Phonar- Task One: Final Outcome

Tweets summarising the task:

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Visual portrait of the authorScreen Shot 2016-04-18 at 16.45.10


Work in the style of the author:Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 16.03.48Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 16.03.40


Final body of work:

The reflection of my experience:

When travelling to Tulum I really didn’t know what to expect. The task in the playbook stated not to research the location I selected before visiting but only after I had been there. This was a strange concept to me however on returning from Tulum I realise that this allows you to visit the place with a completely clean slate, no expectations. I think this allowed me to get the most out of the experience without other peoples thoughts, experiences and facts blurring what I saw. Although having facts behind your images can often enhance the message I think opportunities that may otherwise not present themselves are offered when using this technique. While I found it a challenge to not read up on where I was going I would definitely recommend the experience.

Being in Mexico I was sure that there was going to be a complete change of culture to what I am used to in the UK. I was right to think this and looking at my images I can see that I have definitely been drawn to this, the change in culture almost guided me through location and is what my attention was drawn to the most. Another reoccurring theme that I have noticed within my images is human interaction, but generally without people being in the images. This is mostly hinted through structures and other things that humans have placed within the landscape. Although this may be seen as a separate theme this is still closely connected to culture change, mainly due to the fact that the human interaction is very different to what I am used to seeing in the UK.

Originally I was unaware that there were two separate parts to Tulum: the ruins and the town. These are not just separated by differences in scenery but also by about 3km of road. By going to both of these places I am able to provide a comparison, not only of the two completely different locations but also of history: the past, present and future. The time itself provides a story of human interaction as different structures are aged differently; this is a story of the rich Mayan culture found in Mexico.

These themes reflect the main points that I want to say within my work, culture and understanding different countries cultures is very important and I think doing this visually is a great way to get audiences interested and learning more. I think that by looking at my images it is evident that this is what I want to say.


Critical rationale:

This task really interested me and pushed me to take my own practice and interests in a new direction. Laura McPhee’s task was open to interpretation and different outcomes could have been produced. When researching McPhee it was clear that her main love was getting lost and creating something beautiful, yet with meaning. This is what the task was asking me to do, I found this daunting and strange. I felt that facts belonged with images, which I still think, however I’m now not sure these need to be known before you reach the location. By researching I was able to visit the location with a completely clean slate, no stereotypes, opinions or facts to guide me, only my camera and interests.

The final piece that I created is a set of 10 diptychs; these show the comparison of the two locations at Tulum. The style I have presented these is similar to what McPhee may use herself, this was unintentional and the subject matter varies due to the images being in slightly different locations with direct comparison. Travelling to Tulum with no idea what I was going to find really did put me out of my comfort zone, what if I didn’t come back with images that I liked? From this task I have learnt not to have complete control over everything. I believe that by letting go of some control I have created something that I never could have done knowing all these facts. Overall I am happy with the work that I have created and even decided not to use the images from after researching as part of the final piece.


Letter to Laura McPhee:

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‘Dear Laura,

As you are already aware I have been completing your task from the Photographers playbook. I am writing to you to share with you my response. During my research and completion of the task I have found that our practices definitely have their similarities. Like you I am very interested in human relationship with environments and maybe even a lack of this! From completing the task I feel like I have really been able to push my practice and interest a step further and in a new direction…

Not researching the place I decided to photograph before going seemed very daunting and strange to begin with, to me the facts needed to be there to make the work. Although I do not completely disagree with this statement now, I do understand that I maybe took this a little too literally. By not having any facts, stereotypes or other people’s opinions at the forefront of my mind I was able to go to Tulum, my chosen location, with a completely clean slate. This really did allow my camera to be my companion and guided me through the location through my interests. Realising there was two completely separate locations that made Tulum interested me greatly, along with the culture change and human interaction. For my final piece I have made ten diptychs showing the comparison between these two different locations highlighting these themes, 4 of these can be found on these postcards…

Having completed the task I would certainly use this technique again and also encourage others to try this! After researching there was a few things that I thought I may have done differently, however these thoughts were minimal, and in the end I decided to only use the first shoot for my final piece! (Something I never thought I would do when first receiving the task.) Looking at your practice and getting to know you, I can understand why you have written the task and I really think that it allows people to know what your work is about, even if they don’t research it themselves…

I have decided to write to you in the form of postcards, with the images that I have taken on the front. This seems appropriate due to the distance I travelled to complete the project. However I feel this would be appropriate whatever location was chosen, this is due to the fact that I am not only getting lost in this place but also my thoughts and interests as well. The whole task really has been a journey for me! The envelope is a map of the location that I have been too and also provides a little more information. I hope you enjoy looking at my response, if you want to read more about the process I went through to complete it please go to my blog at https://bethanycrispphotography.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/phonar-task-one/

Kind Regards,

Bethany Crisp’

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