Week 1 Reflection – 31.01.20

Week 1 Reflection Friday 31st January 2020

This week has been a bit of struggle for me , I admit. I hadn’t realised until I attended the first seminar just how far behind I was on working on the weeks concepts. I had watched the videos, and printed off the transcripts, but attending the seminar was like listening to people talking a different language. By the time I had worked out what was going on, the subject had moved on to something else. It wasn’t necessarily that I wasn’t able to understand what was being discussed (but there was an element of that) but that the vocabulary wasn’t as readily accessible in my brain as it was for some of the other students, it was taking me time to access the correct vocabulary, by which time the conversation had evolved more or moved on. Even concepts like Modernism and post modernism that I have read about, know about, and experienced many times, seemed to be moving slowly in my head. I came away from the seminar, feeling quite deflated but determined to catch up.

I came out of the webinar and I started going back over the content. As well as reading the first chapter of Barthes Image music Text  I collected up the printed transcripts and went through them again first on my own just reading them, and then again , following them along whilst listening to the video presentations at the same time. Much like when I listened to/read Sontag’s On photography on module 1, when I first tried reading it, I found I was reading the same few lines over and over again, but as soon as I read it along with the audiobook, it allowed me to absorb it in a different way, whereby it then made sense to me, I think going forward this is how I will approach my learning this module where possible, as it seems I learn much more effectively like this.

Whilst going through the transcripts I highlighted the sections relevant to me , my practice, and the most poignant parts of the discussion, I also used it as a place to write down all the definitions for the words I didn’t understand, so that when I came across them again I was able to go back to them. I think I would of found it very useful for this module if we had been given a list of terms and definitions. However, I remember thinking this at the start of the course as well, and that all came pretty quickly. It would just be nice to have those to hand so that I could move on to the learning without needing to google terms. I suppose though, that this is how we retain most effectively, and I do see the benefit of self facilitated learning and the subsequent absorption of information. This was shown in the fact that once I had gone through all of the information in this way I found not only did I understand it better, I found I was linking it to my work, and to the work of other artists that I have studied. The benefit of this was being able to go back over the weeks forums as well and having a better understanding of what the other students points were, and being able to contribute more effectively to the conversation myself. The other thing I found was that, I don’t think it was only a case of not understanding what was being discussed, but that we had had so long off between sustainable prospects and the this module over Christmas and New year, that my brain had gone into a sort of hibernation where I stopped using the vocabulary, and therefore found it took some time to get back into. Going forward, this has just shown me that in-between the next two modules I instead will make sure to continue reading some texts so as to not let that happen again as ultimately it is harder in the long run .

week 1 review

Figure 1, iPhone Image © Graham. Rebecca. 2020.



I have decided to add in here my notes, & selected quotes, on and from the texts for ease of reference later on in the module and indeed the course.

Barthes 1977 – the channel of transmission. Relates to how images are harnessed into differing contexts/communications.

Emission – Me

Transmission – Gallery/Book/Instagram/Website etc

Reception – the public that consumes the image

“the structure of the photograph is not an isolated structure; it is in communication with at least one other structure, namely the text, title , caption or article.” ( Barthes, 1977. pg 16 )

Bate discusses the interwoven and overlapping contexts of the image and how they are everywhere and in everything in the modern day. (Bate : 2013) 

Price says the use of the image defines what it means (Price : 1994 )

Berger says “An image is a sight that has been recreated or reproduced” ( Berger : 1972. Pg 9 )

Kracauer – acknowledgement of images communicating in different ways depending on how they are viewed/consumed (

Szarkowski – “The photographers eye” 

what photos look like

why they look like that

focuses on the photographer and their ‘selection’

mechanical , yet subjective

based on the 1964 moms exhibition

saw photography as a valid art form

5 characteristics ; the thing itself, the detail, the frame, time, the vantage point.

“A photograph evokes the tangible presence of reality” (Szarkowski, 1966. pg 12)

Szarkowski was interested in the photographers eye where as Stephen shore was more interested in the photograph as an object.

Shore – interested in how we both construct and understand photographs. Talks of the levels of an image and the creating of it, he calls these the -

Physical level

Depictive level

Mental level

“If I don’t make pictures like this, people like my mother will think that war is what we see in the movies.” ( Jarecke , in reference to his 1991 image ‘incinerated Iraqi soldier in truck’)

“The photographer was tied to the facts of things, and it was his problem to force the facts to tell the truth.” (Szarkowski. 1966. pg 8)

Shore states it is the photographers job to see an invisible picture and make it come to life

Alec Soth “The best photographs always inspire curiosity rather than satisfy it”

“A photograph is only a minute fragment of an experience but quite a precise, detailed and telling fragment. And although it may only provide little clues, the photographer is telling us that they are very important clues.”

Shore “The photographic image turns a piece of paper into a seductive illusion, or a moment of truth and beauty.”

Colberg who critiqued Squires what is a photograph show in New York stated “In a day and age where the majority of photographs exist in ephemeral form , tying an inquiry into what a photograph actually is, to experimentation by very art world centred humans around materials, simply missed most of the excitement.”


The final thing I would add to this is when I was talking over the issue of what is a photograph with some of my cohort. I made the opinion quite off hand and out the blue that I think captures, for me, what a photograph is. To me, I said a photograph was simply “A PALER SHADE OF A MEMORY, LIKE DREAMING OF A MEMORY.” It does not address how a photograph is formed, or how it speaks, it’s hidden meanings and metaphors, and all the things we can read into it, but for me, a photograph is a memory, not as bright, not as crisp, not as stinging, but still, a memory of a life once lived. 


References / Images / Bibliography

Art term. Modernism. Tate. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/m/modernism (Accessed 31.01.20)

Art term. Post modernism. Tate https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/p/postmodernism (Accessed 31.01.20)


Barthes, Roland. 1977. Image music textThe photographic message. Fontana press.

Bate, David . (2013) ‘The digital condition of photography : cameras, computers and display.’ in Lister, Martin (ed.) The photographic image in digital culture.  (2nd edition)

Jarecke. 1991. Incinerated Iraqi soldier in truck

Price, Mary. 1994. The photograph, a strange, confined space. California; Standford university press.

Sontag, Susan. 1977. On photography.  London, Penguin. (Accessed 31.01.20)

Stephen Shore . 2007. The nature of photographs. London. Phaidon.

Szarkowski, 1966. The photographers eye. New York. Museum of Modern Art:


Week 1 review iPhone Image © Graham. Rebecca. 2020.


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