Archive for the ‘Time’ Category


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We will doubtless return to Lewis’s as a subject. So many memories, so many people. So much of the past dissolving into the future before our eyes.


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During the redevelopment of Liverpool’s centre, Peter was working on some of the buildings and took pictures. The other photographs here are from about seven years ago onwards just after work had started. Photographs of the city even in such a short time frame shows how quickly things change.

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There’s a book not long out called Edgelands written by two poets. A couple of us have read it, and found it good in parts but overall probably not the best; still worth reading though as it gives ideas for looking into things we normally only see in passing, in this case the ‘edgelands’ between the city and the countryside. These are places where a surprising amount of nature has returned to; the history of the recent past is inscribed there; sewage farms, motorway service stations, conference centres, travel lodges, kids’ dens, surreal golf ranges…..

We’re inspired to look at something a bit like edgelands but those within the town and city. The alleys, the derelict industrial sites, rows of houses awaiting demolition, and the new businesses that spring up selling cars, carpets, sheds and pallets. Our first foray was into Birkenhead’s docklands. There is a definite sense of atmosphere as you leave the main road that runs by the park, head up Duke Street then cross into the dusty remains of the past, tangled wreckage of machinery, and the signs of life springing up as if at random. Here are some of the pictures we took.


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A Mythophone at the Bluecoat

Last week we walked to the Bluecoat and enjoyed a coffee in the courtyard. We were sitting surrounded by the history of the wonderfully preserved former school, one of the oldest buildings in Liverpool, and now a thriving arts centre. In the centre of the gardens here we came across a mythophone:

We’d also discovered one earlier at St Lujes, the bombed-out church that stands as a memorial to the Blitz, and is also a centre for film and arts venues:

By coincidence, we are planning something along the same lines: to make and edit recordings to form ‘soundscapes’ with a mix of ambient sound, music and speech. Yesterday we went to the Roman Catholic end of Hope Street with the recorder set on four channel surround mode, and listening through the headphones was very weird! A bit dizzying at first, you hear the world in an utterly different way, find it difficult to make sense of all the many sounds coming in together. We’re used to normal hearing and we ‘filter’ sounds in our mind. That keeps us sane but at the same time we are missing a lot of what is all around us. The same goes for seeing: we miss most of what is to be seen by ‘filtering out’ most of it. The same is true of history as a whole.

We did a quick session with  Audacity, the free download of a sound editor. Over the coming weeks we’ll pick up more skills and come up with ideas for producing materials using sound, video and still photography to explore unusual ways of representing Hope Street.

We’ll also be contributing to the BBC’s ‘Save Our Sounds’ project which aims to map the world with sounds in danger of becoming extinct.

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We were talking last week about how complicated our individual lives can be. In particular, we were sharing stories about work, unions and family. Each of us had a different story, but equally complicated. Yet when we think of history, ‘the past’ involving cities, countries, millions of people it is often presented as if everything is very simple in life. We talk about “Liverpool in the 30s”, for instance, as if it’s just a question of gathering a series of facts and documents, but as soon as we go a bit deeper it all soon becomes very complicated. In a way, it may be said that history for each individual was different at the time they lived, as the present is different for each of us.

To confuse matters more, it’s not easy, maybe it’s not possible, to draw neat lines between the future, the present and the past. The image above was made using Photoshop which employs ‘layers’. Maybe time is layered too. Archaeologists dig and find old cities beneath the ground. Yesterday, Duncan was talking about how complete buildings are buried in redevelopments. He also said that underneath Waverley Station in Edinburgh is a warren of tunnels, almost a city underground. Somebody else spoke of a public display in Edinburgh where you go down quite deep into a town more than five hundred years old. . Of course, in Liverpool there are the Williamson Tunnels.

But it’s not just physical digging that’s involved.We dig into memory too. Maybe even in the present there are many different ‘layers’ all existing at the same time. Maybe there is not one Liverpool but many Liverpools (or any city). We are going to explore this idea in coming weeks with a look at just one street, Hope Street.

Meanwhile, as a reminder that the past lives all around us, here are a few images of the sorts of sight we pass hundreds of times each day.

The picture of the ruined hut on Liverpool’s waterfont is fascinating. Next to it is the Liner Super Terminal, and behind it the new developments of apartments, hotels and gleaming skyscrapers. Maybe any image like this with its green and cream colours that were used on the old landing stages and terminals is a trace of the maritime past about to disappear but still just about holding its own.

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Our sister site Spiderphoto will shortly be publishing a video called Passed Tense. The idea was that people recall a section of their life, represent this in a composite photograph, and talk over the photograph explaining the memories evoked. One of the images is that of Stephen’s shown here. In a longer version of his talking than in the video, he reflects upon how memory, rather than being a simple mirror of the past, is edited and constructed – sometimes contradicting actual events. You can hear Stephen’s interview here, or you can hear it here while looking at the image as it is slowly revealed.

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A stroll for five minutes, a few photographs, and then a little tweaking on the computer. The past and the present are intertwined. Images produced today evoke the same scenes from a hundred years ago. Ste L, Ste O, Peter, Duncan caught Liverpool in the snow.

Falkner Square

St James Cemetry

Falkner Terraces

Georgian Facade

St James Cemetry

Saint Brides

Georgian terrace

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