Informing Contexts Work in Progress Portfolio

This was submitted as an online portfolio. It is in three sections, each comprising of four images and an animation. How the images were produced is described in my Critical Review and elsewhere in the Critical Research Journal. The animations are here. The galleries below present the four images from each section. This is experimental work that I started about half way through the module. There is a long way to go in developing it further.


Each image is made from the same three photographs (the place as it is, organic material from the site, construction work around the site) with different tonal mixing. Just to illustrate the approach. Let it run as a slide show to see the relationship between the images. Or click on the image to see the detail of an individual image. I’ve also uploaded an animation based on the sequence (below – best played full screen) which maybe shows the relationship between images more clearly.

Now working on images relating to the developments and communities in east London that I am focusing on for my project. My intention is that these will look very different – and will visually relate to the regeneration strategy being deployed (future post about this). Info on the process here. Discussion of what I am trying to do in exploring questions of space and time in relation to regeneration programmes, communities and the environment here. All work in progress, with a long way to go, as always.

Photo-anxiety and the ‘poor image’

I made these images in an attempt to disrupt my habitual image making, by introducing a number of technological and human ‘glitches’. All the images were made around the house whilst sorting through and disposing of stuff brought out of storage from my old office at work. The images are incidental and make no attempt to record the process – they are made at the edges. I used a first generation micro four-thirds camera with a CCTV lens. The camera has no viewfinder and no focus assistance, and my failing near-sight made focusing erratic. The lens introduced significant curvature and vignetting. No cropping and no processing. These images are a step on the way to a final artifact, which will be in print form. Not quite degraded ‘poor images‘ in Hito Steyerl’s (2009) terms (maybe explore this later) but a step on the way. Having worked to develop the quality of my images over the past year or so, I felt anxious working in this way, introducing limitations right at the beginning of the process and then working with them. I’m thinking about other ways of disrupting practice, maybe along the lines of Brian Eno’s oblique strategies, in which chance application of operations transforms the process of production of images and the outcomes.

Steyerl, H. 2009. ‘In Defense of the Poor Image’. e-flux journal #10, November. Available at [accessed 31.01.19]

Object Lessons

This month I’ve been working alongside UCL Bachelor of Arts and Science students on their ‘Object Lessons’ module. For this, each student ‘adopts’ an object from one of the university museums, collections or galleries. The programme is a mixture of lectures (on material culture, the psycho-social significant of objects and workshops on handling, recording and writing about objects) and workshops involving working with objects alongside curators. Just some initial ‘descriptive’ photos of some of the objects from the Grant Museum and some ‘handling’ in the Petrie Museum.

Thinking about how to develop a project from this, and perhaps how to relate the focus on objects to my work on communities and regeneration (useful discussion with Michelle about this, with lots of references to follow up).

Barking Riverside

Quick catch up on images made since the end of the previous module. Some images from the Riverside Development (‘Barcelona-on-the-Thames’).

And some from neighbouring Creekside. More to be done here, I think, around the theme of erasure and overwriting. There was a community here until the 1950s, providing housing for people employed in the industrial works in the area. This was demolished to make space for further industrial development, and people relocated to other estates in Barking. Former residents meet regularly, and there is a simple heritage trail around the area, though very low profile. Might offer the opportunity to combine exploration of the area and former residents’ emotional ties with object focused and archival work.


Series of photographs taken from the supermarket car park which now occupies the former site of the Ilford Ltd factory and head office (1880 to  1976) in Roden Street, Ilford. Home of HP5 and FP4.