Assignment Two: Tutor Feedback Report

Student name Eddy Lerpiniere

Student number 506079

Course/Module Gesture & Meaning

Assignment number 2

Overall Comments

As with your first assignment I think that you are making good progress and continue to give a lot of thought and consideration to your work. Building on your previous experience you are moving much more into the consideration of concepts and an expression of your ideas and thoughts about them visually.

Your statement of intent indicates your wish to achieve variety and originality with your imagery that uses the genres of constructivism, surrealism and conceptual art to address two linked plights: old age and loneliness.

You have succeeded. The ten images address a subtleness of the two topics highlighting issues that are perhaps unappreciated by many using non- stereotypical imagery.

Your images address various issues and aspects of the topics and also raise a number of questions in the viewers mind about the significance of your choices and therefore the subject. This of itself may be your intention – to get people to think about loneliness, old age and the links between the two. As such this is fine but I suggest that your notes elaborate on this.

I hear what you’re saying Simon, but I really was under the impression that it isn’t usual for an artist to make any sort of declaration about the way they expect the images should be interpreted, I’ve been led to believe that the viewer makes up their own mind what they take away as their interpretation, any word from the artists is said to intrude on this process. You’re correct in thinking that my emphasis at this point in the introduction of the topics of age and loneliness are to make the viewer generate any thoughts about what it means. To my mind making choices about which specific areas you’d like them to concentrate upon within the overall subject is something that comes once the need for any thought at all has been established.

For example in Death race, is there a significance to the snow? why two birds carrying coffins when there is only one runner? The clock faces indicate a link to time and age – why four faces? Is there a corollary between variations during a race and age ?

I think what you’re asking for here is my interpretation of the image, and once again I thought this wasn’t considered usual for the artist to point any way for the viewer to go, it should be left to them what the significance is? However, my thinking here was that death is a race we run from the time we’re born, hence the fact that there’s no face to the runner, which would give the biggest clue to age, or in this case agelessness. Of course I had to ensure that the competitor was of a physique that could be accepted as ‘normal’ for running a long race, so using a baby or young child would not in my consideration have been appropriate. The clock instead imagines that time cannot be outrun, no matter which direction you try to take in life, it will always be with you and progresses resolutely and relentlessly forward in a linear fashion. The snow indicates that death is normally associated with the winter of anyone’s existence, be they young or old. The significance of two birds with coffins but only one competitor in view is that this is a never ending cycle. Death is one race where you can’t compete against anyone else and any other runners are therefore not in view until it’s their turn to start, the coffin coming into view prepares you for the fact that once this runner has gone another, and another and so on ad infinitum, will step forward.

I agree that it is often the case that artists leave the viewers of their work to form their own interpretations. The reasons behind my comment are first by setting out your thoughts you are demonstrating to the assessors the depth and creativity of your thinking – The brief does encourager students to “justify everything…” . Second it when it comes to showing work that is allegorical or putting forward proposals for it you will often be asked about it and its meaning. Obviously it is up to you to decide how to reply to such enquiries but it is as well at least to be prepared and ready with a response.

Where I think you may want to give more thought to is:
• in depiction of loneliness amongst all age groups
• the realism of your montages

With loneliness your work doesn’t sufficiently explore the different variables of the topic as experienced by the different ages that your statement of intent seems to indicate.

‘The critical context of this work is to take a peek into the world of the disadvantaged older people and those who suffer from long-term loneliness…’

I’m not sure about exploring… the different variables of the topic as experienced by the different ages that your statement of intent seems to indicate.’ I don’t think there’s any clear intention from me to cover any other age group than the old, but having said that there are images of young and middle aged subjects in there, the intention was to try and make them as generic as possible when it came to age, I’m wondering now if I achieved that?

With respect to loneliness and different ages I took my cue from your statement where you say that:
“one of the main preconceptions about loneliness is that it’s a problem that primarily afflicts the single, older person, which is a definite misconception, it afflicts all age groups and social types.  I’m therefore combining the two interests and working to show that loneliness is a problem that affects many more people than just the old…”
 
My thinking is that loneliness – its causes, manifestations, implications etc – will vary depending on a number of factors and that age will be one. It is up to you to decide how and where you want to take this. You may well want to establish the notion that loneliness affects all ages and leave it there to concentrate on the old – fine; equally I can see another way would be to show how loneliness varies with age and a  number of other factors. In consequence to this you may want to edit this part of your statement.
I agree with you that the statement of intent needs rewording as you’re right it will lead anyone to believe that there should be a spread of images that cover the different ages and it’s very true that I’ve really not done such a good job of that as I’ve gone along.  I think what I’m guilty of here is changing my approach partway through the making of the images as the difficulty of making that spread became more obvious.  I then failed to change the statement of intent to take into account that the images had become much more generic, I failed to read my own statement thoroughly and tie the two things up when I’d finished.  In too much of a hurry I guess.

Your montages have a “cut and paste” feel to them. This may be by design or circumstance. Either way I suggest that you need to consider how (or if) this affects the communication of your ideas. Your notes are silent about this.

Ideally would you want your imagery to be realistic as in the likes of Magritte’s ‘Time Transfixed’? His depiction of the train and the fireplace as separate entities is very realistic – it’s the juxtapositioning of them in the one image that is so arresting.

By comparison for example your image ‘Difference’ in the placement of the frogs on the log and the face on the toad, it is quite recogniseable that theses have been ‘cut and pasted’. How do you think this affects the communication of the idea of ‘difference’? Would you want this to be more natural and if so why?

Once again I hear what you say Simon but there’s a couple of things I think need to be taken into consideration here. The ability to make well composited images that truly make the viewer wonder how the images are achieved require a level of post-processing skill I don’t possess and at this point in time, although I admire that skill in others, I’m not sure that it’s a skill I want to gain the requisite proficiency in to make my images that realistic. I could have made more of an attempt than I have I’m sure, but I honestly felt that the cut-and-paste appearance was in itself a statement. The edginess of life for the ‘different’ and lonely is amplified in the ‘bittiness’ of the parts pasted together and in that sense it does communicate well, whereas a more slick presentation would perhaps impress that the work can be achieved, but the edginess would have been lost.

As for the matter of ‘cut and paste’ appearance – I quite agree with you about the post productions skills – this is not what this course is about – but I would again point to the idea of “justifying everything”. Your response is fine and perfectly acceptable but I do feel that your at formal assessment would benefit from demonstrating your awareness of the issue and your position in terms of what you have done or propose could be done if pursuing the project.  

Assessment potential

I understand your aim is to go for the Photography/Creative Arts* Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment. In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.

Feedback on assignment
Technical and Visual skills

I’ve mentioned my main concern about the technical skills in producing the montages – I feel that they are too ‘cut and paste’ and that greater skill in making the joins appear more natural would be beneficial.

I think your visual skills are good and used well. As I mentioned earlier your images convey a subtleness and this can be seen in your image ‘Isolation’: Not only does the relative placement of the pears demonstrate the obvious, but your attention of detail over the placement of the stalks show a variety of facets: how the group can huddle together to talk about the outsider; one of group turns to look at the outsider and the outsider with head bowed and turned away from the group.

Quality of outcome

I think that you have used the various genres well to address the topics in a non-stereotypical manner – you have nicely avoided the ‘head-in-the-hands- lone-figure type of imagery. The range and style of your imagery shows that you are developing an individuality of expression.

Some images work better than others.
Your consequences image while a good surreal image doesn’t I feel adequately reflect the issue you mention in the notes – that self harm and even suicide are common consequences of loneliness. I get the feeling that you decision was based more on liking an image and using this to fit the theme rather than making an image to fit the theme. I may be missing the point – if so fine but I suggest that your notes ought to elaborate more than “The image above is my interpretation of Surrealism, it was an idea that came into my head and when completed I liked the result and so it became part of this body of work” explaining how you feel the imagery works to illustrate the theme.

Once again are we at the point of wanting an explanation of the image from the artist? Yes, I agree the words I used are very blasé and in hindsight I think I need to change them before assessment, but I need a clarification of this issue of image interpretation from the artist, is it normal??

I think “Loneliness in words” and “Financial Stress” do well to represent how others view the topics and think that the montage is much more straightforward and acceptable as it is not trying to represent a realism in the juxtapositioning of the elements and consequently works very well.

The Black Tunnel is good in that you are turning he camera on your self. Using the graduated greying tones is good Did you consider a continuously graduated tone rather than ellipses of tone? In your orientation the viewer is in the dark tunnel looking back at you. I wonder if it might be better to have re- position the camera behind you showing your back looking out on to the room so that the viewer of the image sees your outlook with the darkening tunnel stretching out before him/her. In this way the viewer gets a more direct appreciation of your outlook.

I did consider a linear grey scale but rejected it as the elliptical view gave more of an impression of the way I think someone sees a dark tunnel when stressed.

I’m not convinced about the repositioning of the camera. The facial expression and attitude of the body convey a feeling within the image that would, I think, be lost from the 180° view and it’s not just about the tunnel itself, it’s about why it’s there, what’s creating it, state of mind etc.

Some images raise more questions than others. Are you wanting your images to raise and therefore address specific issues of loneliness and old age or do you want them to raise more open ended thinking – causing viewers to think about the topics and bringing their own experiences? Your images seem to fall into both camps. You might want to discuss this and consider the possibility of greater consistency of approach and how things might be changed to achieve this.

I think I answered this question in my first response at the beginning of the feedback. To me it’s more important to generate any questions at the moment than to delve into specifics, that will happen later if and when the topic becomes an issue.

‘End of their Tether’ is a straight non-allegorical image with a very direct message. It is powerful but sitting alongside the others its way of influencing viewers is different and inconsistent. Are you using this inconsistency purposely as part of your way of communicating? Some may find the inconsistency interferes with their appreciation of the work and topic.

I deliberately changed the style of the work for this image to make it a full-stop with a bang at the end of this particular piece of work. I want viewers to go away with the deliberate impression that there’s a very serious consequence to loneliness and that viewers perhaps should consider that not all drug abuse is for recreational purposes, or long-term usage is simply because of the addictive nature of these products. I believe that there are many more drugs users/abusers who’ve succumbed to this form of escape to cover their loneliness and isolation than there are who do so for recreational purposes and I want this image to leave a strong impression to open the topic(s) up further.

Creativity

As already intimated your images show good individuality of approach and creativity. Well done!

There are opportunities to extend your imagery and cover a greater myriad of ideas.

For example your Isolation image is as I have already said good for various reasons. But you could have extended this with additional lighting – what about spotlighting the group of pears so that the single pear is on the edge of the bright spot in increasingly dark shadow. Or vica versa. In this you could be alluding to activities commensurate with the light and dark.

I’m not sure that any further enhancement will improve the import of the image. Everyone whose commented on it has seen the message loud and clear and by emphasising any area would be over egging the pudding a bit, a simple image is surely the preferable route?

I feel that there are areas of loneliness connected with different ages and other circumstances that could be further explored. Your statement of intent raises the interesting aspect of loneliness being experienced by many ages and most people at some stage of their lives. This would be an area that would be worth exploring further together with issues such as level of collaboration with participants.

I would agree with you that there is still a lot of areas to be explored with this topic at all ages and circumstances and it may perhaps be that it’ll be something I follow as a long-term project outside of the OCA.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Your logs and notes are well kept – giving lots of detail about thoughts, references to others work, and issues to consider. They demonstrate a high level of engagement with the course and more particularly your own photographic development. As indicated you could include more of your thinking behind your decisions.

Suggested reading/viewing

http://video.ted.com/talk/podcast/2011S/None/
ErikJohansson_2011S-480p.mp4 This gives you a feel for the issues you need to consider if you want to make your surreal images realistc.

Collabortation

Have a look at the work of Wendy Ewald working with children – particularly ‘Towards a promised Land’
Anthony Luvera and his assisted self portraits

Portraits Jane Bown
Philip Lorca di Corcia and his staged images for hustlers project.

Pointers for the next assignment

You’ve got the opportunity to continue working on the loneliness/old age topic. You could use this assignment to explore the notion of collaboration between yourself and the sitters – how they would wish aspects to be brought out and represented in the portraits. You can relate the style, location, props and lighting etc as a way of exploring collaboration and identity in terms of age and loneliness. If it is not appropriate (for what ever reason) you can at least use the learning from this and apply it in a different arena.

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