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Landscape and Industry catalog

Full colour, Soft cover (same paper stock throughout), 16 page exhibition catalogue from Joe Stevens exhibition at Poole Lighthouse, centre for the arts, April to September 2011.


Limited edition of 50

Landscape and Industry

This work is about exploration of the real world, of people and places. It is concerned with looking, closely and attentively. The works describe our world in all its fascinating ordinariness, its detail and diversity. They look beyond the spontaneous and dwell on the specific, the vernacular, on the individuality conferred on things by the marks of time and use. They focus on the signs that speak of the realities of contemporary life, of personal experience, of the flow of continuity and change.

Joe’s interest is in landscape photographs that examine the changes made by humankind to the landscape, not just work in progress of alterations and maintenance, but also the layers of history. One of the wonders of photography is its ability to record in such great detail, revealing far more information than could have been observed at the time of exposure. In this “long look” of the photographic gaze, although human figures are as much as possible excluded from photographs the human presence is conspicuous.

This work is interested in engaging the present world; of recording places that have been shaped substantially—though not completely—by the activity of people. The photos draw attention to things that often go unnoticed. The way we see the world is shaped by habits, which often get handed to us. Some of our most basic ideas about what’s worth noticing, like “scenery,” and “landscape,” are cultural inventions. They represent values that we inherit but rarely challenge.

Europeans once thought mountains were hideous! They were examples of God’s wrath, and didn’t show up in pretty pictures. Just as empty lots aren’t scenery for most of us today. We’re in the habit of tuning them out on the assumption that they’re ugly or uninteresting. I want to show that they can be beautiful—if you stop and really look. I try to encourage this through all the formal tricks of picture making, but really the most basic role of a photographer is pointing. By putting a picture on the wall, you’re saying, ‘look at this’.

What aspects we emphasize or de-emphasize when photographing and editing. Am I going out of my way to avoid the power lines, or do I consider them essential to the experience of the place?

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