How can something be new when written about three times already? How can something not be old when it's been dealt with several times? Well, this is the fourth post on photographs I am making at Medfield State Hospital in Medfield, MA and I am thinking after this post I will start giving this work its proper title and stop with the sequence of New 1, New 2 and so on.
Anyway... they are here:
Something New Two
Something New Three
and they document the work I am starting to make of the Hospital. This is a first as I am showing the photographs as I make them, not after the fact, all edited and in presentation form.
To review: I scouted the location (and made snapshots), I photographed twice, both on sunny days. I made some discoveries and some mistakes, learned when I needed to go and started to understand how to approach this large turn of the 19th century mental hospital with a predominance of red brick buildings that are now shuttered and closed.
On the morning of July 4th I was there again.Why then when most of us are definitely not working? The light was flat and almost dark with cloud cover and with no wind. Perfect for what I needed to do.
Amazing how fast we've gone from late spring/early summer into real summer here in New England. Some hot fetid and humid days where the foliage hangs limp from the trees and nothing stirs except the mosquitos buzzing your head. The place was empty and felt strangely heavy and muffled somehow.
Why was no wind important? I wonder if you can guess. These pictures are about as far from hand held snapshots as any are in photography. This is classic view camera technique applied to contemporary digital practice with a DSLR. Firm tripod, perspective control wide angle lens shifted up or down and tilted for sharpness, 3 to 5 exposures at settings from too dark to too light of each scene to blend into one final result. Wind can be very bad: blows foliage around therefore creating movement from frame to frame and shakes the camera.
Am I getting somewhere? I can remember telling students about the life of photographic projects. That in the beginning no one knows what they're doing. That after a couple of times working at it, the work seems like it has little potential and may not fly. That with some perseverance and real soul searching things might begin to cook a little, to resonate with you, to begin to entice you into wanting to do more.That's where I am now, beginning to be no longer a rank beginner at this project, to begin to form ideas that are exciting me and motivating me to go back and work more. I am beginning to be IN the project. Being in the project is really the best time and when we make our best work.
Resonant. A little mysterious. Haunting perhaps. Connection from now to then. So much baggage contained here. So much history of unspeakable things. Maybe some really good people helping others less fortunate as well. A real history. Mote than just empty old buildings. Much more. A story to tell.