You have submitted an interesting and evocative set of photographs Steve, well done. In terms of your stated aim of creating otherness, you have been successful! The work shows a good level of control over the lighting at your disposal which together offers the potential for the kind of narrative readings that Crewdson’s work creates. This work shows real potential for development and continues the vein of previous, stronger work that achieves an eerie or uneasy quality through the introduction of lighting to night time scenes. The next step is to shift this work beyond a very direct relationship to Crewdson so that you begin to develop your own unique photographic voice.
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 pass 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
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
In general terms, the more successful pictures are the ones that present an illuminated moment where something seems about to happen or has just happened. I will be more specific about the attributes of these images below.
An interesting image to start the series that manages to transform a seemingly mundane suburban garage and street in to an eerie and creepy scene. The deliberate Dutch angle creates the sense that we are witness to something – evoking the use of hand hand camera in moving image works to create the idea that we are ‘behind the eyes’ of one of the characters. The colour of the sky and the theatrical illumination of the opposite houses manage to increase this sense of foreboding. The bin bag in the foreground right of frame, although I suspect not deliberately placed, is suggestive of some kind of dodgy goings on – a body? And the strongly lit green garage door invites us to wonder what is happening in the opposite garden. There is even a subtle nod – and I’m, not sure how you will feel about this – towards the Fred West story where a simple suburban house in a regular suburban street is transformed (and ultimately demolished) by the actions of one of its recipients.
Another successful image that transforms a simple ‘load of old furniture’ into something much more interesting. By eliminating information through the seductive and selective use of lighting, you manage to create potential narrative readings about this very simple set up. Who does this chair belong to? Why is it in the garden? Even if it is simply a load of old furniture, the simple fact that the chair is facing the desk suggests that it is still in use as some kind of office. Compositionally, I like the way that the eye is drawn to the left of the image by the lit edge of desktop and as well as the fact that the chair just touches the edge of frame left.
Although compositionally interesting, this picture has less of a theatrical impact than the previous two – there are fewer possibilities for the viewer to create their own narratives.
For me, this is the most successful in terms of the Crewdsonesque reading that you suggest in your accompanying text. The strong light from the microwave really makes me wonder what is inside there and there is even a suggestion of something super natural or even extra-terrestrial. The image is compositionally simple and the perspective lines created by the worktop and cupboards strongly draws the eye across the image and past the main focus – the microwave. An extra sense of eeriness (horror films?) is created by the fact that the flex that is sitting in front of the mocrowave initially looks like a child’s skipping rope. These kinds of small details are so important to the reading of an image and are elements that you can learn to be much more in control of as you move forward.
Similar to image 03, this one is less engaging when presented with the more theatrical pictures.
Of the three similar images (03, 05 & 06) this one is the most successful. The ordinariness of the setting is shifted by two elements. Firstly the large and scary looking crab on the wall and secondly by the shadow that is cast across the image in the bottom right hand corner of the frame. Is it a person? Another large object?
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
Your coursework is looking good, well done.
Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
I am pleased to read that you are troubled by the difficult and shifting relationship between contemporary photographic practice and technical ability. I would like to see much more research and reflection about this interesting problem through the analyzing of much more contemporary photographic art work. Choose some work that you find really troubling for your own aesthetic sensibilities and try to do further research and analysis to understand why that work is considered successful by others.
Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
The more logical elements of your blog are looking good but try to expand the ‘research & reflection’ section by trying to do more of the kind of research and reflection that I mention above. This is the area that the assessors will be interested in – your struggle and attempts to understand as you move through the unit.
Sian Bonnell – have a look at the way that Bonnell playfully shifts our reading of the domestic in to something else.
Sarah Hobbs – photographic sculptural interventions of domestic spaces – again the actions of the artist subvert the reading of the image.
Hav a look at the relationship between Freud’s ideas about ‘the Uncanny’ and photography. A good starting point might be this essay – http://www.nicholasmiddleton.co.uk/thesis/thesis3.html but it would be worth doing some further research of your own. The uncanny is often talked about in relation to Crewdson’s work so this might also be a good starting point to writing your own thoughts in your learning log.
Pointers for the next assignment / assessment
- Further research of contemporary photographic work
- Research the Uncanny
- Increase the research and reflection section of your learning log