Oblique Strategies

We were introduced to Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s oblique strategies this term as part of our mapping project.

In fact the mapping project was one giant series of oblique strategies from beginning to end.  It started with our throwing a dart at a map..but the dart had an old paint encrusted paintbrush tied on the back..so however you threw it bore no relation to the final trajectory.  Eventually the dart hit the map and I had a location at which to undertake my oblique strategy.  I was to ‘be an engineer’ at the junction of Bath St and Buchanon St.  Just that instruction proved hugely useful as when I reached the spot I looked around me with a different mindset, and noticed the huge numbers of secret communications boxes and hatches, the security cameras right there.   It was on the Electrical Engineers Super Highway with millions and millions electrical and electronic connections and impulses going on all around me..and I thought it would be just a lowley street corner.

I found an extract of Eno discussing how the Oblique Strategies came about in an interview with Charles Amirkhanian, taken from website http://www.rtqe.net/ObliqueStrategies/OSintro.html :

“The Oblique Strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation – particularly in studios – tended to make me quickly forget that there were others ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach. If you’re in a panic, you tend to take the head-on approach because it seems to be the one that’s going to yield the best results Of course, that often isn’t the case – it’s just the most obvious and – apparently – reliable method. The function of the Oblique Strategies was, initially, to serve as a series of prompts which said, “Don’t forget that you could adopt *this* attitude,” or “Don’t forget you could adopt *that* attitude.”

The first Oblique Strategy said “Honour thy error as a hidden intention.” And, in fact, Peter’s first Oblique Strategy – done quite independently and before either of us had become conscious that the other was doing that – was …I think it was “Was it really a mistake?”  Brian Eno

As a reminder to myself for when I’m stuck..or for anyone else, here is the link:  http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/.

I felt quite self concious taking photographs in this spot with all the security surveillance all around me, I was sure the police would pop around the corner and confiscate my camera and quiz me about my terrorist sympathies because I have read that this is what happens to photographers out in British cities nowadays.  However, in this surreal and yet paranoid world my is location comprehensively available to explore on google earth.

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=55.863457,-4.253169&spn=0,0.001416&t=h&z=20&layer=c&cbll=55.863473,-4.253316&panoid=7Ar3DxJB8IfyFdTeG50nQA&cbp=12,171.41,,0,2.63

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2 thoughts on “Oblique Strategies

  1. If photographing in cities you really need to be aware of your rights as some bumptious official will stop you sooner or later. Start with the British Journal of Photography’s campaign site: http://www.not-a-crime.com/ and then go to http://www.sirimo.co.uk/2009/05/14/uk-photographers-rights-v2/ but if you do a search for e.g. ‘photographer rights uk’ you’ll find a number of links (though these two are very good, I think). It’s important also to be aware of the private/public land issue – shopping streets are often claimed to be private (e.g. that shopping street next to Harvey Nick’s in Edinburgh, whatever it’s called).

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