landscape, writing, photography

I am really struggling with this Fleurieuscapes  project.

 I am not sure what to do with it,  I am not very confident about the project and  progress is very slow:  I have only got as far as dividing the  photo book into two parts---scrub/bush  and coastal.  I continue to make photos in and around my Fleurieu neighbourhood in Victor Harbor--- these currently emerge out of  my scoping whilst on the  poodle walks, but  I am not doing every much with translating these photos  into a photobook.   

I also realise that the project  has become situated in the  landscape, writing and photography nexus,  as  I accept that  the landscape is a kind of text, in that it is 'represented ' in a number of different ways by its inhabitants  and artists. The landscape  is thus a cultural construct with a certain kind of narrative, which in 20th century Australia, has traditionally been one about national identity.  I am comfortable in finding myself working withn the landscape, writing and photography nexus. 

Maybe my lack of confidence is because  whilst  the  accounts of our literary and painted landscapes are common and influential,   photography has tended to be characterised as a footnote to the history of painting. There is also the difficulties involved that result from the differences between a  visual and a written medium--I realise that traditionally words and images are established as not merely different, but antithetical. Thirdly,  photographic landscapes seemed to have been caught up in the old genres---the picturesque,  the pastoral and the aerial.

Sarah Hill has pointed out that  the theoretical complications of the relationship between landscape, writing, and photography  have only been explored in a sketchy fashion.   Maybe that is why I am floundering  with this project/book?  What I do know is  that I am not really sure how to move  away from  the old landscape genres---ie., the picturesque,  the pastoral and the aerial.   

 One possibility that I have come across is the pathway suggested by  Marion Marrison's  1979  Bonnet Hill Bush series, which consists of a number of photographs of  a patch of suburban scrub near where she lived in Tasmania. As Martin Jolly observes:

"Marrison found a microcosmic Australia literally in her own backyard. And rather than imposing a geometry on it, she finds a geometry within it, visually curating the fallen trunks and branches into an order which registers her own personal point of view, and her own presence as an aesthetic appreciator immersed in the environment — however modestly scaled."

The series takes the viewer deep inside the scrub with the  camera  focused on the ground, picking out fragments of fallen branches, twigs  and foliage. So there is no horizon line or clear sense of scale. 

What I take from the  Bonnet Hill Bush series is the idea of the immersion in the  landscape. This is how I experience the local landscape  around Victor Harbor and Waitpinga--both the scrub and the coast.  I am within it, not standing outside it looking at it  from an Archimedean point of view,  as if I were a visitor or tourist.  

The overview  figuration of  the landscape situates "us" as dominant over the landscape, which  is assumed to be seperate from ourselves. My experience is otherwise:---whilst on the poodle walks I am immersed in the landscape. Just like the poodles are.