an alienated art

If the Fleurieuscapes  book is to be centred around a  poetics of homecoming---with its associated words of  dwelling, place, region, abiding and building, then  the various words need to be unpacked. 

Firstly, we need to unpack what is  is meant by  poetics. It is broader than poetry in that it implies  a creative act that points to something beyond itself.  This  refers to poiesis or a bringing into being:  an unending creative struggle to express that which conditions and informs our worlds of meaning and yet resists being exhaustively articulated in the terms of these worlds. 

How does this conception of  poetics   relate to visual art including  photography? 

The starting point  would have  to be Kant,  since it was he who first  systematically outlined the logical grammar or conceptual machinery of  aesthetics though his categorical separation of knowledge /truth as in the natural sciences,  morality and aesthetic in modernity into separate domains.   In the Critique of Judgement Kant acknowledges that scientific cognition excludes aspects of ourselves from its view of nature  and that this must be accounted in other than cognitive terms. 

He does this in terms of an aesthetics that is based on the imagination, autonomous art,  intuition, aesthetic ideas, taste  and the lack of concept.  Kant, in other words, in inscribing art with the autonomous domain of the aesthetic relegates art and aesthetics to what is outside truth and goodness. Autonomous art is autonomous from truth and morality. 

the poetics of homecoming

I have tentatively started to develop the idea of photographing the fleeting moments in the ordinary  into a  poetics of homecoming.  What I have in mind is that my photographing humble things--an example is this body of work  by Yamamoto Masao ----- emerges into a concern with homecoming in response to the  state of homelessness in our contemporary world. 

Homecoming can be considered along the lines  of an overcoming of the state of homelessness. The philosophic conception of  the homeless condition has its roots in Nietzsche's discourse on  nihilism in modernity, which he understood in terms of  the emptying out of the highest values hitherto. 

Nietzsche's account is that  the erosion of the highest values hitherto means that these values are  losing influence and meaning  for us,  and  that we have fallen out of the traditional stories or grand narratives.   We are uprooted, and live  a nomadic existence in a world without  certainty, value, or purpose. We  have dispensed with all the prevailing ideals, values  and myths that traditionally  provide solace. We  are  no longer at home anywhere, and there is a  longing for a place in which they can be at home. Hence the state of homesickness with its nostalgic aching for a home where we belong.   

Homecoming is an at-homeness,  whilst  the poetics (as poiesis) is a form of mediative thinking about the presence of place.   This is contrast with the  poet/photographer  being in exile, always remaining in the foreign, and in a constant state of exodus ( as held by  Maurice Blanchot and Gilles Deleuze). 

Sellicks Beach + empire

 The picture below is from a 2015  autumn  photoshoot at Sellicks Beach, a southern coastal beach in Adelaide: 

Photographing the coast is an example of how photography has appropriated the language of  painting---in this case the landscape, in which nature is seen for its own sake.  The  pictorial representation of the landscape in painting  emerges in the 17th century in Europe and reaches its peak in nineteenth century  with Romanticism. The  genre 'landscape' is a way of seeing and there are different views of the land--eg., those of the aboriginal people, white settlers, tourists etc. 

Preface: a DIY experiment

I've been thinking about doing a DIY book about my local seaside neighbourhood at Victor Harbor, South Australia for some time now. We've been coming down to the weekender from Adelaide regularly---it's been 15 years I think. I've been taking photos here and around the Fleurieu Peninsula for a number of years. 

Up to now I've been content to publish some of the photos  on my Flickr stream,  on my photoblog, Rhizomes1, and on poodlewalks, my visual diary.  Now I fell the need to begin to select the Victor Harbor photographs into some kind of project.

But what kind? I don't really know. Therein lies a problem, which  I will have to confront sometime in the future. So the book will be designed as a process of puttintg it together. 

I'm going to begin by using the Posterous  micro publishing platform to publish the images and text that would then form the raw material for  the book. I would then have something on the desktop  to work with, as opposed to it just being  an idea in my head. The result would be a first draft, as it were.

I've been wanting to make the shift to DIY publishing for some time,  but I've never found a way to cull the visual material for the book from what I am taking.  So Posterous is being used to help me address the culling problem.

 I'm not that  interested in making money by selling lots of books. That's a dream. So too is making the photobook as an art object in the Japanese tradition of Kohei Sugiura.  I'm more interested in putting together a well packaged and interesting book, and  acquiring the digital skills and knowledge from dong so.  

I understand that Independent publishing is flourishing thanks to on-demand printing. The trend to make, edit, design and produce your own photobook appears to have become  an underground phenomenon in our digital world.  

One advantage of the DIY book is that it enable the art photographer to sidestep the exhibition space of the art gallery system, which has become increasingly closed as the digital revolution transforms our visual culture. Its a reworking of the old idea of Salon de Refusés.