Pre-assesment tutorial / assignment 6

I had a google hangout with Russell a few weeks ago which gave me the opportunity to discuss how best to prepare for assessment in July.


You have tacked this unit very thoroughly ; throughout you have contextually pushed yourself and experimented with various rework suggestions and further investigations. From the first assignment exploring the portrait based collages of your family , to the recent construction of the fictitious family album , there is a strong connective theme“.

Main points below ; I shall add further posts as each section is amended.

Aim to construct a polished body of work that exemplifies your current practice and investigation into the culture of the digital image

I have already reworked some of the amendments suggested (posts to follow)

Assignment 1. Combined image (4 to 6 portraits using cut and paste + digital montage)
I want to re-work the first assignment as I’m not happy with my initial collages which were converted to B&W and stuck onto black card. I have three new cut and paste collages in addition to the original digital montage of my mother and granddaughter. These will submitted as physical artefacts and Russell suggests presenting the cut and paste montages in shallow white box-frames without the glass which I think will work well. I shall print the digital montage too but am not too sure if this should also be presented in a box-frame , but I feel it will probably will be best to do this to make the presentation more methodical. I shall start looking for suitable frames.

Assignment 2. The Archive
To be presented as a printed Blurb book with the amendments suggested which have already been done. Just ensure I am happy with the layout etc before ordering. I had a Blurb book printed of the original version but am more than happy to purchase another copy of the amended version for assessment. I asked Russell what he thought about a larger hard-backed book but he felt a small soft-cover is fine and more representative of a typical collection of family photographs.

Assignment 3. The Critical Review
I need to amend my essay and will start working on this shortly.
This will be printed for assignment and Russell also suggests comb-binding. What I’ve usually done for previous assessments is to buy an A4 presentation folder with clear sleeves. Space lines at 1.5.

Assignments 4/5 Digital Identities
Only slight adjustments are needed for Assignment 4/5 as per tutor feedback assignment 5. If I want experiment further with music for the video’s. No prints are needed , the Telling Stories Blog and Instagram page are fine as a Web based submission. I might however print a few of the montages to accompany my submission.


Assignment 5 : Conclusion

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

My use of digital manipulation has certainly been challenged but I am becoming increasing confident using both Lightroom and Photoshop to alter and digitise analogue and further manipulate digital imagery. Rather than using personal imagery the assignment consists of either impersonal digital stock images or bought analogue photographs used to create a subjective narrative.

Quality of outcome

I’m happy that I fulfilled the assignment brief that explores notions of identity in a digital society where truth is increasingly nebulous . The Telling Stories blog and fake Instagram account are ideal platforms for such a project.

Demonstration of creativity

I feel that the assignment is one of the more creative and also challenging ones I have completed and am pleased with the outcome. One thing I found rather strange initially was not taking any photographs myself after following Russell’s suggestion to only use orphaned photographs or downloaded images. I feel I have built up a convincing fake family story from my miscellaneous collection of bought analogue photographs and digital stock images . I did try to look for specific photographs on eBay that were perhaps a bit unusual or I could see a physical resemblance between the characters I was creating.


Its been hard to keep up to date with my college work due to personal issues and work commitments, however I have managed to research and experiment to a reasonable degree over the past few months. I would have liked to have spent more time on the Telling Stories narrative but needed to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion within the time frame I had left to complete the course.

Future development

My interest in appropriation is something I want to explore in greater depth.

Social media offers a great opportunity to generate false realities and my fake Florence Fountain Instagram account now has over 125 followers. I am continuing to add content to the account but one major drawback is the amount of time I need to spend on it when I really should be doing something else. However I intend to keep the account ongoing but in the future might need to start paying for stock photography to keep the account both believable and innovative. I will continue to record my ongoing work with stock images on my DI&C blog for the fake Instagram images until assessment and plan to continue working on this project at Level 3.

I logged my expectations when starting the course in May 2016:

Social media sites such as Facebook & Instagram enable the user to create an on-line persona that is far removed from reality and quite easily adopt an alternative digital identity.
The course notes encourage being social –‘given the content of this course you are strongly encouraged to embrace all things socially networked and embedded within digital culture ……….you’ll benefit greatly form first-hand experience with applications and websites such as Twitter , Facebook and Flickr’ .
I have Facebook , Flickr , and Instagram accounts and already waste far too much time looking through the daily posts , perhaps I need to view more selectively or I shall never get any coursework done !

I would like to continue with Telling Stories too as I left myself with the potential to expand further on my fictitious family tales but might also contemplate a totally different narrative based on a real life event. I recently came across a body of work that excited me greatly — something that I intend to research and explore at Level 3 .

What I found refreshing when working towards the assignment was being able to let my imagination run free. By altering the context appropriated imagery demonstrates how a photograph is not fixed in time but is a fluid and malleable artefact with limitless ways of being interpreted; it challenges notions of originality and ownership.

Tutor feedback: Assignment 5

I received my feedback very quickly and am more than happy with Russell’s response:

You have developed this project into a very engaging and convincing narrative that has much potential for further development………..The technical experiments and contextualisation is strong, which supports this level of study very suitably” .

There are a couple of considerations and changes suggested.

The introduction to the assignment is very good” but I need to write up “a more structured conclusion” and discuss the “assignment’s overall dissemination and possible future development” . I shall do this next; blog post to follow.

I shall replace the two layered images below as Russell feels they are “ a bit disjointed from the series” and in retrospect I agree.

I am going to use the original photograph of the soldiers and girls below in place of the poppy layered version and have been looking for another image to represent the house but without much luck.

I have re-worked the Pexels image again -see below– but am not too happy with it so will continue with my processing but I am looking on eBay to see if there is something more suitable.

The structure of the blog to contain this fictitious narrative is good; you have put a lot of work into the layout and design , which is good ” but Russell suggests an area to experiment with is to try different themes for the Telling Stories blog just to see how they look. However my blog is not self-hosted hence I am unable to try the two he suggests (Equable Lite & Magnus). So I have had a look at a couple of the free themes specifically for writers and will comment more on how this goes , take screen shots and possibly change the theme as I amend my assignments ready for assessment.

The movies were successful , Russell wonders if “this could be taken further to really push and distort the reality“, that’s definitely something to consider. He also suggests constructing “a spoken word account of the story” I must admit I am not over-confident about that as I have no idea where I would start and my rather Brummie accent might be off-putting !

Russell suggests I look at how John Stezaker compares to Richard Prince , the former works with physical photographs whilst “Prince favours appropriation , subverting the ownership” of digital imagery.

I also had a google hangout with Russell two weeks ago , my Pre-assessment tutorial : post to follow.

Assignment 5 : Digital Identities 2

This assignment is presented on a dedicated blog : link below

Telling Stories

Prior to the post-photographic era ‘the visual discourses of recorded fact and imaginative construction were conveniently segregated. But the emergence of digital imaging has irrevocably subverted these certainties’ (W,Mitchell. p.p 225).

The work for this assignment explores concepts of memory and identity using appropriated imagery. All of the analogue photographs have been bought from either eBay or junk shops them digitally scanned , reprocessed and re-interpreted by me. In addition to the physical prints I have also downloaded digital files from the web using free stock photos that are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) and processed these too using Adobe Lightroom and occasionally Photoshop. Because ‘the lineage of an image file is usually untraceable, and there may be no way to determine whether it is a freshly captured , unmanipulated record or a mutation of a mutation—-notions of individual authorial responsibility for image content, authorial determination of meaning , and authorial prestige are correspondingly diminished’ (Mitchell, W. pp 51-2).

Encouraged by my tutor the accompanying text became a really important element of the work. In the January 2018 issue of Black + White Photography editor Elizabeth Roberts discusses how ‘images and text should be born together, nurtured and fed as though they were twins. Simply adding text on , as an afterthought , seems unsatisfactory’ (Roberts, E. 2018). By using text along with imagery for the Telling Stories blog I am creating a new literary and visual reality regardless of the fact that it is totally fictitious and my online ‘family’ completely non-existent. I’ve included some composite images but because merged layers can be ambiguous and open to interpretation the addition of text guides my viewer to ‘see’ and imagine what I want them to visualise and believe.

Unlike real life a digital identity can be easily modified ; you can portray yourself and your family as anything you want them to be. ‘In general , if an image follows the convention of photography and seems internally coherent, if the visual evidence that it presents supports the caption …..then we feel justified in the attitude that seeing is believing’ (W,Mitchell. p.p 43). Baudrillard suggests we find it impossible in a postmodern era to distinguish between reality and trickery , that there is no difference between actuality and its replication but solely the simulacrum.The main body of my work is on a dedicated blog Telling Stories and hopefully fulfils what Baudrillard calls the 3rd order of simulacra and is successful in tricking viewers to misinterpret the stories to be an actuality; the hyperreal as fact. I like to think of my stories as an authentic hyperreality which ironically is an oxymoronic term: a genuine fake!

In addition I have linked a hoax Instagram account to the blog that can also be accessed independently via a mobile phone app, this now has nearly 50 followers. I initially had have reservations about downloading and using someone else’s digital imagery in my own practice , my fake Instagram account only features what was originally someone else’s digital file. Unlike analogue photography ‘digital images—do not even have unique negatives. An image file may be copied endlessly , and the copy is distinguishable from the original only by its date since there is no loss of quality—-The original image file may be destroyed within a short time of its creation, but many of its descendants may live on…..Does each application of a new rendering procedure produce a new original work of art ? ‘ (Mitchell,W. p.p 49–50) . The majority of the images dowloaded from Pexels have been converted from colour to monotone with the exception of one and I feel my processing reinvents and therefore makes them uniquely mine.

I have also included three videos in the stories featuring a few of my appropriated photographs using a pseudonym for the Vimeo account.

Using appropriation the function of my purchased yet once private analogue images has been irrevocably altered. “By definition , a photograph is a discernible marker of what has been . It becomes a part of history the moment to is taken. The world changes and we change , yet photographs remain static visual clues to the past. The semblance of truth in these images , however , is illusionary , especially now in our digital age. What stimulates the imagination is that every photograph contains an interweaving of obvious facts and subtle fictions” (Robert Flynn Johnson. 2009. p.p 14).

Furthermore the ambiguity of found analogue photography and digital files downloaded from stock photo sites has such possibilities for future projects with the combination of digital technology. It grants the elusive gift of immortality and the possibility of endless re-incarnations when used in different contexts.

References / Bibliography

 Batchen , G. “Dreams of an ordinary life. Cartes-de-visite and the bourgeois imagination”  ( 2009) In Long , J. Noble , A . Welch , E. (eds)  Photography Theoretical Snapshots: London : Routledge.
p.p 80-97
Boyd ,W. (2011) Nat Tate. London:Bloomsbury
Boyd ,W. (2016) Sweet Caress. London:Bloomsbury
Cooksey ,J.(2017) Vest Pocket Kodak and the First World War.East Susses UK: Ammonite Press
Cumming , L. 4/7/10. Camille Silvy :Photographer of Modern Life ; Fiona Banner Duveens Commission 2010. the
Accessed online 30/8/17
Daly , T. (2018) “Taped and Temporary” Black + White Photography (Issue 212) p.p 56-59.
Fontcuberta , J . (2014) Pandora’s camera. United Kingdom :Mack
House , C. (2015) William Boyd on the photos that inspired Sweet Caress (online)
Accessed 2/11/17
Johnson , R.F. (2009) Being human .London :Thames & Hudson
Lister , M. (ed) (2013) The photographic image in digital culture . 2nd edition.London:Taylor & Francis
W, Mitchell. (2001) The Reconfigured Eye :Visual Truth in the Post-Photogrpahic Era. Cambridge Massachusetts : The MIT Press.
Page , B. (2015) William Boyd Interview (online)
Accessed 11/11/17
Parkin, Simon. 2015.  Back-up brains : The era of digital immortality
online accessed 24/8/17
Riggs , R. (2013) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children . Philadelphia US: Quirk Books
Riggs, R. (2014) Hollow City . Philadelphia US: Quirk Books
Riggs , R. (2015) Library of Souls . Philadelphia US: Quirk Books
Riggs, R. (2012) Talking Pictures . NewYork:ItBooks
Roberts , E. (2017) “On Finding the Right Words” Black + White Photography (Issue 206) p.p1
Roberts , E. (2018) “The Possibilities of Language” Black + White Photography (Issue 211) p.p1
Shrimpton, J. (2014) Tracing your Ancestors through Family Photographs. Pen & Sword:Barnsley UK.
Smithson , A. MadgeCameron:Fixed. Lenscratch online 7/3/2015
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Telling Stores final update

The Epilogue to Telling Stories has now been posted.

It consists of four photographs bought from eBay.

Telling Stories : Progress update

The penultimate chapter in my Telling Stories blog has been posted

See The Skeleton in the Cupboard for context.

I’ve merged two photographs bought from eBay of the same child taken a year apart. They are both picture postcards and had been sent as a Xmas and New Year greeting.

On the back of each is the same message but one is dated 1910 and the other 1911. My fictional character Pearl is born in 1906 so these are ideal to represent her new persona.

The photograph of Pearl’s fictional parents is another eBay purchase but I have no other information about where or when it was taken. Looking at the clothes it can be dated to the early 1900’s.

Pearl’s fictional parents

The photograph of the adult Pearl is also from eBay with quite a bit of information on the back.

I’ve found this information about Dudley Glanfield but am unable to locate any information about ‘Kathleen Joyce’.

I did make some other variations using this photograph but decided not to use either of these.