tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:/posts Thoughtfactory's Adelaide book 2018-10-10T00:11:15Z Gary Sauer-Thompson tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1326969 2018-09-29T00:21:58Z 2018-10-10T00:11:15Z Port River Estuary

 I have come across more pictures in  the archives  from my photographic sessions  in and around Port Adelaide in 2011: 

I  made this picture whilst I was  wandering around some edge lands along side the Port River estuary. 

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1316789 2018-08-31T01:33:41Z 2018-08-31T01:50:38Z Port Adelaide

I have been going through my archives and realized that the images that I made in and round Port Adelaide do form part of the Adelaide book. The book is more than the images of the CBD of Adelaide. For some reason I  had kept these two areas of Adelaide  separate when I was photographing. 

The Port is intrinsically connected to the CBD as it was, and still is,   the terminal or exit point for South Australia's exports.  Historically  the exports were loaded onto ships at Port Adelaide. Today, the  goods continue to be railed to the Port but they but they are  now exported in containers through  the container terminal in Outer Harbor.

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1311684 2018-08-14T02:19:05Z 2018-08-18T02:48:30Z Elizabeth after Holden

This picture was made whilst I was on a recent visit to Elizabeth for the opening of Eric Algra's photographic exhibition This is Our Town.   Elizabeth is a town that is struggling to come to grips with the  closure of General Motors  Holden car plant in October 2017; an event that   ended more than a century of car manufacturing in Australia. 

The recent  Holden commemorative  mural on  the wall of  the shopping centre ---Elizabeth City Centre--remembers the past as the town confronts the fallout  from  the 12,000 job losses in the northern suburbs from  the  ripple effect in the supply chain of the  component suppliers, and  the  range of logistics companies as they close down. 

The Holden plant closure represents  the end of  the old style nation building centred around industrialisation and manufacturing.  Elizabeth was a  planned community with  a utopian vision for how modern life based around  steady job and money, happy workers,  orderly streets,  stable families and a pleasant place to live.  It was a car city that championed the car. It was a city going places. 

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1310408 2018-08-09T00:08:35Z 2018-08-09T00:30:36Z people in the city

When I used to poodlewalk around Adelaide's CBD when I  lived in Sturt St (2005-2015) the people in the city outside of the office hours.  were few and far between. The CBD was noticeable for the empty streets on the weekends -the doughnut city I called it. An alternative name could have been zombie town as the  past cast a very long shadow over the city.  

This started to change just before we left in 2015  to live on the southern coast  of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Small bars were opening, more people were living in apartments,  people were on the street outside of business hours and the laneways from the central market to the railway station were being developed

This is a significant change:  a transformation from  Adelaide being like a country town to Adelaide having an urban life. I notice the difference when I walk around the city  with a camera 3 years later. 

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1309192 2018-08-05T05:31:04Z 2018-08-18T02:43:34Z Hindley Street, Adelaide

Hindley Street is  the  historically grungy street in Adelaide's CBD with little in the way of modernist Adelaide architecture.  Historically,  it has been the  nightlife entertainment centre of a suburban and industrial Adelaide.  Today the street consists of  yiros outlets, shisha venues, convenience stores,  massage parlours and pubs.

It is in need  of a bit more diversity to overcome the tacky look of urban impoverishment. This is an example of the historical grunge:

Despite the  recent emergence of a  laneways and street culture in Adelaide, Hindley Street  still has an image problem from the perspective of the city council.  It is a counter image to the offical brand of the city.  

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1275838 2018-04-23T00:13:58Z 2018-08-06T02:14:21Z empty shops

The empty retail shops in the CBD of Adelaide are quite noticeable when  I walk around  the city on my visits from Encounter Bay these days.  I interpret them as one  of the signs of the difficult economic times associated with Adelaide's  slow transition  from being an industrial to a post-industrial city.  This is still a city undergoing de-industrialization,  with a stagnant population,  high poverty and unemployment rates and increased homelessness.  

I accept that I cannot  now photograph the CBD as I used to when I lived in the city and I walked the standard poodles  in the early morning and late afternoon.   As the low key commute  involves an hours drive to Adelaide  from Encounter Bay on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula coast,  so I have to accept whatever light there is  when  I walk and photograph the city during the day. 

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1226310 2018-01-04T07:49:35Z 2018-01-05T08:26:58Z renewing Adelaide

Most of the  new development in Adelaide's CBD  since the recession caused by the 2007-8 global financial crisis has been apartment towers. All Australia’s state capitals have seen versions of this  phenomenon,  but the pace and scale of change in Adelaide is  much less than it has been in Melbourne's Docklands or in the inner west of Sydney. 

The exception to the apartment boom are the new buildings along the  western side of North Terrace--that is the expansion of the Convention Centre and the new health and biomedical precinct around and down from the Morphett Street Bridge . The latter consists of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, (SAHMRI), the Health Innovation Building (University of South Australia), and the Adelaide Medical and Nursing Schools (University of Adelaide).  

The CBD has been rapidly changing since we left living in the CBD in 2015. We just saw the start of the redevelopment  prior to leaving to living on the coast. We had a sense of Adelaide being between its  decaying industrial past  with its rust-belt imagery (eg. of Whyalla) and a high tech driven future. The promise was one of revitalisation of a moribund urban life with its underperforming public school system,  chronic public-sector management woes and pockets of intense outer suburban  poverty.   

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1197213 2017-10-10T06:20:37Z 2018-08-17T23:28:59Z architectural photography

This is one of the last images that I made with a large format camera before I left living in Sturt St in Adelaide's CBD  to move down to Encounter Bay on the coast on the coast of the southern Fleurieu  Peninsula. The  photo was made early on a  Sunday morning in the late autumn.   Hence the empty streets.  

It is of Wakefield House  in Wakefield Street just east of Victoria Square.  I do not think that it is heritage listed.  Wakefield House  is  a heavy, concrete modernist building that would have had a utopian feel to it when it was first built and celebrated.   This building represents the future.  It stood for  modern,  industrial  Adelaide. Today, my personal impressions is  that the building has a historical almost brutal look.   

There is a long history of architectural photography and this one is a modest architectural photo in a documentary style rather than an atmospheric moment.   It does not strive to be the glossy architectural photo that one sees in the architectural magazines.   It  makes no pretension to be an architectural hero shot, namely the photo that gives a project an identity through being the face of a building.The hero shot  is the image in commercial architectural photography  done for the client that everyone goes ooh aah over. 

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1140987 2017-03-23T11:48:36Z 2017-03-25T03:48:48Z more empty streets

I found the empty streets in the CBD disconcerting,  when I was walking around them in the early morning on the weekends.  This was the reality of an industrial society: a stumbling around amongst the nineteenth century architecture didn't result in  me  coming across a diversity of  random people.  I rarely  saw another person.   

There was a sense of melancholy on the streets.   A desire for an urban life that wasn't there.  I was living in an industrial  city that wasn't really a city because of the lack of people. They were all in the suburbs.  It was eerie. The promise was that people would come with the transition to the post-industrial  society.  

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/858626 2015-05-20T09:36:10Z 2017-03-23T11:16:05Z where are the people

 Many of my photos  of the street  from the perspective of carparks have little or no people in them. This is not  just by design.

 One of the notable historical aspects of Adelaide is the lack of people walking the streets or gathering  in squares or piazzas. It always felt like a large country town rather than a capital city

This is starting to change as more people are encouraged to start  living  in the CBD  and more international students arrive to study at the universities in the CBD. But  on Sunday morning the people on the streets are few and far between.  

One reason for this lack of people is the lack of piazzas or laneways that are closed to cars. It is proving very difficult to achieve this because it is political. The  political conservatives are opposed to the inner-city living,  and they favour the suburbs and the use of the car as  the  mode of transport.   

The conservatives  see those who want  the inner city to be a more attractive and liveable as Greenies who are  pro bike and anti-car. They favour more investment in freeways and less investment in public transport including light rail in the CBD.  

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/753420 2014-10-10T06:22:05Z 2014-10-10T06:22:05Z a congested city

The urban planners know that Adelaide  is kidding itself if it believes the private car can remain as dominant as it is now. Adelaide will keep growing, and all the evidence suggests building roads to reduce congestion is a short-term fix at best – the congestion just keeps coming. 

The urban planning and transport planning professionals worldwide have accepted for many years that the best thing in growing cities is to improve public transport to keep those cities moving. The cities that rely on cars, generally speaking, perform worse economically than those that have public transport.

What is needed  is a tram system connecting to the train station and the bus station in an integrated way. The argument should be about developing a commitment to public transport overall, and it needs to be consistent and integrated not about more freeways for cars to deal with commuter congestion.  The congestion occurs at the points where traffic must leave the freeway and join the existing urban road network and more freeways only increases pressure on these outlets. 

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/752420 2014-10-08T08:58:27Z 2014-11-24T12:34:38Z just as in New York, but differently

I have just come across a similar project to this one --Vivienne Gucwa's  New York Through the Lens. It is a Tumblr blog  about New York City photography and writing that explores  the landscapes, architecture and neighborhoods of New York City. It then  became a book that was based on 5 years posting. 

This photography like mine is based on walking the city.  

Gucwa says of her project that:  

Since I live in New York City, I don’t drive. Without much in the way of material things or financial prosperity, walking became my way to deal with stress. It also became a way for me to experience the city like I hadn’t before. I would choose a direction and walk as far as my feet would take me; I still do this. As the scenery unfolded before me, I began noticing lines, forms and structures that I‘d previously ignored...In 2010, I decided to finally post the photos I had accumulated along the way online...Starting out in photography with limited tools enticed me to learn more about light, which in turn, has set me on a lifelong journey attempting to capture something as fleeting and vast as the transient quality of New York City..... 

 Adelaide is not New York. The former is a provincial city whilst the other is a global one. Adelaide, unlike New York, faces a crucial choice: either the comfort of quiet regionalism and relative decline with increasing numbers of its  young people seeking and making opportunities elsewhere or alternatively, the challenge of becoming a cosmopolitan, internationally oriented and competitive city.

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/656478 2014-02-20T02:57:22Z 2018-08-06T04:12:44Z the modernist city

It is in the modernist  industrial city  (Fordism) that the  representations of the city come to the fore,  in the sense that photography, cinema, print, and advertising  shaped  the way our senses  experience modern life through images. If visuality becomes integral to our knowledge of  and practice in urban society  in the 29th century, then it is  cinema, which  has the  prominent role in inserting visuality in the experience of modern life in Australia. 

As is well known, these representations of the  new urban experience celebrated the daily life of the street  as the stage for the chaotic energy of the traffic, the swirling maelstrom of the crowd; the clockwork-like rhythm of daily life as thousands of workers and office-goers entered and exited their corporate workspaces at regular hours.

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/649409 2014-02-03T06:48:41Z 2014-02-05T23:01:28Z a seismic shift

The 20-30  years between photographing around Bowden Brompton and my recent photography of Adelaide's CBD  was marked by  a seismic shift in urban policy and politics.  This was a shift characterised by the disintegration of 1960s/70s liberal urban policy and the emergence of the era of neoliberal revanchism.  

The blighted places like Bowden and the south west and south east  corners of Adelaide, which  were seen to be in need of urban renewal,  were urban neighbourhoods where people lived,  and  where memories accrued  from their everyday life  that had  nothing to do with the stigmatising negative images associated with them.   They were seen as slums--no top areas-- that needed to be cleaned up. 

The liberal era of the post-1960s period was characterised by redistributive policy, affirmative action and antipoverty legislation. The talk was about the city and social justice.  That was effectively killed off by the recession we had to have,  the collapse of the State Bank in 1991, a  period of economic stagnation and ongoing de-industrialization.  

What emerged was the era of neoliberal revanchism characterised by a discourse of revenge against minorities, the working class, feminists, environmental activists, gays and lesbians, and recent immigrants. 

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/647351 2014-01-28T21:41:15Z 2014-01-29T06:54:06Z Adelaide: a doughnut city

One way of making sense of Adelaide as a city is in terms of  it being akin to an American  doughnut.  The American donut is a sugary ring with an empty centre and is a fine metaphor for the rich suburbs around a collapsed inner city. The city centre was structured on the segregation of urban areas into retail, industrial and living areas whilst the  suburbs were designed as a refuge from the bustle of city life. 

Since the mid-20th century Adelaide, like other Australian cities,  has been subjected to the "doughnut effect": the city centre becomes "hollow" as population moves from inner suburbs to the outer suburbs in search of newer, larger or more affordable houses. The ‘great Australian dream’ was a large house on a quarter-acre block in the suburbs. Consequently, Adelaide became a low density city.  

People live in the suburbs on the urban fringe and work in the city. Since adequate public transport runs out well before you hit the real 'burbs' people  travel to the city in the car to work, shop and play.  The city centre  is full of car parks,  office buildings, shops  and commuters. 

The conception of the  city as a doughnut overlooks that the hollowed out centre (CBD) was,  and  is,  a place of  mostly white collar work within high rise office buildings. In Adelaide  these  building are mostly in the  bland modernist style: rectangular shapes of concrete and glass.  

The hollowed out centre is mostly noticeable on the weekend: the streets are empty of people. It was devoid of vitality and the city centre had the feel of a urban wasteland or concrete jungle. The corporate model was a soulless landscape of glass, steel, and concrete boxes.

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/637189 2014-01-03T06:22:32Z 2014-01-28T23:05:16Z edgelands

I'd always seen the Port River estuary  and the Le  Fevre Peninsula as in-between lands or edge lands. I'd always imagined as existing  on the edge of town: a site earmarked for industrial development that never happened. I'd seen it as the wasteland on the border of a city, derelict land so damaged by the pollution from industrial development that it was incapable of beneficial use without further treatment.

Edgelands are familiar yet ignored spaces which are neither city nor countryside.  They are the half-rural, half urban nothingness,  or raw and rough wasteland ton the fringes of the city and, as  a desolate, forsaken netherworld whose existence goes unacknowledged, they stand in marked contrast to the tamed countryside or farmland. 

Edgelands have traditionally  have been without any signifier, an untranslated, ignored  landscape between the duality of rural and urban landscape.They often  lie on the  border of the suburban fringe and seen as blots on the landscape until they are developed for suburban housing, industry or shopping centres. 

 Edgelands, by and large, are not meant to be seen, except perhaps as a blur from a car window as we hurry towards the countryside  or the coast in search of wilderness and communion with nature; or  as an ignored and  forgotten  backdrop to our most routine and mundane activities.

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/625913 2013-12-02T23:56:54Z 2014-01-22T01:07:52Z Sixth Street, Bowden

These  Bowden street scenes are a part of Adelaide's working class and urban history. Bowden--- and Brompton--- were once counted among the least desirable suburbs in Adelaide. The expansion of the very industrial and commercial premises which had sustained the working class community in the nineteenth century caused a decline in the close-knit working class  community and  by the 1930s Bowden and Brompton was classified as one of Adelaide’s slums.   

 The  Metropolitan Adelaide Transport Study, released in 1968,  meant that  the Highways Department proceeded to buy properties.  Many houses owned by the Highways Department showed that their standard fell much below the general standard of housing in the area. Even though he North-South Transportation Corridor proposal was finally abandoned in 1983   The  suburbs became  progressively more run down during the 1990s,  the small scale housing  degenerated, and as a consequence of its closeness to Adelaide and manufacturing districts, the suburbs become a centre for storage, commercial or wholesale purposes.      

The closure of the gasworks that dominated Brompton in 2000 and Clipsal Industries' relocation from Bowden in 2009 provided an opportunity for re-development of these suburbs.  Many of the buildings in Bowden have been pulled down as part of the process of urban renewal. The factories, working class cottages and warehouses have been replaced by  parks and houses by what is known as Bowden Village. 

These street scenes, and the people who lived there,  are part of Adelaide's history that is forgotten. Few will remember them.  Few lived here. Little will be protected as heritage, for Bowden signified, for respectable  Adelaide, the negative of  civilised urban living. It was seen as dystopia: a polluted,  industrial place  full of dead  beats, bums and  alcoholics. 

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/376584 2013-01-02T07:49:00Z 2017-03-29T00:26:00Z periously situated

The art historian's interpretation of Australian surrealists paintings in the Agapitos/Wilson collection,  highlights the  representations of their dreams and unconscious  fears and anxieties about  both the 1939-45  war  and their repressed sexual desires.  

Today our fears are activated  by the negative effects that the  economic processes of the global economy  has on our localities and regional way of life.

We fear the wrecking ball that  throw us out of work into unemployment and onto the scap heap that we experienced with the on-going process of de-industrialization that started in the 1980s,   and then the global financial crisis around 2007. The last forty years of neoliberalism have resulted in massive increases in inequality, obscene wealth for a tiny few, but no greater happiness for the many. We find ourselves somewhat periously situated.  

We live with an unease about the break down of civil society, the growing distrust and  increasing violence, joblessness and stagnating wages,  and  the rising costs of living, even though Australia is doing okay compared to Europe and the US.    

There is now a lot more anger in public spaces. The surreal quality of everyday existence is  no longer about the outback, as it was in the 1940s. Australian's turned  away from the outback  to embrace suburbia. Suburbia was the new  or modern Australia. 

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/376585 2012-12-05T23:58:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:08Z errant wandering after 9/11

The public realm - both as a physical and virtual space - has increasingly and insidiously become a privately owned and managed environment where under watchful and anonymous eyes, the activities and behaviours of the public are both monitored and controlled. Loitering or meandering generates a suspicious glance; the gathering of groups is perceived as a threat; desire lines must be hastily overwritten with pathways that tow the agreed and official line.

Photographers lurking  in the ambiguous shadows and darkened alleyways away from the corporate branding are a special target of security guards and police in the public domain.  They are targeted under wrongful suspicion in relation to the anti-terrorism legislation enacted after 9/11; wrongful suspicion of anti-social behavior when there‘s no legitimate evidence to support the suspicions and accusations that result in the photographer being stopped for being a potential terrorist.

The law and legislation provided to the police are being pushed and misused to the extent that it is creating a hostile environment for public photography. Members of the public and media do not need a permit to photograph in public and that the police and security guards do not have the power to stop them from filming or photographing incidents or police personnel. 

Yet photographers have been stopped without having any reasonable suspicion on the grounds that  taking images  could be constituted as antisocial behavior.Taking a photograph in the public space is  deemed to be  risky and potentially threatening to the authorities.

The resurgence of interest in the act of walking or 'wandering', within contemporary artistic practices,  with their  roots in the Surrealist errance and Situationist derive,   can be viewed as a critical tool or conduct  through which to challenge or subvert the logic of the various surveillance systems.

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/376588 2012-11-30T03:13:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:08Z ‘losing oneself in a city'

One of the ideas within the surrealist strand  of modernism that resonates is the idea of  ‘losing oneself in a city’. This  can be framed as a craving for the unknown, the unfamiliar, or the strange in both oneself and one’s surroundings. It is a seeking to dissolve the boundary between self and other, as well as melting which might differentiate the body from its urban environment. It is a sense of abandonment and a relinquishing of rational cognition.

This deportment reaches back to the European surrealists who encouraged a wandering haphazardly in the city to allow the eruption of unconscious images into consciously perceived space. The ‘aim’ of surrealist idea  of  'errance' was to puncture the surface of what was consciously ‘seen’ to allow dreamlike revelations to emerge in the cracks and fissures between the different layers of reality.

Emma Cocker in Desiring to be Led Astray in Papers of Surrealism (Issue 6 Autumn 2007)  says:

In one sense errance can be understood as part of a tradition of spatial navigation and urban geography; an act of wandering through the newly bourgeoning city space that follows in the footsteps of Charles Baudelaire’s flâneur; Edgar Allan Poe’s The Man of the Crowd (1850), or is echoed in the writing of Walter Benjamin, whose reflections on the city have subsequently informed a critical interpretation of surrealist practice ...  Such practices have been framed by a later discourse that asserts the critical value of the pedestrian experience of the city, as both a politically resistant and playfully disruptive gesture. For Michel de Certeau in The Practice of Everyday Life (1984), walking is read as a tactic for challenging the dominance of the map or grid.

This sense of errance as  aimless wandering was developed by the Situationists with their idea of the dérive (drift or drifting) that reflected the pedestrian’s experience, that of the everyday user of the city. Users could for themselves experience, ‘the sudden change of atmosphere in a street, the sharp division of a city into one of distinct psychological climates.

One popular interpretation of this by contemporary photographers is night photogrpahy which involves nocturnal wandering. This urban nightwalking  can be seen as specific model of errance, through which to de-stabilise or blur the line between self and one’s environment.  This is an example of contemporary photographers  using 'wandering' as a critical tool through which to explore temporary, multiple and contrary readings of place.

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/376591 2012-10-13T23:15:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:08Z the streets of Adelaide

I have stumbled upon some photographs of,  and about, Adelaide

One was on the ABC's By Design program. Their  Streets of Adelaide over Time referred to the 1936 work of Gustav Hermann Baring's  Progressive Adelaide: As It Stands Today,  and the rephotography of this work by Mick Bradley and writer Lance Campbell in their book City Streets: Progressive Adelaide 75 Years On. This  showed how the buildings and the streetscapes have changed—or haven't.

This body of work is a systematic exploration of the buildings along specific streets in  the CBD and so quite different in approach to my fragmentary focus on individual scenes.  

I'd also come across Ian North’s exploration of the streets of Adelaide in his  recent photographic series the Adelaide Suite (2008-09)  done in an anti-aesthetic style of amateur photography.  I'll trace down the catalogue.

What is missing from this is any sense of what photographic modernism in Adelaide was from the 1940s to the mid-1970s. I don't know the art photographers of that period or how  photographic modernism was understood by them. It's a black hole.

Though modernism was never a coherent, unified entity--it was a series of different constructs----I presume that there was a  core understanding  of photographic modernism in Adelaide  from the 1940s to the 1980s. This  was along the lines of a formalism that insisted on the uniqueness of the photographic image as an autonomous art, that is, as a medium with its own art history.

This basic modernism  in Australia was given an American interpretation based on the Beaumont Newhall's influential text, The History of Photography,  its institutionalization in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and its refinement by John Szarkowski in The Photographers Eye. This strand of modernism held that photography possesses unique formal properties; it is exceptional in the sense that no other artistic medium can address these specific properties and representational problematics as well as photography can.

There is, however,  another modernism  in Adelaide though--one that emerges from the constellation of Surrealism,  the Angry Penguins, European expessionist abstraction and the post war European migrant artists. The Greenbergian modernists, of course, dismissed surrealism as kitsch and surrealism was repressed in late modernism. 

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/376593 2012-09-25T05:28:00Z 2014-01-22T01:06:37Z returning to Port Adelaide

I mentioned in the Introduction that my photographic roots were in Bowden and Port Adelaide--the industrial  or manufacturing side of Adelaide that was developed in the 1950s. It was a low skilled, low tech   form of manufacturing  that was indifferent to the environmental consequences of the pollution of the commons caused by industrialization.

The old tidal swamp along the Port River estuary was developed into Port Adelaide and it became  the site of much heavy industry and shipping and pollution. What was damaged from pollution, ie., heavy metal contamination,   was the Port River, which was  more or less treated as a sewer. 

The river and the ocean were seen  as  spaces  that business  could  discharge the  stuff they didn't want anymore without paying for  polluting the environment. It was the state's job--socialising the losses.

The progressive  state Labor Governments under Don Dunston and John Bannon had difficulty dealing with the environmental damage. Consequently,  working class people lived in a polluted environment and their health suffered as a result.   

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/376595 2012-09-16T00:04:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:08Z drifting in the city

Though I spend a lot of time exploring the urban skyline from car park roofs,  I also wander the city streets as a  photographic  flâneur in the tradition of the Situationists.

This tradition makes no appearance in the texts on Australian photography---eg., Anne Marsh's  Look: Contemporary Australian Photography since 1980 (2010)--despite the Situationists being   in the modernist  tradition of avant-garde agitation to which movements like Dada  and Surrealists belonged.

The Situationists have been written out of Australian photographic writings, even though the photographic practice of  many Australian photographers is one of  exploring the nooks and crannies of the city in unpredictable ways.They are modern day flâneurs.

The Situationist's  concept of the dérive---an unplanned walk or drift, was defined as the 'technique of locomotion without a goal'.  To dérive was to notice the way in which certain areas, streets, or buildings resonate with states of mind, inclinations, and desires, and to seek out reasons for movement other than those for which the urban  environment was designed.

Sadie Plant in her  The most radical gesture: The Situationist International in a postmodern age says that the Situationists held that:

If modern society is a spectacle, modern individuals are spectators: observers seduced by the glamorous representations of their own lives, bound up in the mediations of images, signs, and commodities, and intolerably constrained by the necessity of living solely in relation to spectacular categories and alienated relations.

The aim is to negate the seductive glamour of the spectacle through  gaining an immediate experience of the world, and transforming the everyday into a reality desired and created by those who live in it. 

If  the avant-garde had failed to deliver the transformation of everyday reality it promised, then so had the modernist city planners. Sherman Young in Morphings and Ur-Forms: From Flâneur to Driveur in Scan (2005)  argues  that the romantic figure of the flâneur in nineteenth century Paris is arguably impossible in Australia's  automobile city,  and  it has instead morphed into digital-camera toting tourist-flâneurs. Australia's cities--eg., Sydney--are metropolises of drivers, or  driveurs. 

Their city is a cacophony of road rage, billboards advertising escape, talkback radio and traffic reports;  a city represented by traffic jams, bus lanes and fellow drivers.  It is a world of tollways and tailbacks, traffic lights and street signs. 

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/376596 2012-09-05T02:12:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:08Z opening the past to an outside

A recent survey of contemporary Australian photography since the 1980s by Anne Marsh indicates that very little photography is being done to represent  the changes to our capitol cities long the lines of Eugène Atget in Paris, Bernice Abbott in New York, or Thomas Struth in Berlin. 

We can  infer from this absence in the Marsh survey of contemporary Australian photography  that do not have a body of images being produced that open  the past to an outside; an opening  which  becomes a threshold between past and present. This threshold enables us to recollect what has been and it transmits the disquiet of the past to the future.

The subject is history and time:--the object photographed is not just a play of forms, as these are  countered by the forces of history that traverse it. Form is a "sedimentation of content", as Adorno puts it in Aesthetic Theory.  Content is all that happens in the dimension of time.

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/376597 2012-08-07T09:05:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:08Z the mirror as memory

Modernism in industrial capitalism was born with a strong sense of repudiating the past as an anachronism that needed to be dumped into  the trash to make way for the progressive new art. If the trash became the archive of the past in an era of increasing instability and rapid social change, then the camera became a device to  represent and preserve the fragments of the past. It could back the tide of oblivion.

What is  new in the economy is continuously replaced by evacuations, demolitions, removals, temporarily vacant lots and  new buildings. Since the early 1960s, in the metropolitan centres of Australia , city fabrics largely inherited from the nineteenth century are  being overlaid by the twin development of the freestanding high-rise and the serpentine freeway.

The  everchanging shops  result in the old being so completely displaced, that  the old appears as if it never existed at all. So the past is dislocated from the present, and with the cultural forgetting,   our history  becomes a series of fragmentary memories. Forgetting is built into the very capitalist process of the modern production of urban spaces and the repeated destruction of the built environment. 

Memories counter the sense of historical loss and cultural amnesia associated with forgetting. As our capital cities are made and remade, memory  of place becomes  ever more important. It is a memory of life based on shared memories in a history of  place: a house,  city street, suburb, or a bio-region such as the river country around the mouth of the River Murray. These are memories of the spatial layout,  habitial memories associated with bodily preformances of say riding a bike,  and  personal memories.

If the camera promised to be perfect memory machine for preserving the past,  it also corrupted or destablized the positivist objectivity of vision by exposing the partiality and mutability of its own supposed clear and distinct  representations.

We are left with memory traces---eg., Kodak's golden memories--- that enable our identity. These traces  are important  for to be without memory  is to risk being without identity.

Our built environments change and we are left with our memories of what once was.

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/376598 2012-08-05T05:16:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:08Z Architecture as history

One way of becoming aware of Adelaide as a historical city is through reading its architecture as if  the built form was  a cultural text.  The urban build form is part of our visual culture. and it gives us a sense of history that acts as a counter to the functioning of the  media's 24 hour news cycle  as a mechanisms for historical amnesia.

Architecture embodies the ideologies involved in its inhabitation, construction, procurement and design. It displays the thinking of the individuals involved, their relationships and their involvement in the cultures in which they lived and worked. In this way, buildings and their details are cultural artefacts that can be read for the history they embody. 

We can interpret buildings and landscapes as cultural artifacts with historically specific meanings that can  be understood in particular context over time.  A first cut highlights  the large number of nineteenth century buildings scattered amongst the modernist ones of the 20th century.  Adelaide  slowly became modern--ie.  a shift from low-rise to modernist high-rise.

Modernism now surrounds us. It is familiar.  We realize that modernism in architecture and urbanism touches on, and is touched all at once, by all spheres of human life.  It signifies an industrial Adelaide; one that is slowly receding into the background with the emergence  of, and the shift to,  a service and informational economy.  

Modernism also meant  centrally-planned development regarding the  regarding the “city as a machine”. In Adelaide that basically meant a  car-centric suburban development, where walking from one place to another is not feasible any more. The characteristics are familiar: money-oriented development governed  by loose controls produced building forms whose disadvantages have been widely discussed: skyscrapers with plenty of sellable floor space but whose form destroys the urban fabric, cookie-cutter housing that does not really fit anyone’s needs, office parks that are not close to where the workers actually live.

A  second cut would highlight the spaces or the  voids between the  building’s forms. They are defined by (and define) the relationship between these forms and the movement of the people on the street.  They help to define the experience people  have on the street. It is this embodied experience that helps to make the inner city a pleasurable space to live in. 

Often the the relationship between these architectural  forms and the movement of the people on the street  takes the form of a nostalgia for the old and a desire to preserve the old architecture as heritage.  

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/376599 2012-08-05T01:04:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:08Z embodied knowing


The concept of 'embodied knowledge' is  based on knowing a place from the personal bodily movements through the city over time (pre-reflective, bodily existence),  as opposed to a theoretical knowledge---knowing a place  through film, books, paintings  and photographs. We are in the world through our body, and insofar as we perceive the world with our body.

We  learn not just by thinking about things in a university but also by doing them. Embodied knowledge developed through self-discovery in the body’s contact with nature (e.g. walking in the Adelaide parklands with standard poodles),  and practical knowledge developed through apprenticeship in the body’s contact with artifacts (photography).

It is a situated knowing from being in the world. Hence the importance of the lived body. Our awareness doesn’t emerge from a disembodied mind floating somewhere beyond physical reality, but is part of an active relationship between us and the world. The ‘I’ that knows is tangled with what is known--we are “nested” in contexts that include relationships with people as well as with objects in  the world. These bodily movements and practices build up memories of being in the same location at different times.

If we relate this to large format photography,  then we have  the  notion of an integrated set of skills poised and ready to anticipate and incorporate a world prior to the application of concepts and the formation of thoughts and judgments. This kind of embodied poise or readiness is “habit,” or preconceptual capacities or dispositions that sketch out in advance and so structure our awareness of objects.

Habitus is  the outcome of the sedimentation of past experiences, shaping the photographer's  perceptions and actions of the present and future and thereby moulding their artistic practices.

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/376600 2012-08-04T03:11:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:08Z remembering Australian modernism

This is looking back to the work of Wolfgang Sievers and more specifically to his photographs of the Adelaide Festival Theatre.  Sievers was a modernist Australian  photographer who specialized in industrial photography and whose design roots lay in the Bauhaus.  Sievers wanted to show that Australia was an advanced industrial nation rather than a producer of raw material and agricultural products;  that industrial technology could be humanized; and that the craft work of photography produces art objects that express the vision of the artist.

Siever's work, along with  other Australian modernists in the visual arts, is usually interpreted in terms of a narrative or discourse which positions  Australia as 'provincial' and whose culture has been derived from elsewhere. 

Historically, Australians, living in a settler colony,  lacked their own cultural traditions,  and so they  created their local or national culture by  appropriating bits or fragments  from the  cultures of the imperial centres. The next step was to find a possibility of originality in Australia within this relationship of dependency between centre and periphery. 


The key text here is Bernard Smith's European Vision and the South Pacific. In this text Smith argued that  European  generated concepts and visual design are not simply imported and assimilated,  but are also transformed by the experience of the regional culture into a hybrid form, which in turn informs the national tradition. The originality lies in the interpretation of the overseas influences and concepts as expressed in the work produced  within Australia.

Unlike the US no  institutional offshoot of the  Bauhaus was established in Australia,  and so  the worn-out  pre-modern design clichés of traditionalist Australia remained locked into place. The modernist style--- that is, geometry of  form, clarity, sharp angles and straight lines--- only emerged in the 1960s. This was  40 years after the Bauhaus was first established in Weimar Germany by Walter Gropius, with its emphasis on founding a  new utopian language of colour and form. 

Hence the sense of Australia as being a provincial and conservative culture hostile to modernist art by those migrant artists fleeing Nazi persecution in Germany in the early 30's and soon after from most of Europe.   Hence their  need to ‘de-provincialise’ Australia  by providing expanded cultural horizons through responding to an emerging industrial Australia by  embracing an international modernist  art (abstraction) with a universal language. 

According to this vision of modernity Australian culture was to be made continuously modern, Australian photography could become part of the art institution,  and Australian visual culture  could be internationalised. This European modernism, with its contempt for the aesthetic forms of the past and its celebration of the machine, envisioned a world cleansed of traditional forms and hierarchies of values. Modernism celebrated the romance of cities, the healthy body and the ideals of abstraction and functionalism in design.

The American formalist  modernism of Clement Greenberg overlaid this 'new way of seeing' with an emphasis on the  concept of medium specificity. In his texts Greenberg argued that there were inherent qualities specific to each different artistic medium, and part of the modernist project involved creating artworks that were more and more 'about' their particular medium. Abstract  modernism in the higher arts (ie., painting and sculpture) represented a withdrawal from reality to pursue their self-reflexive exploration of formal problems, whilst  photography was left to get on with its routine (pre-modernist) task of picturing the world.

John Szarkowski argued the modernist case  for art photography as a specific medium by outlining the specific characteristics of the medium in The Photographer's Eye. These unique characteristics---the thing itself, the detail, the frame,  time, and vantage point---- differentiate the photographic medium  from other visual art-forms such as painting or printmaking. Photography for the American formalists was a specific type of medium with its own seeing and aesthetic. 

This formalism  offered  straight photography a bridge into the art gallery and art market; into a world where style was the means of histyorical evaluation  and  the autonomy of art was translated into a space constituted by discrete objects linearly hung on austere white walls to be  viewed by the gaze of  the disinterested  spectator.  Modernism became the official culture of the art institution--galleries, magazines, market, academia--- and it defined the agenda for institutional collecting, exhibiting, research and scholarship and histories. 

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Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/376601 2012-07-26T08:48:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:08Z outside the pale of modernist art history

As the 1970s came to a close Minimal and Conceptual Art  had run their course in the art institution. Minimal Art had eschewed the image, the end game of formalist modernism, and   deflected visual  art (ie., painting) from its representational agenda to a new agenda in which the means of representation became the object of representation. 

Conceptual Art had produced socially and politically-orientated works often combining snap-shot like pictures with text to impart messages and to circumvent the  modernist art establishment.  For conceptual artists, the typically black-and-white and often amateurish photograph was a document, which often combined with text and exhibited in open-ended series.

The deskilled, amaterurish photographs of Conceptual Art (eg., Ed Ruscha's book Twentysix Gasoline Stations) were seen to open up the possibility of art offering  sufficient resistance to the equalization of images produced by the culture industry. Conceptual artists rejected and deconstructed the traditional aestheticism of art photography,  and conceptual art demonstrated that there need not even be a palpable visual object for something to be a work of visual art.  Hence the end of art talk.

The new love of photography that emerged in the 1980s after conceptual art involved a photography that took its cues from painting: it was pictorial and in colour, thus abjuring  both the abstract, black-and-white characteristics of the late modernist art photography,  and Conceptual Art's conception of black-and-white and often amateurish photographs as a document.This new colour photography  included William Eggleston, Jan Groover, Joel Meyerowitz, Lucas Samaras, Stephen Shore and Richard Misrach.

It highlighted that modern art  had a stylistic meaning and a temporal meaning, that painting and photography were different ways of making pictures and that contemporary art had stopped being modernist  art.


What emerged from this pictorial turn was an understanding of  a photograph as a picture that was both based on depiction or representation and was an autonomous image. It was a return to, and enfranchisment of,  what lay outside the pale of modernist  history.

Today there is no longer any pale of history. The idea of pure medium has been deconstructed with the hybrid art practices of Jeff Wall and Gerhard Richter that merged the mediums of painting and photography. Everything is now permitted. Artists are free to make art in whatever way they wished, for any purposes they wished, or for no purposes at all. ]]>
Gary Sauer-Thompson
tag:adelaide-book.posthaven.com,2013:Post/376602 2012-07-24T08:23:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:08Z Urban Life

In The Death and Life of Great American Cities, first published in 1961, Anne Jacobs argued  for the virtues of close-knit, inner-city life, developed organically and built over time in opposition to  the modernist  kind of postwar planning  of the mid-century city planners. These favoured free way building, exemplified  best  by Robert Moses  who wanted to run a 10-lane elevated highway through the middle of Washington Square Park.  

The modernist planners  assumed that they knew best, and saw the wholesale remaking of the urban landscape and along with it the displacement of entire communities as essential in creating the  modernist city of the future. This form of  planning theory blamed high density for crime, filth, and a host of other problems.

 Jacobs disproved these assumptions and demonstrated how a high concentration of people is vital for city life, economic growth, and prosperity. Jacobs argued that modernist urban planning rejected the city, because it rejects human beings living in a community characterized by layered complexity and seeming chaos. Jacobs advocated for “mixed-use” urban development – the integration of different building types and uses, whether residential or commercial, old or new. According to this idea, cities depend on a diversity of buildings, residences, businesses and other non-residential uses, as well as people of different ages using areas at different times of day, to create community vitality. 

Opposing expressways and supporting neighborhoods were common themes in  Australian cities in the 1960s. In Adelaide this took the form of The Metropolitan Adelaide Transport Study or the MATS Plan which was deeply opposed.  In opposition to the vision  of a cookie-cutter corporate city of glass-box office towers, high-rise apartments, and limited-access highways some of those who opposed the MATS Plan  wanted Adelaide to develop as a more European type city with high density housing and a stronger emphasis on public transport.

Those who advocated the latter  held the view that  a mixed-use, densely populated but still human-scale city  was  best fostered not by suburban plots or indeed by towering residential high-rises but by something in between, by a mix of four- or six- or nine-storey buildings in which people live and work and go back and forth “on different schedules” and for “different purposes.” 

What has happened since the 1970s is that urban neighbourhoods  have gone  from being edgy and gritty working class  to trendy and chic-- the process of middle-class gentrification. What has emerged is what Richard Florida terms the ‘creative class’: the trendy little shops of entrepreneurial designers, nouvelle cuisine restaurants and cappuccino bars, microbreweries, galleries, and the like. 

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Gary Sauer-Thompson