Study and research assignment Five

 

Urban exploring

Urban exploring has had its critics and some call it criminal, and others say that every part of the towns and cities if not occupied, and then left open, or become open if not maintained should be free to explore by the people. An open door is an invitation. The question would be if the property is open, !you can’t go in there, the answer would be !why not no one is using it. The feeling is if you can’t be bothered to lock it you won’t be bothered if someone goes in and take a few pictures. I can see this point of view, but as in every walk of life, some do overstep the mark and take or damage artefacts. There is an argument for both points of view.

Why they become abandoned

Buildings and Homes become abandoned for various reasons, one reason could be that the town was once occupied by a large company that employed lots of the people living in the town when these companies close it can have a devastating effect on the town. Houses become empty shops close, and all become run down and eventually derelict

Thank God I have never experienced war, but this is when buildings become abandoned and in some cases completely destroyed. Depending on the severity of the conflict and also if the people have survived. This will determine if the building remains abandoned.

One of the reasons for abandonment is the change in economic resource. In Italy, villages that used to rely on people going into farming and therefore staying local the community are finding that the houses are no longer occupied and towns all over the Mediterranean are vastly underpopulated. In parts of Italy and Sicily, you can buy a house for £1 you have to commit to some upgrading of the property, but it has only cost you a pound. I have knowledge of a town called Zungoli in Italy about 60 k from Naples where they are giving the houses away to try to maintain the village population. See Images below.

       Zungoli the region of Campania Italy

((https://uk.images.search.yahoo.com/search/imag)Accessed 09/07/19)

 

The practice of finding and entering unused and abandoned buildings have been the subject of choice for thousands of photographers. Organisations have been set up to support these photographers in there quest. One such organisation is (infiltrate .org )  There motto, take only photos, leave only footprints, There web site no longer takes new stories but is still up and running the only downside is it is a US site. (http://www.infiltration.org/history-timeline.html) This site is interesting reading with lots of snippets of information. This subject has evolved so much that it has reached the academics of criminology. Become one of the subjects of discussion and debate in universities. ((https://academic.oup.com/bjc/article-abstract/57/4/982/2624029 ) Accessed 09/07/19)

(https://www.theweek.co.uk/64557/urban-exploration-what-is-it-who-does-it-and-is-it-legal accessed 25/11/2019)

“As austerity has taken hold in the UK, urban decay has become more prominent, with abandoned factories, amusement parks and other man-made structures increasingly common across the country.

At the same time a desire to explore and document the history of urban areas has led to a rise in the popularity of ‘urban exploration’ and ‘place hacking’.

Last year the UK’s most famous urban explorer Dr Bradley Garrett – who found fame after scaling the Shard during its construction in 2012 – went on trial for conspiring to commit criminal damage following a number of visits to disused London Underground tube stations as part of his research for a PhD in geography at Oxford University.

Though he was eventually spared a jail sentence, Garrett’s arrest highlighted the continuing battle between urban explorers and the state over the validity and legality of their chosen hobby.

Critics describe the practice as “naive, fetishistic, self-heroising and, well, criminal”, reports The Guardian. However, the author Will Self has defended urban exploration, writing in the Evening Standard: “I personally believe place-hackers are performing a valuable service by reminding us that the city should, in principle, belong to its citizens, and should mostly – if not entirely – be accessible to them.”

What is Urban exploration?

Urban exploration or Urbex, as it has become known, is the exploration of man-made structures often abandoned or hidden from the general public. Photography plays a large role in the popularity of the hobby but historical documentation has also become a factor as urban landscapes change ever more quickly over time.

It is generally accepted that the term ‘urban exploration’ was coined in 1996 by Canadian explorer Jeff Chapman. However, The Scotsman reports that urban exploration was taking place as far back as 1793 when Philibert Aspairt, a hospital porter, is believed to have “got lost in the limestone quarries beneath Paris supposedly while searching for some ancient bottles of chartreuse”. His skeleton was discovered 11 years later.”

(https://www.offlimitsphotos.com/uk.html# accessed 25/11/2019)

Having done some research online, I came across James Kerwin, Photography (https://sleeklens.com/urban-exploration)

In the interview, he explained that unfortunately most of the abandoned buildings once discovered and put online are soon ransacked by the disrespectful people that go, so for this reason he never discloses any of the places he finds during his research. In the UK urban exploring has reached its peak over the last few years the hidden gems having all been discovered and ransacked. But hopefully, there will be some still to be discovered, but for the sake of aesthetic appeal, let’s keep them secret.

Documentary Photography: Abandonment, assignment (Five) OCA, Photography Two: Documentary barry511915 Personal Project.

 

Oakwood mill Stavely lane Millbrook Stalybridge

Oakwood, mill partly collapsed, the mill had been neglected as it was a listed building and the cost of repairs was very high. The mill had been robbed of some stone, and the roof was also partly gone the rain got in and filled the floors with water. February 2018 the freezing weather caused a build-up of ice and causing the floors to collapse.

” Built as a specialised spinning mill, it is no longer is use and is derelict. It is in millstone grit, and had Welsh slate roofs. There are two ranges at right angles, forming a U-shaped plan. The south range, a warehouse, had three storeys, and sides of 19 and four bays, and the north range, the mill, had four storeys and sides of 28 and six bays. There is an embattled clock tower and a chimney.[53][54] ”  ((https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Listed_buildings_in_Stalybridge )accessed 01/05/19

Oakwood mill

Further inside the darker, it gets

Inside Oakwood mill

 

 

The Buts is part of a rifle range last used in 1945 by the Cheshire Regiment. The Regiment had a Barracks in the Town of Ashton Under Line. the staff were mainly clerical staff sorting out the soldiers’ wages and things of that nature. As we were at war at the time every able-bodied man had to learn how to shoot.

(Information obtained from Trevor Thornycroft age 85, Range House Stalybridge)

 

Old Power Station buildings below, the power station at Stalybridge was opened in 1926 by the Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield Transport and Electricity board. The station was closed on the 29 of October 1979. Most of the power station was demolished in the 1980s, but some building still remains. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hartshead_Power_Station)

Old power station buildings below


 

 

 

This is an old warehouse that is positioned near the old railway that used to supply the power station the warehouse was built approximately 1800 and is a listed building and as a consequence has fallen to a state of dilapidation (https://www.theviewfromthenorth.org/millbrook-railway-warehouse)

 

The sidings

In these buildings, old steam engines were stored and maintained the engines supplied the power station with cole. When I was very young my mother told me that after the war people used to walk along the railway and collect the cole that had fallen from the wagons

Warning

Entering Abandoned buildings is likely to be illegal because in the UK there are trespass laws that prevent you from entering land or property. Still, if you take the view the law is not going to be followed up just for someone having a look and maybe taking a few pictures, then that is up to you to assess and decide if you should take the risk. What I would say is if the building is not secured and is open to the elements reasonably easy to excess is of some interest to the local area and would benefit from some pictures being taken. I personally would take the risk. Finding the owner to obtain permission would be the legal way to go, And the only way you should gain entry if the property is all locked otherwise you would be committing the crime of breaking an entry. Much more serious offence than simple trespass.

Exploring abandoned building is exciting and has a certain appeal, most people will know that its probably not legal, but that is part of the appeal even more so if the building has some sort of intriguing history. Most people that go urban exploring are in it for the excitement and the striking Images they make. The interest generated by the Images, some would say out weights the risk of a fine for trespassing or injury, they don’t consider death as a possibility, but it is a real concern as people have died.    On the other hand, why do people climb mountains?

Reflection

Feedback for the original assignment 5, see below 5.Barry-Senior

I found my first choice for this assignment People of Stalybridge that lived in the area called Castle Hall, challenging to get to grips with it was challenging to get enough information from the people in the street. Although very lovely they found it difficult talking to a stranger about there past relatives.  I also found it difficult to find the right approach to ask questions. I needed to collect some personal information for the assignment, I had to first convince them to let me take their picture, ask questions and at the same time try and write down there answers, by this time they just wanted to leave and get on with there one agenda.

My next choice of assignment Abandonment of Property.

I decided a change of subject was necessary not just for the convenience of not having to approach people, but my work was also calling more on my time. I went for a complete change and although I failed to discuss it with my tutor I hope he will understand. The subject was the abandonment of property touching on urban photography and some of the aspects and dangers surrounding the Urban explore. This was more up my street as I like getting up to mischief even though I am now getting on a bit I still feel I can and want to if needed. My first pictures were Bukton castle and the quarry, this is a feat in its self as it is a steep climb, a very large steep hill but a good feeling when you reach the top it takes about an hour to climb. I was hoping to find an awesome view of the quarry, but it was smaller than I remembered, It’s still big though.

While working on the assignment and after having some feedback from my tutor, reluctantly I have decided to remove the section and images relating to Buckton Castle has mentioned above. I decided the images didn’t flow with the rest of the pictures, I say reluctantly because the took at least half a day to make the image counting all the hill walking involved, and as I reflect on my work as I edit and rethink the layout I do think it is the right decision, after all the images can still be seen below so not lost completely.

Getting into the mill was a little more challenging and a little bit dangerous, but the only thing I left was footprints. Getting into these buildings is fun, and I can see why some people do more of it. Going in the dark as some would be very dangerous and not recommended. The building I entered was reasonably accessible only an odd broken fence to get through. Getting out and about with the camera and entering the buildings was fun and in all, I found the assignment enjoyable. With my Images, I have tried to convey a sense of loss for the buildings and disappointment in a system that allows the buildings that are deemed to be of importance, listed as historical value, have been left to dilapidate into a state of no return. While chatting to my tutor in the feedback session, he pointed out that he thought the mixed format of the images i.e. landscape and portrait didn’t flow and suggested changing the portrait ones for landscape images. I have taken this on board and changed all but one to landscape format, and as I am reflecting on the assignment, I think it only fair to reflect on the feedback, while I agree with him as far as the flow is concerned, I don’t necessarily agree that it was necessary to change the pictures just for the sake of flow, as each Images is viewed individually on the screen. He probably was thinking about the assessment team when talking about flow, and ease of viewing. He pointed out that he thought I had some stronger images in my contact sheets than some of the ones I had used; I had a reshuffle and change the images for stronger ones. The only image that is in portrait format is the header image, I felt that it was a strong image and would stand the contradiction of being in portrait format Chris my tutor also pointed out the image as being useable.  A lesson learned, I needed one or two landscape shots of the doors that were in portrait format but unfortunately, I had failed to take any, but the mill was not far away. Arriving at the mill I gained access to the grounds but the entrance fenced off. Luckily there was a small window with the board missing I got in retook some shots and made my escape. I will remember this in the future and make sure I take both format shots.           

What I learned from my first attempt at the assignment is, when taking on a project that seems relatively straight forward, that is not always the case. Subjects can grow into something big and get out of control if I had continued on my original path the assignment would have become a monster. I know I couldn’t control, to give it justice I would have needed a considerable amount of time. 

The images of the power station I think have the strongest shots some of them remind me of the walking dead or images you would find in a shooting game. It is strange but the graffiti adds a lot to this type of image, it lets you know people come and go it changes an image and adds to its appeal with clour and grittiness in this context people just want to view them for reasons only known to them.

My abandonment assignment is small but informative something that could be of interest to some. I enjoyed doing it and would do some urban exploring in the future if an exciting place came to my attention that would have the prospect of getting some good images.

 

Images below changed for different ones, some after feedback, and others because as I started editing the images I realised that some were out of context and didn’t flow as I thought they should. I have reflected on the reasons why.   

Abandoned

Buckton quarry although not abandoned at the moment it has been in the past for several years and will be again as there is very little stone left to quarry. The quarry has been closed on several occasions, the villagers have campaigned to make the quarry companies put restrictions on times that the trucks can drive through the village. The time restrictions cause a financial burden on the quarry companies as they need to make their money in a shorter working day. At the moment the quarry is being used as a stone storage yard. This has led to increased traffic through the village. And now again the villagers are campaigning to get it stopped.

 

Buckton Castle

Buckton Castle is situated in the town of Stalybridge in an aria Called Carbrook. It was thought to be a small hill fort of little importance and Abandoned for almost 900 years. “Excavating the site, a team from the University of Manchester Field Archaeology Centre expected to find an earthwork of little importance.

But what they found left the archaeologists stunned: a ‘massive’ stone outer wall, 2.8 metres wide, indicating that Buckton was a castle on the scale of Beeston Castle near Chester.

“The discovery of a high ranking castle in England is a tremendously rare event – and was definitely not what we were expecting,” said Director Mike Nevell.” ((http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/content/articles/2008/07/23/230708_buckton_castle_feature.shtml) Accessed 23/04/19)

The castle is not visible to the untrained eye and is entirely covered by peat and grass the defences on the north side are still recognisable, see below.

The castle defences

I have removed this picture of the police station, as it isn’t really urban exploring. I decided it was out of context with the rest of the images it would have been different if I could have gained excess.

Below is Stalybridge police station built-in 1968. The station was closed in 2005, it is now falling into a state of disrepair. Planning has been put forward to turn the station into apartments, but the request was rejected as the application contained very little information on various matters. The information was needed as the building is in a conservation area, even information for refuge disposal and collection and any information on carbon emissions were missing from the report.

The police station from the rear looking up from the river Tame

 

Nature is slowly taking over an old waterboard cottage on the river tame

 

 

 

 

The old cole conveyor  below

The conveyor delivered cole to the power station from the railway siding, the sidings could hold130 12-ton wagons. The conveyor has been left partly un demolished since the 80s. Pieces of the conveyor do fall off occasionally on to or very near the footpath below.

 

Contact Sheet

 

The assignment below was scrapped because In the limited time I had and the difficulty in finding and obtaining information about the people and their relatives was very difficult so I have decided to move on to a different subject. See the new Assignment five above.  

OCA Photography Two: Documentary barry511915 Assignment Five Personal Project

For this assignment, I have decided to do a project of the people of Stalybridge, but only those that have relatives that worked in the cotton mills of the nineteenth and twentieth century a sort of a nod to the relatives of the people that still live in the town, I wanted to concentrate on people that lived up Castle Hall as this was one of the first areas that had mill workers homes

I have had to approach people in the street and ask the question about there past relatives and if they worked in the cotton mills and lived in the up  Castle Hall as we say around here.

Below, John Schofield. He and some of his family worked at Copley Mill a weaving mill in Stalybridge.

Mr Cooper, An engineer. His mother worked as a weaver.

Celestino Senior, His Grandmother was brought up in Castle hall, worked at Bottomly cotton mill, and his Grate Grandmother worked as a weaver and ran several looms at once.

Maria from the flower shop, she wasn’t sure where but she says several of her family worked in the cotton mills in Stalybridge.

 

The plaque below in on the wall of what used to be a pub famous for its name in the area of Castle Hall

 

Reflection

I found my choice for this assignment difficult to get to grips with it was difficult to get enough information from the people in the street, and although very nice they found it difficult talking to a stranger about there past relatives.  I also found it difficult to find the right way to ask the questions I needed to get the information I wanted for this assignment, I had to first convince them to let me take their picture to ask questions and at the same time try and write down there answers, by this time they just wanted to leave and get on with there own things.

Contact sheet

OCA Photography Two: Documentary barry511915. Assi five : Exercise five: Kingsmead eyes project.

The school project was interesting, not only did it shows some forward thinking for the future of photography, in one of the voice overs the child even aspires to become a photographer. Some of the images were really interesting its nice to see the schools showing interest in photography at an early age. I wasn’t a fan of the drumming and the video flashing the faces past at speed, I think it was a little aggressive for want of a better word, something more gentle I think would have been better. The voices overs of the children worked well and gave the individual set of images a personal presence relating the images to the personality and life of the photographer. The images were of a good standard and very honest. I am not surer why the children were mostly of a foreign background I suppose this was due to the demographics of the school. The project was a good Idea that got children engaged at a fairly early age.

OCA Photography Two: Documentary barry511915. Assi five : Exercise four. Post documentary photography, art and ethics.

The first point Martha Rosler, made” aesthetics is threatening to colonise our gaze.” The academics in the discussions about aesthetics ver ethics is threatening to colonise. can’t the two coexist in the one form can’t a document also be aesthetically pleasing even if those, aesthetics are not appreciated by everyone. One person’s arrogance towards a particular image would be undemocratic but to dismiss, the arrogant opinion would also be undemocratic. Can we not except that ethics and aesthetics coexist, has one you cant remove one from the other everything as aesthetics the only conclusion is to view in the context that the image was first made for.  When that context is no longer relevant or has faded over time the Image can now be viewed for its aesthetics, the two coexist like Ying and Yang. Talking about the aesthetics of an Images is like talking about water it is fluid you can’t put your finger on it it is individual to the viewer like a fingerprint, ethics, on the other hand, are manmade and have evolved over many years into a standard that can be documented into an agreed form of ethics, the problem with this idea would be the different levels of ethics people work on. The twin towers were mentioned earlier in the course  an image “The Falling Man” of a man falling from one of the Towers was criticised as being insensitive and the photographer’s ethics were called in to question as he presumably not taken into consideration the relatives of the victim, where did this criticism come from it came from the unethical section of the media using the image and the controversy around the use of the image and the effect on the relatives, the media created a storm around the image for there own gain. And to this day not one relative has come forward and Identified the Falling Man as one of there relatives.

In these exercises, we talk about the desensitising effect the constant bombarding of images can have, reducing the impact that an image has on the conscience of individuals, I don’t want to be the bringer of bad news but when we talk about what Susan Sontag’s work and try and justify her stance. What we should now be saying is post desensitisation, it’s too late for debate whether it as a negative effect  for the last ten years at least we have been able to gain access by use of the mobile phone to any image imaginable and from an early age it is seen as fun to show each other the most gruesome and disturbing images possible. A new debate needs to be started and that debate should start post desensitisation.

 

OCA Photography Two: Documentary barry511915. Assi five : Exercise Two. ‘The Judgement Seat of Photography’

Trying to read this article proved to obscure and the constant referral to this reason and that reason that photographer this photographer was probably ok at the time for the writer as he would have researched them but now is no use at all unless you are making a study of the article and or the photographers in question. It was far to difficult to read for the simple reason that it was written for the academics of the day, the people that could relate to what was being said. I have had three attempts at reading this on two occasions I fell asleep and after trying for the third time I have given up and am writing the reasons why now, I can not relate to what they are saying and don’t understand the reason why I need to try, Trying to relate to something that was written as an exercise in  a study of long ago has been a waste of my time.

OCA Photography Two: Documentary barry511915. Assi five : Exercise One Cruel & Tender.

I was unable to gain access to the interview of Rineke Dijkstra Fazal Sheikh as every link I tried was not working.

I did, however, view some of the images I found Rineke Images repetitive in style and content, and somehow reminded me of Michelle Sank work The young carers, The vulnerability in the work is clear to see, the relationship between the photographer and the sitter is clear the Photographer was clearly in charge of the way the sitters were posing this created a feeling of a constructed images, a clear difference from Sands work. I felt like the work of Rineke was along the lines of topology, I would say this came from the repetitiveness of the work rather than intentional topology. The work seems to be a sort of social record, but again I find this a little confusing as the photographer seems to have had total control over where the Images are taken, so can only express the photographer’s Ideas of a social record.

((‘ The Decisive Moment’ (Henri Cattier Bresson )  I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us, which can mould us, but which can also be affected by us. A balance must be established between these two words – the one inside us and the one outside us. As a result of a constant reciprocal process, both these worlds come to form a single one. And it is this world we must communicate.  ) (Context and narrative AVA Publishings (UK) 2011))

The quote above I found to be very fitting to what I was trying to say. I must at this point out that the opinion above is based on very limited and incomplete knowledge and is only meant to express my thoughts on the exhibition with the limited information that I have found so far.

OCA Photography Two: Documentary barry511915. Assi five : Exercise Three. Jim Goldberg Talke about is commissioned exhibition for the 2004 Olympic’s In Greece.

This exercise was to listen to Jim Goldberg Talke about is commissioned exhibition for the 2004 Olympic’s In Greece. He was commisioned to take Images of the economic migrants living to Greece illegally.

I am not sure if it works as a documentary exhibition in the Art Gallery. For me the message is confused, and I am not sure what he is saying with the mix of Images, I think he is trying to tell more than one story with the selection of images he has chosen and this for me at least has confused the story, is it about the immigrants that have gone to Greece? Is it about the reasons they have had to migrate in the first place? Also, does the story need to be told in an art gallery? It is part of the story of Greece and was commissioned as part of the celebrations for the 2004 Olympics could a more appropriate place for the exhibition be the stadium. The story is a documentary story a record of the time. I am not sure about the choice of images unless I have made an error I can’t see where the Image of the boy in the polluted river come into the story as the river is in Ukraine. One or two of the other pictures seem out of place. He talks about an underground economy but doesn’t clarify where it is, is it in Greece or in the country they are coming from? The Images would imply that it is a poor underground economy in the Country they come from and that is the reason they are coming, to escape the poverty.

I think the work was commisioned to show Greece in a good light as a Country that will help people and give them refuge were ever they come from showing Greece as a caring Country a Country that at least tries to help if possible.

OCA Photography Two: Documentary barry511915. Assi four : Exercise Five.

I must admit I haven’t paid much attention to the images shown on tv with regard to war I hadn’t realised that there were such restrictions put on the war photographers under the guise of keeping them safe but the restrictions put on them and what was allowed to be printed I find pretty alarming. I have always thought that the Iraqi war was an unjust war and there was a better way to deal with President  Hassan. I have remained ignorant to the steps the US and probably the UK have gone to pervert the story of war by restricting the freedom of the photojournalism. At the time of the Iraqi war, Guantanamo Bay as far as I could tell was a Detention camp for the suspected terrorist, that is ok in wartime but is it ok to torture someone that could know nothing. At this time we became no better than the terrorist themselves along with the detention of children to blackmail to try to extort information. Hitler would have been prowed. We now rely on the amateur journalist to tell the storeys that were once the job of the professional and the decisions of the photo editors. Don McCullin was prevented from going to the Falklands by Mrs Thatcher under the guise that was no room on the ship, this is in its self a sensor ship and an infringement of the freedom of the press. We as a nation that now prides itself on having learned the mistakes of our past, It is hoped that we as a country will act with integrity at all times but when you restricted individual freedoms the country as a whole is worse off this includes the press photographers this in turn prevents people from making an informed choice.

OCA Photography Two: Documentary barry511915. Assi four Exercise Four. To print or not to print.

Print or Not to Print

As far as the image of the train bombings in Spain, I ask my self the question what is the difference between printing in black and white and shading the red blood to make it grey. In both cases, you are removing the graphic content of the Image so as to be acceptable to the reader, to give the reader the story without shocking the more sensitive of the general public including children that could see the Image. I think a sensible line was drawn by both Newspapers, both manipulating the image to make it acceptable to the perceived sensibilities of the general public.

The Burned soldier

The image of the burned body is a graphic reminder of war and the consequences that face the people involved in the fighting and although graphic I think it is necessary to show these pictures if it will prevent the politicians even in some small way to try to avoid the war that they sometimes promote for spurious reasons.   Before a graphic image is to be printed and publicised certain question should and need to be asked. These are my thoughts on the subject. First, is the Image going to upset and or traumatise the relatives of the deceased, or as in the Image of the burned soldier is the Image  ominous, second is the printing of the Image for a good reason, i.e. will it emotionalise  people for a productive reason, i.e. promote governments and or charities in to action to save peoples lives. Then there is the question of taste that overlaps some of the above. Is the image in good moral taste or is there a good enough reason to put moral taste to one side for the good of the many.  This is a question I can’t answer at this time and to be honest I am glad I don’t need to make those decisions. For me, it would have to be on an Image to Image basis asking myself some of the questions above.