The aim of the course is to discover how photography enables people to make sense of themselves and their environment. This final self-evaluation attempts to explain how, through formal assignments, exercises, and personal research, I have tried to meet this objective. It further describes the learning highlights and assesses my strengths and weaknesses.
My studies for IAP had just started when on 15 March 2020, following the UK Government’s COVID-19 guidelines, I began shielding my 97-year-old mother.
Partly as a personal challenge and partly through a lack of choice, I decided to complete the entire Unit strictly within the confines of my home. My objective when working through the assignments was to create a story of my journey through Lockdown.
The story begins with Assignment 3, ‘Chris’s Birthday Quiz’. It shows the early days of Lockdown when, like many families, we were attempting to maintain a sense of normality. Featuring a series of screen scrapes from a virtual birthday party, it shows my family coming to terms with its new reality.
Assignment 2 ‘Lockdown’ produced in an elliptical, psychological, cinematic style drawn from the visual work of Hopper, Crewdson, and DiCorsia, and the writing of Yi-Fu Tuan, attempts to describe some of the emotions at play during the extended period of Lockdown: namely isolation, loneliness, boredom and repetition. It visually represents the toll on the personal relationships of those involved.
Assignment 4 ’54 Last Lunches’ is a visual diary. Drawing on the work of Warhol, (but in this case as a Krauss centripetal grid), and produced in strict chronological sequence, it shows the routine of Audrey’s daily lunch. As described in my notes, the diary speaks of Audrey’s simple contentment and acceptance of her new normal. Of the relationships within the household during this unusual period. And of the impermanence and finality of our lives.
Influenced by the work of Shafran, Campt, Roberts, and Priestley, Assignment 5 ‘A portrait of Audrey Cocks (1923) 2020’ is the final chapter of this story. Juxtaposing images displaying the vitality of Audrey’s younger life with her now treasured possessions it brings together the notions of identity and place. It also explores how, in the words of Campt, ‘Attending to the infra-ordinary and the quotidian reveals why the trivial, the mundane, or the banal are essential to the lives of the dispossessed’.
In-depth research and the accessibility of art
During IAP, I spent far more time researching both in terms of the OCA suggested topics/artists and self-directed projects. The highlight would be the research into the work of Esther Teichmann. Initially, I found her work particularly inaccessible. But having put in the requisite effort, it had a profound effect upon me. Other examples would be González-Torres and Andy Warhol, and Dr Keith Roberts.
In his book ‘On Being a Photographer’, David Hearn talks of not being a photographer because you are interested in photography but because you are interested in something else. How true. For Exercise 4.5, I was so angered by the shooting of Jacob Blake that I needed to respond. The ideas I had on the day will, I’m sure, form the basis of future work.
Allowing access to work. The use of captions.
I thought long and hard about the use of captions for Assignment 4, and I considered several (artistic-based) alternatives. I concluded that when photographers intend to influence public opinion, there is little room to allow for misunderstanding. Whereas when a campaigning intention is absent, there is no need for explicit messaging. The artist can allow the viewer more space for contemplation.
My strengths and weaknesses
- I enjoy weaving artistic influences through my work
- Having been previously criticised for lack of variation in my presentational choices, I have sought to present my work in different ways. You can argue that this is a useful learning mechanism, but it undoubtedly hampers the development of a personal artistic style.
- I have previously, and consistently, been criticised for lack of research. Throughout IAP, I have made a conscious effort not only to increase the volume of research but increase the level of documentation.
- I believe that I show imagination, creativity, risk-taking, to deliver outcomes.
- I don’t take enough photographs.
- Having spent 40 years as an accountant, I don’t consider myself to be an artist. In many ways, this is quite debilitating.
- I have failed to settle on the best way to document my creative process.
- I lack a personal artistic style.