Clouds: Vicky Dennison

South Australia doesn’t have the dramatic monsoonal clouds with lightening and electrical storms of the Northern Territory. Often it can be just blue skies and a few wispy clouds day after day, especially in the summer moths. Winter can often be just bland grey skies. So doing cloud studies in South Australia that highlights the diversity of clouds in different seasons requires a keen eye and a lot of work. The winter clouds are there, but they are one among many other kinds of clouds.

end of life, Vicky Dennison

Dennison’s photographic approach is conceptual because it both avoids the easy approach — eg., photographing clouds during the winter from a single location as I do — and it examines cloud formations in their dynamic relation to the land.

the big heavy, Vicky Dennison

The other notable aspect of this cloud series is that Dennison’s photos have captions but she does not give the clouds scientific names in the tradition of meteorological cloud photography. The photos have evocative non-scientific poetic names.

So we have the interplay between image and text. This exploration of the relationship between words and text places it in the context of The Photocaptionist’s culture of image-text. This means that the cloud series is outside modernism’s emphasis on the purity of the standalone image that repudiates text. In modernism text and image are in conflict.

In contrast, Dennison’s combination of pictures and words — a photo text as an object — is part of a genre in which the visual and the text have to co-exist and in which neither image nor text is free from the other. This genre has its roots in Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature (1844-6) with its pairings of photos and text.