Response to Tutor Feedback on Assignment 5

My tutor’s response is detailed, comprehensive and generally very positive. I also had the benefit of a follow-up telephone conversation which enabled further clarification of his comments.


The feedback PDF is attached, but I thought it useful to revisit aspects that I think are particularly important – especially when I reach the point of preparing for formal Assessment.The sentences in italics are quoted from my tutor’s written feedback and provide a positive foundation for me in considering some of his queries and suggestions that also appear at the head of each section below.

Overall Comments

Your final assignment for Context & Narrative is very good, your aims and objectives have been visualised to a good degree.  The final image works and contains some intriguing signs and connotations; one of which is about who took the photo! Your selective ‘setting-up’ contact sheets are quite interesting, which could possibly be developed into a triptych for the final submission.

The research is strong, with some excellent observations, coupled with your other visual investigations, which have great potential for further development. Overall, your tableau is interesting and pulls the viewer into your domestic setting, allowing them to read the subtle signs and start to piece together possible discourses.

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

Technically, your image is very successful, it evidences your strong technical investigations coupled with being an interesting and engaging shot.

 Would the effect of the subtle signs have been stronger if done in a very overt and conspicuous way?

a.The subtle signs were created through my intention to leave the photograph as open as possible to a viewer’s interpretation and so I think that more conspicuous ones would have been more directive and closed.

What was the balance and collaborative nature of the image?

a. This relates to my husband’s involvement. I had thought I made it clear in the assignment write-up here  that I was the one who researched and devised the concept, created the tableau, and made the decision on camera and lights settings after experimentation and placement of the lights. At the point of pressing the shutter release I was on the wrong side of the camera for the wireless remote to work properly and so I asked my husband to press it for me. I could have moved seats but had been determined as to where each of us should sit. I could have cloned out the shutter release switch but chose not to do so.

Quality of Outcome

Your ideas and intentions have been communicated very effectively, your single image does provide some interesting avenues of thought. You have applied yourself very effectively, drawing together ideas and notions from previous projects that feed into this one, which evidences a sustained and responsive approach to learning.

Is the uncanny evident or does it lie on the periphery of a banality?

a. I do think I achieved an image that was more ‘uncanny’ than ‘banal’. The overall lighting and placement gave an impression of a scene that appeared realistic yet slightly odd – almost too perfect, like a wax tableau.

Demonstration of Creativity

It is good that the shoot happened quite ephemerally but could it have been developed through conducting some tester shoots and responding to those?

a. The shoot did happen ephemerally in one sense but two ideas and earlier experiments came together in the impulse to create the shot at that particular moment. As referred to in my earlier write-ups on the assignment, I had experimented with posed self-portraits and a visual dialogue with my alter ego in the lead-up to Assignment 3. I now wanted to create a three-way communication between the subjects in my image and a viewer. I knew I wanted the image to include the Christmas Tree. In fact I had delayed any photographing until the tree was set up. Once the tree was there and I was looking at it with all those thoughts in my mind I knew that this was the right time to start taking photographs.

The ‘random element’ of the dog adds depth and introduces a chaotic element but could I have made any other additions or subtractions that may have suggested more challenging discourses – such as direction of gaze/s, facing away from the camera, all the tree decorations fallen on the floor?

a. I wanted our faces to be in view. We could have been looking at each other but I think it would have been more difficult for us not to react to each other – for us to smile, our faces soften, to become ‘real’ and show our natural feelings towards each other. If that had happened then I would not have created my version of ‘uncanny’.

A totally random image, which popped into my head, was seeing all of the decorations fallen on the floor under the tree. Perhaps something a little more obscure and out of place may have worked, something that does not belong?

a. Decorations fallen under the tree could certainly fit with an earlier query regarding the effect of ‘signs’ if done in a very overt and conspicuous way. That might be too obvious though – could suggest a relationship falling apart, arrangements broken etc. What could be more obscure? There are no presents under the tree, maybe if there was just one present. I’m not sure.

A main recommendation to experiment using two of the test shots to form a triptych with an example of one that puts the dog in command of the scene. Additionally two further artists to explore.

a. Certainly I created a triptych layout previously on my tutor’s recommendation as a follow-up to Assignment 3 and it worked very well. The suggestion of a ‘dog’ layout is a clever idea but would this move the mood away from ‘uncanny’ towards the ‘banal’, turn the concept into a joke somehow. Put together with the main image would it then take away from mood I set out to create? I have time to think more on this before submitting for formal Assessment.


The research component of this submission has been excellent, your have indeed developed your personal voice. The overall project evidences a high level of self-awareness, the prose and language is very articulate and engaging.

The post, titled ‘Approaching the assignment’ was very good and your side project into archives was excellent. This is indeed a project to develop; it has depth and research potential to perhaps even carry forward into your final level (HE6) studies.

Re using a different approach to writing the reflection for this assignment by waiting for the blog comments. Does this provide more, did I manage to extrapolate any other points or readings about the work that I was not already aware of?

a. I chose a different approach this time because I wanted to test how my intention to create an ‘open’ narrative had worked and to include that in the reflection. I liked the idea of fitting my reflection to my concept whilst still then using the criteria headings. There were different types of comments, some of which also recognised that even a title would have directed a viewer. I certainly did extrapolate other points/readings or, rather, feedback highlighted aspects of my life/relationship that are usually in the background. For instance, the push/pull of seeking companionship yet fighting for independence, how a long relationship can lead to confluence (dressing similarly sometimes) and how having a pet can be so important in providing both a purpose in life and a sharing of time together.

Learning Logs or blogs

Your learning log is an extensive resource and provides the viewer with much information into your research, direction and progress through your studies. Reading about the Thames Valley Group meetings is great; this is an incredible and supportive group that truly embodies the nature of peer support and strengthens the practice of distance learners, hopefully your group is becoming an inspiration to other distance learners.

aThames Valley group has certainly played an important part in my development, providing peer feedback, support and inspiration. I do feel fortunate in having such a network available to me on both a group and individual basis. They have spurred me on at times when I have thought I might not continue.

Interim Thoughts

I  feel pleased and relieved that the feedback has been generally positive. It is comprehensive and has given me much to think on further during the period up to submission for formal Assessment.


Revisiting Assignment 5 : 23rd May 2016

I have continued to ponder my tutor’s suggestion regarding creating the triptych and have put one together.  However, I still think that, although it adds humour it still moves towards the banal which is not the intention behind my creation of the image. Due to the Module completion deadline my submission to my tutor was digital/via this blog.  I intend to submit one print of the chosen image for assessment whilst the diptych will be included in my Assignment Preparation folder.