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Intimate Voices cover

Intimate Voices coauthored with Joe Cornish. The book consists of photographs from an exhibition dedicated to John Blakemore. It begins with a "guest" image from John Blakemore and ends with a portrait of him. Following an introduction, the photographs are presented with accompanying text commentary; each author comments on each photograph. The photographs range from close studies to the wider landscape and are in colour except for John Blakemore's contribution and the portrait of him.


Against Beauty and Other Essays cover

Against Beauty and Other Essays. The essays in this book are presented in order of writing with the first being written in 2007 and the last during 2010. The first three were published in various issues of Ag magazine; all appear here in revised form. In particular the opening essay is presented in full length, the magazine version was necessarily somewhat condensed; the last two have not been published elsewhere. Two essays concern the work of John Blakemore and both were written with his extensive cooperation. I admired his work before we became good friends and so feel no conflict in writing about it in such positive terms; in any case I would not be interested in writing about work that I do not enjoy. I have had many rewarding discussions with him that have informed the essays presented here either from the start or during revision; I am not thereby claiming that he endorses all the views expressed.

The remaining three essays concern various aspects of photography, concentrating on landscape photography. The opening one is a somewhat extensive discussion of the way I see the pursuit as part of a whole involving mathematics, art and music; I owe a debt to Joe Cornish who convinced me that I should write such a piece. It has at times been fashionable to appeal to mathematics as a justification for various pictorial concerns, for example fractal geometry. For me this is not a strong argument, why is something interesting because we have a mathematical account of it? Its nature is in no way changed and the photographs we can make are also in no way affected. The mathematical account itself is usually of great interest and often requires extensive technical knowledge to appreciate. My concern is with the deeper connection of mathematical creativity and the activity of image making as a means of exploring the world.

Of the remaining two essays the first addresses the thorny question of image manipulation seeking to avoid a doctrinaire position. The final essay, which lends its title to the collection, is the one that took the longest time to produce. It is not a polemic against beauty as such but rather against the all too easy adherence to it as some primal notion. It seems to me to be much more of a derived notion, at least so far as landscape is concerned; our not too distant ancestors would have been bemused by our modern devotion to wilderness and praise of its beauty. At one time people looked at the Alps with horror.

Tir is Obair cover

Tìr is Obair. This book is about work and land in the Scottish Highlands with the clearances being the unspoken background. It is not intended as propaganda or protest but a document of at least some work going on in what is often an empty landscape. The pictures are made at the head of Loch Etive where an old peer was renovated so that logs can be carried down the loch from the harvesting of a mature pine plantation. The book is in Gaelic, readers feeling alienated by this choice might care to ponder on the feelings of those who have seen their language brought to the point of extinction.