Exercise 2.5: Text in art

In a similar manner to Richard Long’s ‘textworks’ (see www.richardlong.org), write down 12 – 24 brief observations during a short walk or journey by some means of transport. This may be the journey you intend to make for Assignment Two, or it may be a different one. You don’t need to take any photographs.

Consider how you might present your observations. For some more inspiration on text-based artwork, see:
Ed Ruscha: www.edruscha.com
Barbara Kruger: www.barbarakruger.com
Mark Titchner: www.marktitchnerstudio.com

This exercise is designed to help you think about text as an alternative or additional means of expression, and to provide an opportunity to experiment with presenting text creatively.

A Walk Along the Blackwater Valley Route
1. The old lane has mostly been taken over by the gardens of the residents who bought it leaving only a very narrow pathway down to the river.
2. The bridge over the Blackwater has been replaced since I was a boy and the narrow concrete and steel construction that scared us as children has been replaced by a wider wooden construction.
3. Old Smithy’s place is now a woods all traces of the caravan are gone and in spring it is a bluebell woods. He was a strange old man living like a hermit the full impact of who and what he was, was lost on us as small children.
4. The Blackwater Valley Route now runs along the river bank, this used to be part of the HTH Sand Pit
5. They have made a path out of Tarmac that now runs along or as close to the bank as it can this has made it a nice place to walk and is now a route for runners and dog walkers.
6. The river bubbles along looking so clean now, there are even fish in it. When I was a boy it was an evil frothing soup of chemicals and industrial slurry and was a dangerous looking rusty brown colour.
7. The houses all along the estate that have become so familiar to me over the past 53 years look strange from behind and it is hard to tell which house belongs to whom, even my own house looks strange on the opposite bank.
8. The trees at one point have grown over the river to form an arching canopy of foliage that the river runs serenely beneath.
9. The path bends away from the river while the fence on the right bars entry to the fishing lakes that occupy the old sand pit, which has been divided by the new road.
10. The path runs close to the road and high fences stop hooligans throwing things into the road as it cuts the landscape into two.
11. Ahead looms a concrete and brick structure that resembles an underpass from an urban landscape.
12. The underpass takes us beneath the Basingstoke canal which has been preserved by constructing a huge aqueduct.
13. The Blackwater Valley Route runs under the Canal and ascends to the towpath via a set of zigzag pathways that rise over twenty feet to the waiting canal and towpath above.
14. The Blackwater Valley Route now merges with the Canal Towpath for several hundred feet as we cross over the A331 to the other side.
15. As we cross the A331 I witness something of a marvel of modern engineering, the canal has been preserved with concrete and steel as it hangs over the road and huge swinging dams have been built to move into place should they need to remove the water from over the road to maintain the Aquaduct.
16. From the middle of the Aqueduct, there is a great view of the surrounding landscape and we can see the Road the A331 that stretches out in both directions like a huge scar on the landscape of my childhood, dividing places that can no longer be crossed on foot.
17. The Route descends on the opposite side of the Aqueduct and takes a zigzag path down to the side of the river and becomes the Blackwater Valley route again.
18 Somehow the river has crossed the road as well though I realise that I have no idea how this has been achieved.
19. Joining back with the river the path once again runs along its bank and the rather pretty fishing lake is visible to the right.
20. The route has to cross, Government road through a series of gates and a dash across the road to the other side. As we move along the path we find we can go no further for the moment as there is a dispute by the landowner with the builders of the path who he says had no right or permission to build a path across his land.
Consider how you might present your observations

I saw a text-based display at the 2012 Brighton Photo Biennial. It was a project by Michael David Murphy called “Unphotographable” each piece was a text-based item that started “This is a picture I did not take” it was born out of a trip to some Muslim countries where he was advised not to take his camera. at the Time I found the work rather powerful as each piece created a picture in my head that was unique to me. I think that the way he displayed each piece on a series of sheets of paper that built the image was a very strong way to present work like this and so I feel that I would look at his work as a way of inspiring my own attempt

Michael Murphy’s work can be seen in this press release along with a photograph of the exhibit I saw at Brighton in 2012 http://www.unphotographable.com/press_1.shtml