- commentary (200 words)
- main assignment photos
- assessment criteria
- contact sheets
- 1. key concepts: The flaneur/observer/estrangement in modern urban living
The process of this project happened via street photography, the natural home of the flaneur. I have identified with the flaneur as an archetype, and as such represents a way of being, but a conscious way of being. Many different qualities can be placed onto the flaneur: An intelligent observer, someone who is in the world but not quite part of it, an anti-modern figure who holds values of idling and strolling to be important non-utilitarian pursuits relevant to creative development, in search of private reflective moments, observer of social dynamics, critic of the modern industrialised world, and skilful voyeur. All of this adds a richness to the flaneur.
The method has been to explore via a narrative questioning what the flaneur observes, taking up the concept of estrangement within the modern world as a basis for the photography. The general ethos has been to be an onlooker, putting myself in the flanuer’s shoes, observing the behaviour of people and trying to use a photographically questioning narrative about the nature of city living. Leaning on Stott for inspiration, I see the flaneur as being someone who makes human documents…of others but by involving myself as the person who looks.
2. Selected images · click to enlarge
3. Learning criteria and reflection
- Demonstration of technical and visual skills
In this assignment I am aware that the concept has driven the photography more than in previous work. My technique has been to work with medium range photographic subjects, finishing the photos in square format to intensify the content and make the viewing feel ‘tighter’ and more localised. This I did to give the impression of being a specific observer of a particular concept. Visually, whilst I am not awe struck by what I have produced, do think that the compositions are interesting and well balanced. Using square framing was a later decision as the angle of view in the shooting was 35 and 50mm. The square cropping in this case give enough visual context but does not let the eye roam about the frame looking for meaning. I hoped to have directed the viewer to what I was wanting to portray. In working with an idea that was quite rarified, I am aware that I needed to be more pointed with what the camera was looking at.
- Quality of outcome
I’ve aimed to present the work although individual narratives via four diptychs initially but decided that this distracted from viewing each image as a single story narrative in a coherent way.
The concept I feel was coherent and interestingly explored. Concrete enough to engage with and abstract enough to leave some room for questioning in the photos. I felt that these photo would benefit from being viewed in a much larger format and in print. I want the images to be contemplated rather than looked at purely for their aesthetic appeal. So to some extent the viewing in the web page is far from ideal, especially in this way. The idea of using diptychs initially was to juxtapose narratives, but as it has worked itself out, they act to reinforce one another on the theme.
Each photograph in an angle on the theme of estrangement and social distance in the urban environment. I feel that this is far from being a complete and decisive discussion of the theme as it is too big, as are the other concepts of the flaneur, the dérive and other themes touched on roundabout in this assignment.
In discussing estrangement I looked for signifiers that would lend themselves to the possibility of finding this concept interesting to look at.
- Demonstration of creativity
Over the years, a style has started to emerge that I am still exploring which is a combination of narrative fiction and truth. I like working on this edge and find it the most interesting way to explore the world photographically. There is still more to come I think. Perhaps there is space to be bolder in experimentation. I edited the images to give a touch more (what I perceive to be) drama but I noticed that the original edits that I made I abandoned for perhaps concern that they were too ‘out there’ and a bit radical.
When researching this assignment I was certainly more preoccupied initially with the concept itself and spent much time contemplating the idea. This took me into reading Debord and other Avant-guard practitioners and the situationists. Although in the end their Dérives and situations came to very little, and although the flaneur has largely been an imaginative figure I feel that there is something very tangible in the practice of the observational and movement located exercise of the situationist that are of special interest. I think that some of these attitudes and practices form an interesting basis for photographers to explore and I certainly feel that I have not finished yet with the theme. The more polemical issue which was related to estrangement and distance in the social sphere is a concrete concept to work with. However, one can only allude to its existence via photography rather point to a definite example. In this way I wanted to set up a narrative questioning.