Document Scotland | Seeing Ourselves

In deciding to disseminate my project as a newspaper I decided to look for similar publications so that I was able to see what such a product looked like and felt like within its physical form. As a result I found a publication by Document Scotland (2013) entitled ‘Seeing Ourselves’. 

Upon receiving the newspaper my initial thoughts were conflicting as the look and feel was a type of binary opposite between the valuable/precious and the throw away nature of a newspaper. In essence it felt like something of a precious newspaper that could and should be kept safe whilst being unsurprised if it was once used to wrap a bag of chips. In conclusion regarding my first impression, I felt that it was a fun and interesting way to present a body of work. Although a newspaper is something one might see on a daily basis, this product has a very unique presence about it. Whether that is because of my own developing understanding of ways of dissemination I’m not sure. 

Moving onto the content of the publication, it takes the form of a small catalogue of photographers work with small sequences from the likes of Jeremy Sutton Herbert and Colin McPherson. 

The opening statement about the work takes the form of a comment about contemporary Scotland whilst acknowledging its heritage, the unnamed author using passages such as ‘a higgledy-piggledy voyage around the Scottish soul’ before grouping the projects as as a ‘new ear’ in relation to the idea of Scottish identity and creativity using through the use of ‘grainy monochrome tributes to our past’. 

The opening statement, while romantic, is also loaded with political language and almost represents an intelligently written piece of Scottish propaganda. Typically activist while informed and entertaining. 

As opposed to focussing on the work, my intention with inspecting this cultural artefact is to develop an understanding of layout and form. 

Each spread is dedicated to a participating photographer with between four and eight photographs, a statement about the work in addition to a logo/wordstamp of each photographer. Negative space is utilised quite well however it does feel slightly at odds with the seeming cheap to produce newspaper. Although being arranged in a slightly different formation, the design does have a type of uniformity as the same conventions are used in each spread. 

Political Youth

Robert Ormerod

In terms of my own potential for dissemination in this way, I am have ascertained some knowledge of space, text and image in addition to scale and physicality. Seeing Ourselves as a product feels like a promotional document for an upcoming exhibition and may have had the intention of a contents magazine in support of an exhibition. In viewing the publication as a magazine, although it isn’t. I will design my own publication as a magazine. I acknowledge that my product will be a newspaper, however I will treat the design of my spreads with the notion that each needs to provide a different visual experience. Leslie (2000) highlights the importance of having a carefully prepared running order. Furthermore the idea that a magazine is a ‘time based medium’ is an important and insightful idea. At present I see my magazine comprising of a selection of micro narratives contained within an overarching monograph/narrative rooted with a sense of place. That place is Stockport, approximately seven miles South of Manchester. 

At present, I haven’t arrived at the sequencing stage although I do have a general idea, but wouldn’t suggest a tight edit. Having spent the week taking hours to transcribe interviews my next broader task will be that of sequencing. At present though, it’s more important to formulate an idea of what I am producing, the conventions I need to be aware of and rules I need to abide by. 

Leslie (2000) points out that there is no single way through a magazine and understanding that audiences who view the publication might not view it chronologically represents an interesting and shifting perspective. Also an idea to inform my work going forward in terms of order and sequence. 

What is important to my publication of a contents page which will explain how an audience might navigate my publication in addition to planning where a contents page might be found. Understanding that mental illness isn’t necessarily a straight forward illness, I will have plenty of scope to experiment with order and sequence. 

Leslie citing Carson (2000) comments ‘Whichever style they follow however, the basic elements remain the same: the literate reader expects a headline and a stand-first followed by the text.’ An ideal starting point in a personal sense which presents an entry point for the design process at this stage.

Leslie, J. (2000) Issues: New Magazine Design. Calmann & King, London 

Document Scotland (2013) Seeing Ourselves. Document Scotland, Glasgow.

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