Categories
5: Presentation: Zemni 2021 In Process

Aldeburgh Diary

My rough notes using One Note and photo diary.

Overview

Day 1 Sunday Hambling. Wave, turbulence. Sunset. Fenced off beach.

Day 2 Monday. Kovats. Many tales. Ink. Gloomy darkness with yellow sea poppies. Twisted nets, ensnaring.

Day 3 Tuesday Stories in textures hilary mantell. Filling in the gaps. Museum. Ancient times. The Magpie. Viking. Armada.

Day 4 Wed where does all the time go. Med houses. Marsh. Nostalgia.

Day 5 Thur william kentridge erasure/ black and white charcoal

Dat 6 Fri coetzee open studios beach dog dance. New ideas, opening up.

Day 7 Sat new dawn. Watercolour.

Sunday 11th June

Sun and cloud. 18/19c Windy. 18/19.
Smell of mown grass.
Cuckoos in the morning.

Walk into town. See Hambling Edge (is there gold on there?) and Walls of Water. Do iPad for Hambling, oil painting. Different textures. Do video and photos of sea.

Band on beach. Acoustic guitar. But not many people. Town feels quite empty.

Look at Lemenech Gill gouache. Multilayered and paint on top with white gouache, erasing. Pencil sketching. But good drawing. Use of muted colours.

Elizabeth Newcombe oils Paris. Cut out and exaggeration of shapes. Use complementary colours in overpainting. ‘Paris as I want it to be, Paris of memory, not as it is….’

Wind dies down at sunset. Fans in the sky. Then cloud again.

Walk along the beach to Thorpeness. Areas of beach fenced off to protect the plants.

Backdrop discussions on election fall out. Uncertainty.

Maggi Hambling

“I am the shifting shingle, you approach with stealth, then the dark rooms of your curves, I am tossed, lost, displaced, with greedy lovers’ tongues and lips, you suck in and in again. we rise together, we rise together, then float safe on liquid breasts until the dance begins again and you thrust deep and my resistance is low, dissolve, dissolve. no defence against your relentless advance. I am but a ghost of the shore, disappeared in you.” (Maggi Hambling 2009 You Are the Sea text)

Subsequent research on Sizewell

In the 30s, the first tests in the development of radar were done there. The site was focused on bomb ballistics during the second world war and, afterwards, the first nuclear weapons. Now it’s a deserted haven for wild birds but littered with clues to its past.

Walking around the site I found the mysterious buildings of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE): bunker architecture covered in huge mounds of shingle. Peering through locked gates, I saw light pouring in through roofs open to the sky, the rusting metal framework creating dramatic shadows across walls tinted green with algae. I tried to piece together what they may have contained – deep pits to house the bombs for environmental testing, rusting remains of control boxes on the walls, huge ventilation shafts, quiet now save for the alarm call of gulls.

One of the most extraordinary things about the Ness is that at points you can see nothing except shingle and the occasional military building; the horizon remains the same through 360 degrees. It is quite otherworldly.

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2009/apr/05/orford-ness

 

Wikipedia: Crag Pit, Aldeburgh is a 0.2 hectare geological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Aldeburgh in Suffolk.It is a Geological Conservation Review site,and within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Site of Special Scientific Interest

Crag Pit, Aldeburgh 1.jpg

Area of Search

Suffolk

Grid reference

TM 458 580 [1]

Interest

Geological

Area

0.2 hectares[1]

Notification

1987[1]

Location map

Magic Map

Crag Pit, Aldeburgh

This is the most northern site which exposes the Pliocene Coralline Crag Formationaround five million years ago. It has rich and diverse fossils, including many bryozoans, and other fauna include serpulids and several boring forms.[5]

This site, which has been filled in, is on private land with no public access.

Monday 12th June

Cloudy, and wind. Light at 3.30 am.
Rabbit hops along. Bottom of new hedges protected.
Woke up really late and long breakfast to lunch.
Take more video of sea, gets over my shoes. Shingle between the toes.

Read Kovats drawing water.

Drawing as a mechanism for exploration. Drawing as lines of discovery.
Mapping
3D under the oceans

Preface quote from Salman Rushdie on Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

He looked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different colour, weaving in and out of each other like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity; and Iff explained that these were the Streams of Story, that each coloured strand represented and contained a single tale.

Different parts of the Ocean contained different sorts of stories, and as all the stories that had ever been told and many others that were still in the process of being invented could be found here, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was in fact the biggest library in the universe. And because the stories were held here in fluid form, they retained the ability to change, to become new versions of themselves, to join up with other stories and so become yet other stories; so that unlike a library of books, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was much more like a storeroom of yarns. It was not dead but alive.

Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, 1990.p55.

Me ideas: slowing down time. Time looking back. Not frenetic.

Van is shell sheltering from the storm.

Profile Arlene Foster DUP. Troubles and death. Uncertainty on election.

Tuesday 13th June

Cloudy and windy 20C

Reith lectures. The day is for the living Hillary Mantell. About history and fiction. Lots of imperfect perspective fragments and filling in the gaps.

Podcast

Read Ronald Blythe and look through history photos. Storms and Slaughden.
Sorted sketchbook.

Afternoon go to museum. Old Anglo saxon, and Roman dig.
Back through churchyard with Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. and along leafy tunnel lane.

Worked on gouache, pastel and ink bleed brushes.
Went back through carnival sketches.

Feeling despondent – not enough time and too much to learn. About technique and about drawing.

Wed 14th June

Sunny 18C
Soul Music Radio 4
Sandy Denny Who Knows Where the Time Goes. Wrote from nowhere when she was 17. Confident on stage, very unconfident off stage. Depression, drinking etc with duffucult marriage. Seems like she committed suicide through falling down stairs.

Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving
But how can they know it’s time for them to go?
Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming
I have no thought of time

For who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?

Sad, deserted shore, your fickle friends are leaving
Ah, but then you know it’s time for them to go
But I will still be here, I have no thought of leaving
I do not count the time

For who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?

And I am not alone while my love is near me
I know it will be so until it’s time to go
So come the storms of winter and then the birds in spring again
I have no fear of time

For who knows how my love grows?
And who knows where the time goes?

Read more: Sandy Denny – Who Knows Where The Time Goes? Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Interview with young songwriter ren harvieu who had been out with friends. In dark they were jumping over hedges. One did not see her and jumped on top and broke her back. As she was pain relieved suddenly started singing the song. Nina simone rendering also.

Sketching on bench. Got a bit cold.

Hot midday. Mediterranean streets. By lookout tower. Band midday.

Practised acrylic styles. Old brush.

Went to the marsh. Footpath right across is closed.

Day of Kensington fire.

 

Thursday 15th June

Still discussing Kensington fire.
Hot morning so stayed in. Feeling tired. Then cloudy and windy. Starts to be sunny again about 3pm.

William Kentridge. That which is not drawn.

  • Provisionality. Virtues of bastardy. Receiving the world. Reversing the world.
    To reveal that which is hidden. Excess of making.
    Making 3 things at once, the cat and the coffee pot. Chaos.
    Unwinding, unfurling, contradiction.
    Changing, shifting. Erasing.
    To make a huge fiction.
  • Sighs and traces. Always longing for meaning. Mystery associated with the trace.
  • Drawer and viewer. Filling in the gaps.
  • Wanting to hold, needing to let go.
  • Slow drawing. Meditative.
  • Man is a walking clock. Gathering seconds, gleaning frames.
  • P6 “the migration of images, which is connected with what I am calling the virtues of bastardy and the question of provisionality. That is linked to questions of imperfect translation and construction. I am thinking here of a bridge or a plank over the gap of what you don’t hear or don’t understand, or of what’s not in the narrative and requires the activity of the viewer. I think it’s all part of one topic, but we have to try and find out in what ways they are related. Another concerns that which is hidden….excavating dreams and constructing their sense. And erasure as construction.”
  • P71″I suppose I’m interested in the traces of what prompts a reconstruction, not just the trace nor the unreconstructed state. What prods an imaginative leap? I am making a drawing for which you see a foundation or a ground. And the interest for me is not not only the foundation or the ground but also what it suggests. From all the different possible things that could come out of it, I am interested in the end, in arriving at one, even if it’s an incorrect one. So it’s not a matter if saying, ‘Here’s a phrase, which is unclear, because there are words missing, that I haven’t heard.’ That suggests many things; it’s the leap into that suggestion, which is, in away, a leap out of indeterminacy. So indeterminacy is there at the base, but for me the interest lies in the movement into a drawing, into a sequence of movement. Indeterminacy suggests paralysis if you stay there.”
  • Photographs have only one focal point. But when we look we rapidly flip between the two.

Friday 16th June

Sun and cloud

Went out. Bought cards.
Boats watercolour
Tractor acrylic
Pointillist textures

Old Man of Orford

James Dodds linocut The Old Man of Orford

Orford Castle is associated with the legend of the Wild Man of Orford. According to the chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, a naked wild man, covered in hair, was caught in the nets of local fishermen around 1167. The man was brought back to the castle where he was held for six months, being questioned or tortured; he said nothing, and behaved in a feral fashion throughout. The wild man finally escaped from the castle. Later accounts described the captive as a merman, and the incident appears to have encouraged the growth in “wild men” carvings on local baptismal fonts – around twenty such fonts from the later medieval period exist in coastal areas of Suffolk and Norfolk, near Orford.

Orford Castle Wikipedia

Saturday 17th June

Dawn and dusk

Aldeburgh Studios
Brian Coetzee and seagulls

Crag Path and dancing dog

Sunday 18th June

Home via Snape

Categories
6.3: Land of DU30 6: JourneyasBeginning In Process Inspiration

Dan Eldon

I first came across Dan Eldon as part of my OCA Book Design course, and was struck by the impact of his combination of photographs, collage and text. Although some of the videos and media coverage of his work since his death in Somalia is somewhat idealised – and he is still an outsider, I think combining different media to present different perspectives can be a powerful way of documenting both journeys and also social and political documentary.

Google Images

Netflix video

I first came across Dan Eldon as part of my OCA Book Design course, and was struck by the impact of his combination of photographs, collage and text. Although some of the videos and media coverage of his work since his death in Somalia is somewhat idealised – and he is still an outsider, I think combining different media to present different perspectives can be a powerful way of documenting both journeys and also social and political documentary.

Google Images
Netflix video

Categories
3: Text and Image: Woman Lost 5.2.2 Tales from the Edge 5: Presentation: Zemni 2021 In Process Inspiration

Lynd Ward

Trailer — “O Brother Man: The Art and Life of Lynd Ward”

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Gods’ men HD

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The Biggest Bear

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Google images

Lynd Kendall Ward (June 26, 1905 – June 28, 1985) was an American artist and storyteller, known for his series of wordless novels using wood engraving, and his illustrations for juvenile and adult books. His wordless novels have influenced the development of the graphic novel. Strongly associated with his wood engravings, he also worked in watercolor, oil, brush and ink, lithography and mezzotint. Ward was a son of Methodist minister and political organizer Harry F. Ward.

Life

Lynd Kendall Ward was born on June 26, 1905, in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Harry F. Ward, was born in Chiswick, England, in 1873; the elder Ward was a Methodist who moved to the United States in 1891 after reading the progressive Social Aspects of Christianity (1889) by Richard T. Ely.

Ward was early drawn to art, and decided to become an artist when his first-grade teacher told him that “Ward” spelled backward is “draw”. Ward studied fine arts at Columbia Teachers College in New York. He edited the Jester of Columbia, to which he contributed arts and crafts how-to articles.

Ward studied as a special one-year student at the National Academy of Graphic Arts and Bookmaking in Leipzig.  He learned etching from Alois Kolb, lithography from Georg Alexander Mathéy, and wood engraving from Hans Alexander “Theodore” Mueller; Ward was particularly influenced by Mueller. Ward chanced across a copy of Flemish artist Frans Masereel‘s wordless novel The Sun (1919), a story told in sixty-three silent woodcuts.

Ward returned to the United States in September 1927, and a number of book publishers in his portfolio. In 1928, his first commissioned work illustrated Dorothy Rowe‘s The Begging Deer: Stories of Japanese Children with eight brush drawings. May helped with background research for the illustrations, and wrote another book of Japanese folk tales, Prince Bantam (1929), with illustrations by Ward. Other work at the time included illustrations for the children’s book Little Blacknose by Hildegarde Swift, and an illustrated edition of Oscar Wilde‘s poem “Ballad of Reading Gaol“.

In 1929, Ward was inspired to create a wordless novel of his own after he came across German artist Otto Nückel‘s Destiny (1926). The first American wordless novel, Gods’ Man was published by Smith & Cape that October, the week before the Wall Street Crash of 1929; over the next four years, it sold more than 20,000 copies.[11] He made five more such works: Madman’s Drum (1930), Wild Pilgrimage (1932), Prelude to a Million Years (1933),Song Without Words (1936), and Vertigo (1937).

In addition to woodcuts, Ward also worked in watercolor, oil, brush and ink, lithography and mezzotint. Ward illustrated over a hundred children’s books, several of which were collaborations with his wife, May McNeer. Starting in 1938, Ward became a frequent illustrator of the Heritage Limited Editions Club’s series of classic works. He was well known for the political themes of his artwork, often addressing labor and class issues. In 1932 he founded Equinox Cooperative Press. He was a member of the Society of Illustrators, the Society of American Graphic Arts, and the National Academy of Design. Ward retired to his home in Reston, Virginia, in 1979. He died on June 28, 1985, two days after his 80th birthday.

In celebration of the art and life of this American printmaker and illustrator, independent filmmaker Michael Maglaras of 217 Films produced a new film titled “O Brother Man: The Art and Life of Lynd Ward.” The documentary features an interview with the artist’s daughter Robin Ward Savage, as well as more than 150 works from all periods of Ward’s career. The 94-minute documentary, culled from over 7 hours of film and narrated by Maglaras, premiered at Penn State University Libraries, Foster Auditorium, on April 20, 2012, where it was warmly received. Penn State’s Special Collections Library has also become the repository for much Lynd Ward material, and may continue to receive material from Ward family collections.

 Novels in woodcuts

Ward is known for his wordless novels told entirely through dramatic wood engravings. Ward’s first work, Gods’ Man (1929), uses a blend of Art Deco and Expressionist styles to tell the story of an artist’s struggle with his craft, his seduction and subsequent abuse by money and power, his escape to innocence, and his unavoidable doom. Ward, in employing the concept of the wordless pictorial narrative, acknowledged as his predecessors the European artists Frans Masereel and Otto Nückel. Released the week of the 1929 stock market crash, Gods’ Manwould continue to exert influence well beyond the Depression era, becoming an important source of inspiration for Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg.

Ward produced six wood engraving novels over the next eight years, including:

Ward left one more wordless novel partially completed at the time of his death in 1985. The 26 completed wood engravings (out of a planned total of 44) were published in a limited edition in 2001, under the title Lynd Ward’s Last, Unfinished, Wordless Novel.[15]

He also produced a wordless story for children, The Silver Pony, which is told entirely in black, white and shades of gray painted illustrations; it was published in 1973.

Other works

In 1930 Ward’s wood engravings were used to illustrate Alec Waugh‘s travel book Hot Countries; in 1936 an edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published with illustrations by Ward. His work on children’s books included his 1953 Caldecott Medal winning book The Biggest Bear, and his work on Esther ForbesJohnny Tremain.

Ward illustrated the 1942 children’s book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, with text by Hildegarde Swift.

Ward’s work included an awareness of the racial injustice to be found in the United States. This is first apparent in the lynching scenes from Wild Pilgrimage and appears again in his drawings for North Star Shining: A Pictorial History of the American Negro, by Hildegarde Hoyt Swift, published in 1947. Ward uses African American characters, as well as several different Native ones in his book The Silver Pony.

In 1941 his illustrations were used in Great Ghost Stories of the World:The Haunted Omnibus, edited by Alexander Laing.

In 1974 Harry N. Abrams published Storyteller Without Words, a book that included Ward’s six novels plus an assortment of his illustrations from other books. Ward himself broke his silence and wrote brief prologues to each of his works. In 2010, the Library of America published Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts, with a new chronology of Ward’s life and an introduction by Art Spiegelman.

Source: Wikipedia, You Tube and reading of the novels.

Categories
3.2 Choosing Texts: Cornwall Knowns and Unknowns 3: Text and Image: Woman Lost In Process Inspiration

Shaun Tan

Inspiration for:

Image and text

Sources

Shaun Tan website

Wikipedia

Shaun Tan is a graphic illustrator of very poignant short allegorical graphic novels whose work I very much admire. The strength is in the combination of very strong visual dynamics and simplification, coupled with a high level of artistic skill. His recent work uses maquettes and puppets.

Key works

http://www.shauntan.net/books.html

Shaun Tan is an Australian artist, writer and film maker. He won an Academy Award for The Lost Thing, a 2011 animated film adaptation of a 2000 picture book he wrote and illustrated. Beside The Lost Thing, The Red Tree and The Arrival are books he has written and illustrated. These have different but distinctive approaches to layout and combining image and text. Some of these have been animated – either straight animation of the illustrations with types text, or CGI.

His artistic process

Initially, Tan works in black and white because the final reproductions would be printed that way. Some black and white mediums he uses include pens, inks, acrylics, charcoal, scraperboard, photocopies, and linocuts.

Tan’s current colour works still begin in black and white. He uses a graphite pencil to make sketches on ordinary copy paper. The sketches are then reproduced numerous times with different versions varying with parts added or removed. Sometimes scissors are used for this purpose. The cut and paste collage idea in these early stages is often extend to the finished production with many of his illustrations using such materials as “glass, metal, cuttings from other books and dead insects”.

Tan describes himself as a slow worker who revises his work many times along the way. He is interested in loss and alienation, and believes that children in particular react well to issues of natural justice.

Categories
3: Text and Image: Woman Lost In Process

Sequential Illustration

Sequential illustration responds to narrative through a sequence of images, visualising it over time through cartoon strips and graphic novels, storyboards and animations. Although writing may exist within cartoons, the images are more dominant. Visually, sequential illustrations make use of the idea of the frame and camera lens and construct the story by careful use of different types of edits.
Will Eisner ‘Theory of Comics and Sequential Art’ downloadable pdf

Types of narrative

Simple narratives have  a beginning, middle and end: the protagonist has a problem at the start, encounters conflict through the middle and reaches resolution at the end…. What makes the story complex, wonderful, entertaining or tragic are the details of the characters, the setting, the plot of the narrative and the genre in which it’s set. ‘ Course text p87.

In some cases genre codes and conventions may provide the reader/viewer with some certainty as to what they’re about to experience. On the other hand, genres may be deliberately mixed to spice things up.

Framing and storyboards

All forms of sequential illustration use the idea of the frame or panel in some way to move the narrative along. This uses visual language from film and TV – varying close-ups, mid or long shots of what’s going on. Like film, distinct grammars may be used in different genres.

Action: Sequential illustrations, unlike moving image or animation, have to represent movement and action via the static medium of drawing. Action has to be implied. This is often done through association, showing people mid-walk, cars moving, actions taking place, but it can also be
done through careful use of editing, jump cutting from scene to scene.

Sounds: Like actions, sounds have to be implied in sequential illustrations. Speech bubbles do the job of conveying the spoken word in a number of different ways, but actual sounds are often represented onomatopoeically, or as they sound. These KAPOWs, BRRRRRMs and WHOOOOSHs are further enhanced through the use of visual typography, creating fractured words, letters falling downwards or bursting out, anything that helps bring that sound to life.

Narrative research

Cartoon strip

Cartoon strips are perhaps the simplest form of sequential illustration. They may be said to originate in the stone carving narratives of many ancient civilisations. Early Renaissance examples had narratives running across panels.

Very simple cartoons may consist of just 3 frames using a very tight narrative of simple beginning, middle, end. Other cartoons are longer with more space to develop the story, either with more panels or a continuous story over several episodes.

Comic books

The comic book extends the cartoon strip into a publication, with longer pieces and more specific content. Fashions come and go and they vary in their drawing complexity. Comics include:

  • Weekly and annual comics for children and ‘would-still-be’ children: DC and Marvel comics of the 40s and 50s, The Beano, Dan Dare
  • Japanese Manga
  • 1960s counterculture with artists like Robert Crumb
  • 1970s punk with artists like Gary Painter
  • 1980s Viz comics for adults
Graphic novels

In the graphic novel, the basic form of the cartoon is extended to cover longer narratives. Often graphic novelists focus on more complex forms of narrative and, as the term ‘novel’ suggests, see themselves more as a part of the world of literature than comics. Graphic novels can be created by an illustrator-author or be a collaboration between an illustrator and an author.

Storyboards

The image remains free of any speech bubbles, descriptions or sounds; instead, this information is presented at the bottom of each frame, with additional information on the type of edit being used and how long for. Storyboards are more functional than other forms of sequential illustration; they’re a form of visual idea development specifically for the moving image.

Research:  Pick some examples of of comic book, cartoon and graphic novel artists:

  • What’s the relationship between the narrative and the style of drawing being used?
  • Which is most important in making the story work?

 

Categories
3: Text and Image: Woman Lost

Scott McCloud Understanding Comics

Categories
3: Text and Image: Woman Lost In Process

Matt Madden: Exercises in Style

99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style (2005) is a “seriously playful exploration of the possibilities and potential of comics and storytelling”. The book is based on a simple one-page anecdote which is re-drawn and re-old 99 times in different genres and drawing styles, in the form of homages and parodies, and in formal experiments that test the boundaries of the medium of comics.

It was inspired by the French author Raymond Queneau’s 1947 book Exercises in Style (FrEng), itself inspired by Bach’s Art of the Fugue.

What was most revealing to me about the experience was the sense of constant wonder and engagement I could find reworking this simple “non-story” of a comic 99 times and more (I worked on about 20 more that never made it to completion). I started this project as a challenge to myself: both to see if I could pull it off but also to see if I could plumb some of the richness of visual narrative that I was looking for. I chose early on to limit myself as much as possible with my process:

1. Every page would be one page only (Queneau’s stories vary) to concentrate attention on page layout and composition.

2. every page would include all the dialogue in some form or other.

3. every page would try to change as little as posslble from the “Template” comic: number and placement of panels, position of characters in the panels, props used, and so on

Reading Comics This Way and That Way Interview with Steven Heller | June 16, 2011

Matt Madden: Constraints, Limitations & Persistence [Your Creative Push Ep 277
Categories
2.1: Bridge 2: Landscapes of Place In Process

New Topographics

“New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape” was  curated by William Jenkins at the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House (Rochester, New York) in January 1975. In his introduction to the catalogue, Jenkins defined the common denominator of the show as “a problem of style:” “stylistic anonymity”, an alleged absence of style.

The exhibition was a reaction to the idealised landscape photography  of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston and was influenced by Ed Ruscha who, in the 60s, had made a series of artist’s books with self-explanatory titles such as Twentysix Gasoline Stations, Some Los Angeles Apartments, Every Building on the Sunset Strip and  Walker Evans, who had photographed the vernacular iconography of America in road signs, billboards, motels and shop.

“The pictures were stripped of any artistic frills and reduced to an essentially topographic state, conveying substantial amounts of visual information but eschewing entirely the aspects of beauty, emotion and opinion,.” “[…] rigorous purity, deadpan humor and a casual disregard for the importance of the images.” Technically, half the photographers were working with 8″×10″; (20 cm × 25 cm) large format view cameras; those who were not were using either square medium format (Deal, Gohlke), or in the case of Baltz, 35 mm Technical Pan, a slow and high-definition Kodak film that the photographer printed on 8″x10″ paper. Only Baltz and Wessel were using regular 35 mm cameras and film. A notable element of the show was that the artists were, or would be, linked with higher education as students, professors, or both—a change from the preceding generations.The shift from craft or self-teaching to academia had somewhat been started by photographers such as Ansel Adams and Minor White, but the new generation was turning away from the approach of these forebears. This was illustrated by the subject matter that the New Topographics chose as well as their commitment to casting a somewhat ironic or critical eye on what American society had become. They all depicted urban or suburban realities under changes in an allegedly detached approach. In most cases, they gradually revealed themselves as coming from rather critical vantage points, especially Robert Adams, Baltz, and Deal.

Photographers

Sean O’Hagan

The show consisted of 168 rigorously formal, black-and-white prints of streets, warehouses, city centres, industrial sites and suburban houses. Taken collectively, they seemed to posit an aesthetic of the banal. …Their stark, beautifully printed images of this mundane but oddly fascinating topography was both a reflection of the increasingly suburbanised world around them, and a reaction to the tyranny of idealised landscape photography that elevated the natural and the elemental.

The prints were in a 20 cm × 25 cm (8″×10″) format except for Joe Deal (32 cm × 32 cm), Gohlke (24 cm × 24 cm – close enough to 8”×10”), and the Bechers with typical European (for the time) 30 cm × 40 cm prints.

However despite their similarities, there were significant differences between the photographers in their reactions to, and portrayal of, the suburban environment and their political conclusions on responses to it.

See Greg Foster-Price and John Rohrbach ‘Re-framing the New Topographics’ 2013 University of Chicago Press

Robert Adams: disappearing wildernesses, pointed his camera at eerily empty streets, pristine trailer parks, rows of standardised tract houses, the steady creep of suburban development in all its regulated uniformity.

Lewis Baltz: stark photographs of the walls of office buildings and warehouses on industrial sites in Orange County.

Joe Deal

Frank Gohlke

Nicholas Nixon: innercity development: skyscrapers that dwarfed period buildings, freeways, gridded streets and the palpable unreality of certain American cities in which pedestrians seem like interlopers.

John Schott

Stephen Shore : shot in colour. It seemed to heighten the sense of detachment in his photographs of anonymous intersections and streets.

Henry Wessel, Jr

Bernd and Hilla Becher: stark images of Pennsylvania salt mines and giant coal breakers were as coolly architectural as their images of German cooling towers and industrial plants. The suggestion was that there was something determinedly European about this new American gaze.

Ecological citizenship and automobility

The works in different ways question our responsibility in relation to the natural environment. Taken at a time of rapid environmental change, commercialisation and often homogenised destruction of the natural wilderness romanticised by Ansel Adams, they aim to promote a sense of responsibility for what Robert Adams calls the ‘half wilderness’.

There is a general concern with the homogenisation and also isolation of much of modern construction and urban sprawl. Roads that cut of and surround dwellings that can only be accessed by cars.

They differ in their approaches to technological advances like the reliance on the motor car. For Shore and Schott however there is more of a celebration of the accessibility and democratisation of life. Shore in particular celebrates the colour and vibrancy of cities and parking lots.

‘Shore’s images may be seen as ignoring environmental degradation…Yet his photographs encourage a sense of wonder and appreciation, even in the most familiar, most mundane spaces’.

There is thus a core message of the exhibition as a whole: we need to notice and appreciate what is around us in the ‘semi-wilderness’ and make sure we preserve and protect what is valuable in it. In terms of human colour and nature. Not relegate ‘conservation’ to an ever-shrinking small protected area of idealised wilderness. It is all important.

Legacy

The exhibition was recreated in various locations: in 1981, six years after its original presentation, it was shown in reduced form at the Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, UK, under the auspices of Paul Graham and Jem Southam. A large scale presentation of the exhibition was organized in 2009 at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson. “New Topographics” began an international tour in 2009, with stagings at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In 2011 the exhibition was on view at the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and later at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum in Spain.

Baltz, Gohlke, and Shore were later commissioned by the French government for the Mission de la DATAR.

The exhibition was very influential in the subsequent developments in both US and European landscape photography, including the work of Andreas Gursky, Paul Graham,  Candida Höfe and  Donovan Wylie.  See the following interviews with LA photographers discussing how they have been influenced by the photographers at the exhibition: