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Blog, Landscape, Place & Environment 2021-22

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25th May 2021

This blog tracks the activities and progress of my BA in Photography with OCA. It started in 2018 with Expressing your vision, then Context and narrative , Identity & place in 2020-21 and next Landscape, Place & Environment, though I do not expect to start that formally until September 2021.


Printing - Workflow - Referencing - Why photograph? - Zine - Subject / Object - Punctum - UTP - Diversity

- Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug - Sep - Oct - Nov - DecLP&E - I&P - C&N - EyV2018 - 2019 - 2020 - 2021

25th May 2021

Tentative beginnings

I will not be starting LP&E for a few months yet, but I am setting up the web pages for the elements I have documentation for and beginning to think about the assignments in the Melting Pot.

6th August 2021


I have a few subjects rattling around my head, so here's a note -
1. Plants in front of architecture:
Flower boxes Barbican;
Brighton pav;
Choose the piece and then circle to find foliage
2 Sublime - that bridge, tho not a term I associate with imagery
3. Warcraft but probably hold for DIC
4. Spectator food reviews
5. Infrared experiments

[10Aug] Sublime - Not visual - conceptual, eye of a swan
Slow music
Another Roadside Attraction

[15Aug] Replay - can visuals be sublime? can photographs of visuals artifacts? They can trigger emotions, exemples in my case the Miners' Strike, Murtha's New Found Out, that drowned child refugee on the beach. But can any photograph be or convey sublimity / sublimation?

[17Sep] Gasholders, Stations (of the Cross).

7th September

Warming up

I have applied for LPE but not actually received confirmation yet. I&P is going in for November Assessment with a deadline of 30th September. I noted in the throes of assessment,
• monitor all work for potential Assessment LO submission
• Analyse at least one photograph deeply per unit. Analysis technique defined at end of early IP asg feedback - elsewhere? yes here. Use this as grist for FinAss

19th September

Web site checklist

Brought forward from the I&P Blog.

I'm finalising the I&P submission and winding down the I&P website component, so here's the annual checklist.


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26th September

Is it art?

I have toyed with this question since the outset. I started a page on it during C&N and added a gnomic note during I&P (10Jan21),

Delacroix and Salkeld A done deal through venal galleries but Coleman offers a fascinating insight and quote extensively is it art?, C&N

I have not added to it since and will have to refind the Coleman quote.

My conclusion to that point rested on Salkeld's, — if photographs are displayed in institutional galleries and sold in commercial galleries and auction houses, then they are de facto art and any intellectual tugs-of-war are moot.

There is another point to be made though and this arrived with a reading of Douglas Crimp's 1981 essay published in Bolton (1992, pp.3-12), see link.

A precondition for photography to become gallery art is that some of the photographers themselves become known, named artists and that is what Szarkowski was working towards at MoMA.

Development will continue on a new page.

West Pier and Wind Farm,
Brighton, 25 September 21

26th September


Postmodernism is mentioned in some of the course Readings, so let us state a definition. Modernism too. My source is Gilles Mora's Photo SPEAK (1998) which is a much better book than I expected.

Modernism — is all about straightforward representation. It begins at the end of painterly Pictorialism and about at the end of WW1. It is the beginning of Straight photography, Stieglitz's Photo-Secession and with the F/64 group briefly forming an extremist wing. It lasts through WW2 and probably ends with Robert Frank's The Americans in 1958.
In the meantime, the avant-garde advanced, developed and broadened while Modernism ran out of puff.

Postmodernism — exists to subvert art orthodoxy, exemplars being Sherrie Lavine's copies and Richard Prince's appropriations. Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger were also in the vanguard.
It has diversified in the 20+ years since Mora described it and so we had better pick up this story elsewhere.

Mora, G. (1998) Photo SPEAK. NY: Abbeville Press.

28th September


There's a lot going on at the moment, although I've not officially started the course

  1. Asg.1 needs starting, probably the bridge.
  2. I have a notion for Asg.2.
  3. My resolution to write more formal evaluations of photographs beckons.
  4. The shutter comes down on I&P Assessment in a couple of days, but I haven't started The Book yet.
  5. And the video of Photo London needs doing.

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Sam Whittaker
Diversity and Ability

1st October


The Students' Soc is running a series on diversity, outsourced to Diversity and Ability. The first was this week, entitled Diversity & Inclusion. Here's a link. I'll include a few slides and comments below and open a page on the matter.

diversity diversity diversity diversity diversity diversity diversity diversity
Diversity & Inclusion
© Diversity and Ability

The content was largely sensible. On disabilities, three models were described, Medical, Social and Celebratory and the Medical criticised for putting down and marginalising those affected. As one of those affected, my view is that the three approaches are not as mutually exclusive as the presentation suggested — many disabilities are just that and changing the terminology does not alter reality. I do not walk or speak or think as well as I used to. That said, it is, of course, wrong to penalise those with problems (and struggling to climb stairs IS a problem) … problems in some areas by not allowing them to function in other areas where they are quite capable. I welcome medical interventions that ameliorate my problems and celebrations are to be welcomed.

The other area covered was bias. The disctinction between unconscious and implicit bias was not well explained. We all have them and we should all be aware of them and try to minimise any adverse effects they cause.

Geoff Dyer,
The Ongoing Moment

2nd October

of, about and by

In his memorable The Ongoing Moment Geoff Dyer wrote,

A photo about Diane. Arbus by William Gedney; a photo about Dorothea Lange by Elliott Erwitt … The British critic Gilbert Adair has written that, 'at least for the general public', the peculiar representational standing of photography boils down to this 'question of the pecking order of by and about: London Fields is a novel by Martin Amis about the London of the 1990s; whereas a snapshot of the Queen Mother is first and foremost about the Queen Mother and only secondarily by Cecil Beaton.' Since I find it as difficult to generate interest in a picture about the Queen Mother as I do in a photograph by Beaton I'd prefer to take a different example.*
* It might have been neater if Adair himself had taken a different example: the 1974 picture about mod and moody Martin Amis by Bill Brandt, say. Geoff Dyer, The Ongoing Moment, p.63

That is largely true, and it generated two thoughts:

1. Both Adair and Dyer miss a nuance in the distinction between photographs of and photographs about. This was noted in a rambling comment in the About section. The of—about dimension maps approximately to Szarkowski's Mirrors and Windows, where photographs on the reflective side of the spectrum become increasingly centred on the photographer behind the lens rather than the ostensible object before it. Perhaps there is some three-dimensional model that would allow of, about and by to be plotted.

2. It is the of (more strongly than the about and decidedly not the by) that triggers the punctum - the subject, what is represented by the image, resonates with an individual viewer. While it is undoubtedly the case that some photographers quiver more punctums than others (Don McCullin springs to mind), I cannot think of any punctumial circumstance in which the by is more significant than the of.

My standard list of affecting photographs from C&N all bear this out -

Nick Ut, Villagers Fleeing a Napalm Strike, 1972
Eddie Adams, General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner, Nguyen Van Lem, on a Saigon street, 1968.
Jeff Widener (AP), Tank Man, Tiananmen Square, 1989
Richard Drew (AP), Falling Man, September 11, 2001
to which must be added
Nilüfer Demir's 2015 photograph of the drowned three-year-old Alan Kurdi

You (or I, at least) have to look up most of the names but I can never forget the images.

I pretty much dismissed it as a book of lists in an early appraisal. I was young (early 60s) , I was wrong, I will correct that in due course.

Dyer, G. (2005) The ongoing moment. London: Little, Brown.


nn October



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author (year) title [online]. website. Available from url [Accessed nn January 2021].

author, init (year) Title. Location: Publisher.

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[28Dec19] I have been collecting apposite quotes since starting the web site, but rather apathetically because I did not have a convenient means of storing and referencing them. Here's the original page. This is a new plan - stash them in the blog (which I often have) and list the sources here. I'll add navigation arrows through the entries. As currently conceived, the quotes gathered during each course will remain discrete in that blog - I might organise a way around that.

Richard Avedon - surface
Lewis Baltz - style and objectivity
Dawoud Bey - shooting
Nick Blackburn (me) - photography comprises poses and gazes.
Erwin Blumenfeld - photography is easy (or is it?).
David Campany ambiguity
A.D. Coleman - All photographs are fictions
A.D. Coleman - the gaze
A.D. Coleman - art theory
John Coplans - meaninglessness
Joan Didion - the implacable "I"
Paul Dirac - poetry vs. science
Marcel Duchamp - photography vs. painting
William Fox Talbot - chance and charm
Peter Galassi - Photography is a bastard
Paul Graham - orthodoxy
Robert Graham subject → object
Bill Jay - photography's destination
Matisse - objects and surroundings
Duane Michals - large prints
Richard Misrach - large format cameras
me - why photograph?
Steven Pippin - inverse sophistication
Sontag - intention, loosely bound
Sontag - mortality, vulnerability, mutability
Alec Soth - still photography is incompatible with the narrative sequence.
Tom Stoppard - recognising quality
Evelyn Waugh - first or a fourth
Edward Weston - the thing itself
Oscar Wilde - on masks



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Page created 25-May-2021 | Page updated 03-Oct-2021