PHO702 Work In Progress / MA Falmouth University
My photographic practice is currently informed through topographic and psychogeographical methodologies. It follows a route, the M25, an arbitrary parameter, and documents found landscapes by the road. These spaces exist in the green belt and are questioned through documentation, what is their purpose? are they wild spaces or are they managed?
By The M25, Henry Woide, 2021.
Liz Wells speaks of their control ‘In the United Kingdom land is managed, from the ‘wilderness’ of the national parks, coastline and mountains to our ‘Domestic’ farms, parks and gardens (Wells, 2011). She concludes that space is defined as place by naming and categorising the land.
The influential photographers in my photographic studies thus far in Informing Contexts are Topographic photographers such as Mark Powers, Steffi Kelnz and David Farrell. Who all scrutinise the landscape or built environment through topographic methodology, they search for meaning and often highlight historical, political, economic and environmental struggles in the landscapes, not obvious at first but culminating in the body of works they produce.
Visually I have taken a straight documentary approach using the camera to indexically categorise the landscapes in front of me. Only using visual cues to add allegory to the straight landscape photographs, planes and electrical cables passing over and cars driving past the unnoticed the landscape. Capturing human intervention within the landscape I question the use of these spaces.
Metaphor, Autobiography and Geography are all important factors in producing a body of work according to Liz Wells. The work seeks escape from the day to day of lockdown, using walking as a cathartic exercise to find solace in an outdoor space but still limited by my immediate surroundings.
Two practitioners have recently however enriched my view of landscape photography and opened up new possibilities and ways of approaching my current surroundings and photo project. Noemi Goudal and Mishka Henner have both shown how landscapes can be controlled, re-categorised and reformed.
Noemi edits traditional straight photographic documentation by construction and distortion. The landscape in front of the camera is limited by the inherent laws of the photographic medium. Exploiting the two dimensional perspective she creates installations that ‘trick’ the camera and potentially the viewer who’s mind creates a three dimensional image from a flat two dimensional image.
This intentional human intervention in the landscape cleverly questions the photographic medium as ‘trustworthy’, ‘certainty that the object to be photographed was directly present at the time the release button was pressed, is a fact and of necessity just as old as photography itself. And yet the indexical credibility of the medium has never kept theory from constantly inquiring into its manipulative qualities.” (Goudal ,2016).
Mechanical I-II, Noemie Goudal, 2016.
Therefore her work explores the limitations of the cameras two dimensional perspective, the ability for the photographer to manipulate an image and the critique of the medium as a manipulator. ‘That the Observatoiresnonetheless evoke the association of an irrefutable reality is due to the way they are staged by the artists, whose significant components include the choice of perspective.’ (Goudal, 2016) It questions how we see, the credibility of our belief in photography to be a true reflection of reality, the cameras only ability is of that to represent what it sees infront of it.
The constructions that define her work are found in the concept of heterotopias, a term coined by Michel Foucault in the 1960s. ‘referring to spaces of otherness where mental and physical implications have a chance to merge….always working at the intersection of fiction and reality.’ (Goudal,2012). I would like to experiment with this idea and intend to consider how heterotopias can be interpreted in my work how I can find an interaction between the physical and the mental.
Mishka Henner works in a new ‘landscape’ the internet. He defines himself as a “magpie” an artist whom “is an expert appropriator who uses the tools of the digital age to reveal information and archive imagery concealed within a sea of online data” (Oakes, 2014). The new digital landscape enables us a photographer to remix and reuse pre existing imagery appropriating it to raise awareness of the political, social, ethical and economic situation of the world. “as soon as you give an alternative form to something that already exists in the world, you change the way that it exists and the way that it is perceived.” (Henner, 2014).
Feedlots. Miskha Henner. 2012.
I see Mishka’s work on the forefront of photography, replacing the physical sensor of the camera for the computer. In his series No Man’s Land Mishka uses “the most prolific street photographer today.” (Howarth and McLarne, 2010) It is of course, Google street view. With it’s close ties to the origins of photography street view is a ‘colonial, scientific and bureaucratic mapping, classification and registration of the world.’ (Wolthers, 2016). The work following women on the streets of Southern Europe in remote locations along roadsides examines the voyeuristic gaze of man, it reveals venerability of these women and the ability of surveillance to create information which can be abused through those seeking to exploit it.
The work appropriates imagery from websites which are used to exploit these women but rather than exploit, Mishka’s work reveals, it informs us of our practices online, of the world of surveillance we now live it.
To conclude I wish to also question the imagery I make, the medium I choose to do so which is mostly for it’s aesthetics, the moral need to produce more images in a sea of imagery. I believe I need to question more and shoot less, to research and experiment with new ways of making work and informing my work through theory and practice.
TRISTANLEYRI. 2014. Arbor-Essence. Le Vacarme des couleurs. Le Vacarme des couleurs.
Ephemeral Fictions. On Photographs by Noémie Goudal. Article by Nela Eggenberger, November 2016
Foam Magazine, Haven Her Body Was Interview by Anne Cecile Jaeger, Autumn 2012
Nathalie Dietschy (2020) AFTER ROBERT FRANK’S PHOTOBOOK THE AMERICANS: REMAKES, VARIATIONS, AND ICONOCLASM, photographies, 13:3, 297-322, DOI:
Monitoring the Margins: Street Views of Sex Workers Louise Wolthers. Photography & Culture. Volume 9—Issue 3. November 2016. pp. 239–254
Liz Wells, Land Matters.