Tutor feedback received 26th September.
Your personal reflectivity is sometimes masked by the way you express yourself in your writing, the analytic attention and care you take to be precise might in some way act as a barrier to an appreciation for the visual elements you create . But what’s great about this project is the way you wove the interrelations between the TV shop, the tree sequence, and the sound . There does seem to be a frisson within. It’s hard to pin down, but then the fact that where might these strands exist is what makes the work.
There is a Ballardian quality here , there seems to be a sense of a kind of malaise that makes itself felt in both the spaces you depict and in the use of various elements in the sound. J G Ballard comes to mind when looking at the whole set of videos both independently and as a kind of wave too (taken altogether).
The description of the attempt to remove and kill the tree over time is a powerful and important element. The story has the capacity to be used as a metaphor for wider references to the destruction of ‘nature’ and by extension us. Connecting this to your autobiographical memories (life experiences) from certain time periods also acts to remind us how memories work, that some elements are remembered better than others, and that memory is not like a shelf in a library but rather reconstructed.
In a way, it also connects this idea that every time you retrieve a memory, you are changing it. Every time you narrate the same story, it comes out a little more polished , with a few embellishing details added, or aspects get shifted out. The collage with TV screens might elicit nostalgic reactions from a particular demographic that reconnect to a pre-digital device era. The memories from the past that would be experienced by an audience also feed into the other images that represent a site of death or a place on the memorial.
Once more the presentation has a strong sense of direction and exploration of ideas, they do work together, but if I were a curator I would look to cut. What might be important to choose for some audiences or people would be very different depending on so many variables. And in this case, it is under the premise of learning not exhibiting.  I also think references to other visual works where possible are key. The use of J Cage was a strong element. Don’t forget that other aspects can be evaluated or improved upon by the application of more image visualisations. The tree that is at the centre is a key motif that spans many works of art including photography. This notion that sometimes you say you are not aware of others or creative productions relating to your output is either a true reflection of something that concerns you ? 
I don’t think it matters, but it’s something I often hear, perhaps it is due to wider cultural forces about creativity as a subject, why I mention it is that pretty much nothing we see in art hasn’t a precursor, in fact, many go to great lengths to prove the opposite and show the lines and threads which resulted in the work of art or creative output.
Feedback based on Learning Outcomes
L01 Visual and conceptual strategies
Subject matter plays a key role, further attention to aesthetic is depended on reservoir of techniques and the work of others 
L02 Social, cultural and ethical consideration
Good sense of bringing these elements to the forground.
L03 Exploring a range of ideas
This is more focused and less extreme in the range of ideas.
L04 Research, managing time and resources
Time and effort is observed and commented upon in the project.
L05 Autonomy, voice and communication
Confident and clear – might require more editing down to find the key strengths overall 
 Reading Ballard – a personal blog /review of one of his novels – it’s a youthful review that gets across some key qualities of the book
 You may or may not be aware if this – it is absolutely crucial you take a good look in relationship to your ‘stump’.
 The Rob Nixon interview discusses the killing and removal of trees.
1 Your personal reflectivity is sometimes masked by the way you express yourself in your writing, the analytic attention and care you take to be precise might in some way act as a barrier to an appreciation for the visual elements you create
I am not sure what this means and I will seek clarification, see also note 7.
Email to tutor, 3 Oct
Hi [name withheld]
Thank you for the Asg.5 feedback that was, again, useful and rewarding. My responses are noted here – http://lpe.baphot.co.uk/assignments/assignment-5/asg5-4/
Could I ask you, when you have time, to clarify your opening sentence,
Your personal reflectivity is sometimes masked by the way you express yourself in your writing, the analytic attention and care you take to be precise might in some way act as a barrier to an appreciation for the visual elements you create
I’m not sure what it means, or how to fix it. I think you are saying that my reflections are too deliberate and analytical, but I don’t see how that would be a bad thing.
Reply from tutor, 4 Oct
You don’t have to fix it, it’s your personality probably that is what makes you you….
I mean sometimes in ‘art’ everything does not have to be ‘explained’ it’s not a science…that’s the point of it sometimes.
Otherwise why make a visual statement …
Some wouldn’t agree
to tutor, 4 Oct
Thanks, [name withheld]
2 But what’s great about this project is the way you wove the interrelations between the TV shop, the tree sequence, and the sound
This project, especially The Stump, given the volume of material, could only be delivered as video rather than stills. A video (in my view) needs an audio component. I state in the Introduction that,
For each photography project of any length, I try to decide a subject, an approach and an intended presentation format.
Although I have been photographing The Stump for several years and although I always intended to create a slideshow, the project only took shape when I had thought of the old TV shop and Cage’s ASLSP. Those two aspects (TV shop and ASLSP) just sprang to mind in November 2021 and July 2022 respectively (see development blog). The TV shop is a vehicle for showing several films simultaneously, the old part has resonances that will only trigger older viewers. The reasons for choosing Cage’s ASLSP: 1. its associations with time passing; 2. its atonal and arrhythmic nature mean that there is no need, expectation or possibility of synchronising image and sound; 3. it will play for any duration, short or long (including 600+ years); 4. it is reasonably easy to create in notation software.
My approach to imagery is a mixture of careful planning, fortune and instinct: I can see no other way of working and so I assume everyone else does the same, whether using an iPhone or a 5×4 on a tripod.
I knew as soon as the ideas crystallised that the project would work for me and I am gratified that my tutor approves.
3 There is a Ballardian quality here
resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in Ballard’s novels and stories, esp dystopian modernity, bleak artificial landscapes, and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developmentsCollins Dictionary
That is an entirely reasonable reaction to the films, but is more forlorn than my own interpretation. Where mistreatment of plants is manifested, I interpret it as careless and ignorant rather then deliberate. Most of the mistreatment (and other routine eco-damage) is just thoughtlessness and one of the purposes of my work is to raise awareness which, I hope, will make some more careful with their environment.
Some of the films I see as positive, for example the commemorations of Stephen Lawrence (and see point #5): some are neutral, such as Eltham Palace and the hospital.
But The Stump was a wanton, deliberate and repeated act of destruction.
Turning to the dead end follies link, this features Ballard’s’ Concrete Island (1973). The book has an interesting plot, an architect living in a crowded urban space has a crash while driving from his mistress back to his family home and ends up in the space between busy road lanes (it is known as the median strip – I had to look it up). He cannot escape and so learns some truths about his work and its effect on the “lower orders”.
It is a clever idea, but not a likely page-turner. The reviewer (Ben, n.d.) describes it as “the shortest and most difficult book” in Ballard’s urban disaster trilogy (Crash, 1973; Concrete Island, 1974; and High Rise, 1965) .
4 The story has the capacity to be used as a metaphor for wider references to the destruction of ‘nature’
This is true on several levels. As noted in point #3, I am seeking to sow the seeds of a growing awareness of human interactions with plants as a subset of general ecological concern. It is essential to draw attention to local, small-scale abuse as well as destruction of rainforest habitats and to encourage action at all levels. The course material, in Part 5 examines Greg Garrard’s descriptions of various eco-philosophies (Garrard, 2012) which is rather dismissive of Environmentalism as “too little, too late”, favouring instead more radical, activist stances.
My own view is that at the national and local levels, unless a sizeable minority of the public are engaged with and supportive of environmental action, it is likely to fail. As an example, consider the contrast of the effectiveness of David Attenborough’s depiction of the effects of plastic waste on the coastal, sea and ocean environments (Shukman, 2019) with the protests of the Extinction Rebellion movement which, while arising from a genuine fear for the fate of the planet, fail to to generate sufficient public support to effect change, and were criticised by the Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer(BBC, 2022).
5 Every time you narrate the same story, it comes out a little more polished
This especially the case where the series is continuing and the stories themselves evolve. A prime example is the Stephen Lawrence memorial tributes where, as I describe in the Blog,
I returned to the memorial last week. As I crossed the road from the 161 bus stop, a (literally) little old lady preceded me, having come from the nearby Catholic church. We both turned to approach the memorial and both stopped. She was carrying a small bunch of flowers, cleared an old one and replaced it. She told me that she was at the church on the night he was killed — Stephen’s friend Duwayne came to the church, covered in blood, seeking help.Blackburn, 2022
6 Once more the presentation has a strong sense of direction and exploration of ideas, they do work together, but if I were a curator I would look to cut. What might be important to choose for some audiences or people would be very different depending on so many variables. And in this case, it is under the premise of learning not exhibiting.
I agree. I included all the available slideshows in the submission.
The least important are the pub in New Eltham (although it is pleasant to see the blossom arrive) and the flats, where nothing happens (I started to photograph their stump, just in case it showed a sign of life, but it hasn’t).
The crucial exhibits are the two shots of the stump and, to a lesser extent, the nearby bush.
The Stephen Lawrence memorial is (to me) important because it shows a use of cut flowers which I find difficult to criticise: in general terms I disapprove strongly of the absurd and wasteful floristry industry, but there has to be some tangible method of demonstrating grief and solidarity (and affection and guilt) and our society has chosen flowers.
Eltham Palace makes an interesting contribution to the set and I have long paired it and the Lawrence memorial as representing two extremes of Eltham history and society (see Exercise 2.2).
The vertical hospital garden is interesting but not particularly relevant.
If I had a location to display the piece I would show two stumps and the bush continually – to demonstrate their prominence – then perhaps two screens of compiled loops.
I wanted to photograph a cemetery with a tide of gravestones and flowers coming ever closer to the camera but the local cemetery is not well served by public transport.
7 This notion that sometimes you say you are not aware of others or creative productions relating to your output is either a true reflection of something that concerns you ?
See point #2 on my working method: we must all be influenced by what we have seen, but I am not aware when photographing of specific influences. The Learning Outcomes call for an awareness of the genre, though not as specifically as the Assessment Criteria that were in place when I began. The Learning Outcomes imply an expectation for some name-dropping in the assignment reflection to evidence a knowledge of past and present practitioners.
8 Confident and clear – might require more editing down to find the key strengths overall
See point #6 on the editing. Regarding voice, I am now at peace with the concept. I wrote in December (prompted by my I&P Assessment),
You’ve found your voice when you stop trying to please other people.
You won’t find your voice until you stop trying to please other people.
I believe the refinement is correct.
[spellchecked to here]
9 Paul Nash A landscape of mortality
I am surprised that I had not considered tree stumps on the battlefields of WW1. The Nash link to The Tate leads to a discussion of his “lifelong preoccupation with the theme of mortality” and his work as “an official war artist to witness the aftermath of the battle of Passchendaele [where] what he saw radically transformed both his art and his attitude to death”. His ironically-named We Are Making a New World, 1918 (fig. A1) is shown.
There are many images available of bleak, blasted stumps in the no-man’s-land between the opposing trenches, for example Delville Wood, where the South African Brigade fought and 121 officers and 3,032 other ranks were reduced to 29 officers and 751 men in six days of July 1916.
The Mary Evans Library contains a wealth of material (including fig. A3) and includes a passage from Lt. Richard Talbot Kelly, 52nd Brigade RFA, quoted in Tommy’s Ark by Richard van Emden
To me, half the war is a memory of trees: fallen and tortured trees, trees untouched in summer moonlight, torn and shattered winter trees, trees green and brown, grey and white, living and dead. They gave names to our roads and trenches, strongpoints and areas. Beneath their branches I found the best and the worst of war: heard nightingales and smelt primroses, heard the scream of endless shells and breathed gas; rested in their shade, spied from their branches, cowered in their roots. They carried our telephone lines, hid our horses, guided us to and from battle and formed the memorial to many efforts of arms.Lt. Richard Talbot Kelly, in van Emden (2011)
10 Rob Nixon
Rob Nixon discusses Environmental Justice, concentrating on
1. the rights to access basic amenities and the essential elements of life (air, water, food, a home and leisure space)
2. freedom from environmental harms which are “shared” unequally on the basis of “race, class, ethnicity or immigration status”.
He examines a “pivotal” document with which he differs profoundly. Garrett Hardin’s The Tragedy of the Commons (1968) looks at the use of common land, compares their overgrazing with privately-owned farms and concludes that land ownership has better results that common access. This ignores the historic basis of common land being transferred into privately ownership, that inevitably resulted in the overuse of the residual common land. A modern equivalent, identified by Jennifer Price, was the de-facto privatisation of beaches in California by landowners concealing rights of way – Price developed an app revealing the blocked routes, encouraging supporters to use them and publicise blockages.
Nixon notes Scotland’s Right to Roam (see https://www.gov.scot/policies/landscape-and-outdoor-access/public-access-to-land/) and the Swedish equivalent. In France, there is a public right of gleaning, public access to private agricultural land immediately after harvest (for example, an orchard, see https://www.economist.com/christmas-specials/2018/12/22/the-return-of-gleaning-in-the-modern-world).
Turning to air quality, he cites Chai Jing’s documentary on air pollution in China, Under the Dome (2015) and notes intergeneration justice, whereby current generations will hand over a depleted and damaged environment to those that follow.
He sees a link to BLM and the killing of Eric Garner and George Floyd, where their ability to breath was curtailed by police action. The phrase I can’t breathe has been adopted around the world as a literal and symbolic complaint.
Nixon concludes that, “the commons has always existed within context of protocols and restraints, in other words, it is not a free-for-all where people can just pile in and be as greedy as possible but there are certain regulations, certain controls that seek to maintain the common for future generations”. These are vitally important, especially to impoverished minorities, but are being whittled away. He finally notes that, in later life, Hardin stated that he wished he had called his paper The Tragedy of the Unregulated Commons.
LPE Assignment 5 References
BBC (2022) What is Extinction Rebellion and what does it want? [online]. bbc.co.uk. Available from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48607989 [Accessed 29 September 2022].
Ben (n.d.) Book Review : J.G Ballard – Concrete Island (1973) [online]. deadendfollies.com. Available from http://www.deadendfollies.com/blog/book-review-jg-ballard-concrete-island [Accessed 29 September 2022].
Blackburn, N. (2022) Lawrence memorial [online]. baphot.co.uk. Available from http://baphot.co.uk/main/blog_lpe.php#lawrence [Accessed 29 September 2022].
Collins Dictionary (2022) Definition of ’Ballardian’ [online]. collinsdictionary.com. Available from https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/ballardian [Accessed 28 September 2022].
Garrard, G. (2012) Ecocritcism. London: Routledge.
Grant, S. (2003) A landscape of mortality: Paul Nash. tate.org.uk. Available from https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/paul-nash-1690/landscape-mortality [accessed 30 September 2022].
Hardin, G. (1968). The Tragedy of the Commons. Science, vol. 162, no. 3859, 1968, pp. 1243–48. [online]. JSTOR, Available from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1724745. [Accessed 30 Sep. 2022].
Reed, P. (2016) Somme Battlefields [online]. somme1916.wordpress.com. Available from https://somme1916.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/somme100-south-africans-enter-delville-wood/ [Accessed 30 September 2022].
Shukman, D. (2019) Attenborough: World ‘changing habits’ on plastic [online]. bbc.co.uk. Available from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-50419922 [Accessed 29 September 2022].
van Emden, R. (2011) Tommy’s Ark: Soldiers and their Animals in the Great War. London: Bloomsbury.