Monday, June 4, 2012

Silver in the City

I guess that this blog post, rather than be dedicated to the many many things I've got sitting on the backburner and have been eyeball-deep-in-uni-so-could-not-post might be a bit of a letdown. After all, it's really just more uni work. But it's also the core concept behind one of my photography subjects; specifically, Silver.

Silver is a third-year photography elective. Which means that next semester when I go to pick subjects, I won't give myself three ones that are a year up from my current level. Stupidhead. Anyway. Third year elective specific to film photography. Films and negatives and darkrooms and stuff. It's quite a bit of fun, and I enjoy the process and concept behind this type of photography more than others. I guess that's because there's a much smaller margin for error when creating photos. They're harder to fix when you get to developing the negs, and in general, you have to know what you're doing.

So. Concepts and stuff.

The course, as always, gives us a theme to work to and start with and the theme for Silver was 'Investigating the Shadow'

This sounded quite dark and intimidating to begin with, and in the first couple of weeks, I continued with printing photos from negs I had taken last year, along with stuff I'd taken for 'getting my eye back in'.

The only other thing you probably need to know at this stage is how I operate in the darkroom. This is pretty similar to how I used to work in TAFE. Don't feel like chatting while working. Stick headphones in and go. And the waiting period that you have to have while waiting for test strips to develop and then fix allows you to think in between working on things. So while the music is going, I don't always pay full attention to it.

This particular afternoon, I was walking out of the darkroom with Switchfoot in my ears. It was this song.

"we are
crooked souls trying to stay up straight
dry eyes in the pouring rain,
the Shadow proves the Sunshine
the Shadow proves the Sunshine"

And like a bolt from the blue, there was the core idea. Sort of. I was going to talk about depression and hope in the brief. Shadow and Sunshine.

This initially was thought out as a series of constructed studio photographs, a bit like what I had done in the previous year with photography, where myself and some friends got to sit down and play with masks and stuff.

And stuff.

And then I went to Sydney three times during March. Each time I had a camera, and each time I took photos of the city. 

There were a lot of skyline photos, but there were some odd ones that cropped up too - tiny observations that kept crawling into my lens. I couldn't stop taking photos of them. 

And then I talked to the tutor about it. Very quickly, the project evolved into something else.

Depression and Hope in the City.

I have to admit, I liked where this was going; a take on the city which, while certainly investigated before, could have something added to it. Ack. Too many pronouns.

The city.

There was probably still stuff left over in Brooke's head from last year, where this clip got used for the Mask unit. Can't remember why it was relevant specifically. I think it got included because it's a beautiful clip.

But this got to pull the project more and more into that view of the city and the black and white and the soul in something so large and grey and paradoxical.

Add to that the fact that Anberlin, who have been mentioned earlier on this blog, are popular with me, and the album that the above song is called 'Cities'

Look at that album artwork. That is some beast work. It even looks like a city.

This album, which I've probably mentioned before, is my favourite out of all the work they've produced so far. It...ah.

It explores so many large themes and manages to do it with some kind of deep understanding that I love. And there's the music and the lyrics and the yes. It just feels like the city; at times peaceful or sunny, but also rushing along at the breakneck speed that comes with life and construct and all-of-the-things-I've-been-trying-to-express-this-afternoon.

Look. Just go and buy a copy of the CD. I was a muffinhead and bought the CD/DVD copy, so it was pretty expensive, but the standard twelve-track wasn't too pricy.

I guess that the song I explored more than the others in the making of this project (which is slowly turning into another 'Brooke really loves Anberlin' post) was actually the seventh track on the album, 'Hello Alone'.

From a lesser known, I'm here. And there's hope. There's hope.

I'm going to decide later whether making this was work or procrastination.

Hope is such a powerful thing. It keeps us going in the darkest of times. It gives us something to look forward to - My phone dictionary, as sad as it is, says '(any reason or encouragement for) the state of feeling that what one wants will or might happen.'
It's a pretty soggy definition, but it'll have to do for now. The point that the above definition is missing (I think) is that in order for there to be hope, there has to be some pretty unfun business going on first. We never hope when we're in a good patch. It's like a little candle, and it serves its greatest purpose at night, when we have little else to guide our steps.

Considering the emotions I have encountered in myself and others since moving to the metropolis of Newcastle, and the feel of the city in the first place, this seemed like a good place to start. Buildings and pavements and arriving here with the smell of London still on my shoes, used to the beat of a thousand floors - cobbles, gravel, pavement, bitumen - always hard and unforgiving.

(Pretty sure tears came to my eyes when I went for a walk through Hyde Park on the grass.)

Right about then.

But that's what the city is; it's rough and big and scary and it doesn't give a rats arse about you. It's grey and smelly and there's people everywhere but none of them see you. Not the real you, anyway. It sounds kind of unfun.

Through the project, I just really wanted to be able to show that; the simple play of dark and light in the city across all of it's artificiality. That as unforgiving and dark the city appeared, that there could also be something worth hoping in as well. Something outside of the grey stones and grey skies.

Something with promise. Because there's hope.

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