The energy that has gone into creating this work has to be admired and quality has not been sacrificed to quantity. The images indicate that you were comfortable working within the selected environment and that you established an empathy with the subjects. The work can be viewed as a series of individual portraits of dog owners or as a photo-essay. It works quite well from either viewpoint. The approach is straightforward and there is a good continuity of narrative in the work. The old refrain that dogs and their owners start to look alike surfaced the more I viewed the work but not taken too seriously. There are different levels of meaning inherent in the work and refreshingly an understated sense of humour pervades the piece.
Overall a comprehensive piece of work that engages an interest in the subject matter.
Feedback based on Learning Outcomes
The work submitted for this assignment is a comprehensive portrait record of different dog owners and their pets. There are elements of the in the work that suggest broader issues of social and cultural behaviour. Although these issues are not necessarily specifically dealt with the viewer may be prompted to consider the sheer number of dogs that inhabit the same space as ourselves. This is before we even consider the position of cats in our society. The impact that these pets can have on our environment, issues of ownership and power, status symbols and the ill treatment of animals all might be construed from the work. The current dog population of the UK is estimated to be 12 million with a multi-billion-pound industry to support it. However, the work also considers the degree to which these pets may create an egalitarian community of owners if only on a temporary basis.
The work that you have presented is very engaging. Although you have selected a number of final images, I was taken with the page that showed all 100 images. I could see these images being displayed on the wall of a gallery or in various multiple combinations. In the learning log you have considered various visual outcomes for the work and I was particularly intrigued by the images that included your partner in the background. The ambiguity of this figure, not noticeable at a first glance, begins to stimulate a sense of uneasiness. Perhaps even a sense of being stalked. Yet, who is being stalked the background figure, the photographer or the subject? I was reminded of the unease that is experienced in some of Sophie Calles work specifically of Suite Vénitienne .
The work is technically proficient in applying techniques to visualise your ideas. You have produced a broad selection of contacts. Two of the images on these that I liked were first the woman with the light blue coat and her dog with a similar coat. The second is the extraordinary image of the woman carrying the dog on her back in what appears to be a transparent plastic capsule. It reminded me of Laika in her orbiting tomb.
You have engaged extensively with all the prescribed exercises. You have contemplated within a critical context various aspects and issues arising from contemporary practice as outlined in this module. There is evidence of relevant research that you have reflected upon and all work is appropriately referenced. The image that you produced for the Personality exercise is good. The first line description that you gave of your personality is harsh but who knows? I liked the phrase that you used My self-perception is more as an assemblage of symptoms than a personality (sic). The medical examination images that you included are honest and potent. They reminded me of Jo Spence’s work.
In exercise 3.3 you make an interesting statement Because the technology of photography was not yet available to the general public, the poor had no means of ‘fighting back ‘ in this way until their cause was taken up by individuals. As will be shown in other examples, the increasing availability of affordable equipment subsequently gave agency to struggling sectors of society. It might be worth considering whether the Brownie Box Camera did allow the poor to fight back. The possibilities for taking images might have been available but to access the outlets for these images would have been negligible. The groups that tended to be able to access the media of the day where the middle class with better equipment, time, contacts and education .
Your synopsis of photography in warfare is good and suggests opportunities for ideas that can be developed in future course units. You mention briefly that the freedom of the contemporary press has been curtailed and of course there is nothing new in this state of affairs. It might be useful to reflect upon the Falklands War and the blatant censorship that was fed as news on a daily basis .
Overall, this has been a good submission of work with evidence of strong research and reflection upon it. Your approach to photographing people as in other projects has been professional and empathic.
Focus on research for development of future projects. Consider a range of alternative methods for presentation. Take opportunities when possible to carry out primary research.
1. Mrs. B had seen her inadvertant rôle as heroically Hitchcockian rather than one of victimhood.
2. I comment on this within Exc. 3.3.
3. I have added this to Exc. 3.3.