In the end I have decided to call a halt to this project, at least for assessment purposes. The assignment that I sent to my tutor still exists on the blog and the print that we agreed would supersede it is enclosed in the assessment box ready for delivery.
I can sense a much longer journey for the work that I did in the assignment but I need to close down and concentrate on completing some other work to ensure that the assessment is completed on time. So thanks Mum from the file called Mother narrative. It’s been a piece of work…..
The problem with assessment seemingly is in it’s preparation, the work seems to want to carry on. I had decided to make the mono print as a reference, it being the distillation of the work that I did in this assignment. I had had some conversations with Sharon on this about how it might be developed – see here – and whilst photographing the framed image on the wall I was struck both by the ambiguity of its presence but also but the strength of the photographic image. Barthes, in Camera Lucida famously waxed lyrically about his mother’s depiction in a photograph (opening sections of ‘Part Two”) and whilst I may still make another image as a discard I decided to make another image and purposefully distress it. I decided on a matte paper and printed it with a gloss profile – I know the image will fade – I then tore the image in two separating the two subjects, my mother and me, and then arranged them in a number of settings to see which ‘spoke loudest’.
I have registered with the college for the July assessment so I need to finalise things. I want to register soon for level three. Sharon suggested that I try and find a way to leave the personal from this archive images. The problem with that is that these aren’t archive images, they are constructs with, clearly, my own narrative assembling, and disassembling, them. Either way leaving level two will provide a Rubicon to cross and allow fiction to become the essence of what I want to achieve with narrative. The first and third images have an element of movement about them, either one may be moving away from the other or moving closer; the second image is in a state of finality – they are distinct from each other. The images that have missing persons show no disconnect at all, after all where are they? Unless by condition we know there was someone there and in which case it might be an altogether different image.
Looking back, final edit
I had a meeting with my course tutor Sharon to review my coursework and to discuss the assessment submission. Assignment three had a series of images of my mother that in the main had her looking back in a reflective stance. After talking it around a little while it was thought that maybe instead of a series of images one might suffice, this highly edited image above. The image says a lot about what I’ve thought about through the course, firstly it is a construct, two images of two different times creating a narrative that is fairly directive. My mother regards me, her son, at a point in my life – the point was my first date with Elaine (she saw the sweater and decided she didn’t want to be seen with me so sartorially challenged and avoided me (but that’s another story). The front wall of the house, the door and myself date from an earlier time, my mother and the rest are contemporary. It is therefore a series of truths and not a truth, to tell a story albeit in single image form.
The square format reflected the original image format – it was one of a very few that my father made of me – and I thought the crop to those dimensions fitted the with the sense of narrative that I wanted to project. I like her stance, outside of the property borders to a house that she dwelt in for most of her life, bore five children in (she brought three children with her when she moved in). She regards me, I look slightly away. There is life in this image (for this viewer).
Wall hanging – with light
Sharon suggested I put the image on the wall and re-photograph it. I must say that I wasn’t immediately enthralled by that prospect as it would suggest that I am honouring the moment, exalting it – ‘framing it’. And because I know the core of the emotion I found difficulty in that concept, I thought about it some more and decided to try it, though purposely askance. I was really pleased with the light as it echoes some of my other work with transient light in assignment five. I was’t sure then and I’m still unsure now. I want to recognise something here, again suggested by Sharon, which is about ‘letting go’. Images have strength, for those that have a connection to the image it is understandably difficult to render that emotional connection void, something that I’ve been encouraged to do when working with archives. Honouring the emotional connection of an image is a noble thing of course, but to make images that develop another narrative, then leaving that connection behind is perhaps a requirement. It might though be difficult to recognise when this has taken place when the original connection is personal and when it hasn’t when working with personal imagery, or imagery that has a proximity. These constructed images do not, and indeed cannot, contain the original intent and I am very pleased to ‘let-go’ of whatever I imagine might be going on in the photograph, though I fully recognise that a viewer knowing the cast of characters might question that…..
With a patina of dust
I also had another look at the image from an another angle and tried to pick out the ‘fingered dust’ on the glass. I have a strong feeling what this might denote/connote and would wonder if anyone else would gather similar information from the image.
I had another thought which was to shatter the frame with the photograph in it and then re-take the image, I may still do that, but I realise it is a once only exercise and considering assessment – sending the framed image intact would be good deal easier (and safer) than trying to gather the shattered and splintered remains of a broken frame, but then that may provide evidence that I haven’t left everything behind……..
I am very happy with the outcome and my tutor’s comments. The reflections provided on the individual photographs and how they work, both as a narrative and individually, I tend to agree with. The different aesthetics I had tried, all linked to the assignment were very beneficial to me in the way they were considered and commented on by my tutor. And one lesson in particular I think I have learnt and that is to apply the notion of time to the assignment. I instinctively felt that my narrative structure had some validity to it, what I think I failed to do – something I will comment on later – is that I allowed myself to become a trifle too involved in the image, after all it was a personal discourse that I overlaid into the narrative, which I think is perfectly valid, but not I think necessary or at least well explained for this assignment.
My tutor has mentioned ‘OPEN text’ a few times in relation to my work, and by this I understand to mean not providing all the information, allowing a discourse to evolve between spectator and image (or series of images). I think that by providing two sets of images both with and without a secondary narrative device allowed that thought to appear when it might not have done otherwise. But that is conjecture and I do think that, perhaps better to say, know that, there was obviously the potential for two distinct narrative devices being played with one set of images whilst the other only really offered one. Some lessons learned.
I have been using my personal archive a lot recently and I think that may be coming to an end, there are a lot of things that I want to think about with my art and for that purpose I think I will leave one aspect of my person out of the narrative loop. My tutor reflects that other artists who use archives use them to investigate their own vision and pay less heed to the personal content of the image, rather letting the image portray a sense of narrative within a wider context. I am aware that I have strayed into an area that mixes narratives – which I think is ok in itself, but maybe not in a visual way until I have better understood both what it is I want to say and become a trifle more detached from what the images mean to me??
The relatively recent excursion into non-fiction for me is starting to have it’s toll and more and more I am considering re-entering into the fictive world as a means to investigate my thoughts. A while ago I started to investigate, with words, something that I wanted develop and express. It is shelved at the moment, though not the narrative context which I know I shall return to either before the end of this set of studies or after I complete this degree pathway.
Thinking about options on aesthetics and connection:
Having had some more thoughts through the night I started to rework the assignment:
After the wedding at Midland Road Station
72, Kimbolton Road
The site of Bedford North Wing Hospital
36, Bamford Road
20, Duchess Road