Produce a story with a social theme. Your project should combine portraits, objects and spaces to describe your subject matter. You should produce between 8 – 12 images to demonstrate an ethical practice.
My assignment originated as part of a collaborative project made with Keith Greenough and John Umney, presented at Oxford House in Bethnal Green. I did not intend to submit it here originally but since doing so, I’ve compiled a background page, where I discuss my research ideas and various influences which informed the work. For more information, an ongoing record, and greater detail visit my Sketchbook blog.
On this page, I have included copies of the images which are in the exhibition. You can click on the images to see get a closer look. However, here is a link to a slideshow of the work too and you can click on these to see EXIF data should you wish (except for the one of Honor in the darkness with the blue light – see further down). Here is a contact sheet.
At the bottom of this page is the reflection required by the OCA.
The images are presented on this page closely resembling how they are situated on the wall – except for the fact the three seperate acts should be placed horizontally.
1. A central or focal point.
2. A connection or series of connections linking two or more things.
Ever since Oxford House was founded in 1884 by Keble College, University of Oxford, it has been a nexus for the residents in and around Bethnal Green. Initially conceived to “alleviate or remove the impact of poverty to the local community”, its history is rich and fascinating, and its connections with the surrounding area remain as significant as ever today.
Oxford House Nexus is a photographic exhibition which explores social relationships between Oxford House and its dynamic community across time. It is a collaboration between Sarah-Jane Field, Keith Greenough and John Umney.
Sarah-Jane Field’s work celebrates social progression and explores underlying assumptions we may have about education in general.
Keith Greenough’s photographs are a quiet tribute to the historic public buildings in Bethnal Green including Oxford House which have helped to shape the community’s collective history for more than a century.
John Umney gathers traces and marks from within the confines of Keble College as evidence of a sense of purpose and re-habituates these within contemporary Oxford House.
The exhibition runs from 10th-29th November 2017. All proceeds from the sales of prints will go to Oxford House to help fund the restoration of its historic building.
Sarah-Jane Field, Keith Greenough, John Umney November 2017
Honor’s Dance, a photographic performance in three acts in which Honor plays herself, prompts us to compare and contrast people and the social environment of the late 1800s with our own era.
Honor, a local 13-year-old dancer, spends a significant amount of time each week at a ballet school based in Oxford House. As a home educated student, she is very different to the men and boys the founders of Oxford House were targeting.
Her regular presence at Oxford House evokes thoughts about education, any influence the industrial revolution still has on it, a future where technology will become increasingly integrated within our everyday lives, perhaps reconfiguring all that we are; and how teaching practice can best serve generations to come.
Sarah-Jane Field November 2017
Honor’s Dance is a further collaboration within the overall exhibition. This work could not have been realised without Honor’s enthusiasm and support. Thanks are also owed to Honor’s mother, Sally, and to the rest of her family; to the Lisa Gilbert Academy of Ballet; and to the staff at Oxford House; for their support and involvement.
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skill
I discussed the use of digital compared to film with a fellow photographer who came to see this work – I can just imagine older generations of photographers wince at what I’m about to say. I said I felt that I would have been unlikely to take the same risks as I did with this work if I’d used film. I refer specifically to the Central Act as the First and Final ones were less tricky. It was very dark in the theatre where we worked and I had to follow Honor who was moving very quickly with a very wide aperture, relatively high ISO and hardly any light. I like that digital gave me that freedom. This quote from a review of Andrej Lamut’s Nokturno by Douglas Stockdale is extremely important to me; “I believe that they (performance photographs) are the complete opposite of straight photography. What generates meaning in these images are the performative actions made by the artist. This kind of actions have an impact or an effect on visual and physical appearance of the artwork. The essence of performative photography is not what is depicted on an image, but which acts were executed in the process of creating it. Furthermore, the final artwork itself becomes performative by having some sort of impact on the viewer” (2017) Having taken a lot of images for this section, many of which were blurry or of nothing, I chose ones that worked within the context of the collaborative project. I think it would be interesting to make similar work in its own right and keep the less ‘constructed images’.
I learned about soft proofing and print profiles. The largest image (Central Act, Key image) was printed commercially and I used de-noising software because of its size and the low light/high ISO – Perhaps I prefer the final outcome but it’s still not quite right and actually ought to have used the same process for all the images. But I quite like the noise in the other images and was simply worried it would be too much in a large print (A1) – making her look dirty. When I see the difference I think about the importance of consistency. See the very first version here and compare to the most up to date below. You can see although I chose to leave the small fleck of light above her head I cloned out the bulb in the corner which was quite detracting (as well as distracting). This image was edited in way I am not used to. I generally use Lightroom only wherever possible, and tend to do very little in terms of de-noising, resizing in Photoshop etc.
The images I ended up choosing may not all hang together as well as they might, but I believe they are aesthetically pleasing. However, I know that some might not have opted for the largest key image, as one of her hands is chopped halfway off, or they might have cleaned up the blue line in the top section, but I deliberately chose to leave these.
Quality of Outcome, Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, with discernment. Conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.
There are so many ideas informing this work and there is no way I can possibly convey them all without turning the whole thing into a lesson, a lecture, or something it was never meant to be. It is not straight-documentary. I had the idea of making a linked webpage to some of my research as part of the work to clarify everything, but I felt this would result in hectoring the viewers, which is not my intention.
Saying that I do think this work is not quite as cohesive as it might be. I’m on my way to finding a style here (as opposed to a voice although I think I am on my way with that too) but I’ve not quite made it. I feel like I need to take more risks in opening up the possibilities for interpretation, offering the viewer/reader, even more opportunity to construct meaning. I sense this might be the opposite of advice I could receive.
I chose the final images in a haze of busyness and under pressure to get things printed. I would have preferred the luxury of a longer space between shoot and edit. But things were as they had to be. However, I did simplify when editing. I deliberately rejected the outdoor images so that everything, the whole dance, was inside, directly linked to the building. John’s series were linked to the past. Keith’s to other buildings. And mine simply to Honor inside the building we were making work in relation to.
I was very lucky to have John and Keith supporting me. I learned a great deal about everything including sizing which I’ve always been a bit vague on. John printed for me as I don’t have the equipment to do it myself. But more than that, we made decisions about presentation together. I wanted more chaos, John reigned me in. I wanted to take risks and he encouraged me, even when it wouldn’t have been his chosen path. Keith organisational skills are terrific and he was always very patient. I was glad to go with the same framing decisions as others, even though initially, and had money not been an issue, I would have loved to do fewer images but printed on aluminum.
I was asked in the assignment to provide images of objects and spaces as well as portraits.
- John and Keith provided those aspects of the overall project. I linked my images to theirs; for instance, John photographed marks made by the many people who used Keble House and signs of age, and I captured marks on the walls or the rotting paintwork in Oxford House. Keith photographed spaces in Oxford House and I chose to photograph Honor dancing in the exact spots too. I could have focused more on abstract details and included such images in my edit but I felt it was being covered already. Had the work not been a collaboration I probably would have done so, as I did in TAOP 4.
Here are images of their work to demonstrate:
- In TAOP I was asked to provide images of an object and I photographed myself referring to Kleinien Object Relations Theory and I wonder if it is possible to do so here, albeit the other way around. As I described in the background post: “The intense exploration of a self, not physically mine, but certainly a proxy for mine; however, also I hope a proxy for all young women who have or who are aiming for something meaningful. So yes, it is narcissistic but in the Lacanian mirror stage sense, as an exploration of separate elements that we conceive of as a whole. I was reminded of a comment which I quoted in A4 of UVC made by Arnaud Claass, an artist who also teaches art history at l’École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie, in Arles in an article about Isabelle Mège. “It is definitely a project of narcissism, and I do not use that word in a moral or pathological way. Some people have to explore that side of themselves more than others.” (Heyward, 2016) which I followed with “…we must dispense with a layman’s interpretation of ‘narcissism’ and comprehend it in its academic sense, which is about the development of ego and an ability to recognise the self as whole, as well as
seeing(from) separate others” (Field, 2016)” (2017)
I am concerned about how to convey this work for submission. As it was a shown in a building perhaps I will need to make a short video or a PDF book.
Demonstration of Creativity, Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.
I hope this can be seen as creative. I was pleased with some feedback which demonstrated that at least one person had recognised the way I had used images to try to make something genuinely performative. I am not there yet, but I do feel I am now heading in the right direction.
I did experiment. It did not always work. I thought about emulating the Eikoh Hosoe images and despite Keith saying about one which I posted online, “Did you have more? It was brilliant!”, I felt these images did not succeed as well as they might have done and describe my feelings on the Assignment Background page. There are several examples towards the end here on this unedited collection page. In fact, I did consider (in a state of mild panic) adding one street image to the collection as some kind of full stop to the series, but John and I discussed it and I was persuaded not to. I must say I am pleased as I think the image is perfectly OK but not part of this series.
Context, Reflection, research (evidenced in learning logs). Critical thinking (evidenced in critical review).
I hope the exercises demonstrate this well enough. I was not intending initially to submit this work so the written work on the Sketchbook blog might be a bit sporadic. Hopefully, the Background post makes up for this. I miss Understanding Visual Culture and enjoyed that side of things very much, so am looking forward to A4.
Images (aside from John Umney’s and Keith Greenough’s) (c)SJField 2017
Field, S. Greenough, K. Umney, J. 2017. Oxford House Nexus, (statement, press release and handout) Oxford House Nexus_Press Release
Field. S. 2017 Assignment 2 Background http://www.sarahjanefield.co.uk/Unsequenced-Nexus-Images-/n-2GGXLV/i-WD4G4tk/A [Accessed 13 Nov. 2017]
Field, S. 2017 Eikoh Hosoe https://ocasjf.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/artist-eikoh-hosoe/ [Accessed 12 Nov.2017]
Field, S. 2017 TAOP A4 My Mother’s Name is Eve https://sarahjanefield.photoshelter.com/gallery/A4-Light-My-mothers-name-is-Eve/G00006tVjPmA7_FI/C0000pCyiOIGdl_A [Acessed 13 Nov. 2017]
Stockdale, D. 2017Adrej Lamut – Nokturno Blog review https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/39957/posts/1584980112 [Accessed 12 Nov. 2017].