Shadowy Figures and Strange Interiors: The Optician’s Waiting Room
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The waiting room can be imagined as a frequently visited place, a place to loiter, sit or perhaps stand, walk and converse. A transitional point before entering or moving to another in which no actual movements of the journey occur but time is implied. As equally the waiting room becomes a world of objects, boots, hats, papers and toys, transient temporal landmarks. Markers of time that are now, yesterday, tomorrow, last week or hours and moments of the day. The detailed study of the interior offers a kind of still life, a material existence where nothing exceptional occurs, where states appear continuous and there is a wholesale eviction of the event. The room imagined forces close attention, to look a the overlooked, to bring into view objects that perception normally screens out, and in this things appear radically unfamiliar and estranged. This paper attends to the ‘Sparrow Collection’ of the Auckland Museum and a series of photographs of the interior of an optician’s waiting room (1947). Here the photogrpaher has constructed a hall through which we pass unawares and in this waiting, the door jams and the hall is endless. The hour does not pass, the line does not move, time is borne rather than navigated, felt rather than thought. In waiting, time is slow and heavy. Architectural historians deploy photographs as indexical records of artifacts, an automatic drawing or a direct imprint of the constructed world, as equally it can be an image crafted toward a particular communicative goal. Photography and architecture are intertwined in the discussion of this project, raising questions about representation and the actual experience of the building, the photographic surface becoming an endless process of transforming the tectonic and spatial into the spectacular where things appear estranged and even not of this world. The waiting room in this paper is seen, not as an answer but rather as a marking of time and is explored through the waiting room as a point of mobility and temporary arrest, a place where the fixed and mobile converge.