I was encouraged by the discussion I had with my Tutor about Assignment 6 – particularly the summary statement he made in his feedback that the assignment was “a thoughtful attempt to resolve a challenging concept”. He did, however, add that he thought it would be beneficial for me to add a more in-depth evaluation of the image.
I think that this assignment marked a significant change in my approach to photography. Up until this point I had always taken the brief or exercise as the starting point, how would I fulfil the requirement? For this assignment I started with a theoretical point, Hockney’s comments on single point perspective and the concept of moving through a landscape rather than simply looking at it from a single vantage point. I devised a way in which I thought that I could address some of the issues raised and then decided how I could adapt that to the requirement for Assignment 6. I began by thinking about challenging a conventional approach and devising a way to do it.
This was not limited to just producing the image but also consideration of how it should be displayed as this too would have an effect on how it was viewed and of furthering the concept of ‘walking through’ the landscape as one viewed it.
I have described in the introduction to the Assignment how influential it was to see the work of Stephen Shore and Gerhard Richter exhibited at Tate Modern and the British Museum. The work that I had done on photomontage for Assignment 4 was also of great help.
How do I see the Assignment now? I was pleased to take a difficult concept and try to overcome it and I think that the idea of 365 separate images is sound as it emphasises the transition over the period of a year. But should I have taken photographs every day and used one from each day and should the images have been displayed chronologically? I think that to answer these questions one needs to consider what I was trying to achieve, a final image which represented the transition of the landscape over the year. To have tried to use a photo (and only one photo) from each day of the year would have limited the overall concept, ruling out the possibility of using a better image (because of light, weather, etc) from just a day later. Similarly to display the images in chronological order would have substituted technique for final appearance, instead of grouping colours, patterns, etc. to enhance the final image and emphasise transition, the order in which images were displayed would have been dictated simply by chronology. I think that to have adopted either of these techniques would have weakened the final image. I do think it was important to have grouped the images strictly by season as that still gives the sense of transition, but still alowing the grouping of images to aesthetically enhance the final product.
One issue that my tutor raised was the geometric appearance of the overall image. He questioned whether a different way of grouping the images (perhaps making them different sizes or shapes) might have resulted in an image that seemed less regimented. He did acknowledge that there was not a right or wrong way of displaying them, but suggested further thought could be given to the idea. At the time I pointed out that the suggested method of display (on a cylindrical background) would have an effect on how it was viewed – if the final image was displayed flat on a wall then the geometric pattern would perhaps be more striking than if seen when walking around a cylindrical display. Nevertheless it is a point I would bear in mind were the image to be exhibited especially if the only option was for it to be displayed flat against the wall. What the current way of grouping the images does, to my mind, display is the clear nature of 365 separate images, one for each day of the year. This is important in considering the overall aim of transition over the year and could be diminished if the size and shape of the images were changed.
My tutor also suggested that I could give some thought to the final image being a multi-media installation. I think that there is considerable scope for this. For example I could record the sounds (of birdsong, footsteps, water, traffic) and this could be played on a loop through a loudspeaker located within the cylindrical display. I think that this would enhance the sense of walking around the landscape and of experiencing it.
On the recommendation of my tutor I removed 5 images (which were of roads around the site and of a solitary dog walker) and substituted new ones. It was suggested that the images of the roads jarred somewhat with the overall picture, similarly it seemed strange to have a single image with a person in compared to the other 364. My intention for originally including the photos of roads and traffic was to emphasise the environmental threats to the area. But, as my tutor pointed out, there was ample evidence within the rest of the image of human intervention. Looking again at the image I agreed with what he was saying and replaced the images with ones that perhaps improved the overall sense. Similarly he suggested a couple of images that jarred in relation to how they connected to the images alongside them and in these cases I amended, and in one case moved the position, of these images to lessen the jarring effect.
In conclusion I think that the final image does work when judged against the criteria that were set at the outset, i.e. to demonstrate the transition of Toll’s Meadow over the year and to do so in a way that tried to overcome the limitations of single point perspective and that tried to give a sense of moving through a landscape.