| RJ & SE, 2006
series of archival pigment prints, variable dimensions
While in Ireland I came upon a small exhibit in the Ulster museum in Belfast on the work of local photographer Robert John Welch. Welch extensively photographed the local area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I learned Welch’s relationship to tourism was a complex one, very similar to contemporary paradoxes. He complained of tourist vendors being in the way and ruining images he was attempting to capture. At the same time his photos adorned the trains and train stations all along the Antrim coast. He even published a guidebook outlining the high points and encouraging tourists to visit the north of Ireland.
I went about photographing Welch’s photographs within their contextual placement in the museum. These photographs further complicate what might be seen as the already promotional qualities of Welch’s photographs. I then set out to re-capture Welch’s images.
One hundred years after Robert John Welch photographed Belfast and the outlying area I followed in his footsteps, seeking exact or similar replications of his perspectives. The process of trying to find and photograph the same locations as Welch put me in service of Welch’s camera. I literally sought to enter, as close as possible, the subjectivity he displayed with his camera, through my camera.
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Displaced Studios involves multiple activities linked by a relationship to travel and tourism, and by the fact that all work is made whilst travelling. The project is based on the premise that the traveller acts as observer, occupying a position outside the society. The significance of tourism here presents a condition of revealing aspects of normal practices which might otherwise remain opaque. In the position of the tourist even the ordinary is reflected in the light of the unfamiliar. In this way Displaced Studios becomes a model for understanding society.
RJ & SE
WAKING UP IN THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS
YOU CAN'T WALK ON WATER YOU CAN'T SLEEP ON CLOUDS