Naming things: Introductions, titles and anchoring text
This post examines how the introductions, titles and labelling of my works and images changed as I progressed through the module. Initially, I was going to present several items for my BOW under one ‘umbrella’ name. This changed when I decided to present only one item, my assemblage images, as my BOW. The other works, with their own titles, will be developed in SYP. At the end of this post is my assessment of this examination using the OCA criteria of ‘Understanding’ and ‘Application.’
LO4: critically review your own work and evaluate it against desired outcomes
Link to learning log
3rd August 2021
Thinking about naming my work
My tutor and I held off from labelling my images and series too early. That has not stopped me from thinking about labels or anchoring text as suggested by this section in the OCA notes. In retrospect, this delay has been helpful, as the focus has been developing the assemblage project on the padlet and progressing the CTS essay on power. On the developmental padlet, in my PS file of assemblage images, and InDesign I have been experimenting with some labelling of the assemblage images, and to a lesser extent the Remotely room images.
Currently, I am thinking about submitting two or more items as my BOW – the assemblage series and the stage room series ‘Remotely.’ I have chosen an overall title called ‘Visible Invisibility.’ That is a play on a Foucauldian concept, the meaning of which in ‘The birth of the Clinic’ is the advent of auscultation to medicine to form an epistemological change in knowledge that shows how the hidden body is now revealed and experienced. In my CTS I have written about visibility, surveillance and disciplinary power in my experience of health care (Foucault, M, 1977). He also uses a related idea to explain the 19th-century change in medical culture from the ‘mythology of medicine’ to an understanding based on rationality, such as anatomy, – he calls this change “a world of constant visibility.”
It is that second element of invisibility that is evident in Foucault’s concept of ‘biopolitics’ that is helpful as it is about systems and data, originally collected in the 19C to monitor and improve health (Featherstone, 2013; Foucault, 2008)). Today much of this data is digital and invisible to most people; just think how much Google adjusts and manipulates your searches and what adverts they choose for you. This is the invisible power that I contend with and what is made visible in my work is a resistance to medical hegemony in visual culture, which is the theme of my CTS essay. It is also logical that the resistance makes use of the same control systems as government and health care such as FB, Instagram and medical and other networks.
We fear invisibility on social and other media; those ‘likes’ on my phone matter. We also fear visibility and the visual if it exposes us to other people’s ire – it is nice to be invisible to oneself sometimes, but machines are watching and monitoring what we do in the digital biopolitic. I think that it is that visibility- invisibility dynamic that is interesting as we don’t often think about what his hidden and controlled.
How does this thinking apply to my work?
I think that the name of my whole project is sound in terms of its ‘face value’; that it is about what is seen and what is not seen. The theoretical base in Foucault, which chimes with the theme of my work for CTS – they are synergistic.
There are other dimensions here about resistance to power and using biopolitical networks to show my work. I have experienced this resistance from the NHS before which led to me not publishing work that challenged its treatment of whistleblowers. There is a risk that I will experience ‘flack’ in criticising the government and NHS in this work as both are aggressive in managing their brand or ideology.
I think I will be submitting a portfolio of work for BOW which is multimodal with their names being rooted to this overall theme e.g ‘Visible Invisibility: ‘Home and Away” for my two complementary ethnographies which will form one or two books held within one jacket. The title for my room images is not certain as I am processing images afresh and may be ‘Visible Invisibility: ‘Distortions’ or ‘Dioramas’ or ‘Dodecahedron.” The power images may be called ‘Visible Invisibility: ‘Power relations’ or maybe just ‘Visible Invisibility.’
I am happy that I am now that I am starting to bring names, labels and images together.
Foucault, M. (1977) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Translation by Allen Lane 1977. (1st ed.) (s.l.): Penguin Classics.
Featherstone, M. (2013) ‘Preliminary Reflections on the Visible, the Invisible and Social Regulation: Panopticism, Biopolitics, Neoliberalism and Data Consumption’ In: Journal of Critical Studies in Business and Society , 4 (1) pp.6–37. At: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwi8m9Hn3sLxAhVJQUEAHTrOCnMQFjABegQIAhAD&url=https%3A%2F%2Fresearch.gold.ac.uk%2F19550%2F1%2Fvisible%2520and%2520invisible%2520final%252021.7.13%2520GRO.docx&usg=AOvVaw0Z_RVJmTYLNcpDlUpZG9ng (Accessed 01/07/2021).
Foucault, M. (2008) The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1978-79. Michel Senellart, and Graham Burchell. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan.
8th October 2021
A change in thinking and naming
A lot has happened since my first post (above) about this issue of titles and images and anchoring text
- I showed my printed Assemblage photographs to a director of a gallery in the South of England without any labels or introduction to the prints. She was not sure how to interpret the images although she realised that they were about Covid. I was very surprised by this but it emphasised to me the need for an introduction to ‘set the scence,’ and anchoring labels. I had the same reaction when the printed images were shared with friends and family; some people ‘got it’ but most did not.
- Recent external reviews by Red Eye and Lens Culture were extremely helpful as both looked at my introduction, bio, the labelling of the images, and in the case of Red Eye the rest of my work from this module – they liked the ‘Remotely’ staged room images and labels. The labels are essential to both series: that decision has evolved but after a period of uncertainty is now made.
- At the OCA Live Hub one of the particpants suggested more detailed labelling of the assemblage images. If there is an introduction I don’t think that this is needed, and it is important that people have to explore the images and their memories to make sense of what is in the image. There is still time to get more feedback in SYP.
- One of the best sources of examples of anchoring text was the Photograd PGz2021 booklet which has multiple short summaries describing students’ work. There is a trend for obscure or oblique nameing, which do not always relate to the content of the work: I have made my image labels short.
- It is interesting that my tutor has made little comment about the naming in my work, apart from ‘hold back,’ but I am happy with that approach and will do that again in my future practice.
Some conclusions about naming my work
- ASSEMBLAGE SERIES Now called ‘Visible Invisibility’: I was going to use ‘Visible Invisibility’ as the meta-name for all the work in this module, but it is best used for the assemblage work which is about Foulcauldian power. This is a good marriage of theory, ideas, and words, and even if people do not get the Foulcaudian reference then the words suggest making visible something that is invisible, which is my intention for this series.
- STAGED ROOM SERIES: Now called ‘Remotely’: I’ve not written much about the naming of the ‘Remotely’ room images; ‘Remotely’ is the name I have given to this series as it is about remote working during the pandemic and it implies distance and perhaps isolation. The titles for the images in this series are based on Jungian terms such as ‘displacement’ as a psychological response to illness or distress (Hopwood, 2008). There are other terms that are based on Lazarus’s theory of adaptation and my experience as a therapist (Lazarus, 1999). I think that many people will recognise these labels. Again I think that it needs an introduction to frame the work, and I will work on this in SYP.
- AUTOETHNOGRAPHIC SERIES: Now called ‘Home and Away’: I have done a huge amoung of work making and selecting images and image series but have come to two short series of images each of 12-18 images. They fall into two series; one is about the impact of working from home (called HOME), the other is about my empty surgery which for me is about loss (called AWAY). The title is a play on the TV series of the same name. Both will form a book – so, two short books contained in the same external sleeve. That slave may be made of used lateral flow tests embedded in resin. That is a task for SYP.
- ASSEMBLAGE IMAGES: My overall approach to labelling these images was to the text to be ambiguous and playful, even when the subject was serious. I think this works well for this serious subject. Here are some examples of why I chose the labels that I did.
This image refers to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock being caught in a clinch with his lover on CCTV. The camera signifies observation or surveillance and the lipstick making up lips and a kiss. My American external reviewer did not understand this UK cultural event, but perhaps others will.
This image refers to the lack of scrutiny of C-19 deaths. The little light (my auroscope) is meant to signify the small parliamentary investigation into the pandemic. We are yet to have a ‘full’ enquiry. This is an image where most people interpret the ash in the picture as those who have died. I did cal this ‘Illumination’ and have not quite settled on the name here.
- STAGED IMAGES: I had already completed a great deal of research on psychotherapeutic and psychological labels which for A3 informed the content of the staged room dioramas for the ‘Remotely’ series. It was not a great step to use those category labels as image labels.
I’ve noticed that visual paradox or dissonance is an aspect of my work in this module as well as in my name-giving.
- AUTOETHNOGRAPHIC IMAGES: The original name for my ‘Home’ series was ‘Shattered’ as it was based on ordering the series around a single image of a shattered flagstone. What changed that was thinking about out how to complet that work as a handmade publication of two parts ‘Home and Away.’ The ‘Away’ being empty surgery images. This is not my strongest work in this module but as a markers of my life it is important. There is that ‘playful’ reference to duality and contrast and a TV programme again!
Hopwood, A. (2008) Jung’s model of the psyche. At: https://www.thesap.org.uk/resources/articles-on-jungian-psychology-2/carl-gustav-jung/jungs-model-psyche/ (Accessed 01/11/2020).
Lazarus, R. S. (1999) Stress and emotion: a new synthesis. London: Free Association Books.
Jung, C. (1995) Memories, Dreams, Reflection: an Autobiography. London: Fontana Press.
6th December 2021
Reflections on naming, and meeting OCA criteria
I’ve had several weeks to reflect on the text around my work; the introduction, my bio, titles and labels. I have also presented my work orally which is a different experience, although having worked at the words needed for the introduction that acts as a good foundation.
I think I have made the main decisions about text around my images, but this is an iterative process and that could change as more people see my work during SYP which starts next week.
Using the OCA Criteria to assess this aspect of my work
I think that it is the Understanding and Application criteria that apply most;
Selecting, testing and interpreting relevant and detailed research, and applying fluent critical thinking and creativity to produce highly effective and individual ideas and outcomes.
The text around my images has a theoretical foundation that is also embedded within the image content. My notes show a change, and change in critical thinking, in the naming of the work as it became clear that they were to be separately named.
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.
The text around my work has been done independently with little input from my tutor or others. I have experimented with not using labels and using labels and introductory text for my images. My tutor encouraged me to leave labelling until the end of the project – I will use that approach again. External reviewers both made specific comments to improve my introductions to ‘Visible Invisibility’ and ‘Remotely;’ I will do this because this improved my introduction a great deal. That communication matters because I am uncertain how people will read my work in a gallery space.