Photographer Huang Sheng-Min is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this photo essay. From the project Rhythm on the shelf of the Era 架上弦律. To see Huang’s body of work, click on any image.
“The Show: Construction Site” is a long-term photographic project that artist Sheng-Min Huang launches for paying tribute to the labor force and blue-collar. By conceiving and imagining the construction site as a theatre or stage, Huang explores the people and things that happened on the site with a poetic photography language. “The Show: Construction Site” is divided into three episodes: the first “Rhythm on the Shelf of the Era”, the second “Tower Crane”, and the final “Light on the Construction Site”.
“Rhythm on the Shelf of the Era” is the main displaying series this time, which depicts that the workers show various techniques and talents on the scaffolding of the constructing building as if dancing on the stage. Scaffolds, steel bars, steel bones are regarded as strings and stave in the show; meanwhile, the busy workers just like the jumping notes, which is composing pieces of unique music belonging to the construction site.
The entire project has been launching for more than 20 years. To seek the beauty of musicalization and to show a unique surreal visual universe, Huang illustrates the lines of steels with the extreme contrast between color black and white. Furthermore, he uses metaphors to show the potential occupational injuries of workers. The silhouettes of hard-working labors on the images are like a series of phantom drama, providing various possibilities for the audience to imagine.
According to Schelling(1989), he mentioned in the book “The Philosophy of Art” that ‘architecture is frozen music., while other people also regard that the form of architecture is a kind of philosophical poem. Both of these statements come to the same result: “how art is the architecture is.” There is no doubt that the concept of architecture is a part of the arts. However, do the unfinished buildings contain the aesthetic sense? To respond the question mentioned, Huang attempted to discover the answer regarding unique musicality and artistry of unfinished buildings from the process of creating series “Rhythm On The Shelf of The Era” in the construction site.
The inspiration inside the series is based on considering the scaffolding and steel bone of architecture as strings and stave and imagining the movement of busy workers as the jumping notes, which can be hoped to reach the aim of mine: let visual art be as elegant as poetry. In order to achieve the goal mentioned, I mixed the concept of rhythm into the sketching part, which should be consist of the perfect geometric form and sense of tune. It is delightful to say that the view of thick and thin lines of steel bars and working labors in the field seems like someone is playing music. On the other hand, the technique of images is presented in high contrast, colored black, and white. I would like to display the world with different surreal horizons by expressing the danger of hardworking labors in a picture without telling, the audience can imagine freely by themselves.
All images and text © Huang Sheng-Min
By Huang Sheng-Min
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The poem “The Poetry Between Hard Labor and Steel” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a beautiful classic that depicts labor and steel. It was written in 18 92 and inspired by the life of a laborer in San Francisco. The author, an affluent Quaker, portrayed the grueling tasks of this labor by using powerful imagery. The poem also captures the beauty of the industrial age, as machines replaced the swineherd and hammers and saws replaced the loom.The poem begins with a description of a workman’s life, working in a smelting plant. The poem then shows us the monotony of this work by telling of how little is accomplished throughout the day. The poem then describes the cold of the metal grinding as it cuts through iron. The description of the grinding effect of the steel cutting into iron can be horrifying to some and may not apply to most readers. However, Longfellow manages to turn this discomfort into beauty, as the workman grinds away at metal with the best of his strength and skill. The poem ends with a description of what would happen if the worker did not continue to work, as steel would wear away at his or her body and become useless. The last stanza of the poem describes what would have been had the worker continued on with his tasks. The poem ends by giving a description of what will happen if the worker befriends a fellow worker, as the description of the monotony of labor is not overcome by the idea of love. The poem ends with the conviction that the poem’s message is one of life and love despite the hardships of labor. The Poetry Between Hard Labor and Steel is an amazing and well-crafted piece of literature.
This is so intriguing! The images and the correlations are amazing. Brilliant!
Thank you Debs Dragons Appreciation and review of my work.
Beyond incredible. These photos produced a deep state of breathless awe in my heart. There’s a great deal of power here….Dr. Deb