I’m quick to mention my love for the old. And, the further I delve into my film and photographic psyche, I realise it’s not a simple divide between the past and present, but more of streak of inspiration from the old, reflected in contemporary practise.
I found myself down in London again yesterday, and had an hour or two between meetings. I’m not one for killing time, so found myself venturing into some old spots from my time living near Liverpool Street. The cool thing about London, especially the business district on a Sunday, is the mismatch of modernity. We used to spend a lot of time wandering the empty business class, in the shadows of the concrete and glass overhead, and I had a similar train of thought yesterday as I made my way to Barbican, a district sheltered from most of London’s recent architectural overheaul.
I’m currently in the early pre-production of a collaborative film. Were in the great ideas process at present, really getting to grips with the visual sensibility of the story. I often work from the landscape, upwards, giving the setting as much character as the protagonist. It’s important to me, that the setting brings as much to the filmic table as anything else. Having recently been shooting a lot of digital moving image and stills using the XT-3, I’ve been thinking a lot about mediums, and the interpretation of capturing ‘scapes truthfully. I’ve always been a strong believer in film, I always will be. But in appreciating the digital space, I’ve been able to take on board the pro’s of fune tuning an image whilst shooting that the compact is offering. The shooting similarities on the XT-3 to a 35mil cam are no-end. I wouldn’t say I look through the lens any differently even, but I’m finding I’m achieveing fairly sleek results, even on the mundane I’m often drawn to, and i’m finally starting to appreciate a medium I’ve often scorned. Particularly in moving image areas…
The thing I love about film is the way I can use my hands at every phase of the process. I load the celluloid, almost automatically, but still by hand. I take care of those negative through development, and scanning, and then digitally once the images find their on-screen form, or physicality on print. This takes time, and time is important. In recent years, I’m finding there are a lot of digital alternatives to working with DIY aesthgetics, in techniques I’d once slaved over, I now have the chance of appreciating (wow I sound old). It’s in this time, where often, something will happen that will lead me onto a new idea… This year I’ve worked at such a fast pace, turnaround times are being expected a lot faster than a few years back, and I’m just rolling with it. Working so fast, that stopping would be a cry for help. Which is where the XT-3 comes in.
In a contemporary world, I’m finding my workflow quickening to the means of instant gratification. Like the thrill of a polaroid picture, I’m able to shoot, reflect, and store in an instant. I work with a lot of street, documentary and observational work during development, and the XT-3 is proving a huge reflective tool for ideas. I wouldn’t say I shoot many more frames as I would film, I still choose my subject carefully, as archiving is a constant burden.
My favourite cityscapes from my trip, are of Barbican estate, and the streets of Soho, particularly the essense of colour at dusk that China Town provides. I often walk from Liverpool Street to Central, the same route I’ve always taken. I take a mental note of most places, I’ve drawn locations for many projects from places I’ve been. Nothing is a waste on me. Brutalism is a large influence on my photographic eye, the locations of my dreams are often in some form of modernist concrete jungle. No matter how much I need nature, I am a city girl, in a cityscape that offers more than cheap glass. I enjoy the ugliness that we’d never get now. The weird clash between the ultimate sci-fi eye of the ‘60s.
So, you’ll see a lot of concrete, many depths of grey in these images. A monochrome palette of autumn sun. Layers and lines of an unseen society behind the residential blocks. The lack of life is something I’m prepared to wait for. I stopped by the estate at the end of school-time, I enjoyed watching children walking home with their parents, skipping along these crazy streets they call home. I thought about the streets of Norwich-to-London within the blink a couple of hours. The idea, almost alien in itself.
I headed towards soho, I was pushed for time, and didnt get much farther than China town before I had to skip off. The pop of colour in these images is like the creation of colour-tele, after you walk the streets of the Barbican. The sun was lowering at this time, the tungsten city lights becoming more prominent. I like the mix of worlds, creating a journey in my Foto-Diary. These images are not necessarily anything new, I’ve taken the same shots before even, I’ll often head to the same poster spot, the same window, a set of bins I’ve stared at for far too long, and over time I have a collection, and archive of certain spaces. Because today, these are different. Because, today is a new day, and this is a new camera.