Take 2 Influences : Group Crit

I’m trying to think back to whether I’ve ever done anything like this before. I thought not, but maybe I have at the Leeds tutorial Penny (a BA Photography student with the OCA) organised. It was very casual, but there was discussion about the work, albeit mostly by the tutor (Peter Haveland). I’ve also done a portfolio review, and that was very different again.

On the work of others, I’m not intending to dwell too much here (they will all be blogging their own thoughts anyway) but there were a few things I did find really quite interesting, Emma’s sculpture being one, Anne’s re-photography being another (I do like photographing images within their context, even if sometimes slightly abstractly). Bits of other things too - crows, swirls of colour, hidden identities, text and ‘loose’ painting of various kinds. In fact, I think it was all really interesting, especially with the finite time given to the task. Some people were more adventurous, trying something new, others saw the opportunity to explore. Still others just saw the chance to move an idea along a little. I think I fall into that category.

So, we basically had 12 minutes to describe then discuss. My approach was different to the others in that I used the 5 images to create a narrative rather than to try different things, different versions or develop an idea. This wasn’t my original intention, and I was worried that the approach, aping to a certain degree the Commando war comics of my youth, might glorify conflict too much, whereas my intention was to question the way that conflict is “normalised” by media - films and computer games. I don’t really remember all that I said about my work, and for future crit sessions it may be worth planning more - time goes ever so quickly and I’ve no record of how I described the work, which is a shame - I may have said something insightful on the spur of the moment! I wish I had made a recording! Talking about the work, reading the comments in the chat box and listening to people ask questions and formulate your answers is incredibly hard work. There’s certainly no time for making notes! Luckily, Angela made a copy of the chat box comments, so this has served as something of an aide memoire.

These comments and questions were:

Is this a celebration of boys' comics, a comment on their glorification of war?

They are ambiguous, but that is more interesting to me

Have you seen Willie Dohery
Will Doherty's use of text I mean!

I feel like the images conflict so much with the glib words, which makes a really interesting awkward balance between them - the pop culture words definitely make us question what we're looking at!!!!

Yes, it does glorify it, for me, but I'm coming from a very personal position of being anti-war

I feel it glorifies and partitcularly the words used.

You are doing with photography/computer games what Roy Lichenstein did with oil paint - I like it.

As in, if you give us information, statistics etc, you are trying to make us feel a certain way, whereas this challenges us to see how kids learn about violence, and organised violence etc.... really exciting work!

I'm a bit caught as to whether to read the text as irony ... not sure, there's some ambiguity of whether glorifying or not
slide 4 looks like a child ..


Thank you for your personal story - that really informs the images for me.

I find the photos disturbing and scary, so maybe in a way that means it's not glorified. I'm conflicted about them! (pun intended)

Do you know Idris Khan's photography? I'm sure you do. There's a lot of similar movement

It's a brave place to go.

the images are full of threat and full of tension so very successful in terms of what you are trying to do I feel

EMMA how did you get to Idris Khan from these?

Movement - blurring! 

Some of the questions were answered, I spoke with Sharon about how my intention was to question, not glorify or romanticise conflict. I suppose it’s more about our (collective) attitude and how conflict is very much normalised. There’s was a question of perhaps needing to show “pain” in the images for there to be less of a glorification effect - not mentioned but relevant is how we are bombarded with more and more extreme images of real events, through the news etc. and that, even though these are censored, we can find more and more gruesome images if we want - this is normalising us too, in conjunction with Hollywood and the computer games industry. How much pain do we actually need to witness? Does it need to be absolutely everywhere?

Willie Doherty I now know, and I’m still not sure if I knew of him before, but he was mentioned in my tutorial the other day. I’ve not had much of a chance to dig into his work this time around, so his work has not been particularly influential in any way. It is certainly something to look into though.

I can sort of see where Emma was coming from with Idris Khan, with the blur, although the process is very different (more akin to the Mishka Henner video I
posted), and to my mind more appropriate to Ines’ work on identity.

Tanya mentioned that the photographs were “equipment heavy” or something like that. True, two of the five photographs featured planes and that was intended to carry the Commando comic theme, and was also the only real way of getting the computer game element on board. I don’t play computer games (although I did when younger), and this one was bought specifically for this project. Maybe with further exploration of the game there might be a way of adjusting the various views to make it more appropriate-able (is that a word?), more flexible in the way it could be used. The time didn’t really allow for this exploration from the starting point of a “noob” - there was a couple of hours with the film, a hour or so with the game, then the rest was going through the images, working in post and sequencing them and trying different things. I probably went over the 8 hours to be honest, but not by a great deal (post takes very little time as I tend to just work the same things). Back to Tanya’s comment, to be honest, there’s far more people involved than I normally would have, although this current series (
Some Unholy War) is mostly people, but it’s quite a deviation from my normal MO.

On the whole though, it seems that there has been a successful outcome, although perhaps the glorification aspect is a little strong. Would this be better if printed large scale? If compared to Lichtenstein (who Mathew mentioned), that I feel does more closely reflect the comic book action, which is of course what it is supposed to do. I’ve never thought as to whether it has any particular stance though...
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