Australian topographics

Australian Topographics is a visual representation of the surface features of some regions of Australia, such as Melbourne and Tasmania. The genre of landscape has been very  unfashionable across the  visual arts for a  long time , and it is seen as  the preserve of the Sunday painter and the happy tourist snapper.  This project can be considered as part of the recent turn to landscape within contemporary art photography in a post-colonial Australia (e.g., Rosemary Laing, Carl Warner,  Debra Phillips). It does so  without embracing the  picturesque style of wilderness photography, which  is  popular in Tasmania and  renders  the imaged land as a ‘timeless’ landscape.

Australian Topographics refers back to the New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape, an exhibition that was curated by William Jenkins at the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House (Rochester, New York) in January 1975. These pictures focused on the western “expansion” of the US and concentrated on mobile homes, impoverished former boomtowns, lower-middle- class housing tracts, and other signs of the lost American Dream. The exhibition gestured to nineteenth-century topographic photography under the initial exploratory auspices of the U.S. Geological Survey, as well as an acknowledgment of the alteration of that landscape during the intervening  century, as depicted by the urban or suburban realities of the post  1945 changes.

Australian topographics is a reference back to this tradition, as well as to an understated  Australian one,   and is a modest reworking of both. Its focus is historical, a looking back on the recent past.These are  often sites of history and memory that are constantly in flux between remembering and forgetting.




  • Reply Australian Topographics – Stuart Murdoch May 20, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    […] Googling Australian Topographic photographers produces a list of over a  1 million hits, and in the first 2 pages only one photographer I know personally, Gary. […]

    • Reply Gary Sauer-Thompson June 27, 2017 at 6:39 pm

      I guess googling Australian Topographic photographers would probably come up with lots of entries about mapping and aerial photography Stu

  • Reply from street to topographic photography | The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia August 23, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    […] genre of a topographical approach  to the subject  of altered landscapes is not recognised in the written  histories  of […]

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