Reconnectiong with a forgotten past that has haunted me for 7 years or more does encourage me to do more walking with a large format photography in Adelaide’s CBD. Due to the scanning problem I’d only scratched the surface whilst I was I living in, and walking the city for 10 years or so, during the first two decades of the 21st century. Basically, I could pick up from where I’d left off.
From what I can gather there is not much large format urban photography being done in Australia —these days large format is primarily Victorian based and it is mostly either wilderness photography or a photography of nature. Why this is the cultural centre or core of contemporary large format photography in Australia I have no idea. I puzzle over what is left unsaid: why aren’t the photographers using large format photographing the cities they live in; rather than walking and camping in the national parks, or the more remote wilderness parts of Australia? Why have they turned away from the urban to nature? It’s a puzzle.
An exception to this dominate cultural strand is Martin Mischkulni’s impressive Smalltown project (exhibition and book circa 2009) that was made with an 8×10 monorail + colour film. However, this project is a photographic exploration of regional Australia rather than of urban Australia. The photographs in Smalltown are of the rural towns and the remote and sparsely populated places in Western Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory — places, such as Port Hedland, which have been shaped by the economic flows of of industrial modernity. These are places that are still devalued by Australian society.
Another exception is Greg Wayn’s wonderful Industrials series of the 1990s and his black and white study of the abandoned Amcor factory in Melbourne. Wayn also made a colour version. But that is as much as I know about the urban exceptions to the wilderness core of contemporary large format photography in Australia after modernism.
The upshot from the above scanning success that reconnected me with walking the CBD with large format urban camera is that I’m encouraged to start to plan and scope out a new photo-session with the 5×7 monorail whilst walking the CBD. It’s a good time to do so, as the CBD is rapidly changing with the 19th century city being replaced with high rise apartments.