Taking chances

This is a response to the coursework questions on page 43 about looking at whether I have work that does not fit within the overall project. I have written elsewhere about this issue as it has been extremely important in the direction and formation of my body of work.

The lowest point in this module was after I had produced three different series for my auto-ethnography in A1 and A2. I was overwhelmed by the number of images in my archive; my blog says, “too many images.” Paradoxically that frustration was a driver for me to interview other doctors about their experiences of working from home which led to a trial film (A2) and then my ‘Remotely’ (A3) series about psychological responses of shielding doctors to Covid-19, (and later my final BOW at A5 ‘Visible Invisibility’).

But there are other impacts from ‘taking a chance’ founded in this frustration after A2 and it is that that I will discuss now.

Chance as a way of finding a new direction after an impasse

Let’s start with that lowest point at the end of my ethnographies (A1 and A2) with” too many images” and my frustration that what I had produced did not meet my intention to show something ‘worthwhile’ of my experience of working in lockdown.

My tutor Garry and I both realised I was ‘stuck’. He has been very encouraging about the images that I had produced or sourced from my recent covid iPhone photo diary. I had already ‘branched out on my own’ to do my series ‘Remotely’ of photographing my empty consulting room staged to illustrate psychological states and adaptations to Covid working after interviewing other shielding doctors. Initially I saw that as ‘letting my tutor down’ by not persisting with the ethnography, but I was happy with the new staged work as it seemed congruent with my experiences. I had also started to smash computers and phones on my drive to illustrate my CovidAnger, after attending a tutor led discussion of Covid images, produced by the public and professionals presented at Format21 which I attended; they seemed ‘cosmetic’ and avoided anger at the huge number of deaths and tardiness of the governmental response, and the politics of Covid.

Garry also suggested looking at surrealist and ‘altered state’ photographers, but his breakthrough advice was to ‘break free’ from the project and to go out to photograph ‘anything’ for 2 weeks. I am going to start there.

A chance image of a flagstone

I took lots of images which are largely near my home, some of which are below.

This image of a broken flagstone, that I took when visiting a relative in a mental hospital, is the one that stands out.

It speaks to me of the ‘shattered’ nature of life due to Covid-19. Things are very different and may not be the same again. That applies most to my thinking, internal comfort and stress as well as physical habits. Conventional thinking and habits, particularly consulting from home, have been broken and replaced by new conventions and discomforts.

From this image I curated a new series using my many ethnographic images and personal archive images. I also organised them based on form and look rather than on content or my feelings. This produced a series that I was very happy with; it spoke about shattered in living at home during covid.

It is interesting how much a diversion in approach can reinvigorated the work which is what happened here.