I decided to start a book on Adelaide, my hometown, because I had became tired of just taking lots of photos and posting them to Flickr, to Rhizomes1, my photoblog, or to Facebook. I needed to shift from being an enthusiast taking snap shots to working on a project that required some thinking about what I was doing. I thought, why not produce a DIY Blurb book?
How would I organize the material? I though that the Posterous micro-publishing software could help me produce a draft of the book---postcards from, or impressions of, Adelaide, rather than a history of the city?
So I began to start selecting the pictures that I'd been taking in and around the city of Adelaide over the last couple of years into a computer file; and then started posting them into a Posterous blog. This process, I reasoned, would then force me to start to think about, research, and write some text to go with the photos.
From this process would a rough draft or text would emerge and I would have have abody of body that could be worked on, and shaped, into a book. I could to think of the DIY book as a book, as opposed to a portfolio of photographs, or a series of blog posts.
The basic idea of the book is that it is a personal interpretation --my Adelaide, as it were. This is the Adelaide that emerges out of my urban exploration as a photographer walking its grid-like streets. The body is important here as I walk the streets, since it is the body that initially responds to the architecture, public mood, urban light and the flow of the street.
This approach has affinities to the New South Books series on Australian capital cities in which well-known writers reflect on their home town. So far we have Peter Timms’s Hobart, Matthew Condon’s Brisbane, Delia Falconer’s Sydney, Sophie Cunningam’s Melbourne and Kerryn Goldsworthy’s Adelaide. Books on Perth, Darwin and Canberra will follow in 2012.
I haven't read any of these texts so I don't know how they've critically reflected on their hometowns. The exception is Goldsworthy’s Adelaide, which rummages through the personal past of her lived life in Adelaide. This review of the text in the mainstream press doesn't really come to grips with what this book is doing.
Stephanie Hester says that Goldsworthy's Adelaide is along the lines of:
a palimpsest, or a layering of sense memory , mood a layering of sense-memory, mood-memory, and the vivid recollection of images, emotions and events ... a text in which layers of history and myth and memory have been placed upon each other to form the most illustrative of “maps”.
It is a literary vision of bodily memories from which Goldsworthy constructs a complex map of narratives and sensibilities that lie beneath the simple geometry of Adelaide's urban grid; or the self-image of Adelaide as a comfortable, small provincal town with a friendly-at-home atmosphere.
My Adelaide has its roots in Bowden, an old industrial suburb, where I lived in an old working class cottage (now demolished) when I first came to Adelaide from Melbourne. I converted the shed into a darkroom and I started taking photos in and around the area.
That working class Bowden has gone.
My Adelaide also has its roots in Port Adelaide. I used to go down there with Fichte, my standard poodle, the Kombi and a large format camera. I was attracted by the wastelands on the edge of the city:
Bodily memories, and the embodied knowledge emerging from my photowalks, also provides a link to William Klein's photographic books about cities – New York, Rome, Moscow and Tokyo. These were filled with raw, grainy, black-and-white photographs that caught the energy and movement of modern urban life with scant regard for traditional composition.
The New York book---Life is Good & Good For You in New York: Trance Witness Revels. (1956) is a kind of impressionistic diary of Klein's wanderings on the streets of a squalid New York, and it is widely recognized in photographic culture for its iconoclastic graphic design.