Before commencing the exercise I researched the concept of place and space. Saar and Palang (2009) and Agnew (2011) review different definitions of the terms while Alexander (2015) and Bate (2015) also consider the concepts. I was drawn to Agnew’s (2011 p23) three point definition of place “as location” or a site where activities or objects are located; secondly as “a series of locales or settings where every-day life takes place”; and thirdly as “a sense of place or identification with a place as a unique community, landscape, and moral order”. This concept of a sense of place is also considered by Sloan (2017). These definitions matter in photography, as Wells (2011) states “Photography contributes to characterising sites as particular types of places within the order of things”.
I decided to look at the town in which I live (Wymondham, Norfolk) as a place in line with the definition proposed by Agnew:
- The location and how it changes over time
- The settings where everyday life takes place and how these evolve in appearance
- What aspects of the town determine its sense of place, are seemingly unchanging and become iconic
Having studied ‘appropriation of images in Part 2 of this course I was interested in practicing this myself as a part of this module. To convey location and how it is changing I thought of showing ‘before and after’ images of housing developments at the edge of the town. Not having ‘before’ images I looked into how up to date Google’s views were, I discovered that they had been updated to show the new developments, but further research exposed ‘glitches’ in Google’s system that allowed both before and after views. I had originally intended to use the Streetview images for the ‘before’ image and my own photographs as the ‘after’ image. Having discovered that I could produce both images from Streetview, it seemed best to use only the Google images and in this way to question their transient nature. In order to set the location of the images I produced‘before’ and ‘after’ images with a Google Earth satellite image in between them.
For the images depicting ‘where everyday life takes place’ and how appearance changes, I researched early photos from archives (one rich source was postcards on Ebay). In an exercise on this part of the course I had experimented with with inserting characters from old settings into modern day images. In his feedback my tutor was taken by the idea, but thought the characters looked a bit like ‘cardboard cutouts’ and felt they could be more ghostlike.
To emphasise how appearance changes, I took the characters from old photos and superimposed them onto a photograph I had taken of the original setting. In this way the characters would be seen as ‘observing’ the changes in their area. I believe my technique has improved considerably, with the characters appearing more like apparitions surveying the scene.
For the final images ‘determining sense of place’ I wanted to emphasise a sense of history and ‘iconic’ settings Three locations sprang immediately to mind:
The Green Dragon, a 14th century pub, which won the local council community pub award for 5 consecutive years, The Market Cross, a local landmark dating from around 1617, Wymondham Abbey, founded in 1107, probably the town’s most famous landmark.
An explanation accompanies each of the images in a separate Appendix.
Agnew, J. (2011) Space and Place. At: http://www.geog.ucla.edu/sites/default/files/users/jagnew/416.pdf (Accessed on 18 March 2018)
Alexander, J.A.P. (2015) Perspectives on place: theory and practice in landscape photography. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
Appleyard, B. (2011) SUNDAY TIMES: “Google Street View as Art” (2011) -. At: http://www.dougrickard.com/articles/sunday-times-google-street-view-as-art-2011/ (Accessed on 20 March 2018)
Bate, D. (2015) Art Photography. London, UK: Tate Gallery Of London (UK).
Dyer, G. (2012) How Google Street View is inspiring new photography. At: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2012/jul/14/google-street-view-new-photography (Accessed on 3 March 2018)
Foster, J. (2012) The beautiful photographs of Doug Rickard’s Google Street View project. At: https://designobserver.com/article.php?id=32028 (Accessed on 3 March 2018)
Moakley, P. (2012) Street View and Beyond: Google’s Influence on Photography. At: http://time.com/55683/street-view-and-beyond-googles-influence-on-photography/ (Accessed on 3 March 2018)
Saar, M. and Palang, H. (2009) The Dimensions of Place Meanings. At: http://lrlr.landscapeonline.de/Articles/lrlr-2009-3/ (Accessed on 19 March 2018)
Sloan, K. et al. (2017) Places of the mind: British landscape and watercolours 1850-1950. Farnborough: Thames & Hudson Ltd.
Staley, W. (2013) Poaching Memories from Google’s Wandering Eye. At: https://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/poaching-memories-from-googles-wanderingeye/?_r=0 (Accessed on 3 March 2018)
Wells, L. (2011) Land Matters: Landscape Photography, Culture and Identity (International Library of Cultural Studies) 1st Edition, Kindle Edition, available at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Land-MattersLandscape-Photography-Internationalebook/dp/B007VPMNCA/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= (Accessed 18/03/2018)