“The only true voyage of discovery… …would be not to visit strange
lands, but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the
eyes of another.”
Creative Arts today p162.
I suppose if you look through past images either in an album or things you have made yourself, you are documenting journeys, whether they be of a theme of otherwise.
The bodies of work I have looked at and research about time and space are Paul Graham’s A1 project, Stephen Shore’s American Surfaces, Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi and Robert Frank’s The Americans.
Paul Graham-A1 project.
I was fascinated by these photographs and I had never seen them before or heard of the photographer which is becoming a regular thing that I am not proud of.
Paul Graham (born 1956) is an English fine-art and documentary photographer whose work has been exhibited, published and collected internationally.
In 1981, Paul Graham began travelling up the Al North, photographing the areas and people along the way. I really love things like this and the colours are beautiful, they are stills of a time that could well still be there if you travelled back up the road and to where they are. His collection went on to be published in 1983 as the, ‘A1: The Great North Road’.
To me this is perfect, not much is going on but there is so much, the colour, the sauce bottles, patterns, queues. How many people have sat at these tables? Whats gone on in there? Is it still there?
This is a view that you can still see as being quite present, going up the M62 to Hull you are met with three power stations and then onto the M1, A1. It is a funny world up there but it is beautiful and as if time has stood still in some places. As I have no knowledge of his work I started to research him and found this article on The FT– accessed 10th May 2017.
‘Paul Graham changed my attitude to colour. An excerpt from a gallery text on his website says that he “belongs to a rare group of photographers that were the final generation to enter photography before it became part of the broader contemporary art world”. That’s true, and it has nothing much to do with exact dates. Along with Philip-Lorca diCorcia and even Nan Goldin, Graham remains a photographer, not an “artist-working-with-photography”. Graham won the Hasselblad Award last year, the first Briton to do so. He’s an international player. Yet, in our very British way, in the UK he’s hardly known outside photographic circles.’
By Francis Hodgson
These first lines made me like him even more and I understood about him not being known but that he had made such a big body of work that is important and shows a lost time. Road side cafes, petrol stations that aren’t corporate, lorry parks and the people who all work, live and have an affinity to the road.
Graham’s website is here with all the details about his work on http://www.paulgrahamarchive.com/a1.html– accessed 10th May 2017
More searching brought up a video on Vimeo. It is a video showing the pages of the A1 book being turned and it has made me determined to find a copy.
More work by Graham that I will research is called ‘Beyond Caring’
Stephen Shore- American Surfaces
Again a photographer and body of work I have never seen or heard of. On first sight of the book cover alone I wanted to know more. From the Phaidon site about the photographer;
‘In 1972, Stephen Shore left New York City and set out with a friend to Amarillo, Texas. He didn’t drive, so his first view of America was framed by the passenger’s window frame. He was taken aback by the fact that his experience of life as a New Yorker had very little in common with the character and aspirations of Middle America. Later that year he set out again, this time on his own, with just a driver’s licence and a Rollei 35 – a point-and-shoot camera – to explore the country through the eyes of an everyday tourist.’
I think the images are so rich in nostalgia and they show a complete lost time, he says,
‘’In American Surfaces, I was photographing almost every meal I ate, every person I met, every waiter or waitress who served me, every bed I slept in, every toilet I used. But also, I was photographing streets I was driving through, buildings I would see. I would just pull over and say, ‘Okay, this is a picture I want.”
http://www.americansuburbx.com/2010/12/stephen-shore-uncommon-places-2004.html-accessed 11th May 2017
New York City, New York, March – April 1973- Stephen Shore– accessed 10th May 2017.
Shores other work Uncommon Places is similar to American Surfaces but from researching it I found this text – http://www.americansuburbx.com/2010/12/stephen-shore-uncommon-places-2004.html– accessed 10th May 2017
‘From 1973 to 1981, Shore frequently returned to the roads of North America, initially with a 4’x5′ press camera, and eventually with an 8’x10′ view camera. At first, his intention was to simply recapture ‘American Surfaces’-again, in full colour-but this time, using better equipment. Yet almost immediately, Shore discovered that this new equipment forced him to photograph in an altogether different way. Because of the bulk of the large-format camera, the time that it took to set up, the expense of the sheet film, and the fact that it required a tripod, Shore found that he could not shoot as casually as he had in ‘American Surfaces’.
I guess you can do the same thing but better and start to see things you hadn’t seen the first time, If it’s not broken then don’t fix it.
Alec Soth’s-Sleeping by the Mississippi.
I know of Alec Soth’s work from Little Brown Mushroom years back.
‘Alec Soth (born 1969, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States) is an American photographer, based in Minneapolis, who makes “large-scale American projects” featuring the Midwestern United States. His photography has a cinematic feel with elements of folklore that hint at a story behind the image.’
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alec_Soth– accessed 11th May 2017
I like his work as it is ghostly and gives an air of ‘what will these people do next’ and a feeling of not quite getting to know the subjects but knowing everything at the same time. It is as if you can place yourself there in the photograph.
Cemetery, Fountain City, Wisconsin 2002
The images are part of a series of road trips that took place along the Mississippi river. From the Magnum photographers site is a section about Soths work https://www.magnumphotos.com/arts-culture/alec-soth-sleeping-by-the-mississippi/-accessed 13th May 2017.
One feeling that I have about the images is that they look quite sad, the people involved in them are all doing something different but also very ordinary. The scenes are of towns and places that people frequent and carry on with their lives along the river. One picture I really liked was of a man called Lenny, he is sat in his kitchen with his dog. Nothing much is going on but his face and his expression make me want to talk to him, ask him about his life, what is he up to? I think the compassionate element in his photographs are apparent and they make you want to know more. The sense of time and place is with Lenny, this is where he lives, these are his things, his dog and This is Lenny.
If you scroll through the pictures using this link you can see him https://www.magnumphotos.com/arts-culture/alec-soth-sleeping-by-the-mississippi/– accessed 13th May 2017.
Robert Frank- The Americans
‘Robert Frank (born November 9, 1924) is an American photographer and documentary filmmaker. His most notable work, the 1958 book titled The Americans, earned Frank comparisons to a modern-day de Tocqueville for his fresh and nuanced outsider’s view of American society. Critic Sean O’Hagan, writing in The Guardian in 2014, said The Americans “changed the nature of photography, what it could say and how it could say it. [ . . . ] it remains perhaps the most influential photography book of the 20th century.” Frank later expanded into film and video and experimented with manipulating photographs and photo-montage.’
I wasn’t able to get a copy of The Americans to look at fully so I researched mainly from Google. I have always found his work very truthful and very gritty, showing things as they are and how he saw them.
A lot of his pictures are underexposed and that dreadful way of describing something ‘shot from the hip’ comes into it with some of his images being high up, half a person, only a bit of a scene. Frank was Swiss by birth so maybe he shared no affinity to the people or general project, like sometimes when your on holiday you take pictures of everything to remember and see things, but miss out the changes and differences in your home town and where you live completely.
There’s more about his work here http://www.atgetphotography.com/The-Photographers/Robert-Frank.html– accessed 13th May 2017
and here http://www.npr.org/2009/02/13/100688154/americans-the-book-that-changed-photography– accessed 13th May 2017.