Research question feedback

Last Monday, we were supposed to present the research question to the group and discuss it, question it. Unfortunately I wasn’t very well, so didn’t get to do it, but the group discussed what I’d submitted anyway, albeit without the benefit of any talk-over and Q&A, etc. to elaborate on the context. They very kindly sent me some questions and thoughts though, which I’ve responded to on a gut-reaction basis, the details are below:

Sue asked: What is the difference between taking holiday snaps on an American road trip holiday and the relationship between photography and the American road trip?

The difference between a holiday snap and contemporary photography of the American road trip will be “intent”. Whilst some photographers (Robert Frank for example) may have used a 35mm camera, many actually used large format cameras, albeit sometimes with the casual style that might be associated with the vernacular. Some of Stephen Shore’s images might be similar to things that you might see on Facebook, diarising a holiday, etc. They were taken in the 70s though. They’re also similar to some of the things that Martin Parr gathered together as his "Boring Postcards USA” - ah well...


Ines asked: If you were going to do a 'google' type photographic study of the American road trip?

I’ve thought about it, and you can argue that some of the work done on the MA is exactly this - using Google to recreate the road trip photographs of Ed Ruscha and Stephen Shore.


Máire asked: Yours artists are a mix of photographers, writers and painters - I am wondering if this question might be about a photographic visual narrative but why do you look at writers and painters swell?

Writers? Kerouac has influenced those that have taken the road trip on, an inspiration to those outside of America too (Daido Moriyama has cited him as an influence)
Painters? I find something of a photographic quality to Hopper’s paintings (especially in terms of composition), and his images speak of Americana, which is much of the attraction to the road trip for those outside America, and also to those within - the road trip has been described as the "first American culture that could truly call itself national” - are people looking for something of the way things used to be?



We all wondered why America, and not France? You spend a lot of time in France. Would you consider doing something on Brittany?

Actually, another part of what I’ve been doing is photography in France. It’s more about documenting an “area” though, rather than the “journey” per se. For it to be a similar scale, it would need to be more akin to the old “grand tour”, which I’d actually like to take on, but not sure when I actually ever could (something for my retirement perhaps?)


Máire asked: Im wondering if you could take an aspect of the American road trip and ask about an aspect of what seems interesting to the viewer i.e. fuel stations , Motels etc. and what aspect of the road trip are you interested in?

What do I find interesting? It’s the journey itself I guess, and all those mundane things that populate that journey. The things that pop up to make that journey possible. I wouldn’t want to take an element of that away from the others, I’m more interested on how the journey will change going forward now that that particular thought has raised itself in my mind - it’s a short history so far, and things are changing rapidly. I must say, there’s a charm to some older gas stations that’s lacking now...


Mathew mentioned the significance of the history of photography in France (re you having house there etc and might make a connection)
There’s a far more significant history in France than America - Louis Daguerre for a start! I’m just not really sure it’s relevant to me though. Perhaps I’m being disingenuous, and perhaps a little uneducated, but for me, French photography is really all about Henri Cartier-Bresson or Guy Bourdin - both photographers I admire hugely, but not really all that relevant to my practice. I’m not up to speed on contemporary French photography, but for me it’s a historical thing...



I’ll ponder some of these questions more whilst I write my answer to the research question.
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