I wrote in my previous post about some of the technical aspects of shooting the Arena site, and added some ramblings about films and developers. I didn’t touch much on the artistic/aesthetic considerations there. So here goes.
I have always been drawn photographically to construction and demolition sites. I like the often-enormous scale of the bigger projects, with the opportunities for depicting both the massiveness of the place, as well as for delving into the smaller details among the refuse scattered there. Too, these sites represent a visually appealing mixture of chaos and order, positive and negative entropy. Fascinating.
Here’s a Google map of the Arena site. If you click on the blue tear-shaped “Humana” marker on the map, you’ll see a video of the building’s implosion, assuming doing so doesn’t crash your browser the way it did Firefox on my Mac. Caution: I found the video on YouTube, and the soundtrack is quite annoying:
Access is everything in shooting these sites, along with favorable lighting and a good sturdy tripod.In yesterday’s shoot, access was limited by high fences and/or busy streets along three sides of the site. Given that I was effectively limited to shooting the interior from the perimeter, the best vantage point was from the Ohio River bridge approach just to the northeast of the demolition (about where the emblem for US Highway 31 appears on the map just south of the bridge.) Although not ideal, it did give me an unobstructed line of sight onto the structures there. The resulting photographs will do for documentary purposes, but the jury’s out on their artistic merit.
As for shooting the detail stuff–not many alternatives unless I can get down into the site and kick around some. This, from a previous shoot at an iron foundry, is what I have in mind for detail shots:
Granted, I could always slip through that hole in the fence and poke around; but there was just a bit too much activity all around to make me feel comfortable doing so. I’m also not crazy—I don’t fancy taking a whack to the head from falling debris at a place I don’t know well and which is likely structurally suspect–they are, after all, tearing it down. Yeah, I wasn’t willing to suffer much for my art yesterday—gushers of sweat and lung-stuffing humidity notwithstanding.
I put up some images in the previous post that I think are OK as far as they go; but I’d like at least one more crack at the place. I may have to modify my long-held reluctance to get up early for anything other than an impending natural disaster, so that I can get some images with the sun at my back. I’d also really love to get actual unharrassed permission to be on the site and maybe even enter the building. I can just see the site foreman’s face when I ask for that. I’ll probably have to administer CPR.