A 5: Making decisions about the organisation and presentation of my BOW

A 5: Making decisions about the organisation and presentation of my BOW

This post reflects and examines issues around choosing work to submit for my BOW. This involves decision making by me and my tutor.

Learning Objective

LO5 demonstrate management, leadership and communication skills and have deployed them during the negotiation and production of the final body of work with your tutor and third parties

Links to learning blog entries

30th September 2021


This post follows a ‘final’ video review for A5 with my tutor a few days ago. It is a reflective response to this meeting, the meeting before that, and several written communications on how we might manage my portfolio of work and what part of my BOW I will submit for the exam, and in what way.

The problem I have is there is a lot of experimental and interesting work in my portfolio. The problems are that;

  • An examiner will not have the time to examine a large portfolio of work however good that might be
  • I risk spreading my effort too thinly so that my final work is not sufficiently developed
  • The final works lack a quality of finish because it has been rushed

My tutor and I had been discussing the issue of “what” and “how” for several months. It has been a ‘background’ issue until recently. I see other students works at L3 that ‘drill down’ into their subject with increasing degrees of detail and complexity yet retaining a single clear message. That clarity of outcome is ‘unnerving’ to me over this last few months because BOW will end quite soon and the deadline for exam submission in not far away. Much of the ‘delay’ in producing my final work is that it took several months to find what I really wanted to say that met my original intention. There has not been a lot of time for presentation to peers and others but there is still time to do that ahead of submission. Before our meeting we had both come to the decision that presenting only one or two elements of my work, rather than an extensive portfolio of works, for BOW was the best way to move forward. We also agreed that my strongest work is my assemblage series. But what about the rest; we will see later in this post that there is an exciting and innovative solution that incorporates all of my work in my final degree.

Another theme to this blog post is the organisation and presentation of my work for the examiners and observers. I have made several padlets which show my research journey, there are lots of them, but today we made decisions on how they might look to an examiner. 

Summary of issues addressed in this post;

  • What I will present for my BOW exam submission
  • How I will use the visual archive that I have developed in SYP and beyond
  • How I meet the criteria and learning objectives of this Level?

DECISION 1: What I will present for my BOW exam submission

I am very happy with our final decision today to choose the assemblage series ‘Visible Invisibility’ as my BOW for the exam. We developed this work on a joint padlet which included ideas, research links, images and a G-Drive link to post images and texts to. There are still some unresolved issues in this series, such as the use of labels, which I will share with my OCA peers at a Live Hub meeting, but much of the work is done. My tutor made it quite clear that he was happy to go with any decision I might make about what work to present, but after a several weeks of reflection about the pros and cons of alternatives, choosing one idem was logical and a relief. The alternative was to present two or more works as a whole; I don’t think that I have the ability to do that and that my works fall into different genres which are not easy to reconcile theoretically or practically for presentation.

My original intention for my work was to examine at my experience of being in lockdown: this was expressed in my auto-ethnography, which was at a low point in my personal and professional life. During the process of creating series of images for the degree I began to express my anger and frustration about my own experience of working from lockdown and governmental responses to the pandemic; this, for example, was expressed in my ‘auto destruction’ and ‘text series. These were a prelude to my assemblage work which is an overt challenge to the politics of covid and its impact on the NHS. My ire and self and other criticism, is expressed in that work which is part of my personality, as is the playfulness that you see in many of the images.

This work has also the strongest connection with my CTS work which is about the genesis, maintenance and visual expression of visual medical culture AND how this might be challenged or resisted. Two images from my assemblage series ‘Visible Invisibility” are included in the chapter about collective resistance to medical, media and governmental power.

The theoretical base for my BOW is strong. It was my tutor that suggested investigating Dada, chance, assemblage and other approaches as a way to express my anger and discontent  about working in the pandemic (Lucas, 2019; Man Ray, 1944; Tate, 2021). It was the political and social connections of the work of Sarah Lucas, that most resonated most will me. 

I think that ‘Visible Invisibility’ is technically accomplished. This is my first foray into photographing miniatures and other household and medical objects, as much of my work is environmental and documentary. There have been three shoots of this work, with improvement in lighting and content at each stage. Despite a high quality lighting rig, I was surprised at how much processing was still needed in Photoshop to ensure that the image all had the same level of lighting/ 

DECISION 2: How I will use the archive that I have developed in SYP and beyond

Now that I have decided to present only ‘Visible Invisibility’ for my BOW exam submission, that begs the question ‘what about the rest of my work?’ I am not going to discard my portfolio of work because it is part of my journey to ‘Visible Invisibility,’ as is my CTS essay ‘Challenging dominance in image culture: a discourse analysis.’ Over the last few weeks my tutor and I have been discussing the archival works of several practitioners. I’m going to take a detour here to describe some of that work because it is key to understanding what I have decided.

A review of the work of Taryn Simon and other relevant practitioners

My tutor recommended Taryn Simon as relevant to my work which is counter cultural by challenging dominant visual norms in medical images (Simon, 2007; Photographs of secret sites, 2009). Her work collects series of images and challenges visual and other aspects of culture. Simons TED talk is very helpful; here are some notes that I have made in response to the talk (Photographs of secret sites, 2009).

Okay, so 90 percent of my photographic process is, in fact, not photographic. It involves a campaign of letter writing, research and phone calls to access my subjects, which can range from Hamas leaders in Gaza to a hibernating black bear in its cave in West Virginia. And oddly, the most notable letter of rejection I ever received came from Walt Disney World, a seemingly innocuous site. 

(Photographs of secret sites, 2009)

I think that I might have been limiting myself in the work so far. I have my essay text and other visual and image ‘texts’ that I have not declared that I could use in presenting my work. The materiality or working as a photographer is also important to me; I have made several hand made books for the OCA degree and other people – it is that haptic thing of being present with an object that I can handle and savour, or give away. There is also the scope to work collaboratively to produce artworks from my works, and not simply a book or virtual gallery; I have identified some one on the textiles degree that I worked with in a CAHOOTs project as a potential collaborator. 

Photography threatens fantasy. They didn’t want to let my camera in because it confronts constructed realities, myths and beliefs, and provides what appears to be evidence of a truth. But there are multiple truths attached to every image, depending on the creator’s intention, the viewer and the context in which it is presented. 

(Photographs of secret sites, 2009)

This could be a comment about my work. I have shown in my CTS essay that relationship between image and myth in analysing the form of the Covid-19 briefing. Her images are of ‘real’ places and people, and mine are fabricated but they both challenge a fantasy. 

And a big part of the work that is sort of absent in this context is text. So I create these two poles. Every image is accompanied with a very detailed factual text. And what I’m most interested in is the invisible space between a text and its accompanying image, and how the image is transformed by the text and the text by the image. So, at best, the image is meant to float away into abstraction and multiple truths and fantasy. And then the text functions as this cruel anchor that kind of nails it to the ground. 

(Photographs of secret sites, 2009)

This is an issue that I am addressing now for this BOW. I have some labels for the individual images, but they may provide too much of an anchor for the images and limit them. Maybe the viewer has to work more at interoperating the work. I will see what my OCA buddies and my tutor think as we are not quite finished with BOW preparation.

Raad Walid has assembled an archive of work, the Atlas Group, which uses and archives work which the provenance of which is not completely clear – maybe they are all his works – they raise the question of authorship and validity (Walid, 1989). The other portfolio of work that I viewed as example of what my own archive might look like is in Broomberg and Chanarin work (Broomberg and Chanarin, 2018). They use work from many sources some of which are combined into montages. I saw some interesting images printed on card on their website: I was planning to make a book with covers made from PPE for my auto-ethnographic images, maybe printing on them might add to their form and presentation.

Back to the question: what will I do with my archive?

The sources I have quoted above are relevant because they suggest a way forward. My tutor sent most of them to me to and asked me tho think about whether my archive might be treated in a similar way. What struck me was the imaginative ways in which their archives are used, and that their presentations were polymorphous, organic, unexpected and non-linear and included writing and other approaches. There are no limits to what forms an archive.

One idea I have is about forming my own institution which contains my work, and perhaps other work. It could be real and even faux, as in the case of Raad Walid who may present his work as from other invented people, but serious in intent. My institution would be an an archive and ‘factory’ for the production and dissemination of images and stories about medical visual culture. This is a reaction to the dominant influence of intuitions visual culture that I have been examining in my CTS essay and my BOW. 

Name: The Institute of Medical Visual Culture

Moto: Cura te ipsum: Physician Heal Thyself’ – there is an aspect of self-healing in being critical of self and others

Mandate: To facilitate the curation, development and display of images produced by doctors and other health care staff that speak to contemporary concerns about medical visual culture.

Director: Professor Roberta Jackson

Contributor: Dr Morris Gallagher

Research on institutions

My extensive research on institutions and their approaches to visual media is in my CTS research archive and the essay (Link below). It does not contain all my research. My institution would focus on self knowledge and criticality. An appropriate academic advocate for that personal knowledge, intuition and prejudice might be Marianna Papadopoulou’s, who comments that personal knowledge is often squeezed out in academic learning, although she suggests a way of preventing that from happening (Papadopoulou, 2015). Another think that is missing in academic research is the importance of considering the materiality of a subject.  (Palfreymen et al., 2021)

We all agree that visuality is unavoidably connected to materiality. Visual archives offer rich, varied, and extensive sources for the historian, but researchers should be properly trained so that we do more than simply introduce visual evidence into established historical narratives. 

(Papadopoulou, 2015)

There are ethical and theoretical implications of creating a working archive which could have fictional elements, but is this so different from the intentions of the NHS, government and media that fabricate myths and fantasies that they encourage us to accept? This is an issue for SYP.

How I meet the criteria and learning objectives for BOW

CRITERIA Subdomain ‘Understanding:’ “Applying increasingly professional personal and graduate skills to initiate and sustain studies and emerging practice, and highly relevant practical, technical, and communication skills to articulate ideas, and outcomes effectively. 

90-100: Applying exceptional increasingly professional personal and graduate skills to initiate and sustain studies and emerging practice, and extensive highly relevant practical, technical, and communication skills to articulate ideas, and outcomes effectively. 

There is a trajectory in developing this project which begins with critical self reflection, experimentation and repeated testing out to produce this final series. That work continues and will intensify in these next few weeks as my work is shared and discussed externally; I have two external portfolio reviews due in the next few weeks and my peers and other tutors will help that. I think that this is the nature of professional practice which has elements of internal work and exposure to critical other views.

I have produced high quality images that look the same. That was my intention in this part of my Body of work which is about clearly exposing hidden themes within governmental behaviour and image production during this pandemic.

I am clear about the intent of ‘Visible Invisibility’ which is the a take on Foucault’s ideas of ‘Invisible visibility’ which he uses to describe the epistemological change in knowledge from the invention of the stethoscope where one could now hear the invisible heart and lungs which were yet to be imaged – more in my essay (Link below). I am looking forward to how I might produce artwork for SYP that reaches a wide audience; these ideas are on the revised A5 exam text.

PH6 BOW LO5: “demonstrate management, leadership and communication skills and have deployed them during the negotiation and production of the final body of work with your tutor and third parties.”

One implication of this could be that it shows only what I have done. May leader has had limited but strategic input and my choices have been to take that advice or not. I have explored and researched those suggestions and as in ‘Visible Invisibility’ I have found a specific way forward. It has been about judging that tutor input and taking responsibility for running with it or ignoring the advice or doing something different. The final work was developed in an interactive was on a padlet suggested by my tutor. There was little disagreement about this work, although feedback to aim for the highest quality – I chose to re-shoot three times and use PS to ensure crisp images – new ‘fantasies.’


BOW SUBMISSION: Padlet used by us to develop my BOW submission ‘Visible Invisibility’ https://oca.padlet.org/garryclarkson/4dvzea8d69hglj8o

DRAFT OF ALL MODULAR WORK: Overview of works, ideas, critical thinking, and other links in this module. https://padlet.com/morris5137481/hgbq6anupq82c4o6

CTS: Padlet describing theoretical and other links in my Contextual Studies https://oca.padlet.org/morris513748/ylsldp6boffywci

CTS ESSAY: https://the-prescription.org/a5-cts-final-version-for-exam/


Broomberg and Chanarin (2018) Bandage of the Knife not the Wound. At: http://www.broombergchanarin.com/hometest#/bandage-the-knife-not-the-wound-1/> (Accessed  18/09/2021).

Lucas, S. (2019) Sarah Lucas: Au Naturale 09/26/18-01/20/19. [New Exhibitions Museum] At: https://www.newmuseum.org/exhibitions/view/sarah-lucas (Accessed  07/06/2021).

Man Ray (1944) Mr. knife and Mrs fork. At: https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/mr-knife-and-mrs-fork-man-ray/xQHhA3Y9mzC9nA?hl=en (Accessed  26/06/2021).

Palfreymen, H. et al. (2021) Picturing Medicine: visual and material culture as historical source. At: https://thepolyphony.org/2018/10/04/picturing-medicine-visual-and-material-culture-as-historical-source/ (Accessed  30/09/2021).

Papadopoulou, M. (2015) ‘The authority of personal knowledge in the development of critical thinking — a pedagogy of self-reflection’ In: Enhancing Learning in the Social Sciences 3 (3) pp.1–21.

Photographs of secret sites (2009) Directed by Taryn Simon TEDGlobal. At: https://www.ted.com/talks/taryn_simon_photographs_of_secret_sites?language=en#t-77097 (Accessed  30/09/2021).

Simon, T. (2007) An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar. At: http://tarynsimon.com/works/aihu/#1 (Accessed  28/09/2021).

Tate (2021) Assemblage – Art Term. At: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/assemblage (Accessed  03/06/2021).

Walid, R. (1989) The Atlas Group (1989-2004). At: https://www.theatlasgroup1989.org (Accessed  28/09/2021).