Author Archives: Leonard Scott

Exercise 3.3 – Late Photography

We are asked to read, notate the summarise the key points of the essay  Safety in Numbness by David Campany and then note own observations.

http://davidcampany.com/safety-in-numbness/

In Safety is Numbness; David Campany writes about the UK Channel 4 special report regarding the post 9/11 documentation by Joel Meyerowitz as he captured and collected the clean-up operations of the pile at Ground Zero. Campany reflects on the vast difference in the presentation of the images from the speedy reporting and video footage during the event. When news companies like CNN abandoned the unwritten rules about not sharing broadcasts and fed footage from their webcams out to all news stations it helped create an instant and ever-present form of new recording. This video footage went word wide and helped to document the plane strikes on the two towers and the eventual collapse of both towers. Campany presents the idea that by allowing Meyerowitz access and permission to photograph what was going on that the photographs were better suited to ‘record’ the ‘official history’ and that Meyerowitz’ images are a record of a record of a past event,  and that the images are not so much about what had happened but what happened after the event; what the  actions and activity followed in the silence of the event.

Channel 4 Reflections of Ground Zero

Meyerowitz images mainly contain remnants, similar to forensic photography but taken a step further away from the crime. Unlike the crime scene photographs of Weege, Meyerowitz captures the scene after the cleanup crew has started to remove the scene of the crime. These images are a planned capture of memory and history; an aid which allows you to think on an event without projecting remembrance. It is plausible that by doing this Meyerowitz causes the backfire effect where the viewer cannot accept this ‘version’ of presented history because they cannot readily accept these images into their own remembered view of the event.

Campany also proposes that since the amount of video footage runs to less than a few hours, that the multitude of photographs has helped to cement the idea of photographs as a form of unaltered memory as they are uncontaminated and ‘mute’ (Campany,pp5). These frozen moments of time allow the viewer to define and analyse the event through their own memory and the image presented to them. ‘Late Photography’ presents a record disconnected from the immediate event, the images are in a way unrelated to the actual action, rather the images are a slow, methodical, detached reflection, unconnected to the constant stream of visual presentations in today’s 24/7 media driven age of news and event recording.

The last point made by Campany is that by allowing Meyerowitz to photograph around Ground Zero for 9 months that the final set of images presented by Meyerowitz allowed New Yorkers, Americans and the World to mourn and reflect on their own recollections about 9/11.

Observations.

The photographs stand out as they are in reality the last analogue records of an event. This pre-digital ‘Kennedy Moment’  was mainly recorded on videotape, and various sizes of film and slide film. This pre-Facebook, pre-Instagram, pre-Telescope app time meant that the small amount of video footage is outweighed by the number of analogue records now available. Had 9/11 happened in today’s digital society with the amount of technology available then there would be a higher prevalence of common and accessible records as more of the public would be able to capture the event.

From a personal perspective, I found Meyerowitz’ images to be filled with the idea of American Manifest destiny, that they will overcome the event and press onwards and upwards. I can also sense Meyerowitz’ anger at initially not being allowed to photograph Ground Zero. It was only his interaction with a police officer that drove him to capture the images through Late Photography; using his political connections to get the mayor to give him the position of ‘official photographer’

When I think of 9/11 and the events afterwards I do not think of Meyerowitz, instead I am stuck with the image of the falling man (Drew. R 2001); an image published once and since has been filed away from the social remembrance as it is too powerful and painful an image. Meyerowitz presents the phoenix rising from the ashes, but what I remember is the following anger and lust for revenge against the perpetrators which overclouds the images and memories of the grief and pain of the mourners at the dedication ceremony.

In Campanys last point, while I agree that Late Photography has allowed everyone to work through their thoughts and feelings on 9/11, it has also given to a certain amount of “event safari” where groups are taken to see what is left behind.(Young, Oct 2009).  It has also given way to the instant digital grief after an event where Twitter and Facebook are filled with instant but in reality unfeeling ‘thoughts and prayers’ following an event.

Meyerowitz was not the only photographer to capture images of 9/11 through Late Photography, but he was the only one to have an exhibition of images. Photographers like John Botte, who spent three and a half months on the pile working and photographing. Botte shot 56 rolls of film during this time, many of his images were during the first 48 hours but he captured both on the pile at Ground Zero and different perspectives such as Presidents Bush visit and the memorial mass.

How does Meyerowitz images compare and differ from my own memories of  9/11 and what value does the work have?

Meyerowitz worked here with little emotion, he wanted to capture not only the scale of the crime but also to record for history what had happened afterward. He feared that the reality of the act would be lost if the site was treated as just a crime scene. Meyerowitz worked with the teams to photograph their acts as not only as they worked through the pile but also worked through their thoughts and emotions. Meyerowitz captured the humanity of the workers as they cleared away the bodies, the rubble, and the remains. The rescuers had arrived with the hope of clearing the rubble and getting survivors and once that hope was gone, they had to continue; to uphold the values of America and show that they would not be bowed. Meyerowitz worked to capture what he called the ‘terrible beauty’ of the pile and wants his photographs to show how people cooperated after 9/11 to help each other

The images differ greatly from my own memories; what I recall from that period of time, is, first of all, a great hollow in my stomach as the horror of the situation was unveiling. I watched the broadcasts and practically all of my memories are about the first day, mainly around the plane strikes and the following collapse of both towers. I was overloaded with emotion and struggled to grasp the whole situation due to its enormity. The following days were filled with sorrow as hopes of rescue receded and the social impact of the act of terrorism was brought into scale. Certainly, his images have shown the after effects and that hope was not lost and that the people on the site did not allow the act to make them lose their humanity. But they also clearly show a record of what happened as the pile was slowly cleared.

References

David Campany. 2018. Safety in Numbness: Some remarks on the problems of ‘Late Photography’ – David Campany. [ONLINE] Available at: http://davidcampany.com/safety-in-numbness/. [Accessed 01 October 2018].

Channel 4 News. (2001). Reflections on Ground Zero. [Online Video]. 2002. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8hN-aNWWBE&list=PL0E496C00306D0177. [Accessed: 1 October 2018].

Friend, F., 2006. Watching the world change. New York : Farrar, Straus Giroux ; 2006..

International Center of Photography. 2018. Weegee | International Center of Photography. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/weegee?all/all/all/all/0. [Accessed 01 October 2018].

Phaidon. 2018. Joel Meyerowitz’s World Trade Center Archive | Photography | Agenda | Phaidon. [ONLINE] Available at: http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/photography/picture-galleries/2011/september/08/joel-meyerowitzs-world-trade-center-archive/. [Accessed 01 October 2018].

American Photo. 2018. Consent Form | American Photo. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.americanphotomag.com/91101-photographers-stories-pt-1-get-down-here-now. [Accessed 01 October 2018].

The Daily Beast. 2018. Ground Zero Photography by Joel Meyerowitz. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.thedailybeast.com/ground-zero-photography-by-joel-meyerowitz?ref=scroll. [Accessed 01 October 2018].

The Independent. 2018. Disaster tourism: how bus trips to the scene of Hurricane Katrina make profit from loss | The Independent. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/disaster-tourism-how-bus-trips-to-the-scene-of-hurricane-katrina-make-profit-from-loss-8203902.html. [Accessed 01 October 2018].

Popular Photography. 2018. Consent Form | Popular Photography. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.popphoto.com/american-photo/2011/09/behind-scenes-john-botte-9-11-photographs#page-6. [Accessed 01 October 2018].

Exercise 3.2 – Postcard Views

At first, I collected a small number of cards when coming to Edinburgh for appointments, but found that the number of different cards available was limited, possibly due to the fact that fewer cards are being sent. I resorted instead to using a collection of about 100 postcards of Edinburgh I purchased through eBay. I sorted these into select piles where the postcard presented a certain view or theme. Quickly it became clear that certain visual ‘tropes are in use when presenting a tourists eye view of Edinburgh. The main ones being;

  • Edinburgh Castle
  • The Military Tattoo
  • Old town/Royal Mile
  • Holyrood Palace
  • New Town
  • Princes Street
  • Scott Monument/North British Hotel
  • Arthurs Seat
  • Calton Hill

In some cases, a scene from a card would encompass three or more tropes at the same time. They reinforced some already known ‘standard’ views that most people take into account when visiting Edinburgh and which are overlooked by the locals.

Discarding the subject-specific cards and only examining the landscape images presented in the cards; we are offered a view of a homogenous city spiraling around the twin heights of the Castle and Arthurs Seat looking inwards over the Old Town and the New Town. The city presented in these images, either by day or by night, is of picture-perfect days of the city. By day covered with a golden blanket of light, buildings and surrounding greenery are bathed in summer glory, even the shadows are thin, weak, blue blobs on the scene, cast by the massive protrusion of castle or high building. By night the city glows in bright phosphorus and arc lights while the practically cloudless sky deepens into an orange-red sunset. The city is presented without its populace or its visitors, a wide expanse of old and new ready for exploration. Viewers looking at the card are presented with a model scale view of the city, all the landmarks squeezed into one scene. The tourist industry view of a city rolling along ready to welcome them to the sights and show them around, no binmen or street sweepers here.

This idealised view is pushed upon visitors whether it be the tartan chocolate box view of Scotland with its heather and its bagpipe players on every corner, or the newer “Harry Potter” themed kitsch being thrown up in every empty shop. Like Faye Godwin suggests there is a polarisation between those living and working in the city and those who come to enjoy it for its leisure and culture. This can easily be seen in the protests arriving at the city planner office as citizens of the city try to prevent the destruction of the city’s history so that more hotels and student apartments can be built. (SaveLeithwalk.org)  One particular example is the ongoing court case where an apartment owner living in America is trying to prevent the city form stopping her letting the apartment all year round as an AirBnB apartment which is causing strife with the locals living around what they describe as a ‘party flat’ (Evening News, Aug 2018). The profusion of high rents has pushed most of the city centre out of reach of the locals who struggle to cover the rising costs.

The reality of the city is far from the images presented on these cards; windy, cold, wet, gray and damp. Dirty buildings covered with dust and exhaust fumes, crowded streets as people hurry from one destination to another. My memories of the city change, from a small boy in wonderment of the Scott monument and the quiet of Princes Street gardens, to the noise and glare of a Ferris wheel towering over the Scott monument and the New Town below. Crowded streets of the New Town and the Old Town strewn with rubbish, closes stacked high with bins and refuse bags. The pavements filled with hen and stag parties are they wander from pub to pub before funneling into nightclubs.

The city is more than just four streets, a collection of close together pubs and some tartan history. It reaches from the edge of the Forth almost all the way into the Pentlands, areas with little or no visiting tourists, places where landscape, city, and history have melded together only to be seen perhaps by the ‘gentleman stroller’.

Can a location well known to you, still be seen through the eyes of a tourist? Yes, quite easily. It is normal when living or working in a location that you invariably take the same route back and forth every day. Only when roads are closed or building work being done do you take notice of some differences. However, like the gentlemen strollers, if you take a different route, go down a lane you normally pass, go left instead of right or even just look up at the buildings around as you pass and you will find things that you have failed to notice because they have become blasé. When this happens you return to the same state as a tourist, looking at the landscape with new eyes, seeing for the first time.

Considering Graham Clarkes comments, I would suggest that the maker of landscape images is not always the outsider or the tourist. Nowadays a lot of tourist photography is based around the selfie, the individual or group inserting themselves into the scene both for memory and for proof or validation of their visit. In this case, the photographer is no longer capturing the spectacle for its own sake, but purely inserting themselves in the image for pleasure.

From personal experience, it is not only a number of visits to a location but also using local knowledge to obtain a different view and know when the light or weather conditions will be suitable for photographing. When visiting a location for the first time, I personally do not photograph. Instead, I look around, up and down and take in the scene. I look at it with tourist’s eyes, seeing the beauty and take pleasure in the sights. I then sit and think about what I have seen and whether or not it is a suitable subject; sometimes I return and photograph anyway, adding to my collection of private images but at other times, repeated visits are done to look in every direction to see what I believe should be captured with the scene and what I want to present in the final image.

References

The Guardian – Martin Parr – Parrworld. (2009). The Guardian – Martin Parr – Parrworld. [Online Video]. 12 November 2009. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_NCLuo-iKA. [Accessed: 18 September 2018].

Council plans crackdown on Airbnb in Edinburgh – Edinburgh Evening News. 2018. Council plans crackdown on Airbnb in Edinburgh – Edinburgh Evening News. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/politics/council-plans-crackdown-on-airbnb-in-edinburgh-1-4409990. [Accessed 26 September 2018].

The Scottish Sun. 2018. California woman banned from renting out Edinburgh flat on Airbnb launches legal appeal amid fury over ‘party flats’. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/3101491/nicola-golden-edinburgh-airbnb-banappeal-party-flat/. [Accessed 26 September 2018].

Neighbour’s gripe with Airbnb flat owner ‘5000 miles away’ from Edinburgh sparks probe – Edinburgh Evening News. 2018. Neighbour’s gripe with Airbnb flat owner ‘5000 miles away’ from Edinburgh sparks probe – Edinburgh Evening News. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/neighbour-s-gripe-with-airbnb-flat-owner-5000-miles-away-from-edinburgh-sparks-probe-1-4789074. [Accessed 26 September 2018].

Edinburgh rents rise 40 per cent in seven years – Edinburgh Evening News. 2018. Edinburgh rents rise 40 per cent in seven years – Edinburgh Evening News. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/business/edinburgh-rents-rise-40-per-cent-in-seven-years-1-4576176. [Accessed 26 September 2018].

Edinburgh set for new US-style rent control powers. 2018. Edinburgh set for new US-style rent control powers. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.djalexander.co.uk/news/587/edinburgh-set-for-new-usstyle-rent-control-powers. [Accessed 26 September 2018].

Save Leith walk – Please help us stop the demolition. 2018. Save Leith walk – Please help us stop the demolition. [ONLINE] Available at: http://saveleithwalk.org/. [Accessed 26 September 2018].

 

 

 

Exercise 3.1 – Reflecting on the Picturesque

Having found that the link provided in the course text is no longer available, I used Google, JSTOR, and Archive.org to provide some relevant information.

The picturesque movement gained traction during the years where hedonistic travelers moved by their own curiosity to explore other countries. Authors lead by Gilpin, wrote in a style to convey geographical knowledge gained when traveling, where they could select in advance the places and locations which were worth seeing and reflecting upon. Gilpin especially when writing in his book ‘Observations on the River Wye’ (Gilpin, 1782) viewed the picturesque as a scene where ‘Enchanting’ and elegant’. Where Gilpin was presented with a manufactured or ‘chosen’ view, he preferred the view not to be too manufactured and modern and did not like ‘regularity’ in their shape and design.

Picturesque is the third column for the communication of ideas to the viewer of a landscape. Godwin first proposed the idea of picturesque during his essays and books detailing his journeys around the British landscape. Unlike Burkes Beauty and the Sublime, picturesque was a gentler idea from the age of romanticism in art and literature. Picturesque does not have the ‘dangerous’ frisson contained within Burkes concepts but instead is a gentler, quieter concept where the scene and view are detailed and manufacturer in a way to give a pleasant warm feeling to the viewer. The picturesque landscape may have fences, gates, and buildings removed and instead an animal or farm worker inserted instead to give a sense of scale to the viewer.

In the same manner as Fay Godwin, the picturesque can be seen as ‘soft warm blankets of sentiment’ (course material p84) where the landscape is idealized in a chocolate box manner. These types of images repeatedly appear in calendars or on postcards and they give a prescribed idea of the location in an ‘unreal way’ (ibid). While these images are not social commentaries on the location they do not provide much insight into the location or any underlying social issues. Many of these images have been repeated incessantly over the years and in some cases, they no longer reflect the actual scene.

This can be seen in the case of the Scottish Highlands where a scene from the film ‘Skyfall’ was filmed; this quiet area is now regularly churned up by tourists wanting to replicate the scene from the film without understanding their own impact on the physical landscape. 

While the picturesque image is one to admire; I for one would like to capture such a scene, there is a personal feeling that the images are too clean, too manufactured, to distant from the actual landscape to provide a realistic link to the viewer, as an art student I feel that the picturesque image communicates an unreal and ideal image unlinked to the day to day existence of the view contained within the scene.

References

Townsend, D, 1997. The Picturesque. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 55, No. 4 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 365-376.

Scaramellini, G, 1996. The picturesque and the sublime in nature and the landscape: Writing and iconography in the romantic voyaging in the Alps. Geography and Literature, Vol. 38, No. 1,, pp. 49-57.

Gilpin, W., 2005. Observations on the River Wye. Pallas Athene Arts.

The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts. 2018. 19th Century Landscape – The Pastoral, the Picturesque and the Sublime – The University of Arizona Museum of Art and Archive of Visual Arts. [ONLINE] Available at: http://artmuseum.arizona.edu/events/event/19th-century-landscape-the-pastoral-the-picturesque-and-the-sublime. [Accessed 04 September 2018].

Blanton Museum of Art. 2018. American Scenery: Different Views in Hudson River School Painting – Austin’s Blanton Museum of Art. [ONLINE] Available at: http://blantonmuseum.org/exhibition/american-scenery-different-views-in-hudson-river-school-painting/. [Accessed 04 September 2018].

The Romantic Tradition in British Painting 1800-1950 – Victoria and Albert Museum. 2018. The Romantic Tradition in British Painting 1800-1950 – Victoria and Albert Museum. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/t/the-romantic-tradition-in-british-painting-1800-1950. [Accessed 04 September 2018]./

Art 109 Renaissance to Modern. 2018. Romantic Landscape Painting and the Sublime – Art 109 Renaissance to Modern. [ONLINE] Available at: https://art109textbook.wordpress.com/new-online-textbook-2-2/romanticism/romantic-landscape. [Accessed 04 September 2018].

Early Romantic Landscapes. 2018. Early Romantic Landscapes. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/romland.html. [Accessed 04 September 2018].

Tate. 2018. Art and the Sublime | Tate . [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/display/art-and-sublime. [Accessed 04 September 2018].

The Guardian. 2018. Skyfall location in Scottish Highlands blighted by litter and fly-tipping | Film | The Guardian. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/jul/18/skyfall-james-bond-location-scotland-campers-litter-fly-tipping. [Accessed 04 September 2018].

Continuing the Journey

As a visually impaired person, I have a limited view of the world; in one eye the centre does not exists, bright light causes a purple haze and in poorer light I can see nothing. In the other eye it is a blur. Between the two, the world fuzzes, fades, flashes and distorts.

With this in mind, I have started to experiment, it was while working on Assignment 2 that I started to look at how I perceive the world, from a low down position to the slow shutter blur of movement. While working videos formats, I decided to have a few point of view camera experiments and then see what I could do to pass on this sense of wonder and distortion to the non visually impaired.

Using the video frames themselves I worked with a program to compress each third frame into a single stripe, the colours of which are mathematically calculated by percentage per frame selected. This created a stripped barcode effect with enough distortion in each final image in an attempt to pull a sense or emotion from the viewer.

Here I present the first of the series

1. A walk.

A 8 minute walk with eye level point of view. Daylight.

2. Walking again

A 8 minute walk with eye level point of view. Daylight.

3. To the supermarket

A 30 minute walk downhill. Daylight.

4. Return home

A 50 minute walk. Daylight.

5. Bicycle Journey

journeybike1

Journey 5

A 12 minute cycle. Daylight; clouds and rain

6. Bicycle along a path

journeybike3

Journey 6

 A 9 minute cycle before chronic pain required a stop. Daylight.

 

Conclusion.

I plan to continue with these experiments as they allow me to produce a different style of photographic image. I am particularly pleased with the results of the images produced when cycling, both the wobble from the camera, the speed of movement and the camera angle work together to produce an image where the viewer must try to separate and locate the ground beneath them, the landscape they pass and the sky.

Assignment 2 – The Journey

The main requirement of Assignment 2 is to produce approximately 12 photographs that are made on, or explore the idea of a journey.

Having failed to get the first attempt to gel together, I went back to the drawing board and started to draw together threads from parts of the coursework so far and that I could reconfigure my ideas and inspiration on the subject, including territorial photography, edge lands and the exploration of a road

Statement of Concept.

I examined this as both a journey along a path, but also a journey down memory lane. The area I was photographing is a small part of what is now the “John Muir Way” a section of beach where I spent some of my childhood. It is a post-industrial area where local history is fighting to stay alive.

The journey took place along a concrete pathway which was laid down over the metal and asbestos pipes which carried the ash from the coal power station to a lagoon area. These ashes were used to create a piece of land recovered from the sea. The journey passes the disused sites of different industries now lost to the place.  I started at the edge of the town and worked back along the walk towards the other edge of the town where the power station once stood, passing history, pollution, the remains of the fishing industry, salt panning and the use of the land by the local population along the way.

The main techniques I wanted to use were colour, a wide-angle lens and the decision to keep the main part of the horizon in the upper third of the frame. This meant at times using walls and buildings as the lead part of the horizon. While the point of view was limited to a certain focal length and depth I feel that this worked as the eye is drawn along the structure out into the far horizon. I tried to keep the images off centre to bring in the concept of moving the viewer’s head from side to side as if they were looking while walking. The project is led by the movement of the images through the viewer’s point of view rather than the artist forcing a fixed stance, especially in a wide lens where the main part of the subject is usually pushed in the centre of the image due to the structure of the lens and the heavy centre point that it creates, similar to how ‘Wyle’ presents the walls and fences in his work ‘Maze’ ‘Wyle.D 2010’. I was also influenced by the work of Raymond Depardon in ‘Glasgow’ ‘Depardon and Boyd. 2016’ where he captured both the landscape and the feeling of Glasgow in the 1980s within each scene.

While working in colour I wanted to still keep to Ansel Adams zones so I tried where possible to capture the widest range of contrast while not blowing out the whites and destroying in the darks.

Final Images

“The Journey into the past”

In the beginning.

DSC_0006

The edge of town and the John Muir walk.

Here at the edge of the town, the path is signposted as part of the John Muir Walk which takes walkers along across country from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland. This small section of the walk continues round the coast and carries right along to the town of Dunbar. Here walkers step onto the concrete path and over pipes no longer in use, as they start along between the sea and the bordering town of Prestonpans.

Looking back

Looking back the way, over the years more pipes were laid down and covered in concrete as burners of the coal fired power station were taken out of service and the station started its own journey towards final shutdown and decommissioning. The concrete for the main part is uneven, rusting and slowly falling into disrepair. The responsibility for the maintenance for the walkway is disputed and as the dispute goes on the path falls away to the waves.

Waste sluice

DSC_0012

Outlet

Water quality in areas like this was not high on the list of important subjects. Raw sewage was pumped directly into the sea from sluices and pumps. When the local authority built two new housing schemes in the 1950s to take some of the overflow from the relocation of Glasgow’s slum tenants and relocate them in other communities, the pipes and sluices were expanded to carry the effluent straight into the sea where I like a lot of the towns children swam. The sluices are no longer in use and now sit disregarded, another viewpoint for the houses built right on the other side of the path.

Houses overlooking the sea.

DSC_0018

Behind the baracades

Every available piece of land which is no longer dedicated to ongoing industry, jobs or shopping has been torn down and built on. Modern houses barricaded behind high walls to prevent them being hit by waves and storms. This was green hills and a play area when I was a child.

Rusting bike.

DSC_0034

Bike.

Unlike other parts of the walk in surrounding local town communities, there has not been a sense of urgency in cleaning the beaches and preventing pollution in this area. Walkers and tourists pass by, unbothered at the mess dumped by uncaring locals.

Where the pottery stood in the 1800s.

DSC_0039

Rotting history

The location of the pottery had been forgotten until a local builder contracted to build houses started finding pottery shards in the rubble. Work was stopped and the remains examined. It is not known how soon after the last potter died that the original building was torn down, but even now shards can be found along the coastline.  There was a brief attempt to create a resurgence in the history of the town as part of a local diaspora studies project but the murals erected at that time have quickly been left to fend for themselves against the elements.

Broken pipe.

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Everything is broken

Another example of the human waste pipes which used to carry effluent straight into the sea where people used to fish and swim. Now the pipes are left to crack and fall into the sea in their own time.

Blocked.

DSC_0054

Bricked up.

Mixed among the brickwork are the doors, hatches and entryways which were formally used to access the beach for fishing or for access to the salt pans.

Rocks on the beach.

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Once a port of call.

What used to be part of the local harbour protection has been cut off from the walkway, the rocks are now used by the occasional rock pooler or as somewhere to sit and drink during warmer weather.

Behind the shops,

DSC_0066

Former Rockpools.

There used to be twin cottages with boat stores beneath, so that the local fisherman could get out and gather fish for sale locally. The property was bought over, and extensively renovated on television. Meanwhile the backs of the shops continue to deteriorate as they pass from tenant to tenant as businesses start up and close down.

Attempt to revive history.

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Left over.

During the 1960s, there was an attempt to bring back civic pride in the area. A statue was commissioned to represent the three main industries of the town; fishing, mining and salt panning. This was all built around a walkway down onto the coast to encourage people to look out over the water and see a better future. Now it sits, crumbling at the edges, vandalised. The statue ignored while vandalism and graffiti cover the walls with new ‘civic art’.

Bonfire ashes.

DSC_0085

Ashes.

Here the walkway disappears underground as the land has been pushed down on the coast to allow more house building. Before the houses were built, there was a row of wooden sheds where the fishermen sat and tended their nets. They would tell tall tales of danger in high seas to bright eyed children who stopped to watch them (myself included). I can remember weather beaten hands and faces, woollen hats and the smell of the sea.

The bones of Reaper II.

DSC_0091

Reapers Remains.

 

Recently a boat ran aground during the night. After an attempt to tow the boat back out to sea which resulted in the bow being damaged, the boat was beached and for a short time the owner tried to undertake repairs. After some reported friction with locals and the police, the owner decided to torch the boat and leave. The keel-line and some metal remains are all that is left here at the other edge of town.

Contact Sheet

Here is a PDF of all the images taken for this assignment in contact sheet form. Landscape-Assignment2-ContactSheets . The images chosen and shown above I believe to be the images most expressive of my concept and gives the viewer a journey along the same path.

Conclusion

There were a number of challenges to overcome. First of all the path is not built with mobility in mind and so I had to leave the path at some points and rejoin at others backtracking where I could.

Technical challenges included limiting myself to one lens where the focal depth was 11 to 16 mm; this challenged me as I had to think hard about where I could point the lens and what I was capturing. I deliberately attempted to keep the horizon in the top third of the lens which caused problems in framing a large number of the shots. I had to revisit the locales twice as the first time the lens developed a problem and a number of images were marked with a blue bloom in the middle of the frame.

Communication challenges included the framing of the images and trying to tell the correct story within the framework of a journey. I wanted to keep the images simple but at the same time reflect the psychogeography of the locale. Can I communicate the issues within the town as it struggles with growth and the loss of history both in the destruction of the landscape to build houses but in the rise and fall in interest in the history of the area.

The images that I chose represented the edge land of Prestonpans, as it grows outwards, it rolls over what is underneath, the industries are gone, blocked up and in with bricks formerly produced in the town. As the sea washes away the harbours, fishing beds and remains, the town washes away its past by pushing it to the edge and forgetting about it. I wanted to represent the walker on the John Muir walk and what they see both of the walk and what they pass; do they ignore the area in the rush to get to better views or do they examine and think about what is being lost.

References

Scottish Natural Heritage. 2018. The John Muir Way. [ONLINE] Available at: http://johnmuirway.org/route. [Accessed 24 August 2018].

PrestounGrange. 2018. Prestongrange online. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.prestoungrange.org. [Accessed 21 August 2018].

PrestounGrange. 2018. Prestongrange online. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.prestoungrange.org/core-files/archive/scottish_pottery.pdf. [Accessed 24 August 2018].

Wylie, W., 2010. Maze. Steidl

Depardon, R., 2016. Glasgow. Editions du Seuil.

Adams, A., 1995. The Camera (The Ansel Adams Photography Series, No. 1). Bulfinch

Alexander, J., 2015. Perspectives on Place: Theory and Practice in Landscape Photography (Required Reading Range). Fairchild Books.

Assignment 2 – Attempt 1 – The Journey

Concept

After reading the assignment requirements, I first selected a few ideas and jotted them down. After examining a few ideas, I decided to take a journey down part of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the intention to examine how the city buildings themselves though they are ever present have pushed back into virtual Edgelands. I planned on doing this by journeying down the single street looking at the how the the yearly festival is changing the perception by visiting the changes in social structure, photographing how the changes made  its effect on history and the value given to the landscape by visitors and locals alike.

Planning, preparation and attempt

While preparing for this; I made a short plan of the journey, the journey was to move from the top of the royal mile, just outside the castle esplanade, down to the Tron building which at one point was one of the main historical boundaries of the city.

Due to the ongoing degradation of sight in my left eye and now the presence of a vestigial cataract in my right eye, along with my mobility issues, it was decided that I should undertake the journey in a wheelchair, mainly due to the concerns of my partner that in such a busy location that I may be knocked over.

Reluctantly I undertook the journey in the wheelchair and it upon three main issues.

  1. Edinburgh is not laid out for wheelchair users and they streets and paths are unpassable due to space or lack of maintenance to the path and road surfaces.
  2. Quite simply during the festival, space is at a premium and locations to shoot images from a wheelchair level were limited.
  3. What I was capturing swiftly became unsuitable for the assignment, mainly as the images captured had too many people in them. It became difficult to photograph the buildings for the people.

After examining the photos, I have decided that I would upload them and publish them to my learning log as it was an idea which ultimately failed as I made up my mind that the idea did not work.

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Royal Mile Close – closed for business

Here a historical yard area called a close, has been sectioned off so that an outside entertainmeant area could be created.

Here it can be seen that the original buildings have been ignored so that the small courtyard can be converted and sectioned off.

At the top of the Royal Mile sits the camera obscura which has been on this site since 1835. Many people walk passed it thinking that it is nothing more than the first gift shop in the shopping gauntlet which is the Royal Mile.

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Towards the Cathedral

At the first main junction down the Royal Mile, you cross over the mound, and continue heading down the old town. In between the court buildings can be seen the gates to the performance area; a section of road closed to all traffic so that public performances can be made and shows can be touted or leafleted to the passing public.

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The only smooth crossing.

Heading through the crowded junction, we cross the actual mound road. This is only one of two smooth crossings for wheelchair users in the whole of the street. Between people, poor road surface and barriers, the crossings become crowded and at the green crossing signal, it is everyone for themselves.

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The Fringe Gate.

Here compressed between two anti terrorist gates, we squeeze further down the street. Here be performers, leaflets and buskers.

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Chess Anyone?

A man sits dressed as a chess piece challenging passing tourists to a game of chess. Very few look up to see the buildings that surround them.

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Church or Shop

The Cathedral is surrounded, all 4 sides have been given over to commerce and entertainment. Inside hang flags from many historical battles, outside is has been decorated with coloured plastic pigeons.

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Overhead leafleting

As we passed the crowded pavement at the Cathedral, we passed a large number of people handing out leaflets for their shows at the fringe and festival. Every single person handed a leaflet over the top of my head to my partner.  The journey had soured for me; having been bounced, bashed, sworn at, pushed aside and now ignored, I lost all focus and inspiration for the journey.

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Last Stop

Here we stopped the journey, we were within site of the destination, the Tron church, but I was disheartened and depressed at the journey. What should have been fun turned sour at the lack of the milk of human kindness.

Conclusion

While the idea of a journey was being conveyed I felt that there was little to no landscape or cityscape available and that the part of the city I was journeying through were repeating themselves. While buildings could be seen to be passing, the perceived lack of interaction with the buildings of visitors could not be discerned due to the amount of people and the difficulty in obtaining clear and concise images.

I feel that the images did not gel and the concept was flawed in its design. I shall go back to the drawing board and work out what to do now.

Part 2, Exercise 2.6 ‘Edgelands’

We are asked to read two chapters from the book “Edgelands” by Farley and Symmons Roberts. The two chapters are “Wire” and “Power”, each chapter a self-contained article covering the use and perception of areas of land bordering where the majority live and work.

The book Edgelands gives differing connotations to the term, but the main definition could be; a piece of land or area which is commonly ignored or overlooked by the individual as it is not important or has no particular value, especially indicated where the land or area is  categorised by the industrial or social use of a piece of land rather than its purpose; for example, the edge of town where the ports are located is more likely to be mainly machinery and empty land rather than large-scale housing projects.

Within the chapter ‘Wire’, the reader is presented with the defined border of the edgeland, the wire between field and common land or the chain link border which ran around Greenham common. Here the wire represents a barrier, which can be passed but at what risk to the person. The wire chain link fence is easy to climb but at the top is barbed wire or razor wire and only the brave will risk injury to overcome it. The reader is told of the childhood thoughts of risk passing over the wire, the imagined injury greater than it really was. At Greenham common, the border was both a military and land, the area within the land of the US, where they stored weapons of mass destruction. These weapons were controlled by another type of wire, the wire of the Magnetic Core Memory. Small pieces of magnet woven into a complex weave of copper wire, each pole had the ability to change to a 1 or a 0, but unlike today’s modern Random Access Memory, the wires and cores of Core Magnetic Memory did not require power to hold onto the information, so as long as the wires and core are not damaged they could be powered up years later and still contain the information last written to them.

Memory and wire are explored further in the article, as the wire fence nowadays has become something to which people can connect physical memories to. These padlocks, ribbons, flowers, teddy bears and written tributes are location markers for incidents, for example where someone has lost their life, and as long as these items are not damaged they will conjure up memories to those who created the tributes. The wire stands behind holding these memories so that the weather or the environment can be stopped from moving or removing them.

The second article, ‘Power’, presents edgelands in a different definition and use; the production of electricity. Much like the mill in Constables ‘The Hay Wain’, the power station is hidden from sight, its purpose ignored. Here the edgelands are the marker for industry within the countryside, the cooling towers of the power station represent what can be seen and shown of the industry at the edge of the city or green space. The cooling towers standing in for a large body of water or a wide river. While the wispy clouds of steam drift off; these clouds influence and connect to other artworks. The artists, however, fail to connect to the other side of the power station, the generation part of the industry. The smoke from the stations, blackening the sky similar to the factories painted by Lowrey, for example in his work ‘The Accident’. To those on the Edgelands who live and work there, the smoke is pollution from the station in the form of coal dust and ash, the ever present dust devil from the burning of fossil fuels.

These stations also connect to the article ‘Wire’ as these areas are fenced off from the general public, the workings hidden from view, even the coal being brought in can be hidden in tunnels and structures to prevent the public from remembering what is going on. All stations are fenced to show the boundary of the property and its owner. The fence is another unwelcome side of energy production, stating that only those with permission and a purpose may be allowed within, others are not welcome. Unlike the young drivers at Greenham common and their ever-present and seen military shadow, there is an unseen presence watching the wires and the boundaries. Turn up at a nuclear power station and hang around the edge for a while and finally, the unseen watchers will present themselves in the form of the police from within the station. Power here is protected by another form of power, defense in depth.

References

Roberts, R., 2011. Edgelands. Michael Symmons Roberts, Paul Farley. (s.n.).

The National Gallery, London. 2018. John Constable | The Hay Wain | NG1207 | National Gallery, London. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/john-constable-the-hay-wain. [Accessed 31 July 2018].

An Accident | Art UK . 2018. An Accident | Art UK . [ONLINE] Available at: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/an-accident-205453. [Accessed 31 July 2018].

Magnetic Core Memory – CHM Revolution . 2018. Magnetic Core Memory – CHM Revolution . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.computerhistory.org/revolution/memory-storage/8/253. [Accessed 31 July 2018].

Core Memory. 2018. Core Memory. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.psych.usyd.edu.au/pdp-11/core.html. [Accessed 31 July 2018].

Greenham Common – Homepage. 2018. Greenham Common – Homepage. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.greenham-common.org.uk/ixbin/hixclient.exe?a=file&p=greenham&f=greenham.htm. [Accessed 31 July 2018].

Civil Nuclear Police Authority – GOV.UK. 2018. Civil Nuclear Police Authority – GOV.UK. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/civil-nuclear-police-authority. [Accessed 31 July 2018].