Week Ten – Informing Contexts: Critical Review Film

The task for this week was to create a 10 minute video presentation that evaluated my practice in the context of the Informing Contexts Learning Outcomes.

Theses are:

  • Critical Contextualisation of Practice: Apply a critical awareness of the diversity of contemporary photographic practice to the development of your own work, and inform your practice through historical, philosophical, ethical and economic contextualisation.
  • Professional Location of Practice: Establish an understanding of the range of professional contexts for the dissemination and consumption of contemporary photographic practice, and identify opportunities to engage with audiences and markets.
  • Critical Analysis: Make personal observations and form critical opinions to analyse and appraise your own work, as well as the work of your peers and other practitioners.
  • Written and Oral Communication Skills: Articulate ideas in a range of formats and contexts, and be able to communicate with different audiences.

This past few weeks have been incredibly hectic for me (preparing a commissioned exhibition, taking part in a three-day visual art residency, working full-time plus the MA), and although I was reasonably satisfied with the verbal content of my film I was not happy with its production as it was done in a very short timescale. But it wasn’t about production skills this time so I’ll let myself off this once.

Despite my own reservations, overall my peer feedback was positive. My fellow students felt that my work was clear and my explanation digestible for a variety of audiences. How I will translate my video into a written critical review is perplexing at the moment. I feel as former journalist I should find this a natural progression but writing and speaking about my own work, as opposed to that of others, is proving quite taxing.

I still have four themes sitting under my overall interest in human impact on the planet. They are related to the macro/micro study of lichen; litter; tourism and rural landscapes. This is something I know I need to apply a “cutting the wheat from the chaff” mentality too so that I can hone my research more in-depth on, ideally, one theme. This morning I spoke with a friend about this element of my nature and my fear of being “pigeonholed”. She said “like an actor, but Daniel Radcliffe has done okay since Harry Potter”. Now I feel better. By focussing for a while on a certain topic will not pigeon-hole me but will allow me to create something exceptional rather than sufficient. My ongoing work will now work towards the creation of anthotype and cyanotype work relating to lichen and rural/coastal landscapes, using scientific and historic influences, to encapsulate human impacts. And where time allows I will continue with my litter and tourism projects but separate to my MA studies.

My film included reference to other practitioners such as Anna Atkins, Edward Burtynsky, Eric Kessels, Massimo Vitali, David Emitt Adams and Mandy Barker, all of whom have influenced me in some way. It spoke about the reasons for my interest in this subject from a historical, philosophical, ethical and economic context, while also considering where and how it could be viewed and by whom.

I feel this experience has provided a good basis for my critical review assignment. I have an array of research information that perhaps did not make it into the 10 minute video explanation and this is something I will need to ensure does not engulf the review but provides a scaffold for it.

Clarity is slowly forming from what has felt like a challenging time of late.