Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘photography’

09 SEPTEMBER, 2011

Portraits of Workspaces

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What salt-water taffies have to do with hard hats, mannequins and kindergarten playrooms.

Workspaces have their own unique curiosity to them. Unlike homes, which are tailored around just a few residents, a work environment’s design must blend utility, efficiency, and comfort for all the different people who work within its walls. And it’s these people filling the space that give it another design dimension; we inevitably imbue these environments with our design aesthetic and personalities, as we spend countless waking hours inhabiting them. Perhaps this is what makes workspaces so compelling to document.

We’ve compiled a few exceptional projects found on The Behance Network that document people at work, from those who blend seamlessly into their workspaces to the delightful misfits.

POINT OF SALE

In Point of Sale by Shane Butler, dozens of trade-related accessories end up defining the space for these employees.

MANNEQUIN WORKERS BY DYLAN COLLARD

In Mannequin Workers, Dylan Collard goes inside a mannequin factory, where the human form is everywhere, making those with real flesh and blood both stand out and blend in.

AT WORK PORTRAITS

In is At Work Portraits, Rüdiger Nehmzow explores a flawless and sleek scientific workplace, where the setting seems to overwhelm the people within it.

ANOTHER VIEW

Another View by Mitar Simikic captures people at home and lending their personality to their workspaces, be it a woodpile out back or a kindergarten classroom.

PORTRAITS OF WORKERS

In Portraits of Workers @ Sofidel SPA by Alessandro Puccinelli, workers pose within the steely expanse of their workspace, both proud of and dwarfed by the machinery they operate.

Mell Perling is a community manager at Behance, where she writes about creative work at the Behance team blog and @TheServed on Twitter. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

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08 SEPTEMBER, 2011

Asylum: Inside the Haunting World of 19th-Century Mental Hospitals

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What straitjackets have to do with Eames chairs and the mutations of policy ideals.

One of the 19th-century’s most notorious socioarchitectural phenomena were the “insane asylums” that housed the era’s mentally ill — enormous and stunning buildings whose architecture stood in stark contrast with the ominous athmosphere of their inner workings. Fascinated by this phenomenon and its ghosts, photographer Christopher Payne set out to document the afterlife of those baleful buildings in Asylum: Inside The Closed World Of State Mental Hospitals — a compendium of images that peel away at a lost world and, in the process, offer a provocative portrait of the history of our (mis)treatment of the mentally ill. A foreword by iconic neuroscientist Oliver Sacks (remember him?) frame the photographs in a sociocultural context of how these institutions evolved and what role they came to play, both in their time and in our reflections on history.

Autopsy theater, St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington, DC

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Patient dresses, Clarinda State Hospital, IA

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Mead building lobby, Yankton State Hospital, SD

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Straitjacket, Logansboard State Hospital, IN

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

What’s most peculiar about those asylums is that they, like much of policy dysmorphia that begins with an idealistic vision and ends in a social malady, began with the idea of “moral treatment” wherein the ill would be removed from the city and placed in these Utopian environments, many of which were fully self-sufficient and even generated their own electricity, and put to meaningful work.

Asylums offered a life with its own special protections and limitations, a simplified and narrowed life perhaps, but within this protective structure, the freedom to be as mad as one liked and, for some patients at least, to live through their psychoses and emerge from their depths as saner and stabler people.

In general, though, patients remained in asylums for the long term. There was little preparation for return to life outside, and perhaps after years cloistered in an asylum, residents became ‘institutionalized’ to some extent, and no longer desired, or could no longer face, the outside world.” ~ Oliver Sacks

Beauty salon, Trenton State Hospital, NJ

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Patient suitcases, Bolivar State Hospital, TN

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Buffalo State Hospital, NY

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Unclaimed cremation urns, Oregon State Hospital, OR

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Hiding in Payne’s photographs are peculiar objects that survived almost untouched amidst the general decay of their surroundings — a colorful armchair here, some toothbrushes there, slippers, even some Eames chairs.

Patient toothbrushes, Hudson River State Hospital, NY

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Typical ward, Buffalo State Hospital, NY

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Asylum is part Library of Dust, part Urban Atrophy, part its own room in humanity’s haunted house of collective memory.

via NPR

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06 SEPTEMBER, 2011

Ray: A Life Underwater

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What antique cannon balls have to do with walking on the moon and life on the bottom of the world.

For 75-year-old Ray Ives, life is an endless treasure hunt. For the past half-century, he has been scouring the ocean floor for anything that glitters, bringing back to the surface everything from swords to bottles to real gold — in a diving suit from the early 1900s. Ray: A Life Underwater is a haunting and beatiful short film by Amanda Bluglass and Danny Cooke, a poetic portrait of the unusual man through his collection of unusual marine artifacts that captures his ceaseless curiosity and serene lens on the world.

For someone who hasn’t dived, I couldn’t explain, really. Well, it’s like when you’re on the moon, I suppose. I’ve never been on the moon, but when you’re down on the bottom, it’s sandy like the moon, you feel pressure on your body, especially the deeper you go, and I guess it just reminds you of space. You hold your breath, it’s absolutely perfect.”

The film is part Past Objects, part Things, part candidate for this omnibus of poetic short films about obsolete occupations, part perfect piece of weekday escapism.

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