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coastal

coastal, digital, landscape

Edgelands: the Coorong

February 20, 2016

On the way back from Melbourne I spent a couple of  days  exploring the Coorong around Salt Creek to scope  for the second part of  the  Edgelands  project. Edgelands are often seen as dead zones or tracts of land with confused and unassigned values on the urban fringe. Our cities,  for instance,  have many inactive patches of land that fall out of favor with humans for many reasons. These humdrum urban corridors or borderlands  are usually seen as distinctively non-photogenic commonplace spaces.

However,  there are spaces  that are outside the urban fringe between the carefully defined spaces of farmland and national parks   that are also edgelands which have  a minimal human engagement.  In South Australia these can be found around  the Coorong. Most people visiting the Coorong either camp in the Pink Gum wood land near Salt Creek in the national park,  or they cross the waters of the Coorong at 42 mile or Tea Tree Crossing off the loop road to the sand dunes  for their wilderness camping or  to go fishing along  the shore of the ocean beach. Parts of the Ngrugie Ngoppup Walk near Salt Creek, for instance,  goes through  a space that  is  not obviously occupied and not clearly marked by traditional boundaries of farm and national park.

How  then, to photograph this landscape?

I wanted to avoid the dramatic morning and evening light favoured by an environmental Romanticism  that places the emphasis on both natural beauty  and  this remote  landscape being  a pristine natural world that is a refuge from the ravages of an industrial capitalism   fuelled by coal, oil and gas.  This  has resulted in a substantial level of landscape change —in both its nature and magnitude. The Coorong  is a melancholy landscape.

Coorong, midday

Coorong, midday

 

It is  a necessary to walk these spaces to discover them, as they are not obvious from the road or through a car windscreen the highway.   Ari and I  walked part of this space   in the middle of the day,  so that  I could take  some snaps with  a digital camera to study  on the  studio’s computer screen when I returned to Encounter Bay. This  is a landscape that evokes feelings of uncanny alienation and a mood of dark depression.   Continue Reading…

abstraction, black + white, coastal, exhibitions, nature, rocks

Fleurieuscapes: Outtake 3

January 12, 2016

This abstraction of the granite rocks at Kings Head, which is n near Victor Harbor on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia,    is another out take from the Fleurieuscapes exhibition at Magpie Springs. One  reason for  this image not making the cut is that I decided that there would be no abstractions  in the exhibition, given my 2015  Australian Abstraction exhibition at the Light Gallery in Adelaide during the SALA Festival.   Another reason  for  its  exclusion is that the  people  helping me  to curate the  pictures   for the exhibition judged  that  the image  was too forbidding and  austere. It was a part of the  grotesque mode of expression in the visual art and it didn’t really fit in  the exhibition.

This exhibition  is part of the emerging trend in contemporary art photography  in Australia and New Zealand  that shows a marked and widespread interest in landscape. There has been a tendency to trivialise and overlook landscape photography, including the photography of wilderness.

rock abstract, Kings Head

rock abstract, Kings Head

The  textual background to the exhibition is that the genre of landscape has been desperately unfashionable across the arts for so long, the preserve of the Sunday painter and the happy tourist snapper. While the photographic canon includes the greats of landscape photography,  more recently photographers have tended to avoid a genre that is so easily linked to the vernacular (ie., happy snappers and tourism) and so difficult to connect to serious intent.
Continue Reading…

coastal, colour, digital, people

Summer is here

December 20, 2015

Summer is here in south-eastern Australia.

The temperatures in Adelaide have been in the high 30s and low 40s during December, the fire season is here  and the firefighters battle the increasingly frequent  bushfires.   People are arriving  on the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula for their  Xmas break,  the holiday houses are being occupied, the boaties and their expensive boats are lining up on the Encounter Bay boat ramp  to go tuna fishing, the days are long with daylight saving, and the beach is the place to go.

Petrel Cove, Victor Harbor

Petrel Cove, Victor Harbor

The light is harsh during the summer days, so photography is only possible very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon.

It is now difficult to photograph people on a beach in Australia due to the increasing hostility to “street photography” and parent’s  fear about paedophiles stalking  their children with cameras. This is a pity because the  beach has traditionally been a  public space of recreation and leisure that epitomises the personal liberties of Australia’s democratic society.  The  assumption that  the beach is there for everyone to use was  contested in   the 2005 Cronulla race riots in Sydney  Continue Reading…

coastal, colour, film, history, landscape

Fleurieuscapes + the Indigenous absence

November 26, 2015

I’ve started working  on my forthcoming Fleuriescapes exhibition  at  the Magpie Springs Gallery  in January/February   2016. The exhibition explores  the Fleurieu Peninsula in terms of people, space and place as this opens up a way to gain a perspective on the  white colonisation of the region and  the  contemporary Indigenous absence.  The exhibition is the first step in this project about a region that markets itself as Adelaide’s holiday adventure playground.

The history of the Fleurieu Peninsula  appears to be premised on  the pioneer myth/legend based on the  ingenuity hard work  and adventurousness of the early settlers and the cultural extinction of the Ngarrindjeri people. An anthropologically constructed image of a southern Indigenous person in a possum skin cloak in the South Australian Museum comes to represent a ‘unique’, but extinct Indigenous presence in the heartland of the white Australian nation.

Starfish Hill

Starfish Hill

 

The story of modernity excludes Indigenous people. It produces a set of foundational myths that are written by signs of development such as the bridge, the jetty and the marina. They all represent the power of western technology to overwrite the ‘natural landscape’. This is the landscape in which Indigenous people and Indigenous interests have been traditionally located. It is assumed that the Indigenous place has been obliterated or covered over by the layers of progress.  Continue Reading…

coastal, colour, film, landscape

photography and ugliness

October 22, 2015

I have noticed that there are a few  recurring images  in my archives of  coastal erosion of the sand dunes in,  and around,  the  Victor Harbor area of the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. Since these images are a part of  The Littoral Zone  they got me thinking about how to construct the series or as a book.

The initial thinking behind these images suggests that the recession of the sand dunes is  due, by and large  to storm surges which  are causing the sand dunes to slowly recede,  and that with climate change  the sand dune shorelines around the Victor Harbor township and Hayborough will continue to recede. The categories associated with  climate change assume that one of the consequences of climate change in the form of a warming world is rising sea levels and these, in turn, when coupled to storm surges cause the recession of the sand dunes along the coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula.

sand dune erosion

sand dune erosion

The other kind of thinking or the categories  behind these discrete group of image is the  assumption  that  a (self-conscious) photography as art is the  voice of sensuous particularity against  an abstract economic rationality. Photography as art is more than,  and beyond,  economic reason,   the exchange value of the capitalist market,  and photography as the avatar of  modernity’s technological rationality,  with its mechanical technique, automation and deskilling.

 How do we make sense of  these two modes of thinking: scientific  theory and photography as art?

Continue Reading…