My thanks to New Zealand based photographer Shelley Jacobson for sharing this reflection on Power’s ’26 Different Endings’. If you enjoy this text, please check out Shelley’s thesis on temporal landscapes which can be read online here.
26 Different Endings – or, A System of Edges, if one were to use the exhibition name – offers quiet vernacular views of London’s city limits, as defined by the London A-Z Street Atlas. The viewer is able to discern a system inherent in Power’s practice; made evident through the titling of his work, for example G 57 East, and through the inclusion of a site map. Notable in this work is the intent to depict ‘outside’ views; achieved by pointing the camera away from the map, beyond a known territory. One could argue that as a practice, topographic photography is intrinsically linked to cartography and that both are manifestations of cultural geography. Power’s photographic approach brings cartography to the fore, drawing out the social implications of mapping.
I first happened upon Mark Power’s work in a 2006 paper by Liz Wells entitled Landscape, Geography and Topographic Photography*. Wells argued that the authority of contemporary topographic photography relies on the methodology of the photographer, offering the concept of the ‘photographer as researcher’. At the time of reading, in 2008, I was working on my MFA thesis Temporal Landscapes**. I had been fixated upon concerns of research parameters and approach, and Wells’ concept is one that not only informed me then, but has stayed with me since.
Over the past several years in my own photographic work I have become increasingly intent on devising project-specific systems by which to produce work. Between my work and that of others favoring this approach, I dare say that Wells was on the mark, in her belief that systems offer rigor. In this regard, I would certainly cite Power as a pioneer of this trend. A recent example of a project that follows this trend is a book released here in New Zealand in 2011 by photographer David Cook, entitled River Road: Journeys through Ecology***. It would seem that for a number of contemporary topographic photographers, systematic methodology can offer an anchor point for their practice, informing both concept and content. Importantly, this can offer the viewer a key to the work in question.
- Shelley Jacobson
*Liz Wells, “Landscape, Geography and Topographic Photography.” Paper presented at the Rural Futures Conference, University of Plymouth, United Kingdom, 2006.
***See http://www.rimbooks.com/river-road and http://bestawards.co.nz/entries/graphic/river-road-journeys-through-ecology/
Haven’t seen the book yet?
This one is still available at a reasonable price and so this video is in no way a replacement for seeing the real thing, instead it is shown here to give a feel for the layout, design and sequencing of the book, for a selection of high quality images from this book, head over here.