Hereford Photography Festival 2011

I spent today at Hereford Photography Festival. The highlights from my perspective were

I got round quite a few other shows but the above were the ones that caught my attention, why?

Parkour captured the dynamics of the sport’. Day recognises that Parkour is as much about the architecture and structures that enable the sport, as the participants themselves. He therefore renders the figures small and subordinate to the often brutal architecture. He uses very low viewpoints, for example the bottom of Victoria Embankment. These viewpoints also serve to emphasise the injury threatening / death defying aspects of the sport. I must admit I was baffled as to how he handles the subject brightness range in setting his figures against the sky – flash must play a part as indeed it must in freezing the action. I also liked the way that Day showed the international appeal of this activity with images from the UK, France and India – with the latter using rocks and streams as their baseboard rather than buildings.

Immersion consists of videos and stills of children immersed in playing , ( often violent), video games. I had seen the stills before, in magazines, but not the video. Although it’s on a relatively short loop, it’s compelling. It also shows a difference in the way boys and girls react to video games – the boys enjoy the ‘killing’, the girls look stressed by the experience. Like all rules, there are exceptions – the boy with a test rolling down his cheek as he plays and the androgynous girl who betrays no emotion as she shoots and shoots.

‘Interrogations’ contains images of individuals being interrogated by the police in an unspecified location. Weber states he’s looking for the fleeting moment of honesty under interrogation. I believe he’s found it, particularly in the gentleman with a pistol against his temple.

My final selection is Manuel Vasquez about whom I have relatively little to say. I enjoyed his ‘traces’  images of Atocha station in Madrid, I have no idea how he captured the receding lines of individuals in little pools of light – perhaps it was a montage, I don’t think it was but I genuinely don’t know – I’ll have to find out!

Overall, a very worthwhile day. I’ll go again next year but not on a Saturday- too many of the venues are closed at weekends.

Update 8/1/12

More on Donald Weber’s work here in on BJP’s site.

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