Border Landscapes


‘This is what we are always looking for, patterns to make sense of the world. And then we frame them, with bits of paper, hedges, fences, walls, painted lines, boundaries… Probably this ‘framed’ moment must, by definition, be transient, but nevertheless it marks us.’
Tess Jaray



Last June I embarked on perhaps my most ambitious journey, cycling from Dunkirk, through Belgium and to the Hook of Holland. I was fascinated by the spaces I travelled through, that I would never have seen travelling by another means, and the ease with which I traversed borders, at times without even realising. 



The then recent news coverage of the Syria refugee crisis, in particular scenes following Hungary’s closure of the border with Croatia were fresh in my mind, and it seemed to me such a contrast, and a privilege to travel so freely; a freedom now under threat.

One of my photographs from this journey took on a particular significance. As I cycled along the river bank, flanked by a line of trees, I passed a man fishing. I continued and, passing a sign, I noticed it had exchanged one language for another. Unknowingly, I had crossed the border from Belgium into the Netherlands. The fisherman’s line now seemed to reify this invisible boundary, divorcing one half of the river from the other. Reflecting back on the photograph it seemed at odds that an image embodying such placelessness, could have such topographical significance. 

Andreas Gursky

'…the artist is by no means concerned with reproducing the outside world in an empirically accurate sense. Instead, he contrives to make his own reactions to the external phenomena of this world visible. What this means is to achieve a  balance between the visible, characterized by shape and substance, and the invisible, which can only be experienced as an intellectual reality lacking concrete shape.’


Marie Luise Syring on Gursky
Andreas Gursky, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Angler, (1989) Colour coupler print, (59 x 75.5cm)
  
Development

I decided to use my photograph to highlight my experience of this space and my role as author of this moment. The following works all derive from the same photograph; in a series I’ve entitled ‘Border Landscapes.’
In ‘Rust Fade’ I projected the photograph and introduced a coloured filter which encroaches on the landscape. Again a very direct visual sign of the photographers action on the image.
I photographed the projected image and printed it onto tracing paper, placed loosely over a grid of triangles, playing both with the triangular perspective of the image, and the idea of the triangle as a signifier, pointing the way.



Border Landscape (Rust Fade), Digital print on tracing paper and digitally printed grid (59.4 x 84.1cm)
In this image I have excavated one of these triangles and enlarged it, bringing together the photograph and grid in one image, through the use of photopolymer.
Border Landscape (Triangle), Multi-plate Photo Polymer Print (35.5 x 50 cm)

Illusory Photographic Space



Studies for 'Border Landscapes'

In these sketches I began to explore the idea of making the invisible, visible within the landscape.
For example lines that warn you not to cross. Passages of space directing you through the image and obscuring other routes.


Reminiscent of a bridge or train platform -non-places! Black graphic lines inspired by characteristic black railings which guide us through london.


These have developed into large scale digital prints overlaid with drypoint which I have again excavated to reveal flat areas of colour, acting as reflective passages of space and motion.



I am exploring different configurations of these collages, in an attempt to define this landscape by the way your eye travels through it. 

 
Alongside these collages I am working on a series of photographs in which I am looking to bring together the grid, the illusory qualities of photography and landscape, and the qualities of light and motion that define non-place.


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