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Part 2, Exercise 2.6 ‘Edgelands’

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The National Gallery, London. 2018. John Constable | The Hay Wain | NG1207 | National Gallery, London. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 July 2018].

An Accident | Art UK . 2018. An Accident | Art UK . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 July 2018].

Magnetic Core Memory – CHM Revolution . 2018. Magnetic Core Memory – CHM Revolution . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 July 2018].

Core Memory. 2018. Core Memory. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 July 2018].

Greenham Common – Homepage. 2018. Greenham Common – Homepage. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 July 2018].

Civil Nuclear Police Authority – GOV.UK. 2018. Civil Nuclear Police Authority – GOV.UK. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 July 2018].

Part 2 Exercise 2.2

The exercise asks that the student chooses a Road Movie and then writes 500 words on the Narrative of the Landscape within the movie.

I chose the Sam Mendes film “Road to Perdition”;

Landscape Narrative – Road Movies – Road to Perdition.

American road movies come out of traditional storytelling which can be traced back to Homer and the Iliad; the main characters of the story undertake a journey where they will have to make choices and face the consequences of decisions made. In Sam Mendes “Road to Perdition”, a father is hiding his mobster life from his family and must go on the run with his surviving son when his wife and other son are murdered because the surviving son witnesses his father and a colleague gun down some men.

Father and son undertake a physical and emotional journey, as the emotionally repressed father tries to save his son and prevent him from becoming like him. In doing so, on the journey the father opens up emotionally to the son and they finally connect.
Mendes uses a number of motifs within the film, but here we will concentrate on only two; water and the landscape. Water in the film is present as a lake, snow, rain and ice and they all represent life and death and the inability of man to change his fate. Landscape is used to represent not only the emotional state of the two main characters but also the narrative boundaries of the tale.

In the beginning, as they start the journey, the landscape is barren and flat, much like the emotional state of the characters. They pass empty fields and empty crossroads. They could deviate at any point, go away from the road and cross the fields abandoning the quest but instead they push onwards through the night into the city. The city is bright, busy and bold, the buildings surround and dominate the landscape and now the roads are filled with cars and the pavements crowded with people. It closes in on them, but at the same time, defends them as they are hard to distinguish from everyone else in such an identikit landscape, full of identical people performing identical tasks. Forced back out of the city, they start to cross the American landscape, which begins to appear like the paintings of Edward Hooper, even the characters themselves when dining look like his paintings. On the run, the two main characters come to the decision to fight back and the landscape reflects that decision by the representation of a piece of road lined on either side by trees. Here, the decision made, the other choices have been discarded and their fate set; now thoughts of abandoning the quest are discarded and the only path is forward.

The film is book ended by a body of water, the same body of water that the son is drawn to and viewing when his father’s fate catches up with him, mortally wounded by his assassin, he tries to clutch at a gun on the floor. His son hearing the shot arrives and picks up the gun but cannot shoot the ‘weegee’ like hit-man. His father understanding that he has succeeded and that his son will not follow in his path, manages to take a gun and kill the hit-man. The sunlit lake becomes the final scene, the sunlight over the water representing a positive future for the son.

The second part of the exercise asks the student to undertake a journey and document the landscape.

In this exercise, I chose to take a trip down to Cove Harbour, where in October 1881, there was a Fishing disaster where 189 fishermen perished in a severe storm.

This is my journey from the village down to the harbour, I had intended on taking these images in good weather but a sea haar still remained on the coast. Continuing with the challenging conditions under foot for me, I decided to photograph anyway in the unusual conditions as I felt that it was a good experience.



IMDB. 2002. Road to Perdition. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 June 2018].

Assignment 1. Beauty and the Sublime. 

Interpreting the brief

The brief for this Assignment reminds you that it may feed into Assignment 6 at the end of the course. The brief here is open for some interpretation as it asks for between 6 and 12 images which convey from the photographers’ point of view, beauty and sublime.

The terms beauty and sublime have over the years had a number of definitions and the terms themselves have broadly lost their artistic values due to misuse and misinterpretation. One only has to look at the number of different uses and identities that Sublime has within the book ‘The Sublime’ to see how devalued the word has become.

I wanted to return to the ‘as near as the original’ definitions as possible for applying them to my interpretations on landscape photography

In this series of pictures, I settled on trying to capture some of the imbalance as described in Exercise 1.9. I wanted to see if I could get both sides of a social contrast within a single scene.

I wanted to capture the changes in Leith, which was a port town before being merged into the City of Edinburgh. The port of Leith was one of the industrial hearts of the city. The large ports and docks built, maintained and broke ships as well as handling cargo destined not only for the City but for locations to the north, south, east and west of the city. It was the first port of call for any immigrant to the area and provided many jobs on the docks and beyond for many residents. The area is now undergoing a large social change as buildings have been knocked down or repurposed for luxury housing, student housing, shops, malls, casinos and large-scale housing developments.

Visual Culture

Using landscape painting as a jumping off point for this assignment, I knew that I wanted to go to beyond the limitations of what I could see within the scene through the viewfinder. I felt that I could go outside the limitations of a 35mm frame by accepting that I could expand the visual canvas as the original landscape painters had done. With this in mind, I wanted at least a few of the scene to be stitched together from several images to provide a final image.

Images for Assignment 1.

Using my knowledge of the red filter for Black and White exposures, I wanted to get both the sky and the cityscape exposed properly together. After taking a light exposure reading, I set the camera to manual and chose the f-stop and the exposure speed which best suited the whole of the scene. After taking the images I then stitched the 7 exposures together in photoshop to produce the final scene.



East Dock Entrance.


Entering the broken gates of the port, the gatehouse, longshoremen housing and storehouses are gone. Expensive housing has been built and a casino sited at a loading point. The cargo cranes are abandoned, unmaintained and rotting, providing housing for wild pigeons and gulls. Further expansion is planned as dockland is cleared awaiting the return of developers. 


Sitting behind an expansive mall is the Royal Yacht Britannia, it rests in a berthing area where ships would have unloaded grain. Now visitors can view the recovered land where large-scale houses rapidly rise on ground made up of broken buildings and dirt. They can view the rotting spine of a loaders platform as it dissolves into the sea and view the refueling of cable laying ships and mobile oil and gas exploration ships. 



Britannia to rotting docks.

I stitched together 9 images to make this panorama. I wanted to capture the wide expanse of the area as well as the emptiness of it.  



The central point of this image is around about the 500-foot mark of the original sea wall, meaning that originally I would have been 500 feet from real dry land. When it was built it was a berthing and rest area for local shipping. During a storm the entire dock area would fill with ships seeking protection from rough seas. The lighthouse would have been the beacon that many sailors would have been happy to see on a rough day 



Lighthouse to recovered land.


The lighthouse now lies empty, graffiti covered, its rooms, platform and the area underneath, between the supporting columns is an area for underage drinking and drug use. Stretching off into the distance is what is left of the ports and dry docks. The large mall and parking structure sits behind the royal yacht and nearly everything to the right is reclaimed land. Developers have pushed down the buildings and are slowly turning the land over to luxury housing. Many of the houses at Platinum point are beyond the reach of many locals who cannot afford the £265,000 for a 2-bedroom apartment. 




Platinum point pool.


Due to the worldwide collapse of markets, the development of the area has stopped while the developers build on a smaller scale in other parts of the area. This has left the planned plots to fill as lagoon sites and the plots have become a housing for wildlife. It is only a matter of time before this pond it taken back by concrete and steel and the wildlife pushed further away. In the meantime, this plot reminds the apartment owners that their houses are built on nothing more than temporary land and at some point, the sea will reclaim it. 




Unused plot and road.


As already stated the developers have built amenities and infrastructure for houses which they have not yet built. Nature is trying to claim back the land, helped in part by residents who, having left, have dumped their patio plants onto the scrubland. These plants are beginning to take root and will potentially cause more problems in the future. Until then, the area is used by dog walkers, teen bike riders, and wanderers. 




Behind the Gasworks.


The now unused gas tank dominates the skyline, it can be seen for miles. There used to be two such structures here before the first was taken down so that a small mall could be built as an amenities service for the local area. It is smaller areas like these that the developers have moved on to, throwing up student and luxury housing with the minimum of social housing within it. Until they start building the land lies unused, the skeletal remains of demolished buildings pointing out the last indications of local history.

Self-evaluation of the work

These images were not the ones that I originally planned for the assignment. I had planned on more Turneresque landscapes and it was only when I was in discussion with my Tutor prior to undertaking this Assignment that I changed direction and looked towards social politics through landscape.

I wanted to rekindle some of the social discourse that I had in my last course,  to examine what changes are happening during the gentrification of an area I knew well, along with documenting the rapid loss of local history as buildings are torn down in the rush to build houses that no one can afford.

Having decided on very wide landscapes I had to make my mind up on how I wanted to do it. I knew that I could not regiment the number of exposures needed as I would have to overlap and get in camera all of the landscape that I needed in one set.

Having no car and having to rely on a driver I had to plan the route carefully so that I would get everything I wanted in one day, otherwise, it could be two or three weeks before they were available again [and this would have up my course timetable completion into doubt].

I was pleased with the plan and although it was a difficult day I feel that I achieved what I set out to do.  While not all the landscapes stitched together I was able to fall back on some of the single images that I had taken which I felt also suited the series.

Contact Sheet.

Full contact sheet of images taken for this assignment.

Technical Choices

All of the images were taken either handheld or supported by a crutch used as an improved monopod. I decided to apply filters in post-production as I was interchanging lenses and the filters that I  have do not go up to 62mm. I chose Black and White for most of the images as I felt that they best represented the mood of the image. In a couple of the images I also boosted the saturation to see what happened with the colours but in most cases, single bright objects overtook the scene and pulled the eye away.


Visual Outcomes

The framings for these images are a response to the framings from paintings I have seen as part of this course. I wanted to get the scale of each scene, in such a way that at times the viewer is overpowered by the scale and may feel some vertigo as the image slips under their feet.

Over the day I made a number of images and through careful selection finally settled on the six that represent my interpretation of beauty and the sublime. In three of the images, I pushed my experimental boundaries to obtain a challenging series of images, where I have tried to define and express my emotions within the scene.

I tried to get both beauty and sublime within the same frame. Those that present my interpretation of the sublime were executed in a similar vein but I tried to continue the visual series with contrasting light and shadow.

I feel that they also have an uncertainty as they diversify from the weather conditions in which they were taken.

Reflection on assessment criteria

Overall, I am happy with this first assignment even with the personal challenges I had before, during and after the shoot. So far the coursework has guided me and encouraged me to undertake research into an area that I have not been exposed to much so far. It has given me some more creative ideas and techniques which I hope to carry on into the rest of the course.


Anon, 2010. The Sublime. (s.n.).

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




Minor Delay on Assignment 1

Whilst working on Exercise 1.8, I had a minor accident which stopped me continuing to work on Exercise as well as on the Assignment.

While crossing a street, I slipped and fell, bruising myself quite badly and breaking one of my crutches in two. The fact that I almost went under a bus (green man crossing timings are too quick for some disabled people) has also had a knock on my confidence.


Exercise 1.8 – The Zone System

After reviewing the exercise, I recalled an image I had taken many years ago as part of a group who took one photograph a day and posted online. The image no longer exists but I knew that it was the type of image which may benefit from using the zone system.

After reading about the zone system and reading parts of Ansel Adams ‘The Negative’. I decided that I would take the opportunity of taking some related images after attending an appointment with the eye hospital in Edinburgh.

Since I was attending the hospital I only had a mobile phone with me and I knew that I would have to use it to obtain the images. Luckily the device has a option of both live view and the ability to change the explosive through a digital spot meter. While this was a challenge I knew that with a bit of planning I could manage to at least scout the areas and take preliminary images at the very least.

The day before I was attending the hospital I was watching the BBC television program “Civilisations”, a small part of the program was dedicated to Adams and his photography; one of the salient points from the program was that Adams regularly used a red filter I front of his lens when photographing.
With that in mind I knew that whatever images I took I would not only be converting to black and white but first I would be adding a red filter to the image through Photoshop.

When I arrived at my location I was already a bit fatigued from my hospital appointment and having fluorescein pushed though my body, so I was a bit unsteady, so I sat or leant against a wall for these images using one of my crutches as a form of monopod to support my hand.

zones 4

zone 3

The image was slightly easier as I knew that there wold be greater support, at least a wall and a handrail or a large Victorian metal fence to lean on.

zoness 2

Again I knew that I would have support near the ground level.

Zones 1

I was satisfied with these images, I continued to experiment with the zone system at a location near the house and managed to capture this scene between snow showers.

Zone number 2 fence


Below is a collection of other images captured during these days which were considered for the exercise.



The zone system is fascinating and I can see where I have at times already wrong in previous landscape in not taking into account the entire zone system when photographing.

As an aside I was amused by the 11 zones, which may have been the original source of the joke “But this goes up to 11” from the film ‘Spinal Tap’


Adams, A., 1995. The Negative (The Ansel Adams Photography Series, No. 2). Bulfinch.

BBC. 2018. BBC – Civilisations. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 March 2018].

Rob Reiner and Micheal McKean. (1984). Spinal Tap. [Online Video]. Clip “This goes to 11” Available from: [Accessed: 28 March 2018].

The Sublime

I originally wrote this during the time that I was undertaking the “Context and Narrative course. I never published it at the time and I felt that now was a good time to clean it up and publish it as part of this course as it goes in the subject of the sublime. This article was written after watching the BBC program ‘Art of Gothic’ on iPlayer.  In the program Andrew Graham-Dixon explores how a group of 19th-century architects and artists spurned the modern age and turned to Britain’s medieval past to create iconic works and buildings.

Having first seen Andrew Graham-Dixon on ‘The Art of Russia’, I like to watch some of the series presented by hum. I find him a knowledgeable art historian and a humorously succinct presenter.

In the first episode Graham-Dixon talks about the Age of enlightenment, and how the term ‘Gothic’ was seen by its Italian definition as barbaric and uncivilised. This definition of course, dismisses all of medieval art and culture. In Britain the reformation destroyed a lot of the middle age art and architecture as it was thought to be nothing more than catholic superstition. This architecture was ‘rediscovered’ by the Georgians who first used it in the building style of some their stately homes and in watercolour paintings of ruins and of dark and brooding landscapes.

This led to a revival in literature and art where the horror and shock value could be used to drive a narrative, some of which was driven by the shock at the French revolution. The British Aristocracy were, of course nervous at the events unfolding in France; the horror as the underclasses rising up and overthrowing the monarchy and how they welded the power of the guillotine to remove the heads of state.

Along with paintings of the landscape, the Georgians artists started to review earlier pieces of art with the same eye to the “Gothic sublime” for example, Salvatore Rosa’s ‘Witches at their Incantations’ (Rosa, 1646) (the phrase calls to mind Black Sabbaths ‘War Pigs'(Iommi, Osbourne,Ward and Butler, 1970)) and can be viewed with this idea of symbolic horror, the witches, the maiden, the mother and the crone gather round a tree from which hangs a broken necked body. Some tall birdlike skeleton watches over the scene, the dark eye socket glaring out at the viewer, a toad like creature sits at the bottom of the frame its red lined maw gaping open as if to reach out and bite the viewer if they get too close. It looks ready to reappear in a later Dali painting in a more mutated form.

Could the melancholic meditations at lost art and history have caused the Georgian period of romanticism, and the scientific discoveries of the time, opened their minds to the old fears and superstitions of ghosts and man made monsters? I believe this shows up in writing such as Thomas Parnell’s “A night piece on death” (Parnell, 1721), his graveyard poem reminds us that nothing is eternal and that life is short, his sombre moral message would inspire other writers to take up the idea and write poetry and novels reflecting on the romance of death and longing, and the language of the gothic novel.

This language can be seen in the Painting ‘The nightmare’ (Fuseli, 1781), It shows a woman in deep sleep with her arms thrown below her, and with a demonic and apelike incubus crouched on her chest. The creature may be a representation of what we now know as the condition sleep paralysis; Suffers talk about being held down by a creature on their chest or torso. Fuseli’s painting goes on, the symbolic representation of the mare by the horses head and the horrific nightmare thoughts running through the subjects mind.

Fuseli again takes us on a nightmare vision with ‘Percival Delivering Belisane from the Enchantment of Urma’ (Fuseli 1783), here the main subjects holds back Percival as he strikes out of the painting. His forceful stroke directed at Urma, the wizard, who cowers down hand held up to deflect the blow, Percival hopes to strike down Urma breaking the chains which hold down Belisane and an unknown person whose hand reaches into the frame from the right hand side. Will the blow be strong enough to release the lost souls represented by the nightmare ghostly faces on the left of the scene? Fuseli added a note to the painting when it was shown, directing the viewer to read the takes of Thiot. Lord Byron spent time looking for these tales in his library but could find no reference to these tales; when he asked Fuseli about them, Fuseli admitted that he had made the references up to add a layer of mystery to the painting. This painting pushes Fuseli’s narrative of subjective fear and the unknown disturbances of the mind.

The idea of the painting or novel being inspired by an ancient source can be initially found in the Novel ‘Castle of Otranto’ (Walpole, 1764), Horace Walpole was the first gothic horror novelist and this book with its, ghosts, monsters and villains who take over the body or soul of an innocent. It gives birth to the genre which flooded onto the scene. Walpole can also be credited with creating the idea of Gothic found footage which nowadays can be seen in ‘Blair Witch Project’, ‘Rec’ and ‘Cloverfield’
The idea of presenting a novel as a translation allowed Walpole to add a frisson of mystery to his novel, his Georgian readers would be unsure of the reality of the text.
A reflection of the idea of found art, again in represented in Strawberry hill, Walpole’s house in Twickenham, here the house that he built overflows with gothic architecture inside and out and presents the narrative that Walpole discovered a crumbling ruin and returned it to its gothic magnificence.

Lord Cobham, a contemporary of Walpole, while deeply embedded in the Romanesque architecture of the Gothic age, also took time to create a Gothic Folly on the estate, it was his own take of the medieval ruin with his temple of Liberty on his Stow estate. The temple designed by James Gibbs is very much a medieval Anglo-Saxon church with Gothic highlights dedicated to the Liberty from the absolute power of the monarchy and to the power held by the Whigs of the British Parliament.

Painters, Poets and Artists continued to produce work in this period, not always with the success of Walpole. ‘The Poems of Ossian’, (James Macpherson, 1760) is one of these works, MacPherson published his work in 1760, but it was in 1766 that Charles O’Connor, a well-known Gaelic Scholar, dismissed the authenticity of the work, a dispute which continued until 1952, where it was decided that the poems contained parts of older works from as early as 1310. The dispute however did not mar the influence of the poems as they became the initial influences for such works as ‘Fingal’s Cave’ (Mendelson, 1829) and the Opera ‘Ossian, ou Les Bardes’ (Les Sueur, 1804)
Like MacPherson, Thomas Chatterton, made waves with the Georgian public who were ravenous for more medieval style literature. Chatterton created a number of pieces which he claimed he had found in the attic of an old church. He declared that the work originated from a 15th century medieval monk called Thomas Rowley. He was able to pass his own work off as Rowleys’ mainly due the fact that few people at the time were familiar with medieval poetry, though ironically, he was denounced by Horace Walpole. Chatterton even went as far as the use the backs of 15th century manuscripts as a canvas for his own drawings. Chatterton was one of the first of the Gothic romantic deaths; Chatterton, finding himself destitute, poisoned himself at the age of 17, his death was represented in a play by Alfred du Vigny and the painting ‘The Death of Chatterton'(Wallis, 1856) he became the embodiment of doomed young genius.

Gothic literature now moved east, at the helm of William Beckford, who could be described as a Gothic literature rock star, his life was driven by his desires, as he burned through his inheritance at a eye streaming pace. His novel ‘Vathek’ was inspired by his own profligate, debauched lifestyle, he combined oriental influences with darker Gothic tones, the main character Vathek makes a Faustian deal with a oriental genie spirit so that he can live a life full of debauchery and fulfil all his desires. He tries to break the deal and is devoured by the “devil”. At first Beckford claimed that he had just translated a middle eastern text, but later withdrew that claim and admitted that he had written the novel. The scandals of his life meant that Beckford withdrew from society for 10 years and then on his return built his Gothic home which was the size of a cathedral when it was complete. His architectural design was so full of gothic imagery, that it flowed with arches, towers and stain glass windows. Unfortunately for Beckford his shield against the world collapsed under its own weight. It can now only be seen in the drawings in ‘The Delineation of Fonthill Abbey’ (Rutter, 1823). Rutter’s drawings show an immense palace on a biblical scale, people are physically dwarfed by the height and depth of the building.

Beckfords influence on other authors extended the reach of Gothic literature, one of the most prominent was Ann Radcliffe, whose novels such as ‘the Italian’ and ‘The mysteries of Udolphio’ were seen as a bad influence on young women. These novels were so popular, that you could say that they were the era equivalent of the Twilight novels, their readers were seen to be embedded in the books and that the books caused too much excitement in young women. Such was their popularity that Jane Austen wrote ‘Northanger Abbey’ (Austin, 1798) as a pastiche of Gothic novels, Austin poked fun at the seriousness of the Gothic Novel hoping to break its grip on English literature. Austin’s idea of a young women alone searching a mysterious house would and still does appear again and again in books and films such as ‘Rebecca’ (du Maurier, 1938), (Hitchcock, 1940) and the idea of inflamed imagination, ‘Suspicion’ (Hitchcock 1941)

As these books were being written and published, the French revolution continued, refugees from the revolution fleeing France, would on occasion encounter a young man called Matthew Gregory Lewis, Lewis was a junior British diplomat at the Hague, their stories to him of what was happening in France, influenced Lewis to write ‘The Monk’ (Lewis, 1796). Lewis claimed to have written it quickly in a space of less than 10 weeks and when it was published, it became the prime example of British Gothic horror; the plot was scandalous and convoluted and it became the most important Gothic novels of its time. The metaphorical narrative reflects a warning about the corruption of life which is contained in every-man.

The first episode has focused mainly on the literature but it has shown that there is a cross between the arts and that painting was influenced and the Gothic themes were starting to be explored.


Suspicion –

Part 1 Exercise 1.2 Photography in the museum or in the gallery – Reflections on ‘Photography’s Discursive Spaces: Landscape/ View’ by Rosalind Krauss.

We are asked to read and review the essay which was available online at

The essay was first printed and published in 1982 in Art Journal, Vol. 42

The essay starts with an analysis of two images of Tufa Dome, Pyramid Lake, comparing two contrasting images of the same space. The photograph by O’Sullivan (1868) is described by Krauss as mysterious, hallucinatory, abstract, as the image shows the rocks as undifferentiated, the water and sky connect in a seamless mist which disconnects the rocks from reality and makes them float, no longer held to material space rather that they are alone in the vague luminosity leaving the viewer alone and left to interpret what is in the background and what is or is not there.

Krauss then proceeds to describe the second image which is a lithograph print of O’Sullivan’s “Tufa Dome” published in a scientific journal, using such terms and expressions as: explained, definitive shape, detail, massed, gravity and direction restored, as we can see the foreground and background are clearly defined in the lithograph, the rocks cast shadows and their detail defined in the contrasts.

2018-02-15 (2)

Comparing the photograph to the lithograph, Krauss points out the ‘demotion from strange to commonplace’, she attributes this change to the distinctly different ‘domains of culture’ that these images belonged to and the differences in the ‘expectations in the user of the image.’ The photograph can be seen to be closer to art while the lithograph is more of a scientific document.
Krauss then goes on to question the reasoning behind the origin of O’Sullivan’s photograph. Did O’Sullivan want to create an image intended for geographical/topological research or was he aiming to create an image intended for interpretation and discourse. It also asks where does the final photograph stand, is it art? Certainly, in the nineteenth century landscapes were being increasingly displayed in galleries and the drive for commissioned landscapes helped to push the landscape into the modern aesthetic as more and more artists interpreted and displayed the world around them as they saw it.

Sullivan’s image is reminiscent of an image from fellow war photographer Roger Fenton. O’Sullivan like Fenton captured images from the battlefield, O’Sullivan show his competence and skill in “The battle of Gettysburg” where he is able to frame and capture a landscape of destruction. It is a much closer and tighter frame than Fenton’s “Valley of Death”.

Tufa Dome may have been influenced by Fenton’s Crimean War work as there are reflections of “Sebastapol from the redoubt des Anglais” each image has a clear foreground which stretches off into an unclear distance where the horizon is difficult to see or define, both images achieve a dreamlike state through this effect.

Krauss then asks about the purpose of the gallery wall as a ‘space of exhibition’; the gallery space to provide a display, the ground of criticism, and the explicit inclusion or exclusion of an image on the gallery wall ’ and the resulting influence on the gallery aesthetic where the exhibition wall becomes a representation of ‘exhibitionality,’ and once a painting or photograph is displayed for exhibition in any shape, or form then it is considered as being art by both the gallery and the people who view the image or images. This then asks the question on the purpose of the gallery wall and who decides what is shown in these spaces.

Krauss points out that there is always a requirement for discourse on discursive spaces in photography, due to the need for different subject matter and where these images are presented and the differing aspects to the display of a single image in of their diverse forms, dependent on the type of display and audience. Krauss however appears to be focussed only on painting and that the gallery space can be filled with other objects; from sculptures to large installations and she does not define their place in the discursive space. So again, while I agree that there is an element of inclusivity on the gallery space, it is not merely a device from which to display the value of the exhibition.
Krauss mentions the other end of the artists collection which is the personal collection which has been created over time. Krauss focussed on Atget and his “Paris” photographs, through the “Old France” exhibition at the MOMA in 1985. Her essay then goes on to ask if his collection of images held within his own filling system could be viewed as his Oeuvre and that his collection is unstable and unfocussed. I believe that Atget was a continuous learner and that he shot and reshot “views” as he came to understand how the process worked and how that it could be influenced by previous artwork. Atget is an artist as his thinking and processing work can be seen in his collection; most of which was for his own personal view. He may have been too modest to gather his “best work” for display. Only through time can our view now and the view of curators can we see his work. Krauss article is based on only one quarter of the images display at the MOMA exhibition; they went onto show three more exhibitions of Atget’s work, means that Krauss had based her views on only a part of what could be seen and that Krauss had sped ahead of the museums curators and that she had not made a complete consideration of the complete work. As Papageorge pointed out in “core Curriculum” Krauss did not wait for the collection to play out and that meant that Krauss was unwilling to consider photography as Art per say.

Krauss does make a good point about exclusivity and how certain styles can be pushed to the forefront due to their popularity within the gallery and outside the gallery by what people commission. I disagree with Krauss regarding photography as Art, from its inception Photography has been intertwined with art, both as a guide for later paintings but also allowing Artist to experiment with composition quicker and if many differing styles. (1982). Photography’s Discursive Spaces: Landscape/View. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Feb. 2018].

Gordon, S. (2017). Shadows of war. 1st ed. Berkshire: The Royal Collection Trust, pp.164-165.

Papageorge, T. (2011). Core curriculum. New York: Aperture. pp12-29