2. Feedback

Received 3 April 2020

I really like your witty and original approach to this assignment.

After a considerable amount of thought (your workings and research are well documented in your submission) you’ve developed a series of works entitled Forbidden Zones. For this assignment, you have focused on a variety of places where – for one reason or another -photography is forbidden.

‘The targets were: a cinema screen, a museum and a church where photography is not allowed, a public toilet, a photographer’s market stall, a magistrates’ court and the House of Commons. It was hoped to round the series off by ‘stealing’ a shot of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London, but this proved impossible.’

I think this idea is really good one and definitely worth pursuing further to refine and complete.  I don’t think the existing edit of your images really does your idea justice (at the moment there is too much disparity in your original edit).  However, I think you can really strengthen your edit to better reflect your intention and research and I will advise on how to do this in this report and during our one-to-one session.

 In your current edit, you have ranged between landscape and portrait format, shooting with your spy camera in a variety of different ways. Most of the images are shot in quite different ways –  a couple of the images are also heavily blurred (you explain in your feedback this is because the dubious legality of your subject).

It is  very difficult to produce a coherent set of images ranging so widely across a difference types of subjects –  if you were to isolate each theme from your project i.e. a set or short series of images of gents toilets or court rooms or cinemas this would I think be more successful.

When we see each of these subjects separated in this way, they will hang together more successfully in terms of subject matter. Do look at American photographer Merry Alpern’s 1995 surveillance project Dirty Windowshttp://www.artnet.com/artists/merry-alpern/
This project was shot using a telephoto lens from one high-rise building looking over into the window of another skyscraper on Wall Street.  one small part of this building – unseen to anybody other than somebody with a telephoto lens – was a city brothel. Merry Alpern produced a celebrated series of works using then traditional surveillance techniques to produce a critique on the underbelly of the city.  If we move quickly forward by 40  years, we can see that the landscape for surveillance photography has radically changed – Looking at the work of Trevor Paglen: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/nov/25/trevor-paglen-art-in-age-of-mass-surveillance-drones-spy-satellites.
Paglen often uses military grade surveillance lenses to critique the way in which we know use surveillance to control our borders. Surveillance itself – particularly in the digital age – is a hugely rich area of research and something that many photographers are now interested in exploring.  You’ve written up your workings and your experiments very well for this assignment and your research is good.  Before your next submission I would recommend writing you one or two blog posts on one or more of the photographers I’ve recommended also re-editing your final selection of your assignment to clearly reflect the amount of work and originality that has gone on the thinking for assignment two.

Student feedback

Hi Wendy

Thank you for another positive tutorial. There were four action items:

1. Contact Dan Robinson for C&N hangout details – I have done that.

2. Look at Alpern, Paglen and Zuboff – I’ll have that done by next time (the book is on order).

3. Rework the assignment using sets, where available. I’ll work on that and submit it with Asg.3.

4. You mentioned my mixing portrait and landscape formats and I’d like to spend some time on that. Before starting at OCA I processed each image of merit individually and cropped by aesthetic whim. My first EyV assignment comprised seven images cropped that way without a second thought. It was only when my tutor pointed it out that I realised what a mess this made. Thereafter, I submitted consistent formats, usually square.
For C&N I decided to submit everything in 6×7 format because (in my tentative view) that is so close to square that mixing formats is less obtrusive. In practice, I shoot everything square, leaving space to crop to 6×7 (though not on the spy-pen where that it not an option). Clearly you don’t share my tentative view.
My plan for now is to continue to shoot square and crop to 6×7 but to be more careful about the final arrangement.

As agreed, I’ll work towards submitting Asg.3 at the end of April in whatever medium the OCA decides.

Regards, Nick