PHOTOGRAPHING THE URBAN LANDSCAPE
The urban landscape can be viewed both as a series of structures and edifices
more or less organised by human action and as a panorama of social and cultural
framing our present and inscribing our past. Seen in this way, '....the conurbation becomes one huge archaeological site as the city reveals its inner self through a continuous process of urban renewal and revitalisation in which the very innards of
the landscape are exposed and delayered like a vast anatomical dissection' (Ron McCormick, Archaeologies : Tracing History in the Urban Landscape, 1998). The challenge for urban landscape photography is to not only record the physical manifestations of this relentless process, but also to make visible the underlying social and cultural forces which ultimately determine their form and meaning.
The enduring power of photography lies in the acceptance of its images as
credible documentary records with enduring archival validity. The apparant
transparency of the photographic image promotes the idea of comparing photographs
of the same subject taken at different times. Through photography, therefore,
the urban landscape as it appears today may be compared directly with what
it looked like in the past, so providing a new context in which both historical
and contemporary images may be viewed and interpreted. Our understanding of
history can be divided
into two periods : the time before photography and the period following its invention.