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.  

in the Ballan forest

This image was made in  the Ballan forest, Victoria,  Australia whilst on a photoshoot with Jason Blake and Judith Crispin during the Ballarat International Foto Biennale in 2015.

This photoshoot took place  late in the afternoon, the clouds were coming over  and the light was fading on the floor of the forest. We didn't have that much time to do more than walk around with handheld camera's. All of us had Leica M rangefinders that were loaded with film: colour for me, black and white for Jason and Judith.  

We had arrived at the location  without much time for photography as  it had  taken us quite a while to find the forest that Judith had explored when she was at  Ballarat International Foto Biennale in 2013.  

Judith and Jason then left for Melbourne  (Judith needed to see her publisher for her book on poety and Jason and to return to work). I went back  to the forest the next afternoon with my   Linhof Technika IV   5x4 field camera. I managed to expose  some large format film  before  the light faded and the rain swept in. Then it was a drive back to Adelaide.


 

Australian Gothic

I've started going though the archives on the hard drive of the Mac-Pro  in the studio to see what I was photographing  when I was using  the Leica. I'm looking back  to see if it was  just  snaps or did I start exploring themes? 

Sadly, most of the images look like happy snaps. The pictorial equivalent of the readymade characterised by unpretentious snapshot effects, documentary value, and deadpan anti aesthetic qualities.    They were not the result of a deliberate abnegation of authorial control in favor of chance, accident, and automatism. 

This picture of a window in Clunes, Victoria, circa 2009 is an exception. It's darker than most of the pictures--and  it expresses a  darker side of the senses and imagination than Australia's blue skies and bright clear light: 

It  represents the experiences  caused by unresolved loss, commonly known as a state of mourning. Mourning refers to what has  passed away, leaving  us with only images. It refers to the trauma that loss evokes--in this picture  the loss of the  way of life of the country towns in regional Australia. 

Historically,   Australia was represented and imagined  by explorers and cartographers  as a grotesque space, a land peopled by monsters. It was a place of darkness and convicts.  Its sense of disorientation and complete isolation from the civilised European world was unnerving. The Antipodes were  held to be a dark and evil place, an unconquered territory overbrimming with dangerous secrets.