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landscape

camel trek, Flinders Ranges, landscape, ruins

degraded-landscape: Flinders Ranges

July 7, 2018

On my  first night camping on the camel trek in the northern Flinders Ranges I experienced   a culture shock due to  the degraded-landscape around me.  Our camp at  Bend Well (a water point) was  west of Arkaroola and just outside  the edge of the northern tip of the Gammon Ranges and I was stunned at just  how degraded the ecology of this  landscape of this part of the northern Flinders was. It wasn’t the dryness of the landscape that shocked me. This is a semi-arid landscape given the minimal rainfall (roughly around 150mm) that is highly variable and  the hot, dry desert climate with cool to cold winters, and the periods of drought.

We were camped on Umberatana Station south of the dingo or dog fence that runs roughly east-west across South Australia. To the south of the fence, dingoes (wild dogs) have been destroyed   It is north of the dog fence sheep that grazing is unviable due to dingo predation. The main grazing pressure south of the dog fence is from sheep, a few cattle and unknown number of rabbits and kangaroos.

trough, Bend Well, Umberatana Station

What really shocked me  was the condition of the land—the ecological devastation–that had been caused  by the long history  over stocking  by the pastoralists, drought   and the plagues of rabbits since the mid-nineteenth century with little signs of contemporary landcare.  I couldn’t help but notice the loss of vegetation and the subsequent destruction of the soil surface. This is certainly a human altered landscape that had been changed by the pastoral industry.

I appreciate that these pioneer settlers  underpinned the general prosperity of South Australia  in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries since the various attempts at mining in the Flinders Ranges usually  fizzled out quite quickly.   The pastoralists also  opened up the interior of the continent. Continue Reading…

architecture, landscape, Melbourne

walking in Sunshine, Melbourne

June 13, 2018

Prior to going on the camel trek to the northern Flinders  Ranges  I was in Melbourne for a photoshoot about  old industrial Melbourne  for an upcoming SALA exhibition at Atkins Photo Lab with Stuart Murdoch. We spent  a part  of Sunday  afternoon walking along Kororoit Creek in Sunshine  in Melbourne’s west.  It was a pleasant afternoon walking  for a couple of hours along  the creek from Stuart’s place,  even though I was suffering from a painful  back that I’d  damaged just prior to leaving Adelaide for Melbourne.

The creek  features in Stuart’s Sunshine project–which is about place, lived experience and memory.  Some of his photos made along the  Kororoit  Creek Trail  had been  included a recent exhibition he had in 2018.   It was interesting walking with a fellow photographer in their own territory.

Kororoit Creek, Sunshine

Though   Sunshine is generally regarded as one of the forgotten suburbs of Melbourne’s west, I find it to be a fascinating place, both photographically and sociologically.  It is a low-density residential suburb  that is close to Melboune’s  CBD by rail; the Vietnamese  migrants are  rapidly changing this suburb  from its old industrial and white  working class base; it still  has plenty of industrial sites;  it is earmarked for redevelopment;  and there are some well cared for public commons. It is a photographically rich suburb to walk around in. Stuart’s Sunshine project is a making sense of this place that is his home.   Continue Reading…

coastal, colour, landscape, South Australia

aerial photography

November 28, 2017

As mentioned here and here  I had an opportunity to do some aerial photography in late November along the coast of  the southern Fleurieu Peninsula thanks to  Chris Dearden   and his  recreational Sonex motor-glider (a Xenos).   We flew from the privately owned Goolwa  airport  to   the mouth of the River Murray, then turned west and flew  to Newland Cliffs in Waitpinga,  then flew back to Goolwa.  This was the first time that I’d done any aerial photography outside of a few  snaps on various commercial flights.

I was stunned by the beauty of this part of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula  coastline from the air.  It sure looked very impressive.

Mouth of the River Murray

I just could not resist making a  photo of the mouth of the Murray River  with the two dredges working full time to  keep the mouth of the river  open. Water should be flowing through the mouth and into the Coorong, given the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and  the water buybacks to increase  the  environmental flows of the river and the dredges not needed.

What we have learned recently is that the  Murray-Darling Basin Authority is incompetent and that  the NSW state government and bureaucracy have been complicit in water theft and meter tampering. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority knew about the  theft of water for environmental flows  by  some irrigators for cotton growing in northern NSW and  it did nothing. Same for the Queensland  government. There is a long history of state governments in the Murray-Darling Basin  turning a blind eye to excessive water extraction  by irrigators.   Continue Reading…

coastal, colour, landscape, rocks, South Australia

homecoming

November 11, 2017

In  starting to  work on the Fleuriescapes project once again  I can now see that it is more about  place and  homecoming,  with the photographic style more in the form of poeticising.  The project  is about being at home in this particular place,  and it is about exploring what that means through poeticising what is familiar and taken-for granted  in our everyday,  pre-reflective life.

quartz+granite

After we left living in the CBD in Adelaide to shift down to Victor Harbor (ie., sea change) it slowly dawned on us that the southern Fleurieu Peninsula was our home  Adelaide is now where we go  to do business then leave to return home–it is a world of instrumental value and rushing about.  Though we were once comfortably at home in the city’s everydayness and its local neighbourhoods we no longer are at home where we used to live.

We often dip in and out of the consumer society of  the city; an urban life that is  based on unending economic growth  and gaining satisfaction from consumerism. We  no longer miss living in the urban  world of the city 0f Adelaide, with its coffee shops, entertainment, businesses, art galleries, film labs,  corporate universities,  people and politics.  Our experience of the city is now akin to one of homelessness–a passing away of belonging to a world based on unlimited economic growth.

Continue Reading…

architecture, black + white, critical writing, history, landscape, South Australia, topographics

the spatial turn + topographic photography

August 25, 2017

The idea of linking  the spatial turn in the humanities to my 1980s photos emerged whilst I was exploring my   photographic archive for the proposed Adelaide Art Photography: 1970-80 book to be published by Moon Arrow Press.  Noticing  a shift in my photography  from street to topographics,  I started to make connections  in  my archive blog  to the spatial turn in the humanities in relation to the landscape and space that had emerged in the 1980s. This spatial  turn refers to  the landscape and space being  understood in terms of  them being socially constructed and continuously reshaped.

The factory in this photo, which was situated near the railway bridge  has long gone. So have the mangroves,  replaced by  a housing development that was designed to revitalise Port Adelaide.  This then is an urbanscape whose history is that of being continuously transformed by the power of capital since the 19th century.  It is not a landscape the traditional English sense of  a picture of natural inland scenery,  or  the Australian sense of a national landscape painting associated with Romanticism as in the Heidelberg School.     Landscape in this traditional sense  usually veils historically specific social relations behind the smooth and often aesthetic appearance of “nature. The tradition of the  landscape in the visual arts acts to “naturalize” what is deeply cultural,  social and economic.

mangroves, Port River estuary

The emphasis of the Port Adelaide  photography, which  is on place  and the mapping of place,  is a part of the tradition of chorography  that seeks to understand and represent the unique character of individual places. In chorography, the skills of the artist (painter and writer) were more relevant than those of the astronomer and mathematician, which were critical in geography.  Choreography is a part of the  pictorial topographic mapping tradition.  Continue Reading…