Below is my response to the feedback given to me by my tutor, Jayne Taylor, for my submission of Assignment 1 – The Square Mile
Here is the feedback: fip-a1-feedback
“You’re interested in the management of Minsmere but I felt like a visitor”
I actually wasn’t surprised by this reaction from Jayne. While it wasn’t at the forefront of my consciousness I did want to produce an attractive series of images. I have a close and personal relationship with Minsmere as a location which is different metaphysically from Minsmere the RSPB reserve. As I have a great fondness for the place I think it was instinctive that I would wish to represent it well, perhaps even promoting it at the same time.
The sequence of images 1
Of course! Why didn’t I see it? Even after I named it ‘somewhere to rest’ the penny didn’t drop. Yes, the photograph of the bench needs to be located elsewhere and not at the beginning. Though I haven’t mentioned this in my written account for Assignment 1 the sequence of images represent a journey made through the reserve starting at an access point close to the bench and ending amongst the sand dunes by the sea. This is in keeping with a sense of honesty that can preoccupy my approach to taking photographs. When I was young I was very influenced by Henri Cartier-Bresson so, for example, I invariably compose in the viewfinder and feel that cropping is a bit of a cheat. And it is this that has stopped me in the past from fully embracing the postproduction aspects of digital photography. That said the FiP is making me re-evaluate some these long held views and it hasn’t been a struggle to loosen some of them off.
The sequence of images 2
Again, I had tied myself down by insisting that conventional landscape would not be a feature of the sequence. Jayne wasn’t alone in commenting on this as some of the peer feedback I received also made similar remarks.
So, following Jayne’s suggestion I have added to the sequence a view over what is known as ‘the scrape’ and titled it ‘The Destination’. Moreover, I have moved the opening image ‘Somewhere to Rest’ further down in the sequence. I replaced it with ‘Walk Over water’. This quite striking composition of a wooded walkway seems fitting for an open image. It draws the viewer into both the image and the sequence and metaphorically into the reserve itself.
A more critical response to the work of Dan Holdsworth
I had actually said more about Holdsworth in my scan of the ‘mind map’ than I’d formally written in my assignment. A quote from Wikipedia states that Holdsworth’s work is characterised by “…radical abstractions in geography”. And I think it is this that is stopping from me really appreciating his work. Earlier I mentioned my preoccupation with ‘honesty’ in photography and I feel his artifice in representing landscape is troubling for me. I know the lengthy exposures needed at night renders them this way but the artificiality that comes with them plays on the sense of honesty that I look for in this kind of work.
His landscapes however, are less troubling than those night-time images of empty car parks and roads. The stillness and silence is tangible and, like sitting alone in a room I need to have something going on in the background. I’d play some music or put on radio 4 and likewise in Holdsworth’s car park I long to see a discarded kebab wrapper. Otherwise, the sterility in these images looks too sinister for my liking.
Despite what I said above I’ll place one caveat in my critique of his work and that is because I’ve not seem the real images. My only exposure to Holdsworth’s work is through the computer screen and with this comes the limitations of size and tonal range of a compressed file. The image below shows his work in a gallery space and is clear he produces some very large images.
Notwithstanding my earlier comments about abstracted geography and the need for litter to bring some varitas to an otherwise dystopian urban landscape, I do wonder how I would react to seeing the images on a gallery wall. I raise this question because many years ago on a visit to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery I saw their Pre-Raphaelite collection. While I was aware of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood their work had never really ‘caught my eye’; that was until I confronted them in a gallery. The depth and colour and use of light never seem to come across on the printed page and I wonder if something similar could happen upon seeing Holdsworth’s work in an appropriate setting.