King's Landing - George Miles


Outlaw Books [OB]
George Miles [GM]

A conversation with George Miles about King's Landing

Pictures by George Miles

[OB] How do you know when to take a mobile phone picture or a ‘camera’ picture?

[GM] That's partly what this work was about - trying to figure out the difference between the two. I took a medium format camera with me and my phone set to shoot square for Instagram. It was, surprisingly, a very straightforward intuitive decision when to use which camera: based on structure (square or rectangle) and also a kind of weight to the subject matter - rectangles seem to require more sobriety. There's also the matter of what looks better on screen 2 inches square on IG, or printed larger. When I got back home and arranged the film camera pictures into a dummy book, it didn't work. Looking back through my camera roll at pictures I hadn't posted I realised that if I cropped certain ones from square to rectangle, they not only made sense visually, but they also made sense of the book when added into the sequence. So, the short answer to your question is 'I still don't know'.

[OB] You were visiting the island of Lokrum for a short time, by which I actually mean a holiday. One might think of mobile phone pictures and holidays equating to something else which takes us back to the idea of weight and seriousness. The pictures in King's Landing are supplemented by text, can you tell me more about where this came from? and if you were aware of it at the time of taking the pictures.

[GM] That's right, these are my holiday photos. The text in the book is paraphrased from history and tourist information sites for Lokrum and Dubrovnik. Some of the sites I had seen before I went there, others I found once I had returned. There is clearly a lot that has happened here. The tricky part was to go, but avoid making pictures that merely illustrated these things. There was a directness to some of the writing, totally at odds with the bizarre information they were telling you. I thought that corresponded nicely with the pictures. There was also another problem to be worked out: it would be impossible (and arrogant) for me to attempt to make work 'about' any one of these issues during a one week holiday (not least the recent war of the 90s) nonetheless I felt I had a duty to acknowledge these events.

[OB] The nature of a holiday means you have to stop taking pictures of that place once you get home. Then you might start to consider editing and sequencing the pictures for a book, in this case you said you made a dummy book of film camera pictures that didn't work on their own. How do you think the form of a book can help bring out potential questions and answers that may not otherwise be apparent? For example, the sequencing, the relationship between pages or text and image. 

[GM] That's hard to say as it's a pretty intuitive process. It is a bit like the differences between having an idea in your head, writing that idea down, and speaking it out loud. The shift in form encourages you to clarify and reflect on what you think your doing. Showing the early mock ups without text to friends, I found myself answering their questions with historical information about the place. That's when I realised there was something interesting going on between the two. So the next puzzle to solve was how to fit this information into the book. 

[OB] The pictures in King's Landing are not directly of or about people but a presence of humans comes through the work. How has this shaped the way you make pictures?

[GM] I make pictures that reflect the way I am seeing things. I don't look at people all that much, so I guess that's why I'm pretty bad at making pictures of people. I've always been interested in making work about our relationship to the land, recently this has been looking at how history and myth shape that relationship. Try as I might, I can't make pictures of the dead.