Starting Out: New Topographics

“Trust that little voice in your head that says ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if..’ ”

Duane Michals, More joy of Photography by Eastman Kodak

Who were the ‘New Topographics’ photographers? Where did this idea origionate? What did it mean at the time? What does it still mean now?
‘Brand New Topographics’. The effect of man on the landscape. After researching this title, it’s clear that all of the pieces shown in the exibition had alot in common. They were all low contrast images portraying buildings, structures; anything that conflicted with the idea of the untouched American landscape that was being created at the time. The images show empty scenes which create quite an eerie atmosphere within the pieces, as they are what you’d expect to be, in most cases, lively palces.  The images are very flat in my opinion; meaning there isn’t alot of contrast between the different hues. This adds to the lifeless feeling about the scene I think, in the way that everything, even the sky seems to be the same color. I suppose this is to further emphasise the effect man has on the natural landscape; stripping it of part of it’s beauty and reducing everything to concrete.

For this project we were required to produce a series of lens based images centered around quotes taken from certain photographers. We were handed a map with a bunch of locations, which as a starting point was tricky because we ended up wandering around aimlessly for most of the day just trying to find them. I think we were probably in the wrong place for most of the photos I took, but I suppose that isn’t too important. This was taken outside of the herbert Museum in Coventry. When I took this photo I was focusing more on the content, and didn’t notice the face carved in at first glance. This was made more prominent when the photograph was changed to black and white. It’s a very simple image of a city scene on first glance, but once you notice the smile I feel it changes it into quite a cheeky piece which makes you smile in response. After this it reminded me of the work I’d seen of Elliot Erwitt, who has some pretty cheeky pieces himself.  Coventry as a place seems pretty bleak, which is why I’m so pleased with this picture; I think it shows a lighter view of the place instead. We were given a set of quotes to ‘draw inspiration from’ to help us capture our first set of photographs for university. I’ve posted a link of an interview taken with Duane Michals, one of the photographers quoted.


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