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over and out

The assessment results came out last Thursday (23rd April) and I was delighted to find I’d got 76 (breaking down as  27/35, 13/20, 20/25 and 16/20) – my highest mark to date, which is a great place to be as you pass the half-way point of the degree.

The overall comments were good too:

‘This was a well organised submission of work. It is clear that this is a course that has allowed you to explore photography. The multitude of approaches given will be a useful approach to working at Level 3.

‘Your writing is articulate and well referenced. In addition there is a clear sense of a direct personal voice being vocalised in the reflective and analytical posts. In your practical work this is not quite so evident but this is offset by a diversity of working methods.

‘The critical essay has allowed for you to explore using your personal voice within an academic context with the placing of your experience within the narrative. This is an interesting approach and will be useful at the next level. There is of course a balance required in balancing the academic with personal recollection. If this is an approach that you wish to continue, do look at how other authors are able to successfully manage that balance.

‘In the course you have taken full advantage of the various opportunities to work with both your own and found images. The use of randomising imagery and found text in assignment 2 shows a brave step in allowing you as an artist to become distanced from the creation of the work.

‘Do embrace the opportunities on your next stage of your photography journey.’

In passing here (I’ll do a more thorough bit of thinking about how do the feed-forward stuff over on my current blog for Landscape, Place and Environment),  I’ll note that this is the third module if four where I’ve underperformed in the Quality of Outcome bit which deals with ‘Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent with discernment. Conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas‘ so that’s the area I need to work on next.

Digital Image and Culture has been a good course for me to do. It is engaging and had led me in a number of surprising directions and has provided the re-set to my photographic practice that I was hoping for at its start. Russell, my tutor was great to work with, providing lots of stuff to look at in response to things I was starting to do. It was also good to find an active, online community around the course who could share their thoughts on where we were at and going.

Finally thanks to everyone who’s been following this blog and making comments. They’re genuinely useful, and I’m sorry if I don’t always respond quickly (or indeed at all) to them.

Now, to  quote Edwin Collins (and others of course) again – upwards and onwards…



A Note For the Assessors

We are asked to submit four things for Online Assessment (OCA, 2021: 1-2):

  1. Learning Log:  Submit between 2 to 3 learning log entries for each of the learning outcomes for the course.
  2. Creative Work: Select three assignment outcomes (excluding critical reviews/essays) or pieces of creative work.
  3. Critical reviews: Submit any critical review/essay from your course unit.
  4. Reflective presentation/evaluation: Your reflective presentation or evaluation will also help assessors to navigate your submission.

These are to be split across 5 folders in a shared, assessment directory of the OCA G:Drive:

  1. Selection of learning log entries
  2. Selection of Creative Work
  3. Written Element – Essay – Critical Review
  4. Reflective Presentation or Evaluation
  5. Tutor Reports

There is also a checklist document providing a table of contents for the Assessment Drive.

I have created an expanded version of this folder structure here, as part of my learning log. It is navigable using an extra dropdown menu – for the Assessment category – visible at the top of this and every other post.

There are separate sections for each of the four learning outcomes:

Learning Outcome 1 Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of technical and visual skills through a portfolio of digital photographic practice

Learning Outcome 2 – Demonstrate how research has informed your digital photographic practice

Learning Outcome 3 – Demonstrate how experimentation has informed your digital photographic practice

Learning Outcome 4 – Situate, reflect and critique photographic practices and reflect on your own learning

They are also accessible via the dropdown menu at the top of this page.

Finally – as well as forming part 5 of my G:Drive submission – here are the six (apart from assignment 1, co-authored) formative feedback documents for the assignments.

  1. 512973-PH5DIC-A1-Feedback
  2. 512973-PH5DIC-A2-Feedback
  3. 512973-PH5DIC-A3-Feedback
  4. 512973-PH5DIC-A4-Feedback
  5. 512973-PH5DIC-A5-Feedback
  6. 512973-PH5DIC-A6-Feedback

And finally, thank you for your time looking this submission for the March 2021 Assessment Event.

  • OCA (2021) Course guide for the assessment of photography units. (Version: March 2021 event) Barnsley: Open College of the Arts

Course Evaluation

rewritten from assignment 6

I hope the remaining courses for my degree (landscape and the three level three modules) match my experience of Digital Image and Culture: I feel I have been able to develop ideas over a period of time, trying things out and then applying the things I have learnt (and enjoyed) during the later parts of the course to produce work of which I am proud. Other students had remarked on a lack of actual photography during this module, but I never seemed to be without a practical idea to be tinkering away at.

    1. The first two sections of the module were characterised by guided exploration of techniques and ideas. I made collages and digital composites and started to sketch out ways I could make use of the archive of images made by me in a previous life. I  also began to tap into the wider archive of pictures made by others.
    2. Writing the essay acted as a bridge, allowing me to apply the theoretical reading from the first half of the course to my own practice, in preparation for moving on to further refine my relationship with digital practice.
    3. Sections four and five set in course a huge amount of focussed experimentation (assignment 4),culminating in a finished body of work on the theme of digital identity (assignment 5)

In terms of the learning outcomes covering ideas (two) and techniques (three), the first half of the course could be seen as involving mostly general research feeding into basic experimentation. The work produced for the first two sections was a start, but the later images are definitely more complete, technically and conceptually.

During sections four and five – particularly in the work for the two Digital Identity Assignments – both the research and the experimentation were more focussed: I was refining techniques I  had started using earlier or working harder to get specific effects to work in the ways I wanted them to. I have gained in proficiency and reached a point where I am as comfortable with getting the post-production aspects of making images, as I am with using a camera (or, now, a scanner or my laptop’s screen-grab function) to make the raw material for the resulting manipulated or assembled images.    

The module’s sixth section – of which this could be seen as an extension – provided a coda, opening up the world of digital curation for me as I reviewed the module in preparation for assessment.

The course could also splits into pre- and post-covid almost along the same lines. The ability to travel widely was integral to the first two assignments, both of which resulted in physical outputs that were posted to my tutor. By the time I started work on part four’s exercises and the Digital Identity assignments, my world was shrinking to fit the dimensions of my attic workroom and the capacity of my computer’s hard drives. Travel had ceased to be an option;instead it became a subject for reflection. Likewise, assessment had moved totally online; now, for the first time, I am not sticking orange labels onto a clamshell print-box and hurrying to the post office. 

I’m not sure how well any of the work from Assignments Four and Five would have translated into A3 prints (with a half-inch border) and I have not tried to recreate a gallery-style presentation for this assessment event. The hyper-linked windows of an online presentation, on the other hand, seem very well suited to a course called Digital Image and Culture

Having approached this module with the rather dry and abstract aim of developing a series of processes for making images and for displaying them to others, as things progressed I was surprised by how personal much of the work I was making seemed to be. This holds true even when other people – in comments, on the forum or during live, online discussion – are able to read something less tied into the specifics of their making or to their maker, than I would be. I have moved from Portraits of the artist as... in part two to This guy is… in part five. 

‘I want this course to blow my practice into pieces and then to help me put it  back together again. Or at any rate that’s what I tell myself I want it to do.’

This was the conclusion of the opening post for my log – the fourth for the Photography BA and my first at level two – where I set out what I wanted the module to do for me. I took my time over Digital Image and Culture, but now, two years later, I think it is clear that I have realised this expectation, and possibly gone some way beyond it; I believe my practice has been transformed. To use the terminology of the old assessment criteria – I have made great progress towards ‘developing a personal creative voice’.

learning outcome 1

demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of technical and visual skills through a portfolio of digital photographic practice

To evidence this part you could select learning log entries of examples of finished work that shows your detailed knowledge of technical and visual skills with digital practice and shows how you have applied these strategies to your own thinking and projects.

from: Suggestions on how to meet the Learning Outcomes (OCA: 11) 

The second folder on the Assessment G:Drive contains the files that make up the three ‘assignment outcomes’ we are asked to submit. Two are made up of  ‘series of photographs’ and the third a mixture of video and still images generated by using computer software. I have duplicated the images and  added some extra explanation and context to the selected images,  here: 

Series 1 – 24 Hours in Sweden

Series 2 – Making a Book

Series 3 – Hyper-Mertz

Where the images benefit from it, they are also viewable on an OCA Spaces Site, where people logged on with an OCA account been will be able to use an image-magnification plugin. The plugin is very similar to the one I scripted for Assignment 6 and I suspect the underlying javascript used by the plugin is identical to mine… 

The original assignment posts from which the series have been drawn can be found here: 

  • OCA (2021) Course guide for the assessment of photography units. (Version: March 2021 event) Barnsley: Open College of the Arts

three series of images, number one – 24 hours in sweden + 1

assessment drive, folder two

This first series of images features four of the six collages made for Assignment One. They can be seen to follow a simple narrative arc, covering twenty four hours in Stockholm, in December 2019. Each uses a different technique. The first is a physical collage, made up from small C-prints and a scanned receipt which was enlarged, printed and then slightly distressed, to better match the original. The second is layered composite of pictures  in the style of Corinne Vionnet, with a changing viewpoint;  taking physical form, it would be displayed as a transparency, displayed on a lightbox. The third is a simple digital assembly of four photographs and another much-enlarged scan. The fourth is a large, complex assembly of digital images, in the style of Jeff Wall. 



1: a last evening meal
2: the (richard) long walk to and from the Swedish Radio building
3: to catch the flight out of sweden


4: waiting for the flight home

An exhibition print of this final image would be very large indeed. If you have an OCA account, its details can be viewed with a magnifier on a special Spaces site HERE.


The final image – while not deriving from the Stockholm trip – is presented here, rather than as part of the third series, as it forms a fitting coda to the other four. Thematically it deals with travel, and the stuff you collect on your way. Technically, it extends the combining of reproduced objects gathered at an event with photographs taken at the time while adding the extra element of exif data from the camera. Also, it illustrates nicely the development I have made in my practice during my (metaphorical) journey through Digital Image and Culture…

5: this guy presents a moving target (coda)

Again, it will benefit from closer examination

three series of images, number two – making a book

assessment drive, folder two

This series is as much about the automation of the process used to compile my submission for Assignment 2 – a pdf book – as it is about the  images themselves. I think the process holds up as being representative of a distinct strand of my work for the module which was based upon ways of adding elements of randomness and serendipity into what could easily have been drily technical body of images. As it is, I think my editing-decision routines (made using the java tools available from and depicted in the two videos here, is fun to watch as it works…

Randomly paired pictograms – drawn from my archive and built up over the last fifteen years –  were associated with twenty-five pairs of quotes (which had also been put together with a simpler script) before I selected the ones I liked best, to provide the main content of the .pdf book we had been asked to submit for assignment 2.

I wrote a final, more basic software routine, to generate a cover from all the toilet door pictograms that I had used to generate the ‘content’ pages.

I printed out the pages on a domestic inkjet printer (doing the cover on an A3 printer at work) and made a cheap, easily changed book and sent it off to my tutor.

It is not easy to get an idea of a book from a ‘page turner’ video so here are all the double page spreads that I generated in one, static place. I have remade one of the spreads (replacing pages 18 & 19 in the printed book) There is the option to view them through a virtual magnifying glass on my OCA Spaces Assessment site., but a greater degree of enlargement can be obtained by double clicking on the image below and the  clicking again on the detail you want to have a closer look at…

This was the last work completed before Covid-19 put an end to physical submissions for assignments (or indeed for final assessment). By the time I had finished the Critical Essay and begun reading Foucault’s essay on the Panopticon at the start of part 4, I immediately made links between plagues, quarantine regulations in Italy during the Renaissance and this new virus thing that was causing grief in western China; I didn’t even begin to imagine what might happen next…

Throughout lockdown, I have continued to amass quotes from the papers (I’ve set the day I get my vaccination as the end date for this activity) and at some point will do another lockdown special run of my software once I get round to scanning the quotes.

I would like to add a greater degree of interactivity to this work, allowing the viewer to run the random selection tool themselves and to choose, first the pairings of captions and then the accompanying pair of pictograms, triggering their choices with a computer keyboard. When the correct number of pages have been created, a compiled .pdf of the images would be sent to a printer to be turned into each visitor to the notional gallery’s own, personal version of It Takes All Sorts

three series of images, number three – hyper-mertz!

assessment drive, folder two

This final series of images consists of four images, constructed from a mixture of files – both photographic and resulting from scans, prints and rephotographed physical collages. They each offer a partial answer to the question Who is this guy? and can be viewed as presenting different ways in which our digital identity is formed from numerous  – often unrelated – pieces of data, stored on drives which may be located anywhere on the earth.

Each image contains detail which cannot be adequately viewed in a single browser tab. Therefore they all can be viewed using a magnifier, on my Spaces site for this assessment by following the Dimensions Vary link below the individual image.

this guy doesn’t know when to stop
this guy can be read like a book

Dimensions Vary

this guy has no sense of perspective

Dimensions Vary

this guy is still sifting the evidence


learning outcome 2

It is likely that your learning log entries will evidence your research. By selecting both learning log and assignment pieces you could show how your research—of others work and of social and cultural contexts, digital projects, techniques and ethical perspectives— have made a difference to your own digital practice.

from: Suggestions on how to meet the Learning Outcomes (OCA:11)

Throughout the course I have been looking at the work of (often non-photographic) artists and trying to incorporate what I can take from them to fit into my work for the course. Some of this has been prompted directly by the exercises and course materials:

i: Self Portraits –

ii: Andy Warhol’s large screen prints –

Other pieces of research have been prompted by reading (and going to exhibitions) that I would have done anyway, such as the strand of my practice deriving from various aspects of the work of David Hockney. Hockney turns up again and again in my writing here, but the influence of both his work (in particular his photographic collages from the 1980s) and his theoretical musings on the tyranny of perspective, Cezanne and the use of lenses really takes hold during assignments four and five.

fig.1 – five scanned Fuji Instax prints –  a component part of this guy presents a moving target (A5.8)

fig.1  clearly displays this debt to David Hockney. Beside using scans of instant prints of photographs taken with my phone, it comprises a number of different viewpoints while still retaining a sense of coherent place, a pet subject of Hockney’s and a thread running through much of twentieth century art, summarised neatly by Will Gompertz in his book What are you looking at?

Then, while it was active  I was part of the student-led OCA forum reading group, which drew my attention to two essays which have had significant impact on my work for this module:

    1. Charlotte Cotton’s introductory essay to Photography is Magic strongly informs the videos I made of the code working for Assignment two (these form part of the second series in my assessment portfolio). This essay and other examples of research fed into my research into incorporating serendipity into my work, here:
    2. Villem Flusser’s Towards a philosophy of photography, which – as well as providing a lot of the ideas underpinning my Assignment 3 essay. Flusser describes how images can be read through a process of circular,  potentially repetitive scanning by the viewer, which takes them outside ideas of linear cause and effect rendering them a-historic or magical. This rather abstract idea has had a major impact on the way I have constructed the more narrative works for this course – they are designed to be read by a viewer making connections between parts of the image over time, rather than surrendering their meaning in an instant, viewed from a single organising point.

And finally, a number of visits to the 2019 Deutsch Börse Photography Prize had a big impact on my thinking about how to work with material from Archives (both my own and of others): the ethical dimension present in Susan Meiselas’ work with the Kurdish people is a good reminder of the need to maintain a sense of consensual engagement with one’s subjects and to involve them in the work, allowing  it to become a shared narrative with greater depth :


In this digital world, it is far too easy to  remain detached from everything that lies through your lens or on the other side of your monitor screen…

learning outcome 3

demonstrate how experimentation has informed your digital photographic

It is likely that you will have learning log entries and finished pieces that could be selected to show how your use of experimentation – through exercises, testing of ideas and trying things out, has enabled you to develop the production of your digital practice.

from: Suggestions on how to meet the Learning Outcomes (OCA:12)

fig.1 – complex animation, one of the experimental outputs for assignment 4 

There are more linked blog posts presented here than for the other learning outcomes. I feel that experimentation has been at the heart of my work on this module and that this should be highlighted, along with the completed images.

My response to Assignment 4 was pretty much all experimental, and resulted in a number of potential ways to produce more finished work for Assignment 5. The post outlining all the outputs for assignment 4 is here:

Of the seven outputs, I would focus on these three for assessment purposes:

    1. The central activity of compiling an illustrated catalogue of things I had acquired over time:
    2. Playing with ideas of how objects can be displayed in their owner’s house (and what that says about them):
    3. Taking an idea and seeing where it would lead me:

The first two of these outputs combine to form the starting point for the series forming  the third part of my portfolio of finished images; the third output combined with the ideas around travel which I had started to examine in Assignment 1 and then were developed into some of the other images for Assignment 5.

There is a lot of information available – online and in books – about how to use a camera, to use light and to do basic editing of the photographs you make; but once you step to one side of what most people take the word ‘photography’ to mean, the ‘how-to’ resources dry up pretty quickly.

Beyond the link to Tate’s Jeff Wall maquette of his Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai)  there really is not very much detailed information about how the photographers  we have been directed to look at in the coursebook (Corrine Vionnet, is a good example) go about achieving their characteristic effects.

fig.2. :physical maquette – first assembly of A1.6 (after wall)

I have used  Wall’s (pre-digital) paper-collage/working-model approach to work out compositional detail and the formal arrangement of the constituent parts of  many of the pieces made for this course (the process of making the digital collages for Assignment 1 –

and a number of the Assignment 5 pieces :

are described in quite a bit of detail in my  learning log)  I have mostly been working blind when it comes to actual method, moving back and forward between my computer and the wall of my study. Experimentation (and play) has been important here.

I have integrated a number of technologies into my editing workflow to produce images. Some of these technologies are aimed at the everyday consumer – instant prints, say, inkjet printing or my mobile phone – while others are more involved, like the software tools I used to add an element of the random to my work for Assignment 2.

Posts explaining how I  used’s java workspace  – also used to make the narrative video at the start of this post – can be found here:

and my thoughts on Fujifilm’s Instax system are here:

I have also looked for examples of simple, free tools to create digital, visual effects and appropriated them as part of my practice. Word clouds crop up throughout the module, while the animated .gif provides a much quicker way to make animations than hand coding transitions with java (like fig.1, at the top of this post).

fig.3 – animated detail from assignment 5

Animated gifs also point towards the vastly more popular vernacular uses of digital photography that can be found everywhere on the internet.

fig.4 – dancing kittens

Finally, .gifs also rather fun to play with and playing is  – in my head at any rate – pretty much synonymous with experimentation…