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Regional Selfies: Communities and Self-Documentation

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Through documentary photography and social media Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart have explored connections with Place in urban and regional communities in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The purpose of these Nocturne Projects is to capture everyday scenes of each community in nocturnal light, dusk and dawn. These images are then posted on a Nocturne project Facebook page to evoke stories, memories and shared experiences from the community.

In each project Spowart and Cooper found different ways to include community participation. In 2014, they were invited to work in Miles, a major town of the Western Downs Region of Queensland. The Nocturne Miles Community Documentary project sought to engage with the broader public to undertake self-documentation projects and skill development in nocturne photography. Both local and temporary residents who enjoy taking photos, as well as those more skilled in photography were all invited to participate. After an initial workshop, Spowart and Cooper mentored the 18 participants to create images for the project including self-portraits and daily assignments and produce Facebook reports and a zine.

 

Vicky and Ashleigh Campbell in a pre-event planning meeting

Vicky and Ashleigh Campbell in a pre-event planning meeting

To begin the project consultations were undertaken with staff from the Western Downs Regional Council’s Cultural Development team Ashleigh Campbell and Anne Keam at Dogwood Crossing to refine the project to match the needs of their community. Then centre staff sought out members of the community who could be interested in the project. Possible candidates then completed an Expressions of Interest form to provide some information on their experience and the photography tools they had access to e.g. DSLR camera, point and shoot camera, mobile phone or tablet cameras. Another important consideration was that the applicants were going to be in the region during the project to participate in briefings, workshops and shootouts as well as the final day’s zine making activity.

 

Project Flyer – Nocturne Miles

Project Flyer – Nocturne Miles

 

While numbers were limited there was a desire by the artists and Dogwood Crossing that the project accessible to as many participants and be as inclusive as possible. The one proviso was that project participants needed to live and/or work in or near Miles including the smaller surrounding towns or on properties/work camps in the Miles district.

The participants engaged with the project in a variety of different ways including:

  • An initial introduction to the project and skill development workshop;
  • Guided evening photography shoot-outs in the main Street of Miles as well as at the Miles Historic Village;
  • Daily photo tasks over the week of the project assigned through a project Facebook group;
  • Optional mentoring sessions, where required, to enable images to be prepared and uploaded for the project;
  • Display of participants photos to a digital screen at Dogwood Crossing; and
  • A practical ‘zine’ making workshop.

 

Doug doing a briefing

Doug doing a briefing

The project began on Sunday November 30 with an introductory workshop, briefing and a shootout. Progressively images were collated and uploaded to the Nocturne Miles Community Facebook page. Each day a new topic was presented a challenge and their interpretation formed into a photocollage. Communication with the participants was made through a private Facebook group page that enabled hear 24hour contact with participants and Cooper+Spowart. Some participants came into Dogwood Crossing with their photos or with requests for support in making and/or optimising better photographs. On Wednesday evening special access was provided to the Miles Historical Village for group to experiment with ‘painting with light’ and ‘projection’ techniques.

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The Nocturne Miles participants at Miles Historical Village

 

Facebook page

Facebook page

 

Cooper and Spowart added their images to the Facebook page as well and some visitors to the page posted stories about the places pictured. By the project’s end the page had 241 Page Likes, 60 Posts and the Total Reach was 17,771. Both the group page and the community page are still active.

Vicky and Doug in the Dogwood Crossing foyer

Vicky and Doug in the Dogwood Crossing foyer

 

Some of the photocollages that formed the 8 page Zines that were made using the Dogwood Crossing’s A3 colour photocopier. These were cut and folded into zines that were inserted into a red and yellow special edition of the Centre for Regional Arts Practice’s Artists Survey Books.

 

Nocturne Miles Zine making workshop

Nocturne Miles Zine making workshop

 

Some of the Photocollages

Breakfast – Nocturne Miles

Breakfast – Nocturne Miles

Water – Nocturne Miles

Water – Nocturne Miles

Miles Historical VilliageSelfies – Nocturne Miles

Miles Historical Villiage – Nocturne Miles

 

The photocollages presented here are examples of the image sets created by the participants. It is interesting to note that the original images may have emanated from all camera formats fro iPhone, simple digital point-n-shoot to sophisticated DSLRs.

We hear a lot about documentary photographers and student photographers travelling out into the country to create documents of life outside of the metropolis. Once on the ground these photographers seek out subjects to pursue and photograph. In this way significant documents are created of these outlying communities. However, the subject of the of the photographer’s gaze, and what is photographed, is based on the view of ‘outsiders’. The photographs they make may match preconceived ideas, and mythologised opinions, that they bring with them rather than how the people who inhabit these places feel about how and where they live.

What the Nocturne Miles project shows is perhaps that in an age where everyone can be a photographer what is important is the photograph itself. What then stands out the most is the link between the photograph and it’s authenticity. With this in mind these photographs are actual fragments of the lives of local people, whether they are from the farm, or people engaged in extractive industries, or those who work in administration roles or students at school, their voice in this conversation adds another view we can have of our regional communities.

 

The project was undertaken between November 21 and December 7 2014 and was overseen by Western Downs Regional Council’s Cultural Development Coordinator Ashleigh Campbell and Cultural Development Officer Anne Keam. The success of the project was also made possible by the enthusiastic support of the WDRC team at Dogwood Crossing.

 

What follows are more photocollages and individual images from the project

More images are on the Surat Basin.com.au website HERE

Murlilla Street  – Nocturne Miles

Murlilla Street – Nocturne Miles

The front gate – Nocturne Miles

The front gate – Nocturne Miles

Selfies – Nocturne Miles

Selfies – Nocturne Miles

Footwear – Nocturne Miles

Footwear – Nocturne Miles

 

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Text and photos unless otherwise accredited are Copyright ©2014 Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart

 

 

 

BUNDABERG: A New Nocturne Community Project

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NOCTURNE BUNDABERG: Stage One of a new community project concept

Vicky and Doug go tropical (shirts anyway) in Bundaberg

Vicky and Doug go tropical (shirts anyway) in Bundaberg

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We’ve been in Bundaberg this week (January 5-12)doing preliminary work on a new concept in our nocturne work. Here is the overview of the project:

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In April 2014 Bundaberg Regional Galleries will be hosting an artist in residency program with artists Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart. An exhibition of their Nocturne work including new images from this region will be on show at CHARTS Gallery at Childers during April in conjunction with the Queensland Festival of Photography 5. The artists will be also working on their next Nocturne photodocumentary project, entitled Nocturne Bundaberg Region. As with the previous Nocturne Muswellborook and Nocturne Grafton projects the photographs they make will be posted on the Nocturne Bundaberg Region Facebook page so that communities can connect with the project, and importantly, share their stories about each place.

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Talking with Trudie Leigo - Exhibitions Officer @ Bundaberg Regional

Talking with Trudie Leigo – Exhibitions Officer @ Bundaberg Regional

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To extend the community’s connection with the project, Victoria and Doug will be working with a small group of photographers from across the Bundaberg Regional Council area to be contributors to the image-making part of the project. The participants will be selected using an EOI process that will be launched on the project’s Facebook page by the end of the month. Successful applicants will be advised in mid-March and they’ll attend a workshop in specialist aspects of nocturnal photography, image enhancement and the safety considerations for this work. After attending the workshop the local photographers will have an opportunity to add their images to the project’s Facebook page. Preferably, applicants should be 18 or over. Other community members may be invited to post images as well.

Any community member or person who has stories inspired by the photographs can post comments to the Facebook page..

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The Nocturne Bundaberg Region’s Facebook page images, as well as the community conversation derived from the project, may be incorporated in other outcomes including exhibitions or publications associated with the project. A selection of images may go into the Picture Bundaberg Archive.

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Nocturne Bundaberg Logo

Nocturne Bundaberg Logo

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All photographs © 2014 Cooper+Spowart  for the Nocturne Bundaberg community documentation project

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Creative Commons-by-nc-nd.eu

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/au/

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