This is a photograph of a mechanical with a chain and various pipes overhead.
These fine art photographs of industrial architecture were taken in 2006 of the Sears Roebuck & Company building, in midtown, Atlanta Georgia s Old Fourth Ward, on Ponce de Leon Avenue. The Sears building is the largest brick structure in the southeastern U.S. It was originally constructed in 1926 by Richard Warren Sears, Alvah Curtis Roebuck & Company as a retail store, regional warehouse and catalog distribution center. Sears closed the retail store in 1979 and ended warehouse operations in the mid 1980 s. Freight lines and trolley lines came right up to the building, near the loading decks. The Atlanta Crackers stadium, the amusement park and other cultural venues were on site.
The City of Atlanta purchased the property in 1991 where they set up administrative offices (including the Bureau of Cultural Affairs and the Atlanta Fire Department) in a portion of the building until 2010. The building is in a prime Atlanta location - adjacent to Belt Line network which is already underway. The Belt Line is a 22-mile rail and walking corridor that will connect more than 45 historic neighborhoods of Atlanta. It will be a mixed-use facility and the hub of Atlanta s work/live/retail/commercial
It is my goal to preserve the architecture of this Atlanta iconic landmark building in a way which would make these images collectible and conversational - as fine art and elements of interior design - instead of being commonly regarded as photos of an old building.
I focused on light, and the absence thereof. I focused on shape, line, patterns, repetition. I offer collectors and viewers an opportunity to engage in a visual journey of time-travel via vast space and depth of field, positive/negative shape relationship, patterns, lines, and repetition. I offer everyone the opportunity to participate, just as vigorously in the unseen as the seen. Your imagination will play a game of cat and mouse with your eyes in this collection as light and darkness take control and mechanical devices become vibrant and alive.
My focus was in concert with what I received permission to photograph - uninhabited spaces (most of which were untouched, barely-lit places, where dust from bygone years sat heavily on surfaces and light came in through tall, steel windows.)
I used available light to get perfect images which told stories and generated more questions than answers. Many of my photographs were done in the high contrast mode (of black and white) and all were done with my Olympus digital camera.
I photographed the main building (where orders were assembled and shipped out to customers,) which is more than 2 million square feet of space, with hardwood maple floors, original steel windows, high ceilings, and concrete pillars. And, I photographed the Power Plant building, which is situated right near the main building, with its generators, pipes, and furnace as stars of the photo shoot. During the days of operation, the power plant provided all of the power to the main building.
When I looked up at the two-story water tower (that provided water to the building,) I felt like I was about to climb a vicarious ladder, board a space ship, and rocket off into the wide, open galaxy for an Exo experience.
I lost track of time during these shoots. After a shoot, when I stepped out of the building into the midst of winter s cold air, I was disoriented for a while and had to work on coming back into the current time and space.
I took most of these photographs in the cold of winter. At times, while walking through these chilly, vast spaces, stairwells, and vacant places, it was quite eerie. My camera recorded more than I knew. Upon close examination, back at my studio in front of my computer, imagery and images began to be revealed.
I must thank Mr. Jim Rickets. He is a treasured gift, caretaker and long-time steward of the building. Mr. Rickets provided me with background information, technical descriptions, details, personal anecdotes, and more of a backstory than I imagined. Our fast-paced meetings were fabulous and deepened the experience. As a young man, Mr. Rickets worked as an order-filler for the Sears Roebuck & Company. And, when I met him, he was the Supervisor of Systems and Engineer for the entire property that included the adjacent Power Plant.
I worked on some of these photos in a computer graphics program and added hyper color to them. My fine art, industrial architectural photographs of the Sears Roebuck & Company building and power plant (including generators and furnaces) have been collected and hung as decorative pieces. I invite you enjoy the journey.
CLEASTER COTTON, Photographer
December 15th, 2011
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