Shimmering fog

On Tuesday last week I  drove  to Magpie Springs to start hanging Weltraum for the  2016 Shimmer Photographic Biennale , which opened on Friday 2nd September.  I encountered fog on the top of Willunga Hill and  Magpie Springs: 

The  last gasp of winter I wondered?  We finished the hanging on Friday morning. Weltraum opens on Sunday, 11th September, at 3pm---a delayed launch due to the various exhibition launches at the other  venues on the Saturday and Sunday of the first weekend.

A Small World exhibition

Avril Thomas is hosting  A Small World--A postcard exhibition  at  the Magpie Springs  gallery. It is the exhibition  after  the Weltraum  exhibition  in the 2016 Shimmer Photographic Biennale finishes.  The postcards consist of works on paper, they  are 6x4 inches and its international  in scope. 

The 100 or so works will be auctioned through an online auction site  with the proceeds going to help raise money for a cancer charity.

This is one of the pictures  that I am thinking of  entering into the exhibition:

The picture of clouds on the cliffs near  Kings Beach on the Fleurieu Peninsula,  is made with a rangefinder  35mm Leica  film camera,  so the aspect ratio of the negative is 3:2, which  if  uncropped,   will enlarge to print 4x6 inches. 

re-photographing

The wet,  cold  stormy weather has passed. It is still cold in the morning (I wore gloves on the 7am poodle walk  this morning),   but the wind has dropped, the sun has returned and the sky is blue.  I've picked up my cameras again,  and I've started thinking about photography.  -

I picked up the Sinar F2 5x4 yesterday, got  my pack out, and loaded the battery into the light meter  only to put it down again as I didn't have anything in mind to photograph.    However, I used the digital on yesterday's  evening  poodle walk.  The picture below  is a scoping  study that I made on this morning's poodle walk  along  Baum Rd in Waitpinga using my Sony  (APS-C)  digital camera:

I have photographed this tree before--probably a couple of  years  ago.  It was 5x4 film and I  choose an overcast day with light rain to obtain the dull, gloomy look. I  wasn't all that  happy with what I did in colour.

sea fog

The last few days on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula coast have been, warm,  humid and very still with dense sea fog moving across the  coastal landscape in the early morning and evening. 

These are unusual conditions,  and I tried to explore them photographically, but without much success. The seascapes that I did were dull and flat,  whilst the various photos of trees and vegetation in the fog were cliched rather than poetic. 

rockpool photoshoot

A digital version (using the Sony NEX-7)  from  the  photoshoot with  the Rolleiflex SL66 (both colour and black and white) this morning. I had come across the rockpool  yesterday when I was  on a poodlewalk with Ari and Kayla. I needed cloud cover and a low tide to be able to do  it.

I had to wait for the low tide so that I could access the site. I  needed the cloud cover to soften the early morning sun whilst I waited for the tide to go out. Even then,  I was photographing with the sea swirling  around my shoes and tripod  legs.  

Mosquito Hill fire

There was a fire yesterday  on the Fleurieu Peninsula at Mosquito Hill  near the Scott Conservation Park, which is north east of the river town of Goolwa on the River Murray.  The fire burnt around 130 hectares of scrub and farmland around Mosquito Hill during  a day of high temperatures and strong winds. Sheds and a greenhouse were destroyed, but no houses and, thankfully,  no people died. The roadside ignition point was  a site on the Goolwa Rd. 

I went and scoped the  fire area this morning. It took me an hour or so of driving around after going to  Mt Compass to find the burnt area, which is mostly farmland.  I didn't really know the bush fire area that well--it was bounded by Goolwa Road, Kokoda Road, Deep Creek Road, Trig Point Road, Olsen Road and Cleland Gully Road--- 

I wanted to see whether the area  was accessible  and what the various objects  (trees and farmland) looked like. Would it be suitable for dark landscapes?  

aboriginal presence at Encounter Bay

I've started  to research what happened to the Ramindjeri people, the traditional owners of the land,  after the conquest of their lands and British settlement of  the Fleurieu Peninsula. The settler history is a narrative of  from pioneer port to seaside resort' and this narrative is premised on the the ‘great Australian silence’ in regard to Indigenous people and their history. 

The research is  for the second historical  part of Fleurieuscapes project.  The art historical context of the project is that Australian arts practice abandoned the landscape in the 1960’s at the end of Modernism, the last major figures being Williams, Nolan and Olsen as arts practice entered post modernity and deconstruction. Whilst there are notable exceptions (Storrier, Robinson etc.), landscape representation was left to Aboriginal peoples as Aboriginal painting emerged from the deserts of Central Australia. 

The second  part of the Fleuriescapes project looks at the  significant  historical sites of the Fleurieu Peninsula from the vantage point  of the traditional owners (both the Ramindjeri and the Ngarrindjeri) in  a post-colonial Australia. This history is one where many of the traditional people living on the Fleurieu Peninsula and along the Corrong  were massacred. Those who survived had the power to govern their lives removed, as well as their connections to the land and the space, and as well as their language to articulate their view of what had happened to them. 

The picture below is of the site of an old sealing/whaling station at Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor  that preceded British settlement. The contact  is circa 1830's,  and one of the prime reason  for the Europeans to make contact with aboriginal people was to seek women. Eventually,  some of the Ramindjeri men and women  worked as harpooners and whale spotters. 

 There was another  sealing/whaling station at  Granite Island in Victor Harbor  Many of the Ramindjeri people succumbed to the small pox epidemic which swept the area in the 1830s and then to general disease.  In 1872 the whaling industry, which had started on Kangaroo Island around 1806,  and which produced whale oil  and bones for export,  closed down due to a lack of Southern Right whales.

Fleurieuscapes exhibition

My forthcoming exhibition  at Magpie Springs  in January 2016. It is the first step in the Fleurieuscape project and is a sampler,  as there are many more images in the project. Some of the images in the exhibition can  be seen on my website.

The project is premised on  photographs having an almost innate seriality: their sense is more easily accessed in the company of others; not just other photographs in a  show, but also  by other photographs by the same photographer.   In our contemporary digital world, with its networked technologies,   seriality is reworked as re-blog with the  image being re-configured and modified as they proliferate across the web.  

The Fleurieuscapes exhibition starts to  explore the regional land/urbanscape of the Fleurieu Peninsula in the contemporary world of a borderless global capitalism,  with its society of the spectacle. The regional is where we live amidst the commodity structure of a capitalism that transforms things into ghostlike appearances of themselves.

The project is a representation of the sensuous particulars of the Fleurieu Peninsula as a place to be in, rather than as a tourist destination or a wilderness. It is a landscape that has been largely shaped by human beings who cleared the land for sheep and dairy farming. The aboriginal presence prior to the white settlement has been more or less obliterated. Their presence is marked by absence and memory.  

an outtake

I made a number of 5x4 negatives for the 2015 Magpie Springs Photography competition.  This is one image that failed to make the cut,  and as it didn't work in colour,   I converted this underexposed negative  to a black and white image using Silver Efex Pro 2 software.  

Though it looks better in black and white,  and I've overcoming the over sharpening problem caused by the Epson software,  I still have the  other  problem of  blown highlights  caused by scanning the negative. However,  looking at this image of straight photograhy makes me uneasy and this unease  is over and above these technical flaws. 

I cant help but feel that straight photography, exemplified by this image,  appears as a rather archaic discipline—even in its digital form, let alone the chemical one. There is still the attitude in the art institution that  contemporary visual artist's   love  for the photographic medium is because it is so “simple,” so “non-artsy,” so “direct.” Photography, in this sense,  has always been an important counterpart to modern art, The corollary of this is that straight  photography has gradually acquired a strange status of something not completely artistic and yet highly artistic.