The Office

December 11, 2014  •  1 Comment

 

 

The OfficeThe Office

 

Abandon Hope

 

I don’t aspire to doing social commentary or journalistic photography, but I can interpret the architectural and visual lessons of this image from personal experience, because I not only photographed there, but I actually worked there! Every time I set foot in this space, I felt the power of Dante Alighieri’s famous description of the inscription over the entrance to Hell: “Abandon Hope all ye who enter here”.

 

I will pull a veil over the name of the employer concerned, but suffice it to say that it was a corridor next to a bank dealing room in New York. Much of the ghastly, anorexic, aesthetic is due to the plunging lines of perspective down four planes of poorly lit, largely unvaried texture and colour, as well as the much-reduced headroom caused by several feet of computer and electrical cabling under the floor, servicing manic high-speed trading being pursued on the other side of the wall.

 

What does this do to you?

 

I sought to photograph what I felt and I was significantly assisted when someone walked into shot at the end of the corridor, dwarfed and pressed into insignificance by the power of the lines squeezing down on him. I was not keen to be berated for using a camera in a private space by the powers that be, or by the individual coming towards me, so I hurried to capture the moment, hand-held and without flash.

 

My aesthetic sensibilities were always screaming as I entered this corridor. My mind would spit invective at the person or persons unknown who chose the carpet, wall covering and ceiling tiles, as well as the disinterested or budget-obsessed administrators who thought that the yawning gap of taste might be alleviated by a few posters, which no doubt lauded the achievements or services provided by the esteemed institution in which we plied our trade. Frankly the style could only be characterized as “North Korean Secret Service Chic”. I came to the view that these choices could only be justified by an intent to create sensory deprivation and a drone-like attitude to work in the denizens of this area. Given that they were almost entirely computer engineers, perhaps this was indeed the idea?

 

All joking apart

 

Notwithstanding the tongue-in-cheek character of the preceding invective, I do find this a powerful architectural image and a lesson in environmental deprivation. The tonal uniformity, crushed space and paucity of decoration give increased power to the plunging lines of perspective and the dehumanizing effect on the human beings passing through.

 

I could add that the recreation and dining area for the staff in the adjacent noisy, crowded rooms was off this corridor space. I can imagine numerous ways in which the corridor could have given a moment of pleasure, restfulness for the eye and the encouragement to enjoy something to its users, as a counterweight to the stressful activities they were leaving behind them.

 

I should also add, out of respect for the whole truth, that this was an egregiously poor environmental example in an otherwise normal and reasonably pleasant enterprise space.

 

As a postscript, I can add that the said institution has now relocated. I trust that the errors of the past have been remedied in a more humane and energizing new space.

 

Technical

 

Camera: Nikon D70

Lens: 18-70mm zoom f/3.5 G

Focal Length: 18 mm

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/10s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : O

Metering: Spot

ISO Sensitivity: 800

Hand held

 

Would any of my many well-placed readers, with responsibilities for facilities and budgets, care to argue against my little critical outburst?

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2014


Comments

Eric(non-registered)
Hello Paul,
En effet, je crois que l'entreprise est un vrai sujet photographique dont tu nous as donné ici un exemple parlant.
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