Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Institute

I've just published a photo essay titled The Institute at JPG magazine. Go take a look at it, and let me know what you think.
It's basically photos I took of models of the new Renzo Piano designed addition that the Art Institute of Chicago is building. When shooting, I focused on the small 2D figures placed throughout the models, rather than on the building itself. I think the results are interesting, and more about emotion than they are architecture.

Shooting these photos was an interesting experience. The Art Institute of Chicago has a much appreciated policy on photography. If they own it, and you don't use flash, you can shoot whatever you want in the museum. However, they were being very protective of these models. When I was shooting them, they were in a highly visible location, at the top of the main staircase leading to the museum's hugely popular Impressionism collection (they have since been relocated). I had gone to the museum and spent about a half hour shooting them with no problem. Returning to the museum a few days later, I had barely started shooting when I was stopped by a docent. I reminded her of the Art Institute's photography policy, and she informed me that it didn't apply to these models, as they were trying to avoid having them leaked on the internet (by the way, when I returned home that evening, I Googled 'Art Institute Renzo Piano' and found detailed images of the building on Renzo Piano's website. Anyway, if you're trying to keep something secret, why put large models of it in a very prominent location?).

I showed her how I was shooting the figures, not the building, and asked if I could get permission to shoot. It took about 20 minutes of waiting around before a second docent appeared. I explained the situation to him, to which he replied 'I see", then began to walk away. I stopped him and ask if I could shoot, and he answered "I don't care". Taking that as permission, I began shooting, and was there for about an hour. The entire time, people swarming up the staircase (this was on a busy Sunday afternoon) would see me shooting, and immediately whip out their cameras and start shooting the models as well. The poor docent had to field complaints and listen to people saying "but he gets to shoot!" the entire time I was there.

I took fifteen of the photos I shot of these models and used them to make 13 X 19 inch cyanotype prints. Some of them have shown up on Lightbender, my other blog. Click that link to see three of them.

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