Untitled (Schipol, Netherlands #6653) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale
This is the stuff that drives me crazy. While developing a project, much like a cat who is stalking a mouse, I am easily distracted by a interesting ball of yarn.
I have developed another almost complete set of photographs that I find interesting and that have a very different narrative than the project I am trying to complete. One seems very organized and subject specific, while the other is vague and ambiguous. Perhaps there is a way to tie the two together, but I have not figured that out yet. A work in progress.
Untitled (Fiumicino, Italy #7224) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale
More tweaking of the photographs for this project; contrast adjustments, cropping modifications and moving some photographs to the back-up folder. Started early discussions with one publisher and moved another into the reserve pile. It does not work for me when publishers start asking for a $250.00 fee just so that you can provide them with your submission.
For this photograph, I have been thinking about cloning out one of the cars, but if there any cars left to indicate scale, why not leave them all.
Untitled (Schipol, Netherlands, #6659) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale
As I continue to develop this project, I also gain more clarity as to what is inclusive and what might be eliminated. This is an interesting and iterative process and one that I enjoy. I am also at the point in time at which I have started to expand on my writing about this concept as I think about pending publishing submissions.
Regretfully I am also at a point at which self-doubt rears its ugly head as I explore the alternatives. sigh.
So this is a time to be positive during a period of introspection about what really interests me in this project. Hopefully others will find it of interest too.
Untitled (Heathrow, England #1009) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale
What initially attracted to me was the dramatic “Ansel Adams” lighting of the terminal that was in the state of construction and this front lighting seems to add a touch of mystery. Finding an advantage point that included some of the technological infrastructure in the foreground took a bit of foot work, literally. At the moment, I am not sure that this photograph fits within my ongoing concept, nevertheless it helps me determine my conceptual boundaries and always good to explore these conceptual edges.
Untitled (Maui, HI #8964) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale
Technology is mysterious as we think we know what functions that it’s performing, but we never can be sure.
Untitled (Jamacia, NY #7211) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale
Even as an engineer I find that my technological subjects for this project are mostly ambiguous as to the underlying function and purpose. In some cases there are hints as to the technological intent but other wise I find these objects to be both beautiful as well as mysterious.
Untitled (Atlanta, GA #5532) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale
One of the fascinating aspects to me of Industrial objects, where form will follow function, the resulting form will usually has a sophisticated elegance to it. Engineering design is concerned about utility, efficiency, ergonomics, functionality, usability, maintenance, user-interfaces and work flows, thus one of the traits of good engineering design are orderly lines and simplistic layouts. The resulting structures seem to to have an aesthetic quality to them, as might a sculpture. This is an aspect of my subjects that I am exploring.
Update: always interesting to post a photograph and then be able to look at it with a little more distance. In this case, I realized that 1.) I did not get the color contrast as I intended, 2.) I was not consistent with the centering of the subject and 3.) and the word JETS in the background edge was not helping with the intended ambiguity. Which in this case, I had chosen the tall structure as I had in other photographs of this similar technology. Thus a curve tweak with a cropping do-over, but I decided to leave the first version of this photograph, below, on this post to help illustrate a point about project editing. It’s a constant! :- D
Untitled (Chicago, IL #6333) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale
One aspect of this project is my investigation of the man-altered landscape. When the documentation of the landscape includes the impact of industry, this has been frequently linked to when a viewer is offered both industrial splendor and the tragedy of the environmental cost. Sometimes this cumulative message is very overt, such as Pieter Hugo’s “Permanent Error”, other times subtle such as the photographic work of John Davies, Joel Sternfeld and Lewis Baltz.
In my case, I do not think my photographic studies of these technological structures is revealing industrial splendor but hopefully a neutral and objective postindustrial portraits. The potential expanse of the landscape is truncated, unlike the romantic style of Davies, perhaps similar to the isolation of the subject by Bernd & Hilla Becher. As a result, I am creating the resulting photograph to appear cool and detached, as an engineer might look at the space and determine the form and function that is needed for the intended technology.
As to the documentation of the environmental cost, this I am not sure of as others will need to determine this aspect of my project.
Untitled (Fiumicino, Italy # 7235) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale
While I recently have been developing the concept of this project, I have come to realize that I have not been publicly honest as to who I am. There is a side of me that I have been keeping secret and as all secret’s go, over time it makes an emotional impact. In fact I keep separate social media accounts, such as LinkedIn, to conceal this. I am now coming to grips with the fact that who I am forms my vision and perspective and in fact makes me different. Part of the reason to keep this secret is the fear of reject in that I am different from the others, what would my friends think if they really knew who I was? That means that by revealing this I am facing head on the fear of rejection by the fine arts community. Perhaps it is about time. It’s my guess that some already suspected this.
Okay, here it is. I am an engineer. A photographer who develops conceptual projects and writes commentaries on contemporary photographic books who is also a trained engineer. I have now publicly disclosed it.
Yes, I graduated with a BS undergraduate degree in Engineering, not with a BA degree in literature nor a BFA in Fine Art. I have a graduate degree in Business Administration, not a MFA in fine art. In high school I did not take drawing, I did three years of technical drafting. In college I carried a slide rule (okay, so this also dates me a whole bunch) and coveted the latest calculators with all of their built in math functions. In college I was a geek. I was trained to think analytically using my left brain.
That said, regretfully I did not fit in with the other geeks on campus. I was drawn to the Industrial Design aspect of Engineering. I am someone who thinks in three-dimensional, like a sculptor, but who makes things for people to actually use every day. So now in the world of Pharmaceutical development, I am a internationally known scientist with a specialty in lyophilization cycle development for large molecule drugs. Most recently I was Head of European Manufacturing for a late-stage development biopharmaceutical company developing recombinant proteins for people with Hemophilia, specifically with a factor IX deficiency. Amongst the many three-dimensional Medical device designs I have created I even have a patent for a medical device I invented.
Thus I am one of those practicing right/left brain individuals. Thus as a highly trained left brain individual who has learned to use my right brain, I do have a uniquely different perspective than perhaps those who have extensive right brain training. So now I am going to more fully explore what that means, such as this project that I am investigating.
Untitled (Jamaica, NY # 7220) copyright 2013 Douglas Stockdale
With art and photography, there are referents that mark a person’s progression, pushing ahead while yet looking back. So in this case having mentioned Bernd & Hilla Becher, another broader referent for this body of work might be be the Dusseldorf School (Kunstakademie – arts academy where Bernd taught 1976 – 1996).
Unlike those who became well known out of Becher’s program, Hofer, Hutte, Struth, Grursky and Ruff, this body of work was not created with film and a large format camera. Instead I think that the use of digital photography, technology documenting technology, is in line with the investigation of my subject.