Before I start

The course notes document for Gesture & Meaning (like all OCA courses I presume) has an introductory section entitled ‘Before you start’, in which I’ve found enough nuggets of important information to write this preparatory blog post.

I confess that I did not do this for the Level 1 courses; I read their introductions but didn’t particularly pick out anything that I needed to capture as guiding principles for the whole module. I am however conscious of the step up from Level 1 to Level 2, academically speaking, and so feel that I should examine the ‘Before you start’ section in some detail to make sure I get off on the right foot.

Course aims

A few lines from the ‘Course aims’ section caught my attention, and I will try to keep these in mind throughout the course:

  • the photographic representation of the human form and condition
  • the formal and informal or candid representation of individuals and groups
  • the use of the body in a more creative or abstract sense
  • the human body as a subject and as a commodity
  • photography within a broad contextual range of subject areas such as race, gender and aesthetic criticism
  • an understanding of contemporary photographic practice and the factors (historical, cultural, etc.) which have brought it about
  • the portrayal of individuals, the human body and the use and intent of photographic imagery in western culture
  • awareness of imagery and perception of the human body within the context of your own practice
  • the visual language used around discussion of the human body and its interaction with issues such as voyeurism, illusion and spectacle within the context of a range of practice-based genres
  • greater understanding and comprehension of the messages given through gesture by the human body
  • meaning conveyed through explicit or implicit means
  • often based on the painterly tradition

Course outcomes

Reproduced here in full but with my own emphasis:

On successful completion of the course, you’ll be able to:

  • identify and evaluate relevant and appropriate sources of information in formulating the basis of a reasoned argument for practice
  • produce a body of work which demonstrates the synthesis of theory and practice
  • articulate an awareness and understanding of past significant critical, theoretical and artistic shifts in visual culture and their contemporary relevance to an area of contemporary practice
  • demonstrate within a chosen area of photographic practice contextual understanding and/or market awareness based on a contemporary issue, investigation or context

Reading list

I’m also taking the reading list a little more seriously this time. I was pleased to see that I already had eight of the books on the list – two of the ‘essentials’ and six of the ‘further reading’ recommendations.

I had an Amazon flurry on mostly second-hand books – 10 in total, most of them very reasonably priced, thankfully (bless the marketplace sellers who sell at £0.01, seems like a strange business model but it must work for them!) and for a couple of the set texts that are available as e-books, I downloaded samples.

So I definitely have enough reading material! I’m now glad I invested in a new bookcase for Level 2…


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