Transcript & Bibliography
I’m Paul Lindsay and this is my oral presentation for the positions and practice module of the Falmouth MA Photography. In this short video I am going to cover my past and present photography and to explain my research project proposal.
My story starts in Belfast in the mid 1960’s, a city torn with sectarian conflict, segregation of neighbourhoods by peace walls, street searches and endless paramilitary violence. Here is where my early interest in photography is rooted and my ideas on visual representation first started to take form, much influenced by the images of Don McCullin.
I left Northern Ireland at the first opportunity and joined the British Army, it was not long before I found my self back in the province but this time with a fresh perspective of the troubles.
I was to return in the early 90’s shortly after qualifying as a military pilot and spent 6 surreal months overhead the streets of my youth, endless hours spent staring down at that dirty old city.
Some years later I found myself caught up in the conflict in Former Yugoslavia, watching from above as a society disintegrated and tore itself apart.
I took my camera, but this was secondary to why I was there.
At times I felt as if I had reached the end of the river and could see out across the dominion of Kurtz.
Gilles Peress captured this descent into hell in his book ‘Farewell to Bosnia’ an evocative documentary record of ethnic cleansing, shattered families and the horrors of conflict where the civilian population endured the many atrocities committed during the war.
Here I would observe first hand mis-reporting of tragic events and the influence of state driven manipulation of media to alter the narrative to further inflame tensions and provoke ethnic violence.
Fast forward 18 years, my time in the military far behind, I decide to take up a camera again and to make a determined effort to inform myself on photography through academic study and practice.
My interest and fascination is with industrialised landscapes. Photographs of these areas are a way to remember places that have meaning for the people that have interacted with them, spent a lifetime in some cases.
Perhaps intensely like a battlefield or mundanely as a place of work. To quote from Barthes Camera Lucida, ‘The photograph does not necessarily say what is no longer, but only and for certain what has been’. The image becomes a marker, a reference point in time to go back to and place a memory, to recall what has been.
Bill Brandt is influential in how I visualise industrialised landscapes, his grim images captured in the northern UK reflect for me the places I grew up with and criss crossed in my military career.
The presence and absence of the ever changing industrial environment, the relationship between form and function, some of it captured in the typologies of Bernd & Hilla Becher, memorialising what is soon to be lost to time.
Harry Gruyaerts Last Call, the strange disorientating landscape of the airport, creating an intersection between people, technology and the spaces they occupy as they transit from one place to the next. Together these practitioners inspire my work and how I interpret and represent what I see.
In capturing the geometry and scale of a strawberry nursery it frames a Ballardian landscape, a desolate alien zone, cold and unforgiving.
Local sand-mining, populated by giant angry machines; trucks hauling sand away to form a part of a new cycle of construction.
Gigantic commercial greenhouses, illuminating dystopian skylines. Playing its part in the treadmill of production.
The art of Bruce Conner is a source of inspiration and his montages a powerful way to express ideas and concepts. His 1989 collage, ‘Bombhead’ delivers a combined political and witty message, and like much of his art has an apocalyptic theme.
‘Signs’ by Robert Rauschenberg, a digest of the decade of the 1960’s. Raushenberg said the print “was conceived to remind us of love, terror, violence of the last ten years. Danger lies in forgetting.”
Through these, and others such as Peter Kennard & Jasper Johns I gain insights and perspectives I can then apply to my own practice.
Social media increasingly consumes our attention with its endless repetitive stream of imagery, the age of instagones is my interpretation of this phenomena.
Seemingly random pictures, constantly coming and going but it’s all the same blandness, endlessly recycling similar content, carefully binding our joys and desires.
To quote J.G Ballard from his novel ‘ The Atrocity Exhibition’ “Desperate for the new, but disappointed with anything but the familiar, we recolonize past and future.”
In this sequence, cuttings from travel brochures and household rubbish create an assemblage. Photographed and then manipulated multiple iterations to render the content almost unrecognisable, alluding to our littering of travel destinations; gradually destroying the beauty we set out to experience.
Environmental damage leads me into my research project, here I intend to examine several related themes around the intensifying degradation of where I live and how that contributes to global ecological issues.
We may be far removed from the mines that Salgado depicts, but that does not mean that the activities that go on around us are any less exploitive or destructive, they are simply dressed differently and presented in another form.
Intensive meat production creates serious health risks through air pollution and exceeds agreed nitrogen levels for European countries.
Fruit production, indoor and outdoor are significant industries which contribute to overall environmental issues from power consumption to haulage and shipping of products.
A common thread in these industrialised production processes is the use of migrant workers, whether that is picking strawberries or staffing the meat processing plants.
Each of these themes needs its own unique approach, in some cases such as the migrant workers, this is a subject I have never attempted to photograph and likely to be challenging. I can look to the work of Matt Black and his many years of examining the issues around migrant workers for insights into how to document their experience.
There is a bleak beauty too many of the areas and structures that shape this industrialised landscape and I intend to record the ephemeral nature of the giant glass houses and the windswept spaces of the strawberry fields.
Lastly, to tell a story about the meat production facilities and the sad spectacle of dead animals dumped at the edge of farms, waiting for their last journey to the incinerator.
Individually and collectively, there is a compelling narrative to tell about this industrialised landscape and those who exist within it.
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