Category Archives: ASSIGNMENTS

Assignment 5; Making It Up – Notes For The Assessors

I have included a print of the original picture for this assignment in the physical submission for this assessment. There is also a high resolution picture file in the assessment event G-Drive folder called PH1CAN-512973-Assessment-5.1.jpg

During the online tutorial for assignment 5, Garry and I discussed remaking the still life that forms the heart of the single picture I produced. This remake would have a different background and the lighting would be further refined to improve the definition of the left side of the objects contained in the shopping bag.

Because of the difficulty of getting hold of some of the ingredients in the picture – the cheese in particular – I have not yet been able to do this, but will definitely give it a go after my holiday “back home” in Orkney later in the summer.

Tutor’s Report – Assignment 5

All related posts can be found either here or by using the link in the main menu at the top of this page.

Assignment 4; A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – Notes For The Assessors

Following the tutorial for this, I rewrote  my essay to include more of a context for the way that Cartier-Bresson’s reputation has developed and changed since the 1950s. I then spent a lot more time getting it back down to under 1000 words + 10%!

This is version uploaded to the assessment g:drive (and also available here as part of my online log). In the g:drive copy, I have bold-ed the two paragraphs containing significant changes from the original.

On the g:drive, the file is called 512973-PH1CAN-assignment4-revised

Tutor’s Report – Assignment 4

All related posts can be found either here or by using the link in the main menu at the top of this page.

Assignment 3; Putting Yourself in the Picture – Notes for the Assessors

The main thing discussed during the tutorial that has lead to a revision of this assignment was that my organisation of the files, folders and instructions for my “generate my self-portrait” game was difficult to follow. I have therefore produced the revised flowchart – intended to show the way you can generate a self portrait for me using either a 6 sided die or a random dice-throw generator –  here:

fig.1: Life During Wartime Instructions – available on the g:drive as PH1CAN-512973-Assessment-3.09.jpg

I used the new instructions to generate a self-portrait and the resulting collage is included  – along with three of the original crowd source composites – in the physical submission for the assessment where it is titled PH1CAN-512973-assessment-05: 634242.

The “kit” of parts to generate more portraits is all there in the g:drive folder (PH1CAN-512973-Assessment-3.01 – PH1CAN-512973-Assessment-3.08) along with a further 3 of the crowd-sourced composites.

Tutor’s Report – Assignment 5

All related posts can be found either here or by using the link in the main menu at the top of this page.

Assignment 2: Photographing the Invisible – Notes for the Assessors

Units of Time – A Revised Set

The main problem with these was that I probably got the labeling wrong: the writing (in pen, on prints) gave the time period  rather than what was depicted in the picture; the result was that  -in Barthesian terms –  I had anchored the pictures rather than providing a relay. In response to this criticism, I’ve reversed the labeling/titling so that the title states the time unit and the label provides the information about what the picture shows. For the three sets of pill packaging where i still have the boxes, i have used scans of the prescription labels/dosage information which works well, I think.

I have also replaced three of the pictures in the set – the two featuring bottles of beer, and the one that used a guardian obituary to represent a lifetime – with other examinations of the way prescription dosage can be used to measure periods of time. This lends a good continuity of approach to the set and also – focuses in on the way that – according to David Bate in the chapter on still life in Photography – The Key Concepts – the neutral background of the advertisment photograph stands for death and the void, with the picture’s subject standing between you and the inevitability of your decease; the idea of medicine helping you ward off death seems rather apt here, and refers neatly back to the musings of Eliot’s Prufock, where this assignment started…

Tutor’s Report – Assignment 2

Four of the pictures are contained in the physical submission: Fig.1, Fig.2, Fig.4 and Fig.6; high quality jpegs of the other four are available in the assessment g:drive folder.

All Related Posts can be found either Here or by using the link in the main menu at the top of each page. I have removed all “Read More” commands, to reduce the amount of clicking you have to do.

Assignment 1; Two Sides of the Story – Notes for the Assessors

It’s a long time since I put Assignment 1 to one side in January 2016, intending to come back to it and do extensive re-shoots after a suitable pause. I reckoned that this would be sometime in the autumn of 2016 when the shops’ lights would be on as the sun set, reducing the contrast between inside and out.

But of course, by the time that autumn 2016 came round the context of this piece of work – predicated upon the idea that it would be ridiculous to think that  anyone could see Eastern European shops offering anything other than an enhancement to any high street – had changed somewhat!

After the Brexit vote, it seemed a bit pointless to try to simply improve the technical quality of the images a bit and to let the implicit ‘message’ that no one was being ‘swamped’ speak for itself.

I had also never been quite certain whether the original online presentation (a typography-style layout of square photographs arranged  to show “trad” English shops replaced by ones serving an eastern european market row by row contrasted with a second assembly, showing the heterogenous makeup of the actual high street) worked obviously enough. So, when it came to preparing my work for this assessment event, I have made a start on reshaping this assignment into something completely different. This is not a completed process and I will try and make the time to make a finished piece of work off to one side of my work on Identity and Place.

One of the things that was bubbling around in head when I started work on the original assignment was Edward Ruscha’s 1966 work Every Building on the Sunset Strip. This did exactly what it says in the title and showed both sides of LA’s Sunset Strip in a series of  photographs taken from the back of a pickup truck (like a section of early google streetview, I suppose). The two sides of the street were printed with a white gutter down the middle of a long, concertina-ed piece of paper. If you turned the book over so the top became the bottom, the other side of the street (inverted on the paper) became the right way up. This seemed like a good way to demonstrate a contrast, as well as being a fitting return to the assignment that the direction my work has taken towards construction and conceptualism over the course  the module.

So, I have made a long, thin composited image showing two sides of a street (one is more trad; the other peppered with Polish, Latvian and Romanian shops); both sides contain shops To Let – the economic climate is not good for anybody it would seem.

fig.1 : one side of the high street

Depending on which way up you have the image, you can read one of two captions/titles. On the trad side – which includes a sprinkling of West Indian and South Asian shops –  you can read: “The vibrant character of east london has been built up over the years by wave upon wave of immigrants” (the original caption for the second series of pictures). On the other side the caption is taken from an interview with a brexit-voting member of the public aired on Radio 4’s Today: “The high street is no longer English; and the foreign people do not shop in English shops so the English shops will slowly die down as the Eastern European supermarkets expand”

fig 2 : the other side of the high street

This reworking is included here and much larger, high-resolution files (both ways up) are included in the g:drive space for this assessment event. They are called ph1can-512973-assessment-1.1.jpg ph1can-512973-assessment-1.2.jpg.

The original assignment version is available as part of my log.

This is still a work in progress.

Tutor’s Report – Assignment 1

All Related Posts can be found either Here or by using the link in the main menu at the top of each page. I have removed all “Read More” commands, to reduce the amount of clicking you have to do.

Photographs for Purposes of Identification

Identification photographs have a number of strict rules. For example:

“The photo must be of the applicant: facing forward and looking straight at the camera in close-up of their face, head and shoulders with a recommended head height (the distance between the bottom of the chin and the crown of the head) of between 29 and 34 millimetres with a neutral expression and with the mouth closed (no smiling, frowning or raised eyebrows) with their eyes open and clearly visible […] free from reflection or glare on glasses, and frames must not cover eyes (we recommend that, if possible, glasses are removed for the photo) showing their full head, without any head covering, unless they wear one for religious beliefs or medical reasons with no other objects or people in the photo (this also applies to a photo of a baby or young child and babies should not have toys or a dummy in the photo)” – HM Passport Office – Passport Photograph Guidance

“…the photograph must have been taken within the last six months; the applicant should not look down or to either side [ …] angled views are NOT accepted; the photos must be clear, well defined and taken against a plain white or light-colored background; sunglasses or other wear which detracts from the face are not acceptable unless required for medical reasons (an eye patch, for example)” – Russian Visa Photo Specification

All of this should lead to something that is unequivocally me, but certain bits – in particular the UKPA requirement for me to take off my glasses – seem to make them remarkably unlike the Simon Chirgwin who looks out at me while I shave in the morning.

I find ID pictures suggest different personas – the harrassed middle-aged dad (my old driving licence) – or different fictional circumstances – me, chained to a radiator in Beirut (my pass for work). None of them are really me, but various officials agree to conspire with me that they are…


  • HM Passport Office – Passport Photograph Guidance –
  • Russian Visa Photo Specifications –

Links accessed, 8/8/16

Assignment 5 – Tutor’s Response

online tutorial – 21-iv-17

The tutorial was again wonderfully positive: “Well contextualised work on identity using a still life of groceries with a constructed strategy appraised from Barthes’ italianicity . Well referenced.” And then towards the end of the tutorial, almost as an aside: “You’ve turned into a conceptual artist…” Continue reading

Assignment 4 – Tutor’s Response

“Really well written descriptions and then interpretation of Cartier Bresson’s Alicante, Valencia Spain, 1933. The contextualisation with reference to surrealism […] is well formed […] the exploration of form and content which gives rise to these contextual meanings is well researched,  looking at gesture, formal signs as well as the ambiguity (gender) of the subject and the way the ‘returned gaze’ questions these assumptions […] is well grounded […] This is a quite comprehensive review and a nice discursive style (yet still retaining a critical analysis).”

– Formative Feedback to Assignment 4, Garry Clarkson, OCA Tutor

Garry’s feedback – both during another marathon google hangout and in its distilled written-down form – to my short essay on Cartier-Bresson’s photograph taken in Valencia in 1933 was gratifyingly positive. Continue reading

Assignment 4 – Revised After Feedback from my Tutor

Three women, frozen in time, are looking out at me, doing… something.

SPAIN. Valencia Province. Alicante. 1933.

fig 1. Henri Cartier-Bresson; Spain –  Valencia Province. Alicante. 1933.

Each woman touches one of the others.  On the left –  wearing a pointy hat and a floral-patterned dress – a Mexican-looking woman has one hand on the back of the head of the woman next to her while her other hand stretches around her right shoulder holding – bang in the middle of the picture – a straight razor. On the right, a dark skinned – African? – woman leans back. Her hair is pushed from her temple by the central figure’s left hand. She raises her left hand defensively towards her face; its palm is either warding off a blow or trying to block the camera’s view. The fingertips of her other hand brush delicately over the strap of the slip crossing the central woman’s right shoulder. This figure leans in towards us wearing a marvellously neutral expression, emphasised by the light patch of out-of-focus plaster behind her and her head’s size within the frame.

I looked again and paused. Is the woman in the middle a man?  Her clothes are hard to read – is that slip actually a man’s vest? – the angle and the tangled arms mean you cannot see whether  she has breasts. Her face is quite masculine, and her eyebrows, while shaped, are thick. But the arms and face are hairless, too – the razor? Is it a woman being dressed up as a man? Continue reading

Assignment 5 – Reflection

scan of a print proof, made during my development of the final picture (post-poem, pre-guardian dimensions)

1: Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Described simply, the work for this assignment takes two things – a picture based on a French advertisement and one of TFL’s poems on the underground – and combines them into a single whole, capable of multiple readings. I think the picture hangs together conceptually and aesthetically,  creating an image that is good to look at. Continue reading