The road is a common story-telling device within landscape photography and when choosing a road to journey and photograph, one in particular sprung to mind. The road was quite bendy, firstly, which I felt, although sounding a trivial feature, was a useful tool I could exploit for the way I intended to carry out this task. The reason for this was mainly so I could more easily convey a sense of journey for the viewer down this road. Secondly, the wavy nature of this particular road lent towards frequent diagonal lead in lines and more open views for the road as it progressed ahead each photograph. By showing a detail of the road ahead within the photograph before it (but further away), I could help to give a sense of journey down the road.
I was not purely trying to turn this idea of journey down the road with sequential photographs to be the main point to this project. Rather, this would be a side-feature, while concentrating my efforts mostly into depicting the road I knew (quite well), with a lot of the vitality and many developments that were already obvious to me, to the eventual viewer.
I thought the series worked well as a whole; maybe stronger than a lot of the photographs individually. This was in part because I worked my way quite quickly down the road; trying to give a ‘general’ feeling of the road ahead. I could have been more ‘considered’ with viewpoints and perspectives of the road ahead. One thing I did think worked well was the purposeful inclusion of figures in the foreground-to-middleground, which I felt greatly added to the feeling of vibrancy and character I knew this road possessed.
Some of the photographs worked better singularly than others; in particular the ones with development work going on in the distance in my opinion. For example, Photograph 5/12 showed the high-rise development works ‘looming over’ what would have been a fairly ‘normal’ road in London. However, the road and its (many) contents seemed overpowered by the sheer height of the high-rise development works. This created a kind of tension between the two juxtaposed against each other. If I was to carry out a more ‘considered’ take on this relationship between ‘normal’ road and ‘looming’, unfinished high-rise development works, I would give thought to the time of day and weather, in order to further accentuate this tension.
I decided to watch a movie called: (Road Trip, 2000) by Todd Philips and Scot Armstrong, to help strengthen my understanding of the ‘road’ and how it related back to the eventual viewer within the movie. I had watched the movie before and chose to re-watch it because, in my memories at least, the road trip featured a long journey across America, with many side-events/mishaps along the way. This was how I envisaged a road trip to be: provoking a sense of freedom among the participants and in this case, potentially also the viewers.
The first thing I noticed was every time a typical ‘road trip’ scene started in this movie, it was complemented by loud, liberal music, to help convey the freedom the young group of people were feeling as they journeyed over the many miles of America from their initial starting point to their eventual destination.
Many of the usual road trip clichés were present; like the straying off the planned path only to find their path blocked, as well as stopping off at the side for numerous, waylaid adventures.
The road was represented with fleeting glimpses; either the seemingly insignificant blur of objects they were passing by at high speed or the road itself; seen from above and centrally looking into the long distance perspectively.
I thought the way the road was presented to the viewer in Road Trip was quite convincing; namely a bit of a blur; a tool used to travel along and a subordinate element of the journey, which was more in their respective minds (each growing up in their own ways) than actually taking in the huge distance travelled.
In fact, the story was indeed told from the perspective of one of their college mates’ memories, which was a much more dominant device to tell the story from than the road. In contrast to the intermittent sidetracks to the storyteller telling the story form his perspective, the individuals actually driving the vehicles were shown from the front looking backwards (towards him and the steering wheel and then further back to the rest of the group). This further accentuated the feeling of the road itself being inconsequential to the development of the story and of the individuals in the vehicle; instead it was merely a means to an end.
There was a definite end and beginning to the journey; from one University’s campus to a completely different one. The road was the conduit; a middle ground and passing element but by travelling along it, the students had developed. Meanwhile, the road remained indifferent. This showed to me that perhaps it was more the distance travelled and time spent together than the visual components that made up the road, which formed progression in the minds of the students.
I thought the only time the road featured quite prominently in the movie was quite telling. Here, the students had taken a country path (an example of straying off the planned path), to find their way was broken by a dilapidated bridge. They try to jump across it in their car and it went quite wrong! However, the point was the road remained (relatively) unchanged whereas by the time they had gotten to the other side, several of the students had developed (indirectly) because of the road; which acted somewhat as a catalyst.
Road Trip. (2000). [Film] United States: DreamWorks Pictures.