The idea was to show the area I remember best. The area that shapped me. The people that shaped me. However, the area is not the same as I remember it. I may never know an area in such detail, but in actual fact, now I hardly know this area at all.
It was all about the beginning. The start. The people, the places, that took a bare, mouldable item and changed it. The houses all started the same – I guess the kids did too. We were all made at much the same time, had the same chances, the same start, and we made choices. Those choices led us all in different directions. Maybe their families made choices for them. Later, people made choices about how they changed their houses, individualised them. Each house is now different as each kid is now different. I remember the street, my parents still live there.
This is the road on which I was shaped and grew up. These were the houses of the people I knew. When I walk down the road, despite the changes, I still see the kid that lived there. Not as he is now, but as he was then.
I wanted to include text, not simply to explain the difference between the houses, because in many ways the houses don’t matter, they are only symbols of the people in those houses that mattered. Some of the families may still there today, I am not totally sure, and that wasn’t important anyway. I don’t know the people today, I know them 30 years ago. I don’t know how those kids turned out, I don’t know where they live now or what they do. I only knew them then. But their houses remain, and from that I still see the kid that lived there. Not as he is now, but as he was then.
Some cars are featured in the images. I had mixed feelings about this. Initially I tried to avoid having cars in the shots. However I came to realise that the cars were an important reflection of the changing landscape of the road. When I was young and we played on the street, we could have a whole football pitch on the road, tennis court during Wimbledon, race track during the Olympics – all on the bare patches of the road. Now cars sit out on the street, or parked in paved drives (the grass is almost all gone). Kids don’t play on the street anymore, there is no room to play anyway. So for me the cars are another representation of the restriction on the kids and part of the change as a whole.
I hand wrote the text because I felt that was more personal. Everything in them is personal – only personal recollections. They are not facts but they are honest. They are not structured passages, spelling may be wrong, there are words missing, handwriting stuttered and rough as normal. They are short notes of memory – 1 guy I couldn’t even remember his surname. Some are important issues, most aren’t. Some may even be ‘mis-rememberings’. But they are what I remember.
The images are in colour because I was born in a colour age, the area is a ‘modern’ construction – there is no reason for them to be black and white. The aim was to take them in an objective, unpopulated way.
Presentation – they are formatted in a 1:1 square – then combined. This was partly an attempt to reduce the bredth of the image which at times was showing too much ‘neighbours’. I wanted a uniformity in the images – so they are all the same size. It was also then to share importance with the text. The text is photographed so that it shares importance.
Technical approach was rather cold and aloof, targeting a quite banal personal subject. I probably would have prefered each image to be shot from the front flat on. But this wasn’t quite possible. Plus I was nabbed twice by neighbours while taking the pictures, which I don’t handle very well. I need to really be more confident with this issue. Because of this I started taking rather surreptitious shots, which were badly framed etc. But I got the images I needed and sorted framing in post production. Handwritten note images were taken at home with tripod etc.
I enjoyed the project. I enjoyed the thought process involved in structuring the project, reading potential influences, deciding what I would shoot, how I would shoot it, how I would present the project etc. Within the documentation we are instructed to complete the assignement ASAP and that it was primarily diagnostic, but I wanted to take it further – approach it as a proper project. Because of this it took a little longer than necessary, but was enjoyable and really got my mind back to working in a productive artistic manner. I would like to have achieved a straight on Becher like shot on each house, but this wasn’t possible, so I have learnt to live with the varied images.