The form that your project takes will depend on the nature of your practice and should reflect your creative intent. It should be resolved as appropriate to the work itself and with considered purpose. As the consideration of audiences and markets are key concerns throughout the course, you are strongly encouraged to present it to an appropriate public audience.
I have a set of building blocks in the form of images, text, voice and video for the creative project for my FMP. I have potential audiences in the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Dignity in Dying. I am working with the audiences to accept my creative project as my work for their audience with the minimum of constraints. The challenge I now have is to decide the appropriate level of guidance/experience to provide the viewer in addition to a sequence of images. These choices include text, voice and video.
The choice revolves around the extent to which I as the artist wish to denote or connote with my work. Do I have a message I want to get across or is my work the message the viewer creates when perceiving my work? The origin of my project is the pain experienced by the partner of someone with a chronic illness and who then dies. Already viewers have been emotionally impacted by viewing my work. This has ranged from really black depression to others who see the importance of valuing life when it is good. My task now is to decide if that is enough or if a deeper experience can be given by adding other syntax.
Barthes (1977 p25) helps when he says ‘text constitutes a parasitic message designed to connote the image, to ‘quicken’ it with one or more second order signifiers.’ The artist in my may wish a viewer to dwell longer to create their own meaning but my audience may require that I quicken the understanding. There is a choice here to educate the viewer. Present my body of work as an artistic creation within a text describing how I put it together and what it is about for me.
Consider these two images paired. With no title and no text it leaves an infinite number of options for the viewer to project on to what each might mean and what the sequence might mean. In many ways this is the most exciting presentation for an artist if it captures the attention of the viewer and creates a dialogue.
If I add a title like ‘every bird I see will be a part of you’ then Barthes is right it does narrow down the meaning and give a clue to what it might be about. If I add narrative to the images it narrows down further unless the narrative is oblique to the images which can make the viewer think more. The experience of the work is changed again if I add sound or video to the sequence.
This throws up a fascinating question for me. I say my work is about ‘what it is like to live with someone with chronic illness who then dies.’ This gave rise to the images I took and selected so far. I now need to decide if it is important that the viewer knows this is why I created the work and what it is about. Clearly the MS Society and Dignity in Dying will want there to be a clear connection to their messages. As a work of art I need to consider how I can meet all these constraints and what I want to happen with the viewer.
Barthes, R. 1977. Image, Music, Text Fontana Press. London.