Project: Psychogeographies

6 November 2014

I read the introductory paragraph to this project and it seems to me to be an over elaborate term for simple everyday emotional and physical interaction with our environment. I have bought the Kindle Version of Psychogeography by Merlin Coverley. I’ve got 48 hours on  planes in the next month so I should get to grips with the concept in that time.

B&W and surrealism

I looked at Iturbides images but they did not fully engage my interest. There was nothing about them that craved my understanding. Perhaps it’s a cultural chasm or the context of the images needed more explanation. I’m not sure yet that I understand what surrealism means in relation to photography. I can’t get Dali and Breughel out of my head.

I tried to read Cannon Fodder but once again, the language and the heavy style of academic writing, the appalling sentence construction (I counted one sentence of 60 words) almost made me lose the will to live. I just couldn’t understand it. I read Badger (and watched the TV programme) on Atget in an attempt to engage with his work). The BBC’s “Genius of Photography” second episode, did a great deal to tie all of the photographers covered in this second section of the course together. The three Surrealists that I researched, Kertesz, Brassai and Man Ray, I found have these things in common:

  • Found effects and objects
  • Juxtaposition of form
  • Experimental use of perspective
  • Controlled composition
  • Experimental use of technique
  • Capture of individual expression

8 November 2014

Street Photographs

The link to the article “What is Street Photography?” no longer works. However I do have a copy of  Street Photography Now by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren (Thames and Hudson 2010) and I think the introduction covers the topic fairly well. This is a genre that I have enjoyed in the past. Many years ago I had the pleasure of hearing Bruce Gilden talk about his Coney Island project at the RPS in Bath. My interest hasn’t diminished over the years. I thought it worthwhile quoting the chapter a couple of times on topics that were relevant to my experience in completing the exercise in this section.

“Its harder and harder to take a picture without somebody in the picture who’s also taking a picture. We all take pictures now, that’s just what we do”  Gus Powell, Brooklyn based photographer.

“I don’t really want to disturb the flow of life around me. I much prefer waiting  and hoping for something to happen. It’s also much simpler. For me the whole point of photography is not to interfere with what’s happening, or might be about to happen. It could be more interesting than what I have in mind anyway. If nothing happens, that’s just too bad.”  Nils Jorgensen, speaking to Michael David Murphy

For the exercise I chose to sit in one place for an hour and see what unfolded. In addition to using my hand held camera, I also set my compact camera on the table in front of me, automatically taking a shot every minute. This is a continuation of an experiment I started in Rotterdam Railway Station earlier this year.

Guildhall Square


Guildhall Square Portsmouth – 7 November 2014

DSCF1929_edit DSCF2044_edit
DSCF2021_edit DSCF2009_edit

To view a larger image, click the thumbnail.

Vivian Maier

Despite warnings from Google about malware on the website I explored it and identified these 5 images which I consider to have surreal or at the very least eccentric elements. (surreal = having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic) eccentric = deviating from the recognised or customary character, practice etc., irregular; erratic; peculiar; odd;

Undated, New York, NY Undated, New York, NY
The Sphinx of Giza and the Pyramid of Khufu, 1959. Egypt January 1956
Undated, Chicago  

I think the centre 2 images conform to the definition of surreal in that the juxtaposition of elements in the composition both have dream like quality and the photographer has chosen the viewpoint to achieve that. The remaining three images are just eccentric but none the less interesting for it. The dead cat, and the copy of Time magazine in the gutter reflect the transient nature of existence. The smoking chair may also demonstrate the  impermanence of material objects and could also serve as a warning. All three of those images are at the ‘edge’, at the roadside, the place in cities where the detritus is washed up and awaits disposal.


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