Thoughtfactory: Rhizomes

bark, trees, roads, bushland

Posts for Tag: Sony NEX-7

hanging bark #2/meditative seeing

The local bushland is becoming off limits in the afternoon due to the snakes coming out of their winter hibernation with  the warm spring weather. It is still okay to walk in the bushland  in the early morning before sunrise when it  is cold or wet from the heavy dew.  

I notice that this  Rhizomes blog was neglected during the autumn/winter period this year -- there is a gap between March and August. There is even greater neglect  with The Littoral Zone blog. I'm  sure this neglect  was the result of me struggling to put  the walking and the photography together as a process-based  photographic project. 

The photo below was made in early September 2023 whilst I was on a poodlewalk  in the late afternoon with Maleko:

Going back through the archives Rhizomes  and seeing what  I had photographed in the local bush during that March-August period I can see that an immersive style of walking was emerging: one that was reactive to what was occurring around me, rather than going into the bushland to photograph a  particular object in certain lighting conditions that had been pre-visualised.

hanging bark in b+w

This macro photo was made whilst I was on a hobbled walk in the local bushland. 

It was late in the afternoon. I have looked for this bark since, but I have never been able to find it. The winter winds would have prised it loose from the branch of the pink gum.  

walking Depledge Rd #3: bark

This is another interpretation of  the hanging bark  along Depledge Rd in Waitpinga. 

 In contrast  to the early morning version that was uploaded  in this earlier post the above  version was made in the late afternoon. 

bark #2

From an early morning poodlewalk with Kayla in the  local Waitpinga bushland in November 2021

We only explore  the  bushland in the early morning just after  sunrise,   due to  the prevalence of the eastern brown snakes. Even though it is cool that early in the morning we tread very carefully whilst keeping a sharp lookout. It is the Littoral Zone  for the afternoon poodlewalk with Maleko.  

There is an earlier picture of bark hanging from a branch here   


 From a early morning  poodlewalk in local bushland in Waitpinga with Kayla during the middle of winter 2021.  

It has been 3-4months  since I've walked through the local bushland. I went back yesterday morning to avoid the gale force  south westerly winds. I noticed that the native orchids   were in flower.  During this time I have been reading Photography and Place:  Australian landscape Photography 1970 untill now , which is a pdf of an exhibition curated by Judy Annear, Art Gallery NSW in 2011. 

tree abstract

The macro photo  below was made on a  recent, early morning  poodlewalk with Kayla along Depledge Road  in Waitpinga on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia. It was  sometime during  the 2020 Xmas/New Year period. 

 I have generally been walking  along the  back country road in the morning or afternoon to avoid the strong, gusty coastal winds;  or  for some  shade from the late afternoon summer  sun.  The rhizomes photography has been rather limited this summer. 

Inman River

Made whilst on a recent  poodlewalk around the Inman River in Victor Harbor with Suzanne. 

 The Inman is one of the two rivers that flow through Victor Harbor. The other one is the Hindmarsh River. 

along Depledge Rd

There is an interesting issue of the journal Art History  on Photography after conceptual art (Volume 32, Issue 5),  which was then published by Wiley as a book  edited  by Diarmuid Costello and Margaret Iversen. This body of academic work emerges out of an AHRC Research Project entitled Aesthetics after Photography.

Contemporary photography (after conceptual art) can be categorised as either pictorial or conceptual. On the one hand demand,  we have  highly aestheticised pictorial image concerned to  ensure  the autonomy of photography as art.  This has already been established.

On the other hand, we have  the  purely conceptual where the photograph is incidental to the idea and disregarded as a medium via its incorporation into divergent practices. This  treats the photograph as a document of transparent information.

Herein lies a tension between photography’s aesthetic uptake as an autonomous  pictorial art being  compromised by it apparently being too closely and easily connected to empirical reality.

One interpretation of art history holds that in  the 1970s and 1980s, photography in art was aligned with a variety of radical avant-garde practices that sought to disrupt traditional modes of aesthetic appreciation.  This post conceptual strand  drew on Walter Benjamin's influential view that the mechanization of image-production undermined many of the values traditionally associated with fine art--eg., its aura.

Art photography in the early 21st century  has shifted from being  an anti-aesthetic artistic medium  to spectacular, large-scale, pictorial museum pieces, as exemplified in the work of Jeff Wall and Thomas Struth. 

This tension  or problem between the two strands opens  the door to the exploration of the photography’s aesthetic possibilities in terms of a merging of the conceptual and the pictorial.

photography after conceptual art

Ian Burn finishes his  essay 'Conceptual Art as Art' in  his book Dialogue: Writing in Art History thus:

In conclusion, one could separate the analytic or strict Conceptual Art from the work which is a conceptual appearance by stating that the intention of the former is to devise a functional change in art, whereas the latter is concerned with changes in the appearance of the art. 

Post conceptual photography  in Australia in the 1980s was deemed to be postmodern in both theory and practice.  This was the judgement of Isobel Crombie and Sandra Byron's, Twenty Contemporary Australian Photographers: From the Hallmark Cards Australian Photographic Collection at the National Gallery of Victoria (1990).  Helen Ennis in her exhibition catalogue Australian Photography: The 1980s concured.   What was unclear from thes exhibitions, and the Blair French and Daniel Palmer text, Twelve Australian Photo Artists,  was the link between the allegorical impluse and the qualities of nonidentity, rupture, disjunction, distance, and fragmentation. 

It questioned the modernist traditions and conventions that had previously come to define photography---small-scale finely worked black and white photographs. This gave way to large, colour, stage-managed studio images that were exhibited in the art gallery system. This shift  was often framed  in  terms of the  traditional  art historical explicatory device of stylistic exhaustion and Oedipal reaction.   

This Australian postmodernism  in photographic culture was part of a broader global movement of what Douglas Crimp termed oppositional postmodernism  that was interested in representation and photography's function in an image culture; photography's role in the construction of (female) subjectivity; and the questioning of the assumptions underpinning  photography's indexical relation to the world.  

It was  an oppositional postmodernism in that it was a critique of the foundations of modernist asethetics such as form, originality, authenticity, and individual creativity. It also made an analysis of the art galleries/museum as an "institution of confinement";  and a critique of high modernism's antipathy to, and eradication of,  metaphor that allowed them to assert medium against meaning, likeness or literary values.    

In the photography after conceptual art  in Australia there was some questioning  of the conservative  landscape tradition in Australian painting,  and its construction of an essential Australian aesthetic, national narratives and settler Australia's relation to the land. This Anglocentric version of the social imaginary of Australia as a nation of well-intentioned, hardworking British settlers downplayed both the colonial forms of violence and subjugation of aboriginal Australians and  the destruction of the environment. 

This questioning of this cultural expression of national identity and its mythology raised the idea of the landscape both as a site of  historical conflict  and change, and the ways that we represent our relationships to the environment. 

By and large however,  though there has been a rich history of photographing the landscape, art photography with the land, landscape, nature as its subject  has declined  in Australia  and lost its currency. It has become sidelined as sophisticated chocolate box photography.  Two exceptions that come to mind  are  Debra Phillips 2001  landscapes of Lake George in New South Wale (The world as a puzzle 1 and 11) and David Stephenson's images of environmental destruction in Tasmania.