Whilst on a recent trip to the V & A in London, I happened on a small exhibit of photos by Effie Paleologou. I hadn’t heard of her before but the content of the exhibit really drew me in. Her “Mean City” series shows a nocturnal urban environment: streets with glimpses of figures, artificially lit urban blocks and creative compositions that make use of the available light, whether moonlight or artificial. The V & A sums up the series as “photographs (that) convey some of the sensations felt by the photographer wandering and observing alone. The result is a subtle combination of aesthetic, urban, social and personal viewpoints.”
What I really got from the images was the presentation of cold, artificial cityscapes at night. The appearance of the figures in the images gave a feeling of loneliness and vulnerability. Paleologou’s aesthetic appears to disregard technically perfect images, and instead we get grainy reproductions awash with strong artificial light and blurry figures in the distance. This contributes to the vulnerability and dark atmosphere present in the series. If anything I would have liked to have seen more images as the set was a series of 3-4 (see link below), and I thought there was great potential in exploring the concept further.
I was particularly drawn to the series as I have been thinking of shooting an urban environment at night for the final assignment (assignment five). My tutor’s feedback on the Coney Island images (shot at night) have had me considering further methods (film, long exposure etc) and concepts to explore that might meet the brief. It may be a little early to be considering this project before assignment four, but now is a good time to start exploring and experimenting with concepts and methods.