Posts in the The Fine Art of Travel category
Just when the thrill of air travel had started to dull a little, this commanding series, “Gatwick” by Lee Mawdsley, pulled me out of ambivalence. The prolific London-based photographer has captured a concrete wonderland where, with no human in sight, machines rule the day. Impressive!
How many times have you heard a recently returned traveller describe having “done” a certain destination or fifteen? As if, been there, done that – next!
But as photographer Kyle Ford explores in An American Road Trip, it’s really difficult for anyone to avoid this checklist mentality when we see so many similar images of iconic destinations secondhand, through advertising and social media. Sometimes even a particular view can become the established “right” way of seeing a place.
Kyle takes this idea a step further by photographing familiar road-side scenes from the classic American road trip route, with a catch – they’re all seen through Google Earth. Almost as good as the real thing, right?
For our last day of Seoul coverage we’re putting a new, but familiar, spin on our regular Fine Art of Travel feature. Nearly all the photographs featured this week have been taken by Skip Town’s own Sean Fennessy, although they differ greatly in terms of style and intention. On Monday, for our introductory post, they were definitely of a editorial nature. But today, the photographs are Sean’s choice; the pics that for some intangible reason cross that line into ‘art’ territory.
It can be hard to put your finger on when a photograph, especially one taken during travel, stops being mere documentation (which I actually think is incredibly important) and becomes, for want of a better word, art. I suppose it’s the intention at the time. What do you think? Ha! I feel like I’m back in art theory class.
Anyway, if I can attempt to describe Sean’s work, I’d say that he’s got a great eye for seeing potential in everyday scenes, the kind of things that you’d normally walk right past. But actually, he’s right here, so I’ll ask him! Okay, he says that they “loosely investigate themes based around order, organisation and repetition…” Yep, just like I said.
In a major photographic project spanning over three years and five categories, Alejandro Cartagena examines the vast and interconnected problems caused by unplanned urban sprawl in Monterrey, Mexico. Since 2001, profit-driven policy has allowed extensive expansion of the city, contained only by the surrounding mountains. At this pace, the development of necessary amenities falls behind, and residents face an ever-growing distance between themselves and citizens in more affluent areas.
Effects are also found in the natural environment, with rivers particularly vulnerable (see the ‘Lost Rivers’ chapter). However, change is most keenly felt in ‘Fragmented Cities’, where Cartagena records, in trademark documentary style, the uniform rows of (strangely cheerful) houses invading the landscape.
As much as the excitement of travel is found in differences, it’s also about discovering connections, right? That moment when you realise you’ve found a kindred spirit in a completely different culture, on the other side of the world – that’s pretty special.
But sometimes, there’s no need to even board a plane. ‘Intersections’ is a dreamy series of double-exposures by two friends (Julie and Shokoofeh) from two very different countries (Denmark and Iran) revealing their surprisingly similar daily realities.
When Swiss photographer Yann Gross decided to do some budget travelling in his own country, he chose a somewhat unusual destination - the tourist-free, highway dominated Rhone Plain. He hoped that this industrial belt, though unappealing to the average pleasure-seeker, would hold stories and characters to challenge the Swiss stereotype. Indeed this was the case. As documented in his series ‘Horizonville’, communities in the valley have embraced the American dream, complete with trucks, tattoos and country music, despite many never having visited the USA. As Gross says, “They feel a sense of belonging to another culture that they don’t really know. Far from the Swiss stereotypes, the confusion of symbols and the lifestyle of the people take us in a strange atmosphere, a dreamed reality that doesn’t exist in facts.”
Anoek Steketee has spent the past four years documenting some of the world’s most bizarre amusement parks, resulting in the fantastically creepy series Dream City. The search for subject matter led her to places such as Iraq (Dream City), Lebanon (Beirut Lunapark), Israel (Superland), the Palestinian Territories (Funland), Rwanda (Bambino Supercity), Colombia (Hacienda Napoles& Jaime Duque), Indonesia (Dunia Fantasia), China (Nanhu&Shimlong), Turkmenistan (Turkmenbashi’s World of Fairy Tales) and the USA (Dollywood).
From her artists statement:
Although the cultural, sociological and political context of each place differs greatly, the parks’ uniform appearance forms the universally recognisable backdrop. With their sparkling lights, fairy-tale scenery and perfectly maintained gardens, the parks all derive their value from the universal and timeless human need to escape from daily reality in a communal constructed space, surrounded by a fence.
During our travels, it became increasingly apparent to us that an amusement park is more than just a place to have fun; it often also plays a highly symbolic role. The origin, location and chosen theme of the amusement park offer meaningful insights into the socio-political situation of the country in which it is situated. Behind the subject’s innocent, light-hearted exterior lurks a darker, staged core, which raises questions about the way different realities can be depicted.
The full series has just been published in a beautiful 168-page book with text by Eefje Blankevoort. Buy it here.
We all know that the Tour de France is as well-known for its scenery as it is for its cycling, but you you may not have seen it quite like this.
Le Tour is the result of a long-term project for the Texan photographer Brent Humphreys, who began documenting the race and its spectators in 2005. It goes without saying that these are not average travel snaps – they are highly planned, researched and in some cases artificially lit (with Profoto studio lights, no less) fine art photographs. Formidable!
We’re big believers that when you’re traveling you should always carry your camera. Shot out the window of commercial flight from New York to San Fransisco, this simple but so effective series by Paul Octavious is a perfect example of this philosophy. Mile-high magic.
The road is void of stop lights and stop signs. Void of crossroads and shortcuts. There are no mailboxes or power lines.
No fast food. No coffee shops. Only north or south. Advancing or retreating. At the end, always oil.
The road in question is the Dalton Highway in Alaska, the northernmost road in America. In 2005, Ben Huff moved to Alaska, a place he describes as ‘complicated’, and began taking photographs as a way of understanding his new surroundings. The Dalton Highway soon drew his interest due to its extreme location, but it was the layers and complexities of the road and its inhabitants that kept him coming back for more. ‘The Last Road North’ is the result of several journeys along this lonely route. This summer, Ben plans to make one last trip in order to complete the series, and is seeking support though Kickstarter to fund a full book mock up, portfolio and exhibition prints.
Here’s a small selection of night-time shots taken in Deadhorse – the end of the road.