This week we've been thinking about non human photography. This i don't really get. As humans have created the camera even if another being use it it's still at some point being connected to another human being. I understand the interest in the area of research and debate but i'm not interested in this area.
So concentrating on my project is foremost in my thinking at the moment as i've been behind due to my moving location and starting new jobs. I think i'm just about settling in and getting familiar with my surroundings. Thinking about this modules project about place and identity has got me thinking about why i move about and maybe it's coming to an end.
This current stage of my degree has moved on from the Peto garden at Iford Manor in Wiltshire to a project based on place and identity in Cumbria, they are both tourist destinations and it seems that my work is directed around this industry, and the choices i make within that sector with job and location choices. This gets me thinking about images that are associated with these industry. I choose places of work that i find interesting and want to explore and learn more about. When i first arrived here i was concerned about how the project would move forward and i'd planned on going for walks into the land and take image of that journey, but that doesn't seem to be the case, i have only ventured out towards the back of the farm so far, due to work commitment, energy levels and the fact we are going through a heat wave and it's really too hot to be walking at midday which is when i have my free time, the heat and work schedule has given me a case of heat exhaustion.
Working in hospitality within the tourist industry i've seen many images based around the tourist gaze, the images found around the area are all designed and marketed for the tourist. They want to take home a momentous of the place to validate and confirm that their experience was taken, whether to show others of their holiday or for their own pleasure of collecting souvenirs and momentous to gaze upon and reminisce of times gone by. I want to challenge the idea of the tourist picture postcard image.
"I am very wary of the picturesque picture, i get satiated with looking at postcards in local newsagents and at the picture books that are on sale, many of which don't bear any relation to my own experience off the place.....The problem for me about there picturesque pictures, which proliferate all over the place, is that they are a very soft warm blanket of sentiment, which covers everybody idea about the countryside....It idealises the country in a very unreal way." Fay Godwin. (Alexander, J. 2015) like Godwin my experience of this environment will not be of a picturesque picture, it will be experienced through hard work from working within the land and experiencing it everyday. Life here is not a picture postcard so i want to create images that are from this land but don't resemble this land. A landscape that is familiar yet unfamiliar, creating a land that doesn't exist which is made up from my imagination, interpretation and creative vision.
People travel from all over the world to visit Cumbria which has recently been given Unesco World Heritage status. Unesco describes the Lake District as:
The English Lake District
Located in northwest England, the English Lake District is a mountainous area, whose valleys have been modelled by glaciers in the Ice Age and subsequently shaped by an agro-pastoral land-use system characterized by fields enclosed by walls. The combined work of nature and human activity has produced a harmonious landscape in which the mountains are mirrored in the lakes. Grand houses, gardens and parks have been purposely created to enhance the landscape’s beauty. This landscape was greatly appreciated from the 18th century onwards by the Picturesque and later Romantic movements, which celebrated it in paintings, drawings and words. It also inspired an awareness of the importance of beautiful landscapes and triggered early efforts to preserve them.
The Lake District is renowned for its picturesque quality and beautify scenery. It is a very popular tourist destination.
The strategy for my current project is to learn more about this environment and how its changed over time and take photos of the people in their environment going about their work. I still want to experiment with multi images as i like the style it gives to the image, creating a layered story in one image. Showing the way of life here and how the land is used, historic land references from the past, geological formations and weather patterns. All these images will be merged together to create a narrative of place, showing its identity over a period of time.
I'm up early as the farmer woke me up, 5am. So thought i'd make most of the time whilst it cooler, we are in the middle of a heatwave to take some pictures. The mist was out this morning so i snapped a few shots but thought about what Gary said yesterday about what are you taking them for, what are you trying to say? I don't really know was the answer i just felt that i should be taking some images as i haven't taken many. Upon realising this i put down the camera and opened laptop to write, think and do some research. I research other artist in the area to see what kind of work is being produced.
Came across Ian Lawson a cumbrian photographer who has made a book called Herdwick.
Looking at his work his images are very picturesque, very much aimed to the tourist buyer who wants a picture perfect memory of their visit. Another body of his work The Shepherdess is created in a more commercial advertisement brochure style. I don't like this style when trying to depict her way of life, he's made the images to glamorised and has idealised the shepherdess lifestyle, he's done a fashion photo shoot to advertise this way of life, a made up one to please the viewer i think more than to document her lifestyle. It's too commercial looking to tell me a story of her life, i feel it's trying to sell me her lifestyle not show me.
I want to stay away from these kinds of images and create a piece of work that question what you're looking at?
Moving forward from the last module the technical strategy is the same, i found the relationship between multi layered images worked well and i think in this landscape setting the layering will hopefully create some interesting narratives within the image. I'm still learning about the multi layered double exposure technique and how it can be used. I will download the images from the camera to laptop as i go but i will not delete them from the camera sd card as i want to experiment with the different images from different times. It's a journey into time differences on the camera. The weather is one key distinctive part of this environment, it rains a lot apparently, so this is one element that i want to experiment with by merging them together to see what effect can be create. By keeping the images on the camera over a period of time i will be able to mix image from the beginning of my journey with the end, as within the landscape here you have a merging of times, element of the past can be seen today which creates the identity of the landscape we see and recognise around use and gives the Lake district its characterisation. I'm creating this notion of time passing within the single images and brought together in the final multi layered image replicating the landscape layers of past and present seen in the tourist gaze today.
Finished Multi layered images
Collaboration with the family
I'm Collaboration with the family about the way the land is used around here, it's history and traditions. This will inform the way i look at the land. As you can see from the images above i started to document the life around the farm, i didn't like this result and after conversations with the family, some weren't to keen on being photographed. I asked about shooting the shearing of the sheep which they said yes too but on the day, stress levels were high as a few things weren't going to plan for the farmer and his daughter so i was told not to bother them as it's too stressful, with this information i've decided not to photograph them and change strategies, i want to keep the harmony as living and working here it's important to keep things on a happy level.
I spoke to them about the wool which is sent of to the wool board, they don't get a lot of money for the wool as herd wick wool is mainly used for carpets as its courser than other wool used for clothing. Talking to them about the wool and how its used got me thinking about how i could incorporate it into my FMP (Final Major Project) I've been thinking of printed images onto fabric and make something with these, creating another layer into the image, i thought that maybe i could get the wool and embroider it into the final image, representing the Herwicks in the environment. Looking at another artist who uses textile surfaces is Helen Sears.
Questions of touch and the experience of surface are central (as they are for many painters moving toward photography). Moreover the series Inside the View (2005), also involves the presence and absence of lace. It is a suite of combined images which on one level contribute to the long history of montage. In each work a portrait and a landscape are brought together to generate a third meaning. Sear also produces a third image out of this method. The two photos are combined on a computer screen in Photoshop. Onto the image of a woman’s head, Sear ‘draws’ a lace-like network of lines in which emerges a photo of a landscape. In painting and drawing the line is usually there to form an image. In Sear’s work the line is the image. The network becomes a veil to look at and to look through. It is difficult to tell if it is really ‘there’.
I like the idea of putting an extra layer to the final image another layer representing the complex way of life and landscape here. I asked if i could have some wool and to see if i can get it spun into wool myself on a course. They said they have bags of the wool around so help myself. I also thought of felting the wool into the image, i've used this process before and this type of wool would be suitable for it. I will be experimenting with these techniques later on as i don't have any space here to do anything so it might be a case of taking it home after leaving here and working on things there. I've put these ideas in my ideas page too.
Copy of note book