Throwback Friday #83 Katowice 2017/19

The latest Kick-About got me looking through an old archive of photographs, and images taken in Katowice, Poland, in particular. For this Friday’s retrospective, I’m offering up a collection of architectural highlights from my two visits to the city; the wonderfully cinematic Spodek (“It Came From Outer Space!“); an equally filmic old house, shrouded in drapes of black plastic; a view of the cathedral from the rain-wet atrium of the Filharmonia Śląska building, and the formidably organic-looking memorial commemorating the three post-WWI Polish armed uprisings against the German authorities of Upper Silesia in 1919, 1920 and 1921.

La Ville #1 (2021)

I took the photograph (below) in Katowice, Poland, on the first of my two trips there in 2017 and 2019 respectively. My reason for visiting the city was on account of my collaboration with the orchestra there.

This particular image was taken on my first visit, on a bright winter’s afternoon, as I explored the city in the gap between rehearsal and performance. Léger’s painting, La Ville (the prompt for The Kick-About No. 41) reminded me of this image, something about the absence of any horizon and all those vertical stripes, the prompt sending me back to my archives for a rummage.

The association made, I set myself the task of using this one photograph as the only element in a digital collage, re-sizing it, layering it, rotating it, slicing it up, and then building it back together again. Different layering combinations soon pushed out different colours, and ultimately, different cities, or rather the same city at different times of the day. In common with so many of these Kick-About challenges, I find restricting my available resources to be an effective way of getting into making different types of work.

Hanabi (2021)

The fun thing about participating in The Kick-About is the way it produces these intense bouts of creative exploration, sending me off in different directions every two weeks and often exerting a tight grip on my imagination. What’s really nice about The Kick-About is the way these moments are fleeting, and when I’m finally done with something, I’m done.

With regards to the specific prompt for the KA#40 – exquisite illustrations for Japanese firework catalogues – I was as much drawn to the elegance of the illustrations’ portrait format, as to the visual pleasures of the fireworks themselves, which gave rise to this final turn of the wheel. These latest panels, which take their name from the Japanese word for firework (or fire flower), derive from the sleek letter-box format of the short film Whizz Bang Ooh Aah, which in turn derived from a series of photographs with soap bubbles as their original subject. They make me want to see them printed very large in a hushed and darkened room, lit by soft white light.

After Flowers Of Fire #5 (2021)

A few last squibs from my photographic mission to ‘blow things up’ in response to the firework theme of The Kick-About No.40, only the only ‘blowing up’ taking place in the production of these images was me blowing down a short length of hosepipe into some very soapy water. All the breaking apart and bokeh derives from focusing through the resulting bubbles, producing these immersive, layered constellations.

After Flowers Of Fire #2 (2021)

A second assortment of ‘bubble-originated’ photographs forming part of my attempts to emulate scintillas of firework-inspired sparks for the purposes of exploring The Kick-About No.40. It does look as if I’ve been photographing handfuls of sequins or similar, or puffing smoke and glitter into the air. More prosaically, I was sitting beside a big bowl of soap suds with a length of hosepipe in my mouth, blowing mounds of bubbles into existence, before capturing all the points of lights, froth and facets in the view finder. Another run-of-the-mill day at Red’s Kingdom!

After Flowers Of Fire #1 (2021)

The Kick-About No.40 inevitably got me thinking about ways I might make fireworks my photographic subject without burning down the house in the process! I settled upon an equivalent phenomena that shared both the ‘rainbows’ and ephemerality of fireworks, filling a large white bowl with water and lots of washing-up liquid, and setting about blowing large heaps of bubbles. I was able to focus on, and through, all the multiple planes of the bubbles, which I soon learned produced these nicely ‘explosive’ qualities. I was reminded of the moments just after a rocket explodes, so not the big sky-born chrysanthemums, but the petering out of the last few sparks against the smudges of smoke. I took a whole bunch of photographs, always trying to find the next most expressive composition, and all the time racing against the inevitable popping of my soapy installation. There’s a few more to see over the coming days.