A2.BoW: tutor feedback

The feedback on this assignment was useful and thought provoking and has resulted in a change from a conceptually oriented work towards a more poetic direction, which I’ll discuss in my self-reflection.

I felt that this assignment was almost like a restart on BoW after so long away from making images and in the meantime, while working on CS, my thinking about the canal has been heavily conceptual and textual. I’d used the assignment to try out an idea and kick back into BoW. However, a criticism was that the concept didn’t feel sufficiently substantial and clear to support a full project and that I hadn’t treated the assignment as a staging post in developing a BoW but more as trying out a discrete idea (perhaps like the assignments in L2).

While there was encouraging feedback on some of the images, a stumbling block was the concept of showing the banal as a counterpoint to the picturesque. This was considered too binary and also that it is likely a mute point on which side of the divide individual images would sit. I can see this, now I’ve let go of my attachment to the concept. I think this a risk when spending time thinking conceptually – it often needs a flexible interpretation in practice. I’m reminded that one can’t improvise on a musical instrument by simply using scales – there is a pushing of theory to the subconscious and creation of something spontaneous.

My tutor had some useful suggestions in approach a rethink of direction:

  • Consider what draws me to the canal personally and what makes it distinctive from the places around it. What aspect enthuses me?
  • Consider whether it is really about a specific stretch of waterway or something more universal.
  • Suggested making some small (cheap) prints of possible images and exploring how they might work together / inform further shooting. Also making larger / quality prints of key images.

Some ideas for contextual research were recommended; some writings of Walter Benjamin and other photographers working with waterways (Alec Soth, Frank Watson and Nadav Kandar).

While the assignment itself may not have jump started my staggering project, the dialogue around it has. As in so many things, it is the journey or working through a process that help understanding.