Photograph 2 continued
The whole central part of the park including the boys, the trimmed grass and some decorative smaller trees and shrubs in front of the distant line of trees, is in sunlight. It doesn’t look warm but the light makes sense of the terrain.
The foreground is in shadow. Immediately in front of the camera is a decorative border with a variety of shrubs, some in better condition than others. To the right of the border two slender tree trunks with silver bark form parallel lines leaning in towards the centre at a 70-degree angle. In front of that a low metal railing borders a tarmacked path that connects to the grassed area. I think there may be a slight drop to a lower field where the boys are running.
Two young women are walking into the picture along the path from the right hand side. They look East African and both are wearing fashionable hijabs. The scarf on the left is pink; the one on the right has a multicoloured pattern. The women are mainly in shadow and I can’t make out the lower half of their outfits but both are wearing long satchel-like bags, the bag closest to us is mint green. Their faces are also in shadow but I think they are turned slightly away from the camera, I imagine they are talking together but watching the boys on the grass.
The final figure is compositionally close to the young women but he is physically further away, possibly unaware that they are walking past him. He is sitting, knee up, on an unusual wooden bench, which bounds the trunk of a large tree. There is some kind of package next to him that reads as a packed lunch. He is clearly having a break from work. The man is a physical worker in white overalls, perhaps a painter? The hood of his grey sweatshirt is up and he has his back to us but a cloud of white smoke, from a cigarette, lingers in the still air in front of his face, which is turned towards the view. It is his interest in the view, which makes this a pivotal character in the reading of the photograph. There is something conspiratorial about his presence, which encourages transference of mood as if I have jumped into his skin, just for a moment.
Well I’ve made another written description of a photograph… I mean its just an idea really. Our project is an investigation into the verasity of the photographic image and I suppose there is a connection with the perceived truthfulness of words and the importance of a single viewer standpoint which interests me:
I’ve just had loads of feedback from my Facebook posting which has given me further ideas to follow up.
It is a photograph of a large green space that looks like a park. It is landscaped into specific areas including a herbaceous border close by, a path, and then a large open grassed area with a wilder area far off bordered by a stand of mature trees.
At first sight this photograph has a doughnut composition so that the area that you would expect to contain the bulk of the information, the centre, is empty and the real action takes place around the edges of the view. But there is a clever sting in the tail of the arrangement. Rather that looking directly at the characters that inhabit the borders of this photograph the eye is consistently pulled towards a distant course of trees and particularly the area where these trees meet the sky, which is right in the middle of the photograph. The figures present in the landscape seem to be either leaving or arriving at the very fringes of the scene. Josh has cleverly pulled the viewer into a dreamlike state and I stare into the trees aimlessly enjoying the dislocation that distance allows me. I am aware of the people who inhabit my peripheral vision but I have to wrench my eyes away from the view to really check them out.
In the middle distance, on the far left of the print, three teenage lads are running on the open grass between the far tree line and us. They are about one stride away from exiting the scene altogether. I can make out trainers not football boots so I imagine they are doing athletics exercises rather than playing a team game. The two boys at the front are black and the third is white. They are all dressed similarly in sweat pants and sweatshirts but it is not a uniform and each one has a singular colour scheme. The front boy has black sweat pants, a white shirt tucked in and grey or patterned trainers. The second boy has navy sweat pants, a red shirt left loose and white trainers and the last boy has a red shirt tucked into royal blue sweat pants and white trainers. The leading and last boys are slim and this is reflected in their high mid stride position, the middle boy looks in slightly less good shape and his position seems slower, more laboured somehow.
Second part of my descrition of:
Because of the clothes, the bare legs and short sleeves I am guessing it is spring or summer and yet there is a greyness of light that places the couple in a city environment, possibly London. It is not clear if they are in shadow or the day is overcast but there is a dullness only emphasised by the run down atmosphere of the architecture and surfaces that surround them. Top left of the frame is a blue/grey wall, perhaps the wall of a building sited on a higher level to the road the couple are standing on. In front of that wall a parasitic buddleia hugs the edge of a brick and concrete structure. It only overhangs the wall by a foot or so but seems to be the cause of a livid brown stain that stretches down the wall almost to floor level. The wall itself comprises the approach and structure of a bridge or viaduct under which the couple are captured. The structure is tiled all over in white tiles or white-faced brick in an offset pattern. Some of the bricks and pointing is discoloured and there are pleasing areas of focus in the uniformity. Zip-like columns of connected and darker pointing run down the wall. There is a horizontal white ‘rub’, just above head level, which cuts through all the conflicting surface noise. The dark horizontal dashes and misaligned tile levels all add to the sense of decay. The right third of the photograph is dominated by the black underbelly of a brick arch under which the couple is standing. The brickwork has been maintained and traces of that work is visible as the wall appears patchy and uneven. The arch itself has a five-tiered lip, which echoes in the lines on the woman’s nautical shirt. The space under the bridge has a graphic quality that connects naturally to the black horizontal line running along the joint of the wall and the pavement. Tapering as it leaves the frame this line serves to emphasise the potential movement of the man with the toy. His future speed is also picked up in the rubbed out line on the wall which describes an action by one moving thing against the wall, perhaps a lorry or vehicle unknown and acts as a second marker to the mans direction and energy. The road is complimentary patchwork of trip hazards and functional repairs. It is a rather delicate mixture of browns and greys. There is a strong perspective implied here or actual. The flagstones look as if they were laid on a different alignment to the wall and they really open up as if I was looking at a stage. Could this photograph have been taken with a specialist lens?
There is an odd anomaly butting into the scene at the bottom centre of the photograph. My best guess as to what it could be is the top edge of a bicycle handle bar. Possibly the photographer’s or alternately a random one affixed to railings on this side of the road. It reminds me of the jolt when a boom becomes visible in a TV drama. This detail seems to locate the image within a framework as if my eye were hooked to it and left to roam back and forth across the snap. It looks like a mistake, or something untidy and somehow this connects, laterally, with the dilapidated state of the wall and its environs and denotes a tenderness and appreciation of looking at stuff, anything, and finding quality in it.
First part of the description of:
There are two figures in the bottom right hand corner of the photograph a man and a woman. Both have their back to the camera and are some distance away, perhaps the other side of the road. They seem unaware of being photographed and are engaged in some obscure action involving a cuddly toy. The man is white, slim and mid height with tousled mousey hair. His head is seen partially in profile and there is the suggestion of a beard without this being totally clear. It could be that his face is partially in shadow. He is wearing a blue and bright white striped shirt with short sleeves and blue trousers. The stripe in the t-shirt is cobalt blue and the trousers are a cerulean blue. He is wearing skate-type sneakers with a white sole. I imagine the sneakers are navy because this would make sense with the rest of his outfit but it is possible the sneakers are black. She is white, slightly heavier and mid-height with dark brown hair. Her hair is in a ponytail and, as her head is partially turned towards the man, I can make out a longish fringe that probably reaches her eyebrows and may be even slightly longer. She is wearing a navy, scoop neck fitted sailor top. It has two white stripes that follow the neck around; I imagine they trace a line back to the front but it may have folded lapels or some other nautical detailing. She is wearing a bright white 1950’s style circle skirt which emphasises her waist and hips and she has on some very simple sandals, probably flip flops in a nude leather or plastic. There may be diamante detailing on the sandals. I read the man and the woman as a couple because their outfits compliment each other so perfectly. I think the woman is probably the fashion leader in the couple and I would suggest that she has the prior interest in a retro-styled look. The man has done the minimum to show, if not 1950’s cool, at least a nod to the period detailing of the woman’s outfit. It is possible that the woman shopped for or assisted the man in choosing his outfit, or that they chose the items together when they woke up that morning. The cuddly toy reveals an alternate point of reference between the couple. It encapsulates something unseen, perhaps a child. In purely visual terms the toy is white so it matches both their outfits. The toy is also a literal link between the couple as both of them have their hand directly on it; she is giving it to him and he is at the point of receiving it. She is poised standing as if she has waited for him to catch her up and he is mid stride as if, after catching her up, he is turning to take the toy somewhere else. This is the moment when a crisis is averted and there is only some perfunctory legwork to do to make everything right.
After a slight hiatus during which I prepared, was interviewed and gained a place on the Fine Art MA at Central Saint Martins and Josh has been overwhelmingly busy with work… I think we are back and moving forward again. It feels like ages since i made a post but its only really been a couple of weeks.
I’ve got really excited about the possibility of describing Josh’s photographs with words and I’ve started today.
The descrition runs to approx 1200 words so I will have to split it over two posts. I haven’t included Josh’s photograph here as I think the words need to speak for themselves and become something different to the photograph.