Name: Robert Darch
University: Plymouth University
“He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.” (Cormac McCarthy, The Road)
The Moor is a series of sixty-one colour and black and white photographs taken between January 2014 and May 2015 on Dartmoor and Bodmin moor. In its physical form, the work is resolved as a book.
The Moor juxtaposes the dystopian bleakness of its landscape and inherent wildness against the fragility of human life of those that inhabit the fictional space. The settings where the fiction exists are conceived from memory, dream, imagination and contemporary culture.
The Moor relies heavily on a visual narrative, occasionally referencing historical myths and mythology to give context, but depicting something altogether more ‘unknown’. Although there are elements of story telling within the work, its reading partly relies on the viewers understanding of contemporary culture. In particular referencing writing, like ‘The Road’, by Cormac McCarthy as inspiration. The sense of narrative is reinforced by the reoccurrence of specific characters, choosing to inhabit this unforgiving landscape, often appearing on edge, in peril, and distressed. The notion of something ‘unseen’ is readily apparent; the inhabitants are haunted by a force that isn’t overtly visible to the audience. This unknown presence helps to maintain the suspense, drama and atmosphere of the work.
The realisation of this dystopian future is specifically in response to the perceived uncertainty of life in the modern world. Although the cause of the dystopia in ‘The Moor’ isn’t literally defined, within the images there are semiotic clues that offer suggestions. The fiction is grounded within the ‘real’ landscapes of the Moor. Though instead of overt staging, use of artificial lights and constructed sets, the work relies on using found locations, shifting between pseudo documentary and constructed photographs, constantly blurring that liminal space between fiction and reality.