“When big masses walk into the same direction, everything is connected, you adapt yourself to it, everything becomes uniform.” Most people that live or have lived in a big city before will probably know this phenomena Frank Machalowski describes so well in the quote above.
The feeling of walking through busy streets and becoming no more than a small part of the city. The feeling of being unrecognizable and disappearing in the crowd, almost as if one loses all kinds of individuality and melts in with the masses. In his series “monster” the artist tries to express this feeling by taking pictures with a long exposure time of busy places within a city such as an underground station or an airport. Because of that the people moving around the places become blurry and appear like “a uniform monster”.
Having said that, the humans are the ones interacting within the space. At the same time one must remember though, that anyone standing within the masses could be replaced by another person due to the inability to identify anyone shown. In the pictures, their existence is represented not as the existence of multiple individuals appearing in a certain space, but instead as single, uniform monster shaped of an undefined amount of people walking into the same direction. The frame of the city has therefore been given a special meaning: the lack of individuality and identity. According to that, the focus is clearly put on the masses which appear within the space of the city, and how one becomes irrelevant and invisible, how one almost disappears in the crowd. How one’s existence becomes so unrecognizable that he becomes a blurry part of the space he interacts with. Almost as if the place does not need one to be there, as if it is irrelevant, who exactly appears in the space, because the space is so anonymous, it turns individuals into ghosts of society and puts everyone in the same context.
To create this effect, the artist is using one very special tool the camera offers: the exposure time. He changes its lengths to show how changing the duration of a moment can change its meaning. For Frank Machalowski the place of a city and its anonymity is what the series is all about. He is using time only as a tool to express a feeling, or whether he also wants to represent the duration of a moment, he said that he is“not concerned about representing a certain epoch, but to give a different insight of reality by using different exposure times”, and that in those regards, one could say that he is trying to represent time.
Frank Machalowskis series ‘monster’ expressed how the artist felt living in Berlin for a long period of his life and shows his opinion towards big masses of people. It expressed the artists, criticism towards the anonymity one feels when being surrounded by countless people and how this can lead to one feeling like they are losing their own identity and become part of the place and the people surrounding themselves.
He take the pictures for this series with an old analog midle format camera, a tripod and some different ND-filters. He develop the negatives by his own.
But the question of technique was quickly answered. More complicated is the management of the places and events. He start a photowalk with a look at the daily newspaper or relevant websites, to search for events, wich will attract many spectators. If he don’t know the place, he visit the location of the event some days or weeks before it starts. Then he takes some pictures in order to verify that it is worth for the series. Therefore he is looking for unusual architecture or special sights and landmarks and places wherever people come together and move.
About Frank Machalowski
The award-winning German photographic artist and photographer born in Berlin, Frank Machalowski lives and works in Leipzig today. After studying economics in Berlin and applying himself to various trades, he work as a freelance photographer and artist since 2011. He first got into photography as a hobby, and at the beginning he was mainly into digital photography, but then he started shifting back to film as he found the charming characteristics and atmosphere of film photography to be more fascinating. Some photographs of his series monster, multiexpo and tierwald were shown in Germany, France, India, USA, Spain, UK and Italy at renowned galleries and festivals. His work is part of the permanent art collection of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris. [Official Website]