The course has been informative and productive, both in terms of output and personal development.
Regarding the latter, my subject matter is increasingly coalescing around the passage of time and with visual comparisons of past and present. Timeframes range from centuries (see Assignment 3) to the immediate (Assignment 5). This is probably driven, at least in part, by age, by (what the young Wordsworth pointedly did not call) intimations of mortality. The simple fact is that old people have more temporal reference points than their younger selves and so, almost inevitably, are drawn to such matters.
Coming to terms with establishing a voice allowed me the freedom to pursue my aesthetic goals within the context of the course and Assignment framework. I wrote at the beginning, (Blackburn, 2021)
You’ve found your voice when you stop trying to please other people.
and refined that a few months later to (Blackburn, 2022),
You won’t find your voice until you stop trying to please other people.
I enjoyed and learned from each of the LPE assignments:
1. Vauxhall Bridge – produced some decent individual images that did justice to the current bridge, but there was not sufficient material to support the historical narrative that I intended.
2. Journey to Mammon– sculptures from Greenwich to Canary Wharf always with the towers in view was a worthwhile idea, though my tutor judged them over-processed and a rework was necessary.
3. Spaces to Palaces – a visual history of Eltham Palace, drawing on an archive of paintings, engravings and early photographs was an interesting topic, but I did not strike the right balance between images and text.
4.Grey Areas: The Ethics of Skies, the essay assignment – worked well.
5. Becoming subjects – “slideshows” of some local plant life (and death) was also successful and required new skills in visual and music software.
L01 visual and conceptual strategies – to expand the note on voice, above, my strategy for an OCA assignment, or any other project, is to define in advance my subject, approach and delivery: ideally to devise several possible candidates, perhaps start work on more than one and come to a fairly rapid decision on that which I should pursue. In most cases the project for the next assignment is ready to roll when the previous one is submitted.
L02 social, cultural and ethical considerations – the course concentrates on photographers and photographs that address social, political and ecological issues.. I believe that photography, in and of itself, is an unreliable medium for conveying ideas because the viewers will apply their own divergent interpretations of the images. What photography excels at is documenting objects and events and that is the principal contribution the medium can make to changing minds on the issues in question. There needs to be a substantive event and then still and video imagery can preserve and publicise it. A key example, and one that impressed me profoundly on the course, was Agnes Denes’ Wheatfield and the associated exhibition.
L03 exploring a range of ideas – some aspects of this have already been covered in the comments on L01 and L02. I believe that the ideas I have worked with for Assignments throughout LPE have been well chosen, but as my tutor has commented several times, editing to the final cut was lacking – see Assignment 2 (overprocessed), Assignment 3 (the balance of images and words) and Assignment 5 (too many slideshows included). Clearly, this is something that needs more thought in future modules.
L04 research, managing time and resources – all the assignments have been delivered on time, although there was so much work in Assignment 5, especially new software skills, that the coursework had to be put to one side. The discipline of two-month delivery slots enforces a good balance between urgency and drift
L05 autonomy, voice, and communication – voice is dealt with above. My confidence in devising and delivering manageable and relevant projects has grown throughout the course and continued through LPE.
Interaction with fellow students continues in the monthly chat and some individual correspondences, although the chat group is now breaking up as the number of students taking LPE dwindles. I have pursued sessions on diversity and equality organised by the Student Union.
I was not aware of any local tutor-led visits, although I did attend the Thames Valley Group’s visit to The Photographers’ Gallery, in which tutor Jayne Taylor participated. I continue to volunteer at Courtaulds, cataloguing and digitising the Conway and Kersting archives.
Alexander, J, Conroy, A, Hughes, A, & Lundy, G (2019) Landscape, Place and Environment [LPE]. Barnsley: Open College of the Arts.
Blackburn, N. (2021) Thought for the day [online]. baphot.co.uk. Available from http://baphot.co.uk/main/blog_lpe.php#voice [Accessed 14 October 2022].
Blackburn, N. (2022) Truths [online]. baphot.co.uk. Available from http://baphot.co.uk/main/blog_lpe.php#voice2 [Accessed 14 October 2022].