Assignment 5: Tutor Feedback and Response

Overall Comments

A thoughtful submission that began with some useful research but hasn’t necessarily been followed up enough. This left you in familiar territory of being unhappy with results based solely on aesthetic appeal.

Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Good to hear that photography is still benefiting you. Try not to be so harsh in your self critique. Setting yourself clearer and more defined targets will help your evaluation – setting yourself up against the entire Bechers’ oeuvre perhaps invites failure.

A very well written introduction to your thoughts on the assignment, your approach and your aims. There are some decent citations and some useful attempts at bringing this twentieth century method into the present day through contemporary quotes. You have worked through a series of ideas to do with photography, architecture, modernity and contemporary living. These avenues could also have been usefully explored with a camera rather than just through words.

You mention aesthetics often, yet we would want to hear the Bechers’ thoughts on this (see below), and expect you to perhaps build from there. You have perhaps overplanned your shoots a little too much, we are not seeing enough exploring with the camera if all nine bus shelters make it into the typology.

Whilst you have tried to work around the subject, you resorted to frontality in each of your typologies. You resisted the urge to follow Rusha’s example and document all the shelters on one route for example, yet this would have given you the choice, and then you would have had to decide what you were making your choices on – aesthetics or as Rusha would have it, everything. I would be looking for an extensive contact sheet as you walk and shoot with your camera.

You note Baltz’s quote, and have used it as a starting point to think of subject matter. It would have then been interesting to see you experiment around his ideas, for example, with the bins, there was the opportunity to ‘place’ the bins in the landscape, as we are so used to not seeing them you could see how far this could be pushed until they ‘disappear’, how large a crop before the bin becomes background?

Working experimentally what else in your photographs is unseen? Kerbs, railings, lampposts, steps, firedoors, brickwork… I would like to see you deconstruct your own work applying some of what Baltz said.

In the contact sheet for the bridge supports there is another pointer to experimenting – the supports are so dark as to be unseen, what if those things you declare as unseen are unseen? Either through exposure or physical removal?

You need to be moving past Guardian discussions of (particularly historical or critically acclaimed) photographers, and utilising academic resources. If books are a problem, then there is still high quality research and critique to be found online; Blake Stimson on the Tate’s site, for example, has a piece contextualising the Bechers, analysing their motives and crucially (for you) discussing how their rigorous system actually releases the images into a more aesthetic frame. Building blocks such as these give you a surer footing when taking and evaluating your own images.

Baltz’s quote was a better starting point than a general homage to the Bechers’. Something new comes out of experimentation. You need to ally reading and writing to an enquiry that is camera based.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context

Some good reflective writing indicative of wider reading, but this reading needs to be almost wholly academic.

Suggested reading/viewing Context

Try Stimson’s Tate article.

Pointers for the next assignment

Now that you’re aligning your practice with your writing don’t shackle your photography, experiment!

 

I find the research part of these assignments just so difficult. I don’t connect with the photographers and artists often because I have no connection/ no shared interest with them. I keep trying hard, and perhaps will find a way of researching that suits me in the future. At the moment, it’s just not meshing with my sensibilities.

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