Visual Narrative: Media approaches

‘Tales from the Edge’ is a series of ‘voice-related’ projects that explore underlying conceptual issues and ‘problems’ around our experience of time and place from philosophy, psychology and science that underpin my subject experience of the ‘everyday’ and processes of visual documentation of ‘realities’.

The main emphasis is on exploring potential of photography-based narrative in the form of photo-books, exploring different forms of sequential narrative and relationship between text and image. But my wider practice includes work in a range of still and moving image formats in a range of media: including drawing, printmaking, photography, collage, painting and digital media.

The photographic narratives are based on a mix of:
• personal ‘Everyday sketchbooks’ of responses to current news events and particularly forthcoming discussions around COP26 and what it means practically for me and for UK
• sketches, photographs and writing from psychogeographical ‘derives’
• on-line documentary background research on the issues and derive locations from diverse perspectives.

Page Contents

Details of media and techniques can be found on my media-specific blogs. This page brings together overviews of my explorations and inspiration and links to the most relevant portfolio projects and other background experimentation:

  • Photographic narratives
  • Sketchbook narratives consists of a series of sketchbook activities that help me create ‘new normals’ in my personal everyday life at home in a flexible and manageable way that I can integrate into busy as well as more intensive periods of creativity.
  • Moving Image narratives Mindfulness in Slow Quick Time is a set of moving image explorations taking a playful look at ‘mindfulness’ and the different ways in which it can be experienced and expressed.
  • Printmaking narratives
  • Creative Writing

Creative Storytelling: Visual and verbal strategies

Narrative Theory. Linear and nonlinear narrative. Based on VisCom4Dev Moving Image. To be updated for more generic media approach.I will explore issues of:
• ‘compassion fatigue’ through too much figurative realism.
• how far, in what ways and how audience engagement and motivation can be increased through use of different media and creative approaches.
• potential role of allegory and created narratives in inspiring audiences to think differently. As activism is one of the main goals, feedback from different audiences and potential markets will be sought throughout as a way of expanding both the documentary information and ideas on creative response.

The media, style and visual approach will vary between the
different projects, aiming to explore the implications of these differences for audience response. Following the ‘Design Diamond’ each project will experiment with a range of creative image and narrative options. Using different randomising and creative prompts, I will generate both ‘immediately natural’ and completely opposing responses. Each project work will include:
• sketches, drawings, reportage illustration and collage in different types of sketchbooks to explore ideas, ‘edge mark-making, and as potential single image narratives or different types of maps.
• ‘creative photography’ as well as more spontaneous or ‘realistic documentary’ styles
• environmentally-friendly printmaking using a range of relief, intaglio and photography-based techniques producing different types of ‘edges’ and effects
• sequential narratives: ‘walking guides’, short documentary, reflective or imaginative books or zines.
• moving image and animation narratives. Based on my own judgement and audience feedback I will then making decisions for each project about the most interesting options to explore in detail.

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Photographic Narratives

Photography is a key element in all the projects as a foundation for ‘objective’ observation, recording events and as the basis for further development in other media.

The distinctive feature of photographic narratives are their grounding in some sort of light signal striking the sensors in the camera.

  • Single Image narratives: ‘decisive moments’, movement, layering and morphing
  • Sequential narratives: photobooks, interactive e-books and slideshows

Key photography-based narrative projects:

  • Anywhere Road: creative documentary photo book and photo collage
  • Moot Tales: photography of found textures
  • Hagg Wood: creative photography photobook

Photography as research and experimentation

  • Bramblefield Chronicles: photography as basis for illustration
  • In Praise of Littlefolk: photography as the basis for printmaking
  • Colours of Shingle: photography as the basis for illustration
  • The Island: photography as basis for narrative development

!!Insert SMUGMUG Portfolio links

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Sketchbook Narratives

Even from my comfortable armchair my personal and psychological life seems constantly ‘on the edge’ – if I am not already stressed, I find stresses either responding to everyday events bombarding me in the news or personal insecurities. At the same time I feel compelled to somehow remember this time, to slow life down as it flashes past one day merging into the next.

Diaries and sketchbooks can provide a ‘safe creative fun space’ explore my own ‘personal edges’ – philosophical and political views that characterise my ‘voice’ so that these can be explicitly and strategically integrated into my more ‘objective’ observational as well as subjective creative practice.

But there is a reason why I have always had difficulty keeping a regular diary – life has always been so busy being lived. Like the quantum uncertainty principle (proper ref here) measuring and recording thoughts alters and changes them. Even in quiet periods it is difficult to reflect and live at the same time. Every ‘now thought’ flashes to the past and a new thought comes before the last one was fully grasped. Never mind recorded and put on paper.

  • Edges
  • ‘Everyday is a Life Experiment’: a daily sketchbook diary April-May 2021 and revisited April-May 2022 (forthcoming). overlaying ‘old normal’ memories, daily reflections and serendipitous responses against a backdrop of news events and daily changes. Visual recording of news items in spontaneous ‘kneejerk rages and rants’ helped calm down my thoughts for more objective analysis. But I found it was only manageable to keep up this momentum of response for short periods.
  • Cutting Edges of Subconscious: emerging narratives from cutting up A4 sheets of quick sketches in my front room. An extension of earlier surrealist experiments in randomisation, the images seen in random lines often reveal ones underlying subconscious thought processes and preoccupations.
  • Shingle Street : a more sporadic and reactive sketchbook practice that captures thoughts and events in note form as they happen, as the basis for periodic review, reflection and visual synthesis about once a month.

Sketchbooks are a key element in most of the projects. As the basis for slower recording and reflection of locations and events, clarifying ideas and exploring more imaginative approaches and styles. Including text.

Single Images

Narratives: illustrated books and animation

Key sketchbook-based narrative projects:

  • Colours of Shingle: sketchbooks as the basis for illustrated poetry

Sketchbooks as research and experimentation

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Moving Image Narratives

Moving Image work tales different forms in my work:

  • Animated stills
  • Video
  • Animation

Key Moving Image time-based narrative projects:

  • Quick Time Tales: creative video
  • Home Movies: Stop Motion animation

Moving Image as research and experimentation

  • Anywhere Road: Walking in Fragments
  • Walking with Skylarks: video as the basis for recording and narrative development

Insert link to ‘Edges in Time’ SMUGMUG Portfolios

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Printmaking Narratives

Printmaking is a much slower, more considered form of image-making. Although it is possible to do certain types of printmaking on location, and accidental effects are very much part of the final effects, print design is typically based on sketches or still photographs.

Key Printmaking narrative projects:

  • Edges of Mindfulness (drypoint and solarplate)
  • Colours of Shingle (gelliplate, drypoint and etching)

Printmaking experiments have also informed styles and final images in:

  • Anywhere Road (photoscreen and woodcut Photoshop styles)

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