Motorway Triptych

Reviewing the photography from the last shoot – I’m disappointed. The buildings felt like the perfect subject matter when I was there – but in the cold light of the monitor none of the eeriness and isolation has converted. For so many of my other images, a lack of context is essential in the image’s transformation and the creation of a sense of otherness. But with this subject - that so perfectly embodied the sense of The Quiet Earth when I stood within it, this lack of context, and the pinholes abstraction removes the potency and drama of the environment and I am left with a collection of pictures of an abandoned warehouse, there is nothing engaging here.  Somewhat disheartened I look back through my archive and happen on a tiny series of images I shot one evening recently on my drive home from work.

Every day I pass under the M5 overpass on my way down the Portway, and I have always felt drawn to the juxtaposition of the gargantuan motorway support pillars with the community that lives directly under it. The contrast in scale creates a dramatic tension, that is so often lost as we travel on or under these structures, we become so used to seeing the structures from a distance, that when we finally come up close to them the eye struggles to calculate dimension and depth, and this everyday furniture of our environment is revealed as an otherworldly sleeping giant.

On this occasion I decide to stop at the Park and Ride and see if there is anything here for my camera. The light is failing, and I have to push the ISO to the max and the shutter speed right down, capturing maybe 10 or so shots that barely even register on the sensor, bar the faraway burn of motorway lighting, all said though even at the time I feel they have the potential to capture something of the otherness I am seeking, and the monolithic presents of these giant structures that stalk our landscape, hidden in plain sight.

Looking at these images again, pushing the exposures and contrast in Lightroom I am excited by what I find. They lack the softness and subtlety of my gas tower or Asbru imagery, but there is a starkness and a quiet beauty so removed from their origin that is irresistible.

The next day I print three of the images as a triptych, each set on its own half sheet of Fabriano 5, and although each presents the usual technical challenges, I create a near perfect edition of 10 prints for each. The final images transform the original pinhole photography into something subtle and haunting. I feel that it begs the viewer to create a narrative around what they are seeing and draws you into the this dimly half lit world. At once calm and empty, but not entirely without threat.

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