Final Major Project – Grades – Where To, Now?

mickyates Cambodia, CambodiaFMP, Critical Research Journal, Exhibition, FinalMajorProject, FMPWeek24, Ideas, Installation, Photography, Practice, Project Development, Reflections, Unfinished Stories Leave a Comment

Well, it’s all over!

My overall grade for the Final major Project module was 72.9% – my best yet. Encouragingly, the results against the Learning Objectives was also amongst my best of the MA, and very even. One that really stood out was ‘professional location of practice’, where the grades were quite dramatically ahead of the other modules, where that LO had been a relatively weak point throughout.

Wendy’s summary:

During the FMP module, you have focussed on and refined a specific aspect of a larger ongoing project producing a series of pieces which use both text and landscape photography to explore the legacy of the Cambodian genocide. You have produced a distinctive and original series of works entitled Unfinished Stories – from Genocide to Hope, which explores the relationship to landscape, genocide and personal memory.

You have combined a series of infrared images of the contemporary landscape with a series of highly charged fragments (‘untold stories’ from your interviewees and participants) with a view to highlight the relationship between history, memory and the act of rebuilding and reparation. This formal juxtaposition of the two apparently disparate elements (unpeopled landscape with highly charged first person accounts of the violence meted out by the Khmer Rouge) come together in a very effective way to explore your themes (memory and rehabilitation through education).

This work was installed at the (Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution) alongside a specially produced interview with one of your collaborators and a series of panels giving the background of your project. The public facing events around your FMP were clearly and effectively documented in your final presentation.

Similarly, your Critical Review of Practice is through and substantial, clearly demonstrates the scope and the depth of your research. Similarly, your CRJ is well produced, relevant and up to date.

Your final exhibition also included the launch of a specially designed book around your larger project and a new filmed interview, all of which added considerably to the scholarship of your FMP as a whole.

In summation, this is a well-researched and professionally produced submission Mick, with good research and attention to detail throughout.

It is hoped that this is a project that will allow you access to other institutions and you will show this work further afield.

Congratulations – we wish you every success with your future projects.

So, looking back at the whole course:

The result and feedback are very pleasing, and I am looking forward to the ratified result, which if I am not mistaken is a distinction. After the fact, no one really cares about ‘grades’ with a Masters, but right now its feels good to have that recognition.

Big thanks are due to Wendy, who guided and pushed me along admirably. And also to Paul, Gary, Cemre and Krishna who all supported and helped me pretty much through the entire program.

Gary asked if I felt that the MA was worth doing – my answer was ‘yes’. I learnt a lot. I think that shows in the way my practice has shifted and the final FMP installation work which was well received by my audiences. Of course the program ‘had it’s moments’, but I am very glad I persevered.

Now, to see how I can get this work into broader distribution (the book is on back order from the printers already!), and to look for appropriate new and meaty projects.

Life after the MA

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The initial MA results are out – I’ll wait to see confirmation and comments before saying more.

Suffice to say, I have been doing some thinking about future projects. Of course I will be seeking to maximise the visibility (and sales) from my final MA work ‘Unfinished Stories‘. But I also want to set off in new directions.

I am blessed with an interesting range of project options.  And, whilst it is not the key, I am also pleased to have the majority of cameras that I have used since the 1960s to work with, today.

There has been quite a bit of talk in my Facebook circle about the price of new digital cameras, and whether the pursuit of techno gadgets is just diminishing returns for the photographer. I happen to think that it is, as we seem to get suckered into buying the latest tech just because it is there, rather than to get a job of work done. But maybe that is because the equipment I have is still all in very good shape, so I have options.

I was recently asked what my favourite film camera was. Whilst I have a Leica M6, a medium format Bronica SQ-A, and many others, it was an easy answer. The Nikon F4s, which I have owned since it was introduced in 1989.

Nikon F4 Advert. 1990. USA.

The F4 was a crossover from ‘old’ to ‘new’, being the first successful pro AF camera. It has matrix metering, autoload, and no less than 4 cpus onboard, whilst retaining Nikon’s historical F series ‘knobs and buttons’. No fiddly menus – fingertip control. The F4 is also compatible with more Nikon lenses than any other camera, working with glass going back to 1959 and with those produced today. Happily, over the decades I have amassed quite a collection. Whilst the AF is single point and fixed (which makes this possibly the world’s best focus-assist manual camera), the F4 is still a speedy beast in all of its functions. It can shoot at almost 6 frames a second in the ‘s’ version with the extra batteries, as pictured above.

It offers automation yet with total manual control.

The F4 is built like a (heavy) tank, and I recall reading somewhere that if you enjoy bar fights, then the F4 is your camera. It is however still well balanced, an ergonomic joy and a proper photographic tool. And I think its a beautiful design from Giorgetto Giugiaro.

So, whatever else I might get up to, this 30 year old jewel will be part of it all.