I think that this course was a natural segue from my previous module, Landscape, as this was borne out by my previous tutor who felt that my Landscape work had a documentary flavour to it. I enjoyed learning about the history associated with documentary work and the way the documentary impulse has evolved over the years. This module is heavily research-orientated and I think this has helped prepare me for the next level as I enjoyed the ability to delve deeply into certain subjects.
Certain aspects of the documentary module had an overlap with parts of Context and Narrative and I found it interesting to look back to see if any of my views on objectivity in photography had changed and found that during C&N I had taken the view that press photos were made as objectively as possible by photographers, the point of view taken, though, was subjective – a view very much on the fence. Now I believe that one’s background, culture and knowledge all play a role in how we frame an image, or read it. I enjoyed exploring my local farmers market for assignment 1 and my regular interaction with these people revealed many interesting stories. This has taught me the importance of returning to a scene and building relationships with the local people.
I was a little disappointed that my assignment 2 did not translate well into Black & White, but my tutor had cautioned me not to use Black & White just for the sake of it if the images didn’t work in that medium. I enjoyed the research around social change and the section on the FSA triggered the topic for my assignment 4. I found the duplication of surrealism under part two and three repetitive as one does research both colour and B&W media when researching surrealism. Looking back I can see that my assignment 2 is probably a continuation and a different aspect of work that I had made in two previous modules.
I enjoyed revisiting the subject of the tourist gaze which I had discovered during the Landscape module, and which I am tentatively planning to revisit during L3. My A3 was probably triggered by an idea that started to percolate during the Landscape module, namely an exploration of the latent history of the First Nations people in the area in which I live. I had always regarded documentary work as “factual”, but now found myself creating fictional documents for my A3. I blended colonial history with that of the First Nations. This type of work was so out of my comfort zone, having to relearn aspects of PhotoShop that I last used in 2000.
I found a tremendous amount of research material for assignment 4 and once I gained a little momentum in sorting out the relevant texts to use, I really enjoyed the research, and was quite disappointed when I had to draw a line under it. I found that the critical thinking MOOC I had done while on the Landscape module really helped to direct my thought processes and structure my essay. So I feel, if I follow my methodology for L3, I should be in a good place for CS. I enjoyed the section on ethics and post-colonial ethnography some of which tied into my assignments 4 and 5.
Undoubtedly though the biggest hurdle during this module was the appearance of Covid-19 which drastically altered my plans for A5. Notwithstanding the restrictions imposed by government, it was the assignment that I enjoyed the most. The research was intense, very emotional and compelling. It is also the assignment with the most variation regarding the type of media or material that I incorporated and I found this quite liberating and very fulfilling.
The fact that documentary can be fictional and creative as opposed to straight is probably one of the more important aspects that I’ve taken on board during this module. I have learned new technical skills while on this course: new PhotoShop techniques, and how to process B&W images, although I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve only just scratched the surface here. I learned how to create a multi-media slideshow using sound, video clips and still images. All of these skills will be able to be carried forward into the next level.
I have been very active on the Documentary and Rest of the World hangouts, learning a lot from my fellow students. We each bring unique perspectives to our meetings and I find these sessions invaluable. The tutor led sessions led by Andrea Norrington have served to cement my interaction with my blog and make me appreciate the art of self-reflection (previously a rather nebulous conception). During this Covid time, I have been engaging in plenty of online lectures and workshops and I am finding these sessions are generating many ideas and providing nuggets of valuable information that I can utilise going forward in the next module.
Having acclimatised myself to living a rural community now I have constantly found myself trying to learn more about this area where I am living, especially its history and I think this is reflected in my work in this module. I feel very strongly that this is the direction in which my practice is developing – that of forgotten history and the landscape.