Tuesday, December 10, 2013


                                                                    Look through your window.

What do you see?

The aperture between the interior and the exterior, the inside and the outside world has been subject of not one architectonic thesis, psychological metaphors or reasons for pieces of art.

The window as that opening to the street, as that viewpoint of a compelling landscape or that connection with the eternal, the supreme.
The window as that observation point of the outside world, as that reflection of our own interior world, as that exploration vantage point of our surroundings or that magnifying glass revealing unsuspected visionary images.

Establishing that connection with what you see inside-out , whether to engage with, distance yourself of or escape from becomes an activity.
Looking through the window becomes an event.

It is an intimate moment of a solitary action in a point of confluence between the tangible and intangible, the consciousness and unconsciousness.

Look through your window again.
Take a picture of what you see.

What do you see now?

As being so intimate, when looking through the window,  each one establishes their own field of vision, so that the views through the same window, seen by different people at the moment will be individual and unique.

Looking through the window is an apperceptive act of understanding our inner world or outside surroundings.

The window itself becomes a screen on which we project our own vision of the reality through our emotions and experience, memories and understandings of the world and becomes an opportunity for introspective, intellectual or social  reflections.
The window becomes our own frame from which to see our own picture of the world that is exclusive and unique to us.

To look in the window as Robert Frank  in order to observe the outside world.

To stay inside the window view as Andre Kertesz so as to connect with his own inner world.

To look through the window as John Pfahl so as to stage the subjectivity of the view.

The Street Window

Whoever leads a solitary life and yet now and then wants to attach himself somewhere, whoever according to changes in the time of day, the weather, the state of his business, and the like, suddenly wishes to see any arm at all to which he might cling – he will not be able to manage for long without a window looking on to the street. And if he is in the mood of not desiring anything and only goes to his window sill a tired man, with eyes turning from his public to heaven and back again, not wanting to look out and having thrown his head up a little, even then the horses below will draw him down into their train of wagons and tumult, and so at last into the human harmony.
Franz Kafka

View from Hotel Window, Butte, Montana, is part of the series of photography captured by Robert Frank as he travelled on the road around America on a Guggenheim fellowship.

Butte was not a typical mining town. At the end of the 19th century, Butte’s mines were the largest producers of copper in the world with the dominant share of the copper wire used to electrify the United States and the rest of the world. After the second World War, production of copper decreased and Butte was finding its own ways to keep the mining industry alive by exploiting lower grade reserves, conversely it would never regain its mining prosperity and Buttes main mine would end up closing in 1983.

Finding himself halfway through his trip, Robert Frank reached Butte in May, 1956.
The photograph is taken from a vantage point of an upper storey hotel room window. It is a view of Butte.

The eye is first drawn down on the outside window pane, then on the cluster of buildings and eventually up, towards the top to a plume of bright smoke. The transparent gauzy curtains surrounding the window are observed at a second glance, forming a blurring frame of the work.

In terms of composition, the outside window pane is in clear focus in the foreground forming a darker grey edge with the façade of the building in front, just to be interrupted by the presence of an industrial chimney, making it look as though the chimney itself is starring inside. This informality of the frame and contrast  between  window pane–façade invites the observer to look outside and perceive the atmosphere of this industrial town, setting the main focus on the row of receding roofs and a line of cars on a grey street, at the end of which, in softer grey tones, come the disfigured slopes of a copper mine. 
Not a human in sight though the imprint of human activity could hardly be more pronounced.
“View from Hotel Window,” the title reads, and we realize the presence of the one looking in the window. We are sharing the gaze not just of Robert Frank but of every traveller who has ever woken in an unfamiliar town, moved towards the window to look into the inhospitality of the unknown.

This “aesthetic snapshot” exposes Robert Frank’s exclusive ways of recording and describing actual reality not only as evidence of what exists, but also in expression of his own experience.  His view as an external observer of the Americans evokes sadness and mystery at the same time appreciation, for his aim is not to reform life, but to know it.
He looks in the window, to let the curtains draw and reveal the story of The Americans.

As American a picture -  the faces don’t editorialize or criticize or say anything but “This is the way we are in real life and if you don’t like it I don’t know anything about it ’cause I’m living my own life my way and may God bless us all, mebbe”. .… “if we deserve it”. ..
The Americans, Introduction by Jack Kerouc

From my window, published in 1981, consisted of  fifty-three Polaroids exploring still life compositions of objects and mementos that Andre Kertesz and his wife Elizabeth had accumulated throughout their years together and gathered in their apartment on Fifth Avenue.


The book was dedicated to Elizabeth who had passed away four years before the publishing of the book. After a period of bereavement, Kertesz turned to his camera and found the process as a remedy and expression of his grief and loss. Turning to his Polaroid SX-70,  he soon embraced this new technique which he had never used before. The the small square size of the format (8x8cm), the colour format, and the production of a single shot developed immediately without a negative resulted as the appropriate technique to express his intimate message.

I have little purpose left in life now that she is gone.

From the fifty-three polaroids, nearly half featured “Elizabeth bust” – a sculpture Kertez had seen in the window of a nearby store a glass bust that had remained him of Elizabeth. He recalled, “I was touched...the neck and the shoulders…it was Elizabeth..”. Kertesz obsessively photographed the glass bust throughout the apartment, but was most successful with evocative imagery created when he placed it on the windowsill, contrasting the graceful curves of the sculpture with the skyline that had grown before his eyes.

Bust with Twin Towers is an example of Kertesz’ inherent ability to compose a still life, perfected through years of precise architectural and interior studies at house and Garden had evolved into a powerful form of self expression.

He stalked the object of interest for his photos until composition and expression were correct.

The main focus is set on the glass bust in the foreground, placed symmetrically to the World Trade Center Towers in the background. The universal symbols of the greatness of a city in comparison to the symbol of greatness of the one who is loved and grieved for. No doubt in this picture, one is greater than the other, with its grandiosity and meaning in time and place, representing an everlasting memory. The twin towers have established their presence in the city,  as the bust has established its place in Kertesz studio, in his life .

At the lower third of the picture, stands another object , with similar curves and lines  to the ones of the bust. The verticality of the objects present in this photograph evokes the idea of comparison and enhancement of the glass bust.

The eye is first drawn to the statue, then to the middle towards the Twin Towers and then the observer’s view is dispersed into the sky, in the eternity of the transcendental presence of Elizabeth, the supreme. The photograph is taken from a lower vantage point as though revering the bust. The curtains are completely drawn, exposing this symbol of the one loved to the world.

The blackness that frames the photograph stimulates the sense of absorption of sound and light to concentrate the look on the one object. In this case, the observer remains inside, only to look out to exalter the greatness of the object inside.

The title of the publication of the forty-nine polaroids is almost in disagreement with the contents which explored in fact a field of few centimetres: the window really opened onto Kertesz inner suffering.
For photography had always been his finest tool to express his inner vision of his surrounding. In this case, From my window is an intimate visual diary of his grief, an expression of relief, both spiritual and temporal, giving voice to the pain of the greatest tragedy of his life in the only language he felt fluent.

I looked, I saw, I did.

Picture windows comprises John Pfahls work between 1978-1981.

Plate 14 Northrimhighway                 Plate 12 Seventh Avenuenyc         Plate21 South Springwest

While making my "picture window" photographs, I came to think that every room was like a gigantic camera forever pointed at the same view. In the dictionary, of course, the word camera in Latin means chamber or room.
I searched the country for these cameras and their views: the more unusual or picturesque, the better. It was often hard to tell from the outside what could be seen from the inside, so I was usually surprised when I discovered a scene in its new context.
Strangers with puzzled looks were amazingly cooperative in letting me into their rooms with my photographic gear. They let me take down the curtains, wash the windows, and rearrange the furniture. Often, too, they expressed their desire to share their view with others, as if it were a nondepletable treasure.
I liked the idea that my photographic vantage points were not solely determined by myself. They were predetermined by others, sometimes years earlier, and patiently waited for me to discover them.

His not work is not mere representation of landscape. He is interested in the relationship of nature and man’s imprint on the land. He does not look to transmit the vastness, greatness of a landscape, but through different methods of framework outstand all details in the view in order to transmit a mixture of aesthetic, social and historical ideas.
In Picture Windows, Pfahl uses the window as an imposed grid over the landscape way of reducing it to discrete parts that can be studied in isolation.

His photographs depict famous American scene from both natural and urban landscapes.
He stages the moment of looking through, emphasizing each layer through which the glance goes through and so establishing a frame from which the viewer looks through the window.  As if evoking those preconceived frames from which we look through and into the outside world. Many times, our experience of looking through to contemplate a certain vista is already mediated so we experience the landscape infront of us the way the masses are shown and imposed to see.

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