It has been a year or so since the last time an abstract was written about here on the blog. And, as the buds of spring have yet to emerge upon an otherwise predictably brown and gray cityscape, what better time to respond do so. The image above is a multiple exposure on Ilford FP4 film. This film has wonderful latitude, enabling it to retain a relatively deep dynamic range of range even after being pushed one stop and being exposed to light several times. This image is the result of three exposures of differing distances and textures. Together, they work to hint, not to readily reveal.
Containing shapes and textures simultaneously familiar and alien, the image pulls at the part of us which wants to feel rather than see. Like the still suburban winter afternoon during which it was taken, the image eludes to movement underfoot. For, when viewing this negative and still image for the first time, I could not help but recall the questions that arose during the taking-process. Barron fields to my right, aging apartment blocks to my left, mountain in front of me and Nam-gu (Gwangju City) to my rear, I was left largely alone on the roadside. However, I could see steam rising from vents that emerged from the green plexiglass panels of the verandas to my left. Behind them, the now green, yet somehow still sterile glow of white fluorescent lights became gradually more perceptible as dusk approached. Semi-frozen fragments of black plastic fluttered and flapped in the field opposite my vision. While content to wait out of sight, there was life here. I could feel it. In such moments, what does a photographer do? How she or he visualizes their feeling reveals both their practiced artistry yet also luck. For, as many artists/photographers may attest, for every work that succeeds in providing an experience of what cannot be readily seen, hundreds more attempts simply miss the mark. While the verdict may be out on the image above, the simple conclusion is that on a solitary winter day in Gwangju, it is the feeling that counts.
[Photo taken with my Nikon FE2 shooting Ilford FP4, a 125iso film which as noted above, can easily be pushed one stop, therefore being shot at 250, thereby increasing contrast yet still preserving a reasonable range of gray tones. This was not necessarily the case in the image above, yet one reason it was chosen was that the lack of many tones mirrored the environment around which the photo was taken. Thereby, hopefully, preserving that feeling of life unseen within overwise bland exteriors.]
(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)