A few notes from an edit session looking at how best to present my work. Also a few evaluative notes on my process and decision making in terms of the final outcome, and how I arrived there.
Today we had a group edit session in which we displayed all of our work and attempted to narrow it done into a cohesive project. Most people, including me had small test prints to spread over the table, and some others had moving image clips to show. It was a constructive environment where the tutors and peers provide positive feedback, and some criticism about the work which we have been producing. It was a really useful exercise to spread out all of my work for this project to date on a table, and objectively view which images were stronger or weaker than others. It was also very useful to finally get a sense of what the project is about, as up until now the idea has been quite mixed but has definitely followed a natural creative progression as the project has developed.
What became apparent from this edit session is that these images would fit well into a book or exhibition context, but there is currently not enough imagery to make a complete and ‘final’ body of work. It therefore made sense for me to narrow down the imagery for a small zine edit, in which the objective would be to display the most successful images in a printed, tangible object. This would essentially provide the basis for me handing in a finished and coherent piece of work, but would mainly act as a study for a wider and ongoing project that I plan to continue in the future. I originally thought that the overall outcome for this project would be a series of large prints, but I now intend to produce an A4 zine (printed on double sided 180gsm photo paper) as well as a series of three to five A3 prints.
After spending quite some time going through my images with the tutors and shortlisting the strongest ones, we then began putting them into some sort of order that made sense in a book or zine context. For me, it seemed wise to begin categorising them in terms of their geographical location, as the main basis of this project has been about discovering non-places within the city and photographing them instinctively. This would also provide a bit more of a visual cue for the viewer. We discussed the variety of layout options that I could use in the zine, and which images should be a double page spread or singular. The pace and structure of the zine would be massively influence by these decisions, so it was important to have these discussions.
I decided that it would be a good idea to spread the work out quite evenly and methodically in the zine, as the nature of my photographs are quite quiet and reserved. I therefore want to do the images justice by setting the pace in which the viewer reads the imagery, as I want them to spend time investing in each image. I want to communicate a sense of place with through my work, and this can only be done if the viewer is given chance to sit and linger with an image. After looking at the work by Joel Sternfeld and Stephen Shore, particularly the projects American Prospects by Sternfeld and Uncommon Places by Shore, I began to consider the possibility of using an image from this project on the front cover. Although I was advised by the tutors to keep things simple at this late stage in the project, and to mainly focus on a plain title page, I felt that the the cover could benefit from an image with a simple title. Both Sternfeld and Shore have used imagery on the cover of their books, and by no means do I have a body of work comparable to these two great American photographers, but I think the deadpan aesthetic that I have employed throughout this project lends itself well to appearing on the front cover.
The title Void & Density came from a photography book about the complex relationship between architecture and the representation through photographs. Concrete: Photography and Architecture was released to coincide with an exhibition for the Fotomuseum Winterthur’s twentieth anniversary. It is an exhaustive investigation of architectural photography, and includes a short essay, Void/Density: Photography and the Representation of Urban Spaces by Nicoletta Leonardi. After reading this essay at the tail end of producing work for this project, I felt that her words were particularly informative and I could relate to the theory that she was referring to. It felt like this piece of writing was beginning to connect the dots in terms of my practical work, and the theory that I have been researching over the last couple of months. She talks about the expansion of cities and the effect of urban sprawl, and goes on to cite urban planner and landscape architect Alan Berger. He believes that “planned or unplanned horizontalisation around vertical urban centres are neither intrinsically bad nor good, but a natural result of industrial growth.” Berger has also coined the term ‘drosscape’ , which refers to the wasted or unused areas of defunct economic and industrial processes within old and new urban regions. These include “waste landscapes”, which are places that actually house actual waste; “wasted places”, such as abandoned sites and “wasteful places” such as huge car parks or shopping centres. Berger uses photography primarily as a research tool, and seeks to photograph such places from an aerial point of view. Therefore, I would not say that the imagery is particularly successful of artistic, but it serves its purpose as a research tool.