Some Fotos on Friday

Just a few quick photos today instead of anything more substantial.

First, you know the device that you’re using is high tech when it features a MONORAIL on its start-up screen:

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Good luck:

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It’s important for Argie to have Eli and both the bones:

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And it’s important for Milo not to care:

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Have a great weekend!

Foto Friday from the Western Argolid

Some photos from my first couple of weeks in the Argolid.

The first photo is taken by Dimitri Nakassis using his fancy Canon EOS 5DS with a 50 mm Zeiss lens. This is me in my natural environment:

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Some provisional discard:

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When your irrigation pipe leaks and you have sheeps to water:

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Sheeps and sheeplets in the Western Argolid:

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A long and winding road:

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And as a bonus (they couldn’t stop barking at EVERYTHING, so now they’re practicing being bored):

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Foto Friday from the Western Argolid

For the last week or so, I’ve been ensconced in the Western Argolid doing some digital work and getting our feet set for a short study season focused on six sites that fell just outside the area that the Western Argolid Regional Project surveyed for the last three intensive field seasons. 

The sites are pretty rugged, but the views provide amazing perspectives on rugged countryside of the northeastern Peloponnesus.

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Dynamic Photographs (with poop)

After reading Y. Hamilakis’s and F. Ifantidis’s Camera Kalaureia (2016), I got to thinking how I could be a bit more vivid and dynamic with the photographs that I use to document, illustrate, and analyze my work. This is particularly significant for our work in the Bakken oil patch where we relied heavily on photographic documentation. As I note in my brief notes on Camera Kalaureia, the photographs in that volume move the viewers eye and invite close inspection. They are remarkably vivid.

While I certainly don’t have the “camera skillz” necessary to take these kinds of photographs consistently and tend to resort to a kind of documentary mode of photography, I began to play with using triptychs to demonstrate ranges of behavior or exempla of a particular phenomenon. The use of three images juxtaposes similar phenomena in a more engaging way and asks the viewer to consider the 

Here are two that I’ve prepared for an article that we’re revising for a Journal of Contemporary Archaeology forum.  

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This image shows different types of architectural elaboration at a Bakken RV park ranging from a well manicured lawn and fenced yard to the a construction of a shell surrounding a small RV. 

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This images captures various stages of abandonment in workforce housing sites in the Bakken. I think it’s fairly self-explanatory, but the last image to the right shows stuff left behind by squatters.  

 

Camera Kalaureia

Over the last decade, I’ve been messing around with the relationship between photography and archaeology. As Y. Hamilakis has noted photography and archaeology are “two collateral apparatuses of modernity.” Hamilakis and F. Ifantidis have found new ways to interrogate and reflect on the relationship between photography and archaeology in their new book, Camera Kalaureia (2016). Snippets of ethnographic texts overlay the photographs throughout the short book making clear that the photographs are part of the ethnographic project, and, indeed, the book is called a “Photo-Ethnography.” 

The book uses photography as a way to explore the relationships between the past and the present at the site of Kalaureia on Poros. By consciously recognizing photography as an act and the viewing of the photograph as part of that action, the authors embrace the potential of the photograph as a mediator between the viewer, the photographer, and the objects associated both with photography and the history of the site. In their hands, the modern history of the site – including its carefully planted olive trees, the scarred pine trees from resin collection, the traces of modern tiles and mud brick, and the inscribed graffiti of the landowners – fights for attention with the ancient history of the site and long-robbed out temple of Poseidon. More poignantly, the photographs trace the barriers that define the site – a locked gate, a guard shack, and the red-and-white tape and ropes that cordon off the archaeologists’ trenches –  and their intersection with the movement of visitors, workmen, and archaeologists across the site. 

The photographs are not what we might imagine as conventional “documentary photographs” framed by a kind of “objective” style that focuses the viewer on a point, a person, or an object. Instead the photographs in this book actively drag the viewers eye across panoramas, in and out of focus, and into photos that lack enough contrast to distinguish easily between foreground an background. In fact, some of the most compelling photographs display a relentlessness of focus that prevents the eye from settling comfortably on a point in the photograph. The absence of any place for the eye to rest compels us, first, to become aware of the photographer and the camera, and, then, to probe the photograph for some object, individual, or meaning. 

The text makes clear that the camera’s lens and the photographer are as essential to the landscape as the trees, the fragments of the recent past, the archaeologists, and the antiquities. The situatedness of the photographer, the ethnographic texts, and the photographs push the viewer and reader to recognize the persistent interposition of the present, the modern, and the ancient.

The book is worth a careful exploration and this is made more appealing because it’s a free download! Check out their photoblog as well

Houses and Landscapes in the Western Argolid

This week we had a chance to check out some nice early-20th-century seasonal houses in the Western Argolid. 

I got a little bit of artificial tilt-shiftiness in the image probably because of the haziness of the ridges in the background and my playing a bit with aperture settings.  

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A nice example of a heavy layer of mud-mortar used along the top of the wall.

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And a really nice example of the layering of tiles, mud, and reeds to form a water tight seal for the roof:

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A Balkan-style long house where half of the house is set aside for animals (and in this case milking and cheese making) and other half for living space. 

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A well-built, mud-brick dividing wall between the living quarters and the area for animals: 

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And some mappers, team leaders, and field walkers in the landscape:

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And this for MAXIMUM GREEKNESS:

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Landscapes, Olive Sieves, Tiles, and Pallets

Another week in the landscape of the Western Argolid brought another little assemblage. This time we discovered four or five olive sieves in a group. An olive sieve removes leaves and twigs from the olives making it easier to prepare the olives for pressing or curing.

They’re little studies in design and improvisation with bike wheels, snow fencing, chicken wire, and rebar attached to improvised frames and boxes. 

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We also checked out a few small houses that dot the olive groves. Most of them look pretty recent in date, but they have collapsed roofs and tile scatters. 

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And, of course, landscapes:

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Oh, and pallets!

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My Bakken Research in 14 Mediocre Images

If you’ve been following my blog over the last couple of weeks, you’ve perhaps noticed that Kyle Cassidy has been working overtime to get us media coverage for the Bakken Goes Boom: Oil and the Changing Geographies of Western North Dakota.

His photo essay on the Bakken has appeared in Slate, Fast Co. Design, and the Daily Mail. It’s really good.

Since I just finished putting together a group of photographs and illustration with rather detailed captions, I thought I’d try my hand at a little photo essay. I’m not Kyle Cassidy, but here goes:

Figure 1FINALFigure 1: The thick line delineates the Bakken formation, and the vast majority of oil related activities take place in Mountrail, Williams, McKenzie, and Dunn counties in Western North Dakota. 

Figure 2Figure 2: Map showing workforce housing in the Bakken. Dots represent camps recorded in an inventory of “temporary workforce housing establishments” in the western part of North Dakota. The stars are our study sites in the region.

Figure 3Figure 3: A kite photograph of a Type 1 Camp outside Tioga, ND. Note the regular arrangement of units, the elevated walkways between units, and the small common building with a flat roof in the center right of the image.

Figure 4Figure 4: The alley between two rows of units in a Type 2 Camp outside of Williston, ND. The alley provides space for the electrical masts, water and sewage hookups, and for storage. It also provides access to buried pipes that sometimes require maintenance.

Figure 5Figure 5: The haphazard arrangement of RVs in a Type 3 Camps near Tioga, ND. Without the constraints of electrical masts or water and sewage hook ups, in this instance, a Type 3 camp used this flexibility to create common spaces. 

Figure 6Figure 6: Man camps tend to cluster around the edges of existing settlements to leverage concentrations of existing infrastructure, and to avoid jurisdictional complications associated with being within city limits. 

Figure 7Figure 7: The use of extruded polystyrene foam around the base of an RV provides insulation. Note the use of wood braces for the foam, the insulated sewage pipe, and the wood box over the water and hookup.

Figure 8Figure 8: Well-constructed wood framing to support extruded polystyrene insulation around the base of the RV. Note the panel removed for access to the underside of the RV.

Figure 9Figure 9: A rather typical mudroom set atop an elevated platform with a small deck. Note the tar-paper roof, the modest efforts at decoration, and the plants set into Wal-mart pails.

Figure 10aFigure 10a: External platforms are among the most common architectural interventions in the Bakken. They provide a defined space elevated from mud, dirt, and snow. Note the use of a standard shipping pallet as a step.

Figure 10bFigure 10b: This is a common assemblage associated with the demarcated and elevated space of a platform is unsecured, and includes (a) grill (b) cooler (c) camp chairs (d) propane cylinder (e) camp table (f) shipping pallet (g) deck.

Figure 11Figure 11: This is an elaborate example of demarcated property. The placement of the RV on the border of the lot forms one border for private space that is here defined by a flimsy fence, some impermanent landscaping, an elevated platform, and the personal touches including a “Brad and Brenda” sign.

Figure 12Figure 12: Free weights along with elaborate grills contribute to the hyper-masculine identity present in the Bakken. Weights are often left unsecured and then abandoned when residents move on. Photo by Kyle Cassidy.

Figure 13Figure 13: The two grills visible outside the mudroom of a pair of RVs in the Bakken complement a typical, if elaborate assemblage of objects associated with short-term occupation: tomato plants in planters, platforms made of shipping pallets, children’s bikes and toys, cinderblocks, and a rubber trash can.

DSC 2050 copyBonus Photo! (From Left): Richard Rothaus, Bill Caraher, and Bret Weber at the site of an abandoned man camp. Photo by Kyle Cassidy.