First lesson to Phonar

This was our first lesson back with Jonathan Worth on his phonar module. He had set a piece of text for us to read, a chapter out of the book ‘The Medium is the Message’ by Marshall McLuhan. This was a very difficult text for me to read and understand and I was very confused so tried to break it down but didn’t seem to get any of it. But when we were in the class we entered into a discussion about it and some of it began to make more sense. That was helpful, and he explained that we were not expected to fully understand it at the moment, which was nice to hear. I decided to buy the book as I though it would help me in both modules, I would then be able to highlight and make notes. When we were in the lesson the lecture was being recorded to be broadcasted out. At first this felt a bit weird, but then eventually I forgot it was being recorded and didn’t mind talking in the classroom. As I usually record lessons myself due to my dyslexia, I just thought about it in that way. I enjoyed the lesson and made me start thinking about different ways of getting the message across.

Jonathan discussed some of the main messages of the book for example that we are trying to do today’s job with yesterdays tools. This can be seen in the way we use old language to describe new things, for instance a car was once referred to as a horseless carriage. Also that the message of any media is in it’s environmental wrapping. This can be seen even in the way this book is delivered; through language that was once spoken words and has been transcribed into linear writing for the medium of the book itself. If we consider this in terms of photography we could begin to question why photographs are rectangular, when the first photographs were circles. It is for the efficiency of their distribution, developing and framing.

McLuhan argues that photography didn’t arise out of painting, it was instead the stopwatch enabling artists to freeze time. As photographic processes have developed we now bring analogue processes to digital production, however digital photography does not age in the same way analogue does. Therefore we could argue that we are coming into a post-photography era. Just as McLuhan said we once lived in a non-linear environment, he suggests that many of us now perceive things in the linear style that we have learnt through the development of these mediums. However I raised the point that I myself have been less conditioned to this linear perception as I do not use the mediums of books and learning materials in the same way as most people due to my dyslexia. I wont just pick up a book and read from cover to cover, I try to use all my senses (as I imagine a blind person would) to gather the feel of it, the smell of it and the impression of it before I attempt to read it and when I do I often get a sinking feeling that my dyslexia is acting as a barrier from me learning everything inside the book. I know that reading is not the only way to learn from this medium, I have learnt different strategies to overcome my dyslexia. However I can relate to McLuhan’s ideas that public opinion is changing from a very narrow minded view that you needed to be able to read and write to communicate and to learn to a more perceptive view. So I do agree that we are in this post-photography era in which methods of learning are changing as technology is changing.



We then moved on to talk about trans-media; something which a community grows from, which can position consumers as powerful players in the media industry. It is the idea that a game came from a film, which came from a book, which came from a story. Unlike multi-media, trans-media can be a platform or hub for other media to engage with.

Within this idea of trans-media we considered Gutenberg economics. During the 16th century, Gutenberg invented the printing press, which gave enormous control to those who owned one in choosing what to publish as accessible reading material for the public. Before that many people relied on religious speakers for information as they did not have access to written language or to develop reading skills. Gutenberg economics is a term which now refers to the sale of books funding more and more printing, leading to the increased power the printer has over the material printed. Since then magazines have been created as a commercial tool enabling many photographers to freely present things how they see them. However online publishing breaks away from this control even more so as it is not reliant upon printing costs at all.

It is now the case that we as photographers need to move with changing culture and changing viewers. Part of the paradigm shift we need to move away from is the pricing of photography in units, and re-define the product not as photographs but as credibility, and integrity. Asking ourselves how can we add value to our photography.

This week’s task was to work as pairs, one as eyes and one as the ears to combine photographs and sound clips from the same journey in a mash-up to share with the class.

I paired up with Craig and we took a journey from university to Craig’s house. We decided this route because we thought there would be lots of different environments, busy roads, quiet roads, indoors and outdoors to help experiment with photography and sound. I recorded the sound and Craig took the photographs. I found this task very interesting for me recording the sounds because sometime you don’t realise all the sounds around you. I could hear the sound of the trees blowing in the breeze that I probably would not otherwise have noticed whilst walking past. I could hear the sound of the telephone cable box buzzing / working which I wouldn’t normally notice. I soon noticed that actually indoor sounds, outdoor sounds and car sounds were much more different that you would notice when just walking around. So I really enjoyed this task and am now more aware of sound and how important it is. I also spoke to Jonathan about my dyslexia project and he suggested carrying out this task in the setting of the dyslexic unit at the school I am focussing on for my project. This idea got me excited about doing the task but due to this week being half term the school will be closed. I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out next week when the children return to school.


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