Assignment 5: framework and presentation questions

My last post on Assignment 5 from a few weeks ago was optimistically titled ‘The clouds part‘, but I’ve spent most of the time since being dissatisfied with my work to date and struggling to ‘find a way back in’ to this assignment… so the clouds hadn’t so much parted as shifted around slightly. However, I am finally starting to see real chinks of daylight.

My concerns

There have been two related obstacles:

  • Dissatisfaction with the content of the photos so far
  • Concerns that my concept may not be clearly communicated

Unhappy with my photographs

My basic problem over the last few weeks has been dissatisfaction with my photos taken so far.   I’ve taken over 500 photos in four locations over five shooting days since November last year. Very few of them are standing out as good photos individually, and almost no pairs of images to juxtapose are making themselves apparent to me. I have a strong sense of how I want these images to end up looking like, but am not yet being successful in finding subjects that match my visualisations.

Part of it is down to an ongoing debate I’m having with myself on whether to include people in the project or not (I will do a separate blog post on this particular point). Part of this is related to the conceptual communication point I come onto next.

Lacking confidence in the communication of the concept

As mentioned in several recent posts (a fact in itself that reveals how unsure I am about its clarity) my overarching communication intent is about the perils of oversimplification, and the conceptual approach I am taking is to juxtapose binary stereotypes (which happen to be based around the EU Referendum vote).

My fear is that using stereotypes to draw attention to stereotyping as a phenomenon is inherently risky, as there is a danger that the viewer simply sees the stereotyping… :-/

I needed to find a way of making the use of stereotypes more self-evidently deliberate and therefore significant.

My ideas

I have been wrapping my head around these two interrelated dilemmas and am gradually evolving my approach in a way that I think might – might – resolve both concerns.


First, I came to the conclusion that to improve the success rate of the photos themselves I needed some kind of framework to the images I want to capture – a shooting list. I’ve been shooting with two sets of keywords in my mind but it’s still been a little too vague to be useful. I need to really hone my visualisations down to a subject matter level.

In order to do this I also started thinking of ways of making the underpinning ‘stereotypes’ concept more obviously deliberate. I started thinking of how supporting text can be extremely useful, and so how to work stereotypes into the captions. To this end I enlisted some OCA Facebook buddies to brainstorm Remain and Leave stereotypes with me, and between us we came up with the following list:

  • Rich / Poor
  • Have / Have Not
  • Posh / Plebs
  • Experts / Man in the Street
  • Multicultural Middle Class / White Working Class
  • Metropolitan Elite / Left Behind
  • The Establishment / The Workers
  • Enemies of the People / The People
  • Thrivers & Strivers / Skivers & Survivors
  • Smug Liberals / Angry Bigots
  • Swots / Uneducated
  • Fat Cats / The Great Unwashed
  • White Collar / Blue Collar
  • Upwardly Mobile / Down & Out
  • Globalist / Nationalist
  • Unpatriotic / Patriotic
  • Losers / Winners

A subset of these, or something similar, could become briefs for specific image pairings, and in turn appear as captions of some kind.

Presentation format

I’ve been trying to think creatively about how to visually communicate the message about binary oversimplification by using the exact Leave/Remain vote percentages from the specific towns and cities as the ratio of the two parts of the composite image.

My initial approach to this was quite straightforward, juxtaposing the pairs of images as two appropriately scaled rectangles:

However, I wasn’t sure whether this really drove home the binary categorisation that I was looking to project. I started thinking about infographics and data visualisation, and hit upon the idea of using a pie chart (it was National Pie Week…) with the segments labeled to form the captions:

Please note that I am not sure about these specific images – these are just mockups to test the concept.

My current feeling is that the visual concept does broadly work in terms of data visualisation, but it’s not necessarily easy (depending on the specific images) to visually decipher the two component parts due to the irregular frame shapes.


Next steps

  • Review existing images (again) against the ‘stereotype pairings’ discussed above
  • Shoot new images with stereotype pairings as image briefs
  • Consider the pie chart visual treatment more, and potentially gather some peer feedback

10 thoughts on “Assignment 5: framework and presentation questions

  1. Lynda Wearn 29 March 2017 / 22:30

    Love the concept and I think the charts work well. The one that I think could be better presented is the Middlesborough one. The images are rather similar in the chart and a contrast of colours might work better. Just a thought.


    • Rob Townsend 30 March 2017 / 17:20

      Thanks – replied to your similar comment on Facebook :-)


      • Philip Borodajkewycz 05 April 2017 / 07:35

        Maybe you could explode the pie – put a space between the segments – then there would be no worry about the similar colours next to each other.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Stephanie Dh. 30 March 2017 / 17:16

    Interesting approach, I wonder if the annotations with the % are necessary, we already understand what it is about. It might work better without.

    Are you aware of the work of Hank Willis Thomas? You should look at Priceless #1 it is a variation on a famous mastercard ad about Gun Violence and the killing of his cousin.

    His Unbranded series might interest you too.


    • Rob Townsend 30 March 2017 / 17:19

      Yes, I’ll try without the %, good idea. I think I’ve seen the ‘Priceless’ pastiche work before although I didn’t recognise the artist’s name. I’ll have a proper look – merci

      Liked by 1 person

  3. mcomber 05 April 2017 / 17:38

    I actually think the complementary colours for M’boro work well (same but not) but they do need a whit border to pull them apart.


    • Rob Townsend 05 April 2017 / 17:40

      Thanks – they are still only mockups so those exact pics might not make the cut, but I am increasingly thinking that a small amount of white space bordering the segment will help visually (as suggested by Philip above)


  4. helen 05 April 2017 / 19:09

    I am not up to date with all the comments on FB about this so sorry if I am duplicating other people’s ideas but have you explored it being a Venn diagram?


    • Rob Townsend 06 April 2017 / 11:40

      Ah, but it can’t be a Venn diagram as it’s about binary categorisation – it’s based on Leave/Remain voting data and there’s no overlap :-)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s