Exercise 2: Georges Perec
The French writer Georges Perec wrote a book called An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris (1975) in which he wrote down everything he could see from a certain viewpoint. You may like to read it. A further work by Perec is entitled ‘ Species of Spaces and Other Pieces ’, the first chapter of which attempts an interesting classification of spaces, ranging from the page itself to world and space outside. Again, this might help in relation to the following exercise. Choose a viewpoint, perhaps looking out of your window or from a café in the central square, and write down everything you can see. No matter how boring it seems or how detailed, just write it down. Spend at least an hour on this exercise. Here are some areas to consider:
- Can you transform this into a photography version?
- Would you stay in the same place or get in close to the things you listed?
- Would you choose to use your camera phone in order to be discreet or would you get your tripod out?
- Would it be better in black and white or colour?
- Would you include your list with the final images? You may choose to turn this into a photography project if it interests you.
I was stuck in an airport suffering a flight delay when I did this exercise.
I sat an observed life in front of me, highlights included:
Empty seats with the odd passenger here and there.
Checkout desk. Empty.
More passengers, filling the seats.
Passengers buried in their phones.
A few customers for the vending machines.
Problems using the vending machine.
Flight crew arriving.
Flight crew briefing.
Flight crew depart to the aircraft.
And the hopes of the passengers follow them.
I took some images (discreetly) from my vantage point and would not have moved around to get up close as I feel it would have drawn attention to myself and took away from the images or made it harder to actually take them.
In this instance being discreet was the only option and my camera phone was perfect for this. People in this context are bored and sensitive to movement and I didn’t want that added complication. Being limited in my movements posed a challenge but it also forced me to be selective about who, what, and when to photograph.
I dont think converting to black and white helps this mini series.