Site-Specific Brief Lecture and an Introduction to Essay Writing

On Monday 7th October 2013, I completed a day of university which consisted of three main aspects: a lecture on our site-specific brief, an introduction to essay writing, and a short library session about research. Below I have posted all of the notes that I took from today, including a couple of examples of the work that we were shown:


  • Can photograph whatever we want as long as we keep within the chosen, designated area

Joel Sturnfeld

  • On this Site
  • 1996
  • 50 places in America
  • Acts in Violence had taken place
  • Text shows where it happened, why it happened, and when it happened
  • Very reliant on text – images don’t really work without the situating of the text

Joel Sturnfeld

Joel Sternfeld 1

Joel Sternfeld 2

Terry Kurgan

  • Independent artist
  • Talks about a particular park and shows where different photographers are situated to photograph tourists
  • Photographs the photographers

Donovan Wylie

  • Maze” 2009
  • Prison in Ireland
  • Conceptual documentary
  • Wanted to approach everything exactly the same way
  • Showed different layers of being confined within the prison
  • Took him 3 years – only captured something decent within the last year
  • Magnum photographer
  • Nominated for the city bank prize

Donovan Wyle

Donovan Wyle 1

Donovan Wyle 2

Peter Fraser

  • City in Mind” 2008-2012
  • Inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities

Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities

  • Wanted to make a piece of work that showed his emotional response to London
  • Particular about his colour
  • See’s his work as a porthole to another world
  • Not analytic work but emotional

Peter Fraser

Peter Fraser 1

Peter Fraser 2

Suky Best

  • The Return of the Native
  • Interested in nature
  • Wanted to reintroduce the native species into its environment digitally
  • Most of the work was completed around Battersea Park

Suky Best

Suky Best 1

Suky Best 2

Maciej Dakowicz

  • Cardiff after Dark
  • Explore the drinking culture of the British and how destructive it is
  • Polish photography
  • All shot digitally with available light
  • Intense documentary

Maciej Dakowicz

Maciej Dakowicz 1

Maciej Dakowicz 2

Patrick Shanahan

  • Esperantis
  • Photographs landscapes in an uncanny way
  • Wanted to move away from tourism
  • Along coast of Portugal and Spain
  • Post-topographical abstraction – got PHD on this ideology
  • Shoots a lot at night
  • Influenced by Lynch

Patrick Shanahan

Patrick Shanahan 1

Patrick Shanahan 2

Melanie Manchot

  • Stories from Russia” 2004
  • Illegal to take photographs in public sites in Russia?
  • History and current history
  • Performative portraiture – asked people to be in the photograph at that time

Melanie Manchot

Melanie Manchot 1

Corinne Silva

  • Imported Landscapes
  • Photographed new sites in Africa and put them on billboards in Spain to create an alternative landscape
  • Look at the site and rethink about how you look at your space

c.silva 13

Corinne Silva 1

Corinne Silva 2

Susan Hiller

  • From the Freud Museum” 1991-1996
  • Re-indexed a lot of his objects to make you think about what Freud was thinking about
  • Loosely based around belief systems
  • Anthropological approach to the work
  • Exquisite boxes

Susan Hiller

Tristan Hutchinson

  • It Took Strength to Tackle Those Hills” 2010-2012
  • West Ireland
  • Scrutinizes the reality of what it is like to be in these certain areas at these difficult times
  • Damp, dark, blank, end-o-the-earth kind of images

Tristan Hutchinson

Tristan Hutchinson 1

Jeanette Lowe

  • The flats: Memories, Perceptions, Realities
  • Photographed inhabitants
  • Exhibited work in the areas she took the photographs
  • Adds another more personal layer to the exhibition

Jeanette Lowe

Susanne Bosch

  • German photographer
  • Ourselves Alone
  • Photographed the city and took out anything that wasn’t native to that country

Susanne Bosch

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

  • 6 minute video
  • “Alter Bahnhof Video Walk”
  • Plays with her viewer


  • Website
  • Ongoing collaboration between 3 places and 6 artists in London

Sophie Calle

  • Paris
  • Voyersitic piece of work
  • Photographed their mutual journey
  • Became obsessed with him

Taryn Simon

  • An American Index of Hidden and Unfamiliar” 2007
  • Text will contextualize the photo
  • VIDEO – Taryn Simon Photographs Secret Sites
  • Photography challenges fantasy

Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon 1

Taryn Simon 2

Unanswered questions:

  • Presentation should be fit for purpose of what you are exploring
  • Number of images should again be fit for purpose
  • We will be split into groups of 10 and we will have to do an informal presentation of our work to complete our work – what brought you to making the work, how you developed when making the work, and the work at the end
  • Can do both digital and film if you wanted
  • Can only use one map – increases the depth of the project

Group A – Twitter:

  • Micro-blogging – constantly updated
  • Popular form of communication
  • Mobile platform – can take it anywhere with you
  • Suggestions – based on what is popular at the moment, change to what we are interested in and are based on who we already follow
  • Narrows down the information by following one user that we are interested in – in-depth information that we are looking for
  • Limitation – private accounts
  • Hash tags – categories research, shows opinions of other people
  • Trends – when hash tags become incredibly popular
  • External sites which show what is trending where
  • Replies and mentions – interact with people asking questions in a less intrusive way
  • Favorites – holds on to a tweet that may be of use during research as they are easy to find on your individual profile
  • Retweets – passive form of research, stumble across things you wouldn’t normally search for
  • Can include external links videos, and photos


  • Writing skills are essential today in this media saturated society we live in
  • She wants to know what we are writing about in the following essay by including it in the first paragraph
  • Analyzing the title
    • Write in your own words what the essay is about
    • What do you already know about this subject?
    • Where has that information come from?
    • What do you need to know to complete the assignment? – Research
  • Sources of information
    • Don’t want generalization
  • Structuring
    • Start – summary of what you are going to discuss in that essay
    • Middle – layout argument and discuss evidence
    • End – conclusion should refer back to what you are answering and why you have come to that conclusion, DO NOT INCLUDE NEW INFORMATION
    • 10-15% beginning – about 200 words
    • 70-80% middle – 1600 words, make 3 main points about 500 words each
    • 10-15% end – about 200 words, how has the above points helped support your argument
  • Support your reading
    • Look at you reading reference list
    • Read through text and work out if it is useful or not
    • Need to be strategic with your reading
    • Photocopy it – reread it and underline main information, make notes
    • Always think about your argument and if it is supporting it
    • Make a note of who the someone else is if you read something that gives you another reference
    • Make a note of your page numbers – Harvard referencing?
    • Make sure you cite your ideas differently to an authors idea
  • How to introduce your sources (examples)
    • Discusses
    • Points out
    • Illustrates
    • Shows
    • Claims
    • Provides evidence
    • Asserts
  • Essay structure
    • Formative feedback is helpful
    • Write a short paragraph about how you want to answer the question –
  • Essay plan
    • Like any task
    • Write introduction, plan your points
    • What are you interested in and how are you going to shape this to make it your essay
  • Connecting words (examples)
    • Clearly
    • Therefore
    • Consequently
    • Firstly
    • Secondly
    • Nevertheless
    • And
    • Yet
    • As a result
    • Then
  • Academic writing
    • Comments, accounts, evaluates
    • Subject specific vocabulary
    • Information comes from a range of sources and refer to what other people say
    • Evidence and argument
  • Points to consider
    • Don’t make the essay up
    • Don’t generalize
    • Which ideas are more important?
    • Only need to know the minimum information to complete the essay
    • Cannot be merely descriptive
    • Don’t make the same point with different examples
    • Can go either 10% over or under the word count
    • Know the territory of information you are writing about
    • Get ideas written down
    • New point, new paragraph
    • Keep it simple
    • Don’t use words ending in -ly
    • Clarity in writing is better
    • Always get someone to proof read


The Library of Birmingham:

  • Largest library in Europe
  • Urban regeneration
  • Makes it easier to access information and education
  • Preparation for the day trip that we are having to the new library in Birmingham on the 31st October

Site-Specific Task Recommendations:

  • General Library in Coventry
  • Local History Collection – The Herbert Gallery
    • Might need to make an appointment
    • British Library Archive website
    • Archive of Artist books can be found at the Tate – appointment is necessary

Stephen Willats

  • “Doppelganger”
  • Site-specific work
  • Connection between people and places

Jonathan Shaw

  • Birmingham based project – site-specific

Research Task – The Library of Birmingham:

Using both Locate (the universities research tool) and online, please answer the following questions:

  • Why was the library built?
    • Urban regeneration – “creates 250 new construction jobs including 25 apprenticeships” (the library of Birmingham official page)
  • What do the local people think?
    • “A small group of protesters gathered at the opening ceremony voicing concerns at the amount of money being borrowed and their fears for the impact on the local libraries and others collecting signatures” – BBC
    • “We are told you can’t keep libraries open because of the cuts forced by central government and yet Birmingham finds £200m for this” – Margaret Bailey, BBC
  • Why was this specific architecture chosen?
    • “The library utilises an “aquifer ground source system” as a source of energy” – “lowers the libraries carbon dioxide emissions” (wiki)
    • “Mecanoo designed the exterior of the building to reference the cities jewellery quarter” –