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city movement journal

A year ago I presented the start of a project that I had initially struggled to commence. Today, this project continues to face challenges. Instead of dwelling on the roadblocks, I decided to revisit the progress. Maybe this exercise might help me overcome the logistical challenges faced. I hope you enjoy the project diary below along with the ideas presented for photographing the city from a different perspective.

Entry 1 - December 23, 2016 - One of the reasons why I love photography is that it continues to allow me to study subject matter that pushes my creative limits. For some time, I have pondered how I might document differently our interaction with the city. A few years back, an interesting thought of using dance crossed my mind. Unfortunately, I was unable to develop the idea further. Recently, thanks to an old classmate, I was introduced to a professional ballet dancer who I feel will be the catalysis in a new documentary project. With her help, I hope to share a few raw photos from studio sessions, where my aim will be to train my eye and composition. As I develop a better understanding of her trade, I hope to define a thesis that looks at the link between the built environment and movement.

Entry 2 - January 2, 2017 - Form will play an important role in this project and one of the challenges will be integrating its intricacy with the built environment. I want to capture form naturally, avoiding posed compositions as much as possible. Focus is key, something I forgot during the first session. As they practiced, I pondered the use of the reflective mirror and just like that, the moment passed. Fortunately, they were kind enough to recreate it for me. I will need to become more decisive behind the lens. I hope that once I introduce the dancer to the place, its characteristics will be reflected in their movement…I just need to pinpoint that moment. Once I understand it, I must observe patiently, awaiting that decisive moment.

Entry 3 - January 30, 2017 - The simultaneous movement between the two dancers during training was impressive to observe. Finding the right angle that lined them up in the frame as they moved was difficult and is something that I will need to work on. That aside, what captivates me with this frame is the rapid foot movement. The perfect melange between grace, speed, finesse and strength, all elements that I hope to better portray as this project progresses.

Entry 4 - February 9, 2017 - I quickly noticed the importance of the studio mirror, allowing them to quickly correct their movement as they practiced. I can only imagine the enormous amount of concentration required to analyze while dancing. For me, the mirror provided the opportunity to compose two different perspectives of the same movement. A live hanging canvas.

Entry 5 - February 17, 2017 - Some say that to succeed, one needs to always push through the frustration as well as pain…but what is the limit? A dancer, from what I can gather, has to push through both as the form requires great stress to the human body. According to Rivera et al, “Dancers’ perceptions of injuries” in the Journal of Music & Dance, the socioculture of dance encourages individuals to perform through pain. Rates of injuries can be as high as 97%. This push through physical pain can, with time, negatively affect mental health. By combining high expectations with short recovery times, one quickly enters into the debate of whether dance is an art, a sport or a combination of both. The article goes on to survey 15 dancers ranging from 15 to 61 years of age. Despite the small sample set, the article confirms the deep rooted notion of sacrificing everything for the art of dance, despite its negative impacts.

Entry 6 - March 16, 2017 - A technique I use often to document city density is multiple exposure. By definition, it is a process that captures different perspectives of a scene within one frame. As I prepare to pinpoint locations for the final shoot, I am interested to see if I can use the technique to document both dance movement and city density. In a recent practice session, I challenged myself to capture the stages of dance. Despite my weak composition, I was happy with both the exposure and stages. The photographs shown use three exposures, the top is handheld and the bottom was done using a tripod.

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