This week’s challenge involved working with images. There were three possible activities to choose from. I chose option 1:
Option 1: Collect and analyse images. Take a tour of your workplace or your neighbourhood with a camera, create a collage of images that represent a particular concept or theme you are interested in exploring. For example, you might choose ‘rules’ as a theme, and take pictures of things that, directly or indirectly, appear to convey rules about the space you are in; what people are allowed or not allowed to do.
The resulting collection is here.
• What is depicted in the image(s)?
I work at home, so a tour of the workplace was fairly straightforward! The images are all examples of texts found in my house. I gave myself 5 minutes to photograph 50 texts using my iPhone.
• What were you trying to discover by creating your image(s)
The majority of my working days and a significant element of the rest of my time is spent reading and writing. I decided to use the image exercise as an opportunity to think about how texts fill my physical space(s). However, once I started to look around my house, I realised that it is saturated with texts. So, I came up with the idea of capturing 50 images of texts in 5 minutes. Following our tutorial this week, I’m also considering embarking on an autoethnography for my research project and this exercise offered an opportunity to begin to treat myself as a research subject.
• What did the process of image creation involve?
I used my phone to take the images and then looked at a number of options for collating them into a collage. Many of the online photo collage editors only allowed me to use 10 or so images, so I used Wix, a website creation tool which I use regularly, and which allowed me to quickly pull together a gallery of 50 images.
• What is not seen, and why?
There is so much that remains unseen in these images: primarily the contexts in which the texts were found. The images were taken in most of the rooms of the house, but I think it is difficult (mostly) to guess at which rooms they were taken in. I was careful, also, to try and avoid compromising my own privacy and security and didn’t photograph documents which included my address, medical history, personal emails or social media profile(s). However, some details which hint at my personal life are in here (the reference to the ‘bloody garage door’ for example.)
• How is meaning being conveyed?
I think the sheer number of images and the short period of time it took to capture them gives a sense of how many texts are in one – fairly small – space. Meaning is conveyed through the plethora of insights they (seem) to offer about ‘my’ character. The result reminds me of a game we used to play when I was an English teacher and I used to pull items out of a bag and ask my pupils to guess what sort of character they belonged to. I am conscious that I omitted much that would be considered to be embarrassing when I took the images. However, when I see them collated together, there is still much to judge me by in this collage:
• I have designer sunglasses (they are 10 years old now, but this particular image doesn’t convey that).
• I read a left-wing magazine and newspaper but buy sparkling water in disposable plastic bottles. I also subscribe to Sky TV.
• I alphabetise my books.
• I own a Joe Wicks cookbook.
• I own two Jamie Oliver cookbooks.
• I have not yet passed Grade 1 piano.
• I own a pair of Uggs (they are really comfy).
• I am considering Farrow & Ball paints.
• With respect to the photographs, how might the image(s) convey something different to your experience of ‘being there’.
These images offer a snapshot of the texts which are in my space. However, they give no sense of the meanings which these texts have in my life, how long I spend or have spent with each text, or what my own responses are to the texts which are captured here. This collage has been created: it’s an artefact. The images have been selected, framed and presented by me, the researcher. However, that process is, in itself, of interest. If I am to embark on an autoethnography, the consideration of what I omit, what I don’t present, what I feel is personal will be as valuable as what I include.