Category Archives: Assignment

Online Exhibition

Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions I have been unable to organise a suitable exhibition for my work on East Lothian DooCots.

I was introduced to the KunstMatrix website which allows artist to create virtual 3D exhibition spaces. I was quite taken with the idea of a virtual exhibition because it created a full accessible space outside of the restrictions of distance and locale.

I have embedded a link to the exhibition here.

Assignment 6 – Transitions – Updated for Assignment

The assignment tasks the student with producing a series of images that responds to the idea of ‘transitions’ within the landscape. The student is to record the changes that a part of the landscape undergoes over an extended period of time. The student could revisit a very specific view or choose to explore a particular part of the landscape more intuitively.

There is an opportunity to photograph at very specific intervals or your routine may develop by other means. When completed, the assignment should address the notion ‘that the landscapes is an evolving, dynamic system’; the student may wish to confirm, question or subvert this assertion.

Method

In the first attempt at assignment 6, I was working with the concept of the transition of light by recording a long sequence of a day within a static frame and then, frame slicing the videos and manipulating the frame slices to produce a barcode of the day. However, by the third visit and recording, the frame sliced barcodes were too similar to show defined differences.  I posted the results in a previous post regarding Assignment 6.

When this occurred I decided to step back and reassess the work, I then returned to a familiar location, which was easily accessible to me and even if I was having a poor day due to the effects of my condition, I would at least be able to get there and record the scene. This location is a south-facing field on the edge of the town, it looks down into the shallow valley before rising up into the Lammermuir’s.

I found a location which would be easily identified which was marked by a piece of broken fencing. Knowing that the likelihood of the fence undergoing repair was low, I was able to use that as a reference point for facing south. I was then able to align a tripod using the fenceposts as outer leg markers. I kept the lens movements to a minimum known that if I kept the lens to a certain position the images would be almost identical.

Process.

At first, I believed that I would be recording the changes to the landscape through the different seasons and lighting conditions, which would result in showing the landscape as it changed and evolved through the growth of the crops in the field and the differing effects of the seasons of the land.

While I have captured the different environmental and lighting conditions, I feel that the evolution of this part of the landscape is only really shown in the immediate foreground and the midground of the field. The rest of the scene contains a landscape which has remained largely unchanged since the iron age. The Lammermuir’s still contain evidence of an iron age fort and standing stones which predate the fort itself. While there is much evidence of an expansion into the greenbelt by towns and cities in East Lothian, here, the landscape has not changed since the 1950s; when a small housing scheme was built on the edge of the field. Since then the only real changes to the land have been the yearly agricultural cycle which creates a product for human consumption in one manner or another.

Certainly, there is a small evolution in the landscape as the season’s pass, the crops in the field grow and are then harvested, but outside of that, the landscape is largely unchanged. It has lain unchanged largely since the Iron Age, standing stones and forts still where they were placed at that time. The changes made on this part of the landscape are few and far between taking centuries to complete a change.  Looking into the distance you see a land which is outside of time, for it has a sense of timelessness to it, no major highways cut through it and no industrial change has been placed on the land. It remains in pretty much the same state as it did over two thousand years ago.

The main foreground of the scene is a field whose change is only regulated by nature and the hand of man in the shape of the farmer, who manages the 3-mile long strip of land which rests between the river to the south and a public highway to the north. The dynamism of the field is driven solely by his demands, out with that, it is unchanged by the numerous walkers and cyclists who use the paths running along these borders.

This landscape, unlike other parts of the green belt, is not undergoing an evolution is use, it remains, open and for the majority visually unchanged and perceptually unmanaged. Other fields on the opposite side of time are undergoing a dynamic change; in that, they are evolving from places where food was grown into places where people inhabit, the modern, posher version of tact housing. Large parts of the green belt are being buried under housing developments as societal pressures drive the change in the landscape. Here however within these scenes, the system of the landscape is under no pressure and therefore does not need to evolve or change.

This can be seen in the following images, where apart from the direct changes created by use of the land by the farmer, in this case ploughing, seeding and growing of produce, that the only other changes are driven by nature; lighting conditions, environmental changes driven by the weather and the growth of grasses and weeds by nature.

The images have had a very small amount of post-processing, they have been processed in photoshop for horizon alignment and a small amount of sharpening and contrast. This was deliberate as the images are representative of land largely left alone as it the one piece of land in the area which is currently not under development for housing.

1. March 2018

Green field. A field which after being ploughed has been left fallow to grow weeds through the winter period.

Green field. A field which after being ploughed has been left fallow.

2. February 2019

Muddy Field - the field has now been ploughed. It is spring and the field is being made ready.

Muddy Field – the field has now been ploughed.

3. April 2019

Dark Sky in the morning - The field has started to sprout. The sun is just rising

Dark Sky in the morning – The field has started to sprout.

4. May 2019

Mid Morning - Grows are green. Under a blue sky a green field of crops

Mid Morning – Grows are green

5. August 2019

Mid Day - Weeds grow high in the immediate foreground. Again the field is green.

Mid Day – Weeds grow high in the immediate foreground

6. September 2019

Mid day - Weeds start to die back. The field however stays green awaiting the harvest which will be in winter.

Mid day – Weeds start to die.

7. November 2019

Mid Day - Wet and wild weather has churned up mud, but we still await the harvest/ Grey clouds with a little sun breaking through

Mid Day – Wet and wild weather has churned up mud, but we still await the harvest

 

It can be seen from these images that there is an element of placelessness within them. Similar to the images of Watkins and O’Sullivan (Briston, D. 2019), the landscapes are not defined territorially, nor geographically as a place (Sowers, J. 2019) rather, they are defined as a land of unknown elements and dangers. Here civilisation has stopped and is content to sit within the boundaries as created by the land itself. The Lammermuirs rising off into the distance uninviting and unwelcoming to man-made change. Much like sections of Yosemite, the land remains unchanged and under protection, although unlike Yosemite, the protection is done by the employees of the landowners, although there is some debate as to whether the land management is to the benefit of the wildlife.

Conclusion

While the land use overall in East Lothian is evolving and changing, the landscape, here, itself is unchanged to a major extent. The only real threat to the landscape is from humans as they continue to force the landscape to fit their shape, while at the main time ignoring the threats created by climate change. While this scene extends off into the peaceful distance, behind the camera, vehicles thunder along a major roadway almost constantly. In the air above, the main air corridor, where passengers and cargo are whisked high above the land.  The land itself is acting as a soak for the carbon produced, but how long before the land is unable to manage the excesses of man and starts to die.

 

I am very happy with the work within the assignment, it has taught me to look at the landscape not a singular representation of beauty, but more of a changing system, some of which is under threat due to mankind. It has also taught me to review and revisit an area of interest to see how to light and seasons change the objectivity of the landscape.

References

Briston, D. (2019). The Evolution of American Landscape Photography Seen Through Imagery Made In Yosemite National Park. [online] Academia.edu. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/19519559/The_Evolution_of_American_Landscape_Photography_Seen_Through_Imagery_Made_In_Yosemite_National_Park?email_work_card=title [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

‌Edwards, R. (2014). Revealed: landowners massacre mountain hares in the Lammermuir Hills. [online] Rob Edwards. Available at: https://www.robedwards.com/2014/09/revealed-landowners-massacre-mountain-hares-in-the-lammermuir-hills.html [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

‌ Raptor Persecution UK. (2017). Merlin population in decline on Lammermuir grouse moors. [online] Available at: https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/merlin-population-in-decline-on-lammermuir-grouse-moors/ [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

Marzie Mohammadmiri (2019). Place In Photography: How Photographers Encounter Place. [online] European Journal of Media, Art and Photography. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/37910065/Place_In_Photography_How_Photographers_Encounter_Place [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

‌Seamon, D. (2015). Humanistic Geography–Lived Emplacement and the Locality of Being: A Return to Humanistic Geography? (2015). [online] Academia.edu. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/4935949/Humanistic_Geography–Lived_Emplacement_and_the_Locality_of_Being_A_Return_to_Humanistic_Geography_2015_?email_work_card=interaction_paper [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

Shinkle, E. (2019). Prelude to a Future: Globalisation and Risk in Contemporary Landscape Photography. [online] Academia.edu. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/8703297/Prelude_to_a_Future_Globalisation_and_Risk_in_Contemporary_Landscape_Photography?email_work_card=interaction_paper [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

‌ Sowers, J. (2019). Place and Placelessness, Edward Relph. [online] Academia.edu. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/4446545/Place_and_Placelessness_Edward_Relph?email_work_card=interaction_paper [Accessed 27 Nov. 2019].

 

 

 

Assignment 5 – Self Directed Project – Updated for Assessment

Interpreting the brief

The brief for the assignment was largely unchanged from the ideas created in Exercise 4.6 which were “to research and photograph Jacobean doocots (dovecots) in the East Lothian district. The project will be guided by the doocots listed in the 1937 publication ‘Transactions of East Lothian Antiquarian and Field naturalists Society Vol 3’ which listed the doocots and their state at that point in time. “

I chose to expand the aims as follows:

  1. Lost History and lost landscape due to the perception that Agri-rural history not being important enough to protect.
  2. An examination of the concept of a space becoming a place and what happens when there is a change of place.
  3. Examination the concept of land ownership in Scotland which is at times in conflict with the Scottish law of “Right to Roam”. This extends to the ownership and stewardship of historical buildings by the landowners
  4. Examination the idea of accessibility for all, by looking into how actual accessibility and disabled rights translate into walking on public land.

The main Influences for the project is the New Topographics group. I chose to approach the subject of landscape photography in a nonstandard way, which allowed me to concentrate on the buildings themselves as they stand within the context of the landscape rather than the other way around. The project is directly influenced by the work of Hilda and Bernd Becher and Edward Burtynsky. My aim was to produce a set of images within this aesthetic to show that the idea of landscape photography can be malleable.

Undertaking the Brief

The first challenge of the brief was to gather the locations as described in the original survey. The publication which was produced in 1937 is based on a survey of Jacobean Doocots undertaken in 1931 by J. Whitaker. The survey was never completed due to the untimely death of Mr Whitaker in 1932. The final survey was gathered from his notes and has additions from several individuals within the society who had worked with Mr Whitaker in compiling the information. The locations in the published survey differ from modern-day locations in several aspects. First, the publications use place names which in some cases are no longer in use. Second, due to the change in the shape of towns over 80 years, some of the places no longer exist. Thirdly, due to the nature of the buildings, some had already been lost by the time of publication. Land ownership has changed in the region from just a few central landowners who owned large tracts of land within their estate to a large number of smaller private owners of small parcels of land which is some cases are formerly estate land. Where there were small farms who worked small fields, there is now large industrial-scale farming which was knocked down many of the walls and boundaries and who have opened up the land, by removing the smaller older farm buildings, so that they can use large modern farming techniques and machinery.

Initially, my aim was to gather a basic survey and plot using digital maps, GPS positions and digital footprints from modern maps, alongside historical and archaeological websites. This was only partially successful as parts of the digital footprint were, in fact, direct text copies from the 1931 survey. In other cases, the data had not been revisited since the 1980s and was out of date. It quickly became clear that accessibility was an issue. At times, it required gaining permission from the landowner, and some requests were not well received. I had to deal with a number of landowners who were not aware of the Scottish right of way. In other cases, it was quite simply, that the stewardship of the land, the access path to the building and the building itself had not been undertaken and that the land was being left to be as unwelcoming and inaccessible, possibly with the aim of having the public right of way denied as it was no longer in use. In the majority of cases, no consideration was given for ease of access for the disabled.

When visiting the sites to capture my images, my main hurdle was in trying to give each location the same treatment. I quickly found that I could not use the treatment of a set distance using the same parameters – angle, height, position relevant to the camera in an attempt to capture scenes which will be comparable with each other. At several sites, I was forced to use a telephoto lens to photograph the subject as access was impossible. The project was further hindered when during a return from one site, I suffered a major muscle spasm and I dropped all my equipment breaking camera and lenses. I had to buy a new camera and lenses which were significantly different from the originals, and so a period of adjustment was required.

I took several photographs at each location, from varying distances, angles and positions. I then chose images which were not always identical, not because the subject matter was too similar or boring but because each subject photographed differently from the same position. Sometimes I felt that shadow or highlight distracted from the subject and so these images were discarded from the final choice selection. I felt that the basic shape of the doocot remained the same which allowed the topographic aesthetic to continue.

Outcome

I acknowledge that the potential outcome of a new Topographics style set of images was in danger of being abandoned as the images were at times completely different. I continued because I felt that the project was still probable. Even though I had to modify my set of rules, I continued to photograph as close as possible to those rules. The project gained in the weight of the brief regarding the accessibility/landownership aspect of the brief. After examining the first sets of images again, the topographic idea was strengthened. I could see the differences and the commonalities within the doocots and started to understand how and why they were there.

I broke the subject matter down into three distinct build types of the Jacobean period; the initial beehive shape, the later Lectern shape and the final tower shape. After this final shape doocots fell out of use. I used these shapes as the identifiers for their topographical type, trying to keep within a strict Linnaean definition of type.

Here the project will take two different routes:

Exhibition – The works will remain in colour and be printed individually on A4 and hung in alphabetical order, as per the original survey publication. This will be done to allow the viewer a chance to observe the differing archetypes of doocots and their current state against what was written about them in 1931.

Assignment and Final Submission – The works will be gathered together in a format similar to the Typographic aesthetic, with the doocots ranked first by type and then within that subset alphabetically. They will be presented in monochrome, as I found that the use of colour caused the images to be far too busy and the subject matter was overshadowed by the colour. In some cases, nothing could be seen of the final sets of images but washes of green and brown.

As with Assignment 3, I have continued with the exploration of visual accessibility by placing braille in the images. Again, I have kept the braille to a minimum size, as it represents my own partial loss of vision and the continued disturbance it contributes to what I see. I decided with black braille this time, as I wanted the normally sighted viewer to understand that for some people with vision loss, that this is an invisible disability and so, is unseen, and like the braille, not understood by the main populace.

Beehive 


First set of 4 Beehives

Congalton/Dirleton/Dolphingston/Drylawhill


The second set of 4 beehive-shaped doocots

Nunraw/Phantasse/Preston Mains/Waughton


Lectern 


First set of 4 Lectern shaped doocots

Athelstaneford/Belton/Bourhouse/Crocegate


Second Set of Lectern Shaped Doocots

East Fortune/Friars Croft/Herdmanston/Humbie


Third Set of Lectern Shaped Doocots

Johnstounburn/Lady Kittys/Nungate/Pencaitland


Fourth Set of Lectern Shaped Doocots

Preston Tower/Redhouse/Saltcoats/Spott


Fifth Set of Lectern Shaped Doocots

Tantallon/Tranent



Tower 


8 - Doocots First complete set of 4 Tower in B and W completed with Braille

Amisfield/Bolton/Colstoun/Elvingston


9 - Doocots Second complete set of 4 Tower in B and W completed with Braille

Haddington/Heugh/Lodge/Newton Hall


10 - Doocots Third complete set of 4 Tower in B and W completed with Braille

Ormiston/Prestongrange/Saltoun/Stenton Church


11 - Doocots Fourth complete set of 1 Tower in B and W completed with Braille

Thurston


Torn Done 

One of my problems was what to do about the images of missing and destroyed doocots, while there was an opportunity to photograph the missing or destroyed doocots I felt that it would have made for a set of incongruous images. At locations where there was a pile of stonework at the site, the original stones were missing, and more modern bricks lay there instead. All the work representing the Jacobean age has been removed. The simple fact that at times there was nothing to see or the locale had been built upon and the original standing area for the doocot was now lost. I felt it was a stronger message, especially in the digital age, to show a place marker as it represents missing information, in the same way, that a 404 page represents a missing webpage on a website.

The black and white shapes represent the unknown effect of losing doocots. The red ‘X’ is representative of the more computer-driven iconography of a missing image link, usually presented through an internet browser.

13 - Lost to History


Inaccessible 

This was created to represent the hostility felt when approaching landowners when attempting to gain access to their land to locate and photograph a piece of local history. In a number of cases, the landowner was not acting within the “right to roam” law and had created barriers to prevent access to the public which had formerly been there before.

12 - No Entry Private Land


Conclusion

Do I consider these images as landscape? Yes, I do. These doocots represent a space which was by kings statute created on the land as a representation of the Lairds fealty to King James VI and the money and the power that they held over their tenants. These spaces have in fact become places, lending of their name to locations, such as dovecot farm, or dovecot lane, even where the doocot has been destroyed. These images represent the land as pieces of history, some of which have already been lost and some of which are inaccessible due to the fencing in of property by later landowners.

By bending the Topographic rules which I had set in the brief, I have created a set of images which are not repeated regular architectural shapes. Each location shows its own individuality through its setting and the final image selected. Some of this is down to the different time of day, differing light conditions and differing lenses but also down to the location itself as each site had its own set of identifying features even amongst the most common of buildings.

The work took longer than designed into the original brief, due to the amount of research required to locate the physical doocots. Since the survey was never fully completed, I had to pick up where it left off and continue to locate the doocots and acquire access. This was not always as easy as a disabled person and a person with visual impairment. I also had to manage the issues of surrounding my health condition, and my energy levels. I was not always successful in getting these to align and ensure that I was able to get out and photograph when the weather allowed it.

Having created a structured set of rules, had I in fact made life easy or difficult for myself? I had hobbled myself with quite a set of rules, trying to work within the confines of these rules was at times very difficult, working within the New Topographics aesthetic plus trying to keep an aesthetic which matched the ideology created by Joseph Whitaker when he undertook the original survey in 1931. At times, I felt that I had set the bar too high and that I was not going to complete the survey. Visually I wanted to continue the idea of history, place and usage.

I kept the pigeons in the images, as I wanted to show that even though in a lot of cases these small pieces of “unimportant” history were being left unattended by humans, they were still in use by the decedents of the rock pigeons which would have been rooting there when the Doocots were built. The pigeons are the one remaining link between the design of the buildings, their usage and the current day, where now only wild pigeons roost. The pigeons are symbolic of the historical linkage.

Where modern aspects, impinged upon the image, again, I felt that the dogs, bag and jacket are representative of the change in usage; what was once a Jacobean food store is now an architect’s office. The modern-day use of the building has been devolved completely away from what would have been a smelly, wet and reasonable cold are into a quiet, warm, pleasant office, where sleepy dogs watched out of the window and the garden is tended by a gardener. The traffic cone represents the current usage by humans, what was once a beautiful and well-built doocot is now an open-topped dumping ground for items which are not currently being used by the charity which is tending the garden. Removing the traffic cone would have been dishonest as it would not have been representative of the beauty marred by indifference to the building.

I am satisfied with the final work as it covers the points I wanted to raise within the brief

  • Local history some of which is being lost
  • Social Inclusivity of the landscape
  • Power, stewardship and ownership of the Landscape

All of these points are covered in the completed work both in exhibition form and in the submitted form.

Once the project is completed, I hope to offer Historic Scotland a number of images for their Canmore site. This will allow Canmore to update their database with the missing images and information about the current condition of the Doocots. These records could then be made accessible for the public and could also be available for reference through the East Lothian Council’s John Gray Research library and website.

References

British Journal of Photography. 2019. Edward Burtynsky: The Anthropocene Project – British Journal of Photography. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bjp-online.com/2018/10/edward-burtynsky-the-anthropocene-project/. [Accessed 10 October 2019].

Welcome to Canmore | Canmore. 2019. Welcome to Canmore | Canmore. [ONLINE] Available at: https://canmore.org.uk/. [Accessed 4 April 2019].

Dovecotes of Old England, Wales and Scotland. 2019. Dovecotes of Old England, Wales and Scotland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.pigeoncote.com/dovecote/dovecote.html. [Accessed 10 October 2019].

East Lothian Antiquarian Society. 1938. East Lothian Antiquarian Society. [ONLINE] Available at: https://eastlothianantiquarians.org.uk/files/2018/02/1934-38-ELAFN-Soc-Transactions-Vol-III.pdf. [Accessed 26 September 2019].

Edward Burtynsky. 2019. Edward Burtynsky. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.edwardburtynsky.com/. [Accessed 12 June 2019].

Historic Environment Scotland | Àrainneachd Eachdraidheil Alba. 2019. Historic Environment Scotland | Àrainneachd Eachdraidheil Alba. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/. [Accessed 1 October 2019].

John Gray Centre. 2019. Haddington Library – John Gray Centre. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.johngraycentre.org/about/library/. [Accessed 10 October 2019].

New Topographics: “Landscape and the West – Irony and Critique in New Topographic Photography” (2005) – AMERICAN SUBURB X. 2019. New Topographics: “Landscape and the West – Irony and Critique in New Topographic Photography” (2005) – AMERICAN SUBURB X. [ONLINE] Available at: https://americansuburbx.com/2012/05/new-topographics-landscape-and-the-west-irony-and-critique-in-new-topographic-photography-2005.html. [Accessed 15 June 2019].

New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape …. 2019. New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape …. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.sfmoma.org/exhibition/new-topographics/?ds_rl=1263130&gclid=Cj0KCQjwrfvsBRD7ARIsAKuDvMN-Y5AzdamX3TGr-T1gX3l8aRTxOcphHJCNTWPtMRHyzUPbxrRkgKQaAoRCEALw_wcB. [Accessed 16 June 2019].

Ogilvie Homes. 2019. Dovecote Steadings, East Lothian – Ogilvie Homes. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ogilviehomes.co.uk/location/dovecote-steadings-east-lothian/. [Accessed 10 October 2019].

Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot, East Linton – Historic Buildings & Homes | VisitScotland. 2019. Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot, East Linton – Historic Buildings & Homes | VisitScotland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.visitscotland.com/info/see-do/preston-mill-phantassie-doocot-p255601. [Accessed 8 October 2019].

Showcase Archives. 2019. East Lothian Antiquarian And Field Naturalist Society. [ONLINE] Available at: https://demo.orangeleaf.com/collections/getrecord/ELCAS_EL335. [Accessed 7 October 2019].

Tate. 2019. New topographics – Art Term | Tate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/n/new-topographics. [Accessed 16 June 2019].

Tate. 2019. The Purloined Landscape: Photography and Power in the American West – Tate Papers | Tate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/21/the-purloined-landscape-photography-and-power-in-the-american-west. [Accessed 15 June 2019].

Tate. 2019. Who are Hilla and Bernd Becher? | Tate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/bernd-becher-and-hilla-becher-718/who-are-bechers. [Accessed 16 June 2019]

Assignment 6 – Transitions

The assignment tasks the student with producing a series of images that responds to the idea of ‘transitions’ within the landscape. The student is to record the changes that a part of the landscape undergoes over an extended period of time. The student could revisit a very specific view or choose to explore a particular part of the landscape more intuitively.

There is an opportunity to photograph at very specific intervals or your routine may develop by other means. When completed, the assignment should address the notion ‘that the landscapes is an evolving, dynamic system’; the student may wish to confirm, question or subvert this assertion.

Method

In the first attempt at assignment 6, I was working with the concept of the transition of light by recording a long sequence of a day within a static frame and then, frame slicing the videos and manipulating the frame slices to produce a barcode of the day. However, by the third visit and recording, the frame sliced barcodes were too similar to show defined differences.  I posted the results in a previous post regarding Assignment 6.

When this occurred I decided to step back and reassess the work, I then returned to a familiar location, which was easily accessible to me and even if I was having a poor day due to the effects of my condition, I would at least be able to get there and record the scene. This location is a south-facing field on the edge of the town, it looks down into the shallow valley before rising up into the Lammermuir’s.

I found a location which would be easily identified which was marked by a piece of broken fencing. Knowing that the likelihood of the fence undergoing repair was low, I was able to use that as a reference point for facing south. I was then able to align a tripod using the fenceposts as outer leg markers. I kept the lens movements to a minimum known that if I kept the lens to a certain position the images would be almost identical.

Process.

At first, I believed that I would be recording the changes to the landscape through the different seasons and lighting conditions, which would result in showing the landscape as it changed and evolved through the growth of the crops in the field and the differing effects of the seasons of the land.

While I have captured the different environmental and lighting conditions, I feel that the evolution of this part of the landscape is only really shown in the immediate foreground and the midground of the field. The rest of the scene contains a landscape which has remained largely unchanged since the iron age. The Lammermuir’s still contain evidence of an iron age fort and standing stones which predate the fort itself. While there is much evidence of an expansion into the greenbelt by towns and cities in East Lothian, here, the landscape has not changed since the 1950s; when a small housing scheme was built on the edge of the field. Since then the only real changes to the land have been the yearly agricultural cycle which creates a product for human consumption in one manner or another.

Certainly, there is a small evolution in the landscape as the season’s pass, the crops in the field grow and are then harvested, but outside of that, the landscape is largely unchanged. It has lain unchanged largely since the Iron Age, standing stones and forts still where they were placed at that time. The changes made on this part of the landscape are few and far between taking centuries to complete a change.  Looking into the distance you see a land which is outside of time, for it has a sense of timelessness to it, no major highways cut through it and no industrial change has been placed on the land. It remains in pretty much the same state as it did over two thousand years ago.

The main foreground of the scene is a field whose change is only regulated by nature and the hand of man in the shape of the farmer, who manages the 3-mile long strip of land which rests between the river to the south and a public highway to the north. The dynamism of the field is driven solely by his demands, out with that, it is unchanged by the numerous walkers and cyclists who use the paths running along these borders.

This landscape, unlike other parts of the green belt, is not undergoing an evolution is use, it remains, open and for the majority visually unchanged and perceptionally unmanaged. Other fields on the opposite side of time are undergoing a dynamic change; in that, they are evolving from places where food was grown into places where people inhabit, the modern, posher version of tact housing. Large parts of the green belt are being buried under housing developments as societal pressures drive the change in the landscape. Here however within these scenes, the system of the landscape is under no pressure and therefore does not need to evolve or change.

This can be seen in the following images, where apart from the direct changes created by use of the land by the farmer, in this case ploughing, seeding and growing of produce, that the only other changes are driven by nature; lighting conditions, environmental changes driven by the weather and the growth of grasses and weeds by nature.

1. March 2018

Green field. A field which after being ploughed has been left fallow to grow weeds through the winter period.

Green field. A field which after being ploughed has been left fallow.

2. February 2019

Muddy Field - the field has now been ploughed. It is spring and the field is being made ready.

Muddy Field – the field has now been ploughed.

3. April 2019

Dark Sky in the morning - The field has started to sprout. The sun is just rising

Dark Sky in the morning – The field has started to sprout.

4. May 2019

Mid Morning - Grows are green. Under a blue sky a green field of crops

Mid Morning – Grows are green

5. August 2019

Mid Day - Weeds grow high in the immediate foreground. Again the field is green.

Mid Day – Weeds grow high in the immediate foreground

6. September 2019

Mid day - Weeds start to die back. The field however stays green awaiting the harvest which will be in winter.

Mid day – Weeds start to die.

7. November 2019

Mid Day - Wet and wild weather has churned up mud, but we still await the harvest/ Grey clouds with a little sun breaking through

Mid Day – Wet and wild weather has churned up mud, but we still await the harvest

 

It can be seen from these images that there is an element of placelessness within them. Similar to the images of Watkins and O’Sullivan (Briston, D. 2019), the landscapes are not defined territorially, nor geographically as a place (Sowers, J. 2019) rather, they are defined as a land of unknown elements and dangers. Here civilisation has stopped and is content to sit within the boundaries as created by the land itself. The Lammermuirs rising off into the distance uninviting and unwelcoming to man-made change. Much like sections of Yosemite, the land remains unchanged and under protection, although unlike Yosemite, the protection is done by the employees of the landowners, although there is some debate as to whether the land management is to the benefit of the wildlife.

Conclusion

While the land use overall in East Lothian is evolving and changing, the landscape, here, itself is unchanged to a major extent. The only real threat to the landscape is from humans as they continue to force the landscape to fit their shape, while at the main time ignoring the threats created by climate change. While this scene extends off into the peaceful distance, behind the camera, vehicles thunder along a major roadway almost constantly. In the air above, the main air corridor, where passengers and cargo are whisked high above the land.  The land itself is acting as a soak for the carbon produced, but how long before the land is unable to manage the excesses of man and starts to die.

References

Briston, D. (2019). The Evolution of American Landscape Photography Seen Through Imagery Made In Yosemite National Park. [online] Academia.edu. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/19519559/The_Evolution_of_American_Landscape_Photography_Seen_Through_Imagery_Made_In_Yosemite_National_Park?email_work_card=title [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

‌Edwards, R. (2014). Revealed: landowners massacre mountain hares in the Lammermuir Hills. [online] Rob Edwards. Available at: https://www.robedwards.com/2014/09/revealed-landowners-massacre-mountain-hares-in-the-lammermuir-hills.html [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

‌ Raptor Persecution UK. (2017). Merlin population in decline on Lammermuir grouse moors. [online] Available at: https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/merlin-population-in-decline-on-lammermuir-grouse-moors/ [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

Marzie Mohammadmiri (2019). Place In Photography: How Photographers Encounter Place. [online] European Journal of Media, Art and Photography. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/37910065/Place_In_Photography_How_Photographers_Encounter_Place [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

‌Seamon, D. (2015). Humanistic Geography–Lived Emplacement and the Locality of Being: A Return to Humanistic Geography? (2015). [online] Academia.edu. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/4935949/Humanistic_Geography–Lived_Emplacement_and_the_Locality_of_Being_A_Return_to_Humanistic_Geography_2015_?email_work_card=interaction_paper [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

Shinkle, E. (2019). Prelude to a Future: Globalisation and Risk in Contemporary Landscape Photography. [online] Academia.edu. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/8703297/Prelude_to_a_Future_Globalisation_and_Risk_in_Contemporary_Landscape_Photography?email_work_card=interaction_paper [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

‌ Sowers, J. (2019). Place and Placelessness, Edward Relph. [online] Academia.edu. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/4446545/Place_and_Placelessness_Edward_Relph?email_work_card=interaction_paper [Accessed 27 Nov. 2019].

 

 

 

Assignment 6 Transitions -Abandoned process.

The process I was working on regarding assignment 6 Idea not just working out.

I had been working on an initial idea of a steady locked off tripod pointing at a particular landscape and videoing what was passing in front of the lens.

The resultant video would be processed in the same manner as in my learning log post Resuming the Journey. I was working on the conceptual idea of transition is not only the light passing during the day but also the transition of place and space as the earth revolves.

The first sets of videos were finally captured and ran through the algorithm to produce the first set of timeslices which could then be put into the barcode formats. However, on examination, I am finding too much of a similarity in the images and therefore they are not showing the transition even though the lighting conditions and condition of the landscape have changed as they are different times of the year.

The three Barcodes which I have produced are shown here.

Barcode Spring

Spring Early Day

Barcode Summer

Summer Stormy Day

Barcode Autumn

Autumn Fresh Day

 

I am now examining two other locations where there are physical transitions occurring on the landscape and will then make up my mind whether they are suitable for the brief or not.

Assignment 5 – Self Directed Project

Interpreting the brief

The brief for the assignment was largely unchanged from the ideas created in Exercise 4.6 which were “to research and photograph Jacobean doocots (dovecots) in the East Lothian district. The project will be guided by the doocots listed in the 1937 publication ‘Transactions of East Lothian Antiquarian and Field naturalists Society Vol 3’ which listed the doocots and their state at that point in time. “

I chose to expand the aims as follows:

 

  1. Lost History and lost landscape due to the perception that Agri-rural history not being important enough to protect.
  2. An examination of the concept of a space becoming a place and what happens when there is a change of place.
  3. Examination the concept of land ownership in Scotland which is at times in conflict with the Scottish law of “Right to Roam”. This extends to the ownership and stewardship of historical buildings by the landowners
  4. Examination the idea of accessibility for all, by looking into how actual accessibility and disabled rights translate into walking on public land.

 

The main Influences for the project is the New Topographics group. I chose to approach the subject of landscape photography in a nonstandard way, which allowed me to concentrate on the buildings themselves as they stand within the context of the landscape rather than the other way around. The project is directly influenced by the work of Hilda and Bernd Becher and Edward Burtynsky. My aim was to produce a set of images within this aesthetic to show that the idea of landscape photography can be malleable.

 

Undertaking the Brief

The first challenge of the brief was to gather the locations as described in the original survey. The publication which was produced in 1937 is based on a survey of Jacobean Doocots undertaken in 1931 by J. Whitaker. The survey was never completed due to the untimely death of Mr Whitaker in 1932. The final survey was gathered from his notes and has additions from several individuals within the society who had worked with Mr Whitaker in compiling the information. The locations in the published survey differ from modern-day locations in several aspects. First, the publications use place names which in some cases are no longer in use. Second, due to the change in the shape of towns over 80 years, some of the places no longer exist. Thirdly, due to the nature of the buildings, some had already been lost by the time of publication. Land ownership has changed in the region from just a few central landowners who owned large tracts of land within their estate to a large number of smaller private owners of small parcels of land which is some cases are formerly estate land. Where there were small farms who worked small fields, there is now large industrial-scale farming which was knocked down many of the walls and boundaries and who have opened up the land, by removing the smaller older farm buildings, so that they can use large modern farming techniques and machinery.

Initially, my aim was to gather a basic survey and plot using digital maps, GPS positions and digital footprints from modern maps, alongside historical and archaeological websites. This was only partially successful as parts of the digital footprint were, in fact, direct text copies from the 1931 survey. In other cases, the data had not been revisited since the 1980s and was out of date. It quickly became clear that accessibility was an issue. At times, it required gaining permission from the landowner, and some requests were not well received. I had to deal with a number of landowners who were not aware of the Scottish right of way. In other cases, it was quite simply, that the stewardship of the land, the access path to the building and the building itself had not been undertaken and that the land was being left to be as unwelcoming and inaccessible, possibly with the aim of having the public right of way denied as it was no longer in use. In the majority of cases, no consideration was given for ease of access for the disabled.

When visiting the sites to capture my images, my main hurdle was in trying to give each location the same treatment. I quickly found that I could not use the treatment of a set distance using the same parameters – angle, height, position relevant to the camera in an attempt to capture scenes which will be comparable with each other. At several sites, I was forced to use a telephoto lens to photograph the subject as access was impossible. The project was further hindered when during a return from one site, I suffered a major muscle spasm and I dropped all my equipment breaking camera and lenses. I had to buy a new camera and lenses which were significantly different from the originals, and so a period of adjustment was required.

I took several photographs at each location, from varying distances, angles and positions. I then chose images which were not always identical, not because the subject matter was too similar or boring but because each subject photographed differently from the same position. Sometimes I felt that shadow or highlight distracted from the subject and so these images were discarded from the final choice selection. I felt that the basic shape of the doocot remained the same which allowed the topographic aesthetic to continue.

Outcome

I acknowledge that the potential outcome of a new Topographics style set of images was in danger of being abandoned as the images were at times completely different. I continued because I felt that the project was still probable. Even though I had to modify my set of rules, I continued to photograph as close as possible to those rules. The project gained in the weight of the brief regarding the accessibility/landownership aspect of the brief. After examining the first sets of images again, the topographic idea was strengthened. I could see the differences and the commonalities within the doocots and started to understand how and why they were there.

I broke the subject matter down into three distinct build types of the Jacobean period; the initial beehive shape, the later Lectern shape and the final tower shape. After this final shape doocots fell out of use. I used these shapes as the identifiers for their topographical type, trying to keep within a strict Linnaean definition of type.

Here the project will take two different routes:

Exhibition – The works will remain in colour and be printed individually on A4 and hung in alphabetical order, as per the original survey publication. This will be done to allow the viewer a chance to observe the differing archetypes of doocots and their current state against what was written about them in 1931.

Assignment and Final Submission – The works will be gathered together in a format similar to the Typographic aesthetic, with the doocots ranked first by type and then within that subset alphabetically. They will be presented in monochrome, as I found that the use of colour caused the images to be far too busy and the subject matter was overshadowed by the colour. In some cases, nothing could be seen of the final sets of images but washes of green and brown.

As with Assignment 3, I have continued with the exploration of visual accessibility by placing braille in the images. Again, I have kept the braille to a minimum size, as it represents my own partial loss of vision and the continued disturbance it contributes to what I see. I decided with black braille this time, as I wanted the normally sighted viewer to understand that for some people with vision loss, that this is an invisible disability and so, is unseen, and like the braille, not understood by the main populace.

 

Beehive 

 


First set of 4 Beehives

Congalton/Dirleton/Dolphingston/Drylawhill


The second set of 4 beehive-shaped doocots

Nunraw/Phantasse/Preston Mains/Waughton


Lectern 

 


First set of 4 Lectern shaped doocots

Athelstaneford/Belton/Bourhouse/Crocegate

 


Second Set of Lectern Shaped Doocots

East Fortune/Friars Croft/Hermanston/Humbie


Third Set of Lectern Shaped Doocots

Johnstounburn/Lady Kittys/Nungate/Pencaitland


Fourth Set of Lectern Shaped Doocots

Preston Tower/Redhouse/Saltcoats/Spott


Fifth Set of Lectern Shaped Doocots

Tantallon/Tranent

 



Tower 

 


 

8 - Doocots First complete set of 4 Tower in B and W completed with Braille

Amisfield/Bolton/Colstoun/Elvingston

 


 

9 - Doocots Second complete set of 4 Tower in B and W completed with Braille

Haddington/Heugh/Lodge/Newton Hall

 


 

10 - Doocots Third complete set of 4 Tower in B and W completed with Braille

Ormiston/Prestongrange/Saltoun/Stenton Church

 


 

11 - Doocots Fourth complete set of 1 Tower in B and W completed with Braille

Thurston

 

 

 


Torn Done 

The black and white shapes represent the unknown effect of losing doocots. The red ‘X’ is representative of the more computer-driven iconography of a missing image link, usually presented through an internet browser.

 

13 - Lost to History


Inaccessible 

This was created to represent the hostility felt when approaching landowners when attempting to gain access to their land to locate and photograph a piece of local history.

12 - No Entry Private Land


Conclusion

Do I consider these images as landscape? Yes, I do. These doocots represent a space which was by kings statute created on the land as a representation of the Lairds fealty to King James VI and the money and the power that they held over their tenants. These spaces have in fact become places, lending of their name to locations, such as dovecot farm, or dovecot lane, even where the doocot has been destroyed. These images represent the land as pieces of history, some of which have already been lost and some of which are inaccessible due to the fencing in of property by later landowners.

By bending the Topographic rules which I had set in the brief, I have created a set of images which are not repeated regular architectural shapes. Each location shows its own individuality through its setting and the final image selected. Some of this is down to the different time of day, differing light conditions and differing lenses but also down to the location itself as each site had its own set of identifying features even amongst the most common of buildings.

The work took longer than designed into the original brief, due to the amount of research required to locate the physical doocots. Since the survey was never fully completed, I had to pick up where it left off and continue to locate the doocots and acquire access. This was not always easy as a disabled person and a person with visual impairment. I also had to manage the issues of surrounding my health condition, and my energy levels. I was not always successful in getting these to align and ensure that I was able to get out and photograph when the weather allowed it.

I am satisfied with the final work as it covers the points I wanted to raise within the brief

  • Local history some of which is being lost
  • Social Inclusivity of the landscape
  • Power, stewardship and ownership of the Landscape

All of these points are covered in the completed work both in exhibition form and in the submitted form.

Once the project is completed, I hope to offer Historic Scotland a number of images for their Canmore site. This will allow Canmore to update their database with the missing images and information about the current condition of the Doocots. These records could then be made accessible for the public and could also be available for reference through the East Lothian Council’s John Gray Research library and website.

 

References

British Journal of Photography. 2019. Edward Burtynsky: The Anthropocene Project – British Journal of Photography. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bjp-online.com/2018/10/edward-burtynsky-the-anthropocene-project/. [Accessed 10 October 2019].

Welcome to Canmore | Canmore. 2019. Welcome to Canmore | Canmore. [ONLINE] Available at: https://canmore.org.uk/. [Accessed 4 April 2019].

Dovecotes of Old England, Wales and Scotland. 2019. Dovecotes of Old England, Wales and Scotland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.pigeoncote.com/dovecote/dovecote.html. [Accessed 10 October 2019].

East Lothian Antiquarian Society. 1938. East Lothian Antiquarian Society. [ONLINE] Available at: https://eastlothianantiquarians.org.uk/files/2018/02/1934-38-ELAFN-Soc-Transactions-Vol-III.pdf. [Accessed 26 September 2019].

Edward Burtynsky. 2019. Edward Burtynsky. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.edwardburtynsky.com/. [Accessed 12 June 2019].

Historic Environment Scotland | Àrainneachd Eachdraidheil Alba. 2019. Historic Environment Scotland | Àrainneachd Eachdraidheil Alba. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/. [Accessed 1 October 2019].

John Gray Centre. 2019. Haddington Library – John Gray Centre. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.johngraycentre.org/about/library/. [Accessed 10 October 2019].

New Topographics: “Landscape and the West – Irony and Critique in New Topographic Photography” (2005) – AMERICAN SUBURB X. 2019. New Topographics: “Landscape and the West – Irony and Critique in New Topographic Photography” (2005) – AMERICAN SUBURB X. [ONLINE] Available at: https://americansuburbx.com/2012/05/new-topographics-landscape-and-the-west-irony-and-critique-in-new-topographic-photography-2005.html. [Accessed 15 June 2019].

New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape …. 2019. New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape …. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.sfmoma.org/exhibition/new-topographics/?ds_rl=1263130&gclid=Cj0KCQjwrfvsBRD7ARIsAKuDvMN-Y5AzdamX3TGr-T1gX3l8aRTxOcphHJCNTWPtMRHyzUPbxrRkgKQaAoRCEALw_wcB. [Accessed 16 June 2019].

Ogilvie Homes. 2019. Dovecote Steadings, East Lothian – Ogilvie Homes. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ogilviehomes.co.uk/location/dovecote-steadings-east-lothian/. [Accessed 10 October 2019].

Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot, East Linton – Historic Buildings & Homes | VisitScotland. 2019. Preston Mill & Phantassie Doocot, East Linton – Historic Buildings & Homes | VisitScotland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.visitscotland.com/info/see-do/preston-mill-phantassie-doocot-p255601. [Accessed 8 October 2019].

Showcase Archives. 2019. East Lothian Antiquarian And Field Naturalist Society. [ONLINE] Available at: https://demo.orangeleaf.com/collections/getrecord/ELCAS_EL335. [Accessed 7 October 2019].

Tate. 2019. New topographics – Art Term | Tate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/n/new-topographics. [Accessed 16 June 2019].

Tate. 2019. The Purloined Landscape: Photography and Power in the American West – Tate Papers | Tate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/21/the-purloined-landscape-photography-and-power-in-the-american-west. [Accessed 15 June 2019].

Tate. 2019. Who are Hilla and Bernd Becher? | Tate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/bernd-becher-and-hilla-becher-718/who-are-bechers. [Accessed 16 June 2019]

Assignment 4 – New Topographics

This Assignment is to write a critical essay on a subject encountered so far during this course. I have chosen New Topographics and the influence of the New Topographics group on Landscape Photography.

The New Topographic group changed the way in which the landscape was photographed and viewed by the use of minimalism and breaking away from the scenic view of western art and incorporating expressionist and conceptual art ideologies as well as environmental issues and messages.

The concept of the untamed sublime landscape of the American West was hatched long before Carlton Watkins and Timothy O’Sullivan photographed “pristine” landscapes during their Journeys with the US Geological Survey. Painters such as Asher B. Durand and William James Stillman painted sublime wildernesses such as Katterskill Clove, 1866, June Shower, 1854 and Study of Upper Saranac Lake, 1854.

 

Durand Kaaterskill Clove

Asher B. Durand, Kaaterskill Clove, 1866

 

 

Durand Junen Shower

Asher B. Durand, June Shower, 1854

 

Study of Upper Saranac Lake

William James Stillman, Study of Upper Saranac Lake, 1854 

This idea of an unspoiled wilderness was reinforced by Ansel Adams with images such as Dunes, Oceano, California, c.1963

Ansel Adams Dunes Oceano California 1963

Ansel Adams, Dunes, Oceano, California, 1963

The images produced by the New Topographics group, however, flew in the face of that idea to challenge the myth of the American Dream and the untouched landscape.

The New Topographics group, made up of photographers such as Lewis Baltz, Hilla and Bernd Becher, and Robert Adams, challenged the ideology of Lady Liberty and the Manifest Destiny, these photographers, possibly influenced by the themes of Alienation, loss and the Superficiality of Society in J.D Salinger’s ‘Catcher in the Rye’, wanted to show that in post WWII America, Manifest Destiny had thrown off her Red handkerchief headscarf, dropped her blue boiler suit and joined the naked “Free” generation of peace, love, and LSD. The failure of American might in Vietnam was reflected in the failure of the American dream. The expansion of society into the open areas of the states had resulted in literally castles built on sand, which was the result of the bust following the post-WWII boom.

The New Topographics group explored the concepts of the New America, one where the failure of the dream had to be accepted and that identity is created not from one’s uniqueness but from one’s connection to others through commonality.

While Robert Adams photographed the tract houses sitting alone in the desert, the houses waiting for some form of further development to be built around them, he showed the finality of a ‘man created landscape’ without condemning those who had tried to build on these ‘new’ frontiers.

Robert Adams Frame for a Tract House Colorado Springs Colorado 1969

Robert Adams, Frame for a Tract House, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1969 

By selecting these scenes Adams incorporated the view of a stagnant movement; the second grand mass movement of people from the East Coast through to the undeveloped lands of the Midwest, Arizona, and Utah has run out of money and steam, leaving the front runners to watch as the land slowly reclaimed what they had tried to build their future on.

Lewis Blatz reformulated the Film and Television view of the Wild West frontier town with ‘Park City’. Here instead of tract housing rotting in a desert, Baltz captured the slow march of the building of a Prime holiday Resort amongst the dry and snow-capped hills of Utah; Only by looking at the quality of the buildings can you see that they are going up rather than coming down. Baltz showed that here the boom generation had seen a landscape that was profit ready for development and change.

Lewis Baltz Park City

Lewis Baltz, Park City #61, 1980

Between Adams and Baltz the two faces of America are portrayed, rich and poor, boom and bust. Both reflecting on human control on the environment and the power of money within the continuing American dream, by avoiding any ideas of romanticism and artistic beauty they were able to document unemotionally the way in which man has come to alter nature.

Hilla and Bernd Becher who are most well-known for ‘Pitheads, 1974’ took a different approach with their images,

Pitheads 1974 by Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher 1931-2007, 1934-2015

Pitheads 1974 Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher 1931-2007, 1934-2015 Purchased 1974

excluding people from their industrial collections, their collected images demonstrated a Linnaean approach to their subjects; Categorising them and by showing these selections together, creating a taxonomy of industrial architecture, which addressed the idea of form and function and how the industrial landscape was formed through man-made developments.

Certainly, in the case of the Becher’s, the landscapes challenged the perceived aesthetics of Landscape photography. Their methods were based on a fixed set of rules, image format, uniform light, uniform distance, consistent composition and consistent restriction to the monochromatic range, as set by Ansel Adams, equates to precise uniformity of the image. By staying firmly within the boundaries of Topography, the Becher’s have avoided introducing other factors such as historical values or set location boundaries. In examining the images, we can see that the Becher’s have returned their subjects to a similar form of art, that of the icon. Like the Becher’s images, religious icons were simple small portraits which were hung together within churches. Like the Becher’s pitheads, these religious icons had a constant set of guiding rules when they were painted. Becher’s subjects grouped together have a flow as the eye moves from one subject to another, consciously looking for differences in the beginning before the eye resets and we see the overlooked beauty in the formation of the subjects. But unlike the religious icons, Hilla and Bernd Becher’s images such as Loomis Coal Breaker, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA (1974) show no hope, only despair as the subject lies doomed, defunct and dying.

bernd-hilla-becher pensilvannia coal breaker

Loomis Coal Breaker, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA (1974) 

The New Topographics group concentrated on the American West, the advertised land of the empty country, roamed by cattle and the Marlboro Man, a country where at the time of the mass development of the land, the road trip had become commonplace. Idealised by Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider and Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ the road trip became a marker between the last of the frontier land exploration and the foreshadowing reality of the recession and the collapse of the subprime mortgage bubble. This landscape of motels, fuelling stations, garages and small towns, scattered across the grasslands and deserts were photographed by John Schott, and Frank Gohlke. Schott in is work ‘Route 66 Hotels’ shows a landscape filled with Whitewashed Adobe buildings, neon signs, and empty plastic chairs. Concrete tepees with high thin Tv aerials and air conditioners bolted to the sides, sit clustered together, hideaways from the sun and the open road.

 

Frank Gohlke New Topographics #121 Untitled. 1973

John Schott New Topographics #121 Untitled. 1973 

Schott photographs these buildings so that they can be identified and cataloged as part of a taxonomic group of roadside life. His dispassionate framing of the subject so that it can be viewed almost as if one was passing them in a car, possibly tired from the journey at ready to pick the next random stop.

Strangely, the scenes produced by Schott and Gohlke would reappear as an influence on others; for example, in the design, structure, layout, and buildings of the fictional town of Radiator Springs in the Disney Movie ‘Cars’. Instead of Schott’s concrete Tepees, there is instead a row of concrete traffic cones.

Radiator_springs

Radiator Springs, Still from Disney’s Animated Movie ‘Cars’

Gohlke in his series Grain Elevators, gave differing views of the structures, unlike the Bechers, Gohlke took his photographs from different distances and angles, capturing the structures in a static state. For the majority there no people in Gohlke’s images, shadows fall across vehicles and ground alike. Only in ‘Grain Elevators being repaired, Minneapolis 1974’ do we have people,

 

Frank Gohlke Grain-elevator-under-repair-Minneapolis-MN-1974

Frank Gohlke Grain-elevator-under-repair-Minneapolis-MN-1974 

but the figures are tiny against the vast structure, they are the faceless workers, only there to restore the grain elevator to its former state. His photo ‘Landscape St. Paul 1974’ predicts the rise of the out of town shopping mall.

Frank Gohlke Landscape St Paul Minnesota 1974

Frank Gohlke Landscape St Paul Minnesota 1974 

Large scale carparks, dotted with street lights dominating the landscape. Gohlke also photographed the idea that the landscape was produced by the movement of the tectonic plates, a landscape undergoing a change which if man made could only be done by a large scale nuclear weapon in series Mount St Helens. Gohlke photographed the large scale destruction visited upon the landscape by the eruption.

 

Frank Gohlke Aerial View Logs and debris in south end of Spirit Lake 4 or 5 miles N of Mt St Helens Washington

Frank Gohlke Aerial View Logs and debris in south end of Spirit Lake 4 or 5 miles N of Mt St Helens Washington, 1981 

This later work by Gohlke ties into one of the main influences to come out of the New Topographics group, which is the impact of man-made change to the environment and the issues being caused as a result of climate change. Change which has happened mainly due to mass consumerism in the West but also due to the changes in farming techniques and the expanding change of land use for housing due to population growth.

From these works, it can be seen that the New Topographics groups were amongst the first to use art as a tool for political agitation. The groups’ work can also be seen as using Landscape photography to perform cultural criticism, examining the dichotomy of the need for more land whilst trying to save the environment.

The New Topographics group turned landscape photography and landscape art on its head; by focussing on what most people passed by, ignored or just did not examine, they changed the perspective on looking at the landscape as well as how the landscape is viewed as a tool and a source.

1551/2000 Words.

1924 words

References

John’s Columbia Blog. 2019. Introduction to and Re-Reading the New Topographics. | John’s Columbia Blog. [ONLINE] Available at: https://johnlusisphoto.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/introduction-to-and-re-reading-the-new-topographics/. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

Dennis, K., 2015. Eclipsing Aestheticism: Western Landscape Photography After Ansel Adams. Expressions of Environment in Euroamerican Culture / Ancient Bodies in Nineteenth Century British Literature and Culture, [Online]. November, 1-23. Available at: https://journals.openedition.org/miranda/6920 [Accessed 19 April 2019].

X-TRA. 2019. X-TRA. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.x-traonline.org/article/new-topographics-photographs-of-a-man-altered-landscape. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

Higbee, L., 2013. New Topographics and Generic Transformation in Landscape Photography of the 1970s. Dissertation for MA. Florida, USA: Florida State University.

Tate. 2019. New topographics – Art Term | Tate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/n/new-topographics. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

ScherpteDiepte. 2019. ScherpteDiepte. [ONLINE] Available at: http://journal.scherptediepte.eu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=scherpte;rgn=main;view=text;idno=m0701a01. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

http://www.metmuseum.org. 2019. No page title. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/dura/hd_dura.htm. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

Smithsonian American Art Museum. 2019. Asher B. Durand | Smithsonian American Art Museum. [ONLINE] Available at: https://americanart.si.edu/artist/asher-b-durand-1364. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

Smithsonian American Art Museum. 2019. William James Stillman | Smithsonian American Art Museum. [ONLINE] Available at: https://americanart.si.edu/artist/william-james-stillman-6227. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

Tate. 2019. ‘Gas Tanks’, Bernd Becher and Hilla Becher, 1965-2009 | Tate. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/bernd-becher-and-hilla-becher-gas-tanks-p81237. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

Fosco Lucarelli. 2019. Absence of Style: Lewis Baltz and the New Topographics – SOCKS. [ONLINE] Available at: http://socks-studio.com/2015/10/16/absence-of-style-lewis-baltz-and-the-new-topographics/. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

AMERICAN SUBURB X. 2019. New Topographics: “Landscape and the West – Irony and Critique in New Topographic Photography” (2005) – AMERICAN SUBURB X. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.americansuburbx.com/2012/05/new-topographics-landscape-and-the-west-irony-and-critique-in-new-topographic-photography-2005.html. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

Frieze. 2019. New Topographics | Frieze. [ONLINE] Available at: https://frieze.com/article/new-topographics. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

John Schott | Photography. 2019. John Schott | Photography | Additional “Route 66 Motels” Photographs . [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.johnschottphotography.com/p905773474/h3544dda9#h3b3132fa. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

Frank Gohlke – Artists – Howard Greenberg Gallery. 2019. Frank Gohlke – Artists – Howard Greenberg Gallery. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.howardgreenberg.com/artists/frank-gohlke/featured-works?view=slider#7. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

Places Journal. 2019. Frank Gohlke: Thoughts on Landscape. [ONLINE] Available at: https://placesjournal.org/article/frank-gohlke-thoughts-on-landscape/?cn-reloaded=1. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

Ignacio Villarreal. 2019. Accommodating Nature: The Photographs of Frank Gohlke Opens. [ONLINE] Available at: http://artdaily.com/news/25582/Accommodating-Nature–The-Photographs-of-Frank-Gohlke-Opens#.XOu-24hKiUk. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

http://www.mocp.org/detail.php?type=related&kv=1294&t=objects

Museum of Contemporary Photography. 2019. Museum of Contemporary Photography. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.mocp.org/detail.php?type=related&kv=1294&t=objects. [Accessed 29 May 2019].

Cars, 2006. [DVD] John Alan Lasseter, United States of America: Pixar Animation Studios.

 

Assignment 4 First Attempt – Memory of a Photograph

The following is a full extract from my initial attempt to write the Assignment. I found in the end that I was getting too bogged down in the subject and that it was turning out to be less of a critical essay and more of a narrative essay. I then changed the subject idea after coming to the conclusion that I was just getting nowhere. Subsequent Assignment 4 submission here

 

Assignment 4 Memory of a Photograph.

Write a critical essay based on one of the subjects so far encountered.

For me, the memory of a photograph exercise arrived at a synchronous point of time as I had just been handed an A4 folder full of pieces and paper and photographs which were taken during holidays as a child.

For me, this was a return to a landscape from childhood, a holiday of confusing and conflicting images. The three main memories of the holiday were chickenpox, tanks and freezing on Hadrian’s wall. Were these memories supported by a set of as yet unseen photographs?

The photographs are all Polaroid, a gift from my father to my mother, and an exciting new way of seeing images to us. No longer did we have to wait until we returned from holidays to review our experiences, these could be viewed instantly as long as you waited the requisite one minute while fanning the air with the print. I never really did see my father hold a camera, he was rarely behind the lens, rather he stood off to one side calling guidance, preferring to gaffer and not be seen.

My memories of Warcop are of a small village, reminiscent of C.Henry Warrens idea of the typical British village, whitewashed cottages with all roads leading to the village green where benches sit and towering behind the village church with its wooden lychgate. Small shops selling fresh fruit and local vegetables, with the general hardware store somewhere in the middle of a row.  A review of google maps shows me a completely different landscape, a small group of houses and a parish hall. What is it I remember; what landscape is etched on my mind?

The small blue shutter cottage looks at me out of a photograph, I faintly remember the building, sitting on the edge of a lane; which lead off into the Warcop Training grounds in the Dales, where the Army demonstrated their firepower, technical superiority and might by having Chieftan tanks hurl high explosives at shattered targets. The boom from the tank’s cannons rattling the large window where we sat at eat. Usually, these practices were undertaken in the morning and we would later walk up those hills when it was safe, clambering over punctured metal and tossed earth. A treeless flat landscape filled with grass, mud, bog torn up by tank tracks and tires. I never considered until today the possible dangers of climbing on these targets; had the army been using Depleted Uranium rounds, what considerations were taken to the environment and to any visitors to the land? All I can remember is the landscape in every direction was MOD land and that when the red flag was up, the whole landscape was forbidden and dangerous, I could only walk it accompanied.

The photographs continue to tumble out, they were once stuck by a single sellotape strip to gridded paper, the adhesion on the tape has like some of my holiday memories long gone. Almost certainly the collection that I have is selective, no doubt some are lost having fallen from the collection or mixed into another pile yet undiscovered. These memories show a forgotten landscape, a waterfall, a riverside path worn through dry brown grass, a castle, the handwritten notes beside the spaces tell me of things I cannot remember, I appear to be there in the image, but I cannot recall the place.

I can recall the long drive through the dales, where my father driving in the wrong direction tried to head for Durham, we ended up sitting roadside at a stream, I recall we did that a lot, during spring weekends and damp autumns. Always a stream bank and always the car tiled slightly off-road, a tartan rug laid on the grass.

I recall the wind and the scratchy woolen jumper my mother had knitted and presented to me as a Christmas present. Chickenpox itch and woolen scratches as I stood directionless on Harridans wall. I could not tell why side of this historic barrier I was on, once side grass, then a stone strip and then a small cliff dropping thirty or forty feet. To my ten-year-old mind, I somehow could not imagine the immense diving barrier these stones represented. I stared out over farmland to distant hills, the wind driving through me. To me Hadrian’s wall was just like the border, an invisible line so easy to cross and pass. I had never considered the work and power required to divide a landscape and have the power to say “this is mine. Not yours”

There are more empty spaces than there are polaroid’s, what am I missing, what parts of the holiday can I not remember, what did I see that I cannot recall. I have no postcards, no other photographs, only vague memories. What exists beyond what I have forgotten, where are the owners? I have a faint recollection, but not enough. I have a memory of sitting in a taxi drivers café under a large soot covered viaduct, the post-industrial landscape of buildings beginning their fall from grace into dereliction, was this the same holiday or another time. I cannot trust what I remember to fully create the land I holidayed in. I feel the sadness at the loss of industry in that town as we were undergoing that at home, I still do feel sad, looking up at the grand viaduct knowing that people would pass over this town and it would fall further into disrepair.

Another photo represents abbey ruins. What was their importance, obviously owned by heritage or church? Then I remember, like Scotland, large parts of the landscape are in private ownership. Thirty percent of the land has lain in the hands of the gentry of generations. High amongst that ownership is the Duke of Buccleuch. The church of England has just point five percent ownership. Where during these times on holidays did, we set foot on land which was not owned by someone and which was free and unclaimed.

Perhaps, some of the memories are idealistic, forged from the media of the time, television showed the pastoral landscapes of “Last of the Summer Wine” and “All creatures great and small”, some harking back to a gentler pre-war time of Britain and the other a village out of time, untouched by poverty, pollution or punk. Certainly, both were used to present the picture of a calm countryside and mill towns much like Constable with the Hay Wain, both hiding from the reality of poverty, rioting, and deprivation.

Even now the paintings of the Yorkshire Dales are Turneresque, Paul Butterworth in Yorkshire Dales produces a version of the Dales where it is green hills, fields separated by stone dikes glowing under a golden sun, or it is as in Simon Anthony Wilsons Scorched Moor a foggy, barren scape of yellow gorse under grey-blue smoke and mist. Towns and villages and people are missing, a return to the people less landscapes of Georgian times, again the landscape painting is there as a power symbol. Art as a possession and the power of the view.

Much like the power of selection shown by my mother who produced the photographs and my own power of selection by what memories I can and cannot recall, whether these memories are real or stitched together from memories of a selection of TV programmes.

 

1218 words/2000

 

 

 

References

https://www.saatchiart.com/paintings/yorkshire-dales/feature?hitsPerPage=100

 

http://turner.yorkshire.com/

Assignment 3 – Spaces to Places.

Brief

In Assignment 3, we are asked to explore a landscape or small part of a landscape to which there is some form of significance. The main objective of the assignments is to question how a “place” becomes as “space” and show how the idea of a place is formed by external pressures or associations. 

Recently I have been involved in a number of discussions regarding the history of the UK and history within Scotland in general. These discussions have been driven by a number of news items where developers or businesses have started to bury and destroy historic areas of interest.  

In the majority of these cases, this reflects what has already happened in parts of East Lothian and the Borders where history has been destroyed in favour of development of the land. 

In this case, I wanted to focus on the missing history of Haddington. Recently Haddington celebrated 700 years – a celebration around the signing of a town charter by Robert the Bruce. When I started to look into the historical landscape of Haddington, what I started to find were a number of bare patches. 

I decided to research and photograph the historical landscape around the siege of Haddington.  

Research 

What I quickly found was that most of 16th Century Haddington was covered over and redeveloped in the 18th Century by the Victorians as they remade Haddington into a Market town and rural holiday spot, leaving very little of any historical value behind. 

What remains of the siege walls, earthworks and boundaries of the town within have either disappeared completely or were reinterpreted by the Victorians as part history, part, folly, part garden structure. 

During the 16th century siege of Haddington, the town was surrounded and walled in for the duration of the siege. The English army held Haddington through the siege for 18 months. 

Process 

During the siege, hundreds were killed, but little is seen of the town as it was then. Having been recreated in the market town image of the 18th century, 16th Century Haddington appears to have been wiped clean from the map. Little is said about the siege, the brave soldiers on either side nor what happened to the town during the siege. 

Having found the map in the book ‘Feat of Arms’ (Unwin, G. 2014), I overlaid and then marked out a rough rectangle within which the siege walls and boundaries lay. My idea is to work within the rectangle and using both google maps and physical survey work out where this large piece of history disappeared to. 

Overlaid map showing location of siege walls and earthworks over newer google map

Google map showing square around town centre

Certainly, as can be seen from the google map diagram the current town still lies within the main traffic routes, the north gates and the west gates are easy to locate within the structure of the town. Looking deeper I could find little on display to show what still existed. 

For the most part, what remains of 16th Century Haddington are place or street names; The Butts, Langriggs, Sidegate, Hardgate, Mill Wynd. 

However, due to the Victorian penchant for repurposing, small parts of the original town and walls can still be seen, if not in the same shape or location, but in style. 

One of the few untouched areas is to the East of Haddington, where at one-point cannons had been dug into a mound, to allow the cannons to reach within the confines of the besieged area. This one important archaeological artefact remains relatively unexamined and left to nature. It was only by accident that it was rediscovered as part of this article. 

Using google maps I reviewed a number of areas within Haddington that I wanted to visit and possibly photograph; this method of survey was quite helpful to me as it allowed me to manage my chronic pain and fatigue on the days when I was at these locations, moving about and capturing images of what I could see. 

There was a delay between the online survey, the physical visit and actual photographing of the locations due to a number of issues. First of all was my own health, due to the cold weather, I was stuck inside as being out in the cold brought on my Costochondritis which makes breathing very difficult. Secondly, since I can no longer drive, I had to rely on the kindness of others when I wanted to go visit some of the locations to review them. Thirdly, my main source of transport is my wife, who having injured herself, could not walk or drive for almost six weeks. Again, I was stuck in the house unable to get to the locations. 

During this time, I started to look over the work of other artists who suffer from failing eyesight or visual impairment. The RNIB website was in itself very helpful and pointed me to a number of projects, one of which is a collection of portraits by Roy Nachum. Together with the work of Chris Friel in the collections, Silver and October, I started to review and reassess what I have been doing. 

Using the ideas of Text in the style of Ed Ruscha, but combining it with the influences from Nachum and Friel, I decided to restart the assignment and return to the exploration of my visual impairment, my continuing loss of vision, the loss of mobility and at the same time the loss of history due to progress and lack of foresight. 

Returning to the original reports and letters written during the siege, I hit upon the idea of taking direct quotes from the reports from (Lawson, John. P. 1893) and the Hamilton Papers (Bain, E. 1890) and overlaying them into the landscape images. I then went further by converting the quoted text into braille.  

Taking the converted text, I positioned it into the landscape in such a way as to interrupt the flow of the image, in the same manner, that my eye condition interrupts my day to day vision. By using braille, I further push the viewer into the uncomfortable position of not knowing what is being said.  

Images 

Rebuilt Walls Marys tower

Victorian recreation of siege wall and tower. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleHere at the Eastern edge of what would have been one of the boundary walls, now stands a tower and two sides of a wall enclosing a small garden. The tower and walls were recreated by the Victorians to emulate the history of the town. 

Vennel, formerly a close. 

Orange walls of a close. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleThere are very few locations within Haddington where you can still get the idea of how close together the houses were built and what both the soldiers and visiting queen would have seen. Within the confines of the besieges town, there was starvation, squalor, and disease. 

Langriggs, Current lay of the land

New housing but with fridge and cooker abandoned in the street. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleDown at this end of the town, people would have gathered their livestock together for safety within one of the longer inside dividing walls. Although pieces of stone from the 16th and 17th Century are embedded in the wall, history is still regarded as passé. 

Cannon Mound, They planted a great many guns. 

Farmed field with mound of earth. Mound was cannon platfrom. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleUndeclared at the edge of a working field, sits one of the few remaining cannon platforms. Last archaeologically investigated in the 1980s, it now rests disregarded and unknown. 

West gate, now part of court street (18th-century development)

Modern Haddington West crossroad. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleWhere the West Gate would have sat, many battles were fought over this opening and where Highlanders ducked the cannon fire.  Now a major junction into the main street of the remodelled market town. 

Nungate bridge leading to now derelict Abbey 

Nungate bridge over the river Tyne. Purple flowers in the foreground. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleThe crossing which took troops and royalty back and forth to the south. The Abbey was a designated neutral ground where a meeting between the sides could take place. 

St Marys, battle-scarred but still standing. 

Foreground graveyard. Behind the trees is St Marys Church, all under a blue sky. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleSited outside the walls, the battles and siege did not pass this church by. While it was also a neutral space, It bears the scars of musket fire on its stone.  

Original wall, an inner boundary 

Bailey wall, now separating houses from a green space. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleAn inner bailey wall, now separating parts of sheltered housing.  

Tesco Car Park 

Empty Tesco carpark. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleWhere the main part of the besieged town once sat, now resting beneath the tarmac of a Tesco carpark. Nowadays, food is more plentiful and accessible. 

Doocot, Source of food and communication. 

Jacobean dovecot. Boarded up and abandoned. Quote taken from historical figure shown in BrailleDoves and pigeons were a good source of protein, a Jacobean doocot like this would have kept a well-off family fed through the winter months of the siege. Now sealed and unattended, left for decoration and a nod to history. 

Contact Sheet 

Full set of images taken for the Assignment. Including the original braille conversion files and screenshots showing the text to Braille conversion.  

 

 

Contact Sheet for Braille Conversions.

 

Contact Sheet of Screenshots of the Text to Braille Conversion

 

Technical Choices. 

As in Assignment 1, the images were taken either handheld or supported by a crutch used as an improvised monopod. I decided to apply filters in post-production, I chose Black and White versions of the images and used them as a layer to either show highlights or shadows where possible, without making the final scene too dark or overblown.   

Conclusion. 

In the beginning I flipped between several ideas and projects, each one had its merits but in the end, the assignment was led by the research. The research itself was very enjoyable as it allowed me to dip into my fascination with local history and start discussions on why so little of it is being preserved in the county.  

Hitting on Friel and Nachum was a bit of a game changer for me; it returned me to the exploration of my condition and how it influences what I see and how I see it. The final iteration of this assignment for submission will be printed where the braille dots are raised to allow participation by a visually impaired individual as they will be able to touch the display card and get the image description and relevant information before touching the image and feeling the quote. 

References 

artNet (2017) Ed Ruscha , Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/ed-ruscha/ (Accessed: 19th March 2019). 

Arts Council England (2019) Disability Arts Online, Available at: http://disabilityarts.online/ (Accessed: 15th March 2019). 
 
Bain, J. (1890) The Hamilton papers. Letters and papers illustrating the political relations of England and Scotland in the XVIth century. The Hamilton papers. Letters and papers illustrating the political relations of England and Scotland in the XVIth century [Online]. Available at: https://archive.org/details/cu31924091786032/page/n6 (Accessed: 18th March 2019). 
 
Campsie, A (2018) Public inquiry called for Battle of Killiecrankie road plan Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/public-inquiry-called-for-battle-of-killiecrankie-road-plan-1-4736078, Available at: https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/public-inquiry-called-for-battle-of-killiecrankie-road-plan-1-4736078 (Accessed: 17th March 2019). 

Campsie, A. (2019) Row as businessman ‘builds fence across Antonine Wall’ Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/row-as-businessman-builds-fence-across-antonine-wall-1-4867670, Available at: https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/row-as-businessman-builds-fence-across-antonine-wall-1-4867670 (Accessed: 17th March 2019). 
DPS (2019) Disabled Photographers Society, Available at: https://www.the-dps.co.uk/ (Accessed: 18th March 2019). 

East Lothian Council (2019) Haddington 700, Available at: https://www.johngraycentre.org/haddington700/ (Accessed: 15th March 2019). 
Friel,C. (2019) Index/Gallery, Available at: https://www.cfriel.com/index (Accessed: 17th March 2019). 

Magdalena Szubielska (2018) People with sight impairment in the world of visual arts: does it make any sense?, Disability & Society, 33:9, 1533-1538, DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2018.1480261 

McKenna, K (2018) Second battle of Culloden rages as locals clash with developers, Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/30/culloden-moor-battle-luxury-homes (Accessed: 17th March 2019). 
 
Parker Lawson,J. (2017) Historical Tales of the Wars of Scotland, Available at: https://www.electricscotland.com/history/wars/33siegeofhaddington1548.pdf (Accessed: 18th March 2019). 
 
RNIB (2017) Blind artist launches ‘ genuinely audio-visual art’ exhibit in aid of Talking Books, Available at: https://www.rnib.org.uk/blind-artist-launches-genuinely-audio-visual-art-exhibit-aid-talking-books (Accessed: 19th March 2019). 
 
Spikerog SAS (2019) Braille Translator , Available at: https://www.brailletranslator.org/ (Accessed: 20th March 2019). 
TATE (2017) Landscape, Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/node/294527_ (Accessed: 15th March 2019). 
 
Tudor Chronicles (2015) Siege of Haddington, Available at: https://thetudorchronicles.wordpress.com/tag/siege-of-haddington/ (Accessed: 15th March 2019). 
 
Unwin, G. (2014) Feat of Arms – The Siege of Haddington, 1st edn., United Kingdom: Creative Independent Publishing. 
 
Voyatzis,C. (2012) Visual Art for the Visually Impaired by Roy Nachum, Available at: https://www.yatzer.com/visual-art-visually-impaired-roy-nachum (Accessed: 17th March 2019). 

 

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.

DSC_0049 (1)

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,

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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.

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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.

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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.