Considering C&N in the light of EYV Assessment feedback

It has been on my mind for a while that I should be revisiting my EYV feedback. Of course I should really have been considering it from day 1, but it’s never too late to take a chance to learn.

There was one sentence in the feedback that really made me think.

There are several techniques at play within the work here and greater understanding of why you’re using them and how they relate to the subject matter is required.

I am confident that my research on C&N has been both broader and in greater depth. I thought it would be interesting to consider each assignment in the light of the comment above, as there has again been a broad range of techniques involved in this body of work.

Assignment 1 was I think one of my more traditional pieces of work. I used a digital SLR to make the images and they are presented as plain vanilla prints. This decision was made because it seemed to be the best one for the work – it’s a diagnostic, introductory assignment and there seemed to be neither need nor benefit in making a more complicated presentation.

The main presentation for Assignment 2 is a Viewmaster, chosen for a variety of reasons. It makes the invisible visible – the tiny transparencies are hard to read until you put them in a magic viewer, and then they are visible to you alone for that moment – no-one can look over your shoulder at the same time. So the invisible becomes visible but is still private. The toy reference ties in with childhood and the childhood gaze. It takes us back to a childhood without phones, without internet, with levers to press rather than screens to scroll. The images were made using a child’s toy torch, and are viewed with another toy. On a practical level, pointing the ViewMaster at a light source provides an element of backlighting to the images which helps to lift them from the ambient darkness. This was the case when seeing the images on screen and it was useful to find a viewing device that retained that backlighting. Most of the images were made on my iPhone for two reasons – firstly I was working in confined spaces in the dark and the iPhone handled this far more conveniently than my dslr, and secondly because if the Cottingley Fairies were to be made today, teenage girls would be more likely to photograph using their phone rather than a camera. This is also why I opted for the square format – those fairies would end up on Instagram today.

Assignment 3 was another new technique for me. iPhone self portraits, layered with personal data from my period tracking app Clue. So we have selfies – which tend towards the public, combined with highly personal information that we regard as private but which is aggregated (anonymously) on an industrial scale and shared or sold in accordance with the Clue privacy policy. Menstrual cycles, on the whole, are not largely visible and art about them tends to be confined to the period itself rather than any of the other parts of the cycle. I wanted to explore the whole thing and combining selfies and data went some way towards blending the subjective and the objective. As well as the three individual prints I made a large grid showing images from the entire 26 day cycle. This showed not only the scale of the work but also how my menstrual cycle overlays the normal calendar.

Assignment 4 was the essay. My tutor’s comments allowed me to open my research and thinking further still, and find answers to my questions. Approaching the research and the writing turned out to be far more creative than I expected.

Assignment 5 was probably the most traditional work I’ve ever made, in that it’s photograms made in a dark room, but the subject matter was not traditional at all. Lace and Fox Talbot have never been far from my mind since A5 EYV. The photographic heritage of lace is fascinating, beginning with Fox Talbot’s salt prints. Lace, not withstanding male dalliances with kerchiefs and shirt ruffles over the centuries, remains a predominantly female fabric closely associated with underwear and intimacy. I wanted to make this feminine baseline mesh with the Fox Talbot photographic baseline. I felt that the use of photograms lets me “strip” out all extraneous detail – from colour to location to brand to size. The design of lace often fits with the representations of flora in early photography and natural history illustration. I wanted to work at life size too, in the same way that Anna Atkins and Fox Talbot showed their plants and objects at life size.

One thought on “Considering C&N in the light of EYV Assessment feedback

  1. Simon Chirgwin January 17, 2019 / 2:54 pm

    That’s really clear. Some very good analysis of what you’re doing. Reminds me that I should go back and look again at my assessment comments.

    And good luck in March. Not that you need it, of course.

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