Assignment Five, Photography Is Simple: Genus Comune, or, Where Things Are Most Definitely Queer; Tutor feedback

Overall Comments

Congratulations on completing the course!   You’ve produced some highly individual and engaging work throughout; each assignment you made your own, exploring new ideas supported by thorough research, looking for creative and technical challenges.  Your approach to the coursework has been diligent and expansive, approaching exercises with the same depth of interest and commitment as the assignments. Your independent research has been of an extremely high quality with essays, projects and a range of interviews with contemporary practitioners, nine in all, evidence of the highest level of engagement with contemporary practice.

 Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Your concept, development and execution of Assignment 5 has been the most challenging.  A highly conceptual piece that required the exploration of narrative, creative and technical skills; I think you pushed yourself to the limit (at least for the time being) with this project.

The origins and main influences of this project range from Duane Michals, Moore and Gibbons ‘Watchmen’ graphic novel, Evans and Rodchenko’s early work (and political response to Stalin). The narrative exploration stems from your reading of Barthes and Landa/Jaén

The images are presented in a conservative/conventional ( I read this as ironic) magazine format which offers an opportunity to explore narrative and exposition through text.  Although I see this as something that someone like Magritte or Max Ernst might have done.

You suggest that you may have bitten off more than you can chew and pushed the boundaries too far, but that is the purpose of exploration and experimentation, to see how far we can go, push the envelope and see what emerges.

The opening image, with reference to Reinhardt, Malevich and Fludd – what a company – is a darkly atmospheric black smiley image from Watchmen– a starting point, and for many younger people I guess, the beginning of a mystery.

Your reworking of Rodchenko’s portrait of Malevich follows, a kind of emergence from the dark to the medium shot of someone holding a newsprint page of a grid of portraits each anonymized by a black bar across the eyes. The Malevich is at the centre right in the company of Warhol, Moore and other celebrated images.  The accompanying text has a reference to each – an interesting game to play identifying who is who.

With the next image, the wide shot of the subject reading the paper sitting in an old fashioned train/metro carriage, we begin to understand how the narrative is unfolding.

The image is captured and displayed on a mobile phone which rests on pencil text in a simple lined notebook, and then re-presented a la Sugimoto in an old fashioned film theatre.  I particularly like this image as now, the action of the hand about to pick up the phone looks like a giant close up frame still on the screen. There is a nice visual irony here with the ‘film’ in colour, and the setting in monochrome. This is accompanied by a text from Sugimoto talking about the inspiration and intent behind his theatre series.

There is a surprise in the shift of scale and place as the image is re-presented again, framed and sitting on a bookshelf with the Watchmen novel in the background and (your) large collection of contemporary graphic novels.  Here, the shot is personal, a memento and then a sudden shift …

And again, a conceptual conceit, as a monumental ‘canvas’ hanging in a gallery, well composed to enhance the scale and with the two viewers foreground and middle.  It plays with the idea of cultural and material value, and the text comments on ‘cultural behaviour’, an object ‘public yet isolated.  Influenced by Thomas Struth’s work ‘Museum Photographs’.  This strikes a personal note for me as I am fascinated by the behavior of viewers in museums.

The next image takes us back to the carriage and the back of the paper, a simple of crop of the following shot to reveal a young boy reading this paper this time.  The text is extraordinary, from the ‘1938 Northern Line London Underground Train Rant, unexpected, surprising, throwing a different light on the viewing experience; a shift in time and ethos??

The image now on a computer monitor – bit on the dark side in the version I’m looking at, but that is perhaps part of the emergent play on the ‘shipping forecast text’ which ends ‘Moderately good occasionally very poor eventually dark or even black’, before the cycle ends in a final shot from Watchmen, the embossed graphic defaced, subtle strokes of light against a matt black of the original smiley and the upper section defaced, wiped away as in the Malevich portrait.

There is a clear narrative connection and a set of references to define the images – and you articulate this very well in the A5 mag –  but the journey is open to interpretation, from the simplest one of connecting disparate images like a montage in a movie – I mentioned the ‘Laughing Montage’ from the Coen Brothers’ Hudsucker Proxy in our email communications – to an enclosed world of a cycled statement, one that we must continue to reiterate – like Groundhog Day.

The pdf of the magazine includes a set of ghost pages alternating with your images – fascinating and curious material, but maybe too much for the assessment?

Finally then, you set out a list of bullet points of your aims for the project, and I think you achieve all of these.


 As with rest of your coursework throughout EYV, the exercises you carried out here are detailed and go beyond the brief in terms of research and exploration. For 5.2, using the Harold Egerton shot, you explore a range of options before creating a very funny pastiche – the imminent demise – (my interpretation) with great skill, and with reference to your reading of Barrett’s essay ‘Photography and Contexts’



Your approach to research is exemplary; as you write in the conclusion to your pdf presentation ‘This fascinating journey into some amazing photographers as well as photographic techniques has really pushed me to define how I understand (and have understood) photography, particularly my own, up to now’.  This has been evident in your approach to work from the beginning of the course..

Learning Log

Your Learning Log provides much evidence of proactive learning and enquiry, independent and in addition to the course materials – from reading and exhibitions to interviews.


You may want to add to your Log some documentation of any conversations, discussions, feedback you may have had, given or received from your OCA peers.

Suggested reading/viewing


Pointers for the next assignment / assessment


 We can discuss submission for assessment over the coming weeks.


Tutor name Russell Murray
Date 14 May 2017

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