Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

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XMAS STREET NOCTURNE: A new site project

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On the road and in the street


In past years after a day’s travelling doing fieldwork we usually aim for an overnight stay in a country town to rest for the night before attacking the road again.  On arrival in the town we drive down the main street to inspect the available/affordable accommodation options. By nightfall we are usually ensconced in the motel room: organising our day’s imaging, catching up with emails, dinner and so on. The next day we move on . . .

This year during our summer field trip, motivated by the results of our recent Wooli Nocturne Project, we decided to document at twilight an aspect of each town where we stayed. This meant arriving early so that we could walk down the main street before sunset. Our objective was to survey the site-specific arrangement of town’s Xmas display, (whether present or absent), and identify features that at dusk would also be artificially illuminated. Returning later we would shoot under the deep blue/magenta skies of the early evening and the night lights.

Albury-Chemist Discounts_6916-72

In this work we are not alone, as photographers across the history of the art have used this montage of artificial and natural light effects to document urban environments. The development of this work has been influenced over time by a sustained interest in artists like Edward Hopper and Jeffrey Smart, and the photographers Eugène Atget, Brassaï, William Eggleston, Joel Meyerowitz, Gregory Crewdson and Brian Brake. More recently in Australia, artists and photographers notably Bill Henson and Mark Kimber have also explored aspects of this genre.


Recognising that the inherent nature of this transient light evokes the uncanny, an unseen presence or the interstitial filmic moment captured as a still is fundamental to our project. In this work the documentary photograph is not just a record of the idiosyncratic nature of each town’s main street and its Xmas light show as in these lighting conditions everyday objects are transformed from their daytime function. The prosaic nature of these towns, when photographed in the dusk light, becomes part of a found aesthetic: a site-specific monument to nocturnal light; a visual narrative of light, colour and form.

Xmas Street Nocturne: A site-specific project by Victoria Cooper + Doug Spowart

5 January 2013



Towns and cities imaged:

  • Albury
  • Bright
  • Coonabarabran
  • Cowra
  • Narrabri
  • Narrandera
  • Toowoomba


__Bright_wet-street-6809-72 __BRIGHT-Bike_Rack_6814-72 __BRIGHT-ChurchLt_6831-72 __BRIGHT-Street_Corner_6822-72 __BRIGHT-wet_street2_6824-72 __COROWA-Lane+Car_7078-72 __COWRA-3Facades_7044-72 __COWRA-Motel_7032-72 __COWRA-Steeple_7013-72 __Narr-Backstreet_5961-72 __Narr-Bank_5958-72 __NARR-Best_7160-72 __NARR-Macdonalds_7125-72 __Narr-Pub_5949-72 __Narr-Railway_5928-72 __NARR-Solictitors_7168-72 __Narr-Sprinklers_5946-72 __Narra-Palms_7153-72

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