Task 4- Evaluation

Contextual studies Evaluation

During the course of this semester I have learned various techniques on how to tell a story through imagery. With this new knowledge acquired, I decided to create a photobook in the form of a graphic novel in order to create a narrative that can be read only through pictures. As it turns out this was a bit trickier than I thought.

The graphic novel concerns about a person who is finding no satisfaction in the reality she lives in. She is leaving no mark on the world. Stuck in an existence she does not feel she is living. I wanted to portray this character stuck between different realities, the one she is existing in and the one she desires to be in. I used various symbols and metaphors to try to show this conflict within her.

On the whole I kept with the original plan. The story stayed the same; however certain scenes had to be compromised due to some ambiguous scenes. To compensate for these, with some experimentation I discovered new techniques I could use to add to the effect of the mood and movement (example pg. 22 figure 1). Also both actors, who helped me fulfil this project, were not actually actors. This was their first time in front of a camera. Due to this, certain emotions were not as expressive as I would have preferred. I tried holding auditions for the role but the persons who tried were not what I pictured for the part. Despite of this I am very grateful for their help and their talents.

Other difficulties I had were: time and locations. I miscalculated how much time I needed to take all the photographs, but most of all I did not account for the amount needed for editing and placements of the images. Saying this, I still managed to finish much before the deadline. Also day light was a problem, given that the locations I have chosen where all over Malta, from Ghajn Tuffieha, to Birgu, to Buskett, to Haz- Zabbar . I tried to coordinate the time to be in sequence, but due to cloudy-sunny-cloudy weather it was a bit hard to make the scenes look continuous.

When it came to present my project to the class, it was more than evident that the story was a bit hard to comprehend. In my efforts to make the product slightly more legible (by adding more descriptive titles) it still could have improved by adding more text. I see how this could have helped the reader to comprehend the narrative, but if I did so, I felt that I was going to betray my initial idea. I wished to create images where one has to look at them at least twice to spot the hidden clues imbedded inside the pictures that would have made the story clear. What I could have improved is if I created a larger layout so that the pictures would have been bigger and the metaphors and clues would have been easier to notice. Another thing my classmates helped me realise during my presentation is that certain photos could have been better composed and slightly less edited. This could have also helped me make the story more pleasing to the eye and certain movements and happenings would have been clearer.

Over all this being my first project, producing a photographic product, I am quite happy with how it turned out. Of course the product could have been better, but I am proud of how I used symbols and metaphor. Also as one of my strengths was how I explained the story in my presentation. I think over all, the explanation answered any queries about my product and made the story clear.

Additionally, through this project I wanted to show that most of the time we are our own obstacles and the one holding us back is fear to take a leap of faith.   Life and reality is what we make it, and sometime to grow and be who we want to be, we need to kill off the part of us holding us back. I tried to use the suicide scene in my project to show a new beginning rather than an end. Death gives way for the new to grow. If one does not pluck the weed from around the plants, the flower will not see the light and never grow. As I finished this project, I realised that I did not create a story but I create a rein of though, how she is trying to figure out with herself on what she should do.

In conclusion, I wish to elaborate more on the technical side of this task; I want to have the best version of this product as much as I can. Also I wish to investigate further how this concept can be expanded and give it deeper philosophical and psychological background.

This is the review sheet from my classmates


Ethics in Media

Ethics in Media


(Surea, 2013)

A picture, video or a News broadcast can have a great impact on the general public. This could in turn do both good and harm. Where is the line we draw so to not cause harm such as offence, misinterpretation or content that could influence society wrongly about an event and/or person/corporation? One needs to be careful what to publish as it could cause harm to individuals that are not meant to be subjects to the imagery. Certain violent or personal information (addresses, number plates….) should not be shown to the general public as some images can harm reputations (given that it is not the purpose) and make public and vulnerable, people’s private affairs. This could also affect the collective memory. It depends on the impact of the photograph and/or news broadcast.

Reference list:

Audience Theory

The Audience theory is a theory of how the public perceives the message of the media and the media itself. There are various elements that make different people see thing differently than others.

This theory encloses different theories with in it, some are:

  • The Hypodermic Needle Theory

This works as a linear means of communication. The Hypodermic Needle theory was discovered in the 1920’s . It stated that the mass media has direct influence on the audience and how the message of the media is injected directly to the passive audience.

needleYouTube. (2012)

  • The Two Step Flow Theory

It claims that the message of the media travels in a much more complex way than how it is explained by the Hypodermic Needle theory. Instead of direct communication, it goes through opinion leaders which later influence the audience.

2-stepYouTube. (2012)

  • The Gratification Theory

This concerns, what the people do with the media rather than what the media does to the person. This is sectioned into 5 categories:

  1. Cognitive Needs: Using the media to acquire knowledge
  2. Affective Needs: Using media to satisfy emotional needs
  3. Personal Integration Needs: Using media to reassure one’s status and self-esteem (example watching jewellery commercials)
  4. Social Integration Needs: Used to socialise through media (Facebook)
  5. Tension free Needs: Using media for relaxation (ex: entertainment)
  • Reception Theory

This is how the message of the media is interpreted according to culture and personal believes. How one decodes and encodes a message transmitted.


Reference list:

The Collective Memory

What is the collective Memory?

Collective memory defines a social group’s identity, which serves to create a community. This community can be small, large, and even imaginary. The collective memory is a means to perceive the event based on past experiences set by society.

Emile Durkheim, even though he did not use this term he was the first to make reference to it.  He describes this phenomenon as a connection to the past to preserve social unity. These connections can be set by the community’s values, norms, religions and shared experiences.

maurice-halbwachs(Maurice Halbwachs)

Maurice Halbwachs a student of Durkheim was the first to use the term ‘Collective memory’. He states that individual memories are constructed within social structures. Therefore one’s memories can have a different perspective if they were put in different communities.

Moreover Pierre Nora states that communities are controlled by those in power, be it evident or not, making Collective Memory a tool and an object of power which can be used to control and manipulate the social group.


Reference list:






(scriptclickcreate 2017)

Mise-en-Scene  is a French term meaning ‘placed on stage’ .It is the expression used to describe the design aspects of a theatre or film production, which essentially means “visual theme” visual story telling. It includes anything inside the frame, objects that describe the scene, ranging from props, locations, actors, costume, makeup, camera angle, lighting etc. It may hold artificial and natural things. Each of these, play an important role in the story being told and how it is presented.


(A•STAR 2015)

Video vs Film

A ‘Video’ is used and gives a sense of documenting something, whilst a ‘Film’ holds a deeper meaning.

Reference list:

Sean Penn: September 11

Sean Penn September 11

sep-11September 11 (2002)

September 11 (2002) is a film with a collection of 11 short films by eleven different directors each from a different country. Each short film depicts different points of view regarding the tragedy of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. One of these was directed by Sean Penn.

Sean Penn’s interpretation of these events was more obscure and metaphoric, rather than just telling a story about the people involved or people’s reaction to this attack. He aimed to bring into light how people have been trying to shelter themselves and giving themselves a false sense of security.

sean-penSeptember 11 (2002)

He shows this through his film. The basic story line is about an old widower who cannot seem to let go of his dead wife. Even though she is dead, he stills talks to her and sets a dress for her to wear every day. The story is mainly situated inside dark apartment the widower lives in. the story also features a pot of dead flowers. On the day of September 11, with the destruction of the Twin Towers, light finally could pass through the window, and the flowers regrew into their full health selves. At this point the widower realised the illusion he put for himself to cope with his wife’s death. The flowers symbolise a new start out of the darkness, a realisation of sorts.

This was the message Sean Penn sought to tell. It sort of felt like he wanted to say ‘about time’ one realised what is happening around them.

Reference list:

Chahine, Y., Gitai, A., Brigand, A., Chahine, Y., Karimi, M., Dolati, M. and Habibi, A. (2017). September 11 (2002). [online] IMDb. Available at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0328802/ [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

Clifford, L. (2017). Reeling: the Movie Review Show’s review of 11’09″01. [online/ image] Reelingreviews.com. Available at: http://www.reelingreviews.com/110901.htm [Accessed 26 Jan. 2017].

Article 10

Freedom of expression
Freedom of expression is a right where one can express himself freely without legal restrictions or censorship.

Article 10 is a law that protects the right to feely expresses one’s self. This gives one the freedom to express themselves via word by mouth, writing, televising etc. and also receive and collect date and opinions.

Like every right, freedom of expression comes with certain restrictions in order not be abused and misused, that could harm or disrespect other people.

“These restrictions are:

  • protect national security, territorial integrity (the borders of the state) or public safety
  • prevent disorder or crime
  • protect health or morals
  • protect the rights and reputations of other people
  • prevent the disclosure of information received in confidence, and
  • Maintain the authority and impartiality of judges.”

Reference list:


What is Identity? Identity is something that defines a person. It is the core of who the person really is. This obviously is not something someone harnesses and fully embodies immediately with birth. Of course certain traits would have been always there but most of our being is developed and discovered through time.

The beginning of our identity or better yet self-image starts in ‘The Mirror Stage’. Jacque Lacan’s Mirror stage, explains how an infant starts connecting himself with the reflection on the mirror, to his physical body, and how he/she starts building the idea of ‘I’. The moment one realise that the person on the image is him ‘I’. However not only that, but also the person in the image is not the self but the ideal self and with time we strive to become that ideal self.

After that the human mind goes through what is called individualisation. This is a process by which a person becomes an individual, becomes himself.  The self is the product of individuation. It is a means where one is self-aware and search for totality, personality and identity. Then one starts identifying others and how others perceive him.

This idea of self, and self-awareness, comes into question in front of the lens. The self on the lens is the proof of existence and one needs his existence to be remembered in good judgment as possible. On camera one tends to change his attitude by posing, however so slightly so to appeal to the people who will one day see this image. As this image is permanent and describes the person. The self in the face of another.

“I transform myself in advance into an image” – Roland Barthes

The identity is something that one builds from when he is young and keeps building till when he dies. Identity is something one makes himself into according to the situation around him, the people surrounding him and how one perceives his own existence.


For this lesson the class was presented with various pictures of individuals, and we had to describe them according to how they portray themselves in the image.

One of the set of images was:chleo

Everyone had a similar interpretation to these. Some of the descriptions used were:

Adventures, Outgoing, Determined, cheerful character, etc.



So today in class, in one way or another, we ended up discussing Christmas and different views people have regarding Santa Clause.

As general information Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ which dates on the 25th of December.  However there is no mention of this in the bible, this date was later declared in the 4th century by Pope Julius. December 25 was most likely chosen because it coincided with the ancient pagan festival Saturnalia. This festival celebrated the god of agriculture, Saturn. Believers used to partying, gambling, and give gifts.

The myth of the Christmas father aka Santa Clause was born in the 4th century AD with St Nicholas. He was a Christian bishop living in Turkey. When he inherited an amount of wealth which he gave it away to the poor.

Moreover the modern image of Santa Clause was made popular due to a poem written by Clement Clarke Moore to his daughters. The poem “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.” gives a magical description of St. Nicholas making him the Santa we know today. Other people and illustrators elaborated on this persona’s character.

As we know today Christmas is a commercialised holiday, that is slowly losing the original meaning, and the magic of the myth is slowly being substituted by hedonistic profits. What will happen to legends and stories of Christmas in the future? And how will it evolve?

Reference list:

History.com stuff, 2010. Santa Claus. History.com. Available from: http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/santa-claus [Accessed: 2 January 2017]

We know all about dreams, 2015. Image interpretation of a dream «Santa-claus. (Image) Available From: http://weknowyourdreams.com/single/santa-claus/santa-claus-04 [Accessed: 8 January 2017].