1st Update: 03.03.16
2nd Update: 29.03.16
3rd Update: 01.03.16

Research Report proposal

Activism. Landscapes. Provocative.

About My Field of Research

This extended essay takes on a rhetoric approach in exploring the aspects of ‘provocativeness’ in landscape photography. As landscape photography can be categorised into the representational, the impressionist, and the abstract; the intention is not to challenge what has been established nor to question the role of provocative images of the landscape, but to explore the various strategies and the innovative approaches in landscape photography.

Contextual Review

The important references relevant in my field of research includes the works of photographers such as Thomas Annan, Lewis Hine, Ansel Adams, Sebastiao Saldago, Luc Delahaye, Paul Seawright, Edward Burtynsky, Kelly Richardson, Pedro Meyers and Michael Gordon. Other key figures include photography authors and critics Liz Wells, Michelle Bore, Fontacuberta, William Stott, Ken Light and Fred Ritchin.

Theoretical Concerns

In defining what ‘Provocative landscapes’ means to me, some of the key issues in my field of research include concerns of activism from the historical perspective, the varying degrees of ‘provocativeness’ and the synergy between authenticity and manipulation. Understanding how photographers adopt different stances of provocation to influence people informs how landscape photography can promote new ways of thinking and make a difference in the world. Though not exhaustive, this field of research is relevant to me because it gives me a better understand of landscape photography from a wider perspective and I hope that this knowledge can be used to inform my third year and future works. 

Area of investigation

  • About Activism in photography
  • Landscape in Activism Photography
  • What does ‘Provocative Landscape’ means?
  • Establishing the varying degrees of ‘provocativeness’
  • Can there be synergy between authenticity and manipulation?
  • How can landscape images promote new thinking and make a difference in the world?


Relevancy of Citations

In ‘Critical Photography’, Liz Wells examines the use of documentary photography as a means of drawing the attention of an audience to particular subjects, often with a view to change the existing social or political situation.

In ‘Photography as Activism’, Michelle Bogre discusses the philosophical and historical aspects of the photography’s role in social reform and how it influences people.

In ‘Witness in our time’, Ken Light explores how photographers devised new strategies to address the obstacles and opportunities created by the rapid media changes and cross-cultural contact. He examines Sebastiao Saldago’s ideas about activism photography.

In ‘Documentary Expression and Thirties America’, William Stott having studied the wide-ranging view of documentary photography of America during the thirties, he explains how documentary photographers of the era were able to influence people.

French photojournalist Luc Delahaye demonstrated aestheticizing conflict and death as a means to provoke interest while Edward Burtynsky made use of the available elements to presents a dialectic discussion of his works. Paul Seawright prefers a subtler approach. Nick Brandt presented a giant panorama of life-sized animals prints in a barren, human-dominated landscape. By embracing digital technologies, Kelly Richardson created thought-provoking statements in her works. American photographer Michael Gordon believed that photographs with deeper meaning can capture the viewer’s attention for a longer time.

In Pedro Meyer’s ‘Truths and Fictions’, Fontacuberta defended the documentary photographer’s position of embracing digital manipulation in activism photography, stressing that by avoiding the judgement of its negative connotations, the traditional rules do not warrant a stamp of authenticity while new tools should permit new approaches.

In ‘Bending the Frame’, Fred Ritchin explores the paradigms of Photojournalism and documentary photography through historical and contemporary context. He examines the evolving media and political landscapes and addresses the new and emerging potential of how contemporary visual media can solve problems and impact the society, explaining how people use various strategies and the innovative approaches in presenting their works.

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Michael E. Gordon, 2009. Metaphorical Landscapes. [Online]
Available at: http://www.michael-gordon.com/articles/Metaphorical_Landscapes.pdf
[Accessed 26 February 2016].

Light, K., 2000. Witness in Our Time. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Stott, W. (1986). Documentary Expression and Thirties America (3rd Edition ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Bogre, M., 2012. Photography As Activism. 1st ed. Amsterdam: Focal Press.

Meyer, P., 1995. Truths and Fictions: Journey from rDocumentary to Digital Photography. 1st Edition ed. New York : Aperture.

Wells, L., 2000. Photography: A Critical Introduction. 1st Edition ed. London: Routledge.

Richardson, K., 2012. Orion Tide. [Online]
Available at: http://www.kellyrichardson.net/orion_all.htm
[Accessed 2016].

Edward Burtynsky, 2011. Edward Burtynsky Photogrpaphy. [Online]
Available at: http://www.edwardburtynsky.com/site_contents/Photographs/Water.html
[Accessed 23 03 2016]

ffotogallery, 2003. publications. [Online]
Available at: http://www.ffotogallery.org/hidden-%E2%80%93-paul-seawright
[Accessed 27 03 2016].

Prixpictet, 2011. Portfolios. [Online]
Available at: http://www.prixpictet.com/portfolios/power-shortlist/luc-delahaye/
[Accessed 2016].

Trachtenberg, A., 1977. America & Lewis Hine : photographs 1904-1940. New York: Aperture.

Annan, T. (1844). Plate 15: Close, No, 118 High Street [Online]
Available at: http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/exhibition/month/Mar2006.html
[Accessed 28 Mar. 2016].

Seawright, P., 2003. Hidden. [Online]
Available at: http://www.paulseawright.com/hidden/
[Accessed April 2016].


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