University of Tasmania
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Tracings - a photographic investigation into being in the land

posted on 2023-05-26, 05:06 authored by Berg , C
My primary motivation for this project has been to find a photographic language that communicates the experience of being in the land. The conventions of landscape photography are largely based on the concept of looking at the landscape rather than being in the land. These conventions rely on the monocular lens of the camera, linear perspective and, by implication, produce a distancing, totalising view. My investigation led me to abandon the use of the photographic camera and find methods and techniques that required my physical engagement with the environment and a touch-dependant manner for making images. I combined the old technology of the photogram and the relatively new technology of the digital scanner. Both image making processes rely on the physical contact of an object with the surface that produces the image. In both cases, the resulting image represents a trace of the object and a fragment or detail from the larger environment. The added component of text, also refers to experienced time and place. I chose Maria Island, off the East Coast of Tasmania, as the exclusive location for my project and conducted extended field trips there. Remnants of flora and fauna and journal notes collected on the island became the source material for the making of my photograrns, digital prints and text. Searching for an appropriate format of presentation resulted in the development of the frieze as an open visual device. The frieze invites physical movement and imagining beyond the material borders of the images. The theoretical context of my project is based on a comparison between a Cartesian perspectival representation of landscape, and a phenomenological approach to communicating experience. The visual field I have identified for my project comprises works by artists Richard Long, Hamish Fulton, David Stephenson, Tokihiro Sato, Nikolaus Lang, John Wolseley, Karl Blossfeldt, Harry Nankin and Susan Derges as well as a reference to drawings from the Baudin expedition. I have discussed the works in regard to issues that are relevant for my own project; how they deal with land, fragment and detail, the awareness of being in time, the trace and the format of the frieze. My original contribution to the field consists in how I have employed the two seemingly disparate technologies of the photogram and the digital image to materially engage with the land and to transfer this into a coherent expressive body of work. My investigation has resulted in an interpretation of the environment of Maria Island that resonates with my experience of being in the land and provides one model for a viable phenomenological approach to landscape representation.


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