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Winter Growing Fields; Landscape and Estrangement : Andrew Langford


“Place and non-place are rather like opposed polarities: the first is never completely erased, the second never totally completed: they are like
palimpsests on which the scrambled game of identity and relations is ceaselessly rewritten.”
Augé, M. (1995) Non-Places, An introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. London/New York: Verso.

This research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, is due to be completed and disseminated in the spring of 2008. The research explores the aesthetic and conceptual territory between fixed viewpoint, high-resolution photography and experiments with materials, sequences and events. Two contrasting approaches to photographic image/meaning are being advanced. The first capitalises on the evidential qualities that the camera affords - photograph as document and a direct conduit to place recognition. The second invites alternative engagement with cultural meaning by approaching material to be reconfigured and tested against other types of data. The work attempts to develop outcomes which represent something of the psychological, emotional, spiritual and social complexities associated with land use change and the conversion of unique landscapes for profit.

The research involves working in specific locations in the Andalucian countryside centred on Almeria. On one hand the region attracts visitors for its exotic and experiential value – climate, natural landscape, history and heritage, local culture and lifestyle. On the other hand the region signals an adoption of architectural standardisation and the application of sanitised processes around monocultures. Much of what one sees in Almeria is directly affiliated with the dominant monoculture industries. Almeria’s so called, ‘edgelands’ extend to such a degree that most villages and towns physically connect through the labyrinth of greenhouses and associated services. The key motivator for change in the landscape is the profitability of modern greenhouse horticulture on an industrial scale. Over a thirty year period the sector has grown to a staggering 2,500 hectares of land coverage (2001) and is still accelerating. Construction involves the complete eradication of the existing land surface and the building of plastic or glass clad, steel and wire frames. When zones reach saturation the greenhouses are seen as a continuous and seamless plastic membrane with mainly narrow roads between them. Alongside the greenhouses, wide ranging supporting industries evolve until what was open semi-desert landscape has become a fully industrialized city edgeland. They signal an expanded and excessive utilitarian future which might result for many in a profound alteration of awareness - a sense of loss of belonging and limited sense of place.

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