Week Nine Reflections – Reconciliation

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My main reflections at the moment are about reconciliation.

First, how to I reconcile my work in Cambodia as a photographer, with that of an educator? The feelings from my last trip were strong. When I visit a school, talk with old colleagues, meet parents or (ex Khmer Rouge) teachers again that we have known albeit fleetingly, I feel a pull towards getting involved to help, again. Yet, those days are past, from a philanthropic point of view.

In 2002, this happened …

My wife and I were awarded Medals of National Construction by the Government. Truthfully, we had very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, like any such award, there is a moment of pride. On the other hand, the hard work had really been done by so many other people, and we were just symbols. Hopefully it was in that latter vein that we accepted the medals.

Royal Government of Cambodia

The golden medal for contribution to Nation Construction is offered to Mrs. Ingrid Yates, for school construction in the Angkor Chum District, Siem Reap Province. The Royal Government of Cambodia has awarded this medal as evidence of thankfulness to her for the Country’s restoration and reconstruction.

Phnom Penh, 29 March 2002
Prime Minister, Hun Sen

That is a long time ago, but every time I go back, it seems like yesterday.

I need to make the photography project really count, and make a difference for Cambodia in its own right.

Second, I am working on the WIP and the Oral presentation. Yet, the ‘real’ project is much longer term. For example, how do I use the archives, and reconcile the various threads in play?

I need to step back and truly reflect on what this project is, for me personally.

Clearly, it is more than work designed to get an MA. But, I am concerned that the needed focus on the MA tasks is blinding me in some ways to the work on the bigger picture.

This will not be resolved today – but will need serious thought before the next Module, and my next Cambodia visit.

……………………..

We had a really good webinar on November 23rd, led by Krishna. Danny, Gem, Gail, Joanna & Wing were there.

First, a few general points.

  1. There’s no harm mixing black & white and colour – in fact Krishna often does that in editorials. The key is the story, the edit and the appropriateness for the image.
  2. Also, no harm in having subsets in etc WIP, provided it is clearly explained and demarcated.
  3. There is however an issue if the aesthetics in one set are inconsistent.
  4. Jo raised an issue – can’t we just show actual work in progress, experiments, rather than trying to create some ‘final’ set? No immediate answer, though Krishna will raise the issue.
  5. Don’t forget to use the CRJ (and OP) to explain our choices.

Second, comments on my work. I shared 24 ‘digital negatives‘, noting that I need to edit this down.

I also shared the colour originals.

In no special order:

Danny continues to dislike the aesthetic, not sure how it is really adding to the story. And, especially as it is ‘Photoshopped” and thus not really true to the medium of capture. We debated this and we agree toy disagree.

I think a comparison with e.g. Richard Mosse ‘faux colour’ work is appropriate. Those images are manipulated, albeit in different ways. The same with Antony Cairns‘ work. I do take the philosophical point about ‘capturing the image at source’ (infra red and so on). In fact if I preserve with negatives in 2019, I will shoot film. But I have a hard time believing that a general audience would truly care about the process. I am more interested in getting people to stop, ponder and reflect about etc Genocide than about my technique.

Gem prefers the colour, whilst Jo noted that the colour has less impact, being more ‘seen that before’.

Wing felt the images were ‘too beautiful for the subject’. Interestingly, Paul Clements had said that the set is ‘gentle’. Which raises an interesting question about to what to what extent do I want to get angry about what happened?

Krishna continues to like the approach, and also the fact that the series is creating debate and questioning. Based on my informal headcount, I reckon it’s about 75:25 like/dislike on the approach.

All agreed on some edits – one less hand, one less foot, less up front landscape.

So, lots of good food for thought. Love this group!