Monday, April 25, 2011

BENCHES LIFE - through the work of Tod Papageorge -

Architecture is a complex field and it can be associated with other Arts. Day by day to create appropriated space, architects have toexplore the activities and human life. For this project, I’m particularly interested in the public place and I’ll associate this topic with the street photography movement in New York. Through the work of Tod Papageorge and his book Passing Through Eden in Central Park, my aim is to understand the interaction between citizen in the public space and explore how design of urban furniture influence the behaviours of people and human posture. He is an american art photographer whose job began in the New York city in 1960. During his career, he mainly collaborated with Garry Winogrand, John Szarkowski and Joel Meyerowitz. At this period the relationship between a photographer and the social world was particularly interesting in New York. Indeed during the 1970 and 1980’s the city knew a fiscal and social unease and people assembled together in Central Park for some events and manifestations.Through the Papageorge work I would like to analyse the social relationship between people on the Central Park benches. Central Park is composed of several kind of benches and plenty of the framework is built by steel or concrete and the structure is set up by long piece of timber cladding. I have to mentioned the importance of the designer work concerning the choice of material and the surface appearance of each bench. Indeed all of these components influence the usefulness of the benches in the urban space.

For instance in 1991, He photographed two men in natural posture. The distinctive feature of the design is the separation of each bench. Two men were sleeping, one was sitting and leaning against the back, the second was sleeping through the steel arm rest. This picture shows some examples of the human posture and comfort adaptation on the bench. Another picture I would like to compare the different posture of people inside the park through photographies. Indeed the first half of the book is literally a sequence based on the first six chapters of Genesis and for illustrating this event Tod Papageorge photographed people on the grass. The relationship with the grass space and the grass itself promotes different posture and it’s interesting to look at the liberty of bodies according to the environment. The posture on the grass can be similar to animal or primitive position and I can identified the posture on the bench to be more cultural. Indeed, social elements, culture, education and sex influence the behaviours of people and the social practice of sitting on a bench.

In 1980 , four young people are on the same bench and each of them appropriate the bench space and the relationship with their neighbors. The interaction is often determined by the position of body, mainly by the legs and arms. Through this picture I can identify benches like a social furniture where charming incidents occur and where we canperceive a visual noise.

In group or alone, Tod captured emotional sequences and bucolic subject in the park. Compared with the people in the crowd, people are on the benches are more static. I think he photographed static people to show the variety of beauty and narrate events of humor, joy or despair. Photography is not a simple illustration. Pictures are a specific frame and the choice for composition is often a subjective work. For his work he use a medium camera which permits him to photograph a privileged moment. According to Papageorge his technique allows the viewer to see an intense and palpable realm of bodies in Central Park.

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