The subject chosen for Assignment 4 was The Barbican and the format chosen was portrait format monochrome prints.
As will be seen in the tutor feedback (see point 3), it was suggested that a combination of colour and monochrome might have been considered, though in my view (formed from past received opinions) the two should not be mixed.
This rework will therefore be in colour, but that in itself will allow the formal inclusion of two images which did not form part of the original submission.
Fig. A1 is a reminder of the final selection, a screen image of the web site. The actual submission was on paper. Of the two colour images shown, the first was used as a cover page and the last was not included in the folder.
At one point during the preparation of the assignment, consideration was given to doing so in colour (see Equivocation, 22nd May).
The cover image of flowers (fig. B1) was not included in the main body of the submission, and that remains the case.
On the second flower image, my tutor suggested,
I wonder about interspersing some coloured images in amongst the monotone architectural detail images -perhaps a crop of the red hot pokers with their yellow underbelly, or a portrait crop of the concrete wall and metal casing with yellow arrow from box A, when placed alongside the flowers and yellow cone image thematically play with yellow, a colour you might not expect from this building.Ag. 4 tutor feedback
Fig. B2 was taken on the second visit as a possible alternative cover image.
Fig B3. is of the Granite Room where samples of the early experiments with colour and texture for the finish of the Barbican’s exterior walls are kept. The was one of the snaps taken on a guided tour when the Barbican was being considered as a subject. The original was in horizontal format and so this has been quite heavily cropped to match the format of the submission images.
I have always regarded Fig B4 as the most interesting image shot at the Barbican during this project. It was a chance shot, noticed as I was packing my equipment away on the first photographic visit. Perhaps its main attraction is that it effortlessly combines and balances three (or maybe four) areas of visual interest. The colour version adds significantly to its impact but either in colour or monochrome, it could not form part of the original self-defined brief. My recollection is that I noticed the meeting taking place in the distance, took the camera back out, waited for a rare pedestrian to walk past and didn’t see the yellow cone until later that day. There is one earlier image, without the passer-by timed at 12:35:23 and B4 was taken at 12:35:54 — 30 nervous seconds of hoping the meeting wouldn’t break up while I waited for the pedestrian. The exposure is 1/10th sec.
Figs. B1-B4 are the images featuring yellow that were referred to.
B5 was on the shortlist for submission for a long time, but eventually dropped. It is resurrected here because it is one of the images that works better in colour, largely because of the foliage.
The original submission, in colour
Box C contains the original submission, reworked from RAW in colour.
In my view, there is a case to be made for C1 in colour, largely because the subject concrete tower is already monochrome and the only other contest is sky which offers a pleasant contrast.
C2 is the photograph that tempted me to submit the whole project in colour, see Equivocation, 22nd May.
With C3, it is difficult to tell that it is actually in colour.
C4-C6 are the images that persuaded me to stick to the original plan of submitting in black and white because the colour is merely a distraction.
One reason for favouring black and white is that some of the colour images, particularly C5, bring to mind Martin Parr’s Boring Postcards book (2004). Black and white (though this might be a matter of age) adds a certain dignity and documentary validity to the same shot.
Nevertheless, this is a rework and so we need 6-10 photographs with some of the new yellows included. C5 has to go, as does C6 which becomes too disjointed in colour.
D1 remains the starting point as a cover image.
From an aesthetic point of view, I would be inclined to mirror-reverse D2 so that the arrow leads into rather than out of the set, but as the main purpose is documentary, that is not an option. It starts the set as an historical record of design experiments before the Barbican build began in earnest.
D3 again towards the front as a declaration of where we are and what is the inescapable visual feature. the Barbican balcony. This can now be tempered by D4, the (to me, at least) unexpected Barbican flowerbeds.
D4, at the centre of the set, captures the essence of the Barbican balcony.
D5, a new addition works better in colour, again, the foliage, emphasised by colour, adds a new dimension to the composition.
D6, as has been mentioned, is the image that caused the indecision over whether to work in colour or in black and white.
To this stage, after the cover and the historic granite experiments, the images all include the balconies, accompanied by varying amounts of plant life and contrasting structures. For consistency of theme, the photograph of the fountain, C4 has been dropped.
Rather arbitrarily, D8 has been added. Perhaps this may be justified as a balance to D2, but really it is because I regard it as the most successful, interesting and creative image that I produced on this project.
These are the images excluded in the rework. The reasons have already been given.
From a subjective aesthetic standpoint, I prefer the black-and-white set submitted for this assignment. The images meet the objective I set and it is likely that the objective reinforced my preconception of the site. If the EyV brief had not specified “between six and ten finished images”, I would have submitted just F1 and called in Untitled, Barbican.