Thank you for following my journey through my MA Photography. Now that chapter is complete, I have decided to continue with the practice of the critical research journal.
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”
– (Eleanor Roosevelt’s Most Inspiring Quotes 2014)
The future of this project and my practice is multifaceted. ‘Fractured Identities’ offers further development of the research behind the project. I anticipate deepening my research into what it is like to be human in this rapidly developing digital world, taking this research into a PhD. The proposed start date for this is 2019.
There is an opportunity to develop ‘Fractured Identities’ into a teaching resource for PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) education in secondary schools. The objective will be to raise awareness of the dangers of online image sharing and to discuss mental health issues caused by comparing oneself to others online.
Other opportunities are being explored into how to develop my teaching skills to enable me to teach and mentor in further education establishments.
The nature of this project lends itself to the development of a fully interactive website that explores digital image manipulation. The domains for this website have already been acquired (but not yet populated):-
www.mask-of-divine-proportion.com / www.mask-of-divine-proportion.co.uk
The intent is to make the ‘Mask of Divine Proportion’ project as participatory as possible. Visitors to the site will be able to upload their image and manipulate it. The project is in its infancy at the moment and is planned for late 2019 release.
Other plans include a six-week exhibition of the ‘Masked Identities’ project in July and August 2019. This has already been secured at the Heritage Centre Gallery in the Forest of Dean. Discussions are also underway for other opportunities to exhibit.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s Most Inspiring Quotes. 2014. Marie Claire [online]. Available at: https://www.marieclaire.com/celebrity/a11250/eleanor-roosevelt-quotes/ [accessed 17 August 2018].
Having listened to Haley Morris-Cafiero speak at a recent guest lecture, I find myself in awe of her bravery in her book, ‘The Watchers’.
In February 2013, her images from the series ‘Wait Watchers’ were published on Lenscratch. The next day they were published on Huffington Post and then in the Daily Mail newspaper. After that, the images went viral. The comments sections on these articles were filled with anonymous comments criticising her. Many unsolicited comments were made about her weight and general appearance.
At this point, many people would have retreated into their shell and tried to ignore the criticism. Instead, Morris-Cafiero said “I love my body and these unsolicited criticisms fuelled me to make new images. I now set up a camera and record people as they pass by me while I am doing what society wants me to do: exercise and get a makeover. By attempting to “improve” myself, I am engaging in the conversation of body acceptance and idealized beauty standards that unrealistic and unwanted by many people.” (THE WATCHERS: a book of the Wait Watchers photographs 2014)
Morris-Cafiero has suffered from hypothyroidism since she was in college. This condition has caused her to put on weight. I can totally relate to this. I have hypothyroidism and Addison’s Disease. Both of these conditions have caused me to gain weight since 2000. It has taken me a long time to accept that this is the case. In my case, my body is also unable to regulate its own temperature (something that I still struggle to accept). When I am under greater levels of stress or excitement, my symptoms are very pronounced and I can become very sweaty very quickly.
When I am under greater levels of stress or excitement, my symptoms are very pronounced and I can become very sweaty very quickly. This was very evident during my private view where I was also being interviewed by BBC Radio Gloucestershire. I was very self-conscious of the fact my hair was wet.
However, thinking about what Morris-Cafiero has been doing, makes me determined to continue. The photographs and videos of me with sweaty hair have been published in this CRJ when previously I would have hidden these from other people. Whilst I have accepted for a few years know that I look the way I do, I have had trouble with accepting the sweaty appearance. Morris-Cafiero has inspired me to look past this and embrace who I am totally.
Morris-Cafiero’s images are compelling, real and raw. They represent authenticity and bravery. It is to this that I aspire.
THE WATCHERS: a book of the Wait Watchers photographs. 2014. Kickstarter [online]. Available at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/528118868/the-watchers-a-book-of-the-wait-watchers-photograp [accessed 14 August 2018].
Figure 1: ‘I’ve Come To Accept My Appearance, But I’m Quickly Reminded That Others Have Not.’ An Overweight Award-Winning Photographer Documents Society’s ‘Critical Gaze’ Towards Obesity.. 2018. ViralSpell [online]. Available at: http://www.viralspell.com/ive-come-to-accept-my-appearance-but-im-quickly-reminded-that-others-have-not-an-overweight-photographer-documents-societys-critical-gaze-towards-obesity/ [accessed 14 August 2018].
Figure 2: Twitter. 2018. Twitter.com [online]. Available at: https://twitter.com/BBCGlos/status/1025669452187222022 [accessed 14 August 2018].
Addison’s Disease means that at times I suffer from fatigue, muscle pain, and have trouble concentrating at times. Taking on the MA whilst working full time has been a huge challenge.
The Falmouth Flex course has been very rewarding and also challenging. However, it has helped me to learn how to micromanage my condition. This has been achieved by tracking the amount of water and salt that I consume. Salt is very important for me as my sodium levels are usually very low. Eating extra salt can actually give my body a boost when I need it.
I have developed tremendous persistence and determination to do my best on the course. I have never limited this in any way. The first year was particularly hard and at times arduous. I have had to make sacrifices along the way to achieve this.
Firstly, I reduced my working week to 4 days a week in September 2017. This will be reduced to 3 days a week in September 2018 as I plan towards a PhD (something I never imagined in my future). I have had to develop discipline and persistence to ensure that I complete everything I need to. In that respect, suffering from a chronic disease has been a fantastic teacher as I was patient enough to learn its lessons.
But it hasn’t stopped there. The MA content has been so interesting and challenging that I have achieved far more work than I thought possible. My passion and enthusiasm for knowledge gained through both research and practice have been lit on fire by the course. My work ethic and work rate have, as a result, both increased as I have progressed through the course and this will stand me in good stead for the future.
I am so grateful for the support from all the staff on the course. I have been forced into re-examining who I am as a photographer. I was lost before the course started, but now I know what I am want to explore.
But, as always, my illness is beginning to catch up with me as I approach the end of a module (and this time, the end of the course). So, even as I write these last few entries, my body is tired and I am fighting yet another infection. It is time for a rest after final hand in at midday today.
Would I change anything if I did it again? Hell no. This course and its challenges have been the best thing to happen to my photographic practice. Without it, I would still be a lost photographer ambling along. Without it, I would not have met some amazing people who will remain in my life after the course.
This course has taken its toll on me but in a good way, as I emerge from the end of the course rejuvenated and excited for my future. Thank you, Falmouth!
As part of the Source Graduate Online Photography 2018, Source commission a number of respected figures from the world of photography. These selectors choose their favourite sets of images from all the work submitted. The work is then featured in the online selection, as well as printed in a supplement that I distributed with the magazine.
On 22nd August 2018 at 22:02 hours, I received the very exciting email from Source:-
I’m delighted to be able to inform you that your work has been chosen by one of this year’s selectors for the project (Maxwell Anderson, Founder – Bemojake Books). Your work will feature both in the online selection and in the printed supplement that will be included with the next issue of the magazine.
Source asked for a copy of image number 1 and image number 5 (sequence as they appear in my submission on the site). Only one will be used, but having 2 allows for flexibility in the design of the supplement. The required format was:-
- Saved as a JPEG
- 300 DPI resolution
- CMYK colour
- 22cm in height
I was able to make these changes in Photoshop and send through in good time.
I am honoured and thrilled to have been selected and cannot wait to see the online selection and the printed supplement. These will be posted to this CRJ after the final deadline for the FMP.
To maintain the consistency across my work, I decided to use the sans serif font Proxima Nova across all documents. Due to my previous research into Instagram fonts, I chose this font for my booklet, marketing materials, website, and now the assignments. I find the font easy to read on the screen. The font is clean, modern lines and has easy legibility at all point sizes. The font is recognisable to many people as that used on Instagram, and reflects my theme.
I decided that both documents would be interactive pdfs created in InDesign. The software offers more flexibility in terms of layout that Microsoft programs. I also chose to produce both documents in landscape format to make it easier to read online. This also allows the reader to view a whole page at a time, without the text becoming unreadable.
The only difficulty is that it is not straightforward to set the line spacing in Indesign. In Word, a single line spacing is 120% of the font size. So in InDesign this equates to a 14.4pt spacing for a 12pt font size (and this is what the software defaults to). To get a 1.5 line spacing (as required), the calculation is therefore 1.5 x 14.4 = 21.6pt for a 12pt font. This has ts to be manually set for each text box.
The documents both have a front cover based on the same layout, again aiding consistency.
Each document was also created using a common colour scheme. The dark red boxes, hashtags, interactive buttons, page titles, and hyperlinks were all set to the colour 9f163d.
Both documents used hashtags. The CRP only has them on the front page, whereas the FMP has them on the majority of pages. The hashtags used were all researched and checked on Instagram and reflect the content of each FMP page.
But why use hashtags? Hashtags are the most popular means of categorising content on social media. It makes content discoverable and allows users to find relevant content from other people and businesses. The hashtag also allows connection and engagement with other social media users based on a common theme or interest. In my case, they are related to the work I have been doing considering the effects of social media on our self-portraits. For this reason, they have been placed throughout the FMP document.
I was so fortunate to receive a lot of feedback during the exhibition.
“This looks amazing. Thank you for all that you are doing to change the message”– The Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester
“I’ve been following your project for quite a long time – blog and Instagram and I think it was not only a brilliant idea but a model for how to follow a concept through from start to finish in an engaging, sometimes playful and yet serious way. The website is comprehensive and clearly laid out and I enjoyed watching your artist talk and listening to the interview. Wishing you much success in the future.” – Catherine Banks, Photographer
“This is a body of work which addresses a serious issue in an entertaining way and with a lightness of touch. Interesting and informative, it has been a pleasure to watch this project developing. Well done Jo.” – Philip Morris, peer
“Brilliant exhibition. The photos enhanced to make ‘me’ more appealing on Instagram were very interesting. My favourites were California and London. It was good to chat through some of the lengths people will go to in order to change their appearance! The depth to which you developed this subject is amazing and to a non-makeup wearing non-enhancing image ‘older’ person I learned a heck of a lot!” – Margaret Coleman
“How do we know where we start from? How do we know what is the truth? What is real? What is our identity? Who are we? How do we determine our identity? You are really embracing who you are and yourself in this exhibition.” – anon
“Are you struggling with your own identity? Or are you concerned with the impact of SM on others?” – Mary
“None of us really know what we look like in real life – a mirror is just a reverse image with light coming in at different angles.” – John
“Thank you for the honesty in your work” – Sarah
“Tim Berners-Lee couldn’t have known what he would unleash on the world” – Elizabeth
“Really great exhibition. Would you be interested in an artist’s talk in January? Keep in touch and we can organise something.” – Fred Chance, Co-curator of PhotoStroud
“Love the mask of divine proportion and the contour tribe –they really caught my eye. I am exploring crossdressing myself and love your work exploring issues around makeup. It is really encouraging me to keep going with the cross-dressing. Thank you” – anon
“I am from Germany and we do not have the same obsession with social media that you have here. In the UK it is huge. Young people look at their phones every 8 minutes – I heard this on the radio. I hope it all crashes down soon so that people talk to each other more. My grand-daughter is obsessed with her looks and she doesn’t need to be as she is so pretty. It is such a shame. I wish you lots of luck in raising awareness.” – Rosalinde
“How do we stop ourselves slipping down this path? I worry for my daughter – she spends hours in imaginary worlds ‘making’ money and presenting herself in an imaginary way. I really hope your work highlights the issues to everyone and creates more conversation – we need to talk about this and stop the slippery slide.” – Rachel
“Really interesting work – are you represented by a gallery yet? You should be. This work should be on display in London – it is contemporary art and should be seen – I have seen nothing like this – excellent work. Thank you for sharing it.” – Margarita
“The combination of sayings and images on your Instagram gallery is really interesting. The ‘love your #selfie’ saying with your unaltered portrait is genius” – Liam
“This is better than the last thing I saw at the Tate” – Bob, local artist
“This is the best and most professional show we have seen in this gallery” – Sophia and Neil, local artists
“An awful lot of research has gone into this project – I hope you take it further” – Carol, doctoral student in psychology
“I really dislike how Portraitpro changes people so that it doesn’t look like them. Thank you for an interesting exhibition that has given us lots to talk about and lots to think about as photographers” – Local photography club
“Consider the use of the labels. They are useful for adding information but would be better as an information panel on the image itself” – David, local artist
“You are so much better looking in real life” – anon
“You are so clever – it is really good to highlight these things – we need to talk about them
Love the titles of the images, especially the bags under my eyes are Chanel. Must be surreal to look at so many images of yourself- although we all do it on social media. I am in my 50s and have only just learned to love myself for who I am. Once we post an image online, it is no longer ours – anyone can use it, change it etc. – SCARY!” – Janet
“I really want to see what happens next –this is like the first rung on the ladder to understanding our online identity. The large images remind me of Chuck Black’s large portraits and of Jaye Saville’s work. Love the mask of divine proportion” – George
“Your digital presence and identity is part of your real identity. See too many people edit their pics online and then obsess about becoming that person in real life. Your work reminds me of Cindy Sherman and the work of ORLAN. Social media is too obsessive – I came off my personal profile because I became too obsessed – I would only get 50 likes for a selfie and a friend would get 100. I would then compare myself to them and began to question what was wrong with me if I only got 50 likes. At that point, I decided it was too negative to stay on there. Your lashes images remind me of drag queen makeup” – Sam
“Wow! Seeing you here amongst your work is like seeing a movie star!” – Jane
“This exhibition was highly commended by Fred Chance who told us to come. He was right – it is amazing. Wow, what a lot of work” – Sue and David
“Incredible how you are able to transform yourself and reflect that back to the viewer. You are so malleable in the work. I can hardly believe all the pictures are of you” – anon
“Great exhibition – do you do seances?” – anon – this was by far the strangest thing said to me during the exhibition. I did ask the lady to repeat the question and she said exactly the same thing. I politely declined! Only in Stroud.
The trouble with a lot of photography exhibition websites is how often a great set of images have been ruined by a poorly put together site. Philip Morris skilfully avoids this with a sensitively and clean presentation of his project ‘Jo-Ana‘. The site can be accessed at www.jo-ana.co.uk.
Morris has produced an emotive and beautiful exhibition website that showcases his stunningly composed images. Meticulously researched, planned, and executed Morris has created such a powerful and yet gentle portrayal of such a debilitating disease. His attention to detail in each image results in beautiful images that draw the viewer in.
The words from the diary are the reminders that this is a real person’s account of their road to recovery. The inclusion and placement of personal items in each image remind us that there is more to an anorexia sufferer than them just not eating. They have lives and interests like everyone else and they are more than just the disease – it does not define who they are, it is something they are suffering with.
Each image is expertly showcased on the responsive website. The style is understated and does not intrude on the viewer’s experience of work. Viewing the sequence of images of food and pages from Jo’s diary, the visual narrative is one of despair through to hope (with a multitude of emotion in between). The viewer starts to appreciate the mental distortions that anorexics have in their relationship to food. The unhealthy thoughts recorded in the diary are sympathetically and cleverly reflected in the accompanying food images.
Viewing the sequence of images of food and pages from Jo’s diary, the visual narrative is one of despair through to hope (with a multitude of emotions in between). The viewer experiences these emotions, empathising with Jo. This means that the viewer starts to appreciate the mental distortions that anorexics experience in their relationship to food. The unhealthy thoughts recorded in the diary are sympathetically and cleverly reflected in the accompanying food images.
Stigma prevents conversation. The images in Morris’s project communicate and connect instantly with the viewer on a subconscious level. This happens before the stigma that surrounds anorexia can affect the message. Morris’s photographs start the conversation when so often words would fail.
Jo’s words are so emotional and offer hope to those currently suffering. So beautiful and thought-provoking.
Views of the completed booklet / zine.
Previous post about format of the document.
- 148mm x 148mm
- Cover – 250gsm silk artboard, matt lamination on outside
- Pages – 170gsm silk art paper
- Full colour process throughout
- Stapled spine
- 36 pages in total
The final quality was superb. The cover feels silky and is a pleasure to hold. The print quality is excellent and adds to the value of the booklet as part of the exhibition.
Click HERE to view the online published exhibition supporting booklet. Opens in a new window.
Videos of the booklet pages and the final printed version.
“We can never be rid of our face. We always take it with us and always lay ourselves bare to the critical look of another”
– (Feil 2008: 29)
As the MA draws to the close, my experiences with the exhibition have reminded me of an article in foam magazine (winter 2008 / #17). Feil asks the reader to consider, knowing all that we know, whether we can truly trust a face.
A photograph taken in the blink of an eye when the subject is aware they are being photographed represents just a moment in time. It cannot tell us about the person. It is a functional representation of the exterior of the person. It reveals nothing about their being. Richard Avedon explained it well – “my photographs don’t go below the surface. They don’t go below anything. They’re readings of the surface.” (Avedon in Feil 2008: 33).
But my work has demonstrated that we cannot even trust what we see. Software and apps enable everyone to manipulate their face in an image. The portraits we are now exposed to online can be altered or unaltered. In some cases, the line between real and manipulated is blurred and we do not understand if what we see is genuine.
This leads me back to Suzy Lake and her work ‘A genuine simulation of…‘. Lake leads the viewer to question whether or not there is an authentic image of herself in the work. We see many images of her face in the work but each is covered in makeup, so is it truly her?
So we are left with the question whether or not any photograph that we see can be considered a genuine representation of the person or scene. Or are all photographs simulations? I leave you to consider that.
Feil, M. 2008. “Questioning the Portrait”. In foam, (#17), 28-34.