Landscape Poetics 10-26

response to Eudora Welty’s “LIVVIE”

Welty’s short story “Livvie” is filled with photographic detail.  When she is describing the characters, Solomon, Livvie and Cash, I imagine Dorothea Lange’s photographs. Dorothea Lange’s photographs of people seem to tell their entire life stories.  There is a lot of emotion in the characters that you can extract from the story.  It is not explicitly stated, but you make conclusions from the descriptions that are given, much like Dorothea Lange’s photographs.  You could definitely construct a photographic essay about this story because it is so descriptive.  A vivid image of their house, their belongings, their daily routines, their appearances, the land they own and what activities are going on in the fields.  The setting I imagined photographed in the technique of Joel Sternfeld.  His photos are very theatrical and have a lot of detail.  Eudora Welty fills the story with detail, which draws you into their lives, much like Sternfeld’s photographs.

The chapter ‘A Rose is Rarely Just A Rose: Poetics of Landscape’ was very eye opening for the next assignment.  It helps to dissect methods of metaphor that can inform how to look at my site in the next week.  I want to remember the idea of emphasis in order to raise questions.  But how and what do you emphasize?  I think that emphasis is a broad idea that relates to many of the other poetics used in landscape.  Emphasis, or de-emphasis, aids you in telling a story, through framing, exaggeration, alliteration, echoism, assonance, anomaly, anachronism, paradox, and irony.

(1) Framing “brackets, separates from context, focuses attention, and directs gaze.”  There are a few elements on my site that could be used as framing devices: the gates have the most framing potential.

(2) Exaggeration excited me the most.  It is a form of emphasis in order to raise questions.  The use of exaggeration can make something seem more important by magnifying its size.  Exaggeration can likewise create a fun or odd atmosphere; one that is unusual or confusing.  This technique especially seems to hold potential for exploring my site.  Comments have been that my photos are surreal, like a Magritte painting.  I think it will be beneficial to embrace exaggeration in an attempt to create images that are hyper-Surreal, much like the site itself.  This technique could really evidence the sense of place of my site.  I feel like I relate to this, from the Language of Landscape: “Jellicoe was fascinated with the unconscious and explored landscape design ‘the unreasoned fantasia of the subconscious, released in all their fun, oddity, and awesomeness.'”  (p220)

(3) Alliteration, echoism, assonance… The idea of showing sound is important to creating a sense of place.  “‘Soundscape,’ the characteristic sound, frequency, and rhythms of a place, alliteration, echoism, assonance… sound shapes context, and sounds become less ephemeral, more easily recalled.”  My site is rich with sound, which I have written about in my previous journals: the whipping of the oversized American flag waving overhead, the crunching of the gravel underfoot, the whooshing of wind through the leaves on the tree, lush and full of water and life in the summer, dry and dying in the autumn.  But how do you show these sounds in a photograph?  Maybe it is clouds rushing past the flag, the bike tracks that displace the gravel from the path, the movement of leaves blowing in the breeze.  In this section, it is suggested to provide ‘a kind of rhyme between sounds or shapes that echo, but do not allude to each other.’

(4 + 5) Anomaly and Anachronism- Once again, a method of creating humor and oddity: taking something out of time, place or context.  The three canons on the site are definitely out of time.  They make you question why they are there.  The silhouetted cutouts are pretty humorous.  They are pretty odd, especially their placement.  One lady sits in the grass, three men stand under the trees, while another is hidden outside of the park, around the corner, behind a bush.  Every night coming home, even though I know he is there waiting for me, I gasp in surprise.  “Oh, it’s you again,” I think to myself.

(6) Paradox and Irony- (something contradictory yet true)–> I don’t know how that figures into my site yet, but I think it is interesting and useful in photography.  (both natural and constructed)–>  this is evident on my site.  The ‘hills’ aren’t natural, but instead are rebuilt every-so-many years to keep them intact.  The park is gated, with a row of trees outlining it, duplicating the heavy granite and iron gate that borders the grass.  A natural and constructed gate? Yet, both gates are constructed by man.  Maybe (planned and unplanned) is another way of looking at it.  The gate is a planned boundary, while the railroad tracks are unplanned as a boundary.  But how do you photograph that?  Maybe it is a pair of photographs.

One question that came up in the reading was about ‘anticlimax’: does a “failure to live up to expectations” make for an interesting photo?  If you are expecting something great, and are let down, would the photographic result also be a letdown?  (p224)


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