December 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
The WINGS Group of Crossing Lines completed the first part of their curation of the project last Saturday.
The curation is continuing with mail postings each day from members of the group to the gallery for continuing inclusion in the work.
A Finissage will be held on Thursday 12th December from 6pm onwards to discuss what the project has achieved in terms of content and, importantly, about collaborative curation.
The WINGS Group are: Judith Jones, John Levett, Ingrid Newton, Claudia Pilsl, Nick Scammell, Krystina Stimakovits, Sabes Sugunasabesan.
All images by Ingrid Newton
December 1, 2013 § Leave a comment
A response to Barry Cole’s “Walking and Looking”, October 6th, 2013, on Crossing Lines’s November blog.
On the morning of October 7th, at long last, the time had come: I received the first response to my article on Robert Smithson’s and my own operations of recognition in urbanising landscapes since its publication about one year ago. Therefore, before responding to Barry Cole’s valuable comments, I would like to thank him for his engaged and critical readership – this is where my heart beats higher: a vivid dialogue and well-informed dispute on a topic of shared interest; Barry Cole’s remarks give me the welcome opportunity to clarify my points and to push them even further.
Christian von Wissel
November 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
No hay caminos, hay que caminar.
There is no path, only walking. There had been within the Crossing Lines Group a lot of discussion of ways of walking in the urban field, of the role of walking in coming to terms with urban space, of various practices one might collectively dub the ‘art walk’, and of the virtues of staying still and watching the changes in a space and its usage. Out of this I made a proposal that we undertake a walking project which could lead perhaps to some insight into these things (except the staying still) and perhaps also (in hope), to an enhanced understanding of the condition of London. This was to be exploratory both of method and of territory.
A game-plan was adopted: we would commence with one person’s walk which would be recorded in photographs which would be kept out of sight while a map prepared by that first person was passed to a second person who would walk a little of the first walk before branching off on their own and then repeating the hand-over process to the next walker until all had walked. There would then be a sharing of images and experiences and a working towards showing the traverse and perhaps its lessons. In the event, twenty-six people took part.
The way from here to there lies through somewhere else
A statement of the obvious and also, perhaps, of the essence of a traverse which is inherently directional and between points. Our traverse was to be loose in the sense that it would be improvised from a succession of independent walks, and so the totality of the path walked would not be pre-determined even if some individual walks were so. With very rapid handovers pitching the walkers into an area with no time for preparatory research, we relied instead on previous knowledge and personal responses to guide our path and our images. We are all guided more or less consciously by such promptings and the project was in part dedicated to uncovering their range and their capacity to reveal the city.
That range is clearly evident in the work shown here. Each of us has curated our own small space, representing our part of the traverse. If the variety of response is very evident, the spatial continuity of the traverse is less so, and the lessons remain to be drawn. The project now might appear as a celebration of the variety of its participants but that is only part of the story. Pressure of time has meant that the last stage is yet to come: learning from each others’ responses and drawing out some critique of the means of coming to terms with urban space and trying for that elusive enhanced understanding of the condition of London. There are (at the very least) some simple questions: why did we spend so long in the East End? Why no move outside zones 1 and 2? Why almost no industry, no governance, no housing of the wealthy, no river, and no suburbia at all? Is the urban simply an image-mine, or do we photograph to understand?
And yet. We have here the raw materials. They are worthy of your time. The debate will continue.
November 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
Walking is a part of our life. We walk routinely everyday to move from one place to another. We normally rush to work or go shopping without paying attention to the world around us. As we are in a rush or we are out of home for a particular purpose, we may not observe certain things.
When I travel to other countries, I spend more time exploring places, going on foot around old city centres, observing the city’s infrastructure, historical monuments, architecture, museums and people. It is a relaxing experience away from our everyday activities. Therefore, it seems we are seeing things with a different lens.
It is a habit. We won’t normally explore things around where we live, unless we make a real effort to find out more details about our city. It also depends whether our observation is deep enough. And whether we record it visually or in writing.
I have lived in London for a very long time. I used to take home videos and photos. However, I believe I really started observing this city when I started learning professional photography and photojournalism. It helped me to think deeper and observe things in a more structured format.
The “Loose traverse” was an interesting project to encourage me to engage in a team to explore the diversity of a fascinating city. It is a walking and photography project organised by Crossing Lines to explore the city of London. There are 26 professional photographers who participated in this experience. The idea was that the first person would start his/her walk somewhere in London and others would follow their walk from where the last person finished the walk. Each map would remain secret to others until the end.
Before I received the map, I was not sure where I was going to start my walk and what I would photograph. There was not much time to do any research. The secrecy of the start location was the exciting part of the loose traverse.
When I obtained the map, I immediately decided to start my journey from St Paul’s. I mapped in my head the area that I was looking to discover and how I was going to categorise it. There are obviously several layers to consider and observe. We see what is on the surface and visual to us, but there are other things, which are hidden and need to be looked at deeper. I decided to focus on locations and what is particularly related to those locations. I imagined it makes more sense in a map oriented loose traverse to highlight and signify interesting points on the map.
I approached the subjects and places with my photojournalistic eyes to convey the photo story by documenting the apparent features which signify the glory of the city rather than going into small details.
What fascinated me was how the city has been shaped and how it has formed different diverse districts in close proximity. The space, which has been developed over decades and centuries, creates a unique urban environment. What I could see at the end of my journey was different to what I was expecting before I started.
When I finished my route, I could see the power, strong foundations and richness of the city. The capital of an influential country in the world, an imperial city, which not only rules its people but also claims the right to rule other countries. A cosmopolitan city, which is a crossroads in the world map and attracts many immigrants from different countries despite unstable weather conditions.
The city’s image is the reflection of the vision of philosophers such as Aristotle. It embraces several ethnic minorities and citizens of other nations to gather and united notwithstanding different ideologies. Despite poverty, racism, nationalistic radicalism, social injustice, inequality and discrimination claims to head towards an ideal society. Muslims, Jews and Christians live together peacefully. Each community with different faiths has settled in different part of the city which gives them security and prosperity.
As I walk it is apparent to see that men and women, black and white, blue and brown eyes, rich and poor are all head to head going after their day-to-day activities.
Despite the busy and fast pace of a modern city with high standard of living, one can sense the spirit of village life in London. The narrow and hilly roads resemble the simplicity of a town.
I mapped the areas that I passed in my journey from St Paul’s to Green Park as follows: The places of worship, The centre of Capitalism, Media, Law, Art, Education and Entertainment.
The significant places and monuments, which correspond to the above divisions, are: St Paul’s church, City of London borough and Stock Exchange, Fleet Street (which used to be a place for Newspaper publications in the past), Royal Courts of Justice, Chambers and Inns (Barristers and Lawyers’ offices), Kings College and London School of Economics in Aldwych, Australia House, Somerset House, Thames River and Embankment, Covent Garden and Leister square where many Cinemas, Theatres, Cafes and Restaurants are located.
In my observation, I looked at everything that caught my attention: people, tourists, buildings, churches, offices, shops, cars, cafes and restaurants.
What amazed me is how old and new merge together. How an old church is placed in the middle of two modern high-rise buildings. In a forest of concrete and glass, the ancient treasures delight the city. The textures, curves, designs and the city’s architecture reflect the depth of social, cultural and political influence. The past history has laid several layers and memories in the city, which are reflected in the architectural design of the city.
In my walk, I felt the life and strong heart beats of the city. I could sense heavy breathing and a lively atmosphere. The activity of people and tourists in the city is very vibrant and full of energy.
London is full of hidden places, secret courtyards, beautiful gardens and fountains. London is not just a city, it is a country by itself.
Mohammad Reza Amirinia
October 24, 2013 § Leave a comment
Dungerness in Kent: It is an area, now nominated as a site of Special Scientific Interest. Dominated by this Nuclear Power station the land and structures on it have an omnipotent presence. The Old station was closed in 2006 , while the newer station has had its license extended to 2018 . The perimeter fence is constantly patrolled by Police , and security cameras monitor any un- wanted attention . It was a challenge to be able to take these pictures without being arrested! In some ways the Mechanical Engineering , with itʼs sculptural shapes and varied metallic colours comes across as quite beautiful. The challenge for me is how I can infuse the Inspiring Visual Vistas with the sinister qualities or potentialities of nuclear power.
I am Interested in the perception of awareness of nuclear energy. Unlike England France is a country which uses nuclear fuels to generate 75 percent of its electricity sources, and yet we think of France as a healthy, fine dining, good living land . The planned proliferation of nuclear energy will be shocking to most/many/some of us. If we also extend our thinking to the exponential increase of uranium consumption, which is required for this process to happen , then further conclusions regarding the scramble for world resources begins to give one a sense of impending doom.
The number of nuclear power plants planned as of October 2013, in data provided by the World Nuclear Association makes for sober reading . Reactors in the Planning stage are as follows : China plans to build 64,420.00. Russia plans 291,80.00. India 15,100.00 and the UK 6,680.00. Around the world there are 371,900 Reactors operable; 73,366 are under construction; 187,740 are on order or planned . In 2013 64,978 tonnes of uranium were required. My Dungeness project serves to raise questions in peopleʼs minds about the potential dangers of the governments so heavily investing in nuclear power to solve our world energy crisis.
My walking began right in the heart of Dungeness. I walked around the area being as much as possible guided by the light. I only had two hours to capture an essence of something I could use as a springboard for my Power Stations project . I walked and walked over the stones. Someone told me that it is the biggest desert in the UK. I had never intended to focus so much on the “Man made structures” … but something of the rebel in me felt driven not only toward the light but toward a structure everyone seemed to be ignoring. It were as if there was a conspiracy to silence. I looked at what people were taking pictures of .
It seemed like people were fascinated by the bleakness of the place. Many have made it either their home or come for weekend retreats. People who visit, are drawn by the fact that the likes of Derek Jarman had gone there, so it must be of interest! In fact to tell you the truth this was a big draw for me also. The Police men who apprehended me on the path by Dungeness power station, they in fact told me where Jarman’s house was. He pointed out that I would see a house with gold window frames and poetry written on the sides. He took my name and place and date of birth. Then ran it through their system and logged it.
I had to sign several forms.The word was that I had been seen taking photos of the perimeter fence. “I” had been “caught “on camera. I was carrying with me two cameras. An digital SLR and an old film camera slung round my neck. Since he only saw the latter , I managed to escape having my photos deleted. All the time he kept saying …”you haven’t done anything wrong , I have to take your details as part of my job. Anyone who cares to wander around and fears arrest need only say … OH but I had permission from Owen! The mere mention of his name sort of makes everything OK. Owen is the man who manages that Estate, and who’s permission it’s worth getting!
October 8, 2013 § Leave a comment
I find the observation that people are generally not present in these texts really interesting as in many theories the role of human in the city is more central. I personally regard walking as an act of temporary space production (Levebvre) and hence the human presence central to any space experience.
Having recently read ‘Rebellious Cities’ I not only sympathize with his concepts on urban space as he argues that the individual not only defines the city but constitute the city. I also find his ideas in respect of the agency of the individual reassuring as he believes that everyone can make a difference. I should probably write more about this but first I think I might have to do some more walking ….
October 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
My apologies to Jennifer. I have been holding this post for an age; having meant to mail Jennifer to ask if it was for publication. It is the notes that she used for her presentation at the Traverse Conference day in September. [John Levett]
I love to walk and take photos. I’ve always lived in the city by choice. I wanted to be involved in a collaborative venture, and also liked the idea of the project as a game.
I hoped for an opportunity to find some new places. I also wanted to approach the walk as part of my ongoing exploration of how I take photos – to put my process within a consciously understood framework and to find a language with which to talk about it.
I wanted to be less in the thrall of my own reactive responses.
I expected to be aware of lots of building and construction work.
In terms of theories or concerns about the urban condition what I took with me was:-
1. A vague idea about Psychogeography – the sense of the past in layers beneath my feet.
2. A sense of powerlessness in the wake of the rapid destruction and rebuilding everywhere.
3. An awareness of how my responses to my environment are reactions to codes, signs and memories – wanting not to be seduced by all that.
4. Therapeutic nature of the walk – with the photography it enables me to process all this.
I decided I would head South – towards somewhere I had lived. I had no prior concept in my head.
I wanted to connect myself and some of the places I’m familiar with to the Traverse – to the group.
There was a sense of wanting people to know about (maybe lesser known) parts of my patch. A bit of PR for neglected parts of London. The South has always been discounted. I remember the magazine Time Out in the 70’s, when I was living in Brixton, running a feature on accommodation in the capital – anything south of the river was ignored.
On the morning of the walk I chose to head towards Surrey Quays.
This was an instinctive movement towards the shelter of home – it was horrible out there. I NEVER take photographs in the rain. I hate walking in the rain. I seriously considered postponing the walk till the following day, but then a kind of defiance set in. I would do it today and the weather wasn’t going to get in my way. It was an act of loyalty towards the project – and I wouldn’t have done it under other circumstances!
My walk was impinged upon by the more or less constant rain.
I was following part of Krystina’s route initially which was on an increasingly soggy paper map. I had my phone handy for when I got lost (which I was happy to be for short bursts of time), plus I was using an umbrella, and a plastic carrier bag to be kept in place over my camera. But strangely, until the last hour when my arms were getting tired from holding everything and the rain got heavier, I kind of tuned out from it all and as always just homed in on what I was seeing. When I’m out with my camera I enter a kind of alternate space. I’m immersed in the landscape. In the zone.
(I did re-do the last part of the walk the following day and included some of these images in my first edit.)
I made choices about the details of the route as I went along, and had to stop every so often to write down where I had been before I forgot.
I made my choices based partly on the map and the general direction, partly by wanting to include particular places – like Southwark Park and Dilston Grove, and partly when I was simply lured by something interesting.
Not just through this walk, but with an increased effect on this particular day from the horrible light and wet – I was aware of how I always feel an undercurrent of angry resentment at everything for changing. Secret, derelict, favourite, shabby corners are ripped open and exposed. Altered into something brash and wide open.
I carry my character with me.
I saw the “gentrification” of the North Bermondsey area, where the theme park aspect of London has now encroached.
I photographed a tree planted up against the viaduct wall – it looked so unlikely and out of place. But it had the result that I found myself more tuned into other trees.
EVERYWHERE there was building, construction, swathes of netting and plastic, cranes – I feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of building going on.
Always the constant juxtaposition of (my) old London and the incredible amount of development (read destruction) that’s going on.
But of course the “old” London is already a collage of styles and colours. (I’m very drawn to collage at the moment, having seen the work of Christian Bonnefoi in France – a contemporary artist influenced by Matisse – and would love to try it out within this project).
Often I am able to enjoy contemporary architecture – but in this light it was difficult, and much of the new building I came across banal. I came across the Shard at every turn. The building that has shafted South London.
I try not to photograph it but it keeps appearing.
As I continued, the juxtaposition between old and new started to crystallise around the railway, in this area a little changed infrastructure.
Unconsciously I was choosing a route that followed swathes of tracks moving South East out of London, and I was constantly walking through familiar arches and tunnels.
Then on the home stretch I found that the last working arches I had photographed for the London Villages Project were now all closed and one of the streets closed off completely.
More building. The new housing in the area had been completed and people had moved in. More banal design that looked as if it had been beamed in from outer space, with no relation to existing urban structure.
Then in an unusual venture for me I took two pictures of people – with their permission – at the soon to be closed and redeveloped St James Tavern close to the old railway sidings and Bermondsey Spa station – both shots a bit “Bermondsey Heritage”. The theme park is getting in to me.
For the last few months I have been attempting to bring myself up to date with current thinking on the urban landscape.
Most recently I have been reading a couple of guides to the history of different approaches, especially in the field of cultural geography.
So in the back of my mind was the question could I link in my exposure to these new (to me) ideas – especially phenomenology – either as I walked or as I considered the walk later.
Phenomenology is a line of thinking which I can identify with – I do feel more like an inhabitant of the landscape than observer. I like the description of it being a “practice of being in the world in which self and landscape are entwined and emergent” It meshes with my training as an integrative body psychotherapist, and also with my interest in Buddhist teachings. I wonder if Husserl and Merleau-Ponty credit Buddhism in their work?
I am of course seperate from the landscape – if only to be able to negotiate it physically – but something happens where I become part of the landscape and/or it becomes part of me. I like the idea that there is something immanent in the landscape which as a photographer (artist?) I am (and I’m not sure what word to use here) responding to, completing, exchanging with, particpating in, becoming??? There is a flow.
And then there’s Deleuze who I heard of for the first time at the last Crossing Lines meeting. I looked him up on a blog for beginners.
and found the following sentence:-
A Deleuzian aesthetic is predicated, at least in part, on change, movement, transformation, repositioning, shifting, flowing, mutating, multiplying, generating, and, of course, magic.
Change then is to be welcomed rather than resented – an alternative to dualism and reaction, and a nourishing of difference. I like the sound of this….
However I’m still stuck with working instinctually and instinctively.
My ideas are still very unclear and unsettled. But I did have a heightened awareness of the tension between “being part of” and alienation underlying everything – again the inescapability of character.
Very wet. Home for coffee and huddling in front of the telly.