Informing Contexts – Oral Presentation – Feedback

mickyatesAftermath, Art, Biography, Cambodia, CambodiaFMP, Coursework, Critical Research Journal, Documentary, History, ICWeek11, Ideas, Informing Contexts, Infrared, Negatives, Oral Presentation, Personal, Photography, Practice, Project Development, Unfinished Stories, Work in Progress 2 Comments

From Pierre:

Well done video Mick.

Good to see your journey from where it began to where it is now.  The painterly influence never goes away, it is always in the background fueling images in one way or another and it seems to push you to look further in the image making process, even though it may be doing it indirectly, such as the infrared of the black and white imagery you use, it is in itself abstraction, and just enough without drawing away from the subject matter.

Your critical references are very appropriate, I enjoyed the quote by Robert Frank. “…and it is important to see what is invisible to others.”  I think this is what your work is all about: making visible to society the history of Cambodia which is slowly being buried and taken out of sight. You are making the invisible, visible. The unknown, known.

Your technical standards are very high, as it is in all your work. I would like to blame it on the Leicas, however, I know you have a solid understanding of the medium and even the best equipment in the wrong hands would show nothing. Images are crisp, well exposed, beautiful color,  well composed, combined and punctuated with haunting black and white.

‘I missed my mother’ had an interesting aesthetic. The journey begins at the ‘entrance to the woods’  and ends in the mist, then hands, which I presume is those of his mother. The series you show reveals a mystical journey from earth to heaven, then seeing his mother again.

Your photojournalistic dream that you gave up because of ‘business life’ has materialized. And, with it, comes all your past experiences, your art, and creativity into a cohesive whole.


Pierre, thank you for a rather complete and perceptive set of comments. Your point about ‘making the invisible, visible’ is certainly what I am trying to do!

I have erred rather too much on discussing the project and my own artistic journey, though I think that needed to come out. I am aware that a written review should probably have more ‘critical context’, though I do appreciate you find my references in the video appropriate.

There’s still a way to go, especially in making the project happen in Cambodia, in its various forms, but it feels like progress.

Thanks again.


From Dominic:

As always Mick, there is wonderful consideration to your work that is matched so well by the clear eloquence of your presentation. I agree to totally with your notion to provide a complete history not only of Cambodia’s recent past, but also detailing your own journey – this sets the scene perfectly and they combine to give a strong conceptualisation of your goals.  I am somewhat saddened that your artwork has come to an end, but clearly the photography has more than compensated for this!

The sympathetic understanding demonstrated by your work (both past and present) has been beautifully underlined by your choice references that tie in so well with your intents.  I was interested to hear you state that you wanted to be a photojournalist – it is that approach that comes through so very strongly in every aspect of your work.  Your research project is going to be fascinating and it is pleasing to hear that you are documenting it on a host of different media, as I am certain that it will lend itself to a presentation far greater than books or photographic exhibitions.

I struggle to find anything at all negative to observe about your presentation and would battle to add constructive advice to such a rounded concept.  In my humble view, you have hit the nail on the head Mick, I do very much look forward to seeing the fruits of your labours.


Dom, thank you, very kind, and you comments help me think I am on the right track.

The project is gradually coming together, although I have to admit it does seem to grow in complexity all of the time. I am especially conscious that whilst I am ‘the photographer’, and will therefore have (and must have) my own interpretation of events, the story is not mine. It belongs to my Cambodian friends and colleagues.


From Michelle:

Very well and clearly narrated Mick. Regarding the pending Critical Review it may be good to concise the early years and focus in more on the lead up to this current portfolio. You have some very good references in terms of practitioners but it would be good to layer your discussion with more depth both in terms of the artists you refer to and the theorists.

Why, for example, does the red in Moss’s images become so pertinent in relation to his concept, what is the symbolism of the cutouts in Remissa’s work. Referring to the writings of John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, for example, could help contextualise your own work more comprehensibly and for example the use of image and text.

Very encouraging however to see how the work has progressed from the indexical and it would be really interesting to get a deeper explanation of how your research into both theory and artists has helped drive you.


Michelle, thank you, and good to read your comments.

I think you know why, on this occasion, I spent time on the backstory. I have previously fought shy of doing too much of that, preferring to focus instead on the stories of the people I am working with, rather than in some way make the project too much ‘about me’. But, as you well know, that rather long and complex backstory, if not understood, can lead to misinterpretation, as it did in Falmouth.

In any case, whilst it is my Cambodian friend’s and colleagues story, I am responsible for its interpretation.

I totally agree that the written review will need more ‘formal’ critique.

Thanks again, and for your help in getting me to push the envelope.


From Ashley:

That is as comprehensive an overview as you have put together and minus the artist origins and influences sections is also a very good trailer introducing the project that you might be able to use later. Good work.


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