Paul Shambroom

website

Shambroom is conducting a long-term investigation of power. This started with series on nuclear weapons, factories and corporate offices. He then focused on homeland security training and preparation. His images are influenced by painting traditions, including Dutch landscape painting.

Meetings Series

These photographs emphasize the theatrical aspects of meetings: There is a “cast”, a “set”, an “audience” (sometimes) and a “program” (the agenda). Seating arrangements, clothing and body language all provide clues to local cultural traits and political dynamics. The subjects play dual roles as private individuals and (sometimes reluctant) public leaders. Power may be relative, but the mayor of a town of 200 has much in common with the President of the United States. We see ourselves reflected (either positively or negatively) in our leaders, exemplifying both the highest ideals and lowest depths of the human spirit. Our reactions to them help define our perceptions of our own place in society, as insiders or outsiders, haves or have-nots

Homeland Security

This work examines issues of fear, safety and liberty in post-9/11 America. From 2003 – 2007 I am photographed facilities, equipment and personnel involved in the massive government and private sector efforts to prepare for and respond to terrorist attacks within the nation’s borders. First responders and law enforcement officers train in large-scale simulated environments such as “Disaster City” in Texas and “Terror Town”, an abandoned mining community in New Mexico purchased with funds from the Department of Homeland Security. Training scenarios, by necessity, involve simulated environments and threats. This blurring of fiction and truth mirrors the difficulty we have discerning between legitimate safety concerns and hyped-up fear.

Treasure: Landscapes of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Shambroom photographs the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) – emphasising the way that this is hidden – as ‘critical assets’ public attention is discouraged although access is not illegal. The Department of Energy agreed to let him photograph from outside the sites without hindrance and allowed me to visit inside one site, but only after lengthy negotiations.

How does one photograph something that can’t be seen? My approach was to work from a distance to incorporate the land and water over the storage caverns, and include lots of sky. I took inspiration from 17th century Dutch landscape paintings, whose fluffy clouds and bucolic countryside spoke of that nation’s prosperity. For a while back in the twentieth century the United States enjoyed similar prosperity, with a seemingly limitless supply of petroleum to power industry and automobiles. The oil supply was truly “out of sight, out of mind”.

Today it is very much on our minds. The hundreds of millions of barrels of oil beneath these idyllic landscapes offer a very thin veneer of protection to our economy and way of life. By government estimates, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve could replace foreign oil imports for 59 days. Then the tap would be empty.

Lost

“Lost” is a series of photographs derived from missing pet posters placed by owners in public places. These images have been degraded by environmental factors or printer malfunctions, resulting in serendipitous and unexpected color and texture. The additional partial loss (of the image) mirrors the ambiguous loss of a beloved family pet. The incorporation of short selections of text from the posters introduces unintentional humor and beauty in the form of found poetry. The words and images combine to transcend the particular family dramas represented in each image, and address more universal themes of loss and uncertainty.

Willie Doherty

Willie Doherty (born 1959) is an artist from Northern Ireland, who has mainly worked in photography and video.

His website images

Doherty was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, and from 1978 to 1981 studied at Ulster Polytechnic in Belfast. Many of his works deal with The Troubles. As a child he witnessed Bloody Sunday in Derry, and much of his work stems from the knowledge that many photos of the incident did not tell the whole truth. Some of his pieces take images from the media and adapt them to his own ends.

His works explore the multiple meanings that a single image can have. Some of Doherty’s earliest works are of maps and similar images accompanied by texts in a manner similar to the land art of Richard Long, except that here the text sometimes seems to contradict the image.

Doherty’s video pieces are often projected in a confined space, giving a sense of claustrophobia. The videos themselves sometimes create a mood that has been compared to film noir.

Doherty has acknowledged the importance of the Orchard Gallery in Derry as a venue where he could see modern art in his formative years. Doherty was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1994 and 2003, and has represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale in 1993, Great Britain at the São Paulo Art Biennial in 2003 and Northern Ireland at the 2007 Venice Biennale. He was a participant in dOCUMENTA

 

Sophie Ristelhueber

Sophie Ristelhueber (born 1949) is a French photographer. Her photographs concern the human impact of war, and she has photographed extensively in the Balkans and Middle East. She was born in Paris, where she still lives.

Tate Shots video with transcript

I had strongly in mind the idea that I was not going to document this war. Though we have very few images of it, I wanted to do a statement on how little we see…So this work is entitled Fait, which in French means done, and a fact…I was not so much interested in that conflict, which was for me an oil problem, but through an image I’ve seen in a magazine of the trenches, that I imagine like being wounds in the desert… My decision when I arrived in Kuwait was to take an aerial view… a way to talk about the fact that we see everything with satellites, or all the technical data we have now, and in a way, we see nothing.

 

Richard Misrach

Google images

Source: Draft edited and extended from Wikipedia

Richard Misrach (born in Los Angeles, California in 1949) is an American photographer “firmly identified with the introduction of color to ‘fine’ [art] photography in the 1970s, and with the use of large-format traditional cameras” (Nancy Princenthal, Art in America). He is perhaps best known for his depictions of the deserts of the American west, and for his series documenting the changes brought to bear on the environment by various man-made factors such as urban sprawl, tourism, industrialization, floods, fires,petrochemical manufacturing, and the testing of explosives and nuclear weapons by the military.

The Desert Cantos

Misrach’s longest-running and most ambitious project, the Desert Cantos, is an ongoing series of photographs of deserts. Begun in 1979 with a Deardorff 8×10” view camera, the series is ongoing and numbers 33 cantos as of 2013.

Misrach’s use of the term “canto” was inspired in part by the cantos of Ezra Pound. The Italian term “canto” was used to denote that the vast enterprise has been broken down into individual thematic essays or “cantos,” which together make up the whole work, or “song cycle.” Some of these cantos consist of only a few images, while others run into hundreds. Some may be regarded as “documentary” in mode, some more metaphorical. Some may be considered aesthetic in intent, some “political” – though as an ambitious and intelligent photographer, aesthetics are never pursued at the expense of politics, or vice versa. Misrach’s goal may be said to be a search for the photographic Holy Grail, to fuse reportage with poetry. To progress – as he put it – “from the descriptive and the informative to a metaphorical resolution.” (1989 article in Creative Camera, Gerry Badger)

Beginning with “The Terrain,” in which images of apparently untouched wilderness are punctuated by human elements such as a lone telephone pole or a train, theCantos include spectacles like the space shuttle landing (“The Event”) and car racing (“The Salt Flats”), man-made fires and floods like the Salton Sea (“The Flood”) and desert seas created by the damming of rivers, as well ascolor-field studies of empty skies (“The Skies”). Images of military training and testing sites feature extensively in the Cantos and the series’ corresponding publications: “The War” resulted in the 1991 book Bravo 20: The Bombing of the America West, co-authored by Myriam Weisang Misrach, and nuclear testing was addressed in Violent Legacies, published in 1992. “The Pit” documented mass graves of dead animals in the Nevada desert while “Pictures of Paintings” focused on the representation of the western landscape in museums across the American West. “The Playboys” depicted issues of Playboy, discovered by the photographer at a military site, that had been used for target practice.

The Los Angeles Times quotes Misrach regarding the Cantos:

The desert … may serve better as the backdrop for the problematic relationship between man and the environment. The human struggle, the successes … both noble and foolish, are readily apparent in the desert. Symbols and relationships seem to arise that stand for the human condition itself.

Border Cantos

Misrach’s Border Cantos series comprises photographs of the border between the U.S. and Mexico taken since 2004, and most extensively since 2009. In 2012 he began a collaboration with composer Guillermo Galindo, who manufactures playable instruments from objects found along the border. Misrach and Galindo have recovered artifacts from the border zone including water bottles, clothing, back-packs, Border Patrol “drag” tires, spent shotgun shells, ladders, and sections of the border wall itself, all of which have been transformed by Galindo into instrumental sculptures. The pair’s collaborative project will be featured in a museum exhibit in 2016 which will tour the United States through 2018.

The Oakland–Berkeley fire and Hurricane Katrina

In October 1991, a firestorm raged in the Oakland–Berkeley hills, killing 25 people, wounding 150 and destroying over 3,500 dwellings. This fire – one of the worst in California’s history – happened a few miles from Misrach’s studio and the photographer visited the site a few weeks later, taking hundreds of pictures. However, out of respect for the victims of the fire, he put the work away for two decades. “1991: The Oakland–Berkeley Fire Aftermath: Photographs by Richard Misrach,” an exhibition of Misrach’s photographs of the firestorm’s aftermath, was finally shown for the first time concurrently by the Berkeley Art Museum and the Oakland Museum of California in 2011. These exhibits included handcrafted elegy books in which visitors shared their recollections, a video story booth for recording memories, and an open-microphone meetings. The collected responses from local residents, as well as the prints — sets of which Misrach donated to the museums — were kept in the collections.

To date, the majority of Misrach’s large-format documentary images of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast taken immediately after Hurricane Katrina have not been shown, with the exception of Destroy this Memory, a book published five years after the disaster, consisting entirely of pocket-camera pictures of messages left on houses, cars, and trees by survivors of the hurricane. A Los Angeles Times review called the book “a raw testament, shot between October and December 2005, just after the waters began to recede but the emotions had certainly not. Without captions or a contextual introduction to detract from the potency of the photographs themselves, the book is a powerful document allowing survivors to speak eloquently for themselves — even in absentia.” Proceeds from Destroy this Memory were donated to the Make It Right Foundation to help rebuild the city’s Lower Ninth Ward. Complete sets of the photographs were also donated to five museums—the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Golden Gate Bridge and Petrochemical America

When Misrach moved to a house in the Berkeley hills in 1997, he was inspired by the spectacle of weather and light surrounding the Golden Gate Bridge (see images) , which sat only seven miles from his front porch. For four years he photographed the bridge from the same location and with the same vantage point under different climate conditions. These images are conventionally visually stunning in their horizontal bands of sunset colours using very low horizons.

Concurrently, Misrach was working in Louisiana, following a commission he received from the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. In 1998, he began documenting “Cancer Alley,” (see images) a stretch along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that is home to over 135 plants and refineries. The resulting images were exhibited as part of the “Picturing the South” series at the High Museum. He resumed photographing the area in 2010 and completed the series in 2012 with another exhibition at the High Museum, “Revisiting the South,” and the publication of Petrochemical America, a book pairing Misrach’s images with an “ecological atlas” by architect and Columbia University professor Kate Orff. Orff’s writing and infographic-style work in the book articulate the complex industrial, economic, ecological, and historical problems that inevitably gave rise to the places featured in Misrach’s photographs.

On the Beach and On the Beach 2.0

In January 2002, following an exploratory trip in November 2001, Misrach started his On the Beach project, consisting of serial photographs taken from the same building overlooking a beach in Hawaii. The project’s title refers to the Cold War-era Nevil Shute book and subsequent 1959 sci-fi movie, On the Beach, in which a nuclear disaster goes unnoticed by a group of happy beach-goers who suddenly find themselves the only survivors. According to Smithsonian magazine, the series was “deeply influenced by the events of September 11, 2001;” the aerial perspectives of figures suspended in the ocean or on the beach reminded Misrach of news photographs of people falling from the twin towers.

The resulting photographs were very large: Smithsonian reports that “the largest measure six by ten feet and are so detailed you can read the headlines on a beachgoer’s newspaper.” The beach images “seem much more beautiful, almost in a way more soft than some of his other work,” writes Sarah Greenough, photography curator at the National Gallery of Art: “After you look at them for a while, though, they are hardly soft at all. There really is something very ominous going on.” Misrach also captured people in action – a man tossing a woman through the air or someone doing a headstand in the water – which was especially noteworthy given the time-consuming and cumbersome view camera used. The photographer has said that the work is of a piece with his usual focus on humanity and the environment, but “it is much more about our relationship to the bigger, sublime picture of things.”

Misrach completed the series in 2005 and went on to publish a large-format book called On the Beach in 2007, voted by Photo District News readers as one of the most influential books of the decade.

Returning to the same beach while on vacation in late 2011 with a new digital camera, he began working at the same location but with a different intent and mood: the artist says he was becoming “more comfortable with metaphysical questions,” and the subjects of his 2011 images appear at play and in harmony with nature. The title of the series, On the Beach 2.0, alludes to the fact that the photographs are grounded in their technological moment in time – as do the individual titles, which refer to the date and exact minute of each shot.

Conversely, reviewer Allegra Kirkland points out that parts of this body of work are the closest Misrach has come to traditional portraiture since Telegraph 3 AM. The use of a digital camera and a telephoto lens introduced a new degree of speed and proximity to the artist’s shooting methods; although faces are often obscured by a towel or magazine, many of the images in On The Beach 2.0 might still be considered gestural portraits.

Kirkland writes: “The [On The Beach 2.0] series is about waiting and what happens when you do—the strange, small, secret moments that compose life… Ten years after the debut of the original project, Misrach seems to be affirming that man and nature do not always have to exist in opposition.”

Reverse photographs and iPhone images

Misrach has created a number of reverse images, essentially presenting large prints in their negative form. Another exhibit of this work was shown in 2011, consisting entirely of small-scale color prints taken with an iPhone camera. These revisit Bombay Beach, California, a flood zone where he [photographed] found objects and detritus – evidence of man’s presence in the landscape. These compositions were also manipulated: positive becomes negative and objects are transformed in a reversed color spectrum.”

Selected grants, awards, and commissions[edit]

Misrach’s book Desert Cantos received the 1988 Infinity Award from the International Center for Photography, and his Bravo 20: The Bombing of the American West, co-authored with Myriam Weisang Misrach, was awarded the 1991 PEN Center West Award for a nonfiction book.[8] His Katrina monograph Destroy This Memory won Best Photobook of the Year 2011 at PhotoEspaña.[16]

He has received numerous awards including four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an International Center of Photography Infinity Award for a Publication, and the Distinguished Career in Photography Award from the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies. In 2002 he was given the Kulturpreis for Lifetime Achievement in Photography by the German Society for Photography, and in 2008 he received the Lucie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Fine Art Photography.[14]

In 2010, Apple licensed Misrach’s 2004 image Pyramid Lake (at Night) as the inaugural wallpaper for the first iPad.[26] The opening credits of the 2014 HBO series True Detective featured a montage of images from Misrach’sPetrochemical America.[27]

Background and education[edit]

In 1967, Misrach left Los Angeles for the University of California, Berkeley, where he obtained a B.A. in Psychology after briefly pursuing a degree in Mathematics. While on campus he was confronted with the anti-war riots and began photographing the events around him;[7] he also learned the rudiments of photography with Paul Herzoff, Roger Minick, and Steve Fitch at the ASUC Berkeley Studio.[5]

Misrach’s first major photography project, completed in 1974, depicted homeless residents of Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California. This suite of photographs was shown at the International Center of Photography and published as a book, Telegraph 3 AM,[8] which won a Western Book Award in 1975.

Early work

Having hoped that Telegraph 3 AM would help improve life on the streets, Misrach was frustrated by the book’s minimal impact and retreated to the deserts of Southern California, Arizona, and Baja, California, where he took photographs devoid of human figures entirely.[5] Working at night with a strobe that illuminated the landscape around him, he experimented with unusual printing techniques in the university darkroom and created richly hued, split-toned silver prints. A resulting 1979 book was published without a title or a single word of accompanying text besides nominal identifying information on the book’s spine. In 1976 he traveled to Stonehenge to continue his split-toned night studies, and in 1978 he began working in color on journeys to Greece, Louisiana, and Hawaii.[5][7]

Joel Meyerowitz

Google Images for Aftermath

Reflections on Ground Zero : BBC Documentary

Compare with the way another photographer – a policeman John Bott whose health was seriously damaged by the photography work he did. Unlike Meyerowitz he did not profit from the photos he took.

Discussion Exercise 3.3 ‘Late Photography

Biography Wikipedia

Joel Meyerowitz (born March 6, 1938) is a street photographer and portrait and landscape photographer.

He began photographing in color in 1962 and was an early advocate of the use of color during a time when there was significant resistance to the idea of color photography as serious art. In the early 1970s he taught the first color course at the Cooper Union in New York City where many of today’s renowned color photographers studied with him.

In 1962, inspired by seeing Robert Frank at work, Meyerowitz quit his job as an art director at an advertising agency and started photographing streets of New York City with a 35 mm camera and black-and-white film. Garry Winogrand, Tony Ray-Jones, Lee Friedlander, Tod Papageorge and Diane Arbus were photographing there at the same time. Meyerowitz was inspired Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank and Eugène Atget.

After alternating between black-and-white and color, Meyerowitz “permanently adopted color” in 1972, well before John Szarkowski’s promotion in 1976 of color photography in an exhibition of work by the then little-knownWilliam Eggleston. Meyerowitz also switched at this time to large format, often using an 8×10 camera to produce photographs of places and people.

Meyerowitz appears extensively in the 2006 BBC Four documentary series The Genius of Photography and in the 2013 documentary film Finding Vivian Maier.

He is the author of 16 books including:

Cape Light, considered a classic work of color photography.

Aftermath: World Trade Center Archive (2006) – he was the only photographer allowed unrestricted access to its Ground Zero immediately following the attack.

 

 

 

Sara Pickering

Sarah Pickering  has photographed training grounds for the fire and police service.

http://www.sarahpickering.co.uk/Works/Pulic-Order/workpg-01.html

In Public Order (2005), she photographed the £55 million facility in Kent that is used by the police for firearms and riot training. Her images contain no people – though the police service who supported her work wanted her to photograph action she felt that the images without people are more powerful.

 

Pickering’s images depict a truly uncanny space, some revealing creepily accurate architectural details, others displaying almost comical crudeness in the design of the state-of-the-art facility. The strange, two-dimensional façades of these ‘streets’ give the space a film set or theatre-like quality, in readiness for some grim and violent narrative to unfold… As a viewer one can imagine waking up in this peculiar world and wandering bewilderedly through an inescapable network of streets that don’t lead anywhere and doors that open onto nothing.

(Alexander 2013 p 95)

 

Roger Fenton

Roger Fenton (28 March 1819 – 8 August 1869) was a pioneering British photographer, one of the first war photographers.

Roger Fenton was born in Crimble Hall, then within the parish of Bury, Lancashire, on 28 March 1819. His grandfather was a wealthy cotton manufacturer and banker, his father a banker and Member of Parliament. Fenton was the fourth of seven children by his father’s first marriage. His father had 10 more children by his second wife.

In 1838 Fenton went to University College London where he graduated in 1840 with a “first class” Bachelor of Arts degree, having studied English, mathematics, Greek and Latin. In 1841, he began to study law at University College, evidently sporadically as he did not qualify as a solicitor until 1847, in part because he had become interested in studying to be a painter. Fenton visited the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in London in 1851 and was impressed by the photography on display there. He then visited Paris to learn the waxed paper calotype process, most likely from William Fox Henry Talbot, its inventor. By 1852 he had photographs exhibited in England, and travelled to Kiev, Moscow and St. Petersburg making calotypes there, and photographed views and architecture around Britain. His published call for the setting up of a photographic society was answered with its establishment in 1853; the Photographic Society, with Fenton as founder and first Secretary, later became the Royal Photographic Society under the patronage of Prince Albert.

In 1855 Fenton was sent to the Crimean War as the first official war photographer. He had the endorsement of the Duke of Newcastle, secretary of state for war, and the patronage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The resulting photographs may have been intended to offset the general aversion of the British people to an unpopular war and to counteract the occasionally critical reporting of correspondent William Howard Russell of The Times. The photographs were to be converted into woodblocks and published in the less critical Illustrated London News. Fenton took Marcus Sparling as his photographic assistant, a servant and a large van of equipment. Due to the size and cumbersome nature of his photographic equipment, Fenton was limited in his choice of motifs. Because the photographic material of his time needed long exposures, he was only able to produce pictures of unmoving objects, mostly posed pictures; he avoided making pictures of dead, injured or mutilated soldiers.

Fenton also photographed the landscape, including an area near to where the Light Brigade—made famous in Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade”—was ambushed. His Versions of Valley of the Shadow of Death, with and without cannonballs  is a seminal image in war photography but also a controversial one because the two versions that exist show that Fenton repositioned the cannon balls in the second version to make the image more compelling. In letters home soldiers had called the original valley “The Valley of Death”, and Tennyson’s poem used the same phrase, so when in September 1855 Thomas Agnew put the picture on show, as one of a series of eleven collectively titled Panorama of the Plateau of Sebastopol in Eleven Parts in a London exhibition, he took the troops’—and Tennyson’s—epithet, expanded it as The Valley of the Shadow of Death with its deliberate evocation of Psalm 23, and assigned it to the piece; it is not the location of the famous charge, which took place in a long, broad valley several miles to the south-east. In 2007 film-maker Errol Morris went to Sevastopol to identify the site of this “first iconic photograph of war”. He identified the small valley, shown on a later map as “The Valley of the Shadow of Death”, as the place where Fenton had taken his photograph. Two pictures were taken of this area, one with several cannonballs on the road, the other with an empty road. Opinions differ concerning which one was taken first. Morris concludes that the photo without the cannonballs was taken first, but he remains uncertain about why balls were moved onto the road in the second picture—perhaps, he notes, Fenton deliberately placed them there to enhance the image. The alternative is that soldiers were gathering up cannonballs for reuse and they threw down balls higher up the hill onto the road and ditch for collection later. Other art historians, such as Nigel Spivey of Cambridge University, identify the images as from the nearby Woronzoff Road. This is the location accepted by the local tour guides.

Despite high temperatures, breaking several ribs, and suffering from cholera, in all Fenton managed to make over 350 usable large format negatives. An exhibition of 312 prints was soon on show in London, in the gallery of publisher Thomas Agnew. Sales were not as good as expected, possibly because the war had ended.

In 1858 Fenton made studio genre studies based on romantically imaginative ideas of Muslim life, such as Seated Odalisque, using friends and models who were not always convincing in their roles.

Although well known for his Crimean War photography, his photographic career lasted little more than a decade, and in 1862 he abandoned the profession entirely, selling his equipment and becoming almost forgotten by the time of his death seven years later. He was later formally recognised by art historians for his pioneering work and artistic endeavour. In recognition of the importance of his photography, Fenton’s photos of the Crimean war were included in the Life collection, 100 Photos that Changed the World.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Seawright

Paul Seawright is best known for his ‘late photography’ of battle-sites and minefields. He often uses vintage technology and a much older approaches to conflict photography. But rather than reportage, his images are made for museum-going audiences and gallery patrons by people who call themselves ‘artists’.

website

If it is too explicit it becomes journalistic. If it is too ambiguous, it becomes meaningless…The constriction of meaning is done by the person looking at it. The artist has to leave space for that’

‘Paul Seawright, Voice Our Concern Artist’s Lecture 2010’ is a 40 minute illustrated artists lecture by the artist photographer Paul Seawright given in the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in November 2010. Paul talks about the use of photography in conflict situations as often being unreliable and how his work as a photographic artist is a response to this. He presents photographs from the Crimean war and discusses the influence of photographer Paul Graham on his work. He describes the difference between photo journalism and art in the context of artists defining their subjects and in the construction of meaning. He goes on to discuss and present examples of his Sectarian Murder Work series. This Voice Our Concern lecture was a joint project organised by IMMA and Amnesty International Ireland.

The Forest 2001

17 photographs of desolate roadside lay-bys, ditches and car parks shot at night and lit by what we assume to be streetlights. By day they would probably be ordinary, but at night with the lighting they take on a sinister tone (like images we are used to seeing in detective TV series). ‘Because there is such a division between what we can see and what we cannot see (the fall off of the light does not allow for much penetration into the forest edge) what belongs there (the trees, underbrush and roadside curbs) and what doesn’t belong there (us), these are photographs that place the viewer into the shoes of the vulnerable’ (Paul Seawright’s website)

Hidden (2002)

In 2002 Seawright was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum London to undertake a war art commission in Afghanistan.In spite of the climate in which they were made, have a cool, Becher-like objectivity to them. Tension is created by concealing as much as is revealed in the photographs and their caption. Through unorthodox framing, selective focusing in places, and at times seemingly banal viewpoints, there is a palpable sense of unease in this landscape that is strewn with concealed lethal hazards. For example another image shows recently dug up mines – done by hand because they cannot be identified with mine detectors against the rest of the iron in the land., as well as America’s most wanted outlaw, who would take a further nine years to track down. His photograph of shells in Afghanistan explicitly echoes Fenton’s famous image from the Crimea.

For some of the main images and reviews (eg John Stathatos) see: http://www.paulseawright.com/hidden/

Invisible Cities 2007   

after Italo Calvino book.

Seawright travelled to major cities in sub-Saharan Africa, exploring communities on the edge of conurbations, both geographically and socially. Comprises varied photographs, some of which are recognisable as landscape pictures, or environmental portraiture. None of the titles of the photographs refer to specific locations or people, which emphasises the indistinct nature and anonymity of these places and their inhabitants.

Bridge (2006) the road bridge, presumably an interchange of major roads on the edge of the city, cleanly divides the frame in two. A yellow bus heads along the road towards the city from, we suppose, the sanctuary of the suburbs, taking children to school or their parents to work. The sky is empty and bleak, echoed by the detritus that sprawls below, shielded by the flyover from the view of the bus’s passengers.

Things Left Unsaid

Biography

Paul Seawright is Professor of Photography and Head of Belfast School of Art at the University of Ulster. His photographic work is held in many museum collections including The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Tate, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, International Centre of Photography New York, Arts Councils of Ireland, England and N.Ireland, UK Government Collection and the Museum of Contemporary Art Rome. They have also been exhibited in Spain, France, Germany, Korea, Japan and China.  In 2003 he represented Wales at the Venice Biennale of Art and in 1997 won the Irish Museum of Modern Art/Glen Dimplex Prize. He is represented by the Kerlin Gallery Dublin.

‘Late’ photography’

In his 2003 essay, David Campany comments that:
“One might easily surmise that photography has of late inherited a major role as undertaker, summariser or accountant. It turns up late, wanders through the places where things have happened totting up the effects of the world’s activity.” (‘Safety in Numbness: Some remarks on the problem of “Late Photography”’ (in Campany (ed.), 2007)

This ‘aftermath’ approach dates back to the war photographers of the American Civil War and the Crimean War (1853–56), because of technological limitations of the time. Because of the large plate cameras and slow emulsions, it was not possible to photograph actual combat. Their images focused instead on portraits of soldiers, camp scenes and the aftermath of battles and skirmishes. Their images could not yet be reproduced en masse in the illustrated press, but some of these photographs were used as the basis for woodcut engravings for publications such as The Illustrated London News and Harper’s Weekly.

Although technology today makes it possible – though still difficult –  to capture the heat of war and atrocities, this is not necessarily the most effective way of portraying the horrors of violence.

Examples of photographers using the ‘late’ approach in contemporary landscape include:

  • Joel Meyerowitz’s Aftermath images of Ground Zero in New York
  • Richard Misrach ‘s images of the American Desert show the aftermath of human activity but in a beautified distilled large format.
  • Sophie Ristelhueber ‘s aerial images of the Afghan conflict show the scars left on the landscape
  • Paul Seawright Hidden cold ‘objective’ images of battle sites and minefields in Afghanistan
  • Willie Doherty made very evocative images of the left detritus from conflicts during the Troubles and in the present day.

Other photographers have focused on the precursors – the tension in anticipation of violence.  “not the ‘theatre of war’ but its rehearsal studio” (Campany, 2008, p.46). :

  • An-My Lê’s (to do) series 29 Palms (2004) documents US marine training manoeuvres at a range used to prepare soldiers ahead of deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin in Chicago (2005) (to do) examine an Israeli military training ground
  • Paul Shambroom’s project Security (2003−07) studied the simulated training sites that are used by the US emergency services and Department of Homeland Security, nicknamed ‘Disaster City’ and ‘Terror Town’.
  • Sarah Pickering in UK has photographed training grounds for the fire and police service. Her images contain no people, aiming to seem like a film set ready for the action.

3.3: ‘Late Photography’