Assignment 6: Transitions

This assignment was unusual compared to any other I have done as it required me to decide on a location right at the start of the course as I would need to show changes in the landscape over a period of time.

I chose to photograph Toll’s Meadow, a local nature reserve just outside the town centre. I go there frequently to walk the dog so I knew that I would be able to visit easily to take photographs.

As described in the introduction to my assignment, right from the start of the course I have been interested in points made by David Hockney about the limitations of photography, in particular about single point perspective and how people usually experience a landscape by moving through it rather than standing still to look at it.

As also described in the introduction, I was taken by a comment made by John Fowles to the effect that it is the individual items in a landscape that interested him. This resonated with me as, during my walks around Toll’s Meadow, I was always looking at the smaller items, leaves, fungi, lichen, etc that all contributed to the overall landscape.

I wondered how best to try to accommodate all these points in a photographic image. Initially I thought that a photomontage would be possible, this was one of the reasons I chose it as a topic for Assignment 4. I was pleased that I did as it helped me considerably with the assignment.

The original idea for having a mosaic of images came from seeing Stephen Shore’s American Surfaces 1972-3 at Tate Modern.

Shore’s work was a variety of different photos from a road trip across America.

What struck me was how the individual photos gained a greater meaning from the overall display. Each photo meant something, but studying them all as one exhibit added an extra meaning.

I originally thought of displaying photos from Toll’s Meadow in a similar way. I decided, however, that it would be more appropriate to have a single image composed of indeividual photographs. As I would be portraying Transition across the seasons I thought that it would be appropriate to have a total of 365 images.

I printed off contact sheets of all the images I had taken in Toll’s Meadow and cut out indiviual images and arranged them by themes, patterns, colours and concerns. As I was portraying seasons I was very strict in only using photos from the same season next to each other (except when it was transitioning from one season to another when, for example, a photo from autumn might adjoin one from winter). I didn’t arrange the photos chronologically, as I wanted to maintain themes, but they are all strictly arranged according to season.

It was a very long process, adjusting each individual image, resizing it, and then placing it into the main image. But I am pleased with the final result, I think that I have achieved something that at least addresses those initial comments about experiencing a landscape rather than observing it and it takes on board John Fowles’ views that landscape is made up of a many individual aspects.

In terms of presentation, I anticipate it being produced as a large scale Giclee print which is affixed to a cylindrical mount, so that the seasons do not start and end but present a continuous face with no obvious start/finish. This would also require the viewer to ‘walk around (or through) the landscape rather than adopt a single viewing position.