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Judging how people use space effectively / photographing

June 2, 2010

So Jean and I were talking about my thesis the other day and she mentioned the primary research of photography. Not to be obnoxious, but little did she know, I am obsessed with photography as a research tool. I think the thing is, after my first major work (the Emerging Artist Residency project on the Beltline) I’ve gotten somewhat good at figuring out how I work and strategies for working better. And a while ago, it became clear to me that all my good projects had started with a simple process of documenting and cataloguing.

Since the fall, I’ve been trying to find a good thesis project. I’ve come a long way–most crucially in that became to me crystal clear that the general zone should be about the city and mapping (it seems obvious now, but before I was thinking about things like dance notation–an interesting project, still, but probably best for someone who knows much, much more about dance and the movements of the body than me.)

ANYWAYS. The first step of that is DOCUMENTING/CATALOGUING. I’ve been thinking for a while about where to start–and I know, at some point you just have to dive in–about what to document. So I’d actually been sniffing around for a project in NY since the fall, and had been unable to find anything, and most recently have been zeroing in on public space. I decided to dive in on Friday and started photographing public spaces in NY–but the thing is, the photographs showed nothing. As in, it was totally unclear where the space was being used effectively or not, at least in NYC. (The clearest indication of an unused public space would be I guess an abandoned plaza, with trash, on a nice day, and maybe some indication of activity in the background??)

So I sort of put the brakes on that project (I had only been doing it for a day, and very unsystematically). But I’ve been thinking–what if this is the problem? How to judge if people are using public space well or not?

I think this is sort of interesting.

Anyways I am going to take that book out of the library, Public/Private Spaces in NYC (which I took out in December) and see where it gets me.

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