The landscape that was being built on was farmland and market gardens on the Adelaide plains. The idea was to photograph the appearance of the new suburbs that were being built in northern Adelaide whilst I was on the road trips. My understanding then was that the new suburbs in the north east of Adelaide were a classic example of the human-altered landscape.
My photography was starting to be put on ice in the 1990s as I needed to concentrate on the PhD. So nothing much came from my plan to photograph the northern suburbs in the 1990s with a large format camera — apart from a couple of photos that I made whilst on route to Mt Pleasant and Walker Flat. The darkroom remain disused and I eventually gave my darkroom equipment away.
I didn’t have a conception of an Australian topographics then. That understanding of style and the topographic tradition in photography–as distinct from being a novelty or a fashion in art — came much latter — more our less a decade latter. This was when I’d returned to photography and began to realise that a photographic topographics was both an example of the modern and a rupture or discontinuity within the tradition of the landscape in art and photography.
Moreover, the teleological conception of historical time in modernity — that is, progress from South Australia as an agricultural country peopled with miners, small farmers and shearers to an industrial manufacturing one in the mid-twentieth century then to a postindustrial one (service economy) in the 21st century — is mythical. These historical transitions were major disruptions or caesures in South Australia’s history. This “myth” structure our ideology and shapes the way we understand, and misunderstand the material conditions of our lives.
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