For my Exhibition Beyond the Noise: Coul Links I believed it was necessary to create a statement of intent that would be among the first things visitor’s to the exhibition would encounter as they entered the space. This statement needed to be concise, and clearly set the stage for why they were about to see what they were going to see. It also needed to be accessible, written in language that did not obfuscate but rather in terms that could be understood by anyone who visited.
BEYOND THE NOISE
My work over the past two years is first and foremost an exploration of place. The intent was to look past all of the on-going controversy to get to know “photographically” this place known as Coul Links. I have used my cameras to record what constitutes Coul Links today and how it changes in response to natural forces. It is just the beginning of a longer-term project to study how Coul Links adapts to whatever changes it sees in the future.
“Place” is a rather more complex concept than just physical existence. Think of the old question, “If a tree falls in a forest on a deserted island, does it make a sound?” If you don’t know it exists, is it a place, or is it only when significance is attached that a space becomes a place? A house becomes a home because someone lives there. Our increased mobility and the never-ending onslaught of information that takes our attention results in us all being faced with more and more “non-places” in our everyday lives; spaces we pass through or spaces of which we are not even aware.
Coul Links was a largely unknown space until a proposal surfaced to use it in yet another way than it had been used over the centuries of its existence. The number of people who actually knew of Coul Links beforehand was quite small, and there are still a significant number of local people who have never been on Coul Links. As for the 90,000 people, most of whom from well out of the area, who signed a petition opposing the development, Coul Links remains for most of them just a space or “non-place” to which they have no real connection or likelihood of ever establishing one. It is just another in the long list of non-places for most of these people.
For those who know Coul Links and who have established their connection to this place, that connection takes different forms. Coul Links has been many things over the years and remains many things to those for whom it holds some significance. For me it has been a slow courtship that over the past two years has led me to an intimate understanding of and connection to Coul Links. I have discovered things and places that I suspect few people know and I have watched and documented with great interest how this magnificent landscape changes and adapts to the forces which act upon it. It remains and will continue to remain in its ever-changing forms Beyond the Noise.