Spencer Tunick's Everyday People
Spencer Tunick is a New York artist who uses the naked body to 'punctuate urban environments and natural landscapes'.
This exhibition was commissioned by the Lowry gallery and was shot in Manchester and Salford locations as part of Tunick's first multi-location project.
The car wash
The image showed rows of naked men queuing outside a dilapadated car wash. It's interesting that the shock factor of the nudity diminishes after a while. The queue seems to exaggerate the posture of the men to the point where theory seem to be leaning forward almost. They seem like a queue of infirm patients in some kind of abusive institution waiting to be hosed down.
The air hangar
This photo showed lines if men leaning toward each other standing up, with two rows of kneeling women, all are facing the same direction which is opposite to the plane that is in the background. There is a feeling of discomfort between the men leaning toward each other as they are avoiding any actual contact. The women kneeling seem to embrace their closeness and are touching in some places. The message here seems to be a comment on the closeness of women and the discomfort of men. I'm unsure. Why the location was chosen, perhaps because Manchester has an airport or perhaps because the planes is facing the opposite direction to the people it is some sort of comments on the different intention of people and technology. I didn't get a lot from this image I must say.
The frame of the image is almost square and is probably a ration of 5:4. This works as the centre of the image is a circular flower bed surrounded by circular pavement on which a circle of women walk, in a circle. these circular elements cause a pleasing motion and allows for the square crop. The set up of the shot is quite formal and the women are clearly arranged and the park is landscaped but the nudity and some branches at the top of the image give a feeling of nature. The artist has placed one black woman amongst around 100 white women at the front and she becomes the focal point and starting from her you follow her line of sight, and that of all the women around the circle. This adds to the feeling of movement.
The next exhibit was large landscape prints of old fashioned buses filled with naked ladies. The focus of the piece is boobs and bellies which are pressed against the glass windows of the bus. I didn't see the purpose of having two prints as ther was little variation between them and the bus was the same in both. The slogan on the side of the bus was Travel With Courtesy and this made the piece a visual pun commenting on busy commuter lives.
This exhibit was a portrait showing a small crowd of naked men shaking hands in front of a railway arch and next to a bridge with Beetham tower in the background. There was a focus on grey hair as it stood out and the men who were closer to the front of the piece had striking sliver grey hair. This was mirrored in the grey of the tower and the bridge to the right of the piece. The flesh tone of the men seemed to blend with the red brick of the railway arch making the men seem like part of their environment which seems to go against the grain of what the artist intends. The composition seems to be based on the long edges of the tower and the bridge legs.
Under the bridge
This exhibit was interesting from an exposure perspective as the scene is heavily and naturally vignettes by the shadow of the bridge from under which it was shot. The bridge also creates a frame within a am and it houses the shadowy nudes moving around in e foreground. The crowd of nudes gets busier further into the distance and as it does, the exposure is lighter until it becomes over exposed in the distance which almost creates a vanishing point.
The strong diagonal line of the bridge helps the eye cope with the figurers in the shadow as you are reminded yo look at the darkest corner of the frame where more figures can be found.
This exhibit had ten grounds of 30 people leaning forward in different directions. This almost makes the nudes look like prehistoric man but in a starkly urban environment. The portrait aspect of the frame makes the eye run up the image starting with the nearest group who are sharpest and ending at the top of the water tower. There has clearly been thoughtful composition to this shot but I don't fully appreciate the meaning of it.
This shot is framed by two dominant horizontal lines at the top and bottom of the picture, one a grass verge and the other tree branches. The eye is drawn to the mass of figures moving around and youvare then drawn, albeit erratically around the frame as you follow the directions that the different people are moving in. It may have been tempting to crop this tighter but it works well that it wasn't.
I started off trying to appraise these exhibits from an artistic viewpoint and then from a technical photographic viewpoint but after a while I started looking to see how techniques of framing, exposure and division have been used to artistic purpose. This is a new way of looking at photographic art for me as before now I have always looked at things from a purely technical standpoint.
I will admit that some of the meaning and concepts were lost on me, but after googling the aist on my return home, it is suggested that there isn't a lot of meaning to what he does. It's also interesting how this was called an installation rather than a photographic exhibition, which confuses me as the artist placed the models, took a photo and then packed up.