The final assignment for this course was submitted to my tutor at the end of December. I included the following text in a document and also sent a PDF of the proposed layout for a book which I have uploaded to google documents here. I will be posting changes following the feedback from my tutor shortly.
I realise that it has taken a considerable amount of time for me to complete this final assignment. This in part is due to having to juggle looking after my son with all my other duties. I no longer have unlimited time to induege my navel gazing! In addition to this moving to France for the winter has not proven the most conducive to working and studying as the house is open plan and therefore it is difficult to find time alone to work.
With my excuses given I can now move on to the matter at hand. At the beginning of my stay here I was waiting on hearing back from the various individuals who I had sent assignment 1 of SYP to for feedback. The feedback which I received was both encouraging and also made me reconsider how I might present this work in the future. The first piece of feedback was from Linda Shevlin who is the curator of Roscommon arts centre. It was received by email and although brief it was very useful. From Ms Shevlin’s e-mail I particularly take 3 points:
- “I feel there are some strong images in this collection and others that compositionally need a little work”.
This is similar to feedback which I received from my second source, also a curator. I am not particularly concerned about any implied criticism of the aesthetics of my images but more that when submitting an abstract of the work I may have chosen strong single images that do not work cohesively as a set.
- “If you are going to show the less Utopian representation of the west then I think you need to push the aesthetic a little more, make it more garish, more crass, more vulgar if you dare”!
This piece of feedback however did make me sit up and take notice. It is not my intention to show the less utopian representation of the west and I wondered how I might have given the impression that it was. Eventually after some time reflecting on my submission I have come to the conclusion that the text that accompanied my images was leading the viewer too much, leading them up the wrong path so to speak.
So I decided to go back to square one and re-examine both the images and the text that accompanied them. I now believe that the text that I had chosen was based on what I saw within the work at the time that I wrote it. However for a viewer other than myself, who has not had the same experience, read the same critical theory and does not share my cultural background it is unlikely that they will share my perspective so any text that accompanies the images must also cater for this. It, I believe must also allow enough latitude for the images to read differently by different viewers as well as allowing the same viewer to read the same work differently over time. I decided too go back to the course notes and re-read the section on image and text. From doing so and also re-examining my own text which has accompanied the images previously it appears to me that it tells the viewer what the work is about rather than showing them the work and allowing them to engage with it freely on their own terms. The text has the affect of leaving insufficient space within the work for a viewer to have their imagination to be stimulated and to bring as much of their own personal interpretation to the reading as might be possible.
I also returned to your report from assignment 4 and noted that you had in particular stated that the remarks I made regarding my own personal journey had stood out to you and been key to your reading of the work itself and I began to think about this. I mentioned in particular the fact that I had never felt at home anywhere and that when making this work I felt like a rural flânuer and I spent sometime investigating the origins of the flânuer and psychogeography. While the flânuer may be traditionally understood as an urban dweller who strolls or wanders the streets of the city, one of the defining aspects, I believe, of the flânuer is a sense of detachment and isolation from his or her surroundings. Previously in assignment 4 I stated that I had never felt at home anywhere and that these images were an attempt to come to terms with the place that I now call home, you stated in your report “I think the flaneur idea is also about searching for something unspecified that one won’t recognise until one finds it”. This has proved to be a significant sentence to me with regard to the changes I have made. Early on in this course I toyed with the idea of investigating psychogeography but dismissed it as everything that I encountered that referenced it seemed to dwell on method, on systemising how the images were made in conjunction with a map or some other form of representation. It isn’t that I find this idea abhorrent but that it didn’t fit the way I had begun to work. Psychogeography itself is an ambiguous term and can mean many things to different readers. Guy Debord defined it as “The study of the specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not on the emotions and the behaviours of individuals” and although it has mainly been applied to the urban environment due to the comparatively recent growth of the city and urban space, the rural geographical environment has its own effect on the emotions and behaviours of individuals. Both of these concepts helped inform this final presentation of the work for this course.
Finally just a couple of notes regarding the text that accompanies this final edit which I am presenting to you in book/ PDF form. I have added captions to the images. I did this for no other reason than I found that when I did this for the document that I made for SYP assignment 1 it just felt right. The images are preceded by a short piece of text which I composed myself, I have been editing and tweaking this for the past number of weeks and am finally ready to leave it alone:
Home. A small word.
Full of hope and promise. Comfort.
Where you store your stuff.
The place you inhabit.
Belonging. A country to return to.
To search for something.
I feel that there is enough information about the work to set it in context and allow the viewer to have their imagination sparked by the images themselves without explaining what the work is about.
have also included an afterword:
This body of work is a personal exploration of an idealised place we, as individuals or in groups, construct within ourselves called home.
In constructing a mental image of home we create a landscape in the mind. Landscape, normally considered a noun, is better understood as a verb; “to landscape” (Mitchell,1994).
Landscaping is a process whereby we seek a sense of reassurance and the certainty that we habitually require during times of turmoil, incomprehension and change. To impose order and coherence where they may seem lacking. To create place out of space.
Again I am hoping that this also helps to contextualise the images without explaining or telling the viewer what the work is about while also providing food for thought. I feel that both pieces of text avoid being perceived as didactic which previous versions may have strayed into unintentionally. I am interested now to hear how other viewers respond to this and look forward to receiving your report in due course!