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Triangulation project by McCoy Wynne visits all 314 primary triangulation points that were built and measured between 1936 and 1962 by the Ordnance Survey for the 'Retriangulation of Great Britain'. The work provides a comprehensive survey of the British landscape and deals with issues of mapping, representations of the landscape, the layering of history, land use, ownership and boundaries.
Please read more on the project below.
Triangulation Project by McCoy Wynne visits all 314 primary triangulation points that were built and measured between 1936 and 1962 by the Ordnance Survey for the 'Retriangulation of Great Britain'. The work will provide a comprehensive survey of the British landscape and deals with issues of mapping, representations of the landscape, the layering of history, land use, ownership and boundaries. Many people mistakenly think the function of the triangulation (trig) point is to mark the highest point of hills, but the trig points are placed in positions where at least two other points can be seen in order to form triangles for accurate measurement.
The work exists as pairs of images: the pillar, or trig point, and the panorama from the trig point. The panorama is produced by placing the camera and tripod on top of the trig point and taking one exposure every 30 degrees, twelve exposures to cover the full 360 degrees, which are then stitched together. The OS map reference is displayed with each panorama. McCoy Wynne also felt it was necessary to take an image of each pillar as a further visual reference creating a 'legend' for the project. This methodical approach of producing the photographs alludes to the systematic nature of survey and mapping.
Even though the locations of the pillars is well documented, there is still a heightened sense of exploration and anticipation based on the uncertainty of access, weather conditions and the disparity between the 'real' and the 'abstract' of the map view. The pillars are, through necessity, usually on high points in the landscape and have often been used throughout history, as hill forts, look-outs, beacons etc. These historical uses have sometimes been overlaid by water towers and communication masts. Occasionally access to the pillars has been restricted, as land use has changed. The hilltop may now by exploited for mobile phone masts with the whole area fenced therefore limiting and regulating public use of the landscape. The majority of the pillars are no longer used in mapping, having been superseded by GPS, but those that can be accessed have become totemic as markers in the landscape. Many people use them as a target for their walk, as 'touchstones' on reaching their goal.
Triangulation has no doubt been influenced by the work of landscape photographers who are analytical rather than pictorial. The work of survey photographers who were employed to be as objective as possible such as William H Jackson and Timothy O'Sullivan who worked for the U.S Geological Survey at various points in their careers in the 1870's, and the work of the New Topographic photographers with their reliance on description and typology, has certainly informed the work, McCoy Wynne talk about their approach,
'We decided not to investigate the history of an area prior to the photography to maintain objectivity and a sense of discovery. The viewpoint is predetermined by the position of the trig point and this reduces the aesthetic decision-making. Notions of what makes a good photograph, which are heavily effected by cultural and educational background, and compositional choices, are reduced'
McCoy Wynne is a collaboration of photographers Stephen McCoy and Stephanie Wynne. They are based in the North West and operate a commercial photography practise. They have been members of the Association of Photographers for 16 years.
The RPS Journal will be publishing an article/critique of the project written by Julia Garcia Hernandez, due out in May 2014.