It’s a long time since I put Assignment 1 to one side in January 2016, intending to come back to it and do extensive re-shoots after a suitable pause. I reckoned that this would be sometime in the autumn of 2016 when the shops’ lights would be on as the sun set, reducing the contrast between inside and out.
But of course, by the time that autumn 2016 came round the context of this piece of work – predicated upon the idea that it would be ridiculous to think that anyone could see Eastern European shops offering anything other than an enhancement to any high street – had changed somewhat!
After the Brexit vote, it seemed a bit pointless to try to simply improve the technical quality of the images a bit and to let the implicit ‘message’ that no one was being ‘swamped’ speak for itself.
I had also never been quite certain whether the original online presentation (a typography-style layout of square photographs arranged to show “trad” English shops replaced by ones serving an eastern european market row by row contrasted with a second assembly, showing the heterogenous makeup of the actual high street) worked obviously enough. So, when it came to preparing my work for this assessment event, I have made a start on reshaping this assignment into something completely different. This is not a completed process and I will try and make the time to make a finished piece of work off to one side of my work on Identity and Place.
One of the things that was bubbling around in head when I started work on the original assignment was Edward Ruscha’s 1966 work Every Building on the Sunset Strip. This did exactly what it says in the title and showed both sides of LA’s Sunset Strip in a series of photographs taken from the back of a pickup truck (like a section of early google streetview, I suppose). The two sides of the street were printed with a white gutter down the middle of a long, concertina-ed piece of paper. If you turned the book over so the top became the bottom, the other side of the street (inverted on the paper) became the right way up. This seemed like a good way to demonstrate a contrast, as well as being a fitting return to the assignment that the direction my work has taken towards construction and conceptualism over the course the module.
So, I have made a long, thin composited image showing two sides of a street (one is more trad; the other peppered with Polish, Latvian and Romanian shops); both sides contain shops To Let – the economic climate is not good for anybody it would seem.
fig.1 : one side of the high street
Depending on which way up you have the image, you can read one of two captions/titles. On the trad side – which includes a sprinkling of West Indian and South Asian shops – you can read: “The vibrant character of east london has been built up over the years by wave upon wave of immigrants” (the original caption for the second series of pictures). On the other side the caption is taken from an interview with a brexit-voting member of the public aired on Radio 4’s Today: “The high street is no longer English; and the foreign people do not shop in English shops so the English shops will slowly die down as the Eastern European supermarkets expand”
fig 2 : the other side of the high street
This reworking is included here and much larger, high-resolution files (both ways up) are included in the g:drive space for this assessment event. They are called ph1can-512973-assessment-1.1.jpg & ph1can-512973-assessment-1.2.jpg.
The original assignment version is available as part of my log.
This is still a work in progress.
Tutor’s Report – Assignment 1
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