Transport & Travelling A2 Photography Exam 2012
Photographers such as Paul Strand, Jacques-HenriLartigue and Walker Evans have recorded aspectsof transport and travelling.Vehicles and travellershave been captured in distinctive ways. Considerrelevant examples and produce a personalresponse.
Paul Strand Wall Street 1915What strikes you as interesting and/or unusual about this image?What ideas about city life are communicated to us?
Paul Strand From the El 1915Strand incorporated abstractingcompositional techniques into hiswork, marrying the new language ofgeometric surface design to hisinterest in street life and machineculture.Strands vision of the city oftenfocuses on the problematicexchange between the sweep andrigor of the urban grid with thehuman lives that inhabit and passthrough it. From the El is a goodexample of this dialectical approach,with the graphic power of theironwork and street shadowspunctuated by the tiny, lonepedestrian at the upper right. Strandaddresses the effects of the newurban condition obliquely here,embedding a subtle politicalstatement within the formalstructure of the image.
Paul Strand From the El 1915 Berenice Abbott El at Columbus Avenue and Broadway c. 1935-39Compare and contrast these images of the transport network in NewYork City taken 20 years apart.
Paul Strand Wire Wheel 1917Skyscrapers and machines -quintessential symbols of modernlife in the early twentieth century -were among Strands last subjects.Duchamp and Picabia hadintroduced machines into Americanart when they arrived in New Yorkin 1915, and automobiles capable ofgoing ﬁfty miles an hour wereeverywhere. "Just at the present thesole ambition seems to be to rollabout, day in and day out, everymoment in [these] machines.Literally a rolling around in thepresent symbol of wealth," AlfredStieglitz noted. Strand, interested inmechanics and cars since childhood,made photographs with thesensuousness of a youth running hishand over the voluptuous fenders ofhis dream machine.
Jacques-Henri Lartigue“He caught memorableimages out of the ﬂux of lifewith the skill and style of agreat natural athlete - a visualathlete to whom the bestgame of all was that of seeingclearly.”John SzarkowskiHow has the photographerchosen to represent themotor car in these images?What has he found excitingand technically challenging?
Walker Evans Subway Portrait: SixteenWomen, New York, 1938-41,assembled 1959“[Walker Evans intuited] the afﬁnitybetween the modern artist and thesecret agent – both of them intrepidobservers and recorders, purveyors ofinside information and codedmessages, peripatetic voyeurs whoembrace alienation as an occupationalhazard.”Mia Fineman“I’m not interested in people in theportrait sense, in the individual sense.I’m interested in people as part of thepictures and as themselves, butanonymous.”Walker Evans
“With the camera, its all or nothing.You either get what youre after at once, or what you do has to be worthless. I dont think the essence of photography has the hand in it so much. The essence is done very quietly with a ﬂash of the mind, and with a machine. I think too that photography is editing, editing after the taking. After knowing what to take, you have to do the editing.” Walker Evans, 1971Walker EvansGirl in Fulton Street, New York, 1929
These images are from Robert Frank’s series,From the Bus, New York 1958. The images weretaken from the window of a bus as it drovethrough NYC.Sometimes photographers impose an externaldiscipline on their image making.How has Robert Frank approached thisproject?
Joel Meyerowitz London (Plane andElephant) 1966This image was taken from a carwindow. What has interested thephotographer?Joel Meyerowitz New York City 1975This is one of Meyerowitz’ colour streetphotographs. making sense of the chaosof street life is a challenge for thephotographer.What patterns can you observe in thisstreet photograph that help to give theimage coherence?
Lee FriedlanderRoute 9W, New York1969NEW YORK, NY.- Enduring icons of American culture, the car and the highway remain vitalas auguries of adventure and discovery, and a means by which to take in the countrys vastscale. Lee Friedlander is the ﬁrst photographer to make the car an actual "form" for makingphotographs. Driving across most of the countrys 50 states in an ordinary rental car,Friedlander applied the brilliantly simple conceit of deploying the sideview mirror, rearviewmirror, the windshield and the side windows as a picture frame within which to record thecountrys eccentricities and obsessions at the turn of the century. This method allows forfascinating effects in foreshortening, and wonderfully telling juxtapositions in which steeringwheels, dashboards and leatherette bump up against roadside bars, motels, churches,monuments, suspension bridges, landscapes and often Friedlanders own image, via sideviewmirror shots.
Leonard Freed - New York City 1956This arresting image gains most of its impactfrom the low angled viewpoint and almostmusical arrangement of ﬁgures picked outagainst the cityscape beyond. Pattern is alsoimportant, creating a powerful graphic rhythmacross the picture surface.How has the photographer organised thecomposition of this image?Why is his chosen viewpoint so effective?Why is the image so dynamic?
Ray Metzker Untitled 1966-7This seemingly abstractcomposition is actuallyconstructed from a series ofstreetscapes made in Chicago.The tall buildings and relativelynarrow streets provided thephotographer with bold tonalpatterns which he has furtheremphasised by arranging theimages together. Close up, theindividual images are clearlylegible.You can see thepedestrians and cars movingthrough the city. Further away,the big picture is more abstractbut equally satisfying.
Some questions to ask yourself:How do you feel when you are a particular mode of transport?What is it like to go on a journey?How do people travel in the city and what is the experience like forthe traveller and the observer?What techniques can you employ to capture the dynamism andmotion of travelling at speed?Why do we travel? Make a list of all the journeys you make in aweek, month, year...How does the mode of transport affect your experience oftravelling?