I have been slowly plugging away on the Tasmanian Elegies project. I have been going through my film archives and posting selected images on the Tumblr blog. I am up to my 2012 visit, but I think that there is a gap of 4-5 years before I return to Tasmania on a phototrip. It looks as if the project is starting to come together and that I will have enough images to start thinking in terms of a book for this project after ‘The Bowden Archives: memory, text, place’ is done and dusted. This is a project with a long gestation period.
I will probably enough images –see the Tumblr blog— but it is the text that is going to cause me trouble. Tasmanian Elegies is at odds with the emphasis on landscape photography in Tasmania, and that branch of landscape photography known as wilderness photography.I am probably going to have to go to a university library to access, and read what Roslynn D. Haynes in her Tasmanian Visions: Landscapes in Writing, Art and Photography (2006) has to say.
water tanks, Mt Lyell Mine, Queenstown
This emphasis on wilderness by Tasmanian photographers is understandable given the large number of wilderness areas in Tasmania, the ongoing threat to wilderness from the mining and timber industries and the environmental movements defence of wilderness in the face of these threats. Photography has become the chief visual instrument of environmentalists endeavouring to increase an awareness of the natural beauty and sublimity of Tasmania’s wilderness. Wilderness here is usually understood as an unpeopled wilderness. Continue Reading…
I have started going though my photographic archive to select photos that I have made in Tasmania for the Tasmanian Elegies project. I wanted to move beyond the ones in the website’s gallery as they are a lot more in the archives and I didn’t know what t6o do with them. So I have revamped an old Tumblr blog and turned it into a way of selecting the images from the archive. Hence we have Thoughtfactory’s Tasmanian Elegies blog.
This publishing platform will allow me to see the images in terms of a project; a project that can become a book, if the images hold up and look interesting together. Books, I am realising, have long lead times–a couple of years for me. The blog is the first step in constructing a text.
Mt Lyell mine landscape, 2012
One motivation for doing something with the images in the archives is the Griffith Review’s edition 39 on Tasmania–The Tipping Point, whose co-editor was Associate Professor Natasha Cica, the then director of the Inglis Clark Centre for Civil Society at the University of Tasmania. It consists of essays, articles, reviews and review articles on a wide range of cultural and media matters, as well as fiction and poetry’. The core argument is that Tasmania is in transition from a resource -based economy (logging and mining) to a ‘smart island’ focused around culture, food, and tourism.
This is a big shift for a small population (just over 500,000) still caught up in the battle between the environment and conservation and economic development and growth, and still experiencing a brain drain. Continue Reading…
We are in the process of planning a trip to Tasmania at the end of January for two weeks. In the first week Suzanne will walking in the Wall of Jerusalem National Park with friends and I will be photographing, probably on the West Coast. In the second week we will travel together around the island in a camper van and check out the Three Capes Walk in the south east of the island, visit Mona, and take in the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart.
Just by coincidence I came across an old roll of 120 film in an old bag–photos of Queenstown from a holiday in Tasmania that we had in February 2010. I remember taking the photos from this location, as I slid on the wet clay when I was coming down the slope to return to the car. I rolled down the hill and, in the process, damaged the film winding mechanism of the Rolleiflex SL66 that I was using. Lucky for me the Rolleiflex was able to be repaired back in Adelaide.
These were among the photos that I’d made before I started working on the Tasmania Elegies portfolio. Those portfolio photos of the Mt Lyell Mine and the King River were made on a subsequent trip to Tasmania, and they emerged out of the photos that I’d made in 2010. Continue Reading…
The ‘contemporary’ in contemporary art often suggests a qualification of the modernity rather than a counter to the modern. The counter to a now historical (Greenberg-style) modernism was postmodernism, with postmodernism marking a critical distance from modernism. For some reason postmodernism died into history’s dustbin, and it has been replaced by contemporary art, which is what now regulates the division between the past and present in the present.
What then is contemporary art, and where does photography fit?
Some say that it is art works produced now that offer a fresh perspective and point of view, and often employing new techniques and new media. The fresh perspective is that contemporary art challenges what was before and hints that there is more to come. It should confront prevailing notions as well as being seen as interesting, exciting, significant and fresh.
Mt. Lyell mine, Gormanston
The term ‘contemporary art’ is usually associated with the break with the prevailing object-based and medium specific art that emerged in the 1960s and the sheer diversity of forms after the end of the Cold War in 1989. It draws on the legacy of the conceptual art of the 1960, whose historical significance was its rejection of the over-valuation of the aesthetic dimension of art in Greenbergian formalism, but it is post-conceptual in that it understands both that art is necessarily conceptual and that its aesthetic dimension is ineliminable because its materiality means that it exists in time and space.
Contemporary art also exceeds or ruptures the historically received conventions that had previously defined the various artistic mediums, and the emergence of the global transnationalization of the biennale as an exhibition form. Hence the idea of the de-bordering of arts as medium and the de-bordering of the national spaces of art.