Category Archives: Assignment 4 Diary: Reading Photographs

Assignment Diary 4: Reading Photographs

28 march 2016

I have started my research for assignment 4. Yesterday I looked at several YouTube videos on semiotics – since I think that that is what this is all about. I loved the quote, in Daniel Chandler’s Introduction in “Semiotics for Beginners”, by Lewis ‘semiotics tells us things we already know in a language we will never understand‘ . I could not agree more. So since I love language I decided I might try to understand this one – at least the basics.

In order ot do this I decided to create a mind map. It is a work in progress…

29 march 2016

The mind map is developing and may even be finished. I am not sure if it is correct. I would like to find someone, who knows about semiotics, to check it out. I have really enjoyed creating it. But since today is Wednesday I was walking the Luberon Mountains this morning with my walking friends and putting the world to rights. No one among them is the slightest interested in semiotics so I avoided the subject…… Instead we marvelled at the beauty that is Provence. It is our last walk before I return to Ireland. Sad to leave friends every six months but the friendship never sours….

Also working on Eliott Erwitt’s image. I have divided it into thirds and that is evident that we have one pair of legs in each of the two left hand thirds. Then the little dog is in the third third. But I also looked closely and discovered other things which I will write up. I don’t like this image as I find it disturbs my head looking at it. I don’t find it easy. I find it rigid.

31 march 2016

Wrote up blog on the Erwitt image. Amazing how one knows an image so well but we still do not notice all the details until called upon to make a written observation. Still do not ‘like’ the image for what that is worth.

Looking at the publicity images with the idea of analysing it. I have been doing this in my head for several nights. I have been applying De Saussure and Roland Barthes’ semiotic principals to it. Having done the mind map I have found this easier.

1 April 2016

April Fools day. I have been reading more on semiotics and have printed out Derrida’s article. I decided to attack the advertisement which I had torn out from Vanity Fair magazine. With all this semiotics terminology flying around in my head I think I could have written a book on the image. However I tried to remain within the requirements of the project 2: reading an image. I hope what I have written makes sense. I am getting quite ‘into’ all these hidden messages in photos. It is becoming like a murder mystery.

Have written an article on Semiotics.

I also read the OCA article on Essay Writing. I will keep it in mind when I come to write my essay. Further to my tutors reply to my request for direction on which image to use for my essay, I think I will go with the Meyerowitz Ground Zero image.

2 April 2016

Woke up this morning with a working title, and first thoughts on my intro, for my essay. Want to write up my research on Semiotics but have guests coming today.

5 April 2016

Made a subscription to Source as it looks very interesting. Was able to access Judith Williamson’s articles about decoding advertising. She certainly has strong opinions about the connotations in advertising. I am not sure I would always agree with her and ask myself if her opinions are not related to the need to produce an article for each issue of Source. I am no supporter of advertising but doubt that those who produce these ads are quite so well informed on the psychology of “the hidden message”. I found this YouTube video scary on subliminal advertising.

6 -11 April 2016

A friend brought us to the TGV in Aix where we got the train to Paris CDG. Because it was Easter holiday time, in various parts of France, the train was full. As always the TGV was fast, efficient and on time. Arrived in CDG, checked in our bags and our flight with Aer Lingus was also on time. Arrived in Cork ahead of time where our son collected us.

We spent four days with our grandchildren. This was a delight. They are very well behaved and lovely children (even though that is a little biased…). We did the usual school runs, swimming lessons and managed to get a shortish walk. The children and I had “Movie Night’ when we watched “Alvin and the Chipmunks”.

We were due to return to our island home on Sunday but the weather was so terrible we decided to sit it out at our son’s home. But as usual at this time of year, in Ireland, Monday dawned bright and dry so off we set.

We only had 30mins to do our shopping in the nearest town and made the midday boat with three minutes to spare. But the Captain waited for my husband to park the car after we unloaded it. Island side we met friends embarking as we disembarked. The island community transport arrived and after greeting with the driver we loaded up.

The weather has been so awful all winter that the ‘road’ to our house was only barely passable. The water level in the garden was just below the grass. We lost a bower and the internet antennae had come down on the TV areal so we are cut off from communication as we have all our communications by WiFi.

Our mobile works. Neighbours and friends began to call by to say “Hello” which is always a pleasure. The heating is fired up and the stove blazing so we are home, in our other home.

12 April 2016

My Behind the Image by Anna Fox and Natasha Caruana arrived so without the Internet I was able to get stuck in immediately. Internet repair man arrived so I opened the OCA site to see my results for EYV were there. I am pleased with the result although I still have no idea how this compares to others. i was surprised by the fuss on Facebook about the results. I do not see the point – the work is down and there is nothing that one can do to change it at this late stage. I sent my result to both previous and current tutors, as advised.

13 April 2016

Am getting back to research for my Ground Zero essay. My ordered copy of Aftermath, by Joel Meyerowitz, has not yet arrived nor have I recieved tutor feedback on my rough essay plan. But I will continue to research as I imagine a book could be written on the subject and the challenge will be to keep the essay tight and interesting.

15 april 2016

Awaiting reply from tutor on very basic essay structure which I sent him. I am reading and ‘looking’ (mostly YouTube material) around Meyerowitz’s Ground Zero work. My tutor was correct – there certainly is more to say on his work than there would have been on my two other possible choices….. I am almost snowed under with material. I am so ambivalent about ‘late’ photography. I have already written about this in EYV. I realise that my opinions are. as yet, very under-informed but I do not want to loose my own integrity  about what I feel about certain genre of photography practice. I feel I need to study, in much greater detail, the work of ‘late’ photographers and write up this research.

16 april 2016

I am trying to keep up with the development of three different essays/reviews, at the same time and my head is imploding and there are not enough hours in the day. So what does one do in these circumstances?

Of course one makes and paints a nesting box….


17 april 2016

More reading and pondering before I set out to garden. Then I am met at my backdoor by his guy…


who thinks he lives here and we are the intruders….

18 april 2016

Finished “Behind the Image” and wrote review. I really enjoyed this book. It is well written and very simple. I also re-read David Campany “Safety in Numbers” and got a better understanding of what he was saying.

21 april 2016

Re-read a number of papers on Late Photographers and wrote a review of the subject. After all this research I am still very ambivalent about the genre. However I have done my best to be objective.

Collected my cards, from my lovely printer, for my exhibition and the shop where I work. I am pleased with the graffiti cards. lets hope they sell. Took part in a meeting to arrange an Open Islands weekend. This is an annual affair where each of the inhabited islands displays creative work which is going on on each island.

I am hoping to use the time, before I receive my Aftermath book, to learn more about making videos. I know nothing about video making. My Nikon D800 takes videos but I have never used this facility. Up very early this morning and out in the ‘drizzle’ (that wonderful Irish word  for light rain) to make a video of an abandoned caravan on my road. I have seen this caravan come to the island, be lived in, albeit temporarily, by a bassoon player of a European orchestra, be the site of a liasion, be abandoned and eventually be vandalised. There is a whole book in this caravan….  Extend this to the site where the caravan stands. The remains of another caravan lies smashed on the ground – but that is a whole other story….

I now have a rather jerky video but there is the bones of a really good story there…

23 april 2016

Went on a Deep Topography walk with a young artist in residence Michael Holly, who has just moved into our local art centre in my market town, Skibbereen. I had no idea what deep topography was before this walk. Michael gave us a brief introduction which I will add to my physical log. It was an interesting experience.. I think the term was coined by the London Perambulator, Nick Papadimitriou. He was the subject of a short film, ‘The London Perambulator’, directed by John Rogers, and featuring eulogies from his pals Will Self (Nick provided insight and maps for Self’s ‘Book of Dave’) and Russell Brand.(interview). The documentary is on YouTube here.

Arrived back to find my husband chatting to a Russian guy who was trying to paraglide off the cliff behind our house – that’s a first..

24 april 2016

Have started Ian Jeffery’s A Concise History of Photography – it doesn’t look too concise….

2 May 2016

It has been a busy time with friends – a very special 60th birthday party. I had one of the guests, an artist friend from London so there was a lot of talking and not a whole lot of practical work. However I always try to profit from these encounters and I find them enriching. Two days before the party an islander died suddenly. Although she had lung cancer she was managing to get out every day. Living on a island of 100 people we are all accutely aware of each other. Her partner, whom I have know for nearly forty years, was a member of a traditional Irish band. He plays the bodhran. It is a sad time and no one knew whether to continue with the party arrangements. But the partner insisted it went ahead and we drank to absent friends.

Such an interesting group of people. I am hoping to work with one or two of them on some projects.

I am reading the review of Donigon Cummings work and my head is almost splitting. On minute I think he is great to make the videos he did and then I am angry that he made these videos of vulnerable people.

3 May 2016

Still no sign of Aftermath. Messages to supplier and Amazon but no joy.

4 May 2016

Finally received a direct message from the company in Hay-on-Wye re Aftermath. They will send another copy.

I am looking again at Jo Spence’s work. A strange day for me to be doing this as I have just returned from the cremation of one of our islanders who was also called “Jo”. Our Jo also had cancer, lung cancer, with which she had been diagnosed almost three years ago. Jo was a heavy smoker and she continued to smoke until Thursday morning when she died very quickly of an aneurysm. Her partner, Norman, was a member of and Irish trad group so it was a very jazzy cremation – not sad and sniffly like most funerals. This is a great result of living on an island. As Norman said today you have to be nuts to live on an island but we are a family. When I asked one of the other photographers if he had a photo of Jo he said “No” she always scowled at me when I raised the camera. He is making a life long study of island life.

Back to Jo Spence. I am going off to re-look at her work.

7 April 2016

Today is the day of the Essay….. I have read and viewed so much on Joel Meyerowitz that I feel I know the guy personally. I am not sure he would be my favourite companion on a desert island but that is food for another essay. How to keep this to a 1,000 words may be the greatest challenge.

I have printed out a large version of the image Steps Down to Plaza and tried to read it in detail. This is in my learning log. A photograph below.

learning log