Safely Contained - Transportation

In the above image Ansel Adams creates this iconic image of the never-ending road that seems to stand for the vastness of the American landscape – and the American Dream. The history of the pilgrims, making their journey from the East coast to the West, seems wrapped up in this image and the myth of America. Like many images - this image would be taken again and again. Some times by the famous, but mostly by you and me.

The Yellow Brick Road from 'The Wizard of Oz' 1939 - Technicolour
'Alice Through the Looking Glass' by Kenneth Rougeau
This seemingly old image is actually modern. Rougeau has created a Droste effect - a particular type of repetitive image. It depicts 'Alice' from Lewis Carol's 'Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There' (1971). Alice goes through the mirror into a fantasy world populated by peculiar anthropomorphic creatures. This image create the illusion that it is infinite.
Bridget Riley came to prominence in the 1960's during the Op Art movement. Riley counts Paul Klee amongst her influences and recently arranged a show at the Hayward Gallery. Her images create a dizzying optical effect and create the illusion of movement. All an image is, is pigment on a surface and these images by Riley a flat black lines on canvas. However, they seem to move, rotate and can not be look at too long. Riley used Rhythm and Repetition to create her work and knew that a simple line is transformed when repeated.

Robert Frank 'U.S. 285, New Mexico'1956.
Here is that Iconic image again, this time it is by Robert Frank. We travel to see the world, we wouldn't think about going on holiday in your own town. This is because we are used to our surrounding - a good artist can see the most mundane things with fresh eyes. It took a Photographer from Switzerland to create the definitive images of America. From 1955 to 1956, with a fellowship from the Guggenheim to assist him financially, Robert Frank set out on a tour of the United States. There was no apparent plan - just to compile a photographic record of his travels. It was the 1950's Jazz, Abstract Expressionism, Beatniks and Jack Kerouac's "On the Road".
Robert Frank 'The Americans' 1955 to 1956
 These images were released as 'The Americans' (1959). Some people have argued that the photo book is the ideal way to view photographs not the gallery wall. This is because it is more intimate and can guide you through in a certain order with subtle juxtapositions. 'The Americans' was Frank's silent journey through America. His images seemed like snap shots, poorly cropped, shot from the hip - like the visual equivilant of a beat poet or Jazz music. Like the rhythm of music certain motifs reappeared.

 The motif of a Jukebox helps makes the silence of photography feel like a sudden loss of hearing.
Another Motif is the grid like pattern of the flag. However, it is always shown as an object amongst objects.
Robert Frank 'The Americans'
Jasper Johns 'Flag' 1954 -55
Jasper John 'Flag' detail
This is a Flag. And it is an object. It is also a painting of a flag by Jasper Johns. Johns early work could be all three - an object, a thing and a painting of a thing. Like Frank's use of flag as an object in the real world John's work shows how images can be more than one thing. Along with Robert Rauschenberg, John's work was the bridge between the painterly marks of abstract expressionism and the everyday world of Pop Art. To create the 'Flag' he used newspaper dipped in coloured wax - known as encaustic.

Walker Evans 'Subway Portraits'

In the 1930s Evans photographed passengers in the New Yorker Subway. Using a 35mm camera hidden under his coat he captured the person opposite unobserved. This selection of portraits of women, intended for an earlier unpublished version of 'Many Are Called' which Evans called 'The Passengers (Hidden Camera in the New York Subway)', was compiled around 1961. Sarah Greenough said of The Passengers: "[It] emphasizes the mug-shot-like quality of some of the photographs". The complex work of Walker Evans combines confronting the surveillance and depicting process used by the police with other aspects – such as generating the anonymous in the realm of modern urban life. 

In Victorian Britain they didn't have the Internet, televisions or package holidays. If you wanted to experience foreign lands you could look at Stereoviews from around the world. Photography had the ability to transport you to another place or time. John Thomson's images of China and South-East Asia brought the land, culture, and people of the Far East alive for the 'armchair travellers' of Victorian Britain.

He was one of the pioneers of photojournalism, using his camera to record life on London's streets in the 1870s. As a society photographer he also captured the rich and famous in the years before the First World War

In this image of a married couple from Xiamen, a port city in south-eastern China, the husband is looking away because at the time it was thought improper for a couple to face each other. Tomson's photographs are fascinating but are they purely informative or are they intrusive. Tomson came from Victorian Britain and an imperial mentality. Are these images voyeuristic - are we just staring. A camera by its very nature is a clinical device staring at the world and capturing it in detail. Have you ever had a photograph taken of yourself and wanted the image torn up or deleted. The chances are you have and you would feel less like this if it was a drawing - a drawing is an interpretation whereas a photograph, seems at least, is you. It is only light reflected off you and caught in a box but it seems more than this. Images have power.