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Category: Journal


This blog is now closed and the work is being formally assessed.

For assessors:

  • A Padlet provides an interface for assessment purposes and links to selected posts on this research blog: During the assessment period access is available for anyone with the link.
  • To access / browse this blog directly, use the menu to the left.

Thank you for reviewing my work.

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Siting and Audience engagement: further reading

My tutor recommended (A2: Tutorial and re-Feedback (new tutor)) materials that might generate ideas for expressing the concepts of siting and audience engagement in my publication proposal. The post contains notes from my readings:

Discourse Analysis II – institutions and ways of seeing. Rose, GD 2001, Visual Methodologies : An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials, SAGE Publications, London (p164-186)

  • General theme of images/photography being diffuse in meaning, with meanings conferred through the communication/power of the institutions that show them / their methods of showing. The apparatus of display (or ‘technologies of the gallery and museum’) are considered at length, along with the messages they might confer (eg enclosed untouchable in a glass case, suggests value/preciousness).
  • As prisons are to the enforcement of the rule of law, museums/galleries are to the enforcement of culture – inaccessible to some sections of society without the education that provides cultural capital.
  • Idea – in situ exhibition liberates art from the traditional confines and cultural power of the gallery and places it in an accessible public place. The mobile phone as a display technique, is as personal and everyday as the landscape of the canal itself. A stark contrast to a glass case or white wall in a gallery.

Wald Raad – artist’s talk and exhibition catalogue

AF Notes


  • A highly designed, immersive catalogue of the making of work and the work itself. Written by Eva Respini (curator) with text contributions from Walid Raad. Highly produced / designed catalogue.
  • INSPIRATION FOR A4? Pull everything together in a catalogue? Include publicity materials? Quotes from guest book / comments on blog? First go with Affinity Publisher? Already dismissed idea of Photo Book as takes away from video work, but catalogue could work. No need to print at this stage as digital only assessment but could later be adapted for print use if opportunity arises.

Simon Roberts (website) – Simon Roberts describes his interest as people in landscape (see video interview on news page); so similar to my interest during the Drifting project – the marks that people leave on the landscape. I feel his news page is more compelling than many artist websites I’ve seen – it has a columnar layout (echoing the reading habit of a newspaper) as a front page, inviting the reader to divide into the details of areas of interest. Importantly, it does not overwhelm with details as a first impression. Much like the front page of a newspaper it provides a map of what can be seen beyond and offers the choice of where to stop off.

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Still no news

Just over a month ago, I wrote about the lack of response to requests for access to sites for an in situ exhibition near the canal (No news). Despite follow-up emails, I’ve had no responses. I’m therefore cutting my losses on this angle for now – I can only conclude that either the work doesn’t fit the visual culture of the CRT and the organisations it sponsors (as my dissertation observes, they are interested in promoting the canal as a pastural place of leisure), they don’t like the work, or they are struggling to deal with any non-essential requests in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing which.

The lesson here is to be mindful of the interests of those approached to sponsorship. However, it is perhaps also important not to prejudge, as there can be side-interests that sit outside what appear to be principal interests. I’ve pressed ahead with my virtual exhibition, and will consider possible alternatives to show the work in place.

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New Tutor, New Padlet

After some chasing, I’ve found that my previous tutor is no longer with the OCA (hence the lack of communication). The downside is that my intention of submitting for November assessment was blown away. The upside is that I have an enthusiastic new tutor, who might be able to offer some fresh perspectives and idea on what I’m doing.

We had an introductory video call (14/9/21) and talked at length about the benefits of Padlets as a visual access point to SYP learning – I now have a Padlet, which I think of as a map for this blog ( . The plan is for us to use this as a basis of interactions / planning completion of this module. He talked about producing promotional materials that could be recycled for different applications and the possibility of preparing an Arts Council grant application as an output from SYP.

I explained how I’d already spent significant time on the SYP project and didn’t really want to reinvent the wheel on anything but was more than happy to make adjustments for any fresh ideas. We agreed that he’d feedback on A2 (I had a tutorial with my previous tutor but he departed without completing formal feedback) and A3 over the next couple of weeks to bring things up to date.

I’m feeling optimistic about not only getting done but perhaps having some additional useful outputs. Though my enthusiasm has taken a major dent, I realise I need to reset and go again.

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Screen show video making

I’ve researched and tested software that allows creation and editing of video content centred around digital screen content, for example, websites, photos, webcam footage and so on. I will use this to walk through my own website design, and can envisage it being used for a video for assessment submission. Also, for creation of online content for my blog.


Significant in the research is the fact I use Mac (mid 2014 MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM). In this application area I found that not all software works across Windows and Mac. In fact, my desired software was the open source OBS (, which is widely used for live-streaming but also has a video encoding capability. It is also free – sponsored by YouTube and Facebook. However, while I liked the interface of the software and its functionality, it unfortunately crashed / froze while trying to encode video. I initially thought that this could be due to my ageing MBP but found from online forums that it was a common issue with the encoding on Mac – users seem to use it successfully for live streaming (no encoding required) but even users with powerful new Macs found encoding problematic.

In the end, I selected ScreenFlow (, which is a Mac-specific software and endorsed/used by some significant online content creators (including the technical photography blog, Phlearn). It is paid but not unreasonable given its powerful functionality (and a 10% student discount). It has key-framing functionality that allows panning/zooming of photographs to create video content, which is important to my work. I can even envisage using it to make future stills-films. Importantly, it works speedily with my Mac and seems stable when worked hard. It is chalk and cheese compared with the sluggish speed of Photoshop when video editing.

Hardware and room set up

I already own a condenser mic and Focusrite audio interface for music making and have now brought this into my onscreen work to improve the sound quality over my Logitech webcam, which is okay for attending online events but sounds weak when recorded for playback.

I found that Fujifilm now have software that allows many of their cameras to be used as webcams – I tried this and while it worked (and generated Fujifilm colours) the image resolution seem low and of limited use for recording. For longer talking to the camera shots, I’ve set up my Fuji XT2 for video recording, using the headphone out from my Roland R05 sound recorder as a mic (it mounts on the hot shoe!) – the sound is adequate but I’ll probably record sound separately for work that needs to be more polished. The camera is capable of recording in 4K but I’m sticking with HD to make sure I don’t overload my MBP when post-processing. The camera video footage is easily brought into the ScreenFlow software.

I’ve rearranged my working space so that my webcam is now off-screen in the hope of creating more visual variety when using footage – I can either talk to it (looking away from my computer screen) or it can be used to show me working if I want picture-in-picture content. I’ve also rearranged lighting in the room and areas that appear in the backgrounds to video footage. The set-up will be put through its paces in my next video, but my first attempt (midway through rearrangements) is shown in this blog post about my project website.

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Starting out: Ask Nadav Kander

On 6th July, I attended a live interview with Nadav Kander, hosted by the AOP as part of their ‘starting out’ sessions for new graduates. The AOP intend to put a video of the session online at some time. Points of interest to me:

  • NK’s unusual dimensions for his Thames work were discussed on the back of a student question relating to consistency of image sizes (ie being told they should stick to a consistent format for a series). NK was dismissive of this ideology and believes it should be what ever is right for the images – he described his experimental working process. He did however observe that he ‘hates’ the 35mm format as it is neither long nor square!
  • NK talked at length about the balancing personal work/intent with commercial pressures. He referred to the notion of an ‘inner core’ or core strength carrying an idea of who you are and what you want to do and are not willing to do. Suggesting that this is nurtured and developed, for example by looking at the way books are put together / questioning why one doesn’t like something and having a clear idea of the reasons. ‘Commit to who you are’.
  • NK discussed his portraiture and mentioned he disliked the idea of ‘relaxing the subject’ – who wants to look at a relaxed subject; it is not interesting. Is that idea extendable to all types of portrait photos – I suspect not for images that are more informational, headshots for example. But therein lies a distinguishing feature of a portrait versus an informational shot.
  • For commmercial work, NK mentioned that being represented by an agent is important, particularly as there is not much work shot in the UK. He also suggested not having a website too early, as there is only one shot at making a first impression.
  • Above all NK emphasised the importance of ‘make great work’.
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Re-reading the dissertation

I’ve spent the past months finding alternative words to describe my project – non academic and accessible, press friendly. A fellow student asked if I’d published the dissertation anywhere, as they’d be interested in reading it. This prompted me to re-read it again and publish it here. I’d avoided publishing it prior to assessment because of concerns about plagiarism/self-plagiarism – I’m unclear whether there is any basis in them, but I chose to err on the side of caution! The dissertation is attached here …

By now, I feel that I’ve been thinking about the canal for too long and found it difficult to settle to read the dissertation yet again, after all the editing and re-editing it went through. Though I can feel how I’ve absorbed the thinking and how that’s been helpful when thinking about making press releases and discussing the work in interviews.

I am reminded of what seemed a short number of words to express a breadth of ideas in my own voice, while at the same time demonstrating critical engagement with relevant theorists. I also have a sense of regret at lost time following what was generally accepted as a poorly constructed version of a CS course. If it wasn’t for the online tutor-lead video sessions, I might still be twisting myself in knots even now! On the positive side, I did learn how to approach academic research in the arts (something alien in my numbers and business-based background) and am still using Zotero as a research tool now, even for non-academic work.

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Rebranding of project

At the time of my body of work, I used the title Leeds and Liverpool | Worlds within a World. Revisiting this with some space, as I have done with my artist’s statement, I realised it needs something less analytical. I discussed this in my preparation for the AoP student competition. I’ve now settled on Drifting by the Leeds & Liverpool. This works at the psychogeographic level, reflecting the work as a wander and with its canal connotations of something being adrift. The imagery is adrift from what is typically shared of the canal, reflecting the everyday condition, rather than the pastural.

I’ve changed the cover image to reflect this change, which I also think is a better reflection of the mood of the photography contained; says what is in the tin.

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Been away for a while

I’ve taken over a month out from studies and make a note here in my journal as a reminder to myself when looking back on progress and explain it for OCA’s activity monitoring, rather than any real wish to share the experience of my absence, which I’ve thankfully fully recovered from.

Early in the year, I was diagnosed with a potentially serious health issue, which required major surgery (took place early March). My priority leading up to the surgery and month following it has been to look after my fitness, through as much physical activity as possible. I decided to take a complete break from studying and work outdoors as much as I felt able on our small holding; avoiding sedentary time in front of a computer screen. I’ve not thought much about photography during this period. However, I’m now able to return to study and progressing my photography practice, while taking care to avoid excessive screen time.

Good to be back!

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Initial tutor discussion

Keith Roberts is my SYP tutor – I specifically requested a tutor based in the North of England, who has direct experience of that cultural environment. It is apparently unusual to swap from existing L3 tutors – my BoW tutor is London based and my CS tutor (doesn’t tutor SYP). However, I consider the advantage of a tutor who is familiar with the local practice environment outweighs the potential disadvantage of a lack of familiarity with my BoW. Keith’s own practice is based around portraiture and people’s stories so there is useful common ground there too.

Keith tutored me on the level 1 course, Context and Narrative, which I completed early June 2016, over 4 years ago. We caught up over Zoom on 21 October to reintroduce ourselves and talk about a forward plan for SYP.

I note a couple of points from our discussion, excluding the general small-talk and the eternal league vs union discussion.

  • I explained the status of my BoW and CS and that I would mainly be focussing on wrapping that up over the coming month or so, before starting SYP in earnest. We agreed that I would submit A1 when ever ready and that there was no particular rush (I’m working to the original 2 year SYP timeline – though hope I won’t need it all).
  • I briefly talked about my BoW and CS topics and agreed to send the completed works to Keith when done. He suggested looking at the work of Lawrence Cassidy (, on the gentrification of Salford and talked about his subversive exhibition in the Lowry Gallery, where he pasted the images of the traditional locals to the gallery walls with the intention that they shouldn’t be removed (a wall-papery reminder!). I’ll look at this separately as it seems to resonate with the loss of working class culture along the canals.

It was good catching up and I’m looking forward to working with Keith on the final stage of the degree!

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