I have taken time to digest the feedback received on the assignments submitted for the Sustainable Prospects module. I confess to being as disappointed with the quality of the feedback as I was with the course material and its presentation during the module.
I recognise that at some point more definitive information on details of exhibitions and books will need to be developed and it is not as though I have given those topics no thought. It is early in my view to begin to make definite plans as there is much yet unknown about the eventual outcome of the project I have been pursuing and furthermore the likelihood of this project being the subject of my FMP is diminishing with every passing day due to the delays on the development decision. The OP was limited to 10 minutes and there were any more topics that also needed to be (and were) covered. This topic could well have consumed a substantial portion of the 10 minutes if it was to be addressed in the detail suggested in the feedback and I took a decision to address all of the requirements with the balance being directed at other areas. Perhaps I should have discussed the topic more thoroughly in my CRJ and I will accept that critique, however, it seems odd then that it should have been raised in the OP feedback. I do not know what to do with a comment like this: We do feel there is still room for exploring a more creative approach to this project as you move forward – do look to expand your ideas and think a little outside the box and see where it takes you. My approach the project has evolved quite significantly since its beginnings as a purely natural history and repeat photography project in its original inception. I think I have shown both a willingness to adapt and take new directions and I certainly see that vector continuing. Cliched comments such as “think out of the box” are neither informative or constructive. Specifically, what box have I been in? How is my thinking limited? Perhaps looking at feedback in the other assignments provides a clue.
I agree the project has potentially greater significance as an example of competing imperatives. I have had that in mind from the outset and have spoken and written of it. It is not yet at that point and I am not willing to compromise my independence at this point to make the case for one side or the other. I have approached the work with an eye toward the ability to tell the story from different perspectives further down the line as the story and its significance develops. But the comment of potentially broader significance is not lost on me. The comment: “Perhaps you may explore more how you might introduce community to your work on landscape and wildlife.” strikes me as a desire to impose the tutor’s version of the story. I have discussed at length how I do not wish to do a different version of Sophie Gerrard’s, The Dunes in the north of Scotland. I am passionate about the place, not the people who may be associated with the story and therefor that is not the story I wish to tell.
And that then leads me to the recommendations made of other photographer’s work. First let me address Burtynsky. I wrote in my CRJ and made direct reference to his work as a key influencer in my OP. To have included him in the list of recommendations implies my OP and CRJ were not read or considered. Sternfeld’s work, rather than exploring the Anthropocene as was suggested, reminded me of Robert Frank’s “The Americans” and I can find no relevance to my work. Bialbowski’s work explored urban environments and while one might argue that as an exploration of the Anthropocene, they were more travel and social documentary in character.
The other three recommendations were photographers whose work was exploring community. I found the work of Pannack, Davey and Mitchell all to be fundamentally environmental portraiture and that of Davey and Mitchell to be oriented predominantly toward family and personal subjects. Pannack’s work explored a few topics, but only the Naturists project even remotely seemed to address community as I understand the term. I could again find little relevance to my work, nor could I take constructive lessons from reviewing their work.
I honestly feel once again this is an attempt to force my work in a particular direction that is consistent with the tastes of the tutors and which suits their sensibilities with regard to contemporary photography. I undertook this course to find my own voice and I certainly recognise I may well need guidance to find that voice, but I object to attempts to homogenise me into someone else’s view of what contemporary photography is or should be.
You also comment on the local nature of your issue and therefore conclude that it will have a rather small audience – we could encourage you to reflect more on the fact that this is a local matter but it reflects a greater one – a global issue of environmental protection, local community, rural landscape and the balance between man and nature, this is far from a local issue when you step back – it’s a fundamental and universal one. We feel with more thought put into contextualising your work and presenting it you may further explore these universal themes and make them prominent in your work. You may enjoy looking at the work of Joel sternfeld, Peter Bialobrezki, Ed Burtynski – who all explore the greater impact of the anthroposcene – and then to look closer to those photographers who explore community – such as Lauara Pannack, Sian Davey, Margaret Mitchell. Perhaps you may explore more how you might introduce community to your work on landscape and wildlife.
You identify your audience and address the concept of a book and also an exhibition. You would benefit from exploring further how the book would be made, how it would be designed, who you would be pitching it to and where it might be published. You might work to expand on this – and explore how you can take this from the local audience you describe to a larger one. Also in terms of presentation in an exhibition – more thought and exploration and research would be beneficial to you here. We do feel there is still room for exploring a more creative approach to this project as you move forward – do look to expand your ideas and think a little outside the box and see where it takes you. Best of luck with this project!
It would be interesting and useful to hear more on your reflections of your own work – you do include it but more would be helpful as you move forward. Your CRJ reflects well on your progress through this module, both in terms of process but also in terms of theoretical approach and metaphorical exploration of your subject.