Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cliffs of Moher, Eason and Son Collection
Timothy O Sullivan, Great Surveys, 1878

Into the West.
Landscape Photography; an ocean apart.

For my project I am creating a series, comprising of photographs taken for the “Great Western Surveys” of the American West in the late nineteenth century and the Eason and Son and Lawrence Collections of photographs of Ireland in the early twentieth century.

The “Great Western Surveys” comprises photos from Timothy O Sullivan, A.J. Russell, Alexander Gardner, William Bell, William Henry Jackson and John K. Hillers. Though these photographs were taken for “recording purposes” they were also used as a predictive medium. They were used to predict the West of the Future, a West where economic investment that would be rewarded and immigrants would meet a prosperous future.

The Lawrence and Eason Collections were produced in the early 20th century for commercial purposes, primarily as postcards. Their intent was to advertise the Irish countryside and villages as places to visit and enjoy. This explains why towns, historic sites, scenic views and tourist attractions were repeatedly photographed while those areas that were sparsely populated and “less attractive” areas were ignored.

The Lawrence and Eason Collection together accumulate approximately 44,000 negatives; consequently to narrow it down I am focusing on photographs of the West of Ireland only. Upon examining the photographic collections I came to a conclusion that though the “Great West” and the West of Ireland though an ocean apart have a number of astonishingly similar landscape photographs. Thus I decided to compare and contrast these collections to find out firstly, why we take photographs and secondly, how that will influence how we take the photographs.
By going through the series of each collection I have picked out a number of photographs and I am juxtaposing the photographs from each continent against each other. I will now analyse the photographs; the intent behind them and also the method of photographing, the content, the framing and so forth. From this I hope to begin to find a methodology or way of thinking behind the similarities of the landscape photographs.

Exhibition proposal:

I would like to place my images around a window which has a view to a landscaped area and also near an exit to give the viewer some food for thought as they exit into their own landscape. Perhaps I would use the inner wall surrounding the large window beside the exit from the eating/exhibition space beside O Brien’s. I would place the images beside each other on an A4 sheet, with a short caption under each. I would include a brief text at the beginning regarding my intent of the project.

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