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…
In an earlier post about The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia project I mentioned that the book increasingly looks to be about place and memory.
The places in the book are the Adelaide CBD, Bowden and Adelaide’s suburban beaches. They are places in the sense that memory is formed in and by place through experiential interactions and in turn, place triggers personal and collective memory
Certainly my memories of these places are being triggered by the specific photographs that I have been selecting from my 1980s and 1990s archives. Many of my memories from this period have long been forgotten. They are slowly returning as I reconstruct this period through photos and research material about the process of de-industrialization in South Australia. Continue Reading…
My energies in the last month or so of 2016 have been directed in starting to put material –images and text—together for the photo-book that I have started working on. It is a form of memory work as it is an active seeking out and an interpretive and reconstructive approach to the past. The book is situated in the nexus of photography, archive and memory and it is a working through of personal and collective memory based on my photographic archive.
The first stage is going through the 1980s photography archive, selecting negatives from the contact sheets, scanning the selected images, and then digging around the internet for text to act as a commentary on this decade in Adelaide. The assembled material goes into a post on an old wordpress blog, which acts as a repository of selected material that I can then rework into an initial digital draft using InDesign. Or probably Scrivener, before I turn to InDesign, as I do need a word processor and project management tool that would allow me to compose and structure a difficult document.
newspaper boy, Adelaide
The book’s current working title is The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia and, at this stage, it is composed of three main sections: Adelaide street images, the Bowden archival project, and pictures made away from the city–at the beach or on the road. I have primarily been working on the first two sections and these are looking okay. Continue Reading…
This image is an outtake from the 15 images that have been selected for my forthcoming Fleurieuscapes exhibition at the Magpie Springs Gallery in January 2016. A previous outtake from the exhibition can be seen on this post on the Encounter Studio blog.
Elephants trunk, Victor Harbor
Although I was quite partial to it, my friends who were kindly acting as de facto curators for the exhibition rejected it. I am sentimentally attached to the image as my architectural representations of Victor Harbor are few and far between. There isn’t that much to work with in this coastal township, architecturally speaking, and I thought it was a good way to explore the people, place, space theme of the exhibition. Continue Reading…
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.
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…