350MC Working with Photography in Context – Lecture 14
On Tuesday 20th Januray 2015, my day consisted of attending a one-to-one tutorial with Kate McMillan, in order to discuss my draft Symposium essay that I handed in for feedback. During this session, Kate showed me a couple of notes that she made regarding my essay, and we spent time discussing different aspects that she thought I should consider. Below you will find a copy of the drafts I submitted for feedback, along with the feedback notes she sent me, and an audio recording (and accompanying notes) of the tutorial:
Kate McMillan’s Notes:
It is a nice project and there are a few critical questions to consider.
Is landscape immutable? I would argue that it is not. Consider the construction of the idea of landscape – a culturally formulated idea. Consider the different cultural perspectives of landscape – Chinese, Indigenous, European. ‘Landscape’ is a falsehood in many ways.
The landscape (and the artwork) mediates a memory – functions as a memory trigger. Consider Proust.
The image of a landscape conjures up the landscape that invites other sensory experiences (sound, smell, touch). The image functions as a bridge or umbilical cord to those other sensory moments, which powerfully connect us with memories.
Robert Macfarlane considers a particularly British experience of landscape in art and literature. Watch this YouTube lecture – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q1IK-O5Ypg
Isn’t all history only memory? Therefore, ‘memory’ serves to remind us of the fallibility and subjectivity of history. It is not absolute and there is a truth, just a series of shifting recollections.
The question – why do we forget (?) suggests that there is a defined and absolute truth waiting to be rediscovered. Perhaps thought is more about a constant remembering that shifts and moves through time. The past is in the present.
It will be important to nail some of these philosophical points/queries to bring rigour to the presentation. It needs to go deeper. Think about how the artworks you show address these queries too.
Audio Recording (and Accompanying Notes) of Tutorial:
(Please excuse the poor quality of the audio, a lot of my course peers where in the room discussing their own ideas for Symposiums and Final Major Projects during the course of my one-to-one tutorial).
- We aren’t going back to a pure thought, memory or experience – our memories change and landscapes can trigger the re-remembering of a different place
- This is a philosophical query because it suggests that all history and all memory is shifting and they are not absolute
- History, the retelling of the past, is fragmented and subjective
- What’s missing are salient, philosophical points
- The past is with us always – the past is in the present and our access to it is shifting all the time
- The image of the landscape is different from the landscape
- This needs to be made clearer
- The image of the landscape is another form of mediation, just like memory (in a way)
- It’s important to think about the process of learning, making meaning, and the way that something mediates the pathway to another thing
- How we have a thought in our mind that links to the landscape that links to a memory of a past event
- You’re looking at layers of knowledge and interpretation that break down this idea of memory as a pure truth
- In terms of the artwork I am looking at, it’s really a case of applying these philosophical positions to the images
- Why are you showing us these photographs – what do they function as?
- The landscape in a European context is almost like a photograph, it’s removed from us, it’s observed like the photograph (from Simon Schama)
- Remove the blank slides – people can multi-task
- In terms of visual aids, you could just show an image of the landscape
- As long as it is given context through what you’re saying at the time
- You use an image like you use a quote, it solidifies and evidences what you’re saying
- An image is like a gift to a visual audience – it helps break up the philosophical theory that you’re presenting to them
- There are other philosophical positions that you can put out there
- Even when the initial memory is construed, when you’re there in the present having this experience, how you’re interpreting that information is so different to someone stood next to you
- Think about all of these points when you re-read your draft – where can you play the devils advocate?
- Read it like it’s not your writing and like you’re marking it
- Looking at the title:
- Look through the books that your accessing and you may find some really poetic sentence or phrase that you can use as your title – just switch word around and make it appropriate for your work
- I’m not so sure that you’re dealing with remembrance
- I think what you’re talking about is more like a mediation – the way that photography can map out or locate the traces of the past
- Do a bit of a mind-map – look into the words that you’re exploring and put them together in a poetic way