Assignment 4 First Draft

I sent this very rough draft to my tutor and after a video call, I filled in and re-wrote the essay according to his suggestions.

Sally Mann became notorious in the US as a result of the photographs of her children at play—sometimes without clothing– on their sprawling farm in Virginia.  A self-proclaimed feral child herself, it is no surprise that Mann’s photographs capture the free, happy, and sometimes wild childhood of her children.  Understanding the context that surrounds Mann’s is paramount to understanding what the work is about.  The issue that arose from the naked shots of her children was a problem of misunderstanding the context of production and relying solely of the context of perception. While many people saw the images as sexual in nature and exploitative, understanding Mann and her work makes one realize that it is anything but.

Sally Mann grew up also in Virginia and describes her child self as feral.  However, while it seems she had a carefree childhood, in her ((memoir Hold Still)) she mentions on numerous occasions that her father was distant.  In the film  xxx in talking with her mother she says that as children they were “terrified” of their father.  Not because he was violent, but because he was vastly distant.  In understanding this context, one can extrapolate that Mann aimed to raise her children in a way that was like her own childhood—free—but she tried to fill that void of her father by creating a bond between her children and herself.  This can be seen explicitly in her photographs of the children; it takes a close relationship with her kids to capture the images that she did. Susan Sontag commented on Diane Arbus’ photographs saying that in photographing ‘freaks’ Arbus was expressing ‘a desire to violate her own innocence, to undermine her sense of being privileged’ (find resource).  In a similar vein, Mann seems to be using the photographs as a way to ‘see’ her children and as Barthes says to ‘authenticate the existence of a certain being’ (Barthes, 1981).  It seems a direct response to the fact that she did not feel ‘seen’ by her own father.

Additionally, it is important to understand the context in which Mann photographs, and that is that she believes good art can be made within your immediate surroundings. (add notes here about Mann’s process and personal beliefs on photography—from the film).

I chose a photograph from Mann’s controversial series XXXXX, though I chose an image that was not one of a naked child but one that carries significant duality. Looking at the image from a denotative point of view, the eye first notices the child in white.  Even though the eyes scans from left to right, the whiteness of the child’s dress, skin, and hair immediately draws the eye to it since it is in a sea of black.  Quickly the eye darts down to the white hair of the deer and the dead black eye surrounded in white hair.  Later the eye realizes they are positioned at the back of a pick-up truck and lastly, but importantly, the eye lands on the large slit in the deer’s neck. It is difficult to look at this image and think only of the denotation because it is such a striking and odd duo in the image.

Barthes says that ‘the photograph is violent: not because it shows violent things, but because on each occasion it fills the sight by force’ (Barthes, 1981). The dual nature of this photograph is both in its violence in Barthes’ terms but also in the fact that there was an act of violence in killing the deer.  This violent act when juxtaposed with the little girl in the white tutu is striking. The punctum of this juxtaposition is further compounded when the eye falls on the bucket of blood. One can guess that that bucket was, maybe only minutes before, placed under the deer in order to capture the blood as it oozed from the very large slit in the deer’s neck.   It is an unlikely pairing to see next to a small, innocent looking child. Nor would you imagine a little girl interested in such frilly costumes to be anywhere near such a grizzly scene. Marvin Heiferman said about photographs that ‘for a moment you can stop something and look at it in a way that you normally wouldn’t see’ (xxxx). In this image it feels as if we are glimpsing a very brief encounter between child and deer.  We can imagine that when the truck drove up with the deer, or the deer was brought to the truck, this little girl, lost somewhere in play land ran up and Mann, with sharp eyes that always scan for an image, took the shot.  She may have even told the child to wait while she got the shot (add some quotes from the film about her getting ‘that look’ and getting her kids to wait. The stadium of this photograph, a dead dear and a small child is in it of itself punctum in nature because of the unlikely contrast between the violence of the dead animal and the innocence of the child, not to mention the proximity of the child to the animal; it suggests a familiarity with the practice of killing animals.  Living in rural Virginia, the children were immersed rural ways of living, which would have included death.

The iconic tutu a symbol of childhood that conjures images of unstructured play time.

The connotation of the truck and the slit in the deer’s neck conjures another possibility other that on the way home from a dance recital the family hit a dear and in order to put it out of its suffering, they slit the deer’s neck.  Upon getting out of the truck, the little girl who face could also connote uncomfortableness, was placed there by Mann to get the photograph.  Mann talks about her process in photographing that she often first sees the shot then goes back to take it (find the source here…from the film)

To deconstruct the image…

Sources to formalize:

Coursera video of Heiferman

Camera Lucida

Sontag’s book

Mann’s memoir

Mann’s film

First Submission: Post-Cards Home: Assignment 5

(For assessment, I will print these images as actual post cards).

For assignment 5, I have chosen to do a project titled “Postcards Home.”  This idea springs from assignment 3 where I chose to create self-portraits in idyllic situations as a reaction to the negativity I was feeling in my environment and inner self.  For this assignment I decided to focus on the  mundane or negative feelings.  Because I live in a country that is considered exotic to family members and is also a tourist destination, some of my friends and family have a perception of my life that  borders on Orientalism. While being an expat in this country is interesting, because I have my own family and a career here, life is the same as it would be anywhere under those conditions in my particular socio-economic level.  Additionally, sometimes I feel that people at home don’t give me the space to express the various negative human emotions because they have an image of how amazing my life must be because they perceive that it is so different from their own. Therefore I created a series of photos that would be sent as postcards home that depict the those particular aspects of my life.

For one of the coursework tasks in a previous unit we had to photograph a poem and I chose one by Mary Oliver.  In one of the images I photographed myself lying curled up on a discarded mattress.  This final project stems from that image as I was trying to portray my vulnerability through that image.  As I progressed through the coursework, I was drawn to the work of Elina Brotherus’ self-portraits and her use of natural lighting and domestic settings which together create a melancholic and realistic atmosphere.  Gregory Crewdson also was in influence but more in the sense of his discussion on Edward Hopper’s influence on him. Hopper painted what Crewdson  called the ‘American Vernacular’ of typical scenes that could be seen anywhere in the US. I was particularly influenced by the paintings ‘Morning a City’ as well as ‘Morning Sun’  because of the use of natural light coming through the window but also because of the non-specific  backgrounds.  Keeping these influences in mind, in order to respond photographically to people back home, I chose to photograph myself in spaces I frequent on a daily basis.  Some of the poses I try to capture a sense of vulnerability and melancholy and the others capture a sense of boredom or being overwhelmed.  Inspired by the use of light in the paintings and photographs that I researched, I chose to use natural light as it comes through windows in order to give the images a realistic, contemplative mood.

When I look back at assignment one I see that I was trying to capture a sense of nature in juxtaposition with man made objects.  In a sense this final assignment completes the circle because if you look at in in correlation to assignment 3 it is a foil to the natural, serene atmosphere I tried to create with those self-portraits.I followed the same process as I did for the assignment 3 re-shoot which is to take all of the images myself using a remote and tripod.  I also tried to keep the ‘set’ as realistic looking as possible even though many of the props were placed to give it that feel. I decided to use the domestic and work environments in order to fully convey a sense of everyday life.  So many expats share on social media images of them in the exotic locations here in Turkey and I was trying to do the opposite of that because those beautiful, unique locations do not reflect the reality that serves as a backdrop to my daily life.  However, these images that I have constructed also do not necessarily convey a reality.  Like anyone else,  my life is complex and multifaceted and similar to what is portrayed in assignment 3, this is only a part of my experience.The images together also serve as a narrative in a sense into some of the things that I struggle with that reflect the human condition, those states being depression, vulnerability, loneliness, boredom, etc.

Another aspect I was trying to focus on was from tutor feedback to be more ambiguous in the images and not give the message in a straightforward way.  For inspiration, I  looked through other photographers online and I came across the work of Astrid Kruse Jensen.  In an interview, she addresses the issue of ambiguity in her images saying ‘sometimes a direct confrontation says less about them than a suggestion does.  That seeing a person from behind or a reflection of a person creates a tension and underlines the feeling that I don’t have to explain what this person or figure is doing.  I make a suggestion or present a fragment and it is up to the viewer to complete the story’ (Astrid Kruse Jensen: Beauty Will Always Be Disturbed).  While my images are nothing close to the ambiguity present in her work, I did try to create a greater sense of ambiguity in the images for this assignment.

Sources:

Astrid Kruse Jensen: Beauty Will Always Be Disturbed. 2013. TV.

Shapiro, B. (2012). Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters. Available at: http://amazon.com [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

Reflection

Demonstration of Technical Skills

I feel like I have made progress in this category over the course of this class.  While I still have progress to make, I feel that I was able to make images that were sharper and  less leading as well as having a better sense of composition as the class progressed.  

Quality of Outcome

I still find making photography fit within a concept a good challenge, but I think I am able to convey a sense of cohesion in what I write for the course.  For this course I think I was able to make good use of the course content and incorporate it into my own projects.

Demonstration of Creativity

I still have a lot of work to do in this area, but I thought a lot about what it means to make a creative image. My focus for this course was to be more ambiguous in the images and not give too much of the message away. While I wasn’t successful with all of them, I do feel that I produced a couple of photographs that do not have an obvious meaning.

Context

I feel this is a strength that I have because I enjoy the academic side of this degree program and I enjoy looking at the work of other photographers and reading theory.  The Sally Mann essay was a good challenge and I learned a lot from doing it.  One thing I struggle with is to be more interpretative of the work that I research.  Sometimes I struggle with thinking outside of the box when I see work of others that I really like so while I like the research aspect, I need to work more on using it as a springboard and be careful not to lose my emerging voice as a photographer.

Assignment Three-Putting Yourself in the Photograph (Original Submission)

Click here for the shots that I considered, but didn’t use.

Initial Ideas

I already have a practice of keeping a journal, so I acutely knew the focus and wondered how I would translate that into images. If I look at the time since before this course started as well as the time during it, most of the entries and internal thoughts were quite negative.  Living in Turkey with a patriarchal autocrat and then seeing my own country go the same way, I was feeling  a lot of anxiety and anger that shrouded my thoughts in darkness and negativity. This was compounded by the series of terrorist attacks that have taken place in Istanbul, where I live.  I had been feeling really shut down. I was reluctant to start taking any  images because it just didn’t feel right. I kept getting a gnawing feeling in my stomach whenever I thought about how I could make the words I was writing manifest into photographic images. I did ponder it though and the images I imagined were similar to Woodward’s since her images, whilst dark, have a sense of beauty to them so I thought at least I could create something with some beauty or mystery within the darkness that I was feeling. But those were not meant to be.

Then I happened upon Marina Abromovic’s ‘The Artist is Present’ but the documentary of this work.  It moved me to tears and my interest in Abromovic became acute.  While her work (and the documentaries) are not photography, they are photographic because of the way she uses color, her body, and the framing of the camera when being filmed both in action and still shots.  So seeing her work on the screen was visually stunning– and moving.  It was after I watched her other documentary ‘The Space in Between’ that I realized what I wanted to do for Assignment 3.

In this documentary she focuses heavily on the idea of mindfulness and being present and takes us through “The Abromovic Method’ where she gets people to spend two hours dropping all of the outside world before seeing her work.  She wants people to be uber-present and ‘confront’ themselves by putting away watches, telephones, etc.  This really spoke to me, because I practice meditation, mindfulness, and yoga  but sadly, these practices had fallen to the wayside.  With so much negativity in the media and in people around me, I felt in a way that I had lost sight of things.  But after seeing this documentary, I was reminded of that part of me and I realized how much I had missed it and realized it was the answer to the negativity I had been going through.  So instead of giving into it and making a number of images that reflected the darkness that was showing up in my journal, I decided to re-create the Abromovic method as a way to re-connect with myself. I am happy to say it worked–but it is a work in process.

In the film, Abromovic has a space set up in the museum where people go through the method.  In that space she has them go though a couple of different steps that include:

Puting all devices away

Shaking out negative energy

Meditative walking

Meditation with crystals

Lying on wooden planks

Blocking out sound with ear phones

What I did was to interpret the method into something that reflected me so I chose to use nature as my backdrop because that truly is the place where I find refuge, especially living in a city with 14 million or more people. Ambomovic says that the key is to ‘focus intently and find the stillness and quiet that we are often missing’ (The Space in Between, 2015) so for me, nature is where I can find that. She says that ‘Doing nothing is the beginning of everything’ (The Space in Between, 2015) therefore my aim was to photograph the beginning of my re-emergence into a more positive and pro-active way of being as opposed to being affected by the rightward swinging pendulum. From her book Walk Through Walls Abromovic says that ‘an artist must make time for the long periods of solitude. Solitude is extremely important’ (Abromovic and Kaplan, 2016 ).  While I do not have the time for long periods of solitude, I am able to find some time and have made a commitment to doing so every day. These photographs document the beginning of my re-emergence into that way of life.

I chose to start with the “snow” image because it is a contrast to the last photograph “sun worship” but also because the coldness of the snow, my posture, and the supporting chair reflect the beginning of me turning in so that I could emerge.  The final image I am physically more free and turning towards energy of the sun.The other photographs I tried to sequence in a way that show a process of self-reflection, inward silence and the peaceful interaction with natural elements as I move from the first photograph to the last.

On Self-Photography

I think that the act of self-photography is a practice of reflection and mindfulness in it of itself.  One has to be very present and aware and in the moment to take self-images that aren’t ‘selfies.’  So while I was using a device (which is against the method) the mornings and evenings I spent out in nature were a journey into solitude and self-contemplation. In The Camera i, the authors state:

‘No longer is it just us viewing and reading the face of another, nor is it a simple case of one individual artist estimating the character of another human.  In self-portraiture, where the artist and subject are ostensibly the same person, the dynamics of reading, interpreting, analyzing, and representing involve by definition a cycle of self-regard, self-presentation, self-revelation and self-creation…and that comprehending the “I” in self-portraiture is truly comprehending an “other” (Sobieszek and Irmas, 1994).

After taking the images I was surprised that I didn’t recognize myself.  Almost embarrassed, I put some space between me and the photographs after each shoot because I found it rather difficult to look upon myself in such intimate, vulnerable situations. Hill states that ‘the inclusion of one’s self, physically and/or metaphorically, in your pictures can be embarrassing, but it is usually the most revealing thing you can do with a camera’ (Hill and Taylor, 2004). For some reason I am still not able to process what these images reveal about me but they have surely provided me with a significant amount of inward looking, which is enough.  In  Wells’ book, Martin writes, ‘scanning personal photographs has become part of the act of self-contemplation’ (Martin cited in Wells, 2015) and this project that I set out to do has fulfilled my plan to quiet and sit in a still part of myself in order to re-emerge with a fresh perspective.

Of course, being human, what often also accompanies self-contemplation is self-doubt.  Hill muses that ‘‘the craved for object may be just a figment of the photographer’s imagination and impossible to capture via photography’ (Hill, 2004).  I think what I set out to do is a difficult concept to capture in an image, but hopefully with my use of background and staged poses, the feeling of the Abromovic Method has come through.

 

Reflection

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

For this assignment, in comparison to the last, I was working with different light situations because of where I placed myself in relation to the trees, etc., that I was using as the background. One of the shots is in the bright morning sun, which I usually try not to do, but I wanted to incorporate the sunshine in a photo and I think I did OK with it.  The first shot I took was more blown out and hard but the final shot I was happy with.  Here is the first attempt:

sun worship 1
sun worship 1

As for the visuals of this image, I really like how the sun brought out the red in the plants behind me but there is too much sun on my face. Also, what I was wearing did not really ‘go’ with the image I was trying to make, so I re-shot it in all black, which I think works better visually.

Overall I was pleased with the visuals of this assignment because I put myself into different backgrounds, which I think adds texture and variety to the sequence.

As far as technical ability goes, I  had to work with different lighting situations as well as one shot with a slower shutter speed.  I feel that I achieved what I wanted to in terms of the technical aspect. However, in all of the areas this is where I need the most improvement so to remedy that, I have signed up for a four week technical course which I hope will be helpful.

Quality of Outcome

I think the concept I developed visually is represented well verbally.  When I presented it to the forum, they quickly understood what I was going for and were able to give feedback on how that idea manifested (or didn’t)  in the images. This was quite a personal project, so I did not necessarily try to pay an homage to any of the photographers we studied, though it is clearly an homage to Marina Abromovic.  However, I think the way I sequenced the photos as well as the variety of shots that I took was influenced by the course work.  In telling a narrative, there  needs to be different views seen so that the context provided can be better understood.

Demonstration of Creativity

I thought a lot about how to take my day journal and turn it into a photo series.  It was a struggle and I was uncomfortable with putting myself in the frame. I discuss this more in the assignment write-up. But I was really pleased in the end with the shots I got and I really enjoyed my time doing this.  As far as experimentation goes, I did quite a bit and since I only have a timer on my camera, there was a lot of running back and forth the get everything correct in the frame.  It definitely kept me in the present moment.  These shots were unique in that I haven’t seen anything like this from other classmates, but they were heavily inspired by Abromovic, so they aren’t groundbreaking.  I also struggle with being creative when given a structure.  Before starting the OCA, I took photographs when I was inspired, so I still struggle a little with having to fit work into an assignment’s frame.  However, I am really enjoying it and learning a lot.

Context

Even though I did my usual amount of reading, I incorporated less of a variety of research into this assignment because I focused mainly on Marina Abromovic’s work so most of the research is from her books and movies.  However, I was able to incorporate some research about the practice of self-photography, something I was quite timid to do myself and found out that this is a common feeling in relation to self-photography.This assignment was focused on reflection, so there was a lot of fruitful reflection going on.  I am not sure how much this comes across in the coursework or the assignment write-up because this assignment pushed me to be quite internal with my thoughts, so hopefully that comes across in the images and makes up for the lack of it in the writing.

 

Sources

Abramović, Marina and James Kaplan. (2016)  Walk Through Walls. 1st ed. London: Fig Tree. Print.

Hill, P. and Taylor, R. (2004) Approaching Photography. 2nd edn. United Kingdom: Guild of Master Craftsman Publications.

Marco Del Fiol. (2016). The Space in Between. [Online Video]. 12 September 2016. Available from: http://www.thespaceinbetweenfilm.com/. [Accessed: 13 January 2017].

Sobieszek, Robert A and Deborah Irmas. (1994) The Camera I. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of art. Print.

Sontag, S. (1977) On Photography. 1st ed. New York: Penguin-Putnam

Wells, L. (ed.) (2015) Photography: A Critical Introduction. London, United Kingdom: Routledge.

 

Assignment 2: First Submission

Assignment 2: ‘The Weaving of Voices’ (Barthes, 1973)  

‘There are said to be certain Buddhists whose ascetic practices enable them to see a whole landscape in a bean’  (Barthes, 1973).

Brief

This option is about photographing an object to suggest a narrative. Choose between a white shirt and a handkerchief for your object. Once you’ve decided, make a series of 7–10 photographs which tell a story about or including your object. You can make your photographic style anything you like. You may wish to include the prop in all of your series or just some of the images, depending on the narrative. Bear in mind that the story is being alluded to through the use of the prop and its location – and characters should you choose to include them. Draw a storyboard before you start to help you consider the progression of the plot and how you’ll set up the shots. Now implement one of your ideas. Aim for a tightly edited and visually consistent series of 7–10 images. Whichever assignment option you choose, send your series to your tutor by the method agreed together with an introduction of around 300 words. You should also send to your tutor the relevant pages of your learning log or blog url.

Context

I finalized my  idea to do this project when I was at FotoIstanbul and saw the work of Shadi Ghadirian.  Her series titled “Like Everyday” stuck out to me in the hundreds of photos displayed  in the photo festival. Essentially she replaced the eyes of covered women with the everyday appliances that they use in the domestic sense.  I like the aesthetic quality as well as her idea to shoot them as portraits yet we see no exposed face or body part. I thought it was an interesting work on voice, choice, gender, and society.

Photo by Shadi Ghadirian
Photo by Shadi Ghadirian

Ghadirian, S. Like Everyday (2000)

So I decided to use my students as the subject of this assignment.  In Art Photography Now Bill Henson says,’Adolescents have this all-pervading sense of uncertainty and this is riveting for me: they are in such a state of transition’ (Bright, 2011).  I am a teacher and this has also been my experience with young people, so I thought it would be interesting to photograph my students.   I teach and have my own children in the school system here in Turkey, so the educational system here has been on my mind a lot lately especially when considering the political context.  Essentially, in order to get into the universities here, students have to compete with 2 million students and since my students are aiming for the top universities, there are only about 2000 spots open for the top university, just to give an example. Sadly, the exam forces students to memorize questions and the more they memorize, the better they do.  So what this means is that starting in grade 11 (17 years of age), they start to give up all of their extracurricular activities and spend a significant amount of their free time in ‘dersanses’ or night cram schools.  As one can imagine, this renders them exhausted, disillusioned, and burned out.  But they have no choice.

I decided to use a scarf as opposed to the handkerchief because I figured the scarf would lend itself to more creative interactions since there is more fabric to work with, being in a Muslim country, the scarf can be a politically charged object, so I thought it would be more meaningful than a handkerchief. The colour red also has significance as it is the colour of the flag, which has also become a politically charged symbol here in Turkey with the battle between secularists and a more Islamically inclined government.  Additionally, ‘traditionally, portraits have used clues or props to tell the viewer more about the viewer’s personality and to give the sitter a context in which to be understood’ (Art Photography Now, 2011) so the use of the same scarf I felt would help to highlight the differences in each student’s experience by the way they fashioned the scarf in relation to themselves.

Process

The process was quite simple.  First I got their permission to take their photograph then I told them I was working on a project and that all I wanted them to do was to think about the context they are in at the moment and use the scarf to try and represent what they are experiencing, feeling, etc.  They didn’t see each other and I asked them not to talk about it. So I simply took them to a quiet place and took the photographs.

The non-linear narrative

‘In Visual Communication especially, a narrative does not need to work in a linear sense.’ (Short, 2011)

The narrative I have created here is not a classic one that follows a linear path. Maria Short states that ‘a narrative generally consists of a beginning, middle and end.  However, a photographic narrative may not necessarily follow this structure, for example it may simply imply what has past or what could happen’ (Short, 2011).   I have created mini-narratives (non-verbal), glimpses really,  within my verbal narrative of what it is like to be in this school system in this country. The students choice of posing hints at both the present and the future because I feel their reactions to the project are quite telling about how they have dealt with all that is going on in their lives and how they will carry on after this process.  Some of them portray a pessimistic view while others have retained their sense of freedom and youth.

The viewer of these images brings a different narrative into the meaning of these photographs. Bright states that ‘the viewer of the photograph then adds his or her experience to it to create another version of its meaning’ (Bright, 2011) so while I have tried to create a narrative here, and the students create another narrative, the images of young people may conjure up a different meaning to anyone looking at it especially when thinking about the context of the photographs.

In a sense,  I represent the post-modern ‘unreliable’ narrator since I am only experiencing the system through their narratives but also I am compromised as I have an emotional connection not only to my students, but to my own sons who will be in this system in 6 years time. Therefore the narrative told here is shaped through my lens.  My narrative is one of the observer and theirs is one of the participant. Each of these students has a narrative about what it is like to be going through such a grueling experience and the way they decided to use the scarf gives us an insight into their experience. However, I keep in mind that ‘however much we want to capture a person’s true personality with a camera, it just isn’t possible’ (Bright, 2011).

Looking at the three narratives that go into this work, I am reminded of poet Ann Lauterbach’s words.  She says, ‘Meanings arise when persons — the reader, the spectator, the audience — engage with this content; meaning occurs in the mind and heart of the person who reads the poem, studies the picture, listens to the sonata… It is important to acknowledge this elastic space of meaning, where what the artist or writer intends and what the reader or spectator apprehends are not necessarily in perfect alignment’ (Lauterbach, 2008). Likewise, Barthes says ‘there are so many readings of the same face’ (Barthes, 1980).  

One thing I do have in the back of my mind after reading Camera Lucida is that what the students have done for me is not an authentic rendition of themselves, though I do think the way they chose to be photographed is their projected self and gives insight into how they are dealing with this difficult right of passage in Turkish culture. Having said that, they are still posing and are aware of me as an observer and in a way ‘lend (themselves) to the social game’ (Barthes, 1981). Derrida says in an interview that we shouldn’t ‘feign a naturality which doesn’t exist’ (Derrida, 2002) so I am in no way trying to pretend with these photographs that this is an authentic portrayal of their experience, it is simply them projecting a sense of who they are in this period of time.

 

Contact sheet:

Sources:

Derrida. 2002. DVD

Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida. 1st ed. New York: Hill and Wang, 1981. Print.

Derrida. 2002. DVD.

Barthes, Roland et al. S/Z. 1st ed. New York: Hill and Wang, 1974. Print.

Bright, Susan. Art Photography Now. 1st ed. London: Thames & Hudson, 2011. Print.

Lauterbach, A., 2008. The Night Sky:Writings on the Poetic Experience. 1st ed. London: Penguin Books

Shadi Ghadirian, (2000), Like Everyday #1 [ONLINE]. Available at: http://shadighadirian.com/index.php?do=photography&id=11 [Accessed 11 December 2016].

Short, Maria. Context And Narrative. 1st ed. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Academia, 2011.

Reflection:

After my results from EYV, I am feeling a little less confident than I was a few months ago about my work and how I am progressing, but I know as a teacher myself that this is all part of the process of learning, so I will persevere.

Demonstration of technical skills

I feel mostly confident with my ability to compose an image.  I think my eye is good in that I am able to see what makes a visually appealing image (to my criteria at least).  I still am working on the technical part of photography.  I have a lot to learn I know in regards to post-production especially, but I am working on it, I am just not ‘there’ yet.

Quality of Outcome

I think this is a strength.  I have a lot of experience in writing and communicating my ideas so I feel that I am able to compose a coherent piece of writing that clearly gets my ideas across.  I also think I used the course content well in thinking about the visual narrative and what that means to the different ideas out there in the world of art photography.

Demonstration of Creativity

One of the things I have noticed about my own photography is that I am drawn to a ‘clean’ palette and these photographs definitely have this.  Though I know there is a fine balance in finding my own voice and style and doing work that is different.  So I see myself as still developing the creative side of my photography.  One thing I struggle with is authenticity in my work. Some of the work I see is, to me, contrived, and it doesn’t appeal to me.  So for this project I felt that posing was more straightforward and honest in the sense that both me and the subject knew it was an unnatural situation and I make that very clear in my write-up.  So what I need to work on is creativity that to me feels and looks authentic–whatever that means.

Context

Again, after the assessment feedback I feel not quite sure about my self-assessment in this realm because I considered it a strength in my work.  I spend a lot of time reading books about photography and I feel I use this effectively in my assignments.  For this assignment, I took a risk and didn’t create a typical narrative.  I did this one because I am a literature teacher so I wanted to try something that was different than the classic plot line but also because in my research I found people talking about the non-linear visual narrative.  I am also still navigating my way through the term post-modern and how it applies to my work, so I tried to incorporate some of those ideas into my work.  Regardless of the feedback, I have learned a lot research wise, so it has been a meaningful experience.

 

Assignment 1-Two Sides of the Story

Assignment 1 (Images are at the bottom of this post)

Two Sides of the Story

Living in Istanbul, Turkey, a densely urban concrete jungle, the mere mention  of nature unlandscaped will draw people from all around with picnic baskets in hand. Or it will draw land developers.  Many of the housing developments in the suburbs promise via sparkly persuasive billboards a green oasis and an escape from the city. Having been here for almost two decades, I am always very skeptical.  In a city with 14 million residents, nature in its pure form is a rarity. I happen to live in the suburbs in one of the ‘green spots’ so I chuckle when I see a new ad for the promise of the rolling hills of Antatolia.  I also happen to be from a rural area, so my idea of nature is quite different than what the land developers promise year after year as they build building after building.

Therefore I tried to show both sides of the story. There are green areas in Istanbul but they tend to be small, yet they do exist.  The ‘clean’ side portrays the campus where I live as a green utopia in comparison to the not so far away city life.  Maybe at one time this area was quiet and untouched, but urban encroachment has this oasis surrounded by traffic, both vehicle and air, and with annual construction to make way for more people, the area inside the gates are not safe from garbage and careless human intervention.  Also, there is a gate around the property that has a prison like feel to it.  So there is noise, light, and garbage pollution on an almost constant basis.

In fact, to live here for so long, and being a nature lover, I have had to in my own mind see only one side of the story. I walk this property each evening  and it is the images that I have captured that I use to restore myself after a long day.  The other unsightly parts I try my best to ignore.

For two weeks I had my ‘photograph eyes’ on when I walked and I essentially took all of the photographs in my head before I actually took my camera with me.  I was more mindful of the things I enjoy each day as well as the sights that I try my best to ignore.  I also focused on the juxtapositioning of certain things like the calm, clean part of the stream and then the polluted and dirty part. Or the peaceful paths and the close proximity of a very busy road just off the trekking path.

In fact, my entire existence is like this in Turkey.  This is a country of sharp contrasts in many senses of the word so I feel myself always editing what I see as it is one of the ways I cope with the part of me that longs to be in a city with less people, traffic, pollution, etc.

Reflection

Demonstration of technical skills

I feel I am competent in this category. I know that I have a lot to learn, but I think I have a sense of composition and how to use the camera to get shot right. I think in this assignment my observational skills were apt as I feel I portrayed two different sides of the story and this took some time to capture the different images that portrayed nature and then images with a very clear human intervention.  

Quality of Outcome

The concept for this assignment was simple and straightforward and I think I met the assessment criteria to a good degree and produced two sets of images that conjure a different feel from each other. I think the contrast is clearly seen. This is only the first assignment, so in the next one I plan to include more research as I usually do. However, I did research for the coursework and my thoughts can be found on my learning log.

Demonstration of creativity

I often feel like I fall short in this category. I think this photo project has an interesting subject matter, but I don’t feel it is terribly creative.However, since I photographed an area of land that I have seen daily for the past 15 years, I think I still managed to extrapolate some interesting images.

Context

If one hasn’t been to Istanbul to know the way that natural areas are treated and looked upon both from the civil and political point of view, it is not as easy to get what I am trying to do with this assignment, but I think most people have seen images of over-populated areas so I think the context  I have provided gives enough to see that the city has grown around this once rural part of land.

The Images

Unspoiled Nature:

 

Nature Interrupted: