WORK 25 / CONTEXT / PHOTOS

PHOTOS 01/12 When outdoor I take photos of details that particularly surprise me. For example I could be walking in a big city and suddenly notice a young woman standing in a lotus position on top of a abandoned bridge. Surprises could also occur in more natural settings; I could be walking in the frozen Dutch landscape when a wallaby could start jumping just in front of me. The latter did actually occurred and I managed to photograph the animal that escaped from a farm. I use a compact camera to zoom into the detail and photograph it using a 16:9 format. These details then can be architectural or concerning humans or animals or natural phenomena at large. The pictures thus range from a homeless begging for food outside a metro station or a bird seating on the roof of an abandoned villa. Every month I take up to 36 photos and place them together in a single .pdf file (Fig. Zoomed picture I took in Asiago, my home town in the Italian alps. In this case I am provoked by the tourists pouring in my native highland with expensive cars and expensive clothes in a way disrupting the rather frugal characters of the local folk. Rather than screaming out loud my indignation I simply document it. In other works however I might actually speak out for example by writing an essay. In this respect a rather bitter and incriminating essay can be supported by the very pictures I take).

PHOTOS 02/12 Originally I experimented with compiling the resulting photos of every year in a video where each photo is shown every one second. A classic symphony like G Minor by Tomaso Albinoni was added to create empathy towards an otherwise frigid reality. Later I experimented with labeling each image by giving them a unique name describing them. The filename of each image would then provide a set of keywords to make the images retrievable. I could them make use of them to support my essays which originally were meant more as newspaper articles with each paragraph supported by an image relating to it. In this respect a lot of the early pictures were also taken in order to suit these paragraphs. They constituted and “intranet” I edited in the many dull hours attending academic seminars. This idea however was soon dropped to maintain like for all the other works of this project a more chronological order accepting that these pictures are simply casual without the sort of rule based generation that my other photographic project depicting all the object I use with the right hand has. Hence these pictures are good in the traditional sense of providing an insight on the background in which I operate (Fig. Screenshot of my laptop while seating at a seminar investing my time renaming images with the now discarded idea of using them consistently in my essays).

PHOTOS 03/12 Already prior to the starting of the project in 2004 I intensively used photography in order to map out the reality I was experiencing. This idea came to me already in 2000 as a way to interpret my dreams. Back then I noticed that my dreams were pretty much correlated to the very things I would rather subconsciously experience in the previous day. In this respect photographing became for me the way to keep aware of my surrounding. I could in turn see how it affected my subconscious and then see how in turn my subconscious developed new ideas that could potentially affect back reality (Fig. Diagram of an ideal setup I wanted to achieve to keep track of both my conscious and my subconscious. This diagram was one of many I had devised prior the beginning of the project in 2004. The using of a camera was for me a temporary solution. My objective was in fact to later develop a more embedded system like a wearable computer. This system became only an ideal and I pretty quickly learned how to juggle with different devices making use of my own human faculties to know when it is time to undertake one or another form of documentation. This project shows the faculties that a human being can develop, human faculties that the rise of artificial intelligence might compromise).

PHOTOS 04/12 So far the camera I use to take zoom photos of what provokes my sensibility while outdoor is the heaviest piece of equipment I carry about. As it is also used to film the various aspects of my practice this very work of taking zoom photos has never been documented. It is perhaps too casual of a work to anyway do so. The cameras adopted are mostly Sony Cyber Shot compact cameras of the lowest kind adhering to the idea that street photography should be in fact made with low-budget cameras. It perhaps also reflects a trend that based on the homonym 1960s contemporary art movement could be called “Arte Povera Digitale”. I am always able to carry a cheap and not too heavy compact camera in the front pocket of my pouch. It is quite cheap and I don't have to worry about it also knowing that anyhow within a year or two the slight particle of dust can compromise the zoom mechanism. Throughout the years I have mostly took images using the 20 times optic. At one point I also got an upgrade of the camera and experimented using optical zooms that can reach up to 30 times (Fig. Photo taken by my girlfriend while walking with my kids in our Dutch village. In this spontaneous photo my equipment is revealed with the camera on the front pouch adding quite some weight to my waist often resulting in me recurrently having to pull up my pants).

PHOTOS 05/12 I am always very discreet when taking photos. Often times to avoid provoking anyone I take my photos from their back or at least wait that he or she or they turn his or her or their backs at me. In this respect I was never told off about my photographing while with all my other image based works like my photographing of my hand and the filming of public places, works that are not meant to include anyone or depict anyone, I have been several told off times. In this work I undertake a more classic kind of documentation which is however vital in providing not so much a depiction of my reality but a depiction of abnormalities within it or anyway things that capture my attention and are not at all part of a usual situation. With my tracking works I depict a quite normal reality as it evolves throughout the 36 years of the project. This work instead provides an insight of abnormal details that over time come to become normal not only for me but also from others. For example I was at first impressed about the giant cruises allowed through the historical center of Venice but soon got used to it (Fig. Picture of three Muslim women I photographed after a long walk in the Dutch countryside. I have no ideological message to convey with my images. I simply record something unusual in this case three Muslim women making it outside the village outskirts where they would normally not venture).

PHOTOS 06/12 As my life became primarily that of a father looking after my small children I started using them as a cover to photograph certain events of interest. In certain occasions then I place the stroller in front of me and pretending to take a photo of them while in fact zooming in and photographing what is occurring in the back. Similarly I have done the same kind of photos using my oldest son or my girlfriend as a cover. This bad photographing behaviour often depict the much worst behaviour of who is photographed (Fig. Picture illustrating how I positioned my youngest son slightly off the target only to zoom and photograph it, in this case a man working without a t-shirt outdoor in a public area in their near of the house where me and my family reside while in the Netherlands. While this kind of photographing is more interesting in a urban setting, still very unusual things can occur in the monotony of the village. Being pretty much always on the move with my children, exploring all areas in and around the town, there is always something unexpected. With my children growing older and the resume of life after the pandemic that occurred in the middle of the project I also resumed to explore big urban environments particularly in Europe on my frequent journeys to the alpine village where I decided to build the project museum).

PHOTOS 07/12 Interestingly this photographic work started more in a urban setting but later shifted into quite a rural one. While I was relegated to this latter setting having to take care of my children and being too poor to travel, my photography from this time focuses much on nature and particularly the many birds present along the Rhine river delta. I use a cheap camera but the delta is crowded with amateur obsessed about photographing birds carrying very expensive equipment. Interestingly also while I began photographing the many birds up north, down south birds hunters attempted to sabotage my plan to construct the project museum there, an iron pavilion that came to signify somewhat of a life-rescue for the very birds migrating from northern Europe to Africa across the deadly alps. Lacking the excitement of the city, for a time birds became the primary subjects to capture my attention. They stick out as omens, the auspices that ancient Romans used to divine from their behaviour (Fig. Winter photograph of a naked branch with a cormorant seating on top. It is likely that over the months and the years I have photographed the same cormorant several times. This must have occurred especially in the presence of my kids who often hinder me to take a good picture since I might have to hold their hands or keep one of them in my arms while photographing).

PHOTOS 08/12 To a certain degree throughout my project I had the great opportunity of documenting the European society of the beginning of the 21st century. In process this society got extremely gentrified especially in the northern countries, the very ones trying to brand themselves as highly tolerant and liberal while in fact leaving behind the old socialist frugality and becoming more and more luxury oriented (Fig. Picture I took of the Swedish upper class. I took advantage of the last day of elementary school of my oldest son in Djursholm, the highly posh neighborhood of Stockholm where he lived with his mother. While being the only immigrant among the new super rich Swedish class I was able to photograph them in several of these occasions as well as photographing the new poor immigrants segregated in the old socialists compounds where I lived. Later also, living simultaneously in Central and southern Europe I was able to detect such a gentrification. Little bohemian and liberal type of folk were left out by European governances more and more keen to produce socially integrated tycoons making money with their start-up businesses. It was interesting to observe how they brand themselves as highly democratic and anti-racist and feminists including my very highly Marxist former colleagues benefiting from all possible social rights as well as living in city apartments worth like palaces).

PHOTOS 09/12 Becoming my life increasingly oriented towards my family and the building of the project museum, as I grew older fewer became the occasions to travel. When the opportunity presented itself I have always being rather daring in fully exploring a territory, keeping away from any kind of touristic mainstream I particularly grew a talent to explore the suburbs of places. I took great walks deep into other realities especially while living in China or exploring India, trying always to learn from these explorations, daring to cross dangerous environments and developing a great sense of orientation. Somehow I always managed in the end to get back to an initial safe point. In these compilations of images I synthesize what I have experienced trying not to repeat myself. Perhaps these compilations can be best experienced also with a reading of my journal where I can narrate about being robbed or attacked. Generally however it can be said that the very fact that I have a responsibility for my project and in particular for my equipment while traveling, always made me rather aware of danger (Fig. Picture I took after escaping a school for rich kids in Bengalore where I was invited to give a workshop. Rather than keeping in the student compound I sat off for long journeys on foot exploring various areas in the deep and poor suburbs later setting off to explore the whole of south India).

PHOTOS 10/12 To a certain degree the compilation of photos can narrate a journey and provide an insight of the various impressions I have collected. By giving myself a numerical limit to the photos I should take during this journey I am also able not to spoil it and to make sure that what I ought to photograph is really worth it. In this respect it is as if I always have the camera on my head and when a suitable position is reached to take an interesting photo I take the camera out almost as if I also know the proper distance from the object I ought to photograph. Having then a limit to the amount of photos I should take does not become obstructive for for example the person I am traveling with, given that also in a journey I might conduct other forms of documentation such as picking trash, film public places, document my ideas and so forth. This limitation is similar to the limitation given by photographic film to the now obsolete analogue cameras (Fig. Pictures collected in a trip to southern France during a week holiday with my oldest son. The amount of pictures were limited and certainly less than a standard tourist. Also not many where the pictures took of me and my son together keeping the journey rather light and exploitative and maintaining a certain sense of serendipity which has been a common factor in my educative approach with my kids, always made used by me to roam).

PHOTOS 11/12 While keeping up with this photographing work as I conceived it, I do not give it a high priority. When I am rather homey I mostly take care of the digital aspect of my project or build my museum. Street photography is mostly a vocational work in a sense that when I do travel I also engage in a flâneurtype of street photography but this photography is not my only mission in life. Street photography is one of the missions and this very one depicts from my point of view what millions of others have already been depicting. Perhaps the uniqueness of my street photography is in the framing that I have instructed my eyes to detect beforehand. What I find important however is that across time the resulting photographs give a sense of the spaces I have explored, and these spaces can give an insight also to understand all the other works, particularly the drier ones (Fig. Picture of one of the heavier compact cameras I used. These cameras are fragile and can easily break but I am not so worry about them as they are not as important as for example the much simpler and durable camera I use to depict every object my right hand uses. The latter camera is in fact more indispensable and I always can access a replace camera to continue this more on-going project while for this work I can simply wait a few days and just make it to a shop to find any cheap compact camera with a zoom optic).

PHOTOS 12/12 In an ideal exhibition the resulting photos could be placed in a binocular like apparatus standing on a pedestal in the middle of one of the six rooms adjunct to the main hall. A visitor at the time could stand on the pedestal and rotate an handle so as to roll through the images and at the same time activate a highly moving classic composition to accompany them. The binocular in question should resemble an old fashion camera on a tripod with the very handle used to film. Headphones should be attached to it so as to listen the composition. The binocular should be facing the wall and by moving it across it different month compilations can be explored chronologically from left to right. The setting then would provide to one viewer a very intimate and highly empathic experience of our social and natural environment from a different time and space. Ultimately also it could help him or her to love his or her own reality for its many rich details (Fig. Rendering of the ideal exhibition setting with the location where the binocular presenting the total 1.296 photos highlighted in red. The binocular not only emphasizes the many touristic hot-spots where with a coin one could observe distant views otherwise unaccessible by the naked eyes; it also retains an element of voyeurism that the very telescopic apparatus induces to think of).