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I carry a camera wherever I go, taking photographs in passing, a habit that began 20 years ago when I was in art college. Later as I specialised in motion design and moving image, I rarely used photography professionally, but I kept taking those seemingly random pictures. 

On the 29th of April 2006 I started a photoblog at nolden.com. I rather aimlessly set it up for pure enjoyment, as a place to collect all of these images that I felt compelled to take but which had no direct relevance. As a minimal set of rules, I decided to post a new photograph every day and use only those taken on the day.

Then the project unexpectedly evolved. Within the stream of photographs, the less 'perfect' ones that I had initially wanted to remove gained new value. They clearly revealed themselves as a foundation for the better images. 

And as patterns of both form and content emerged, I began to analyse the underlying principles of my approach to image-making.

As a designer, I’m rather analytical. I tend to look for clear forms and place them into direct relation with the rectangular boundaries of the photograph. To me, taking a photograph is like drafting a layout, except that in a photograph, the process works backwards as I try to lay bare the constructing lines of reality. I focus the gaze by de-cluttering a scene to the point of abstraction in order to reveal an unexpected beauty.

No photograph I take is ever staged or arranged. I photograph what I find. But I am not interested in documenting events or portraying people. I take most of my photographs in the periods of time when nothing seems to be happening, when idleness is forced upon me by necessity as I wait for an event to start. It can be the arrival of a train or the boiling of a kettle. In the modern world, those moments have become rare and offer an opportunity for aimless reflection.

These places are transient, without enough significance even to be regarded as “places”. Anthropologist Marc Augé refers to these as "non-places", using it to describe scenes such as roads and airports and supermarkets. Beyond those obvious "non-places" there is the equivalent in the microcosm of our immediate surroundings, from the corner of the bathroom to the shadow of a lamp. 

I did not create this photoblog with an audience in mind. Yet with this book I am for the first time consciously preparing it for one. Therefore I have delved into the five-year-long stream of more than 1,800 photographs, enlarging 55 images that I feel illustrate the above in a particularly successful way.

Only the current state of my photographic exploration is documented in this book. Further developments can be viewed online at nolden.com

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Ulla Nolden
unolden London, UK and Düsseldorf, Germany

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