Regional Identity

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My World 14th Floor, 430 5th Ave. N. Park Avenue Parking, December 2003
My World 15th Floor, 430 5th Ave. N. Bessborough, Spadina Cres., May 2004
regional photography, photography, colour photography, viewpoint, vantage point, series, Bessborough Hotel, apartment living, cityscape, urban, camera angle, gaze, cars, winter, snow, line, sight line, bird\\\'s eye view, location, spring, seasons, window, cropped image, view, candid, time line,identity,landmark, roof, spaces Spadina Crescent, parking lot, Hans Dommasch, Saskatoon, city, Dommasch, urban landscape, 2D art, two-dimensional
description

Stella: We've become a race of Peeping Toms. What people ought to do is get outside their own house and look in for a change. Yes sir. How's that for a bit of homespun philosophy?

Jeff: Readers Digest, April 1939.

Stella: Well, I only quote from the best.

   --Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window

Hans Dommasch is perhaps best known for his medical and  landscapeA painting, photograph or other work of art which depicts scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers and forests. There is invariably some sky in the scene. (Artlex.com) Landscape is also a term that may also refer simply to a horizontally-oriented rectangle, just as a vertically-oriented one may be said to be oriented the portrait way. (Artlex.com)  photographs, and as such his recent photographs of parking lots and buildings may come as a surprise to previous viewers of his work. But Dommasch’s photographs are still about spaces and points (or angles) of view, even if they have migrated into town.
 
Taken as part of a large  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of works, the two photographs presented here chronicle parts of the photographer’s life and experience. However, without the mobility he once had, Hans Dommasch has taken to photographing the scenes around him. His image My World 15th Floor, 430 5th Ave. N. Bessborough, Spadina Cres. May 2004 features a Saskatoon landmark: the famous Bessborough Hotel (now the Delta Bessborough), which makes this photograph relate to place in a somewhat obvious way.

Dommasch

But while this image may be in part a  portraitA work of art that represents a specific person, a group of people, or an animal. Portraits usually show what a person looks like as well as revealing something about the subject's personality. Portraits can be made of any sculptural material or in any two-dimensional medium. Portraiture is the field of portrait making and portraits in general. Portrait is a term that may also refer simply to a vertically-oriented rectangle, just as a horizontally-oriented one may be said to be oriented the landscape way. (Artlex.com)  of the photographer’s longtime home city, it functions also as a  portraitA work of art that represents a specific person, a group of people, or an animal. Portraits usually show what a person looks like as well as revealing something about the subject's personality. Portraits can be made of any sculptural material or in any two-dimensional medium. Portraiture is the field of portrait making and portraits in general. Portrait is a term that may also refer simply to a vertically-oriented rectangle, just as a horizontally-oriented one may be said to be oriented the landscape way. (Artlex.com)  of the photographer’s situation.  Consider for instance that the light in this image comes partially from above but largely from the side, striking the front of the Bessborough. This image was therefore shot at dusk, a time of day that carries its own meaning relative to aging.

And while this image is taken within a city, it demonstrates a quietude we don’t normally associate with urban life. By shooting only the upper halves of buildings and relegating his world to the tops of high-rises and apartments, Dommasch has silenced the city by excluding the movement, bustle and noise of street-level dwelling.

Dommasch 2

The photographer’s  vantage pointThe position from which the viewer looks at an object or visual field.  is equally important to a reading of My World 14th Floor, 430 5th Ave. N. Park Avenue Parking December 2003, where Dommasch has aimed his  cameraIn photography, a tool for producing photographs, having a lightproof enclosure with an aperture and a shuttered lens through which the image of an object is focused and recorded on a photosensitive film or plate. In video, a device that receives the primary image on a light-sensitive cathode tube and transforms it into electrical impulses. (Artlex.com) Find out about 35-mm cameras at Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/135_film  down from above to capture a  suiteA suite of anything is a connected series or succession of objects; a number of things used or classed together; a set; as, a suite of rooms; a suite of minerals.  (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of sleeping cars. Even though he now directs his gaze to the level of the city’s activity, he chooses to capture cars - often associated with speed, individuality, and dominance over the landscape - as stationary objects, grouped together under the snow and the shadows of trees. They are at rest, as the snow on their roofs suggests.

While the types of cars and the snow covering them might suggest a prairie winter in North America, we as viewers are also being located in a tower, on the 14th floor, to be specific. The photographer is therefore asking us to look not only at geography when we consider our own identity and location, but also to examine where we sit within that geography.

additional resources On Hans Dommasch
Duration: 1:19 min
Size: 5885kb
Things to Think About
  • The photographs by Dommasch presented here were taken several months apart. Do you think their order is important? What about the ways they picture two different seasons (winter and spring)?
Online Activity
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Birds-eye view or worms-eye view using three-point  perspectiveA method used to create the illusion of space on a two-dimensional surface. It can be created by overlapping, placement, detail, colour, converging lines and size. See HandPrint.com (http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/perspect3.html and http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/perspect4.html) for some examples.  drawing.

  • Click on Bird's-Eye View or Worm's-Eye View in the menu below to see each perspective.


  • Click on Vanishing Point, Diagonal Line and Horizon Line to see these features of the perspective chosen.
Studio Activity

These photographs My World 14th Floor, 430 5th Ave. N. Park Avenue Parking and My World 15th Floor, 430 5th Ave. N. Bessborough, Spadina Cres are part of a  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of photographs taken by Hans Dommasch from his apartment in downtown Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Because of the  vantage pointThe position from which the viewer looks at an object or visual field.  from his apartment Hans Dommasch is able to provide us with an unusual or uncommon point of view. A parking lot is seen from a “bird’s-eye view” giving us a view down upon it.

Take a  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of photographs in a particular part of your city or town; this may be the street where you live, your neighbourhood, a park or shopping area nearby or across town.  Use unusual viewpoints rather than the more predicable or familiar eye level shots. As well, take pictures of things that usually go unseen, unnoticed or unappreciated.

Birds Eye 1 Birds Eye 2 Birds Eye 3
worms eye view 1 worms eye view 2 worms eye view 3
  • You might also consider adding some close-ups of details in your series.  These can be close-ups of very ordinary and common things. The close-up view can make a viewer pause to consider things that may often go unnoticed or that are generally overlooked.  Here are some examples of photos using close-ups:
close up 1 close up 2 close up 3
  • Print and display your own “My World” photographs.

For further information and examples of using unusual points of view go to the following website:

Studio Activity

Create a  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of photographs to document your own “my world”.

  • Decide on a time period to document, for example, one day, one week, one semester or one year.

Regina picture

  • Take pictures of your daily life and routine throughout this predetermined time period.
  • You may consider choosing certain times during which to take a photo, such as every hour on the hour or every morning, afternoon and night.

See this site for photos from similar photo projects by high school students in Africa

References

Author unknown.  ‘Hans Dommasch.’  Saskatchewan Council for Archives and Archivists.  Retrieved from the Internet on July 21, 208 from:  http://scaa.usask.ca/gallery/art/artists-dommasch.html.

Author unknown.  ‘Hans Dommasch.’  Photograph collection, University of Saskatchewan Archives.  Retrieved from the Internet on July 21, 2008 from:  http://www.usask.ca/archives/research_photographs.php.

Dommasch, Hans.  The silver image: a history of photography, 1839-1970.  Exhibition catalogue.  Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 1979.

Dommasch, Hans.  Prairie Giants.  Saskatoon, Saskatchewan:  Western Producer Prairie Books, 1986.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning