Saturday, 5 December 2009

PROJECT 16: defining a point

This has been an interesting project for me as I discovered when looking through my archive that I have hardly ever used points as a design element in my photography.  In most of my landscape photography I have always used lead-lines and angles rather than points. This is quite a revelation and will open up all sorts of new opportunities. Jotting down a list of situations in which you can use a point is of course endless.  I had made two columns, the first is of specific examples and the second is the type of environment in which it might work:

sky and cloud, sky and moon, grass and mushroom, jumper with hole, stone on sand, solitary person on mountain, sportsman on cricket field, child on rug, building in large empty landscape, postbox in wall, tummy button, rock protruding from water, tree in field, person in swimming pool, bread dough on table, window in wall, books on shelf with gap, boat on lake.

with contrast, a hole, a change of pattern, different texture, different colour, different shape, point of difference, a change, an alteration, a chink, a flaw, a spot

Very, very small points

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

I had to really dig deep to find any points at all, and the very, very small variety are thin on the ground and you could argue that image 2 has a significant foreground so doesn't really count.

Small points
Image 5

Image 6

Images 5 and 6 are probably the best examples from my collection of 'points' that are not so small they're nearly invisible but small enough to be defined a point.

Larger points
Image 7

Image 8

Image 9

I have more images with slightly larger points, but image 9 in particular is getting much less 'point-like' given that it is so much bigger.

Multiple Points
Image 10

This is an example from my portfolio using more than one point, creating a triangular shape.

Examples from other artists
For other examples I browsed through the Bruce Silverstein Gallery online for inspiration.

Todd Hido  is a landscape photographer who has "focussed his attention on the American landscape, a subject explored in his widely acclaimed series Roaming. . . Looking from the vantage point of his car seat, and shooting outward through ever changing layered mixtures of condensation, grit, and reflecting glare upon the car’s windshield, Hido masterfully transforms the mundane terrain peripherally sandwiching the myriad of roads typically dotting the outskirts of American cities, into inexplicable poignant images, filled with cinematic gravitas and dream-like sublimity, often “crossing the double lines’ between painting and photography". 

Studying his recent collection 'A Road Divided', Hido uses lead-in lines frequently with the roads.  But 'points' are visible by way of tree blossom, a vehicle, trees, telegraph poles, car headlights. What is interesting is the placement of the 'points'  which is often extreme on the edges of the photograph so that the whole object is purposefully not visible to the viewer.

Maria Antoinetta Mameli illustrates very clearly the use of points and the absence of any other distractions whatsoever. "By cutting everything off, I remove every possible element of distraction to focus on reality and surrounding emotional life through a telescope, so that space and time become non-existent. My subjects are made not only of forms, but shadows. The forms and their shadows being inextricably linked like body and soul, life and death. By reducing the subjects to minimal size, I force the viewer to get closer to my work not only physically, but also emotionally. I created my aesthetic space where the facets of human condition are under the sharp scrutiny of my lenses".

In her collection, there are extreme examples of how 'points' can be used.  They are most often placed centrally and very, very small.  This illustrates how 'less can be more' and by excluding all distractions your eye is automatically drawn to what the photographer wishes. The photographer can therefore push the boundaries of how small the subject or point can be. I like the concept and the impact the pieces have, however the finish does appear 'over-processed' or artificial.

Richard Misrach provides another good example of how 'points' can be used. He has taken an aerial view over beach/sea scenes to achieve the effect.  Again the points vary in size but still have impact when very small. This is a good illlustration of how points can be used effectively.

In conclusion, I intend to use points more in my own photography as there is a noticeable absence in my own portfolio.  In addition, without too much research I have found various examples of how points and where they are place can make for an interesting composition and perspective.

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