I woke up thinking of a name for the two long-term series of pictures that I do, 'The New Houses'. It's only been six years, I might come up with a better one before ten. New project, site c, being the landscape around a military airbase is off at a tangent to that anyways.
One of my preoccupations/obsessions when I used to photograph at site a week after week, was often the perimeter fence along the west side. (That seems such a long time ago.) Arriving at site b today and, as always, out of inspiration, I sort off walking along the fence taking a picture every ten paces with a little point and shot, then another lap this time taking a photo every three paces, a bit closer, then later on as the sun was dipping low, one more sequence with the Sigma DP2M.
The fence is a similar length to the one at a (or rather 'ones' as it changed several times over the years), maybe 150 metres.
I've been thinking of doing infrared photography, taking my cue from the feed conveyed by satellite from drone surveillance aircraft, employing it for landscapes taken immediately adjacent to the airbase where operations are conducted. From what I've read up on the methodology so far it seems that the best conditions are bright summery days with deep blue skies, so I may put that idea on hold until next year. In the meantime I am interested in other kinds of image adjustments, and particularly ones made to increase effectiveness of the image, but rather than for reasons of extracting information in the service of enacting foreign policy, to try and articulate a response to that instead.
The embankment where I sneak in at site B has been largely demolished and nearly all the trees removed, apart from a strip overlooking neigbouring land which has been left intact, a line of trees - and a skinny, one metre tall oak sapling which had just escaped the clear out with only minor damage. I tried to dig it out to take home and re-plant but the root went down way further than I expected so the kidnapping attempt failed. Would have been nice to have a little memento of site B, what was, and good luck to that little oak tree.
Even though I knew landscaping work was going on along that perimeter it was still quite a shock cycling up and finding much of it excavated out. The earth has been used for extensive landfill at the back. It looked really black, particularly under the pale October cloud. I'd estimate that a few thousand tons of earth have been moved in the intervening two weeks since I was last there. That embankment had become very familiar to me over the last few…
I wanted to re-visit site C (military site) to take hedgerow pictures again, this time with the Sigma Merrill which has edge to edge sharpness, nicer tonality and richer colouration. I slowly trekked for half a mile around the other side of the airbase's perimeter fence before headed back to the section I'd looked at yesterday. A vehicle appeared to follow me off the side road which made me uneasy, more unsure than ever what explanation I'd come up with should some security official decide to intervene, I'm not sure about the legal position photographing there. But no-one got out and they'd left by the time I'd finished photographing. The unease though that I'd felt from their presence was maybe pertinent to the wider theme of these pictures.
Certain areas at site C had a worrying sound that took a while to make sense of. It was creepy enough - in a 50's sci-fi kind of way - to make me consider abandoning any photography and retreating. It turned out to be emanating from multi-directional arrays of speakers on metal posts located across a large part of the site - which was almost entirely deserted. Anyone who had to put up with that noise all day would go mad. It was a sort of lo-fi crackling, a kind of radio static or water spattered into hot fat in a frying pan. Mostly it was fizzing away but at times suddenly was more frantic like something very, very bad was about to happen. Probably to me. I worked out it must have been a method of scaring birds away from the airstrips. Having watched the early Avengers series fairly recently it wasn't hard to imagine other more horrible and weird possibilites, involving a strange, tech-y death. Mine.
I'd been planning on a trip to C for a few days but couldn't reall…
Before heading off to work in the mornings lately I've been dipping into a book of Lee Friedlander photographs. It's a substantial book, several hundred pages long - and almost impossible to hold it is so heavy, it needs a good solid kitchen table to support it. It contains maybe 500 hundred images, maybe more. I'm wondering if he even out-gunned Garry Winogrand in the total frame count stakes.
He has been, and probably remains despite his age, hugely prodigious. For over fifty years he's been compulsively photographing, in ways that are quite idiosyncratic, thoughtful and funny. I'm not sure if what he does has much relevance anymore to cutting edge contemporary photography, it will be regarded as too much about 'just looking'. The end for 'great photographs' has been widely predicted for some time, even by old-schoolers Joel Meyerowitz and Alec Soth amongst others. The simple wonderment at how things translate from the world through a camera onto…
One of the things you get on large building sites is mounds of earth, hundreds of tons of it as big as a small hillside. Topsoil, sometimes contaminated, which has been bulldozed and excavated ends up being deposited away from the main construction area, often only to be moved on again six months or a year later when it's in the way again andeventually levelled and landscaped. If left undisturbed though for long enough it invariably becomes intensely overgrown.