Monday, 4 November 2013

Assessors Footnote

This post is designed to advise any visiting assessors about this blog's essentials.

The first point to note is that the blog is comprehensive up until November 2012. It has been live since commencing my study with the OCA in August 2009.  To upload all content on to one blog has always been my personal preference, so I can observe progress chronologically rather than by course. All Content headings not relevant to the landscape module have been temporarily removed, so that by clicking any of the headings in the the Contents list to the right, is specific to the landscape course and assessment only.

In November 2012, I formally deferred from my course until September 2013. Consequently, there is a marked reduction in postings during this period. Informally, I did continue to study, but any reflections during this period remained offline. I had a sense of needing to work through my thoughts independently and introspectively.  Any ideas progressed during this period are detailed within the written material of my assessment submission.  From July 2013, until I signed back on in September 2013, my time has almost entirely been dedicated to the preparation of my assessment submission.

From an assessors point of view, I can see that an eleven month deferral and shift in approach of journalling, from on- to off-line is not ideal. However, I can say with confidence, that both were essential to my continuation of the course.

In the early days of this course, I, in dialogue with my tutor, worked on a self-directed approach.  In so doing, I undoubtedly made things more difficult for myself.  I overlaid the course structure with my own challenges I wished to explore. And whilst my submission has, as it turns out, not ventured too far from the course structure, where I invested my time, perhaps did. This I will come on to now.

The concepts I had voluntarily, I repeat, voluntarily, 'procured' at assignment one, continued to preoccupy and challenge me intellectually for the entire duration of the course (and possibly the next one too). To use the oft-used phrase 'I had bitten off more than I could chew' would seem apt for how I felt around the time of finishing assignment one. Or perhaps, it marks the moment of realisation that knowing what I didn't know was a far more terrifying prospect than charging off in blissful ignorance, sledgehammer in hand, with the youthful enthusiasm of not knowing what I didn't know!

So I couldn't shake off the Domestic Sublime. Whether I liked it or not, it hung to me and in fact provided a fundamental anchor throughout my studies. Every time I explored what I considered to be unrelated subjects, I arrived back to the same themes of sublimity, domesticity, feminism and gender. They resurfaced, uncannily throughout the course. The written material in my assessment evidences this. And, whilst I have inched forward with each assignment in my understanding and unpicking of the challenge I set myself, I am no nearer to reconciling or concluding it.  I fear I will be taking Domestic Sublime with me in to level three and beyond!!

As mentioned above, there is an underlying theme that underpins all five assignments, manifesting itself differently in each one. With the exception perhaps of the portfolio, which I will explain next.

The Domestic Sublime concept was first explored in assignment one, the seasons. My enthusiastic start came to an abrupt halt and led to much soul-searching following this first submission. This in part explains the detachment the portfolio has with the rest of the assignment work. At the time, a mere fledgling to the course and four more assignments to go, I felt utterly beaten by Domestic Sublime. Consequently, I sought more pragmatic and less turbulent territory for my portfolio work, in order to move forward.

And this is where the term 'portfolio' becomes confusing in this context. The course notes stipulate that the portfolio is an extended study of the seasons work carried out in assignment one. My tutor's interpretation of a 'portfolio' differed from this, as by definition, it should showcase the best work, cherry-picked from the entire course, or failing that, fresh images developed following assignment five. Perhaps on occasion this can be one and the same. But the two did not coincide for me. Therein lay my tutor's concern with my portfolio. My portfolio developed as an independent piece of work and was not a portfolio, if you understand me. My selection of images submitted for each assignment are my best images, but the sets are not coherent to form one portfolio.  My portfolio, in the loosest sense of the word, responds directly to the seasons brief of assignment one as per the course notes, but it is not a 'portfolio' in the strictest sense of the definition.

The portfolio was inspired by the Dreams of Your Life work undertaken by Lottie Davies, which featured on weareoca. The difference being, I looked through the window and tracked the seasons from where I sat in my office most days, looking at the view of my garden, a contained landscape, a domestic landscape. It responds to landscape with a typically feminine outlook to the genre, referenced by the geographic restrictions imposed by domestic and family life. I photographed the same scene daily and on some days photographed sequences. Finishing a year with nearly a thousand images, an enormous edit was undertaken to create a manageable and physical flipbook.

Assignments two to five are not comprehensively covered in this blog. Admittedly, that surmounts to quite a big chunk of the course. Whilst there are tags relating to assignments two and three in the Contents list on the right hand side of this blog, all these posts relate to exploratory work or rejected ideas that did not progress any further, such as the cinemagraphs, the Easdale Island series and Barbed. Therefore most progress was made in the deferral period and comprehensive write-ups are included within the assessment submission.

I would be lying if I said this module had been easy or indeed, a joy. I struggled with the course notes, tuition and personal direction, with an erratic and unsteady flow of work and motivation. But perhaps that is normal. Despite or inspite of this, I can see however, that I have covered considerable ground. The course has provided an invaluable conduit, enabling me to explore a number of inter-related themes that I otherwise wouldn't have interrogated as rigorously.

I have also learnt that I must allow my journey to unfold as I travel on it, rather than pre-empting the destination. It is impossible to know. I am also aware I worry too much. I appreciate reflection and honing a critical eye is to be encouraged as part of our studies, but equally, managing my own expectations can be crushing and debilitating at times.

For level three, I sincerely hope that I can swim with the tide, enjoy the motion of the current, with its natural ebb and flow, rather than waddling clumsily upstream in waders.  But then, maybe, not unlike a hard endurance run, there is no gain without pain!! Time will tell I guess.