Part 4. Project 4. Research Point: New Topographics/Forbidden Land

In this exercise I am to look at the work of Robert Adams and Fay Godwin, note down my responses to them and discuss whether or not this research will influence my own choice of subject in future.

I first looked at the work of Mitch Epstien in American Power. The juxtaposition of elements representing lush countryside and the industrial applications that humans use to damage the planet are easy to see and understand.

Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond City, West Virginia 2004
Mitchepstein.net. (2019). American Power – Mitch Epstein. [online] Available at: http://mitchepstein.net/american-power#/id/i9844482 [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

The images which clearly show the pollution or steam billowing up from big chimneys into the sky whilst people are engaged in healthy activities around them, raises the question of what the human race is doing to itself as well as the planet.

I fully understand the point that Epstien is making and agree completely. This is not a topic I would choose to explore myself because its all just a little bit depressing. It is a subject that people know needs addressing but they won’t whilst money is still the key factor.

I then looked at the work of Fay Godwin.

Initially I looked at her work ‘Forbidden Land’. The focus here is very much on the idea that people are attempting to restrict access to large areas of natural countryside. There is a focus on the act of fencing off, or privatising the space as opposd to the space itself.

GODWIN_3
PHOTOWALK. (2019). FORBIDDEN LAND. [online] Available at: https://paulwalshphotographyblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/forbidden-land/ [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

In this image the sign with the word Private is made to look almost ridiculous by its size, dwarfed in comparison to the surrounding landscape.

GODWIN_2
PHOTOWALK. (2019). FORBIDDEN LAND. [online] Available at: https://paulwalshphotographyblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/forbidden-land/ [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

In this image there is a long list of forbidden actions, again displayed on a piece of wood which is dwarfed by the beauty of nature. Who are people to say that you cannot have access to the natural world? In this case walkers on footpaths are still permitted but I have seen plenty where they have had their access denied by landowners with physical obstacles.

I then looked at her later work imagining that it would be the same sort of thing. Instead I found that she seems to have focused on the drama of the English landscape, it’s beauty and complexity as opposed to its relationship with man made structures. There are several images that include man made elements but they seem to support the landscape rather than detract from it. In the image below, though the house is the only man made object within the frame, it does not steal the attention of the viewer. The focus is still on the sky and the wild grasses in the foreground. The house aids with depth in the image whilst not becoming the focus.

No Man's Land - Fay Godwin's last interview
Ltd, M. (2019). No Man’s Land – Fay Godwin’s last interview. [online] ePHOTOzine. Available at: https://www.ephotozine.com/article/no-man-s-land—fay-godwin-s-last-interview-67 [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].
Entrance to park in Bradford by Fay Godwin
British Library Prints. (2019). Entrance to park in Bradford. [online] Available at: https://prints.bl.uk/collections/fay-godwin-archive/products/entrance-to-park-in-bradford-c13527-96 [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

In this image the beauty of the natural landscape beyond is artificially fenced off from the viewer with the concrete bollards. They seem almost unreal in contrast with the stunning colors of the autumnal landscape beyond. The lone animal foraging through the leaves is a point of focus for the eye to travel to on its journey around the frame.

The bollard somehow makes the scene beyond almost unreachable by the viewer, as though we are trapped behind an invisible wall, unable to escape from the urban zone into the countryside beyond.

Tate. (2019). New topographics – Art Term | Tate. [online] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/n/new-topographics [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

Frieze.com. (2019). New Topographics. [online] Available at: https://frieze.com/article/new-topographics [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

Fraenkel Gallery. (2019). Robert Adams | Fraenkel Gallery. [online] Available at: https://fraenkelgallery.com/artists/robert-adams [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

Mitchepstein.net. (2019). American Power – Mitch Epstein. [online] Available at: http://mitchepstein.net/american-power-intro [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

Parkin, T. (2019). Fay Godwin. [online] On Landscape. Available at: https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2011/01/master-photographer-fay-godwin/ [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

Council, B. (2019). FAY GODWIN LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHS | Current | Exhibitions | British Council − Visual Arts. [online] Visualarts.britishcouncil.org. Available at: http://visualarts.britishcouncil.org/exhibitions/exhibition/fay-godwin-landscape-photographs-1984 [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

frost, a. (2019). Harthope Valley in The Cheviots – A nod to Fay Godwin. [online] alan frost photography. Available at: https://alanfrostphotography.com/2018/10/28/harthope-valley-in-the-cheviots-a-nod-to-fay-godwin/ [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

Ltd, M. (2019). No Man’s Land – Fay Godwin’s last interview. [online] ePHOTOzine. Available at: https://www.ephotozine.com/article/no-man-s-land—fay-godwin-s-last-interview-67 [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

PHOTOWALK. (2019). FORBIDDEN LAND. [online] Available at: https://paulwalshphotographyblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/forbidden-land/ [Accessed 24 Oct. 2019].

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