Saturday, October 15, 2011

Assignment 3: Ideas

Now I am really getting ahead of myself, I am only half way through assignment 2, however, some recent work has started to evolve from a distraction into a serious project that I plan to develop over the next few months.  Each week I head down to the park and up to the Monopteros to take a photograph, generally at dawn.  After that I take a walk around the area immediately in front of the hill:

This space is bounded on all sides by a thick belt of trees, beyond which lies the city, or to the North the rest of the park.  Within the space small clumps of trees can be found and a number of paths that cross or loop around. Finally a fast running stream, the Eisbach, runs through the middle.  In the above photo this is under the bank of mist the crosses the photo, a feature that given the right weather transforms the park into a mystical place.

A couple of weeks ago I blogged a series of photographs taken in the mist, trying to convey the gradual onset of Autumn.  The photographs are all in 2:1 wide framing and all try to capture a sense of right to left continuity.  One source of inspiration to work with this framing in mind comes from Andreas Gursky's, Rhine II (1999):

This photograph, with its complex simplicity, draws me back again and again.  The left to right linearity is completely unbroken, but contains great richness of texture and feeling.  I also appreciate the simple colours, well saturated in the case of the Green, but otherwise understated.  Many other Gursky photographs contain strong underlying geometrical symmetries, reflective, translational, and repetitive.  Apart from serious consideration as the subject for my essay Gursky has made me think of horizontals in my images.

Turning back to assignment 3, the brief calls for the selection of a theme in landscape photography that can be explored in different ways in 8 photographs.  Currently I am very much engaged in the study of buildings and their interrelations, an interesting task, but one that is beginning to feel rather claustrophobic.  For assignment 3 I feel the need to do something different, perhaps more in keeping with the original goals of the course, but also where I can explore a different element of the genre.  I caution myself not to become too rigid in selection of subject and that whilst urban photography is my core theme, an urban park offers a different way to look at the city.

The idea I have right now is to work on the suggested theme of transient light, but very specifically dawn light. To provide a degree of continuity I would use a 2 x 1 framing with strong horizontal elements.  My modus operandi would be to take photographs in the park, each and every week around twilight, in a variety of weather conditions, in this one location.  Gradually this would build up into a study of a single space, but in a broad range of light and weather.  In some senses this aligns well to Assignment 2 and even Assignment 1, a detailed long term study of a single place.

This will also build into a photo book with far more than 8 photographs, a first attempt at a thematically consistent art book I recently discussed some ideas around a book, positing the idea of a study of the Underground.  Somehow I think this park idea might work better for the audience I have in mind for what will become a family Christmas gift.  It is good to have a long term project that has a distinct physical object as the final goal.

To that end, here are some sample photographs taken this morning and yesterday morning.

One advantage of this framing is that it enables me to more easily remove the sky from the frame, but still retain a broad aspect.  By taking the sky out of the photographs I am focusing on the interaction of the light with the ground and air, rather than the source of the light.  The foggy conditions enable me to really play with the light.  I find myself walking around objects considering the flow of light and how in mist the fog sustains the shadows of the objects illuminated by the Sun.  I retain the link to the city through the people who pass through the mist, cyclists, joggers, and dog walkers.  However, I will also turn my camera to the sky and consider how the light changes with the slow rise of the sun.  Within a few weeks the ground will freeze to a turquioze blue, the trees will silhouette and within a couple of months we can expect a few feet of snow.  This small space with its very limited outlook will change manifestly and it is my intent to capture that change each week with my camera.

Too early to think about Assignment 3?  I don't think so, Assignment 3 is going to be a long term project lasting 2-3 months, accumulating several thousand photographs.  The problem will be which ones to use, however, that will suggest itself.

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