This idea of visual languages is otherwise known as the study of semiotics. This branch of visual studies was championed by academics such as Roland Barthes and Umberto Eco who proposed, ‘that every cultural phenomenon may be studied as communication’. Essentially meaning that anything contained with the frame of a photograph can be a sign that holds further meanings whether intended or not. In this case something as arbitrary as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich can be regarded as a cultural phenomenon.Read More
I recently got my hands on a copy of Murphy’s book, The Republic, a lyrical photographic depiction of his home, the rapidly changing Ireland. What immediately stood out for me is the lack of any contextualising information. While there is a short quote by James Joyce to introduce the images there are no captions to accompany them and an all too short (in my opinion) afterword by Murphy.
So what does this mean? Everything and nothing. It is a powerful and fascinating depiction of an old, conservative country becoming a young, liberal country. It is full of humour and life. It is a very accomplished collection of images. I just wonder if it gets as under the skin of Ireland as it could if it had explanatory captions?Read More
We have really had an introduction to European winters here in Dublin...
This begs the question, 'What does it mean to visually understand a place?' J.B. Jackson, a prolific writer on landscape theory, speaks of a sense of place. In his book, 'A Sense of Place, A Sense of Time' he mentions a number of ways one can think about this term.Read More
Jo Ractliffe has long been one of my favourite photographers. Her more recent photographic projects like As Terras do Fim do Mundo and The Borderlands were hugely inspirational projects for me with their stark explorations of the landscape and the memories they hide. Yet, there is something about this image from Nadir, one of her very first artistic projects, that catches my imagination and refuses to let it go.Read More
The west coast of Ireland is an easily romanticised place. Incredible coastlines, rolling green hills and more than enough space to get happily lost.
" "In April 1996 an extraordinary process began in South Africa. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, under its chairman Archbishop Desmond Tutu, held its first public hearings to investigate over thirty years of human rights violations under apartheid. The Commission had been founded in the belief that truth was the only means by which the people of South Africa could come to a common understanding of their past, and that this understanding was necessary if the country was to forge a new national identity in the future. In the first two years more than 20,000 victims made statements to the commissioners and, encouraged by the possibility of amnesty, some 7,000 perpetrators came forward to confess their crimes." "Read More
I've recently become interested in these half/half spaces that occur in big cities. Previous posts have visually explored the one edge of Cape Town and the space that appears at the end of a city.
This post has some tentative images from the banks of the Liesbeek River. It was very much an exploratory shoot to see if there is anything worth further exploration. I'm not very happy with what I returned with but there are small pin pricks of interest.
For instance, I enjoyed the gradual urbanisation of the section I visited:
I'm also becoming fascinated by how houses opening adjacent to open spaces need to be barricaded by electric wire and high walls. Ordinarily you would expect people to embrace open spaces as extensions of their living areas. This is obviously not the case and undoubtedly because of our high crime rates in South Africa.
Finally, one can't help but fix on the ways that Cape Town's marginalised citizens become part of the city and the landscape.
As I said, I don't think the images are too exciting or illuminating at this point but I do think that there is a story to be explored. As always, now the hard work starts of prising open the essence of this story and building a level of trust with the communities that might be involved.
Hopefully, over the next couple of months I will be able to further illustrate the development of this story.
There is a fascinating conflict being played out at the moment. Thankfully, this conflict does not involve fear, death or the might of the industrial war machine. Instead, it's being fought by two works of art and is being fought on the plains of context, history and the present.Read More
People tell stories. That is something we have grown up to accept and believe wholeheartedly, and it is true, people do tell stories. For a long period of my photographic career I was told that I needed to photograph people to tell stories that would interest viewers. I believed it. As a documentary photographer what else can one do? Lots! While people do tell stories, both actively and passively, it is often the space around them, frequently so subconsciously created, that can tell a much deeper and more nuanced story.Read More
A little while ago I got the always welcome news that somebody liked my photography enough to feature it on their website. Finally, after 3 weeks of excited waiting I got the email that it was up. You can access the site through the following here.
The website, Muybridge's Horse, features artists who are interested in the ways in which humans interact with and experience animals and nature. I particularly like the sly sense of humour that fills many of the posts on the website and that was what initially made me want to contact them. Yet, if the humour pulls one in, it is the tone of gentle reflection pervading the site that makes it truly memorable.
The featured images are taken from a series I'm constantly working on about life in a South African museum.
In Cape Town's Company Gardens hidden in a shaded corner is a small bamboo grove. On the other end of the Company Gardens is Gardens Commercial High School. For the young pupils of this school this bamboo grove has become a traditional space to affirm your existence and proclaim your social relationships.Read More
Since I started working in the museum there was something I found quite humorous in this bird display but for a long time I couldn't work out what it was. Eventually it struck me. It was very much like a baroque painting but without any of the painting.Read More
This ugly concrete wall, topped by an electric fence, is the final sign of continuous habitation on Okavango Road. After travelling past house after house after housing estate, one is suddenly confronted by a low wire fence and an immense space of sunburnt land. In essence, this is one of the edges of Cape Town.
Using the Recessky TLR is a constant gamble. The viewfinder is blurry, focus is as much about estimation as it is about luck, there is no such thing as a standard shutter speed and rolling on the film is a total guesstimation. But sometimes you get something worth keeping like this little run on of images.
Pot plants at Artefact cafe in the Iziko South African Museum.
The weekend was spent at the wonderfully laidback and always charming Fynbos Estate. Just on the Durbanville side of Malmesbury, it's a small working wine farm with a ton of character, wonderful animals and some excellent organic Swartland wines (a current special on 2015 Chardonnay is unbelievable value).
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