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  • stevenrabone

Sustainable Strategies - New Topographics

So the reality of my practice based methodology has set in this week, i.e.developing my practice around the final outcome rather than let the process lead me (practice led), and as a result I realised that I was racing ahead to establish the outcome before giving my ideas and images chance to breathe. A quick email to my tutor and I realised that I needed to slow down and let the project come to view.

I have taken the week to boost my research and started with a look at the New Topographics, a turning point that took place in 1975 exhibition with a radical shift from the traditional landscape photography. With photographers such as Lewis Baltz , Bernd and Hilla Becher they started to show how the land had been used rather than could be used. There was a focus on the industrial and suburban landscapes. Bernd and Hilla Becher's sets of images depicting various found objects such as watertowers, mines and fuel storage tanks resonated with me.

I was particularly interested in their idea of 'making families of objects' and also this idea that they were creating a 'family of motifs'.

Looking at the literal meaning of a motif:

a decorative image or design, especially a repeated one forming a pattern.

When I put this again my own plans in terms of 'multiplicity' I felt that there was a connection here and my manipulated images of architecture when put together in a series could be considered as motifs of Birmingham's buildings.

Further reading through this week also brought out Jasper John's quote from 1964, when he said 'take an object, do something to it, do something else to it. Whilst I do not profess my work is any where near the league of John's there was something in the sentiment that echoes to my idea of taking an image and then multiplying it, i.e. I am doing something to it, and something else. I intend to continue looking into the work of John in the coming weeks to see how his ideas could further help inform my project.


1. Lecture 4: New Topographics and Beyond

2. Tate (2016). Who are Hilla and Bernd Becher? | Tate. [online] Tate. Available at:


Typlogies - Bernd and Hilla Becher

Multiplicity Two - Steve Rabone - 2021

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