Notes on Tutor Feedback
My tutor said that the assignment ‘lacked a certain depth’ and needed ‘a greater sense of enquiry’. He suggested I engage more with the theme of tourism and gave me suggestions for further reading and ideas to explore such as the branding of place.
I found this idea about branding of place very interesting. I watched the film ‘In Bruges’, written and directed by Martin McDonagh when I was exploring these ideas. I have read some of Tourists at the Taj by Tim Edensor and followed up with researching Paris by Night by Brassai and The Tourists Gaze by John Urry and looking at Small World by Martin Parr.
However, for me tourism wasn’t a theme for this assignment. I wanted to convey a sense of power being omnipresent and the Eiffel Tower was supposed to represent this as it’s a representation of power. “Its 1,000-foot (300m) tower is a technological feat that shows the entire world the technological power of France“. Clearly it didn’t work and I think there are several reasons for that. The first is that the assignment was rushed. I had originally been working with the idea that I would use vortography and had done a lot of research based around that theme. However, when I started to take photographs it just wasn’t working.
I had a trip to Paris booked and I had to hand in the assignment when I got back. I decided to work on another aspect of the assignment brief instead. I took photographs of crowds, heads and views while in Paris, but I was happiest with the set of views and so I used those. On reflection, I think that the idea of omnipresent power would have been communicated more successfully had I taken more images that included the Eiffel Tower in the distance, almost as an afterthought. I had purposefully tried not to include too many tourists in the shots I took, and the majority of the images kept the tower in the background, although it is obviously prominent anyway due to the sheer size of the structure.
I learnt a lot from this assignment, the main thing being that I shouldn’t make images for work like this that are of places that I cannot easily return to. I’m glad I made this mistake early on. I have a set of images that I am pleased with, but I am unable to make updates to them.
Where does that leave me now as I am approaching the end of the course and am making updates? Well, I like the images I have. I can add to the research as suggested, but it would be disingenuous to say that the theme was tourism and to re-write on that basis. I think it is best that I have examined what went wrong, thought about how I can put it right to avoid making the same mistake in future, and move on. Much of the research around vortography still holds true for this assignment, particularly the ideas about vertical lines representing power; in vortography there would have been the idea of those verticals being fractured which doesn’t work here, but still the suggestion of power is present in them.
There is clearly a question as to how I can effectively communicate themes; I wonder if that becomes more apparent with experience as when I took these images I was undergoing a fundamental mental shift in my thoughts about photography.
Looking at Assessment Criteria
My thoughts on how this assignment meets the assessment criteria:
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
I think that my visual skills are strong in this assignment. Overall I am pleased with the images, and I think they are well composed and show good visual awareness. Although I can see a weak image at the end, I’m having problems deciding which is my favourite.
Quality of outcome
I was looking at lens effects when I was working on this. I used what I had learnt despite frustrations with equipment. I think that the images work well as a set.
Demonstration of creativity
I have had comments from several people that they have not seen images of the Eiffel Tower like this before. I hope that I have managed to make images of a landmark which is photographed thousands of times every single day and have managed to create something new.
In this assignment, the context is clearly the weak point. I had done a lot of research but it did not appear to directly relate to what I ended up producing, although for me it did and was certainly part of the ongoing process and thinking around state power and how it is represented in public spaces.
Update after ‘Shape of Light Exhibition’, Tate Modern
The research I had originally focused on for this assignment was about the Vorticists. Since completing that research, which influenced this work but really went unused, I have seen more vorticist work and I find the movement and the people involved fascinating. In particular, I enjoyed the exhibition ‘Shape of Light’, at the Tate Modern which included several photographs by Alvin Langdon Coburn and work by Wyndham Lewis; two artists that particularly interest me. The exhibition included a photograph by Germaine Krull taken in 1928 from a portfolio called ‘Metal’ which appears to be an image of the Eiffel Tower, very similar to an image I had taken and not used. Given that my research was picking up the same themes of the vorticists, which is why I came across them, it is interesting that the Eiffel Tower had already been used in that context. Obviously, had I known this beforehand it would have perhaps changed the images I submitted and the research component may have felt more complete.
Bibliography for updated research
Baker, S., L’Écotais, E. and Mavlian, S. (2018). Shape of light. 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art
Brassaï (2011). Brassai – Paris by night. Paris: Flammarion
Dakowicz, M. and O’Hagan, S. (n.d.). Cardiff after dark.
Parr, M. (2018). Small world
In Bruges. (2008). [DVD] Directed by M. McDonagh