2010. június 15., kedd

Anglia Square

Since plans were announced to demolish Anglia Square and build a new shopping mall in its place, the shopping centre has become a more frequent subject for photographers. I walk past the back Anglia Square every day and at least twice in any given week I see the site being preserved by photographers.

In undertaking this documentary project I decided to only use cameras I have bought from businesses in Anglia Square. Practically, this means I have been using disposable and compact cameras bought in second hand shops (Vivitar 35mm Slim Camera, various generic brand disposable cameras and a Halina MW35e which refuses to relinquish the film I have exposed in it).

This constraint, if it is a constraint, removes some technical burdens and to this end the control I have over the images’ formal aspects centre on composition.

A clean, simple objectivity; taken from a middle distance with a clear focal point dominating the centre of the frame. In framing my images in this way I was very conscious of mimicking Eugéne Atget. On some level this comparison could be seen as a parody when considering the scale of Atget’s efforts to document an entire city but this is not the intention of my work.

Eugene Atget
Rue du Maure c. 1908

Like Atget I intend to compile an apolitical catalogue of images to document exactly how a place stood. The Square is seen by many as an eyesore; a failed development of the 1960s, which was planned in three phases of development but left as it is seen now with only the first phase completed. From what I understand there was a lack of funding due to an economic relapse as we are experiencing now; one can only wonder how much of the new development will be completed before funds run out again. This context is political enough in itself and to strive to find a viewpoint that might bring this out in the composition would be too heavy handed; for better or worse Anglia Square in its current condition is part of the fabric of Norwich.

A more impulsive set of images do not strictly follow this objective Atget style and although these images were found inadvertently and commanded my camera, perhaps on a subconscious level they were informed by Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler’s film Manhatta. The film is composed of industrial and urban scenes of geometric precision, making heavy use of shadows. Strand described the process as the ‘abstract organisation of reality.’

Paul Strand & Charles Sheeler
Manhatta (1921)

To be free from one way of seeing is important to me as our perception and reading of a place is easily changeable. I want the images to be read as a series; there is a degree of uniformity endowed by the cameras - the quality of the lens and film - and as such it is possible for these images to have a slightly differing compositional style and still belong together.

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