Assignment 5 – REWORK

Following the feedback from my tutor for assignment 5 I went back again and reviewed all of the images I had taken and the final ones I had selected for the assignment. I revisited the location one more time to have another look for images or if I had missed anything but I didn’t come away with anything new.

Having taken some time to review the images again, I decided to drop a number of images from my original submission, either removing them entirely or replacing them with other images. I liked a lot of the images but I didn’t feel they worked well as a set for this specific assignment.

So I dropped the following images from the original set of 15 images, they either felt like repetitions or just nice/picturesque images that didn’t fit the set or they didn’t really say anything to me anymore on deeper reflection:

I added the following images:

This created a new set of 9 images which I have submitted as prints for assessment.

I have been very specific about how I ordered and structured the final images. I spent a lot of time laying out the prints then moving the different images around, playing around with the story. I then went away and came back to them, moved them around again and again until I felt they flowed. It’s been a hard process but its been a great learning experience and I feel much happier with this rework.

 

 

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Assignment 5 Tutor Feedback

Tutor Report Assignment-5-formative-feedback-craig-sinclair-515221

It was great to catch up with my tutor recently to discuss my final assignment for Identity and Place. We had a really good discussion about the assignment, the course in general, getting ready for assessment and my next steps as I move onto Level 2: Landscape.

I think my tutor and I agreed on a number of the images to drop from the final set. There are a couple of images that are good but they don’t really fit the set or say anything of interest to the viewer other than the picturesque. Notably the image of the water fall  is just a nice picture but beyond that there isn’t any further depth to it and it lacks the human element to it.

Following the suggestion of my tutor I checked out a couple of the artists she mentioned. I notably found real interest and resonance in the work of Yan Preston’s projects, with the clash between nature and humans for spaces and places in ‘Mother River‘ and ‘Forest’. 

As the population of the planet increases the cities and towns are expanding into the open spaces. How do we find a way to live alongside nature? I have had a deep affinity with trees for many years now and I think of them as old friends, so I found I could relate a lot to the work. Here in the UK we still celebrate the importance of certain older trees as gathering places for communities, religious or spiritual ceremonies, markets, etc. across hundreds of years. Where I live there has been a massive increase in land being used for housing developments. Between these areas certain ‘nature corridors’ or open spaces have been left, some trees were destroyed, whilst others have been left in place, looking strangely out of place now surrounded by brick and concrete where they were once surrounded by rolling green fields and open space.

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11-Egongyan Park, 2014 from the series ‘Forest’ by Yan Wang Preston

I also really enjoyed viewing the work ‘There Where You Are Not’ by Guy Moreton reflecting on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s quest for belonging in the world in collaboration with Alec Finlay. The theme is a place I find myself at right now, trying to figure out my place in society, if I have a place, trying to find where I fit in. Sometimes I find great solitude and comfort within nature and forests away from people. However, inevitably, I always return to my home. I need balance between the two. Again, I really appreciate my tutor recommending this work as I can really see the correlation from this work to my own for assignment 5. Both of these suggestions have helped me a little to re-frame/re-work assignment 5.

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LW 102, Skjolden, 2001-2005 Ludwig Wittgenstein There Where You Are Not by Guy Moreton

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LW 108, Skjolden, 2001-2005 Ludwig Wittgenstein There Where You Are Not by Guy Moreton

Having reviewed the images again I went back to the location for one last time, just to see if there was anything I had missed and also to see it again with slightly fresher eyes. I spent a morning again at the location but I didn’t find anything different to the images I had already taken. I think it could be an interesting project to take on over a longer period and perhaps exploring other similar sites that cling onto the riverside or communities that have used or built up around the river.

My tutor and I had a discussion about getting work ready for assessment. I have ordered a brand new black archive box with archive sleeves. I will see how this turns out, for my last 2 assessments I sent in my work in an art folder but I’m hopeful this different approach will be beneficial for the assessors.

I have been back over the images I took for this assignment and have made a new selection of images to use as a set. I will put this up on a separate blog post.

Reference:

Yan Preston – Mother River

Yan Preston – Forest

http://www.guymoreton.org/index.php

 

 

Assignment Four – Rework

After much deliberation over how I wanted to proceed with this assignment; whether to include the text on the image or remove it from the image. I have finally decided I prefer the images without the text on the image. I prefer the text beneath or alongside the image. With the text on the image it seems to remove rather than add meaning, it becomes a distraction to the image rather than being of any benefit.

I have also decided to drop one of the images from the series as I’m just not happy with it any more, I don’t really like the composition, it doesn’t add anything to the series, I find it more of a distraction. So I have dropped the image and text below from the set:

Into the eternal darkness, into fire and into ice

Into the eternal darkness, into fire and into ice

I think the overall meaning of the series has shifted for me as well over time. I originally felt I was perhaps channeling some inner feelings about myself but I think it may be more about thoughts of my Dad; his battle with Cancer and Dementia.  Of course it could be a little bit of both of these and it may mean something different to each viewer. I will write the captions on the back of the prints for assessment.

So the final set has 6 images rather than 7, which I feel more comfortable with:

The final set:

Abandon all hope ye who enter here

Abandon all hope ye who enter here

I did not die and yet I lost life’s breath

I did not die and yet I lost life’s breath

The devil is not as black as he is painted

The devil is not as black as he is painted

The more a thing is perfect, the more it feels pleasure and pain

The more a thing is perfect, the more it feels pleasure and pain

I come from a place, I long to return to

I come from a place, I long to return to

There is no greater sorrow than to recall happiness in times of misery

There is no greater sorrow than to recall happiness in times of misery

Assignment Two – Rework

Following the helpful feedback from my tutor I decided to re-shoot all but one of the photographs I had taken for this assignment. I decided to drop the head and shoulders shots as they didn’t really add anything to the set and had a different visual approach.

My tutor suggested it might work better if I included my subjects full body within the composition of the images, seeing how a person stands and what they are wearing says a lot about them as an individual as does the space they are standing in. In some of the previous images the subjects were smiling and that exchange between the viewer and subject gave a different vibe. So for the second shoot I waited for the person to move past the initial nervous smiling look. I think this has worked really well, as the subjects have removed their social masks. Our natural reaction when someone takes our photograph is to smile. However I have learned that there are a myriad of other emotions that can be portrayed within a photograph. There is more mystery and curiosity when the person isn’t smiling.

I kept the image of Morven (image 2) but re-shot all of the other images.

My final selection of images for this assignment are as below:

 

 

 

 

The final images with the accompanying text:

Rita and her Garden:

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“My mother inspired my love of gardening and though she is no longer with us I still hear her voice saying ‘Rita, you don’t want to plant that there, it will razzle and you’ll never get rid of it!’ I garden with wildlife in mind and my small pond has attracted frogs and all kinds of insects, including dragonflies. They also make good use of my bug hotel! My well established shrubbery was severely pruned when the fence was erected but there is enough left for the birds to use as protection whilst they feed on one of several feeding stations. I find peace in my garden and this quote I think sums it up for me – ‘all my hurts my garden spade can heal’.”

Morven and her Garden:

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Growing up I never had a love for gardening but recently as I have had to work on my own garden to make it more child friendly I have gained great satisfaction in seeing it change. It’s not been easy having to remove a huge wooden garden box and replace it with new grass and tearing down a worn down green house. There’s still lots to do but its definitely already more enjoyable for my children and they love the snowdrops that have just started to surface.”

Natalie and her Garden:

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“Gardening is a new hobby of mine. When we moved into this house the garden was a blank canvas. I have set up a composter, a small green house, water butts, and a leaf mulcher bin to recycle all the dried leaves and twigs from the garden. My garden is still a work in progress, I’ve put in lots of plants and have plans this year for a vegetable patch!”

Mike and his Garden:

Image 4 DSC_0070

“My garden has evolved over the past 30 years, it has gone from a place for my children to play safely to a source of home grown food to provide for my family. During my whole working life I was a builder and acquired a range of skills and useful tools. Behind me in my photograph is my outbuilding where I work on hobbies now that I’m retired. I have a water butt to collect rain water and a composter to create composite for my garden from waste food. The old coal bunker in the photo has been there ever since we moved in. We used to have a coal fire in the front room but everything now has moved over to gas.”

Alda and her Garden:

Image 5 DSC_9997

“My love of gardening came from my father and mother. My garden is a place where I can both work and relax. The garden to the front of the house has an old well and a large willow tree which add character. When we moved into our house over 30 years ago the back garden was mostly laid to lawn surrounded by a large hedge.Over the years the hedge was removed, veg garden added, greenhouse added and a variety of fruit trees planted; plum, apple, pear. My garden attracts many wild birds which I love to sit and watch.”

Assignment One – Rework

Following feedback received from my tutor for assignment one I have reworked the assignment using a different selection of photographs I had taken. I have dropped a couple of photographs and replaced with others I took during the shoot which work better as a set.

I dropped these 3 photographs from the original set because they were either repetitions of shots, I wasn’t happy with the composition or they didn’t fit the overall set. I really like the portrait shot of the subject looking directly back at the viewer however I don’t feel it works within the overall set. The other images in my final selection feel more like a fly on the wall perspective (unobtrusive) as if I have managed to blend into the background as a photographer. The social exchange between the photographer, subject and viewer is very different:

I then replaced these photographs with the 1 below, changing the set from 7 images to 5 images:

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Image 5

 

The new set of photographs are as follows:

I feel the revised set of images work much better together for the purpose of this assignment.

Assignment 5 – Removing the figure

Look back at the themes we’ve examined relating to place and our presence within it. What areas inspired you most?

The culmination of this course is a self-directed assignment where you have free rein to choose a subject that relates to any of the material discussed in the course. You may have gathered skills and insights through the projects that you want to revisit or you may have been inspired by other ideas.

The only stipulation is that the final outcome must represent a notion of identity and place that you are personally inspired by. Make sure that your work is visually consistent, relevant to the subject matter you choose and holds together well as a set, both visually and conceptually.

Think carefully about your editing decisions.
• Which images need to be there?
• Which ones repeat other images?
• Are you holding on to a favourite that is no longer required?
• Do you need to re-shoot anything?

Aim for a coherent set of no more than 15 pictures, accompanied by a reflective commentary of no more than 500 words.

 

Echoes from the past on Mells River

Introduction

Our impact on the landscape can leave traces, scars and signs of life that can echo throughout history long after we are dead. Nature has existed on the planet much longer than modern society and the industrial age, yet in our short time as the most dominant species on the earth we have managed to alter the landscape in ways our generation can never fully comprehend. It will be down to future generations to deal with the choices we make now.

Echoes from the past on Mells River is a reflective piece on how we leave our imprint upon the land, how nature can claw back and reclaim its stance on a place. If given the opportunity to do so, nature can thrive.

I first visited the Iron Works in early 2018 whilst on a long hike, it was essentially a transitional space, a rest spot or a segment as part of a longer journey, yet it caught my imagination the moment I saw it. I felt an emotional connection, more than anything I could translate into words.

Looking back on the images I see a power play taking place between land ownership from a legal perspective, keeping a visual record of our journey through history and providing a space for the plants, fauna and wildlife species that call this place home. Essentially, who really owns this space?

Despite the destruction upon the landscape, I can’t forget that this place created much needed jobs for the local community for hard working people, looking to improve their lives and communities, to simply put food on the table for their families and was very much a response to the drive of the economy at the time. I do wonder what happened to the people who worked here or the other industries that sat alongside it. Where did they go when it closed? How did this impact upon their lives at the time?

I found it to be a fascinating place which has seen its land use change dramatically over hundreds of years. Now the site is seen as a place of discovery, exploration and recreation as well as a vital location for wildlife and a diverse ecosystem.

By learning from the past we can help to imagine the kind of landscapes we want now and in the future.

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Reflection

This has felt like a long, hard journey on this assignment. Its not been an easy one, at times I’ve felt slightly broken, for a bunch of reasons. Emotionally the river has made an impact on me, I don’t know if this is because of the symbolism of the river or if its something else. The whole piece has made me think about my own mortality and the passing of time, how my own existence on the planet is so short compared to the rest of the universe. What traces of me will be left behind when I leave? Will I have left a positive impression or left a scab that won’t heal? Will I just fade into the nothingness? Eventually nature will reclaim my bones and I will become part of the earth.

I have pushed my technical and visual awareness on this assignment. I have taken a different approach to my previous assignments. By using a tripod, shooting manual and with a shutter release it forced me to compose my shots and also gave me more creative possibilities. It also forced me to slow down.

I have done a lot of reflection on this assignment and included 16 pages of written observations, contact sheets, selects, along with some research and contextualization. I found the observation notes incredibly valuable, whilst I have done this in the past it wasn’t in the same coherent manner and I hadn’t shared them except for on the diary piece on Context and Narrative. I think it gives more depth and an understanding to my thought process at the time. I just want to be cautious of what I choose to share on my blog.

I have enjoyed being able to take a project in my own direction and try to shine a light on a subject that is really important to me. It can be hard sometimes to draw enthusiasm for some assignments with a set brief but you do it because its part of the course. I have found this last section of the unit, very uplifting as it really spoke to me. The ideas of journey, exploration, places and spaces all resonate with me more than some of the other parts of the unit. I feel I’ve given the whole unit my all but this last part in particular felt more like me – I can’t really explain it better than that.  The other parts have made me feel quite uncomfortable but I certainly learnt a lot from them and about myself. I’ve certainly learnt more about what I want to be and what I don’t want to be as a photographer but I’ve still got so much to explore! I’m looking forward to Level 2, I’m a little apprehensive/nervous as well but I’m sure it will all work out.

Craig

-05/08/18

 

 

 

 

Assignment Five – Supporting Piece

‘Perspectives on Place’ by Jesse Alexander

In support of this assignment and part 5 of the unit I read the book ‘Perspectives on Place’ by Jesse Alexander. It is a wonderful book and has given me a much wider appreciation for landscape photography and opened my mind up to exploring landscape photography with fresh eyes.

I found the concepts of exploration and journey fascinating within the book, also the different discussions on the use of landscape and power. How man has impacted upon the landscape and how historically the remnants of previous industrial movements have left their mark. How the industrial revolution changed the countryside for years to come.

Industrial Landscape

I was particularly drawn to the painting by Philip James De Loutherbourg Coalbrookdale by Night, 1801. The painting is of an Iron works in Shropshire, UK. To me it looks apocalyptic, the final days, the fires of hell burning so powerfully. It cuts a scar through the landscape. The countryside seems to be bleeding, screaming out in pain. It could be a vision of hell or like Dante’s Inferno! The skies illuminated by the fires below. The far right of the painting almost depicts how the scene would look without the iron works there, a hint of nature. Jesse Alexander explains how the industrial revolution and its ‘negative impact’ upon the landscape brought about the Romantic movement in painting, the picturesque. I wanted to create images that counterbalance the effects of our impact upon the land.

Philip James De Loutherbourg Coalbrookdale by Night, 1801

Philip James De Loutherbourg Coalbrookdale by Night, 1801

The book also discusses the Industrial Sublime and how the land can be used for political and economic movements, often at detriment to the landscape and the ecosystem. The need for  more energy and manufacturing change the land. Ecosystems and the environment are destroyed in the process – the short term gain leaves such a negative impact on the countryside and wildlife it may never recover or take hundreds of years to recover to its previous state.

Exploration and Decay

You just have to go on YouTube to find a mass of urban explorers, scouting the landscape for old property in various states of decay. We are drawn to these places as a means of discovery but also learning about the land and what came before us, where do we sit in the historical context of some of these old places? We are fascinated by history as it can give us clues to why and how the landscape has been formed around us. Maybe more importantly the lessons from the past, what we can learn from them and what we want our landscapes to look like in the future. In the book Jesse states it has been suggested that a motive behind some of this urban exploration of abandoned places could be a reflection on our restriction to public spaces and increased surveillance. I certainly came across some of this during my visits on location for this assignment. Places that should be accessible, were either impossible or too risky to get to, some areas were cordoned off entirely, presumably for public safety. As with all things there is a balance to everything.

Thematically I have been influenced by the concept of nature reclaiming its place or its territory. The countryside once changed by industry during the industrial revolution,  now reclaiming its territory. The old Fussells Iron Works is located around the villages of Mells and Great Elm in the Mendip district of Somerset. Although the land has been forever changed by the Iron Works, nature is doing its best to pull back its claim on the landscape. The area is now classed as a  biological Site of Special Scientific Interest and the iron works itself classed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, so it has protected status. Areas of the site are now the home of both greater and lesser horse shoe bats.

The Iron Works created mainly agriculture tools (spades, scythes, etc) that were exported abroad to America and Europe. It is said there has been some form of iron industry on the site for over 500 years but the main mill was built around the 1740’s by the Fussells family. They had 6 iron works, 3 of these were located between Mells and Great Elm. Towards the end of the 19th Century the iron works closed due to declines in the iron making industry and agriculture. At its peak the iron works employed over 250 people. Some of the old iron works were bought and converted into residential places but the areas I photographed mainly focused around the Upper and Lower Works situated between Mells and Great Elm.  The Upper Works continued to be in use until around the 1960’s as a water powered saw mill.

I first stumbled on Fussells iron works (quite literally!) a couple of month back in the winter whilst on a a long hike that took in part of the wider landscape around the area. The iron works was a segment of a wider journey of exploration, I saw how it sat in context to its surroundings on the land, it intrigued me so much I had to come back again.

I had considered some other sites for my assignment, these included the old caves around Box and Corsham as they are just down the road from me. I noted Jesse Alexander had created the project Turnstile (2008) on some of this area. I also considered looking at much more ancient sites like Barbury Castle, Waylands Smithy, the Whitehorses, the Ridgeways and Holloways etc. Maybe I will look at these another time in my landscape photography. For now I couldn’t make it work for this theme.

James Morris – A Landscape of Wales

I found some inspiration in the project ‘A Landscape of Wales’ by James Morris. I liked his exploration of how industry has shaped and changed the landscape in Wales along with the idea that by extracting all of these raw materials from the earth he questions what has been left behind in its place? He then contrasts this with the tourism sites of Wales, questioning what version of Wales people are being sold. Do the tourism brochures match up to the reality for the people that live in the communities within this landscape?

It makes me question, when the land has recovered (if it recovers), what will take its place? What can fill the void of such mass destruction to the land? Economically it seems to be a shift towards tourism but that can fulfill everything.

Despite the bleakness of some of the images there is also a distinct beauty in his work that is very compelling, it draws me in.

Dinorwig Slate Quarry (disused), Gwynedd by James Morris

Dinorwig Slate Quarry (disused), Gwynedd by James Morris

Alec Soth – Sleeping by the Mississippi

I was drawn to some of the landscape elements in Alex Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi, in particular the shots without people in them. The project is about journey and exploration along the Mississippi river, the images taken from road trips.

I enjoyed his exploration of the river and his encounters along the way. I went back to my location a number of times and explored the site in more depth, I went further down the river every time to see what I could find. I learned that every time I visited I developed a greater understanding and feel for the place.

Helena, Arkansas 2002 by Alec South.

Helena, Arkansas 2002 by Alec South.

Cathedral of the Pines by Gregory Crewdson

Last year I visited the Cathedral of the Pines exhibition by Gregory Crewdson at the Photographers Gallery. It was one of the best exhibitions I have been to. I also wrote a research point on Context and Narrative here. The work hasn’t thematically influenced my assignment here but it has in some ways aesthetically been an influence. A significant difference in my work here is there are no people within the frame in my images.

Aesthetically in a number of my images I use the river as the a subject that flows through the frame and the woodland as an overarching blanket around the frame. The colour palette is also very similar, although mine probably has more contrast.

Drainpipe, 2014.Gregory Crewdson from Cathedral of the Pines.

Drainpipe, 2014.Gregory Crewdson from Cathedral of the Pines.

I think of the river as a giver of life, it can symbolize mother nature. It can bring life and it can bring great destruction. Rivers are like the veins that run through the landscape, bringing the life blood in the form of water to all its parts. Without the river a lot of animals would die or flee. Historically we have built civilizations around water as its the fundamental element that keeps us alive. The movement of water can also represent the passage of time, its an element that both exists within and outside the frame; it is the past, present and future all at once. Like fire I can sit and stare at the river, it is, in its very essence, hypnotic.

Untitled, 2006. Gregory Crewdson

Untitled, 2006. Gregory Crewdson

Christina White -Fussells IronWorks

I did have a look on line for other artists/photographers who have explored the Fussells Iron Works. I found some images on a internet search engine but most notably was the photographs by Christina White. A lot of her work involves exploring the post industrial landscape by using a large format camera. Admittedly I only stumbled upon her photography after taking my own images. I liked her use of black and white imagery, I like the texture and tones. For my project I had made an early decision to steer clear of black and white as I was keen to embrace some colour, notably to convey nature reclaiming the place through all of the green everywhere. In black and white it wouldn’t work for this project. I did really enjoy looking at Christina’s photographs and the other projects she is working on.

 

Day 1 Final Selection:

Day 2 Final Selection:

Day 3 Final Selection:

From the three days of shooting I made my final selection of images for the assignment.

FINAL SELECTION OF IMAGES:

Daily Observations Notebook:

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Individual Pages:

Contact Sheets

Day 1

Contact Sheet Day 1

Day 2

Contact Sheet Day 2

Day 3

Contact Sheet Day 3

Reference:

Alexander, J. 2015. Perspectives on Place.

https://www.bgs.ac.uk/mendips/Industrial_archaeology/fussells.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Iron_Works,_Mells

http://www.dorandsomcanal.org/FIIS/index.html

http://www.christinawhitephotography.co.uk/my-work/fussells-ironworks/

https://www.edwardburtynsky.com/

https://www.gagosian.com/artists/gregory-crewdson

https://www.jamesmorris.info/portfolio/landscape-wales/

In Conversation With | Alec Soth

http://www.mackbooks.co.uk/books/1180-Sleeping-by-the-Mississippi.html

 

Exercise 5.3

Your journey may not involve travelling the world or an excursion across Russia. You might see your journey to the post office every Monday as particularly relevant – or the journey from your bed to the kitchen in the morning. Note the journeys you go on regularly and reflect upon them.

Now photograph them. Remember to aim for consistency in your pictures. If you choose to photograph all the charity shops you’ve visited in a week, try to photograph them all using the same camera, lens, standing position, lighting, etc. This will help keep your project honed to the subject matter rather than you, the photographer.

For this exercise I photographed a journey on the Avebury Landscape, a circular route that took me across ancient land and agricultural spaces. I photographed them all with the same camera and lens, standing position and light. The land has been scorched over the past couple of months from a lack of rainfall and a recurring heatwave.

I observed how most of the images capture the moment between here and there, sometimes like transitional spaces.  I also noticed how the landscape has evolved around these ancient Ridegways that have been here for thousands of years and other paths have been created as passageways between them.

I noticed how the use of hedgerows, fences or walls have created individual spaces set within a larger landscape, attempting to divide up the land, create order and a system for this vast place. The paths sometimes suggest (whether rightly or wrongly) that you should walk here, not over there, again attempting to create order or authority. Yet, essentially, you can walk where ever you want, provided its not on the farmers crops!

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Reflection Point – Journeys

Where would you choose to do a project of this scale given the chance? What would you choose as your subject matter? What worlds would you like to create?

If I were to take on a project on the scale of Alec Soth’s ‘Sleeping by the Mississippi’ I can think of loads of places I would like to explore. A couple that come to mind include some of the places from my childhood like New South Wales in Australia or the west coast of Scotland where my family come from.

I would like to explore the land and our place upon and within it. Question how we have used the land, if the land has ever used us, what challenges the land presents to us, what challenges we present to the land. How does our increasing population impact on rural communities? How are rural communities impacted by changes in their population from the younger generation leaving to get jobs in cities, because there is no diversity in the employment within rural communities? How the older generation may have seen the land change within their lifetime. Wealthy land owners buying up property for summer retreats or holiday lets? How does this shift the use of the landscape? What impact has industry and/or agriculture had on the landscape? How can we move away from traditions which are no longer acceptable but still hold on to our heritage? And with that what new ‘traditions’ can we create or are being created to take their place? Is there such a thing as community any more or are we islands upon an island?  What impact has globalization and capitalism had on individualism and culture in Britain? How the changing climate and weather can alter the landscape over time and what the future may mean? What fears do people have for the environment in the future? I could go on.

I have found the most joy journeying on foot. For me its the right pace and the ability to approach a place from the outer edges, pass through it and exit on the other side gives me a much better appreciation for how a place sits in the context of the wider landscape that surrounds it. Simple journeying to a place by car, walking around it and then leaving it doesn’t always work. Some of the most interesting places I have discovered over the years have been on a long hike as you pass on trails through different landscapes and often stumble upon a gem. Also sometimes the outer fringes or ‘Edgelands’ as seen in the photography by Mark Power,  can have some of the most interesting things happening on the periphery. Also a lot of the time the destination isn’t always important, the trail is more important, often the journey’s start is the journey’s end.

Reference:

Alexander, J. 2015. Perspectives on Place.

http://alecsoth.com/photography/?page_id=14

https://www.markpower.co.uk/Photographic-projects/26-DIFFERENT-ENDINGS

 

 

Exercise 5.2

The French writer Georges Perec wrote a book called An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris (1975) in which he wrote down everything he could see from a certain viewpoint. You may like to read it.

Choose a viewpoint, perhaps looking out of your window or from a café in the central square, and write down everything you can see. No matter how boring it seems or how detailed, just write it down. Spend at least an hour on this exercise.

Here are some areas to consider:
• Can you transform this into a photography version?
• Would you stay in the same place or get in close to the things you listed?
• Would you choose to use your camera phone in order to be discreet or would you get your tripod out?
• Would it be better in black and white or colour?
• Would you include your list with the final images?

You may choose to turn this into a photography project if it interests you.

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For this exercise I sat at the cafe at Westonbirt Arboretum, spending an hour watching and observing all of the sights, sounds and smells around me. I found it to be a fascinating exercise.

I’ve always been an observer, for as long as I can remember but I’m often in my only little bubble. It was a great exercise in trying to look outwards and observe even the small occurrences that were taking place in the environment around me. I think an hour is just about long enough to do this exercise. I can see how repeating this exercise would help you gain a greater understanding of a place.  Visiting a place multiple times for a photography project would help me gain a better appreciation of the place. There may be things I missed on a first visit that I notice on other visits. Also, how can you assume to know a place from one visit or a brief encounter. Maybe you are lucky and capture the essence of a place.

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I also think with somewhere you have visited multiple times already (like I had here) you can take a place for granted and assume you already know it but you can still learn more by opening up to the possible opportunities. There are obviously repetitions in every day life like Georges Perec observed but he also noticed the randomness of every day life. I noticed how by physically slowing myself down, taking the time to stop I was able to see more. The more I looked and the longer I sat the more I saw. It did make me think that there is always something to photograph! When I’m having days where there is no inspiration I need to slow down and repeat this exercise again as there is inspiration everywhere!

My observations:

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Slideshow of the above:

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I haven’t turned this into a photography project for this exercise but if I were to do this I would prefer to have a camera with a silent shutter, be a silent photography ninja! Maybe a smartphone would work instead. I don’t think I would get the tripod out but it would depend entirely on what I was looking to create. Repeating the exercise every day for a week or over a longer period of time would also help to gain a broader appreciation for the place and the people that pass through it. I don’t think I would include the text but perhaps just a caption describing the date, time and place.

Reference:

Perec, P. 2010. An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris. Distributed Art Pub Inc. Originally published 1975 in French.