Category Archives: 4 Psychogeographies

Project: Psychogeographies–continued

A Japanese connection

I read  the three documents listed in this section without having ever seen any of the work by these photographers. When I did see it I was disappointed. All three seem to have the style of “no style” reminiscent of letting adolescent’s loose with a camera and then a darkroom and telling them to photograph whatever they like without restriction. I got nothing from “French Kiss” just a sense of “why bother”. Sobol’s “I Tokyo” gave me a little more. I read his introduction to the work and I got the same feeling that he had about the city from his work. I felt that in order to understand his work I would have to visit Tokyo…. I looked at Moriyama’s website and got the same impression of his style. I also found this brief talk by Christopher Phillips about the layout of the book “Bye Bye Photography”

Maybe my critique and appreciation of contemporary photography still has a little way to go. At the moment, I can understand that Moriyama’s work reflects the hiatus of post war Japan but Sobol and Petersen gave me little or nothing.


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

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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.

Reading–Edgelands– Journeys into England’s true wilderness

I liked this book. It is by Paul Farley and Michael Symmons-Roberts who are both poets. There are two reasons why I borrowed this book from the library, I saw it mentioned on the OCA Forum in a discussion about psychogeographies and I noticed the topic was coming up in this second section of the Documentary course. I thought it would make a useful source of ideas, if not for this course, certainly for Landscape. I was pleased to find that the authors view the English landscape in a similar way to me. The book is rich with descriptive imagery. The almost other-worldly experience of being out of your car in a place where everyone else is in theirs, was familiar to me. As a student I spent many hours in the no-mans-land between trunks roads and motorways thumbing lifts around the Midlands and South Wales. Very evocative, very familiar. As a reminder I will list the chapter headings so that I can bring to mind the wider context of the book.

Cars, Paths, Dens, Containers, Landfill, Water, Sewage, Wire, Gardens, Lofts, Canals, Bridges, Masts, Wasteland, Ruins, Woodlands, Venues, Mines, Power, Pallets, Hotels, Retail, Business, Ranges (golf), Lights, Airports, Weather and finally, Piers.