Functional Ecology


In ‘Footprints, In search of future fossils’ (2020) David Farrier offers a compelling  analysis of the ‘the processes that will transform a megacity into a thin layer of concrete, steel and glass in the strata’.

At the heart of his meditation is inescapable fragility of all human actions / creations. The infrastructure necessary to support our contemporary communications systems has a vernacular industrial functionality that disguises its impact on our material relations with the landscape. ‘Steel – will exhibit more clearly the intervention of industrial processes, but over shorter geological timescales (millions rather than tens of millions of years), they will still stand out as evidence of nonnatural processes’  (D.Farrier, Fossils, 2020).

‘Functional Ecology’ is a working title and like the focus of the work it is subject to change. It is perhaps too easy to categorise these photographs straightforwardly as documentary. I consider them to be records of performative events ~ individual and collective. Produced by slow and material procedures specific to walking and large format (5x4) photography. In much the same way that the photographic image has been unshackled from its physical substrate, free now to be functionally illustrative in a myriad of settings, concepts of documentary verity have been cut a drift from their moorings.

Against such technological / cultural upheavals, the condition of the photograph is routinely considered to be in a state of crisis ~ one that perhaps mirrors our own existential crisis to time / place / experience. How I respond to this ‘crisis’ is the subject of the work. Informed and indebted to the work of  artists such as Fulton, Long and  Cooper, I aim to pursue an uncertain line of enquiry recording the tangible/intangible  traces of individual and collective human performative events in the landscape. In short, Following Heaney’s call - I aim to remain awake.

‘Had I not been awake I would have missed it,
A wind that rose and whirled under the roof
Pattered with quick leaves off the sycamore

And got me up, the whole of me a-patter,
Alive and ticking like an electric fence:
Had I not been awake I would have missed it’

Seamus heaney

Image copyright: Michael McGinley
Prints available on request : Giclee, variable dimensions