I went out with the small digital camera again yesterday and reshot some of my previous ideas. I went out at about 5 o clock to take advantage again of the long shadows and also decided to revisit the Westgate.
First I made some photographs in tribute to the great American street photographer Lee Friedlander;
Lee Friedlander’s ominous shadow in New York City
My own slightly less ominous shadow in Oxford
Then I discovered a way to get very weird interesting results by accident. I took a photo while holding the camera by my side, thus shooting from the hip. Then I realised this could be used to take photographs with a degree of secrecy, and furthermore the effect of shooting from a lower height massively increases the effects of perspective.
Shooting from the hipness
Then I went back to the Westgate site. The light was much better and from my previous days shooting I had a much clearer idea of what I wanted. I focussed much more on the relationship between the site and the surroundings, the scale of the cranes, and above all the contrast between the architectural forms in the area.
Inner city chimneys meet huge cranes; the time of day meant many forms were reduced to silhouette
I particularly liked this shot in which the crane appears to be physically interacting with the 1970s house; the aerial and the mast of the crane meet one another and the concrete forms block together
While I hadn’t previously considered it this study of architecture also has an affinity with Gordon Matta-Clark’s “Anarchitecture” projects during the 1970s, and especially Richard Nickel, a Chicago based photographer who took pictures of the demolition of older architectural styles in Chicago during the 1960s.
Richard Nickel- Demolition of the First Regiment Infantry Armory, Chicago 1967
Panorama of site and part of a housing estate very literally next door
I hope some of these photographs have captured the genuine strangeness of this part of Oxford. Photographing from street level may not have captured just how large the building site and just how close it is to two housing estates. At the very least I think some of the photographs are interesting aesthetically, and make a comment about the slow demolition of an older UK; presumably once the shopping centre, which will be a kind of glass palace, is finished, there will be an even stranger contrast in architectural styles.