Creative Visual Documentary: approaches and questions

Marion Shoard on ‘Edgelands’:

This book could perhaps have had more investigative rigour. The edgelands now need something beyond a merely subjective celebration of their identity. Far more than our towns and countryside, they are being subjected to ceaseless change. Wild space is being prettified at the expense of its character and creatures. Industrial ruins are being cleared away.

We could be in the process of losing this landscape just as we are discovering its charms. Should we be trying to conserve it, as we conserve the best of rural environments? Or would any attempt to regulate this space destroy the wildness that makes it special?

It is time for us to consider what relationship we want to see in the long term between our activity in the edgelands, their epic infrastructure, their unique wildlife and industrial archaeology and their peculiar place in our imagination. 

I think a lot of what is called psychogeography now is just middle-class men acting like colonial explorers, showing us their discoveries and guarding their plot. I have spent the last twenty years walking around London and living here in a precarious fashion. I’ve had fifty addresses. I think my understanding and negotiation of the city is very different to theirs.

Laura Grace Ford. Savage Messiah 2011 pxvii

Visual Documentary Overview and Links Padlet

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Visual Documentary: Some Key Questions

  • Subjective perspectives
  • Artist and subject: the visual artist as voyeur ‘shooting’ images of issues and themes that are not necessarily the same as the subjects of the photo.
  • Is the image showing how things are, or how the artist wants things to be? or how the audience wants to see them? Selective editing and erasure (eg cars and rubbish bins)
  • Different focus and viewpoint – is the artist directing the image or leaving interpretation open?
  • Present, past and future – places change over time – even over a few seconds – short term, long term, historical perspective and layers – the past is always present but maybe the message is for the future.
  • Exploration and deepening understanding of tensions and contradiction of reality over time
Visual Communication

All projects are further developed with the benefit of hindsight and perspective of deeper investigation and local knowledge to have wider relevance, appeal and impact. My body of work will include different ways of engaging with audiences to improve my work in terms of:

  • refining the ‘messages’ by getting a range of local views and information on social and environmental issues through conversations and interviews and local social networking sites.
  • engagement with campaigning organisations to get their input and advice on how to make my work most relevant and contribute to changes.
  • feedback on the effectiveness of the ‘communication aesthetics’ from local, national and also international overseas audiences to improve my technical and visual communication skills through ZemniImages Facebook page crosspasted to other social networks.
  • finding different marketing, promotion and advocacy outlets for the different dimensions of the body of work. Including campaigning organisations like National Trust, Woodland Trust, local Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and Rural England.