Week 4 webinars 16.02.20

Week 4 webinars 16.02.20

This weekend I have taken part in two peer to peer reviews. One on Saturday evening that I organised with some members of my own cohort who have struggled to make it to make it to webinars so far, and one Sunday morning with various people from different cohorts that Len contacted and put together.

Both of these webinars were really helpful to me in different ways, and I got some really great, and really helpful feedback from the attendees of both of the webinars. Interestingly the two webinars the responses seemed to be quite different in how they thought I should proceed.

Firstly, R , who was at the webinar with Sarah on Thursday commented that on first look he had preferred the image of the room with the map, but looking again he really liked the image of the shed now as he saw it as a natural, spontaneous image, whereas in the original webinar he thought it looked ‘flat’ . 

I actually agree with his opinion, that the image, that it does looks flat, however for me, that is part of the appeal of the image. It is like a 2d rendition of a complicated 4d situation. It’s all about the lines and the horizons and the way the puzzle ‘fits’ together, a motif for the way a family fits together, and the complicated, intricate dynamics of every family. 

I discussed the possibility of me retaking this image of the shed, and how that will be an interesting prospect, when I originally took this photograph I was a ‘farmer’ or a ‘gatherer’ I took the image as it presented itself to me at a given moment, however if I then go out and reshoot this image to better illustrate the effect of it now after more storms, I will of turned into a hunter, where I go out purposely to create an image, it would become a constructed image that I had no direct part in constructing, but constructed none the less.

I then discussed the photograph of the map and chair in the room, and how it is too, both a constructed, and non constructed scene, and how all my photographs are essentially playing with the boundaries of the constructed and non constructed image, and how this is also symbolic of what we do, not quite in one sphere, not quite in the other our life seems to teeter between societal boundaries.  My images also hold this ‘trace’ of a person/people we have been discussing in the last couple of weeks … “… photograph is not only an image (as a painting is an image), an interpretation of the real; it is also a trace, something directly stenciled off the real, like a footprint or a death mask” (Sontag. 2008; pg. 154).

I then touched on the fact that I wished that I had incorporated the motif of the bird within my image, like Crewdson did in ‘Beneath the roses’ to symbolise the possibilities of another life.

I discussed the staged still-life-esque images will be being set against the plaster backdrop to keep the continuity of images, and also to keep that metaphor for the child representing a new person, a clean slate, read to go out into the world and become whatever they wish to be, the possibilities are endless. 

One attendee expressed that they really liked how calm and quiet the images were and how much they liked that.

I discussed how the image of my son that is the thumbnail for this post was a spontaneous moment of my youngest, wearing half of his pj’s still, and he had grabbed his dads shoes to try and get outside quickly and see what his brother and dad were doing outside (they were fixing the roof) . I explained how I liked that on first glance this image shows no education, but when you have the correct mindset to see it, education is everywhere, in everything they do, there was education in his curiosity to see what his brother and dad were doing, education in him trying to get this shoes on and working out how to walk in shoes that were 9 sizes to big for him, education when he stood outside our house his t-shirt filled with air like a sail, him not being able to move because of the strength of the wind against him whilst he was wearing these over sized shoes, and education in the fact his mother stopped him to to take a photograph of the moment, the knowledge that I valued this ordinary moment, of absolutely nothing. The knowledge that to his mum, a moment when he was doing nothing seemingly exciting or important (in his eyes) , that I saw beauty and excitement, and a ‘moment worth capturing’.  

It was also noted how all of us present had altered our projects this module, for one reason or another to be able to complete them at home. I found this interesting, is it this stage of the MA that creates this limbo time, or is the wintery months making us wanting to cocoon ourselves, or indeed is it the amount of reading we are doing this module, that is making us all feel the necessity to be in our own homes, and to allot our time wisely. Of course it may also be entirely coincidental and just be the people that were in the webinar !

We discussed the possibility of including photographs of my children where the children aren’t recognisable to get around my discomfort of taking the staged tableaux this module.

It was suggested that once I have done the WIP for this module I print off the two WIP’s and put them all together and see how , or indeed if, they fit together, or which fit together.

 

ON THE SECOND WEBINAR , I was advised to look at the work of Ralph Meatyard who photographed his children with masks on . We also discussed my issues that I am going through at the moment, centering around the irony and juxtaposition of me both completing an MA myself, whilst simultaneously shunning ‘the system’. It goes much deeper than this, I have four children, all of whom who were essentially unschooled before one chose a path to go to university to study art – and wanted to do his A-levels to achieve that, and one has chosen to sit the exams needed to try and get into Oxford university. Subsequently, our days used to have lots of spontaneous travel, little structure and no regulation of any kind, so the fact we have one person doing an MA, one doing A-levels, and one doing GCSE’s this year puts us in a certain level of discomfort not felt by our family since we were in the school system 5 years ago. Thats not to say we don’t absolutely love it, we do, all three of us, but there is no denying, it infringes on a way of life that consisted of completely following your own interests , in your own time, and that it is a big adjustment for any family.

DEFINITION OF UNSCHOOLING Q: What is unschooling?
A:  Unschooling is a term that the late John Holt coined in the late ‘v70′s to describe learning that is based on a child’s interests and needs. Unschooling does not begin with a parent’s notion of what is important to learn and then turn the choices of how to learn the content over to a child. Rather, it begins with the child’s natural curiosity and expands from there. Unschooling is not “instruction free” learning. If a child wants to learn to read, an unschooling parent may offer instruction by providing help with decoding, reading to the child, and giving the child ample opportunity to encounter words. If the child is uninterested in these supports, the parent backs off until the child asks for help. The most important thing about the unschooling process is that the child is in charge of the learning, not the adult. Unschoolers often do no traditional school work, yet they do learn traditional subject matter. They learn it as a natural extension of exploring their own personal interests.

Definition of unschooling, Sandra Dodd.com

One of the students actually sent me the following quote by Marcus Aurelius from his book meditations, which I actually knew about as my son read Meditations before doing his philosophy GCSE’s a couple of years ago, and is a big fan ! 

“From my great-grandfather: not to have attended schools for the public; to have had good teachers at home, and to realize that this is the sort of thing on which one should spend lavishly.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

We then discussed the fact, and it was essentially presented to me that I should basically embrace how personal this story is that I am telling, and explore how far I can do with that. It was suggested, very Kindly, that this is a safe place, and I should feel free to use this safe space, before the MA finishes, to explore the subject fully within the safety of the webinars , and how if I do this, I may find that the things I saw as barriers, don’t need to be as much of a barrier as they are, and it may lead to me re-assessing what my barriers are, and there making some really important work, and that make photographing around these boundaries and areas I see as boundaries will be my most interesting work. We then discussed that I could always take those photographs, and not share them at all, at least if I have taken them, I can see how I feel about it moving forward. It was really, a super supportive space to be in, and to feel that I could share without being judged or questioned over why I had chosen to photograph something, it was a very supportive webinar, and made me feel really positive moving forward with the project.

It was mentioned that they really liked the photographing of the traces of the childrens education, and not necessarily even needing to have the children in the photographs. Something I am very much keen to explore more.

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

SONTAG, SUSAN. 2008. ON PHOTOGRAPHY. LONDON; PENGUIN CLASSICS. 

 

Websites

Meatyard, Ralph. Fraenkel Gallery. Available at https://fraenkelgallery.com/artists/ralph-eugene-meatyard (Accessed 17.02.20)

Dodd, Sandra. Definitions of unschooling. Available at https://sandradodd.com/unschool/definition (Accessed 17.02.20)

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