Square Mile



The first assignment. The first step in yet again a new phase in life. After reading into the concept Y Filltir Sgwar it was clear, my present situation and physical place would form the base for this instructional assignment. It is also an introduction to the additional hurdles I need to overcome. The very British character of the course, not only lingually but also visually, including British local cultural concepts, against my continental Dutch language, background and references.

A massive change in life. After selling our businesses, we moved back to Amsterdam, the city my wife and I both started our careers, not even aware of each other and still so very young. Decades later and a lifetime in between, this unique city brought me back to photography, this course and more important, renewed purpose and meaning, it forms the most crucial part of my present life.

The old city, with its numerous galleries and museums, the canals, the history and artisticity it breathes. It directly relates to who I am now and forms my Filltir Sgwar. Even Amsterdam’s strong bond with England, the numerous wars our countries fought, our shared history, unbelievable Brexit; we are so intertwined.

Despite that, I found myself lost in Anglo-Saxon references and artists; I started reading on specific photographers, who worked or lived in Amsterdam. My research went from Ed van der Elsken, back to Ad Windig and Philip Mechanica. All Amsterdam based, all artistically related and all influenced by the city and its particular and unique atmosphere. You could see and feel the influence it had on their work and life. It gave me sufficient direction to express my Square Mile. Depict my feeling and view on the city as I experience it, as I live it and live in it. The monochrome to enhance the romantic character, the historical position and, of course, the inspiration of the old masters. I cannot help seeing the city in monochrome.

I know it would be out of my comfort zone. One of the more difficult parts in photographing people up close in an urban environment is mutual tension. The human visional interpretation reflected on the lense. The lense does not know the person, nor has it the same mental focus as human vision; nevertheless, people feel personally offended by it. Busloads of tourists grab their mobile and start shooting everything, everybody, 24 hours a day, with whatever good or bad intention, killing the last remains of public privacy. Still, a single, deliberately executed photograph, remains almost unacceptable. As if the old and new, the special moment of a single photograph against the modern 24/7 registration and instant global publication of everything and everybody did go separate and inexplicable paths in the development of public perception and opinion.

In the end, this also forms my Square Mile. Love it and hate it. Love the tension, hate the excitement; love the people, dislike too many tourists; enjoy the activities, miss the silence. All the contradictions result in a constant reconsideration of my position in life and my future as a human in society, indeed Fy Milltir Sgwâr.




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