introduction into narrative theory

Narrative theory
A written or spoken account of connected events.
Narrative – telling a story, links connecting everything together
Narrative begins with mankind, there does not exist, and never has existed, a people without narratives. (Barthes 1966:14)
What is a narrative – anything that tells a story
Paces/narrative environments is a space, whether physical or virtual, in which stories can unfold.
A virtual narrative environment might be a narrative framework
Narratives are visual just as much as literal.
Photo essays – a set of photographs that come together to make a story

Margaret Bourke-White (life magazine) cover photo of he Fort Peck Dam – first time someone had look behind the scenes – looked at the people surrounding it and the workers instead of the construction of the dam.

1951 Margaret thatcher??? Hired a lot of photographers to create photo essays. – After searching the internet i could not find any evidence that Thatcher did hire people to create photo essays.

typical narrative structure –1426003946309.jpeg


theorists for narrative

  • Tzetvsn Todorov – narratives always have a structure
  • Claude Levi-Strauss – human cultural understanding is based upon a system of binary opposites
  • Vladmir Propp – narratives have certain character types who perform certain actions
  • Roland Barthes – enigma code/ action code


non linear narrative – when the narrative keeps on jumping from the present to the past. – doesn’t go in a straight line. Doesn’t go beginning middle end, it goes forwards and backwards or starts at the end and works backwards, or stops sometimes and characters speak to the audience.

  • Inception – keeps on going back and forth in dream time and back and forth from now to when he was with his wife in the past.
  • Deadpool – goes back and forth from when he was becoming deadpan and the present. Also stops every now and then for deadpool to narrate or speak to the audience
  • Sin city – stops every now and again for one of the main characters to speak. Also speaks narrative to a character that may be sleeping so its pretty informative to the viewer. (sin city 3/12 movie clip)

Narrative interventions in photography – at the j. paul getty exhibition, getty centre 2011-2012 – Images that are intimate, and shocking, puzzling and poignant. – all used text in the images.

Simryn Gill ‘forest’


use to show an experience a sense of place, how culture because naturalised and almost invisible part of our physical environment- using the trunk of a cocoanut tree is wrapped in paper strips that form rings around the bark.

Eileen Cowin ‘I see what you’re saying’hqdefault.jpg

showing the need to strip away layers of obfuscation to arrive at the truth. The mutilated book suggests that words in all forms can deceive.
Carrie Mae Weems ‘from here I saw what happened and I cried’weems-photo-020.jpg

Daguerreotypes commissioned in the 1850s to make portraits of slaves. Weems wanted to show how the use of photography has played a key role throughout history in the shaping and supporting of racism, stereotypes and social injustice .

Barbara Krugertall.jpg

Her work is to sell an idea instead of a product. To make people reconsider a persons life and the context of their life. This print was designed 1989 for the reproductive rights protest, the march for women lives.
Bess Bielucyzk
-Water logged waterlogged_web.jpg

focusing on the woman’s solitary rebellion against the restrictions of her domestic life. She has created a character and environment based on stories and her own imaginings of the life of an unhappy housewife.



visual exhibition/ magazine article task

Presentation1 – click here

when organising our group we initially decided what we wanted to include in our exhibition. We began by deciding that each person within the group will do an artist based on our theme which was ‘Documentary : practise of recording’. So each person found a documentary photographer, from this we decided to base our exhibition on different types of documentary photography.
Our exhibition entitled “Documents of documentary” is as the title infers a series of documentary photographers. It’s showcasing diversity with different styles and photographs within one specific area. We used cubes to display work because they are all the same which signifies the unity of documentary, but they are segregated to show the difference between them.

Assigning roles and responsibilities was easy as each person in our group seemed to have a different quality which they were stronger at than others.
– Faye wrote the blurb during the lesson with input from other people from the group. I then tidied it up and added punctuation.
-Remy made a 3D virtual version of our exhibition, from the ideas we had all agreed on during lesson.
– Niamh then made a model of the exhibition.
– I put everything together in a presentation.
– After this was all done, and everyone had contributed to the exhibition we decided that the people that had not done anything more than their artist, we decided they would be the people that would speak during the presentation. Which included David and Dana although everyone did speak during the presentation.
over all I think we worked really well as a group, everyone contributed and everyone got on and there was no arguments or disagreements. We all communicated over Facebook apart from David who was emailed by a group member to keep him up to date.

I think our virtual exhibition worked well. I like the way that there is a large variety of documentary photographers, this is because like the exhibition is called ‘documents of documentary’ we are documenting different types of documentary photography. I also like the fact that the exhibition can be moved because it means it can be moved to different destinations – the destinations within the exhibition. Another thing i like about this exhibition is the cubes. This is because they are hanging meaning you have to interact with them, but also the fact that each cube is personal to the artist/ photographer and lastly because they include not only the images from the photographer but also information and a quote from them.

What i don’t think worked so well about the exhibition is that the variation in documentary photographers was too large. If we had kept them to well known documentary photographers or just new. Or we could have kept it at just contemporary or just old, then they would have merged better together. Personally I think we should have just used documentary photographers that were well known. Not worrying whether they were contemporary or not as long as they were known within their field in some way.

I enjoyed this task as it went smoothly and everyone got involved. No one in the group slacked or didn’t get included. I liked the way that it is a virtual exhibition so it could be unrealistic, because you are not actually creating it you don’t have to worry about cost or if it was possible. This meant you could use your imagination and come up with something that could never happen.



Representation in the media

Wells 2000 pp.34-35

Gender representation

Hannah Montana/ Miley Cyrus

June 2008 : vanity fair cover – image shot by Annie Leibovitzmileycyrus.jpg
– role model – why its considered unacceptable – was she doing something wrong?
– was she just doing what she was told?
– Billy Ray Cyrus said that Annie took advantage but he was at the shoot so should have stopped her if this was true.. – He put the blame on someone else because of the uproar and didn’t want the bad publicity.

– 2008 – Miley’s phone was hackedorig-2939981.jpg
is it acceptable because she is famous?
– does it matter where you got because you still have it?
– because they are famous they have a certain amount of responsibility – should they not be allowed to be their own person with their privacy, just because they are role model?
– stopped doing show but show still aired
– 2013 VMAs objectified her dancers, fondled herself, twerked, – (blurred lines)1186968_501892003236731_1278432868_n-300x199.jpg
– trying to break out of Hannah Montana
– Theo Wenner – photographer for rolling stone magazine – did a naked photoshoot of Miley – the readers of Rolling stone got angry – not because she is naked but because they don’t think she is a credible artist (don’t care what she looks like)
– manipulated by a male dominated industry
– Terry Richardson – Miley went to Richardson to break away from everyone looking at her like a child so everyone looks at her in a different light – many young stars have also gone to Richardson to this… – Lyndsey Lohan, Macauley Culkin, and Selina Gomez,
– Its bad that they feel like they need to get naked so people don’t look at them like little children
– pressure by the media to be sexual –
-Miley has been manipulated to what is and what is not acceptable.

brought out a song called ‘we can’t stop’ to send a message to people that she didn’t want to be that person any more. People had to get used to Miley being a party animal and she didn’t want to change that.    we can’t stop including lines like ‘doing whatever we want, this is our house this is our rules’

-‘the media is the message and the messenger’ shaping lives and emotions.
girls from a very young got that most more thing is for them to look good.
-boys then think that it is the norm and that its their right to look at pretty girls
-even the academic woman are made to look beautiful so they are taken seriously, but then they don’t, because they don’t look smart when they are made up and have makeup on

Lilly Allen brought out a song in 2013 called ‘hard out here’ showing people how hard it really is for women in the music industry and all working women. How they get sexualised and put down just because they are female. She include lines like ‘i don’t need to shake my arse for you cause I’ve got a brain’. She purposefully objectifies woman within the video so show people how bad it is. She is saying that unless you are skinny or rich or can cook you will be alone because thats all men care about and its only their opinion that matters. lily-allen-hard-out-here-1-1384334683-large-article-0.png

hard out here

– even though women get criticised so do men, they have to be seen as strong and macho, they can’t be seen as weak
although most of the time they are shown as fully clothed in suits or with big muscles even then its wearing a t-shirt or and open shirt, rarely with all of their clothes off apart from underwear
– women are sexualised, in photoshop their breasts and bums enhanced.

-‘cant be what you can’t see’- representation of gender starts at a young age – jobs and life and lifestyle and mindset – job roles set out – never showed jobs or given an idea to work different jobs – can’t be an engineer if you don’t have the choice or never been given the thought.

toddlers in tiaras – showed that the only way to be anything in your life you have to be beautiful. To be beautiful you need to be thin, wear lots of makeup and have your hair done. These girls think this is what they want but they have never known anything different so they don’t know the possibility of anything different.


Racial representation

Dolce and Gabbana – black figurine earnings and dress.
– Earrings style of person on eating is connected with slavery
– racial stereotypes – one collection looks a whole continent and pins it down/ ‘reduces and entire continent into a few archaic and racist stereotypes’
-Inspiration africa – ‘tribal’, ‘primitive’, ‘wild’, or ‘ethnic’
-people think it wouldn’t have been as bad if they had used black models but every model was white, not even of any other ethnicity.




Reading to chapter 6, page 15.

Initially I found this very hard to read, and had to read each page about twice before i even found 1 word that i could out from it.

I then found that highlighting as i was reading meant i had to focus on it a lot harder and read more carefully, this helped when i was trying to read as well as understand this piece of text. This also meant that i could come back to this piece of text and understand it better and pick out the useful parts easily.

From the lesson other useful ideas I have picked out to make reading a difficult piece of text easier…

  • use a thesaurus to understand the hard words – or you could replace the hard word with a word that has the same meaning but you understand better.
  • look up explanations/ overviews of the text on youtube – these people usually pick out the best and most important parts, this might make the text seem more interesting to you.
  • keep your finger where you are reading, this keeps your attention to the part you are on.
  • read slowly, this way you can take in every word.
  • re-read paragraphs after you have read them, and before you start the next one.

after knowing these facts it is definitely easier reading difficult texts, and i will carry on reading the text as i found it interesting after understanding it.




taste/ value/ judgement

  • 2007 – window – £3 million – apparently window of the assassin of JFK _42582599_jfk_ebay203x250b
  • need a certificate of validation – not for really old but you do need the history of piece
  •  who its worth the money to
  • was contested whether this was the actual window.


Taste – personal to the person , what they’re interested in – what is offensive or acceptable – 

  • culture, taste of an aesthetic, sociological, economic and anthropological
  • cultural patterns
  • not just biological
  • distinctions between things such as styles, manners, consumer goods and works of art
  • taste and consumption closely link together, taste as a preference
  • arguably, the question of taste is in many ways related to underlying social divisions of community.
  • variation between groups of different socioeconomic status in preferences for cultural practices of goods, to the extent that is often possible to identify particular types of class taste.
  • Walter Benjamin (1936) the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction (the aura of the original)
  • Mon Lisa diminished? by mass reproduction of Mona Lisa in different items?
  • low art – unafraid to appeal to the sense (iPad made of gold, encrusted with diamonds) £5,000,000highlow.jpg
  • high art – suspicious of the delicious – as if one were being seduced for impure reasons (only good being people tell you its good and the fact it costs a lot of money) Jackson pollock – £140,000,000
  • Brian Sewell – English art critic and media personality
  • did not hold his tongue regarding his opinions.
  • frequently insulted the general public for their views – “doesn’t matter if the public like it”
  • low art – not necessarily the artists as they are all known artists that have created good art.
  • David LaChapelle – (Pamela Anderson: miracle tan, 2004)116ddf0f74756de0b5af2156d899d54a
  • Terry Richardson – nude shots of Miley Cyrustumblr_mu29rtLyYh1qa42jro1_1280
  • Sally Mann, winter squash, 1988 (immediate family) ‘you photograph the things that you are close to you, this is what you photograph best’Photographed by David Heald 05/18/05


Value – an estimated worth – what someone thinks is deserved of value – when something is important it is more valuable.

  • Andy Warhol – coca cola – $57.3m650Warhol-Coca-Cola-3-1
  • Jeff Koom – got the most money for living artist – $50m
  • Francais Bacon – most expensive work of art  – three panelled painting – $142.4m – 2013
  • Pablo Picasso – world record most paid for painting sold at auction – $179m – 2015
  • Artnet/ Ocular black – where you can see your images.
  • the internet has impacted selling and shops – more people are using the internet – easier to get onto for selling – harder to sell as many.
  • Leonardo da Vinci’s codex hammer – $30,802,500 – 1994
  • smith attempts to differentiate between value in use (utility) and value in exchange
  • economist is said to understand price but not value
  • price alters with supply and demand (air is not scarce- therefore has no price) although air is a basic need so it clearly has intrinsic value
  • when there is less of something it becomes more expensive – originals are more expensive that copies.
  • Edward Steichen’s ‘the pond Ware-50-2-apr06-f1.jpg– moonlight’ $2,928,000 – 3 prints exist, but 2 are in museums so there is only 1 that is for sale. This makes it more valuable.
  • the most expensive photograph  – Andreas Gursky – Rhein II – 1999 – $4.3m six prints in total, but they are all different sizes and Rhein II is the largest of them all.
  • Apparently this changed when Peter Lik sold a picture for $6.5m but it was a private sale and he can’t / hasn’t proved the sale so Gursky still holds the record for the most expensive photograph. A Lik photograph has never sold for more than $16,000 at auction, this was achieved with the photograph ghost. Before this he had never sold a photograph for more than $3,000 –

Judgement – the ability to make considered decisions – an opinion or conclusion

“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing” Oscar Wilde


What is a judgment of taste? Kant isolated two fundamental necessary conditions for a judgment to be a judgment of taste — subjectivity and universality (Kant 1790). Other conditions may also contribute to what it is to be a judgment of taste, but they are consequential on, or predicated on, the two fundamental conditions.
The first necessary condition of a judgment of taste is that it is essentially subjective. What this means is that the judgment of taste is based on a feeling of pleasure or displeasure. It is this that distinguishes a judgment of taste from an empirical judgment. Central examples of judgments of taste are judgments of beauty and ugliness. (Judgments of taste can be about art or nature.)                                                                                                                                       The second is universality, In order to see what is special about pleasure in beauty, we must shift the focus back to consider what is special about the judgment of taste. For Kant, the judgment of taste claims “universal validity”

The family and social media

The family album and social media

• M.C. Duncan (home portraits for amateur photographers 1899)                                                     ‘when amid life’s surging battle, reverie it’s slice lends, sweet it is to scan the faces, pictures faces – of old friends.’

1899 George Eastman marketed hand held Kodak with the slogan ‘you press the button, we’ll do the rest’
this was the beginning of an era when the ‘amateur’ recorded family life. providing a compact camera that was fun and easy to use.

• Idea that photography allows memory to last forever
• Encouraging people to take pictures
• On the side of the road there was signs that said scenic stop here and take picture

Family photographs
• Staged or natural (capturing unawares)
• Both but most of the time staged
• Fact or fiction? How truthful are domestic photographs?
• Fact and fiction – fact because you are capturing where or what or when but fiction because you mainly smile and show the happy times
• Recording history – serve as a reminder
• Re-telling stories
• Reveals sitters identity?
• Not the full identity because you are only seeing identity of what they wasn’t to show

“Family photographs can be considered cultural artifacts because they document the events that shape families’ lives,”  Charles Williams,  – 

What do we photograph?
• Weddings
• Holiday
• Holidays – Christmas, Easter etc.
• First day at school
• Birthdays
• Milestones – birthdays/ anniversaries

Susan Sontag ‘A family’s photograph album is generally about the extended family and, often, is all that remains of it.’

Not funerals as disrespectful but then flowers/ coffin/ family together

The photographs will also enable them to talk more easily to others about their loss.  – click on text it will bring you out onto a BBC article on photographing funerals.

Look at pictures from Annie Leibovitz taking pictures of Sontag97b88e40ef3bc6df52ce675960f3f9f5

“I don’t have two lives. This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it.” Leibovitz created a book called ‘a photographer’s life, 1990 – 2005’ looking at pictures of Susan Sontag that Leibovitz had taken through her professional photography career. She released some deeply emotional pictures that were meant to be personal but felt that she had to release them to connect everything together, including the picture of Sontag dead on a gurney. Some thought that they were too personal and disagreed about their release and thought that it was unfair as Sontag was not there to say which ones could be released and which ones could…

Mortality in Photography: Examining the Death of Susan Sontag

• “Personal photographs are embedded in the lives of those who own or make use of them” (Wells – 2004 – page 119)

• “Treasured less for quality than their context for the part they play in confirming and challenging the identity and history of their users”

first digital camera 1973
2003 cannon sold the first camera that was affordable

(www) started in 1991 but goes global in 2002
google privately 1998 – publically – 2004
Facebook 2004 but January 2015 was the first social network to surpass 1 billion
Digital era – how to communicate your photos with the rest of your family over Facebook
Who has the right to see it/ the photos…?
‘community’ websites – making contact with other people for social, cultural, personal, economic, and even political relations’ (Bate – 2009)

• “from kitchen to bathroom, social media invades our lives”

change of context – private made Public
• Hollie and Jessica – 2 young girls murdered
• Maddie McCann – still not found but there has been said to be sightings of her from people that have never met her but know what she looks like from the media.                                                                                                                                                 If they had not taken those photographs then they would not have been able to send them out into the public for people to look for them. The police would not have known who they were looking for apart from a description.

(carrying on…)
Trish Morrissey – 7 years, 2003May-1st-1976.jpg
Includes photographs and video work created over a 2-year period and is inspired by family photo albums.
Elaborately constructed portraits – worked closely with older sister to impersonate family members (both real and imagined)
Referring to age gap between Morrissey and his sister

This is similar to a trend that is going round know where families are re-doing old family photographs from when they were younger. Re-reating childhood photos.


Sally Mann – immediate family, 1992SallyMann_CandyCigarette.jpg
Challenged and criticised for he photographs – accused of sexualising and being neglectful
Said that they are all real but because she used medium format they had to be staged
‘the good wife’ – series about Mann

Richard Billingham ‘rays a laugh’ 1995billingham_richard-untitled.jpg
Uncomfortable to look at – but shows and underlying love and care for family and the photographs
Took initially to paint from but ended up keeping as the photographs – giant images that appear as if a painting but actually a photograph.
Tells a story and you can see how it progresses

• Personal and family photographs are composed specifically to portray the individual or the family in a way they wish to be seen. (Liz Wells)
• Images feed our need for a clear sense of identity and of cultural belonging. (Liz Wells)
• We should use photos to ask questions rather than try to show facts (Jo Spence)
• The family album is viewed as an important tool in the reconstruction of a personal history, searching among its cast of characters for meaning and explanations. Kuhn 1995)
• Do we remember the events of the past or do we remembers photographs of them? (Sontag 1977)

Sally waterman ‘keep smiling’ 2015Hope_fades_Little_Mate_web-FTKUT76UER-medium
– a set of 28 diptychs of letters that were sent to her when she was at university 20 years ago. They are of letters sent to her by grandparents, old boyfriends and friends. They are of  support, love, regret, and loss juxtaposed with closeup views of personal snapshots which have then been re-photographed to show the texture of the photograph.

‘The series embodies memories of insecurities and ambitions of student life, away from home recalled through an engagement with a personal archive.­’


Personally while looking through social media and the effect on how we encounter and relate to family photographs, is that because photographs are so easily accessible on social media, you don’t tend to think of them as precious. They are always there so they are not as special, unlike the ones you get out at home that are physical photographs. These that you hold carefully are try your hardest not to rip and once you are finished they go back in the folder or photo album. On social media we take this for granted and more often than not you don’t even back them up just incase something crashes. They are on the internet which is still something that is fairly new and unpredictable, so you don’t know if something was to happen and then all of those memories are lost forever. People are more likely to scan in and back up old photographs onto the internet, than print out and save a hard copy of online photos.

do ideas matter? behind the images

Ideas about the photographs…

semiotics – the study of reading signs – culturally based, signs within your culture that signify meanings that you understand.


source magazine – get for finding contemporary photographers, and conceptual ideas.


what is conceptual photography photography? using the camera to express an idea.             A type of photography that illustrates an idea. – the piece offers an explanation to what its about instead of reading the image itself.



watching video – http://www.source.e/feature/what_is_conceptual.html    (

video 2)                    asking the questions – what are the main points being made? what key points can you locate? – what questions does this short video raise for you? – sum up the context in your own words= in a few sentences.

  • people never challenge
  • derogatory to other photography
  • thought behind the image instead of just snapping pictures
  • conceptual is contemporary, idea over rides the work- the work isn’t speaking for itself
  • deliberately obvious what the work was until contemporary work was brought in – now it doesn’t give you a chance for you to create your own opinion
  • gives us perspective
  • just homes in on one way of seeing

video was going so fast i couldn’t connect with it or understand it until half way through

need to watch the video again to understand it better and be able to pick up more points…

  • watching the video again – video 2
  • conventions that already exist that no body can challenges
  • ‘the art of portraits and the nude’
  • photography obsessed by representation
  • always look at the picture as if you’re not getting it – don’t just assume you have it right – look at it more closely
  • with conceptual you have to dig deep – to see all of the rich layering – ideas behind, history, context
  • derogatory to other types of photographic making
  • 1970s started to bring emotion back into photography
  • photography consumed under humanist discourse – dominated photographic criticism
  • the generation of artist photographers that picked up on the conceptual barrier 1970s ‘Victor Burgen’ ‘Alan Secular’
  • brought a seriousness to photography  – most critical of capitalism
  • made it into a valued market ‘Paul Graham’
  • ‘going into the world and just snapping what you see is no longer valued response’
  • before conceptual – expressive, personal, subjective, tactile, emotional – all of those things have been out out out?
  • conceptual is an anti- personal, anti-emotional, anti-subjective??
  • something that refuses to have it’s meaning pinned down is a value rather than a weakness
  • because of the text behind it  – people no longer looking at the meaning behind photography – no longer trying to figure out themselves the meaning behind the image.
  • photography is a good way of giving you a one side of an object – one perspective – that point of view can sometimes be deceptive – one way of seeing


watching the other two videos that were not a part of the lesson…

  • video 1 
  • images have subject matter
  • had no idea what to call it – tried many different names – ‘7 years book’
  • want to know why – what is idea behind?
  • 60s and 70s not really and critical industry around art
  • John Hilliard more interested in technical capabilities of taking a photograph


  • video 3
  • all photography is not conceptual
  • all photography is an abstraction of reality
  • all photography to some degree is conceptual – driven by concept
  • artist is ideas
  • photographer knows about your machine
  • ‘John Moore’ Rawalpindi






pinhole camera

For this technology i am using a can to create a pin hole camera. It is created by using a can which i used a can opener to take off the top which i then replaced with a cap using black card and electrical tape, this is so i can re-use the can to take lots of images using the camera. it means that it is more accessible to put the paper inside but also means it has been blacked out so the paper can not be affected by the light apart from when exposing it.

I created 4 pinhole cameras, which meant i could try a range of different exposing times. from looking on the internet i found a diagram on how long you should expose to how bright it is outside.


after looking at this and the day i was trying to use the pinhole camera i decided on 4 exposure times.

30 seconds/ 40 seconds/ 50 seconds/ 60 seconds. This is because its was sunny with a few clouds. i thought a bigger variety would higher my chances of coming back with a picture as this was the first time i had made or used a pinhole camera.

The outcome of this experiment was every picture was over exposed. The whole paper came out black, so this experiment failed. i then went back to looking up exposure times to see what went wrong and why even though i had times the exposure times to make sure they were right as well as keeping them incredibly still.

from looking at different videos and internet articles i found that i could also expose for about 2-6 seconds. When i try it again i will make a lot more pinhole cameras and do a larger variety of exposure times.