Research and reflections on assignment 4

As a very first attempt at a critical essay within the field of photography and visual communications this has been a steep learning curve in technical terms and I have learned some valuable new lessons whilst revisiting some old mistakes.

By selecting an image by an unknown emerging artist, which I think was probably un-necessary, I found that there was no substantial critical information to be considered or contrasted. Even the artist’s own website does not carry the image and therefore in hindsight it was difficult to establish a recognised critical path from which a consistent and substantial interpretation could be made. It is very difficult to establish either the context or artist intentions’. This makes any attempted reading fraught with potential inaccuracies and on reflection I think the image ultimately lacks clear intention throughout the image.

The artist has the image as part of a series about communal drinking which I in hindsight did not take as my primary line of enquiry instead focussing on gender roles and what I saw as the power relationship between the two subjects. My tutor’s interpretation was vastly different and we agreed that I could have sought alternative readings of the image and perhaps I could undertake this research retrospectively which I have since via the OCA photography facebook group.

The findings were really interesting not least because of the range but what I did find was that few had picked up on the power play I had seen. A number of my peers had seen an old man not an older man as I had done and most were unclear or unaware of the relationship between the two subjects which from an artist’s perspective is not an ideal situation. I think there is a subtle difference between ambiguity and plain confused.

The big lesson learned here is to take a first impression as exactly that; THE first impression which then needs to be developed, compared, contrasted before a period of deep reflection. And this reflection must involve an interrogation of one’s own context and pre-conceptions and in hindsight I certainly rushed through this part of the working process.

Sometimes my desire to complete an assignment can overtake the sense of finishing when the work is done. Whilst I have made huge improvements in my photography work in this respect I was probably caught off guard with my first essay and felt this was a project where I could make some valuable time up before indulging myself in assignment 5.

It all seems so simple in retrospect but this is very much the learning cycle and making mistakes is inevitable and a necessary part of the process. Interestingly I now see reworking assignments as a fantastic idea and where appropriate an essential part of the process where during Express Your Vision I was far more likely to regard this as a step backwards and a negative effort. Still a long way to go

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