August 14, 2005

(Berkeley, 2002. Image copyright Hamish Reid).

An obvious composite, the result of multiple obsessions with the Underground (Angel Islington station in particular) and with the clash of forms and shapes with the mannequin (again) and Y's presence.

Angel Underground (Tube) station in the 1980's was an impressive place, a real work of decay and odd angles, faded colours mixed with tendrils of mould and slime, rubbed-brass railings and smashed-wood benches, ancient red fire buckets and even older clanking elevators, a place that was both something out of Eraserhead and a busy urban thoroughfare tens of metres beneath Islington in London. I don't think even a hundredth of the people passing through Angel station ever noticed the strangeness of the place.

I used to dream of doing a short video in one take, swirling around the station to a sountrack by someone like the Happy Mondays or even Joy Division. Unable to do that (in those days I just couldn't have afforded it...) I spent the time instead taking photos, something the Underground really prohibited even in those days. I used to sneak into the station with my little tripod under my long coat, and wait until a train had emptied the station of most of the people on the platform, then shoot away for a minute or so. Once a guard on one of the trains -- a tall turbanned Sikh -- saw me and started yelling at me out of his door that I had to stop taking photos or he'd call the police. I couldn't help it -- I just pointed my little camera at him and pretended to take some photos (I'd just run out of film). The change was immediate -- he suddenly grinned, did a Marliyn Monroeish pose, pout and all, winked at me, then closed the doors, and off the train went. Wish I'd had more film right then...

The other image came from the original mannequin session as a side effect of the main image. As usual, I didn't really expect to use this particular image, but I liked the usual contrasts between Y's skin and curves and her verticals vs. the mannequin's horizontality. Shame about the cropping, though -- I just wasn't really thinking at this stage, since I'd already got the image I wanted. The image basically just sat there for a year or so, until I decided I'd revisit it. I did the usual thing of adding blue to abstract things a little (there really aren't any naturally blue humans, oddly enough) and printed it up like that. I rather liked it, but it wasn't as interesting as some of the other images from that session, so again I just left it sit there.

So on a whim -- well, it wasn't as random as that makes it sound -- I composited Y and an old photo of Angel. And there it was... one of my favourite manipulated or faked images. People always ask if I'm implying Y's some sort of angel, but that wasn't the point at all -- it's Angel Underground, not some sort of vision of Y -- but I'm not going to argue, since it works either way. I guess I like this for all the usual reasons -- the abstractions, the contrasts, and the geomtry -- but as always, for me this image has a lot of personal resonance, which means it may not work as well for you....
It radiates, man.

Okay, Hamish. What is Ylayali? I've sought and sought to no avail.
Ylayali? The short cryptic response (oh, "Let's Get Nice & Cryptic") is usually along the lines of "read Knut Hamsen's 'Hunger'".... The longer version is very boring and definitely not for public consumption, but hey, sometimes available via email (not that anyone's ever asked).
Then by Gad, I guess I'm asking.

Do you know how I first found you? I searched for my name and found a girl, topless, hugging a mannequin.
Hi Hamish
this is a very odd thing, to find you after so many years ... what great work! very beautiful.
It would be great to catch up (email) please drop me some characters ....
kim (at)
warm wishes
Kim Machan
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Hamish Reid is a photographer, designer, and software engineer living and working in the Jingletown district of Oakland, California. This is his full profile.

You can get hold of Hamish at xyzphotolalia at ylayalixyz dot com without the xyx's.

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