Results day

Back to university yesterday. Yeah, I know, students get silly amounts of holiday – I can’t really disagree. Anyway, a new term means we receive the results of last term’s work. First came the essay I handed in just after Christmas. Its lack of depth worried me, as I’d realised too late how much research it needed, but the tutor liked it and gave me a 2:1. So yay.

Then, though, came the photographic project results – the work that really took up the time. The first was ‘Interaction’ – my Pumpkin Man images:

Interaction Project - 1 of 5 Interaction Project - 2 of 5 Interaction Project - 3 of 5 Interaction Project - 4 of 5 Interaction Project - 5 of 5

I originally presented them at a ‘critical assessment’ in November; here’s what I wrote that evening:

The group’s reaction to my project was generally favourable: they liked the idea and thought the second image (knife in pumpkin) was the strongest, but recommended I remove the last two shots as they were weaker (particularly the final one), just leaving the first three more abstract photos.

Once they finished giving their opinions it was opened to the entire class, who said some nice things, and then the two teachers. They immediately completely disagreed, suggesting that if anything I should remove the first three as they didn’t seem to add anything to the concept and weren’t as good as the much stronger final two images anyway. The course leader recommended I enlarge the two to A3 and present them as a diptych.

So I went with the teachers’ recommendation, blowing the final two up to A3 and removing the first three. They bloody hated it. Here’s why:

The project is based in a basic conceptual idea and its realisation needs refinement. You need a third image to complete the triptych. The 2 images are similar in style and atmosphere, but they lack conceptual depth. Maybe something along the lines of intruders or strangers threatening the privacy of the home might have been worth exploring – your conceptual approach seems too basic and simple. (…) The project would have benefited from a re-shoot and tutorial input.

I got a third. They slagged off my workbook too – the book worth 20% of the final mark that details my thought processes and development throughout the project – but that was completely fair as the workbook sucked. Still, I think I’m justified in feeling a bit aggrieved – I removed the context and ‘conceptual depth’ on the advice of the same teachers who marked the project. Hmph.

Then came the Studio Photography project, for which we had to recreate an existing photograph then interpret it in some way for a second image. I recreated this Marilyn Monroe shot, and the interpretation was Lichtaffen Atomicus:

Lichtaffen Atomicus

I explained in print and verbally how this was an interpretation of the recreation: the Monroe shot was in a series of jumping pictures, of which Dali Atomicus was the most famous and indeed representative of the whole thing because of its obsession with ‘suspension’. This in turn had been inspired by Einstein’s’1 atomic revelations. Einstein, also photographed by same photographer, called photographers ‘light monkeys’. Hence the tribute to the original using Einstein and monkeys jumping instead. But (accurately transcribed):

Your interpretation is based on another exsisting original and you could have developed and analyse the teechnical reproduction instead. However technically – stagging and setup as well as lighting – are well done.

I think this means they thought I was trying to recreate Dali Atomicus, and didn’t understand the interpretation aspect. At all. I scraped a 2:1 as they liked the workbook this time.

Sorry if this is complainy and/or adolescent. Just came as something of a surprise. I spent Friday mixing pissed-off with I-should-just-give-up, but I’m thankfully over that now. The latter, anyway. Happily, none of this year’s marks count towards my degree. Lessons learned are a) don’t assume the teachers’ advice has any virtue and b) don’t get too clever.

  1. Einstein didn’t have all that much to do with the structure of the atom afaik, but his links with nuclear bombs apparently explain why Dali & Halsman focussed on him []