Selina Wallace is currently on the level 2 landscape course. I wanted to show you her work as an example of photography being used as a creative expression because it is one of those frustrating terms tutors use that could be deemed incomprehensible!
The walk was one way is based on a fictional account of a man who went missing in the Adelaide Parklands (near where Selina lives). The book opens with an aerial view of the area where the man was supposedly last seen. This beginning immediately gives the viewer a strong feeling of discomfort paired with the desire to find out more. Good start!
The images which follow are on the ground, black and white, detailed, as though they were taken by a policeman or a search party. The images and text read like a detective attempting to find and follow clues to piece together a puzzle. The texts are descriptions of the photograph, or of one specific point in the photograph, and do not give any subjective readings where possible. The combination of this cold text and the wasteland type imagery come together to bring a sense of mystery and suspense throughout.
I thought the clue element made an interesting link to photography itself. Often we see images as clues – trying to figure out their meaning in the wider context, needing to make sense of them and find an answer for their existence. It’s interesting that, here at least, it’s all a hoax.
What I particularly like about Selina’s approach is that her work is directed by her own creativity. She is not dictated to by an idealistic notion of a picturesque landscape and its expectations (there are no ‘outstanding areas of natural beauty’ here and I don’t think she even used a tripod). The specific idiosyncrasies of the land in her photographs, although they do very much play into her narrative, do not dictate the story. In fact the opposite happens – the story dictates the meaning of the landscape we are looking at. As a viewer we are given a context – a crime fiction – and the pictures feed into that narrative and make us eager to turn the page. The context sets the scene and the images follow in line almost functioning like little clues and as parts of a greater whole. I really like this way of using landscape which has been known historically to be used for scene-setting / status-massaging / statement-producing egos.
In one sense a landscape picture is always submitting to the wider narrative (whether it be social, political, or personal) but Selina’s less dramatic and anti-sublime style of imagery takes the discourse away from monumental landscapes and their attached meanings and more into a personal, creative exploration. It’s fun, it’s individual and it drew me in.
Selina is not restricted by the need to portray the land in some sort of truthful way, nor in some sort of polished tourist way, nor is she required to stay true to the golden rules of landscape because she is paving her own way through this well-trodden genre.
Selina’s blog is private but she is very willing to let you in if you ask nicely.