Monday, October 3, 2011

Assignment 2: More Exploration

I am struggling a little with this assignment, I like the subject and find the space fascinating, but it not yet coming together as a body of work versus a set of images.  In assignment 1, I had a clear goal to document an area that I had been considering for several years.  What needed to be imaged and what needed to be said fell into place, not very easily, but in a systematic way.  With St. Jakobs Platz, my 1 acre, I find that I am taking a set of technically OK images, some good, other not, but cannot link it all together, other than to say here are some photographs of the new Jewish Center in Munich.  That in itself is quite profound, Munich was the origin of the holocaust; this is an important point of healing.  I think the challenge is that I have yet to truly relate to the place and also have yet to build a construct of what my 12 photographs need to say. Alan, my tutor, has been a great help, he has looked at some of the early images and provided some positive feedback, lending me to believe that I can develop this into a compelling assignment, I just need to find my mojo on this one.

Part of the problem is that I am experiencing an overall mental block with the course, the assignments are well thought out, but the projects are dull - I know that I can make more of them, but sometimes I need some external motivation.  I have started reading again and new ideas for projects external to the OCA are starting to bubble in my mind.

With this in mind I made another exploratory foray into the platz, just mooching about shooting whatever interested me.

One of the clear issues working in and around the synagogue is that there is a vast area of empty space, here I have "filled" it with a shadow, not likely to make my final set but an interesting shot nonetheless:

In preparing the shots for this selection I have opted to crop far more closely, Alan suggested this for a couple of my assignment 1 shots.  It certainly focuses the eye into what you want the viewer to see.  I am fascinated by the eyes on the poster attached to the city museum, the next shot uses this.  Somehow I think the eyes need to be looking at something or someone.  Another thing I am doing with this set is varying the crop, i.e. sizing the photograph to the contents rather then forcing an artificial aspect ratio.

Another element of the site is how it juxtaposes with the rest of the city, in this case the spire of the Alter Peter catholic church.  This could be a commentary on the different faiths that now make up the city.

A key architectural feature and one that I need to exploit carefully is the reflections possible in the glass walls of some buildings, again offering an old and new juxtaposition:

The walls of the synagogue are very highly textured and call out to be touched:

On such a clear day there is a good chance for a more generalized viewpoint, the yellow trees breaking up the massive facade of the synagogue.

Within this space are also several repeating forms that lead into the frame

A key problem will be to image the synagogue effectively, one way might be again to use juxtaposition and frame it against the tree.  The golden colour of the leaves now matches that of the cube.

Finally I turn back to the people who use the space:

Looking at the 3 sets of images I now have, I can see the makings of a set of 12, but there is still no story yet. I need to start to frame my ideas about the narrative, although it is early days, I have until mid November to complete this assignment, plenty of time for further exploration.  So far the weather has been kind, although the upcoming Autumnal weather will offer a different atmosphere for the shots.  The bright sunshine suggests a happy joyous space, I also need to consider the legacy of the Jews in Munich.

Some thoughts for further development:
  1. Shoot at different times of day.  At present I am shooting at times when I can avoid too much deep shadow, working after dark or before dawn will obviate that issue.  This will be a fairly brightly lit space and will have a very different atmosphere once the Sun has gone down.  Dusk might also offer an interesting opportunity.
  2. Work in bad weather, shooting part of this in grim rainy conditions will do a couple of things.  Firstly it would add some variety to the images. I can also use the reflection of the buildings in the wet paving as a visual tool.  I am also thinking that sequencing the photographs to start or end in gloomy scenes might start to build a visual narrative.
  3. Work with different crops, again the tightness or looseness of the framing might start to build a visual narrative
  4. Look for some new vantage points, at present I am shooting from ground level.  There are some higher vantage points around the area, including a complete overlook from one of the church spires nearby.  I also know that the museum has an overlook of the platz.
A key decision will be colour versus black and white. Currently I am thinking black and white, as I think it will suite the subject well and I would like to work a little in B&W in each course.  The drawback is that I have developed such good colour for this assignment so far - the weather has guaranteed that.

Progress of sorts, I am beginning to feel that I can build a visual narrative here, probably not as strongly as in the last assignment, but enough to support the photographs.

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