Landscape Google Hangout – 21 June, 2018

We had another good session on Thursday. About ten of us joined the session: Anne, Doug who was chairing but signed off early due to internet issues, Faith, Jack, Matthew, Neil, Susan, Kathleen, Stephen and myself.

As there where quite a few “newbies” to the Landscape hangout, we first introduced ourselves, stating where we were at in the course. After that we lapsed into some discussion around assignment six. Those of us who had made some progress on assignment six discussed our approaches and shared some of our experiences. Some discussion on ideas for assignment four – the critical essay also ensued.

I had put up some work in progress for assignment three and the feedback that I received was on the whole quite positive. I am planning on focusing on the gradual transition from wilderness (space) to clear demarcations of man’s intervention and turning the claim area into place. As I have recently moved from a city to a rural community, I have been exploring my new surroundings and this will also feed into my interpretation of my work. The group felt that the following images worked better: 611, 626, 603, 551, and 585. I think I will need to explain the topographical aspects of the geography of where I now live in my artist’s statement as pointed out in the Canadian hangout last week, the understanding of wilderness in the UK is very different to that in Canada. Where our forests are natural, and what we call “back-country” could be interpreted as cultivated forests by someone not familiar with the territory. I was glad that the gradual intrusion of man into the landscape was picked up on. So I’m confident I’m moving in the right direction. I shall run my idea by my tutor after a few more shooting sessions.

Stephen who joined late due to internet problems, also told the group about his plans for assignment six which is a recreation of a particular place through collage. He mentioned the work of Valda Bailey and Andres Serrano as some of his influences.

Consensus was that we would put forward the date of July 26, 2018 to Doug who is chairing our meetings.

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June 2018 Shoot for Plan A

I’m nearing the completion of shooting for this assignment – only two more months to go. One the one hand I’ll be quite relieved not to have to come to this location (mainly because of the distance I now have to travel to get to it — its a 4.5 hour trip for me) and on the other hand it will be quite bitter-sweet to relinquish the location. Over the months shooting I have almost come to feel rather proprietary about this location which is probably due to the amount of time I have vested here. Next April I will definitely make sure that I take part in the Finn Slough Art Exhibition. I had planned on doing it this year, but it was during the time when we were busy packing up the house for a move.

Nature has continued to claim the slough this past month. The river bed is completely grassed over to the extent that one could easily be forgiven for not thinking there was a river between the houses. I see the owner of the gill net house has trimmed the entrance so that the deck and pathway are once again visible. The little doll has been totally covered over by the foliage. I spent quite a bit of time checking to see that she was still there. I wonder what condition she will be in by the time winter rolls around again? The shell decoration is also covered with verdant growth. The residents have been quite busy bringing about repairs. One of them is replacing the pilings to his house. I don’t envy him getting down into that mud to do that job.  The transitions have not been confined to tides, nature and weather. Sadly since my last visit it seems that there has been a passing away of one of the residents. A memorial was set up on the bench across the bridge. I don’t know who the gentleman is but I have a feeling that he is from one of the original Finnish families that settled here.

Finn Slough – 9 June, 2018 – 50 minutes after low tide (1.8 metres and 5 hours 10 minutes before high tide (3.2 metres)

June 2018 Tide Table for Steveston Harbour

Jem Southam

Hazel Bingham posted a link to the Photography and Landscape exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery on the OCA Landscape Facebook group today. I really wish I could hop over the pond and take a gander at this exhibition (but that’s wishful thinking). So I’m doing the next best thing and looking up the photographers online.

The first photographer that caught my attention is Jem Southam. His section of this exhibition is entitled Rockfalls, River Mouths, Ponds. I managed to track down some of these images on the Robert Mann Gallery. It seems that Southam and I share some common interests. He is interested in tracing the cycles of decay and renewal as can be seen in his Painter’s Pool series and this jives with what I have been doing in my Finn Slough series for Assignment 6. I have always been drawn to old things and buildings – most probably more so because of the history I am imaging that occurred around these objects and buildings. Southam’s images of ponds and river mouths have a rather minimalist feel to them due to the gray/white sky which creates an ethereal atmosphere with the muted tones of the water and surrounding ground.

In Ditchling Beacon, 1999 below there is also a feeling of security even though the space stretches out as far as the eye can see. Looking carefully though one can see boundary fences delineating a designated place for certain activities to take place – grazing for cattle, fallow fields and the circular pond. The perfect circular pond bears incontestable evidence of man’s intervention on the landscape. The shape of the pond contrasts vividly with the landscape surrounding it. “Space is transformed into place as it acquires definition and meaning” [Tuan, 1977: 136].

Ditchling Beacon, 1999
from the series Dew Ponds by Jem Southam

It is also a place to pause in movement [Tuan, 1977: 138]. This pause allows a location to become central and have a felt value. Permanence is inherent in the idea of a place and we see this in the dew pond. Dew ponds were documented as far back as the ninth century and many were built in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They were excavated then lined with chalk and clay to hold the water. The ponds were used a watering holes for cattle and sheep.

As Southam photographs his series over many years, his initial perceptions about a particular series changes over the course of time. According to Southam the viewer has seeds of imagery planted in his subconscious as a result of culture, history and surroundings, but time needs to be taken to look at the image properly, not consume it, in order to tease out all the embedded images we have in our memories. By photographing locations and in conditions that most people would not go to or go out in, he is able to capture muted tones and make deeply meditative images.

Rye Harbour, River Rother, 1 April, 1999
from the series Rivermouths by Jem Southam

In the Rye Harbour, River Rother image above, Southam has focused his attention on the liminal space between the beach and river mouth where the Rother river flows into the English Channel. A liminal space is a place of transition, a threshold as it were, a feeling of what was and what is to come. In the image this place is punctuated by wooden pilings that lead off and disappear beneath the water, causing the viewer to pause once again. This image too conveys a large area of space, but human intervention is evident in the old pilings and other poles with red caps (probably shipping beacons) out in the river mouth.

I came across this video where Jem Southam speaks briefly about his work, aesthetics and methodology, important points have been mentioned in my summary above.

References

onLandscape Conference: Green Room: Jem Southam (2014). [Youtube online]. Pres. StreamScape. At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IghiWY0WmTU. (Accessed 18 June, 2018)

Tuan, Yi-Fu (1977). Space and Place | The Perspective of Experience. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press

Images

Figure 1. Southam, J. Ditchling Beacon, 1999 from the series Dew Ponds [online] Robert Mann Gallery. Available at: http://www.robertmann.com/jem-southam/ (Accessed 18 June, 2018)

Figure 2. Southam, J. Rye Harbour, River Rother, 1 April, 1999
from the series Rivermouths [online] Robert Mann Gallery. Available at: http://www.robertmann.com/jem-southam/ (Accessed 18 June, 2018)

Live Forum Google Hangout – 17 June, 2018

Another interesting session on the live forum today. There were twelve in attendance: Morris, Julia, Alan, Andrew, Fitz, Carolina (Karen), Jayne, Karen, Kate, Nuala, Alan from Canada, myself and of course tutor Clive White. Andrew Fitzgibbon should have chaired this session, but he had problems connecting and other people were automatically muted when they logged on. Alan took over the chairing function in Fitz’s absence. There may be some restrictions as to how many can attend a session. Andrew F is going to check into this.

Clive gave a quick run down to the new comers as to how the live forum works reminding them that basically anything that can be brought to the online forum can be brought to the live forum – work in progress, queries, complainants etc.

Nuala had some queries about video equipment as her tutor had suggested that she purchase a few accessories in order to help her improve the quality of her video if she wanted to go forward with this sort of presentation. Morris gave some feedback on how he tackled this problem when he first did a video and that was to track down a video student who advised him just to get a separate audio recorder, but to get to grips with the video settings on his camera. Clive stressed that the most important criteria was to keep the camera steady and to use an external mike so that the audio track could be sync’d – it would also be a better quality. He also advised Nuala to think of the rhythm of her presentation and to aim for smoother transitions in order to allow the viewer to take in what they were looking at.

Morris wanted to know how does one know when to stop shooting for an assignment. Various comments were made around this, but basically the work is always in progress and should probably be presented as such. Clive also stressed the need to stand back from the work, allow time to pass and then go back and reflect again. Time elapsed can often give a different perspective.

Carolina (Karen) is on the fine arts stream and is doing work around save the rhino projects. She was interested in rendering some of her work with the rhinos as daguerrotype images and was looking for input on this. Flickr was suggested to her as a possible source to spark ideas. I mentioned that she also look at Greg du Toit’s wildlife photography. Kate mentioned Michael Marten’s work on tides.

Alan had presented some WIP for C&N – a combination of abstracts and other images containing blue dots. Clive stated that the images were working well but that Alan should cut down on the text as this was too explanatory and not allowing the viewer to have his/her own interpretation.

I find these connections with other students invaluable. It is so nice after three years of seeing an icon of someone on Facebook or on the fora to actually talk face to face (virtually) with those people. It definitely helps to cut the distance somewhat and bridges the isolation of distance studying.

The Poetics of Space – Kamloops Art Gallery

Talk about serendipity! I just happened to come across a notice of this exhibition in Kamloops on The Poetics of Space. The exhibition is largely based on and inspired by the book of the same name by Gaston Bachelard. The timing of this exhibition could not have been more perfect as I am currently working towards Assignment 3 – Spaces to Places.

I had downloaded the book off the internet and last night had a brief read of part of the first chapter – extremely interesting and quite deep. Bachelard purports that the house where one was born holds special memories in the subconscious and these transfer and are built on further in every house one lives. It “houses images of protected intimacy” [Bachelard: 1964 p. 3]. It is a place where we relive “memories of protection” [Bachelard: 1964 p. 6] .

The exhibition consisted of various works from collections from the Vancouver Art Gallery as well as various loans and was a depiction of the various ways in which artists contemplate spaces, ranging from the optical perceptions, to the emotional impact and to the geographical or topographical limits. The first room was dedicated to abstraction, cubism and post-impressionist art and the various fractured forms and reinterpretations of perspective. I found this section a little more difficult to understand.

The second element of the exhibition (Psychic Weight of the Domestic) introduced elements of memory and intimacy, featuring aspects of the home and their accompanying mysteries and histories. This section was of particular interest to me as it spoke more to Bachelard’s book than the previous section. Myfanwy Macleod’s image of a room with faded, dated wallpaper, with a hole into the ceiling/attic is suggestive of a dark, haunting narrative and could have been made especially as an illustration of Bachelard’s first chapter. Scott McFarland photographed the same cabin from different view points using long exposure to evoke the sense of a place lost in time (pity I picked up too much reflection in these two images as the dark sections of the images do accentuate the passage of time). The multiple perspectives of the cabin convey a sense of function of the building and of the people who use it. Kyohei Sakaguchi’s, A Japanese Restaurant!? draws attention to its owner’s vision and methods of customization. It conveys the resourcefulness of human nature, rather than the dependence on consumerism.

The final section of the exhibition featured artists mapping space through their own actions or acknowledging the socio-cultural histories. Yi-Fu Tuan (1977: 12) states “Space is experienced directly as having room in which to move”  “and can be variously experienced as the relative location of objects or places … and—more abstractly—as the area defined by a network of places”, whereas “place is security” [p.3] and “is a special kind of object. It is a concretion of value, though not a valued thing that can be handled or carried about easily; it is an object in which one can dwell” [p. 12]. Monica McGarry takes aerial photographs of downtown Kamloops and juxtaposes the images with a colour-coded version of the image depicting the places (where human activities take place, e.g. parks, buildings, gardens, outdoor plazas) and the non-places (areas designated for transportation – roads, parking lots, highways and greenspace. She classifies greenspace as the grassy verges between a road and a parking lot – not a place where someone would have a picnic). This two-tone rendition of places/non-places helps to indicate the how the development of a city can influence its citizens’ use of it.

The gallery was arranged in three central square rooms a vertical room on either side leading off these rooms. It wasn’t totally clear what the order of the rooms should have been viewed in and I found myself drifting from the Psychic Weight of the Domestic section to the mapping of space section and back again which broke my train of thought slightly. There was a lot to take in even though it was a relatively small exhibition, but it wasn’t too busy and I did get the chance to read the wall texts properly without feeling rushed. A few of the artists’ works feel as though they could be informing the initial work I’ve done so far on assignment three, namely Arabella Campbell and Scott McFarland’s work. This exhibition came at a most fortuitous time for me.

Reference List

Bachelard, Gaston (1964). The Poetics of Space | The Classic Look at How We Experience Intimate Places. Boston: Beacon Press

Tuan, Yi-Fu (1977). Space and Place | The Perspective of Experience. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press

Project Photography, memory and place

Peter Kanehttp://www.source.ie/learning/approaches/is43kanpet01.xml – vintage photo held in left bottom corner of frame of rephotographed site. Photographer’s hand is visible and creates the connection across time. Focus is on the vintage image while the rephotographed site is blurred. This renders the ‘present’ of little consequence and focuses all attention on the past, removing the sense of place.

Shimon AttieWriting on the Wallpre WWII photos light-projected onto buildings in the Jewish quarter (Scheunenviertel) in Berlin at the actual or approximate addresses. This series is so creative. It marries past and present in a very poignant way, testing one’s memory or post-memory. The projections are superimposed onto the walls, doorways or windows of the buildings in such a way that they look as if they belong there. One is literally looking at the intersection of history – the ghosts from the past with the vacuous present.

Jeff Wall – I have done a few write ups on Wall’s work in previous modules so won’t add anything extra here:

Luc Delahaye – Prix Pictet prize (power) – uses large format camera in similar fashion to Wall, but keeps a distance between himself and his subjects. The photos have the look of tableaux as they show a fair amount of detail. His A Lunch at the Belvedere of the World Economic Forum immediately reminded me of the painting of the Last Supper by da Vinci. The symmetry of the image with the two chandeliers suspended from the ceiling on the edges of the frame and the lighting of the scene with one half of the room in shadow and the other backlit by the window, the men at the table sitting with their heads together in tiny groupings, echo the arrangement of the Last Supper. This connection to the Last Supper, seems to convey the seriousness of the occasion.

Bibliography

Kane, Peter (2005) Significant Space [online] Available at: http://www.source.ie/learning/approaches/is43kanpet01.xml (Accessed 12 June, 2018)

Attie, Shimon ( n.d.) Writing on the Wall [online] Available at: http://shimonattie.net/portfolio/the-writing-on-the-wall/ (Accessed 12 June, 2018)

Kuit, Lynda (2016) Jeff Wall [online] Available at: https://lyndakuitphotographycn.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/jeff-wall/ (Accessed 12 June, 2018)

Kuit, Lynda (2016) Research Point: Jeff Wall, Insomnia (1994) [online]. Available at: https://lyndakuitphotographycn.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/research-point-jeff-wall-insomnia-1994/ (Accessed 12 June, 2018)

Kuit, Lynda (2016) Art in the Twenty-first Century : Vancouver [online]. Available at: https://lyndakuitphotographyiap.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/art-in-the-twenty-first-century-vancouver/ (Accessed 12 June, 2018)

Kuit, Lynda (2017) Jeff Wall: In order to make a picture [online]. Available at: https://lyndakuitphotographyiap.wordpress.com/2017/05/20/jeff-wall-in-order-to-make-a-picture/ (Accessed 12 June, 2018)

Prix Pictet (2018). Luc Delahaye [online] Available at: https://www.prixpictet.com/portfolios/power-shortlist/luc-delahaye/luc-delahaye-007/ (Accessed 13 June, 2018)

Exercise 3.5 Local history

I have recently moved to Blind Bay, an unincorporated community or “place” which does not have much history attached to it. So I have researched the limited history available for the closest city to Blind Bay which is Salmon Arm, about 28 km away. Salmon Arm’s history is also quite light in content as opposed to towns in the United Kingdom.

Salmon Arm is located on the southwestern arm of Shuswap Lake. The first inhabitants were the Secwepemc. “Shuswap” is an Anglicization of this Aboriginal word. The Secwepemc are the northernmost Interior Salish First Nations group of the Plateau culture area.  Their territory used to be large, extending from the Rocky Mountains in the east to the Fraser River in the west, and ranging from Williams Lake in the north to Armstrong in the south. Today the Secwepemc nation live on reserves in this area with their villages located near the lakes in their territory and in the valleys of the North and South Thompson rivers and their tributaries, as well as along the Fraser River.

The Big Bend Gold Rush in the mid 1860’s saw an influx of prospectors in the region. In 1871 the Canadian Pacific Railway performed a survey for a rail route through this area. Today this route is Canada’s main economic artery connecting the Pacific coast to the Eastern seaboard of the country. On average one train, approximately 4- 5 km in length passes through the town every hour 24/7.

Canadian pacific Railway track laying crew near Salmon Arm; Onderdonk photo album number 2, p. 36; also in Onderdonk photo album number 1, p. 48b. [ca. 1885]. Photographer undetermined.
After the gold rush Salmon Arm’s lakefront potential was largely ignored and many years would pass before the use of water transport to move farming produce from the Spallumcheen region would be used. Steamships such as the Lady Dufferin were used between Fortune’s Landing (now known as Enderby) and Kamloops to serve these and other remote areas.

Steamer SS Lady Dufferin At Eagle Pass Landing, [ca. 1885]. Photographer unknown.
Settlement came to Salmon Arm in the 1880’s in the form of dairy farming, mixed and fruit farming, logging and lumber. This region is extremely well known for its apples.

Salmon Arm officially began in 1890 when the residents petitioned for a post office. The population at this time was 28. The early settlers preferred the valley to the mountain slopes are the ground provided perfect conditions for growing fruit and didn’t require any irrigation. Later the orchards were moved to the mountain slopes and the valley floor gave way to dairy and mixed farming.

Initially the settlers only had squatter’s rights on the land they selected. Colonization was responsible for moving the First Nations people into reservations and once the reservations had been allocated and laid out in 1885, the settlers could lay claim to their chosen parcels of land.

Some of the first structures built in Salmon Arm was a road from the valley to the station, a bridge over the Salmon River. In 1890 the first school was built on Hedgman’s Corner and the following year the McGuire’s general store was opened by Thomas Shaw (the lake in front of the Shuswap Regional Hospital now bears the name of McGuire Lake). The year 1894 was great destruction in Salmon Arm. During the spring the Shuswap Lake flooded half the valley floor and few months later a smouldering slash pile at the base of Mt. Ida caused a massive fire that swept through the valley destroying buildings, crops and livestock.

Salmon Arm and part of Mt. Ida. Rex Lingford, photographer, circa 1909.

The District Municipality of Salmon was incorporated in 1905. All members of the council were chosen by acclamation. Top of the list of priorities for the new council was the creation of more roads and a policy for the control of noxious weeds (signs which abound through the area to this day). Incorporation hastened services like electricity and a decent water system. In 1912 the city of Salmon Arm separated from the district municipality due to the boom in settlement (a city should have upwards of 5,000 inhabitants). The start of WWI halted any economic progress in Salmon Arm and the city just marked time until the second half of the century – no new influx of people and no new economic growth took place.

In 1913 the first electric plant was installed and residents of Salmon Arm had free use of one electric bulb on their verandah for eight years. In 1945 the government approved a scheme allowing water to be pumped from the Shuswap Lake for residents’ use and irrigation purposes for the farms. The residents of Salmon Arm were enjoying a reliable source of water within three years although the orchards did not receive any irrigation. In 1949-50 there was a big freeze and huge fruit losses were incurred. Today only Hana Peterson and the Ruth brothers maintain significant orchards in this area.

In the 1950’s tourism began to take off and the school district became a major source of employment. In 1958 the city reverted to a village (a village has less than 2,500 inhabitants) in order for more favourable treatment under the Municipal Act and subsequently reunited with the district in 1970. Today tourism is a major industry in this area, bed and breakfast/AirBnB’s abound. The city is situated close to ski slopes, lakes and rivers so there is a significant influx of summer holiday makers around the water pursuing activities such as fishing, hunting, mountain biking, hiking, swimming, skiing and boating.

A few ways that this research could be fleshed out into an assignment would a) rephotograph historic sites as they are today; b) expand the research into the CP Railway Route – see if there are any old stations still standing (we build with wood in Canada so buildings don’t really have much of a lifespan beyond 80 years); c) research orchard locations and photograph what is there now – changes (if any); d) photograph current water transport – mainly for pleasure – different kind of economic usage.

Salmon Arm valley flood Spring 2018. Lynda Kuit (c)
Bibliography

BC Archives (n.d.) Item I-30815 – Steamer SS Lady Dufferin At Eagle Pass Landing [online] BC Archives. Available at: http://search-bcarchives.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/steamer-ss-lady-dufferin-at-eagle-pass-landing (Accessed 12 June, 2018)

BC Archives (n.d.) Item I-30811 – Canadian pacific Railway track laying crew near Salmon Arm; Onderdonk photo album number 2, p. 36; also in Onderdonk photo album number 1, p. 48b. [online] Available at: http://search-bcarchives.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/canadian-pacific-railway-track-laying-crew-near-salmon-arm-onderdonk-photo-album-number-2-p-36-also-in-onderdonk-photo-album-number-1-p-48b (Accessed 12 June, 2018)

Marshall, Denis (n.d.) A Short History [online] Available at: http://www.salmonarmmuseum.org/ashorthistorybydenismarshall.htm (Accessed 12 June, 2018)

Salmon Arm … a Short History [online]. Available at: http://www.salmonarm.ca/DocumentCenter/View/242 (Accessed 12 June, 2018)

Salmon Arm [online] The Canadian Encyclopedia. Available at: https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/salmon-arm/ (Accessed 12 June, 2018)