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.   

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.