B53: C38 Assignment 5 Journal.


The journal tracks the activities undertaken in preparation for assignment 5. It starts with an initial project, which considered the cumulative work undertaken during the course material context and narrative.

The project changed, influenced by David Hockney’s exhibition at Tate Modern.  The project began taking direction once the research had been undertaken, and a narrative developed.

The project has undergone various phases, and these phases have been summarised into a workflow model.  The model identifies the key elements required to undertake a project.  The model is not prescriptive, this is to say, that the order of activities may vary dependant upon ones own style of working.

In determining the composition a scale model was made from paper cutouts, and this greatly aided the understanding and communication of the project to the actors involved.

The key events are listed, from conception, through to photograph selection using contact sheets.

The principle point noted are.

It is important to have a narrative for the project as this assists in anchoring the work.  It is also important to outline the project objectives, as this aids contextualising the work.

For details please see C38: Assignment 5 Journal.


B52:C40 Project 2 The Archive Exercise Recording a Conversation.


The essay captures the difference between a recorded and recollected conversation.

It identifies the recollection process ought not be trusted, that the mind may not have sufficient power of recall.  That when preparing documentary photographic assignment, recorded events, notes, and other supporting artefacts should be collated.

That in preparing a photographic project, if one were to use a bipolar scale.  At one end would be the documentary photograph, the ‘constructed’ image.  At the other end would be the creative photograph, the ‘constructive’ image: definition are given for both.

Photographs are seen and not heard.  This means that subjects that have been discussed, and need to be represented within the photograph, will need to be represented within the image.  This is ‘constructive’ process.

That this bi poloar process follows Szarkowski’s Mirrors and Windows.

In responding to the questions (these are found at the base of the essay) :

  • Q1: Reflect upon the believability of re-enacted narratives and how can this be applied to a constructive photography project.

For this event, a recorded conversation in the car is the denoted narrative and subject matter.  While one part of the discussion was about food, this formed the connotative element of the photograph.

We have defined the meaning of ‘constructed’ photography, as a representation of the photographic document.  This means to replicate the truth.

Such a photograph may looks something like this:


Fig 1 Constructed Image

The photograph was taken using an iPhone after the event and hence the date does not correspond with the actual date of the recording.  Beyond this it is a ‘true’ representation of the event: the mobile phone, in the car, recording a discussion.

The believability of the narrative can then be based upon the recording to hand, as supporting evidence of the occurrence.

However, in ‘constructive’ photography, the emphasis is placed on creativity, and the key points in the narrative may be formed by the idea of the discussion in visual terms.


Fig 2 Constructive  Image

Fig 2 is the constructive image, the iPhone, in the car, is a suggestion of the location.  The added (constructive element) the receipt book, that links the points discussed.

  • Q2: What has been learnt for the the conversation recording process and how can this be transferred into making pictures.

The recording provides a detail account of the points discussed, as these cannot be seen:  photographs can only be seen and not heard.  We have to add to the image, the essence of the dialogue.  In this case a recipe book, as this was one of the key subjects discussed.

For details see: C40: Project 2 The Archive Exercise Recording a Conversation.

B51: Ideas for a New Archive Project; Truth, Fiction, or Abstract?


In discussing the work of Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye the scope of the blog is placed into context: consideration of a future project using archived photographic materials.

The blog identifies a number of sources where archive photographs may be found.

It considers how the project may be developed.  Preconceived, where the material is sourced specifically for the project.  Developed, where the material is collated and the project is developed from the material in hand.

It also discusses the idea that a documentary project may never be absolutely truthful, as it is more likely to be an abstract of the truth.

In all cases in order to develop a body of work the project needs to have purpose and this can achieved through the development of a story line: the narrative. The information collated (images and artefacts) provide the context.


I am currently reading about  Zoe Leonard ( the artist) and Cheryl Dunye (the actress and film maker).

Dunye produced and acted in the film The Watermelon Woman, Stuart, (1997).  The basis of the film was centred around an African American woman who was interested in a Hollywood star, Fae Richards: a fictional character.

The history of the fictional character is captured by a series of photographs that span her life  time: as the character is fictional so are the photographs.

Leonard created the photographic history by selecting archival photographs that would best represent Richards; Anon (no date). These photographs form the prop for the film and were selected from various sources.

The originator of the concept was Dunye, Leonard provided the artistic support in collating the images used for the film: Bryan-Wilson (2013).

The motives behind Dunye’s facade was that, while there was information about African American women as lesbians and those working in Hollywood, there was no information of African American  lesbian working in Hollywood.  This gap formed the basis of the film.

I have been asked to consider the concepts, and think about developing a project,  using archived photographs.


#1 Home source:

My own is limited, I  would have to ask my Italian family for contributions, this could only be done face to face.

Once the information are collated and the photographs, artefacts, are examined, a sequenced and a theme may come from this exercise.

#2 Central Library:

The library will have a significant collection.

The collection will be large, working through the volume of work a theme would develop.

#3 Local resources:

During the shoot exploring your vision, I came across the owner of a car-tyres workshop.  He advised me that the local funeral director had a number of photographs of the local area.

This I found particularly interesting, because I had the idea to recording the trades found in the local high street, and perhaps looking back in time to see what the shop had been in the past.

This would be an extension of exploring your vision.

#4 Friends and Family:

Friends and family are a huge resource of information and can form the bases of many projects.

#5 Photo-books:

Photographic books hold a vast selection of subjects; for example The Photo-book A History volume III.

# 6 Antique shops, Fairs Etc:

Antique shops and fairs may hold a wide selection of photographic prints, with a wide subject matter.

#7 News Papers

The news paper industry hold many photographs.  A project would have to be developed in order to approach the paper to have access to the information.  A valuable source when considering a social history project.



The development of the project is a more difficult product to pin down.  I have found that in order to present a coherent photographic portfolio it is best to develop a purpose first.  Once this is know then the project can be moulded around the subject.

I should note that Fredrick Friedlander and takes photographs of  what he likes.  Then identifies the project by collating photographs into category: American Monuments, American by Car, The Jazz People of New Orleans.   This is an alternative approach.

Truth, Fiction, or Abstract?

A documentary project on the past will require that the work is truthful.  That there must be an authentic connection between the past images and the documentary story.  Otherwise, the purpose of the documentary will be lost.   This is a link to the photographic document.

Water Melon Woman, and the subsequent photographs was fictional.  The photographs came from the story line, and therefore, if archival photographs are to be used as  fiction, a summary story would have to be developed.  The purpose of the photograph would be to underpin the fictional story.

The above selection is a binary process: it is either truthful or the work is fictional.  However, photography can never be absolutely truthful because of the level of complexity: example; interpreting a photograph is a subjective matter.  Even the way photographs are presented, a choreographed process, will influence the discourse of the work.

This would suggest that any photograph will have elements of fiction, as the truth may be an abstract of reality.

Types of Projects:

It is likely that in that the archive project will be historical in nature, unless one uses historical images to project something about the future.  A time bomb that has once been planted in the ground and has been dug up.

The categories for this type of project are endless, and it would be easy to reach out to the family album. In doing so, this would be reactionary, and an easy conclusion. What has been  determined, through this course, is that when one defines the objectives and purpose, the project will have a natural flow.

In Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye the objective was the story line, and the archive photographers served the purpose to underpin this story.  This follows that one needs a story to tell and the objective is to present this story line using archival materials.

To this end a list of story (head) lines.

  • People:
    • Family tree through the selection of people with; example, identical surnames, trades.
    • Changes in fashion, school uniforms, police uniforms.
    • Cars I/ We once had.
  • Environment:
    • Buildings and premisses: Traces and changes of the past; examples, how a shop/ garage/ pub. building premises has changed over the years, how a church many not have changed.
    • How the local park has changed
  • Activities:
    • Social club (s), local stage groups.
  • PESTLE. Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental, this is a business tool used for analysis, which may be used to set the begin to set the story line.


In all cases, for the project to have significance one has to determine the storyline, this is the narrative.  The archive photographs – artefacts provide the context.


Anon (no date) Zoe Leonard & Cheryl Dunye — Archives and Creative Practice. Available at: http://www.archivesandcreativepractice.com/zoe-leonard-cheryl-dunye/ (Accessed: 2 May 2018).

Bryan-Wilson, Jullia; Dunye, C. (2013) ‘Imaginary Archives: A Dialogue’, Art Journal; New York, 72(2), pp. 82–89.

Stuart, A. (1997) ‘Watermelon Woman’, The Sight and Sound, p. 63.

B50:C39 Project 2 The Archive; exercise Question for the seller.


This essay examines the work of Nicky Bird; Question for Seller.  It discusses the the use family photographs to create a narrative beyond their original intent.

It identifies that feelings towards a photograph will influence the discourse and ultimately the narrative that one places on the image: the visual monologue. The narrative will be based on ones past experiences and memories.

All photographs have inherent and intrinsic value, however, when placed in a museum, because of the conventions placed on exhibits by the curator, the work attracts further value, and this may be term artistic value: a second value was identified, commercial value.

Three questions were asked, and the summary response is set out below.  However, for the detail response one must read the section: Responding to the Questions.

  • Q1: Does their presence on a gallery wall give these images an elevated status?
    • Work show in galleries hold an elevated status because of the additional (artistic) value required by the curator, and this elevates the status of the images.
  • Q2: Where does their  meaning derive from?
    • From each stage in the process of buying, requesting for information from the seller,  and reselling, a new meaning was derived based upon ones own experiences and memories.
  • Q3: When they are sold (again on eBay, via auction direct from the gallery) is their value increased by the fact that they’re now ‘art’?
    • Two levels of value have been disclose; intrinsic and commercial.  Intrinsic value is one placed on the work by an individual or gallery.  By the fact that the work is show in an art gallery the intrinsic value has increased.  However,  this does not mean that the work has commercial – profit value.  This occurs only when the work is sold above the cost price (the total cost for creating the work).

B49.1: C36: Constructive Realities and the Fabricated Image, Research Point: Gregory Crewdson.



The essay examines three photographers; Gregory Crewdson, Jeff Wall and Philip Lorca diCorcia.

The findings are graphically postioned in terms of degree of stage and collaboration is used when producing their work.   This shows the each photographer has a different bias to how they develop their work.  The essay has resulted in an improved understanding of the different dimensions found within the tableau photograph.

The conclusion shows that diCorcia is perhaps closest to reportage photography with limited or no collaboration.  Wall uses collaborative techniques and minimal staging.  While Crewdson produces work that is heavily staged and directs rather than photographs.

Direct Response to the Questions:

The details below are a copy from the conclusions found at the end of this essay, to easy reading and understanding.

Q1:  Do you think that there is more to this work than aesthetic beauty?

A1: There is more to Crewdson’s work than beauty, it hold a darker emotional element.  Crewdson finds these emotions from his use of verbs, such as: dangerous, desirable, fearful.

Q2: Do you think Crewdson success in making his work ‘psychological’

A2:  Crewdson does succeed in presenting a psychological narrative, and this is achieved in two ways; the subject, the actors photographed.  And the subject matter; the supporting elements, location, compositional arrangements, lights, and props.

When the subject and subject matter are combined they add to the psychological narrative.

What does this mean?

The psychological narrative, is a narrative that resonates and communicates to the viewer a feeling or thought based on their own previous experiences.  Crewdson uses of verbs to position the viewer, for example: dangerous.  The viewer has an understanding of what this might mean, and the image reflects this.

Q3: What is your main goal when making pictures?

A3: The essay suggests that the goals change over time when making a photograph.  These objective are driven by the photographer, and in my case, the goals are based upon a journey of discovery to learn about the language of photography.  Therefore, in discussing  goals we have to consider the trajectory of learning.  In this case  research is leading towards producing a staged and collaborated photogrpahic project

Q4: Do you think there’s anything wrong with making beauty your main goal? Why or why not?

A4:  The making of a beautiful print is dependant upon the project objectives.  However, even if the project objective is to capture a gruesome image, there may be elements within the frame that are beautiful; colour, composition, for that renders a beautiful image.

Therefore there is nothing wrong with making a beautiful picture.

Q5: How does Gregory Crewdson compare with Jeff Wall and Philip Lorca diCorcia?

A5:  The difference between these three photographer is the varying degrees of staging and collaboration as shown in Fig 5.  Crewdson work is highly staged and his collaborative practices tends towards directing the image to a specific result.  Wall adopts less staging, and more collaboration.  While diCorica, like wall is less staged and his collaborations are exploitive.


For details see:

C36: Constructive Realities and the Fabricated Image, Research Point: Gregory Crewdson.

B46.1 :C33 Project 2 Reading Pictures Exercise: Commentary on Advertisement.

In reviewing my work, I noted that while I have completed the above project exercise I had not provided a summary Blog.  This corrects this error.


The essay is divided into two parts, the first part being concluded before assignment 4, while the second after completing the assignment.

When these two sections of this essay are examined, we are able to see the differences in describing the same photograph.

The first relies on technical observations.  The second, because of its structure, places context, and separates the subject and the subject matter, these being two different entities.

We should note the second method is far more efficient, and while adding context, this is done with 30% less words, making the work more concise.

We responde to three questions:

  • Q1:  What is the image about?
    • The image is not only about the location Dublin, it is also about the writer who is the denoted subject.
  • Q2:  What is it saying about the product?
    • The connotative message given is that Dublin is a good place to visit, it is environmentally friendly.
  • Q3:  What other information can I add after completing assignment 4.
    • The additional information places the image into context within it self and within the overall magazine where the article was found.  We are also able to see that there is a subject Westbrook, and a subject matter Dublin

For details please see: C33 Project 2 Reading Pictures Exercise: Commentary on Advertisement.

B51: Preparations for Submission

Having decided on the general subject for my final assessment, I now feel that I can begin re-working through my blogs, course work and assignment.

The purpose of this is two fold.  The first as a form of revision, and secondly to make final changes to the work before formal submission. This is especially importatnt for the assessed work, as the tutor reports have some very good point that I have reflected upon.

As I go through the notes I will print out a hard copy and this will be used as a reference book.  There have been times during this course where I went back to exploring your vision.

The final project work will involve hire of a hall, and either hiring a projector or having large prints being made.  I also have to make arrangements for the subjects to be available.  This will take time.  I am considering moving on to the next module while I finalise this one.

Before I do I need to complete the final two exercises on Project 2 The archive….