Critical reflection

Untitled, Final Project (2021) Shaun Mullins

For my final project I wanted to explore the idea of the politics of self. My idea was to employ masks to act as a form of metaphor for the ‘front’ that we put up, like a mask, to both disguise and project our identity to others. My original idea was to provide my subjects with a white paper mache mask that are obtainable from craft shops for DIY Venetian decorated masks, but sending the them through the post was problematic and would reduce the potential number of volunteers. Furthermore, due the the COVID pandemic, asking stranger to put on a mask that I had provided may also create understandable objections. The COVID pandemic also presented a challenge as lockdown restrictions prevent meeting people to photograph them. I also wanted my volunteers to take a selfie whilst covering their face with an image of a celebrity that they identify with or would want to be identified with.

My Tutor provided a good idea for the solution, to let go of the control of the photography and ask friends and fellow students to take part through social media and the student forum. With this in mind I dispensed with the idea of the white masks and simply asked for my volunteers to provide any mask that wanted to wear and also to either find a picture of a celebrity and hold it in front of their face for a celebrity selfie or just give me the name; so I could add it in post production. This was simpler and on the whole worked.

When I began this project I had not thought about how I would finally present it and it was whilst reading The Self-Portrait A Cultural History, 2015, by James Hall, that I got the idea of a collage from a self-portrait by James Ensor, Self-Portrait with Masks, 1899, oil on canvas. I then had the idea of creating an interactive collage that would enlarge each picture as a mouse was hovered over it. However, disappointingly, I was unable to find out how this could be achieved and so I had to abandon this idea for a simple slideshow underneath the collage.

I then wrote a short essay to complement my work and incorporated my Log Line and Pitch that I created for selling my idea to my volunteers.

I have kept a Photoshop PSD version of the collage that has every image saved as a separate layer and so maybe in the future I can find a way to create an interactive version.

Letting go of control, was a little scary, but also exciting, I enjoyed this project and although I did not achieve my full ambition, I am happy with my finished result. I hope that my audience finds it interesting and food for thought.

After a video conversation with my Tutor, he suggested that I amend my assignment presentation to make it more like an artist’s presentation than a student’s by moving my essay to a separate blog and adding a short statement in the third person stating what the project is about, that the project has been created by the participants through their selfies; what I asked from my participants and the result. My Tutor also suggested that I include the date of production to help contextualise the project in line with the international pandemic that has influenced it. My Tutor has also suggested that I try and take this project further by getting even more people involved through social networks such as Instagram.

Published by shauncn512659

Hi, I am an OCA student studying for an Art degree in Photography , my student number is 512659. My e-mail is: shaun512659@oca.ac.uk

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