Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Photo Shoot: Munich Olympic Village

Munich's olympic village is sadly most famous for the 1972 terror attack on the Israeli team, however, it is a fascinating piece of urban landscape.  Following the 1972 Olympics the village has been converted into apartments and a student village.  The area is at first glance a concrete jungle, but closer inspection reveals a comfortable living environment with terraced apartment buildings offering large balconies covered in green plants.  There are no cars, all traffic follows underground driveways beneath the housing.  The strangest aspect is the guiding pipe system in which what appears to be an above ground water system painted in different colours acts to guide people from location to location.  I presume this was built to enable easy navigation through the vaste complex for athletes with multiple spoken and written languages.

My goal in going there to photograph was to scout out a possible location for Assignment 4 in the People and Places course. However, I am also interested in the deadpan aesthetic of Stephen Shore and William Eggleston, and to a lesser degree Martin Parr.  Their approach to photographing vernacular almost banal subjects elevates ordinary scenes into art forms.  This is not an attempt to recreate their style, but my goal is to photograph this area with view to recording what is there as it exists.  Few people inhabit these photographs as it was a weekday afternoon and my focus was more upon the interactions between the architectural elements of the village.  If I select this as the basis for Assignment 4, my return visits will include the people.

The village is a predominantly grey environment with small accents of colour, I have boosted the colour in post processing  to emphasize this property.  These were slightly more technically challenging photographs than I usually take as I elected to work with a 24mm tilt shift lens in an attempt to correctly reflect the geometry of the architecture.  A tilt-shift lens is manual focus and each photograph is complicated by the need to determine the aperture prior to shifting the lens.  I did not take a tripod, generally needed when using such a lens and so judging horizontal positioning of the lens was difficult and some of the images ended up with slightly strange perspective.  All of this had the effect of slowing me down and forcing me to consider carefully the framing and exposure of each individual shot.

When arriving at the village the first impact is the overwhelmingly monochromatic nature of the space, releaved by attempts to add colour

Another noticeable aspect is the multi-layer environment, with roads running underneath the buildings, visible only occasionally.

The most striking feature, though are the raised pipes with different colours indicating routes to different parts of the village.  Here a Chinese restaurant nestles beneath a cluster of pipes

Turning around another set of pipes carries a different routing and perspective

The next photograph presented itself to me as soon as I walked down the ramps, with the intersecting triangles and the symmetry of the yellow pipe and apartment building behind it

These steps led down to the student village an area of small concreate blocks each with a baclcony on top and small windows on the sides.  The students are encouraged to paint the environment as they wish and the small windows serve not to allow light into the building but to act as showcases for works of art, each flat having an installation.  The village is very bare at present, 3 years ago a large party became a riot causing substantial damage and requiring a rebuild of the village:

On the day I was there the sky was blue with light fluffy clouds, nice, but I think the village would look better with an overcast grey sky further darkening the mood of the place but enabling the splashes of colour to stand out more.

Walking away from the village and looking back from a small hill overlooking the area:

Heading back towards the subway I passed the BMW museum, another monument to glass, steel and concrete, Germany really loves grey.  However, in front of this stylistic and vastly expensive building was a bright pink ice cream stand, completely at odds with the aesthetic that BMW wanted to present.  Reflected in the glass above the ice cream stand is the Olympic Village I had just left and this stands as the final image in my selection here

This will not be easy place to characterize, many different communities co-exist here and some are openly hostile to outsiders, however, there is a wealth of opportunity to juxtapose the colourful  lives of the inhabitants with the bleakness of their homes

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