2009. január 13., kedd

Struth and Douglas

In talking about his work in the late 1970s photographing urban spaces, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York spoke of Thomas Struth as having ‘catalogued with clarity and dispassion the unselfconscious structures that characterize a culture—that irreducible mélange of textures, shapes and the scale of its streets.’ Struth’s work

is on such a grand scale, the cityscapes he photographs are so big that they almost buzz with the absence of the human. I have said of my work that I wanted the absence of human figures to be a presence in my work, but that the work still needed fragments of humanity to ground the work in the world we live in. This image of Struth’s (left) for example has the buzz of absence I mentioned a moment ago and it rings louder through the presence of cars and residential buildings. This is an idea which can be seen in some of my images; this photo (above right) for example can be compared to Struth’s unrelenting geometric qualities as well as being an image in which one can see a lot, but nothing is happening.

One can read further into this idea of seeing such a wide, empty space as being representative of isolation. I have said I have been looking at constructing photographs by means of poetic composition; in a poem there is always a speaker present and we can liken the photographer to the speaker in a poem. As such in images such as these the speaker is a figure alone in a busy world.

There can be a lack of subjectivity in images which are so rigid in their technicality; this image of Struth’s taken in Naples, 1988 retains the same formal qualities but there is a degree of humanity caused by the natural elements of the photograph as it becomes endowed with a sense of history and therefore more of a sense of location. This gives the viewer a little more evidence of the place and in turn more to process when reading the piece.

This idea is taken further in the photography which Stan Douglas took to accompany his film Win Place or Show. Douglas creates similar images to comment on the effects of urban regeneration and modernity. These are themes which can be found in my work though it was created in a contrasting manner to Douglas’ work, which been composed with a specific intention and reading in mind. I have composed my work with the intention being the potential for a reading which comes about through the curious vacancy of destitute urban space.

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