Test Diptych made during Module 2 Surfaces & Strategies.
Copyright James Bellorini 2019.

This is my second post reflecting on feedback that accompanied the formal results from my previous module (Sustainable Prospects), which are guiding part of the progress I want to make during this current module.

The feedback was as follows:

Even though the series is not resolved, it already shows a very clear direction and is testimony of how you, through experimentation, find ways to visually create meaning. Moving focus, we think that a focus should be on finding a way to present the still life images alongside the portrait images that would make the series feel more resolved.

Expanding on this, I want to explore the aesthetic relationships between image types beyond just that of the portrait/still-life interaction into that of imagery, text, and archival material. This is an attempt to reconnect, rediscover, and extend an approach that, as in the image above, I began exploring in my second module Surfaces & Strategies.

I also want to take into account some of the contextual learning coming out of this current module and which is already giving me food for thought. In particular some of Roland Barthes’ commentary on the relationship between text and image in The Photographic Message (1961). Although he is specifically focusing on the nature of the press photograph and it’s published context, there are pointers of thought and realisation here for me:

It is impossible however (and this will be the final remark here concerning the text) that the words ‘duplicate’ the image; in the movement from one structure to the other second signifieds are inevitably developed. What is the relationship of these signifieds of connotation to the image? To all appearances, it is one of making explicit, of providing a stress; the text most often simply amplifying a set of connotations already given in the photograph.’

The question he posits here about ‘the relationship of these signifieds of connotation’ is obviously at the core of the work ahead for me in relation to this aspect of my practice.

Further, Barthes goes on (my bold italics):

The structure of the photograph is not an isolated structure; it is in communication with at least one other structure, namely the text – title, caption or article – accompanying every press photograph. The totality of the information is thus carried by two different structures (one of which is linguistic)…. These two structures are co-operative but, since their units are heterogeneous, necessarily remain separate from one another: here (in the text) the substance of the message is made up of words; there (in the photograph) of lines, surfaces, shades. Moreover, the two structures of the message each occupy their own defined spaces, these being contiguous but not ‘homogenized’, as they are for example in the rebus which fuses words and images in a single line of reading.’

Two elements of this quote that spark off the page for me are the notion of heterogeneity and the rebus. What happens when that heterogeneity is deliberately broken down by the relationships created in the work by the placement of imagery and/or text/archival material? Does that then form some kind of new combination of meaning and aesthetic? A form of photographic rebus perhaps? And is this something that has the potential to support the ongoing themes of my subjective practice?

Test Diptych made during Module 2 Surfaces & Strategies.
Copyright James Bellorini 2019.

Viewing the two diptychs here (both made earlier during the M.A.), there is (for me) a relatively successful dialogue or tension between images and other material that could support the idea of a rebus or visual puzzle which the viewer can (hopefully) interpret in a number of ways. And which explore my own relationship to my subject matter.

By extension, I refer once again to the work of Taryn Simon and Christian Patterson and my initial comments on their work in the context of my practice in this post. Though I think it’s going to be pertinent to reflect on their work in more depth moving forward in relation to the core of the questions I’m asking.


Barthes, R. 1977. (Heath, S. ed). Image, Music, Text. London: Fontana Press.