It has been raining in Adelaide for several days straight now. Autumn has gone, winter has arrived. I’ve been trying to take the 5×7 Cambo out between the showers to get some photos of the tree roots of Morton Bay Figs. But I’ve had no luck.
Although it is clear blue skies when I leave, the apartment, by the time I get to the location the showers are sweeping across the ground. It clears, but then it is too dark and the light is too flat. So I’m down to quick snaps whilst walking the dogs in the parklands.
I realize that the changes that are slowly taking in the part of the inner city of Adelaide in which I live are an example of the new urbanism. The changes are slow, but there are signs of a reaction to the spreading out of cities, a mixture of work and home emerging, a mixture of classes and a sense of decreasing the dependence on the car.
New Urbanist town planners, developers, architects, and designers try to reduce traffic, eliminate suburban sprawl, and create inner city neighborhoods that resemble an old European village with homes and businesses clustered together.
We are surrounded by the images of our commodity culture whether we are watching tv, walking the streets of the city or working on our computers. The visual signs are everywhere.
Our experience is that we live under the assumption that there is no other way of knowing and being outside the phantasmagoriac realm of representation of commodity culture.
So I photograph these visual forms. We often sleepwalk through their world, barely conscious of the way they speak to our desires or shape our sensory experience. ‘Sleepwalk’ because I often feel that we are living a dream of what it is to be modern in a world of progress (to a better life or future); a dream woven for us by the culture industry of capitalism.
I couldn’t resist taking a photo. The street art appeared on the wall in Wright Street over the weekend. When I saw it I thought of the well-known phrase attributed to Antonio Gramsci: “The old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth: now is the time of monsters.”
I have little idea why I thought that, then and there. It popped into my head.
Maybe it is because so much street art depicts the monsters. They seem to come from the unconscious. Anyhow, I went back home, grabbed the camera and took a snap, as it was getting dark.
When we are down at Victor Harbor on the the weekend I often walk around the mouth of the Hindmarsh River with the dogs. This coastal walk and beach are a popular with strollers, bathers and other dog walkers. The scene looks best in the soft afternoon light, and it is reasonably protected from the winds coming in from the sea.
It’s hard to do the landscape photos with a large format camera due to the time constraints (household duties and obligations), blogging and the weather. I managed to take a photo of the silky oak yesterday with the 5×7 Cambo, even though the weather was dull, overcast, and a few spots of rain were falling.
I’ve become tired of just taking photos, building a decent archive of images and then posting them on Flickr and my photoblog to share with others. It’s become something of a cul-de -sac. I’ve run out of enthusiasm and becoming jaded.
I have to do something more substantive with the photos—to construct them into a project and publish them in some way. The next step is to begin to work on a project for publication–a DIY book—from the Port Adelaide archive. So I’ve returned to the Port Adelaide arcchive, and starting looking over the work I was doing last year.
So I am picking up where I’ve left off last spring:–returning to the digital studies I made of the Port River Expressway that were done for a reshoot with a large format camera. The above image is one that I had planned to do. This is another.
I’ve always found the bush hard to photograph as it is so messy and it is difficult to find any form. So I’ve returned to Wirranendi Park in Adelaide’s western parklands on the poodlewalks to learn how I can begin to make it work.
That kind of workflow requires a reskilling. I realise that I’ve been deskilled as a photographer by using a prosumer digital camera and I need to reskill myself so that I can tackle the bush. That requires me returning to the same place again and again—the bush around the wetlands.
My response to the ‘in a vacuum’ post has been to walk the city with a digital camera looking for possible photographic subjects in the central business district for my large format work. I came across a couple of possiblities:
The possibilities I uncovered explore the grungy side of Adelaide CBD. Though grunge is usually associated with the music of the 1990s there is grunge literature of the 1990s that charted the territory of young people living in inner cities.
With a new Lord Mayor–Stephen Yarwood — the Adelaide City Council has chosen six sites to be renewed with street art – the Hindley St public toilets, Morphett St bridge west wall and pylons, James Place public toilets, Rundle St UPark York St wall and Topham Mall by the southern entrance.
This is a detail of prisoners and guards at Topham Wall, Topham Mall carpark, Adelaide CBD. The fullscale work–a paste-up by Jason Fox— can be seen here.
This is an example of the poetic option that I was tempted to explore in contrast to the waste series. I mentioned the options in the earlier in a vacuum post. The poetic option is about the image and it has little to do with the literary text’s verbal equivalent of photographic techniques and processes or the use of photography in literature.
Urban poetics is a different kind of photography and one that I have little confidence in. So I don’t do much of it and I have little confidence and no sense of a project. The poetics of urban photography is quite different to the genre of street photography and is often associated with Polaroid photography.