Assignment 4: Rewritten following feedback

Following feedback, I have taken the suggestions Wendy made and rewritten sections, as well as taken out references which might underpin the argument – but due to space needed to be condensed into much simpler and shorter ideas. I think it is clearer now. (draft version for now)

Assignment 4 Self & Other Rewritten (2) following feedback


Feedback: Assignment 4

In summary, the feedback I received from Wendy was that I had very good ideas but needed to distill the essay as it covered too much in 2500 words, which I think I probably knew. So I will spend the next few days relooking at it along with the artists that were mentioned.

Sarah-Jane Feild_assn_4_S_&_O_photography tutor report form

We also looked at various ideas I have for A5 and Wendy suggested looking at some related artists, also listed in the feedback above.

Assignment 4: Critical Essay

We were given a choice of questions mostly focused on photography and self. I requested to change the essay title and was given permission. My justification is in the reflection at the end.

 Discuss the blurring of self and other within the work of one or more visual artists of your choosing

Assignment 4 Self & Other web version



A4: Essay plan and ideas

For A4 we are required to write an essay. Two questions which I am considering from A4 are

  • What is your understanding of self and what bearing does your personal use of photography have upon it? Or

  • Discuss the blurring of self and other within the work of a photographer of our choosing.


If I focus on the first of those questions I will invariably cover some aspects of the second based on what I have learned from my reading and may then refer to any artists as examples.

I managed to summarise, extremely briefly, some ideas I will try to bring together in a reply to Teresa Lanham when chatting to her online about her own course. Here is a marginally longer version of what I wrote:

I aim to include ideas from writers such as Julian Baggini who I quote a lot, and who writes about the illusion of a fixed self. He brings ideas and research together to describe an illusion that emerges from a bundle of mechanisms in order for us to function, to get from A to B, to feed ourselves, etc. Carlo Rovelli is a physicist who redefines reality and explains it as a network, which is a word that is very current and used to describe the digital age as well – which in itself affects the way we perceive selves and others. I have quoted him often recently as he’s so infectious with his enthusiasm as a writer it is hard not to. I LOVE this quote: “The nature of man is not his internal structure but the network of personal, familial and social interaction with which he exists. It is these which ‘make’ us, which guard us. As humans, we are that which others know of us, that which we know of ourselves, and that which others know about our knowledge. We are complex nodes in a rich web of reciprocal information”. “Reality is Not What It Seems” (2016; p227)

I will somehow need to bring some art crit recognisable names in, and I think Barthes’ Death of An Author is relevant since he explores the idea of a disintegrating sense of ‘fixedness’ in our language, explored in art through appropriation and fragmentation from Dada onwards. Hirsh’s Family Frames looks at Lacan’s image screen which is certainly worth looking at – Unconcious Optics (chapter 4).

Quanta mechanics  – quanta computing leads to greater possibility for post-language  – already we have experiments and early models of this – see discussed in UVC A5 -“Facebook (Sabin, 2017) and Elon Musk (Chen, 2017) are both experimenting with digitally transferred thoughts between people using software” pg 13. Resource and links to further info here: If this happens where does self and other start and begin, what happens to notions of absence and presence?

This is a quote from my UVC A5 (2017). I am going to look into this a bit more:

“Lately, scholars, according to Amanda Bell of The Chicago School of Media have been looking ‘beyond binaried distinctions’ due to human integration with technology. She quotes Katherine Hayles, author of How We Became Post Human (1999), who says, in a paradigm where there is an integrated interface between humans and technology, “…there is no difference between computer simulation and corporeal existence”.

How does this affect my photography… I can discuss Lacan image screen if necessary as far as portraiture goes but I am more interested in the sort of work I am aiming to make going forward which is about this, in the first instance because technology is of course very interesting as we humans come to terms with it. But beneath the surface of all of that is another interest: The enmeshment of two people in an unhealthy relationship – no technology needed at all and yet it happens. How does someone with narcissistic traits manage to envelop an other and infiltrate his/her person; how does the person being enveloped stop his or herself from doing this? We describe people in relationships as ‘your other half’ and it is usual for people to become a unit especially when they are together in a good enough relationship. And in fact as mothers we do something very similar in order to care for our children – this article describes the neurobiology of love for a partner and a child and says: “It is noteworthy, from the point of view of ‘‘unity-in-love’’, that one feature of mentalizing in terms of the ‘theory of mind’ is to distinguish between self and others, with the potential of ascribing different sets of beliefs and de-sires to others and to oneself. To obtain an imagined ‘‘unity-in-love’’, so that the self and the other are merged, this process of mentalizing, and thus distinguishing between self and the other, must be rendered inactive.” (2017, pg 2577) 

If nothing else this article shows us how the brain must operate in order to recognize the difference between “I” and “You”. E (nearly 14) mixed up I and you when he was a toddler. He spoke early, before his peers, before Lacan’s mirror image process had been resolved. “You want I to read”, he would say. The above process seems like it was immature to the point of muddling, in his language, at any rate, any sense of separation. 

To read or reread:

Death of An Author 

Katherine Hayles, author of How We Became Post Human (1999)

Lacan – image screen in Hirsh’s Family Frames and elsewhere

…as well as the links above



Please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Your essay must be situated within a theoretical framework. It is suggested that you draw from the essays, theories and books outlined within this course.
  • Your essay should be 2,500 words, +/- 10% excluding quotes
  • Include a cover page with the title and a word count, including and excluding quotations and any footnotes.
  • Include examples to illustrate your discussion and list your sources in a list of illustrations at the front of your essay.
  • Your essay should be fully referenced and include a bibliography and the end. Follow the guide to academic referencing on the student website
  • Your essay should be in a standard font and 1.5 or double-lined spaced.
  • You may include additional material (primary research, correspondence) with appendices at the end if you wish.

Notes: A3 & A4 Blurring of Self and Other

  • A key concern in today’s social climate is difference as people focus on religion, skin colour, language, place of birth – as resources seem under threat due to climate change, resulting wars, economic struggles etc.
  • Similar concerns for economic reasons were seen in the run up to the second world war and with particular reference to the Holocaust (see end of Family Frames)
  • Therefore, any work that potentially deals with similarity, commonality between individuals and groups is political, even if it doesn’t immediately seem so
  • Research – perhaps post-war work (Giacometti, think of others that specifically deal with humanity) and work today that is attempting to explore difference, identity
  • What are potential objections to such a project (and they do indeed come from both left and right ideologies)?
  • Perhaps look at colonialism (heavily explored in course document in parts 1 and 2)
  • First person action research – living life as an inquiry? How to incorporate this? How to make this clear? How this affects what I’m looking at and how? Why this approach?
  • Ever since Darwin told the world about evolution (and even before that when we learned the earth was not the centre of the universe) white western man has been faced with coming to terms that the triangle of being is/was an unreliable and constructed dichotomy. Modern scientific theories go much further and reality is looked afresh, resulting in fundamental questions about what a self is, and therefore how other relate. Semiotics – essentially the study of linguistic categorisation might show us this flux
  • What artists are looking at this? And how?

Research: Useful links


Thinking forward to A4:

Write a critical essay in response to ONE of the following questions:

  • What is your understanding of self and what bearing does your personal use of photography have upon it?
  • How does the visual work of Rosy Martin, informed by psychotherapeutic theory, link personal memory to the construction of self?
  • Discuss the blurring of self and other within the work of a photographer of your choosing
  • What are the dangers in representing people other than your-self?
  • Using case studies, discuss whether single images can ever fairly represent others or self?
  • Your essay must be situated within a theoretical framework. It is suggested that you draw from the essays, theories and books outlined within this course.

I am likely to write about something to do with the word ‘feminism’, and collecting information which might be useful here. This will tie in with the work I plan for A3, which in some ways leads on from A2 and much of the work I have done prior to starting S&O. I am interested in the phrase the ‘digital feminist’. I suspect I can link this to the single image question above quite neatly. As well as some of the essays we are asked to look at in the course it will be useful to research elsewhere. Below are a couple of useful bits and pieces I have come across online recently. I will also interview a young  girl I have photographed, who models and received several A*, has a place at university which she has deferred and who thinks of herself as a feminist.

Thread about capital and sex:


A possible influence image wise –

Myths surrounding matriarchial goddess prehistory  –

See reports of ape’s finding symbols useful to distance themselves from low impulse control but be wary of lack of rigorous research methods as  – below for accurate reporting of various research programmes.