Project 3 Photographing the unseen- Exercise

Three Case Studies

All three of these projects are examples of personally driven work but they become universal when we can relate to the feelings they present by visiting our own personal histories.

  • Which of these projects resonates most with you, and why?
  • How do you feel about the loss of authorial control that comes when the viewer projects their own experiences and emotions onto the images you’ve created?

Before I reflect on which of the projects that resonated most with me I wanted to reflect on each of the works, all of which made me think about notions of text and image. All triggered some common thoughts and all three presented some individual and unique ideas.

Peter Mansell offers the viewer and reader an insight into a very challenging world. One in which mere words or pictures may not tell a whole story. His images appear as vignettes offering at first glance a partial view of his world an all that he has to deal with, the device of making images of partial and incomplete object, the bed, the room created a sense of looking in on his world, one that must be very different to mine in so many ways. I cannot begin to imagine all that Peter has had to go through and it is hard not to feel sorry or someone in Peter’s circumstance. This is however a very superficial, analysis because what his images do is offer an insight into his world through some carefully chose signs and symbols that tell a bigger story. Looking at his work in more detail.

I felt very guilty that I had initially felt sorry for peter and although this is perhaps a cultural conditioning that is part of the British mores I have been exposed to. In essence though I found peters work vert thought provoking because there is an absence of people, presence and the implications of his injuries are implied and eluded to. It is as if in his dialogue with the view he doesn’t want to reveal all, but rather hint at things, leaving the viewer to ask questions and make assumptions based on the context of the work but also their own biography and the personal lens through which they view the work

Dewald Botha work is starkly different but there are parallels. The idea of place as a metaphor for a wider range of ideas and concepts is one that I have explored in my own work and practice and I have spent several years returning to the same places to make images that say something about time, place and culture. This work is much more elegant than mine and there is much I can learn from Botha, not least the very satisfying construction and assemble of the visual elements in his work. The asymmetric composition of the first image in the OCA course materials is to my eye stark yet beautiful and I immediately gain a sense of place beyond the elements in the image. The fact that the photographers journey around the ring road looking for calm and peace became a more personal exploration demonstrates the power of the medium to explore the personal through the things around us. This really resonates with me with regard to the personal work I just referred to. It dawned on me recently that my regular return to a location to make more images of the same place was not about that place and was much more about me! Again I found this work thought provoking and I have since further explored Botha work, particularly through his Flickr page.

Without doubt though of all of these strong projects it was Jodie Taylors- Memories of Childhood that mot resonated with me. Not for the use of 35mm (I am predominantly a film photographer0 but because there is something essentially nostalgic about the work. I looked in particular at her images of park benches. To me the images created memories of all those meetings and gathering of the past evoked by the now empty benches. The images of garages alluding again to places where children met. Like Mansell’s work the absence of figures in the images leaves the viewer open to interpret their own meaning, using personal experience to create one’s own personal nostalgia from the image. I also liked the purposefully non-descript nature of the locations and how they had been recorded. The absence of defining landmarks meant that the benches, passage ways and garage scenes could be anywhere, indeed they could have been my own landscapes of childhood. This work is powerful and evocative and I suspect can touch a memory or nerve in many.

With this work above other I could see that notion of the non-linear post-modern narrative, the work forma a structure or framework onto which the view can the author o the works meaning.

Again, to me the loss of authorship was strongest in this of the three case studies, in part that it is simple more universal’s in terms of accessibility when compared to the previous artist’s work. The beauty and simplicity in the mundane, that would have been so much part of the child hood of many creates the potential for a very open interpretation of this work.

I have taken some inspiration from all of these works and I find this case study approach particularly helpful in developing ideas for my own work


Boothroyd, S. (2015) Context and Narrative, Open College of the Arts, Barnsley

Botha, D. (2013) Ring Road  found at:


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