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Showing posts from August, 2015

Lewis Baltz & David Harvey talks at Tate, (2003)

Photography and the limits of the document - part 4 can be found here:

   Usually when photographers or associated thinkers are invited to give a talk they give a lecture. It's the way it's done, it's even expected - although hardly demanded.

   Having the key texts to build on and the vocabularly necessary to serve up meaningful ideas it's a surprise then when on close examination that much of what is dished up rarely holds up to scrutiny on a sentence-to-sentence level. It's nearly always half-baked thinking. Unfortunately in the arts being part of an established discourse is seen as proof of belonging. It's all very cautious, and almost certainly indicates a lack of confidence. In a generation photography has gone from being an area of minimal interest to intellectuals to now being dominated by theory.

   The 2003 Tate Lewis Baltz/David Harvey lecture (link above) did what most …

Lee Krasner: Noon, (1947)

Lee Krasner, Untitled, (1948)

site b #3

site b #2

site b

garden c

garden b


Victor Burgin: Marlboro (c. 1977)

books & prints

Danielle Denham: the doorway to an abandoned little bookstore near the hamlet of Odell, Oregon, (2013)

   I have a fair few photography books but I never open them, some are still in shrink-wrap. I don't have photographs on walls either. All the photography that's been most important to me is held experientially, and that seems the place where it belongs.

   For me the really vital part of appreciating important photography comes at the beginning. It is those moments of first impact when leafing through a book that mattered and will remain indelible from that initial first occasion or two. And like contemplating a significant print on a gallery wall it's not particularly necessary to live with it afterwards or have it to refer to it. The book or print gives what it can then becomes largely irrelevant as a physical object - it is the idea provoked by them that matters. Admittedly on occasion this realisation is not immediate and some pictures (usually what will be the most …

Lewis Baltz and sites of technology

One of the themes of Lewis Baltz's later colour work is the invisibility of meaning at sites of technology. The computers and locations where they occupy are generic. Wherever they may exist in the world they look the same. The function they serve is indecipherable. They could be control centres for collecting surveillance data or could be processing mailing lists for junk mail.

   That ambiguousness appealed to him. Interestingly a very similar opaqueness is at work in all his major series of photographs. While they appear to show objects in the most straightforward way imaginable the result is blankness - it is only the accompanying text, a social critique, that clarifies precisely the issue of intention. While Baltz takes a concept and brings pictures into being, as a viewer I find it is my personal fumbling, pre-revelatory grasp at the images that is the most vital and exhilarating part of experiencing of them.

   Often the specifics of the intent limit, even diminish, wha…

Lewis Baltz

Beate Gütschow: LS#8, (2000)

Beate Gütschow: LS#3, (1999)

José Pedro Cortes: Untitled (Costa #21), 2013

pronoun replacement therapy

Duane Michaels: Andy Warhol, (1958)

landscape as verb

when upside down is the right way up

inverted world

new slang


land usefulessness

Looked at one way Site B is shrinking, but, if you were the property developer who owns it, and having cleared away a factory and built a hundred houses on it over the last two years, it's growing. People have already moved in to many of those homes, made their lives there. So I'm being slowly squeezed either into a deep excavation (by its nature out of sight) or staying close to the fence. So far I haven't found a Site C which fits the pre-requisite profile - former factory making way for new homes.

As for taking pictures of vegetation, I did this a couple of times before as part of this thing that I do. Once at A recording the details of a temporary man-made hill of earth and rubble which was wildly reverting to some kind of 'natural' state, before being bulldozed away. And two years later, again at A, photos of the brand new houses viewed obliquely through the trees on the outside.

Both A and B are brownfield sites, where factories disappeared and residential d…





Heavy plant



garden before rain

wasteland before clearing

Florence Henri 1893-1982

Mark Ruwedel: Dusk #5 (Antelope Valley #63B), (2007)

The Memory of Time @National Gallery of Art, review on collectordaily

Mark Ruwedel: Canadian Pacific #3 from Westward the Course of Empire, (2000)

Uta Barth: ...and to draw a bright white line with light, (2011)

Mary Ellen Mark (1940-2015)


Edge of construction site (something like Jackson Pollock's back yard)

Dis-used land

There is a quality to patches of land that have been abandoned.  No-one hardly ever visits them, there's no reason to, they serve no function.  Ocassionally stray kids, with little or no money to be doing something more fun, end up exploring them while passing through to somewhere potentially slightly more interesting, picking and kicking at the debris of past use. But while largely overlooked I think these places are as meaningful and affectingas any grand vista that nature offers - landscapes in a minor key.  No grandeur or drama or pastoral prettiness, they are worn-out, neglected, having become seemingly purposeless. Bleached of minerals, polluted and usually parched they are left to die-off or otherwise. Yet while having no apparent future, be it residential, commericial, industrial, leisure use these places bounce back, an actively renewing eco-system develops which seems anti-human rather than simply post-human.

Joe Deal: Home Site 2, Phillips Ranch, California (1984)

Joe Deal 1947-2010

The easy way in

Just in case there was an easier way than the place I usually sneak in I walked 50 yards further along the site B fence this afternoon, and an easy-in was found.  So easy it hardly seemed any point in hurrying up and over the embankment (lower at this point, too) to get out of sight of passersby. Anyone could walk in.

I soon almost walked into two workmen (or people who were at work doing something in there, but I was not entirely sure they were meant to be there, either) and so didn't spend long taking pictures anyway, just in case.

If I was a painter I'd be starting out every time with tubes of black and white paint (to make shades of gray) and a blue for the sky every time I make pictures.  It's not just the subject that's limiting, it's not all that much to look at 'of itself'.  (I usually remind myself 'limiting' might be the best strategy in the long term.)

I was soon making my way back out, though, hardly having managed anything to be hopeful…

the dialectic we speak with around here

Poppys etc.

Julie Blackmon, (2005)

I don't drink much but had a glass of red wine the last evening or two, with a splash of water to soften and smooth the heavy oomph, and remembering the song 'Water With The Wine'. It was very pleasant, a warm August evening, with the breeze blowing in and reggae re-mixed album spacemonkeys versus gorillaz playing, it was like all the decades folding into one in a soft and smooth way - but the white throw on the sofa and the white ikea table always seem at risk.

I like Julie Blackmon's photographs, a whole lot.  She's in my top five. I don't know quite how she got there but she sneaked in while various reservations I would expect to have were asleep, drunk probably, on red wine.  But now she's there, it's not like there's a crowd of other contenders barging her out the way, and that's despite reading collectordaily every day to see what's going on.

Kelli Connell did a book of pictures a few years ago where one figure was duplicated to create …

Aaron Copland

Stunning portrait - uncredited photographer : (

revisit: sites of construction

revist 2

revisit 1