Monday, March 28, 2011

This week, through the work of Tod Papageorge I analysed the urban benches in Central Park. He is an american art photographer and published in 2007 “ passing through Eden ” a collection of images he took over 25 years. I was interesting by one part of this book where he presents a series of bench photographies.

Every day we have some opportunities to sit down on the bench in the private or public interior place or in the urban space.On the first time I’d like to mentioned the importance of material used for the design. In Central park , the bench framework is built by steel or concrete, the back and sitting set up by piece of timber. The choice of material has to be specific because it influences the shape and the strength of the design. Besides I think that it’s essential for designer to think about the “ surface appearance ” of each material as well as its temperature to promote the best human comfort. The other features are the global measures , depth , length,height. All of these components influence the usefulness of benches in the interior and urban space.

In the urban planning , each furniture have a particular disposition and direction and manage ours activities and attraction. Through the Tod photography I can make out three type of bench practices.

“ the stop bench “ where people make a break

“ the wait bench “ where people wait someone

“ the pleasure bench “ where people make a pleasant and relax activities.

All of these activities involve a particular posture and human behaviors and I think that some factors influence it, like the global design and several social elements. Indeed, men and women often haven’t the same position in the bench and the design must be adapted to the liberty of human body. The different culture and sex of people influence the practice of bench and I can identify benches like a “ social furniture “ where charming incident take place. In the Papageorge photographies , the majority of sitting are long and promote meeting between stranger, young and old people. But through his picture we can see that people sometimes share the same bench without more attraction and discussion. However it’s also funny to observe that people often choose the same bench and the same place. I think that it’s important to mentioned that benches become a personal sitting in the public space where we can maintain ours habits. Moreover since 1986 there is a new concept in Central park called “adopt a bench “, a project where people can buy their bench and write what do they want on the small metallic plaque. I’d like mentioned again the social implication of this furniture in the urban place. Indeed through this project people can enter in the life of strangers and share a part of memory.

To progress in my study I’d like to compare the interior bench space (airport space and private space) and explore how the surrounding can be influenced the behaviors of people.

The man behind the Machine

Having studied the photographic styles of Abbot and Baltz in closer detail, the idea of capturing the human effect on landscape inspired me most, to create an analogy beyond the survey. Both took worlds which are familiar and isolated fact, Baltz devoid of personal prejudice and Abbott's infused with emotion. I would like to juxtapose both styles. I have always had an interest in industrial landscapes, the unusual forms, noises, smells and robot like movements of the humans that inhabit these spaces. The people become the machines. I am intrigued by the Dublin Docklands. It it is a secret world, hidden from society, a walled fortress which never sleeps. A mini city with its own infrastructure where land and sea have a mutual dependence.

Human habitation is evident by the order of things; stacked containers or rows of cars in a parking lot. It lives and breaths efficiency. A fluorescent safety jacket on a chair in a security hut is the only indication of human presence within that space. People do not walk on these streets. The footpath acts as a threshold, a large curb. The cabin of the machine becomes the room, a mobile office, inhabited space. A trail is formed from loading bay to canteen, a ritual pilgrimage for the workers. Long canteen tables lined with benches and chairs emulate the rigid ordering of the docklands only broken by littered paper cups in the same way silos rest among steel boxes.

A steel ramp forms a bridge from boat to land. Cargo is loaded and unloaded, everything has a destination and a place. The worker overlooks and takes part in this procession. Their life although surrounded by people is isolated, conversation is minimal due to constant noise. There is a unified code, a seperate language for this place. Its identity is formed within itself. There is no hint as to where this place exists, it could be anywhere in the world.

Allan Sekula has captured a non romantic image of the docks, the workers and fishing in his book '
Fish Story'. His images are highly sensorial. He uses flash photography and atmospheric lighting to reinforce the human markation of these terretories. The subject matter varies but maintains a running theme. The images are arranged to tell a story. If they were shown alone one could interperit anything from them.
Taking Sekula's idea of relative matter I would like to create a story of the Dublin Docklands in a similar fashion. I would like to create an analogy of the man behind the machine, to try and capture the alien like quality of docks life in the 21st century. I have started by photographing the routes and inhabited yards along with the machinery. My next step is to trace the movements of the worker and the machine and lastly to focus in on the worker and their habitiation of sole and communal space.

I have also looked at Jean Gaumy's 'Men at Sea'. Gaumy joined the French Fishing Vessel on one of its voyages and maintains a written diary. The images are hugely atmospheric and truely capture the essence of life on the sea. Again, I would like to emulate Guamy's approach to photographing manual workers in their habitat.

Sebastiao Salgado's 'Workers; An Archaeology of the industrial age takes an account of the manual labour from cocao to tobacco plantations. Man is the machine.