This is our final edit for our SISE Group Project.
Our SISE module culminated in a group project that gave us a chance to expand on the techniques we had experimented with on our individual projects and work together as a group.
For our group project we ended up using the Avon Mouth road bridge as our subject. This is a substantial piece of architecture and is obscure as it’s placed in the centre of a housing estate. I thought it would be interesting to portray this as a sense of place and get a feel for what it would be like to live around such a structure. I took inspiration for the sound from Bill Fontana’s San Francisco bridge sound portrait and we were also introduced to Paul Wenham-Clarke who documented the London community living under ‘The West way’ which is a flyover in London under the A40.
We initially wanted produce a piece that used the sounds of the bridge contrasted against the peacefulness of a home to convey to an audience what it might be like to live in such an area. During the image gathering and tutorials this message was lost a little and we started to focus more on the people who used the bridge, showing them images and sounds that they would never normally come in contact with although they might be regular users of it.
When we presented our rough draft to our buddy group it was clear that while the edit served the brief the theme was still mixed, they felt there were too many images and the sound was forced and rhythmic so was unnatural. In the final edit we introduced more of the natural sound that we had captured and more video that tried to convey what it is like to live in the area.
The majority of feedback we got from the final showing was positive, most of the audience seemed aware of what we were trying to achieve and they seemed genuinely interested in the subject. We had some feedback that we could still have done more to link the community and the bridge together as it seemed like separate areas which meant the message was a bit lost.
Overall I was pleased with the finished product but felt that a lot of the great material that myself, David and Louise captured didn’t make it to the final cut. The excuse we gave was that there were problems with the transfer of footage but in reality it was down to half the members of the group not getting involved throughout the process. The fact that some of us had to take on a lot of the work meant that we became somewhat unenthusiastic in the project by the end. The process as a whole has made me look at image and sound gathering for my future work in a different more unconventional way; it has also enabled me to learn who I can rely on when it comes to creating a team for my future modules.
Our third meeting with our tutor Amanda was a bit of a moral booster for the group. It was the first time the whole group had been present together and a chance for us to show our progress with the Avonmouth Bridge project concept.
Having shown Amanda some of the images we had taken she pointed out that we had in fact unwittingly generated a theme with a yellow accent in most of the images
We discussed what route we would take with the project about the main theme, we could either go down the route of focusing on the people who live in this unusual area or go down the route of showing the bridge as it wouldn’t be seen by the many thousands of people who use it every day.
We took a look of a portrait of work by Paul Wenham-Clarke who documented the London community living under ‘The Westway’ which is a flyover in London under the A40. Wenham Clarkes images seemed to encompass what we could be looking to achieve is we went down the route of highlighting people in our project.
We discussed how we could incorporate images into our project and I suggested we might use them as transitions. We finally arranged a visit for later this week where we will all meet at the bridge and gather material for our final edit.
Today, myself and David went to gather more material for our SISE project. Our main aim was to further explore the area to take images back to the rest of the group who have yet to visit and to enable us to think about how we will use the area to best to create our final piece of work.
As well as gathering images in the immediate area, I had the chance to explore the nearby avonmouth village which was somewhere i’d not known about and was a source for some appealing images that showed the tight mix of residential and industrial buildings in the area.
While we gathered a number of fantastic images that will be useable in our pirce, our main aim was to gather some more interesting sounds as we had the use of some better equipment and the contact/underwater mics.
As it was a Sunday it was a lot quieter so we were able to isolate some of the more interesting sounds of the bridge more easily.
The contact mic once again was a really good choice when gathering interesting material. using the contact mic on the metal barriers on top we were able to create a unique sound that could be layered with other sounds to create a portrait or used on its own to highlight some of the more obscure sounds found in this location.
We were interested in testing out the waterproof mic and after a bit of debating about weather we thought the mic was really waterproof (it wasn’t ours to break) we decided to drop it down a water drain in the middle of the bridge. While we couldn’t really hear the results while we were there due to traffic noise, we were pleased to discover that we had recorded something that was quite surreal.
Overall I think the day was highly productive and it gave us some more ideas about what we wanted to include in the project and something more to give to the group to inspire them.
In our previous meeting we discussed our ideas for the SISE group project, we favoured basing our sense of place project on a city tower block. Previous Meeting. During the week we tried to arrange to meetup and recci some locations and this proved difficult for people to commit to.
We finally managed to arrange a couple of hours this morning and we met up at the tower blocks in Redcliffe Bristol. We immediately discovered a problem accessing the site and had to resort to gathering material around the grounds of the tower blocks. We got some interesting images and could visualise how the project might work if we were able to get access to the flats.
In our tutorial we discussed our problems and discussed how we should try and gain access to the site and engage with residents who might be happy and interested to help out in the project. I think it’s fair to say that there was a struggle getting motivated, especially as it was proving difficult to meet up as a group and we discussed this briefly.
Along with discussing the tower block ideas we also discussed my continued interest in doing a recce of Avonmouth motorway bridge and myself and David agreed to do a recci in the afternoon just to vary our options if we still encountered issues with access and motivation. During the tutorial Kathy kindly loaned me one of her home made contact mics along with a waterproof mic because I was interested in capturing obscure environmental sounds, we took this mic along to the bridge with us.
When we visited the bridge it immediately felt like it would be an ideal place for our project, there was a vast array of audio and image opportunities and little restriction. It was surreal to see a housing estate split up so abruptly by a huge structure and left me wondering what it must be like to live in this locations. There was an OAP crossing a pedestrian crossing that seemed to lead nowhere and all around the light was blocked out by giant supports and scaffolding clad beams. Under the bridge there was nothing but gravel and rocks and immediately next to it were houses with gardens, trees and even birds and it felt like a huge contrast in a matter of a few metres and this was something that really interested me.
We captured a number of images to show to the rest of the group and also headed up the bridge and fixed the contact mic to the floor to experiment with sound options. The sounds I gathered of the cars crossing a metal join on the bridge really inspired me and I could see how it could be used in a project.
We fed back our material to the group via facebook and are currently awaiting peoples thoughts on where we should base our final project. Although I agree with the concept of the tower block location I think based on our current speed of progress we wouldn’t have time to contact people and set up a situation where we could complete the project to a good standard. Using the bridge we could visit at any time and not necessarily in a group and combine our material to create a pretty good standard of work.
Todays meeting was a chance for our group to share ideas that we can build on to create our group SISE project in a few weeks time. We shared some of our recent ideas that have been generated from our individual tasks and from past work. Isla showed us a series of images she had created of tower blocks in London and we discussed using this a a theme for our project. We discussed the different types of people who might live in these places and how this could have an impact on our finished piece.
Taking my inspiration from Bill Fontana I was interested in exploring the Avonmouth road bridge and the effect it has on the lives of the people who live directly around it in terms of light and sound, I’ve often driven underneath it and can’t imagine how it might impact on the quality of life (if at all)
From discussing our ideas we seem to have a related theme that we could focus on and it’s related to both often obtrusive architecture and the people who surround or rely on it.
Taking our ideas to Kathy and Amanda they pointed us in the direction of a few professional artists who have taken on similar work. Tom Hunter who photographed residents of a tower block in Hackney, London before it was demolished in 1997. His work was displayed at the Saatchi gallery and is a great example of typology photography where collections of photographs are taken with related forms.
Holly Street Residents Series – Tom Hunter 1997
Another artist who we could look to for inspiration in this project is Andrea Gursky who’s image Paris, Montparnasse, 1993 is an amazing example of large scale photograpphy capturing the modern world in amazing detail.
I like the idea of taking an image of a tall building from an elevated position like the Gursky image. I think this angle which would not normally be seen as we are normally looking up at tall buildings will make for a more engaging image.
To capture sound for our project I was particularly interested in using contact microphones to capture sound that would not normally be heard in day to day life. I want to maybe make the building feel like it’s alive by capturing the sound generated from the walls of the building itself. We discussed also how we could focus on the sound of the buildings inhabitants as the images move across the buildings exterior.
Our next steps will be to arrange to find a suitable location and take some test recordings and images which we can use to help plan out our project.