Assignment 2: initial thinking

Brief

The brief for Assignment 2 is summarised below so that I can refer back to it:

Intent is a major factor in arts practice. There needs to be motivation to research, experiment and develop your ideas.

Consider a subject close to your heart – something you feel passionate about. A subject that you feel people don’t understand or appreciate sufficiently.

Choose a photographically-based form of communication or storytelling that uses devices like metaphor, allegory, collage, graphs, montage or a mixture of media.

You need an idea, a way of interpreting what you’re concerned with, and you’ll need to develop your visualisation through testing and experimentation. You may initially have no idea what your images will look like or how they will be formed. This is normal. More and more answers are revealed and the pathway becomes clear through research and experimentation. You may go down a particular path, hate the result and step back – that’s fine. Testing, experimenting and communicating with your tutor will get you there in the end.

Subject

I decided early on in section 2 that I wanted to do my assignment on the subject of poverty, specifically food poverty. The inspiration goes back to the beginning of this year when I started volunteering for a food bank, and I started playing with ideas on the Artistic Styles exercise a few weeks ago. However, I don’t feel that a Constructivist or Surrealist photomontage as created in that exercise is my style of communication, so have been working on ideas that are more conceptual and purely photographic.

Statement of intent

I sent a shorter version of this to my tutor earlier in this section and got comments back, but for the purposes of proper assignment preparation I have augmented it here to refer back to, and will send this full version to my tutor for reference:

In the UK 13.2 million people, or 21% of the population, live in ‘relative poverty’, meaning household income less than 60% of national average (so less than £272 per week).1

Some suffer greater hardships than others. One indicator of extreme poverty is ‘food poverty’ – the inability to consistently buy adequate and nutritious food. Based on food bank usage data it has been estimated that around 2 million people in the UK have experienced acute food poverty in the last year.2

Food poverty is something I feel increasingly strongly about since I started volunteering for a food bank a few months ago. Hearing the experiences of the food bank clients first hand is simultaneously eye-opening, heartbreaking and infuriating.

Taking my cue from the line in the assignment brief, this is “a subject that [I] feel people don’t understand or appreciate sufficiently“; my objective to is to evoke empathy in my viewers.

My intent is to focus on the personal and psychological aspects of the issue, i.e. to depict the state of mind of someone who doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from.

I don’t intend to focus on the physical sensation of hunger, rather the effects that worrying about food has on the rest of one’s life. As a secondary layer of meaning I would like to also incorporate some reference to the underlying causes (socio-economic, political, ideological) of poverty.

I plan to use visual metaphors to evoke the intended sensations – anxiety, panic, single-mindedness/obsession. Some such metaphors are springing to mind but I have not yet confirmed the visual idea or execution.

Progress

So far I have:

  • Had a bunch of ideas on metaphors (will summarise in another post)
  • Practiced some of the ideas (ditto)
  • Researched food and poverty-related projects suggested by Helen, my tutor (ditto)

Next steps

  • Write up my prep and research so far (such that it is)
  • Continue experimenting with photographic ideas and executions

Sources

1 UK Government Briefing Paper No. 7096, 6 November 2015 “Poverty in the UK: Statistics”

2 In 2014 one food bank network, Trussell Trust, reported that its 445 centres provided emergency three-day food parcels to feed around 1.1 million people. It’s estimated that Trussell Trust accounts for just under half of UK food banks. Whilst accurate data is difficult to calculate, a fair assumption is that doubling Trussell’s data might arrive at a realistic estimate.

https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN07096/SN07096.pdf (accessed 11/04/2016)

https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/ (accessed 11/04/2016)

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