Overall Comments (Tutor’s response in italics)
• Considered to be a project with some mileage and scope for developing further. Absolutely. It’s really good that our conversations so far have pointed to a student who’s
well aware of the richness and photographic potential of his immediate environment.
As well as aesthetic possibilities, the fact that you’re tuned into the political (and ‘cultural
political’) aspects of everything bodes really well.
• Shots also need to be taken at closer proximity.I think so. This assignment feels like a first salvo, and the trick now is to think about how the aesthetic possibilities can be
developed. One of my minor criticisms of this first ‘draft’ is that there’s a certain lack
of variation. This does tend to be one of the gripe I’ve got with the photographing of
wind farms, and photographers can tend to think of them from afar. Getting closer not
necessarily feeling the urge to include their entire structure would certainly open up
the possibility of you a) making something that is more idiosyncratic and b) experiencing
them in different ways.
• Try isolate structures, accentuating the intruder aspect. Yes. While, from afar, they
have an obvious impact, what happens if only a small part of them is seen juxtaposed
against the landscape?
• Maybe investigate the background to development of wind power. Yes. There’s much
to be explored here. Nuclear power, after the terror it prompted in he 1980s, seems
to have been ‘sanitised’, and it’s enormously interesting that supposedly environmentally-
friendly structures like wind farms prompt such outrage in the areas they’re
located. Is it also worth focusing your research around the tensions between the
countryside and the city, two spaces that are increasingly seen as polar extremes?
• Look at local/national attitudes both for and against. This would be interesting. Are
they actually rather more than just hulking structures of metal, and is it possible that
they’ve come to signify much more, eg political attitudes, the tensions between the
city and the country, something to do with class?
• Keep taking more photos in all weathers and try and get closer to subject. Yep. They
are structures built to withstand and make the most of extreme weather conditions,
so photographing them under different meteorological circumstances will no doubt
give you different ways of establishing the mood and tone of the work. It’ll also give
you the opportunity to potentially produce a blog post or two on the practicalities of
photographing under such circumstances. All the photographic equipment in the work
will make not a jot of difference if you find yourself out in a rainstorm with inadequately
• Consider issues of power (in both senses) driving infrastructure. Absolutely. This is
more than just the generation of energy; a whole set of issues around corporate,
political and cultural power are there to be explored.
• Look at corporate literature promoting and informing wind power. Yes. How do these
industries represent and promote themselves? And what about any literature/ discourses
that support or challenge them?
• Emphasis change look at partial sightings/glimpses etc. Yes. See above re isolating
smaller parts of the blades/ structures. Less is more, etc etc.
• Play around with sequence and add/delete shots as appropriate. Definitely. I think
this is the way to return to and revise this one- just keep shooting and think about
how the sequence can be refined. As you do this, I’m confident that you’ll start to become
clearer on the themes you’re interested in. In a nutshell, the underlying research,
like the photographs themselves, should follow the formula ‘expand your research
so as to narrow your focus’.
• Discussion on how once feared nuclear power is now considered a reasonable option
(also referenced Edge of Darkness Tv Series). Yes. Looking at popular culturalnot
just photographic- representations of different power sources will certainly help to
inform they way you look at and think about everything. Edge of Darkness is a great
example- the whole series was underpinned by gloom and paranoia and a fear that
nuclear power would lead to certain armageddon. The widespread investment in nuclear
technologies since stands as a dramatic reversal of this idea. Also take a look at
the Protect and Survive series of state-commissioned nuclear war commercials from
the 1980s. They say much about the era’s position on nuclear power.
• Look at how rural spaces are used perceived work/leisure. This is a slightly smaller
theme here, but one still worth exploring. The spaces you’re looking at are broadly
constructed in the popular imagination as ‘leisure’ spaces and places of rejuvenation,
but they are also industrial spaces and places of labour. Further reading around this
will no doubt add more detail to your approach.
• Health impact of wind power vs economic benefits. It’s really odd that such apparently
‘benign’ sources of power are subject to such criticism and hostility. As you said,
a huge dimension in this seems to be the ‘NIMBY’/ class-based response, which often
seems to hide behind the suggestion that wind farms are not particularly useful of
efficient. Something else to look into…
Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of
• Queried why black and white and the use of colour was discussed. As black and
white was chosen to highlight the wind turbines in their environment as they tend to
lose an element of their prominence in colour shot. However, this Should be considered
as an option to illustrate this. Before I actually viewed the work, it did seem to
make sense to shoot in b/w, but I’m not convinced that it’s more effective than colour.
It’s all part of the research and development though.
• Use of sound might be an interesting angle (reference was made to assignment 5 in
this respect.). Definitely. The sound generated by wind farms could certainly be utilised
to interesting creative effect. The Tim Edensor article on the Peak District that I
mentioned (attached) is from an issue that includes writing by Julian Holloway on
sound’s connection to place. I haven’t read it, but it sounds potentially useful.
• More variety in shots would be beneficial. Yes. But this will no doubt come with further
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
Looking promising. Glad to see you’ve been looking at Jim Mortram’s work!!!
Going forward, with so many really promising ideas already flying around, the coursework
and exercises will be particularly important in helping you to see what’s worth developing
and what isn’t.
Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
We obviously touched on a number of research leads to follow, so it’s pretty essential that
you set up a dedicated research section on your blog. Blogging about any particularly useful reading or viewing you’ve done will not only be important for assessment, but also in helping you to keep track of everything.
• John Fiske’s ‘Reading the beach’ essay in his Reading the Popular book will give you
some ways of conceiving of the nature- culture dichotomy that could be particularly important as you develop the work.
• The Tim Edensor article on the Peak District I mentioned is attached, and comes from
Landscape Research journal, one to keep an eye on. I’m sure there’l be stuff in there on
• The Lewis Baltz book is called The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California. There are
plenty of images online, as well as a good deal of commentary. The project has perhaps
been subsumed by the New Topographics exhibition that it was part of, which is also worth
some further research.
• Mitch Epstein’s American Power is more recent and will definitely provide with you much to chew on!!!
Pointers for the next assignment
There are some really good ideas already in the offing, so the trick now is to push on with
the reading and to shoot as often as you can, honing each individual set-up and tweaking
the sequencing/ meaning of what you produce. At this stage, don’t hold back- give yourself
lots of options and see what starts to take shape. As ever, feel free to drop me a line if
there’s anything I can help with.