October 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
Apologies for having been unable to take part in any of the Loose Traverse meetings, but here is my response to the walk. Any group collaboration is going to throw up different ways of looking at the world and I realise that most people will have approached the task in their own personal way. Nevertheless, having talked to a few people, and Peter in particular, I know that I have committed the almost sacrilegious act of not showing them in the order they were taken! However, I make no apologies for interpreting the urban environment in my own individual way – that is just the way I work. In fact, I think we probably all do it to a greater or lesser extent, perhaps without even realising it, just by the very choices we make in what to photograph and what to leave unphotographed.
When walking in London I prefer to be guided by chance and happenstance rather than trying to make an accurate, documentary record of my surroundings. The photographs I take reflect my personal concerns of the moment: although they do not often feature people, they are often linked to signs and signifiers relating to traces of past human activity, memorials, death and religion, feelings of estrangement or exclusion. I often experience a special kind of excitement when walking in London with my camera which is quite unlike everyday walking and feel that my observational powers become sharper, homing in on normally overlooked small details or effects of light. My photographs are the only concrete record of my ephemeral passage through the streets (apart from the ubiquitous CCTV footage!)
It is in the editing process that I like to take control of what I have photographed, sculpting the images into a loose narrative which gives a flavour of the day, rather than a blow-by-blow account of my walk. The photographs are not displayed in the order they were taken but rather linked together in small groups or pairs. The connections may seem opaque to others and more than one viewing may be required to decipher them all but I am aiming for a flow from one image to the next.
In retrospect, I feel somewhat ambivalent about this project. On the one hand, I was really looking forward to taking part in a group activity but being able to have some degree of autonomy. However, I found the reality of the task rather constraining. Some of this was my own fault as I had not left myself enough time to be able to walk as long as I would have liked (plus I was stupidly wearing a new pair of shoes which eventually gave me blisters!) I also could not help but look at the map and start planning my route in advance instead of just letting my feet and chance and guide me, which would have been more in the spirit of my aims. My route started at Tower Hill tube station and took me through St Katherine’s Dock, down Wapping High Street, then along the river to Limehouse, a visit to St Anne’s Church and back up Commercial Road to Limehouse DLR. I was aware that much of the route overlapped Nick’s but particularly wanted to see Wapping which I hadn’t visited for about 30 years.
Here is a small selection of some of the photographs I took…..
May 2, 2013 § Leave a comment
After much deliberation, yesterday I forwarded John’s package to Nick, having removed two of the original items and substituted two of my own. It will take a further amount of deliberation before I start any work in response to these items. One in particular I envisage as being a long-term project which will probably continue beyond the scope of November, but my thanks to John for having kindled my inspiration and set my (painfully slow) thought processes on a journey.
When I took the package to King’s Cross post office, the young woman behind the counter was fascinated and kept turning it over and examining the pictures with which John had covered it. One in particular caught her attention – the one of West Hounslow tube station from which she said she travelled to work every day. She seemed delighted and then proceeded to point out other places she recognised from her neighbourhood. I took it as another example of the serendipity which reaches out and touches us all from time to time, making a little point of contact between strangers in this vast metropolis. A good omen and a fine start to the project!
April 22, 2013 § 3 Comments
I’ve had John’s package in my possession for several days now and am giving it due consideration. I very much appreciate the care and thought he has put into assembling the collection of items which have such a personal resonance. The responding process deserves not to be rushed. However, I will say that there was one item in particular that leapt out at me – it was as though it was a special gift to me, although there would be no way that John would have known what it meant to me. I am an avid believer in the power of serendipity and think we must grasp these opportunities if they are offered to us.
John has stated that as the recipient of the package, ownership passes to me and I can do whatever I wish with the contents. I have decided that I will keep one or possibly two items and replace them with an equal number of my own contributions, and then pass the whole package on to someone else. This in itself was a collaborative decision that I made with Krystina Stimakovits the other night (who is unaware of the contents of the package) The idea will be that whoever receives it will do something similar, and so on, so that by the end of the process, everyone’s work will be mixed up and we all end up being influenced by and influencing other people’s creative processes. Of course, the recipient may not wish to do this at all, and have other plans – that is entirely their decision.
As John would say, more follows……
April 18, 2013 § Leave a comment
My package from John arrived this morning courtesy of Royal Mail Special Delivery. I had initially promised myself not to rush the opening – delayed gratification is all the sweeter! As I write, I still haven’t opened the inner envelope so am as yet unaware of its contents. John’s characteristic form of presentation is evident in the carefully crafted package and I have been savouring the ritual of opening it by documenting the process…..
I’m not sure I can wait much longer……
April 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
Not specifically pertinent to the November blog, but this short trailer for a new album and film by Underworld’s Karl Hyde about living on the edge of London might be of interest to those doing the Swanscombe project. On the other side of the river in Essex, and further upstream, it nevertheless has that ‘liminal’ feel that we have been talking about. Sorry about the ad at the beginning but there seems to be no way of getting rid of it!
March 26, 2013 § 1 Comment
I have been reading all posts and entries to this blog with interest but so far have not felt inspired to make a contribution. Part of the reason for this is, as Nick states, the lack of a goal. It’s all very well to be discussing notions of curation in advance but so far, we have nothing to curate! I find it very difficult to get my head around abstract ideas of curating an exhibition which doesn’t seem to have any focus. Surely once we know what we are working towards, then we can discuss how it will all hang together in a collaborative framework. Feeling constrained by a theme or title is, as John noted, a natural reaction of course, but perhaps if we try to see it as a challenge to our preferred or usual methods of working, we might get more from it. If we carry on with this theorising without any action for much longer, we risk going round and round in circles and disappearing up our own proverbial!
One of the reasons why I think the Home blog worked well was the way in which each person contributing seemed to respond to other people’s work or texts. It was a bit like a chain reaction and seemed to me a perfect example of how to collaborate on a project. The fact that the actual exhibition didn’t seem to reflect that process in quite the same way should only spur us on to try a different approach in the physical manifestation of our project, in whatever form it eventually takes.
So let’s have some photographs please. To get us started, here’s one I took earlier – a little, inconsequential intervention in the street in London where I live. Someone ‘planted’ these plastic flowers against the wall. They were only there for about a week. Perhaps my photograph is the only record of their existence……
….please feel free to respond!