500-word review of the project you have produced. This will discuss the context within which the work exists and how it relates to your perceived audience. How has the work you have made addressed the questions you have raised?

Completed by hand-in date and submitted in the portfolio at the hand-in deadline.

My investigation created a set of images that encouraged critical reflection on capitalism and its use of commodity fetishism within Western societies. Capitalism relates to an economic system whereby ownership, distribution and production are controlled by private corporations. Commodity fetishism refers to the act of ascribing mystical qualities to an object in a way that distances the consumer from production processes. I investigated how object use and interactions leave behind traces. Leading me to discover the dichotomous tensions that balance forces that are exerted on the subject from human interaction and environmental pressures. Illustrating these tensions through photography, inviting reflection and critique on capitalism and commodity fetishism.

Culturally fuelled and predominantly addressing upper-middle class, Western communities due to the nature of my images and investigation which focuses on discourses of capitalism, fetishism and excessive consumption. Appealing to anti-capitalist movements and awareness campaigns whilst also targeting all genders and ages of 18+.

Various questions arose from my investigation, including…

  1. “How do we interact with the commodity form?”
  2. “Is this influenced by fetishism?”
  3. “What traces does this leave behind?”
  4. “How is the commodity form fetishized?”
  5. “Is capitalism oppressive?”

These were approached and answered in different ways. Questions 1, 3 and 4 were solved by multiple shoots and investigations which allowed me to create images that depict the commodity form and evidence of use and exerted pressures. Although questions 2 and 5 relate to wider contexts, these would be fulfilled within a larger project with more time to complete. Due to the subject timing and nature of my investigation setbacks occurred. I aimed to examine multiple overlapping discourses which obscured my intentions. Consequently, some shoots acted as an exploration of my subject rather than an illustration of my investigation. However, ‘Explorative’ shots educated/inspired me to delve deeper into specific discourses such as internal/external pressures exerted onto the subject from use and traces of interaction. Despite this, academic research allowed me to re-establish my project framework in a way that fits well with both my practical and theoretical investigation.

I was also confronted by issues relating to changing shooting conditions. My photographic inquiry relied heavily upon visibility, natural lighting and weather. Meaning that towards the end of my shooting period, it was increasingly problematic to achieve optimum shooting conditions due to poor weather/lighting. Although, the precise and steady momentum I had established prior meant that this didn’t impact the outcome or success of my project as my desired shots were achieved in earlier shoots.

I feel that my project successfully illustrated and challenged commodity fetishism through subject choice and technique. Vehicles are fetishized by glossy, pristine surrealism whereas my images fetishize/parade the filthy and damaged areas of the vehicle; through oversaturation, shallow focus and deep tonal contrasts which act to guide the viewer across the image and sites of damage. The juxtaposing nature of my images invites reflection by illustrating how the commodity becomes fetishized. Isolation and visual aesthetics within my photographs make visible the magical qualities that are ascribed through selective techniques. Throughout, I have engaged efficiently and consistently, pushing my images and technical ability further by conducting additional research, allowing a high-quality finish of my investigation. I feel that both my practical and theoretical research successfully critiques both capitalism and the presence of commodity fetishism within contemporary media.

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