Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Chang Le Road, Shanghai, originally uploaded by Susu.

One really exciting element of photography is discovery. I'm not sure if anyone ever thinks "today, I'm going to shoot mannequins." Plastic torsos can be categorized underneath found objects. It's not like nature or landscape, where you start with an idea of what is beautiful or interesting, and then go out and find it. Broken down body parts like the ones above are definitely something you find on accident, perhaps on the way to the corner store. This is why cameras must never be left behind on even the shortest of errands. Out of toothpaste? Better get your camera. Who knows what's out there waiting to be discovered.

I would have loved to be confronted with a window display like the one above. I feel that the gestures and positioning of those arms and legs really speak to me. In the front, oblivious to its own state of disrepair, a pair of slender legs poses daintily. Below it, a figure that has not only lost its head, but has fallen over heels lies in an awkward position. Behind, a final poised half-figure with back turned to us pretends to restore order to clumps of discarded rubbish. Whoever threw these leftover mannequins in this heap must have had a real eye for composition.

I also like the starkness of the bright white, clearly defined, figures surrounded by darkness. This is all that remains of some forgotten boutique or department store: an eerie reverie. It reminds me of Shelley's Ozymandias that thoroughly unimpressed me in middle school, and later proved to be poignantly appropriate when used in Alan Moore's Watchmen (hopefully not overly melodramatic when inserted here):

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said--"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desart....Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

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