This post is a place to gather the feedback I receive on my book and reflect on it.
‘I just received a copy of David Fletcher’s limited-edition photobook on the story of the Irish border. It is extremely well done – concept, photographs and text. Beautifully made.’
@mickyatesUK, Visiting Professor Leeds University Business School.
Not much I can say about this one, other than to say it was completely unsolcited.
‘A very impressive and highly original approach to a carefully researched documentary project. The quality of production for such a unique book is very high. The text draws the reader through the story and I was left feeling that I knew more about the history of the issues with the border than I had before without having the sense that I’d been taught anything. A thoroughly good publication that I shall be pleased to have on my shelves.
Two thoughts to store away in my own reflective journal;
(1) I was left feeling that the photographs were really just illustrations for a text-based narrative.
(2) A related point, I’d have liked a list of the photographic locations and even a map to see where they were. Purely for my own interest and not necessary for the project.’
@drgrahamwilson, Tutor – Psychology & Counselling at University of Oxford
This feedback is in two halves really. I appreciate the comment about knowing more about the border after reading the book. The text was meant to be absorbed rather than studied. The follow-up thoughts offer a more critical view, which is equally welcome. I am surprised at the idea that the photographs week ‘just illustrations for a text-based narrative.’ This is certainly not a view I have heard from anyone else, but it does raise a point worthy of consideration.
The text was always an important part of the project for me, but I certainly don’t think it stands on its own, which is what would be implied if the photographs were illustrating the text. I consider my text to be what what Barthes would call ‘relay text’ or what Nancy Newhall would call ‘additive captions’- the images and text complement each other, but neither seeks to explain the other. This comment perhaps represents the view that images should speak for themselves, and that text is somehow a transgression of the documentary ideal.
The use of text in parallel with images is an area of my practice which I want to develop further. Allan Sekula and Duane Michals are references which I return to, although I think that the handwritten texts used by Michals need to be used with caution.
A map of locations has been a feature of various books which include a series of geographical features or a journey and it is something which I considered at an early stage of development of the work. Indeed the first work I produced from my trip to the border included details Google maps showing the location of each photograph. Stuart Franklin suggested a map when he looked at the work. In the end I decided that the location of the photographs was not relevant – the streams represent the nature of the border rather than any specific part of it..