352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 4 (Practitioner Talk and a Group Tutorial with Emma Critchley)

On Wednesday 28th January 2015, I attended a day of university dedicated to the 352MC Professional Photographic Practice module. Similar to the structure of last week, we started the day off with a practitioner talk by another new mentor, Emma Critchley, before splitting into group tutorials that were lead by her, in order to discuss our FMP. Below you can find all the notes from today:

Emma Critchley Practitioner Talk:


  • Finished her BA course in 2004 in Brighton
  • On her BA course when she started working underwater
  • Works with photography and moving image
  • Comes from a photography/stills background but has progressed to moving image
  • Took a gap year before her final year where she learnt to dive – which is when she came very interested in the underwater world
  • Did a marine supplementary course because she wanted to get underwater again
  • It’s the experience of working in the place that interested here – everything changes when you’re underwater
    • What happens when everything changes in this environment? – including light, texture, smell, sight, etc.


  • Portraits 2004
    • Based on resinance photos
    • They look like you understand them but then you begin to relaise that the expression looks slightly different – they are underwater

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


  • Portraits
    • Very interested in the idea of an individuals breath
    • She started working with free divers a lot as they can control their breathing to remain underwater for long periods of time
    • Photographed an individual through her process of holding her breath underwater
    • She looked into the relationship between the breath and the mind – looked into the pysicallity of breath and it’s relation to consciousness

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


  • Single Shared Breath
    • Looked into the breath and the idea that it is a link between people – everyone is sharing their breath
    • They are passing a single breath between each other
    • Loved the idea of using a kiss – it soon turns into a dependency, a resuscitation technique
      • It’s a very intimate process

Video – http://www.emmacritchley.com/work/single-shared-breath/


  • Reflection
    • Interested in the idea of him being immersed in his underwater world, looking into our world
    • Looks into the surface of the two worlds
    • He doesn’t actually see the reflection in the image – she’s looking into the differing gazes
    • The reflection is a reflection of his mind state
    • The figure is always one-to-one – it’s a realistic size
    • Scale is really important when looking into the relationship the viewer has with the image

Video – http://www.emmacritchley.com/work/reflection/


  • Surface
    • Looks at the idea that the surface of the water is the boundary between two worlds
    • Looks into how the environment around us affects our bodies and how our bodies affect our surrounding
    • Water is always moving – it can reflect our mental state
    • There’s something about the boundary of the body that can disappear when immersed in water
    • It’s this process of turning our bodies inside out

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


  • Heartbeat
    • Thinking about our relationship with the environment around us and how when we are underwater our attention to this heightens due to the denseness of the space
    • Liv goes underwater, and her heartbeat triggers a flash
    • This shows the result of her being in this underwater environment

Video – http://www.emmacritchley.com/work/heartbeat/


  • Figures of Speech” – Series 1 and 2
    • Part of a residency she did in Singapore
    • Looks into this idea of how language today can be lost between cultures
    • The evolution of language has many theories as it was never written down
    • One theory is that we develop language based on the echoes that were provided by the environment around us
    • Literally someone speaking underwater and she’s isolated the speech itself
    • Speech exists and it’s performative
    • Interested in our need for communication and our desire to find a meaning in everything – although their literal meaning has been lost, we still try to find meaning in them
    • In the second collection, she decided to keep the individuals within the image to make it more about the portrait

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.


  • There is nothing…
    • Language comes primarily from the senses
    • This is a futile attempt to communicate with us underwater

Video – http://www.emmacritchley.com/work/there-is-nothing/


  • Aria
    • Going back to the idea between breath being a link between the internal and the external
    • Interested in how the breath moves within their bodies and the external world
    • It is the idea of synchronizing breathes through the combination of represented breath within free diving and soprano singing
    • The shipping container signified the immersion in a separate world – you are aware of the space but only slightly

Video – http://www.emmacritchley.com/work/aria/

Aria Installment


  • Resonance
    • She found an underwater environment that architecturally echoed the room she installed it in
    • She extends one space into another
    • We subconsciously aware of the space through the echo of a space and this is what she is looking at within this project
    • We loose our sonic orientation underwater
    • Started working with pure soundwaves – they found the natural frequencies of the room itself and created a piece of work with the sounds that they found within the room

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


  • Waters Meet: Breath
    • Looks at the relationship between sound and space
    • We draw conclusions based on the information we are provided with – it challenges our initial thoughts as the piece progresses

Video – http://www.emmacritchley.com/work/waters-meet-breath/




Group Tutorial with Emma Critchley:

During this group tutorial, we took it in turns to discuss our FMP ideas with Emma Critchley in order to gain more feedback for the development of our ideas. Deciding to go first, I simply explained the gist of my project, before telling her about my first test shoot development (including reasons why I experimented with different techniques – please see in my “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Research and Development” blog post for more information), as well as my idea to incorporate text within my final exhibition piece. The notes that I took from this session can be found below:

(Please note that italics portray the information provided by Emma Critchley)


Through the conclusion of my first test shoot with the Mamiya RB67 and Mamiya 7, whilst looking at both the practicality and photographic quality provided by the cameras, I found that the Mamiya 7 offered me with better quality images:

  • Why do you think they provided you with better quality images? – I think it was something to do with the compositional aspect of the image; as you have to look down onto the Mamiya RB67 to compose an image, I feel that the composition of the landscape becomes distorted, through the perspective it is shot at, which flattens the landscape slightly


I also mentioned that I am planning on documenting the performative, semi-collaborational aspect of the project by taking Polaroid images of the process I undergo with my father

  • Documenting the experience of the process and the representation of your memories through the landscape are two completely different aspects of the project, but they are definitely both worth exploring


Talking about my idea of incorporating text within my final piece (including techniques I’m planning on experimenting with) also lead on to loads of suggestions about the development of this particular feature of the project:

  • You need to spend as much time on the writing aspect of the project as you do on taking the images – it is such an important section as this is the access point for the viewer in understanding your personal project
  • You also need to consider how you are displaying the text with the image – a book will provide a completely different viewing experience to images and written text mounted on a wall; books will allow you to control the viewing experience more than wall installations as this will provide the audience the opportunity to take in all of the information at individual points
  • You should definitely take time to experiment with the style of text – are you going to create long written pieces, poems, or will it work with fragmented sections of text?
    • This idea of fragmented text can be used to symbolize the theories behind fragmented memories!
  • You also need to experiment with the language in the text – are you going to be reflective or will you immerse yourself in the past moment by writing in the persona you had at the time of the event?
    • I was thinking about writing in the style that would represent the age I was at the time of the memory in order to show the extent of the personal aspect of the project and symbolize that I can recall memories from many years ago – this could also show the progression of the project itself
    • However, I do think this is a very valid point that will need to be considered within the development and experimentation of my project
  • You need to consider how to make it more assessable to the viewer – the project has a very personal meaning behind it, which is good, but you need to be able to make it understandable and relatable for the viewer; as I previously stated, the incorporation of text will help with providing them the opportunity to gain context and understanding


Artists to look into: 

Martha Rosler’s “The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems”


Andrey A. Tarkovsky’s “Instant Light Tarkovsky Polaroids”