|Lewis W. Hine, Powerhouse Mechanic, 1925.|
The original image, Powerhouse Mechanic, was taken by Lewis W. Hine in 1920. He was born in the United States on September 26th, 1874 and lived in Wisconsin. He attended the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and New York University. This photograph is significant because it questions and brings social issues to light. He is commenting and forming an opinion on social issues of his time, and is making these opinions available for viewers to see and form an opinion on, as well. Hine creates a dynamic composition with the curving machine, which draws the viewers eyes from the center (the man) up and around the picture. His perspective captures the worker straight on, and I think this gives the picture an edge/certain hardness that reveals the difficulty of industrial life. The emphasis is on man and his relationship with the machine, thus shedding light on the concept of technology vs. man. I think he is making a comment on social conditions of the time, industrial "progress" and ideas of masculinity in this photograph. Through this portrayal of a working class American in an industrial setting, Hine shows the beauty of the machine and the toughness of the worker and American male. The method in which he captures the muscles of the man (organic) against the hard edges of the machine adds greatly to the photograph and its content and concept. What I like about this piece is that it has a WPA feeling - of a worker toiling for the greater good of the country - but it also is a critical commentary on working conditions and social conditions of an industrial America in the 1920s. I like the contrasts of forms, the shadows, and the overall look of the photograph.
In my recreated image, I focused on the overall shape and recognizable posture of the worker to spark a connection between the two. I wanted to stick with the same straight on perspective because I think that is what gives the original photograph a lot of its life. I wanted to emphasize the figure in my recreation, because that is what I focus on the most and keep coming back to in the original. I wanted to play off of the contrast of the man and machine. I used the shadow of the figure as a way of recreating the original photograph in a new way. I thought this was a good way of representing my views of the American worker, especially because a lot of times workers are unidentifiable, another face in the crowd, a bundled mass of American citizens all lumped into one category. I think Hine captures this in his photo, also. His portrayal includes an individual with a recognizable face, but to me, an outsider of this time period and context, it could be any worker from the 1920s. It is less about recognizing who the worker is then appreciating or noticing the hard work and impact that they are making.