A2.BoW: The same place, a different perspective

Assignment two of B0W comes an eternity after A1 – last year a business project made it near impossible for me to visit the canal. This year, the first few months were a washout then, as I was about to restart, Covid-19 lockdown. It’s not all been wasted time, as I’ve completed the contextual studies module and have my final tutorial tomorrow. This has filled my head with ideas for taking the BoW forward, which is what A2 is about.

This assignment submission includes, seven composite images, a draft artist’s statement and self-reflection.

The images

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A2 - 2

Image 2 of 7

Artist statement (v1)

The same place, a different perspective

The canal was quieter than I’d imagined, short of people. They’d sometimes jog by in go-faster lycra or race past with bell-less bicycles, claiming towpath territory with their speed and metal. Those on boats are in private spaces, floating living rooms or holiday homes; a space where gongoozlers are suspected as if  strangers lurking in front gardens. But the 200 year old waterway carries signs of culture as it joins people, places  and times along its watery flow. De-industrialisation and ruins, relics of the UK as the ‘workshop of the world’ preserved as heritage, the signs of making-do in an absent “knowledge economy”; the sprawl of bland mass development bloating the commuter belt. Most visible of all, is the normalisation and regulation of the canal as a place of leisure.

In my photographs, I have used a series of pictures-in-pictures to disturb linear perspectives of space and to consider how the canal is shaped and contested through culture. The photographs are not objective, they contain exaggerated elements that counter popular (mis)representations of the canal as a pastoral leisure space.

Self-reflection

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills (30%)

Use of PS techniques to isolate image elements by adding contrast and intensifying colours – particularly to the non-picturesque images. Use of PS techniques to exaggerate the picturesque in the pastoral-like images, including bringing out reflections in water.

Use of picture-in-picture design to break linear perspective (what I’d referred to as the ‘tyranny of linear perspective’ in my dissertation) and draw out conflicting narratives in the landscape. Attention to design layout to ensure consistency across image series.

Quality of outcome – content , application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas (20%)

This assignment is a stage in BoW, therefore a work in progress. I’m happy with how I’m starting to visually interpret the concepts explored in my dissertation. Presentation is only images on a blog at this stage, but I’m also printing the work so I can begin to think about presentation as the work evolves.

Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice (30%)

While away from working on the canal, I’ve been making images with an iPhone and manipulating them with apps. This has acted as a point of departure from straight photography towards using it to express an interpretation of subjects without being overly mindful of the referent. I’m embracing the possibility of photography’s creation of a ‘new and distinct reality’.

Context – reflection, research, critical thinking (20%)

Much detailed research and contextual thinking has been a part of my dissertation work (final draft emailed separately to BoW tutor). I’m now beginning to assimilate that into the visual and package some of it into a brief artist’s statement.

10 thoughts on “A2.BoW: The same place, a different perspective”

  1. Images 1,2 and 5 really stand out here Andrew. What is your ‘link’ with your contextual studies? Is the ‘theme’ the canal as a multi usage space rather than exclusively a leisure space? I saw a really interesting documentary history last week (think it was on BBC4) on canals.

    1. Broad theme is socially constructed space – shaped as much by culture as images are shaped by culture. A shared polysemy of image and space, with culture as the source.

  2. Hi Fitz,
    I have been keeping up to date with your work and so will bring in a few threads. The canal images are appealing and I think on their own provide a commentary on the canal. I certainly find them appealing and look to see the state of the canal. I think an earlier comment you made on the way in which the canals/water has linked communities is an important one and bears following up. Industry was of course also linked.
    In terms of the added ‘small’ image, I am not completely sure. Certainly it makes one look and question the rationale of adding it, looking fo a link or contrast. I found the small image does draw the eye and thought I may like to see it in a different position. However, I also wonder why one could not simply have the two images alongside each other. They would of course not disrupt as much. Gestald of course comes to mind when they are displayed as above,.
    You could also consider to what extent the canal is in fact linear itself.
    Hope this helps a little.
    Regards
    Doug

    1. Thanks Doug, really appreciate your interest in the work – hopefully will be coming more regularly from now on! I’ve replied to Judy re diptych idea – not something the immediately grabs me, but will give it a go. As an engineer, you’ll find it interesting that the canals in Yorkshire have very few straight lines – a lot of the land is glacial and therefore very hilly. The canals follow the contours of the land to minimise the change in height. I visited a reservoir this morning that was build specifically to fill the locks to keep up with increased traffic. I live not far from the highest point of elevation between Leeds and Liverpool.

  3. Hi Fitz, I think the juxtaposition works well. There are some really striking images that convey the far from bucolic canal area & how it is used / inhabited even without the presence of people. Like Doug I did wonder how these would ‘read’ if presented as a simple diptych rather than being inlaid. I don’t think by doing this it would distract from the concept of linear disruption.

    P.s I envy you for having completed C/S … well done !

    1. I perhaps dismissed the diptych concept out of hand – I wanted give the impression of one thing, with different impressions and of the conflict between the two. With the inset, I think there are 3 images in one which creates a visual conflict. I’ve always read diptychs as two separate images joined at the hip and for me there needs to be a good reason for that – eg I saw one of Prof Stuart Hall in the course material – two portraits with different expressions. Though, it does make sense to try it out. Thanks!

  4. Hi Fitz, I think the inset photos work well – the only one I had a little difficulty with is the one under the bridge with the shopping trolley. I couldn’t at first make out what was happening in the inset photo, but after looking a few times realise that it is reflections that is throwing me off. But I image if these images were displayed big then there wouldn’t be a problem and would also be more impactful. I rather liked the linear disruption as it made me stop, pause and ask questions

    1. Interesting you comment on the inset for the photo under the bridge – I too was thinking it wasn’t perhaps clear enough, even though I knew what it was! You’re right that it’s clear when larger, but who knows how this is going to end up being disseminated, the way things are.

  5. Fitz

    Some interesting images here, but overall the message that I am getting is that this is a space that is defined by decline and decay, a perfect metaphor for Boris’s broken Brexit Britain, rather than as a place of leisure.

    I like image one, particularly the constrasting skies, but image two I am not sure about. It is the only image featuring a person and I’m not sure of the significance, particularly as the way they are dressed does not give any indication of leisure. In image three I wonder if the inset image might work better in a darker part of the frame as the crispness of the borders is lost against the light background. I like image four and the way the green of the bike frame is picked up in the inset image, but again this signifies to me decay and decline not pastoral leisure. I find image five too dark and the canal too recessive. There is definitely something there in terms of the contrast between straight lines of the inset image and the arches of bridges but I’ think because of the difference in contrast between the images your eye is drawn to the inset image and the main image is almost overlooked. I like image six but wondered if it might be possible to tweak the sky in the inset image to make it more blue, similar to image one, to heighten the contrast between the two elements. Image seven is my least favourite as I think the can could be in any bush or hedgerow and so the association with the canal is not established in my mind.

    I hope this helps.

    Regards

    Michael

    1. Thanks for considering Michael. It’s interesting how different people can have very different views – a couple of people found the last image their favourite. My idea is not to show the canal just as a place of leisure but as an ambiguous contested space. I wonder if the inclusion of some leisure focused images would make that clearer – I agree there is currently a focus on the marginal/broken, which I find more interesting as the canal as a place of leisure/pastoral is over-represented in popular culture.

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