the first shoot, house two doors down, and the abandoned hospital, both on my block empty
January 23, 2009
I fell asleep super early exhausted. Much has happened in the last 24 hours. This time last night, I was hatching a new website using Google App tools. Nice, except for photographs. This should improve, and I think this is just the first of many generations from them.
After becoming a virtual web-person several months ago with a website, these things started to add up:
Websites let me do many things I wouldn’t have dreamed of--6 months ago. Being on Facebook, I’ve reconnected with several College roommates, and the girl I took to Prom. Connecting in both silly, and intellectual ways.
That experience of communicating in Real Time was repeated all over again recently when I joined bluecanvas.com. Immediately, I met people in Taiwan, Canada, Australia, and Europe. We all were thinking about our Art--often alone. Then, over the keyboard came a real feeling of understanding that went beyond the mere words on the screen.
We spoke the language of images...
Another recent experience moved me to think too. I volunteered to shoot a Moveon.org event at Rep Keith El office. 35 people showed up and talked to each other about the economy first. We were then cut in half and brought into a small conference room to meet an Ellison staffer. Everyone was smiling, talking in turns, and listening intently. I took photographs of the group, and anyone that made a speech. I connected with two people through email after that meeting.
The experiences were wide ranging. Everyone had been impacted by the economy. Put together it was a very complicated, and emotional story told by a Ford worker to a landlord. I think the majority of the group was actually made up of female teachers, active and retired.
We send the photographs to Moveon... and others across the nation did the same thing that day.
Moveon, got back to me two weeks later that they were in too hi res, and to be honest with you, that was the lowest setting on the camera. A Nikon D 3, set to jpeg basic and Raw at the same time. Next time, I’ll cut it again with Software. Normally, I try for the highest Resolution all the time. I hated Tri-X, and fell in love with Kodachrome 25, when I was young. Later I played with Technical Pan film, for giant blow-ups in black and white and Zone. These are the highest resolution films-if you’re not a photographer.
Now everything I’ve mentioned, is about to lead to this--The 100abandonedhomesinminneapolis Project.
You see, Moveon also got back to me saying they loved the photos and wanted me to do it again.
I looked at the photos and thought, I would never display them next to my art. They weren’t powerful enough for me. I felt nothing visceral from looking at them. What were these people even talking about in the photographs? It wasn’t there for me--in the photographs.
I want my art to be powerful; it has to get your attention. It has to invade your memory, otherwise what’s the point?
Then, I was writing Kai about Evolutionary Theory Econ, and his role in the community and other things when...
All the above had to happen for...
It to hit me.
I would photograph 100 abandoned homes in Minneapolis.
Maybe, this is a really bad idea, I’ve thought a couple of times since. What on earth on have I gotten myself into? I think it could even take up to a year.
I called the Mayor, Councilman Ostrow, Rep Ellison, and the Police Chief’s office today to let them know my intention.
Now, many non Photographers might think--why did you do that right away?!
And many Photographers will tell you right away, that they get to talk to the Police and Security Guards all the time.
Why are you on these railroad tracks?
Why are you shooting photographs--IN THE DARK?!
What’s in that bag?--I was once searched for a gun.
I’ve had the experience of trying to explain art to policemen.
Try it--see how you do.
And so I think it will be easier than doing it from the back seat of the squad car for the first time.
Besides, I even admitted to them, I intend 15~20 minutes throughout the entire yard, and I might peer right into windows for my photographs.
When I talked to Lekesha today, in the Police Chief’s office, she became much more interested when I asked her about crime at abandoned homes. She immediately wanted me to call the Safe Officer in my Precinct and talk to them. It was late in the day, and we didn’t connect.
I’d like to hear of some hot addresses, from them. Or, where has something important, already happened?
After hanging up, I wondered if they still allow ride-alongs, and if they do I will ask for one.
Now, I think I’m on their side.
I know I’ll end up talking to them...
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING? A NEIGHBOR CALLED”.
And they’ll be right to ask me.
So, I want to spew all the people I told, when I talk curious squad-car. The Mayors office, Rep Ellisons, Ostrows, and The Chief’s.
Yes--I talked to Lakesa downtown, and the Safe Officer”.
And then, I hope to steer our conversation--to my topic. What have you the police seen, around abandoned homes?
How do you think--it affects crime?
What do they you--it does to a community?
Do you think--there’s a tipping point for a block--where it’s hard to come back? How many houses does that take? I’m sure they’ll get me to think of things I hadn’t thought of yet.
And, to be honest with you, I may see something in one building that makes me call the police and I will have my cell phone on me. So--it could get interesting.
Now, I admit too, I was hoping for a bit more cooperation, especially from the Mayor’s office. My staffer, wanted to keep me from the Mayor, though in fairness I’m sure he’s very busy, and he pointed me to an open house three weeks from now for an hour. A line around the corner, and then you get your moment...
I intend to make the most of it though. I hope to get a smiling pic of the Mayor for you. And, I’ll have my Macbook Pro with me and I’ll show him some photos.
Oh well, nobody said today “I couldn’t do it”--I have that much permission right now. ; )
And with that, there’s not much more to say.
It’s now time for the no-words,
it’s now time for the images. It’s 4:30 as I write this, I’m pumping on coffee.
I have a Nikon D3,
14~24 mm f/2.8
24~70 mm f2.8
80~200 mm f2.8
2 X Teleconverter
2 X SB800 Strobes
I’m going to walk right out my front door. Two doors down is a house that’s been unoccupied the entire time I’ve lived here--almost 5 years.
And, it gets better, that entire time too, has had an abandoned hospital 1.5 blocks from where I live. Abbott Campus, of Abbot Northwestern Hospital; it takes up an entire block. For 5 years--they’ve both been empty.
Now, the house is being renovated,
And the Hospital, at least parts, disassembled.
I have photographed the Hospital before. It attracts my eye. Long ago, I even worked on a Psych ward there. Spooky.
Once, walking dogs with a friend, I wanted to show her one of my favorite photographs “Abandoned Hospital Courtyard”--where it was taken from.
We cut around the back north side parking lot and found a young man with “flat--affect”, as we say on the Psych ward.
He looked dour, and disheveled, and he’d made his way out of the “unoccupied” Hospital.
Sirens approached from every direction. We looked at each other surprised.
“My friend over-dosed inside” --he said in a monotone.
That took my breath and I didn’t know what to say except simply : “Good Luck”--and we made our way out of there.
So you see, this isn’t such an abstract thing that I have to get in my car and drive across town for.
Jeez--no body told me--I live in the bad part of town.
Now, I’m not sure I elected to do--exactly that.
I knew my landlord who lived in one of the houses, and he let me have multiple aquariums and a dog, which is rare. I am an animal person.
So, when I moved in, I wasn’t exactly electing to live in the bad part of town.
Now, by the way, I think where I live is a very vital area if you don’t know it. Many young people and students, people and restaurants from every nation, developed expensive condos, and little me. I live in a 100 year old house that was once rather grand, but now it’s cut into 4 apartments. The block is half apartments, and half very large 100 year old homes... just a couple blocks from downtown Minneapolis. Thanks to what may happen to gas prices again, it could end up being green and a bargain to live here. You could walk or bike downtown to work.
Hmmm, at night, I did prefer walking with my dog when he was alive...
But I’m going to walk outside now and see what things look like in the dark.