Exercise 5.2


Exercise 5.2

The French writer Georges Perec wrote a book called An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris (1975) in which he wrote down everything he could see from a certain viewpoint. You may like to read it.

Choose a viewpoint, perhaps looking out of your window or from a café in the central square, and write down everything you can see. No matter how boring it seems or how detailed, just write it down. Spend at least an hour on this exercise.

Here are some areas to consider:

  •  Can you transform this into a photography version?
  •  Would you stay in the same place or get in close to the things you listed?
  •  Would you choose to use your camera phone in order to be discreet or would you get your tripod out?
  •  Would it be better in black and white or colour?
  • Would you include your list with the final images?


You may choose to turn this into a photography project if it interests you.

For this exercise I sat looking out of the upstairs window at home for an hour.

Outside the front garden is overgrown, Mum’s car is parked on the front part of the driveway which is paved with small red/brown blocks a flower bed overgrown with weeds separates it from the path which is now tarmac. The road is separated from the path by a small strip of grass which is churned up from a car being parked there. The road is a cul-de-sac covered in a tarmac topping the words Keep clear are painted on the road twice. the far side of the road has a path tight against the side fence of the bungalow opposite, two big moving vans are permanently parked their with their wheels on the path. the cul-de-sac ends at the front of the bungalow curving into a new road that sweeps past in a big arc. Straight ahead this road is lined by bungalows to the far distance where the road ends in a tee junction. the view is blocked here by the blocks of new houses built on the far side of that road.

traveling the other way the road is lined by two story houses all of which are semi detached. As the road sweeps round there is another road cutting off to the right the house on the corner is visible through a large hole in the fence where a fire has burned it down and the damage to the side of the conservatory and house is still visible, a melted water butt sits at the end of the building. The cladding is burned away and black soot streaks are visible up the remaining side of the building. Clearly the Fire Brigade put this out quickly as the damage is not severe and has not compromised the main house.

A man walks down the first road into the cul-de-sac headed towards the lane at the side of my house that leads to the river, he is walking his Jack Russel, he is wearing a red jacket and carrying a tennis ball, the dog walks briskly to keep up with him. At the same in the distance a black car pulls into the road followed by the number 14 bus. The bus stops at the end of the road where there is a bus stop sign. Two elderly women waiting to get onto the buss board when the doors open, the first wearing a blue jacket climbs aboard. The second is a bit more frail and uses a walking stick to board the bus, she is wearing a forest green jacket.

While the bus is loading its passengers a red Renault pulls into the road and has to move over onto the opposite side of the road to pass the parked bus, it continues along the road and disappears at the far end of the U.

The bus closes its doors and moves off turning into a side road just along from where it stopped. After a short gap with no movement a man comes out of his bungalow half way up the road and climbs into the white pick up truck parked outside his house, he starts the engine and drives off turning out of the road where the bus had entered.

Another gap with no activity, then two teenagers enter the cul-de-sac in front of my house having walked up from the path to the river to the side of my property, they walk past my house and continue up the road to the far end of the U. One of the teenagers is carrying a Co-Op bag while the other is drinking from a can. The number 14 bus having circled the entire estate emerges from the side road to my right and travels back up the main road to exit the estate at the top.

Another lull in activity, then a man walking a pit-bull like dog walks along the path outside my house headed for the walk along the river, he has let his dog off the lead before getting to the river path which is against the bylaws here he has the lead around his neck.

Another lull, a man cycles out of the river path wearing a hi viz jacket and continues round the U deeper into the estate. A while later two mum’s pushing prams walk out from the depths of the estate and head up the road leading to the exit for the estate where the bus left, one of them has bright pink hair, they pass from view as they turn the corner at the end.

The wind is gathering and the tree at the front of our garden is starting to whip about quite vigorously, a patch of fallen leaves swirl up in the wind and are blown out into the road. My neighbor comes out of their house to put the rubbish into the green wheelie bin outside her house she turns and goes back into the building.

The sun is lost behind the clouds and everything dims a little, A blue Toyota drives round the road and exits the estate, as it is leaving a red corsa stops before entering to let it out of the road. It continues on into the estate.

A while passes and the number 14 bus enters the estate again, but this time does not stop as no one is waiting for it, instead it carries on around its route. A white care drives passed the end of the estate continuing on up to the business park.

The number 14 bus finishes its pass and drives out of the estate.

The man returns from his walk along the river with his Jack Russel who is now carrying the tennis ball in his mouth.

A mum enters the estate from the T Junction walking with two children, she is talking into her cell phone, the little boy is riding a push scooter while the little girl cycles ahead on a small pink bicycle with stabilizers, they travel along the road a cross over to walk up deeper into the estate.

The sun finally comes out from behind the clouds as the hour draws to a close.


  • Can you transform this into a photography version?”


My gut reaction was not can I but should I, yes its possible but it would represent the most horrid vernacular work I could make and I suspect represents the side of photography I dislike the most. Agreed I did not pick the most inspiring place to sit but I was without my car.

  •  Would you stay in the same place or get in close to the things you listed?


To make this at all interesting I would leave my house and move closer to some of the subjects

  •  Would you choose to use your camera phone in order to be discreet or would you get your tripod out?


In this case I might even get the medium format camera out and do it using film maybe go for an older feel to the images, the Mamiya is far from discrete, so I would use my tripod and make a spectical  out of the event.

  •  Would it be better in black and white or colour?


I would shoot in colour using slide film, scan it in and if need be convert to black and white, although I think it may look better given an ektachrome type treatment making it a little yellow to look like a 70’s image or even treat it so that it appears to come from a polaroid camera. The reason ui would use the film camera and treat it this way is because the house belonged to Mum and Dad before they died and I have many memories of it that go back into the 70’s when I was young, I think this treatment of the subject may raise the interest level for me.

  • Would you include your list with the final images?


No I would make the images work for themselves

“You may choose to turn this into a photography project if it interests you.”

I politely and respectfully decline this kind offer.