[28Feb22, p.126] Most individuals experience photography through the vernacular (family snaps) and as news (documentary with a wide range of veracity).
The photograph as "mnemonic device" (p.126), aide memoir as described by Sontag in On Photography (1977) and Barthes in Camera Lucida (1993). The photograph stops time: memory fades and memories change but the photograph arrests and, to a certain extent, resets this.
The cmat. mentions
Gillian Wearing and
Joachim Schmid as dalliers with the family album and also student Peter Kane who for Significant Space (2005) returned to the settings of family snaps in which he appeared and rephotographed them with the original in frame (fig. A1). The cmat. states,
The inclusion of Kane’s hand makes a physical connection between himself and the photograph. This is in sharp focus, and the space
beyond, which he has revisited, falls out of focus. On a visual level, this split between the two focal planes instantly draws the viewer to the ‘vintage’ photograph. This strategy creates a deliberate dichotomy between the photograph that Kane presents – literally from his own ‘point of view’ – and the scenery beyond. It is as if the actual space beyond is eclipsed; it has lost its relevance and no longer bears any relation to Kane’s actual sense of the place.
That is a reasonable description until the last phrase which, on the basis of the photograph alone, is speculation.
And OCA student Emma Pigott (the cmat. does not state Kane's learning institution) explored her daily view of a Swiss mountain for a project simple called Mountain. She states,
[Mountain] is a meditation on the mountain and my relationship with
it. The lines and contours become imprinted in my head, just like the
face of my loved ones. Over time I see the mountain in different forms.
I read it in different ways, see new things every day. The final images
speak to memory, imagination, representation and reality.
Emma Pigott, quoted in LPE p.128
[1Mar, p.129] Shimon Attie "explores loss and trauma in relation to
place" [LPE p.129]: this might at first sound dour, but it is the most exciting piece I have thus far met in the LPE cmat and so is shown larger than is usual (fig. B1). For his project Berlin’s Jewish quarter,
Through meticulous research, Attie used images from before the 1930s and projected these onto the remains of buildings, which have since been demolished as the area has been redeveloped. These ‘montages’ are very carefully arranged, so that pictorial elements from the projected photographs complement architectural details, such as windows and doorways. The resulting effects are provocative, ghost-like tableaux in a temporal transgression, where fractured narratives converge unnaturally in one space.
Although there are some similarities with my I&P Asg.5, the relative seriousness of the underlying subject matter and the use of projection rather than Photoshop puts Attie's work in a wholly different league. This might be the reason behind my I&P tutor's comment, "it has been done so often that it has almost become a separate genre".
Attie ticks all sorts of boxes with The Writing on the Wall — it is an original (or at least rare) technical approach; it addresses an important social and political issue; it is site-specific † and performative and so, after the event, can only be viewed documentally (it is arguably as much concept art as it is photography).
Other Attie projects include The History of Another (2002-3), projections in Rome and Facts on the Ground,, "enigmatic phrases" (Attie) lit large in Israel and Palestine.
† mind you, writing that phrase, it occurs to me that all landscape photography is by definition site-specific - is that true of any other photo-genre? As luck would have it, I blogged a Petapixel piece this week on genres, the list was:
Of those, some architectural and some external travel photography is site-specific, but arguably, where that is the case, it is also a subset of landscape. ‡
It may therefore be tentatively concluded that one definition of landscape photography is, simply, site-specific photography.
‡ And some events might seem sight-specific, for example, the Monaco Grand Prix and the siege of Troy, thus making photographs of the events (if possible) also sight-specific. But this is misleading. Many countries' Grand Prixes (Germany, the UK, the US) have taken place in various locations: it just so happens that because of its size, the Principality of Monaco can only fit a road race in one place. The siege of Troy is necessarily tied to a location, but was only one event in the larger Trojan War.
[p.130] One of Jeff Wall's methods is large tableaux, such as, Dead Troops Talk… (previously encountered in C&N Part 5), figs. C1-2. The cmat. draws parallels with Rejlander and Peach Robinson (Part 1) and with the "epic paintings of Delacroix, Delaroche, Goya" (p.130), then goes on to give a long quote from Sue Sontag's last book Regarding the Pain of Others (2003) where she discusses this Wall photograph and concludes that photographs cannot convey the true horror of war or other major events to those who were not there to experience it. (pp.112-3 in Sontag).
Luc Delahaye, formerly a photojournalist and a member of Magnum, turned to manipulation journalistic images to various degrees and presenting them as gallery art. Gerry Badger discusses his work in The Pleasures of Good Photographs (2010, pp.140-41). He writes, "The issue I have with Delahaye's work is not this change of context - from printed page to wall, from taking to making, from small-scale to large, from documentary to art - but the role the computer plays in constructing the imagery and the implications of that. I'm interested in what has been added by computer manipulation, but also, in what has been taken away."
Comparing Delahaye's work to the manipulations of Gursky and Crewdson, Badger continues,
But what of [Delahaye's] manipulated History pictures? Reproduced in a newspaper, if only in the context of a review, they could perhaps escape their art context, and be misread. Gursky's images might mimic reality, but they do not report upon events. Crewdson's are for the most part palpably artificial. Could Delahaye's, however, flitting as they do between documenting and recreating news events, be considered much more insidious in their effect, more dangerous because their artificiality is not made absolutely transparent?
The patently artificial is one thing, the faux-real quite another.
Have we now reached a situation where photography has separated into two parallel worlds? Not art and documentary, but something much more fundamental - between recreating the real world and creating a fake world.
Badger, 2010, p.141
The cmat. refers us to two Guardian articles by Sean O'Hagan, the first from 2011 on the Tate Modern exhibition of photography entitled New Documentary Forms where he states,
Delahaye … is not just questioning the role of reportage in an increasingly over-mediated world, but asking the thorny question: what happens to images of human suffering when they are taken out of magazines and hung on the walls of chic downtown galleries? …
Delahaye's big pictures ask more questions than they answer about the increasingly blurred line between reportage and art, the importance of scale, and the tangible sense of detachment that characterises a certain strand of contemporary photography. Most of all, though, as the curators acknowledge in the show's online catalogue, they "question the relationship between the documentary value of photography and the museum as its proper context". As this work shows, that remains a vexed question.
The second, dated 2012, is headed Luc Delahaye wins the 2012 Prix Pictet award. O'Hagan writes,
I would have preferred to see it go to the veteran American photographer Robert Adams, but the judges have tended thus far to reward the epic – see former winners Nadiv Kander (2010) and Mitch Epstein (2011) – over the restrained and reflective …
Delahaye is certainly a controversial winner of the Prix Pictet. Having paid his dues as a much garlanded photojournalist (he won the World Press Photo three times and the Robert Capa Gold Medal for reportage twice) he now considers himself an art photographer. Since parting company with the Magnum agency in 2004, his images have been characterised by their scale, detail and detachment. The prices have risen accordingly. His work wilfully blurs the line between reportage and art, with all the underlying contradictions that suggests. It does seem odd that he's been lauded with a prize whose underlying theme is sustainability.
Both Badger and O'Hagan are wary of Delahaye's work and question its purpose and meaning.
[8Mar] All landscape photography is by definition site-specific and it can be argued that all site-specific photography is landscape.
[8Mar] Part 3, Page 1 - A picturesque approach to landscape can obscure reality and postcards are particularly in the dock for this.
Part 3, Page 2 - Postcards are criticised again, but it can be argued that this is taking a narrow view of the genre.
Part 3, Page 3 - We encounter late, aftermath photography again, principally through Meyerowitz at Ground Zero, but also expanded to cover wider horizons such as Thatcher's gutting of British industry.
Part 3, Page 4 - Depictions of the sublime and the picturesque are again deplored. The use of landscape photography in illustrating socio-ecological ills is explored.
Part 3, Page 5 - In addition to the evils being wrought by companies' action there is the residual harm to the locality when they cease operations.
Part 3, Page 6 - All landscape photography is by definition site-specific and it can be argued that all site-specific photography is landscape.