Monday, November 2, 2009

Project 29

The final project in the "Element of Design" course segment called for a series of photographs pulling together each of the design elements from Projects 17-28.  From the list of suggested groups of subjects I have selected street details, but very specifically constrained myself to locating the effects within a very finite part of the city.  This would have two benefits, the first would be that the images should have stronger coherency and the second that I am forced to work in a limited area with what I find there.  The second element is also a challenge as not all effects are readily found and visualized in one area.  I also chose this approach as it made the project into a type of assignment to visually illustrate a specific theme or area.

The area I selected is St. Jakobs Platz, very close to the historic center of Munich.  St. Jakobs Platz contains the main synagogue for Munich as well as the new Jewish museum,  Both buildings are recent and visually very striking, situated close to buildings dating back 300 or more years, one of which houses the Munich city museum. On the other side of the Platz are a number of ultra modern office blocks, hiding a very remarkable piece of modern sculpture.  These contrasting building styles coupled with the Nazi history so synonymous with Munich made this a fascinating place to explore and document.  The photograph below is a wide angle shot showing the Munich city museum on the left and the synagogue on the right

The limitation I placed on myself was to capture all of the images within the platz or adjacent building complexes, without crossing any streets.  My first challenge was that I was photographing on Saturday morning, the jewish sabbath, and attracted the attention of the local police, who were not happy with me taking photographs. After some discussion it was clear that there was no legal issue, more one of avoiding offense.  They suggested that I go into the Jewish center adjacent to the Platz and ask if it would be OK to shoot their.  No problem, they said. My first reaction was indignation, but thinking about it a little more I realized that this was a sensitive area and given Munich's history and a few incidents of far right attacks on Jewish property simply meant that the police wanted to ensure that everybody was respected and respectful.

I have decided to show a few examples of each effect, not just 1 of each.

single point dominating the composition

Within the area of the square points were difficult to find.  One possibility would have been to photograph people arriving at the synagogue walking across the open empty square, but I felt this was intrusive and the police would really not be too happy.  Surrounding the area of the synagogue are retractable barriers to prevent any vehicles accessing the square - terrorism is very much on peoples minds here.  My first point is the shining red light on the top of the bollard framed in front of the synagogue

Another very strong point was provided by the blue top of a roundabout at a childrens playground, provided as part of the cafe in the jewish museum.  Framed against teh red brick wall this was a very strong point

2 points

There was no obvious pair of points so I was reduced to re-framing my one point with two of the bollards, not the most creative image, but in fact the composition is stronger with the two bollards

several points in a deliberate shape

Continuing a more and more tenuous thread here are several bollards forming a line, but this image illustrates neatly the contrast of modern elements and historical buildings - many locals were not pleased with this mixture of architectural styles in an old historic area.

Another group of points was provided by the water spouts of a fountain switched off for the winter, forming a series of lines

This image would also work as a an example of an implied triangle.  An alternate view is the following, showing greater detail, although the points no longer have an obvious pattern

a combination of horizontal and vertical lines

The architecture of the synagogue is very stark, huge slabs of stone make up the walls, I was unsure whether to crop this closer.

The door to the synagogue also presents a great study in perpendicular lines, however, the door way is not very inviting


The square contained several diagonal elements, the following was provided by the overlapping roof lines of the adjacent city museum

Directly opposite the upper structure of the synagogue comprises a large square metal frame with diagonal bracers, to which I will return later

Another great diagonal was provided by a seesaw in the children's playground, this one containing a spirit level to add a small educational element and some more fund to an otherwise traditional children's pass time


I was able to find a number of different curves within the area of the square, the first is a detail of the first image representing a point

Within the innenhof of an adjacent apartment complex was a spiral fire escape

Just outside the Platz one of the medieval towers still remaining in Munich produced a dramatic juztaposition with the and steel of a new building

distinct, even if irregular, shapes

I was really struggling with this item, until wandering through the gateway into an office complex I was confronted with the following remarkable shape.

The polished silver surface reflected the buildings around it, almost seeming to distort the space it occupied.  No matter what angle I found I was almost always reflected within the sculpture, very obviously in the next image

Or even many times

This object contained so many different angles, symmetries, and reflections, that it was a real challenge to photograph, I think I will be back with more time and better weather.

at least 2 kinds of implied triangles

Using a forced perspective and taking advantage of the stark facade of the modern buildings I created the following two images

I am afraid that I misinterpreted this part of the brief and focused on images of real rather than implied triangles.  Looking through the images I took I had the following two implied tirangles, the first created by the sky lights in a roof

The second by 3 red chairs stacked in a group of white ones


Returning to the ever useful bollards, the following two images were created to provide a sense of rhythm.  The black bollards topped with the bright red light facinated me, the second of these two images is my favorite of the shoot

The wall of the synagogue also exhibited a strong rhythm, but one that has a random element generated by the rough edges of the stonework, not as strong as the previous image, but compelling


The final effect, pattern, was again a challenge to find within the square, the first example was a pile of stone cannon balls in the Munich museum, cemented together in a matrix

My final image returns to the edifice of the synagogue at the heart of St. Jakobs Platz.  Topping the gaunt stone walls is a lattice work of diagonal forms, combining to create overlapping Stars of David is viewed from the correct angle.  Originally I thought of this as an image depicting diagonals, but the multiple triangles receding into the structure of the roof provide a sense of repeated pattern in 3 dimensional space.

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