International Center for Photography Class
(Spring 2006): "Developing a Personal Vision"
These are some of the images from my first class at ICP, "Developing a Personal Vision." My teacher was Karen Marshall (www.KarenMarshallPhoto.com), who
documents American social issues and teaches, among other things, about the development of long term photography projects. We learned about following our instincts and obsessions as a way
to strengthen our direction and vision. By participating in weekly assignments and participating in critiques, we learned to understand our own photography and personal work. We were trained to establish and maintain our intentions to communicate our ideas photographically.
35mm photos in irregularly sized arrangements
Photos are physically taped together, or scanned and electronically assembled for printing.
Click on a picture to get a larger picture.
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Construction Site in Tribeca
I discovered this contruction site, waiting for development, in Tribeca. I had to climb the fence to get to it. The fence, which looks very solid from the outside, is held up by this amazing collection of bricks and wires.
Panels stacked against the wall inside the site create an abstract image.
A Store in Brooklyn
This store on the Fulton Mall in Brooklyn was originally a high-design Bauhaus building. Now, the ceilings have been lowered, the floors covered with cheap carpeting, and the beautiful minimalist entry has especially obtrusive Payless Shoes Source and Burger King logos on the flat black stone.
A Staircase in East Hampton
This staircase was designed by Paul Rudolph for Mel Wolf's home in East Hampton. The staircase is unsupported in the traditional sense, but rests on the second floor deck and is "hung" from the roof of the house. The stair treads are also unsupported and hang from the airplane-wing-style handrails of the unit. Walking up the staircase, you can see the trees through the stairs, and it feels like you're floating upward. A "moon deck" at the top of a long ramp, which ends the contruction, gives a tree-top view of this area of the Hamptons and the solid-looking staircase.
I compose images from multiple photos of the same site. Most of the images are of transitory construction sites or temporary structures such as scaffolding on old buildings. I also photograph unique buildings that I find beautiful and older buildings that have been updated, often with incongruous signage. I document existing sites and structures, and point out the work of anonymous workers. I do not modify the sites or structures that I photograph.
By assembling photos, I attempt to “construct” a meaning through the image, point out the significance of the overlooked features I photograph, and draw attention to details that might be missed since they are often not intentionally designed for their appearance or meant to last. By amassing a group of photos, rather than using a wide angle lens or a panorama camera to take a single photo, I can stand closer to the figure while I photograph it, I can include and control more of the details in the image, and I can selectively photograph the elements that interest me and show their context at the same time.
I try to make it clear how I arrange the photos to create the image. I do not attempt to hide the connections between the assembled photos or have the overlapping images on the individual photos exactly match. By allowing the slightly dissimilar edges to remain in the constructions, viewers can look at the individual photos that make up the whole, and can make the connections and encounter the individual components for themselves.
I sometimes try to re-capture my initial discovery of the site or structure in the gathered photos, rather than merely document the features, as Elizabeth Bishop does in this landscape poem, “Arrival at Santos,” from Questions of Travel :
Here is a coast; here is a harbor;
here, after a meager diet of horizon, is some scenery,
impractically shaped and—who knows?—self-pitying mountains,
sad and harsh beneath their frivolous greenery,
with a little church on top of one. And warehouses,
some of them painted feeble pink, or blue,
and some tall, uncertain palms. Oh, tourist,
is this how this country is going to answer you
and your immodest demands for a different world
and a better life, and complete comprehension
of both at last, and immediately
after eighteen days of suspension?
Additional "constructed photos:"
Eastern State Penitentiary
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