Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Time, Change, Place

In his book "Time" Andy Goldsworthy states that ' Whenever possible, I make a work every day. Each work joins the next in a line that defines the passage of my life, marking and accounting for my time and creating a momentum which gives me a strong sense of anticipation for the future. Each piece is individual, but I also see the line combined as a single work...(Goldsworthy2007 p 7)

The idea of individual pieces of work combining together interests me as this forms a map in my own minds eye of the places I have visited being marked by the work I produce.
By striving to produce work each day, I think that you can begin to notice things in the landscape the otherwise would not be seen, especially the effects of the moon and tides, the weather and the changes to the landscape each season.

Many of his pieces are ephemeral in nature and there is also something very tactile in the way he produces them.
The placement of the work and materials he uses seem to create a curiosity factor which would intrigue any passer by.
Documenting work with good photography skills is something I am going to have to get to grips with.

Richard Long uses the landscape and the act of walking to produce art. Many of his sculptural pieces are formed in straight lines or as this image shows, by upturning rocks. the line represents the path he took whilst on his walks.
Long  uses the act of walking to explore the relationship between distance, measurement and time. He has used the act of walking in his art for forty years which have taken him all over the world.
' My art has the themes of materials, ideas, movement, time. The beauty of objects, thoughts, places and actions' (Lailach, 2000. p74)

This image was taken whilst on one of my walks along the the Southwest coast path. As with many of the images I have captured, it offers a very picturesque/romantic view of our landscape.
After reading a chapter from the book 'Place and Placelessness' by Edward Relph, I became interested in what our preconceived ideas of landscape are, and how those ideas relate to the reality of present day.
Do we only see what we want to see? Whilst annoying to me, I certainly never chose the photograph all of the junk and litter I encountered along my walks or anything I considered to be unattractive, but the reality is that it is there.
 Relph talks about criticisms that have been made about the condition of our Landscape as ' criticisms that are usually combined with a simultaneous lament and plea for the local, handicraft, harmonious landscapes of peasant societies....'(Relph,1976.p122) He then talks about the age old sentiment that somehow  past places must have been better than the present day placelessness. and how therefore we should make places the old way. He also states that this type of fix is far too simple.' landscape is not merely an aesthetic background to life, rather it is the setting that both expresses and conditions cultural attitudes and activities, and significant modifications to landscape are not possible without major changes in social attitudes...'(Relph,1976.p122)
It is clear to me that rural pre-industrial British landscape is very different to the present day landscape we live in. the event of the machine replacing manual labour and the resulting migration to industrial cities has led to a detachment from the land. with the development of  cities came the mass produced, modern apartment blocks, built quickly and economically to meet the needs of the ever growing population. Many of these city blocks are now considered ugly and are un cared for. There seems to be a lost sense of community. Is this place (which once was desirable) becoming placeless(now undesirable). The reality is that much of the landscape that might be considered by some as undesirable or ugly, such as train tracks, roads and motorways, were all fashioned out of necessity and progress in the interest of man. These man made structures are very much part of our present day landscape. Should we embrace them as such?
 I think many of us still hold onto an idealised view of what we expect the landscape to look like, this is evident in the places we choose to visit when we take a holiday to seaside resorts or country parks. We use this as an opportunity to escape from our familiar ,and perhaps unloved surroundings. As tourists/sightseers we go in search of what we consider to be unfamiliar beautiful places to relax and get away from it all.
As a society  I think we strive to posses material things for individual gain.Because we can obtain these mass produced items quickly, again and again we seem to lose our sense of value and have become a throw away society. This is evident in our wasteful nature and the way we treat our present day landscape.

" Significant modifications to landscape are not possible without major changes in social attitude" E Relph.

'Nature is a cultural construct, a place that feeds the urban imagination as much as the urban belly. It is here that we are said to find ourselves, our "true nature". Yet we are increasingly unaware of how to read the terrain and are blind to the many changes and marks that our predecessors have made to the land over the centuries. To wander across cultivated fields is to encounter the earliest forms of human activity. Even those places that remain unaltered by humankind, areas of pristine wilderness, have become the crowded habitat of our cultural minds, from writers and poets to artists.' (Dean,T.2005 p47)

The world has become a much smaller place, with the development of transport and the increased  accessibility of the internet. We can now visit far off places by jumping into the car or by jumping on the plane, we can even visit from the comfort of our living rooms via our lap top, the TV or by flicking through pages of  a glossy book. But none of this can replace the actual experience of the walk.

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