Project Development - August

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.

 

27Jul2019 - Fistral layered. Sophie Bradley 2019

27Jul2019 - Fistral layered. Sophie Bradley 2019

Layered Image:

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.

 

27Jul2019 - Fistral 9 grid. Sophie Bradley 2019

27Jul2019 - Fistral 9 grid. Sophie Bradley 2019

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.

 

27Jul2019 - Fistral 12 grid. Sophie Bradley 2019

27Jul2019 - Fistral 12 grid. Sophie Bradley 2019

References:

[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

[ii]Climate Change: How Do We Know?”. Available at https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

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.

Sea Images

The connection between humans and the sea is almost as old as the world itself, beginning when life on earth came into existence having developed in the deep sea around 15 million years ago[i]. Since that life developed into our human ancestors, people have been connected to the ocean as a source of food, a way to travel, and in more modern times, a place for sport, fun, and relaxation. 

 

There is evidence that people have been making images of the sea, of coastal areas, and of human being’s relationship with the sea since prehistoric times. For example, ancient Hawaiian people recorded images of canoes and ships as petroglyphs; rock carvings, that are still visible today[ii]. So too is the civilisation of ancient Greece known for recording man’s interaction and connection with the sea through their ceramic decorations, whether a scene of everyday life or from a myth – for example this vase showing a scene from Homer’s Odyssey, depicting Odysseus having set sail to hear the song of the sirens[iii]:

 

More recently these images developed into paintings. Early painters also used their artistic medium to capture the relationship between man and sea, showing fishing boats for example, and later naval ships. The 16th century saw the emergence of the “world landscape” style of paintings[i]. These are paintings of panoramic seascapes made from a high vantage point, where people are shown quite small in relation to the rest of the picture, and the rest of landscape scene is shown as the majority of the image[ii]:

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Landscape with the Flight into Egypt   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_landscape

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Landscape with the Flight into Egypt

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_landscape

This interest in making images of sea/coastal scenes grew and led to the large amounts of maritime art (art works in which ships or boats are present), and marine art (an area of landscape art showing seas, oceans, coastal areas, without the inclusion of ships), we have today.

 

Charles Napier Hemy is one example of an artist who is well known for his numerous paintings of maritime and marine scenes in the 19th century. Although not originally from Cornwall, Hemy settled in Falmouth and it was there he created his well known works in his attempts to capture the ever changing aspects of the sea (see pg 42).

 

Hemy’s work shows the 19th century as a time when the sea was primarily a place of industry, of work, and not a place for fun or pleasure, although this view was changing. It was during this time that people started to see beaches as places of recreation and not just work or travel. Alongside this change in perception was the rise of photographic technology and with this came a different way of making images of beaches. Landscape paintings were followed with landscape photography. This also bought about a change in the manner of images being made. From landscapes, seascapes, and scenes of fisherman or trawlers, photography and the rise of beaches being viewed as places of leisure eventually led to other subjects being captured. More everyday scenes as populated by Martin Parr, the rise of tourist holiday photos and selfie culture, modern landscape photography, underwater photography, and sports photography - of surfers, for example.

   

Man’s early and ongoing relationship and fascination with the sea has been a source of inspiration for artists over many centuries and through various societies and civilisations. My interest in the relationship of humans and the coast comes as part of a long line of people drawn to this connection.

 

My interest in this connection also comes from a personal place of being drawn to the sea, and having lived near the sea for most of my life. Recently I have been struck by how so many others come to the sea, to beaches, for relaxation and respite. The coastal areas where I live are no longer solely places of work. Summer and winter in these places have very different feelings to them. In winter the beaches are mostly empty places of wild weather, where one is only likely to find dog-walkers, and particularly hardy surfers. Whereas in summer the beaches are filled with tourists, locals enjoying the warm weather, and many fair-weather surfers. This, along with the change in weather, transforms the feeling and atmosphere of the place from something wild to something tamed. These changes occur most strikingly with the change in seasons, but also come with changes throughout a day. Early morning, even in summer, the beach has a different atmosphere to the same place a few hours later. I am interested in examining these changes that occur in beaches near me, over the course of a day, as well as over several months, and the effect (or lack of) on the area.

 

One way I want to do this is via the viewpoint from which I will make images. I want to examine these scenes, and the changes within the scene, without being a part of it myself. To do this I will take photographs from a fairly distanced, elevated point of view. By doing this I will remove myself from the scene, observing the area without being physically close to it or in it. This will enable me to look critically at the subject of the photographs, and examine them from one day to the next. This will be very much in the world landscape school of landscape imagery. The photographs will be taken from a high vantage point and will show people as small occurrences in the work rather than the main focus. At this stage the project is very much still in an experimental phase, however although the work will be looking at how people appear in the space, I feel that the focus will be the beach and resulting impact on the natural part of the landscape.





[i] GARTHWAITE, J. 2018. “Why deep oceans gave life to the first big, complex organisms”. Available at: https://earth.stanford.edu/news/why-deep-oceans-gave-life-first-big-complex-organisms#gs.r5cvfr

Accessed on 21July2019

[ii] https://www.to-hawaii.com/petroglyphs.php Accessed on 23Jul2019

[iii] JONES, J. 2014. The top 10 ancient Greek artworks. The Guardian Online. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/aug/14/top-10-ancient-greek-artworks-jonathan-jones

Accessed on 23Jul2019

[iv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_art Accessed on 23Jul2019

[v]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_landscape Accessed on 23Jul2019