Monday, 19 April 2010

Critical Summary.

The following is my critical summary as included at the front of my reflective journal, looking back over the last semester and how my work has developed.
  • In semester one I started exploring British society and in particular the working class. I adopted quite a personal approach and identity in relation to said themes became very important to me. I started creating a number of paintings while looking at photographers such as Martin Parr and Iain Dobie and their scenes of everyday Britain. I realised that the energy in my paintings was coming from my own frustration and insecurities surrounding my own identity, feeling working class but living a traditionally middle class lifestyle. The last painting I created in semester one was a large scale history painting (looking at Jorg Immendorff) and I felt it was quite unsuccessful; it became too bogged down by composition and lost the fluidity and spontaneity that were evident in all my other pieces. This was a difficult point to end on entering a long break and I decided that going in semester two I needed to refresh and try something new.
  • I had been watching a number of British social realist films throughout semester one as research and continued this into semester two with renewed energy. I realised this was an interesting and perhaps the most appropriate medium in which to tackle the themes I had been exploring. Feeling despondent about my painting I decided to start writing short monologues for fictional characters. I felt very self conscious about these pieces, perhaps because in some instances they alluded to person feelings. Being influenced by films by directors such as Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Tony Richardson I decided to incorporate my writing into short films tackling issues of everyday life in Britain, in relation to identity, society, politics and economics. I felt that my writing was a much stronger way of approaching these themes than painting and allowed me to communicate what I was trying to get across. I wanted the short films to be a vessel for my writing and to put the emphasis on the feelings and situation of the character and their life.
  • I decided, as I was using a medium that was new to me, I had to do research so started looking into film theory, in particular narratology, semiotics and methods of story telling. I looked at a number of books (Bordwell (1985) and Stam, Burgoyne, Flitterman-Lewis (1992) in particular) which gave me an insight and better understanding of film theory. I picked up a number of ideas for framing shots, the way I would film certain shots (ie. Point-of-view), as well as semiological references and how I could include certain imagery or signs to influence or guide the viewer. I felt it became difficult to fully understand the large amount of theory I was reading and decided to allow myself to be somewhat intuitive when creating films but then to step back, assess them and pick out key features of my work and then to read the relevant theory and better understand why I had done something and what effect it was resulting in.
  • Aside from film theory I was doing other research into the subject matter of sociology and politics, specifically in regard to class and identity (Skeggs (2004)). I looked into theories of ‘self’ and identity and the evolution of class and its relation to economics and a wider social and political picture. Throughout I felt it necessary to keep up to date with politics and current affairs and became very engaged with this, particular in the run up to the general election, when differences in class were being brought into the media and public debate. I believe this helped me maintain a momentum and drive, staying interested in my work and engaging on a number of levels.
  • Writing became increasingly important throughout my research, partly to reflect and speculate on what I had learned and how I could implement it as well as offering my opinions on political matters. As well as writing reflectively, I was writing in a more involved way with the subject matter, responding to what I had seen, watched, read or learned. The more I immersed myself in political discussion the stronger my own sense of identity and political allegiance grew and this is something that I really want to capture in or allow to influence my work, but up until now have not been able to do. Even though I have not been able to directly include such things in my work, having corresponded with MPs and expressed my opinions on a number of political matters I think my future monologue writing will be far more informed and sincere, something I was concerned with from the beginning.
  • My group exhibition and critique fell in the same week and it was definitely a week that altered my work. Firstly, our exhibition was in a multi storey car park in Winchester and I was struggling for ideas as I felt I had moved on from my painting and didn’t want to show them as they didn’t really capture what I was exploring at the time. I couldn’t show my recent films because of the lack of power in the space. The thought of creating work in the space during the exhibition really intrigued me, as did the space itself. I decided to investigate the themes I’d been exploring on a more personal level so arranged small discussions with a few people at a time on the topics of politics, society, education and class. I filmed these discussions with a view to having them as independent pieces as well as starting points for new fiction films. My work was slowed by technical difficulties, which I hadn’t encountered before, while editing the footage. I was left feeling very frustrated after working for 12 hours a day for no result and with only half of what I wanted to show (along with more technical problems) resulting in a less than useful critique in which it was hard for people to give me feedback when I felt I really needed it. With the Easter break approaching I returned to doing more research and looking in more depth at the works of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh (as well as more contemporary films) and some of their ideas on film making with the hope that it would give me fresh ideas to go back and tackle this process again.

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