Bond Street & 64th Street, Southwest Corner

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Field notes"

I don’t want to get caught up in the conceptual Vegematic here but I thought a few words about “field notes” might be in order despite the risk of sliced fingers.

Of course, the New York in Plain Sight photos themselves can be regarded as a kind of “field notes,” though that wasn’t my intention per se in taking them. Or was it?

I did keep a project journal during the 2006 shooting — readers of the first round of posts will have gotten a sense of what that's like — which isn’t the same thing as keeping field notes, mostly because during the shooting itself there was no time to be making notes and also because there was so much work to do with each day’s take afterwards that even the project journal notes were often pretty minimal.

On the other hand, now, starting to go through the New York in Plain Sight photos as if they, and not their subject directly, were the object of study (tricky, that — let’s just see how it goes), the process of looking at them, of trying to see whatever it is that there is to see in them, what thoughts they prompt, and how those thoughts hang together across a whole bunch of them, possibly even all of them, is a project in its own right, and it makes sense to me, at this point, to start keeping "field notes" on looking at them, just as I might have made such notes instead of photographs (or in addition to photographs) but didn’t at the time I took the pictures.

And why bother?

Because the exercise — the discipline, even — of writing, even of jotting, of putting into words the experience of looking is a first step in abstracting from the virtually infinite amount of detail in the photographs themselves and getting at a explicitly conceptual understanding of what emerges as “of interest” (at least to me) as a result of having a close look at the pictures with precisely this result in mind.

So we’ll see ….

No comments:

Post a Comment