Excellent work – really evocative, thought-provoking, honest, personal, elegiac. Really good use of very different subjects – it has a fragmentary, dreamlike sense to it. I also like that it isn’t in chronological order but jumps around a bit – like memories. I particularly liked the lamb and the beach frolics as they provided a counterweight to the more sober shots – it can’t be easy to produce a set on the theme of death without tipping into morbidity but you’ve achieved a really delicate balance here. The train platform shot, whilst clearly very personal to you from reading your prep notes, works in its own right – i think it’s the ’empty box’ text that makes it.
One piece of critique though: I don’t think the first image works in this set, it kind of jars a bit. It looks too constructed compared to the more naturalistic set that follows. The headline looks odd, too much white space, not quite the right typeface (to be fair, films and TVs always get fake headlines wrong, it drives me mad). Why Le Monde? why is the headline in English but the accompanying text is in French? I presume there’s a reason but instead of being ambiguously interesting, I just found it distracting. Sorry… The ‘straight’ shot of the bereaved man and the empty chair would tonally fit better IMO.
Thanks Rob – I appreciate you taking time with this. And yeah I agree that the first image does not quite fit with the rest of the set. It has been bothering me but in the end I decided to include it – in the spirit of it being the uber arty part of the course – and see how it was received. I went for Le Monde because I didn’t want any political connotations from UK papers and I liked the idea of the universal implication of the title. And I hoped that the side text being in another language would mean people wouldn’t be distracted so much but I think I should have blurred it. I suspect Jesse will think the same as you and suggest that just the straight picture of John next to an empty chair will work better.
Now that you’ve told us that the newspaper image is one of someone sitting next to an empty chair the idea of the image makes sense. It is very difficult to realise that there is an empty chair in the image, so the question is why the newspaper and why Le Monde? The side text also adds confusion. However the notion of a narrative image, in this case set in newsprint is interesting.
I think the candle image denotes a progression to the ‘other side’ a memento mori and is the least nuanced of the set. The ones which work best for me are those that have a strong sense of ambiguity, the beach scene, the boat, the figure in the wheat(?) field, the chicken and the ’empty box’ because they allow me to compose a narrative structure whereas the candles denote something very particular, much as the lamb shot does.
And lastly I’m not sure about the warm toned images, they are strongly linked with nostalgia and a past, whereas you say in the context you are very aware of the fragility of life in the present, there is, for me, little tension in these warm tones rather warmth.
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