1st June 2017
I have read through my tutors feedback report again and, over the coming weeks I will start to action the points I have highlighted.
2nd June 2017
◊ Include artists using remote other worldly locations and nature damaged landscapes.
My first PoA on Russell’s feedback is to deepen my research into similar work by landscape artists including Mark Power’s ‘Shipping Forecast’ project, Steven Vaughan’s work in remote landscapes and to further research which relates to natural disasters and if possible, coastal erosion and shingle banks. I will also take a look at ‘other-worldly’ locations.
I looked at Mark Power’s website. I have seen the ‘Shipping Forecast’ before and my associations with coastal walking, exploration and sailing in UK waters as well as my long history as a radio listener (growing up, we had no TV at home) mean that I really appreciate this work and can understand the motivation behind it. I did look into Russell’s suggestion of using a shipping forecast for the day of my photoshoot. I recorded it and contacted the BBC for permission to use it. Unfortunately I received a pro forma stock reply from someone who clearly didn’t read my request which pointed me to a site where I could purchase a licence to use a recording. Having already purchased a TV licence, I wasn’t inclined to purchase another!
One idea I did have was to run a line of text continually across the bottom of the screen detailing the forecast and onshore weather conditions for Dover and Wight for that particular day – 24th August 2016. When I edit the video again, I will look at this. The forecasts for 2014 are no longer available as the BBC iPlayer lists them back as far as 2007 but only the past month is available to play.
I found myself particularly drawn to two projects on Steven Vaughan’s website – Ultima Thule and Grimsvötn. I have a history of photographing volcanoes, active and extinct, while travelling. Although I originally looked at this work for the first time last year, I am sure that at least some influences rubbed off on me while I was working on Assignment 5 in Antarctica. I have an interest in the formation of landscapes. Volcanoes are thought of as the birth of landscape and to the see the rapid changes that they bring and their awesome unstoppable power, is a rare privilege. I also found his Opened Landscape: Lindow, Tollund and Grauballe fascinating, not only by their particular solitary beauty and rich colours but by his use of a large format film camera. When I have more experience using black and white on my 5×4 camera, perhaps I’ll try some colour film! Some of the photographs of Lindow Moss are reminiscent of parts of Slab Common which I photographed for Assignment 6 although I doubt much peat will be found in this predominantly heathland environment.
5 June 2017
Following my initial reading of Russell’s feedback I did research the work of Frank Gohlke for Assignment 4, in particular his series on the Mount St Helens Eruption and the aftermath of the 1975 Tornado in Witcha Falls, Texas. Here is a brief summary of that research in as far as it formed some of my ideas for subsequent assignments and my approach to environmental photography in particular.
First of all, Gohlke describes himself as a ‘late photographer’ in that he has photographed the after effects of the power of nature. In talking about photographing the aftermath of the Mount St Helens eruption of 198, he spoke of his task as being to recover the shape of the past event from what he observed in the present, that the destructive power of nature was matched or even exceeded by its power to regenerate. This event was so huge in its effect on the shape of the land that the answer to the question “What happened here?” depends on who you are talking to and where you are standing. He contrasts this with the destructive power of the tornado whose effects appear ethereal. The shape of the land is not changed and the destruction wrought to community and property was, as his photographs showed, soon repaired.
When I started this project I had in the back of my mind the constancy of the power of nature in the flow of the tides. There is probably no natural power that can at once be so useful and so destructive. Its power is constant and can go unnoticed immediately but is soon apparent with the passage of time. This is what this project is about. You will see from an appendix to my record of the state of the beach in August 2016, that just one year can bring wide ranging changes and brings into question man’s interventions in trying to maintain the space as a place.
My search for other photographic work related to coastal erosion continues. While searching I came across this article in the Guardian from 2012 about a similar problem in Dungeness. It is co-incidental that during my 1969 ecological study of Pagham spit, I was referred to papers about the Shingle Bank at Dungeness by my Biology teacher which informed my project into the relationship between microclimate, salinity levels and plant species distribution.
Seaford Beach and Seaford Head in East Sussex also suffer from erosion and the collection of postcards and archive photographs here show the changes over nearly 100 years. Further searches reveal numerous accounts and photographs of coastal erosion on the south coast of England. These are mostly environmental or historical records. Contextually I may have broken new ground, which is why Russell remarked that my research was limited. I’m not sure why this is important given that the project arose from my previous knowledge of the problem and my long association with this area.
Perhaps I should reiterate that this project is about a space becoming a place and also that the power of nature is constantly trying to reclaim the space as its own. That is the lesson here, it’s Canute’s rule, if you mess with the tide, you’ll get wet feet!
While looking at my files I found this image of the beach at low tide, which seems to be a perfect metaphor for this situation, I’m not sure I could fit it into a landscape series but it would fit into a documentary…