#Phonar Session Four Task – “Transformative Storytelling” (and Reflection)

Task:

Using only found images (i.e. images from family albums and local library archives, not published in magazines) research and construct a photo-artefact/story that weaves a narrative linking the people depicted within.

Development: Build and include a soundscape relevant to your story, you might include personal stories from the subjects depicted.

Inspiration:

William Burroughs (on cut-ups)

Joachim Schmidt

Tacita Dean

Kesselkramer

Corinne Vionnet

Mishka Henner

Jason Lazarus

Curtis Mann

 

 

Preparation for Task:

Research into “Flicktion”:

“Flickr + Fiction = Flicktion. Take any single image and write a short story built around that image. Save in Flickr with the tag “flicktion”. 

This grew out of the efforts of Flickr user Andrew Losowsky who had posted a series of photos of doorbells from around the city of Florence (Italy) to which he added a few paragraphs of fiction about the people who might have been the ones living there. He coined the term “flicktion” and went on to publish a book of his works, and even saw it turned into a play.

This must be the simplest form of story creation, but can make for an interesting pairing of a photo and the text of a story – it need not be literal, but does challenge one to write something more substantial (and interesting) for a caption.”

Taken from https://50ways.wikispaces.com/Flicktion

 

My Thoughts after Researching into Flicktion:

After researching into Flicktion I soon found that I was at a loss with what to search for within Flickr in order to choose an image that I was going to write a story about.

Deciding to sleep on it, I found that I had woken up with an idea for my response. For my final project, as I am attempting to reconnect with my deceased Grandfather by visiting places in the Lake District where I shared memories with him, I soon realized that this task could work well as a practice for one of my current final degree project piece ideas: a book containing images of different Lake District locations placed next to a creative writing piece about my specific childhood memory.

The photograph you can see below was taken by myself and can be found in my family album.

 

 

Response to Task:

032 Phonar

 

[Date to be Included], Latrigg, The Lake District.

Listening to the sound of snow as it crunches under my feet I continue forward, detached from the rest of my family. Hearing them chatter and laugh I look down, digging my head deeper into my coat, my warm cocoon, hiding away from the thought of today. My shoulders slumped against the cold, bitter breeze, I continue to clench my fists in my pockets trying to warm the tips of my fingers.

As we reach the top of the small, steep hill I look across to the mountainous horizon. Feeling my emotions waver as I take in its breath-taking beauty I turn my gaze back down to the ground and return to my comforting loneliness. Watching my feet tread carefully over the icy path, I follow my family to our cherished mound on top of the hill. As the children start to play in the snow the adults contemplate the perfect position, before hacking away at the frozen ground, boring into the landscape.

I stand alone overlooking the scene below. Staring out towards the horizon. Detached, hidden, invisible.

Feeling a sense of unease, I look down and watch as the children run towards the already huddled adults. Stepping down, off of the mound, I slowly make my way over to join my family. Gathering around the small, newly dug hole we watch as he places the engraved brass plaque neatly into the ground. As he steps back to complete the circle we take it in turns to say a few words. Concentrating on the emotions that are slowly taking over my body I realize that the muffled voices I could hardly hear have stopped. Looking up to see mixed emotions written over the faces of my watching family, I draw my mouth away from my coat and whisper: “I’ll miss you”.

As I burry my face deeper into isolation I watch as the tuft of grass is placed neatly over the brass plaque concealing it from view. Continuing to stare at the disturbed patch of land, conscious of the next step of the day, I listen to a rucksack being opened and hesitantly draw my attention to the small, white box as it’s lifted into view. Hiding myself away into the comfort of my coat I watch as the box is delicately opened and passed around the family as each member, slowly and carefully, takes their turn.

As the small box is outstretched towards me in familiar, reassuring hands, I draw my attention up and slowly walk towards the moment I’ve been so nervously waiting for. Taking my hands out of my coat pockets I tentatively remove my glove before slowly placing my hand into the box. Picking up a handful of your ashes, I bring you closer to me and watch as the bitter wind starts blowing you gently out of my hand. As if sensing my reluctance to let go, to say goodbye, a sudden gust of wind urges me to loosen my grip, opening my hand, allowing you to take off towards the impressive landscape you loved so much.

Standing there, watching you disappear into the distance, I feel a cold tear running down my cheek. Unable to move, my hands stay by my side, as the slow, continuous tears run down my face. Feeling a familiar arm wrap around me, I lean into my Dad’s frame as he draws me in for a comforting hug. Looking towards the horizon, we stand there in silence, listening to the wind as it dances around our grieving silhouettes.

Time passes too quickly and he walks away, leaving me alone with my memories, as I grip onto my last moment with you. The streak of my drying tears remain on my cheek as I reluctantly turn to walk off towards the sun, away from you, on a path that will be forever etched into my memory.

 

Reflection:

After using the previous weeks task to improve our storytelling skills within photography and other mediums, I feel that this task was created as a way for us to be able to present our learnt themes and techniques through adapting them to our own specific interests. This task allowed us to look at this weeks main themes including context, narrative and power, as well as the idea of Metaphotographers, by allowing us to use found imagery to narrate a story whilst also thinking about a photographs possible contexts and our representation of the included subjects.

I chose to respond in this particular way as I wanted to start using #Phonar to its full beneficial potential by using this task as a practice for one of my final degree project piece ideas (please see above). I also decided to present this piece as an image accompanied by some text (rather than an audio-visual video) as I wanted to see how this technique would work for my final major project. I also feel that this choice of presentation makes the piece more personal as it involves the active participation of the viewer and it allows them to read/look at it at their own pace, enabling them to connect with their individual emotions and memories, in their own time.

I thoroughly enjoyed this task and feel that it is my favourite task to date due to the fact that I was able to adapt it to produce something I wanted to create, allowing me to incorporate an aspect of creative writing (which, as stated in last weeks task reflection, I enjoy taking part in). I also found that I got relatively emotional whilst writing this piece as it allowed me to re-embrace the event emotional and mentally which, on a personal level, increased the pleasure received from the task, as it was nice to see that these memories still meant so much to me. This response also allowed me to experience different ideologies surrounding memory (listed below) that I am looking at for both my symposium and final major project, which too enhanced the benefit of the task.

  • After time, certain events are remembered in snippets – it’s very difficult to give it a factual timeline as the individual will remember more important aspects better than slightly less important ones – this doesn’t make it less true, it just makes it a more personal memory
  • Memory’s are always from the individuals point of view – they can never remember the event from anyone else’s point of view (this also means that this particular response relates back to the idea of a single-point perspective that we discussed in the first weeks of #Phonar)

Although I am very happy with the outcome of this response, if I were to revisit this task in the future, I would experiment with the development aspect of the task: “Build and include a soundscape relevant to your story, you might include personal stories from the subjects depicted”. However, with that being said, I would have the audio playing in the background as the viewer read both the story and the image from a page, rather than creating a video (please see the reasons I gave above).

This task response relates to Learning Objectives 1 (through research), 3 and 4 (and its reflection answers learning objective 5):

  • Successfully undertake appropriately sophisticated research, analysis and interpretation of information
  • Independently produce a photographic narrative utilizing a range of analytical and practical photographic skills
  • Show evidence of experimentation with a range of narrative forms and media as a creative method for clearly articulating visual themes, stories and concepts
  • Critically evaluate their project work and the editorial decisions made throughout this process and its commercial relevance with respect to their chosen areas of specialism
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