A1.CS Tutor feedback

My own notes are included in the tutor feedback – pdf is linked below. I won’t replicate what is said in here, but note points for upcoming research and work.

  • Research the concepts of cultural heritage and cultural politics. Look widely to draw inspiration and consider the role of the CRT as a key stakeholder in respect of canals in the UK.
  • Look at tourism (including the tourists’ gaze) as one of the key uses of canals in the 21st century. Even if I’m not immediately drawn to this aspect as subject matter for images, the research could draw out something beyond the obvious.
  • ‘ Canals as an industrial artefact that are subsumed in the tourist gaze and the urban-pastoral? ‘ My own description of how I’m begin to see the canals. Remember this as a potential theme during research. Look at other photographic works taking this as a theme (ie beyond the canal) – the High Line and Petrochemical America (Mishrach) for example.
  •  Look at for signs of subcultures around the canal – visit at different times of the day.
  • Read into ‘geography of heritage’ and look at Rob Shields’ Places on the Margin: an alternative geography of modernity. Examine the changing use of the canal / peripheral industries that support the tourist industry for example.

I quote my tutor’s closing advice, as a reminder to self:

... at this point you should focus on unpacking and making sense of canals as distinct physical spaces that provide sites for an array of cultural practices. With this, I’m confident that you’ll have more than enough to go on.

I was feeling more optimistic about making some headway this morning during my long daily commute … until I lost internet connection and the words! Perhaps drafting should be in Word during train journeys.

PDF of feedback.

A1.CS: Diagnostic for tutor feedback


This diagnostic assignment requires an essay that relates my current work to an aspect of visual culture discussed in Part One of the course material . My essay is based around the post-modernist notion that plays against the modernist idea of objective truths and grand narratives. I’ve used the tools of semiotics to unpick my preconceived meaning of the stretch of canal that is the basis for my body of work.

My research for the essay draws on general reading during part 1 of the course as well as specific texts dealing with semiotics. During my research, I outlined a structure of the essay in a mindmap:

Click to view full screen

Texts of particular influence were Chandler’s Semiotics, the basics for its insights into the complexity of how meanings are made from signs; E.H. Gombrich’s Art & Illusion for its insights into the psychology of representation; and The Changing Landscape of Britain, for its variety of perspectives on landscape (all referenced in the essay).

The Essay

A pdf of the essay sent to my tutor for feedback is attached:


My final essay of level 2 dealt with what I see as problematic postmodern thinking in relating to photography and how some writers held the medium itself responsible for the meanings attributed to photographs. In this essay, I’ve directed similar ways of thinking in a different direction – at my own forming of subjective meaning; the destination of the message, rather than the photographic source.

Demonstration of subject based knowledge and understandingBroad and comparative understanding of subject content; knowledge of the appropriate historical, intellectual, cultural or institutional contexts (25%).

For this short essay, I’ve focused on understanding semiotics and the psychology of perception. In the space allowed there seemed limited possibility of exploring broader contexts, though I have briefly mentioned historical and publicity image contexts for the canal.

Demonstration of research skillsInformation retrieval and organisation; use of IT to assist research; ability to evaluate IT sources; the ability to design and carry out a research project, locate and evaluate evidence from a wide range of primary and secondary sources (visual, oral, aural or textual) (25%).

I’ve been using the Zotero tool to track my reading and research in an online research folder. This is best viewed through Zotero’s online site and access is available to tutors on request. However, given limited tutorial time available, both tutors have indicated a preference to be directed to references of specific relevance. For this assignment, they are provided in the essay bibliography.

A high level overview of the Zotero contents is provided on the ‘research folder’ page.

Demonstration of critical and evaluation skillsEngagement with concepts, values and debates; evidence of analysis, reflection, critical thinking, synthesis, interpretation in relation to relevant issues and enquiries (25%).

My main interest in this essay has been in the psychology of perception and semiotics. These are influences in postmodern thought. I have come to experience these as critical tools that can be applied in different ways. In this case I have found them invaluable in making sense of how meaning has been made. This contrast to my previous experience in my final L2 essay, where I saw them used destructively to devalue the use of the media by holding the photograph itself responsible for the creation of meaning (reference Susan Sontag and others).

CommunicationThe ability to communicate ideas and knowledge in written and spoken form, including presentation skills (25%).

I hope the essay is clearly written and includes useful examples of images, from the current project, my archive and other sources.