Urban Color II

So here there is a continuation of a previous post where I presented a series of pictures of a little project I am doing on my free time. Just a bit more of my thoughts and new images.

When working on my project ‘Pre-Olympic Landscapes’, I took a picture that illustrates very simply the change in the urban landscape, but also the division of spaces. Two things are predominant in this picture: the intense blue and the fluorescent orange.

These are alert colors designed to take our attention. They lack of nuance and frivolity. These colors dye temporary urban objects, like walls, cones, fences, but also road signs as well as other signs. These objects are abundant in our cities, and they organize, divide the urban space. Sometimes we also find them in public buildings like council states, having a function of cohesion/identification of a group of buildings, not to say a aesthetic one.

These objects are abundant in cities, and make us follow directions, avoid obstacles, circulate safer. They are part of the conduct rules in our society. But they also become obstacles we want to jump and break.

But my real motivation to photograph these objects/ colors is the aesthetic feeling (wouldn’t say pleasure) I find in them.

We often find these colors covering geometric shapes, that repeat as patterns, and when they are bathed by an aggressive sunlight, can provoke scenes of considerable abstraction. Then I have in my head an unexpected tickly feeling, and I dream of triangular explosions of Kandiskian shapes, of hieratic but at the same time dynamic geometric forms.

So I have been out in the street again, looking for it, and found it. I also found other things I am exposing here as a roughly edited series.

All the pictures are taken in & around Hackney, in Stamford Hill, Tottenham, Clapton and Homerton. I’ve used 35mm Velvia film.


This one not much to do with what I was talking about, just a picture of Hackney 🙂

Property Paranoid

I feel I have to write about that:

These days I am working on a little project being the street itself the main subject. Despite being the street the subject, I am avoiding to include people in the frame, as I want to concentrate in other aspects. I am basically photographing street signs along with lines, geometric shapes, colors and so on.  A pretty safe subject. I am doing it around Hackney, where I live, with no Bank owned streets and stuff like that. But something happened to me the other day:

I saw a car, a violet Honda Accord in a street close to Hoxton Market -It was after having taken what it felt a couple of really good frames. You feel really comfortable then, suddenly all the colors and lines and everything appeal to you- The building behind the car along with a stop sign made a possible picture. I stopped and started looking through the viewfinder, to find that the picture wasn’t interesting anymore. I decided not to press the release and was about to walk away  when I was interrupted by a big guy, a head taller than me and with a suite. He seemed quite civilized, and non violent, otherwise I would have run away.

‘This is my car, why are you taking pictures?’

I was already angry after the question, but I kept quite.

‘Sorry Sir, but I didn’t take any picture’

‘Yes you did, I saw you, show me the picture!’

I explained him that I was shooting on a film camera, and that in the hipotetic case I would have taken the picture, I couldn’t show it to him. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about.

He was very offended, as if I had scratched his car or broken one of the mirrors or something worse. From the begining he sounded rude and threatening. I then started to get really angry. Then I realised we were next to a solicitor’s office and that he worked there. I was really expecting the question.

‘I am a lawyer, you know?’

Then I said he should know being a lawyer that I can photograph private property while  standing on public property…I also said he must have something to hide otherwise he wouldn’t be that concerned about me photographing his bloody car.

‘So, ok, let’s assume I have taken the picture, so what? Your car is in the street, I can look at it, take pictures, talk to it, and don’t have any legal nor MORAL obligation to ask its owner, even if I know you are the owner and you are right here’.

‘But you took pictures, it’s my property, it can get stolen, I am gonna call the police.’ He took his mobile phone out, menacing. Then I could have walked away (and should have done) but instead I said.

‘Ok call the police, I can just run now but I am gonna wait here for the police to come, come on call’ (Later I thought I could have called the police myself and tell them I was being threaten by a man with no reason. I should have done it.)

Finally a friend of the man came and told him to leave me alone. But he made a final statement: ‘This is my car, it is my property and you cannot even look at it.’

I said ‘go and complain to google who photographed your car, your house, your parents house, your parents and your wife’s car, your fuckin front garden and probably your entire family and their bloody properties, without bothering to ask any of you…and leave me alone’

I was then really angry and he fucked my morning up. This kind of incidents make me feel bitterness and make me think violently. I stopped what I was doing and went home. Then I thought about going back to the car and scratch it and throw stones to it and blow up everything. On my way home I dreamed about destroying the car and even felt sorry for the guy, for how he would feel if I ever did.

Sacred bloody property. Degenerate owner. Thanks god he wasn’t violent. And thanks god I wasn’t either.

Urban Color

Road works, council states, traffic signs, building sites: these urban spaces have it’s own iconography. I am photographing these intense and strictly urban color because I find in it certain aesthetic pleasure. It is not commercial color, nor it is cultural, despite having a bit of each. Just a few images following this post to introduce:

All images Copyright Arnau Oriol