Reflecting on interplay between Photography and time:
Is the photography simply providing an authentic record of the artwork – photography as evidence – or is it part of the artwork itself?
There seem to be a range of interactions with and use of Photography in regard to Land art. In the case of the different artists researched over this project, their approaches sometime differ. For that reason I’ll reflect on their different approaches by referencing particular works of art which are captured through photographs or are contained within the photograph’s themselves.
The above piece, Nothern France/Southern England , by Fulton is I think an example of photography as artwork. I may be wrong but it seems strange to go to the effort of printing it professionally and mounting it for display in a gallery if it’s not actually the art work. Fulton’s work is often concerned with walking, and he has been said to have considered the walk art work in itself. But here I think the physical presence of the photographs in an exhibition must be evidence of the artist considering the photographs as an art form.
The piece opposite, Japanese Maple Leaves, by Andy Goldsworthy, is a complex example. On the one hand Goldsworthy’s work is known for being ephemeral, he deliberately seems to create works in nature that are fragile and will last temporarily. Knowing that makes me think that he considers the physical piece the art work, and the Photograph as a form of documentation. But from my perspective the photograph is my only way of accessing the artwork, for the viewer that is the artwork because we can’t go and see that piece in situ, it simply wont be there.
Another example of Photography as evidence is Richard Longs, A Line Made by Walking, a piece so fragile and tied to the landscape it can only be fully seen through a photograph. But in my research, I discovered Long had a process of shifting from seeing Photography as a documentation tool to seeing it as an art work itself. I’m not sure which pieces he would consider as evidence of this shift, but I know it happened over the 1960’s/1970’s.
For artworks which are temporary, in exhibition spaces, or the natural world, the taking of a photograph seems to be used by Long as an extension of the artwork. I’m thinking of one of his more recent sculptures in the Tate; Cornish Slate Eclipse (see image below).
Keith Arnatt’s, Self Burial (see image below), is a bit of a crossover between art and documentation. Clearly the piece documents an unfolding event or process. It captures the artist disappearing frame by frame. The pictures were subsequently inserted as individual pictures interrupting a normal television broadcast of WDR a German Television station. The pictures disrupted programmes, twice a day from the 11th of October 1969.
In a commentary on the piece written in the; The Tate Gallery Report 1972-1974 , [accessed 2/06/2016]. Arnatt clearly saw the photographs as integral to the piece, ‘the ‘burial’ was done in order to arrive at the photographic sequence – the photographs are not merely a record’. Of their latter use in television the Artist said ‘Self burial was not conceived with television in mind. Nor did the artist have a particular exhibition in view’.
Arnatt later in the piece seems to point to the photographs having dual purpose by saying that ‘it was intended that the photographs that the photo- graphs should convey the impression that something was happening to me, they really record— stage by stage— the product of a quite elaborate, uncomfortable and lengthy behaviour pattern.’ His interest was in capturing a physical act and the photography was a part of documenting that whilst simultaneously becoming the artwork itself.
I’ll leave my thoughts here, and move on to the next section…