Without further ado, and with much deliberation, the final three images from my mini 6 week bridge project. The task was to shoot a particular location and create a series using three photos. The advise and guidance of one of the photographer’s running the project really helped me with the narrative and sequencing. Hope you guys enjoy and would love to hear your thoughts
A quick post of some photos which could potentially be part of my final three selections. I just need to clarify the narrative. Despair as a whole in the bridge? Personally a more compelling theme and will hold an interesting narrative.
I had initially started off with an interest on the City narrative and the human narrative as could be seen in this bridge.
But how do you show the state vs human & does it even apply in the area I had chosen? It’s not really a contested space. There is a sign saying no lying down, sitting or standing on the side walls but I had not seen it enforced.
I am part of a flickr group called Street & Repeat 106.Every two weeks a new instruction is given to help photographers challenge themselves and see the world in a new light. For this instruction we are asked to pick a location and create a series. We are given six weeks to get our images rather than the usual two. In the end we are to have three images to submit for review. I have decided to shoot it entirely on film as an additional challenge. So far I have been a massing a mix sort of images, from portraits to still life.
It has given me the confidence to engage and ask people for their portraits as well as handle rejection much better.
Pentax K1000, 50mm and my Canonent QL17 GIII 40mm (for a slightly wider focal length)
Fuji Superia 400 for consistency.
My initial thoughts on the project.
The pedestrian bridge acts as both functionally and metaphorically, ie Perth City’s desire to connect the two hubs, Perth CBD and its more lively, bar and cafe filled neighbour Northbridge. The two areas were physically divided by a railway line, which has now been sunk and put underground in order for a new development approriately called the “Perth City Link” This pedestrian bridge is one of the few points which you could see the development, at a high point.
This pedestrian bridge is also one of two which allows pedestrians to bypass the street below and directly connects them to the cultral centre. As such the bridge acts as the inbetween space, where all sorts of characters walk by, arriving from the trains, on their way to either, the art galleries, cafes or bars. Mix this with the homeless people using the cultural centre as a place to sleep at night . I would like to capture the narrative of the City and its characters through this bridge.
Although technically not my first slide film as I shot some expired tungsten film at the beginning of my film journey, seeing the results of the Agfa made me appreciate and marvel at the beautiful colour positive film gifts us with. I see nothing close to it in the digital age. So much so that I am thinking of purely shooting slide film and investing in a several more rolls of Agfa Precisa as it is affordable to buy from ebay. I also found a very good lab that does processing. Abit on the expensive side but the scans are tiffs and the processing is superb. My scans look so much more richer and clean. I hope they stay around for a long time.
I have began exploring film as a creative medium rather than just something to capture a moment while out and about. Seeing Rebecca Norris Webb and Ralph Eugene Meatyard work has opened up a whole other realm of photographic possibilities.
All the shots are from the same roll of Kodak Ultramax 400. The last shot is the first time I have tried using film for long exposure work. I used an app as a lightmeter which thankfully worked out. I love how film creates such unpredictable colours and effects.
I really enjoy photographing strangeness. An exploration which has carried on from my architectural dissertation on “Uncanny Spaces”, where I explored the mental spaces of my childhood. Spaces which were not of delight but of terror. I mapped these rooms as part of my spatial history (included in this post), trying to capture the emotion I felt while occupying each room.
Growing up in the Philippines, there were certain areas in the house that really got to me. I felt as if these spaces were alive. The Philippines is predominantly a Christian majority with a strong belief in spiritual beings, the good and evil kinds.
Stories of creatures and spirits are a big part of the culture and the feeling that I shared my home with phantoms were visceral experiences. I should perhaps elaborate on what I define as a home at that time. I lived inside a catholic school compound where I spent most of my childhood playing and going to school. During day time it was a blast, student’s and teachers were about, filled with activity and life. But as school finished up and the large compound with lots of empty rooms became silent, the atmosphere changed. It was not uncommon to invite the local priest to come and bless the school.
‘Dark is the hour!’ ‘Aye, and cold.’
‘Lone is my house.’ ‘Ah, but mine? ‘
‘Sight, touch, lips, eyes gleamed in vain.’
‘Long dead these to thine.’
Ghost by Walter de la Mare
I linked this back to Sigmund Freud’s essay “The Uncanny”. One that stems from the definition of the German word “Heimlich” which translates to homely in English. He goes through its etymology by using two 19th Century dictionary’s and also looks at it’s use in literature. In particular the Grimm’s fairytales and highlights the literary definition of Heimlich ultimately changes to that of “Unheimlich” / unhomely.
In essence the home that is secure, safe and familiar can be viewed as something that is private and unknown.
This unknown morphs into the mystic and unseen becoming unheimlich or Unhomely. This blur, liminal point is that which is Uncanny.
Heimlich (a) Familiar Unheimlich (a) Unfamiliar
Heimlich (b) Secret Unheimlich (b) Revealed
The strangely familiar. Freud’s essay goes onto giving examples of fantastical tales which evoke the feeling of Uncanny, from Automaton’s to doppelgangers just to name a few.
Anthony Vidler also explores the Unhomely in his paper “The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely”, specifically focusing on the Architectural unhomely aspects of the uncanny. Vidler uses Edgar Edgar Allan Poe’s “The fall of Usher” as one of the Haunted houses as an example and describes the uncanny arises from the “normality of the setting” and the absence of overt terror” resulting in a “disturbing unfamiliarity of the evidently familiar”. Poe’s description of the blank deteriorating walls and its lifeless eyes for windows makes us identify with our own mortality and the ultimate effect of time to all things.
I find photographically I am drawn to these sort of spaces. From gritty alleys, to desolate abandoned places were Urbanex photography arises. Two years ago I came across the term “Thanatourism” which according to good old wiki is “Dark tourism (also black tourism or grief tourism) has been defined as tourism involving travel to sites historically associated with death and tragedy.” Urbanex I think is the photographer’s version of this fascination, as we break into abandoned mental asylums or take photos of models in run down place filled with grafitti.
My last year’s trip to the Philippines again reminded me of the type of rawness I grew up in and which I identify with whenever I see a dark gritty alley. The textures, colour, decay, and use is like a patina over the buildings.
I do find these sort of images in Australia albeit much more difficult. I shoot and post a range of images but these sort are the most personal to me. The next images are all shot here in Australia. Thanks for reading. Hope I have not scared you guys off.