The Brief –
Create a series of work (aim for 7-10 images) which in some way reflects upon the ideas surrounding identity and place that you’ve looked at so far in this course. Use the written word to play a part in its creation.
You may be inspired by a poem, song or a novel or decide to write your own fictive piece. You may draw upon other people’s words via eavesdropping or another source or use extracts from Journals. You might find interesting textual accounts in archives in libraries that could inform this assignment. Allow your creativity to be spurred on by spending time with these words and reflecting on them.
My assignment planning can be found here
The Final Assignment –
Image 1 –
As mentioned in my planning my idea for the assignment was to explore identity. I started to research photographers and found an interesting series of work created by Daisuke Takakura – Monodramatic. That artist creates many different versions of herself. I found it very interesting and wanted to create a series of images that explore my own identity and how our identity influences who we are I was feeling very excited and thought like the work of Daisuke I would use the natural environment. Unfortunately, there were a few hiccups and I started having problems with my hip dysplasia and walking was a struggle. I started to have to rethink my ideas for my assignment and decided to use my home studio instead that way I did not have to do much walking. The pain was a struggle and I was finding things really hard. It was making me depressed and anxious as I knew I had an assignment that was due and I was just feeling all over the place. I still wanted to do an assignment about identity and what makes us who we are. Our identity is influenced by our culture, society and the people we associate our self with. According to sociological analysis, otherness is constructed by our social identities. These social identities are reflected by our social characters in society these characters are our cultural identity, gender identity and class identity these identities shape our ideas about who we think we are. But I was thinking about identity on a deeper level than just cultural and social backgrounds. I’m thinking about my hip dysplasia, anxiety and depression is this part of my identity? The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan mirror phase suggests that a child’s identity is instituted through identification with an image that is over there means that identity is based on mis-recognititon an alienated image taken as itself. Human identity social, sexual, political is always a precarious structure precisely an identification process that is subject to others (Bates, 2016). My hip dysplasia, anxiety and depression I see as part of me, it is the other self a shadow self. I started to research poems about this and came across a poem titled embracing our shadows by Angel Maria Russell. The poem is about embracing our shadows and how sometimes we can hold onto negative emotions in my case my anxiety, depression and hip dysplasia. But according to the writer, this is not good because when one holds on to these feelings they won’t go away. These emotions are born of our own experiences and these experiences sometimes internalize within our psyche creating a self-concept an identity. I have used the poem as a means of inspiration for my assignment to explore my own negative emotions that create my shadow self.
My tutor’s feedback suggests for me to return to my reflection piece and think more about the overall project, consider why some things worked well and why other approaches, or parts,, maybe didn’t work so well.
At the start of the assignment I was feeling unsure, I think this is because of how personal the work was going to be. Sometimes I feel that I can be my worse enemy when it comes to my work because of this type of insecurities. The assignment is about my identity and what makes me who I am. I struggled at the start with my ideas as my hip dysplasia was getting the better of me. I was feeling inspired by the work of Daisuke Takakura – Monodramtic. The artist’s work explores the different versions of herself. Like the work of Takakura, I wanted to use the natural environment as my backdrop. Unfortunately, due to my struggles with my hip, I needed to rethink my ideas; so I decided to use the home studio instead. ‘The studio is a space to explore the interrelationship of control and experimentation. It stands apart from the social world but is indirectly connected to it.’ (1) I think even though Takakura’s work uses the natural environment to explore her identity , I feel that the use of the home studio does work well for my work because it does show me in an enclosed space and because of the problems I was having with my hip this is exactly how I was feeling; isolated as well as trapped. Our identity is influenced by our cultural beliefs as well as the people who we associate ourselves with. According to sociological analysis, otherness is constructed by our social identities, these identities are reflected by our social characters. In society, these characters are our culture, gender and class identities and these identities shape our ideas about who we think we are. (2) For this assignment, I’m thinking about identity on a deeper level then just cultural or social backgrounds, I’m thinking about my hip dysplasia, anxiety and depression and is this actually a part of my identity. The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan’s mirror phase suggests that a child’s identity is instituted through and identification with an image that is over there means that identity is based on misrecognition, an alienated image taken as itself (3) My hip dysplasia, anxiety and depression is part of who I am, I see this part as my other self. ‘Human identity social, sexual, political is always a precarious structure precisely an identification process that is subject to others (3) I started to research poems about the other self and I came across a poem titled ‘Embracing our shadows’ written by Angel Maria Russel (4). The poem is about embracing our other self and how sometimes holding on to negativity is not good because when we hold on to these negative emotions these feelings we have won’t go away. These emotions we have been born from our life experiences and does create a self-concept of our identity. I have used the poem as a means of inspiration for my work, to explore my own negative emotions that create this other self, my shadow self. Image 1 I used the flower as a means to show my feelings. I combined two images together one of me holding a blossoming rose another a dead one. The image for me works well because the blossoming flower represents how I want to feel while the other is how I actually feel inside. I feel that image 2 was the image I struggled the most with. I don’t think I had a clear idea about what I wanted to show in the image. The image shows shadow hands reaching towards myself, I struggled with the lighting setup to create these shadows and I feel that this shows in the image and therefore makes this image one of my weakest in the set. Image 4 is my favourite and I do feel that maybe one of my strongest. For this image, I had more of a clear idea about what I wanted to create in my image. The image is influenced by one of my favourite artist Francesca Woodman and her use of long exposure. I used long exposure in this image and for me, it works well because it creates that unsettled feeling and uncertainty I have as well as me trying to hide away from it.
Demonstration of Technical and visual skills –
For this assignment I used my Nikon d5200 with 18-140 lens kit, a tripod was used, shutter release cable and the camera’s timer. My images were shot in RAW format the final editing was done in Photoshop. To create my images I used simple lighting set up with two strobe lights and a white background.
Quality of outcome –
The assignment was about my identity, I experimented with different ideas to find a way to show my other self. At the start of the assignment I was feeling very frustrated as I found it a struggle due to my hip dysplasia I had to change some of my ideas and instead of using the natural environment I ended up using the home studio. I’m happy with the outcome of the assignment but I do feel that improvements need to be made on a few of the images. Image 2 I struggled with the idea of the shadow hands because I could not get the lighting right I think that it shows. Image 6 I feel maybe I have not done enough maybe its to simple. I feel that my strongest image is Image 4 for me, I love experimenting with long exposure and I feel it works well with this images as it shows my uncertainty and how I hid from my true self.
Demonstration of Creativity –
As I have mentioned before in my learning log I like to experiment and try different creative ideas. My creative inspiration came from artists such as Daisuke Takakura who explores her identity by creating many different versions of herself. I was intrigued by the work of Melissa Zexter and her technique of hand stitching over her photographs and another artist that I really liked was the work of Edward Honaker and how he captures these haunting photographs of him struggling with depression I was intrigued by how his face was removed from most of the images I think that this shows a sense of not belonging I could relate to these images. Inspired by these artists I tried some of these techniques using Photoshop.
Demonstration of Reflection, research and critical thinking –
My feedback from my tutor suggested to look at the work of Sally Mann, (1992) Immediate Family, Aperture which I have done I will be adding these notes to my learning log as well as Susan Bright, home truths : Photography Motherhood and identity (have researched but I would like to purchase the book). I feel that I have fallen behind with some of the exercises in Part 4 of the course due to my hip dysplasia but I will be returning to them. For this Assignment, I decided to keep my artboards as I find this helps me keep notes about how I create my images, my planning I changed slightly and created a mind map of learning. I was planning to attend the David Hurn study visit which took place on Saturday 30 June 2018 but due my husbands work commitments I was unable to attend. I am going to attend a photography workshop at Hitchin Lavender which I am very excited about.
Reference list –
(1)D, Company (2012) Art and photography, Phaidon Press, London
(2)Zevallos, Z. (2011) What is otherness?, The other Sociologist [Accessed online] https://othersociologist.com/otherness-resources/
(3) D, Bates. (2016) The key concepts of photography, Bloomsbury
(4) A poem for embracing our shadows https://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/10/a-poem-for-embracing-our-shadows/ [Accessed 16/06/2018]
D, Bates. (2016) The key concepts of photography, Bloomsbury
D, Company (2012) Art and photography, Phaidon Press, London
Melissa Zexter interview: Embroidered photography https://www.textileartist.org/melissa-zexter-interview-embroidered-photography/[Accessed 18/06/2018]
America Today, in vision and verse https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/07/14/us/american-poetry-photos.html[Accessed 18/06/2018]
Photographer suffering from depression captures his mental illness in haunting series of self-portraits to raise awareness for the disorder http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3240571/Photographer-suffering-depression-captures-mental-illness-haunting-series-self-portraits-raise-awareness-disorder.html [Accessed 18/06/2018]
A poem for embracing our shadows https://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/10/a-poem-for-embracing-our-shadows/ [Accessed 16/06/2018]
Interview: Photographer explores own depression with surreal portraits https://mymodernmet.com/janelia-mould-conceptual-photography-depression/[Accessed 16/06/2018]
Monodramatic by Daisuke Takakura https://www.lensculture.com/articles/daisuke-takakura-monodramatic#slide-17 [Accessed 15/06/18]
Vices – Jamie Johnson photography http://www.jamiejohnsonphotography.com/Gallery%20Vices.html [Accessed 20/06/18]
Assignment 4 – Reflection
Overall Comment –
The strength of this project is the way that you explored the broad field of identity and applied this to your own situation. Once found, Russell’s poem provided you with a springboard to experiment with how you and your personal ‘shadows’ could be examined and how both the text and yourself as the subject could start to narrate these matters. This was quite a demanding undertaking so well done.
*My tutor has provided a few areas in his feedback to give the series improvised coherence
Demonstration of technical and visual skills, Quality of outcome, demonstration of creativity.
My tutor comments about how frustrated I must have felt by my limitations due to my hip dysplasia and how I used the next best thing my home studio. For the assignment I studied the work of Takakura’s, Takakura’s images have a strong sense of place and because I used the backdrop I loose this but my tutor mentions that even though I have lost that sense of place on the hand, I gain the capacity for the viewer to see only that which you place int he space and what this content might communicate in its isolation.
Tutors comment – Personally I think that working in your studio was the best approach as the work is an exploration of you and your ‘shadows’ through self-portraiture and text – so well done.
I was feeling very pleased with this comment as I became very frustrated when I had to change my ideas and unsure about using the backdrop.
*It’s positive to use the work of Takakura, but do also return in your reflection to consider how your work differed and where the quality in your work resides. (here)
Technical Feedback –
Image 1,4 and 6
*Image 1,4 and 6 my tutor feels that these are my stronger pictures in relation to your underpinning ideas. Image 6 – tutors comment – ‘if I had to focus on one of your images that set a higher standard I would Image 6′
I agree with my tutor Image 4 for me was one of my favourites, I do feel that these images do communicate my ideas more than the others.
Image 2 and 3
*My tutor feels that image two is too dark in comparison to the others in the series and he has also suggested for me to look at the colour balance of the images. Image 2 is posed and obvious while image 3 is simple to interpret.
Following my tutor’s feedback, I returned to the images –
*Following my tutor’s feedback I reworked image 2 and made it slightly lighter using Photoshop curves.
Artboard 1 –
*My tutor mentions in his feedback that I need to look at the colour balance of my images and try to make it around the same hue and saturation. To do this I first decided to create an artboard. By using the artboard I can place the images alongside one another to see the colours in each image. Using Photoshop then I will change the hue and saturation of the images to make them more consistent.
Artboard 2 –
*Following the advice of my tutor I edited the colour of my images using the hue and saturation adjustments in Photoshop. I then placed them on a second Artboard to see if the colours of the image were more consistent. I am feeling happy with the end result as I can see the difference in the images.
*my tutor mentions the orientation of the images. Tutors comment – ‘Whilst the orientation of the images doesn’t particularly jar in the current presentation format on-screen If you are to submit the work as a printed portfolio the switching from portrait to landscape world become intrusive. As a general rule keep all pictures in the same orientation.
*After this comment, I’m thinking about how I can submit this assignment for assessment. I honestly never thought about the orientation of the images being the same and I have definitely learned something new here and will keep in mind when shooting my next Assignment.
*To correct the orientation of my images for printing I have decided to place the images on a plain white background using Photoshop. I have experimented with the portrait as well as landscape orientation to see what will work best. I feel that the portrait works better than the landscape so for the final set of images I will be using the portrait orientation for the presentation of this assignment.
The final images –
*Putting together my final Artboard for assessment and I’m still not happy with the rework off image 2 I agree with my tutor for me this image is the weakest of the set. I think I’m going to rework this image and see if I can make improvements.
Reworking image 2 –
I have been experimenting with different ideas for this image I want to show both versions of myself the broken self and then the so-called normal self. I experimented once again using Photoshop layers. Looking at both images I prefer the second image.
*My tutor comments that my assignment planning is very good but he feels I need to show my own critical analysis in relation to my ideas that drive the work.
The critical analysis I’m still struggling with. I do feel that I’m improving but I will need to work harder on this part of the course.
Demonstration of technical and visual skills, Demonstration of Creativity
My tutor feels that there is a good level of engagement in the coursework some evidence of high-level critical thinking but I need to think of ways that this new understanding can feed into and help grow the practical work.
context, Reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
*Referencing my tutors say it will come with practice but I need to make sure that it is clearly identified and correctly cited.
*In my assignment planning I provided links to the New York Times which is good, but my tutor wants me to dig in a little deeper and describe what I found interesting and why.
I returned to my planning and decided to return to the article and like my tutor suggested I read the article again this time jotting down my thoughts. I have included this in my planning – (here)
Learning Log –
*My tutor feels that the choice of poem fits my situation very well and has provided a good trigger for my photographic experiments.
Tutors comment – ‘I would say that your Reflection is the basis for a very good assignment introduction that leads the viewer into the content of your images and provides a helpful context to appreciate them at a deeper level’
I was very pleased with this comment.
*Reference choice of poem. (done)
*The reflection piece I need to think more about, this should be a critical digest of how the project went overall and a consideration of why some things worked very well and why other approaches, or parts, maybe didn’t work so well. This will help me to know the strengths and weakness of my work.
I returned to the reflection piece as suggested by my tutor and did a re-write following his feedback (here)
*Check my writing for grammatical errors.
My tutor suggested some key resources to look at –
Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwrite, (2001), Practices of looking: An introduction to visual culture. (here)
David Company, (2003), Art and Photography, Phaidon – See chapter Just Looking (here)
Pointers for the next assignment
- Try to use the opportunity to reflect – post production – on the content and realisation of your work. Use the criteria always but do also refer back to your own aims and objectives.
- Be sure to incorporate accurate references to cites sources within your writing – see OCA guide on Harvard
- Check any writing through for errors.
- include your thinking and analysis within your developmental materials so the assessors can appreciate the critical journey of the work.
Overall I was unsure about the assignment but after my tutors feedback I’m feeling much more positive, like suggested by my tutor I’m returning to my work to correct any writing errors. I have also decided that I was going to use mind maps to jot down my thought process and will be including this in future work. I’m working on referencing and I’m practicing to make sure I use accurate references to my source, I have also returned to work and improved the referencing as suggested by my tutor.