Artist self and independent publishing

Artist Self-Publishers’ Fair, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 8th and 9th December 2018

A really great way to finish the module for me. Having explored social media and other ways of promoting and disseminating work online, and building a profile, it was good to explore critical alternatives at the these ICA events. The Saturday session comprised of presentations and a group discussion. Highlights for me were the overview of the history of and relationship between political and artistic self-publishing provided by Nick Thoburn, the insight into a small scale community arts initiative (based in my own area of east London) by Sofia Niazi from OOMK and Erik van der Weije’s account of his transition from independent publisher in Brazil to lecturer in Holland (which involved giving away all his remaining publications – I got a copy of his Oscar Niemayer book).

Thoburn presents the strength of self-publishing as residing in its ability to create its own context (to be self-institutionalising) and the small scale, intimacy, tentativeness, vulnerability and emergent nature of its outputs. It is, for him, a fundamentally political activity, and lies in opposition to the the commodification of art and the institutionalisation of knowledge. Need to follow-up on Infopool and Mute Magazine, both of which address issues around the arts, regeneration and London. And his 2016 publication Anti-Book: On the Art and Politics of Radical Publishing.

One Of My Kind (OOMK) is a collective publishing practice based in Manor Park. They run a community printing press and courses for local people (Rabbits Road Press). Good local contacts to have for my projects, and their project The Library Was is very relevant to the social infrastructure dimension of my project. Was able to talk to them at the Fair on Sunday and will visit in the New Year.

Also spoke to photographer Erik van der Weijde about his transition from zine production and publishing to teaching at the Rietfeld Academy, and my own journey (more or less) in the other direction. A good introduction to the challenge (and economics) of small-scale self-publishing. His 2017 publication This is not my Book explores photography and independent publication.

Over 70 exhibitors at the fair on Sunday, and lots of examples of forms of publication to consider for my own work, and work that I’ll be doing with community groups. Particularly liked the work by OOMK and by Roberts Print. A lot of potential for a hybrid (online/print) publication strategy for my own work. The event helped to see the positive (critical and oppositional) dimension of self and small-scale publication, and provided contacts in this particular community to follow-up. And helpful to make tangible links between the themes of this module and the next two modules. Much of the work in this area is strongly theoretically informed, which links with Informing Contexts, and the outputs as books, zines, small print runs, events and workshops relate closely to the themes to be explored in Surfaces and Strategies.

The purpose of this post is to put down a marker around these themes and to form a bridge between Sustainable Prospects and subsequent modules, in relation to the development of my own practice and progress towards my final major project. I’ll return to all the themes signaled here in later posts.

OOMK (2016). The Library Was. Berlin: Fehras Publishing Practice.

Thoburn, N (2016). Anti-Book: On the Art and Politics of Radical Publishing. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

van der Weijde, E. (2017). This is not my Book. Leipzig: Spector Books.

Photography and social infrastructure

From the outset, the purpose of my project has been to do more than document (and lament) the impact of regeneration and gentrification on residents. Work by photographers to date has tended to focus on the visible effects of change, but has done little to empower residents or reach a deeper understanding of what can be done to ensure that residents receive real benefits from the process (and can take appropriate action to ensure that they do benefit and are not displaced). In part this has to do with the lack of a conceptual base to the photographic work – as photographers we respond to what we see, but what we see is shaped by how we understand the contexts and lifeworlds we explore, which is in turn shaped by our own background and experiences.

In my initial exploration of housing estates and urban centres where change is taking place, it is clear that how residents organise themselves, where they meet and what they do (and links within and between different communities) is of vital importance for well-being and life chances. This forms a connection between the built environment on the one hand and the lifeworlds of residents on the other, through the activities of communities and the use made of public and private space. The idea of social infrastructure helps us to understand this relationship in a way that avoids individualisation (as notions of social and cultural capital might do) and emphasises activity in giving meaning to space and place (rather than prioritising, as developers will tend to do, the design of the space, abstracted from its use). In terms of the regeneration of estates, it is clear that in some cases residents have developed their own social infrastructure (re-purposing spaces for childcare, supplementary schooling, community events, worship and so on), often in the face of inadequate and decaying physical infrastructure, and lack of public services. Displacement of residents during and following regeneration at best threatens and at worst destroys this.

For my project, I need to develop a clearer understanding of social infrastructure in the contexts I’m exploring, and figure out how to investigate and represent this as a photographer, in and through the experiences of residents.

In Heatwave, Eric Klinenberg (2002) examined the effects of the 1995 Chicago heatwave on different communities. In particular, he wanted to understand why seemingly similar communities, in terms of socio-economic status, ethnicity, housing and employment rates and other factors, were differently effected, for instance, in terms of the number of people who died. A key factor appeared to be social infrastructure; having places to meet and engage in joint activities. In his most recent book, Palaces for the People: How To Build a More Equal and United Society, Klinenberg (2018) focuses specifically on social infrastructure, which he argues is

‘the missing piece of the puzzle, and building places where all kinds of people can gather is the best way to repair the fractured societies we live in today.’ (Kindle Locations 195-196)

and, further, that

‘social infrastructure plays a critical but underappreciated role in modern societies. It influences seemingly mundane but actually consequential patterns, from the way we move about our cities and suburbs to the opportunities we have to casually interact with strangers, friends, and neighbors. It is especially important for children, the elderly, and other people whose limited mobility or lack of autonomy binds them to the places where they live. But social infrastructure affects everyone. And while social infrastructure alone isn’t sufficient to unite polarized societies, protect vulnerable communities, or connect alienated individuals, we can’t address these challenges without it.’ (Kindle Locations 232-237)

Klinenberg’s work provides a strong rationale for a focus on social space. He goes on to define what counts, in his terms, as social infrastructure. It is worth quoting this at length here, as it begins to define a direction for the photographic gaze.

‘Public institutions, such as libraries, schools, playgrounds, parks, athletic fields, and swimming pools, are vital parts of the social infrastructure. So too are sidewalks, courtyards, community gardens, and other green spaces that invite people into the public realm. Community organizations, including churches and civic associations, act as social infrastructures when they have an established physical space where people can assemble, as do regularly scheduled markets for food, furniture, clothing, art, and other consumer goods. Commercial establishments can also be important parts of the social infrastructure, particularly when they operate as what the sociologist Ray Oldenburg called “third spaces,” places (like cafés, diners, barbershops, and bookstores) where people are welcome to congregate and linger regardless of what they’ve purchased.’ (Kindle Locations 268-277)

Clearly, there is a long photographic history of focusing on these kinds of spaces, and the activities that take place in them. For my project, opportunities to explore these spaces in relation to urban regeneration are already opening up (for instance, the complementary schools in Newham, and the community centres in Barking). Whilst making these spaces visible and celebrating the activities that take place there through image making is easy to envisage, photographically exploring the threat to these spaces/activities, and the lack in new housing developments, is a challenge. I am going to come back to Klinenberg’s work in more detail later in the CRJ, once I have done more work on photographic precedents, and developed my own approach further.

Klinenberg, E. (2018). Palaces for the People: How To Build a More Equal and United Society. New York: Random House. Kindle Edition.

Klinenberg, E. (2002). Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Week 11 Reflection

This week has been dominated by finalisation of my WIP Portfolio and Oral Presentation. Both done now, and have been posted earlier in the CRJ. Have also made some additional links relating to my proposed final project (for instance, with members of the UKRI Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health network, and in particular an applicant for a Wellcome Foundation fellowship who wants to incorporate photography into his project). I have deferred work on my website and social media to next week. Took some time out to take more photographs in Barking and Romford in the hope of supplementing my WIP portfolio.

Romford, Tuesday 4th December 2018

The most interesting development of the week emerged from Richard Kolker’s excellent seminar on Wednesday. Richard’s work is CGI based, and falls firmly into the post-photography domain (my image above, made at a disused, modernist car park in the evening, with multiple light sources, has a strangely constructed quality to it).

Richard Kolker, Cafe (from England, The Game)

Richard’s presentation gave insight into the scope of and motivation for his work, and into his working methods. The work invoking the ‘digital uncanny’ was particularly interesting. I’ve followed this up online and looked in more detail at what he is doing. There might be some mileage in exploring the use of these kinds of constructed images in the collaborative exploration of the experiences and aspirations of residents on the estates on which I’m working . I’ve emailed Richard for any advice on this kind of direction – extract below.

‘My project focuses on community engagement with urban regeneration, with the aim of doing more than just describe and lament (but rather to produce insight and understanding alongside resources for resident advocacy). I’m working with some researchers who are exploring (through interviews) residents’ experiences and fears of displacement on six estates in London undergoing regeneration, and also with a community project supporting/advocating for residents in the largest housing development in Europe (Barking Riverside – dubbed by the local authority ‘Barcelona on the Thames’!). Other links with community and advocacy groups are in the pipeline. My work is focusing on social infrastructure and the lived experiences of residents. These people are bombarded by architects’ and developers’ constructed images and CGI representations of an imagined future. Your work made me think about the possibility of rendering the everyday experiences of residents in a similar way (including the social infrastructure and related activities that residents have developed over time on estates that have been neglected in terms public services and physical infrastructure). And the benefit of not getting picked up by the police or harassed by private security guards (as much of the land, for instance the whole of the Olympic Park development, and all the Barking Riverside development, is private land) 🙂 It’s not just experiences that I am exploring, but also aspirations, and that is maybe where the real potential of this approach (in collaboration with residents) lies. Whatever approach I take, I want the output to be multi-modal (text, sound, infographics/maps, images etc), so conventional photography will be part of the process and the outcomes’.

Just a thought. Will follow-up in future posts. Also relates to some of the themes explored in the seminar on Post-Capitalism and Photography at the Photographers’ Gallery. And possible work with Richard Sanford in his role as leader of the Future Heritage research programme at UCL Bartlett (will follow up earlier conversation with Richard once I have thought this through – I appointed Richard to lead our futures and horizon scanning work when I founded the research division at the Institute for Adult Learning in Singapore). One possible direction is the production of a counter-narrative on the future, focusing on urban development/regeneration.

Addendum [09.12.18]. Richard Kolker replied to my email and suggested that I download and experiment with Maxon Cinema 4D using the student license. Something to work on over Xmas. Also suggested I look at Rut Blees Luxemburg’s London Dusk, which I know from the Museum of London collection (large format photos of the City of London at night which include fragments of hoardings with developers CGI images).


Sustainable Prospects WIP Portfolio

In order to broaden my experience and expertise, I’ve submitted my work in progress portfolio as a pdf this time around. I liked the control that a web-based portfolio allowed for Positions and Practice, but can see the advantages of the pdf format. Scribus made design of the document straightforward. In terms of content, I think I would have been better to have set up a small project (related to my final project) that I could have completed within the module. This would have led to a more coherent portfolio. As it is, the majority of the visual work I have done in working towards my final project (in terms of building skills and developing approaches) can’t be included in the portfolio (as it would undermine the coherence). The portfolio captures part of the work, but not really the heart of it. I need to think clearly about this with respect to the next two modules.

I was aware from the outset that, not being a professional photographer and not coming from a visual arts background, this module was going to be a challenge (especially being the second module, rather than the final module). However, it has provided a good opportunity to think through how best to build networks and relationships, and consider ways of maintaining these and disseminating the outcomes of the proposed project.

Andrew Brown PDF portfolio


Photography and the city

From Tate Modern 10th floor , 3rd December 2018

Caroline Knowles (2018) explores how photography can play a unique role in understanding the complexity and dynamism of cities. She states that:

‘Photography is proving itself an invaluable tool in urban investigation and analysis as well as in campaigning arenas for global social justice. But there is scope to work in still more imaginative ways in bringing what is not seen before the public gaze in new and exciting grammars of images.’ (p.20)

In this post I want to explore how the role for photography envisaged by Knowles relates to my own work and, in particular, my proposed final major project. In her own fieldwork (as a sociologist) Knowles has used photographs as a way of exploring lived experience, for instance of homeless and marginalised people with schizophrenia. The relationship with the city evident in the images produced (in a collaboration between the researcher, a photographer and the participants) is very different from that expressed in words, and enables consideration of the ‘unspoken’ (and perhaps even the ‘unspeakable’). Producing, and discussing, images (for instance, in a form of photo-elicitation) enriches insight into the lives of the participants, and also creates the opportunity to consider what is not visible in the images. Images also enable aspects of the outcomes of the study to be communicated to, and engage, different audiences. Images can also provoke consideration of the relationship between the macro and the micro, and between different forms of practice and experience that fall within the frame. Images both invoke what is framed, whilst raising questions about the wider context within which they are produced. Relationships between people and with their environment can be explored through, for instance, environmental portraiture. Photographs also foreground the embodied nature of experience and activity, and entanglement and engagement with the city (and with each other) in both spatial and temporal trajectories.

Visual methods can work in consort with other forms of investigation and representation (ethnographic, statistical, cartographic, textual), bringing forward the kinaesthetic, contextual and sensual dimensions of experience. Knowles cautions, though, against banal and descriptive uses of images, either supplementing text or as the object of convoluted and obscuring narrative. Images ‘suggest other ways of thinking’ (p.17). Photography can enable us to slice through the city, and explore the tapestry of intersecting lives, activities and contexts. Knowles suggests a tactic of selecting a group, or category, of people and following members in their passage through the city. Or taking an object and following its pathway, or focussing on an event or a microcosm, or a part of a city that exemplifies a set of issues or a movement. These are different points of entry for investigation, which then give rise to sets of pragmatic, ethical and methodological decisions as the investigation unfolds. The point here is to preserve, and enhance, the distinctiveness of photographic image making as a supplement or a challenge to logocentric textual and statistical forms of enquiry.

My own study employs three levels of image making, which range across the uses of photography suggested by Knowles, from a form of elicitation (gaining insight into the lived experience and aspirations of residents) to an artistic response to environments and lifeworlds encountered. It is by necessity cross- or inter-disciplinary. As the recent meeting of the UKRI Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health network made clear, the major challenge here is to create a new space for the production of new forms of knowledge, through new configurations of disciplines and approaches. As Barthes (1986) observes,

‘in order to do interdisciplinary work it is not enough to take a “subject” (a theme) and to arrange two or three sciences around it. Interdisciplinary study consists in creating a new object, which belongs to no one.’ (p.73)

This accentuates the need not just for integrity and rigour within a discipline (for instance, the visual arts), but the ability to build relationships and networks across disciplines, professions, communities and contexts.


Barthes, R. (1986), The Rustle of Language (trans. R. Howard). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Knowles, C. (2018). ‘Researching and Photographing Cities: Getting Started’ in S. Nichols & S.Dobson (Eds), Learning Cities: Multimodal Explorations and Placed Pedagogies, Springer: Singapore, pp. 9-22.

Week 10 Reflection

The course activities this week have focused on completion of the portfolio, development of a website and consolidation of social media presence. I have made progress on all of these, but the major personal focus has been on development of networks for my project and initiation of image making (unfortunately, too late for my portfolio). I’ll post in more detail in the project development section of the CRJ as things develop, but to summarise  actions this week:

Thames Ward Community Project. Planning with project lead about the following: photos of all community events by way of a community archive; photos of local spaces – especially with an environmental and health focus; photos that show the challenges to the local area – pollution, litter, potholes etc. as a prompt for inclusive growth/sustainable development: help with social media campaigns and synergies/collective action with citizen action groups.

JustSpace. Planning with Lesley from the Bartlett MSc for a social media campaign to run over 6 months focusing on 6 stories exemplifying different aspects of community engagement with the London Plan. Contact made with JustSpace communications lead. Lesley to draft proposal. Will involve going out to collect narratives and take photos.

Bengali International. In contact with leadership via Newham Partnership for Complementary Education, who have proposed the following around the theme ‘Growing up Bilingual’: (i) photos of the school in action, (ii) photos at family homes and in the community where the pupils are talking, reading, writing in Bengali directly with family and community members.

Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health network. Launch event on Monday 3rd December at Friends House. This is a cross-disciplinary UKRI funded network seeking to develop links between people from different disciplines (including psychology, cognitive neuroscience, sociology, the arts, geography, public mental health, architecture, digital design and human-computer interaction) working on aspects of social isolation and mental health.

Together with the ESRC Urban Displacement project (on six London estates), this probably secures a critical mass of photographic work around the theme of social infrastructure, community and urban regeneration. The development of my own website and a range of focused social media campaigns tie in the development of my project neatly with the themes of this module. I’m going to focus on this over the coming weeks, once my portfolio is submitted.

Community partnership developments

Important to get working on image making as quickly as possible before the next module. Advanced a number of possibilities in the past week.

Newham Partnership for Complementary Education

Thursday, 22nd November 2018, Mansfield House, 30 Avenons Road, Plaistow, London E13 8HT.

Meeting with Martin Pinder to discuss possible photographic work with complementary education groups in east London (follow up to Creating Connections event). Agreed on the following:

1. Make some images of the Ramgarhia Education Centre in Forest gate, exploring the building and how it is used (eg. the three complementary schools that run there at the weekend). Exploration of how the community reconfigures space for learning fits with the social infrastructure focus of my project. Martin to put proposal to Centre leadership.

2. Work with one complementary school to document and explore what they are doing. We talked about a Bangladeshi group, but open to any suggestions (not to overlap with groups participating in 3).

3. Talk with Layal Hussain about how photography might fit with her UEL PhD project ‘Growing up Bi-lingual’ with complementary schools in Newham , which might entail making images over an extended period of time as the project develops.

4. Get down to the proposed Asian Business District in the Albert Docks and see what’s going on. Follow up contacts with local community provided by Martin.

Thames Ward Community Project

Friday, 23rd November 2018, Barking Riverside.

Meeting with community organisers Matt and Jamie and members of the the residents’ group to take a tour around Barking Riverside and neighbouring estates, and learning about the work of the project. Thames Ward Community Project (TWCP) is a lottery funded project with 4 outcome priorities: health, environment, skills and cohesion and the aim to set up a Community Development Trust. Thames Ward is located south of the A13 and bounded by the Thames and River Roding. The ward is London’s largest growth area (and one of the largest in Europe) and includes Barking Riverside, a partnership between the Greater London Authority and London & Quadrant Housing Trust Limited to build 10,800 properties. Barking and Dagenham Council’s growth strategy (aka no resident left behind) indicates a wider ambition of building 60,000 homes, most of which will be in the wider Thames Ward area, giving rise to a new residential area of equivalent in population to Derby.

Photographic opportunities discussed include making images of members of the local community and exploring their relationship with the locality, and forms of social infrastructure (including community projects and services). The longer established estates have well-developed social infrastructure, but this is challenged by the development of the the new housing estates, in which developers have given little attention to social infrastructure. Photographs could be used in both an exploratory manner (in gaining insight into the community, its aspirations and its responses to development) and in advocacy (by TWCP and resident groups). Matt and Jamie are thinking through possibilities and we’ll meet to discuss.

The scale of the development is indicated by the ‘Barcelona on the Thames’ campaign and projection.

(Image from

As the photograph of the site, taken on Friday evening, shows, there’s a long way to go.


Meeting this week with Leslie Crosdale (MSc student) to discuss the development of a social media campaign to promote the responses of residents’ and community groups to the London Plan. Likely to involve photographs of the activities of groups across London.

ESRC Urban Displacement Project

Friday, 23rd November 2018.

Met with Adam Elliott-Cooper (KCL) to discuss photographic work relating to the interviews being conducted with residents on six London estates, exploring experiences, opinions and feelings of displacement, or the threat of displacement. The estates include the Gascoigne in Barking and Carpenters’ Road in Stratford, where I have done some preliminary work. Adam to set up meetings with residents in December.

Post-Capitalist Photography Now!

The Photographers’ Gallery, London, Saturday 24th November 2018.

A collaboration between The Photographers’ Gallery, Centre for Photography and Visual Culture, University of Sussex and The Centre for the Study of the Networked Image, London South Bank University.

After diving into the sea of photography and having to learn to swim fast, I now wash up on (relatively) dry land. With the familiar scent of Bataille, Baudrillard and Kristeva, and even, in the afternoon, the terra firma of the relative autonomy of the field of cultural production and Bourdieu’s three forms of capital. This one day conference was organised to complement one of the current exhibitions at the gallery, All I know is What’s on the Internet. Lots of notes, but for the CRJ I’ll just pull out a few points relevant to the development of my project and practice (and the current module).

Nina Power (Roehampton) traced a path through contemporary theory in relation to seeing and de-capitialism (preferred by her to the problematic term post-capitalism, which to some invokes a form of hyper-capitalism). Some familiar ground, but also plenty to follow-up (Aria Dean’s ‘Closing the Loop‘, Franco Berandi’s notions of necro-capitalism, Josef Leo Koener’s idea of enemy-painting). She proposes the practice of enemy-photography, but it was difficult to put substance on this and trace through what this might mean for photographic practice. The triple loop of representation warrants some thought (that photography represents, represents representation and represents the representation of representation). The point raised from the floor that she had conflated seeing with photography (particularly in the discussion of Kristeva and The Severed Head in discussion of engagement with images on the internet) seemed a fair one, and was perhaps the root of the difficulty, as a photographer, of relating this to image making (beyond raising a range of important critical issues, to which it will be productive to return as practice, and associated critical commentary, develops).

Martin Zellinger (Anglia Ruskin) provided a critique of Kodak’s attempts to financialise and produce artificial scarcity of images in the age of proliferation through blockchain technology. An issue that is raised here is the assumption that all images are assets with financial value, and therefore prey to aspirations for corporate control. The commodification of the image was addressed by others also. Kuba Szreder, in the afternoon, makes the point (drawing on Bourdieu’s notion of the relative autonomy of the field of cultural production) that not all images and image making can be seen as directly a part of economic production and circulation. Interesting that Szreder uses the Company Drinks in Barking as a prime example of alternative forms of organisation in the arts (and worth following in up relation to my work with Thames Ward Community Project).

Ben Burbridge (Sussex) addressed the corporate take over of public galleries in the face of decreased and constrained public funding and the impact of the new managerialism on galleries and academic institutions. Very familiar ground. Emily Rosamond’s (Goldsmiths) analysis of contemporary art and investment started to open up possible tactical and strategic responses, and the importance of understanding photography’s normative performativity and the attempt by investors to manage volatility and parse out uncertainty. References to follow up in a future post: Hito Steyerl (In Defense of the Poor Image, 2009), Paul Frosh (2015, The Gestural Image, IJ Communication, 9, 1608) and the ideal of kinaesthetic sociability, Michael Feher (2018, Rated Agency: Investee Politics in a Speculative Age), Petra Cortright (2007, VVEBCAM; 20167 i thot i wiz free), Femke Herregraven (2014, Volatility Storms), Jodi Dean (2017, Crowds and Party). Also questions around what it is to be a photographer in the age of de-professionalisation and uberization, new forms of alliance and ‘data artists’ (as a supplement to data scientists).

Harry Sanderson explored the demand for hi-res images, Rowan Lear photography as feminised labour, touch, gesture and finger work, Constant Dullaart on his social media manipulation work, Szreder on post-capitalist art worlds (and alternative organisation) and Mike Cook on Stocksy (making the point that co-operatives have to be founded on sustainable business models).

The major benefit for the development of my own work is to be able to position what I do more effectively and start to relate contemporary photographic practice to wider social, cultural and political theory. Two more events next year on this theme. For this module, the symposium has opened up an alternative, critical domain for the image making, and alternative (radical and oppositional) forms of organisation for the production and circulation of images.

Living with Buildings: Health and Architecture

Thursday 22nd November 2018, Wellcome Collection, London.

The exhibition features photographs alongside film, maps, document, text and artefacts exploring the relationship between housing and health, and also buildings for health services. Includes Tony Ray-Jones’s 1970s photographs of the Pepys Estate in Lewisham (one of the estates in the ESRC Displacement Project) and the film Bird’s Eye View by Edward Mirzoeff with poetry by John Betjeman.

Pepys Estate, Deptford, 1970. Photo © Tony Ray-Jones/RIBA Library Photographs

Pepys Estate, Deptford by John Betjeman:

Where can be the heart that sends a family to the 20th floor
In such a slab as this.
It can’t be right, however fine the view
Over to Greenwich, and the Isle of Dogs.
It can’t be right, caged halfway up the sky
Not knowing your neighbour, frightened of the lift,
And who’ll be in it, and who’s down below
And are the children safe?

What is housing if it’s not a home?”

The Tower: Tale of Two Cities (2007) also focuses on the Pepys Estate. As a photographer aiming to work collaboratively with the community, the following review left on the IMDB site is worth noting:

Having lived on the Pepys Estate while this film was being made I like most others who saw it being made were shocked when we saw this. The disparity between the way the film crew presented themselves to the community as ‘educational film makers’ and the largely sensationalist result which heavily featured the most vulnerable residents was jaw dropping. Many of the scenes are staged and scripted, incentives were made to encourage entertaining behaviour and some of the narrative is simply lies. After protracted exchanges with the BBC where all actions of the filmmakers were justified by the show being ‘award winning’ and ‘popular’ I received a formal apology from Harry Dean at the BBC about the false claim in episode 4 that the Pepys Estate ‘suffered the highest rape figures in London’ (when in fact they were lower than most boroughs). Altogether more fantasy than reality, I would take Anthony Wonke’s work with a pinch of salt.

Other more recent work featured: Gursky’s (1993) Montparnasse Mouchette Building and East London photos by Chris Dorley-Brown (though not this one of Ilford, but others in the 2015-6 series).

Chris Dorley-Brown (2016), Westplan House, Ilford.

For me, the Dorley-Brown images (impressive though they are) have reinforced my commitment to explore more collaborative image making and to explore more directly the relationship between the residents and the environment (and, in particular, the social infrastructure, or rather, in some cases, the lack of it). The emphasis of the exhibition is really on health, and the images play a supporting role. The accompanying Iain Sinclair book, Living with Buildings and Walking with Ghosts: On health and architecture, though, is something else (includes a very touching chapter about visiting Jonathan Meades in Marseille).

Addendum [26.11.18]. The above building in Ilford, taken in passing this morning. I didn’t have the right lens to duplicate the shot, but I did get the green traffic light (as Dorley-Brown always does).

And another angle on it, with Pioneer Point in reflection.

27.11.18. Final go at this (until we get longer and brighter days in the summer).

Week 9 Reflection

I usually work through the materials and make initial postings over the weekend, but unfortunately the Amy Simmons video wouldn’t run, so I missed that activity (I’ll revisit another time now that the problem with the video has been fixed). I am, though, working on the website and social media challenge that has been set for the three coming weeks. This fits well with the development of my project.

The Simon Roberts seminar this week was terrific. The breath and diversity of his work is impressive. Much to learn from the singularity of his vision and the way in which he integrates participation, dissemination and commercialisation with the production of the work. For instance, the Election Project has a very clear method for production of the images: just one day with each candidate, taking an elevated position on the roof of his van, use of 4×5 (10 to 20 shots a day, making it clear to everyone that he is there to photograph, but not aware of exactly when the shot is made). A website is set up for the members of the public to upload images and make comments (over 1700 images ultimately). Large (4 per image) and smaller prints are produced for gallery sales. An exhibition is arranged for the Houses of Parliament (24 images, one for each day of the campaign). A newspaper is produced for further dissemination and engagement. Also notable that he thinks carefully about how his archives are used (selling into the future) and how projects build on and related to each other. Also that he does extensive preliminary work, both in terms of contact with participants and exploration of related images (for instance, the relationship between Turner’s images of the Thames and the photographs of the Olympics (both similarities and differences – Roberts’ work particularly emphasizes the activities of people ‘in the landscape’ rather than images of the landscape, which relates closely to his background in human geography, and informs his use of an elevated viewpoint in making images).

The webinar to discuss work in progress provided useful feedback, and I need to work further on the format of the portfolio. I hope to have further images to add over the next two weeks.

Monday’s visit to V&A Prints and Drawings Study Room is discussed elsewhere. Likewise my meeting with Newham Partnership for Complementary Education on Thursday and Thames Ward Community Project (TWCP) at Barking Riverside on Friday, and visit to the Living with Buildings: Health and Architecture exhibition at the Wellcome Collection. Busy week.

I have revised my presentation to incorporate feedback and add some new material, and have posted the final version for assessment.