"The Making of a Place"
by Stephen Brookbank
"The Making of a Place" is an ongoing photographic project I have been developing. This project is an after dark, pre-dawn exploration of the urban, suburban, industrial environments of Hamilton, Ontario. My ambition is the creation of a powerful visual record bearing witness to the majesty and stoicism of the citizens and the architectural footprint of the Hamilton area. My work is made on a large format film camera utilizing long exposures with only available light in an effort to produce photographs that illustrate the "truth" of a scene.
With a combination of environmental portraits in home, work and play settings I attempt to illustrate the strength of a people in the midst of a challenging period in human history. North America is in a phase of de-industrialization, particularly in manufacturing centres. I am interested in creating work that supposes allegories representing the flexibility and adaptive strength of these resilient inhabitants. The dignity of the scenes photographed in this work has gradually grown outward from inside these homes and workplaces out of the necessities and character of the inhabitants.
The interest in of the photographers associated with New Topographic movement of the 1970s, was to identify a critical view of the current state of America. My interest, however, is to look at the everyday urban/suburban landscape with a sense of awe and respect, coloured with the mixed-up lighting situations of the available light of our night time environments. This work is a documentary of the stories of our present times, yet ever changing.
My photographic practice takes focus on contemporary social and economic uncertainty, adopting banal images of North America’s urban landscape as raw material for my visual record. The exchange between life and work is a primary concern in which my intention is to further extend the explorations of early American documentary photographers into what the present world will look like as a past era.