Archives

Adelaide, archives, black + white, film, topographics

Adelaide Photography 1970-2000: Submissions called

November 17, 2018

I have finally picked up working on the Adelaide Photography 1970-2000 book  with Adam  Dutkiewicz to be published by Moon Arrow Press after more than a year’s break,   due our  other book and exhibition commitments by Adam and myself. We have just called for submissions for  the portfolios in the book,  and we are now sitting back and waiting to see what comes in from the call out.  Though it is not really clear what kind of  work will be submitted at this stage, the book’s regional  focus  will  fill one of the  gaps in  the art history of Australian photography that was traditionally based around a cumulative teleology of styles and periods.

The design is simple: each photographer will be given 6-8 pages to present their work from this period and they will have a text  to describe their work and their biography.  As there are currently more than  20 photographers who expressed an interest in submitting a portfolio and there is some text, the book looks to be  over 100 pages.   It appears  as if the book  is going to be a substantial text.

Adelaide Hills + city

My own portfolio is structured around  my  shift from street photography to topographics. This excludes the landscape photographs and it foreshadows my turn to,  and latter embrace of,  a topographical approach to photography. The topographical  turn, which  was made during  this period,  with both the Port Adelaide series and the spatial interpretations  of Adelaide, was largely shaped by using  large format cameras.  It was a foreshadowing in the sense of my not consciously relating this to the New Topographics tradition in the US, even though I was consciously photographing  a  human altered landscape. Continue Reading…

landscape, nature, water

The ‘Our-Waters’ project

November 10, 2018

I have recently become involved in a new project entitled Our-Waters, which is  about the River Murray and the photographic archives of the  Godson Collection  held by the State Library of South Australia.  Some background to the project is here on my  Our Waters  Our Country blog,  which, for now,   is loosely associated with the  Our Waters project.

As it is  still early days in the project,  it has  no  public profile  (ie., there is no website) to inform people what is happening.    However, a   recent update on  the state of play of the  Our Waters project is on this blog post. This indicates that this photography is not what Rebecca Solnit calls eco-porn: photography  that  celebrate the  ‘untouched beauty’ of nature associated with  the nature tourism  and calendars that view our  land and rivers as a place of wildness and wilderness.

 

Lake Alexandrina, 2011

It is an opportune time to start such a project given the recent report on the ecological state of the Coorong by the Goyder Institute.   The  ecological condition of the Coorong has been steadily degrading since European “settlement” due to upstream water extractions, and  the Millennium Drought was a major disturbance causing a rapid decline in condition.   Whilst the relatively recent increase in natural and managed inflows to the Coorong  through the Murray-Darling Basin Plan have improved the ecological condition of the North Lagoon, the ecological condition of the South Lagoon  has  not recovered,  or it has continued to decline.  As Mary E. White wrote in her Running Down – Water in a Changing Land (Kangaroo Press, 2000):

The continuing saga of the extraction of massive amounts of water from inland rivers to satisfy the escalating demands of the irrigation industry is Australia’s most serious, and ultimately potentially most disastrous water-related issue. It is a battle between two essentially irreconcilable attitudes to land use.

To  speak plainly, the Murray-Darling Basin has been, and is being,  managed to  benefit the  irrigators.  Continue Reading…

architecture, landscape, Melbourne, ruins, topographics

drosscapes

October 12, 2018

Georgina Downey has usefully suggested that the collaborative   project of  photographing industrial Melbourne by  Stuart Murdoch and myself can be usefully framed as belonging to what landscape architects,  call drosscapes.  We have been photographing in and around waste urbanscapes that are different from edge lands  as it is a junkyard that is a by product of industrialisation and is in the process of being redeveloped.

The  concept of  drosscape was coined by Alan Berger (a landscape architect and associate professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design)  in 2006 in his book, Drosscape: Wasting Land in Urban America to refer to the waste landscapes. Berger proposed classifying a differentiation between waste landscapes (places that store, manage or process urban or industrial waste), wasted landscapes (polluted or abandoned sites), and wasteful landscapes (huge extensions of developed land with virtually no use for the community).

wasteland, Nth Melbourne

The idea of  drosscape applies to the industrial Melbourne site that Stuart and I have been photographing,  as this wasteland is currently being redeveloped as part of the extension of the Melbourne underground. Berger says that a  drosscape is:

“the creation of a new condition in which vast, wasted, or wasteful land surfaces are modeled in accordance with new programs or new sets of values that remove or replace real or perceived wasteful aspects of geographical space (i.e., redevelopment, toxic waste removal, tax revenues, etc.)”. As a verb, he sees the ‘drosscaping’ as the practice incorporating social programs and activities into the transformed waste landscape.”

He adds  that one must not commit the mistake to call an abandoned train station by itself a drosscape. In this instance, a drosscape would be the integration of new horizons onto the unused site, which by itself it is only dross. Continue Reading…

drought, landscape, Mallee, water

climate change + photography

September 17, 2018

When I was on the Balranald photocamp for the Mallee Routes project exploring the Yanga woolshed and homestead I noticed the  dryness of  the country was around  the Murrumbidgee River that was caused by lack of autumn and winter rainfall, the protracted drought and climate change. As  I drove through  the Yanga National Park  to the red gum forest at Woolpress Bend  I noticed that the decline in  rainfall  meant  that none of the little creeks (eg., Uara Creek) were flowing in and around the national park; the wetlands were dry and  the  trees in the floodplains were dying.I noticed that there were hardly any old mature  River Red Gum trees–they’d been   logged to fuel river boats, for fencing and other uses. This changed the structure of the forests along the Murrumbidgee River.

The evidence suggests that human-caused  climate change is exacerbating drought conditions in parts of Australia, especially in the southeast (and southwest) part of  Australia. My assumption is that as climate change is already here,  so  we need to brace for  its impact,  and  to start learning how to adapt to a warmer world in south eastern Australia.

trees, Yanga Creek, NSW

The lower Murrumbidgee River was historically unknown for  the richness of the floodplains due to the natural flow regimes from  the melting  snow in the Great Dividing Range in  the spring. This flow regime has been modified  by river regulation  that includes building of dams and weirs, diversion of river flow by extraction, alteration of  flows on floodplains with levees and structures to allow water storage.   Continue Reading…

architecture, landscape, Mallee, roadtrip

Returning to the silo project

August 11, 2018

The   conceptually based  and low key Silo project   is taking  me a while to refine and to realize in spite of its simplicity.  It has been refined to  a minimal project  that  consists of  photographing 15 silos on the Mallee Highway from Talem Bend to Piangil  using one camera (an 8×10 Cambo  monorail),   one lens (a Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar 300mm f/5.6), one type of film (Ilford FP4 Plus) and one tripod (a Linhof Heavy Duty).The photographs,  like those of the conceptual artists in the  1960s and early 70s (e.g., Ed Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations),   will be  paired with words in the form of titles and published in book form.   There is nothing complicated about this kind of project.

Despite this conceptual simplicity and clarity  it is taking me quite a  while  to realize the idea behind  the  project.   It  started in 2016  on  some road trips,  but, to my surprise,  I have discovered that getting it  up and running has proved to be  difficult.    I initially thought that I would photograph in colour as well as black and white but that approach ended in confusion.  I  then encountered  various problems  using the camera,  the coverage limitations of  the  initial lens I was using (a Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar 210mm f/5.6),  and  difficulties developing the 8×10 sheet film without my own darkroom.

silo, Mallee Highway, Victoria

I also  thought   that I could  work on the Silo project whilst simultaneously working on the   Mallee Routes one,   given that I was  frequently travelling up and down the Mallee Highway to go toad from  the various Mallee Routes photo camps.  However,  I found that though I carried the 8×10 Cambo with with me whilst  on the Mallee Routes road trips,    I would never  get around to using it to work on the silo project.  I was too caught up in the Mallee Routes project. I eventually came to  realise  that these were two separate projects that required quite different approaches to photography.   Continue Reading…