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The final six images for gallery exhibition

 

Palimpsest/Palimpsestic is the title of the work, and these images have been printed on a vinyl and stuck directly on the gallery wall. Alongside the wallpapered images is a notepad of tear-away photographic prints, 90 in total, 15 of each image, and meant for the viewers to peel off and take away with them. I have included a series number on the back of each print, and stamped this blog’s address in hopes that anyone interested in the images, the project, and these architectural voids in the city will visit this page and find out more about the built environment. More to come…..

 

 

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Still trying to decide what images I want to develop further for the gallery exhibition. These are a few in a documentary style, which show the abstract wrapped buildings as voids within their urban surroundings, with enough background to give away each buildings’ location in the city.

 

Elephant and Castle

Elephant and Castle

The City

The City

St Pauls

St Pauls

Oxford Street

Oxford Street

Regents Park

Regents Park

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The image of Elephant and Castle’s construction site drew a lot of response from my group in our last crit, and so I have left the wrapped buildings aside for this last shoot and gone to photograph a few large construction sites in London. The gaping hole on Oxford Street is part of the Crossrail project that will see a new line of transportation through the center of the city, and connecting East to West within this decade. The large plot at Battersea Power Station is as controversial as Elephant and Castle, with several designs being started and scraped since it became a protected building. The newest venture will engulf the building in glass and metal, with several large structures being built around the existing one. The third image here takes a look across South London, from Battersea to Lend Lease, with many large projects in between them.

The end of this project is only a month away, and the gallery exhibition is shortly thereafter. I am torn between presenting a project that is more Gursky-esque, with these construction sites printed on a huge scale to match their huge presence; or presenting the wrapped buildings in a more fine art context, alluding to the countless, nameless voids that will soon shoot upwards into London’s skyline.

 

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After our review at London South Bank and with the input of staff and other students I decided to go beyond Elephant and Castle regeneration and look at other wrapped buildings around the city. This coincided with research I’ve done on the current building boom in the city, with the London Building Centre estimating that some 200 plus high rise buildings are in the pipeline for construction.  These images were taken over a week of exploring central London and looking for interesting wrapped buildings.

This seems unfathomable. Trying to imagine 200 skyscrapers landing in London is unreal and it makes me concerned for the urban fabric of this city. In my first post I explain the project Towers of London that I completed a few months ago, and how these Towers are sometimes seen as eyesores in the city of London. This wasn’t always the case, with some of them at the forefront of construction and design, such as Ronan Point and the use of large panel systems (LPS). Ronan Point partly collapsed in 1968 and was subsequently torn down, along with other buildings that had used the same construction method.

I don’t know enough, yet, about urban planning to decry the construction being planned right now. I don’t know enough, yet, about the inclusion of residents’ opinions in the design of these huge structures and their placement within their existing communities and surroundings. But I do know, from reading about documentary, editorial, journalistic and architectural photography, that it is imperative to photograph our surroundings and then disseminate the work in hopes of informing society and preparing interested communities for taking action.

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This third shoot looks at the abstract nature of the huge buildings being wrapped in plastic. Against the stark white material there are deep blue skies and brightly colored construction machines and materials. They appear quite commercial and could be attached to advertising or commercial publication, but then the segments of the old buildings and the inclusion of the street and bystanders start to weave the regeneration struggle back into these images.

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After reviewing the images from the first shoot I feel that this regeneration project certainly holds potential for the advanced major project. These images from the second shoot are from a walk around Heygate. Goliath sized buildings here have been emptied of their residents, and stand wrapped in white plastic waiting for their fate.

overview of the works being carried out in front of Heygate.

overview of the works being carried out in front of Heygate.

Heygate Estate

Heygate Estate

Heygate Estate

Heygate Estate

Heygate Estate

Heygate Estate

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This set of photos were taken in the beginning of February 2014, in hopes that the process of documenting the construction of the area then reviewing and disseminating the images after will provide me with inspiration for a photography project centered around this huge regeneration project.

‘One the Elephant’ is part of Lend Lease’s development, and I don’t know what or who came up with the name but I wish I did know. Maybe it will grow on me, and maybe it won’t.

‘Eileen House’ is not part of Lend Lease’s development, but it is part of the regeneration of the area, and begins to show the scope of demolition and construction that is happening here across the roundabout and all over Southwark. When the building is complete, its metal and glass facade will mirror that of the Shard, which is in this photo’s background.

 

 

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In search of some engaging subject matter I walked around Elephant and Castle and the Heygate Estate today. Lend Lease is involved in a huge development and regeneration project which will see most, if not all, of Heygate demolished. This link, that takes you to Lend Lease’s website , offers an overview and outlines the scope of the development. While this link, that takes you to a substantial blog about Southwark regeneration, offers an opposing assessment of the works.

There are some strong feelings on both sides of the issue, and I do think that the estate and surrounding area needs significant updating where its buildings are concerned, but demolishing such a tremendous set of buildings can’t be the perfect solution. “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” -Jane Jacobs.

Have Lend Lease done their due diligence and designed a project that will offer diversity? Or is this a project fueled by commercial interest alone?

Advanced Major Project; for a BA in Digital Photography

My final project looms ahead. I am taking a break from writing my dissertation today and just thinking about all the concepts in my head that have potential for my advanced major project. The Tower Blocks of London became a full piece instead of a pilot and I want to use the freedom of being in university to work with other ideas since the Towers has reached a good stopping point.

  • Self Portrait- something completely different (because after writing a dissertation on architectural photography, I will not want to look at another building), a series of portraits of my parents in surroundings that reflect how I see myself taking on their attributes. My father standing in the aisle of a cinema, watching me, watching a movie. My mother on a desert mountain trail, exhausted after a hike, putting her hand on my shoulder as I look through the lens of the camera.
  • Landscapes of Skyscrapers- creating landscapes of tall buildings, the camera at ground level pointed to the top floor of the building, with attention to foreground (interesting awnings, entrances, etc.) and the top of the building fading beyond the horizon line.
  • Regeneration of Elephant and Castle- review the images I took in the first year and revisit the sites, start a website devoted to the regeneration and create a community online to look at how the residents feel now that construction has started, and piece together information on how the regeneration is starting out, a long term project to start now and then keep revisiting after uni
  • Vernacular architecture- research and locate people that have built their own homes in non traditional materials, places, etc. and present triptychs of the owners, the structure, and the landscape it resides in.
  • Tower Blocks- okay so nothing is ever really ‘finished’. Take the project from last semester and push it further, to include all towers above 19 stories, re shoot them to stitch the whole building together, or include parts of the area around them

 

 

 

Ordinary Things

“We are losing interest in the ordinary things of the world, and that is turning us into barbarians”

“If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He’s not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he’s really needed.”

-Vaclav Havel

 

Sometimes it is much easier for me to write about how I feel through the words of others. Perhaps this is because I feel much more at ease behind a camera than behind a keyboard, and prefer to converse through imagery rather than prose. But, more than likely, it is simply due to a crippling fear of writing something that is boring, or could be said better by someone else.

This blog is made with the hopes of communicating better. Not just forming clearer and stronger writing about my photography, but creating a place that is free, full of information, and a platform for action. I am an idealist. I believe in photography as a democratic tool, one that has yet to reach its full potential.