My Thoughts on: Repeat photography, post‐phenomenology and “being‐with” through the image (at the First World War cemeteries of Asiago, Italy) by Tania Rossetto (2018)

I came across this paper by Tania Rossetto when searching for ‘using repeat photography creatively’. I am glad I found it because it has made me think about my own form of repeat photography differently. It is important to note that the paper hasn’t made me think about using repeat photography creatively as such but rather thinking about it differently. I may also be able to refer to this paper when writing the extended written project.

There is one major difference I noticed between my practised kind of repeat photography and what is found generally with repeat photography: that is I have created both the original photograph and subsequent repeat photograph(s). With usual repeat photography, the photographer rephotographs the scene taken by another photographer. This for me has two ramifications. The first is that my form of repeat photography is less demanding; I have already created the originals and so know the focal length, time of day and location well.

The second ramification involves post-phenomenological geography and the idea of retracing the footsteps of past photographers. In usual repeat photography, the repeat photographer will have to study the location, determine the focal length and format of the camera. This takes skill but more importantly they can start to feel ‘that, through the very material practice of rephotographing, he was experiencing a totally unexpected reconciliation with a form of alterity, that is, a past generation, the “generation of the grandfathers,” as he defines it’ – (Rossetto, 2018: 135-136). Instead of myself experiencing this feeling, I feel more at one with the locations I have chosen to photograph at and my past self. Sometimes the feelings are quite vernacular, like: ‘Why did I choose to raise the tripod this high!?’. However, at other times I can feel a resonance with the place; knowing I am picking up on changes that many other people would probably miss and yet I am recording the changes using repeat photography to document them. Also, I feel by placing the people within the scene at similar locations within the repeat photographs through composite photography, I am able to build a (false) affinity with them. Therefore, through my own process of repeat photography, I realise I am getting closer to the locations in question. Whether rephotographing my own photographs is post-phenomenological like with usual repeat photography as Rossetto suggests is another matter. I feel the differences in approach might have consequences on the feeling invoked in the photographer and any meaning that carries across to the viewer.

Rossetto talks of repeat photography being a process which I feel is fundamental to its practice. This is exemplified by: ‘Rephotographing, therefore, is first and foremost a way to augment the body’s involvement with a studied phenomenon in space and to demonstrate knowledge while being a phenomenal body‐subject open to the world.’ – (Rossetto, 2018: 131). ‘General’ photography is a process also but if anything repeat photography is a more intense process; it would have been good if I’d taken photographs of the differences close-up that had occurred before rephotographing them. I feel this would add to the sense of process. In my defence, the project developed naturally and so it didn’t occur to me before making the repeat photographs that I could effectively show my thinking as well as documenting the changes in Deptford from a closer point of view by taking extra photographs. I think it would have added to the experience of the viewer if I had taken these in-between photos because then there is a greater sense of loss or at least attachment. Even within the six months between the diptychs so much has changed in Deptford. There is still a chance I could create a grid of 4 photographs using repeat photography rather than diptychs. In between the 2nd and 3rd photographs for the grids, I could create photographs documenting the ‘present’ state of these locations.

This is one possibility I could incorporate into my work but there are others ideas I have too (that aren’t yet fully formed). These include using video to interview people who might have noticed the same changes as me in those locations. This video could be recorded in the same location as the repeat photography perhaps. Also another possibility is myself interacting with parts of the location where change is prominent. Alternatively I could photograph things between the locations of the diptychs to break up the project form diptych to diptych. These would be most likely details of traces of an older Deptford. By using this approach, I would be able to implement map-based titling of the images better. The last idea I thought of was superimposing the two photographs that would comprise a diptych and sandwiching in a layer with a portrait. I will have to think hard about which works best and if these ideas inspired by the paper make my body of work stronger.

References:

Rossetto, T. (2018) ‘Repeat photography, post‐phenomenology and “being‐with” through the image (at the First World War cemeteries of Asiago, Italy)’ In: Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 44 (1) pp.125-140. At: https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/tran.12261 (Accessed 19.02.2020).

One thought on “My Thoughts on: Repeat photography, post‐phenomenology and “being‐with” through the image (at the First World War cemeteries of Asiago, Italy) by Tania Rossetto (2018)

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