RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT 6

As I have been photographing assignment 6 in the woods and spending much time there I have looked for books and programes about the subjects in addition to all my other research on landscape which has often crossed over.

Judi Dench: My passion for trees (BBC 2017)

In this documentary Dench discovers how trees live and communicate. The program was full of facts and data, here sre some that interested me:

  • There are more trees in the planet than stars in our galaxy
  • A particular Oak studied was found to have 12km of branches
  • Trees drink 200 litres of water a day
  • In the autumn they change color as the green pigment is sucked back into the trees and stored safely under the bark for the next year; at the same time the toxins are transferred into the leaves which it jettisons to keep it healthy.
  • Fungi break down the woody matter other creatures can’t as a decomposer breaking down matter into organic matter for the tree to eat. Most of the fungi is underground with lots of threads reaching underground for miles sending messages that dead wood is there.
  • There are other fungi that is not a decomposer but covers trees like a sock and joins trees with fungal threads underneath sending messages allowing the entire forest to interact. For instance sending warning messages of attack to other trees. They can share food and water to other trees.
  • As fungi decomposes a tree it pushes the water out, as ice when it’s frosty.
  • Slime mold hunts down microscopic debris to eat, cleaning up.

Reference:

BBC (2017) Judi Dench: My passion for Trees Directed by Harvey Lilley. United Kingdom: BBC. At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKk3KWKSNbY (Accessed 01/03/2019).

The hidden life of trees (Wohlleben and Billinghurst, 2016)

Following on from viewing the above program I read this book to find out more about trees; these are some of the things that I learned:

  • Trees communicate via olfactory signals, visual and electrical signals; electrical impulses that move at only 1/3 of an inch per second through the fungal networks (mycelium) around their roots.
  • They are connected by a web of soil fungi by which they share information and material.
  • Fungi are between animals and plants, though their cells are more like insects; they extend the trees roots creating a network that connects with other trees. Fungi takes sugar from the trees but gives benefits such as filtering heavy metals and warding off bacteria or destructive fungi or aphids.
  • They care for each other even nourishing fallen trees to keep them alive.
  • In wet ground when the roots are deprived of oxygen the tree will eventually die and fall as its rotting roots lose their hold.
  • When a tree falls the rotting cadaver plays an important role for many years, it can take a century for everything has been consumed and nothing remains.
  • When trees die they release the carbon dioxide they have stored during their life as the fungi and bacteria break down the wood, process the carbon dioxide and breathe it out again.
  • The vibrations of water travelling through their trunks make noises, especially when it is at pressure before the leaves open up in the spring.

I particularly liked the author’s suggestion to “slow down, breathe deep, and look around. What can you hear? What do you see? How do you feel?” (Wohlleben and Billinghurst, p78, 2016).

Reference

Wohlleben, P. and Billinghurst, J. (2016). The hidden life of trees. Vancouver: Greystone books.

LANDMARKS (Macfarlane, 2016)

I read this book earlier in my landscape course, it is primarily about language and place with a glossary of peculiar, poetic and little known words. I returned to it here to see if there was anything that it could add to my understanding on woods and trees. I thought the following two words and their definitions were interesting:

Shadowtackle: shifting net-like patterns of shadow formed on woodland floors by the light-filtering action of the canopy in wind.

 Suthering: noise of the wind through the trees (John Clare) poetic.

Reference:

Macfarlane, R. (2016). Landmarks. London: penguin.

Following this research I set about thinking about the role of trees in culture, mythology and history.

Judi Dench (BBC, 2017) reminded me of the role of trees in literature. Dench is well placed to share how trees are used in Shakespeare’s works, such as in As you like it, where the Forest of Arden is central to the play and Orlando pins up love letters there. Of course Britain was more wooded in Shakespeare’s time than now. Trees are central to many stories such as the Whomping Willow in Harry Potter, The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton, and the talking tree-like characters in Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Trees are also important spiritual symbols in many human cultures, sometimes representing physical and spiritual nourishment, transformation and liberation, union or fertility. On a simple level trees have provided food, shelter, fuel, shade and many other basics for human life. As I have traveled I have come across trees that are revered for various reasons. The Bodhi or Peepul Tree which is found in Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh is also known as Sanskrit for “wisdom” or “enlightened”; it is believed that it is under this tree that Buddha gained his enlightenment. The Bayan and sacred Fig are important in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism as the Tree of knowledge of good and evil are in Judaism and Christianity. The Egyptian book of the dead mention the Sycamores as where dead souls rest.

In Irish and English folklore, fairies could be found where Ash, Oak, and Hawthorne trees grew together. Hawthorn trees were thought of as a powerful symbol of protection, and were often planted near houses to ward off lightning as well as evil spirits. In many cultures, it is believed that hugging a tree releases negative energy from the human body.

My thoughts about the subject following my research:

So it seems that woods can be full of menace, or magic or romance. I have spent many many hours in the woods over the past fourteen months, and although I can say that on the odd occasion a sudden noise has startled me, the overwhelming feeling that I have when I am there is a growing wonder and oneness with a special place that is alive and aware.

To finish there are also a couple of quotations that I have come across about woods that I would like to share:

“Forests are places of transformation, where the boundary between human life and that of animals, plants or trees are likely to become confused, or even obliterated” (Barton, 2019).

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in their way” (William Blake,

 References:

BBC (2017) Judi Dench: My passion for Trees Directed by Harvey Lilley. United Kingdom: BBC. At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKk3KWKSNbY (Accessed 01/03/2019).

Into the woods with Shakespeare (2017) At: https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/features/into-the-woods-with-shakespeare (Accessed 29/12/2019).

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Bernd and Hilla Becher

Bernd and Hilla Becher Industrial visions – Exhibition National Museum Cardiff- visited 13.12.19

I visited this exhibition principally to see the work of Martin Parr “Martin Parr in Wales”, I will write my experience of this and the work of August Sander also on view another time; however I was fascinated by the work of the Bechers, which has influenced my submission of Assignment 5.

Industrial visions contains 225 photographs by the Becher’s of industrial structures across Europe and the USA but also those of South Wales. The curator describes these photographs as “monuments to a lost world of labour” as they began photographing in the mid-1950s when the decline in industry meant the structures were disappearing. Their work was initially referred to as industrial archaeology but was soon exhibited as art.

Their technique was to isolate the subject from its surroundings, to present them in a neutral way to achieve as much objectivity as possible, and can be described as a visual grammar. To do this they controlled their distances from the subjects (to ensure their scale was appreciated), the perspective and the weather conditions they photographed in (neutral skies, diffused sunlight and even fog). They then gave them a uniform appearance by presenting them in grids, as the repetition and classification reveals the structure’s differences and similarities. Interestingly August Sander’s categorisation of people in his series “People of the 20th Century”, some of which I viewed at an adjacent exhibition was an influence on the Becher’s work, though this was less reductive. I was also interested to find afterwards that like Sander their work was a family business, in that they involved their son in the processing their photographs (HauserWirth, 2017).

For me it was their presentation in a grid view that makes them powerful, patterns that repeat over and over again but expose the different features when viewed together. The lack of horizon is obvious, done by choosing to shoot on cloudy days or fog, which separates them from the sky, as well as their separation from the landscape.

IMG_6104

Apparently they found that symmetrical objects were the best subjects for typology and they then didn’t classify them until after shooting, when they then put them into subsets where in each typology each corresponds to the one next door to it in any direction, as well as others in the set (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2019).

Until I saw their work first hand and displayed like this I had not appreciated the impact of the grids in particular for enhancing typologies. Nor had I appreciated how this work of industrial structures were another form of beauty in the landscape. I can understand how it is said that they invented a new genre of photography.

Learning points:

It made me think about the way that photographs can be presented, in particular how when you change from a lineal form of presenting images the impact and meaning of a series of images can be changed. In particular it gave me an idea to try an alternative presentation of my assignment 5 resolution series.

I intend experimenting with different ways of presenting images and sequencing them and research more into art and perception.

References:

HauserWirth (2017) Bernd and Hilla Becher, Hauser & Wirth Zürich. At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQ8M3aaoP-o (Accessed 21/12/2019).

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2018) Hilla and Bernd Becher invented a new genre of photography. At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-1O0NxIWDc (Accessed 21/12/2019).

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FURTHER RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT 5

CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHERS:

Carl Chiarenza (b1935)

Carl Chiarenza was the student of Minor White in the 1950s. He shares White’s belief that photography shouldn’t be a mechanical reproduction of a subject and that once this is understood this photographers can use photography in an expressive way just as poetry and music do. He also says that White taught him how to look in detail as everything is important and work with close ups and abstraction. He says that White gave him the belief that the photograph was an object worthy of great effort and that a photograph can be as expressive as music poetry or painting (White, 1984:44)

Interestingly Chiarenza early landscape images emphasised pattern, texture and tone, soon turned to collage to evoke his feelings rather than the landscape, seeing landscape as an “abstract, emotional, pictorial mindset that we construct to examine nature in relation to ourselves” (Chiarenza, 2014). He says that nature only becomes landscape after it is photographed and likes the control he has of work in the studio. He makes images where he can feel the landscape:

(Chiarenza, 2014)

In particular Chiarenza makes collages, usually from scraps of paper and foil, then photographs them with Polaroid positive/negative film in black and white; he lets the viewers interpret as they wish his arrangements of light shapes and textures. Ralph Hattersley was another big influence on his practice, suggesting that you take photos out of the rubbish and think what else you can do with them.

        

The Work Of Carl Chiarenza: Bringing Art To Photography (2014)

I particularly like Chiarenza’s suggestion that we do as Minor suggested “Meditate, concentrate, focus on a print for an hour. Go within, edge to edge, corner to corner. Now close your eyes and go where that hour moved you. That is where you and image blend”, (Chiarenza, 2014). Chiarenza would play around with his scraps of various materials until something “speaks to him”; it is the creation of the objects into abstract emotional pictures relating to landscapes that excites him. The timelessness and randomness of his work  invites individual reflection by forcing us to examine the subliminal workings of the mind (Carl Chiarenza – Exhibitions (2019).

References:

Carl Chiarenza – Exhibitions (2019) At: https://www.vmfa.museum/exhibitions/exhibitions/carl-chiarenza/ (Accessed on 18 October 2019)

Chiarenza, C. (2014) ‘Where You and Image Blend’: On Learning from Minor White. At: https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/where-you-and-image-blend-on-learning-from-minor-white/ (Accessed on 18 October 2019)

The Work Of Carl Chiarenza: Bringing Art To Photography (2014) At: https://www.shutterbug.com/content/work-carl-chiarenza-bringing-art-photography (Accessed on 18 October 2019)

White, M. and Adams, A. (1984). Minor White. [Millerton, N.Y.]: Aperture.

Paul Caponigro (b 1932)

He was influenced by the work of Minor White and Ansel Adams when in San Francisco in the 1950s, and was taught for a few months by Adams. Apparently White taught him to be quiet and really look when photographing.

He is spiritually inclined and still talks about the need to be still and observant, to hear through the eyes. He likes the mystery of still life work and going into nature deep enough to discover the hidden, the intangibles. Caponigro says that art needs heart not the head, and that technique is only needed to service the emotional thought behind the image. After photographing he can often see that the work may be an equivalent to a piece of music, but does this afterwards rather than seeking something that is its equivalence when photographing.

(ZEST Maine, 2019)

He says “Transfer the idea of listening to seeing. You might get more of an essential feeling for what’s in front of you. Shut up and listen” (ZEST Maine, 2019).

    

(Photographer Paul Caponigro – Original Photographs, 2019)

I certainly like his message to stay quiet, leave mental clutter behind and be as alert as possible when shooting.

References:

Photographer Paul Caponigro – Original Photographs (2019.) At: http://www.photographywest.com/pages/caponigro_photos.html (Accessed on 11 November 2019)

Paul Caponigro | ZEST Maine (s.d.) At: https://zestmaine.com/photographer-paul-caponigro (Accessed on 11 November 2019)

Simon Bray

I spotted an article in the British Journal of Photography which interested me. Simon Bray is a Manchester photographer who likes to play ambient music a lot of the time. He was attracted by Brian Enos music “Ambient: 4” which is a response to significant places in his early life. Bray journeyed to these places listening to the music as he photographed. Bray has made his work into a photobook to accompany the music as he believes that “there is an interesting meeting point in which the music and imagery can unify to create a greater experience for the viewer” (Warner, 2019).

 

   

(Warner, 2019)

Bray says that it’s important to him to make landscape work that is more than purely the aesthetic and capturing a place in a given moment, but that explores our connection to places and how we explore them. To do this he visits his locations regularly and form emotional connections. He realises that photography “has the capacity to present more abstract representations of place” {Bray, 2019).

References:

Bray, S. (2019) Exploration of Brian Eno’s ‘Ambient 4 : On Land | On Landscape. At: https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2019/10/exploration-brian-enos-ambient-4-on-land/ (Accessed on 26 October 2019)

Warner, M. (2019) A photographic response to Brian Eno’s Ambient 4: On Land. At: https://www.bjp-online.com/2019/09/simon-bray-ambient-4/ (Accessed on 26 October 2019)

Uta Barth (b 1956)

Uta Barth’s work has always fascinated since I first came across her at the beginning of my degree. Her work is suggestive rather than descriptive, and the ambiguity helps to make the common place beautiful. She describes her work as being concerned with issues of space and how people react to looking at it especially when getting a specific view. She says my work never directly addresses the literal subject-matter of the photograph”, but attempts to ask questions about vision itself” (Bright, 2011).

There are two of her projects which are particularly pertinent to my current train of thought, “White blind (Bright red)” looks at optical after images and blinding events that happen when looking:

(uta Barth 2019)

Her work “to walk without destination and only to see” also addresses a different way of seeing and interesting use of light and shade.

  

(uta Barth 2019)

References

Bright, S. (2011). Art photography now. London: Thames & Hudson.

 uta barth | …to walk without destination and to see only to see. 2010 (2019) At: http://utabarth.net/work/to-walk-without-destination-and-to-see-only-to-see/ (Accessed on 26 October 2019)

uta barth | white blind (bright red) 2002 (2019) At: http://utabarth.net/work/white-blind-bright-red/ (Accessed on 28 October 2019)

Helen Sear

Sear is a contemporary artist whose work explores the ideas of vision, touch and the representation of experience using various media. She comes from a fine art background of performance, film and installation work; her recent work crosses between fine art and photography in human animal and natural environments using video and sculpture.

She has an innovative way of looking which makes common landscape subjects and objects more interesting and visible, such as hay bales in her Viewfinder series.

   

(viewfinder, 2017).

She also responds in different ways to landscape and invites others to by representing them in altered states she “has a delicate and unnerving ability to pound and break the often cosy human responses to nature; To reveal the unseen, the discarded and elevate these to fresh viewpoints” (Falcini, 2019).

     

BRISÉES – 2013 (2016)

Her work has given me some new ideas of different ways of working going forward. I’ve been interesting in different ways of looking for some time but I particularly like the way Sear encourages viewers to use their senses and look in a different way of ordinary landscape subjects, not simply documenting the landscape.

References:

Falcini, A. (s.d.) Helen Sear – Lure – a-n The Artists Information Company. At: https://www.a-n.co.uk/reviews/helen-sear-lure/ (Accessed on 1 November 2019)

View Finder – 2017 (2017) At: https://www.helensear.com/portfolio/view-finder-2016/ (Accessed on 2 November 2019)

BRISÉES – 2013 (2016) At: https://www.helensear.com/portfolio/brisees/ (Accessed on 2 November 2019)

Jackie Rankin

A landscape photographer based in New Zealand. She was one of the earliest photographers to shot aerial images as abstract art, these were published in her book in 2004. For this work she sought out abstracts in the landscape, and presented them in black and white which makes them the most effective:

   

(Jackie Rankin, 2004)

What interested me looking at some of these is that many of these aerial views could also be a shot of something close up.

 

I was also struck by her use of shallow depth of field to good effect. She has a natural affinity for texture lines and shapes needed for effective black and white photography in particular.

Reference

Jackie Ranken (2019) At: https://jackieranken.co.nz/ (Accessed on 4 November 2019)

Thomas Joshua cooper

An interesting contemporary landscape artist born in California but has lived mostly in Scotland; particularly interesting to me as he acknowledges being influenced by the f/64 group of the 1930s nd 1940s such as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Alfred Stieglitz.

In describing the way he works Cooper says “I hate the words “snap”, “shoot” and “take” when it comes to making photographs. Everything I do is very seriously built up. They are ‘made’ pictures.” (Benedictus, 2008). I am as much interested in his work as what he says about his work and photography. Talking about an audience he says the work must speak for itself first. He also describes being able to “interiorise the outside to make sense out of it, to remove it from being an ‘out there’, a place away, to at least pictorially suggest an ‘in there’ or an ‘around there’ type of place.” (Parkin and Cooper, 2017). This he says he learnt from Timothy O’Sullivan, how something outside could feel the equivalent of being in a room. He goes on to suggest removing the horizon, the ground-figure relationship, is one way of doing this as horizons can take you out of a picture.

He also reminds me of Jem Southam when he talks about slowing down, going so far as to say it’s part of his subject matter “It changes the physiology of viewing, dramatically”, (Parkin and Cooper, 2017), he calls it gazing rather than glancing, and interestingly describes a glance becoming a glaze when the looking becomes piercing. All of this helps me to feel better about having become so much slower in my photography recently and the concentration that getting the right picture takes.

 

      Divided – A Premonitional Work                    The Guardian Cycle – A Premonitional Work

 

           Ritual Ground                             Lingering Twilight – The First View – Shoshone Falls

                                                             (Parkin and Cooper, 2017)

I intend to research Thomas Joshua Cooper in more detail later.

References:

Benedictus, L. (2008) ‘Photography: Thomas Joshua Cooper’s best shot’ In: The Guardian 27 August 2008 [online] At: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2008/aug/28/photography.art1 (Accessed on 5 November 2019)

Parkin, T. and Cooper, T.J. (2017) Thomas Joshua Cooper Interview | On Landscape. At: https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2017/03/thomas-joshua-cooper/ (Accessed on 5 November 2019)

INSIDE THE OUTSIDE collective

When working on and researching for assignment 6, photography in the woodland landscape, I came across a collective of landscape artists “Inside the outside” which is a collective of contemporary artists founded by Al Brydon, Rob Hudson, Stephen Segasby and Joseph Wright. The name comes from both inside the landscape and representing the landscape, that by going out to the landscape they were actually going in, as their work is often very personal and represents something beyond the literal. Some of their work is an inspiration to my work in assignment 5:

Al Brydon

He sees landscape photography as a good vehicle for narrative and is interested in the history of landscape, human interaction with it and the alteration of the landscape.

When his work is not in black and white it is usually quite monotone with a touch of another colour and he often picks out patterns in the landscape, such as in his work “Back to the reservoir”:

 

(Back to the reservoir, 2019)

In his work “As we wander” (Brydon, 2019) which he describes as being about his own fluidity in the solidarity of his surroundings” (Brydon, 2019). His use of contrast when working in black and white is very evident in this series:

 

 (As we wander, 2019)

He describes photography as a positive compulsion that is never finished and always feels like it is just beginning. I notice that Brydon even runs workshops entitled “Photosketch- the art of walking Polaroid Workshop” such is his interest in walking and spontaneously photographing, he talks of the lost art of walking to nowhere, walking without purpose. His work, particularly his use of black and white images is inspiring.

References:

As we wander… — Al Brydon (2019) At: http://www.al-brydon.com/as-we-wander (Accessed on 4 November 2019)

Back to the Reservoir (The year long tide) — Al Brydon (s.d.) At: http://www.al-brydon.com/back-to-the-reservoir-the-year-long-tide (Accessed on 4 November 2019)

Stephen Segasby

His work is similarly a response to human responses to the natural landscape, and part of this for him is working with film and developing the images by hand, almost as a sculpture. He talks about helping people to pay real attention to your surroundings and is writing a book called “New ways of seeing”, which I will look out for. He says that exploring the cultural landscape challenges his perception of it and causes him to react to it. This is what I’m hoping happens as I go out walking to shoot my assignment 5.

 

(Stephen Segasby, 2019)

On a simple level his work is a good example of using contrast to best effect in black and white photography.

Reference:

Stephen Segasby (2019) At: https://www.stephensegasby.com/portfolio/G0000FcyszRxPRhg/I0000uKKhMo4Hb6Q (Accessed on 4 November 2019).

J.M Golding

Another interesting photographer from the collective. I was first attracted by his work “A day’s journey inward”. Golding quotes on his website Rebecca Solnit “passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts, this of course resonates with my intentions for assignment 5; he is of course talking about a journey in a metaphorical way. Golding describes this experience:

I begin the day’s walk with an intention – conscious or otherwise – to explore beneath the surface. I stay a moment, experiencing the solid complexities, the impenetrability of the place where my journey begins. Once this has made its impression, there’s a surfacing, almost as if I’m breaking the surface of the water (or the dream that is conscious life) to gather breath – and perhaps light, or imagery – for the time beneath. Then I begin a descent into the unconscious self, gradually at first, then becoming more fully immersed. Illuminations shift, different possibilities becoming visible(Brydon, 2016).

 

(Brydon, 2016)

 It is fantastic to have some else’s description of the unconscious leading the process of photographing. Golding says that he aims to show visually a person’s experience at any one time. He also nicely explains that there is a history of walking and the creative process from Buddhist and Christian traditions of meditation to philosophers such as Rousseau and Nietzsche’s descriptions of their experiences of walking producing creative thoughts; I was surprised to find that Darwin built a ¼ mile path to facilitate his creative thinking. Apparently there have been experiments that have proved that people are more creative during and shortly after walking, why this surprises me I’m not sure as I find that I am at my most creative when out running. Golding also writes of those artists who see walking as an art form in itself such as Hamish Fulton, where the art is primarily a record of the walk rather than conceptualisations in Golding’s work.

References:

Brydon, A. et al. (2016) A DAY’S JOURNEY INWARD | J.M. Golding – Inside the Outside. At: https://www.inside-the-outside.com/jm-golding-days-journey-inward/ (Accessed on 4 November 2019)

Learning points:

  • Don’t think of photography just as a mechanical reproduction of a subject and can be used in an expressive way.
  • Photgraphy can be as expressive a s poetry, music painting or any other art.
  • Landscape can present abstract representations of place.
  • When considering an image, really concentrate on it and look at all parts of it.
  • When photographing see working slowly and seriously building up a shot as a positive.
  • Be still and observant when photographing, leave mental clutter behind
  • Transfer the idea of listening to seeing
  • Consider making alterations to the landscape and inviting responses to them/it.
  • Remember when photographing for black and white the importance of texture, lines and shape.
  • Continue experimenting with different ways of seeing
  • Try removing horizons from an image to keep viewers in the picture
  • Consider human responses to the landscape, the unconscious leading the process of photographing “ Passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the Passage through a series of thoughts” (Golding, 2019)
  • Use photographic technique only to service the emotional thoughts behind an image

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RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT 5

My starting point for this assignment was the work of Minor White that I explored in assignment 4. I have begun my research with artists between the time of Minor White’s practice and contemporary photographers. I have looked for practitioners who share some of Whites ideas, particularly photography as a representation of an idea, abstraction and self-expression.

Brett Weston (1911-1993)

Brett Weston began photographing with his father Edward Weston when he was just 13. He understood how the camera can transform through abstraction and design, as well as through the contrasts of black and white.

                     

 (Brett Weston – Artists – Steven Kasher Gallery 2019)         (Bunyan, D.M 2019)

He often flattened the plane, creating layered space, an artistic style often seen among the Abstract Expressionists and modern painters like David Hockney than other photographers. He was credited by historian Beaumont Newhall as the first photographer to make negative space the subject of a photograph. As he progressed he moved with the same natural objects more towards stark high contrast and careful design to portray pure form.

Banyan Roots, Hawaii 1979 Brett Weston 1911-1993 Lent by the Tate Americas Foundation, courtesy of Christian Keesee Collection 2013 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/L03492

 (Tate, 2019)

References:

Brett Weston – Artists – Steven Kasher Gallery (s.d.) At: http://www.stevenkasher.com/artists/brett-weston?view=slider (Accessed on 18 October 2019)

Bunyan, D.M. (s.d.) Brett Weston Broken Window – Art Blart. At: https://artblart.com/tag/brett-weston-broken-window/ (Accessed on 18 October 2019)

Tate (2019) Brett Weston 1911-1993 | Tate. At: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/brett-weston-17308 (Accessed on 19 October 2019)

Walter Chappell (1925-2000)

Chappell was from his teenage years a friend of White which influenced his move from poetry, music, and painting towards photography. In 1957, Chappell studied photographic printmaking technique with Minor White, and wrote and edited for Aperture magazine whilst helping White workshops.  He was also a student of Edward Weston and followed Stieglitz’s tradition of looking at photography as a means to a deeper reality and in this sense equal to painting, poetry and music, “ His richly toned black-and-white images exuded an almost tantric air of concentration and often considerable sexual charge” (Smith, 2000). He also worked with Ansel Adams in San Francisco. His photographs are quite mystical and intense:

     

                     

    (Walter Chappell home, 2019)

His idea of equivalence is interesting “an equation that is all at once. It takes in the entire mind. Everything works for a moment. The blessing of the photographic image is the precision involved” which he says then becomes an emblem of eternity (Hakon Agustsson-hakon@PhotoQuotes.com, 2019).-

References:

Walter Chappell Home (2019.) At: http://walterchappell.com/photography.htm (Accessed on 19 October 2019)

Smith, R. (2000) ‘Walter Chappell, Photographer of Nature, Is Dead at 75’ In: The New York Times 12 August 2000 [online] At: https://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/12/arts/walter-chappell-photographer-of-nature-is-dead-at-75.html (Accessed on 26 October 2019)

(Hakon Agustsson-hakon@PhotoQuotes.comhttps://www. PhotoQuotes. com – info@PhotoQuotes. com (s.d.) Photography Quotes by Walter Chappell. At: https://www.photoquotes.com/showquotes.aspx?id=663&name=Chappell,Walter (Accessed on 26 October 2019)

Stieglitz (1864-1946)

Stieglitz was the first to introduce and name the concept equivalence in the 1920’s, which is an experience not a subject. The equivalence is what goes on in a viewer’s mind and corresponds to something in them internally. Equivalence also refers to the inner experience a person has while they are remembering the mental image later.

Stieglitz expressed through his landscape photographs ideas and emotions rather than visual facts, for instance his series Songs of the sky and Equivalents which appeared as images of clouds but actually represented his ideas and philosophies; in these he hoped to arouse in the viewer the emotional equivalent of himself at the time he captured the picture and wanted to show that the content of a photograph can be different from its subject.

    

    (Alfred Stieglitz, 2019)                        (Unrarified Air, 2019)

The idea of the Equivalents series was to form a correspondence between visible and invisible worlds. He often shot landscapes in soft focus as a way of elevating the particular to the general (Jussim and Lindquist-cock, 1985:80) and minimising distractions, to generalise natural things to represent abstract ideas and emotions. The Equivalents are disorientating and seem to lack any connection to the world beyond them, their framing cuts them off from the world outside.

References:

Alfred Stieglitz | Equivalents | The Met (2019) At: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/267451 (Accessed on 10 November 2019)

 Jussim, E. and Lindquist-Cock, E. (1985). Landscape as photograph. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Unrarified Air: Alfred Stieglitz and the Modernism of Equivalence | Modernism / Modernity Print+ (2019) At: https://modernismmodernity.org/articles/unrarified-air (Accessed on 10 November 2019)

Minor White

Points recalled from my research and essay for assignment 4:

  • He opened up the act of seeing, had great observational skills
  • White appreciated aesthetics and but also things beyond this and beyond the visible world.
  • By exposing details, often removing context to enable through reflection new significance to be assigned to subjects.
  • White appreciated aesthetics and but also things beyond this and beyond the visible world.
  • Alternative meanings abound in his work which was often abstract, symbolic, and metaphorical. He called this a cinema of stills which he wanted to be looked at with heightened awareness so their associations/ emotions could be appreciated.
  • He believed that equivalence operated on 3 levels: graphic, metal, and in feelings.
  • White talked about losing himself in something, to the point that you have a heightened concentration and may feel oneness.

Further thoughts on Minor white and equivalence:

  • Equivalence is a function, an experience, not a subject or a certain appearance.
  • The power of the equivalent for the expressive-creative photographer “lies in the fact that he can convey and evoke feelings about things and situations and events which for some reason or other are not or can not be photographed” (White and Adams, 1984). The subject object are chosen for their expressive and evocative qualities.
  • White described his mind as blank when photographing but in a peculiar way; blank as in uncritical but sensitized to anything happening both when photographing and viewing a photograph afterwards (Minor White, 1952).
  • White gave us a new language to explain photographs, not in terms of what you can see but in terms of what a photographer was feeling or the emotions an image invokes in the viewer.

 References:

 White, M. and Adams, A. (1984). Minor White. [Millerton, N.Y.]: Aperture.

White, M Camera Mind and eye (1952)

Learning points:

  • Try flattening the plane to create layered space
  • Consider negative space in a photograph as a subject
  • The idea of equivalence as where everything in that moment works at once
  • Subjects can be chosen for their expressive and evocative qualities.
  • Expose details, and remove context to enable through reflection new significance to be assigned to subjects.
  • Think about a series as a cinema of stills, to be looked at with heightened awareness so their associations/ emotions can be appreciated.
  • Strive to make images memorable
  • Research other expressionist photographers mentioned by Minor White, Gerald Robinson, Arnold Gassan and Frederick Sommer.

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ASSIGNMENT 4 RESEARCH

Minor White 1908-1976

  • Born Minneapolis. Studied Botany at University, then worked as a photographer and taught photography until drafted in 1942.
  • After his discharge from the army in 1945 he studied Art history and aesthetics and spent time in New York he met Alfred Steiglitz, Edward Weston and Ansel Adams and with them formed Aperture magazine. He also met Beaumont and Nancy Newhall curators of the Museum of Modern Art.
  • Began by photographing rural landscapes in a meticulous way like Ansel Adams but already included symbolic references.

white cross

  • Zen philosophy and mysticism permeated his work and he became known for images of landscapes, architecture and men.
  • 1946 he was and invited to teach by Ansel Adams at the California School of Fine Arts, made still life photographs in the style of Edward Weston. He began to investigate “equivalency” where the image stands for something other than the subject matter developing this with sequencing..
  • 1947 Photographed landscapes in California and visits Point Lobos that Weston’s photographs of intimate landscapes and was inspired by:

x1980-552

c565a8c28bdc38c39cedce595c9bee6f.jpg

Point Lobos State Park, California November 20, 1946 (Princeton University Art Museum s.d.)

  • Studied Eastern and Western religions and made sequence of images Sound of one hand a way of communicating ecstasy. Developed a mystical approach to photography, often creating deep abstract images that enabled the reading of photographs as a means of self-enlightenment.
  • Visited Capitol Reef National Monument, Utah:

x1980-3812

Highway Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah Biography | Princeton University Art Museum (s.d.)

fde68df6c60170a1a5aa3b770abdec6f.jpg

Rye Beach, New Hampshire December 25, 1966

  • 1952 was part of the group that founded the photographic journal Aperture which he then edited for 23 years.
  • 1953 he moved to Rochester to work with Nancy Beaumont Newhall and teach in he read extensively around comparative religions and the orient as well as giving meditative sessions to his students. Editor of Aperture a journal for fine art photography for 20 years.
  • From 1968 White stops traveling in the west and takes shot trips in the east to Maine Vermont and Nova Scotia.

bd3fd3590730259a3a024cb478effda7.jpg

Vicinity of Lincoln Gap Road, Vermont July 1968

2aba56e25f67ac6a6da2773d08a7bb71.jpg

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia September 1969

  • Published a number of books including, Sequence 6 (1951), Mirrors Manifestations (1969), and Octave of Prayer (1972).
  • Later in life his work became less depictive and naturalistic and moved towards more reductive abstract images.
  • His last sequence of work were sequence 1969 and 1970 retitled the Totemic sequence and are eastern landscape imagery.
  • Late in life when aware of his own mortality took this image of a decaying boat which is a metaphor for reaching the end of life.

white boat.JPG

References:

Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999.

Minor White: Manifestations of the Spirit (Getty Center Exhibitions) (s.d.) At: https://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/minor_white/ (Accessed on 23 August 2019)

Point Lobos State Park, California (x1980-552) | Princeton University Art Museum (s.d.) At: https://artmuseum.princeton.edu/minor-white-archive/objects/79995 (Accessed on 23 August 2019)

Princeton University Art Museum (s.d.) [Online] At: https://artmuseum.princeton.edu/minor-white-archive/biography (Accessed on 23 August 2019)

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RESEARCH BLACK AND WHITE SHOOTING

I made these notes primarily using the source: Creative landscapes. (Davies, 2011)

1)Pre visualise

2) Thinking in B&W, look for:

  • Contrasts
  • Edges/lines between the black and the White, position camera to emphasis
  • Strong interesting shadows
  • Monotonic compositions
  • Extremes between brightness and shadow in a subject/Positive and negative spaces
  • Landscapes with texture
  • Avoid landscapes with saturated colours
  • Compositions that take advantage of bold shapes
  • Drama in the interplay between light and dark areas

3) Shooting:

  • Frame forcefully
  • Frames within frames
  • Keep mid tones averaged, may need to under expose or over expose

4) Processing

  • Raw capture processed for colour in lightroom then converted to colour in lightroom p82- 91
  • Use exposure gradients and adjustments , the graduated filter tool

Reference:

Davis, H. (2011). Creative landscapes. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley.

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RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT 3

SPACES TO PLACES

FURTHER RESEARCH

Joel Meyerowitz – Creating A Sense of Place

“There is a dawning awareness that you feel good in this place. Something here makes you attentive, brings you to an awakened state. But you can’t know that beforehand.” (The ASX Team, 2010)

He says his understanding of landscape owes a lot to Edward Weston, not the grandeur of nature like most west coast photographers , or the idealised views of Ansel Adams no particular motif or theme, he just dealt what was in front of him, the harder he looked the more he saw – he says the camera taught him how to see.

Q: Why do you photograph a place?

A: You go somewhere for a variety of reasons and “that produces a response, and then you have another response. If you like the way the response feels, you keep opening up to it”. (The ASX Team, 2010) He says he feels a dawning response to this place.

Q: How do you know where to stand?

A: He says he feels his way and senses when there is a “zone of energy” that stops him, “a sensory reality” rather than an observable reality. You have to have the balance and confidence to examine yourself in a place and how you feel about being there without making a judgement.

He talks about the responsibility of not averting your gaze, and being in touch with the world you’re in rather than getting tied up with arguments around what photography is.

Reference:

The ASX Team (2010) An Interview with Joel Meyerowitz – Creating A Sense of Place. At: https://www.americansuburbx.com/2010/03/interview-interview-with-joel.html (Accessed on 13 May 2019)

Space and Place Chapter 23 in Handbook of geographical knowledge- (John Agnew, 2011):

Here the author explores the question of space and place in relation to geography.

Space is regarded largely as a dimension within which matter is located” (Agnew & Livingston, 2011).

I like the Greek definition of place given by Franco Farinelli where place is distinguished from place by having its own special qualities.

Agnew notes that “Place” is used in a variety of ways but its meaning can be specified more clearly in terms of three dimensions:

  • A place as location in space where an activity or object is which relates to other sites or locations because of interaction, movement and diffusion between them.
  • A place where everyday-life activities take place, not just the address but the where of social life and environmental transformation.
  • Place as sense of place or identification with a place as a unique community, landscape, and moral order – A strong sense of “belonging” to a place, either consciously or shown by participation in certain behaviours; this would be indicative of “sense of place.”

References:

Agnew, J, Livingstone D (eds.) (2011) Handbook of Geographical Knowledge. London:

Sage, 2011

Farinelli, F. (2003) Geografia. Un’introduzione ai modelli del mondo. Turin: Einaudi.

Raymond Moore (1920-1987)

He was initially a postcard picturesque photographer, but later used the sublime and the banal landscape to give both subtle meaning and mystery (Clarke, 1997 p70). When asked if he tried to take pictures which summed up a society or a place and Moore relied that “Since childhood I’ve been especially conscious of place … more conscious of place than of people” (The ASX Team, 2013). He explained that landscapes give him structures and images that allowed him to comment on life in general; he was drawn to melancholic areas, but not to make a social point. Interestingly for me he did photograph in Pembrokeshire but found its beauty too conventional, and yet the photograph below of an abandoned game of hopscotch echoes the life it once had and is hardly a conventional landscape photograph.

moore_raymond_p5018_pembrokeshire

(British Council, 2019.1)

Moore preferred mundane subject matter that tested his sense of oneself rather than technical finesse and realised that there is power in the things that are left behind and enjoyed photographing the mundane, publishing a book called Every So Often, “because every so often you turn a corner and find something beautiful”, (McCabe, 2012). He was drawn to environments in which things shifted, and said that “when man clashes with nature even the shapes become weird” (The ASX Team, 2013), so he often worked out of season, to avoid the encroachments of people.

moore_raymond_p5024_harrington

(British Council, s.d.2)

Now I’m working more often with a prime lens I can understand Moore’s sentiment that photographers move around too much, standing in the same spot often payoffs; he said that places are hard to exhaust. Rather like Meyerowtz who sad that he felt when there was an energy in a spot he should photograph, Moore described an at oneness, consciousness and intense awareness that he often felt which compelled him to photograph a place, and suggested you should not to be “antagonistic to the senses(Remembering Raymond Moore, 2018), this seems very good advice.

Maryport 1977 by Raymond Moore 1920-1987

(Tate, 2019.)

moore_raymond_p5015_wiltshire

(British Council, 2019.3)

raymond-moore-1.jpg

The ASX Team, 2013).

References:

British Council (2019.1) PEMBROKESHIRE, Raymond Moore | Current | Exhibitions | British Council − Visual Arts. At: http://visualarts.britishcouncil.org/exhibitions/exhibition/49-prints-photographs-by-raymond-moore-1986/object/pembrokeshire-moore-1967-murmurs-at-every-turn-p5018 (Accessed on 14 May 2019)

British Council (2019.2) HARRINGTON, Raymond Moore | Current | Exhibitions | British Council − Visual Arts. At: http://visualarts.britishcouncil.org/exhibitions/exhibition/49-prints-photographs-by-raymond-moore-1986/object/harrington-moore-1980-murmurs-at-every-turn-p5024 (Accessed on 14 May 2019)

British Council 2019.3) WILTSHIRE, Raymond Moore | Current | Exhibitions | British Council − Visual Arts. At: http://visualarts.britishcouncil.org/exhibitions/exhibition/49-prints-photographs-by-raymond-moore-1986/object/wiltshire-moore-1975-murmurs-at-every-turn-p5015 (Accessed on 14 May 2019).

Clarke, G. (1997). The photograph. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McCabe, E. (2012) ‘Landscape photography: Eamonn McCabe’ In: The Guardian 16 November 2012 [online] At: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/nov/16/landscape-photography-eamonn-mccabe (Accessed on 14 May 2019)

Remembering Raymond Moore (2018) At: http://the-golden-fleece.co.uk/wp/remembering-raymond-moore/ (Accessed on 14 May 2019)

Tate (2019) ‘Maryport’, Raymond Moore, 1977 | Tate. At: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/moore-maryport-t13007 (Accessed on 14 May 2019)

The ASX Team (2013) An Interview with Raymond Moore (1981). At: https://www.americansuburbx.com/2013/01/interview-interview-with-raymond-moore-1981.html (Accessed on 14 May 2019)

Mark Ruwedel (b1954)

Ruwedel is an American landscape photographer who began as a land artist  who says “I am interested in revealing the narratives contained within the landscape, especially those places where the land reveals itself as being both an agent of change and the field of human endeavour” (Tate, s.d.) He has captured signs of human presence in remote, barren and desert regions of North America, abandoned railways in America and empty landscapes, and his work usually explores how geological, historical and political event leave marks on a landscape.

I am particularly interested in his work “Rivers Run Through It” which features photographs taken in 2018 along the Los Angeles River and its tributaries. In his images along the banks and beds he shows us signs of social, cultural and natural history. Through these images he investigates the effect that mans attempt to control flooding has had on the ecosystems and public greenspace.

     (ArtNerd, 2018)

  (Gallery Luisotti 2019)

Ruwedel seems to be trying to show how the plant life is trying to repossess the river course which was concreted. He is certainly not attempting to make the river look picturesque, there are occasionally humans and signs of them such as the rubbish along the banks. These carefully framed intimate pictures portray the landscape in it’s reality, beauty as well as decay. Ruwedel says that his projects usually develop just by being out and looking at things and he particularly likes landscape as “Landscape is active… it is its own agent” (Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2019 Nominee: Mark Ruwedel, 2019). Sometimes when I am considering photographing landscape I ask myself whether it is really landscape or documentary but Ruwedel helps me on this when he asserts that landscape photographs all have some sort of information in that someone may find of use, so I can view the overlap as acceptable.

References:

ArtNerd (2018) Mark Ruwedel: Rivers Run Through It. At: https://goseeart.net/2018/04/10/mark-ruwedel-rivers-run-through-it/ (Accessed on 15 May 2019)

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2019 Nominee: Mark Ruwedel. (2019) Directed by The Photographers’ Gallery. Youtube. At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YB54_CLAftA (Accessed on 15 May 2019)

Gallery Luisotti (s.d.) At: https://galleryluisotti.com/exhibitions/mark-ruwedel-rivers-run-through-it/ (Accessed on 15 May 2019)

Tate (s.d.) Mark Ruwedel born 1954 | Tate. At: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/mark-ruwedel-13509 (Accessed on 15 May 2019)

Paul Hill

paul hill      P Hill whitepeakdarkpeak015P Hill whitepeakdarkpeak002  p hill whitepeakdarkpeak004P Hill whitepeakdarkpeak010

(Paul Hill, 2019,2.)

I have already looked at some of Paul Hill’s work in part 3 but I come back to him here to research a little more as I find I am considering approaching assignment 3 with some of his ideas about photography.

“Hill tackles life’s big subjects but his approach is oblique, evocative, always pointing beyond, which is why he moves us” (Paul Hill on Photography, s.d.)

To help me I am re reading his book “Approaching photography” Hill, (2004) as well as a lecture that Hill gave: Landscape Photography is not just about the land “On landscape: Meeting of Minds(Hill, 2019,1) where Hill sets out his idea that landscape is just not about the land – or Photography:

“Landscape photography is not about the land. Like all photography genres it is about the medium-and the maker- not the subject matter” (Paul Hill, 2019)

Useful points:

  • Pre-visualization and camera vision: Become familiar with how the camera sees and the act of “stilling” the camera does.
  • Black and white photography: The camera can only record the light reflected off the subject which defines what has been framed by the photographer.
  • The photograph flattens the 3d world to 2d so be aware of this flattening and that by moving around when composing will move shapes just as if they are shape in a collage.
  • Consider everything in the viewfinder not just the focal point.
  • The why are you there is more important than the how
  • Light frame and vantage point are the 3 things you need to know
  • Photographs are great teachers they will teach you a lot more than you can pre determine
  • Develop my own individual vision an intuitive response to the landscape, emotional and sensory reaction
  • The spirit of a place, even if manmade can be captured
  • Intellect can be used at the processing stage
  • Asks does making a replica of the landscape give you a sense of achievement? Why photograph as it has been done for at least 150 years? Urges photographers to make work that says something, not replicate other photographs. Be yourself and challenge accepted ideas and provoke.
  • Can use landscape to experiment, asks why people replicate previous photographs? The majority rarely challenge or surprise, e.g. unusual or ugly landscapes or objects in the landscape. “The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of “how to do” – The salvation of photography comes from experiment” Lazlo Moholy-Nagy (Hill, 2019,1)

    (Paul Hill, 2019,2)

  • Can put the landscape in the background

Paul-Hill-Legs-over-High-Tor-Matlock-Bath-1975-Arts-Council-Collection-Southbank-Centre-London-©-the-artist_web.jpg

(Smyth, 2017)

  • Bring yourself into the landscape

p hill 2

  (Paul Hill, 2019, 2)

  • Asks how you engage with the landscape as a photographer (eg: Hill as a resident)
  • The land is the stuff under your feet “a landscape is everything you can see when you look across imagination and reality” (Hill, 2019,1).
  • The landscape is where he is, then he photographs what he feels a physical connection with and is curious about
  • How the landscape can be commodified (advertisements, the art market – e.g. limited edition fine art photographs).

References:

Hill, P. (2004). Approaching photography. Lewes, East Sussex, U.K: Photographers’ Institute Press.

Paul Hill – Landscape Photography Is Just Not About The Land – or Photography. (2019, 1) Directed by On Landscape. Youtube. At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yt3_nmt-LfI&feature=youtu.be (Accessed on 21 May 2019)

Smyth, D. (2017) A huge survey show of British landscape photography opens at Towner. At: https://www.bjp-online.com/2017/10/photographers-and-the-british-landscape/ (Accessed on 21 May 2019)

Paul Hill on Photography (2019,2) At: http://www.hillonphotography.co.uk/projects/landscapes.php (Accessed on 21 May 2019)

Inside The Outside: A sense of Place

This booklet is a compilation of colour landscape photographs, which has inspired me in a different direction.

There are some more conventional landscapes, but some of the ones that have inspired me most are here:

           (Wood, Sarjeant 2019)

They illustrate to a degree some of the suggestions that Paul Hill makes that landscapes need not be a cliched subject matter, but can be just of something the eye sees and finds iteresting. These photgraphers have made some interesting choices of subject matter and I think the middle two ae framed in an intersting way. Some make me ask the “why” question, they are experimental to an extent.

Reference:

Wood, Sarjeant, Inside the Outside (2019) Volume 2: A sense of place. Inside-the-outside.com. Sarjeant.

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PART 2: LANDSCAPE AS JOURNEY

FURTHER RESEARCH FOR ASSIGNEMENT 2

Boring – Martin Parr

My tutor suggested that I look at this work in preparation for my assignment.

Parr was commissioned by The Guardian to capture ten British cities, the ordinary and everydayness of the places. He followed this up by photographing in America. Though ordinary places Parr showcases them in a cheerful way “Flitting between seriousness and straight-faced humour” (Varsity Online, 2019). Parr describes them as just his way of seeing the world.

   (Pro.magnumphotos.com, 2019)

Parr believes “that the ordinary is much more interesting than people make out” (Telegraph.co.uk, 2019) and says that the postcards are fascinating but that if you called them interesting postcards no one would buy them. His images of the small town of Boring, Oregon, 468 photographs of subjects like the Boring Middle School and the Boring Sewage Treatment Facility, were another opportunity for him to show that the ordinary, is actually interesting.

 

(Pro.magnumphotos.com, 2019 2 )

Although the subject matter is boring, motorways, ring roads, factories, housing states, traffic junctions, and shopping centres for instance, the way he collects them together makes them at least entertaining and at times comical. There are common themes like the blue skies, the cleanness (as in lack of distracting details), minimalism and the colour tones used.

References:

Pro.magnumphotos.com. (2019). Magnum Photos. [online] Available at: https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&STID=29YL534MW936 [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

Pro.magnumphotos.com. 2 (2019). Magnum Photos. [online] Available at: https://pro.magnumphotos.com/CS.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&STID=2S5RYDY6E9_J&FRM=SubHeaderFrame:MAGO31_13 [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

Telegraph.co.uk. (2019). Ordinary lives, extraordinary photographs. [online] Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/3615454/Ordinary-lives-extraordinary-photographs.html [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

Varsity Online. (2019). Boring postcards get interesting: Interview with Martin Parr. [online] Available at: https://www.varsity.co.uk/culture/4262 [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

Lee Friedlander

I have looked at the photographs he took whilst travelling by car in an earlier post (). I am interested here in the images that he takes where he dissects the frames with various vertical lines:

New Mexico” 2006 New Mexico,” 2001 (Andrewsmithgallery.com, 2019)

Both of these photographs show his playful approach to photographing but also his use of geometry and the distortion and additional dimensions that including lines into images can bring. For many photographers shadows, poles and reflections got in the way of their work, whereas Friedlander saw these as opportunities; he often uses lines deliberately to cut through frames in a modernistic way.

   (Huxley-Parlour Gallery, 2019)

He certainly has a realistic eye using his eye to seek out, then the camera to compose what has been called, “a double game of light and shadow, near and far, which Friedlander wins by knitting the opposing terms together in a riotous and irregular but articulate pattern, making a whole that pulsates with life.” (Andrewsmithgallery.com, 2019). It is fascinating how he peers through objects such as fences, windows, and door frames to create images with a cubist feel. This effect is added to by his use of a medium-format Hasselblad Superwide producing a square picture.

References:

Andrewsmithgallery.com. (2019). Andrew Smith Gallery – Lee Friedlander. [online] Available at: https://www.andrewsmithgallery.com/exhibitions/leefriedlander/newmexico/leefriedlander.html [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

Huxley-Parlour Gallery. (2019). Kansas City, Missouri, 1965 | Huxley-Parlour Gallery. [online] Available at: https://huxleyparlour.com/works/kansas-city-missouri-1965/ [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

MY LEARNING POINTS:

  • There are many ways of drawing the eye to the everyday and mundane as well as approaches that make the banal look interesting.
  • Dissecting the images frame with lines of objects can produce interesting results, think about using the natural geometry to emphasise or distort.
  • I should investigate cubist work, fragmentation and abstraction and particularly how perspective can be used to play with the space between the foreground and the background.

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PART 2 : LANDSCAPE AS JOURNEY

Exercise 2.3:  Typologies Read Sean O’Hagan’s article on the New Topographics exhibition and publication: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/feb/08/new-topographicsphotographs-american-landscapes

Write down your own responses to the work of any of the practitioners O’Hagan mentions in his article, and describe your thoughts on typological approaches. 

PROJECT: TYPOLOGIES AND NEW TOPOGRAPHIES

New Topographics: photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape was an exhibition curated by Williams Jenkins was a key moment in Landscape photography. It show cased the work of eight young American photographers: Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke, Nicholas Nixon, John Schott, Stephen Shore and Henry Wessel Jr and Bernd and Hilda Becher from Germany. All except Shore worked in black and white.

Using a typological strategy for landscape was a new; its origins  were in the criminology and eugenics experiments of the nineteenth-century The term ‘typology’ was coined by Augustus Pitt Rivers who was interested in the evolution of different tools and mechanical implements used by man. The new Topographics American photographers captured the creeping urbanisation and industry of 1970s shooting disused warehouses, city centre, suburbia and empty streets; “taken collectively, they seemed to posit an aesthetic of the banal” (O’Hagan, 2019). They represented the increasingly suburbanised environments around them and were reacting against the previous tradition of idealised landscape photography.

As I’m thinking about using a topographical approach for my assignment I have looked at more than one of the photographers who featured in the above exhibition.

BERND AND HILDA BECHER

In the 1950s they systematically photographed industrial structures (water towers, blast furnaces, gas tanks, mine heads, grain elevators). Their idea was to make families of objects or motifs together “a pattern of sequential experiences” (Tate, 2019).To do this they isolated objects must be isolated from their context and associations. Their images followed a rigorous set of procedural rules:  standardised format and ratio of figure to ground, a uniformly level, full-frontal view, near-identical flat lighting conditions and no human presence. If this was not achieved in camera then they try to achieve in in the processing process.

(Tate, 2019)                                               (O&#x27, 2;Hagan, 2019)

The Becher’s brought to light typologies that had evolved outside the focus of considered design, and ultimately elevated them to the status of art” (Rose, 2019) and transformed them into minimalist art.

Their systematic, straightforward observation led to a whole school of “objective” art photography,

My Thoughts:

To some, the Becher’s’ grids of black and white subjects are dull and lifeless but I think that the way they represent them draws out some of the beauty in their form. They were also the first to treat landscape with the eyes of a collector and do open up a new way of visualising and appreciating detail.

ROBERT ADAMS

   

(O’Hagan, 2019, 2)

Adams captured the new sprawls of the American West, pristine landscapes with stark housing, malls and deforestation sites; he said “The pictures record what we purchased, what we paid and what we could not buy” (Popphoto.com, 2019).

I found his explanation of why he photographs in the way that he does useful, I wanted to record what supports hope: the untranslatable mystery and beauty of the world. Along the way the camera also caught evidence against, and I eventually concluded that this too belonged in pictures if they were too be truthful and useful” (Popphoto.com, 2019). I do like the way that his pictures express both what has been lost as well as what remains, a presentation of the contradictions of progress. There is an element of silence in all his work that makes you to listen closely as well as look (O’ Hagan, 2019, 3).

My thoughts:

It has been suggested that he is the least detached and neutral of the topographical photographers; certainly, unlike some he does use scale and distance and perhaps unwittingly provides an aesthetic.

(O’ Hagan, 2019, 3)

Also I can identify with the man who was surprised to find his own truck in one of Adams’s photographs, had this to say: “At first they’re really stark nothing, but then you really look at them and it’s just the way things are. This is interesting, it really is.” (O’ Hagan, 2019).

(O’ Hagan, 2019, 3)

To me his work is definitely a more optimistic and aesthetic approach to the manmade alterations to the landscape than the other topographical work that I’ve seen.

    

(Vam.ac.uk, 2019)

FRANK GOHLKE

Frank Gohlke has focused consistently with questions of human usage and perception of land. Like the other topographical photographers he explores the ways Americans build but live in a natural world that becomes less than ideal; the effect that people have on the land. He says “I want people to get pleasure out of these images and come away with a larger sense of what’s worth paying attention to. I want to convey a sense of how rich the ordinary world is” (@digitalanika, 2019).

(Howardgreenberg.com, 2019)

To help viewers to pay attention to the important stuff he deliberately tries to avoid humans in his pictures, and when he does include them they are small and only there incidentally. Gohlke also worked in black and white at that time to give the images an uncluttered look.

My thoughts:

His pictures capture in a minimal way the tensions between the manmade and natural world. For me the simplicity and minimalist treatment of the landscapes emphasizes the human intrusions on the environments. Out of these photographers I personally admire his work the most.

Watch this video of Lewis Baltz talking about his work: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/tateshots-lewis-baltz

LEWIS BALTZ

 

(O&#x27, Hagan, 2019, 2)                                                    (Tate, 2019)

Dana Point  #2 1970 by Lewis Baltz born 1945

Dana Point #2 1970 Lewis Baltz born 1945 Presented by Slavica Perkovic 2012 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P13262

(Mocp.org, 2019)

 

 

His images are stark rather like Gohlkes but more abstract and lineal. He was trained to use photography as art not in a practical way. He says photography is the only deductive art, in that it begins with an overfull world and the photographer has to sort out what is meaningful. He looked at things that were common place and ordinary. Contrast, geometry, surface detail and uniformity are very evident in his images and he often displays them in a grid pattern; this also emphases the monotony of the manmade environment.

Gohlkes admires beauty but it’s not his aesthetic position, he engages in things that are interesting to think about more than are interesting to look at. I find it interesting that he wanted his “work to look like anyone could do it…. “I didn’t want to have a style. I wanted it to look as mute and as distant as to appear to be as objective as possible, but of course it’s not objective.” (O’ Hagan, 2019, 4).

 My thoughts:

I think he’s right that his work isn’t objective, he absolutely does have his own style. find his work different from the other topographical photographers as it is harder to see the natural environment, there seems to be more focus on the manmade objects; although I still appreciate that he is making meaning from ordinary objects. I think he very much does have his own style and I admire it.

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THE TOPOLOGICAL APPROACH

New topographics referred to a group of photographers who moved away from the pictorial to anti-aesthetic, non-romantic. If I hadn’t studied this approach to photography I would have probably dismissed it as dull. However now I have looked at it in detail I can appreciate that by stripping out any romanticism and presenting things in a realistic way iy enables the viewer to firstly appreciate ordinary subjects in a new light and secondly that it enables the detil in the ordinary to shine. It forms a different and useful narrative from traditional landscape photographers.

My Overall learning points:

  • The banal and usually unobserved, is well worth bringing to the viewer’s attention, as I learnt in my assignment 1.
  • The truth can be beautiful.
  • A grid layout of images where subjects can be compared is useful to bring out detail.
  • The random effects of humans on the landscape can be interesting subject matter.
  • Need to consider whether it important to minimise people in a landscape or whether they may serve a purpose.

References:

@digitalanika, F. (2019). Q and A: Frank Gohlke. [online] Smithsonian. Available at: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/q-and-a-frank-gohlke-44232755/ [Accessed 31 Jan. 2019].

Howardgreenberg.com. (2019). Frank Gohlke – Artists – Howard Greenberg Gallery. [online] Available at: http://www.howardgreenberg.com/artists/frank-gohlke?view=slider#10 [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019].

Mocp.org. (2019). Museum of Contemporary Photography. [online] Available at: http://www.mocp.org/detail.php?type=related&kv=6698&t=objects [Accessed 31 Jan. 2019].

O’Hagan, S. (2019 3 ). Robert Adams: the photographer who roved the prairies for 45 years. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/feb/24/robert-adams-photographs-american-west-paris [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019].

O’Hagan, S. (2019 4). Lewis Baltz obituary. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/dec/04/lewis-baltz [Accessed 31 Jan. 2019].

O’Hagan, S. (2019 2) . New Topographics: changing the landscape of photography. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2010/feb/08/new-topographics-landscape-photography [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019].

O’Hagan, S. (2019). New Topographics: photographs that find beauty in the banal. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/feb/08/new-topographics-photographs-american-landscapes [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019].

Popphoto.com. (2019). Consent Form | Popular Photography. [online] Available at: https://www.popphoto.com/american-photo/wall-month-robert-adamss-new-topographics [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019].

Rose, S. (2019). Remembering Bernd Becher. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/artblog/2007/sep/13/inmemoryofberndbecher [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019].

Tate. (2019). Lewis Baltz: Industrial and suburban landscape – TateShots | Tate. [online] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/lewis-baltz-5373/lewis-baltz-industrial-suburban-landscape [Accessed 31 Jan. 2019].

Tate. (2019). The Photographic Comportment of Bernd and Hilla Becher – Tate Papers | Tate. [online] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/01/photographic-comportment-of-bernd-and-hilla-becher [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019].

Vam.ac.uk. (2019). Robert Adams – Victoria and Albert Museum. [online] Available at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/p/photographs-by-robert-adams/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2019].

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RESEARCH : THE ROAD

 

Martin Parr – From A to B Tales of Modern Motoring (1994)

This documents national life and characteristics and is clear that he enjoys the ordinary and banal. His photographs are usually entertaining and original but also “show us in a penetrating way that we live, how we present ourselves to others, and what we value” (Pro.magnumphotos.com, 2019).

This book was commissioned to accompany a BBC series on motoring capturing single women and salesmen driving, their journeys and thoughts dreams and worries. Those images of people driving seem to be taken from a vehicle driving alongside them.

There isn’t a cohesive visual perspective to this series, but where he photographs people he accentuates their characteristics and adds humour with the visual and the texts, which works partly as the viewer recognises some of their own traits.

GB ENGLAND “I think the best part of me are my legs and obviously when I’m in the car people can’t see them”.

 GB ENGLAND. “When I first bought the car I couldn’t wait to catch a reflection of myself in a shop window”

GB.ENGLAND. “When I’m on the motorway I don’t day dream. I’m usually thinking of the fuel range I’ve got”.

GB England. Salesman in his car. From “A to B”.1994

This work covers not just the drivers but their journeys, the petrol stations, the landscape, road signs and much more.

                                                Martin parr 5

GB. England. Yorkshire. Yorkshire Dales. 1994.    GB. England. A1 North. A1 Café’s.1994.

 

GB. England. From the book ‘A to B tales of modern motoring’ 1994.

GB England    (Pro.magnumphotos.com, 2019)

In focusing on the familiar Parr enables us to look at things in a different light.

References:

Bayley, S. and Bayley, S. (2019). ‘I enjoy the banal’: Stephen Bayley meets Martin Parr | The Spectator. [online] The Spectator. Available at: https://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/02/i-enjoy-the-banal-stephen-bayley-meets-martin-parr/ [Accessed 26 Jan. 2019].

Pro.magnumphotos.com. (2019).Magnum Photos Photographer Profile. [online] Available at: https://pro.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_9_VForm&ERID=24KL5357TF [Accessed 26 Jan. 2019].

Lee FriedlanderAmerica by Car (2010)

Friedlander is known for his exploration of the American “social landscape”; his portraits of everyday life are often framed or fragmented by objects such as doorways, fences, walls, windows, and buildings.

This work contains 192 images, taken all over America from the inside of a car from the driver’s point of view, he once said “If you want to understand America, start by looking out the window.” (The Art Reserve, 2019). In each image the vehicle’s interior and exterior elements fracturing the images, “providing a submersive sensory experience not unlike the one in which a driver might engage in glancing out at or studying something other than the road” (Berk, 2019).

The landscape is often presented as at odds with the environment:

(The Guardian, 2019)

Whilst sometimes the patterns of nature and the interior of the cars are exploited and played with:

(The Guardian, 2019)

Friedlander also composes juxtapositions and groupings of subjects that are humorous:

(Berk, 2019)

The lines, angles and reflections can be confusing but here they emphasis the chaos of the city:

(The Guardian, 2019)

Some images show timeless American landscapes whilst others depict modern America:

         

           (The Guardian, 2019)

I do find it fascinating how he deliberately shoots a wide view (taken with his Hasselblad Super Wide camera) which slightly exaggerates the perspective and then bisects this in different ways with the vertical frame of the windscreen. I assume that he has done this so that the viewer gradually begins to see America from his perspective. He deliberately uses reflections and plays with perspective proportion and form, layering the visual environment, the effect appears simple, rather like film stills, but the layering that he uses gives us an immersive experience

References:

Berk, B. (2019). Stick Shift Review: Lee Friedlander’s “America By Car” at the Whitney Museum. [online] The Hive. Available at: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2010/09/objects-in-mirror-are-closer-than-they-appear-lee-friedlanders-america-by-car-at-the-whitney-museum [Accessed 26 Jan. 2019].

The Art Reserve. (2019). Lee Friedlander: America By Car. [online] Available at: https://www.theartreserve.com/blog/lee-friedlander-america-by-car [Accessed 26 Jan. 2019]. – Lee Friedlander

The Guardian. (2019). Lee Friedlander: America By Car – in pictures. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2011/sep/02/lee-friedlander-america-by-car-in-pictures [Accessed 26 Jan. 2019].

Robert Frank – Les Américains (1958)

Robert Frank set out to capture America by car. He began with journeys through England and Wales before this car journey through America shot from Detroit to San Francisco to Chattanooga, Tennessee. He took 27,000 images on his journey which he condensed into a set of 83 black-and-white photographs. He travelled in a Ford Business Coupe with his set off with his 35mm Leica camera.

He seemed to find a new beauty in simple, overlooked corners of American life, diners,, cars, jukeboxes, and the road itself, and his style was “intuitive, immediate, and off-kilter” (Indrisek, 2019) and radical at the time.

(Indrisek, 2019)

The work moved away from pictorialisim and photojournalism of the time; it showed things just as they were “I was tired of romanticism…I wanted to present what I saw, pure and simple” (O’Hagan, 2019). At the time the images appeared to some as blurred and grainy but they did show a sad divided country. His “vision was decidedly that of an outsider, of someone who was looking beneath the surface” (Indrisek, 2019), not the usual wholesome portrayal of America.

On a technical level, he abandoned the traditional ideas of composition, framing, focus, and exposure. Some of the images are much underexposed, some are overexposed, some have an excess of grain, a lack of shadow detail. A photograph of a parade actually focuses on two onlookers watching from their apartment windows, with one of their faces obscured by an American flag- This was bold.

(Indrisek, 2019)

There is a structure to his photographs in the book; each section begins with a picture of an American flag and moves on to explore people (of all walks of life) and objects wherever he encounters them: drugstores, diners, streets, funerals, and in their cars. The Americans is non-narrative and nonlinear; but it uses thematic, formal, conceptual and linguistic devices to link the photographs.

        (Nga.gov, 2019)

(O’Hagan, 2019)                                                    (Indrisek, 2019)

This work is full of contradictions from poverty and class divisions to consumerism and pride. It was brave as it confronted the reality of the surface level glossy America and he used photographic techniques to take away the normal polished images of the country and emphasis the reality of the visuals.

References:

Indrisek, S. (2019). How Robert Frank Captured a Dark Portrait of America in 83 Images. [online] Artsy. Available at: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-robert-franks-the-americans-matters-today [Accessed 26 Jan. 2019].

Nga.gov. (2019). The Americans 1955-57. [online] Available at: https://www.nga.gov/features/robert-frank/the-americans-1955-57.html [Accessed 26 Jan. 2019].

O’Hagan, S. (2019). Robert Frank at 90: the photographer who revealed America won’t look back. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/nov/07/robert-frank-americans-photography-influence-shadows [Accessed 26 Jan. 2019].

Paul Graham- The A1 – The Great North Road

He spent 2 years photographing the life and landscape along the A1  in the 1980s. He began in the south in London and followed the road north. This work showed that documentary photography which was traditionally in black and white could be effective in colour.

It’s refreshing to see roadside images captured on this side of the pond as a change from Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander’s car journeys and Ed Rucha’s gas stations for instance. The road itself, rarely features in the 41 images (neither do any recognizable landmarks), whilst the cafes and service stations feature strongly. It is as if he is using the road as a tool for investigation differences between the north and the south, such as in these two cafes:

(The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)

Certainly Graham exposes with his camera things that we would overlook, “Graham is a watcher, a watcher of people and the space they occupy” (BBC News, 2019). His captured observations paint a colourful realistic picture of England in the 1980s.

References:

BBC News. (2019). Paul Graham: Photographs 1981-2006. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-13133461 [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

The Museum of Modern Art. (2019). Paul Graham. Interior, John’s Cafe, Sandy, Bedfordshire from the portfolio A1: The Great North Road. April 1981 | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/147702 [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

The Museum of Modern Art. (2019). Paul Graham. Interior of Cafe, Londonderry, North Yorkshire from the portfolio A1: The Great North Road. September 1981 | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/147722 [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

The Museum of Modern Art. (2019). Paul Graham. Bus, Car and Airplane, Newcastle By-Pass, Tyne and Wear from the portfolio A1: The Great North Road. February 1982 | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/147729 [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

The Museum of Modern Art. (2019). Paul Graham. Company Representative, Leeming Services, North Yorkshire from the portfolio A1: The Great North Road. September 1982 | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/147723 [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

The Museum of Modern Art. (2019). Paul Graham. Blyth Services at Night, Blyth, Nottinghamshire from the portfolio A1: The Great North Road. February 1981 | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/147711 [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

Chris Coekin – The Hitcher (2007)

In this work the photographer is both actor and director is a series of short stories of a hitch-hiker in the UK and the drivers who pick him up. Going beyond straight documentary photography, The Hitcher is therefore conceptual art where the artist is central to the work itself.

Using disposable cameras, in series 1 Coekin took self-portraits:

  

(LensCulture, 2019)                                                                 (Chriscoekin.com, 2019)

Pictures of roadside junk in series 3, Like Graham’s work he shows us roadside details that are impossible to take in when travelling in a car at speed:

(LensCulture, 2019)                                          (Chriscoekin.com, 2019)

Whilst in series 2, portraits of those who stopped and offered him lifts were taken on his medium format camera:

  

 (LensCulture, 2019)

Apparently the title of the exhibition uses the cult horror film The Hitcher “to play on the contrast between the ‘stranger danger’ paranoia peddled by the media and his experiences of the kindness of strangers” (Telegraph.co.uk, 2019). The kindness of those who offer him a lift is captured along with his vulnerability on the roadside. I suspect most viewers like me would like to know more about the strangers and it would be interesting to see the effect if their own comments as text were added as they are in Parrs work.

So this work is both a commentary on the UK at the time, possibly the contrasts between the south and the north and also a conceptual work of art.

References:

Chriscoekin.com. (2019). The Hitcher: Series 1 : Chris Coekin. [online] Available at: http://www.chriscoekin.com/index.php?/ongoing/the-hitcher-series-1/ [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

Chriscoekin.com. (2019). The Hitcher: Series 2 : Chris Coekin. [online] Available at: http://www.chriscoekin.com/index.php?/ongoing/the-hitcher-series-2/ [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

Chriscoekin.com. (2019). The Hitcher: Series 3 : Chris Coekin. [online] Available at: http://www.chriscoekin.com/index.php?/ongoing/the-hitcher-series-3/ [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

LensCulture, C. (2019). The Hitcher – Photographs by Chris Coekin | LensCulture. [online] LensCulture. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/chris-coekin-the-hitcher [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

Telegraph.co.uk. (2019). Chris Coekin: The Hitcher. [online] Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/3675360/Chris-Coekin-The-Hitcher.html?image=1 [Accessed 29 Jan. 2019].

MY LEARNING POINTS FROM ROAD RESEARCH:

  • That the ordinary and the banal can be made interesting for a viewer, particularly in a landscape which is normally viewed at a certain speed or height, e.g. by car, on foot, by bicycle; I notice this change in viewpoint and detail myself whether running or cycling.
  • The contrast between presenting portraits of people with and without commentary/text (A to B tales versus The A1)
  • The interesting effect of using elements of the landscape to frame/dissect things as Friedlander does.
  • The photographer can make the decision by the way he shoots whether to make the images a submersive or viewing experience (America by car V Les Americans).
  • The photographer can also make the choice whether to present the manmade and natural landscape as at odds with each other or to use them to harmonise.
  • Journeys may be presented aesthetically and/or to make a cultural social or political statement.
  • I was surprised to see the variety of photography techniques used within some bodies of work; for instance in Frank and Coekin’s work some images are blurred and /or grainy and the perspectives taken were quite varied – I usually aim for some consistency within a series.
  • As with usual in photography the observation and keen eye is essential in picking up the detail, juxtaposition or humour that is achievable within an image

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