Moment of Impact 9/11 - Glass installation by Lynn Rivers
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Visual Themes

1. The Buildings and their Structure
2. Firemen and...
3. Words

Firemen and...

The bravery and heroism of the emergency workers was exemplified, whilst watching the TV, by the firemen continuing to enter and ascend into the building while others inside were attempting to escape, when the building collapsed. I spent considerable time conducting visual research and debating how to portray this. (more...). There is a vast difference between producing an official memorial and what I was aiming to achieve. I didnít want to stereotype, or produce caricatures or even use their firehouse symbols but to convey their bravery.

Panel 2 Panel 7 Panel 3

I decided that the firemen would be symbolised by two of the extremities of the body, the hands and the boots in Panels 2, 7, and 3. In Panels 2 and 7 the images of firemenís boots are ascending with chaos all around. There is a hint of a boot melting in one of the pictures. They are not firehouse specific. There are also words on one of the flashes on the trouser legs that refers to the bravery of all 911 emergency workers.

There is of course nothing to distinguish the image of the hand in Panel 3 from that of a civilianís, I deliberately chose not to incorporate protective clothing, because of its inadequacy, which for me moved it into the grotesque. I have the greatest respect for those who work with temperatures beyond the norm. In the lower half of Panel 3 the theme of hands is further developed using a technique akin to photographic multiple exposures. I made no attempts there to distinguish between emergency workers and civilians because in the end they were all human beings.

How to make images of the firemen also helped resolve how to represent other people in the building as well as those who escaped the collapse of the Twin Towers of whom there were many, many thousands. After spending considerable time looking at the faces of those involved in the tragic events of 9/11, I felt it was not my place to make glass images directly referencing photographs of people; my images had to be based on my emotions after seeing people on the TV news. (more...) (more...)

The feeling of ascending and descending of the firemenís activities reminded me of the famous scene at the Odessa Steps in the film Battleship Potemkin by Sergi Eisenstein (more...). The film had had a great impact on me during my formative visual art studies. Also relevant was the well-known work Nude Descending a Staircase by Duchamp. The use of multiple exposures in photography was a key area of my creative photographic practice, before the advent of Photoshop. The thought of having to wait for orders to evacuate the building, of oneís body being told to carry on to help others when instinct said to leave, kept recurring in my mind as the TV news was repeated.

I decided to make one strong complete diagonal with the lead lines on one side of the apple in Panel 2, to reference the ascents via the stairwells, which if followed through would be higher than the apple, thereby implying the ultimate sacrifice. On the right side there would be a weaker diagonal with steps that appear to be breaking up, in the lead shapes as well as in the images. This also meant that by increasing the magnification in the images, it would add another layer of scale to the overall image and enhance the complexity of the design. Once these diagonals were decided, the whole design underwent considerable development to maximise the visual dynamics.


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Visual Themes: The Buildings and their Structure | Firemen and... | Words
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