CRJ: Positions and Practice week one

Week One. September 29th 2017

For me, this week has been exciting, stimulating and a bit fraught too as I began to get used to new learning tools, especially finding my way around Canvas, the place where all our module details, reading material, discussion areas, links to webinar sign-ups, student support, tutorials, etc are kept.  As I navigated the site I was constantly discovering new areas and information that I needed to know yesterday – so it felt like I was on the back foot for some of the time.  However, hopefully I now have got my head around it and will start week two having a better understanding of how it all works, and will rearrange my schedule for MA work accordingly!

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced this week is being able to physically put into words the thoughts and ideas surrounding my work. Being a teacher I am confident when talking to others, however talking about my own work is more difficult –  and something that I’m going to have to improve on. I guess this is where this journal will help – by writing about what I’ve learned and the resulting impact on my own work should enable me to critically evaluate it using both written, and verbal mediums.

The topic of the week was Positions & Practice – the Global image, culminating with a practical activity and then discussing it in a webinar. It was interesting to see other students’ work and noticing how many varied interpretations there were of the task. I enjoyed seeing them and listening to our course director Jesse’s feedback.

So, the project was this:

Having reflected on the content discussed in this week’s presentations, ‘re-make’ an image of your choice. You may wish to re-make an image from one of the presentations, or a completely different image of your choice…Post your pair of images to the forum below (you will need to post before you can see any of the work of your peers) along with a few lines explaining your thinking here, in terms of your choice of image and how you feel it relates to theme.  

Here is my contribution:

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My first photograph is of a postcard sent to me from Marrakesh around twenty years ago. Its composition interests me – not only in its triangular structure, but more specifically the different ways the subject matter can be interpreted, without the knowledge or perception of the characters within it. The two people in the scene are looking away from the camera, with a single object facing it – an oud- like traditional instrument from the region.  In the distance, the second person (unseen) is (presumably) sheltering from the sun underneath a black umbrella; which as we know, is unlikely to be very cooling. The private, closed language of the photo has been made public.

The second photograph has the oud player superimposed on a snap I took on a rainy day in Paris this year.  Three tourists with umbrellas, again oblivious to the camera, face towards it; their umbrellas enabling them to continue their sight  seeing. Why so oblivious? In such a place where everybody has a camera or smart phone out, tourists  automatically step into a plethora of footage.

With the comparative ease of global travel this century and the mass production and circulation of images, cultural boundaries can blur. The umbrella is an object of protection and I find their designs and colours question my interpretation and understanding of what they represent. In this picture, I wanted to replace one umbrella with another and see how it can change our perception of reality. Without his instrument the oud player is no longer the focus of the image. Instead, the young boy is centrepiece as he explores and points. The man in his traditional clothing would not have looked out of place in a cosmopolitan European city, and his original solitary pensive gesture becomes lost here.

However, for me the resulting image is not a political statement, nor necessarily a cultural one. It’s more about the way the characters are looking – away, or towards; mirror or window. In answer to one of the questions asked this week, I usually see my own work as more reflective of the ‘within’, rather than a window on the world.

In my feedback, Jesse suggested that I might cut up some of my images, to make a more tangible montage – so I will be giving that a go at some point, as well as looking at the work of John Stezaker as suggested.




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