“He who seeks to approach his own buried past must conduct himself like a man digging.”
Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, Vol. 2, part 2 (1931–1934)
In this body of work I use the photograph as an interrogative device, in an attempt to reveal an essence of the history contained within the land. Admittedly this approach is flawed; neither the landscape nor the photograph can fully reveal what is hidden by time and light, surface and texture. What is revealed however is a way of looking at place through the Archaeological Imagination (Hauser), the consciousness of the past within the present.
Drawing on themes developed in previous work, I invite these photographs to tell me something about the places they represent: something that is absent when viewing the land with the naked eye, something other than just the detailed rendering of topographical features. Their apparent objective qualities, so reliable in describing the scene, are in fact a hindrance to discovering any palpable sense of ‘history’, as we are taught to interpret it. In spite of this, certain phenomena endure: traces of memory, signs of human agency, a sense of what has and might have been, all realised in the moment of experience that the photograph holds.
As I attempt to excavate the semblance of the past, using the photograph as my trowel, I find that whilst much is described, so much more is concealed. The ‘moment of (my) experience’ therefore becomes the crux on which my understanding of history rests.
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