Friday, 24 February 2012

Section 4 - Research

Here's some ideas on the theme of your research...

Research (Also check out this newer link on research here)

Right from the very outset we will be advising you to look at contemporary and historical photographers primarily exploring their ideas and reasons for shooting their images in the manner that they do. We strongly advise that you do not use the Internet as your starting point, as this tends to produce superficial and weak research material. The advised approach that we'll introduce you to, is to use Photographic Journals such as the BJP, allocating a little time each week to look at the new issues of each of the magazines and getting ideas together and gradually building a knowledge bank of contemporary and historical photographers and their work.

Using this approach you would be introducing yourself to a very broad range of photographic approaches and establishing a far greater depth and understanding of photography's potential. You should make notes and photo-copy interesting images and articles and get to grips with the language used and the ideas and concepts that are explored through photography.

We cannot stress how important it is to use the resources in the library (Journals, magazines and books). By virtue of being published in hard copy, the information in the articles is written by professional editors, writers, reviewers, academics and other artists and therefore of a much higher calibre. The nature of the articles in the magazines, books and journals tends to be far more concise and to the point, addressing all of the necessary components of your own research.

Your research should be conducted in two forms... (1) Initial Research (2) On-going Research.

(1). The initial research under-pins the project and should be the element your work is based on and around. We suggest that you explore 3 artists that connect with your idea and as part of that process you would ideally make a decision about your idea quickly connected with one or more of the artists/photographers you research. This part of your research has to be done at the start of your project and this is the reason we advise you to be continually looking at contemporary art photography throughout the course and building up a knowledge bank of sources to which you can turn to and use in conjunction with your work.

Throughout the duration of the course you're expected to experiment with your images using experimental in camera and post production techniques to enhance the meaning behind your images. One of the more difficult aspects of this is, the fusing together of your concept and the experimental approach. In order to increase your chances of being able to unite the idea and the experimental approach is to have a very wide appreciation of photographers that use these approaches and their techniques and how they use them together. This knowledge will only be gained through studying and researching contemporary art photography (The journals in the library) and seeing how and why they do it.

When you're looking at artists associated with your theme/approach the key things you need to identify are...

  • What is their work about (Its meaning)
  • How is the meaning conveyed in their images
  • If they use experimental techniques/approaches within their - work how does this enhance the images
  • Who are they influenced by - show how/why
  • Is their work a part of a continuing tradition
  • Where and how are their images used
  • What influences you are going to draw from their work
Use one A4 'Key' image in full colour, as high quality as you can source. Annotate this image identifying the Visual Language used in the image. For each artist aim to write in excess of 300 words describing the above bullet pointed aspects. Add additional images (In colour) to illustrate any points that are important and use quotes from books and journals in addition to the 300 words.

Then compare and contrast the work of at least 2 of the artists that you research again looking to write another 300 words,
·         What is the idea/concept behind the artist/photographers work?

·         Read the articles and look at the images – what is the work about, see the list below describe how it links in with one of these or another and say why the artist or you think it’s important or interesting.

o   Self

o   Space/places

o   Time

o   Religion

o   Sex/gender

o   Society

o   Conflict/War

o   Family/Kinship

o   The mind/mental illness

o   Violence/crime

o   Disease

o   Politics

o   History

o   Nature/environment

o   Confusion

o   Escapism

·         What materials, techniques and processes are used and why?

·         How big is the work – scale and size, how might this affect the way that it’s perceived?

·         Over what period was the work made – is this relevant?

·         Where are these images seen and used – how are they used – what’s their purpose?

·         Who or what is the work influenced by?

·         What’s been said about the work by art critics, curators, reviewers and other artists?

·         Is the meaning behind the work “Obvious”  or “Ambiguous”?

·         Have you been able to grasp the meaning behind the work – what do you think about it?

·         What have you taken from the research and applied to your own work (Idea/Concept or Practical/visual) elements?

 If you're struggling with ideas/concept based photography, have a look at this video as it may help... (
Photography as contemporary art)

Once you've made a start on the research and you've looked at some contemporary photographers and their work that has some link with your initial idea. You need to now outline a plan - what you're going to do next...

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