Site-Writing

Foray in a Modern Reserve: An Impounding Portrait of Landuse (2016-2018)
  • Photolanguage (Nigel Green & Robin Wilson) | Darwell, Ecclesbourne and Powdermill Reservoirs, East Sussex

  • Nigel Green / Photolanguage Nigel Green / Photolanguage Nigel Green / Photolanguage
  • Foray in a Modern Reserve is an unfinished image and text ‘portrait’ and re-imagining of a modern natural and engineered landscape. It is vehicle through which to explore an experimental method of spatial writing at the intersection of archival research, visual and textual documentary and fiction practice. It developed as a result of journeys and research undertaken during preparation for an exhibition called East Sussex Modern (2016). We visited sites relating to the legacy of the Borough and Water Engineer Sidney Little (1885-1961) in East Sussex, U.K.. These included the impounding reservoirs of Powdermill (1932) and Darwell (1949). The landscapes surrounding the reservoirs have evolved into mature woodland nature reserves, and represent complex terrains of land-use and property ownership. Our landscape ‘portrait’ is a composite text, an assemblage of diverse texts of occupiers and users of these terrains over time. Our own, on-site observations and accounts of multiple journeys form a portrait of single, landscape site and narrative, as a complex negotiation between ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’. Our account samples and interweaves many other texts, including Little’s technical descriptions of the sites; accounts of archaeologists; angling and ramblers’ clubs and local landowners; agricultural and land management manuals; as well as a broader sampling of academic studies into the area of East Sussex and the High Weald. In addition, imagery interplays with the text’s narrative structure, generating its own narrative and descriptive trajectories. Through the combination of different modes of the landscape’s description, through its successive spatialisation across different agendas of movement and occupation, the work constructs a utopic portrait of the modern reservoir reserve. It traces the intersection and dispersal of desire and agency across the terrain as an ‘inspection’ that must discover and construct its own object, and ultimately (in sections to follow) propose its own ‘solution’ to the landscape’s latent equations. 


    Biography:

    Photolanguage, a collaborative art practice between the artist and photographer Nigel Green, and artist and critic Robin Wilson, was established in 1998. Through the experimental use of photography, text and found objects we develop radical documentations of urban, architectural and landscape sites.  Our work has consistently focused on the remains of modernism within the post-industrial city and its hinterland landscapes, in project sites that have included the cities of Calais, Copenhagen, Gloucester, London, Malmö and Paris.

    http://photolanguage.info

    Nigel Green completed a practice based PhD at UCA Maidstone on relationship between photography and the representation of modernist architectural space. His photographic work has been exhibited and published widely and in 2003 he completed a commission by Photoworks to document the power station complex at Dungeness in Kent. The accompanying book was shortlisted for the 2004 Arles Festival Book Awards. Having a long-term interest in French reconstruction architecture he completed a project for the Picardy based photographic organization Diaphane, which was exhibited and published in Amiens in March 2010.

    Robin Wilson is an artist, critic and lecturer in history and theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture.  He completed a PhD at the Bartlett in 2007. His work has appeared in edited anthologies such as Critical Architecture (2007), The Political Unconscious of Architecture (2011) and Camera Constructs (2012). He is author of Image, Text, Architecture: The Utopics of the Architectural Media (Routledge, 2015), and has published widely as a critic on art, architecture and landscape.


    Practices:

    Key to the work of Photolanguage is the construction of a particular relationship between the ‘real’ and the ‘represented’ at the intersection of the photographic image and text. Our projects draw insight from the reflective nature of site-writing’s engagement and re-presentation of site as a contested space of desire and identity.  Often working in the context of regional histories of architecture and land use, we seek to bring to the surface suppressed narratives of identity, to revaluate the outmoded, to construct new meaning from the overlooked in a way that questions established hierarchies and encourages a productive suspension of the borders between fact and fiction, evidence and associative fantasy.


    Keywords:
    Land-use
    Reserve
    Thicket
    Gathering grounds
    Freewarren
    ‘we’

    References:

    Karel Capek, War with the Newts (1936)

    Paul Nash, ‘Monster Field’, The Architectural Review, October 1940, pp. 120-1

    Man Ray, Terrain Vague, 1929


    Other projects:
  • Situated Writing as Theory and Method (2019)
  • Parts Apart Read Together (2019)
  • What Remains (2019)
  • 21 Orientations: An Atlas of Geographic Promiscuity (2019)
  • The Windowless Hotel Room (2018)
  • Shared Remains (April 2018)
  • Soft Landing (2018)
  • Spaces of Grief (2018)
  • Metropolitan Salem, Liuerpul (9 June – 18 August 2018)
  • Things Come Apart (21-24 March 2018)
  • Learn to Read Differently (2018)
  • Il Balcone. A site-writing performance (2018)
  • History begins with the vanity of kings (2018)
  • Foray in a Modern Reserve: An Impounding Portrait of Landuse (2016-2018)
  • Dear Mr. Jung: Inhabiting Carl Jung’s ‘The Red Book’ (May 2018)
  • Heaton Hall: A Palimpsest (2017)
  • Phantom Railings (2012-17)
  • Talking Quilts (April 2017)
  • fifteen ways to cross the desert (2017)
  • Between Landscape and Confinement: Situating the Writings of Mary Wollstonecraft (2017)
  • A Ficto-Historical Theory of the London Underground (2017)
  • Urban Literacy (2013 / 2014 / 2016)
  • The Glorious Tomb to the Memory of Nothing (2016)
  • The Arrival’s Reader; A Visual Literary Criticism on The Arrival by Shaun Tan (2016)
  • Reading as Art (27 August-19 November 2016)
  • Kjemikerens død [The Death of the Chemist] (23-26 May 2016)
  • Kingsland High Street (2016)
  • Away from Home – Home from Away (April 2016)
  • Penguin Pool (2015)
  • Geography Lessons: Liberian Landmarks 1953-2013 (2015)
  • Women’s Anarchist Nuisance Café (2014)
  • The Writing on the Wall (after Rembrandt) (2014)
  • The Italic I (2014)
  • Designing Architecture as a Performing-Ground (2014)
  • The Disappearance: Manfredo Tafuri’s The Sphere and the Labyrinth (April 2013)
  • Folded Ground: Escape from Cape Town (2013)
  • In The Emptiness Between Them (2012)
  • 10/08/12 (multispecies event) (2012)
  • Tideline (2010-2012)
  • An Arcades Project (2011)
  • The Museum of Breath (2010)
  • Slab (2010)
  • One wound. Two wounds. The body as site for writing (2010)
  • The Fluid Pavement and Other Stories on Growing Old (2006)
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