Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Curls and curves

click photo to enlarge
I was reading the other week about back pain. I'm a tall man, and like many tall people I experience back pain periodically. I used to think it was due to the increased leverage that is associated with height. However, the writer of the article blamed it on the western penchant for sitting on chairs. She maintained that people from cultures where sitting on the floor is the norm suffer less back pain. She also observed that most chairs seemed to have been conceived with little regard for the human anatomy! That reminded me of a quotation I used a while ago by the influential twentieth century German-American architect, Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) : "A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous."

Today I came upon a modern public bench in the centre of Heckington, Lincolnshire. Like many such benches in the UK it offered seating and a sculptural/artistic experience. And, in common with many other modern public benches, it was useless for sitting on! I imagine that it was commissioned by elected representatives or local government officers, and was designed by someone who saw the "public sculpture" part of the brief as more important than the "comfort for the public's backsides" section. So, it was interesting to look at, a good subject for a passing photographer, and a hopeless bench to rest on for all except those of a masochistic tendency. I've often wondered why, after centuries of refining the design and achieving the goal on many occasions, it's still possible to buy a teapot that doesn't pour properly. The same thought applies to benches. I've sat on many very comfortable designs, so why are we still creating examples that are uncomfortable? I suppose the answer is that where any artefact is designed to fulfil two purposes simultaneously, one becomes subservient to the other, and consequently the design often fails. Still, I mustn't complain - it offered me an interesting shot with curves and curls that the day's sun multiplied very nicely! The effect of the shadows reminded me of the ripples from multiple pebbles thrown into a pond.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11mm macro (22mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/250
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: Off