Peleton, at Sydney College of the Arts, March, 2012Being in a place that is unfamiliar often causes a heightened sense of looking and being. How do we come to understand an unfamiliar place and reconcile often simultaneously contrasting viewpoints? In an attempt to understand an unfamiliar place we bring together information gathered from books, films, articles, conversations, with our experiences of ‘being there’, interacting with people and place, moving through spaces and experiencing a culture.Gail Kenning and Sue Pedley present a series of photocollages, animations and monoprints developed from a project carried out during a residency at the Redgate Studio in Beijing, December 2011. The project examined how individuals come to understand or perceive spaces and places that are unfamiliar and culturally, historically and socially different to their own experiences. The starting points for the work are the shared experience and documentation of two very different journeys in Beijing.
The first journey involved walking around Kunming Lake (6k circ) at the Summer Palace (Yihé Yuan) on the outskirts of Beijing. The second journey took place on subway Line 2 (23k circ) which runs in a rectangular loop around the city centre tracing the old Ming Dynasty inner city wall.
The lake at the Summer Palace was a garden, open to the natural elements, windy, frozen, still, seemingly of another era. The gardens in winter were deserted and dormant.
In contrast, the subway located underground created an arterial link between points of the city. The space was urban, functional, hot, crowded, colourful, vibrant, fast-moving, transient, timetabled, visceral. It promoted close human contact and fleeting connections.
Kenning and Pedley implemented a system for observation and documentation of each journey. They attempted to limit personal preference in the viewpoint recorded, and allow happenstance to infiltrate their documentation of being in a particular place and time.
While circumnavigating the frozen lake Kenning and Pedley each recorded their viewpoint every 100 metres. Both focussed on the same central motif, pointing the camera at the direction of an island in the centre of the lake, connected by a stone bridge.
On Beijing subway Line 2, Kenning and Pedley each faced outwards from different sides of the carriage and recorded the reflections from inside and outside the train carriage at specific intervals of the journey.
Kenning and Pedley share all documentation of the journeys, but work independently with ongoing dialogue to create discrete bodies of work. They manipulate and process the images to recall and contrast the journeys.
A series of images from two locations are randomly juxtaposed and digitally woven together to create new narratives…
Photographs are also physically woven together….