Assignment 1: Encountering Culture (Final Prints and Evaluation)

After spending what seems like endless hours in the darkroom I finally printed my final series of 11 images. I did want to print more than 11 images however I ran out of time but overall I am very happy with how they tuned out. This assignment has had it’s ups and downs and throughout the process I believe I have gained many skills and developed not only as a photographer but as an image maker. By using analogue it made me stop and consider the overall composition of my images as well as what I wanted to show in that frame. When shooting in digital I believe we have the tendency to become lazy and rely too much on the camera to do the work. Whereas during this assignment I had to measure the exposure myself and focus the image myself.





Scan 9


Scan 19 5

The name of my series is Urban Blight and the piece of text following my series would be “Urban Blight documents and highlights the throw away culture which we as a society have adopted. It examines the effects of our actions when we simply throw away rubbish with complete disregard for the consequences and the narrative this leaves behind. These areas then become magnets for urban blight and a never-ending cycle transpires causing mass urban decline. Although there is no human presence in the images, we can see the remnant of our actions and attitudes.”

At the beginning of the assignment I began looking into how we as a society have adopted a throw away culture and a disposable and neglectful attitude towards the objects we own and the areas in which we live. But also how these objects and areas still tell a story of what happened there or about the identity of the person who discarded the object. One of the issues I wanted to raise was how the places which are no longer in use or serve a purpose in society have all into disrepair and seemingly go unnoticed by society. In the worst case these areas which have fallen into states of disrepair have been degraded even further through land pollution such as graffiti and fly tipping and the lack of investment by city councils have let whole areas fall into decline. I wanted to show how these are issues within our society which need addressing. I aimed to highlight the state in which these areas are in at this moment in time. Therefore serving as a documentation. One of the questions I am to raise in my work is whether areas will always end up like this because of our throw away culture and whether this is an issue which society is aware of because most of these areas people walk past on a daily basis however nothing is done about it.

While shooting in areas of urban decay, which are dotted around the city, I began to notice a pattern on different visits. That the areas which are already facing these types of problems are getting progressively worse the more time goes on. They are almost like magnets for trash and the process of dumping the trash in this area becomes unheralded. In turn, the cycle will never be broken unless our attitudes change. I hope to raise this issue within my work and show people the how by not disposing of their waste correctly they are contributing to urban decay and it is an issue they should be aware of.

Although I only photographed Coventry I believe that my images can be put within the wider social landscape and still raise these issues. If I was to take this series of images further I would photograph different cities across the world to show how this is a global issue.

Overall I believe that through this assignment I have answered the questions I set out to answer. In the early stages of my investigation I was interested in knowing whether this is something new and will it always occur. I conclude that this way of respecting our environment will continue for future generations as this is what we as a society have been brought up to do. The places I photographed are devoid of human presence however the degraded scenes reflect the effects of human’s actions. Without this being monitored it becomes a place for graffiti and a dumping ground for societies un-wanted objects. This gives people an incentive to not take responsibility for their actions. In turn contributing to a trash culture.

List of references for whole assignment 

Andersen, H. (2003) Urban Sores: On the Interaction Between Segregation, Urban Decay, and Deprived Neighbourhoods. Aldershot: Ashgate Pub Ltd

Blincoe, E. (2014) The Home Place [online] available from [6 November 2014]

Brouws, J. (2000) Discarded Landscape [online] available from [17 November 2014]

Cool Geography. (n.d) World Cities- Urban Decline [online] available from 13/World Cities/Decline/Urban_Decline.htm [15 November 2014]

“Culture” The Free Dictionary available from [2 November 2014]

Divola, J. (n.d) John Divola Portfolio [online] available from [8 November 2014]

Fraenkel Gallery (n.d) Richard Misrach “Destroy this Memory” [online] available from [5 November 2014]

Girard, G., Gibson, W., and Rubinfien, L. (2007) Phantom Shanghai. Canada: Magenta Publishing for the Arts

Hido, T. (n.d) House Hunting [online] available from [6 November 2014]

Johnson, E. (2009) Sawdust Mountain [online] available from [5 November 2014]

Landscape Stories (2011) Jeff Brouws Discarded Landscape [online] available from [17 November 2014]

Merton, R. (1968) Social Theory and Social Structure. Enlarged Edition. New York: The Free Press

Pye, G. (2010) Trash Culture Objects and Obsolescene in Cultural Perspective. Pieterlen: Peter Lang

Shore, S. (2010) The Nature of Photographs. 2nd Edition. United Kingdom: Phaidon Press Limited

Steacy, W (n.d) Down these Mean Streets [online] available from [15 November 2014]

Sternfeld, J. (1997) On this Site: Landscape in Memoriam. First Edition. California: Chronicle Books

Sternfeld, J.(1993) On This Site: Landscape in Memoriam, The Happy Land Social Club [online] available form [5 November 2014]

Sternfeld, J. (1993) On This Site: Landscape in Memoriam, The Northwest Corner of Florence and Normandie Avenues [online] available from [5 November 2014]

O’Hagan, S. (2014) ‘The Guardian’ Nadav Kander: Dust review [online] available from [3 November 2014]

Vergara, C. (1997) The New American Ghetto. Paperback Edition. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press


Published by

Charlotte Pattinson

Photography student

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