Documentary

My documentary work explores the multi-layered nature of experience of places and interplay of subjectivity and observation. It has included a range of different approaches and media:

  • Oromia: Reflected Journey used my own photographs from a car as the basis for an on-line interactive pdf of gouache paintings and collaged photographs.
  • Greed Game: Politics of oil was an altered book project that used experimental illustrations for secondary source texts following different Islamic cultural styles using a range of materials and media.
  • Return to Goma was a ‘single image documentary print’ collagraph series on events in Goma, DRC from my own sketches and photographs.
  • Japan: a cultural journey used my own sketches and photographs as the basis for linocuts, drypoints and monoprints in different Japanese aesthetic styles.

My work takes a socio-political and post-modernist approach, concerned with:

  • ‘whose documentary’ are we talking about and why? how do we work with other people to get multiple perspectives both in terms of information and feedback
  • how do potentially conflicting perspectives modify the message
  • what are the strengths and challenges of communicating the ‘message’ – photographs (referential but subjective selection and editing), photocollage and photomontage (possibilities for juxtaposition and multi-layered questioning), illustration and printmaking (possibilities for invention), video and interactive presentation
  • how best to disseminate the document and engage with the audience to make a difference

My Visual Communication work draws on parallel work on landscape photography, particularly:

Assignment 4: A New Safari : some reflections on ‘shooting’

I am particularly interested in the ways in which photographic and/or ‘fully created’ images in different media (drawn, painted, print etc) are used and combined (eg in video/animation/collage) to create illusions of ‘truth’, ‘myth’ and ‘imagination’ in different types of political illustration from ‘direct messaging’ to political allegory. I am particularly interested in which types of media and approaches are most effective in drawing particular viewers in, and getting beyond mere shock and compassion fatigue to inspiring change. Specific considerations are:

  • do photographs create a greater sense of ‘reality’ than ‘fully created’ images – to what extent, in what ways and contexts, and why? Given the inevitability of subjective choices in photography, the potential for almost total digital fabrication of photographic images, and the potential for drawing and painting to accurately record events and ‘distil the essence’ behind multiple complex realities.
  • how is narrative constructed in individual images? Cartoons? Information graphics?
  • Does narrative combination and sequencing of images differ between documentary and fictional illustration? Between photographic and fully created illustration? Between printed work and on-line animation? Why and what are the effects?
  • How is text/speech used to complement the images?
  • What are the implications for my own political illustration practice?

Selected travel and documentary photographs to other countries worldwide that I envisage using in future documentary illustration and/or printmaking and/or photobooks can be found on:

My future work will increasingly focus on the role of humour, metaphor and symbolism in communication of political messages – how to overcome ‘compassion fatigue’.