Inscape 81: The Urban Scene

I’ve written previously about Inscape, the ‘small magazine’ of ‘Personal Work in Photography‘ edited by William Bishop, which included a small portfolio of my work from Hull in Issue 80, ‘An Architectural Theme’.

The latest issue, No 81, includes work from a dozen or so photographers on ‘The Urban Scene‘ but more interesting to me was the written content, including two articles that make a call for further discussion.

Carol Hudson tells of her experience of using an iphone and asks “is photography, as we know it, now dead (or at the very least in retirement)?” and wants to hear what others “think about the rise and fall of the photographic document.”

A longer piece by Andy Biggs, headed by one of the more interesting images in the magazine, his photograph of the lower half of a rambler and a dog on a concrete pillar (a trig point?) at ‘The Wrekin’ that reminds me of an early Martin Parr, has the title ‘Is contemporary photography for constructed images only?’ and takes a look at some of the trends in photography over recent years away from the “desire by photographers to take their cameras out and record the world around” which he thinks photography should return to (and it’s a position I share) and ends with the short sentence: “Please discuss.” You can read a version of this article (without that final sentence) on his web site.

A quarterly magazine such as Inscape is not perhaps the most appropriate place for a discussion, which would inevitably proceed at a very slow pace. Perhaps the editor of Inscape should consider adding a blog to the Inscape web site, on which you can take out a subscription to this publication, which is also available at some select gallery shops.

When Inscape started, the Internet was in its infancy, and the only way to produce a magazine such as this was in print, but although the quality of that print has greatly improved, it could now be produced more easily and gain a greater readership and a wider group of contributors on the web. And if you have a copy of the magazine, and compare this image with the version of it on page 35, unless your monitor is badly in need of replacement, you will see that even though the reproduction in Inscape is pretty good for a magazine, the web can beat it hands down.

From ‘1989’ – you can see the web version & book online.

I’ve been a subscriber more or less since issue 1 and helped in the production of some of the early issues and also have a personal interest in this particular one, as one of the three book reviews in it is of my own book, 1989. The other two are ‘Intimations‘, Poems by Veronica More with photographs by Tom and Cordelia Weedon, and Gerry Badger‘s ‘The Pleasures of Good Photographs‘.

Also in Inscape 81 is a review of ‘Paris – New York – London‘ the show I organised in October including pictures by Paul Baldesare, John Benton-Harris and myself.  (The link above is to what Bishop refers to as my “learned and informative introductory talk” in his piece at the “wine-sodden celebratory evening.”) It certainly was a good night.

It’s encouraging to read anything about events such as this, and apart from in blogs (or at least this blog) there is little if any coverage of photographic events outside the few major galleries. Even though, as for example I said in my reports from Paris Photo, these are where the most interesting work is usually to be found (and of course plenty of the dire.)

The two pictures reproduced with the review are both in black and white in Inscape, so here they are in colour:

© Paul BaldesarePaul Baldesare: A family group, Oxford Circus

© 1988, Peter MarshallPeter Marshall: Paris 1988.

You can see more of the work from the show on the Paris – New York – London website, including some pictures by John Benton-Harris.

Contributions to the next issue of Inscape, on the theme ‘Work‘ are invited on the back page of the magazine, with a copy date of 21 March 2011.

2 Responses to “Inscape 81: The Urban Scene”

  1. ChrisL says:

    How telling that your piece on the sad loss of Penny Tweedie above follows that noting the short “statement” you highlight by Carol Hudson on the “pure” photographic document.
    Not a new thought as I am sure both you and she know but could I direct readers to some historical context in the writing of Walter Benjamin? “Illuminations” published in 1936 contains an essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction which I am pleased to say I found available on the internet at :

    My own short anecdote relates to a piece of Kodachrome which passed through my father’s camera some fifty years ago. All of those depicted and the photographer have now died except for myself. That I can hold that object and know that at that moment in time we were both present is a source of great wonder and joy. Will that joy be the same in another fifty years when one of my sons opens an image of mine saved from a hard drive on his holographic viewer ?

  2. That’s a useful link, thanks.

    I’m sure Carol knows that Benjamin piece. I have the Fontana edition of “Illuminations” that was published here in the 1970s, and his Short History of Photography (in English translation) which was in one of the Creative Camera Year Books.

    I’ve recently been looking at his ‘Arcades’, his unfinished life work.

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