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Celebrating the human footprint

BY RUTH SLAVID, Editor | Photography by David George
Photographs of the decaying infrastructure of the last generation of power production open our eyes to the beauty of landscapes that might otherwise be dismissed simply as ugly or degraded.

he photographs on the following pages are from a series by David George called ‘Enclosures, Badlands and Borders’. We felt it was appropriate to publish them in the issue where we discuss the new GLVIA book because these photos focus on the types of interventions which, if they were proposed now, would probably be deemed unacceptable in an assessment, at least without severe mitigation.

But for George they are a cause for celebration and he has used them to create romantic and haunting images. He has written: ‘These photographs examine the existence of “The Sublime” in the western postindustrial landscape. They explore how these terrains posses a physical and intellectual exclusivity for a general observer and how they, due to the nature of the industries that create and maintain them, have a built-in obsolescence ... In the foreseeable future most of these places will no longer exist in their present form, due to shifts in global economies, changing labour forces, a “greener” awareness in society and the emergence of new technologies in industry. This may be one of the few intentional records that documents not only their existence, but also the strange uniqueness of these disappearing environments.’

George’s work has been described as ‘more psychogeographic than geographic’. He has had a long-standing interest in the representation of manaltered landscapes and in the work produced by the new topographic school in America, including Edward Ruscha’s ‘Twenty-six Gasoline Stations“’(1962), the work of Henry Wessel and the Bechers, and subsequently the work of Joel Sternfeld and J. Bennet Fitts. His own approach he says is different but ‘I hope the images I have produced will have the same critical eye and sense of objectivity as these earlier works whilst containing other layers of meaning that are both personal, political and to a degree anthropological.’

This work can be seen simultaneously a record of a vanishing time, a criticism of an insensitive approach and a celebration of beauty in a place where we do not expect to find it. More than anything, they are really beautiful photographs, which is why we are delighted to share them with you here.

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Posted by Sue - December 11th, 2013
Great photos!

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