Projects:  Symphony of the City

Project Statement:

‘Symphony of the City’ seeks to upend the photographic cityscape by depicting a merging of portraiture and abstraction, of documentary and the fantastical. The urban landscape is often depicted as a deserted place of beautiful glossy buildings, stillness, and of photography shoots evoking either sublime light shards of the early morning, else a fairyland of office lighting late in the night. My experience of the city couldn’t be more different. My city is one of sound, traffic, changing weather and a frenzy of human activity. Each on their own path of intention, people rush in every possible direction while I aim to create an image which moves with them.

 

This series follows a specific narrative. Beginning with the hushed, blurry tones of the city’s waking moments and quiet laneways, the images are barely decipherable. They begin to open up to the day and onto the street in a crescendo against the hard urban surfaces. Shapes become more visible and fragments jostle for attention and dominance. An explosive moment follows. A musical bridge between one juncture and another; between a door ajar to a wide open platform where the city performs its daily production. Sounds burst with volume and overlap. Colour rises up, repeats and splinters. All the while I follow these encounters and my camera mimics the action accordingly; until there is a finale bursting with a cacophony of colour.

 

Prior to photography, I was a painter so my work is always underlined by the manual making of an image. I’ve purposely adapted the unpredictability of painting to the photographic process by shooting in multiple exposure HDR and shifting with the scene before me. In this way I am technically using the camera incorrectly. The shot you see is one of chance, created on-site and in-camera. It is a not manipulated with post-production software, nor do I endeavour to “capture” a moment in time. Rather, I move across time. Looseness is essential. I open up the camera’s possibilities so that the image you see blends light, activity, time, colour and my personal, physical involvement with each scene.

Captions:

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Michael Lee 2020