The M4 cuts across the land without any regard for either natural or man-made borders. It is the perfect symbol for modern living, connecting our cities and shaving vital minutes off our journeys as we conveniently glide over the landscape rather than through it. In our attempts to reach our destination as fast as possible we no longer care about appreciating the journey. Our focus is on the road ahead as the scenery fades into insignificance. We have no need to stop or slow down and in fact we are not allowed to, as it is considered too dangerous both for ourselves and for those around us. The motorway divides the local landscape and to cross from one side to the other can sometimes mean long journeys of many kilometres to reach a point which is a mere few metres away. Many farmers had their land split in two by the road, effectively making half of it useless to them. In some cases footbridges were built to connect these separated lands and allow farmers, animals and the odd walker an access point to cross the tarmac chasm.Viewed from the motorway, there is no way of knowing where many of these bridges lead and the majority of people do not give them much thought and very few of those who do would ever have the inclination to actually try to find out where these unusual paths may lead. In fact it is difficult to get to most of these places without some research, a map and a trek across muddy fields. This project takes the viewer away from the everyday motorway experience and immerses them for a brief time in the landscape at either end of these out-of-the-way bridges. Even though the scenery may appear idyllic the din of the motorway reminds us that we have not strayed too far from our day-to-day reality, and yet in time the sound of the motorway becomes hypnotic and it becomes possible to notice the variety of sounds and subtle changes in tone. This pairing of sound and moving images aims to draw the viewer into the landscape and encourages them to immerse themselves for a few moments in these sometimes beautiful, sometimes strange places.
Both the video and photographs are produced at the same size as a postcard, the connotations of which is that these places are somewhere that should be visited, enjoyed and remembered and they remind us that even in our busy modern life, where it can be difficult to switch off our minds and thoughts, we can still appreciate the detail and beauty of any place.
About the Artist
Paul Gaffney holds an MFA in Photography from Ulster University and his practice-led PhD research explores different ways of experiencing and representing the landscape, and how the act of image making can both enable and disrupt a sense of flow and connection with our environment.
His work has received a number of awards including the Arts Council’s `Next Generation Award’ and Visual Arts Bursaries, the FSAS Digital Media Award, and a Strategic Projects Award from Wicklow Arts Office.
Gaffney’s books have been nominated for the Photobook Award at the International Photobook Festival Kassel (2013 & 2016) and shortlisted for the European Publishers Award for Photography, and he has exhibited his work in solo and group exhibitions in the US, UK, the Netherlands, South Africa, Ireland, Italy, France, Spain, Australia and China.
External links & References
- “Cuts across the land” Paul Gaffney http://www.paulgaffneyphotography.com/Cuts-Across-the-Land