Monday, May 17, 2010

(Un)Mixed Income

Not far from here, a utopia was conceived. A mixed income community, with high-income houses and low-income houses, was designed, with the utopian idea that the affluence would trickle down as people in the same community interacted. This idea is common among urban development, and can be seen in cities across the world, including several places here in Oberlin.
But, as all utopias must, this community has fallen into dystopia. Many of the large, expensive houses are empty and for sale. Across the street, the dollar store remains the only business; the rest of the strip remains empty. Only shadows of the rich are here, their money goes to other places; their presence is not felt. In the puddle’s reflection is the apartment building. Where the rich are present, the less affluent community is ephemeral, and stepped on, marginalized.
Though this is a bleak perspective, it is not without hope. Rather, this is a call for revision, for rethinking and re-imagining. If a progressive move towards equality can happen any where, Oberlin is a good seeding ground for it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gabriele Chiapparini

Faces of Coal At Oberlin

Mike, Will, Ed, Patrick, Diane, and Bill, at work in the Oberlin Central Heating Plant.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Kohl Building Celebration

Stevie Wonder

More to come. Pipo, will you forgive my somewhat thin blog if there are photos of Stevie Wonder?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mapping: Escape

On a bike ride mid-autumn, I passed a decrepit looking house, with an orange “no trespassing” sign on the front. I immediately decided that I wanted to photograph this house, in the snow, at night. Fast-forward a semester to last week, when Grace and I drove around northern Oberlin, looking for abandonment to photograph. When we passed this house, we decided to get out and check it out. Though I was planning to just scope out the outside to photograph in darkness, when we were looking around and photographing it, we found the back door unlocked. With a resounding, “I don’t want to go in there, but I must,” we entered the house, finding a strange scene around us.

This series maps an abandoned house. The house is left in an eerie state of desertion; with clothing, paperwork, harmonicas, and photographs left strewn around. The series focuses on points of exit: the windows. It begs the questions left unanswered: who, why, when. Elusive shadows suggest presence where emptiness and entropy prevail. The images lack space in time; no appliances, styles or objects date the escape.

Though the windows allow depart, they are, for the most part, hindered with blinds, shades and broken glass. The view is brighter outside than in, but almost to the point of blinding bleakness.

Emulation: American Family

The concept for this series changed several times throughout the process. I was struck originally by a photo in Philip diCorcia’s series, “A Storybook Life.” I decided to photograph a family using this photo as inspiration. I biked to Bryce Rapp’s home, and asked him if I could photograph his family in their natural environment. The next Sunday, I returned with my camera, with a revised idea. I had decided to document the family more in the style of Sally Mann. However, when I got there, I realized I needed to familiarize the children with my camera and me, so I just casually photographed them and played with them simultaneously in their backyard. Towards the end of the shoot, Bryce invited me into his home, where we had coffee and made plans for future partnerships. He also told me, “my house is your house,” and said I could come by whenever I needed a dose of family, or a home-cooked meal.
When I made contact sheets for my first shoot, what was most striking was how elementally American the photos were. My shots were filled with the essence of Middle America: chickens, barns, tire swings, jeeps, and corn. This clearly had to be the focus of my project. I went back to shoot again, and interacted in much the same way; playing basketball and kickball with the five children.
My project is an emulation of Sally Mann. Although many of the things people associate with Mann’s work is not in this series, it has them same task. Mann states that her photographs are "of my children living their lives here too,” and my series is of these children living their lives in rural Ohio. Like Mann’s “Immediate Family,” my series is a documentation of a family in their natural setting. The tones and vignette also echo Sally Mann’s prints.