After Marville…East End Transformations

Posted on February 10, 2016


I have now received back my first batch of pinhole photographs of redevelopment activity around Shoreditch/Spitalfields.

The reference to ‘transformations’ in the title of this post has, at least, two meanings. In the first instance the subject matter itself is concerned with the physical transformation of the urban environment. On another level it also refers to the photographic process itself which takes a physical scene and transfers it onto film. This in turn is digitised, further processed/transformed and ultimately presented as a two dimensional print/book. The way in which the images are presented will of course ‘transform’ how the images are read.

As I indicated in my earlier post here, by making the images using an antique form of photography I am hoping that the disjuncture between the style of representation and the modernity of the content of the images will jar with the viewer, raising questions about the the appropriateness of the developments pictured. The antique form of presentation could also be read as a reference to the role of nostalgia in the debate about redevelopment activity.

Use of the pinhole camera has proved worthwhile adding, in my view, an old style feel to the images. The soft focus and graininess of the film hark back to the early days when lenses and emulsions were less sharp. I have added a sepia tone and burned in the edges in the digital processing – ‘mannerisms’ common in Marville’s day.

The long exposures (5 to 120 seconds) necessary with the pinhole have result in blurring of the movement of people in the images. In many cases they have simply disappeared – just as in Marville’s images of Paris. This absence could be read as a reference to urban alienation or even to the way people are being displaced or excluded from inner London environments.

Here are the best of the photographs so far. I shot 5 120 films (60 images) using largely Ilford Delta 100 with one film of Pan F 50. I cropped the images to 6×7 aspect ratio which is similar to the dimensions of an antique half-plate.

Pinhole Antique Plate East End Transformations-1

Great Eastern Street ©Keith Greenough 2016

Pinhole Antique Plate East End Transformations-2

King John Court ©Keith Greenough 2016

Pinhole Antique Plate East End Transformations-3

Bishopsgate Goodsyard ©Keith Greenough 2016

Pinhole Antique Plate East End Transformations-4

Spital Square ©Keith Greenough 2106

Pinhole Antique Plate East End Transformations-5

Brushfield Street ©Keith Greenough 2016

Pinhole Antique Plate East End Transformations-6

Former Fruit and Wool Exchange, Spitalfields ©Keith Greenough 2016

Pinhole Antique Plate East End Transformations-7

Bell Lane ©Keith Greenough 2016

Pinhole Antique Plate East End Transformations-8

Bishopsgate Institute ©Keith Greenough 2016