Week 12: Thinking Ahead

This week, or over the Assessment Period, it is important to reflect on the myriad topics discussed, and any questions that have been raised for you in relation to your practice, and photography more broadly. 

– What have you found most stimulating?

– What topics, concepts or ideas have you found more challenging?

– How has the module helped you to begin to define, or expand, a position for your practice within contemporary photography?

Last week of the module and the assignment results are in, pleased with the outcome, and my 1:1 should help in identifying areas I need to work on as I prepare to begin the ‘Informing contexts’ module. Reflecting on the previous 11 weeks, it has been a rollercoaster of a journey. I was not confident starting out and some parts have been a challenge. It took a while to settle in and get a feel for the pace of the course and what to expect. Starting the course I had a reasonable idea of where my practice is but no clear direction of where I want to take it in the long term.

Looking at the work of others and working through the course exercises and readings has helped tremendously in being able to articulate my practice and give it direction. I struggled with contextualizing my ideas, which I felt detracted a great deal from the work I made. This is an area that I can see improving and where I still have much more knowledge to gain, but I can see the value in persevering with the more troublesome parts of the coursework.

I found Sontag & Barthes hard going; it took several passes through each reading and additional research on how others had interpreted the work to get a handle on what is being said. I would still consider my grasp tenuous and have much more work to do in this area of photography theory to come to a solid understanding. I am reading ‘The Cruel Radiance’ by Susie Linfield and ‘Photography, A critical introduction’ by Liz Wells, both of which I am finding much more accessible than the aforementioned, so maybe it’s a matter of style as well I have trouble with digesting.

Contextualizing my research project for the following 3 modules has been challenging, both the meat industry and migrant workforce themes have raised tough questions which I feel I have come someway in answering. As part of the research proposal, I have identified further reading, which I have already started on gaining a deeper insight into the meat industry. The migrant workforce and glass houses themes I continue to work on in parallel, but not as part of the assessed coursework. In particular, the migrant workforce theme needs further research and contextualization, I don’t feel I have that sufficiently underpinned or can explain my chosen approach to a sufficient degree.

This has been one of the key lessons for this module, the amount of research needed to turn an idea into a project. The importance of contextualizing your idea and in visualizing how to communicate your work. Interpreting the work and the differing perspectives others may have and in how that can have negative consequences if not well thought through. Sally Mann’s experience with her ‘Immediate Family’ work is a good example of that error.

Although not a fan of forums or posting in them, I have found the forum exercises as part of the course work invaluable as a learning aid. Similar to the CRJ, it’s hard work, but for assignment time the effort put in pays off handsomely. Fortunately, I joined the MA from a Foundations course at the OCA where a Learning Log/CRJ is a mandatory part of the course, very similar in format to use here. With almost a year of blogging there, this has been quite easy to get into regular posting. It’s a great way to keep references and quotes together and keep a record of your work, I found at assignment time I made a lot of use of the content.

Field work took a bit of a backseat in this module, although I shot for the work in progress and my project themes I did little outside of that. As it is, I have a backlog of work to process, although I did setup a website for my work, which I would not have done otherwise.

To the next module…

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