These are ideas I have had so far about assignment 4.
I’ve liked some of Stephen Shore’s photographs since long before I started studying photography with OCA. This has meant I have liked them without really being able to articulate why. Relatively recently I have acquired “Uncommon Places – The Complete works”. As well as the photographs here is an essay by Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen, where he describes how Shore began to see himself as an ethnologist while working on this project. This got me to thinking about how his exploration of “his” America might reflect the earlier work of Carleton Watkins and Timothy O’Sullivan. Shore is self-directed whereas the earlier photographers were working to direction, but is there still some correspondence between them?
There are other photographers in between these (e.g. Walker Evans) who have also documented America. I can’t decide if it would broaden the scope too much to open this idea up to others, or to concentrate my focus on the three I mentioned above.
Ian Walker in an essay “Through the picture plane: On looking at photographs” makes the point that our own experience affects our interpretation of photographs. I have never been to the USA so my own ideas of America are defined almost entirely by film, TV and music. Perhaps my way in to this subject is to start with what drew me to Stephen Shore in the first place? This does seem to me to have possibilities (although the danger would be that I rely too much on Roland Barthes).