352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Interview with my Dad Experiment

As you may have seen within a one-to-one tutorial that I had with Caroline Molloy on 11th February (please see blog post entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 6 (Practitioner Talk and a Group Tutorial with David Rule, and a One-to-One Tutorial with Caroline Molloy)”), she suggested that I should consider conducting an oral interview with my Dad in order to verbally document the past memories that I am planning on exploring throughout my FMP. On Thursday 9th April 2015, I therefore decided to conduct and interview with my Dad where we discussed Grandpa as an individual, as well as our personal memories behind the Lake District locations I am documenting throughout my project (more information regarding this can be found below), in order to see if the use of this interview audio was relevant to use within my FMP, either through it’s inclusion in my final piece or as an accompanying aspect to any future experiment (for example, video).

As suggested above, although the idea of conducting this experiment stemmed from a suggested made by lecturer Caroline Molloy, I was also inspired to undertake this experiment through numerous resources that I came across throughout my research (including the work of Melanie Friend where she incorporates sound to accompany her images, as well as the video by Jane and Louise Wilson – please see my “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Technical Research” blog post). However, the main reason behind the undertaking of this particular audio experiment was to provide me with research into my family history (that could be used to provide context for my project), inspiration as to the memories I wish to discuss in the accompanying text aspect of my final piece, to explore academic, psychological theories that I have researched into regarding memories (please see the blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Academic Research”), and, as previously suggested, in order to provide me with auditory data that I could later experiment with regarding its inclusion within my final piece or future experimentations.

Below you can find the notes about the “Interview” experiment (including the equipment and methodology that I used), followed by the edited audio from the interview and a reflection regarding the use of the technique within my FMP:

 


 

Equipment:

  • Edirol R09 Collection (including headphones, microphone and cables)
  • Prepared interview questions/sections to discuss – PDF OF PREPARATION
  • Dad!

 


 

Methodology:

For the methodology of this particular experiment, I considered a number of variables in order to allow me to try and capture the audio at a professional standard. This section therefore simply bullet-points some of the factors I considered, why I decided to incorporate different sections within the interview, and the general technique I underwent on the day:

  • The first aspect that I considered was who I wanted to interview within this particular experiment
    • Although it may seem relatively straightforward, I decided to interview my Dad as a way of sticking with the original “semi-collaborative” aspect of the project (discussed within both versions of my proposal – please see the blog posts “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Original Proposal” and “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Revised Proposal”), as well as enhancing the idea of reconnection throughout my project because Grandpa was my Dad’s Father (thus emphasizing the “generational” aspect of the project, as also suggested in my original proposal)
  • As for the general methodology that I used throughout this particular interview, although you will not be able to tell from the audio pieces I have included below, prior to conducting the experiment I used the Edirol equipment to test a number of different rooms within the house in order to see which one provided the better quality audio (with minimal or no echo’s)
    • I then also took time experimenting with the equipment to see whether using of the microphone or the recording device on the actual Edirol equipment would provide the better quality audio – after this experimentation, I noticed that the in-built microphone on the actual Edirol equipment actually picked up more noise in relation to our voices and so I decided to simply use this rather than the accompanying microphone
    • After I had chosen the room which provided the better quality audio, I then made sure to put the Edirol equipment on a cushion on the table that we were using, as a way of trying to reduce the echo that was provided by the hard, slate table
    • Finally, in regards to the equipment, I also had to put the Edirol on it’s highest input, and although the peaks of the audio didn’t hit between ½ and ¾ of the way along the scale (which is suggested – please see the primary research I conducted into the equipment in my “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Equipment and Editing Software Research” blog post), this was the highest quality I could achieve (both with and without the separate microphone) and therefore decided to simply edit the volume in post-production (please see more detail below)
  • As you will see from the embedded (full version) interview I’ve included below, I also tried to make the interview seem more like a discussion rather than an interrogation, in order to enhance the viewers understanding of our personal relationship, thus emphasizing the generational and reconnecting aspect this interview provides my FMP
  • Also, as you will see from the preparation sheet I included above (as well as the embedded (full version) interview below), I decided to split the discussion into two main sections; the first, as suggested above, was where we discussed the background and our memories of Grandpa as an individual, and the second was where we discussed our personal memories of Grandpa in relation to the specific locations I am documenting throughout the project
    • With regards to the general background and memory discussion surrounding Grandpa as an individual, I wanted to include this section within the interview as I thought it could provide not only the viewer, but also myself, with a contextualized understanding as to the memories I recall and the reasoning’s behind the projects creation
    • As for the section where we discussed our memories of Grandpa in relation to the places in the Lake District that I am photographing, I decided to include this within the interview because, not only was it the main aspect that I was exploring for my FMP, but, as stated above, it also provided me with inspiration as to the memories I wish to discuss in the accompanying text aspect of my final piece, as well as the opportunity to explore academic, psychological theories that I have researched into regarding memories
  • Finally, in relation to the editing of this particular audio piece, using the Adobe Audition software, I experimented with increasing the volume to an appropriate level (because, as suggested above, I wasn’t able to achieve the suggested input level), before removing aspects of the audio that had either picked up distracting background noise, or pieces of the interview that I thought were irrelevant to the ideas currently being discussed/my FMP
    • As you will see from the embedded interview sections below, I also decided to edit the interview into a variety of versions, including the full length interview, and different sections where we discussed the memories we had of Grandpa in association to the specific locations
      • This was because, although I thought the beginning section where we discussed the general background and memories we have of Grandpa would provide the viewer with a contextualized understanding surrounding the project, I felt that the whole interview was far too long to include within an exhibition setting and, as I will most likely only be showing a section of my collection within the exhibition, I thought it would be helpful for me to divide the interview up into separate parts so that I could then use the appropriate section to accompany the relevant images

 


 

Experiment Audio:

Interview (Full Version):

 

Interview (Individual Sections):

 


 

After-Thoughts and Reflection:

When listening back to the edited (full version) interview, although we both seemed relatively nervous at the beginning of the discussion and became more comfortable as the interview progressed, through the topics that we discussed and the general quality of the audio, I personal think that this experiment was a success. After completing this experiment, I personally thought that it was very interesting to hear my Grandpa’s background, followed by a variation of subjective memories surrounding the same events, as this not only provided evidence of some of the psychological theories I have explored within my research, but also provided the personal memories with a greater contextualization surrounding the reason’s behind why we only remembered certain aspects.

With all of this being said, however, I personally do not feel that this particular recorded interview would be strong enough as an individual piece and, as suggested above (from the inspiration that I gained through conducting research into Melanie Friend and Jane and Louise Wilson’s work), I think that the use of this audio as an accompanying factor to either a future experiment (for example, a video) or within my final piece, will enhance the pieces contextualization, thus increasing the audiences understanding and accessibility to my project. Nevertheless, taking this into account, I feel like the full version of the interview would best accompany a (lengthy) video piece (due to the research I conducted on the Wilson’s), whereas the shorter, edited down sections, would be useful to use to accompany singular images because, as suggested above, I will most likely only be showing a section of my collection within the exhibition.

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