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In keeping with another habit, initially a practical decision on my part, to use day-to-day lived experience as a kind of studio, whilst camping in Skibbereen, Co. Cork during summer 2021, the idea of pitching the tent on a golf-course occurred to me. Wouldn’t this also, potentially, be an efficient use of such facilities? To begin, I edited a photograph of the actual tent in question, into an easily obtainable image of Old Head Golf Links in Kinsale, Co. Cork.
As it happened the construction of this exclusive course had been a source of much controversy, because it prevented access to what had been seen as a ‘beauty spot’ and right-of-way (The Irish Times 2001), so it seemed like a reasonable target. Whilst I went to a certain amount of trouble to embed the tent photo into the found landscape picture, I was consciously not being too meticulous either.
The objective was to be expedient in communicating the idea and experimenting with an approach. It was surprising, then, once versions of the image had been posted on Instagram and Twitter, how many believed I had actually camped on the course in question. Amusingly, the background photo of the course, was of the standard promotional variety aimed at tourists, and one of the first to appear when searching.
At any rate, due to the history of protests and trespasses, Old Head Golf Links is heavily secured, so it would be highly unlikely someone could gain access for an overnight stay. The reactions are understandable of course as a reflection of how little attention is generally paid on social media, the ease with which people believe what they want to, and in what titillates. The montaging of tent with landscape had been done on a workstation, with 4K screen, but viewers using handhelds, would have been swiping, and observing for very brief periods.
Some were sceptical, not least my own daughters, to whom I had sent postcard versions from Cork, but others just accepted the images at face value. Following this first action, further similar images were produced but I also looked into carrying out actual guerrilla camping with the intention of evading any questions as to whether this could actually have happened. In addition, I approached clubs about pitching a tent legitimately, for photography-shoot purposes only. Conversations were friendly but club managements never got back.
Media channel Cork Beo made contact and conducted an interview during which, whilst not deceiving, it was possible to maintain an ambiguous stance. I suggested that for obvious reasons, it would be difficult to confirm whether the ‘wild camping’ had taken place or not.
Another impression, consciously given, was that the photographs could have resulted from genuinely having camped out, but then afterwards been carefully manipulated so that they appeared Photoshopped (for self-protection).
Other experiments included promoting these campsites on Google Maps, with interesting results:
Old Head of Kinsale Golf Course... asked Google to remove it so Google phoned me to confirm that 'you guys' have got a golf course there. 'Can you camp there on the golf-course?' he asked. I responded by saying that 'It depends on your conceptual framework'. A short peculiar conversation ensued...