Other students’ work – We are all working with similar restrictions, confusions and frustrations. Other students also seem to be hit with the challenges of understanding the course and self doubts about their work as I do. They are still producing fantastic work, and therefore if I push ahead despite my doubts I should be able to as well.
Critiquing work – By all means share your initial emotive response and praise for work, but don’t be afraid to offer a critical view also as this allows further growth and meaningful discussion. Critiquing work and providing feedback provides not only a social aspect to studying and working, but also a platform to deepen your understanding.
Reading & research – Read text that interests you, don’t force stuff that does not engage your thoughts. Books do not necessarily need to be read cover to cover unless written to be read as one piece of text. If reading critiques is confusing, it does get easier; re-read and it will become clearer.
Padlets – Robert has put together a padlet for each EYV assignment and is encouraging students to share work and offer critique, as well as share resources and hold general discussion. I have now saved these and plan to utilise padlet more. (https://oca.padlet.org/robertbloomfield)
Additional discussion – Surprised at the small number of attendees:- 9 people plus the tutor Robert Bloomfield attended, despite Rob saying that there are 350 people on the zoom invite list. Discussion was held around the reasons; timing, commitments, depth of engagement with study etc. Pondered the possibility of having cohort system with staggered starts throughout the year so students work and move forward together, may help the confusion about how to start and work through the course that seems to be felt across the board.
Student Work Discussion:
Archna Singh (https://archnasingh.blog/) shared a beautiful piece of work for hr next assignment showing a ten page PDF where she took exerts from the book “The Art Of War” and set them to ten images of fighting pigeons she viewed from her apartment. The images were given alternative meaning with the text, as the images looked like a graceful dance or loving nature between the pigeons, but actually they were fighting. I found this interesting given my desire to add text to my images in The Square Mile, but I didn’t want to give them any implied meaning, and wanted to leave it open to interpretations. Archna took the opposite view and wanted to give the images a specific meaning.
Lee Abbey shared a really interesting piece of work where he took images in his kitchen – all shot with his phone – of things he saw that looked interesting to him. They were really mundane otherwise uninteresting scenes, but he created really interesting images. He spoke of how elements interacted with each other – lines on a griddle pan lining up with lines on a nearby cooling rack, an open draw and its contents coordinating with the items on the counter, his feet in the same direction of a pair of shoes on the floor, fruit and veg with similar colours and shapes. I really liked this series. All was spontaneous and shot with auto on his phone.
Sarah Hibbert shared her Assignment 4 and used her Macro lens to explore a decayed pipe at her workplace for her assignment based around looking at lighting and form. She used a beanbag to steady the camera as she couldn’t get close enough with her tripod. Rob pointed out how well texture works in photography and therefore this makes some beautiful images and a great series. It was all natural light and made something really beautiful from something considered so ‘ugly’ and broken.
Georgia Bird shared her Assignment 2 work which again was a great series. As her collection of images she photographed elderly neighbours through their windows during lockdown while they were shielding. Images were accompanied by a quote from the subjects about how they have felt isolation. A really emotive series. Discussion points included how the window frames provided additional framing of the subject and added to the feeling of isolation, how the window reflections in some shots connected the viewer with the subject and the outside world, and how in the series of 6 there were a couple of images of the same subject where other subjects had one image, but this was explained by the restrictions of only being able to photograph ground floor residents and needing more images.
CONCLUSION: Having seen the calibre of other students work I am both encouraged but also feeling a little daunted. I hope as I move through the course I find my own work meets this level of quality, but I also take from it that these students often felt equally as lost or overwhelmed as I often do!
Critique and Feedback
Rob then led a discussion about critique and giving feedback on others’ work. By being critical as opposed to always just praising allows further growth. There is no right or wrong, just thoughts.
When commenting on other students’ work, do you have contextualise the work, or just react and share your initial emotive response?
People can be very sensitive to criticism, sometimes it just takes people all the effort to actually make work, so sometimes there is pain and trauma assigned to work that is heightened by criticism. The function is therefore about morale and social in nature rather than having any meaningful chat.
Two viewpoints in feedback, the way work looks and its’ politics
Reading critical books can be hard and need lots of re reading to make sense but it will get easier! Reading list has recently been updated but any original reading list supplied when enrolled is ok.
Books mentioned: Ways of Seeing John Berger, Illuminations Walter Benjamin, Photography Liz Wells – reference.
I asked Rob about whether books should be read cover to cover or referenced in chunks, and he said it does depend on the books; some are written as one piece of text that is easily consumed, others can be referenced in sections or essays. He reassured us that if the books are not interesting to us not to push ahead too hard with it and instead find something that is interesting.