Assignment five: What is reality?

This assignment is intended to explore issues surrounding the ‘real’ in contemporary society. I decided to analyse these issues with reference to photographic portraiture using the title ‘Reality and the Photographic Portrait’. This is in fact the theme that I plan to adopt for my final photography course ‘Your Own Portfolio (YOP)’. I took the opportunity to carry out research for this assignment which will have value for my photographic work. It has turned out to be a very useful project giving me lots of ideas to pursue.

Richard Brilliant suggests that a portrait’s success ‘depends on [the artist’s] ability to manifest the peculiarities of appearance and character in a manner that is both accessible and satisfactory to the viewer’. He goes on to suggest that the nature of the artist’s response is affected by three questions: ‘What do I (you, he she, we, or they) look like?’, ‘What am I (you, she, he etc.) like?’ and ‘Who am I (you, etc.)?’. I used these questions as a means of organising my analysis for this essay and I am also planning to use it for structuring my photographic investigation for YOP.

My essay can be read here:

Reality and the Photographic Portrait

And my tutor’s feedback, which was very positive here:

416177. Greenough. 5

This is the last post I will be making in this blog about the UVC course which I have now officially completed. I will miss the mental stimulus that it has provided. I plan to look out for some short courses which will help me keep my learning development in critical studies going. I was interested in the short courses at the Courtauld Institute which my fellow OCA student Vicki is attending but the dates did not fit with my other plans. I am also aware of courses run by The Photographer’s Gallery. I will probably post my learning from any future courses on my main blog http://photo-graph.org .

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Understanding Visual Culture course. I did it for ‘fun’ and it was fun in a way. A better description might be ‘challenging’. Given time constraints and having to prioritise my photographic work (which is to be submitted for assessment) I am not sure I did the course full justice. There are still many ‘grey’ areas in my understanding of some of the issues the course tackled. What I did get from the course more than anything was a great overview of the range of issues which need to be considered in the Critical Analysis of Visual Culture. I now have a good overview of the subject, if not a detailed understanding across the board. It also taught me what kind of questions to ask. I would like to thank my tutor Dr Pauline Rose, who was very patient when my assignments took a lot longer than expected and who always gave very comprehensive and constructive feedback.

Onwards to Photography 3: Your Own Portfolio my final course for my degree.

Assignment four: Visualising the ‘other’

Assignment Four of the Understanding Visual Culture course requires the student to choose one or more topics covered in Part four: Looking and Subjectivity and to write a formal academic essay critiquing a chosen text in terms of these topics. My essay focuses on Richard Dyer’s ideas on ‘whiteness’ and Laura Mulvey’s thoughts on ‘gendering the gaze’. My chosen text is the 1956 film Forbidden Planet directed by Fred M Wilcox. The stars of the film are Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis and Leslie Nielsen.  The characters and plot of the film are thought by many to be based on Shakespeare’s Tempest.  It was the first science fiction film to be based entirely on another planet away from Earth. On its release it failed to capture the imagination of audiences but now it is a cult classic, and is seen as a precursor to many subsequent science fiction films.

Francis and robot Robbie - key characters from the film Forbidden Planet

Francis and robot Robbie – key characters from the film Forbidden Planet

My text can be found here:

Forbidden Planet Text

And my tutor’s feedback is here:

Tutor Feedback Assignment Four

Assignment three: Decoding advertisements

As I will not be submitting my work on this course for assessment, I have not been particularly vigilant when it comes to posting my work on this blog. I have decided to bring the blog mostly up to date by posting details of the assignments I have completed and the response of my tutor to my work.

This post covers Assignment three which involved choosing a current advertisement or advertising campaign and drawing on the work of Barthes and others undertake a structural analysis to show how it derives and conveys its meaning. I chose the advertisement for ‘Compare the Meerkat.com’ as my subject matter.

Compare the Market.Com Advertisement

Compare the Market.Com Advertisement

Here is my submission to my tutor.

Assignment 3 Decoding Advertisements

My tutor’s response was quite positive…It turned out that Alexander the Meerkat is her favourite advertising character!

Greenough, 416177, Ass. 3 feedback