What do people do whilst waiting for their train on an overground platform, in London?
A one year time-lapse project about people and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) over-ground in London.
I had been working by my window for over a year, looking at the DLR platform like one looks at a mountain or a seascape for inspiration when one wants the mind to wonder somewhere else.
One day, out of the blue, I saw that all the 4 people waiting for the train on the platform were on their Smartphone - either talking or looking at the screen, as one must do nowadays. The daylight was so beautiful, the colours so cinematographic that I told myself: how come I have never noticed this before? Project Platform was born: a project to enable me to get out of my artistic comfort zone, pushing the limits of digital photography.
The first time-lapse, a pure attempt to capture the light, beauty and the boredom of the people on the platform. Technically speaking, it is very simple and straight forward photography put together in motion but it took me a long time understanding how I wanted it to look and to find the time/train/people equation.
After 3 months researching for the next time-lapse and watching some great B&W films I realised how mainstream cinema at the beginning of the movies era was more daring than today’s. They were more experimental, making use of very sharp editing, really close close-ups and double exposures; At the time, I started taking the DLR overground twice a week and I realised that the passengers use their mobiles phones more for texting on the DLR than on the tube. That got me thinking of a way to capture images of these people and then layer these images over the time-lapse ones.
I then programmed my Android phone to take pictures without actually triggering the LCD screen. It enabled me to take pictures without looking and without being noticed either.
I got a good number of images inside the DLR which helped with the layering as it was quite time consuming to find the right match between the phone shot with the platform ones – actually it was really difficult. I took me almost 6 months looking, doing and re-doing.
I decided to follow the experimental trend I was on since the Spring video and went for a pinhole time-lapse. I made the “telephoto lens” out of air-dough – an air-drying modelling clay material - moulded on my own telephoto. Once it dried out I took the actual lens out and closed the front with a foil sheet and made a hole.
Shooting was very tricky, indeed. I spent a whole day playing with the exposure until I got it right.
I shot it 3 times - it was the first time I re-shot for the project. I kept waiting for a foggy day and when it happened I didn't like the result so I re-shot it and was OK with it then another incredible foggy day came up and I re-shot it for the third time.
I thought I wanted it to be Black & White, I thought I had prepared myself for having a silent movie look but when it got to the point of actually making it, I didn't think it worked. It didn't go with the other 3 or 4 if you count the main projection, the Tunnel. In the end, it turned out beautiful, I think.