In the search for further inspiration and progression with my research project and portfolio I have been looking at various reading materials. Here is a critique of two books I have recently viewed which have had an impact on my assignments.
Punk House – Interiors in Anarchy. Photography by Abby Banks, edited by Thurston Moore. Abrams Image, New York – 2007.
Punk House is a very intense and vibrant visual display of Timothy Findlen’s three-month tour of the punk houses of America. During his tour he played music at shows to try and earn more money in order to fund the trip. Banks’s role was to document the places they stayed, the people they met and the lifestyle they lived, if not endured during this time. A great photo-documentary project they visited sixty-five houses and she recorded over six thousand images originally.
Punk houses themselves are usually group houses, very similar to squats in the UK. They are usually uninhabitable and certainly have no regards to the conventions of modern society. There is certainly no concern or value on safety, hygiene or cleanliness within the facilities.
The images are visually chaotic and display cluttered rooms full of junk and dirt. You can spend some time staring at the images individually to pick out details and question just some of the reasoning behind the state of the locations. Everything is scrappy and pieced together. The colours and tone of the images really communicate the disorganised chaos and the dark and dismal quality of the facilities contained within the houses. Most images contain a vast amount of visual references to music, records, tapes, posters, flyers and artwork or lyrics all from the historical origins of punk.
Moore, Thurston (2007). Punk House – Interiors in Anarchy. New York: Abrams Image. 78 & 79.
The houses have names such as ‘fuck pit’, ‘chicken house’, ‘down house’ and ‘nightmare collective’ and I feel this really demonstrates the way in which these places are respected and treated. There is clearly a complete disregard for rules or structure, the perfect example of traditional punk values. The appearance of vast amounts of books is prevalent throughout the book. A sign of knowledge and education this creates a somewhat juxtaposed image from what society would expect people who inhabit a punk house to be.
Moore, Thurston (2007). Punk House – Interiors in Anarchy. New York: Abrams Image. 158 & 159.
The concept of living art really gels with the punk rock ideology. The author refers to the experience at the end of the book commenting that there were “friendships as strong as families” (Moore, Thurston, 2007). When you reflect on this it becomes apparent that despite the visual creativity those living here may not have chosen this path themselves and it becomes difficult to judge one’s circumstances when this representation of values could be their way of taking hold of a negative situation, giving them a better life. Punk rock may well be a reaction to bad circumstances or their being outcast by society or the family unit. It may well be a personal choice or their chosen calling. It would have been great to read some of the stories or see transcripts of interviews as I can imagine they must have seen some sights and heard some incredible stories.
“I think Punk embraces imperfection” (Banks, Abby, 2007)
Seeing the images in this book and reading the words of Baker above it has reaffirmed that my images do not need to be technically perfect. If anything, the imperfections I am experiencing with Instax film merely adds to the raw/edgy quality of the subject matter.
To further my investigation in visual storytelling I also looked at the book ‘The Sound I Saw’.
The Sound I Saw, Improvisation on a Jazz Theme. Decarava, Roy. London: Phaidon, 2001.
It is described as a pictorial representation of the music of jazz. Decarava’s aim was to convey everything a jazz fan senses when exposed to jazz music. Jazz music is about hardships and personal experiences and he chose to portray the sound of jazz through a collection of street images, rural landscapes and portraiture and text.
Decarava, Roy (2001). The Sound I Saw – Improvisation on a Jazz Theme. London: Phaidon. 10 & 11.
I find his use of text periodically throughout the book leads you to view the piece in its entirety rather than just flick through. His images are from the early 1960’s but I believe they were compiled and supported by the written text for the book in 2001 for release.
Decarava, Roy (2001). The Sound I Saw – Improvisation on a Jazz Theme. London: Phaidon. 130 & 131.
It is an interesting piece and a piece of historical importance due to its social commentary and documentation of the civil rights struggle. It transpires that Decarava was the first black photographer to receive the Guggenheim fellowship.
Decarava, Roy (2001). The Sound I Saw – Improvisation on a Jazz Theme. London: Phaidon. 30 & 31.
The pieces are incredibly strong and I can imagine viewing the book whilst hearing jazz music would only reinforce its message and culturally absorb the viewer. I have taken inspiration from its layout and his use of text throughout the pages, however I do now need to think about how this technique can be applied for a different genre.
Here is a peek at which books I am currently reading for progression and inspiration. A review will be coming shortly as I prepare my proposal and my final portfolio for this module.