Tuesday, December 20, 2011

DPP Results and Reading

Good news and bad.  I passed DPP with a decent grade, 71%, technically a 1st, but a grade that hid some issues.  Looking at the individual marks:

  • Skills 16/20
  • Knowledge 16/20
  • Invention 15/20
  • Communication 12/20
  • Judgement (as demonstrated in Learning Logs) 12/20
The first 3 marks are very encouraging, however, the final two 12's are not where I want to be, and I need to consider how to improve my performance in those areas.  The comment from the examiner points to the problem:
"You can progress by continuing to deepen your understanding of the culture and history of photography; in order for you to locate your work within it and aid the discovery of developmental pathways"
I have been aware for some time, that whilst I am deeply engaged in the conceptual development and execution of assignments, I am not spending enough time looking around me at what other photographers are doing and why they are doing it.  I subscribe to BJP and Aperture, but am still immediately drawn to the technical side of the content.  I also have shelves full of photography books awaiting a critical appraisal and write up in my blog.  The outcome is that I am growing technically and am very satisfied with my own capabilities, however, I am not contextualizing what I am doing

Turning back to the examiners feedback, I think I am getting to grips with communication in my work, the last two assignments have been much stronger from a narrative standpoint.  I have consciously developed more robust written content in my assignment submissions and within the photography have very specifically tried to communicate rather than simply illustrate.  There is more to do, and in particular assignment 3 will challenge me with its more abstract content.

This leaves the issue of Judgement and how I develop my learning log.  Part of the challenge I face are typically long working weeks, 50-60 hours of demanding mental work that does not leave a great deal of energy on the weekends other than a growing enthusiasm to relax with a few beers or a bottle of wine.  Typical middle aged trap, too little time to think, just get on with life and dull the pain.  OK, melodramatic, but it is a real challenge to avoid falling into.  When I started the course I read nothing but history and philosophy of photography for 2 years.  Perhaps this was too obsessive and now I am essentially saturated with the subject.  Equally, Sontag or Barthes make poor bedtime reading.

So, what to do.  First of all I need to become more aware of the cultural heritage of photography through the work of the giants of the medium, looking backwards, not just forwards.  I have Godwin, Rowell, Porter,, Stieglitz, and many others sitting on my shelves gathering dust.  Over Christmas I am resolved to review at least 2 major photographers each week and write a brief commentary on what they mean to me - then keep that going into the new year.  When I started the course this was going to be a big part of my working practice, I have let it slip.

The second element must be to look at photography around me, how it is used, where, when, what impact.  I do not see much printed press, living abroad I do not get the Sunday glossies, however, there is a huge amount of interesting work on the internet. Perhaps what I need to do is maintain a weekly diary entry about photographs and photographers that interest me.

Why blog this?  I internalize too much, I think about photography all the time, but rarely write about it.  I need to spend more time communicating my reaction to other peoples work, not simply commentate on my own work.  Writing this entry is a beginning on that path.  Time will tell, I am a fundamentally lazy person, but am very determined to get the most out of this course that I can.

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