Ubique [oo-bee-kwe] – by Sophie Jones (4)

“Archives exists in the present, yet their endless “waiting without forgetting” locates them in the past.” Ubique [oo-bee-kwe] brings together eight dynamic graduating photographers from UCA Rochester in collaboration with REMLA (Royal Engineers Museum Library and Archive). In response to the archive the diverse photographers created individual works which shed new light on the historical material.

Follow the work of the students through their blog posts, and through a springtime exhibition.

Sophie Jones, Part 4:

Following feedback from my previous tutorial, I decided to re-develop the format of my project. Originally, it was my intention to focus on the narrative of my source material by presenting the work as a collection of torn-out pages, as if I were creating a collection of found documentation. However, on reflection this seemed to take away from the narrative of the work, and had the risk of becoming too like the original material. Consequently, I decided that it would instead be better to create a ‘hybrid’ journal, that pulled together a collection of different sources from the Royal Engineers Museum, Library and Archive (REMLA), instead of highlighting only one. In doing this, my initial proposal has changed and instead of placing emphasis on a story that already exists within the archive, it challenges that idea by producing a fabricated narrative in place of the real one. With this, my project has become more focused on the idea of storytelling, yet retains thoughts of discovering stories through past artefacts, that I feel echoed throughout my original proposal. Moreover, my new objective for the project offers the opportunity to take advantage of using colourization, as it can be used to direct the audience, as well as to suggest that all these images came from the same source, even when they did not.

In developing this, I have decided to display my images within their own journal, pulling photographs from C.W.L. Mason’s time in Mombasa, Kenya in 1942-43, and Lucy Mary Isabel Thompson’s images from across Europe during 1918-19. If I had more time I would have liked to have used more sources, however I think that these two create an interesting contrast through how different these locations are, as well as the dates the originals were taken. Moreover, I have decided to not include text or illustrations within my journal, as I want to keep the colourisation as the main feature of the work, as well as to leave the images open to interpretation, with only the suggestion of a narrative running throughout. Additionally, I have decided also not include the blue pages that I had originally intended to use, as it seemed to distract from the neutral tones of the colourised images, and have instead decided that black would work best alongside this. Lastly, I have also decided to use brown photo-corners to hold my images in place, as to suggest the idea of archival documentation, without expanding too far into that style. With this, I am hoping that my project will effectively illustrate ideas of storytelling, while also bringing life to the journals within the archive.

For the ‘Exposure’ unit, following the Royal Engineers Museum, Library & Archive proposal, I have produced a journal that documents an expedition by a group of Royal Engineers, to an unspecified location. For this project, it was my intention to produce a piece of work that highlighted some of the narratives within the Royal Engineers archive, and to engage an audience to reflect on these narratives as the stories of individuals. As my project has developed however, it has instead become a hybrid of these narratives, following two different stories as if they were one. With this, it has become more focused on the idea of storytelling, yet retains some thoughts of discovering narratives through past artefacts, that I feel has continually echoed throughout my development. Throughout this unit, I have had to consider what it means to work for an external professional client as an artist in residence, alongside the pressures of working under a shorter time limit.

For my final submission, I produced an A4 black journal that featured 35 colourised images, taken from both the journals of C.W.L. Mason and Lucy Mary Isabel Thompson, which equally follow a loose narrative of travel and exploration. It is from here that the title, “The Expedition” was created, as the assortment of material alluded to “a journey undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose”, yet the openness of the work leaved the who and why, entirely up to interpretation. By contrasting the images from Mason’s time in Mombasa, Kenya in 1942-43, and Thompson’s from across Europe during 1918-19, I could establish my own narrative, while also creating an interesting contrast between two very different locations and times. Additionally, this new structure also allowed the colourisation to feature more efficiently, as it allowed a way to lead the narrative, while also making the images look as though they were all taken together. Overall, I feel as though this project was a success, although I wish I had had more time to fully progress my ideas, especially as it seemed to come together more at the end of the time limit. That being said, if I decide on any alterations, there is still time before the Royal Engineers Museum, Library & Archive exhibition in January to make changes.