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Art Theory: Idea workshop. Warning, not the truth here, just a venture. Examining what makes an image worthy of saving and what it does for us.

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Old March 26th, 2010, 11:09 AM
Ken Tanaka Ken Tanaka is offline
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Metropolis

Hello Folks!

Those here who are familiar with me know that I am a strong proponent of pursuing projects with cameras. The 1-off snap is fine but the real fulfillment potential comes from using the camera as a tool for creating a body of work anchored around a conceptual visual objective. Such projects need not be lengthy; they can be a single day. But I think that the best things happen when you're focused on a broader goal. (Pun intended.)

Ambling academic preamble aside, I am always in the midst of several such projects. Here I'd like to call attention to one rather long-term project that I've titled "Metropolis". My general goal with this project has been to construct a montage of the 21st century urban American environment with a wide variety of image subjects, actively trying to avoid clichė. The opening statement fills-out the conceptual basis for this collection, which currently encompasses just over 80 images captured over approximately five years. (My goal is to grow the collection to 130-140 images, and I'm currently still working on the assembly of the collection.)

My objectives in posting this project here are two-fold. First, I always appreciate comments and reactions to my work -- positive and/or critical -- so feel free to give me your reactions either here or as comments in the gallery. The work is not yet done but there's enough to enable you to see where I'm heading.

Secondly, however, I want to encourage others to use their photographic interests to also pursue projects rather than simply walk-about snaps. Spring (in the Norther Hemisphere) is here so back away from the keyboard and hit the shutter button! A project can be big or small, need not require any travel expense, and doesn't even necessarily require that you leave your home! (This past week I did a series of Polaroids of tableware and glass beads arranged on a bamboo serving tray in my kitchen!)

So get to it!

Addendum: If you view this work on a notebook computer I encourage you to use Zenfolio's "Slideshow" feature. It's terrific for viewing this collection on small screens and enables you to also view the titles, when available. Note also that if you're interested in following this collection as I build it (which is happening daily) please use the RSS feed button (located at the bottom left of the gallery main page next to the copyright) to create a bookmark for being notified of new images.
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Old March 26th, 2010, 11:26 AM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Hi Ken,

Just a placeholder that I am going to spend some quality time with your project before I can truly comment on it. I have taken a quick look at the collection, some of the pictures were familiar and some new ones. The level of quality is impeccable, as we have come to expect it from you. My initial impression, if I may mention it already, is that the subjects are predominantly clean and they lean on the welfare/positive side of life. I see nothing wrong with this. I just wonder how this ties in with your stated goals in your introduction:
Quote:
...Here I present a collection of images portraying some of the many facets of 21st century metropolitan life. Its relentless movement, its garishness, its grotesquely beautiful underbelly, its paradoxical simultaneous intimacy and loneliness, and its care-less muscularity...
Accordingly, if it is your goal to create a balanced impression of the metropolitan life, the collection might need find the right balance as well. But you are still assembling it and are just past the midway post, so a lot can and shall happen. Looking forward to continuing this at a later time.

BTW, I totally agree with what you wrote about the value of photography projects and the need to go out and shoot.

Cheers,
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Old March 26th, 2010, 04:34 PM
Ken Tanaka Ken Tanaka is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cem_Usakligil View Post
Hi Ken,
...

My initial impression, if I may mention it already, is that the subjects are predominantly clean and they lean on the welfare/positive side of life. I see nothing wrong with this. I just wonder how this ties in with your stated goals in your introduction:
Cem,
Thank you for your excellent fly-over impression. Indeed, although the images in the collection thus far span four cities (most are in Chicago) they are mostly from downtown settings. My goal is not to portray a balanced view of city life's best and worst, or to document its breadth, per se. Rather, I'm trying to capture little beauties and ambiguities seen daily.

But that aside, you're completely correct in that the collection needs a bit more grime, which I think I can provide in this home-stretch of assembly.

Thanks very much for your quick reaction, Cem. That's exactly what I was hoping to get.
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Old March 26th, 2010, 04:50 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Tanaka View Post
Cem,
Thank you for your excellent fly-over impression. Indeed, although the images in the collection thus far span four cities (most are in Chicago) they are mostly from downtown settings. My goal is not to portray a balanced view of city life's best and worst, or to document its breadth, per se. Rather, I'm trying to capture little beauties and ambiguities seen daily.

But that aside, you're completely correct in that the collection needs a bit more grime, which I think I can provide in this home-stretch of assembly.

Thanks very much for your quick reaction, Cem. That's exactly what I was hoping to get.
Hi Ken,

Glad I could help, however briefly it may be. But I am hoping to come back to you with more feedback after a deserved study of your project. I kind of concluded what your goals could have been and thanks for confirming the fact that you are not trying to portray the best and the worst across the whole spectrum. I think that the balance is not far off after all, as you say it might need just some tweaks here and there.

Cheers,
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Old March 26th, 2010, 10:28 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Again, Ken, just a place-marker as I have not even done a flyby!

However, I strongly commend to everyone the path that you have taken of "Project Orientated Photography as it is likely the most effective way of answering questions people constantly pose about purpose, style, inspiration, meanings and more. Can "Project-Orientated Photography" be such a panacea for these torturing and paralytic questions? I think so. Most issues are not as difficult and unmanageable as one might fear. "Don't think: try" is one of my personal mottos and having a defined project and then trying to fulfill it's mission works out almost all the real and imagined problems and one learns on the job about the project, photograph and oneself.

So just on the example you and Cem set on giving yourself a defined project, thanks.

Asher
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Old March 28th, 2010, 04:33 AM
Rachel Foster Rachel Foster is offline
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Some of those are truly breath taking.
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