New Topographic Movement

Over the last month, I have become very interested in the New Topographics Movement (NTM). The NTM is a photographic movement that was labelled as such by William Jenkins in 1975. Jenkins used the term to describe a small group of American photographers that were inspired by subject matter that was man-made and had a similar banal aesthetic such as parking spaces, housing, warehouses and industrial buildings. Most of these images were black and white formal depictions of an urban landscape.

Some of the photographers that were associated with the new topographic movement are Lewis Baltz, Robert Adams, Bernd and Hiller Becher and Nicholas Nixon.

The definition of the word “topographic” is, “relating to the arrangement of the physical features of an area.” and so the first exhibition curated by Jenkins was called “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape”. 

The images in the exhibition all showed urban scenes that were undergoing changes. These scenes were intended to be devoid of any photographers style within their portrayal. You can see a sample of a few of the images in the exhibition here, a very good article on the movement here and some examples of recent new topographical images here.

Looking through some of my images over the last few years, I can see that I have quite a few which I think could fall under the NTM banner. It could be said they are of a banal or deadpan nature and yet are evidence of a human presence in an area or place. The image below is one example from my catalogues.

Blacks Land Houses, Inverary, 2014

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