Category Archives: Assignment 4

Assignment 4 – tutor feedback

My feedback can be viewed below, so this post is to pick out from it what I need to do next towards A5, which I am hoping to complete by early December. My tutor’s comments are shown in italics, with my own thoughts below.

holly woodward_assn_4__report_D_i_C (002)

You do mention feeling that you have been a little scatter gun in your approach and find yourself needing now to focus in more tightly on one particular theme, idea or technique with a view to presenting a coherent series of images for your assignment submissions.

As you note, this particular assignment (4) is meant to allow you to experiment with a view to refining your ideas in assignment 5.

Wendy has clearly picked up my confusion abut this assignment and my great difficulty in pinning down the subject matter concisely.

It seems to me from reading through your submission, the idea that has gained the most traction began with your taking apart of your own hard drive and then a re-photographing of the constituent parts – paired with images rescued from it. I think this is definitely worthy of future development.

Fair enough. It gives me something concrete to move forward with. I have plenty of scope still to add new images to the series, both from my archive and new ones using parts of the hard drive.

As discussed at our 1-2-1 it’s both useful and helpful to set some rules or parameters down for yourself before tackling a distinctive series of work. Usually this means deciding on:
1_the format of the work (usually this means a series of images that are all produced to the same format in the case of a distinctive series)
2_the formal attributes of the work (composition, technique, palette)
3_the concept of the work (can you describe your idea clearly and concisely, explaining what specifically you are exploring throughout your series, etc).

This is what I need to do next. I have already narrowed things down to a particular palette of pale colours, and am very keen to continue working with the transparent overlays, but Wendy suggested that pairings of straight images onto large areas of white paper, in the style of Ann Collier might work better.

If you haven’t done so already (and in direct relation to the potential development of your won potential project using your dis-assembled hard drive), I’d like you to look closely at the work of Evan Roth, whose project ‘Since You Were Born’ similarly explores memory and the online environment. Think about the way that he, for example, uses multiples – large banks of images often – to express his idea. You can hear him talk about this project ‘In Since You Were Born, Evan Roth presents an introspective view of his own internet browsing data to create a dynamic site-specific installation of saturated images that are both personal and universal. Filling the Atrium Gallery entirely, Roth’s internet cache captures four months of search history from the day his second daughter was born on June 29, 2016. Faces of “friends” from social media exist alongside corporate logos, fragments of Google maps, family photographs, and banner advertisements – lost narratives left behind in Roth’s interactions online’ here:

I have had a quick look at the Evan Roth video and see what my tutor means about it being relevant, and will write a case study about it, as suggested. I am also put in mind of some of Erik Kessels’ work, especially the sheer scale of the number of images. Wendy also suggested again (not for the first time) that I consider scaling up the work, so I will also be looking at ways of printing on a larger scale and layouts for that.

So, tasks for the next assignment are:

  •  research Evan Roth, Ann Collier and Erik Kessels
  •  investigate large scale printing options
  • refine down the subject and format through format, attributes and concepts to improve clarity. In particular, I want to decide whether to go for a few carefully chosen pairings, or a complex tapestry of them.

Assignment 4 – Reflections on the digital self.

As shown in the course materials, this assignment is Part 1 of a project which will be completed in Part 2 (Assignment 5). To this end, it is not a finished piece of work, but an outline of the ideas and test images I have been considering, which will then be refined and resolved in Assignment 5.


The posts below relate to the early ideas on the work and are shown in date order with the oldest one first. They include many of the test prints and initial visual ideas that were considered for the work.


Explanatory text

My ideas for this assignment began with the concepts of blurred reality and Plato’s Cave. I am interested in how the world we have in our minds is in fact mediated through the internet, and specifically through the algorithms and marketing strategies that we are subject to in our internet searches, and which are specifically personalised to our individual tastes, as indicated by our search histories. This came from reading this article on how our searches are used by companies to target us. ‘Your digital identity has three layers, and you can only protect one of them.’ (Szymielewicz, 2019)

These ideas spawned a series of images using flexible mirror tiles inside a Perspex cube to create strange apparently digital landscapes, but which were in reality images of how the different mirrors recorded each other’s information.This led on to some images where people were inserted into the mirrored landscape, but also some where transparent printed layers were overlapped with images from my own archive in which I had juxtaposed positive and negative versions of the same scene to represent what is reflected back to us by the internet and also the ripple effect of our usage.



At this point, I began to insert some photographs of the internal workings of the computer as transparent overlays, with their connotations of alternative worlds and miniature cities (referencing Google Maps again, as discussed in my piece for the OCA Edge-zine (content available here) and this seemed appropriate to include in the overall concept.

So, where am I now? For the last six weeks at least, I have not been sure where the assignment was going, but following discussions with fellow student Kate this week, some clarity has appeared, with two specific elements coming to the forefront. Firstly, combinations of images which mix transparencies with others printed on paper seems to work well and they solve the problem of how to draw all my ideas together. Something else that has specifically been bothering me was the apparent lack of visual unity within the long list of images, and I think I have now resolved that one by using a specific colour palette, mostly consisting of faded pastels. Secondly, the overall concept seems to have resolved itself into a series focussing on inward journeys into the machine, and thus into a world where reality is fluid, separate from the world we occupy when not connecting with the internet and where the reflected view of ourselves has been altered. One of the outstanding issues I have with the series is whether to anchor each group of images, or whether to simply display them all and to allow the viewer to mix and match them to make their own connections.

Particular themes which are represented within the work are positive and inverted images, the mechanics of the computer and the concept of transparencies and partial  images as incomplete pictures of a theoretical world.

Along the way, I have had to exclude some images to which I am strongly attached, and this has been hard, but was necessary to clarify the series. In particular, I wish that I could have found a way of integrating the two below, the first because it was the initial concept that began the assignment work and the second because I feel that it strikingly illustrates the idea of filter bubbles and echo chambers inside the internet world, but at present they do not appear to fit in with the series,.


The single most influential photographer for this piece of work has been Mark Dorf, whose concepts I reviewed in this post last year. Dorf has been working for the last decade on pieces which consider our relationship with the World Wide Web, using elements such as overlays, gaps and tears, and the work resonates strongly for me, especially his early series Axiom and Simulation. Other photographers and artists whose work has been encountered along the way and which have contributed ideas to the project are:


Baudrillard, J. (1994). Simulacra and simulation. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press.

Deleuze, G. and R. Krauss (1983). ‘Plato and the Simulacrum.’ In: October 27: 45-56.

Dorf, M. (2011) Axiom and Simulation At: (Accessed on 28 September 2019)

Jantzen, E. (2015) Unity of Time and Place. At: (Accessed on 28 September 2019)

Museo del Prado. Bosch, Hieronymus (1450-1516) The Garden of Earthly Delights Triptych. [online] At: (Accessed on 11 September 2019)

Szymielewicz, K. (2019). ‘Your digital identity has three layers, and you can only protect one of them.’ In: At: (Accessed on 28 September 2019)

The Art Story (nd) Dan Graham Artworks. At: (Accessed on 28 September 2019)

Taylor, M. (2019) Work. At: (Accessed on 28 September 2019)


Demonstration of technical and visual skills

The concepts for this work have been difficult to pin down visually and to some extent are still unresolved. While I am happy with the images and the general layout, they are not fixed and there is scope for further exploration and the need for a decision about whether to formalise the layout, or to allow the viewer to make their own connections.

Quality of outcome

I remain confused about whether the series works or not, and suspect that this is partly because I have been too close to it for too long. I also have some doubts about whether the use of inverted images is a sensible way of creating an alternate world view, or whether it is too forced/hackneyed.

Demonstration of creativity

I feel more relaxed about this element of the work. Having used some techniques and ideas that are definitely outside the norm of the standard photographic image. My method of working is to play and experiment towards an outcome, as opposed to knowing clearly what I want to achieve at the start, as I feel the former is a more open way of exploring the concepts concerned.


The work fits quite neatly into the philosophical notions of Plato’s Cave, Baudrillard’s Simulacrum and Foucault’s Panopticon.