A Practice Review: New Challenges

A short study in being less successful with image making

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Having been inspired by a book in my collection, The Box, Architectural Solutions with Containers by Sibylle Kramer (Braun, 2014) and a train journey that trundled by a Freightliner terminal in Birmingham, I embarked on negotiating a way into accessing this huge 32 acre site to see how it looked and felt as a sort of ‘container city’.  The shoot was thus planned and executed on 13th April 2017.  I spent 3 hours walking the site with a minder and full safety gear.  The challenge for me was shooting in such an open environment; I was mentally adjusting to scale and light; in some ways an extreme contrast to the intimate, fine grained pursuit of interiors of abandoned spaces.  There are parallels; the vista and the interface; the wide view and the close; the wide and deep and the flat and shallow, but I had an unease and did not find myself settled into this environment.

Selected images are shown here.  I am not wholly enamoured with any of them. Interestingly, the most comfortable I felt was spending time inside an empty container, with a shaft of light showing through a partially open door.  I include these in my CRJ to demonstrate how at times one can shoot, review and find that there is no quality that chimes with the practice aesthetic that has been developing, the colours are stark and out of the palette range established in one’s head, the sharpness of light that can create drama was absent (it was a very ‘flat’ light day) and the human trace I seek was also largely absent; the trace left by sea, machines and accidents were all there, but lacked a subtlety.  Notably there were no practitioners in my head during the shoot.  I was perhaps subliminally seeking a Paul Strand moment of fully contrasting light in my planning phase, but that day was not to yield such opportunities.

This mini-series does attune with my interest in capturing industrial design and its part in committing to honed, utilitarian, mechanistic shapes that drive a global economic process.

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