In March 2015 a trip to Philadelphia, PA, USA took us to Eastern State Penitentiary. ESP was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Originally inspired by humanistic principles of the Enlightenment period. It was to be a true penitentiary, a prison designed to create genuine regret and penitence in the criminal's heart.
Views of it's intent and success varied from the opening in 1829.
Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont reported to the French government in 1831:
“Thrown into solitude... [the prisoner] reflects. Placed alone, in view of his crime, he learns to hate it; and if his soul be not yet surfeited with crime, and thus have lost all taste for any thing better, it is in solitude, where remorse will come to assail him.... Can there be a combination more powerful for reformation than that of a prison which hands over the prisoner to all the trials of solitude, leads him through reflection to remorse, through religion to hope; makes him industrious by the burden of idleness.."
While Charles Dickens recounted in 1842:
“In its intention I am well convinced that it is kind, humane, and meant for reformation; but I am persuaded that those who designed this system of Prison Discipline, and those benevolent gentleman who carry it into execution, do not know what it is that they are doing....I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body; and because its ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye,... and it extorts few cries that human ears can hear; therefore I the more denounce it, as a secret punishment in which slumbering humanity is not roused up to stay.”
In 1913 the Pennsylvania System was abandoned and Eastern State became a prison.
Occasionally we get to one of Branford's Jazz on the Green events. It has been a couple of years since the last visit. This time the band was Janet Planet & Friends (I wonder if that's a stage name). Its a good chance to enjoy music, have a glass of wine and get some photos of the band and the audience.
Right This Way, Room 101 and In Flight (Honorable Mention) were all selected for Hygienic Art's fifth iteration of The f-Stops Here. The show was open from Oct 15 through November 12. This was a juried show at the New London, CT gallery.
In the Pig Palace was included in the Connecticut Valley Camera Club's recen t show at Maple & Main Gallery in Chester CT.
The Grid, an Artist Statement:
People sometimes talk about living "off the grid", unconnected to electric and communication networks in common use in the US. A removal of oneself from the connected existence. Many do not fully disconnect, choosing instead to generate their own power locally and maintain data and phone connections through various means.
But what is the grid and what makes it worthy of photographic consideration?
The electric grid is comprised of elements beginning with the generation of power and ending with its delivery at your home or place of work, power plants, transmission towers, utility poles, transformers, sub stations, fuses, the various devices used to connect and interconnect millions of miles of wire that bind us into the connected world.
In this collection of images I hope to put together an appreciation of objects that make up the electrical grid. Although these are utilitarian objects of function rather than form, I believe they bear examination as art. They are designed for purpose and placed into our environment by humans. I contend that there is beauty to be found in contemplating these objects, and a conversation to be engaged regarding the building and use of of "The Grid"