Monday, April 16, 2012

Assignment 4: Tutor Feedback

Wow, no revisions, no changes, the following comment from Alan was a major relief:
"You have completed an extremely well balanced account of his development.  It is carefully assembled with text and illustrations.   There were no areas I felt particularly disposed to criticise so I have just attached some views of my own to expand the subject."
I felt when I finished the essay that it was a good piece of work, otherwise I would not have submitted it, however, not knowing where the standard lies and what the balance of content should be, I was nervous.

A key question I had was around the style of writing and the balance with the content.  There has been significant debate on the student forum recently about standards for writing and reading, many people finding academic texts difficult to work with.  I have experienced this but have persevered, reading as much art based literature as I can cope with.  My understanding is growing, each book adding a little to my knowledge base.  I am also beginning to understand what might make a consistent argument in a written form, i.e. I am trying to let the work I am reading inform my own writing.

When I was a Ph.D. student we had a reference model for academic writing based upon the target audience:

B.Sc. - Bullshit
M.Sc. - More Shit
Ph.D. - Pile it higher and deeper

This was coupled with another popular saying, when unsure of your stance simply "Baffle them with Bullshit".  I do sometimes wonder if much of what is written for art students follows the same rhetorical model - if I really knew what a dialectic was I would presume this is a dialectic of confusion.  Returning to my essay, I made a very conscious choice to write in an accessible manner avoiding the pitfalls of obtuseness that much academic writing conveys.  In essence I tried to combine the rigor of academic study with a written style that would sit well in the pages of a quality newspaper.

In Alan's very detailed accompanying notes he pointed to a number of my images that already contain elements of Gursky's visual language, in particular the grounding and framing of the photographs.  Since starting this course I have become progressively more interested in the work of German photographers.  Their style, whether Dusseldorf trained or not, is frequently very structural, the image has clear symmetries and the frame edges possess no ambiguity.  I think this is meshing with a scientists desire for cleanliness and order and infusing my work.  However, I also clearly need to find my own voice, seeking influence is valuable, copying slavishly is a dead end.

As Assignment 5 builds from 4 I need to be very careful to follow this closing advice from Alan:
As I have mentioned previously, there are some characteristics in your own work that are reminiscent of Gursky’s style but I would warn against trying to create images which slavishly reproduce specific features in his work.  It may sound difficult but if you can immerse yourself in his work and then work to capture your own images without any specific features of his work in mind.  I feel sure that, because of similarities in your own style the parity with his work will emerge, naturally.   
In a couple of previous posts I have tried to emulate some of Gursky's Digital manipulations and whilst they have had a degree of success they are not me.  I rarely use Photoshop, I find that the image adjustments in Lightroom are sufficient.  If I need to significantly alter an image using the advanced tools in PS I would either re-shoot the photo or reject it.  I see myself as a photographer, not a graphical designer.  I think Alan has pinned this down well, I need to understand Gursky's world view and style and allow it to inform my work.  I must not simply try and emulate what he does.

Subsequently I am rethinking Assignment 5 and stepping back from the highly composite images I had in mind. I still plan to use some Pano merging techniques, but the creation of images through substitution of vast numbers of people is not really doing anything for me.  I am not going to do any work on the Assignment until the end of May after my vacation, so have time to think.  Currently my concept is to take my imagery into the city and document the inner areas of Munich and the flow of people in that environment.  I want to document the Munich I know and love, as a place not as a people.  This will be the final step in my Landscape study of the city before turning my viewpoint onto the people of the city.

No comments:

Post a Comment