Summer Project Task Four – Critical Reflection

As you have seen in my previous “Summer Project” posts, we were given three tasks to complete before our arrival to Coventry University on the 22nd September 2012. The task sheet that we were given is as follows:

Task 1 – Research: 

Read Charlotte Cottons book ‘The Photograph as contemporary Art’, Consider it as a starting point of further research on any of the artists referred to.

Consider and reflect on Chapter 5 ‘Intimate Life’

Use this as a starting point to inform a set of diaristic images of your own.

Task 2 – Practical:

Record a visual diary. It should be as intimate and honest as you’re able to be. You should make images from the first time that you open your eyes, through to closing them to sleep.


Imagine the person closest to you. Imagine that this morning the woke up. Got out of bed, without making it. Then walked out of the room and your life, never to come back. Now go into that room in your mind and see the evidence of their presence. Don’t photograph the head but look for the marks that it made on the pillow. Search out the traces that detail the person’s effect on their immediate environment and record them.

Further reading: “Closer” by Elinor Carucci, I’ll be your mirror” by Nan Goldin, “Hide” that can by Deirdre O’Callaghan

Task 3 : Letter to self

A key part of the course is the ability to write creatively and to reflect upon your learning. So, your second task is to write a letter to yourself in one year’s time that outlines what you want to have done, produced, thought about, read, seen or heard and how you want all those experiences to help you in your personal and professional development.

We are not expecting your letter to be beautifully written (although we would be extremely happy if it was) but we do want you to use the letter to start thinking about what you want to get from the course before you get here.

Please bring this summer project with you for our first meeting.


Critical Reflection:

Before I started reading Chapter 5 “Intimate Life“, I flicked through the pages to mentally analyse each photograph. To be honest, when doing this, I wasn’t very excited in trying to portray and ‘copy’ this bleak style of photography as it was not a style that I was interested in at the time. However, after reading the chapter, I found that my mind had become more creatively active as I had found out the context, purpose, and provenance of each image and photographer. I wanted to research the photographers mentioned to expand my knowledge of the photographic industry, as this will be useful during my course, but also to decide which photographer I preferred in order to show their influence through my work. I wrote down some key quotes from the chapter that I felt gave me a creative insight into the minds of these well-known photographers. After this, I chose to carry out some more in-depth research into the world-known photographer, Nan Goldin, as I felt that her provenance and purpose was the strongest of the other photographers. I read through the chapter again and picked out some key quotations that were said about Nan Goldin’s work to anchor my primary thoughts of influence. I put together a biography that consisted of small amounts of background information from a secondary source to try and enhance my new knowledge of her history. This then lead me to analyse one of her pieces of work that was entitled “Nan Goldin: “Siobhan at the A House #1” (1990)”.

When I originally read through Task 2, I didn’t understand what it meant and I felt that it had absolutely nothing to do with the research that I underwent in Task 1. I decided that the best thing to do was to read through the brief a couple of times and to sleep on it to see if my subconscious mind could come up with a better idea than the obvious. It couldn’t. I ended up taking the brief in its literal sense rather than a form of metaphorical creativity and photographed different items around the house that would have been effected by my use or absence. When I was photographing my subjects, I didn’t feel a sense of elation and I felt that the pressure was mounting me due to the fact that this work was now meant to be at a university standard. However, I then uploaded my images onto my computer and began to edit the colours in a way that showed my influence of Nan Goldin. I then analysed my favourite singular photograph before experimenting with layouts and final piece ideas that showed more of Nan Goldin’s influence (the audio/visual presentation). Once I had completed this, I then felt a sense of pure excitement from the work that I had achieved. Nonetheless, I think it was safe to say that I was anxiously excited.

When it came to writing the letter-to-self, I, again, read through the brief but decided to annotate the sheet with ideas as to what I wanted to include. This acted as a very simple template for my letter and I managed to write my first draft in no longer than a couple of hours. I then left it for a couple of days before returning to it with some more ideas that I wanted to include. I had also researched some letters-to-self and decided that I wanted to try and get my personality across as much as possible by using humour. This can also, hopefully, show the reader that I am very down-to-earth and approachable which they can then use as a guide that influences the way in which they view my work.