Tunbridge, Tasmania

The talk circa 2011 is that with the  analogue-to-digital shift to the last decade, film has died and digital photography opens up new horizons. The symbolic events are the end of Kodachrome in 2010 and the  blowing up of the Kodak  film plants in both Rochester and Chalon-sur-Saône. 

Whilst film aficionados lament a disappearing past, digital devotees are looking forward to endless expansion based on recycle, clip and cut, remix and upload.The argument is that it  took the death of film to fully liberate the medium from the paradigms of painting.

This image was made with an old Leica film camera whilst I was staying in Tunbridge in the Tasmania Midlands in 2017.  

I had just come back from spending several days  photographing in Queenstown whilst Suzanne and her friend were walking in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park.  We were staying at Tunbridge for a couple of days before we wen exploring the Tasman Peninsula. 

seaweed still life

This snap of a found still life was made along the coast between Petrel Cove and Kings Beach in Waitpinga whilst I was on an early morning poodlewalk:

 I have been looking at an exhibition  of the early 35mm work  made by Joel Meyerowitz between 1963 and 1978. The exhibition is entitled "Joel Meyerowitz: Towards Colour 1962-1978",  and it is at   Beetles and Huxley, a photographic gallery  in London. These Leica snapshots  are   from Meyerowitz's very early days shooting in black and white on the streets of New York  to the year he published his first book, "Cape Light", the pictures of which were made with a large format camera. 

Meyerowitz worked in advertising for four months of the year to support his family and devoted the rest of his time to photography.  A number of the pictures in Mexico and Florida   were made with  a Guggenheim Scholarship to take pictures on the theme of 'leisure time'.

beyond the Red Centre

In the nineteenth century the colonial narrative represented Central Australia  negatively--it was a  dangerous and hostile environment. It was the Australian Outback, and  this was represented as  being without economic potential a dead heart,  arid and waterless,  as a space of the 'other', 

In the  late 20th Australia represents Central Australia  is seen positively. It becomes  the Red Centre, a major desert tourist destination in the Northern Territory.  The Red Centre in the tourist marketing brochures is the welcoming heart, the place of cultural significance, the site of the 'real' Australia, a site of unchanging beauty.

The tourist conception  of the Red Centre primarily refers to  Uluru, Kata Tjuta,   Simpsons Gap, Glen Helen Gorge,  Kings Canyon etc and the promotional images are those of a decorative pictoralism.  The Tanami  desert, which lies beyond the region of Australian  Tourism's  Red Centre, remains a space of the 'other': an empty land  without a trace of culture.    

The Tanami, as this snap of the landscape at Hooker Creek  indicates,   is not an empty land.  It is the space marked by the foundation of settler society and the dispossession of indigeous peoples, the intersection of  indigenous and settler cultures,  and the site of indigenous painting of country as a contemporary art form. There is a form of forgetting or disremembering by settler Australians associated with how they understood the history of their nation. 

The snapshot tradition

The pictures made with the film Leica are snapshots and, and as such, they belong to the tradition of the snapshot image culture. Traditionally, snapshot photography is  one in which the images  are almost always produced for and circulated within,  the private realm, and its meaning and significance are  imbedded in individual and rarely rational affective responses. 

The snapshot  tradition has been interpreted as a form of vernacular photography,  and  this culture  is usually interpreted as  pictures made by everyday  folk about their everyday life;  or more specifically,   "the unself-conscious efforts of common people . . . to create satisfying patterns in the realities of everyday life. 

This results in a gap between the unruly vernacular culture and the modernist,  hermeticizing discourse  of the art institution, with its emphasis on autonomy, authorship, uniqueness and universality.   

 This vernacular culture insists on lived experience, or a rhetoric of authenticity, works within specific social and cultural conventions, and emphasises personal narrative. For most of us, snapshots mean something because they preserve a memory, capture a moment, or depict a friend, family member or loved one. -These are the  same themes that Kodak promoted for decades. From a personal point of view the significance of snapshot aesthetics often revolves around what we see and feel when viewing snapshots, rather than what they mean to art historians, curators, and collectors.  

playground, Andamooka

A picture of the past. A  picture of life in a frontier mining world of Andamooka. 

It's not much of a backyard or  playground is it, at the foot of the  opal mine tailings.  My memory of Andamooka is that the dust  from the mine tailings was everywhere, layered over everything. It was hot and the atmosphere was arid.  

What this photo from the archives does is bring the past--that has been---into the present.    In offering  an image of the past it opens  up history, allowing us to see the past---what  once was; allowing us an insight into the lives that were lived in a frontier mining town; allowing us to imagine a life lived among the dust from  the mine tailings next to the traditional tin houses of old.    

It's a  remnant of the town's past --a different remnant  to  the raditional dugout style houses of old that was  pictured in the previous post.