One of Britain’s most celebrated and respected photographers has lamented the digital domination of his field, calling it “a totally lying experience” that cannot be trusted.Don McCullin, one of the world’s finest photographers of war and disaster, said the digital revolution meant viewers could no longer trust the truthfulness of images they see.
Prince proposes that “Rephotography is a technique for stealing (pirating) already existing images, simulating rather than copying them, ‘managing’ rather than quoting them. A re-photo is essentially an appropriation of what’s already real about an existing image and an attempt to add or additionalise this reality onto something more real”.
Images produced within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a 30 kilometer radius no-entry area that was evacuated after the nuclear meltdown at the Chernobyl Power Plant in 1986. The area contained one major city, Pripyat, over seventy villages and scores of farms. The people living in these locations were given twenty four hours to gather their possessions and were then moved to locations around the Ukraine, in most cases never to return.
Church Street and Second Street, Easton, Pennsylvania, Aug 2013
(after Church Street and Second Street, Easton, Pennsylvania, June 20, 1974)
Deaderick Street, Nashville, Tennessee, Jul 2015
(after Deaderick Street, Nashville, Tennessee, May 2, 1974)
Richland Mall, US 30, Mansfield, Ohio, Jun 2011
(after Richland Mall, US 30, Mansfield, Ohio, July 5, 1973)
West Fifteenth Street and Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, Aug 2015
(after West Fifteenth Street and Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 15, 1974)
Wilde Street and Colonization Avenue, Dryden, Ontario, Jun 2012
(after Wilde Street and Colonization Avenue, Dryden, Ontario, August 15, 1974)
Wolf Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jun 2014
(after Wolf Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 28, 1975)
Twenty-First Street and Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jun 2014
(after Twenty-First Street and Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 21, 1974)
Twentieth Street and Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 2014
(after Twentieth Street and Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 21, 1974)
Second Street, Ashland, Wisconsin, Oct 2008
(after Second Street, Ashland, Wisconsin, July 9, 1973)
We can see if this goes anywhere...
Kroas ar Hars
There was talk of contemporary photographic practice. I spoke of specifically not wanting to produce work like David Chancellor’s Huntress with Buck – I’d rather not take photographs at all (as good as it may be, it’s simply not what I want to do). Alec Soth was mentioned, also something I do not wish to pursue, although closer than Chancellor. I spoke about the lack of people (and the reason), and a fear that it might end up looking like after the zombie apocalypse. I thought about John Darwell’s Chernobyl photographs – I need to look at these again.
Work by Sarah Pickering was mentioned in relation to An Uhelgoad, although I think this may have meant to have been Steffi Klenz’s Nonsuch in Poundbury. As was Peter Fraser’s Welsh Valley work and William Christenberry’s American houses (later posts will undoubtedly look at these).
Talking around the various words, “empty” “resistance” and “history” kept on coming to the fore, which then tied in with a possible thread of depopulation – approx. 30% of houses in a local village are owned as second houses (much as is mine), a place to go for holiday. There are photographs of graffitied signs: “Free Bzh” is clearly aimed at the English, but there are also attempts to reclaim Nantes from Loire Atlantique. It’s something to explore further. There are already several layers of politics (with a small “p”) that I’m aware of and undoubtedly subconsciously influencing my work.
The aesthetic was described as “melancholia”, which fits my personality and completely apt for me. This aesthetic might become more “interesting” because of the politics. There are transitory signs of disquiet. History might be seen as emptying out of a place, with something “other” taking that place.
Size was discussed; I personally don’t believe that, as of right now, there is any need for these images to be particularly large (many, not all, are photographed with a medium format digital camera, so could perhaps support larger prints). A book might be the primary goal, with a curated narrative and careful layout choices, but the gallery should also be considered.
This was an incredibly useful talk, helping to bring vague thoughts into the real world by having to voice them to someone else, and then to have that person, a photographic theorist, bounce other thoughts, threads and hooks around is great. I feel like I’ve taken much from it, lots hope it sinks in and I action the discussion too.