Presentation on theme: "Assignment 2 Alec Soth: NIAGARA This is Alec Soths second book from 2006 and is often associated as one of his most successful projects. The project was."— Presentation transcript:
Assignment 2 Alec Soth: NIAGARA This is Alec Soths second book from 2006 and is often associated as one of his most successful projects. The project was developed around Niagara falls and its surrounding area. It features both portraits and landscapes, often focusing upon the experiences of couples visiting Niagara for their own fairy-tale weddings. This book stood out to me because of its authentic and classical appearance. Almost as if it were designed to appear like an aged, leather-bound photo album. When I considered this, in context to the chosen image, I found the connotations of memories, love and passion were quite important themes to this overall piece.
What is the overall significance and purpose of this project? I became interested in the idea of Niagara as a metaphor for love and passion and began to explore those themes. Why do people have honeymoons on Niagara falls? Why is it associated with sexuality and passion for new love? (Alec Soth: 2006: online) Soth says that this work has something to do with passion and what is left after its inevitable demise. Niagara is part of American mythology. Its a place of romance, where people go to get married, says Soth. But when I got there my view of the place totally changed. The American side is economically devastated. Its bleak. Therefore, this project is very much about the naivety and fragility of love, and how this facade of the Hollywood wedding affects the individuals involved and their relationships with one another.
What was his approach to this project and did he face any social challenges? Driving around Niagara, I have a list of things im looking for taped to my steering wheel: high school yearbook, polaroids, men in pajamas... I cruise the motels. I ask women in bars if they have love letters. I ask couples if theyll pose nude. Most people think Im a pervert. (Alec Soth:2006) I like this unconventional approach to generating concepts and ideas, it feels quite raw and honest. I am given the impression that the resulting reactions from people would be an interesting social experiment in itself. As Soth began taking images, he found the people of Southern Ontario and New York were distrusting, The longer I spent there, the darker it got, he says. Part of that is down to me and my nature, part of it is down to the place itself. But I also find a real beauty in that darkness.
How are the images presented and how does this effect the representation of the individuals/subject matter? The images are presented in a variety of ways, sometimes they are accompanied with text (love letters). This inclusion allows us to gain a deeper understanding of not only the relationships of the couples involved but serves to further develop the ongoing story arc throughout the series. Some consistent observations in the presentation of the book are that the pages are white with a distinctive heaviness to them, images fill most of an A4 page, without frames and are in matte print, therefore dominating the focus throughout. The compositional design can vary from casual, formal to nudes. Often, the resulting expressions and body language of the individuals feels awkward with very little emotion, expressing the reality of their relationships.
There are quite a variety of images I consider to visually successful in portraying the decline of passion in relationships, as well as the economic decline of the environment. The top right portrait is of Melissa, pictured on her wedding day, appearing very formalised. Despite this, she has a very neutral expression, depicted outside of her barren motel room. As a result, it negates the romantic preconceptions of Niagara and shows the mundane reality of the situation. The bottom right image is a landscape image of a popular honeymoon hotel, with a ornament intended to represent a cliché symbol of love. Amongst this desolate environment, it is both physically and metaphorically plastic. Defying the idealistic glamorous reputation Id come to expect. Again, reinforcing this sense of deterioration and decline. Are there any images you consider to be a strong representation of the intended themes/ ideas of the photographer?
A selection of his photographic work from Niagara