I’ve spoken before of the damaging feedback I got from my first Landscape course assignment, and how I’d decided at that time to give up on the course completely. After a year’s break from it I was feeling better about things, and was missing the structure it provided. I had a bit of a change of heart and decided to go for it after all. I was given a six-month extension which runs out in February and I’ve just realised that I really need to get my act into gear if I’m going to have any chance of completing by then. I’m hoping I might be able to get another extension, but there are never any guarantees. As things stand, I not only have to get three more assignments completed by then, I also want to redo Assignment 1 – the one that got all the flack.
I’ve had an idea about this one for a while. The assignment was to produce 12 images that ‘capture the feel of the current season’ and asked for our personal response to it. However I’ve realised since I’ve started studying here that nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems from the course materials. For one thing the written materials for this particular course are quite out of date and seem to be encouraging an overly traditional and rather hackneyed type of landscape photography. Conversation on various forums, however, has made it clear that this is not what’s wanted at all. A more creative/fresh/innovative approach is what’s required and somehow we’re supposed to disregard what’s in the notes and second guess this………..
I can be a little slow sometimes, but when I started studying photography it took a while before I caught on that what they really wanted from us is work in the conceptual mould – the idea behind the work is regarded as being as important as the image itself (and quite often more important). I have very mixed feelings about this – I’m more into photography for the visual pleasure of it and, having studied philosophy in depth, feel that I’ve done my time on cogitating over ideas and concepts. I also wonder if the visual arts are the right place for the kind of idea that’s got more to do with intellect than emotion; sometimes I think literature or philosophy would serve them better. Anyway, the system isn’t going to change anytime soon, so the challenge was to come up with something that satisfied both these aspects.
I began to think about what spring means to me (it was spring at the time). Two things came to mind: the return of light and the return of colour. Of the two, colour is the one that means most to me – in winter there is still light, even if it’s flat and grey a lot of the time, and of course you do get the occasional sunny day even in the UK, but colour virtually disappears.
So I thought I would make colour the focus of attention. I wasn’t sure how best to do this, but while I was thinking through the problem I also began to think about my training in colour analysis – you know, that thing where you’re shown which colours flatter you most, make you look younger, healthier, and smoother of skin. It was a fun thing to do for people, and amazing to see how much difference the ‘right’ colours made to them (and of course the colours are divided into ‘seasonal types’). But one of the things that’s frustrating when it comes to buying clothes is that only certain colours are available each year – the ones that happen to be in fashion – so you can’t always get the ones that suit you best. I used to think it was just as well that nature didn’t have the same attitude, so that only flowers in fashionable colours were allowed to bloom each year, and that led me to thinking about how we take something beautiful and natural and turn it into a commodity to be bought and sold.
So I thought I’d run with this idea and turn my photos into ‘swatches’ that represented the dominant colour in the image. I must admit the whole conceptual thing feels a little bit contrived for me – it seems to have far more to do with intellect than any kind of ‘feeling’ response to the subject – but if it lets me take the kind of photos I want to and keeps the tutors happy then I can live with it. These are my first few attempts – these might not be my final choices when it comes to images, but it gives an idea of what I’m trying to achieve. The colours and colour names are taken from the Spring colour chart supplied online by Colour Me Beautiful.