at Moonee Ponds Creek

I made a quick multipurpose road trip to Melbourne via a short detour through the Wimmera Mallee in mid-March (13-19th).  

 I wanted  to reconnect with the Mallee Routes project;   to spend time with my sister at Safety Beach; continue photographing  around Nth Melbourne;  check out the world of photobooks at both the Melbourne Art Book Fair and the 2018 ANZ Photobook Awards;  and have a look at some possible gallery spaces  at Abbotsford Convent to continue to exhibit the  ongoing collaborative Melbourne drosscape work with Stuart Murdoch. 

 For the drosscape work I  had caught the Metro train to the Nth Melbourne railway station from Frankston. I  then walked around Nth Melbourne with the 5x4 gear in a supermaket trolley for 5-6 hours--the gear is too heavy to carry.  I initially walked along Laurens St, down Arden Street,  then made my way along the Moonnee Ponds Creek  Trail, which is part of the Capital City Trail.  

This is one of the  images that I  had seen on an earlier trip,  and it was one that I had planned to re-photograph with the 5x4 Linhof Technika IV: 

However, the promised cloud cover had  gone,  and the light  in the mid afternoon was too sunny and contrasty for film.  I  continued walking along the Moonnee Ponds Creek  Trail, crossed over a very busy Footscray Rd,  and spent some time  exploring  under and around  City Link in an area  adjacent to Enterprise Road. 

revisiting Nth Melbourne

Whilst we--Suzanne, myself and our  two standard poodles (Kayla and Maleko) --- were  in Melbourne in late November for family reasons I was able  to do a little bit of  photographic scoping around the North Melbourne  drosscapes  before the  cloud cover evaporated.  This scoping was  to find  sites for a future large  format  photo session in the autumn of 2019 so as  to  continue  the topographic photography of old  industrial  Melbourne that  I am working  in association with Stuart Murdoch. 

As it was early summer,  what was substantial early morning cloud cover on the Morning Peninsula, quickly disappeared over the city in the early afternoon.  That meant the end of any photography scoping for the day.    I was wanting to see this Industrial Melbourne Festival so Stuart and I decided to check out The Substation in Newport and the  Trocadero Art Space  in Footscray,   but, unfortunately, we were too late. The Industrial  Festival had been and gone. So we looked at these art spaces as possibilities  for future exhibitions for our industrial Melbourne work in 2019/2020  as we wanted to build on our 2018 exhibition in Adelaide  at Atkins Photo Lab  by exhibiting in  Melbourne.  

boring images

The vast majority of photographic images on Flickr, the photo sharing site,  tend to be predictable, conservative and repetitive in both form and content. As a consequence they do not fit easily in the standard art historical narrative that is still focused, however anxiously and insecurely, on modernism's Romantic ideas of originality, innovation and individualism.

So they are routinely excluded by the art institution as the detritus  or junk of mass culture--- the antithesis of romantic originality and creativity that is so prized by art history. The Romantic idea is one of  the artist as an independent creator rather than a skilled craftsperson; one who creates an art work that is original and exclusive, which the modernist art institution exhibited in a white cube gallery, which is then experienced in terms  of  a specific aesthetic judgment along Kantian lines.     

Boring images are not just amateur snapshots---or tourist snaps--- many  documentary pictures are boring, especially when they are a part of a series.  Even when they do  more than illustrate, documentary photographs are seen to be visual cliches, that is they are trite, hackneyed and formulaic.  They deny individuality. 

It is true that photographs typically remain secondary as we continue to enact a hierarchy that places words above pictures and locates the written word at the centre of our critical thinking about our visual culture. 

Could we not think with photos when they are a  picturing of place? Think with photos in terms of what goes around the photograph as well as what takes place within it, even when they are commonplaces.  After all our  visual commonplaces or pictorial conventions are often containers of memory and embody history.

Though I have lived in many cities in both New Zealand and Australia Adelaide is my home and it has been so for severl decades. It is a place I know even though I have not known  it from childhood  like Christchurch in New Zealand. I knew Christchurch  in a bodily way, where my tacit  knowledge and understanding was built up slowly from an accretion of bodily memories over time. 

 I  know Adelaide differently  to  Melbourne.  I know Melbourne from working on the trams for several years --my body has a sense of the urban  rhythms of the  inner city. Adelaide is different. It's more a sense of fragmented memories of different sounds, the way the light shaped a building during the different seasons, the intensity of the summer heat, walking the dogs and so on.