Wednesday, April 22, 2009

cracking up

Tomorrow it's the turn of photographs about nothing - or about nothing much, or about the act of seeing, or whatever - a transition from narrative photography that we'll be making via Jeff Wall, and his series of Diagonal Compositions.    I'm very struck by his desire to show "the unattributed, anonymous poetry of the world" through photographing the overlooked, the casual corners of our lives - messy sinks, brooms and floors - even if I'm sure each last pail or bar of used soap is as carefully positioned as a Dutch still life.   More to the point, for my purposes, might be Ute Barth's series of pictures from her house - the nothingness of window frames and suburban gardens, yet continually shifting with the light, the time of day, the season - a series that she then continued into the light falling into her living room, its carpet and skirting board photographed again and again.   "My primary project," she says, "has always been in finding ways to make the viewer aware of their own activity in looking at something."

Here the "something" is the crack - the ever-widening crack - outside my office door at the top of 36 Union Street.   I took a  number of photographs of this today - and was amazed how differently they turned out - horizontal, vertical, with a bit of grubby curtain in the background, and so on.   I cheated, of course, when it came to choosing just one image of the day - here is the same crack, photographed with flash on the left (and flipped over), and illuminated by daylight and the faint red glow of the exit sign on the right.   But I love the abstract potential in what is, in documentary terms, a peculiarly crumbling part of our university's real estate.

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