Assignment 4: Tutor Feedback and Response

Overall Comments
A well written submission. You have engaged with a discussion and shown some arguments. Occasionally well referenced, further development needed in using only academically suitable research, expanding on some points and using examples of contemporary practitioners to show the influence of New Topographics.

Feedback on assignment
Well written from the off. A couple of typos (Adam’s – unclear which one at first) but easy to follow in general. These notes are chronological –

New Topographics becomes influential as a trope, a turning point, in the teaching of histories of photography – at this point its important to note these histories, you should be citing from peer reviewed, academically referenced sources. If the online sources you are engaging with cite these, go direct to them. We need to see Newhall, Scharf, Jeffrey, Clarke, Wells, Bate and Bull being cited as well as (Susan) Bright, Cotton, Campany. Online exhibition linked sources such as are fine. Blogs are fine too, if they bring something new, if they are researchers and they are being peer scrutinised.

I would like to see the drivers of pictorialism being examined and an examination of the divergence of ‘popular’ landscapes and contemporary art photography landscapes. John Taylor discusses Emerson, he curated a show at NMM a while ago.

Fair synopsis of Steiglitz’s viewpoint, cite his argument.

Whilst ‘a member’ supports your views, a member of an audience in a recorded debate is not enough attribution. You should be able to find this critique in written form as its a commonly held view on Adams.

Use O’Hagan’s 2010 retrospective view as a starting point, seek a contemporary 1975 review, possibly Sontag?

You need a better source than Jan Tumlir of X-Tra for the point you want to make, it needs to be evidenced, for example, you would need a number of contemporary photographers saying, ‘this is the work that made me do ‘x’, ‘y’, ‘z’…’

You jump straight to a quote about the Becher’s work without introducing them. A link needs to be drawn between NT and the Düsseldorf School, parallel this with theory, what’s going on in the world that means the same old imagery no longer suffices?

Good introduction of typology.

Good comparison of two images.

It would be useful to expand on Gohlke’s point about predecessors in other fields – it would help answer question above

It would also be useful to expand upon Deborah Bright’s assertion. NT could be defended if need be.

‘On the other hand, a New Topographic photographer believes that the exhibition has “accrued meaning” as time has gone by and has been recontextualised within art history.’ – which one? Yes, everything does but where is it at now? (Your question)

Discuss, ‘Whilst photography and painting had vied for supremacy of the art world for years they no longer do in the modern day, instead attempting to gain a fair share of the gallery space. (Tumlir, 2010)’

Are their New Topographic principles? Is there a manifesto? What new work fits, what doesn’t? If they were socially aware, why has their ‘influence’ been so subtle? Has it permeated culture? Are the landscapes seen in say a Coen Bros film exhibited second or third hand influence?

Useful to bring your practice into the discussion. It highlights that you need more descriptive passages earlier on about the make-up of NT images, perhaps using an example from each photographer, so that your image demonstrates your point.

What role does the history and culture of the USA play in this debate?

There are a number of good points in this submission that you can build on once referenced correctly.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
Again, good reflective writing indicative of wider reading – this will stand you in good stead.

Suggested reading/viewing

Use blogs as pointers. ASX and others are fine to cite from, always look at the calibre of the contributors, other blogs less so.

Pointers for the next assignment

Keep working academically, your arguments are now becoming increasingly backed up – researching this should have helped.


My Response

I’ve got to admit, I was quite disappointed in the feedback. I felt that I hadn’t done particularly badly considering I hadn’t written anything like this before. My learning mentor thought I had done well and that elevated my expectations of what to expect to hear back.

I’ll revisit the assignment and make some changes, but I’m not sure I’m mentally able to do much. It feels as though almost every point I’ve made hasn’t been in enough detail, or to a high enough standard- I don’t think I have it in me to redo the whole thing.

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