Week 1 – From here to there

Hello, I’m Rob Jones and welcome to my CRJ for the Sustainable Prospects module. 

Firstly we need to contextualise my practice in order to understand its direction and my aims for my master’s degree.

I see my practice fitting within Conservation photography. More specifically the use of photography to connect the viewer to the natural world in a way that’s educational, informative and challenging.

My focus is to develop multiple visual methods to advocate for conservational outcomes that revolve around worlds within worlds concept.

In our daily lives we only really see a small part of the world around us. Beyond our gaze, but often right under our noise, a galaxy of life exists that goes unnoticed.

Our lives are increasingly digitised and this has led to an innocent or even naivety of the natural world around us. Even as a wildlife photographer, I sometimes feel a disconnect between myself and the subject created by the barrier that is the camera apparatus. 

You could argue that we no longer see the full image of the world around us, rather a broken jigsaw picture that we don’t have all the pieces for.

The focus I have chosen for my MA work is the river. More specifically the context is the story of the River Otter, a 32km long river that flows from its source on the border of Devon and Somerset, and ends at the coast at Budleigh Salterton in East Devon.

The river Otter has a huge diversity of life, hosting may areas of scientific interest. Not only this but along its banks, many communities have established, with a number of historical sites, festival grounds, conservation projects, military training groups, colleges and many other places of interest.

My practice covers the area of the river and up to half a mile each side of the river bank. This encompasses a very wide diversity of subject matter.

To contextualise the relationship between rivers and why I see a need to document them, we should first consider what is a river.

For all of human history, rivers have brought life to the land. A source of fresh water is the obvious one, but rivers are also seen as the great connector – as all life is linked in one way or another by a river.

Communities, ecosystems and habitats all spring up alongside the river – with the theory that from a river’s source, all life is downstream – still resonating today.

The multi-dimensional worlds a river links together plays a pivotal role in increasing the livability of communities along its banks. But in modern times this highly sensitive connectivity has also been the rivers downfall.

Commertionalsiation of our waterways, modern agriculture and the throwaway culture of western society are still seen very much acceptable and its the river that often is the first to suffer.

As one of the worlds great connectors such a sickness can often have a detrimental effect on the very life it seeks to support.

Through the development of multiple photographic methods and other visual media such as video, my practice will focus on bringing the River Otter to life, in a way that shows such connections between worlds and how they are linked and ultimately influenced by modern living.

All life has a pattern, a rhythm if you will and a rivers rhythm is one that resonates strongest to me. The more disconnected we become to the rhythm of the river the more of a lack we often feel.

It is developing ways of visually showing such connections, both positive and negative, that I wish to focus on as part of my MA work.

I see the work I produce for the Sustainable Prospects module as part of the research into the question, what could people learn from my work, and is my work the research, or does it inform and support others’ research.