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  • Damien Williams

Week 3: Rethinking photographers: Webinar task and practical

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

Webinar Week 3: Sharing was an incredible experience. My biggest learning curve is to form working relationships with people. I am an introvert, my social and occupational status it Involves me being isolated. So to meet a second Group of people and a different webinar sitting really interested me. My initial project was thematically similar to Layla’s another students who is also an expat, that sense of isolation and bewilderment it Comes through very differently from a project to mine. It reveals that I like the controlled spaces and a very “wound up tight” project, whereas hers was one of Discovery, road trip, getting out and engaging. She used the phrase “forming relationships that allow access” and innovation she said she described my idea of hell. But necessary hell in order for me to progress and grow as a photographer.

In terms of critiquing Colin introduced us to a contracted form to support in webinars.

  1. Value

  2. Questions

  3. Concerns

  4. Suggestions

This was very helpful as the critiquing document that we read prior to the webinar was incredibly detailed. I really liked it, however it involves a lot of practice to be able to deliver this in ‘the heat of battle’.

Colin’s feedback (and that of the group): was to start the project from a research point of view. Look at bureaucracy, the hidden groups: migrant workers for instance, he likes the ID cards idea (I would like to ask him again what are you liked about that in order for me to fully understand how to move forward with this).

He mentioned painting a vernacular picture of identity in Singapore

He suggested speaking to the British Council of arts

Sead fellowship

mekong cultural hub

As part of my research I really should be developing an archive on the national obsession with identity. Looking at identity statistically, historically, and personally.

Other works suggested as photographic inspiration:

Anais Lopez - the migrant

Bill Owens - suburbia (for integrated text portraits)

Karen Knorr’s work (for portraits and text)

Another idea came from another one of my peers projects, creating a transcript of interviews that appears in the back of the book. Similar to “in the shadow of things”.

My response to feedback:

I felt that my project was overwhelmingly derivative. Being inspired by the individuality and personal approach from the “tea” project make me feel that I'm just connecting the dots and do what's expected. The projects that I admire the most, come from a very personal place and display a certain individual way of looking at the world.

Identity of a nation really isn't interesting on a visual level. Looking at “tea” we got into a very animated discussion and essentially people care about how they have their tea, coffee, then the level of identity reveals itself. I want my work to engage and then reveal its theme as a peeled layer rather than inform the viewer this is the theme no matter what you're looking at.

The “Tea” project brings people together through viewing and discussion rather than talking about people without any answers or reveal. There is no lasting curiosity after the initial curiosity to look. Nothing bringing people back. Maybe that isn't true, Singaporean identity is an interesting and not very easily resolvable issue. But I feel it caters to a very specific market. Historians, Singaporeans, expats, human scientists, sociologists. May be a challenge is to find that layer of general interest and curiosity and make sure that appears in the photography.

My initial feeling is; I need to change my idea. I almost need to stop trying so hard to be smart. Generally when I try to be clever it doesn't yield my best work. The irony is when I allow my identity to be free and reflect who I am my work is better, when I force the issue the work is brittle.

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