I have finally come up with a name for the project that works – Riparian – better described as the interface between land and a river or stream.
I feel this name is ideal for my project and is much more useful than An Otter Year – which to some degree has not connected with the community very well.
Riparian describes the project as it is becoming – a study of the space enhabited between the land and the water – the metaphorical space where many people find their experiences of the Otter exist.
I was primarily inspired by two of Zhang Kechun’s series of works:
The Yellow River documents the effects of modernisation along the third longest river in Asia.
Between the Mountains and the Water. A visual documentary of the Yellow River over two years focused on the land space between the river and the mountains. (Kechun in Strecker, 2019)
His work centres on peoples relationship with this space and looks at the impact modern culture is having on local communities and their natural environment.
Both series of works are very inspiring to my practice, as they not only document the physical transformations the river spaces have gone through – due primarily to human development, but they are also a very subtle way of showing how cultural lives in China have changed. Such changes are having a metaphorical impact on how people see the river space.
I am inspired by Kechun’s simplicity, yet emotiveness his series of works emanate. It seems that he is attempting a soft touch commentary on the changes within his country, almost as if he is trying not to offend or challenge any cultural views, rather complement them through objective narration.
This is further notable when considering that most of Kechun’s work involves taking a distinct ‘step back’ from the scene, observing from a distance – such as in Figure 1.
Its this notion of non-confrontational works that resonate within my practice. I have often gone for the ‘nice’ view of the river in my work, instead of utilizing my practice as a commentary on environmental cultural and physical changes modern living facilitates.
I do feel that Kechun’s style of work could have been pushed further with the introduction of video. But this is merely my view, as each of his images has a fascinating appeal.
The reason this series has inspired my choice of project name is related to how I view Kechun’s work. It’s very much a representation of ‘pauses in time’ – the observer passing by the scene and chooses – as shown in Figure 2 for a 2016 Beetles+Huxley exhibition of his work – to pause and observe such gazes.
I saw from Kechun’s practice that my own FMP is very much just this – a collection of pauses in time that the observer can not only view – but also hear. The audio is creating the signifier – or the objectification of the visual scene – which becomes the signified.
I now have a much clearer understanding of how to manage my FMP and a clear plan of how to develop it.
The first piece of work has been to create and build a website and consider the online exhibition phase of my work. I feel the audience here will be very much local to the project area. Primarily this is due to the local communities having the most relevance to the work. It also allows such observations of my work to be honest and informed.
This will help me move my practice forward as I can better understand audience interactions as any feedback would have a more relevant grounding.
The website link is now live and can be viewed here.
I can now start to move my project forward under the new design.
- STRECKER, Alexander. (2019). Between the Mountains and Water – Photographs by Zhang Kechun | LensCulture. [online] LensCulture. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/zhang-kechun-between-the-mountains-and-water [Accessed 2 September. 2019].
- Huxley-Parlour Gallery. (n.d.). Zhang Kechun | Huxley-Parlour Gallery. [online] Available at: https://huxleyparlour.com/exhibitions/zhang-kechun/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2019].
- Figure 1: Kechun, Zhang. 2011. A Family Spending the Weekend under a Bridge, Shandong, China. [Photograph] (source media)
- Figure 2: Kechun, Zhang. 2016. Beetles+Huxley exhibition of The Yellow River and Between the Mountains and the Water. [Photograph] (source media)