Title

Waste*lands : landscape photography modernity

Date of Award

1-1-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Communications and Arts

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

Abstract

This is a thesis with two distinct but connected halves. Text and image are applied to the subject of wastelands; the former works to raise the status of wastelands while the latter gathers visual fragments of wastelands to harness a picture of contemporary modernity. The two combine to create a practical and poetic, a social and flaneurial picture of wastelands. I identify wastelands as the material manifestation of industrial modernity. Although wasteland is an overarching term used to describe general decline in many social, cultural and natural spheres. I adopt it specifically to describe spaces of abandoned industry that have emerged since the post-war years in the West. Wastelands are invitations to engage with the destructive side of modernity. Berman (1982) describes modernity as simultaneously progressive and destructive. Yet I suggest that this destructive face is too often disregarded. I see it as a matter of necessity to reengage more thoughtfully with the processes and manifestations of destruction. Wastelands encourage us to do both. Institutional and market forces generally promote limited responses to wastelands. Hawkins (2006) identifies a similar situation in the realm of waste in general. She suggests that the affects of waste should be considered alongside traditional institutional dogma to expand our relationship with waste. This position is adopted in my examination of wastelands. By avoiding dismissive responses wastelands can emerge as potential spaces of improvisation. The text places wasteland in context with other modern traditions of landscape, it also seeks to localise the wasteland in particular social contexts. The images provide a more generalised reading of wasteland; they are the souvenirs of flanuerial adventures in wastelands. Wastelands are authentic spaces of modernity.

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