Wednesday, March 21, 2007

a few Immersive Landscapes




I came across this short passage in Steve Edwards excellent little book Photography: A Very Short Introduction (well worth a read btw):

"Panofsky felt that Renaissance perspective was neither natural nor inevitable; rather, it was the historical product of a society that valued detachment more than immersion; order rather than flux; regularity instead of discontinuity; and structure over experience."

(Link to more Immersive Landscapes)

Tim Atherton



7 comments:

Caroline Robinson said...

Interesting photographs Tim.

What are your criteria for the keepers in this body of work? Do you have some pre-defined, stated criteria for success, or do you simply judge on gut reaction and whether or not you tire of an image over a period of time?

tim atherton said...

hmm.. in part, I'm revisiting most of these after a couple of years or so, because it sort of got abandoned and I'm picking up an aspect of the project again.

That said, I don't have a fixed set of criteria in my head that says a pictures has to meet this, that and this in order to work.

Especially with these, it's very much a gut thing. I see something, I try to photograph it and then I see how it looks. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't (and sometimes it works in a way I hadn't expected).

And yes, some of it is the test of time. There are a few I thought I quite liked, but over time they have faded. Others I keep coming back to.

There are also some I put on one side and never actually scanned - looking through them again, I realise I missed a few that I should pay more attention to.

But overall it's an instinctual thing. I may have a general idea and concept that I'm working on - and I find I have to let that sink in for a while - but then, when I am actually doing it, it's very much about feeling, instinct, gut reaction and just trying it.

(I also have a bit of a backlog of scans of some I do like - but scanning 8x10 and working on it takes a while...)

Caroline said...

OK here's a related question, posed without knowing your objectives for the series. It is related to the previous question in as much as it addresses the analysis behind criteria for inclusion in the final body of work.

Based on the few photographs shown, I guess that you trying to show nature in its natural untidy state, free from the simplifying (unrealistic) conventions normally imposed by photographers onto their rendition of a scene. At first glance, there doesn't seem to be much 'usual' compositional structure to your photographs, but when viewed for a while some understated relationships and dynamics start to emerge. At least in my mind.

To the general public these might look like they were shot without compositional thought. Shots taken, say, to record a small area of landscape in order to support a council application for development of the site. You get what I mean; they might appear as simple photographs taken without artistic intent, simply for a mundane purpose to be later discarded.

And here's the question. I detect subtle compositional elements in them, and enjoy them for that. But others might interpret them as described above. As photographers are we trying too hard, reading too much into things? Technical considerations aside, imagine if we gazed at some photographs and found ourselves tuning into their subtle aesthetics and arriving at a state of liking them a great deal, only to learn that they were _in fact_ only some throwaways to support a council application! I guess it comes down to artistic intent? (This question is not specific to your series of course, but is one I have thought about for some time now.)

Sorry for rambling but you might have some perspective on this.

Edward Richards said...

I have a feeling that these photos are an example of why the WWW does not do justice to LF photos. My guess is that in large prints the mass of detail is very effective. On the screen it does not work very well for me. I wrestle with this same problem for my detailed images - they lose their impact on the WWW or when seen just as jpgs on the screen.

tim atherton said...

Absolutely Ed (and in part this answers Caroline's question) - it's also why I've rather resisted putting them online

So yes Caroline, part of it IS intent. But in part that intent is shown by the method used to photograph them. Although they work very well as small 4x6 prints (I've actually mailed some out like that), it's easy to see by 8x10 that there is lots of detail there. At 11x14 - and preferably 16x20 or 20x24, the detail becomes one of the more important aspects. I think it becomes clear at that point that the choices I've made - part of the intention - is what can be seen in the detail and how the detail affects the viewer. There are smaller patterns to see and bigger patterns become more obvious.

Which is akin to what I saw in the first place (again, the intention). When I'm walking around making these, I see things that catch my eye. As I look more closely, I see other things. Sometimes it's a detail, sometimes it's an overall pattern, more often it's more my reaction to a whole series of different things going on - that's part of what I'm trying to show and indicate.

Ed, I know when I looked through a lot of your Katrina pictures, my experience working with LF for a good number of years told me how they would "actually" look (a little like how you get used to looking at negatives an envisioning the print) - but that was at odds with how they looked online, which you knew was just pale comparison

Caroline said...

Thanks Tim that explanation sounds good to me. How about one more question - my last honestly!!! Looking through your blog I can see that you have a formidable knowledge of photography history, and probably of art history too. Do you find all that knowledge stops you from making your own art, because you must be able to see similarities everywhere? Is it easier to be ignorant or mega-knowledgable when pursuing original vision?

tim atherton said...

Caroline, most of my knowledge and reading has been self directed - so basically, I've only read and researched what interests me (my formal training was either as a military policeman or in Theology and Philosophy - take your pick...).

So in a way, I've picked up themes on things that have fed into my photography and my photogrpah has fed into what has interested me intellectually.

I guess sometimes I do see something and think - hmm - that's an xyz photographer picture just sitting there ready to be taken. (and I did once go out and try taking some pictures like Sugimoto's 2x infinity architecture - just to try and figure it out - it's actually much hard than it looks!)

But o the whole, for me what tends to happen is that despite all the reading and such I enjoy doing, often just a simple idea or short phrase will grab me and that will then start me off on something (photographically) of my own.

So, I guess the short answer is no - it doesn't really get in the way (thought there are plenty of other things that do...)