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Narratives in landscape photography: the narrative

Skoufias, Emmanouil (2006) Narratives in landscape photography: the narrative. PhD thesis, University of Westminster, School of Media, Arts and Design.

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Abstract

The aim ofthis thesis is to use practical and theoretical research to investigate the relationship of transitional landscapes with narrative. As transitional landscapes I refer to the photographic depiction of unorganised spaces situated between the rural and urban zones. The research engages in practical fieldwork and theoretical study. It comprises a written thesis and a visual output (photographic project). The theoretical part examines the historical framework focusing in the postmodern re-evaluations oflandscape photography. My research investigates if the iconographic austerity of transitional landscapes leads to interpretive austerity or on the contrary enhances their range of interpretations. The research methodology is influenced by theories that acknowledge the importance of the reader and it is qualitative and experimental. The research employs as key method visual questionnaires, which focus on the capacity of single images to prompt narrative interpretation. The groups of people that the questionnaires are distributed to, vary in their approach and regard of landscape and narrative. The results from this survey indicate how we perceive transitional landscapes, the type of narratives they suggest and what prompts them to interpret the images as specific narratives. The main findings ofthe study revealed that: 1. The iconographic austerity of transitional landscapes appears as a fertile ground for narratives as indicated by the high percentage of respondents who wrote narratives, the high percentage of narratives compared to descriptions and transformations and the respondents approach more as narrators rather than observers. 2. The respondents seemed to wish to categorise the transitional landscapes more as an urban or rural environment rather than a transitional environment. 3. A darker, closer to black & white landscape image is more responsive to narratives rather than the normal exposure and colour version of the same landscape image. Furthermore, transitional landscapes seem more narratively responsive in their blurred version. 4. Transitional landscapes create more pessimistic than optimistic responses justifying landscape theories based on the psychological approach to landscape. The findings are employed as a creative tool, creating the form and the content of the photographic project, which also incorporates the actual stories of the respondents for transitional landscapes. The photographic project displays two main narrative strategies in photography: a) Narratives created solely by images and b) Narratives created from combinin~ text and image. It progress from strategy a to b in four steps, gradually shifting from vertical panoramic landscapes to horizontal panoramic 'wordscapes'. The original co.ntribution to knowledge is in both the artwork and the method of producing it as I am extendmg the boundaries of what is currently considered as the landscape genre not only in terms of collective authoring but also about the transition of the visual sign to the word sign, thus examining our processes of making sense of signs and the subjective nature of interpretation. In my.concerns for transitional landscapes, I am investigating an aspect of a landscape genre, which has been marginalized in both traditional photographic history and subsequent critical debates.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Research Community:University of Westminster > Media, Arts and Design, School of
ID Code:8575
Deposited On:10 Sep 2010 15:14
Last Modified:10 Sep 2010 15:14

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