Part 2, Project 3, Exercise 2

The text gives examples of three sets of personally driven student work that can become universal when we ‘relate to the feelings they present by visiting our own personal histories’.

  • Which of these projects resonates most with you, and why?

The text has examples of three student projects. The projects by Peter Mansell and Dewald Botha both resonated with me. 

“Peter suffered a spinal cord injury… and lived most of his life as a paraplegic. His projects deal with how his injury has affected his life.” 

I found the explanations Peter has given about how his photographic practice developed fascinating as I feel I have been on the same journey. I like the idea that we see the hidden parts of his life and we begin to understand how his injury, which is something seen and has a cause, can impact on areas we don’t see and how it changes meaning of everyday ‘mundane’ things. The meaning of the mundane changes when we understand something about the photographer here. 

At the moment I am suffering from a resurgence of an ongoing anxiety problem and I am finding it difficult to go out to take photographs, hence the amount of text on here in combination with a lack of fresh photography! I know that I am part way through getting better, but anxiety is something that other people don’t see the effects of – unlike a physical injury there is no visible cause, and no physical ‘proof’ that it exists. But the effects are very real and so I almost feel there could be common themes. My anxiety has currently found me in a position where I am unseen. Peter has used his photography as a way to explore what his injury means to him and I feel that is something I should perhaps look at doing now rather than waiting until I feel better and can go out and take photographs. I feel hidden at the moment, cut off from the world. Peter doesn’t talk about feeling this way, but I wonder if there is a similarity in the importance the domestic environment takes on? 

I think the photographs in Ring Road don’t resonate with me quite as much, but the ideas behind them do. I really like the ideas about us not knowing where our limitations lie in an ‘unlimited and undefined world’, that we may limit our own freedoms, create our own limitations, in an attempt to counter a sense of loss and displacement and stabilise our sense of self. That’s my understanding of the text anyway, and again it resonates with me at the moment as the anxiety is curtailing my freedom, keeping me trapped very firmly in one place. It’s an interesting idea. 

  • How do you feel about the loss of authorial control that comes when the viewer projects their own experiences and emotions onto the images you’ve created?

I want to answer this with saying I would feel good about it, but I think it depends on the images and why I’ve taken them, on what I’m trying to say. On EYV I tried to make a set of images using text that would express my negative feelings about some of the religious messages I was given about being female. My tutor pointed out that really, the images could be used for the exact opposite. I knew that that would annoy me and so I had to change the images and the relation of text to image to make the message a lot less ambiguous. In the context, I did not want to give anyone a chance to use the images out of the framework in which I had originally intended to use them for.

However, in general I think that being able to elicit various responses to an image or set of images is positive as it shows engagement from the viewer and suggests that the work resonates at a lot of different levels; being able to do that is, I think, to some extent the mark of successful visual communication.

Taking a naked self portrait: seen and unseen
Links to the outside world: Fern