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3.1 Visual dynamics: Lost on the Way to Zennor 3: Text and Image: Woman Lost In Process

Rebecca Solnit

Solnit was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to a Jewish father and Irish Catholic mother,[3] and in 1966 her family moved to Novato, California, where she grew up. “I was a battered little kid,” she said of her childhood.[4] She skipped high school altogether, enrolling in an alternative junior high in the public school system that took her through tenth grade, when she passed the GED. Thereafter she enrolled in junior college. When she was 17, she went to study in Paris. She returned to California to finish her college education at San Francisco State University.[5] She then received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley in 1984[6] and has been an independent writer since 1988.[7]

Career[edit]

Activism[edit]

Solnit has worked on environmental and human rights campaigns since the 1980s, notably with the Western Shoshone Defense Project in the early 1990s, as described in her book Savage Dreams, and with antiwar activists throughout the Bush era.[8] She has discussed her interest in climate change and the work of 350.org and the Sierra Club, and in women’s rights, especially violence against women.[9]

Writing[edit]

Her writing has appeared in numerous publications in print and online, including the Guardian newspaper and Harper’s Magazine, where she is the first woman to regularly write the Easy Chair column founded in 1851. She was also a regular contributor to the political blog TomDispatch and is (as of 2018) a regular contributor to LitHub.[10][11]

Solnit is the author of seventeen books as well as essays in numerous museum catalogs and anthologies. Her 2009 book A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster began as an essay called “The Uses of Disaster: Notes on Bad Weather and Good Government” published by Harper’s magazine the day that Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast. It was partially inspired by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which Solnit described as “a remarkable occasion…a moment when everyday life ground to a halt and people looked around and hunkered down”. In a conversation with filmmaker Astra Taylor for BOMB magazine, Solnit summarized the radical theme of A Paradise Built in Hell: “What happens in disasters demonstrates everything an anarchist ever wanted to believe about the triumph of civil society and the failure of institutional authority.”[8]

In 2014, Haymarket Books published Men Explain Things to Me, a collection of short essays written about instances of “mansplaining.” Solnit has been credited with paving the way for the coining of the word “mansplaining,”[12][13] which has been used to refer to instances in which men explain things (generally toward women) in a condescending and/or patronizing way, but Solnit did not use it in the original essay.[14] Solnit’s book included illustrations from visual and performance artist Ana Teresa Fernández.[15]

In 2019, Solnit rewrote a new version of Cinderella, also for Haymarket Books, called Cinderella Liberator.[16] In this feminist revision, Solnit reclaims Ella from the cinders and gives both the prince (“Prince Nevermind” in her version) and Ella new futures that involve thinking for themselves, acting out free will, starting businesses, and becoming friends, rather than dependent lovers. As Syreeta McFadden argued for NBC News, Cinderella has long been retold, changing with the times and this was a much needed revision.[17] Solnit’s retelling is creative in that she uses the original Arthur Rackham’s original silhouetted drawings of Cinderella, but liberates her through research, words, and story.

Reception[edit]

Solnit has received two NEA fellowships for Literature, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Creative Capital Award, a Lannan literary fellowship, and a 2004 Wired Rave Award for writing on the effects of technology on the arts and humanities.[18] In 2010 Utne Reader magazine named Solnit as one of the “25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World”.[19] Her The Faraway Nearby (2013) was nominated for a National Book Award,[20] and shortlisted for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award.[21][22]

New York Times book critic Dwight Garner called Solnit “the kind of rugged, off-road public intellectual America doesn’t produce often enough. … Solnit’s writing, at its worst, can be dithering and self-serious, Joan Didionwithout the concision and laser-guided wit. At her best, however […] she has a rare gift: the ability to turn the act of cognition, of arriving at a coherent point of view, into compelling moral drama.”[23][24]

For River of Shadows, Solnit was honored with the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism[25] and the 2004 Sally Hacker Prize from the Society for the History of Technology, which honors exceptional scholarship that reaches beyond the academy toward a broad audience.[26] Solnit was also awarded Harvard’s Mark Lynton History Prize in 2004 for River of Shadows.[27] Solnit was awarded the 2015-16 Corlis Benefideo Award for Imaginative Cartography by the North American Cartographic Information Society [28] Solnit’s book, Call Them By Their True Names: American Crises, won the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction.[29] She won the 2019 Windham–Campbell Literature Prize in Non-Fiction.[30]

Solnit credits Eduardo GaleanoPablo NerudaAriel DorfmanElena PoniatowskaGabriel García MárquezVirginia Woolf,[31] and Henry David Thoreau[32] as writers who have influenced her work.[8

Categories
2.1: Bridge 2: Landscapes of Place In Process

Urbex

Beauty in Decay: On-line slideshows to music


Short documentary video

I do not find this as powerful as the still shot slideshows.

 
Read on-line http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4ixdny_download-beauty-in-decay-urbex-free-books_news

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:

Categories
2.1: Bridge 2: Landscapes of Place In Process

Psychogeography and the ‘Edgelands’ (notes)

!! more to be done on this to incorporate notes and large infographic I started to develop in a sketchbook for this module. Currently based on work for OCA Landscape Photography

Psychogeography is essentially the broad terrain where geography – in terms of the design and layout of a place – influences the experience, i.e. the psyche and behaviour, of the user.  It has walking as a central component (Alexander 2013 p74)

Guy Debord (1931–94) leader of The Situationist International defined psychogeography as follows:

“Psychogeography could set for itself the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals. The charmingly vague adjective psychogeographical can be applied to the findings arrived at by this type of investigation, to their influence on human feelings, and more generally to any situation or conduct that seems to reflect the same spirit of discovery.”
(http://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/presitu/geography.html quoted Alexander 2013 p74)

Psychogeography in literature has a long history.   London, as imagined by writers including William Blake (1757–1827), Daniel Defoe (1659–1731), Thomas de Quincey (1785–1859) and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94), Stevenson in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), have all been identified as a place where early traces of psychogeography can be found.
It has also veered between being:

  • mode of artistic expression
  • associated with Marxist ideology and political and social change.

Two inter-linked terms that are key to understanding psychogeography:

  • The dérive is a key method of psychogeographical enquiry. The literal translation from the French is ‘drift’ and a dérive is a spontaneous, unplanned walk through a city, guided by the individual’s responses to the geography, architecture and ambience of its quarters.The dérive can be seen as one strategy to help bridge the gap between the actual, physical observations of the stroller and their subconscious. Similar techniques have been used in geography, sociology and anthropology as a means of research that opens up possibilities and new questions based on direct observation.
  • The flâneur (a term that originates from Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin) is essentially the protagonist of the dérive, but more generally the ‘gentleman stroller’ (as Baudelaire put it) who enjoys the aesthetic pleasures of the sights and sounds he experiences. The emphasis here is more on the aesthetic interpretation of the observer and emotional responses to the views and events that unfold. The flâneur has been identified in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Man of the Crowd (1840) and in the shady figure lurking in the corner of Edouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. Listen to Philip Pullman discussing Manet’s painting in depth.
  • Brassai (1899-1984) flaneur
  • Robert Adams
  • Mark Power
  • Moriyama

However, alternative arbitrary methodologies have also been employed, championed initially by the Situationist movement as a necessary means – as they would see it – to subvert capitalist ideas about correctly engaging and functioning within the city. Other strategies included:

  • the production of alternative maps, such as Debord’s The Naked City (1957), which attempted to facilitate users to experience the city according to their emotional state and responses.
  • Robert MacFarlane’s simple alternative strategy of tracing a circle around the rim of a glass on a map and walking it, you can leave yourself open to new subject matter and unthought-of creative possibilities (see MacFarlane in Coverley, 2010, p.9).

The genre of street photography is often taken (and often mistaken) as evidence of psychogeography today. But although psychogeographical enquiry has traditionally been associated with the city, in more recent years it has expanded beyond its traditional boundaries, and is nowadays less associated with left-wing politics, having returned to a literary position.

  • Iain Sinclair:  fictional and non-fictional literary responses. In the book (and accompanying film) London Orbital (2002), Sinclair chronicles his epic walk along the M25 which encircles the capital, taking him to golf courses, retail and business parks, and other generic spaces.
  • Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts’ book Edgelands: Journeys into England’s True Wilderness (2011), celebrates subjects as diverse as shipping containers, landfill sites and wooden pallets.
  • Some have identified the urban sport of parkour (or ‘freerunning’) and even the Occupy movement with psychogeography.

‘Edgelands’

Initial reactions to ‘Wire’ and ‘Power’ – I found the descriptions evocative and also reminiscent of forbidden forays of my own early teenage life with my best friend or my dog into old bombed sites and semi-urban lanes on the outskirts of Manchester – with their potential threats of meeting with men in wait for teenage girls, gang knife fights between rival football teams and the odd murder.

Many of the descriptions also resonate with areas along my daily walk in Cambridge that I have chosen for ‘Transitions’. And the book is definitely one source of inspiration to which I shall return many times as I progress with that project.

But I agree with Marion Shoard:

This book could perhaps have had more investigative rigour. The edgelands now need something beyond a merely subjective celebration of their identity. Far more than our towns and countryside, they are being subjected to ceaseless change. Wild space is being prettified at the expense of its character and creatures. Industrial ruins are being cleared away.

We could be in the process of losing this landscape just as we are discovering its charms. Should we be trying to conserve it, as we conserve the best of rural environments? Or would any attempt to regulate this space destroy the wildness that makes it special?

It is time for us to consider what relationship we want to see in the long term between our activity in the edgelands, their epic infrastructure, their unique wildlife and industrial archaeology and their peculiar place in our imagination. 

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In Process

Mark Yardley

http://www.markyardley.com/

edited from website profile:

Mark is a freelance artist, specialising in natural history and wildlife painting. His work predominantly focuses on subjects reclaimed by nature, such as old abandoned fishing boats, rusted chains and even the door latches of shoreline beach huts. He likes to zoom in on these subjects choosing interesting areas where paint may be peeling and patterns may be forming.

Much of his art is of the Norfolk and Suffolk coast: Burnham Overy Staithe, Brancaster Staithe, Holkham Bay,  Aldeburgh and Southwold. He sketches and photographs his subjects, later interpreting these drafts back in his Norfolk based studio.

He works mainly in watercolours and gouache. Using a fairly wet page he lets the paints blend and seep out and then adds detail with dry brush strokes once the page has dried. He also incorporates texture into some of his paintings using card, layers of paper and textured pastes.

Mark was born in England in 1974 and spent his childhood in Africa. He graduated from Swansea University in 1999 with (BA Hons) in general Illustration having previously obtained a BTEC HND in Wildlife Illustration. He is currently based in the historic market town of Wymondham near Norwich, Mark spends time searching for new subjects to photograph and paint.