A2 Tutor feedback and response

My tutor presented me with the option of audio feedback – not something I had been offered previously, I found it extremely useful. It was good to make verbal contact with my tutor for the first time and so much easier to clarify any points there and then, rather than spending time trying to interpret written comments and raising further email queries. This method also allows me to make notes as we go along – these are included in my response below. Overall I am pleased with my progress on this assignment and am aware that the effort and my enthusiasm for this piece of work has paid off in terms of creativity and risk taking!

Formative feedback                            

Overall Comments

A touching and experimental project, informed by research (theoretical, personal & historical) and developed through experimentation.

The introduction to Postmemory  is thoughtfully written and introduces your attempt to share, or “inhabit”, your mother’s memories as though they were your own (which, in a way, they innately are). You have recognized and adopted Barthes’ notion of the past being, ‘forever present’, through photographs as well as in memory.

This is a great step forward in terms of your creative practice, Janet, and I feel that you are also really beginning to synthesise your research into your practical work. This is a very positive step for me, and yes, I thoroughly enjoyed working on this assignment.

Try to use you learning log more to record your thoughts and visual ideas as they develop – this will become a valuable resource for you, as well as a good indicator to assessors in respect of your creative process. I like to think I am recording a lot more in my blog now and realise the advantage of  noting down thoughts and ideas rather than just keeping them in my head.

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills,

  1. The images are on the whole well executed, and you achieved the double-exposures as a result of lots of experimentation. (It’d be nice to see a sample contact sheet on your LL as an illustration of your selection process.) I have included this  in my Planning and preparation page. I agree that I could include more of my practice images, I have a tendency to discard them to readily!
  2. You’ve maintained a low perspective throughout, suggesting a child’s point of view (crouching/hiding/peeping/exploring).
  3. The images convey a mixture of hope and slight foreboding, which suits the narrative well.
  4.  We discussed levels/contrast and agreed that this could be more balanced throughout the B&W images for a more coherent effect, aesthetically. Now amended – some images required darkening. The changes are subtle but effective – see below. I like the tutor’s suggestion to display the images upside down to shift my focus from subject matter to composition, tone, shade etc. 

final-8  final-6

final-1   final-1

  • Quality of Outcome
  • I understand that the series is meant to be “read” in a non-linear format, as the narrative itself does not unfold on a temporal level. The story is rather one of ongoing presence and the “folding of time”.
  • The presentation of the images in a learning log, however, does restrict them to being viewed sequentially, and so my suggestion for you is to include a mock-up of the work in its intended form, on the assignment tab for assessment – rather than leaving this up to the assessors’ imaginations. Agreed and actioned  in the formal assessment submission.
  • The final, colour image is somehow both disruptive and contextual. The effect of the blurring of reality, and the “infinite” symbolism of the implied circle seems very pertinent – as does the slightly anachronistic colour palette in this image.
  • We discussed the possibility of making this a central image in the final layout. You are well aware of the potential for this looking slightly clichéd, and so I’d encourage you to play with various print sizes combinations… Don’t be afraid to push the boat out when considering the layout: e.g. imagine an entire wall with the colour image as a printed vinyl? I’m happy to look again at whatever you decide. Printed a 10×8 of the central image, I think I could have been braver and had an even larger one printed! I was concerned that placing the smaller images around the “spinning” image would look a little clichéd or simplistic, but because I have placed the outer images randomly, I do think it works.
    P1120754     p1120781
  • I was glad to hear that you had weighed up the effects of using B&W or colour in the images, and I agree that the B&W probably has the edge in terms of the ambiguity it lends the images. Colour images here may just have been too bucolic/idyllic to suit these memories (of your mother’s). I considered colour versus black and white, colour spoke of the present and was distracting – it brought a different emotion. Black and white suits a sense of time and history and hones in on the detail.
    DSC_6051   final-4
    spinning1   final-spinning
  • We discussed a slight re-edit of the written introduction, and also the possibility of using handwritten text as part of the presentation.  I have adjusted the text a little so that it gives a little more information to the reader. However I have kept to typed text, my handwriting is dreadful!  In discussion my tutor suggested perhaps asking someone else to write it, but that didn’t seem right somehow, I felt it would remove the personal link between my Mum and me. You are considering experimenting with fragments of text alongside each image & are aware that this may tie individual images down too much, possibly – but really worth a try. I have examined the option of adding a caption to each photograph, but do feel it would tie each image down and give too much information to the reader.
    We also chatted about using the old photo of Mum and her family that I included in my blog. I incorporated it into the written piece.
    Escape was the only option-page0001

Demonstration of Creativity

  • You’ve made a big leap with this assignment in terms of your creativity. This seems to have sprung from:
    • following an idea which has much more personal resonance, this time (following a passion)
    • synthesizing some of the ideas from your research, imaginatively
    • experimentation, both with camera and text, and taking risks.
    • Really good to see that the method of using work-prints to review, edit, sequence the images is working for you. AND that you’ve documented this process!
      Yes, all the above I feel have helped to deliver this assignment successfully. I found  enormous benefit in using work prints. It seemed so much more natural to hold actual prints in my hand rather than merely viewing them on my laptop.


  • You worked hard on the poem interpretation exercise and this fed into your final piece on ‘photographing the unseen’.
  • You appreciate the benefits derived from working through the coursework in each section – good to hear.


  • Your research into Barthes Camera Lucida and Tolle’s The Power of Now are actually very evident in the way you’ve approached this project.
  • Try to read critically (asking questions as you go along) and noting where ideas overlap or are at odds with each other. Noted.
  • We discussed making notes as you go along, whilst reading (and how reading with a pencil in your hand seems to keep the mind more alert!). Pen and note-book now present as I read and research.
  • Perhaps upload photographed/scanned pages of your most relevant notes to your LL.
  • Again, you’ve worked through the research points and have noted the benefits of doing so, in terms of developing reflective thinking and writing skills.

 Learning Log

  • Overall this is good, comprehensive and well used.
  • The planning & preparation sections could be used rather more as a scrapbook for your ideas, test, experiments, etc, and broken down into sub-sections. I am working on this for forthcoming exercises and assignments. I still tend to only record key points rather than noting down all my thoughts and trails – good or not so good.
  • Good to see that you included reflection on the assessment criteria.
  • OCA guidelines state that students should create a new learning log for each module, partly to help prevent them from becoming unwieldy or confusing as they grow… Consider moving your learning log entries for C&N to a new template if possible. Groan…it took me forever to set up and use a blog. However this is a valid point and I will attempt to set up a new template for C&N, failing that, I will most definitely have a new blog for level 2.

Suggested reading/viewing

  • Kuhn, Annette (2002) Family Secrets: Acts of Memory and Imagination. London: Verso.
  • Bachelard, Gaston (1969) The Poetics of Space, London: Beacon. A meditation on how (the domestic) space shapes and carries intimate thoughts & memories. I have looked this up online, it is quite heavy going, but something I am interested in. I intend to follow it up.
  • Have a look and think about Modern History  by the artist Sarah Charlesworth, in relation to our conversation about how text “pins images down”.

Pointers for the next assignment

  • Experiment, explore, be bold
  • Don’t assume that you will achieve the final images in your first shoot. Try shooting and then reworking your idea through revision, reprise & self-critique. Be prepared to shoot and re-shoot if necessary. I accept these points will assist and will use my blog more as a working scrapbook. I do keep a note-book, very untidy and illegible, but I will take photos of some of the pages or translate into my blog as relevant in future.