No place is boring, if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film. -Robert Adams
Since "finishing" the book project (everything short of sending it off for printing and finishing the sketchbook), I have been able to finally start thinking about the easter project. The title of the brief we have been given is "Defining & Re-Defining a Photographic Image", where we have to research a photographer and, as far as I can gather, attempt to work and produce work in a similar way to our chosen photographer. We are also asked to "Start thinking about what makes your approach different to other practitioners and why?"
The photographer I have chosen to look at is Robert Adams, in particular his series The New West.
The focus of this work is a sort of documentary series, following the introduction of new housing developments in the western states of America. I find something particularly interesting about the way in which Adams chooses his subjects to reflect the idea of expansion across a natural landscape, and the lives of the people who inhabit them. I recently read an essay (here) about Adams' work which raised some interesting ideas, primarily the idea that these developments were not a result of America becoming "full up" but rather that America had become rich.
Now, how to use this series of work as a reference in my own practice?
I have been wanting to do a project involving housing developments for some time now (sounds a bit crazy I know). However, there is a simple explanation for my interest. I have noticed in the past few years that there are a vast number of housing developments being built in the areas around where I live. Whenever I ask anyone about why people are getting rid of the countryside to build what seems like an unbelievable amount of houses for the space they have I seem to get the same response each time, "commuters", "affordable housing" etc. I guess this makes sense given the proximity of where I live to Basingstoke and Reading (and then on to London via the train), but honestly I still can't understand the need for so many of these places.
Sherfield Park is the closest of these developments to where I live. Barely a couple of miles down the road it has been inhabited for roughly 5 years now, yet whenever I venture down there I am constantly overcome with a sense of quiet and a lack of community. The houses themselves are very easy on the eye, the place doesn't look bad at all. There are expensive cars in the driveways, and everything seems to be very well kept, but it all feels quite fake. I suppose it is this that has drawn me to the place as a subject for some photographs and when I saw that brief I thought it would be the perfect opportunity.
I'll start posting up some images in the next few weeks.