IAP A5: reflection after tutor feedback

Once again my tutor’s feedback was immensely helpful, and gave me the sense of direction I had struggled so hard to find in this project. My self-appointed aim throughout the work had been to capture what the experience of the covid-19 lockdown period looked and felt like, and I now see that this was impossibly broad in scope and I needed to define my intentions far more tightly. As my tutor pointed out, my final edit included two distinct narrative strands – one located in the public space and the other in the personal – and there was no sense of connection or consistency between the two. He recommended that I focus solely on the personal, selecting images that show my personal experience of lockdown and/or externalise the way I experienced it internally.

With this new, more specific brief in hand I went back to the full set of 750 original images and re-edited from scratch, a task that was infinitely easier now that my intended output was clearly defined. The outcome is clearly a significant improvement on my original submission and says much more about the practical and emotional experience of lockdown than the original edit.

My original self-appointed aim of trying to find a way to describe and communicate the strange world of lockdown was also seriously flawed in other respects. In the first place, what seemed at first to be extremely odd quickly became the new normal as images of scenes that would hitherto have been extraordinary became ubiquitous in every channel of communication.

I had also hoped to use lockdown as a route to explore my own innate creative potential, and described in my earlier posts on this assignment how that aim led me to avoid actively looking at how others were portraying the experience and consequently meant that I claimed not to have done any research. In fact the only way it would have been possible to avoid seeing other people’s responses to lockdown would have been to avoid all forms of media; and like many people I actually did the opposite and exposed myself to a continuous stream of interpretations and expressions of the experience emanating from news and social media as well as specific photography-related sources. These included Annie Liebovitz’s Still Life, Alice Zoo’s Spring, Viktoria Sorochinski’s lockdown self-portraits, George Selley’s lockdown landscapes, Dougie Wallace’s images of supermarket shoppers, Michelle Sank’s portraits of people taking their lockdown exercise, and Nadav Kander’s response to isolation.

Ultimately, however, I was unable to see the wood for the trees until my tutor guided me towards making the assignment a personal expression of my own internal experience of lockdown rather than trying to describe the world at large. This is a valuable lesson which not only finally made it possible for me to make sense of the work I did for this assignment but I feel will also serve me well for approaching future projects.