I’ve had a long day full of phonecalls. Almost back-to-back all day long with no more than half-an-hour between each. As a result I feel like I’ve achieved little (even though the calls all served a purpose). To make it worse I’ve had a low-grade headache since I got up and, for a worrying moment, almost felt I was going to drop off to sleep during one of the calls!
But the working day has concluded now and it’s time to think of something to post on my blog which, today, is a small set of photographs of homes on a steep hill in Knaresborough.
Though gentle at first The street soon increased incline Taking us downwards
In 1975 an exhibition named New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape was held in the International Museum of Photography in New York City. It featured works by a number of photographers – the Americans Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke, Nicholas Nixon, John Schott, Stephen Shore, and Henry Wessel, Jr., and the German couple Bernd and Hilla Becher. Each photographer exhibited 10 photographs.
New Topographics presented a different way of photographing landscapes, eschewing the traditional natural environments and instead presenting images of scenes with a clear human footprint, such as industry, suburbia, gas stations, parking lots and the like.
While I only came across the term in recent years, and at no point set out to be a “new topographer”, it’s clear that many of my photographs fall into the style. I’ve no doubt found influence in the works of photographers who were in turn influenced by the works of the artists presented in the original exhibition, although of the ten, I only have photobooks by Stephen Shore (though there are undoubtedly works by the others collected in other books in my collection).
It’s a style that doesn’t appeal to all. For many, the subjects of such photographs are ruinous blots on the landscape, detracting and imposing on the traditional bucolic scenes more often considered as landscape photography. But I have a place in my heart for both.
Grass fields and blue lakes Overlooked by new homes It was once a mine
Low winter sunshine is a wonderful thing. It makes scenes you might otherwise walk on past simply glow. This is a relatively ordinary terrace of houses, but the light is gorgeous. It illuminates things with a crisp, warm light and casts relief onto every surface. Lovely.
A second trio of shots taken while walking around local suburban areas. The first was taken on the same day as those in yesterday’s post, the others a couple of days later. I’m not sure that these scenes would work under different conditions (although I guess maybe in fog, or at night could be interesting), but the low winter sun (and the long, deep shadows it casts) that we get in these northern latitudes makes things nicely photogenic.
While posting yesterday’s images I had the Pet Shop Boy’s “Suburbia” running through my mind. Today it was “The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire.