Feeling a little frustrated

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There is some kind of irony in the fact that, just as I (and others) feel that I am making some real breakthroughs in the imagery for my project, I feel rather overwhelmed by it all.

I have known from the beginning that re-visiting Cambodia would unleash several genies from several bottles. It was never as simple as creating a portfolio of images.

In Positions and Practice, I noted that I would need both a book, to do justice to the personal stories of Sarath and family, and an installation, to re-examine the Genocide and get people to think again. There has also always been two audiences for my work – Cambodian, and Internationally, and subtly different strategies are needed. I knew (hoped?) that I would be drawing from a fairly extensive photographic archive, dating back to 1994.

So, right from the beginning I have used photography, sound recordings, and video recordings.

Going back to the first Oral Presentation I made, it still seems highly relevant.

In Surfaces and Strategies, it felt like some breakthroughs – moving from rather traditional documentary work, to a more metaphorical approach to telling the story. Again, the Oral Presentation illustrated this. And I explored different modes of presentation. I started digging into the archives, although frankly ran out of time to do this completely.

This continued in Sustainable Prospects, as did my deeper networking into Cambodia – photographers, documentarians, galleries. Another Oral Presentation, which also stressed that I am getting sucked back into educational programs at Ministerial level. My own fault, I guess.

And now, yet another Oral Presentation to write and make. I continue to be intrigued by new aesthetic solutions, combining words and text (Paul Seawright …) and keep researching new modes of surfacing the hidden (Alfredo Jaar).  It must be born in mind that, like this two exemplars, I am dealing with an event long past, rather than solely a current day documentary.

From the beginning, I have noted that the requirements for the MA are unlikely to be the same as the requirements of the project.

For example, I will do a book as a I feel that is essential to keep trust with my Cambodian friends. But should that be central to the MA? Andrew suggested looking at bar codes in the book which link to sound sources.

And, I will explore collaboration with Cambodian artists – though that may be too late for the MA.

To some extent, it all rather begs the question ‘Why am I doing an MA’?

Chatting today with Ingrid, we agreed that this is definitely a case of ‘I’ve started so I will finish’, especially from the Cambodian perspective. We have both put significant energy, emotion and, frankly, personal money into Cambodia – so what’s new.

As to the MA, well, I am a lifelong learner. My bookshelves need another extension (!), and I now find myself adding teaching on photography into the mix of things I am doing.

In the webinar today, I noted that I wanted to create an immersive / engaging installation (some ideas here), using video, sound – maybe even old-school slide carousels. It was suggested I look at display such as used recently at the Imperial War Museum. Still, everyone was talking about installations, using gallery and different room spaces in different ways, dramatic lighting, sound, video, projection, light boxes, etc. All meant with positive intent – although, without being too self-satisfied, mostly things I have already noted or even started to work on previously.

Of course, the links – reminders on Mat Collishaw and Edmund Clark (Guantanamo); new suggestions, such as Jillian Eidelstein (Truth and Reconciliation) – all add to my knowledge of photography, which is very much appreciated.

So, now where?

Time to reflect I think.


Header: Mick Yates. 1967. Untitled (pen and ink).

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