I also take note in nourishing my work in respect of technical progress in reading the claim that, “… intellectual production cannot become politically useful until … competence … has been surmounted.” [ibid, page 24]. A direct interpretation might be of photographic technical competence, but it runs much deeper. As a photographic author it is necessary to understand the production quality of work and be able to do a lot more than simply represent, instead take control and change aspects of the methods of creating imagery and as a means of instructing other authors of the same.

This takes something that runs deep in my work and places it front and centre more in the realm of the political or of propaganda. 

If I take a first stab at this interpretation it would be that in much the same way as our Jewish friends are committed to never letting the memory of the Holocaust die, then the same with my work, the loss of dear ancestors, who remain alive in living family today should not be forgotten. In a way the raw outpourings of the Scottish people and then decades of silence of hidden loss, the gaps I refer to, makes ongoing memory a challenge and so my works effort. My work transmits beyond centenary commemorations of 2014-2018 and lives with descendants just as mitochondrial DNA passes down to them.

Such loss and sacrifice and the brave deeds must be remembered with each new generation and whilst we celebrate our lives, we should not allow world events to take such a turn in the future. As sure as history repeats itself then that is the eternal risk.

Finally from this reference, and I had had not expected such a reading to be so transformative, I quote and reflect upon a referral, “The excellent Lichtenberg said: ‘It is not what a man is convinced of that matters, but what his convictions make of him’”[ibid, page 27]. By such process I need to ensure that my work on this MA Photography course leads me to exercise voice through my transformed photographs as abstract expressionism and in intent through art as an experience. 

We, I in particular should do and create within my sphere of influence and make work that helps to ensure successive generations remember. This is not too dissimilar to how painter Rachel Howard (Howard Rachel, 2018) draws attention to the repetition of mistake from Christ’s crucifixion through to torture at Abu Ghraib supporting the doubt that we will ever learn.


Benjamin, W. (1982) ‘The Author as Producer [IN] Thinking photography’, in Burgin, V. (ed.) Thinking photography. London: Macmillan.

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

Week 8 What Can Photography Do

Week 8 CRJ Independent Reflection

Week 8 Activity Aesthetic or Anaesthetic

The particular body of work that aims to convey a particular message and that is relevant to my practice has to be:

Rachel Howard Repetition is Truth via Dolrosa, Newport Street Gallery London – exhibition now closed.

The work at first is of Catholic significance, in using the journey of Christ along Dolorosa carrying the cross to the site of crucifixion on the hill at Calvary. 

The visual language of the paintings immediately resonated with images I’d abstracted from Photographs and had posted online and part included in my submission to Falmouth University for this MA Photography course. In showing my images to Olympia who worked there, she was amazed by the similarities of paintings and abstracts. Conversation continued about belief in God, attempts by a dark force to frustrate work and how this work was my life’s mission. Very heavy indeed. An interesting diversion over an ongoing series of coincidences. Coincidences which threatened my engagement and continuation in photography continued into my first two modules of this course.

The paintings of Howard are intended to influence the audience and those in political power. The work addresses repetition of inhumanity first directed towards Christ and then towards prisoners of the US tortured at Abu Ghraib. 

The work in exhibition was successful in its metaphor for the twelve stages of the cross as the viewer is required to walk from one large scale painting  to another traversing rooms as if retracing Christ’s footsteps. This may become more apparent afterwards if b=not at the time. The reference to Abu Ghraib is through the vertical lines on the paintings sometimes descending to a painted area representing the box used in torture.Those tortured were required to stand on the box, wear a hood and had electrodes attached to sensitive areas of the body.

The paintings are light and airy and have a sense of the impending. You imagine the artist doubts whether humankind will ever learn from mistakes through repetition of cruel behaviour as if part if human nature and human history.

With the backing of Damien Hirst (they both attended Goldsmiths College University of London), Howard’s  work takes on additional significance given the installation work Hirst is known for: including cutting mother and calf from nose to tail for one exhibit at the Tate Modern and doing roughly the same with a shark in a tank. This theme of butchery resonates strangely with Howard’s work. 

It was possible to walk into the gallery and leave without effect, but for me, as soon as the enquiring mind engaged and the communication began the work transmitted. Then my own work was cast in the shadow of Howard’s intent and so much so that I wrote to the gallery afterwards. More follows.

Week 8 Presentation The Environment and the Eye

Week 8 Independent Reading Good Intentions

[A] The main ideas/points/arguments you think Sischy makes about Salgado’s work?

[B] Whether you agree or disagree with this view and why?

[C] Any issues raised that apply to your own practice?

[A] There is a blatant dislike that serves to sour our appreciation of Salgado. [B] As we learned elsewhere, the Galleries and Curatorial system self serves in its selection of work that drives artists/photographers to make work that they would publish. There is nothing said by Salgrado that one can take in and decide upon independently. It is the mission of Sischy to taint Salgado with the choices that the Gallery system has decided upon. In allowing his work to be managed by the Gslleries Salgado has put his trust in their discernment. It seems clear that his trust may have been mistaken.

[A] There is a theme in Sischy’s argument that a Brazilian photographer has no or limited right to represent other nationals. [B] That is an opinion I could agree or disagree with independently, case by case.

[A] There is an undermining of Salgado’s work as being restricted to the type of magazine that no longer has any appreciable sway in the modern world in which television prevails. With such reduced demand it would seem that Salgado is ideally positioned to swamp the market.

[A] The beauty that the photograph is often referred to as creating and is present in Salgado’s work is deemed to create anesthetisation leads to anaesthetisation of feeling. [B]Well this of course is the exact thing that television has been found to do. Through passive engagement, and lightness of touch on thought processes television which has taken over paralyses the viewer who simply stares back at the screen.

[A] Biblical themes are seen to enter Salgado’s work. [B] This is no more than the photograph being a window on the photographers soul. Why should Salgado be less immune to this than any other?

[A] There is a challenge that depicting suffering can be read in the light of God’s will, implying and so it shall be that people shall suffer.

[A] Salgado is criticised for being a symbolist rather than portraitist. [B] We have not been shown visual examples of Salgado’s work for this to become apparent. I can accept it as true and yet keep an open mind. 

[A] / [B] Salgado’s work is self-directed, and how wonderful and liberating that can be. It is then judged as anesthetisation as opposed to reportage, If it were to be reportage then for this level of work surely there would be a sponsor, a commissioning editor and a picture editor. By which definition reportage is manipulated and controlled by others in return for a payment. IT is hard to blame the photographer for the direction their personal projects take.

[A] Salgado’s work of people is likened to the language of Landscape photography of the picturesque rather than portraiture. [B] There is one equality in photography and that is light and the use of light. If used incorrectly a poor image may be created of little consequence. A good light is beautiful wherever it falls in this world. And so to make a photograph that communicates a god 9beautiful light is a necessary thing.

[A] Comparison is made with other photographers, smith and Hine. It appears that some reservation is retained over Smith’s work and Hine is applauded for the outcome of Child Labor Law changes.[b] There is by metamorphosis an implication that Hine was responsible for the change, yet how true is that really?

[A] Sentimentalism is said to be apparent In Salgado’s work. [B] Surely that is something resolved between the photographer and the viewer and not to be tainted by the critic? 

[C] My work could be deemed as naïve if it wanted to change the world especially as there is no track record of experience in such weighty matters. What started out as a dedication to family and has the possibility to pass down generations including those yet to come may have some credence.

[C] My work could be deemed to contain items of revulsion, as after all that is a part of my punctum, in making the work worthwhile. There is a delicate balance within pieces of my imagery. Largely the photograph containing revulsion is highly disguised and distracts and may be seen as introducing beauty. However, there is trace and so the mind can focus on the mixture rather than pure anesthetisation. 

[C] Biblical themes did begin to enter my work and in particular the sign of the Christian cross was often apparent. I realise now that I had been open to viewing such images and in the subconscious and using intuition the cross did start to appear in my photographs. A case of seeing what you want to see. I feel this is now tempered and a level of self-awareness has since developed that counters an increase in iconography.

[C] Whether my work is iconographic or not, I can’t say. It is certainly metaphorical but I’m not sure that is at all the same thing.

[C] My own work may have a sentimentalism, but such is the nature of remembering, communication of lost messages across the decades and the family as audience. Perhaps others may view such in the light of their own family experiences.

Week 8 Module Leader Sessions

These sessions have expanded beyond their original remit to include reviews of the work in the current week, crits, practice session and special lectures e.g. the series to date has include The Gaze Part I and Landscape photography.

This has to be one of the greatest value adds of the two year MA Photography course Informing Contexts module. Not all students attend maybe concentrating hard on work and family commitments or doing individual research.

Week 8 Forum An Agent of Change

Photography in concert with other forms of communication including video, military recordings and media conferences, interviews and reports brought the US to a ceasefire after the Highway of Death destruction and killing in the retreat of Iraqi forces from Kuwait occupation.

Whilst shocking subject material should be censored, we have become so accustomed by exposure and it is increasingly more difficult to shock. I’m remined of the extremes of creating shock in which Marina Abramovic stood naked before a table of implements at a gallery in Belgrade and invited the audience to do whatever they wished to her.. She walked away dripping with blood and tears. On another occasion she carved a communist star into her abdomen. We are so immune to shock it takes such extremes of Performance Art to induce shock in an audience.

Week 8 Introduction Responses and Responsibilities

[A] What images provoke a sense of responsibility for you?

[B] How do they achieve this?

[C] Are they merely propaganda?

Another difficult reading with an accompanying barrage of questions. Here are answer to the headline ones.

[A] Not an image but a series of factual reports for me are what caused the nation to reject Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government as dangerous incompetents and thus they were voted out of power. Perhaps the exercise of restraint after the Highways of Death (Highway 80 and Highway 8) killing of a retreating column of military said more than actual raw images of horror.

[B] Having proven the power to destroy a military force then afterwards holding back on killing showed a greater humanity.

[C] Whilst many images are propaganda as discrete soundbites, they do fail to shock as hinted at constantly throughout the video lecture. Many younger members of society are probably immune to destructive forces by exposure to war video games. Players get to experience the excitement and feeling of power, and of camaraderie when in opposition to an enemy. They “die” using up one of their lives. Older generations may remain silent. In other words, different demographics have different values and responses. 

Returning to the question: propaganda or not? I couldn’t say. Media profit yes. Filling that eternally emptying broadcast bandwidth with something new, yes. I’m reminded of the phrase “Drop the Dead Donkey”. 

PHO702: Week 7 Tutorials

Some asides (if these weren’t written about it would have seemed a rather sparse week – in fact, it was a really packed week)

Finally I’m back, after last week and the weekend away at the Falmouth Flexible Living Image meet-up and Symposium. On arriving back it was straight into a Module Leader briefing. Whilst away I did a boutique apartment shoot and gained feedback from the hotel owner.

Shot on B&W film, machine developed, scanned and processed – Michael Turner

About the apartment photos “they have inspired me to be a bit more experimental … Love the dressing gowns in the wardrobe especially and the bath”.

As noted in the past it is good to have a change from the abstract work, in a way to demonstrate to myself that I can handle a camera (or film camera in this case). Thanks to the Workshop support, it was possible then to go on and to use the craft and do the full end to end workflow – the return to materiality.

Reference: Ilford film processing summary on YouTube

Symposium – Twitter

Social Media was used to tweet the Symposium as @fotographical on #FFTheLivingImage on Twitter.

Tutor 1-2-1 Meeting

Due to non-availability and diary clash, I swapped Tutors for this and got back together with my original Tutor from the very first module.

Discussion was focussed on preparation of the video presentation due in 8 April for peer review. The process is staged like this: draft a new version of the Critical Review section 1 intent; then write-up sections 2, 3 and 4 positioning the work with references and giving it contextualisation. Review this along the way and use it as the basis of the video we need to submit.

Points picked in Tutor review were:

  • Include a quote in an early paragraph.
  • Include a “bad” image (to demonstrate being critical)
  • Include other practitioners

Read Representations of Trauma


Module Leader Review

A group of students had prepared two key images and statement of intent.

Here are my two images and Intent

Portfolio Abstract Impressionism

“Bravery and sad events unspoken. Remembering those who gave, through the glow that is life’s force.”

Michael Turner

Time for Concern
Of Physical Trauma ignored

Mitochondrial DNA fought for existence in the early days of life on Earth. My portfolio example is a trace of survival from those commemorated through self and close others alive today. Our mDNA: converts nutrients to energy; powers the cells that defend, heal and repair our bodies. And so we reflect light and emit the heat recorded here. We celebrate through true physical manifestation and our warmth that is life’s glow.

A Time for Celebration
Connected as Colour Emitted

Module Leader Office Hours – Briefing

I attended the Monday evening briefing and obtained direction over two upcoming meetings this week that required preparation.

The Critical Review … the Intention of my work is … in section 1 was discussed. No sooner said than done two images and draft were presented in a midweek review.

PHO702: Week 6 Coursework A Sea of Images

Week 6 Resources: A Sea of Images

I started reading Mythologies by Roland Barthes and found interest in a chapter on Blind and Dumb criticism and have been pleased to start listening to an allied BBC production on 21st Century Mythologies for Omnibus. (Conrad, 2014)


Conrad, P. (2014) 21st Century Mythologies – Omnibus, Part 1 – [object Object] – BBC Sounds. Available at: (Accessed: 24 March 2019).

Week 6 Webinar: Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

Okay, so this is an accepted truism, and while it might not be absolute, there is no shortage of corruption highlighted by the media. Insofar as the webinar was concerned, I was still away visiting the University and also saw no online invitations, but I may have been distracted in materiality and physical location with others from the course. I need to return to this to give it justice. I’ve recorded much already below, and it covers the example points proffered, but not wholly or exclusively. As I detect the possibility of repetition, I have to leave this and jump back to Week 9 or risk the ebb and flow of falling behind and catching up. I continue to organise and act to keep the course under control, for surely it needs it. I sense students as well as staff feel the pressures of this all year round commitment and still somehow find an overall life balance.

Week 6 Independent Reflection

Reflect on:

  • Any ideas that particularly interested or challenged you.
  • Whether or not your ideas have changed.
  • How you assess ‘intimacy and distance’.

I’m challenged by the insistence on the West being a homogeneous entity as my opening position. The assumption of homogeneity gives a false realism and an impression of greater dominance than truly deserved.

The main change for me has been in paying attention to the past and raking up ideas of life in a former time left almost forgotten. Oddly, my project intent bridges across many of the middle years in which for example the magazine of the week has operated.

I’m not sure about intimacy and distance as I’ve yet to locate/relocate the quote. It is probably a graphic and not a text item. For me to process it is best to have all written presentation included as text. I’ll revisit the slides but there is a time penalty involved I cannot afford at present if I am to keep up / catch-up after time at the University as the course rolled on. As you can see I’m not a fan of texts being fragmented and showcased at different levels of storage particularly for a course with online delivery. I cry for modernisation which will not/cannot be realised, I guess.

Write a brief summary in your research journal, taking into account:

  • How your practice may (or may not) be seen as adhering to a specific ideology.
  • The potential impact of this given the subsequent meaning and reception your practice might attract. From whom?
  • Any power negotiations within your own practice.
  • Your practice in the context of other visual practices and theoretical points.

The ideology I adopt is that of connecting with my ancestral relations where I can still reach across living memory to those affected by war but who remained silent as now I realise gaps of people and lack of outpouring over loss of which I’m now aware. As a member of a diaspora and with direct familial connection I feel a certainty in describing my cause if it may be so called.

Already the work in both parts, a written narrative of academic standard and a visual work of growing independence, there is a drawing together of family divided and now a translation to a new generation. In this act I can gauge the degree of connectedness and discern the level of male cultural identification as opposed to biological inheritance. In the sea of images there is a place for narratives and art as substitute for pure dry historical record and especially as we live in a visual age.

There is again a certainty or solidity within practice that this work will endure with or without the MA Photography course, and I state this as plain fact rather than a rejectionist view. If I change practice, rather than sustain practice it will be a natural development from doing too much of the same and desire for change which I sometimes relieve by continuing to shoot on a broader front. The course MA Photography creates tension both helping along the professional development of practice which is much appreciated yet also through constraints and rules about production, best work that may have been completed by now becomes highly constrained by a set of production rules, which I go along with. Such is the educational awards system. It is not a complaint, more something to negotiate and a reason to be patient over and allow time for development to be realised. A shorter sharper intense MA of 9 months might have been more compatible with my practice. Nevertheless I aim to listen and absorb as much as possible for as long as I can sustain focus. No-one said this course would be easy and I would not want it to be, especially for true practice development. For those with an eye on value then how can we complain at receiving two years of full time education packed in so? There is a lot to be commended and challenges to be sustained.

In terms of other visual practices there is now a long known thing of my work being likened to paintings. Despite the differences we are familiar with, the one gap I have to be aware of is that painters can paint a floor to ceiling canvas as an art experience making as many small marks as they wish, but as my photographs are of miniature scale, the camera quickly runs out of pixels and so I adapt my work and introduce AI lately and other photographic techniques around lighting and microscopy at times to help maintain resolution at the art as experience painterly scale. Also, work on bodily glow is better presented much more effectively as light emitted rather than reflected. Later finding 20 light boxes for exhibition purposes could be a constraint on optimal presentation. I wonder if the university would help a campaign to have emitted light presentation methods in the IoP gallery space for example? The work at least demands wet C-type print methods.

I rapidly approached the point of obtaining enough photographs by widening scope from trauma to non-exclusively photographing physical memory through retention of contact pressure marks on the body – no injury required to record bodily glow and still connect to the past as physical manifestation. At last progress. During the quieter Winter months less was happening due to physical inactivity, I suppose. Now at the present level with 140 photographs from Week 2 to 7 and only a handful pressed into production – done to meet critique timescales and weekly webinar reviews. There has now been an advance in the digital darkroom. There is a form of mass production of groups of like photographs constructed into one massive image file at the start. With consistency in light during taking and application of identical processing steps across the set in digital processing I now work on five images at time. I got to this after using film and developing and scanning it at Falmouth. I’ve adopted the trial for digital. This could conceivably expand to 20 images at a time, and keep within file size limitations. This constitutes a new preprocessing step. The composite image is then divided back down into individual 5 x 4 tiles for crafting to be applied. There is less control at this stage, at present, as creative direction is taken from reading each image, but collocates start to abound. As I learn the craft even more and refine the outcomes to my intent I should find my preferred style and obtain the required edit. In retrospect I needed more to find consistent sets of images than fuss over handcrafting each stage of each image. So now white balance as one step is for the composite rather than individual images. Whilst technically there is a measurement difference, across images of consistency, there is little to argue and besides the final stage of crafting creates wide changes in direction of final appearance.

I only wrote so much on this point as it is a recent innovation in my practice that produces results and overall there is a freeing up to lend time to the creative processes standardising steps that adapt to standardisation without compromising work. At a simple level too I have gained control over storage and workflow and even have introduced discipline into auditing image heritage and end use. At the start of the course with fewer images they were easier to control informally, but as the enterprise has grown, so discipline and control have become necessary especially around deadlines.

This is still only a stage in the ongoing practice development and even now my original intent to layer in appropriate glyphs has begun to happen. There are some exciting decisions to make as I proceed towards image and text narrative. Currently I use call and response captions for effect. Now visual scope increases.

I should not forget the value add from the course most recently of advertising practice influences and as yet I do not know what more there is to follow in influential course content in the next 14 weeks duration, not to mention advances though ongoing crits.

Whether all this answers the question directly posed above or not, I am pleased to have been triggered into writing all this down as it marks for me personally a significant progress and I can now challenge and adapt my creative and production ideas.

Overall, I am pleased to be able to sustain balanced effort between learning and doing, continually making new examples of work within practice, and not forgetting to keep on shooting photographs across multiple genres as a way to sustain and remain motivated.

Week 6 Activity: And When I am Formulated, Sprawling on a Pin

I don’t have any problem with Grundberg particularly. 1988 is now a long time ago in relation to change in the world. In those days, no worldwide web, no globalisation, very little competition and very expensive air travel. It takes some focus to remember how it was, By then certainly, we had an Open University and so a growing empowerment of working people who before were excluded by class.

As I wrote in my blog, modern day Britain is an integrated multicultural society, more so than ever before. As such I see variety and am not inclined to be pressed into pigeon holing individuals by place, by race, by gender or religion. Also, of the 195 countries English is the most rapidly adopted language but even then only 1 billion in a world population 7.56 billion. What I’m saying is the West as such is not a dominant whole as we like to think but is an amalgamation of many things: many countries, languages, cultures. Amongst these remain cultural tensions like between nordic countries and that’s just one example.

Also as blogged, I have been in a highly visual state and need a break right now before piling back into creative image production, especially when catching up after a period visiting the University for workshops and weekend symposium as the course rolled on uninterrupted. I choose not to turn up unsettling images that lie best forgotten for me for now. 

Week 6 Presentation: National Geographic – Representing, Re-Presenting, Reproducing

We talk of things National Geographic in much higher terms and language than the natural level of the matter itself. It seems therefore to be a concern relating to Western consciousness. 

I neither flicked through nor read the National Geographic preferring to listen to articles of the digital subscription and then voted by not renewing. It was maybe for me a source of language experience. How I decoupled from the visuals is dumfounding now as a photographic student. 

As for moving pyramids together then simple lens choice does this anyway, so why question positional adjustment by other means? Editorial intent seems to be what is found objectionable. For me my photographs are steered in the direction I pre-visualise and see. I am in control of my work, it is not left to the camera to fully determine.

The expression used by Baudrillard appears contorted or overly clever in processing a double negative as a positive. Such is the power of logic. The meaning could have been obscured by further layers of logic and result in the same assertion i.e. that the simulacrum is true. In line with Barthes Punctum, here I might suggest a new term the Stimulacrum. Don’t ask, as the well-intended comment will likely result in a long explanation (of book chapter proportions?). 

Britain is a well integrated multicultural society, and as such it is difficult for me to imagine non Western people. The assumption of a Western people in its own right is not intended to deny people their heritage. In the worlds 195 countries, the fastest growing language, English, has only 980 million speakers. I do not perceive a Western dominant entity. I believe it true that genetically I may have greater similarity with people of Oriental descent than near neighbours of English descent. By such I resist being led into pigeon holing others as the lecture appears to insist.

National Geographic Society policy, I would view as a laudable objective. To maintain such would require constant and strong leadership over the decades and involve a level of editorial process that was formal and effective under publication deadlines. I think if you run such a complex venture then ideological control is going to be a constant challenge. If the drift was so immense why wait over a century to take issue with pictorial content. Besides change in the world is a constant and so perceptions from last century may have been suited to the audience and culture then and it would have been impossible to predict future intolerance. Magazines are largely disposable in public hands and destined for the waste. So to refer to the 1976 edition cannot be a norm as only major libraries would hold the copy and then it would be displayed mostly to an individual on special request. Is it in the past and time to move on?

As for my work, I make little of power relations but feel the pressure building to adopt such. If I were to liken loss of my ancestors to the means of Jewish communities in keeping alive the memory of the Holocaust, of which I have no problem, then in the background you could argue for my work, that I keep alive memory of the Scottish cause in the Great War, it being another mistake of self inflicted loss we must avoid. In representing a national cause if that is what my work takes on then as part of the diaspora I have a natural voice for this work. In truth we are talking about background influence and family as the initial audience.

My work being in the abstract is non representational. It is more a human biological connection down the generations that will terminate as females of the line, no longer happen to be born, as dictated by factors such as chance or through a preponderance of males.

Abstract expressionism is used to parallel narratives and so continuation of the gene is what is paramount.

How anthropology relates therefore is tricky. Are we to assume that subjects photographed object and hand unspoken complaint over to the west to wrestle with and tie itself in knots?

As for the exotic, do we reckon the subjects themselves believe they are exotic or perhaps the are merely down to earth folk? How do they view western photographers, maybe with excitement, enjoyment and fun? How wealthy are the visitors really? They can maybe afford to stay a while but the residents of the lands can stay indefinitely. And who is to say with all the complaint about modern living that the subjects by comparison experience a simpler, less stressful existence.

Surely in the West we are the ones slaved to society?  

The stereotype I detect is expressed as academic or informed language. I’ve taken a turn away from the visual for now having been so immersed of late. Insofar as seeking out objectionable material, I prefer to let any such images rest for now. Also, I find a lot of roads lead back to American culture, again which I choose not to engage with, out of choice.

The May 1985 cover photograph of the Vickers Vimy is interesting as the aircraft depicted has a single prop, whereas the original aircraft had wing mounted props. I’m sure there is a rational explanation.

Week 6 Independent Reading: Decoding National Geographic

When the significant shift in a magazine’s presentation of photography has a timeline hidden a mixing in an archive presentation in a gallery, this act obscures progression. When aesthetic choices are made in curating an exhibition it then falls short compared to the presentation of that properly researched. This in critical context then undermines the value of the work. in the Grunberg article  (Grundberg, 1998)There is a sense of the development of photography from black and white into the era of Kodachrome colour. At the exhibition at the V&A Museum of the RPS Archive collection there is a display that demonstrates by example the impact of the development of colour film in. a series of works that pop. The colour work is consistent and beautifully coloured almost as a croyon colour effect. I have a film camera loaded with some right now and am looking for an opportunity to shoot the roll and get to experience what it can do. I think this connects with my practice as parallel practice that informs the main body of work emergent. 

Grundberg (ibid) indicates advice on curation regarding curatorial practice in particular over using archive photographs. When we create a Final Major Project FMP, we will be faced with the possibility of selecting archive work previously unpublished.

If I disagree with Grundberg, it is probably over the ease with which he adopts a popular mass culture perspective categorising American’s as having set charateristics especially over the consumption of coffee table magazines. He also engenders national competition indicating the Europeans did a better job over the Images of Bamum curated by Geary. Presumably there is a veiled point design to cause the US establishment react to consistently produce top notch work.

Another point affecting my work is the edit, being able to mix two themes of commemoration with celebration of life. They collocate but differ in photographic style.


Grundberg, A. (1998) ‘A Quintessentially American View of the World –’. Available at:

Week 6 Module Leader Sessions

No Module Leader session rather a face to face critique was attended during the Falmouth Flexible Living Image week and weekend Symposium.

Week 6 Forum: Are You Drowning Yet

Reflect on the contexts which are open to disseminate photographs today, eg, print portfolio, book, magazine, Internet, zine and gallery.
I’m inclined to think outside of the box and have learned various approaches beyond the traditional contexts which have been the subject of an earlier module assignment. Also, to reduced repetition here is something new.

Virtual Environments 

[A] 3D virtual environments

[B] 3D social environments 

[C] Stereogram

[D] Interactive environments 

[E] Pop up exhibition

[F] Model making

[G] Textile print

[H] Clothing

* Provide specific examples to support your comments.

[A] The possibilities scoped and cost and availability of tools have been checked out.  
[B] As is my want and based on previous experience I have reentered the 3D world in Second Life. This is with the intent of creating a visual space for visual experience. Other viewer options have been experienced. 
[C] For materiality 3D stereograms and cardboard viewer from the London Stereographic  Company (of Brian May fame) work well enough. 
[D] The context allows detection using sensors or interaction between exhibit and smartphone. 
[E] Model making is another material approach. Instead of having to attend a gallery a folding miniature gallery space might be created but linked to an electronic device and /or a set of prints.
* Evaluate their success or failure.
[A] Image quality image problem and fiddly so not for all.[B] Proven by the Victorians and a personal favourite of mine, this is a great way of inducing visual exploration. Instead of the eye resting it is free to roam directing gaze at will picking out detail.

* Outline how each context might ‘assign new meanings’ to the work.
* Identify and reflect on ways in which this might inform the optimal context for viewing your own practice.
Comment on the posts of your peers throughout the week as you consider the content of the presentations. Continue to refine and evaluate your own practice and prepare for the webinar.

Week 6 Introduction: A Sea of Images

What ‘ordinary’ images you make.

Being pedantic here I’ll answer in full knowledge of the difference between made images and photographs.

Amongst other things the eye has become trained in seeing the mundane. Especially unique passing scenes not to be repeated and subjects taken from a different perspective. Ordinary pictures are the preserve although not exclusively, of the smartphone. With a DSLR camera it has the power to remind to make something of deemed significance or art.

An ordinary image though, would start out as more or less any photograph without title, captioning or hashtag or other material context. To each individual reader a fleeting personal meaning perhaps yet what of making common, where author intent is tuned into or partially tuned into by the reader. Most images start out as ordinary yet through the application of effort, those kept images those ordinary images for which there is some projected intent, through refinement and planned development and imagined context they become transformed and start to leave the realm of the ordinary.

How important a ‘mass existence’ is over a ‘unique existence’.

Who am I to judge the multiplicity of readings? Mass existence helps make common, and as cultural references develop they allow us to start communicating. Unique seems desirable but can place the work as other or niche and the work lend itself to adverse criticism, notoriety, an example of poor practice, that to be avoided and best not replicated.

Much changes over time so with mass existence there seems to be an implication of the contemporary.

How a reproduction can reach us in ‘our own situation’ today.

In a multitude of ways and in newly evolving ways.there

Whether or not you recycle and reproduce any cultural myths.

Is it still possible to be original?

How is it possible to know completely, and how self-aware are we? I’ve tried hard and no matter how hard, inevitably a discovery is made and so one learns not to be disappointed. Areas of taboo may be ripe for “exploitation”.

As much as ego drives originality discovery can readily prove the new idea to have been replicated elsewhere. There is scope for originality through technological innovation – at least that is my hope.

PHO702:Week 5 Coursework Gazing at Photographs

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

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 &amp; Present | The TimesThe Times Expert Traveller. Available at: (Accessed: 9 January 2019).

Hockney David (1998) David Hockney on Photography &amp; 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