26 different endings

Shelley Jacobson on ‘26 Different Endings’, a personal reflection

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.

©MARK POWER

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.

©MARK POWER

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://mro.massey.ac.nz/handle/10179/907
***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.

Mark Power and Militarization in ’26 Different Endings’

Maybe it’s just me but there seems to be a loose military theme showing it’s head every now and again in Power’s ’26 Different Endings’.

Perhaps it is the grid references and camouflage palette that put me in a particular frame of mind but the decay, signage and architecture do resemble a military training ground. If there is a British suburban replicant the Army use, I bet it looks like this…

– Matt

Image MARK POWER

Image MARK POWER

Image MARK POWER

Image MARK POWER

Image MARK POWER

Tom Morris on ’26 Different Endings’, a Personal Reflection

Thanks to Tom Morris for not only writing this personal reflection but also for nominating this book for s to look at over the course of October. If you want to suggest a book for us to look at, get in touch.

I was introduced to Mark Power’s 26 Different Endings during my first year studying photography at Leeds College of Art. We were visiting Martin Parr’s exhibition Parrworld at the Baltic gallery, Newcastle. Within Parr’s impressive collection of photographic works and other items was a print by Power, taken from this project. I was immediately drawn to the photograph, and was attracted to the almost bleak imagery of the British landscape.

Whilst at college my tutor had started a special photographic book collection in the library. The collection had a range of fascinating books from both British and international photographers. The books were kept in there own cabinet, and when viewing white gloves had to be worn. It really did feel as though the collection was important and I think this was when I first fell in love with the photographic book. I wanted to start my own collection and 26 Different Endings was one of the first books that I bought.

©MARK POWER

26 Different Endings is a really great book for anyone interested in this type of photography. The photographs are beautiful and reminiscent of many places within the British landscape. I find the sense of familiarity within these almost gloomy scenes quite warming. The book includes an excellent essay by David Chandler, and also if you buy it directly from Mark Power’s website you will get a signed copy – which is a great bonus.

– Tom Morris

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.

VIDEO – Mark Power’s ’26 Different Endings’

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.

From the publisher:

In this new Photoworks publication, British photographer Mark Power returns to the dialogue between real and imaginary space that characterised his most successful book to date, “The Shipping Forecast” (1996). Once again the premise for this work has been a map and a sense of those invisible boundaries that help to form a strong and durable idea of place. In this case that place is the great sprawl of London, whose outer limits are, for most of us, defined by the extent of the A to Z road atlas. It is these outer zones – where, as the map suggests, the city thins out and then falls away into nothingness – that are the subject of Power’s photographs.

Taking each page of the atlas as his guide Power has embarked on an epic quest into a kind of local unknown, a voyage into a form of melancholic emptiness where the energies of the city evaporate into a strange kind of inertia.Like “The Shipping Forecast” before it, “26 Different Endings” is a project still deeply concerned with the weather, with the everyday drabness of places resigned to their climate of indistinction, where a condition of greyness has become the condition of life.”26 Different Endings” is a report about what appears to be a deeply traumatised place. It is also about a state of mind that Power has become entranced by, one conditioned by flat white skies and a generous expanse of pebble dash, an overbuilt environment where all buildings, new and old, look something like ruins. David Chandler’s autobiographical short story, written in response to Power’s pictures, delves deeper into this state of mind, drawing on a vivid picture of both the emotional and physical landscape of his childhood. Mark Power is Professor of Photography at the University of Brighton, and joined Magnum Photos in 2002. This large-scale, landscape format book is published in a limited edition of 1000.

Mark Power: Some Food for Thought #2

While ‘Food for Thought #1‘ focused on Power’s broader photographic projects to date, this post highlights a few resources linked specifically to ’26 Different Endings’.

Colette Meacher reviews ’26 Different Endings’ on Foto8

Select quote: “Travel to the end of the road with Mark Power, who has made a determined mission to expose what lies hidden within these apparently cultureless outposts of British civilisation, that might trendily be referred to as terrains vagues or non-places.”

‘Temporal Landscapes’, A Thesis by Shelley Jacobson (PDF link)
For those who want to cut to the chase, you can do so by searching for ’26’ in this paper for comment on Power’s images, but if you have the time, this is an interesting thesis including the work of Burtynsky, Maisel, Baltz and a heap more.

See  a selection of the Images on Mark Power’s website

Read the accompanying autobiographical essay by David Chandler (PDF link)

Select quote: “Drawn by the magnet of memories lightly softened over the years and fully expecting to enjoy sneering at some tasteless attempts at gentrification, I was confronted instead by a deeply depressing vision of neglect: peeling paint, overgrown garden, rubbish piling up by the garage my Dad had expertly built himself. And to complete the picture, a similarly weathered ‘For Sale’ sign that looked as if it had been there for a generation.”

Synopsis: Mark Power’s ’26 Different Endings’

Title
26 Different Endings

Author
Mark Power

Publisher
Photoworks, 2007

26 Different Endings IMAGE: 5B4

From the publisher:
In this new Photoworks publication, British photographer Mark Power returns to the dialogue between real and imaginary space that characterised his most successful book to date, “The Shipping Forecast” (1996). Once again the premise for this work has been a map and a sense of those invisible boundaries that help to form a strong and durable idea of place. In this case that place is the great sprawl of London, whose outer limits are, for most of us, defined by the extent of the A to Z road atlas. It is these outer zones – where, as the map suggests, the city thins out and then falls away into nothingness – that are the subject of Power’s photographs.

Taking each page of the atlas as his guide Power has embarked on an epic quest into a kind of local unknown, a voyage into a form of melancholic emptiness where the energies of the city evaporate into a strange kind of inertia.Like “The Shipping Forecast” before it, “26 Different Endings” is a project still deeply concerned with the weather, with the everyday drabness of places resigned to their climate of indistinction, where a condition of greyness has become the condition of life.”26 Different Endings” is a report about what appears to be a deeply traumatised place. It is also about a state of mind that Power has become entranced by, one conditioned by flat white skies and a generous expanse of pebble dash, an overbuilt environment where all buildings, new and old, look something like ruins. David Chandler’s autobiographical short story, written in response to Power’s pictures, delves deeper into this state of mind, drawing on a vivid picture of both the emotional and physical landscape of his childhood. Mark Power is Professor of Photography at the University of Brighton, and joined Magnum Photos in 2002. This large-scale, landscape format book is published in a limited edition of 1000.

Artist Website:
Mark Power

Project Website:
Mark Power – 26 Different Endings

If you would like to share your thoughts on this book, then please do by getting in touch!

A Very British Affair on the Photobook Club in May and June

What with the London 2012 Olympics just around the corner, I’ve been feeling patriotic and noticed that so far, we have yet to look at a British photobook, and so the next two months will do just that.

In May we will be looking at Paul Graham‘s ‘A1: The Great North Road‘ and following this, in June, Mark Power‘s ‘26 Different Endings‘ as suggested by subscriber Tom Morris. If you cant get your hands on a copy of these books in your local library – don’t worry as there will be a video of each.

If you would like to contribute any thoughts to the discussion on these books, just pop me an email.

– Matt

A1: The Great North Road

IMAGE: 5B4