Saturday, 1 August 2015

Assignment Five - Tutor Report and Reflection

Sometimes it is difficult to know whether the tutor was taken by an assignment or not. I tend to look at the negative parts of the report and dwell on them too much rather than find the positives and be pleased with the outcome. In this instance it was difficult for the tutor as I had gone away from the prescribed requirements of the assignment and built my own. The reasons for this are that I am unable to spend long periods away from home (anything above one and a half hours) due to Carer responsibilities. The work I had made was to look in detail at The Botanical Motif in Fine Art Photography using the title "Beyond Beauty". This was presented as an essay accompanied by 15 photographs.
The prints were well received and commented on as technically very good although a few were described as having lost detail due to heavy printing. I know what this comment refers to and I wish I had made more of an explanation in the technical part of the text to authenticate this. I tend to not write too much on the technical these days as it has in the past been seen as unnesecary, although I wish I had here. Karl Blossfeldt's early work was not technically that well accomplished and he did produce work with a lack of mid tones. I could find no explanation of this, instead coming to my own conclusion that the orthochromatic film he used (panchromatic had not been invented, although he did use it later) with its limited range of the spectrum did not work well with the green colour in the specimens he was photographing. The photographs were being made as an aid to drawing students in a classroom and Blossfeldts main focus was on the shape and form, not as a photograph with the technical baggage that we bring in a contemporary print with its near perfect tonal range. So, the intentional lack of mid tones to simulate this is seen as an error which is disappointing. I will rectify this for assessment with a better technical explanation of the Blossfeldt process rather than making full tone prints. I have in recent assignments been conscious of presenting too much technical information of the work, especially the post processing as this was previously looked upon as not necessary and that more effort should be focused on the conceptual thinking. My role here is to acquire the correct balance.

The prints and the text had covered the botanical motif from Fox Talbot through to Warhol and the contemporary work of Amanda Means. The tutor thought that this was a step too far as it had brought colour images in onto the end of what was primarily a monochrome submission. I agree with this comment and had felt uneasy when including the Warhol inspired images at the time. I know not to mix colour and monochrome but on the other hand I wanted to tell the whole story of the botanical motif. In hindsight and for the assessment version I will limit the work to Fox Talbot and Blossfeldt.

Beyond the prints (one of which will be reprinted and entered into the 46th Eastern Open) I am asked to make a mock up of pages in a Fine Art magazine and produce the assignment as a feature on Karl Blossfeldt. 

A comment that crops up from time to time from my tutor is that there needs to be more of ME in the work. It came through in assignment 3 but was not to evident here perhaps. I completely understand the comment and need to do more to correct it. I am having to devise a way of modifying my conceptual thinking to take into account the current constraints in how I can work. My desire to do work inspired by New Topographics will have to wait and I have to think of work that can be constructed in the studio. To that end I have to be careful not to think studio first, but last. The ideas need to come first and a suggestion of thinking in metaphors may be the route I am taking. Less of the Real and more of the Simulated. Back to Postmodernism and leave my Modernist tendencies behind. I would also like to be more experimental but am sure it would fail, which in itself is failure I guess at being a bit too middle of the road. A recent forum debate led a tutor to suggest the students should be nearer to failure and maybe sometimes fail on the journey to success. Bold thinking indeed but at £1000 a module and over a year of your life in the making it would be extremely bold to go too close to that suggestion. In the times when the State paid for the HE that certainly allowed the more adventurous that opportunity. So before this posting evolves into a rambling rant I will conclude, sound in the knowledge that I could do better.

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