Assignment Five Research

During my time in the UK, I had a long, in-depth discussion with my tutor surrounding the work I want to submit for the final assignment in the Digital Photographic Practice module.  The first questions she asked were; what interested me most in photography, and what would I be able to achieve for the assignment.  Answering the first question was easy, Black & White has had a big influence on my work over the past year, and I would be interested in shooting assignment five in monochrome.  Okay, that was fine, but what would my subject be?  This was a little more tricky to answer as I knew that South Korea would be my home during the work against the assignment; as I have a fascination with Temples, then this would be a good subject to choose.  Will this photograph well in black & white she asked; well no, not really as Temples are all about colour and intensity, which would be lost if captured in monochrome, so back to the drawing board then.

Well, not quiet back to the drawing board, as I knew that the subject of Temples was the right direction to follow, I would just have give up the idea of shooting my work as a montage of tones, textures and strong composition.

Next I was asked to think about the direction I could take my subject; I am not required to submit an assignment of random images based around a theme, but I am required to submit a body of images that are connected by a theme.  So with this in mind I suggested that I look at the relationship between Buddhism and Temples and how each complements the other, especially on a local level.  So with this as my starting point, it will be the lead I take to complete a comprehensive, meaningful assignment to tie up DPP.

Over the past few weeks, I have been trying to determine the best way to go about taking my images.  In her recent feedback, my tutor commented that I should ask myself “why am I producing this work?” and “what do I want my audience to learn from my images?”

I think the reason that I want to produce this work is to satisfy my personal fascination with Buddhism, especially at a local level, as I am interested to see what the faithful set to gain from their loyalty to this entity, this will also be a good way of sharing my findings with others who hold the same fascinations as I hold.  This will also enable my audience to see first hand what happens at the Temple’s here in Korea, it is probably the same thing that happens in all Buddhist Temples, but I will have to see how this study unfolds before I try to understand Buddhism on a larger scale.

As per the recommended reading list for this course, as well as on the recommendation of my tutor, I have finally picked up my copy of Charlotte Cotton’s “The Photograph as Contemporary Art”.  I had struggled to read this book in the past, but I am finding it a little easier to digest now, perhaps that is because I have a better understanding for photography?

Flicking through the pages of images, I have always thought them a little old fashioned and perhaps somewhat out of date for our studies, but now I understand the story this book is trying to tell, which is probably down to my now understanding the term contemporary art.

According to the Internet, Contemporary Art means:

Art that has been and continues to be created during our lifetime

Esaak (n.d.)

The article goes on to state that collectively, contemporary art is more socially conscious than any of the previous art eras, with connections to various issues such as globalisation, AIDS awareness, feminism and multiculturalism to name a few.  It also states that contemporary art runs from roughly the 1970’s through to the present day, with modern art concentrating on the impressionists (1800 to 1970).

To put this in context with the writings of Cotton:

The aim of this book is not to create a checklist of all of the photographers who merit a mention in a discussion on contemporary art, but to give a sense of the spectrum of motivations and expressions that currently exist in the field.

Cotton (2009)

By reading and using the works of the contributors within Cotton’s book, I should achieve a better understanding of the strategy behind, as well as the art of storytelling within photography.

I have started to put some of this learning into practice by visiting a few of the larger temples local to where I live, although I am also interested in some of the smaller establishments and hope to include these within my assignment.  I also have a few books and website to be investigated; some of which relate to the relationship between Buddhism and Temples, as well as to Buddhism within Korea.

I am feeling both excited and enthusiastic about this assignment, and just hope that I can keep the momentum going forward.  I have been conducting some image research surrounding temples in Korea, and although most are nice, there are not too many that get down to the nitti gritty and tell the story of Buddhism within the local community, I am hoping to change this with the findings from my assignment.  Over my time here in Korea I have taken many Temple images, most of which come under the ‘nice’ category, but I feel it is time to move on from this and start a new photographic journey into contemporary art.



Cotton, C.  (2009) The Photograph as Contemporary Art.  Revised 2nd edition.  High Holborn; Thames & Hudson Ltd.

Esaak, S.  (n.d.) What is Contemporary Art? [online article].  Available at: <; [Accessed 4 November 2013].


Angali, K.  (n.d.) What is Contemporary Art? [online video].  Available at: <; [Accessed 4 November 2013].

Cotton, C.  (2009) The Photograph as Contemporary Art.  Revised 2nd edition.  High Holborn; Thames & Hudson Ltd.

Joon-sik, C.  (2007) Buddhism, Religion in Korea.  Seoul: Ewha Womans University Press. 

Official Korea Tourism Organisation:

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