Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Term 2: Digi Tech // Allan McDonald Response

Allan McDonald
Listening to Allan's talk and looking at his work the thing that initially grabbed me the most was how he was able to re-contextualise his work pre and post the major Christchurch earthquake. His work took on more meaning and importance. His amassed work now documents buildings around the country that otherwise may not have been recorded in such a clear and detailed fashion as they near the end of their life. Viewing the images at the Pah Homestead I don't think I fully 'got' what he was doing and why, I mean it was interesting but given more context I've now been far more drawn into the idea of 'collecting' and 'documenting' and see his reason in displaying his work all together.

Initial Research // Bernd and Hilla Becher

The Becher style
Each photograph is expertly executed and stand in their own right - but the images are meant to be viewed together in order to compare and to take note of the subject's grandeur and idiosyncrasies. These images of structures were taken at first because of their design aesthetic but then re-contextualised (as Allan did post Earrthquake) once they realised the structures were likely to be demolished . They saw these structures to be as important as the medieval quarries in terms of the history and saw these massive structures as an important snapshot of the age.

------- Adding Further Becher Research ------

Water Towers, 1980

For my own experimentation I initially wanted to just look at the collecting side of things so after a small amount research went straight out and shot some 'cool old buildings' - an undirected approach I'll talk about later.

Attempt One
To start off with I was interested in the idea of photographing older buildings situated around Auckland that had always stuck out to me. However, the reasoning or approach behind taking the images was clearly haphazard. Even when I was taking the images I struggled to define what the links between the subject matter could be. They are old yes, but what else? I eventually liked the idea of focusing on the symmetry of these buildings but then that wasn't really consistent. If anything I realised that if one was to start a collection of this nature you have to be super passionate about it. This particular method of simply driving around in a car looking for cool buildings without any clear direction probably shows in the images.

With these images there is no clear idea behind them. The vantage point is constantly changing, some have symmetry, some not, some are vacant, some are fully in use. No rhyme or reason really shows with these images. In some ways I like them more individually than I do together.

More Research...
TedxSF - James Mollison Typologies

While I think we had briefly looked at these images before, hearing Mollison discuss his work in more detail and show the different subject matters he has worked with was very enlightening. His methodical approach and eye opening content shows the power images can have when placed together and given the opportunity to compare. The bright colours he chooses to bring to his work is almost magazine like in its glossiness, no matter whats in the frame.

Attempt Two
Then after further research I decided to focus on something more deliberate and much smaller in scale. After spending much time walking over the past few months I have noticed my neighbourhood has many DIY swings situated on trees between the road and the footpath. While the images themselves aren't hugely beautiful it's more what they represent, a community attempting to feel connected and enjoy the world of play. The swings can be used by passers by and neighbour hood kids. There's something about them that is holding onto the idea of playing in the street, its nostalgic and generally something that's discouraged in our society. Then again, I have only once on my travels actually seen one in use.

Here they are: 

Rocklands Ave, Auckland, 2014

Halston Rd, Auckland, 2014

Halston Rd, Auckland, 2014

Wairiki Rd, Auckland, 2014

Thames St, Auckland, 2014

I found this series to be far more successful, there's intention behind the images and by collecting them, naming them and presenting them together there is something very satisfying about the approach. For these images I shot them all in the middle of the afternoon and these final images all include the tree the swing is hanging from. I wanted the images to be bright but without humans present. Some of the images show the wind movement which actually on reflection could have good to get from all the swings. I did experiment with cropping the frame but without seeing where the swing is coming from it's hard to gain context. One thing I really don't like in the images is the rubbish bins and street signs - if I had the choice I would remove them. With there presence the images with age but without them they are more timeless. 

Wrap Up
With this typology approach it constantly feels like there is a bigger meaning to be had and by looking at the same thing over and over you start to look at it differently. As someone looking for the swings I got a huge amount of enjoyment from finding a new one I hadn't seen before. If feels like you are trying to show people something that they may not otherwise see. 

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