'Unfit for Purpose'

A while ago I wrote that there was going to be less pictures & more writing on this blog, and since then I have done nothing but post images.

The plan is to turn this from an online, open sketch book into an online, open note book about my work, thoughts, ideas and influences. As any of you creative types will know, sometimes these ideas go nowhere, or they twist into something else or they join another idea and become something else or they stall, and sit in your mind or in your sketch book accusingly reminding you of your lack of skill, equipment, time or dedication.

My project ‘Nostradamus’ is a good example, an idea that’s sitting in the corner of my brain glaring at me whenever I work on anything else. Its a well thought out idea that has come to a halt because my darkroom is packed up in boxes and, as we maybe moving yet again, it will stay in its boxes for now (and before you say it could be done digitally - it can’t. It revolves around the concept of hand made, hand printed photographs).

Yesterday I scanned a series of about 70 negatives that I made for a project in 2008 called ‘Artillery St.’, a project that was a response to a collection of photographs made for the department of the environment in the 50s by Brighton photography studio Deane & Millar. The photographs look at an area of Brighton that was bulldozed and now only exists in an archive, even the name ‘Artillery St’ only exists in the museums collection and old public records. Its not about ‘urban decay’ (please), its about the material that made up these places, the palimpsest layers of a towns history, sometimes visible, sometimes only existing through the old photographs or in the memories of the towns population from that time.

The original online project was scanned from contact sheets, a nod to the photographs in the archive, but now I’m scanning them properly from the negatives & re-editing them to put on my website: ‘Artillery St.:Redux’, if you like.

But looking at all this old work brought all those incomplete ideas and plans to the forefront with the weight of their collective incompleteness. I again wondered why I make these photographs? Why am I still doing this when there are millions of photographers, making millions of pictures every minute of the day?

I listened to the excellent comedian Stewert Lee on Radio 4 the other day talking about his long career on the fringes, and now his sudden rise in the eyes of the more hi-brow critics (hes been described as ‘meta-stand-up’).

The conversation involved Lee and another stand-up and they were asked why do you do it?. The other stand-up talked of the rush or high of being on stage, Lee agreed to some point, but then simply said that after all this time its all he knew how to do - “I’m simply ‘unfit for purpose’ for anything else.”

So I guess I’m unfit for purpose and I will continue to use photography to explore and question my surroundings and my interests. Its a lot better than not making photographs.