I started out envisaging that the project would consist of multiple photographs of local beaches, all taken from the same vantage point of the beach, throughout a day and layered into one image. I wanted to show that the idyllic images of beaches that springs to mind are not necessarily completely true. Sometimes, of course, this does hold true – the beaches here can be empty, wild, and full of beauty. At other times, they are full of people, loud, and crowded. Hardly the calm respite in nature that many would hope to find.
I have been experimenting with layering images from a couple of local beaches, and so far it appears the greatest changes in the landscape throughout one day, have been at Fistral beach. Fistral is well known as a surfing beach, and is also very popular among non-surfers and families due to the car park with easy beach access, several restaurants and shops, and public toilets. These facilities does mean that at times the beach itself can get very busy and crowded. However at certain times of day, and outside the summer season, the beach can be largely empty and the atmosphere is really quite different.
I recently took several images throughout one day and experimented with presenting them as layered images, and as individual images in a grouped grid of 9, and in a group grid of 12.
This image (above) consists of 37 individual images layered into one. I really like the almost watercolour painting effect of the multiple images, and the prominence of the grass, sky, sea, and sand in the image. I feel this shows the impermanence of mankind on the landscape. The solid blocks of green and blue are the more permanent feature of the world, and these colour blocks provide a commentary on the way humans are actually a tiny speck of the world, and indeed is it only a relatively small amount of time that humans have inhabited the Earth. If the existence of the world was a 24 hour clock, humans only appeared around 11.58pm[i].
Humans are a small aspect of the natural world and yet our presence does make an impact on the Earth, and not necessarily a good one. The effects of climate change due to mankind is becoming more and more noticeable, with issues such as rising sea levels, melting ice caps, shrinking glaciers, and unseasonable and more extreme weather[ii], being a fairly constant focus in the media and in politics.
My concern with this image is being able to print it to show the detail of the image, and make the individual people and grasses noticeable, in order to really see the difference between the people and the natural features. In my first few attempts the layers don’t really show through, and the image appears to be a blurred photograph, rather than multiple photographs with a lot of detail included. At present it’s really only viewable when zoomed in on a computer screen. For a printed image I will need to experiment with different sizes to see if it is feasible to show the details in a physical copy of the image.
9 & 12 Grid:
The two grid images (9 grid above, 12 grid below), both the 9 & 12 grids, I feel also work in terms of showing the impermanence of mankind on the natural world, the way the same one space can be both natural and wild, and crowded and full of people, and how those changes can not only occur not only over the course of several months, but also throughout a single day. The other benefit of the grid images is the ease of printing. The layered images present a challenge in printing the images to show enough detail, whereas the grid images consist of 9 or 12 single images, allowing for comparatively easier printing.
My concern with the grid format, is that it is a very literal depiction of the changes that occur in the beach. By showing the permanence of nature, and impermanence of mankind, I want people to feel something, not be told something. By presenting the audience with a literal sequence of these changes I would fear that they will look at the images, without really absorbing them, or considering what the images mean for them. The layered image may look most unlike the beach in it’s physical reality, but as Pablo Picasso once said, “Art is a lie that makes us realize truth”[iii]. I would hope that the “lie” of the layered image, over the “realness” of the grid images, would encourage people to question what they are looking at, to really examine what is in front of them, and think about what the location in its entirety means to them. Diane Arbus once wrote that “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know”[iv]. The grid sequence of photographs would tell them the beach changes over time, but what would they really know from that? Would the audience really think about how those changes feel or effect the beach. The layered image would force the viewer to more closely look at what is permanent and impermanent, and what the consequence of the differences is.
At this stage I am still leaning towards the layered images over the grid images, if I can find a way to print the images with the detail included. If not I will try to think about a different way to present the work and possibly move forwards with the grid format.
[i] Author unknown. 2015. “If the Earth was 24 hours old, how old would humankind be?”. Available at https://www.meritnation.com/blog/history-of-earth-on-24-hour-clock/
Accessed on 11Aug2019
Accessed on 11Aug2019
[iii] PICASSO, P. 1923. "Statement to Marius de Zayas”. Available at https://studylib.net/doc/8917454/pablo-picasso--statement-to-marius-de-zayas-
Accessed on 12Aug2019
[iv] ARBUS, D. 1971. “Five Photographs by Diane Arbus” Artforum, May 1971. In Elisabeth SUSSMAN & Doon ARBUS. 2011. Diane Arbus A Chronology. New York: Aperture. Pg106.