Harry Gruyaert may not be a landscape photographer but as we have noted he is a great photographer of landscape. Perhaps the best proof of this is his ‘Edges’ collection in which Gruyaert selects and sequences photographs made at those points where land meets water meets sky. Land, Sea and Air as Appliance once sang, which is an appropriate reference after all since we have been musing somewhat on James Brooks’ work in recent weeks too. ‘Edges’ is a great book. It is one of those ‘chicken and egg’ collections. In other words it is one of those photography books where you see the relationship between time, intention and realisation play out in the unfolding narrative, where the ’story’ is one of endless, timeless variations on the themes of movement, stasis, flux and firmament. Gruyaert’s photographs map out our relationships with the sea as source of leisure and of commerce. They document the ways in which those relationships affect both the landscapes and the people in those edge lands. Here the cranes, docks and tough raggedy youth of industrial Galician coastal towns; there the glazed-in loneliness of wealthy retirees in a Le Touquet spa hotel. Always grainy, always underexposed. Just so.
Leafing through Edges I am reminded again of Rothko’s paintings. All the same. All different. The devils are in the details; in the subtle shifts of focus, light, shade, composition. Don’t mess with the formula. Don’t push the idea further than it needs to go. Explore the endless possibilities provided by minimal scope. At the edges. What else.
Well what else indeed, except that when I talk about edges I am of course tempted to listen to songs about edges. Making playlists is perhaps the curse of the hapless (almost exclusively) male trapped inside a world of books and films (or photographs) flailing around for a means of reaching a world that he knows exists yet cannot quite seem to reach (or even see). Should this be the case then my own list of songs at the edges (often, though not entirely exclusively, of the edges of landscapes) is shared here as a glimpse into that liminal borderland between my mediated (musical) understanding of that space and yours. And yes, you can expect more landscape themed mixes in the coming months.
River’s Edge – A Certain Ratio
From The Edge Of Maps – Cody
At the Edge of the Sea – The Wedding Present
Cliff edge – The Bats
Edge Of Town – The Bye Bye Blackbirds
At the Edge of the World – Billy MacKenzie
Water’s Edge – Tsunami
Edge of August – The Windmills
Darkness on the Edge of Town – Bruce Springsteen
At The Edge Of The Wood – Dead Meadow
On the Edge Of – Low
Edge of the World – Let’s Active
Edges And Corners – Standard Fare
Edge Of Everything – Colour Me Wednesday
Safe Around the Edges – His Clancyness
Living On The Edge Of The World – Bruce Springsteen
River’s Edge – Still Corners
Sea Comes At Its Edges – Starry Eyed and Laughing
Edge Of The Sea – Prelude
The Edge of Forever – The Dream Academy