The shock of the new topographics

There’s been a bit about New Topographics in the press recently. It was the 1975 exhibition that although stinkingly received at the time opened up the possibility of recording the human-built environment, in particular where it met the ‘natural’ one, with the same attention and clarity as landscape photographers had been lovingly recording hills, rivers and the like since photography began.

It’s hardly groundbreaking thought to suggest that the New Topographics took its direct inspiration from Twenty Six Gasoline Stations – Ed Ruscha’s piece of disposable pop art that costs £5,000 should you want a slender copy now. Nor that it finds its continuation in work such as this year’s Deutsche Börse Photography Prize nominated collection of the Maze prison by Donovan Wylie.

What is possibly surprising is how few shockwaves the New Topographics would cause now. Maybe it’s the ubiquity of photography caused by the ease of digital but these days this type of photography isn’t just mainstream it’s a standard shot type on flickr where all stages of suburban living have their groups and devotees.

So read a bit more about the New Topographics here … Twenty Six Gasoline Stations here … and for reflections of the man-made environment and all it means just look out of the window.

And see this shot of soccer at edge of Chesham large here.


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