The term ‘grunge’ is something I associate with a photographic style in which elegance of form can be sussed out underneath evidence of decay; the elegance and the decay together are, in their juxtaposition, a thing of beauty. Grunge is also a Seattle term denoting a kind of raw alternative rock music that has its origin in this city. Musically, grunge owns guitar work with heavy distortion, dissonant harmonies and vocals/lyrics that must be sussed out. Grunge lyrics juxtapose angst and apathy of youth’s forward look to the rest of what Life offers; in these lyrics the mean of human condition – yours, mine, his and hers – is presented as something sullied, something confined, yet something that must move forward glimpsing more and more of what Life really is about. The lyrics are also about finding freedom within a sullied, confined life. The music and lyrics are the raw energy and angst in response to the experience of disillusionment and one’s discovering personally an identity in the mean of human condition. Together, the grunge music and lyrics expose the elegance and beauty found within our sullied human condition.
The following Seattle photographs were taken on the last leg of the Seattle underground tour, an object of grunge – form and decay juxtaposed. SAM’S was no doubt a store or bar or restaurant; the signage seems to associate to the fifties or sixties in style and was bulb lit rather than a neon sign.
Listening to Grunge – Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, Joan Osborne’s celebrated song about the human mean, One of Us and Alice in Chains’ Heaven Beside You.
Quotes to Inspire – (1) “A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.” – Ansel Adams (2) “Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.” – David Alan Harvey
4 thoughts on “Elegant Grunge”
Number three for me, I like the angles and more of the background to give life to the detail.
Hey there, Jim – interesting … you highlight the need for contextual information for forming narrative. Good schtuff! 🙂
I’ve always wanted to take that underground tour there in Seattle. Hopefully one of these days. Seattle is my favorite city.
Definitely take in the tour – it reveals much about Seattle’s history and the character of people who were a part of establishing it – there’s humour, history, seamstresses and human nature (and that was the PG version of the underground tour). For me, in looking through my photographs the Seattle I see reminds of cities of the future proposed in futuristic drawings of the fifties and sixties, especially with the newer architecture of the last fifty years. I’ll be back to Seattle.