[Reader-list] Thoughts on Photographing Bombay's Cinema Halls

Monica Narula monica at sarai.net
Wed Aug 22 03:51:20 IST 2007

Hi Zubin

Looking at your images, and how you are looking at the space of the  
cinema, i was reminded of the work of Hiroshi Sugimoto (who has been  
called a conceptualist photographer).

His beautiful black and white images in cinema halls are engineered  
around the concept of time. The images have been exposed for the  
entire duration of a film screening. http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/ 
assets/img/data/2239/bild.jpg for an example


Monica Narula
29 Rajpur Road
Delhi 110 054

On 17-Aug-07, at 9:51 PM, Zubin Pastakia wrote:

> Hello,
> This is my fifth post to the Reader-List related to my fellowship
> project "A Photographic Study of Bombay's Cinema Halls as a Cultural
> Experience of Space."
> For this month's post, I thought I would change things up a bit and
> write about the nature of "documentation" in the photographic sense. I
> have consciously avoided the term documentation as I find it
> problematic - I'd prefer to call it a study of or a meditation on
> cinema halls in Bombay.
> As a photographer, I am motivated to photograph - to "record" – not
> only due to aesthetics (colour, shape, pattern, light etc.) but also
> because recording the subject/object would move my overall narrative
> forward. The problem arises when these latter subjects/objects are
> difficult to represent photographically, as they fail on all of the
> above-mentioned aesthetic criteria.
> I am not talking about photographing something "ugly" per se, as I do
> not believe that photographs need to be "pretty"; it is more a case of
> the scene lacking the necessary criteria to be able to convey meaning
> in the photographic form. Is it then worth photographing?
> I constantly come across this tension in my cinema hall work. It is
> hard to keep the camera "democratic" at all times. I justify this by
> reminding myself that photography is not an exact science but a point
> of view - adding another piece to the puzzle. As the late John
> Szarkowski wrote, the goal of photography/art "is not to make
> something factually impeccable, but seamlessly persuasive."
> ***
> Although this is not a project that is purely serial in nature - where
> each individual photograph loses its unique aura and content, ala Ed
> Ruscha in his "Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass" - the very fact
> that I am photographing only cinema halls means that it is a serial
> project if we look at each hall as a set.
> At first, I often felt displeased that I was slipping into a formula
> in photographing the halls. I was always looking for certain things.
> This used to bother me – I was becoming formulaic.
> However, of late I have found that it is not necessarily a bad thing
> to look for the same things in different halls. Eventually, when I
> take stock of all the photographs in my project, I feel that I will be
> able to see how similar and yet different these spaces are.
> Photographs tell us what things look like.
> The project site is at:
> http://peripheralvision.blogspot.com
> Best,
> Zubin
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