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digital, Melbourne, topographics, urban

in Melbourne: topographics

May 8, 2017

I had several days in  Melbourne  centred around working with Stuart Murdoch on Saturday editing  the 80 or so images for the Bowden Archives book.   Thanks to Stuart  I now have a dummy of  the book which I can show to various people to see how they react, their  impressions and judgements.

Whilst in Melbourne I helped Helga Leunig set her stall up at the Other Art Fair at the Facility in Kensington; saw some  Penelope Hunt’s  images from her  Remains to be Seen and Water Lilies   projects at her stall in the Other Art Fair; managed to  take a few snaps around Docklands;  had some printing done at Magnet; heard about an upcoming Melbourne Photo Festival; saw  the NGV’s Festival of Photography that featured Bill Henson and William Eggleston;   meet up with both  Eric Algra  re the Mallee Routes project and friends from the Lajamanu trip;  and was shown around  Sunshine by Stuart Murdoch. I wasn’t able to make  any photos for the Mallee Routes project on my  way back from Melbourne to Adelaide.

However, late on Saturday afternoon Stuart and I  went on a photo shoot on the Western Ring Road. It took us a while to access  this location situated amongst the various  freeways connected to the Western Ring Road  for our topographical  photo shoot:

Western Ring Rd, Melbourne

The photographic highpoint of the trip was this topographical photoshoot with Stuart even though  it was very windy and the lovely afternoon autumn light had gone.  We only had time to scope the location on this urban  freeway corridor and  to take a few photos with our medium format cameras.  It’s a good location for a large format shoot with the right conditions: clouds, afternoon winter light and little in the way of a south westerly wind.

This brief photoshoot  raised the question of a topographical approach to photography.  What is it? In  Andrew Sayer’s book Australian Art (2001)  topographics refers to the colonial drawings that came out of naval and military culture and derived from the need got recognise coastlines. Often they are views from the water looking towards the shore. The standard reference point  for contemporary Australian topographical photographers is the 1975 New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape  exhibition  at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York which was  curated by William Jenkins, where  the photographers were mapping the built environment of  the late 20th century American western landscape with its motels, housing developments, office parks, and endless parking lots.

In the catalogue essay Jenkins  interpreted  the exhibition images of the American West and Midwest as being “reduced to an essentially topographical state, conveying substantial amounts of visual information but eschewing entirely the aspects of beauty, emotion and opinion”.  The subsequent reframing and restating of the exhibition 40 years latter  interpret it as reinventing the genre of   the landscape as the photographers   grappled with finding a new idiom through which to represent the built environment. Continue Reading…

abstraction, critical writing, Melbourne

Unless You Will, 2017

February 20, 2017

I was unable to participate in the Unless You Will conference or symposium  at RMIT in  Melbourne that  took place during 17-19th February 2017. This was unfortunate  for me,  since the symposium was designed as a physical meeting place for art photographers, but it was one  without an online conversational dimension. So I am currently in the dark about what took place or what the key ideas that were presented and debated.

Though I know that Unless You Will was founded by Heidi Romano, who also directed the inaugural Photobook Melbourne festival, I am out of the loop.  For example, I failed to submit my Abstract Photography: re-evaluating visual poetics in Australian modernism and contemporary practice   book  for the 2017 Australian Photobook of the Year Award.  I just didn’t know about the award. I felt that I should have, given my shift away from exhibitions towards producing photobooks.

Lyonville abstract

Lyonville abstract, 2016

 

The blurb  for the Unless You Will  conference  says that this symposium seeks to cultivate interaction and connection within photography:

As  a kind of visual meeting place or think-tank it provides  is an opportunity for the photographic community to share different practices, gain insights into other artists’ work and inspire critical discussion around emerging trends and ideas in photography and visual culture….The aim of the symposium is  to search for avenues beyond the traditional in presenting photography.

The central aim  of the  Unless You Will project is to connect Australian photo creatives with their overseas counterparts around visual storytelling. That suggests  that the photographers involved with, or connected to  Unless You Will, are working within the tradition of long-form documentary storytelling.  Continue Reading…

colour, Melbourne, urban

flying into Melbourne

December 27, 2015

This picture  of Melbourne from a Qantas plane  was made whilst we were returning to Australia from our brief trip to Wellington and the Tongariro National Park in  New Zealand. It was early morning when we flew in. We only made our connecting flight to Adelaide with minutes to spare.

Melbourne, Victoria

Melbourne, Victoria

It was only a couple of years ago that I  used to do these kind of diary snaps with a 35m film Leica (M series).  I admired the Leica ethos –that reality should be fixed on film with lenses that faithfully capture what is in front of the camera. The final print  is the work of the photographer,  and if the result was not as hoped for,  then the photographer takes the blame, not the camera.

However, for 35mm photography I’ve  made the switch to digital photography. These days I use  a Sony digital camera (an old  NEX-7) with  Leica M lenses. The reason  for the switch is that digital imagery delivers superior results when used handheld in most practical situations. The transition from film to digital technology is  still a transit stage  probably to digital imagery on and off the internet.

The drive of the  photographic industry to produce successor models for every camera  (including smart phones) with ever-shorter product cycles,  there is an  eager acceptance of consumers/photographers  to upgrade to the newest model, and the photographer is becoming more and more of a computer technician.   The search is for the perfect camera,  and often  it is the  technology  (cameras are  effectively computer devices for image capture) that drives the  photography. Newer models supposedly means  better model. However, you  cannot tell from the pictures that  the newest digital camera  is the best ever, since  the pictures   are more or less  indistinguishable from those from the  previous model.    Continue Reading…

architecture, Melbourne, urban

the Melbourne connection

May 24, 2015

Though Encounter Studio is located in Victor Harbor in South Australia, it has various connections to Melbourne in Victoria.

I am a member of the Melbourne Silver Mine group and exhibit with them in their annual Uncensored exhibitions at the Collingwood Gallery and subsequent books. I also frequently visit Melbourne to make photos and for phototrips, and I work with Stuart Murdoch exploring topographical photography when I am there. In that sense, Stuart, who has started to publish photography books, can be seen as a part of Encounter Studio: ie.–the Melbourne connection.

Footscray, Melbourne, Victoria

Footscray, Melbourne, Victoria

One of the topographical projects Stuart and I are working on is Merri Creek. Stuart had photographed around the Northcote area of Merri Creek approximately 11 years ago when he lived nearby, and he was interested in re-exploring it to see what had changed. I was attracted by the nature/urban relationship. So we decided to start scoping it when I was last in Melbourne.
Continue Reading…