Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The British Museum

Well, I managed to complete the exercise 'Exploring function' after a couple of setbacks. Firstly I discovered I needed permission to photograph at my local library so I decided to visit the British Library instead in an attempt to utilise the planning I had done with a library in mind. However, I found the British Library to offer a only marginally better proposal. This was photography being allowed in the main lobby but prohibited elsewhere, which wasn't whast I was looking for as my aim was to describe visually how a library 'worked'.

   I resorted to visiting the British Museum (fairly nearby) and started planning converting my impressions of the museum, as a public interior in terms of function, into a photograph that reflected this. Here is what I wrote:

   This space should primarily be somewhere people from all places can visit and explore a vast collection of varied artifacts and material from around the world. It should also 'lead' the visitors around the museum effectively so they can leave with interesting impressions. Lastly, it should provide a means for students or other learners to visit and gain insights that they might not be able to get otherwise.

   As far as 'leading' people around the museum went I felt the museum worked very well. Examples of  this were clear and informative signs at the entrance to most doorways between rooms. One, more visual aspect of these doorways, was their size. They were always quite large, which in my opinion, made the user more inticed to see what awaited in the next room. As you might expect from a museum as well-renowned as the British Museum, the museum had so much variety and interesting material and at times it was quite hard not to get distracted from the planning of the photograph!

   One thing I did notice however, was the way people leaned forwards as they peered into the many glass cabinets and noted this down as I thought it was interesting and helped to show how the museum worked.

   With all this information I had collected related to making a shot that showed function in a museum I set about putting it into practise. I firstly looked for a room that contained a large door and glass cabinets (that wasn't too hard to find). Also I took into consideration the fact that many rooms were not 'well-lit' so I looked for one that was. This was in order to not be constrained by technical difficulties like shutter speed for instance.

   While looking for a room that met these specifications I, quite luckily, stumbled across a room that contained a statue. While this might not sound particularly interesting or out of the ordinary, there was one feature of this statue, which stood out for me. This was the fact that the statue appeared to be 'looking' down and in the direction of the door where many people were entering.

   This for me meant there was extra interest added to the photograph I eventually took as it showed a person peering through one of the glass cabinets (as I had originally planned) but also the statue apparently 'staring' at the visitor. That was what made this photo 'stand out', I felt,while fulfilling its main purpose, which was to show how this interior space worked.

   Lastly, there was a large doorway in the frame of the photograph with signs informing the visitors what to explore as I had originally planned would be a feature of the photograph. This was important for me because  it showed a sense of progress through the museum could be achieved.

1. A functional photograph of how The British Museum works

   So here is the photograph, which I thought worked very well overall. My reasoning for this is that it served its main purpose well (showing how the museum functioned) but with added interest fom the statue. The statue for me suggested a relationship between the museum and its visitor.

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