As some of you may know, Knuckles Dobrovic is the name under which I occasionally create photo projects on Instagram. This began back in 2013. I created the Knuckles alias to explore Instagram, to learn what it was and how it worked, and to do that without having my name associated with it. I thought it made sense to dissociate myself from the account back then; now it just seems silly. In any event, I created the account and began to compile a very simple project. I put a thing on a glass-topped table on my deck and photographed it.
I did that for about a year, during which I realized how ridiculous it was to have an alias account. So I created an IG account in my own name. When Things on a Table was finished, I put the Knuckles account on a shelf and forgot about it. Except–and I realize this is also silly–I’d become attached to the name. So eventually I revived the Knuckles account for another project. And then another. This will be the seventh Knuckles photo project.
Early on, I cobbled together some simple, flexible parameters for Knuckles projects:
- It’s got to be simple (which means I won’t have to do a lot of planning or a lot of post-processing).
- It’s got to be organic to my life (which means it’s something I can photograph during the course of an ordinary day — whatever that is).
- It’s got to have at least one intellectual component (which is more accurately described as a pretentious bullshit element).
- It’s got to be able to keep my interest over time.
Here’s a quick recap of the various Knuckles projects themselves with a link to a representative image from that project:
- Things on a Table — I put a thing on a table and photographed it.
- My Feet on the Earth — I took walks, stopping periodically to photograph my feet. I selected two or three of the images during a walk and created multiple exposure images.
- One Hundred Appropriated Google Street Views — This was sort of an homage to Hiroshige’s ‘One Hundred Famous View of Edo’. While playing the online game GeoGuessr (which involves finding a random location based on Google Street View), I made screen captures of interesting vistas. I converted those screen grabs into square black & white images.
- Slightly Dislocated — During the enforced isolation of the pandemic, I shot square format photos during my solo walks or masked errands. I diddled with the color a wee bit, digitally sliced the image in thirds, then re-arranged the pieces.
- Are Bure Bampot — I’d been playing Geoguessr again, and during a break I read something about Daido Moriyama, the godfather of a photographic style called are bure bokeh, which roughly translates as “rough, coarse/crude, out of focus.” That same afternoon, on Twitter, a Scots acquaintance referred to somebody as ‘a total bampot,’ which I was told means “an idiot, a foolish person, a nutcase”. For reasons I can’t explain, the phrase are bure bampot came to me, and I decided to follow through on it. As before, I made Google Street View screen captures of scenes and locations in Scotland. This time I modified them using the are bure bokeh style.
- A Red Wheelbarrow — This was another coincidental project. I’d encountered the early version of DALL-E, the AI application that generates an image based on a written sentence. I’d also recently seen a photo that fell into a genre I call Red Wheelbarrow photos. It’s not actually a recognized genre; it’s just a thing I’ve noticed. These are photos in which the emotional appeal relies heavily on a color/object element (this particular photo was sunlight falling on a green hat hanging on a doorknob). The name comes from the William Carlos Williams poem: so much depends upon / a red wheelbarrow / glazed with rain water / beside the white chickens. I entered that line into the mini Dall-E app, and it generated an interesting image. So I began a series of AI images of red wheelbarrows. That lasted until I was approved to work with the full DALL-E application. When I repeated the original text of the poem, the AI provided me with much more realistic image. At that point, it felt like the project was over.
Now I’ve returned yet again to Google Street View with a new project: Bus Stops. I’ve always been intrigued by the bus stops I’ve encountered playing GeoGuessr, and I often pause long enough to get a screen capture of them. I’ve written about my fascination with bus stops before; lots of folks know about my interest. Recently an acquaintance sent me a link to a photo of a primitive bus stop in Turkey. It occurred to me that over the years I’d amassed a small collection of Google Street View screen captures of bus stops.
So I decided to do a quick search my old files and organize them. I found just over a dozen images of bus stops–enough to kickstart a new Knuckles project. It falls well within the Knuckles Criteria: simple, organic to my life, an intellectual component, and since I’ve been doing it haphazardly and thoughtlessly for years I’m not likely to get bored with it.
The intellectual component? A bus is the most democratic form of public transport. They’re most commonly used by the poor and working classes, but the bus stops for everybody. In cities it’s not uncommon to see people in business attire riding the bus to work. A bus network is fundamentally simple: a series of designated routes with consistent designated arrival/departure times and stable designated boarding locations with predetermined fees. It’s a predictable, reliable, efficient dynamical transportation system in which bus stops act as fixed point attractors. And if that’s not enough, bus stops are ubiquitous. They’re everywhere because a bus network is socially elastic–the design can be stretched to fit almost any community anywhere in the world. But stops are both local and global.
You need more? Bus stops can tell you a lot about a community. Are the bus stops clean? Cared for? Are they in poor repair? Are they stylish or simple? Some bus stops have trash receptacles. Some are trash receptacles themselves. Some are shelters, designed to please the eye as well as keep riders dry and protect them from the wind. Some are purely utilitarian. Some are nothing more than a wide space in the road. You look at a bus stop, you learn something about the people who use them and the communities in which they live.
Bus stops are fascinating. But you have to look at them. So here…take a look.